Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Mortal Kombat (2021)

Finish him!

by Jeff Bowles

Movies based on popular video games aren’t typically known for their excellence. Among gamers and industry vets, they aren’t even known to please longtime fans in any serious way. Just check out some of the more financially successful ventures into this difficult field, films like Warcraft, Detective Pikachu (which actually wasn’t all that bad), the Tomb Raider series, Prince of Persia, Monster Hunter, all six entries in the Resident Evil franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog….

The problem usually lies in a misunderstanding of what makes video games tick, the basic fact they’re more fun to play than watch. Also a certain greedy approach to cash cows that otherwise net billions annually. Interactive, choice-driven, challenging, often containing stories that work precisely because players feel totally immersed.

Games can and do look and smell like movies, but they aren’t the same thing. An enterprising filmmaker would be loath to adapt a video game beat-for-beat. What would be the point? The most common approach is to try and split the difference, to take a few popular franchise characters, perhaps mix them in with some new no-name placeholders, invent a plot that is similar but not identical to the original, and then race the whole thing through production, packaging, and release.

The new Mortal Kombat film is no different. It thinks it understands what longtime fans want, but in reality it’s just a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas and mishandled IP. Honestly, I don’t know if you’ve ever played a MK game in your life, but the series isn’t about story, not really. It’s about gore and hyperviolence, the kind of bloody entertainment that rewards complex finisher moves so brutal they have but one appropriate name: fatalities.

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This latest stab at the franchise wants to include all the blood and death, not sugar coat things like the famously inadequate Mortal Kombat movies made in the mid-90s. Lots of people grew up with those films, and Warner Bros. is convinced an updated, adult-friendly retread will hit the spot. For the most part, it does not. The story is messy, the action is simultaneously choppy and too slow (not sure how they managed that one), and let’s not mince words, so many different characters get thrown at you, it’s entirely possible you’ll need a PH.D. in Kombat-ology to keep up.

I’m old enough to remember a time many moms and dads would refuse to let their kids play Mortal Kombat. Video games have only gotten increasingly more realistic since then. A gaming series that pushes the violence and willfully misspells the word ‘Kombat‘ is never going to yield an Academy Award winner. Kome on, all you Klassic Mortal Kombat Kompetitors! Why no Kostly retread of Street Fighter, or Kan we finally Konsider the genre Kompromised?

Skip this movie if you can. Go play the newest Mortal Kombat video game, lucky number eleven, which at least understands what fans show up to see. Blood, blood, and even more blood, gameplay that is tight and fierce, competitive tournaments that let you test yourself against other players, and a story that is serviceable at best.

Because the vast majority of MK players don’t care about story. That just goes without saying. Remove all the things that make the games immersive fun, and you’re left with a whole heap of meh.

Kill the Koncept, Warner Bros.. Kan’t tell you how Kreatively Konstipated this Kategory has beKome.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives the new Mortal Kombat movie a Five out of Ten.


Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!

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Want to be sure not to miss any of “Jeff’s Movie Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it useful or entertaining, please share.


Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Coming 2 America

The Once and Future King?

by Jeff Bowles

So let’s say you’re a movie star who’s been part of the popular imagination for forty years. You’re given the opportunity to reprise a role that helped establish your legacy, and let’s be honest, the big parts aren’t exactly pouring in these days. Should you A). Disregard said opportunity, knowing full well it’s very difficult to capture lightning in a bottle, or B). Throw caution to the wind and have a great time making a follow-up to a movie successive generations know and love?

Eddie Murphy appears to have found himself in just such a situation, because when it came time to make a sequel to Coming to America, he didn’t hesitate. Without a doubt, he and the filmmakers would’ve preferred to debut this new movie in theaters, but that’s not an option during a global pandemic. Coming to America 2 (or is that Coming 2 America?) is available exclusively on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service. The original is widely considered one of the best comedies of the ‘80s. It’s sharp, aggressive, honest, romantic, and best of all, silly in all the right ways. A lot of time has passed since its release, yet it still holds up remarkably well. So why not give it a sequel? Why not take all these fan-favorite characters for another spin around the block?

Here’s why. Nostalgia is only as good as the material propping it up. If a film is going to devote most of its comedic resources to nailing the exact same jokes and situations as its predecessor, it’s got to work twice as hard to prove itself worthy of our time. Unfortunately, Coming 2 America proves nothing except the obvious: you can never go home again. Look, you walk into the barbershop and all the characters are played by Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. Same joke as last time. Still funny, but not as funny as it used to be. Or maybe you go out to listen to a band with a terrible lead singer (also played by Eddie Murphy) and their ridiculous name, Sexual Chocolate, makes you smile. Same joke as last time. Still funny, but…

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This pattern appears consistently throughout Coming 2 America’s runtime. Even the basic premise amounts to a variation on a well-established theme. This time around Prince Akeem (or rather, King Akeem) must travel to the US in order to meet his illegitimate son. Hijinks ensue, but um, why does it feel so exhausting? It’s like going to see your favorite band and hearing nothing but cover songs. Wesley Snipes, for instance, plays a pretty clear-eyed comedic version of a murderous warlord turned politician, but his presence does nothing to disrupt the flow of same-old, same-old. No sequel has ever ruined a great predecessor. People may say so, but rarely does the supposition hold water. This sequel, in fact, only makes you want to watch the original more. ‘Cause it was killer fun. You know, yay for that original!

