Good Story Writing Inadvertently Reveals Incompetence #Writing #Author #Advice #Opinion

Sometimes, really good story-telling can backfire… BADLY!

The perfect example of this is on Law & Order SVU… Honestly I dislike this show. I know it’s popular, but honestly it’s barely a cheap dime store replacement for the original and for many reasons. Most notably in my case, the characters (except Munch) are NOT likable. They are grossly incompetent, way over emotional for their jobs, and too quick to judgment. This is made abundantly clear in the 2005 episode entitled ‘Contagious’

The Episode Info

Where do I begin with this Episode…

Well let’s take a look at the plot:

A drunk driver causes a car accident with a family of three in Central Park. The family survives the crash, but are taken to the hospital to have their injuries treated. As a doctor tries to change Holly’s clothes and replace them with a hospital gown, the girl immediately panics, impulsively and frantically kicking at the doctor. At this point, it’s assumed that there has been sexual foul play, and the hospital contacts SVU… and here’s where the fun begins…

With her parents unconscious and undergoing surgery, the hospital finds that they can’t get permission to take a physical exam in order to determine whether or not she was assaulted… since they appeared to be awake a few scenes later, you would think that they could wait to get that info… However Detectives Benson and Over-actor… ahem, I mean Stabler are called and Casey Novak, who’s own incompetence I will get into later, gives them court-ordered permission to carry out the exam. Hendrix still needs the presence of the police to document the progress of the examination of Holly, and though she prefers not to have any strange men in the room, Holly seems to take comfort in the presence of Detective Stabler… wonderful… it’s going to be a stabler drama episode… Here we go…

As their worst fears are confirmed, the SVU tries to find out who molested Holly… without… you know, looking into any residual DNA evidence that could still be present or anything like that. After revealing the abuse to her parents (wait, weren’t they out cold?), they claim that her injury was due to a bicycling accident, and medical records confirm this, which rules them out as suspects.

Despite their concerns over her psychological well-being, they agree to let Benson interview her, and eventually, she breaks down and finally admits she was molested, but refuses to reveal the culprit, because he threatened to shoot her and her family. To make matters worse she also reveals that he killed Laura Swift, a girl around Holly’s age who is the subject of a widely publicized missing persons incident who hasn’t been seen since she was in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park. So things are heating up. Time to take the kid gloves off and do some actual, professional, proper investigation, right? Oh ho ho, you clearly don’t know Law and Order SVU my friends…

The detectives now realize that besides finding out who molested Holly, they also have to find Laura Swift’s body and drama ensues. During another psychological exam, Dr. Hendrix (another one whose incompetence we’ll get into later) gives her the opportunity to draw, and is quite impressed with her artistic skills, yet blatantly ignores some very telling evidence in the pictures that could have helped solve this a lot sooner… moving on…

Meanwhile, Benson and Stabler interview Mark and Julie Dobbins a couple who are friends of the Purcell family and have daughters of their own. While interviewing Holly’s art teacher, Fin and Munch find that Holly deliberately injured herself to get out of gym (problem #1, we now have psychological issues that need to be addressed… but won’t be.). Benson and Stabler then interview the nurse to see if she thinks the injuries were an accident and the nurse says no. What they do find out is that Holly had been injuring herself for the past three weeks to get out of gym class. They also meet a boy on Dobbins’ lacrosse team named Kevin Wilcox, who reveals that Mark Dobbins is the gym teacher and a substitute is filling in for him right then because he had a game that night, which gives them a reason to suspect Dobbins.

After much prodding by Dr. Hendrix… who again ignores the pictures, Holly tearfully claims that the man who victimized her was family friend, Mark Dobbins. Benson and Stabler arrest Dobbins in the middle of a football game. Later they interrogate him and find that his activities includes hosting sleepovers and a summer camp in The Poconos for girls, and teaching gym… you know, things that normal family men do…

Dobbins was among many who were interviewed, and when he reveals his assumption that Swift is dead, the detectives think they have further proof of his guilt… circumstantial at best, but that’s apparently all you need in this ‘reality.’ Stabler suggests that he killed Laura and raped Holly and his own daughters, and he finds the notion so repulsive that he demands a lawyer for any further questioning… after both physically and verbally abusing him to the point that any normal cop would have been on desk duty AT THE VERY LEAST, as a result.

News of the victimization of Holly gets around as well as that of the missing girl (Thanks to Holly’s parents), and other soccer moms come forward,  thus preventing Dobbins from making bail. All the girls tell the same story as Holly Purcell, which seems to give the detectives an open and shut case… despite not looking into how the girls found out about Holly’s victimization in the first place which would have been a key piece of info in properly vetting their testimony… but who cares about police work? We’ve got assumptions, the testimony of an emotionally distraught child that’s in fear for her life, and circumstantial evidence, so we’re good.

The problem… and another tell-tale sigh of how the case is flimsy is that nothing they say reveals the whereabouts of Laura Swift or any other girl who’s missing, nor does it soothe Holly’s fears, which is typical, but still should have been something they look at twice… I mean it’s just a man with a family whose life we’re ruining, right?

