Monday, March 26, 2012

Pulp Film of the Week - The Hunger Games



Spoiler Alert - For those of you that can hear no ill toward your favorite franchise please read no further. I did not love The Hunger Games movie. I liked it, but did not love it.

First off, I liked the Hunger Games book a lot. As you can see here I gave it an 8.5 out of 10.

So now you're waiting for the hammer to drop, right? Well here goes. I really felt like we only got to see half the movie. Not that we saw the first half or the second half, but that there is another hour or two sprinkled throughout. Hopefully, there will be an extended version on BluRay just before part 2 comes out. 


 The movie has a big issue because there is no set up, no love triangle because Gale is barely in the movie. There is no set up to Peeta and Katniss, or Prim and Katniss, or anything about District 12 at all. A tiny bit of hunting and we're called in to the lottery to determine the combatants.

We also don't get to know any of the contestants (besides Katniss and Peeta) very well with only a little time with Rue. The Capitol people behind the scenes of the games are played very well with Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Elizabeth Banks  giving especially good performances. 

Jennifer Lawrence was also quite good, but sadly the movie didn't really give Josh Hucherson much to work with.

And then there is Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Katniss' personal stylist and cheerleader. Kravitz was outstanding, truly an Oscar level bit of acting.

So, all in all, The Hunger Games did what it did well, it just did far too little. I don't see how a book as short as this one got so short-changed. I thought the Harry Potter movies played better and those books are much longer. I just didn't feel that the characters were established before they were thrown to the lions. Especially Gale.

Maybe the extended version Blue Ray will play better. If you haven't read the books I'd love to know what you thought of the movie.

The positives are that the film looks great. The training sequence is well done as is the majority of the Hunger Games scenes.  The production design, costumes, cinematography and editing are all great. Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Sutherland all provide excellent performances. Elizabeth Banks is a hoot.

I'll give The Hunger Games movie a 6.5 out of 10, but I'm guessing there could've a 9 in there somewhere if the characters had been set up better. I hope a longer version appears in the future.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

99 Cent Zeppelin Ends Friday!


Buy it now!

Yes, it's true. On Friday, the special introductory 99 cent pricing on The Zeppelin is ending and this Saturday this exciting Uchronic novella will go to it's regular 1.99 price. The Horn will keep its 99 cent price for a few more weeks...



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pulp of the Week - Uchronic Tales: The Horn


Uchronic Tales: The Horn should be available for Kindle and Nook by Monday Night at the special introductory price of 99 cents! The introductory pricing on The Zeppelin will end on Friday, March 23rd, so pick up both titles while they're cheap!

The Uchronic Press is proud to announce “Uchronic Tales: The Horn,” our second release. This thrilling 17,000 word novella by W. Peter Miller has a stunning cover by the talented Mike Fyles (Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man Noir covers) and features the Ace Insurance investigator Clark Tyler, a man that trouble seems to find. Or perhaps he is just good at finding it. This story is available now on Kindle, with Nook and all other formats to follow.

The Uchronic Press is here to serve all readers that crave action, excitement, and a bit of an edge in their pulp adventure fiction. Our stories take place in an alternate past, a Uchronic world greatly like our own, but with a dash more mystery, danger, and the macabre. Here you will find heroic adventures, outlandish science, ferocious alchemy, mystic forces, and an alternate history just slightly larger than our own.

Uchronic Tales: The Horn follows Clark Tyler, an investigator for the Ace Insurance Company, as a simple job spirals toward an Earth-shattering conclusion all set against the backdrop of the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.

What is the Horn and why do some distinctively nasty visitors want to get their hands on it? What would happen if someone decides to give it a blow? Clark is there to stop that from happening. Clark is joined in “The Horn“ by a daring aviatrix, a charming archaeologist, and a strange mercenary from Clark’s past.

Join us for the mysteries, the thrills, and the startling conclusion of…
The Horn.

The Tannhauser customs fans out there may recognize the guy riding the motorcycle on the cover - that is none other than... The Jackal! He is also briefly in The Zeppelin, but he has a much bigger role to play here, along with his two pets!

In the months ahead, danger will put Clark in middle of many Uchronic Tales. Look for stories featuring the classic days of Hollywood, earth-shattering danger, lost civilizations, and bizarre visitors from the unknown aether.

Welcome to Uchronic Tales



Pulp Film of the Week - John Carter of Mars



Directed by Andrew Stanton

John Carter is a sumptuous production of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, A Princess of Mars. This book started both his Mars series and his novel writing career. The book was first serialized in All Story Magazine beginning in 1912, and is one of the most successful of the scientific romance genre, as well as being an inspiration to thousands of writers and filmmakers. It is hard to judge a version of the original on its own merits as it has been copied so often. Pieces of John Carter also echo sequences from other films, most obviously the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

The beautiful city of Helium

The cast is quite good and the visual effects are gorgeous, but there seemed to be something lacking that kept the film from being a 10. I has been many years since I read the novel, but one thing is obviously different. In Burroughs' book, the Martians are nude for the most part. I guess I can forgive Disney for not putting a few hundred million into an R rated nudie SF film. That aside, the production design, costumes, and characters felt right.

Frank Frazetta's iconic A Princess of Mars painting

I loved the way the framing story was handled and I am hoping that the movie does well, because there is enormous opportunity to make the additional Mars books into movies as well as the classics of the SF and Fantasy genres. Very few have been made into films.

John Carter meets Tars Tarkus

John Carter and Deja Thoris meet

A flyer
The film is not without its faults. A big arena scene feels very much like the finale sequence of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and a chase on flyers reminded me of the pod racer sequence in The Phantom Menace - even the sound design echoed the pod racers. While John Carter is not a perfect film, I can't imagine that I will ever see a better film version of A Princess of Mars.

A wedding is planned
 Regarding the marketing of the film… I do understand why Disney chose to not call this movie A Princess of Mars. I'm sure the testing showed that boys were repelled by that title. But, the generic "John Carter" title, while letting the fans know that this is the Burroughs book, says nothing to the majority of the audience. I think they should have gone with "John Carter of Mars" (which is clearly the title the movie itself thinks it has) or even "John Carter of Earth." Either way, we'll never know if that would have helped the movie sell tickets. As of this writing, Deadline is estimating the film will have a 29 million dollar opening weekend, so it would seem that unless the word of mouth is fantastic (my audience applauded at the end) Disney stands to lose a bundle on this movie, which is a shame. Rotten Tomatoes critic score is 49% and the audience score is 72% as is common with popular cinema.

Last night I plunked down $18 for an Imax 3D screening of John Carter. I wish it would have been simply in Imax. I don't know if it was the projector alignment or what, but there was far too much ghosting. The fact that this was prevalent in the trailers as well convinces me it was the theater, not the movie itself. I also think the film may have been a bit too cutty for 3D. If I take the kids, I'll opt for 2D. The gorgeous visuals suffer somewhat from the muted brightness of the 3D process. I'll give the movie an 7.5 out of 10. It is a classic story well worth seeing.