Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 1

Details from IMDB:

MockingjayPart1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

123 min  -  Adventure | Sci-Fi  -  21 November 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 7.2/10 from 69,555 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 308 user | 253 critic | 44 from Metacritic.com

When Katniss destroys the games, she goes to District 13 after District 12 is destroyed. She meets President Coin who convinces her to be the symbol of rebellion, while trying to save Peeta from the Capitol.

Director:

Francis Lawrence

Writers:

Peter Craig (screenplay), Danny Strong (screenplay), 2 more credits »

Stars:

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I’ve seen the first two "Hunger Games" movies (and I enjoyed the first one a lot) and is the case with me, I wanted to see the story continue (I haven’t read the books). So we got a chance to go to this on a quiet Saturday matinee show.

Main Points:

First off I enjoyed the performances of everyone in this film (though Woody Harrelson hardly gets to do anything) and of course I was sad to see one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s last performances. This movie moves away from the actual hunger games and gets the war/rebellion in full swing against the capital.

I enjoyed how the film gets into the behind the scenes stuff with war. Both sides make propaganda films (though the Mockingjay one is never shown to anyone besides the top rebels) and the rebels realize that they need to show Katniss in the field fighting to make people want to join the rebellion. The movie also shows the horrors of war, dead bodies left in a corridor, a room full of people terribly wounded and then the government bombing the hospital.

The film also gets into torture and brainwashing, so for a film based on a YA novel I was surprised at some of the things they showed (twice there is a scene of burned/charred skeletons that is a little gruesome). There are a couple of twists that I won’t spoil and I like the fact that Katniss is a reluctant hero. She becomes the rebels spokesperson but only after several things happen and when she is injured another rebel is used to give a speech.

Final Thoughts:

Jennifer Lawrence continues to shine and I thought Juliane Moore and Sutherland gave good performances here. While the movie doesn’t show it, I assume that the rebels did cause some civilian causalities and we are shown that war always has its price, no matter how noble the cause. It even hints at the deeper idea that if you believe you fight for justice, what’s the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? How far would you go to fight for what you believe in?

With those things said I did think the movie drags a little at the beginning and the love triangle bit with Gale/Peeta/Katniss still gets on my nerves. There is one part near the end that is rather predictable but still exciting to watch. Overall though I enjoyed this film and while I can’t see it winning any Oscars I would recommend it for fans of the Hunger Games (just not for children).  A strong 7/10 from me. Next will be more movie reviews, December is when lots of good ones come out!

My new publishing home!

Hi everyone,

So I have some good news, I’m with a new publisher! Earlier this week I signed a contract with the great people at Distinguished Press.

This means that book one of my Newfoundland Vampire series will be re-released along with book 2 and later book 3. I’d love to tell you the dates for these momentous occasions but you’ll just have to stay tuned!

At this time I’d like to publicly thank Catrina Taylor for offering me a contract with DP and being super nice and welcoming. Jen Leigh, for being an excellent editor, for her honesty, for recommending me to Catrina and for taking a chance on this paranormal author. And last, but certainly not least, Karyn Pearson. I’ve known Karyn for a few years, she is a talented writer, a great person and a good friend. She was instrumental in my choice of going with DP and putting in a good word with Jen, thank you so much.

thanks-Skullteeth-voodoo-ani.gif~c200  I’ve also made friends with several of the authors at DP and been welcome by everyone, so thanks as well to everyone at DP!

So to my fans (and I know there’s at least a few of you ;) Please be patient, book 3 is coming and I’ve already go ideas for book 4. Until then, have a great day/evening/morning all and I’ll talk to you soon.

Interview and book promo with KG Stutts

014(1)

Interview:

What’s your name (pen if you prefer) and what are you here to promote?

My name is KG Stutts and on the 21st, I am releasing the first book in a new series, Amethyst Chronicles: Winter’s Kiss

Is this your first book or have you been writing for a while?

First in this series. I currently have five books out. AC will be the sixth. My first book, Mirror Image, was released in April. Mirror Image is actually book one in a trilogy. The final book will release in January.

Is this book part of a series?