When the news media gets word of the spree of molestation at the school Cragen tries to keep as much info from them as he can… again, without asking where they got the info in the first place! During the search of the Dobbins’ basement, Julie Dobbins pleads her husband’s innocence, insisting that she was an eyewitness to the activities at the household, which Stabler misinterprets as an absurd sexual fetish, and chastises her so severely, that it almost seems like he’s ready to attack her. Yay!!!! More overacting from Stabler that shows that he has no business wearing a police badge and should have been discharged long ago. This scene alone would have had him out walking the streets, but hey this is good drama right? So we’ll give it a pass…

Realizing that he may be a danger to the public, Stabler tries to calm down… key word; ‘tries.’

Benson suggests that he goes home to his family, but he’s torn between his family troubles and helping Holly (… no wonder his family eventually leaves him). On the way out though, Fin finds that Mark has a sealed arrest record from the Erie County District Attorney, which he explains, despite advice from his attorney not to do so. Due to some circumstantial evidence by a teenage prostitute and a “drunken cop,” (Oh great… more inept police work) Mark was falsely arrested (although the charges were subsequently dismissed), and revealed that he had to forge documents indicating he was allowed to work with children. Novak thinks she can use this to get a confession from him on the whereabouts of Swift, but he still adamantly denies raping or killing anybody. At which point she threatens to ask the judge for the maximum sentence.

I’ll stop right there. The show took a nose dive when Novak joined the cast. I always thought that she was way overzealous and went too often on her own opinion and values instead of actual evidence and fact. Nothing gave me greater viewing pleasure than watching the episodes where she crashed and burned. She was a poor ADA at best and it really shows here…

But I digress…

Stabler tries to break himself away from the case in order to maintain (smirk) his sanity, but Benson insists that he should help Holly prepare for Mark’s trial, and this is where things get really interesting!!!!

Before he even has a chance to get started, she breaks down again and reveals that Mark is completely innocent. She cries that she doesn’t want to get in trouble… not because she sent an innocent man to jail, not because she’s ruined the lives of close friends, no no no, it’s because she doesn’t want to get in trouble… yeah there was a kid that was well raised, no remorse whatsoever… just fear. (Yeah I know she was a victim and in fear of her life, but that’s not an excuse for destroying someone else’s) Moving on…

When one of his other alleged victims reveals that her mother pressured her into accusing him of sexual abuse… nothing happens… We see no repercussions on the two soccer moms that blatantly exposed their children to something that no one that age should be exposed to and then made them lie to city officials thus wasting police time while the true killer/molester still roamed free. No DSS involvement, no civil suite, no charges filed, NOTHING except for Stabler overacting in their general direction.

Then Dr. Hendrix comes out and with a sheepish look on her face said that no one could have seen this coming… except for… you know… a psychiatrist who is trained to work in cases like this with years of experience who had the evidence right in front of her damn face, but we’ll get into that later!

Stabler rushes to get Novak to drop the charges and set him free. As the trial case is dismissed, the best line ever, which goes to show Novak’s own incompetence is uttered by the defense…

“We’re stunned that the people charged my client with the heinous crimes without proper investigation!”

THANK YOU!!! Finally someone said it!!!

After his exoneration hearing Larry reveals he and Sonya (Holly’s wonderful parents) may have been responsible for inadvertently creating the persecution… and that’s it. No repercussions for the false accusation, no civil suite, no reparations, just a half-assed apology which turned into Larry yelling at Dobbins.

Even with the presence of her parents, Holly is still afraid to reveal who molested her again, totally understandable, but it’s a lot more difficult to feel sorry for her at this point… Hendrix suggests that the family take her on vacation in an attempt to make her feel safe, but it doesn’t lead to the whereabouts of Laura Swift. This is so stupid that even NY’s most incompetent detectives object!

After re-examining Holly’s artwork, Hendrix suddenly realizes that she made a grave error in her analysis… if you can even call it that. She notices that the uniform of the person that she suspected was not a coach’s athletic uniform, but that of a student, particularly, a lacrosse captain. She actually admits her own incompetence… After a thorough and very well thought out review of the other pictures…

“Oh no… I assumed that was Mark Dobbins, because I accepted what Holly told me without even considering that it could be someone else.”

Like you know, ANY REMOTELY COMPETENT PSYCHIATRIST WOULD HAVE EFFING DONE!!!

Holly finally reveals that she was molested by Kevin Wilcox, who is arrested on the spot. During his interrogation, Stabler and Fin reveal that their evidence against him is solid and threaten him, unless he reveals the whereabouts of the girl he killed. After Wilcox’s confession to Holly’s rape and Laura Swift’s murder, Fin joins other officers to exhume Laura’s buried body in College Point.

On his way home, Benson stalls him so she can direct him to his family who are throwing a birthday party for him at his desk. Unfortunately the happiness of the moment is shattered, when the Dobbins couple reveal that Chestnut Academy dismissed Mark, for forging his letter destroyed his integrity which could be an endangerment for the students (UGGGGH!!!). As a result of this, he will never get another teaching career and he and his wife are selling the house and moving upstate with his in-laws. Stabler rightly takes the blame thinking that this wouldn’t never happen if they could have realized who Holly’s abuser was (though Hendrix shares a ton of the blame here).

