Month: October 2014

Review: The Awakening – Period Piece Ghost Film That’s Better Than Most

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Film Review:  The Awakening (2011)

My Rating:  5 craft beers on a 6-pack scale.

Genre:  Horror/Thriller

Rating:  R

Runtime:  107 mins

Directed by:  Nick Murphy

Writers:  Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy

Stars:  Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton

Note:  English language film, a UK production.

So I write this a day after watching The Awakening.  Looking at the film a day later I almost wonder at my initial high rating.  Perhaps too high in fact.  When compared to the IMDP and Metascore ratings I see I’m indeed a little elevated.  Perhaps my 5 craft beer score has more to do with the fact that I was on my 5th beer by the end of the movie and again I’m on my 5th brew as I write this now.  Perhaps.  I’m sticking with the rating however so here we go.

IMDB The Awakening

IMDB The Awakening

There will be no spoilers so don’t worry.  Really this review is my impression and not a justification piece to point out what worked and what failed.  This film was pretty darn good.  The thing that’s quite possibly the most scary is the screen presence of Dominic West.  I try to not like him.  I try really, really hard.  But I can’t.  Even when I think about him in Centurion (as a very unbelievable Roman general with a terrible, terrible accent) and The 300 (as a douchebag politician who…well he nailed this one actually) I just don’t like his work very much.  But in The Awakening he’s pretty darn good as a cross between a lead and a supporting actor.  I wish we got a little more about his story, but we got what we got, which was enough to move the story along.

Rebecca Hall was good simply because she wasn’t over-the-top annoying.  She was beyond annoying in The Town (my previous reference film concerning the actress) and I wasn’t thrilled to see she was in this but she managed to not suck so she was therefore good enough.  It was hard sometimes to hear exactly what she was saying but thankfully I had the subtitles on so I could more easily follow what she was saying despite much of it probably being better off as internal narrative.  I have to say that I’m 36 and not hard of hearing.  West came in lough and clear so the subtitles were not needed throughout.  Hall just needs to speak up a bit.  Maybe it wasn’t that bad…but I think it was.

So there is a little blood (in like one rather super violent scene), a little less blood in another violent scene, and a couple of places where you may be a little scared but not royally so (in my opinion).  Oh, and you see a boob and thusly the film is rated “R.”  What really drew me into the film was the setting as a period piece (set in 1921).  The Awakening takes place just three-years or so after the First World War and it did a pretty good job of conveying the psychological scars of a nation with wounds that are far from healed.  To have a generation or two erased from existence due to the horrors of war is a pretty heavy burden for a people to carry.  England is a country of people that want ghosts to exist because there are so many loved ones now absent.

Is this a lights out scary movie?  No.  Not at all really.  What’s best about The Awakening is that it isn’t a super clichéd slasher, buckets of blood, screamfest.  Nope.  It’s just an entertaining thriller with some rather solid acting (West) and a pretty good ending that made me think I should have seen it coming but didn’t.  I like films that surprise me and The Awakening did so.  It’s worth a watch but perhaps my 5-craft beer rating was too high.  I may change it tomorrow.  I’ll sleep on it.

Cheers!

JW

To Amazon.com!  KindleUnlimited friendly!
To Amazon.com! KindleUnlimited friendly!

“HARD TO PUT DOWN!”

“GRABS HOLD AND DOESN’T LET GO.”

“BRILLIANT STUFF.”

REVIEW: The Returned – A different kind of zombie movie.

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Film Review:  The Returned

My Rating:  4 ½ craft beers on a 6-pack scale.

Genre:  Drama/Horror/Sci-Fi

Rating:  N/A

Runtime:  98 mins

Directed by:  Manuel Carballo

Writers:  Hatem Khraiche

Stars:  Kris Holden-Reid, Emily Hampshire, Claudia Bassols

Note:  English language film, shot in Canada, production company based in Spain.  Watched via stream from Netflix.

Want to see a very different take on the zombie apocalypse and the impact it would have on the world?  Well, look no further than the excellent indie film The Returned.  There are NO spoilers below so don’t be worried.

The Returned on IMDB
The Returned on IMDB

This is not a movie with buckets of blood (the first 3-minutes of the title segment notwithstanding), deeply flawed and yet lovable survivors, and nor does it feature the lost child looking for someone to protect and adopt them as their own.  The Returned is a movie about how the world, which survived an outbreak or two already of the zombie plague, managed to hold society together in the aftermath with fears of a new outbreak looming.  Some, but in my opinion, not enough of the flaws of society are exposed here.  But there is certainly enough to have a discussion with fellow zombie lovers afterwards over a bottle of wine or some craft beer (I’m on board with the latter).