First book in a five-part series, if not more. I really love these characters so I don’t really see myself stopping the series as long as I have stories to tell.

Tell me a little about the book, what genre, short summary, that kind of thing, also what age group is it meant for?

Amethyst is a quartet of genetically enhanced humans. The leader is Ember Wilson, a badass chick with a serious chip on her shoulder. They must work with an elite Air Force team to defeat Dr. Clayton Rudo, a scientist using a weather machine to freeze Earth in order to take over.

This is a NA sci-fi romance series.

How about a little bit about you? (or a lot if you prefer) What makes you tick? What turn’s you on?

I refer to myself as a loveable nerd, but really, aren’t nerds loveable? Maybe not. I work in a call center for a wireless company. I’ve been with my husband now for 11 years and we’ve been married for five. I love playing video games. I’m a huge Disney geek. I’m into hockey, football, and am a fan of the WWE. I actually use to referee independent wrestling matches in North Carolina until my back caused me to take a break, but I’m hopeful to return soon. Star Wars, Stargate, and Star Trek are my loves. That’s just a bit about me. J

What is the trait you value most in others?

Honesty, integrity, and a sense of humor.

If you could have two superpowers what would they be and why?

The ability to fly and quick healing powers

Favorite movie?

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Favorite TV show?

Hmmm…. Right now, maybe Once Upon a Time or The Newsroom

Marvel or DC?

MARVEL

Favorite band or artist?

Lifehouse

Have you always been interested in writing?

Ever since I could remember. I used to write a lot in high school

What do you think is the best part about being a writer?

Creating a world people would want to be a part of. I had a friend who read Mirror Image and thanked me for it later, because he could get lost in it and forget his troubles for a while.

What’s the worst part of writing?

I don’t really have a worst part. Some authors would say editing but I am a fan of it.

Do you think the future is in Ebooks? Or will print make a comeback?

I love both. eBooks are convenient but there isn’t anything like the feel of a heavy paperback in your hands. I hope print makes a comeback

Do you like your job?

As an author? I love it. In the call center? Declining to answer in case someone from work sees this.

If you could have a different career/job what would it be?

I actually went to college for massage therapy. I wish I had stuck with it.

What are you reading right now?

I love Liza O’Connor’s Adventures of Xavier and Vic series. I just finished the second book, The Missing Partner. I’m getting the third this weekend.

What was the last movie you saw?

In the theater? Gone Girl

What was the last book you really loved?

I love Liza’s books. Catrina Taylor is also an amazing sci-fi author. So are Cathryn Cade and Pippa Jay. It’s really hard to choose. CHECK THESE LADIES OUT IF YOU HAVEN’T YET! You’ll thank me later.

Have you ever met someone you only talked to online before?

Oh, yeah. A few times. It’s common in wrestling.

Do you go to Sci-Fi/Fantasy or any other kinds of conventions?

I’ve been to comic book conventions but not specifically sci-fi. I would love to, though.

Do you ever read comic books/graphic novels?

Oh, absolutely!

How do you feel about promotion? Any tips for other writers?

I’m big on promotion and marketing. Doesn’t serve much good to write a great book if no one reads it. I suggest for authors to branch out. Blog as much as you can. Invite others to your blog and get on some too. I’ve met many great authors who I now consider friends that way.

Favorite author?

I grew up on Agatha Christie so she always springs to mind first.

Favorite person (living or dead)?

My parents and my husband

Would you consider yourself religious?

Yes, but not overly. I keep my opinions to myself, but close to my heart.

What do you think is the biggest problem in the world today?

Greed

If you had all the money you ever wanted, what would you do?

Write and travel regularly

What’s the secret to happiness?

Always be yourself.

Get in touch with Kristina here:

kgstutts.webs.com

Buy her book here:

Mirror Image is now available!  http://goo.gl/kW7boJ

Note from me:

Thanks to Kristina for an excellent interview. She’s a creative, fun and interesting person that I’m looking forward to getting to know better. If you follow this blog (and I hope you do) you’ll know that I’m with a new publisher, Distinguished Press. I’m a friendly guy so I offered my blog to any of the authors with DP who would like to do a guest post and Kristina was the first one to speak up. So check out her stuff! Also feel free to submit something for my blog, you don’t have to be an author (and I won’t guarantee I’ll post it) but I am very open minded and I haven’t said no yet.