A couple other potential pitfalls for audiences looking to recapture thirty-three-year-old magic: there’s no swearing. I mean none. No nudity either. Is that a problem in general? Nope, but the first movie had some serious edge to it, and this thing does not. In essence, it feels like a sequel to a totally different film. There’s also a serious lack of material shot on location. For a film that takes place in Africa and New York City, movie sets are uncommonly common. Incidentally, just a few days after its release, Coming 2 America quickly became the most streamed movie on any platform during the COVID-19 era. Go ahead and look it up, Amazon has a hit on their hands.

Realistically, though, they should’ve had to work just a bit harder to earn it. Watch this movie and see how quickly you forget about it. For my wife and me, the shelf life was two days, two whole days, and then it vanished like an errant spray of Soul Glo hair product in the wind.

Oh no, a callback to the original movie. See? They’ve even got me doing it now!

None of this is to suggest Coming 2 America is little more than a jaded corporate cash grab. Sincerely, the movie appears to have been made with the best of artistic intentions. Word on the street is Eddie Murphy now wants to make another entry in his Beverly Hills Cop franchise. Everything old is new again. Or is it the other way around? Let’s try Casablanca 2, or maybe Citizen Kane: Rosebud’s Revenge. Apocalypse Now, Now. Star Wars Episode … nope, never mind. They did that one already.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Coming 2 America a Six out of Ten.


Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of “Jeff’s Movie Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it useful or entertaining, please share.


Jeff’s Movie Reviews – The Disney+ WandaVision Premiere

Jeff's Movie Reviews

Marvel Meets Dick Van Dyke

by Jeff Bowles

On January 15th, the video streaming service Disney+ premiered the first of its Marvel Studios television series, WandaVision. The show is tied into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, which for better or worse means it’s a more meaningful viewing experience if you’re familiar with a few of the newer Marvel movies, most notably Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. By no means are the two premier episodes entirely dependent on those other films, because really, WandaVision is a Marvel production of a different color (or is that Technicolor?).

WandaVision is high-concept for a comic book adaptation. It’s a hybrid classic sitcom and superhero movie, though the first two episodes depend much more heavily on the sitcom tropes than on muscles and powers. It pays expert homage to old fifties and sixties shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Dream of Jeannie, and it does so in a fairly clear-eyed fashion. Disney+ and Marvel Studios were wise to premier the first two episodes together, because at first blush, the series doesn’t seem to have much more going for it than being a classic American television pastiche.

It’s pretty clear by the end of episode two, however, that there’s something interesting and probably sinister happening underneath an otherwise slick and squeaky-clean black and white veneer. When last we saw Avengers Wanda Maximoff and The Vision, they were embroiled in the whole Infinity Saga thing. The mad Titan Thanos killed Vision to take the elemental stone locked inside his cranial matrix, and a bit later on (after some significant time travel shenanigans) Wanda helped the rest of the Marvel heroes take Thanos down for good. So what are the two of them doing here, living in I Love Lucy land? The show offers a few tantalizing hints, but so far, nothing super concrete.

Watch the video review here.

As with most of the stuff Marvel commits to the screen, WandaVision is based on a couple different comic book source stories. I won’t and can’t spoil it for you, because the cinematic universe always diverges from the comics, and for good reason. But it will be intriguing to see how the series evolves from here. Lots of fun to be had with the concept, and I hope the show takes full advantage of every fun detail it’s set up so far.

The tone of WandaVision is pretty spot on, with a few notable exceptions. Sometimes jokes land in an authentic and genuine manner, and at other times they feel more synthetic than The Vision himself. For instance, in one sequence Vision accidently eats a piece of chewing gum, and it makes him act comically inebriated. For some reason. Again, sitcom logic. Paul Bettany, who plays the android Avenger, must enjoy the opportunity to put a new spin on this guy, because he really gives it everything he’s got. Marvel is taking a risk with this show, and that’s much appreciated. Other comic book movie franchises have gotten stale, but the MCU is proving once again it’s never willing to rest on its creative laurels. Superficially so, at least.

Ultimately, Bettany and co-star Elizabeth Olsen are really charming and comfortable together. Vision and Wanda Maximoff have a long and storied Marvel romance, so it’s fun watching this whole interesting take on superhero storytelling unfold. Some fans may find it slow and laborious. I mean, no big action scenes or sweeping and typically overly dramatic character moments? Really?

But this is good television if you ask me, Americana masquerading as Americana. Truth be told, it’s got more creative potential in its little finger than most comic movies released in the last quarter century had tucked away inside their entire utility belts. The shared universe model is both fundamentally flawed and incredibly successful because it discourages outsiders and incentives people willing to dig in and enjoy a much larger overarching narrative. It won’t be for everyone, but that’s how it’s always been with comics and comic book fans. The good news with WandaVision is that it’s likely to ensnare you if you let it, regardless of whether you can tell Iron Man from War Machine, Winter Soldier from The Falcon, Hulk from She-Hulk.

By the way, She-Hulk, Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki, Ms. Marvel, and a whole host of other Marvel heroes are getting Disney+ shows in the months and years ahead. Brave new world, if you’re looking forward to it. Eventually you’ll need a Master’s degree to understand the whole complex storyline. Lucky for you, I proudly hold that exact degree.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives the premier of WandaVision an Eight out of Ten.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s Movie Reviews? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress

 


Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Wonder Woman 1984

Jeff's Movie Reviews

A Little Less Wonderful

by Jeff Bowles

When the first Wonder Woman film hit theaters three years ago, it was met with substantial fanfare. The Greek goddess superheroine is more than just a cultural phenomenon, she’s a feminist icon, a symbol of strength and nobility for millions of people all over the world. Her first major foray onto the big screen meant more to some people than anything else DC Comics has ever produced, so yeah, its sequel has quite a bit to live up to.