Mark agrees, and walks away. Benson reminds him that his family is still there to celebrate his birthday… for now…

So now you have the Episode… what’s wrong with it? Nothing. This is actually one of my favorite episodes!

We’ve all heard real-life stories about people being falsely accused of child sexual abuse and what happens to people as a result. Even if they’re proved innocent in the end, by that time they’ve been put through the wringer both financially and emotionally, and their lives have been utterly wrecked. Once a person is labeled a sex offender, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of it, ever. It will be on their record and even if they can find a way to get it expunged, they will never get away from it entirely.

This episode stands out in that there was no doubt Holly Purcell had been sexually abused; the question was, who did it. Naturally everyone wants to nab the perpetrator, and in their determination, they press Holly almost as hard as they would a toughened criminal. This is something that is completely inappropriate to do with a child and… again, that any half-competent psychiatrist would have known better! Since there is no doubt that the abuse definitely happened, it never occurs to anyone that Holly’s genuine fear of her abuser’s threat to kill her if she talked, could cause her to lie about his identity. Which is something that would have come up if the police handing the case had been anything resembling competent.

This episode wonderfully leaves the viewer feeling everyone’s pain and remorse from the entire ugly affair. Coach and Mrs. Dobbins have totally lost the life they’d struggled to rebuild after a prior nonsense charge.

Holly, who pointed at Dobbins to get SVU off her back, never dreaming they’d go after him with murder in their eyes… though this one get’s harder to feel sorry for by the end… and wrongly…  Dr. Hendrix, who didn’t look at the forest before focusing on individual trees. How she got away with her license from this episode is beyond me, but whatever.

Elliot totally shot off his mouth at Mrs. Dobbins when searching their house after arresting her husband… which should have cost him his job…  And Casey, who should have been the cool head here if any one person was, wasn’t.

These protectors of the innocent and law-abiding completely lost their perspective because there was no question the crime had occurred. As a result they rushed to misjudgment, and now they have to live with having wrecked some of the very lives they were entrusted to protect. THIS IS NOT HOW PROFESSIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTS!!! We’ve seen this idiots dole out their cowboy justice before and get away with it, but here we seen what actually happens when this is how business is conducted.

My only complaint about this episode is that Hendrix and Novak weren’t there for the final ribbing out by the Dobbins. They deserved it as much as Stabler.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have multiple published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

White Widow, Initial Impressions #WhiteWidow #Comics #Superheroes #Indie

So I’ve recently picked up a new book that I just stumbled on at a comic auction for $8… and it was money well spent, but I’ll get into that.

The book title is White Widow.

The plot from the kick starter:

Story

Gabrielle Garcia was a typical American girl going to college to follow in her father’s footsteps – or so she thought. One night, her father barged into her dorm room, suffering from a fatal gunshot, and injected her with… something.  That was the moment she became the White Widow. 

White Widow is a new ongoing comic set in the new “Absolute Comics” Universe.  It is created by Jamie Tyndall with Benny Powell.  This is the first issue featuring a hero unlike any other.

 

This is a book that, sadly, I missed the boat on in terms of the kickstarter. Now I’m playing catch up, and thankfully I don’t have far to go. Currently, there are only about three issues in print. I know that’s hard to believe since there seems to be like 30 different covers for each book on Ebay, but in terms of the internals, that’s all there is.

Capture

I admit that when I bought the book, I had no idea what it was about. As so often happens for me with comics (see my Lady Mechanika review), I was enticed by the artwork. On both the inside and outside, the books are absolutely dazzling and I can see why so much time and effort is being put into these, and why they’re so popular. Many comic collectors go for the art over any actual story, and IMHO there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I had about six Lady Mech books before I actually read them!

In this case, however, I did start reading sooner. So what are my initial impressions?

When I first looked at the books, my first thought was something of an indie Spider-man emulation and honestly, that’s not too far from the truth. I know that’ll piss some people off, and it’s not meant to. That’s just my initial impression and I welcome being proven wrong. However, the story surrounding the costume she wears that providers her with super-natural powers, strikes me as something similar to the black costume saga with Spider-man.

Spoiler Warning!

The story starts off with your every day college student going through the motions. Then one night, her father breaks into her room and injects her with an… unusual serum.  I won’t go too much into detail, but he is then killed by a group called… The Group. So basically she now has to figure out what her suit is, what it does, and how to go about using it to aid her in infiltrating The Group, in order to uncover what’s happened to her family.

And… that’s about as far as I’ve gotten so far. So, is a book I’m accusing of being somewhat of a ripoff (I don’t mean to, honestly!!!) any good? Honestly, yes! The characters are unique and relatable, the artwork is superb, and I found myself getting completely engrossed in the story! I’m only a few books in, but I highly recommend giving it a shot!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Mary Poppins Returns, My Late Review #Disney #MaryPoppins #EmilyBlunt

Hi All,

So my family finally got around to watching the new Mary Poppins movie and I want to give my thoughts on it. Anyone who’s read my blog long enough, knows that I have no love for the first Mary Poppins. It’s one of my two least favorite Disney classics for a plethora of reasons ranging from the history behind the film, the bastardization of books that were beloved to their writer, the horrible characters, and some of the more depressing scenes in the story. Yes, I am the 1% of people who hate the original Mary Poppins.