What you’re been waiting for, the giveaway!

Four amethyst pendants to be won!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

pendant

Movie Review: Fury

Details from IMDB:

Fury

Fury (2014)

134 min  -  Action | Drama | War  -  17 October 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 8.1/10 from 32,556 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 190 user | 201 critic | 47 from Metacritic.com

April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Director:

David Ayer

Writer:

David Ayer

Stars:

Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I’m something of a WWII buff, I’ve never written a paper on it but I’ve read several books, seen lots of documentaries and even done History courses just to learn more about the time in history. So I’m always interested when any movie comes out set during WWII and of course Fury is one of those films. Top that off with I have always enjoyed Brad Pitt (and it got good reviews) meant that we went to see it a couple of weeks ago.

Main Points:

This is set near the end of the European part of WWII, Hitler committed suicide (no I don’t believe he faked his death) on April 30th so this film obviously takes place early to mid-April of ’45. I have to say right off that I was immensely impressed with the attention to detail and accurateness of this film. Big things like an actual German Tiger tank (borrowed from a British museum) all the way down to the uniforms and medals in this movie are authentic and in many cases actually worn/used in the war.

So the movie has some excellent action scenes. Be prepared though, several are quite gory. It shows the effect of war on all sides, the Germans fought tooth and nail at the end, even making children fight. The civilians whose lives were torn apart, houses destroyed or just killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps the most interesting part of the film is it shows the mental effects on the American soldiers. While some cling to religion for comfort, others become hardened and emotionless while others become twisted and almost unable to function with regular people anymore. There is a scene where the "Fury" tank members describe a battlefield experience where they killed thousands of horses to some French women, it is quite disturbing and shows just what the war has done to their mental states. The idea presented is that even good people (one character was just a typist in the Army who is suddenly thrown in a tank) are destroyed inside by war and violence, that you can’t come through such an experience unchanged.

It also makes you wonder can some people actually enjoy war? Are their people so dark already that war only brings out what was already inside them? The movie never answers these questions. Ultimately there is a final showdown and the idea of courage and bravery are also strongly presented. While there is no argument that Hitler was a monster and the concentration camps was perhaps the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, it leaves room for you to think about the regular German soldiers. They followed orders just as the Allied troops did and aside from the SS (who personally did terrible things including running the death camps), fought as any solider does in any war.

Final Thoughts:

Well this turned into a rather lengthy review. Suffice it to say I loved this movie, I give it a strong 8.5 out of 10. I’ll also say that while generally I don’t like Shia LaBeouf, I must say he surprised me here with a good performance. Brad Pitt was also quite good along with the rest of the cast. Please don’t take a child to see this film, I think this should only be seen by ages 17+ for the extreme violence. If you want to learn about history and what war really does to people I do strongly recommend it. Until next time all (not sure what that post will be), talk to you soon.

Movie Review: Doc of the Dead

Doc of the Dead (2014)

DocofTheDead

81 min  -  Documentary  -  14 June 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 6.6/10 from 477 users
Reviews: 4 user | 31 critic

The definitive zombie culture documentary, brought to the screen by the makers of THE PEOPLE vs. GEORGE LUCAS.

Director:

Alexandre O. Philippe

Writers:

Chad Herschberger, Alexandre O. Philippe

Stars:

Charlie Adlard, Joanna Angel, Steven Barton | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

This is a movie I watched on a plane on my way to Las Vegas, it was short and I do love horror movies, so I gave it a try. While I didn’t do a Halloween post this year I decided today was an appropriate day to put this up, so Happy Halloween everyone! Try to get a good scare, or at least a good treat somewhere.