Wonder Woman 1984 is, if nothing else, an interesting product of its time, 2020, a year in which it was supposed to have been released in theaters in July. Coronavirus forced Warner Bros. to push the film until December, and the studio chose to do so by mixing a theatrical release with a special limited release on the home video streaming platform, HBO Max. So you can watch this movie right now at home for a small membership fee, kind of a remarkable thing in the history of cinema. New movies always used to be, you know, out at the movies. But now, who knows?

Subsequently, the flick has been met with much less fanfare than its predecessor enjoyed. Wonder Woman 1984 has been a success of sorts, but it’s doubtful to make much of an impact beyond that. The reasons for this aren’t merely limited to its precarious release schedule. The story makes some choices that keep it from being quite as wonderful as it deserves to be.

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Gal Gadot as the titular hero in Wonder Woman 1984.

For one, Wonder Woman 1984 revolves around a somewhat ridiculous McGuffin that allows for wishes to come true. This is a comic book movie, of course, which I have to admit I’m a huge fan of, even when they’re loud and dumb. But it’s almost as if the entirety of the plot was constructed on a simple and somewhat lazy notion to resurrect one key dead character. That would be Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s traditional love interest. The movie works best when the two share screen time. Their chemistry is relatable and infectious, so it’s no surprise writer/director Patty Jenkins wanted to pull him back into the fold.

Also returning is Gal Gadot as the titular hero, and she’s still great. More comfortable this time around, perhaps, but then, she’s played the character a total of four times now. SNL alum Kristen Wiig joins the cast as a relatable if slightly goofy foil/villain whose wish to be just like Wonder Woman goes wrong in all the right ways. The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal plays Maxwell Lord, a DC bad guy who first appeared in a 1987 Justice League comic and who has now been given the 1984 self-help guru treatment. Pascal gives the guy a lot of juice. A lot of juice. Perhaps its best not to say too much more about it than that.

One of the problems with the movie is that it doesn’t seem to feel the need to indulge in 80s-themed nostalgia in any major way, not like other recent shows and movies set in the decade have done. Odd, considering they wanted me to know the year it takes place months and months before it ever came out. Oh, there’s some paltry lip service to the year 1984 scattered here and there. An early action set-piece takes place in a mall, for instance. But again, no 80s tunes or anything? No Simple Minds? No New Coke references? What gives, dudes?

Wonder Woman 1984 comes together all right in the end, but really, it’s just another example of a DC Comics adaptation that’s barely handled well enough to justify its own existence. I’m a pretty big comics fan when it comes down to it. Gosh, it’s getting harder and harder to compete in that space. They’ve already announced Wonder Woman 3. Let’s hope Patty Jenkins and Warner Bros. bring a bit more punch to the superhero party next time.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Wonder Woman 1984 a Six out of Ten.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s Movie Reviews? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress


Looking Back on 2020 and Forward to 2021

2020 has been an difficult year for all of us as Covid 19 turned lives upside-down. Here at Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, we saw some great accomplishments, in spite of the fact that my genre theme schedule fell apart half-way through the year on the blog and content was a little more sporadic. I had to figure out how to adjust to my own “new normal”, which life changes brought my way, but they also led me to remember who I am. Now, I’ve analyzed and regrouped, and I’m ready to head into the new year with new ideas and projects.

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

One of the biggest things for WordCrafter was the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference back in April. We ended up with twenty-two distinguished authors, offering live stream and video lectures, and interactive workshops and discussion panels, with free content for the Facebook event and a Zoom platform for the interactive stuff. We had a good turn-out with only a few glitches, and we’re preparing to do it again in 2021.

WordCrafter Press releases in 2020:

Ask the Authors

In April, the Ask the Authors writing anthology was released after two years of compilation. This book is an ultimate writer’s reference with tips and advice from twenty-two authors, and it started right here, from a 2018 blog series of the same name. In November, the print edition of this book, (and all WordCrafter Press books), became available, as well.

Spirits of the West

The Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology resulted from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and was released in October. The winning story, “High Desert Rose”, was written by Enid Holden and is included in the anthology. The theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest was announced and WordCrafter Press is now taking submissions to be considered for next year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

Hidden Secrets and Last Call

Two of my own books were also released. Last Call and Other Short Fiction is a collection of my short stories, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, is now available in print on Amazon, but the digital edition can be purchased through other retailers. In the coming year, I will have a story in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, and I’m working on a new book, The Outlaw and the Rockstar which I hope will be ready to release before the end of 2021.

Raise the Tide

WordCrafter Press‘ first stand alone author’s book was released in December, Raise the Tide, a devotional book by James Richards. We also look forward in anticipation to adding the January release of a massive poetry collection by Arthur Rosch, Feral Tenderness, to this list.

Feral Tenderness

Writing to be Read 2020:

We had some great guests on Writing to be Read. On “Chatting with the Pros”, my author guests featured Diana Raab, Amy Cecil, Cherokee Parks, L. Deni Colter, and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m hoping to transform this blog series into a podcast, which can be accessed through the blog, in the coming year, and I hope you all will join me there. Other authors interviewed in 2020 included Mark & Kym Todd, Jade C. Jamison, and Alan Dean Foster. The most viewed interview was with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant. Interviews fell by the wayside along with the genre themes, but I’m planning to bring back author interviews for 2021, and I’m working on a new blog segment, “The Authors’ Covid Coffee Clache”, which will address issues of the pandemic specific to authors.

