Murder on the Orient Express

A classy investigation on a cool train. What more could I want? Let me say some stuff not about the movie first. One, I have not read the book. Yeah, yeah, I know. There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t read, though I do know about the ending already. Two, I am inclined to like this movie because I really enjoy a great train setting. You set a movie mostly on a train, especially an awesome one like the Orient Express, and I want to see it.

So how does this murder mystery stack up? It stars Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Piorot, famed detective. And I really liked him in the role. The movie starts off showing a bit about Hercule, both his intellect, deductive skill and his compulsive tendencies. It was cute and fun. Though Hercule does come off all-knowing at times. I think the issue is the movie length. There’s not enough time to show a proper investigation, so sometimes he says where he got his information in quick sentences and then moves on. I really liked watching Hercule work. He’s smart, but he’s not overly condenscending. Just a bit.

After that, the movie takes a bit before it gets to the actual murder part. I think the front of the movie was paced too slow and the back paced too fast. There are a lot of scenes setting up the other characters on board the Orient Express before we even get boarded. I think the only one that’s needed is Bouc’s. What we saw of everyone else really had little to do with their character later. We could have established them as Poirot was getting to know them for the investigation.

Then, later on in the movie, things sort of just start falling into place withou much changing. When I saw changing, I mean, it’s not like Poirot found a new awesome piece of evidence or did some super sleuthing. Things sort of just happened.

In between, though, that part was great. First off, the train is gorgeous to look at and really evokes a great feeling. From the exterior style to the interior fineries, it just sets up the mood so well. I want to go on a train like that someday.

Anyway, moving on from the train, the investigation and interview parts were really well done. The characters all felt good to watch on screen, though due to being so many of them, they didn’t stand out that much. Josh Gad did do a great job, though. That’s what I was talking about earlier, instead of random scenes of the passengers, we should get more of them on the train, where all of the important action is. But as a whole, they all worked well.

I liked the movie. It had great style with a protagonist that is smart without being too snarky. The time period gives everything a refined, elegant feel. They captured that part well. The beginning and end could use some pacing changes, but it’s a solid murder mystery.

I can’t comment on how obvious the answer was because I already knew it, so I knew what to watch for. But I enjoyed it all the same.

Advertisements

Crisis on Earth-X

The four-way crossover of CW’s superhero shows. It has Supergirl, Arrow, Flash and The Legends of Tomorrow and is pretty much a long, made-for-TV movie. It’s great, fun, charming and embraces the wackiness of multiple universes and heroic deeds. I can only imagine what this would be like with a greater budget and effects. That would be so awesome. What we got as great, though.

This time, the crossover feels like a real crossover. Not everyone is there, but the main characters are in all the shows all the time instead of sometimes dropping out. It’s more cohesive than last year’s crossover. Supergirl is featured a lot more, here, and she’s not the only character from her show to show up!

I’ll go episode by episode. There will be some spoilers here, so I hope what I had above was enough to entice comic show fans to see it.

Part 1 starts off a bit slow, but it’s more of a laid-back introductory episode where everyone gets to know everyone and have some fun. All of the heroes are going to Barry and Iris’s wedding, and I almost said Barris. They meet up, they have fun, Sara (from Legends of Tomorrow) and Alex (from Supergirl) get to know each other. Everything is great. Until suddenly Nazi invasion.

Yes that’s right, it’s an attack from Earth-X, the one place every other dimension wants to ignore and forget because it’s too horrible. The episode ends with a big fight between our heroes and the bad guys, and it was great.

Part 2 is the heroes recovering and wondering what’s going on. I’m pretty surprised that Alex gets a lot of development here. It makes these crossovers feel more important than just being their self-contained thing. Jax and Stein (Firestorm from Legends of Tomorrow) also gets a lot of time spent on their story.

The rest of the episode is about our heroes trying to figure out what their evil versions from Earth-X are up to. Oh yes, there’s evil Green Arrow, evil Supergirl. The last one is Reverse Flash, who is actually the one from Earth-1, somehow still alive and making trouble.

I think the episode feels the least impactful out of the four, but it does have quite an ending.

Part 3 is really great. They add a lot of fun characters and we get to see what Earth-X is like! I think more time could have been spent on seeing the normal parts of Earth-X, but we did get to see the military parts, both of the bad guys and of the resistance.

The parts on Earth-1 were weaker, though. It’s mainly Felicity and Iris somehow beating out trained soldiers while all of the heroes that were not captured to Earth-X were imprisoned in the pipeline instead.