So when my wife puts on this movie for our weekly family movie night, my first reaction was to roll my eyes. One, this movie got what amounts to a C+ rating from critics and movie-goers, some loved it, some hated it. Two, this is yet another Disney sequel, likely a holdover from the Isner years that had little story and even less budget. Third, it’s a sequel to a story I have little tolerance for. So I resigned myself to 2+ hours of torture.

What I got… was not at all what I thought I was getting.

The story is set some 30+ years after the first movie. Mr. and Mrs. Banks have likely passed away, Bert is nowhere to be found (though it is mentioned that he’s travelling the globe), and Michael is now a widower with three children and is struggling to keep their home. Jane shows up regularly as well, living in a flat on the other side of town.  Michael is desperately trying to find a bank share that would pay off his house before the bank forecloses on it and… that’s where I’ll leave the plot. I really don’t want to spoil anything.

It is at this point Mary Poppins shows up and yes, in an unexpected twist, Jane and Michael actually remember her, though their memory on her magical abilities are somewhat questionable.

Because Mary Poppins is an ageless, magical, character, obviously Julie Andrews wouldn’t have worked here without extensive de-aging. Plus the fact that her vocal chords were damaged by nodule removal, made her a non-choice. Enter Emily Blunt. At first, I wasn’t sure about her, but if you’ve read any of the books… she actually fits the character better than Andrews IMHO. Andrews came off as a sweet person, but her character while kind, is supposed to be very firm. I never got that from Andrews, despite her best efforts. With Blunt, I get that. She has scenes where she comes off as stern, dignified, and not afraid to tell her ’employer’ how it is. She keeps her kindness guarded, but certainly let’s it show when needed. This, to me, is a more realistic representation of what a nanny would have been like at that time period… or at least one that children would not have run from. While she didn’t really resemble Andrews all that much, I found myself accepting her as Mary Poppins quite easily. Blunt’s performance really brought something to the performance that was quite welcome.

The musical numbers were done quite well. I honestly found myself afflicted by a tinge of nostalgia. Modern musicals, including Disney, haven’t really done so well. Despite the efforts of movies like La La Land, they just really fail to capture the whimsy of the musicals from the 50s-60s. Mary Poppins Returns somehow manages to revive the old Musical whimsy I thought long dead.

It was also great to see Disney give a nod to their old ways by going back to their old-school form of animation. They could have easily pulled a James and the Giant Peach and gone full CGI with ugly characters or tried to do something with Pixar, but they didn’t They took special care to make the animated scenes look like the ones we loved from movies like 101 Dalmatians, Robin Hood, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. It was a welcome nod to the past that could have easily just been ignored.

I was actually quite surprised to see David Warner now playing the Banks’s next door neighbors, still sailing around on his rooftop ship. He’s been noticeably absent from the movie scene for years. As a fan of his work in Hansel and Gretel, Star Trek 5 and 6, Ninja Turtles 2, and Wing Commander, I was happy to see him back in a supporting role.

Cast members from the original made appearances in the film in small places where they could. Dick Van Dyke appearing at the end and performing a dance number made me smile widely. I admittedly didn’t like him in the previous Mary Poppins, but I was a big fan of his in other movies, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Noticeably absent from the film was the original Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews. According to information I was able to find, the studio tried hard to get her into the film via cameo, but she declined out of respect to Emily Blunt. While I applaud the goodwill and can certainly respect that, I was honestly disappointed by the missed opportunity for Julie Andrews to give the film an endorsement and a kind of passing of the torch.

Instead, that job was given to another of Disney’s original darlings… Angela Lansbury. I won’t give away the part she played, but it’s actually quite appropriate and I loved hearing her sing for the first time in quite a while. I grew up with Lansbury playing Ms. Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which is still one of my favorite Disney live musical movies to this day!

One criticism I read on another blog was a criticism noting the absence of Mr. Banks. The argument was that he was such a major character, that his noticeable absence from the film was a big detraction. On some level, I would agree with that, however… Mark Tomlinson, another Disney staple and the original Mr. Banks, sadly passed away in 2000 at the age of 83 from a stroke and he had been retired for 18 years prior. While people accepted Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, I doubt they would have accepted someone else as Mr. Banks. Even Blunt was a bit of a risk for Disney.

So honestly, at the end of the day, Mary Poppins Returns is much better than it has a any right to be. Given my feelings about the first movie, Disney’s history of low budget cash-in sequels that all but ruined the original films, and some of Disney’s lack luster storytelling in their original movies as of late… my expectations could not have been lower. Needless to say, even if they hadn’t been, this film still would have gotten high marks. I actually loved this a lot more than the original movie and found myself smiling through it as my kids enjoyed it. Yes, mine and my parent’s generation’s Mary Poppins wasn’t great, but the one my kids will now call theirs more than makes up for it.

This is a great movie that should be viewed by everyone who loved Disney as a child, whether you liked the original or not.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

My Thoughts on the Rise of Skywalker SPOILERS!!! #StarWars #LucasFilm #Fans #TheMandalorian #RiseofSkywalker

 

/SPOILERS AHEAD, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!! 