Treasuring Poetry

Robbie Cheadle’s poet guests included Sally Cronin, Colleen Chesebro, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Annette Rochelle Aben, Christy Birmingham, Kevin Morris, Frank Prem, D. Avery, Geoff Le Pard, and Balroop Singh. Of course, each segment on “Treasuring Poetry” are filled with poetry examples and includes a review of the poet’s latest poetry collection.

Growing Bookworms

Robbie Cheadle’s “Growing Bookworms” has great ideas for promoting literacy in children. Topics discussed “Making Learning the Alphabet Fun“, “Reading and Mathematics“, obtaining a balance of parental approval, “Sir Chocolate and the Valentine Toffee Cupid“, the benefits of singing and rhyming verse for children, “Teaching Children to Read“, “Introducing Non-Fiction to Children“, “The Future of Education“, “The Great Roald Dahl“, “Chapter Books vs. Short Stories for Children“, “The Joy of Nursery Rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat“, and “Incorporating Reading into Christmas Activities“. The post with the most views this year was a “Growing Bookworms” post from 2019, “Developing Imagination and Creativity Through Reading“, and in fact, it is also the post with the most all time views.

Words to Live By

On “Words to Live By”, Jeff Bowles offers up his thoughts on writing and life, and writing life. In 2020, he reflected on “The Creator in the Creative“, “The Kid in the Machine”, “Sex, Love, Warfare and Death“, “Fear, Creativity, and that Pesky Pandemic“, “Love in the Time of Covid“, “Be Here Now (Sanity for the Modern Writer), and”Creative Legacy“. The most viewed “Words to Live By” post was “The Big Chill“.

Mind Fields

With Art Rosch’s “Mind Fields”, you never know what the topic will be, but in 2020, they included “T.V. Addicts Annonymous“, “Nightmare with Tracphone“, “The Power of Villians in Story Telling“, “The Big Grief or Computer Wipe-Out“, “The Air in the Sky“, “Obsession: Craving Flashlights“, “Curvature: An Essay on Discernment“. The most view “Mind Fields” post was “Am I Real“.

Super Heroes and Supervillains

In May, Jeff Bowles took over the spotlight as he took over the Super Heroes and Super Villians theme, with a look at “The History and Evolution of Comic Books“, “The Rise of the Comic Book Film“, “DC Comics Gets Animated“, “D.C. Comics vs. Marvel – Rivalry and Inspiration“, and a celebratory posts for comic books and super heroes, “Look Up in the Sky!

Craft and Practice

Also in May, Jeff introduced a new blog series “Craft and Practice”, filled with great writing advice, which covered topics such as “The Revision Process“, “To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish“, “Writing for Catharthis“, “Story Synthesis: The Ultimate Tool in the Tool Kit“, “To Comma or Not to Comma“, “The Odds and Ends of Worldbuilding“, and “What’s the use of Trunk Novels“. The most viewed “Craft and Practice” post was “Should You Write Every Day?“.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews

Jeff’s Movie Reviews” covered The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey“, Hamilton on Disney+, Bill and Ted Face the Music, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The most viewed movie review post was for 1917.

Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews

“Art’s Visual Media Reviews” covered Homeland, Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Just Mercy, 13 Reasons Why (the later seasons), a critique of Marvel movies, and The Secret: Dare to Dream, but the most viewed review was a life review in “My Life with Jazz“. Unfortunately, “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews” will not be appearing in 2021, but Art’s “Mind Fields” will be appearing twice a month.

My book reviews included Missing: Murder Suspected: True Crime Stories Brought to Life, by Austin Stone On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker; Saint, by Amy Cecil; Heat: Book 1, by Jade C. Jamison; Old One Eyed Pete, by Loretta Miles Toleffson; Death Wind, by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto; Severed Wings, by Steven-Elliot Altman; X Marks the Spot, an anthology of pirate fantasy tales edited by Lisa Mangum; Indominable, by J.B. Garner; Echo One, by Mercedes Lacky, Denis K. Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere; the audio edition of Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili; Love/Madness/Demon, by Jeff Bowles; In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth; Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russle Davis; Inspirational Visions oracle cards, by Judy Mastrangelo; The Freedom Conspiracy by Nathan B. Dodge; Disappeared, by Lucienne Diver; Fool’s Gold Rush, by Tim Baker; Terminal Sequence, by Dan Alatorre; Gunslinger, by Edward J. Knight; and Clay House, by Jordan Elizabeth. The top viewed review was Hold Your Fire, an anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

Judging the Spurs

I was also honored to be a judge for the Writers of America’s Spur Awards and I reviewed my top six picks, and the winner of the western romance category, The Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger. These were the best of the best, and I was honored to be given the opportunity to read and review them.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Also, in 2021 Writing to be Read will be a host for the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, so we’ll be keeping you up to date on several new releases as they come out. Robbie Cheadle will bring us a new blog series on nursery rhymes and fairytales, “Dark Origins”, and I plan to bring in a new series, “Writer at Work”, which will talk about different issues that writers face. Subscribe to this blog with one of the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to be sure not to miss this great new content or the tried and true content of continuing series on Writing to be Read in the coming year.

Dark Origins

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

From Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

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Jeff’s Movie Reviews – The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

Jeff's Movie Reviews

“Just When I Thought I was Out…”

by Jeff Bowles

There are few more legendary films than The Godfather and at least one of its two sequels. The American Film Institute named Part I the third most important movie of all time, coming in behind only Casablanca and Citizen Kane. The Godfather Part II is held up by many as a true cinematic masterpiece, superior to the first in every way, with a richness and depth rarely found in Hollywood films.

