Sunday, April 16, 2017

Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island

Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island

Well, that was fun. How was your Easter?

So, After getting Godzilla back on the big screen, we had to follow up with a new, universe-centric Kong movie. This one does not disappoint. Fair warning, even though the movie has been out for a while, there may be spoilers in this review.

This version of Kong not only has a giant monkey, but it's got some pretty heavy hitters in the acting department, starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman.

Side note: I now subscribe to the theory that every role Samuel L. Jackson has ever, and will ever play, is either Nick Fury, or Nick Fury undercover. It just makes absolutely everything even more badass.

Now, there's probably not any Oscars for acting in this movie, but these guys don't sign their names and faces onto just anything, and the movie is every bit as good as you would expect for those three A-listers to put their touch to it.

The story itself is pretty standard King Kong fair, an island that's usually surrounded by mists and storms suddenly has a break in the weather, allowing an intrepid group of explorers and military to land an expedition. Well, not quite land, almost as soon as they arrive, they manage to piss Kong off, and we're treated to a great Kong vs. Helicopters action scene. (Guess who wins.) The survivors now have to trek across the island to their extraction point before the break in the storms surrounding the island ends.

Of course, Kong isn't the only threat on the island. There is a tribe of people that live on the island that worships Kong, In addition, we're treated to glimpses of a giant octopus, a giant water buffalo, a giant spider with legs like bamboo stalks, Not everything is big though, there's also flocks of small pterosaurs to rip people apart.

The biggest threat, and the antagonist monsters in this movie though are the Skull Crawlers. Giant two-legged lizards with tongues like frogs that snap out and grab things before dragging them down its throat.

We see several small ones during the movie, before a much bigger one shows up to challenge Kong. Of course, though, once the human element is introduced, it's shown that he couldn't have defeated the creature without the bitty little humans helping out.

Unlike previous Kong movies though, this one doesn't end with the death of the big monkey after a romp through a major American city. The people manage to make their escape, now aware that the world is much, much bigger than they thought.

If you wait until after the credits, you're also treated to a final sequence, which solidifies the connection between this Kong movie and last year's Godzilla. It also offers a tantalizing hint, for those in the know, of what is hopefully to come.

You probably have one more week to see this in the theaters, so if giant monsters are your thing, it's definitely worth the price of a ride. 

~ Shaun

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Revisiting Old Works

This one should be pretty short, more of an update than a blog post, just to keep fans and people in the loop on what I'm up to.

Trying to work harder on my writing, which isn't exactly easy with a full-time+ job. I am managing though. I have three short stories out on submission right now, which is a new personal record, and I have a list of open calls to write for.

Got a few ideas for new novels and novellas too, with a few false starts in place. (Hey, it's better than nothing! Words on the page is always a win!)

In addition, I'm currently commissioning some new art for my book Class 5. While I was satisfied with the current one, it doesn't exactly scream Horror, and the font needs some work. I will admit that when I first commissioned the current cover, I didn't really have a good idea to start with for what I wanted. That led to the first version (which I rejected) which had an Arizona desert that looked like a cracked wasteland, and the crashed spaceship being the Serenity from Firefly.

Changing cover art really isn't THAT big of a deal though.  It happens all the time. Look up Stephen King's Cujo on, and you can see at least a dozen cover variants. 

But that's not what I really want to talk about here. I self-published Class 5 in 2013. Now that may not seem like that long ago, but in terms of skill and personal growth, it's ages. Looking through it now, as I make sure all the details I want to give the new artist are right, I can see a lot of the things that need work. It's not that a lot of these issues are technically wrong, but as much as I've grown as a writer since then, I know I can do better. 

Which brings me to my dilemma. Do I sweep through a book that's been out there for years, making changes and edits and things, or do I just leave it, as a reminder of the level I was at, at that point? 

Now, I have talked about this a little before, specifically regarding my very first book, The Unknown Neighbor. The Unknown Neighbor has tons of issues, cover, formatting, plot, tension, and even the writing itself. To get that book up to any kind of snuff would pretty much mean a complete re-write. I would be better off just taking the idea and starting with a brand new story. That said, I did consider it at one point, as well as leaving it up for sale. In the end, I pulled it without any revisions and I don't anticipate ever making it available again. 

So what's the difference now, with Class 5? Well, there really just aren't as many issues. The story and plot are good, the action too. It could use a few more details in places, but it's not that big a deal. I'm not talking about re-working anything. The main thing is taking some of the parts of iffy writing and making them better. Basically, another editing pass or two. Not that I'm completely sold on the idea just yet, but it's something I'm considering to go along with the new cover art, and I'll probably fix some formatting issues with the physical copy. We'll see.

Is that good? Is it bad? Well, as long as the story itself isn't changing, there shouldn't be a big problem. I'm not changing any details, I'm not adding or taking things out so that new readers get a different experience than the ones that read it in the past. I don't want to invalidate the reviews Class 5 already has. I just want to clean up the language so people can enjoy the story easier.

Like I said though, we'll see. In the meantime, I apologize, this turned out to be a lot longer than I planned. Still, if you want to know more, feel free to hop over to Amazon and check out Class 5 for yourself! Just click on the cover on the right side of my blog here!

~ Shaun