While it started in Part 1, I really enjoyed seeing Earth-X Green Arrow and Supergirl. They care for each other, have strong beliefs based on the world they grew up in and are pretty good representations of how the characters could turn out if their world was really dark and bad. They make for more compelling characters than the dominators, that’s for sure.

And wow, the entire assault sequence on the portal facility was great.

And now, Part 4. Our heroes are back and they are ready to defeat their evil dopplegangers. All of the Legends are here now. I can understand why Nate, Amaya and Zari weren’t invited to the wedding neither Barry nor Iris really knew them. But Ray wasn’t invited either! He comes out to help in an awesome way.

Jax and Stein’s storyline comes to a conclusion here, and it really tugs at the heart. It was emotional. I would have liked something happier, but that’s my preference.

Everyone else takes the fight to the Earth-X invasion force, and we get a fight scene worthy of the climax battle. While the tactics of the enemy could be better, the action and special effects was top-notch all throughout.

This crossover felt like it had some real meaning and thought put behind it. There was more than just an excuse to get everyone together for a fun teamup. There were smaller storylines running through things, some that worked well, some that didn’t. It feels like what happened during the crossover will impact the characters for a while.

Whether that’s the case or not is to be seen, but this event really feels important to the development of the characters. And it was fun all around.

NaNoWriMo 2017 End

Well, not quite yet, but it is ending this week. I hit 50,000 words a bit before that, but I wanted to keep up the pace of writing for as long as I could. So I am going to continue trying to write at least 1700 words per day (which I know is higher than the needed words per day).

So, how did I find this experience? Well, pretty much the same as my previous NaNoWriMo times. It was a lot of fun, but it also took me a lot of time to get my words in. That’s not helped by me watching internet videos when writing, so I probably take two of three times as long to get things done. It’s fun and interesting.

I will talk a a bit about my general NaNoWriMo strategy. For me, it’s all about quantity over quality. I have to get my word count in, and I will edit that down later (if ever). I chose a certain style of book, one that allowed me to do whatever I wanted. A children’s fantasy book seemed like a great choice for that. I can throw in whatever I wanted and have it make sense for the world. It really allows me to fill up the book with fun events that don’t necessarily have to connect to the main plot.

One thing I could really do better in the books is some character developing. At the time, they are mostly having fun and going on adventures. I think that’s alright, but all the stuff I’ve read have the characters learn and grow every book. It’s already tough enough trying to give all the main characters a cool event to do, now I have to have them grow and change. It would be nice if they could just change slightly. It’s not a huge lesson, just a slow growth.

For NaNoWriMo, I chose not to use an outline. I have a general plot in mind, but that’s it. In this instance, I had no idea how I was going to resolve the story until I was about 10,000 words in, but I really liked the idea I came up with. Usually, I would suggest knowing how to resolve things before writing. It just worked out well for me this time.

I also write every day. I think it’s important to keep it up. I find I’m more likely to continue if I do the proper word count each day rather than do a lot one day and take a break the next. That’s how it works for me, but it might be different for you. Everyone has different strategies that work for getting the proper amount of words. I just find it easier to make writing that much a habit.

I think NaNoWriMo does require a different tactics compared to normal writing. Since it’s so fast and furious, you either need to plan out every detail before the start, or you need a story that can handle anything. I chose the latter. It made for a fun experience where I don’t question if something would fit before I add it in. Now, if I ever want to edit my stories, that’s going to be real tough.

If you’re a writer, you should give it a shot next year. It’s not about completing the story but just doing your best at it.

Justice League

Justice League, the gathering of the greatest heroes in the DC Universe. I really had fun and enjoyed this movie. There are things I want to change and things that could be better, but overall, I liked it. The movie is more humerous and brighter than the other films, including Wonder Woman. It has more jokes and quips. For the most part, they work well.

In this film, Batman must gather the known heroes of the world to stop an impending invasion. The beginning starts a bit rough. It suffers from a similar problem to a lot of other DC movies in that it tries to do too much. This movie introduces the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. The beginning jumps around a lot between the members of the league, and not all that in a way that’s cohesive. Throw in some flashbacks and other scenes, and the first part of the movie is pretty choppy.

After the league comes together, though, it gets better and more focused. They must stop Steppenwolf, a conqueror from another world, and they must do it together. All members of the league has great interactions with each other. I liked Flash and Cyborg, Batman and Wonder Woman, and Aquaman making his remarks. They all work together really well and each one has a little story they go through. Batman’s and Wonder Woman’s are particularly important to the plot.

