Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jun 19, 2007

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I have to admit that I am one of those people that will go see a superhero movie regardless of how campy it looks or how lousy the reviews are . . . I will even defy the opinions of people whose artistic judgment I take seriously to go see a movie with super heroes in it.

Now, that being said, let's all remember the first Fantastic Four movie. Actually, let's not, because it was awful. It was really, really bad. So, when I went to see this latest one I was really not expecting very much.

Well, I was surprised. Rise of the Silver Surfer was actually quite good!

It wasn't perfect . . . some of the plot was just goofy and there was a bit of "bad girlfriend" whinging from the Invisible Woman, but the director didn't let it get out of control. As an aside, does anyone else think that Jessica Alba looks RIDICULOUS with blond hair and blue eyes? Why couldn't they get someone to play the Invisible Woman that actually HAS blond hair and blue eyes? And what was WITH that peacock-blue eyeshadow, anyway? She looked like Mimi from the Drew Carey show. I also want to know why, if Mr. Fantastic designed this snazzy flying car, why did they spend 2/3 of the movie being shuttled around in helicopters and airplanes? That flying car made it from their headquarters in, um, I think it was L.A. to GREENLAND in FIVE MINUTES.

*Coughs* okay, I was going to explain why the movie was good, not get hung up complaining about some of the corny elements. You have to expect corny elements in any movie that isn't R-rated nowadays.

The major reason why the movie is good is that it makes sense. The characters have reasonable motivations. They act like sane people who haven't had their brains sucked out by creatures from the dungeon dimensions. They make reasonable choices that have good results. The Silver Surfer is not over-done at all; he has some real pathos going for him and he makes a very good sympathetic villian, although you do end up wondering whether that gray stuff is meant to be his skin or some kind of body suit, because that leads to some interesting anatomical questions . . . okay, maybe that was just me. Even the Human Torch grows up during the movie and starts acting (sort of) like an adult.

It seems weird to me that the sequel should be better than the first movie, but the same thing happened with the Spiderman movies, so maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. I have a theory for why this occurs, actually: it's because the Superhero Origins of these characters were all written during the Silver Age of comics, and thus they are INCREDIBLY campy today. Bit by a radioactive spider? Flew threw a Cosmic Storm?! Come on, what do you take us for, idiots? When the moviemakers feel constrained by the limitations of these old, sad comic books, they are unable to make a decent movie. However, when they start getting into their own plotlines and developing their own ideas, it turns out quite well. This even explains why The Incredibles was such a fun movie and why the third Spiderman was so bad.

So, moviemakers: stop riding on other peoples' old ideas and come up with your own stuff. It makes better movies in the long run.

Jun 12, 2007

A Contest for Literatrix

I stumbled on this contest by visiting the Randex, and I quite frankly can't think of anything better-suited to my personal interests, so I emailed the contest sponsor immediately. It really is funny what you find if you look around.

I'm not absolutely certain that my current novel is what they're looking for: I will know more when I get a response. However, I'm sure that there are a number of authors out there working on books that involve freedom on some fundamental level, and any author can certainly use some money and extra incentive to get cracking!

My novel is thematically more about volition than freedom, but the functioning of man's volitional consciousness is the underlying reason why freedom (especially of the political sort) is of such absolute importance. So I think I will probably qualify for this contest, and I urge anyone else that is working on a similar novel to do so as well.

What I don't urge, however, is that you attempt to write a novel for this purpose if you weren't already in the process of doing so. Nothing will turn your writing into miserable hacky second-hand dreck than trying to write to someone else's theme. Writing depends on integration of conscious thought with subconscious automatizations, it doesn't work if you try to ignore what's going on in your subconscious and keep everything on a conscious level. In order to fulfil someone else's desires, that is pretty much what you have to do.

I don't know if the contest operator is an Objectivist, and I suppose it's not really that important unless he intends to exert editorial control. Even then, it's still probably not that important because the kind of fiction I write is not about listing a bunch of explicit ideas, but about leading the reader to make the kind of conclusion I want . . . in other words, "show, don't tell". Here's to freedom!