The IMDB rating for it is surprisingly low.  When this was written it had an average 5.9/10 rating by the nearly 4700 raters.  The metascore was also lower than I expected.  Much, much lower in fact.   I wonder if these ratings can be attributed to all The Walking Dead and World War Z lovers out there that felt cheated that it wasn’t 98-minutes of skulls being caved in and intestines pulled out of the guts of unlucky folks like scarves from the shirtsleeve of a magician.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t the end-all be-all greatest zombie movie of all time.  It is just a different kind of zombie movie.  A movie you can watch while your kids are in the other room and if they happen to walk in there’s a 90% chance they won’t be severely traumatized.

In the end I was greatly entertained and left wanting more.  Wanting more not because there was a tremendous lacking in this offering but because this imaginative universe can easily support a sequel and/or a prequel as well.  A wonderful piece for those that love the zombie genre but need a bit of a break from the gritty, bloodbath, and ultra-depressing dystopian/apocalyptic world displayed on our entertainment screens day-in and day-out.

Prediction:  When will we see the first zombie based “reality” TV series?  When creative television is truly dead and the ratings will be off-the-hook no doubt. (You heard it here first).

Cheers!

JW

Oh…and what’s the best thing after a movie?  How about a good read!

To Amazon.com!  KindleUnlimited friendly!
To Amazon.com! KindleUnlimited friendly!

New Cover Art! Thanks Portland area artist Kevin Reynolds. PLUS other updates.

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Good morning Sci-Fi fans.  I’m very happy to display here, for the first time, the new cover art for my first released book The Bellerophon: Ambush.  The original art was done with the cover art maker software on Amazon.com and it worked for me.  For a time at least.  Then I started to see others with nearly the same cover…so it was obvious that I needed something different.

From time-to-time over the years I’ve chatted with the talented Portland area artist Kevin Reynolds, a friend, brother really, for nearly 30-years (I cried at his wedding which means nothing as I cry at all weddings).  We’ve talked about graphic novel work because I love to write, he loves to draw, and we both love to create.  So here is the cover he came up with.  I think it very well evokes the minimalist environment that is the arena for much of this series: deep space.  I immediately thought of one of the original covers of the Greg Bear book Eon and one of the original covers for Rendezvous with Rama, one of my favorite books by perhaps my favorite author, Arthur C. Clarke.

To Amazon.com!  KindleUnlimited friendly!
To Amazon.com! KindleUnlimited friendly!

I look forward to again work with Kevin Reynolds in the near future on more creative projects.  Hopefully he can find time to fit me into his busy schedule of being a husband, father, co-owner operator of the Via Chicago restaurant (ttp://www.viachicagopizza.com) on Alberta Street in Portland, OR, (stop by and have a slice!) oh and he’s a Senior Art Director for Leopold Ketel & Partners (http://www.leoketel.com) in…you guessed it, that same Rose City.  I need a nap after writing all that.  Again, he’s quite the busy guy!

And an update on how things are going on Amazon.com…

For an Indie-writer I’m as happy as a clam with these numbers.  Never thought I’d write “happy as a clam.”  Ever.  Thanks to all you readers out there.  Now to get some work done.  Also, stay tuned for some movie reviews.  I’ve watched some off-the-beaten path films lately that I thinks folks will enjoy.

Have a great weekend and as always…

Cheers!

JW

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the Downloads, oh…and Pizza in Portland!

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Still going strong my brother and sister readers and writers!  Thanks for giving my book a look.

Currently there are 2,947,025 e-books on Amazon.com.  And The Bellerophon: Ambush is:

I’m writing more stuff as fast as I can.  Tough to get my words in while I’m trying to teach the 6th grade especially when…don’t get me rambling about that!  Anyway…I’m done with Act 1 of Sigma Draconis (FIB ALERT!).  Okay…half a chapter left and then the draft of Act 1 of 3 is done but I’m over 40K words now so it’s looking like a book kinda!  I’ll also be devoting a day a week (I write 7-days a week I do) to working on a novella to get something in the 15-30K realm done before Christmas.  I’m afraid to really get into this though because that was how Sigma D. started!

If you haven’t already downloaded a copy…here you go.  Help a starving teacher transition into the role of a full-time starving writer.  Shameless I know.

Book 1 in the Captive Galaxy Series. Kindle. Amazon.com
Book 1 in the Captive Galaxy Series. Kindle. Amazon.com

Thanks to all my friends in the UK, Australia, and Canada for buying quite a few copies of my work.  Hope you continue to enjoy and tell your friends!

