Book Review: The Imagination Journals by Darren Hann

Details from Amazon:

Book Description

Publication Date: August 4, 2012

Within The Imagination Journals You will Find Five Stories , The Assignment , Holy Troll , What Makes It Modern Technology , Plan 9.5 From Outer Space ,and Bunker-6 .Each Story will Stretch your Imagination to new limits,and beyond.


Product Details

Initial thoughts:

Darren is a friend of mine and I’ve known him for years. I enjoyed his first novel "Time Stone: Saving the Rock" and while I was at a convention last year we did a swap and I got this collection of short stories from him. I quite enjoy short stories and while I’m a terribly slow reader, I did finally finish this book today.Open-mouthed smile

Main Points:

If Darren reads this…well we might have some things to discuss. I hope he’ll realize I’m being constructive and not mean spirited. Writers have to develop a thick skin after all. With that said I quite enjoyed the first 3 stories. (I had read "Holy Troll" in another collection of short stories). What starts to really become noticeable in "What Makes it Modern Technology?" is the lacking of proper editing and formatting. It becomes obvious here that the book is self-published and that like most authors (in my experience) Darren is great with ideas but terrible with editing. Editing is a chore and its a strange thing that we can easily find the mistakes in other people’s work but no so much in our own. Darren also has the unfortunate habit of establishing characters, getting the reader into the story and then abruptly ending it. I think they key with a short story is to get the reader involved and make a story just the right length. When you look towards the next story thinking "how can this be over so fast?" Or "is this done yet?", in either case you have a problem. I don’t claim to be an expert on writing short stories but I’ve read plenty and I know what I like. All of this brings me to the largest problem with this collection, "Plan 9.5 from Outer Space" I guess maybe now is the time for…

SPOILER ALERT!

So Darren wrote and directed a fan film of the same name. The movie is both a homage and an improvement of the horrible train wreck that is "Plan 9 from Outer Space." I enjoyed the movie and this story is an adaptation of it. The problem is that it’s not a good adaption. Turning any kind of movie into a book (when it wasn’t based on one to start with) is a risky thing to do and Darren shouldn’t have tried. Editing and grammatical mistakes really takes the reader out of the story. Simple stuff her like instead of "u.f.o." there is "u.f.", simple words like "every" are misspelled and the story jumps all over the place and even has a character die and comeback (for no apparent reason) all in two pages. I found it a chore to get through this story and is mostly the reason I was so long reading the collection of stories.

The final story "Bunker-6" also has lots of grammatical strangeness going on and ends entirely too quickly. It has all the elements of a good story, fun characters, cool technology, humour, action and a recurring villain but once more technical issues drag it down. This story shows the most promise I may end up getting another short story collection from Darren just to see what happens next in the story.

Final Thoughts:

Darren really needs an editor, for his first book he did and the result was much better. I can only recommend this book if you skip "Plan 9.5" entirely and have a high tolerance for errors with the others. Darren is a creative guy that does lots of great stuff (including Sci-Fi on the Rock, which is an excellent convention I whole-heartily recommend Hot smile), sadly this is not one of them. I can only give this 5/10 and hope that Darren’s next work is a return to the "Time Stone". Next for me will likely be a movie review, followed by a book review of another collection of short stories by local authors (Light/Dark by Engen) which hopefully won’t take me months to read 😉 until next time I am as always…

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Movie review: Django Unchained

Django

Details from IMDB:

Django Unchained (2012)

165 min  -  Adventure | Drama | Western  – 25 December 2012 (USA)

Ratings: 8.6/10 from 175,345 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 575 user | 495 critic | 42 from Metacritic.com

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Director:

Quentin Tarantino

Writer:

Quentin Tarantino

Stars:

Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio |See full cast and crew

Initial Thoughts:

I’m a huge Quentin Tarantino fan (though I’ll admit to have never seen Jackie Brown) so of course I anxiously awaited the chance to see this movie (it sold out where I live for over a month in theatres, even early shows!). Right from the start of the movie I knew I was going to love it. Quentin has done some of the best soundtracks ever and Django is certainly one of them.Hot smile

It’s a nice simple idea for a film, a bounty hunter rescues a slave, they kill people together and then go find his wife who was sold to another plantation. Of course along the way we are shown the horrors of slavery and the brutal nature of Dr. Schultz (Waltz) and Django (Foxx) as they kill people for money.