Unfortunately, Aquaman feels the most unfinished out of the plots. They mainly told us what drove him and why he’s helping out instead of showing it. He just seems to be there to fill out the members rather than being an important part of the team. If anyone needs their own movie before the Justice League, it’s him.

Steppenwold was pretty generic villain, though. He mostly said the same things, but he was threatening and had some cool fight scenes with the league. We know too little about him for him to be interesting, so he’s more of an action piece. The final action piece also showed off everyone really well. They all had a chance to shine and pull off some cool moves.

I liked the Flash. He’s the comic relief of the team, and I found him enjoyable. The others were also great to watch. Overall, I had a lot of fun in the movie. Could it have been better? Yeah. I’ll go into my thoughts on how to change things in the spoiler section.

Oh, here’s the spoiler section.

Superman is back and alive. I liked that his return is something actively sought out by the rest, in particular Batman. And the scene right after he comes back is awesome. My favorite part has to be Flash’s ‘Oh crap’ face when he realizes Superman can follow him while he’s in super speed.

Alright, so what would I change? Well, if I could change more than one movie, I would give Flash and Aquaman their own films first. Flash was alright in the movie. He went through some development from start to finish. Aquaman, though, I mentioned before, needed more development, something that didn’t have enough time in Justice League.

I would keep Cyborg’s introduction in Justice League, though, but have his origins be more shown. His origins are connected to the mother box, the important things the villain is trying to collect in the film! Why wouldn’t you want to show that entirely.

And start out the movie more with Batman being a detective and figuring out an invasion is happening. As it was in the movie, we start off towards the end of the investigation. It doesn’t properly ground Steppenwolf’s invasion at all.

Maybe open with the investigation. Mix in some Cyborg and the mother box. Get Diana’s story about Steppenwolf and the cool flashback scene. Then get the league together. I think that would work. Keep the tone of the movie.

The final action scene was fine if not a bit generic by this point. But the gathering of the heroes worked well, individually and as a group. The league is fun together.

Inhumans

Inhumans is over. It was only 8 episodes, yet it felt long and meandering without much of a point. The characters were just kinda there. Some of them had cool points, but not enough. The largest problem with the show, for me, is that it just feel too normal. For a show about super-powered people from a moon kingdom, it was really mundane.

There will be some spoilers in here, nothing major. More of the spoilers will be from the earlier episodes.

So the show Inhumans centers around the royal family, King Blackbolt; Queen Medusa; the king’s brother, Maximus; their cousins Karnak, Gorgon and Triton; the queen’s sister, Crystal; and Crystal’s Dog, Lockjaw. And they decided to separate all of them before we even got a chance to see much family dynamics. That gets filled in later, but even then, not good.

For instance, Medusa and Crystal are sisters, but they barely act sisterly to one another, or have many scenes. Medusa and Maximus are apparently childhood friends, but we don’t get to see that.

Medusa is good with Blackbolt, though. ThoseĀ  two work well together. Karnak and Gorgon are fun to watch when together, too. Unfortunately, they’re rather dull apart. Blackbolt and Maximus was done well, though. I enjoyed seeing the brothers fight with each other.

Individually, I really liked Blackbolt, Medusa and Maximus. I originally thought Medusa was rather boring, but she really grew on me later in the season. Blackbolt worked well for being unable to speak. He really had good movements and facial reactions. And I liked Maximus because he, overall, seemed to have the best motivations for doing things out of any character. I don’t think even he can discern when he’s doing things for himself and when he’s trying to be a good king to the people.

The problem with the show is how mundane it actually is. Maximus stages a coup, and most of the royal family escapes to Earth to plan a comeback. Oh, but they remove the powers of Medusa and has Gorgon put on boots. How does Gorgon, a guy with hooves on his feet, even wear boots normally? And most of the Inhuman’s sent to hunt them down just looks like normal people. That makes it looks like just normal people fighting other normal people, since powers are so rarely used.

With all of the royal family separated for a good half of the season, it made each episode feel disjointed and pointless. They meet a bunch of characters for some personal growth, but I barely knew them from before. And they have main characters interacting with a bunch of people that you know aren’t important and won’t be seen much. It just lowers the feels made because one side is really important and the other isn’t. Gorgon and Crystal gets the worst of the side plots. Karnak’s is only slightly better because he’s more entertaining by himself.

I did really like Medusa’s, actually, which I didn’t expect. Overall, Medusa really grew to be my favorite character of the show despite the lack of her using powers. She seems to get the most growth, and it helps that the scientist she interacts with actually feels important and relevant.