And then there’s The Godfather Part III, largely considered the weakest in the series, if not one of the weakest closing chapters of any film franchise, period. It suffered from a jumbled and imprecise development cycle, very nearly crumbling under the weight of its own narrative legacy. Originally released in 1990, The Godfather Part III was overly operatic, self-reverential, far too dependent on its own aging formula. Some casting missteps didn’t help matters either, nor did a story that had little of the depth or urgency of the previous two films.

Now, thirty years later, director and co-writer Francis Ford Coppola has resurrected The Godfather Part III with a new title and a new cut that is leaner, more focused, slightly (very slightly) different in tone and subtext, and essentially, not all that much better than it was three decades ago.

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Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (as it’s now known) may have an insanely verbose title, but let’s face it, the original cut was an odd duck anyway. Admittedly, it’s not such a bad movie to revisit. Michael Corleone and his supporting cast are some of the best drawn and most acutely emotional film characters of all time. And yet, shifting a few elements around and cutting a bit of bulk does not storytelling redemption make. The movie looks fantastic due to a new remaster and a simultaneous limited theatrical release alongside blu-ray and home streaming options. And yes, the deeper themes explored by the series as a whole stand in slightly starker and clearer relief than they did previously. But only if you’re seriously paying attention, because really, this is basically the same movie with a longer title.

Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is a different man than the angry, murderous mafia don who ordered the death of his own brother in Part II. The truth is, Michael thinks he can buy his way into Heaven. Good deeds, charitable works, liquidating all non-legitimate assets and operations, cozying up to the church, becoming a better father. Family and the breakdown of familial bonds is one of the key themes of the entire series, and Michael’s family has been broken for years. His ex-wife, Kaye (played by the always wonderful Diane Keaton) dreads him and the bad memories that still plague her, and his two adult children love but barely trust him. Don Corleone wants out, but as his famous line of dialogue goes, just when you think you’re out … well, you know the rest.

The film benefits from increased contextual musculature and sinew, and the “new’ beginning and end aren’t so much new as better placed and/or better executed. Is it reason enough to watch all three in marathon fashion? Sure, why not? In the age of pandemic lockdowns, who’s to say what movie night can look like. As far as Coppola is concerned, The Godfather Part III was poorly named anyway. A coda, in musical terms, is a concluding passage that summarizes main themes and very often offers a sort of flourishing resolution. The Godfather, Coda does that in a way, but again, if you haven’t seen the original cut in years, it’s doubtful you’ll notice much difference.

Even still, time has a way of making old things shine. The first two films have aged remarkably well, and the series simply wouldn’t feel the same without an ambitious but clunky concluding chapter.

When it comes to The Godfather, Coda, you may want to leave the gun and take the cannoli, if you don’t mind the dumb Clemenza reference, but if you’re at all interested in what this new version brings to the table, there’s certainly worse mob stories to binge at home on a Saturday afternoon. I mean seriously. Netflix again, dear?

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone a Seven out of Ten.

Look at how they massacred my boy!


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

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Jeff’s Movie Reviews – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Jeff's Movie Reviews

Bomb Throwers and Peacemakers

by Jeff Bowles

Movie reviews generally don’t work when the reviewer gets too opinionated. Politics, for instance. Just kind of common sense “the movie guy” shouldn’t vent his issues with this candidate or that major event all over your nice, unsuspecting blog visit. I don’t even have to be qualified to tell you that, do I? I’m not qualified, by the way, not in the least, but then, who among us is? Look ma, no hands.

It should be noted, however, that this movie reviewer is a human being, and as is the annoying habit of most human beings, he can’t help actually having an opinion. And a unique perspective, he might add.

I might add. Sorry.

I’m a Millennial, which means Aaron Sorkin’s new political courtroom drama, The Trial of the Chicago 7, is perhaps made with me in mind. After all—and it’s clear as day for everyone with news access to see—the events surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention closely mirror protests and riots happening at this very moment, all over this country, chiefly led or supported by people my approximate age.

It feels like if you’re in your twenties or thirties in this day and age, you’re expected to be a revolutionary in one sense or another. At one point I had a nice job as a technical writer, and as the young blood, the fresh meat, revolution was supposed to have been my forte. That word, revolution. I wonder if most people understand what it means before an honest to god revolutionary moment has broken out. They definitely understand afterward, as did the eight men put on trial for an alleged conspiracy to incite a riot and provoke Chicago police into acting violently against Vietnam War protesters during the ‘68 DNC. This whole thing is so tied up in politics, nostalgia, and bright yet somehow startlingly foggy memory that it binds up my fingers and makes it difficult to type the full length of this review. And that’s saying something. I haven’t even gotten out of my bathrobe yet.

Truthfully? I’m more of a peacemaker than a bomb thrower. I think I recognize a time and place for the latter, but as the former, I can’t get behind violence for the sake of ideas, the most transient of all puffy white clouds in humankind’s mental skyline. The Trial of the Chicago 7 seems bent on assuring me revolution is a positive thing. Should I take the film’s word for it? I wonder. In fact, I find I’ve always had to wonder.

Aaron Sorkin is known for precisely two things: incredibly sharp pacing, dialogue, and character work that’s often rendered too slickly and can add up to less than the sum of its parts. And The West Wing. That too.