 

I CALLED IT!!! I called it long ago! Rey is a Palpatine! I knew it! Total bragging rights now! I practically cheered in the theater when I heard this! I wanted it to be the case so badly! I am so thrilled they went with this!

Okay… calm down Jim, calm down. Seriously, it was hard to do. There was a lot riding on this movie. First they had to course correct from the disastrous Last Jedi, then they had to figure out how to bring Carrie Fisher into this respectfully, then they had to finish out the series in a way that not only made sense, but would satisfy the fans. Did the accomplish this?

The answer is… it depends on whom you ask…

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This is typically a sign that the movie is going to be good. After seeing how they rate movies like The Last Jedi, Ghostbusters 2016, and a few others… I’ve actually been more motivated to see movies that the critics didn’t like vs. the ones they did. I don’t even pay attention to them anymore. The audience scores are more apt to be correct.

Okay, back on topic. In my opinion, the Rise of Skywalker succeeded… but not without a few missteps. In some cases, I did feel it was rushed. The scene jumps were something that was tough to follow. I thought Wedge deserved more screen time than 1.5 seconds, but neither here no there.

So what did I like? I thought it wrapped up most of the story pretty well… though I still don’t know what Fin wanted to say to Rey. I loved seeing the old ships mix in with the new ones (Anyone else see the Ghost?).

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I also really loved how they gave Leia her sendoff and managed to fit in a Han Solo cameo (seriously, how’d they get him back again? He does not like the character!). I love the way they did the Emperor and showed more of what the Sith cult was. Finally, the way they brought Ben back to the light could not have been done any better!

Oh yeah, and yellow light sabers are now canon! YAY FOR ME!!

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So what didn’t I like? Well… nothing’s perfect, right? Here goes…

They sort of glossed over how Palpatine survived. Was he cloned? If so, was the Palpatine Vader killed the original or a simple clone? Not enough info there. Did I miss something? If so, please tell me in the comments.
No cameos by Yoda, Anakin, or Obi Wan! Okay, okay, this is on me, not them. We were never promised cameos, but it was hinted at! That’s kind of a tease, and allowing Darth Vader one last glorious moment would have been greatly appreciated.
Dark Rey get’s very little screen time. Okay, I knew this was going to be the case, but I had still hoped for a little more than we got.
The connection between Skywalker and Palpatine wasn’t fully explained. Okay, this is a criticism because yes, we do know that it is explained, but not on screen. In other words, this movie kind of expects you to know the extra-canonical material to understand this.
Though, based on the story, Palpatine was responsible for Anakin’s creation. So technically.. Ben and Rey are connected… like Cousins… I think? I dunno Palpatine is Ben’s great grandfather while he’s Rey’s grandfather… what does that make her? Grandcousin? Someone help me out there. Either way…

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Ewww… Good lord, what is it with Lucasfilm and incestuous plot lines!?

All right, so overall, what did I think of the film?

Well… I loved it! I was on the edge of my seat smiling the entire time! I was absolutely thrilled and was happy with the final product. This is now my list of the franchise as it stands, from most favorite to least…

1. Return of the Jedi (Non-special Edition)
2. The Empire Strikes Back
3. Revenge of the Sith
4. A New Hope
5. The Force Awakens
6. The Rise of Skywalker
7. Rogue 1
8. The Mandalorian
9. The Clone Wars
10. Rebels
11. Phantom Menace
12. Solo
13. Attack of the Clones
14. Ewoks: Battle for Endor
15. Droids Cartoon
16. Ewoks Caravan of Courage
17. Ewoks Cartoon
18. Original Clone Wars Mini series.
19. The Last Jedi.
20. Holiday Special.

I’m giving this movie an 8-8.5/10. I loved it. It had it’s problems, but for a movie that had everything going against it, it rose to the occasion. Between the untimely death of a key actor, to having to course correct from the Last Jedi, to finally wrapping up a 9-movie-franchise, this movie was set up to fail… and it didn’t. My only regret is that I wish I could see what this movie would have been had The Last Jedi not been made… or at least not been made the way it was. It’s a divisive movie and has the critics and fans split, though the division seems to be more on the critic’s side, but it seems the majority of the fans loved it and I’m one of them.

Is it up there with the original trilogy? Eh… no, but it’s close. A New Hope wasn’t the greatest movie of all time either and frankly, Empire Strikes Back was the Golden Age of Star Wars. So honestly, I’d put it just under A New Hope, which is tied with The Force Awakens. (Yeah, I said it!!)

Anyway, have you seen it yet? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments and let’s get a conversation going!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Review: Star Wars: LOST STARS Manga Vol 3 #StarWars #Review #Writing #Fantasy

The conclusion of the thrilling manga adaptation of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars Lost Stars novel! What does destiny have in store for Thane and Ciena?