Main Points:

This movie goes through why zombie movies have become such a huge hit and interviews many of the stars/directors/writers currently involved with it. I thought the interviews were excellent (some were quite funny) and I got to learn a few things about Robert Kirkman and George Romero that I didn’t know before. I found it funny that Kirkman almost seems to be disappointed that the Walking Dead TV show has done so well, I hope he was just kidding! Also I had no idea that Romero actually did a movie with a zombie who was the hero of the film! I thought this a very original idea.

The movie also shows conventions, a massive zombie walk (which was pretty cool) and of course obsessed fans who take their love of zombies a little too seriously. I also enjoyed how Max Brooks points out how mainly people in society have become so obsessed with their phones/tablets that they almost behave like zombies anyway! It was both funny and sad as I’ve met people who could not carry on a conversation for more than a few minutes without looking down at their phone.

Aside from this their are some disturbing/super gory clips which I didn’t enjoy. One in particular Re-Animator features a very disturbing scene where a disembodied living head is held by the body and performs oral sex on a woman. Thankfully they don’t show the whole clip during this film but it’s enough to still freak the average viewer out (including me!).

Final Thoughts:

I have to mention another clip from Dawn of the Dead, it literally shows a man lower half being ripped off and torn apart, very gory and stomach turning. While the movie itself is a classic (can’t say I ever saw it though) if this is the level of gore in it, I don’t think I could ever watch it. Overall I enjoyed this documentary but due to extreme gore, I would give it 7/10 and  a very careful recommendation. This should only be seen by ages 18+ and then only those with a good tolerance for gore.  Oh in case you’re wondering we have two trick-or-treaters (my niece and nephew) so while that’s a little disappointing, it does leave lots of leftover candy! Have a good one all, until next time which will be pictures and my thoughts on our three part trip in October.

Movie Review: Gone Girl

Details from IMDB:

GoneGirl

Gone Girl (2014)

149 min  -  Drama | Mystery | Thriller  -  3 October 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 8.5/10 from 91,141 users   Metascore: 79/100

Reviews: 387 user | 354 critic | 49 from Metacritic.com

With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

Director:

David Fincher

Writers:

Gillian Flynn (screenplay), Gillian Flynn (novel)

Stars:

Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

First off, I know it’s been a while. I was on vacation and didn’t have a chance to do a post, another one will be coming this week and then finally a vacation report (had a great time, just super expensive!) anyway on with the review. So I’m a fan of Ben Affleck and I heard lots of great things about this movie, so we went.

Main Points:

This is a kind of a hard movie to review and not because there’s anything wrong with it, just that I don’t want to spoil anything. Excellent acting (including a surprising good performance by Neil Patrick Harris in a minor role), great story and some great surprises. For a longer movie (almost 2.5 hours) I never found it dragged, I was always ready for whatever came next.

I haven’t read the book but Gillian Flynn is obvious a clever writer, I liked a lot of the meta stuff (both of the main characters are writers, there is an important journal and it shows the importance of research and other geeky writer stuff). This movie also really makes you think, how well can you truly know a person? What lengths would you go to for revenge? How would you act in a very stressful (and strange) situation? The movie provides some very interesting answers to most of these questions and leaves you to ponder the rest. I also have to say that while I never heard of Rosamund Pike, she does a great job here of playing a messed up (and really creepy) female lead. Tyler Perry also is quite good as an unconventional lawyer.

Final Thoughts:

So no spoiler alert this time, just a strong recommendation from me to see this movie! (and it’s really not for anyone under 17). Affleck show’s he has really grown as an actor and I think he’s more than capable of handling "Batman" in a few years. I can say this is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. A strong 8.5/10 from me, until next time (which will likely be another movie review).

Atlanti-Con 3, my thoughts

Well it’s October, the leaves are turning, it’s getting colder and it will soon be Halloween but for now my thoughts on Atlanti-Con 3 at SWGC in Corner Brook.

I could tell as soon as I started to set up my table that it was going to be a great weekend. I showed up early (setup time was 6pm and I was there before 5). Jeff Keeping was there already (like always), welcomed me and said to come back in a hour. So I came back later as soon as I arrived Angela Street and Katherine Gallant came to offer help with some of my heavier boxes. Their friendliness and desire to help was much appreciated and helped me to shorten my setup time. I should say at this point that all of the volunteers and organizers (who are volunteers too I’m sure) did an excellent job with every aspect of the convention.