That this film has been in the works for fourteen years doesn’t surprise me, nor does Sorkin’s clear intention to finally produce and release it just before the 2020 general election. Yes, it’s star-studded and wonderfully written, and yes, it’s also too whimsical and nonorganic to present the events of that time and place with any kind of genuine honesty. Basically, all the historical components are there. These young men, they couldn’t have understood what they were in for. Sacha Baron Cohen is too old to play Abbie Hoffman but knocks it out of the park regardless, and Jerry Rubin is basically turned into a two-hour-long stoner joke.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7

But what the heck? It’s not as sensationalized as an Oliver Stone movie, and I believe general consensus circa 2020 is that these eight men stood for something noble and endured a fascist political trial under a federal judge who had no intention of doing anything less than screwing them to the wall. Again, this seems to be Sorkin’s intended memorandum, and again, I don’t think I’m all that interested in agreeing or disagreeing. I’m the movie reviewer, after all. The movie is what it is, and my role is cut and dry.

Except to say this. If violent (and I must be frank, even nonviolent) revolutions are so effective, why do human beings always seem to wind up entangled in them? My mind works this way: there will never be a positive and lasting human revolution until and unless human beings themselves, on both an individual and collective level, revolutionize their own archaic hearts and minds. This nonsense of us versus them, this grand illusion, it has plagued us from the very beginning. I don’t bow down to more of it, and I realize I might be alone in that kind of thinking.

Also, very simply, it must be asked if Sorkin himself is aware of the ability of commercialized entertainment to stoke passionate societal flames almost as easily as calling for blood from behind a podium. The potential responsibility inherent in such an acknowledgment, it may be too much for his kind of star power. Regardless, his new Netflix film is easy to enjoy, to digest, and to dismiss. And really, isn’t that the best sort of popcorn entertainment?

I could engage with The Trial of the Chicago 7 a bit further, but not easily, not without being forced into more politics. Systemic racism is addressed, for instance. But not in a way that will satisfy people sick to death of the anglo-savior storytelling trope. Again, nuts to politics, what about the beating heart of a man gagged and shackled in the middle of a US courtroom? That would be Bobby Seale, the event depicted without teeth but after a fashion, I suppose, accurately enough. What about a growing awareness that essentially, we have the same soul, the same tormented passions? Does that kind of thinking seem present or absent in today’s politics? Or the politics of 1968? Or of any other era for that matter?

The wheel keeps spinning, the bomb throwers throw, the peacemakers do their best, and somehow, one way or another, all of it seems destined to end up on my TV.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 a seven out of ten. Good enough for government work, if government work is indeed on offer.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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Jeff’s Movie Reviews – Bill & Ted Face the Music

Jeff's Movie Reviews

Party On, Dudes

by Jeff Bowles

Nostalgia is a fickle thing. Sometimes it can make new spins on old content sparkle. Then again, it can also blind us to bad movies, books, TV shows, really anything marketable to our hungry and impatient inner kids. Nostalgia is often manipulated by the entertainment powers that be. Apart from sex and death, it’s Hollywood’s number one favorite tool. So how did this happen? How did we come to see the release of a new Bill & Ted movie in the year 2020, almost three decades after the last entry in the series, the aptly titled Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey? In that movie, the hapless, witless duo from San Dimas, California went to Hell and back. Literally. Gosh, where else can we take them? More importantly, should we even bother? Especially since stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter aren’t exactly high school students anymore?

The answer is that while Bill & Ted Face the Music occasionally misses the mark, it never leaves us feeling empty or bored, especially if that nostalgia factor is in play. I first saw the original when I was a kid. I’m a product of the 80s and 90s, so you can bet this movie was more entertaining for me than it would be for audiences either much older or much younger than I. But if you’re in the mood for a fun, funny, ridiculous time travel movie that’s no more or less useless or necessary than the first entries in this series, look no further. Bill & Ted Face the Music is a great excuse to stay home and stream, avoid the movie theaters, avoid that pesky virus. Heck, I’m not even sure Face the Music would’ve survived in the normal corporate theater chain climate. It’s kind of a specialty product, one nobody was looking or even asking for.

Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan have had a hard few decades since they braved the time-ways and journeyed through Hell and Heaven. Their band, Wild Stallions, has failed to ignite the period of world peace and excellence guaranteed by their old mentor, Rufus, and though they actually can play their instruments now, nobody cares about their music, which must be a shock for supposed rock and role messiahs. And on top of everything else, their marriages to the royal princesses (remember them?) are falling apart. It is a most heinous and non-excellent time, dudes.

The rest of the plot is a hodgepodge of different ideas that reflect places and faces we’ve seen before. Bill and Ted must write that one amazing song they’ve been trying to write since they were young, and screw the basic scientific efficacy of the concept of time travel, they’ve only got a few hours to write it. So what do they do? Cheat and try to steal it from their future selves, of course. Meanwhile, their teenage daughters—also cheerfully known as Bill and Ted—go on a quest of their own to recruit for Wild Stallions the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, and Mozart. You see, the girls still believe in their dads, perhaps blindly so. After all, we’ve been promised Bill and Ted would save the world twice before. What makes anyone think they’re likely to do it now?

As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. And it’s only an hour-and-a-half long. More jokes land than miss, and there’s a larger supporting cast that’s hilarious to watch, including a robot assassin that feels terrible, just terrible for killing the wrong targets and the return of fan favorite the Grim Reaper, the ultimate rock bass player, Death himself.

Ultimately, the ride proves worthwhile, especially since Reeves and Winter give it their all. Neither seems terribly put out they’re having to reprise roles they haven’t played since the first Bush administration. They still hit their “dudes” and “whoas” with perfect timing, and it’s genuinely nice to see them again. I’m sure these guys never thought they’d star in another Bill & Ted, and to listen to them chat about it in interviews, they couldn’t have had a more enjoyable time making it if they’d tried.