I also likes some of the side Inhumans, such as Mordis and Locis. Mordis had sass and a good reason for fighting the royal family.

For a show being only 8 episodes long, it felt like too much filler and not enough important stuff. Towards the end, things get pretty sloppy and jumpy with things just happening to get people where they need to be. They could have spent more time on Attilan rather than on Earth.

So, unfortunately, the show about a royal family from a moon kingdom deals mostly with normal stuff and doesn’t show off enough powers or interesting people.

Thor: Ragnarok

The third installment of the Thor movies. I enjoyed the first one. The second one is alright. The third one, they shook things up, big time. For one, Earth has almost no factor in here, which means no Jane, Darcy and the professor. I enjoyed Darcy a lot and am sad she’s not in the movie, but the new characters in Thor: Ragnarok are great.

This time around, the movie is a lot more similar in tone to Guardians of the Galaxy, both in terms of style, humor and setting. Thor doesn’t speak as bombastic and old-style as he did before. He’s also on a space adventure in an alien planet with space ship action.

The style really works for Thor. It’s coloful, wild and fun to watch. The action in the movie is fun and shows off just how powerful Thor can be. The new character of Valkyrie is a good addition. She’s rough and hurting from a past that causes her to drink too much, but she comes around to help Thor out.

Skurge I particularly enjoyed. Not sure why, but he’s my favorite new character. He’s not the standard henchmen for the bad guy, and I really liked seeing him change throughout the film.

The Grandmaster is pretty much Jeff Goldblum. I can see that if Jeff Goldblum became the dictator of a planet, it would be just like that. He’s enjoyable whenever he’s on screen.

Now, onto the main villain, Hela. She is cool and awesome. I think she’s a good villain and actually adds emotional context to previous Thor movies. I’m not going to say too much about her, but she is fun and threatening, what I want in a villain for this type of movie.

What suffers a bit is the pacing. I felt that things went too fast. None of the moments that should have impact had any because it moved by too fast. I’m not going to spoiler it, but I didn’t feel emotionally sad during the film despite sad things happening. And there are some things that happen that are supposed to be emotional, they just don’t land.

Thor Ragnarok is a joy the whole way through, though. And Skurge, man, he’s great. He might not seem that way through the film, but he’s great.

Some spoiler thoughts.

Well, not much of a spoiler due to trailers, but Hulk is in this! The relationship between Hulk and Thor is pretty good, and it’s different from the relationship between Hulk and Banner. Thor really hashes things out between both of them, and that part works well. It’s probably things they wanted to do for a Hulk movie, but as they aren’t doing Hulk movies, it fits in fine here.

Loki is always fun to watch and this film even more so. He’s not as threatening anymore, but I don’t mind.

Also, the Doctor Strange cameo is pretty fun. Wow, Doctor Strange has gotten boss since his movie.

NaNoWriMo 2017

It’s almost here again! This time, it feels like NaNoWriMo snuck up on me even faster than before. I am not prepared at all. I mean, alright, I have some preparation, but that’s just from thinking about how to continue the story over the year. But once again, there’s no formal planning, outline or anything like that. I know the general idea and don’t even have a proper ending. This is going to be wild.

Of course, this year I’m going to be continuing to book 5 of my Milly series. I am still wondering if I should go to 8 books or not on this series. I know there are eight provinces, but the first book actually went through 2 provinces. Maybe if I do go to eight books, I’ll revist the first two to flesh them out some more. Also, I really want to get to book 7. I have so many ideas for that district. It’ll be wild.

For thosr that don’t know, Milly is my children’s book series about a girl trapped in a strange magical world. The world is made up for 8 provinces plus the wizards city in the middle. Each book, she goes on an adventure in one of the provinces while trying to figure out how to get home. The world is fanciful and full of wonder since I’m making up a lot of stuff on the fly to fill word count. There are lots of magic and many different magical people live there. So check it out! The first four books can be found here.

Anyway, here’s a quick preview of book 5. Milly and Cornwilla are going to the Desert Province! Desert, not dessert, right? Geeze. I am going to have so much problems with that. Anyway, I have some fun magical things planned, and the Desert Province will have two main races rather than just one.

Also, afterwards NaNoWriMo is over, I’ll start putting up my thoughts and notes on book 4. I know I should have done it far earlier, but it’ll be coming. And I also already have ideas on book 6, too. Hope I still have those in mind when it actually comes around. Probably.