I’ve been to conventions where my name tag/table where not even ready when I got there but Alanti-Con was 100% prepared and organized, I also highly admire and appreciate that. My table soon set up I headed off to dinner with my wife Friday night, looking forward to the next day’s festivities.

I haven’t mentioned Fat Apollo (Mike McCluskey), he did the opening and closing ceremonies (and was a guest, along with doing a panel). He is always funny, has a ton of great stories and great to hang out with. After a good time at the opening ceremony I hurried back to my table for what turned out to be a brisk day of sales. I won’t get into numbers but it was one of the best conventions $ wise I’ve had in years. As usual I found that comics and Magic cards do better than my novels (the fact that book 3 isn’t out yet probably hurt sales a little as well). Saturday night I went to Mike’s panel (which was really funny and well done) and went to a movie with Joanne. I’d also like to say here that I appreciated being invited to King Henry’s Pub that night to hang out with Jeff, all the volunteers and guest but I’m a man of my word, I promised that I would take Joanne to a movie and this was the only night for us to go (we saw "The Equalizer" if you’re curious and it was good, I’ll post my review of it soon). Looking back I do regret not talking with Cara, Robert and the other guests but there’s always next year and I did get to hang out and drink with Mike twice (King Henry’s pub is a nice spot).

Corner Brook is a beautiful city, I love the walking trail that starts right at the hotel I stayed at (Glynmill Inn) and I made good use said trail walking to the con (which was held once again at Sir Wilfred Grenfell campus) Saturday and Sunday morning. My hotel was only a 10 minute walk to the con, so it was good exercise and not too far.

I’m lucky as here’s the view I had from my table

012  I forgot my camera so I didn’t take a lot of pictures (these were from my iPad) but as always I loved to just sit and watch as cos-players go by. I got to talk with lots of cool people and had one woman ask to take my picture (which was a nice ego boost). I also had a chance to chat with Scott Bartlett (fellow author) and Matthew Ledrew (author and owner of Engen books) I had one kid (he looked maybe 8 or 9) come back to my table 4 times for comics and other people come back for Magic cards several times.

This year there was plenty of food selections (including sandwiches and delicious cookies and cupcakes) plus the fact that it went to a good cause (Scaredy Cat Rescue) made it twice as good.

Security (both campus and volunteers from the con) did an excellent job and were friendly, I always felt my table’s contents were perfectly safe. Also I loved the constant power point (I assume that’s the program) screens that ran on monitors to give people info about the con (and let them know I was upstairs) and was very pleased with the ad I paid for in the program booklet. Jeff came around several times to make sure everyone was doing well and said he would make an effort to get people upstairs to authors/artist alley.

013   Let’s move along though, as with all the conventions I’ve been to, Sunday is the slower day. That was fine as it gave me the chance to pick up an excellent deal on comics (you can’t do much better than 50 cents each!) and a fat pack from the latest MTG set. Arlene Keeping (Jeff’s wife and the treasurer) came up around 3:40pm to tell us the closing ceremonies had been moved up to 4 (from 5). My last customer showed up a little before then and I was happy to pack up and head downstairs.

015  The left is the one picture I took of someone in costume (as Daenerys Targaryen of course). For a look at lots of other great pics, have a look here.

So it’s getting late here and I’m tired, to wrap up a great con, tons of fun, lots of sales, great people, fun guests, good panels, well-organized and a lovely spot. I have heard that next year will be the Pepsi Center, I’ve never been in the place but I trust Jeff and the gang to pick the best location. So to Jeff (who I’m fairly certain will read this) thanks for a great con, all your hard work continues to pay off and here’s hoping for next year to be bigger and better. Oh and I’m happy to give money so you DON’T dress up as slave Leia, I think that’s something everyone can agree on ;) Great job everyone, as always a pleasure to be there, I’ll be sure to attend next year and I’m sure that will be a great one as well. Until next time (which will be a movie review)…

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