Some lingering frustrations may ensue if you’ve allowed your brain to clock in at any moment during the running length. Also know this: the special effects were finished during the initial stages of the COVID outbreak, so some of them don’t look as bodacious as they otherwise might.

But so what? Bill & Ted Face the Music has a mind to rock you, entertain and overwhelm you with its nostalgic charm, and just like the original, you might actually learn something about yourself and the world. Like the fact that the great Satchmo was one of Jimi Hendrix’s key influences. Or that you’ve got more of that old goofy teenager lurking in your heart than you thought.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives Bill & Ted Face the Music a 7 out of 10.

Now do me a favor and be excellent to each other out there. After all, any one of us can change the world. We just need to sing the right song. Catch you later, blog-reading dudes!


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any of Jeff’s Movie Reviews? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress


Jeff’s Movie Reviews – The Secret: Dare to Dream

Jeff's Movie Reviews

The Law of Attraction in Action

by Jeff Bowles

The phrase “summer movie season” has a totally different meaning this year, doesn’t it? Point of fact, there really isn’t one. For the most part, cinemas have shut down all over the world, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still watching movies at home. Maybe it’s old favorites with your Netflix subscription. Just chilling on the couch with your family, windows open to cool the house after a hot summer day … doing whatever it is people are doing to stay the heck away from Coronavirus.

Don’t worry. I’m not judging. I’ve literally forced myself to watch the entire Skywalker Saga on Disney+ four times. That’s a lot of lightsaber fights. A lot of them.

So here’s the deal. Writing to be Read is primarily a book blog. We talk about writing, literacy, try to keep you up to date on stuff you might want to read, and there’s room for some offhand conversations here and there as well. Normally, this time of year brings us a deluge of film releases, many of which are based on bestselling books (assuming you don’t get pelted by Marvel and DC before you make it to the popcorn stand). Now that the only real new releases are coming via the timely advent of at-home video streaming, pickings are slim, but I’ve come to you today to discuss a new movie based on a bestseller that is … well, let’s just say it’s more pop culture spiritual life coach than YA dystopia or gritty crime thriller.

The Secret, a book that teaches readers about the Law of Attraction, released in 2006 and summarily took the world by storm. It was later turned into an equally popular documentary, and eventually, a full-range self-help empire of near Tony-Robins-like proportions.

For those unfamiliar, the core teaching of The Secret is that we can have anything we want, as long as we keep a positive mental attitude, focus on desired outcomes rather than undesired ones, and basically have faith that the universe will provide exactly what we want, if perhaps not in the way we expect it. Plenty of people say it’s silly, ludicrous, wishful thinking, but there are many, especially in the New Age spiritual community, who hold The Secret as gospel.

Back in 2006, a bright and shining period in time compared to how 2020 has felt so far, the notion seemed plausible and exciting. After all, isn’t it determination and perhaps something outside ourselves, call it luck or grace or even the divine, that brings things into our lives right when we need them most? But then don’t bad things happen to us, too? And isn’t it cruel to blame people for their misfortunes by insinuating a negative mindset brought it to them?

Well, maybe. But that doesn’t stop the machine from churning. Now, with our movie theaters shuttered and barren like ghost towns, the international self-help brand The Secret has produced a feature film: The Secret: Dare to Dream. It’s a real Hollywood flick. It’s got movie stars, a genuine movie script, pretty yet bland domesticized locations. What it lacks, however, is the basic knowledge that pop spirituality, proselytization, and popcorn entertainment kinda don’t mix.

In recent years, there’s been a resurgence, a kind of renaissance, in Christian filmmaking. God’s Not Dead, The Case For Christ, I Can Only Imagine, these are movies of moderate budget, moderate expectations, that hit their audience and generally seem to work for them. The Secret: Dare to Dream is interested in riding in on a similar horse, although with a little veiled new agey-ness to go along with it.

Regardless of what you believe, surely you must admit that when entertainment becomes preachy it’s just not as, well, entertaining. And Dare to Dream does become preachy. Pretty darn quickly. That’s the whole point, right?

Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes) is a single mom and local restaurant manager who could seriously use a new house and a more positive outlook on life. When she literally runs into a guy called Bray (Josh Lucas) and damages the front fender of her van, Bray turns into mister fix-it, and as far as the filmmakers are concerned, enters the action specifically to transform Miranda’s life using the Law of Attraction. There’s more plot happening here than that, of course. There’s a superstorm, a hell of a lot of home damage (which Bray also volunteers to fix), and something of a love triangle.

The Secret: Dare to Dream - Movie Review by Jeff Mitchell — Phoenix Film  Festival

Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas in The Secret: Dare to Dream

I’m assuming people who are interested in this movie already believe in the Law of Attraction. Here’s a little “secret” for you. I sort of do, too, though the miraculous and unbelievable circumstances that tie Dare to Dream’s plot together have certainly never happened in my conscious daily experience. Still, I do believe in miracles, and I certainly believe our focus determines our reality. But some readers of The Secret have complained over the years that the book is way too dreamy. And you know what? This stuff is supposed to be ancient esoteric wisdom anyway, so what the hell is it doing in my Josh Lucas romance?!

That’s right, I forgot to mention Dare to Dream has love on the brain, and it takes a halfway decent stab at it, too. Not a total fail as a romance. Only problem is that educational tone, that preachiness, it pervades the entire proceedings. It’s clear that the negative people in the movie are on the wrong end of things, and it’s also clear this Bray fella is the proverbial music man of their lives, barging in and singing his song, improving everything with the utmost maximum charm at his disposal. Which is a lot of charm, as you can imagine.