Main Points:

The acting is just amazing is this movie. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz are just incredible. Samuel L. Jackson turns in another excellent performance and Leonardo does a great job of being creepy/evil and yet still sophisticated/charming as southern slave owner Calvin Candie.

The movie is quite violent and while Quentin does quick cuts with the gory scenes I would still certainly not want anyone under 17 to see this and one particular scene with dogs is disturbing.

There are so many great scenes so I’ll mention just a couple. I suppose that means…

SPOILER ALERT!

Even though it is primarily a very serious, violent and bloody film there is a very funny scene. Don Johnson (who is also excellent here) is not only a slave owner but a member of the KKK. After Django kills three white men on Big Daddy’s planation (he is never given a name) Big Daddy and many other folks come out to kill him and Dr. Schultz (he’s not much of a doctor as you’ll see). Just before they ride up to Schultz’s wagon they all have issues with the eye holes for their masks. It is a really funny scene and it was a great surprise to see Jonah Hill make a cameo here.Open-mouthed smile

Another wonderful scene is when Django comes back to Candieland to finish off the remaining employees and Calvin’s sister (also more importantly to retrieve his wife Broomhilda). Once he has killed everyone who helped to run the house except Stephen (Jackson) we see that Stephen is not so senile or crippled as he has let on during the movie. Django shoots him in both knees and blows up the entire house with dynamite. Stephen is a very hateful character as he is black (of course) but serves Calvin and his sister above all else. As Django points out he saw thousands of black people die at the ranch and did nothing.

Final Thoughts:

The movie does have a few flaws. As with most of his films Quentin does make a cameo near the end. Quentin is not much of an actor and when you see him it takes you out of the movie a little. Also strangely enough James Remar (who is also quite good here) plays two different roles in the film! It’s like Quentin killed his first character and then decided he wanted more from the actor. It’s just something that takes you out of the film as it makes no sense for two different characters to look and sound exactly the same.

Those minor complaints aside I highly recommend this film. Quentin deserves best director and I would love for this to win best picture. If you don’t mind violence, some gore and a rather long running time (over 2.5 hours) you should really check this out before it leaves theatres Thumbs up. I give it 9/10 and put it on par with Pulp Fiction. Until next time (no promises as to what Winking smile) I am as always…

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Movie Review: Gangster Squad

GansterSquad

Details from IMDB:

Gangster Squad (2013)

113 min  -  Action | Crime | Drama  -  11 January 2013 (USA)

Ratings: 7.1/10 from 20,407 users   Metascore: 40/100
Reviews: 100 user | 256 critic | 37 from Metacritic.com

Los Angeles, 1949: A secret crew of police officers led by two determined sergeants work together in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen who runs the city.

Director:

Ruben Fleischer

Writers:

Will Beall, Paul Lieberman (book)

Stars:

Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone | See full cast and crew

Initial Thoughts:

Okay I’ll admit I was trying to see Django Unchained and it was sold out. (It’s been out over a month too!) So we ended up seeing this instead. I had heard mixed reviews but it had actors I liked and I do enjoy Mafia/crime movies (especially when based on true events) so we went in.

Main Points:

This is a part of L.A.’s history I didn’t know, the amount of gang activity and control of the city Mickey Cohen had in the late 1940’s. Most of the cast in this takes a good role and Emma Stone looks very hot and sexy here (I have a thing for redheads Smile).

I liked the attention to details like the way people spoke then. There is dialogue that goes something like this, “you fellas can bend your ears, while I go bend my elbow”. She’s talking about smoking (which apparently everyone did in the 40’s) and talking, something people don’t say anymore.

It was nice to see Robert Patrick in a film, he’s someone I’ve always liked but you don’t see very often. I think the problem with the movie is that it’s very predictable (okay there is 1 surprise but even that one you see coming) and Mickey Cohen (at least the way Penn plays him) is a rather dull villain. Ryan Gosling (whom I like) also plays a rather predictable character and seems to coast through most of this movie on charm and looks.

Final Thoughts:

The action scenes in the movie are top notch and the final showdown at the Park Plaza hotel was a blast to watch. For those reasons and some mentioned above I have this a mild recommendation and a 7/10 Thumbs up. There are better movies out there but if you’re in the mood for a gangster flick, this movie is worth a look.Open-mouthed smile Until next time (and yeah it will likely be another movie review) I am as always…

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