Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Last Stand

This past weekend, I went to see X-Men: The Last Stand. I thought it was a good ending to the X-Men trilogy, but it wasn't the best of the movies by far.

On the plus side, you have the number of earth-shattering things that they did. I don't want to say too much in case someone stumbles into the Least Read Blog who hasn't seen the movie and wants to, but it seems that the writers/director stole a page from Spiderman 2 and chucked the rule book right out the window. Deaths, radical changes made to characters, this movie had it all. One of those surprises literally caused my jaw to drop about half-way through. I appreciate it when a movie is able to stray from the material its based on; it makes it a little more fun for the audience.

One example that I can talk about it how they explained the Phoenix in the movie. For those of you familiar with the comics or the '90s cartoon of the X-Men, the Phoenix was supposed to be an alien entity that inhabited Jean Grey, only to go basically psycho later on. Obviously, they couldn't go that route in the movies without introducing the Shi'ar Empire, something that would have turned off casual fans. The way they got around that in this case was superb.

Also on the plus side is Kelsey Grammer. The man was perfect as Beast. Quite honestly, I can't think of a better person to be Big Blue. They way they introduced Beast and the way he fought were all well done. Actually, the fight scene at the end of the movie was just spectacular.

On the negative side, I don't think the writing was as smart as X2. The other major problem I had with the writing is that they seemed to want to hedge all their bets. Just watch the last 30 seconds of the movie (and the tag at the end of the credits) to see what I mean. It's no secret that this is the last of the X-Men movies. Yes, there's talk of a young Magneto flick and a Wolverine vehicle for Hugh Jackman, but I don't think those movies need the hedges that were made. It would have been better to exclude the first hedge (the part right before the end of the credits in the park and the chess board for those who have seen the movies) and kept the tag just for the fun of it.

Another negative was the lack of Nightcrawler. I know, perhaps I'm picking at straws here, but Kurt Wagner was a major part of X2, and given the way the second movie ended, it certainly seemed like he was going to be an X-Man now. Yet when this movie started, there's no sign of Nightcrawler and no explanation of where he went. Even throwing us a bone of one line saying where he went would have been nice.

And finally, there's the puzzle of Rogue. I won't give too much away, but I've been left wondering why she was in the Danger Room at the beginning of the movie. What help can movie-version Rogue give in a fight? None. Oh well.

That's it for me. Go see the movie and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Policy

Okay, so I've got a new policy here. No more anonymous posts. If you've got something to say, sign your name to it.

Allow me to explain. Someone apparently didn't appreciate what I said in my last post about taking criticism. They decided to anonymously post a comment about it using a very poorly constructed analogy. I'm not even going to guess at who made it.

Needless to say, I've changed the setting on the blog. You need to have an account here to leave a comment. I don't know if it's possible to post anonymously in a blog with an account. If it is, anonymous comments will be deleted.

But since someone decided to criticize my criticism, let me criticize your criticism in turn.

Am I saying that someone should be happy when they're criticized and told that someone doesn't like what they've done? Heck no! I'm not saying that at all. Criticism does hurt. What I'm saying is that you have a choice of what to do with that criticism.

Let me give you an example from my own life. A few weeks ago, I sent in a short story called "The Jewel of Creation" to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. When I came home today, I discovered the SASE that I sent with it and I knew that it wasn't good news.

I was right. In a very short note, the assistant editor informed me that he was going to pass on it. The extent of his criticism was "This tale didn't grab my interest, I'm afraid. Good luck to you with this one, and thank you again for sending it our way."

Did it hurt to get rejected? Yes, it did. So what do I do with this rejection? How do I respond to this gentleman who didn't like my work?

Well, I could write the editor a note informing him that he doesn't get it and argue that my story is better than he thinks, that the people who have read it so far have enjoyed it, and that it deserves another shot. Somehow, though, I don't think that will get me published.

Or I can do what I actually did. I laughed it off since I still believe in my story and I sent it off to a new magazine. It goes in the mail tomorrow. If that magazine rejects it, I'll see what they have to say. If I'm lucky, I'll maybe get some in-depth comments that I can consider, either implementing the suggested changes to make the story better or ignoring them if I disagree. And then I can send it off again and hope for the best.

Taking the criticism personally doesn't help. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Not-So-Lonely Winds

Okay, so if you missed it, I kind of eviscerated an author whose book I didn't like. At the time I wrote this review, I was only about a third of the way through the book. Perhaps that was not the best time to submit a review, I don't know.

I do know that by the time I finished The Lonely Winds, I wasn't nearly as annoyed with it as I was when I started. The characters grew on me a little ... very little. The writing style still bugged me and I thought that the whole thing turned out to be terribly anti-climactic. I think it's obvious that Mr. Flight was setting himself up for a sequel. Needless to say, I'm not about to buy it if it ever comes out.

Now, I'm not talking about this book just because my dislike of said book diminished with repeated exposure. No, the reason I bring this up is because apparently Mr. Flight stumbled onto the Least Read Blog and read my review and felt the need to rebutt what I said.

I'll be honest, I didn't notice these comments until just recently and, I have to say, I'm a little disappointed. This makes me worry about Mr. Flight all the more.

As an unpublished author, I understand how it can hurt when someone criticizes your work. I don't like it either. But in those situations, you have one of two choices. You can either:
  1. Leave the criticism out there unanswered. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, after all. If anything, accept what was said, examine it to see if there is any kernel of truth to it and incorporate whatever you can learn to avoid any mistakes that the criticism highlighted.
  2. Try to convince the critic of their mistake, making it look like you're thin-skinned and can't take the criticism.

You can guess which option I think is better.

No offense to Mr. Flight, but if I had been in your shoes, I would have laughed off my review and just moved on. You say that mine is the first negative review and, after checking, I can see that's true. That doesn't change my opinion of the book. I still didn't enjoy it. Why does it matter if one blogger criticizes your book?

Oh well. As far as I'm concerned, the matter is closed since I don't have the book in my possession anymore. I registered it with Book Crossings and I have released it to the wild. Perhaps someone will find it and add another positive review. Perhaps they will agree with me. Who knows? Who cares? I'm done.

Brought to you by the letter P

I can't claim credit for this, but it sure is weird:

1) Go to Google

2) Do an image search for "Street Cred"

3) Scroll down to the bottom of the results screen to see who, apparently, has loads of it.

4) Prepare to be amazed.

Or, if you're lazy, just follow this link.