Simple, right? Which is exactly what The Secret says about changing your life. In some ways, this is barely a movie, and it really ought to be pondered if books of a pseudo-spiritual nature, self-help-oriented and considered pure pablum by many, has any serious business being turned into a film Amazon wants me to Roku for $20.

I say it does not. But that doesn’t mean faith, positivity, and focus and determination are bad for us or don’t belong at the center of our popular storytelling. It’s just that transparent allegory—and trust me, this is the most transparent allegory you’ll ever find—turns people off. At least The Secret: Dare to Dream makes no bones about what it is.

I’m just waiting for the Deepak Chopra/Eckhart Tolle mashup superhero movie coming next year. It’ll be explosive. Or completely at peace. Depends on your point of view.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews gives The Secret: Dare to Dream a 6/10


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


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Ant Man And The Wasp: A Critique Of Marvel Movies

When I watch a movie from the Marvel Comics empire I have to remind myself NOT to view this material with an adult mind. It’s better to watch with minds like those of my grandchildren, aged ten and thirteen.

            Last night we watched “Ant Man And The Wasp”. My grandkids loved it.  I endured it. Marvel movies are bloated with filler, that is, every “BOP! POW! And WHAM!” takes up screen time and makes for a longer film. Each mighty punch sends characters toppling end over end until they land with such force that their booties excavate the pavement or shatter all the windows in an office building. Such destruction! Miraculously, no one is crushed by the falling buses or lethal shards of sky scraper glass. unless that injury is an important plot device. Otherwise, the hordes of innocent bystanders are blessed with hair’s-width escapes from catastrophe.

            It seems to me that good writers are those who go the extra mile.  Lazy writers are those who go right up to the mile before the EXTRA MILE, then dust their hands together and stop.  That’s what’s frustrating about Marvel movies. The producers know that they can inject a liberal amount of fake fighting and harmless destruction into the script.  How much?  Fifteen minutes? Twenty?  Maybe half an hour of combat-without-consequences?.  IF (and we are) raising children with this stuff establishes a dangerous idea, that is, “THERE ARE NO REAL CONSEQUENCES”. There are just provisional outcomes that can always be changed by using a time machine or some deus ex machina, some easy way out.  Kids absorb this data hungrily and without critical thinking.  They love the bop!bam! stuff and don’t seem to be frustrated by the relative emptiness of the script.

            “Ant Man And The Wasp” deals with some heayy concepts, like the world of Quantum Mechanics, the realm of the minute sub-quark particles. The visuals are pretty amazing in their depictions of these mysterious areas.  “Someone” I thought (but did not speak aloud) has been smoking some DMT or ingesting psilocybin.”.  I took a few moments to explain Quantum Mechanics to my grandkids.  They’re super-bright little people who are inherently more evolved than I am. But  they’re still kids.  I have to tell myself to chill; watch the Marvel Universe with a clear mind and just have fun. The kids understood my explanation of quantum reality as “part of a continuum, from the mighty sizes of galaxies to the infinitesimal sizes of sub atomic particles. BUT..if you live in any of these places then it all looks normal-sized to you and your friends”.  Right?  Right.

            A few minutes ago my grand-daughter came into my office and asked “Whatcha doing, Poppa Art?” I said that I was writing a review of the movie we saw last night.  I explained my point of view and she seemed to grasp that a world in which no one REALLY dies is a bit fatuous.  I explained that Marvel’s tactics remove the real terror from their productions.  We all know that none of the heroes will die.  That there’s always some last-minute rescue, or the sequel will resuscitate the seemingly annihilated people.

            Haven’t our movies and TV shows always been like this? The soft-peddle American media archives are full of plots with happy endings. The hero always triumphs; the frustrated couple always get their passionate kiss.  Yeah, it’s always been like this but in 2020 we are seeing the maturation of world-shaking technology that is changing the tenor or our lives from the ground up..  There’s more technology, more ways to soften the blows of so-called REALITY.  As if to compensate, REALITY amps up the blows, grows more furious with each passing year.

            For my grandkids, I fear that reality has never been less real.

            The soundtrack of “Ant Man And The Wasp” brings a relentless rhythmic figure, a continuous percussive BAH BAH bu BUH BUMP BUMP that induces an excited state in the viewer. It is so pernicious that my sleep was disturbed last night until I got up at around three in the morning and quietly played some Joni Mitchell.  THAT was the last thing I heard before returning to bed and snoring away the next four hours. It’s important to understand this level of aural hygiene.  The last sounds you hear remain in your head until you hear something else.  If you want to sleep, you need to ditch the agitating sounds in favor of something soothing.  It works that way for me, anyway. 

            I explained the thrust of this essay to my granddaughter: that none of the heroes REALLY die and that makes the movies way less scary.  I think she grasped my point but I don’t really know. The universes in which we live are so different. We’re family, we’re close but I can’t escape the sense that people live light years apart despite being in the same room.

            I’m less worried about the future when I see how these kids cope.  Quantum Mechanics? They don’t care; its just something people say that means invisibly tiny stuff, like stuff that makes bacteria look HUGE by comparison! 

            They get it. They know that bacteria are too small to see, so why not even smaller stuff that makes invisible germs look huge?

            If we take care not to squash the imaginations of these grandchildren, they will be better prepared for the turbulent future that is roaring towards them with all of its dangers.