  • Series: Star Wars Lost Stars (manga) (3) (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Yen Press (November 12, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1975358678
  • ISBN-13: 978-1975358679
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches

 

Okay, you all know my love of Star Wars and how rarely I do book reviews. Let me preface this by saying that I am a fan of the Lost Stars story. I did a review of it previously which can be read here, and the second volume of the Manga, which you can read here…

Though I did not do a review of the first Lost Stars Manga Volume, I will admit that I loved it. The story stayed true to the original novel, the art was well done, and for a fairly cheap price, it was a good buy and a good read… for the most part. The second volume wasn’t quite as good as the first. It was shorter and skipped quite a bit of the book. So how does the third measure up? Well… Let’s get into the nitty gritty, shall we?

Setting:
As with the novel, this part of the story picks up right as everything is geared up for the Battle of Endor. Key places include various Star Destroyers, the Endor, Naboo, and the Battle of Jakku.
Cienna is a low-born farmer from a fairly backwards area on the planet, while Thane is considered more of a noble birth from the same world. They’re not meant to get along, like each other, or even speak. Yet crossing their classes isn’t the only obstacle these two have to overcome. In the third volume, we delve into Thane leaving the Empire and joining the Rebellion while Cienna feels compelled by loyalty and her duty to keep her family safe, to stay with the Empire.
As the Empire continues to lose ground, their losses show in Cienna’s injuries and her lifelessness. She grows skinny, her eyes are shaded and her lips chapped. This whole time, Thane believes her to be dead.

What I liked:
Honestly, this story really goes a lot more into Cienna’s feelings toward the Empire, it covers her descent into nothingness and we get to visually see the toll her duty takes on her. By the end of the book, she’s emotionally drained, thin, badly scarred, on life support, exhausted, and no longer wanting to live. This is incredibly powerful.
The anime style is very well done, just as well as the previous books.

What I didn’t like:
My complaint here is not much different from the ones in the other books. This is pretty much an abbreviated version of the novel. The idea that a picture is worth a thousand words just doesn’t hold true here. The Battles of Endor and Jakku, two events that were major plot points in the book are barely glossed over here. We really don’t even SEE the Battle of Jakku in this volume as the story is focused on the bridge of the Inflictor.
Another powerful scene where Thane get’s sick and is counselled by an officer that later turns out to be Mon Mothma, one of my favorite scenes, is cut out completely.
Whoever edited this book’s story boards to turn it into a graphic novel didn’t do a very good job. You immediately jump from Cienna getting promoted to right when the Star Destroyer get’s boarded and Thane shows up to take Cienna off the ship. Literally there is no transition to tell you that you’re now seeing the Battle of Jakku… which I suppose makes sense as you really don’t even see it.

Story:
I went over the story in the last review, so I’ll spare you. I included the links above if you’re interested.


2.5/5 Stars
It really kind of hurts me to give it such a low review. Don’t get me wrong, the illustrations are incredibly well done, the story is gripping and getting some more detail into the characters was a nice treat…
Sadly, the book is shorter than the other two volumes and noticeably shorter than the first one. It cuts out key points, character developments, and the transitions from scene to scene are almost non-existent to the point where you’re confused as to what’s going on. The manga seems to assume that everyone’s already read the book and that should not the case. These should be standalone for new readers to be drawn in.
Is this worth reading? Hell yes, but before touching this series, I’d recommend reading the book first for full context, otherwise you’ll be introduced to Lost Stars via a muddled mess.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Death Of Star Wars: “Toxic” Fandom and Drama #StarWars #LucasFilm #Fans #TheMandalorian

As I’ve said before… if you thought TLJ was the worst Star Wars ever put out, watch this, learn why you’re wrong, then come back and let’s talk.

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY!!! LMAO!!!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Death Of Star Wars: “Toxic” Fandom and Drama #StarWars #LucasFilm #Fans #TheMandalorian

Full disclaimer, I do not believe that all Star Wars fans are toxic, not by half. So please actually read my article before you get all hot under the collar one way or another. If you disagree with me, let’s talk about it in the comments. 

Okay, I know I’m treading on rather sensitive grounds here, but this is something I really think I need to go over. As of late, there has been a lot of mudslinging back and forth between Entertainment News Media, Hollywood, and the fan base of Star Wars. Though admittedly my blog has a limited readership, I wanted to do my part to try to tackle each of these and create a point of order… or some semblance of sanity. 

First thing I want to tackle, is Star Wars dead? I’ve actually heard some people out there, including independent journalist Tim Pool say that Star Wars was dead the moment The Last Jedi hit the theater. A lot of people stated that the more they saw it, the worse it got… and honestly, that’s fair criticism. Upon seeing the backlash to it, I wrote a post defending the Last Jedi. I stand by what I said at that point, though even I have to admit that each time I watch it, it really does get worse and worse. Perhaps another bad sign that it wasn’t good was when I left the theater, my wife asked me if I liked it, my response was ‘I don’t know’. That has NEVER happened. I loved Episode 1 so much that I went and bought all the action figures when I left the theater… and they’re pretty much worthless now. I still defend the prequel trilogy because I don’t think it was as bad as everyone said and has a lot of good elements that adds to the Star Wars mythos.

For The Last Jedi, okay… I’ll come out and say it. It was bad.

HOWEVER, if you think The Last Jedi was the worst thing to ever happen to Star Wars, go watch The Holiday Special, Caravan of Courage, or the Battle for Endor, realize why you’re wrong, then come back and talk to me.