Also, that new cover for The Bellerophon: Ambush is inbound from Portland area artist Kevin Reynolds.  Who, besides being an extremely talented and creative individual, operates Via Chicago which, if you want some good pizza and craft beer (and much more), it’s the place to be in the Rose City.

via-chicago_03

Cheers,

JW

Thanks Readers for a Great October

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October has been awesome!  Thanks!  This has really driven me to continue working hard.  Reviews are coming in and The Bellerophon: Ambush has been enjoyed by many.  Please, if you have read about the ‘Belle and her crew, and had fun doing so, please rate and write a review on Amazon.com.  I’m busy on another work set in the same universe AND I’m about to begin a novella featuring one of the characters from the first book.  Exciting times!

If you like a story that features fast-paced future combat with power armor, plasma weapons, sarcastic characters, and a building mystery involving an ancient race of technologically advances alien life, then this is the book and series to catch.  This is the first book in a series that will include multiple sequels, spin-offs (SEE: upcoming novel Sigma Draconis), and novellas featuring some of the more interesting characters on the privateer Bellerophon.

KindleUnlimited Friendly!

Book 1 in the Captive Galaxy Series. Kindle. Amazon.com
Book 1 in the Captive Galaxy Series. Kindle. Amazon.com

Cheers!

JW

P.S. Updated custom cover from artist Kevin Reynolds coming soon.

Russia & Ukraine: Gas is the Answer…kinda

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The invasion and support of insurrectionists in the Ukraine by Russian President-For-Life Putin is still ongoing.  It’s not in the American news much today because major world events that will impact the United States seem to be reported far behind other things like Beyonce’s latest haircut for one.  The reason for this?  Maybe because it would raise the already high tensions even higher if the American government, seen as a joke internationally, were to suddenly think they were Cold War warriors once more.  There are no more Cold War warriors leading this country anymore.  They were all put out to pasture.  Do people remember the Prague Spring and the missed opportunity because it was in a sphere of influence of another?  Spheres of influence which are not components of international law mind you.  Sadly, probably very few remember that because it’s history and American’s don’t really like history.  It’s boring.  Turn on the reality TV already.  Yay!

Perhaps, if the Ukraine was an oil producer and had something of value beyond wheat, we would send military support instead of pissing it away at great expense in places like Afghanistan (AKA the world’s largest producer of heroin and chalk).  So instead of sending military aid to halt Putin, who like Hitler will not stop once he has consumed the Ukraine…remember he’s a megalomaniac, former creepy KGB head, and self-appointed president-for-life, perhaps instead of bullets we can send gas.

Ukrainian soldiers preparing to defend their country.

Ukrainian soldiers preparing to defend their country.

The Ukraine actually pays for the bullets and bombs that are being used against them!  Did you know that?  Well, the natural gas that the Ukraine relies upon, as well as several European countries to the west, comes from Russia.  There are no fewer than 3 major natural gas pipelines that supply the Ukraine and Western Europe.  So why don’t we, the United States of America, help out the Ukraine by selling them our natural gas, which is a natural resource we have in abundance?  It would help out the Ukraine by getting them out of a tactless relationship with those that want to deny them their sovereignty.  It would be a way to hurt Putin without getting people killed.  AND it would be a way to help the US economy…you know, by having people in the US actually have real jobs and not those high-paying jobs made up on paper by the current administration.  Sounds like a good deal, right?

Where is the real bump in the plan?  We don’t have the facilities to get the gas to Europe right now, and to build them, to go through all the regulatory bureaucracy and environmental hoops, it will be some time until this can actually happen.  Nothing is done quickly in the US anymore.  Thank goodness the interstate system was built in the 50’s and 60’s because if it was done today…yeah it would never get done.

So in the end just where are we?  Still on the same road to nowhere.  I know!  Let’s build a bridge there! (Once it goes through endless debate, permitting, study, and delays).

Have a great weekend! Pick up a fun read ’cause it’s raining outside…

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Reviews are coming in and The Bellerophon: Ambush has thus far been enjoyed by many.  On this rainy weekend pick up a copy from Amazon.com and enjoy a book that features fast-paced shipboard combat with power armor, plasma weapons, sarcastic characters, and a building mystery.  This is the first of a series that will include multiple sequels, spin-offs (SEE: upcoming novel Sigma Draconis), and novellas featuring some of the most interesting characters on the privateer Bellerophon.

Pretty good rankings:

Book 1 in the Captive Galaxy Series. Kindle. Amazon.com
Book 1 in the Captive Galaxy Series. Kindle. Amazon.com

 

Cheers!

JW

P.S. Stay tuned for an updated custom cover from artist Kevin Reynolds.