A close acquaintance of mine once said that once Disney purchased Star Wars, we’d all be begging for Lucas to come back within a few years. I’m honestly not sure that’s true. Let’s take a look at what Disney has put out individually…

The Force Awakens: AWESOME! Yes, somewhat of a retread of ANH, but there was enough new stuff to keep us interested and IT FELT LIKE STAR WARS!!!

Rogue One: A gritty look at the Rebellion’s behind the scenes activities. It was gutsy and had the best space battle since Endor. It was action packed, and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Rebels: I have to admit… I love this show. Like… I REALLY love this show. it had a few problems and… God help us, it brought continuity-killing time travel themes into Star Wars, but it handled them well (so far), brought back fan favorite Ahsoka Tano, introduced inquisitors, and brought Malachor from KOTOR 2 into the fold.

The Last Jedi: This… yeah, was a horrible HORRIBLE mess. However, one issue I take with the criticism was the concept of fuel… um… fuel has been around in the Star Wars universe for a while. In ANH we see them fueling the fighters, and in TPM, they literally say “There’s not enough fuel to reach Coruscant”! That’s the whole reaon they had to set down on Tatooine.

Solo: Had some problems and no one asked for it, and yes… I don’t like who they cast as Solo, but the movie itself was pretty good. It was a somewhat dark, but lighthearted heist movie. For what it was, it was pretty good.

The Mandalorian: SO FAR, it’s been awesome!

So, there you go. One truly bad movie. That’s it, that’s all we have to complain about here. The jury is still out on The Rise of Skywalker, and granted we’ve heard that there have been production trouble… but the movie isn’t even out yet. This movie could be a make or break for Star Wars as everything comes down to how it ends, but we still have to wait and see.

So let’s move onto the second topic, toxic fandom… Are Star Wars fans truly toxic as a whole? NO! Absolutely not! Star Wars fans are really the most loyal fanbase there is. These were the people who kept the hype going even during the dark ages of 1983-1991 when there was close to nothing coming out for the franchise and kids like me, who were born after the movies came out, had to rely on their older cousins and siblings to get their hands on the merch. It is a very diverse group of fans ranging all ages, cultures, ethnicity, and backgrounds.

I will admit that some fans consider Star Wars sacred and I can understand that. My intro to Star Wars comes before I was even born! My mother saw Return of the Jedi in theater while pregnant with me! Apparently I was very excited during the whole thing. So I can understand why Star Wars fans get so vocal about their disdain when something bad comes out.

Now, does that mean that some fans don’t take things too far or are not worthy of the label ‘toxic’? No…

The toxicity has been on full display with the treatment of people like Kelly Marie Tran and Jake Lloyd. It is sad commentary on what they’ve had to deal with. On top of that, we get people who are saying that the whole franchise is dead because of one movie, or are refusing to watch the good movies/shows because the franchise is dead, or just seem to be unable to please. This is part of the reason so many directors have refused to tackle Star Wars.

That being said, they are hardly the majority or even a vast percentage. These days, for some reason, Hollywood has gone head-first into the political realm… and not just politics, but deeply divisive, arguably radical one-sided politics. As a result, they seem to have become part of the twitteratti and entered into a bubble where everyone who doesn’t like the direction they go is… seemingly akin to Adolf Hitler himself. As such, when people criticize their movies, those people are labelled as haters and toxic. This is propaganda and nothing more. I think in many cases, this meme sums up the problem pretty well…

76686322_2733587760037750_3149506501773623296_n

So if you want to make the argument that Hollywood is complicit in creating this whole ‘toxic’ fanbase problem, I’m right there with you. This also lends credence to my argument that politics can ruin a story if that is the focus. Anyone who reads my posts knows that I try to keep things apolitical with the exception of two areas; children, because I love kids and have long advocated for their welfare… something that should be universal, and escapism, because I feel like it’s so important and politics has invaded almost every facet of our lives, making it near impossible to escape.

So in summation… Star Wars is not dead and Hollywood is as toxic as they claim the majority of the fan base is. People… it’s just a creative universe. I know we all love it, but it’s not worth getting this worked up over. If you loved the original movies and the clone wars series… they’re still there, you can go watch them and enjoy. The books from the original Expanded Universe are still being published, as are the comics! Star Wars is awesome, go enjoy the literal universe of material!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Review: Star Wars: LOST STARS Manga Vol 2 #StarWars #Review #Writing #Fantasy

 

The conclusion of the thrilling manga adaptation of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars Lost Stars novel! What does destiny have in store for Thane and Ciena?

  • Series: Star Wars Lost Stars (manga) (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yen Press (September 3, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1975327543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1975327545
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches

 

Okay, you all know my love of Star Wars and how rarely I do book reviews. Let me preface this by saying that I am a fan of the Lost Stars story. I did a review of it previously which can be read here.

Though I did not do a review of the first Lost Stars Manga Volume, I will admit that I loved it. The story stayed true to the original novel, the art was well done, and for a fairly cheap price, it was a good buy and a good read… for the most part. Let’s get into the nitty gritty, shall we?

Setting:
As with the novel, the story takes place before, during, and after the events of the Trilogy. Key places include Jelucan, the Death Star, the Executor, Hoth, and the cruiser Liberty.
Cienna is a farmer from a fairly backwards area on the planet, while Thane is considered more of a noble birth from the same world.

What I liked:
It follow the story very closely, though I felt the characters’ affection for each other a lot more in this as you could actually see the emotion on their faces. Artist Yusaku Komiyama does an amazing job capturing facial features and emotions. One striking thing I did notice about the characters is that, while the images on StarWars.com and Wookiepiedia paint Ciena as closer to African American, the Manga… at least around her eyes and hair to an extent, make her look more like she originated in the Indian area on Earth. That’s my opinion anyway, but the shape of her eyes kind of match those that I’ve seen in both Indian/Arabian Cartoon characters.

What I didn’t like:
We don’t really spend a whole lot of time in various locations. I wish we got to explore some of them a little more, though to Lost Stars’ credit, in the first Volume, we did actually get to see the destruction of Alderaan from the perspective of people on the surface, which was an interesting touch.

Story:
Again, as with the Novel, the story revolves around two new Characters; Thane and Cienna. It surrounds their friendship and surrounds their thoughts on events from the original trilogy and how it affects them. They’re both assigned to posts either on or near the Death Star and when it’s destroyed, they both fear for each other’s safety. The story appears to be a round about   Romeo and Juliet style story where one character (Thane) becomes disillusioned with the Empire and joins the Rebellion, where Cienna is honor-bound by her oath to remain with the Empire. Eventually, they do have to come head to head, on more than one occasion, which makes the story even more interesting.

What I liked:
Here we see how Cienna has to decide what is more important to her; the Empire or Thane. We see her struggle with the conundrum and eventually chooses him. Though she says this will be the only time, we see her do it again in another instance where she could have killed him or turned him in.

What I didn’t like:
The Manga, especially Volume 2 suffers from the same problems as the main novel. Arguably worse so. The story jumps pretty quickly from the Death Star to Hoth with little breathing room or character development. What’s worse, it’s all over the place. The first volume deals with the Battle of Hoth while the second volume cuts it out. The editing and placement of these scenes seem somewhat sloppy and hard to follow. Again, places and events that should not be passed over, are either barely mentioned or not acknowledged at all.

Characters:

(See the book review, not much to add here)

My Overall Assessment:
3/5 Stars
I’ve waited months for this volume to come out and honestly… was somewhat disappointed. It was painfully short compared to the first one, and what’s worse, I find out that it’s a three-part story, which means I have to wait another month (hopefully no longer) for the next segment. I enjoyed it, I loved the artwork, and of course the story is great, but I can’t overlook the shortfalls of this book. Even so, I still recommend it to everyone. It is a great read for those who love anime and/or Star Wars.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Book review: Drakin, the story of Raiya

Awesome review by a wonderful reader! Thank you!

Tomas, the wandering dreamer

After two Sci-Fi books (Jurrasic Park and Resist), I got to read a book that is some kind of a mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Another step into the unknown for me – and one that worked for me.

View original post 368 more words

Unpopular Opinion: Incredibles 2 wasn’t worth the wait. (Spoiler Free)

Yeah… this was a major let down.

torch-and-pitchfork.jpg

Oh, bring it on!

I went to see it with my family the other night at a drive-in. My kids loved the original and watch it ad nauseam.  I admit it’s a fun movie and definitely an entertaining take on Superheroes.

I actually got a laugh out of Samuel L. Jackson’s character when he’s arguing with his wife…

“It’s for the greater good!”
“I am your wife, I’m the greatest GOOD you’ll ever get!”

(No matter how many times I hear that, it still gets a laugh.)

So the movie takes place seemingly immediately after the first movie… despite 14 years passing. When the screen lit up and the cast appears on the screen to pathetically apologize for taking so long to make a sequel, I admit that was funny. It set the stage for what should have been a good movie.

What came after was… underwhelming. The story was a fairly run-of-the-mill paint by numbers superhero story. The “Surprise” bad guy that Disney seems to try to unleash on their audience lately has become so predictable… I had to resist the urge to point at the screen and be like, (okay, okay, ONE small spoiler! Skip to the next paragraph.) “Yeah, she’s the bad guy.”

It’s not that it was a bad movie, it just didn’t bring anything new to the table. Not helping matters though, was the voice acting…

Some of it was fine, as usual, Samuel L Jackson was his normal self and did a good job, but the rest of the cast sounded tired and out of it… except for one character, who arguably was even worse than that…

MV5BMTAzNzI3NTU4NTNeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDIzNDg5MjM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,589,1000_AL_

This character is being portrayed by a 49-year-old woman… and it really shows. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against older actors playing younger roles… as long as they can pull it off. At no point did I believe that was the voice of a teenager. She actually sounded older than Elastagirl, which was kind of cringy, to say the least.

All in all, I didn’t enjoy this movie at all. It’s fun for little kids, I suppose, but it really doesn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table. Save your money and rent it when it comes out.

Readers, what did you think? Was Incredibles 2 good? Do you want to see it? What did you like about it if so? Let me know down in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim