Category Archives: Hollywood

Why I’m Pumped: The Dark Knight Rises

A week from now, I will be standing outside a theatre sporting a batman mask, awaiting the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Some of you naysayers may ask why get pumped up over this version of the Batman. Honestly, it’s all I ever wanted, and that this version came in film– I am stunned. It’s not that I don’t like Batman from the comics. I love every single type of Batman, down to the Adam West TV reincarnation. I really appreciate Frank Miller’s Batman trilogy and am currently reading some of the New 52 Batman comics (Batman, Batman: Detective Series, Batman and Robin!!!).

But honestly, I honestly appreciate Chris Nolan’s vision of Batman; it has not hindered but rather greatly bolstered Batman’s image in my mind. Why are Nolan’s films so awesome? Let’s review why so that when July 20th comes, we can storm the theatre as wildly as Bane’s cronies.

1.) Film Version

Besides I suppose animated films, we have never had a particularly great Batman film. Mostly because Joel Schmauer is an idiot. And yes, I really do enjoy Batman: The Movie from 1966. It had some fantastically funny actors in it, and the camp is unbelievably– well, it was done on purpose. Turn now to 1997′s Batman and Robin. There’s a huge difference.

Tim Burton’s Batman was pretty decent, but honestly, I haven’t watched it since I was ten. At ten, I thought everything I saw was cinematic gold, and I hated Titanic (except for that one scene, you know, because I was ten). Maybe I didn’t have the best judgement in film.

Nolan did away with camp altogether, focusing instead on the stories being told. This was a trend that has been going on in comic books since the 1970s but never truly translated to film until Batman Begins.

2.) New Bane

Now, I’ll be honest as I am still fairly new to comic books that I had no idea who Bane was. I expected perhaps The Riddler or The Penguin, but boy-howdy, am I glad this guy came along. He not only trumps Batman in brawn but maybe even in brain.

Like everyone else, I researched him and OMG!!!! I don’t want to ruin what might happen, but it could be potentially awesome. I am quite stoked for Tom Hardy too who I have grown to like.

Also, it is a huge improvement from the last cinematic version of Bane.

This…

… Or this?

3.) The Story Ends

Now, this is my favorite point. Supposedly, if Chris Nolan isn’t a jerk liar, the story ends with this movie. Batman’s story ends. Now, that’s not to say we can’t still have a Justice League Movie (please let this happen and base it off of the New 52 comic series!), but as for this trilogy, Batman will come to an end. This interests me so greatly because seemingly, superhero franchises (or franchises in general) never seem to want to end.

These are highly successful films, and I am sure if they made eight of them, I would go see each one as they got progressively worse. Now, the Harry Potter series pulled off an eight-movie stint which still excited me, but we all knew what would happen. The books ended, so the movies ended. But the plethora of Batman stories that could be told would be endless.

But Christopher Nolan promises us a satisfactory end to his unique Batman trilogy. He has worked hard to establish his story in the real world, and I definitely hope the ending stays true to this vision. But another possibility crosses my mind: Batman could die.

If Nolan wanted to, he could kill the Batman. I mean, it’s been done in the comics before. Dick Grayson or Jean-Paul Valley or even Alfred have acted as Batman before, so someone could certainly carry on the mantle for that Justice League movie which will be even far better than the Avengers movie which I loved, but still…

So, at the moment, though Nolan keeps faith with the canon, he also plays with it in all the right places. Honestly, I’m extremely excited.

What do you hope for when the final installment of The Dark Knight trilogy comes to theaters?

Review: Avengers Assemble

If you have yet to see The Avengers movie, do not read on. I don’t care if I ruin this movie for you, and you’ve been warned. Instead, go watch this really sick movie, then come back to read this review.

Alright, guys, let’s get down to business (to DEFEAT the Huns… I mean, Loki?) When brother of Thor Loki decides to raise an intergalactic army to overtake earth, it’s up to Samuel L. Jackson with an eye patch, Scarlett Johansson in a full-body leather suit, and that guy from the show The New Adventures of Old Christine to rally up the world’s mightiest heroes in hopes of saving our planet.

Years ago, there was a dream, a dream to reboot several popular comic book characters as lead roles in their own movies, then to combine these universes into one so that these characters could interact. Then came today, May 4th, the day The Avengers came out. While I really enjoyed the individual movies, the one that really fell short for me was Thor’s. For some reason, the thought of portals through space and Thor’s friends threw off the vibe. But Thor does much and more to rectify himself in this new film, and I think we reach an even greater understanding of the Thor/Loki relationship. While Thor was minus hammer for most of Thor, he makes good use of his magical hammer in this new film. Also, I’ve got to praise Tom Hiddleston’s acting, which is superb and hilarious. He has such wit and good timing, and he did well conveying his motives and that sort of smug “I know something you don’t know” attitude.

Another standout performance is, of course, RDJ. The movie crackles with energy when he steps on-screen.

But who surprised me was Mark Ruffalo. He did such a great job as Bruce Banner, the man trying to contain the beast, that he deserves a lot of credit. His subdued manner and overall demeanor– his performance was note-perfect. Subtle and quiet, only to explode when the green guy came out. Even though the Hulk was great (his fight with Loki was incredibly enjoyable), Bruce Banner held his own against his counterpart. The movie is not just high on action (which it is, oh yes, it is), but it’s funny. Hilarious, actually. On par with the first Iron Man film.

Who really deserves credit for making this movie come together is Joss Whedon, the director of this whole shebang. I expected, though reluctantly, that this movie might not live up to my high expectations. How would they incorporate all of these characters? Would they just join forces, just like that? That would make NO sense. Fortunately, the director and writers worried just as much about storytelling as awesome action sequences. The film actually portrays each characters’ shortcomings and personal conflicts with a lot of skill and detail. Iron Man’s selfishness, Hawkeye’s lonliness, Black Widow’s past, Thor’s relationship with his brother, Captain America’s disorienting incubation in a glacier for fifty years, the Hulk’s anger problems and personal philosophy. Seriously? You can fit all that in a movie, have characters clash constantly against each other, then bring them together in a single movie. Well, the movie is pretty long, so… yes.

Then again, who cares how long it is when you have so much epic-ness occurring on screen? Let’s review some of my favorite scenes:

1.) Every scene where the camera was positioned behind Scarlett Johansson as she walked away (every scene with her in it)

2.) The Hulk vs. Thor

3.) Iron Man vs. Thor

4.) The Hulk tearing apart that giant alien worm-thing with metal armor

5.) Iron Man redirecting a nuclear missile into space (Good for you, Tony! Taking one for the team!)

6.) The reveal of a new villain. At first, I thought it was the Red Skull returned, but it could possibly be Thanos, who is much more formidable than the Red Skull. After thinking about it more, I suppose that makes more since. Would the Red Skull really assemble such an army to gain the tesseract?

Either way, I am stoked about phase two of this series which will lead up to the Avengers 2. We’ve got Iron Man 3 and Captain America 2 to look forward to. The casting is very, very good. I certainly hope Ruffalo gets his own movie, showing how he has begun to control The Hulk; not to mention a movie about SHIELD members Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. This movie is a promise for all the really great things that will come soon.

Share you own thoughts if you have seen the film!

Privacy? We May Need It, but No One Wants It

Facebook, over the course of its existence, has changed many times its privacy settings. Some people limit everyone from seeing pictures on his profile and some allow anyone to see all info. In fact, privacy settings are very rarely used by Facebook users under the age of 25. Middle aged users tend to use privacy settings more prudently. We teenagers, we allow anyone to see what music we like, what books we like, and what celebrities we admire but get offending when someone “stalks” us.

It annoys me that some people will say they have read my blog or seen a picture, then apologize for “stalking.” If we were really a generation afraid of unwanted attention, we wouldn’t have Facebooks, tumblrs, and Youtube accounts. We would not recklessly share our inner lives with a computer screen.

No, we don’t mind that anyone may be stalking us because it stokes our ego. We feel better that someone is paying attention; who cares how creepy it seems? If all info is available, all info is free-game. No one is a creeper or stalker for looking at another’s profile, just worshipers of a single ego.

There is a voyeuristic pleasure we receive with allowing others to see into our “inner selves.” What we portray on social-networking sites like Facebook, however, we can manipulate. We can make ourselves appear exactly how we want to appear. A moralistic Christian? Post Bible verses all day and list Jesus as an inspiring figure. You don’t even need to go to Church. Want to be seen a stoner? Why not simply like “weed” on Facebook? It won’t even matter that you don’t smoke as long as you perpetuate a certain image. And we enjoy intensely luring others into believing they’re learning our deep, dark secrets when we have shaped those secrets meticulously.

Teens are like D-list celebrities who complain about the paparazzi, then wear sheer shirts onto the red carpet so pictures of their nipples end up on the internet. We love that attention. Attention is the new love. Facebook is the perfect mirror to preen in, making ourselves into what psychologist Maslow would call our “self-realized selves.” We’ve reached a stage where we can lie without making any facial expressions because words on the web give no social cues. On the internet, we can create new identities.

We’ve seen this time and time again where some fourteen-year-old girl meets her internet boyfriend for the first time at Target only to be kidnapped by Buffalo Bill. But creepy skin-wearers aren’t the only ones who reform their identities via the internet. We do it too. Facebook merely is a better tool to facilitate how we get others to perceive us. Back in the day, we would subscribe to certain stereotypes, then dress in a certain manner. Today, we’re allowed far more uniqueness to express ourselves through what the pins on our Pinterest boards say.

The internet offers the perfect fantasy. A social illusion, where you are the all-important person. Any person following your blog does not simply appreciate your insights but is a “creeper” obsessed with you. Aren’t we all in love with that idea, that celebrity status where people check Twitter just to see whenever you poop in public?

Earlier today, I worked very minimally to post a blog about The Avengers. I am really excited for The Avengers and definitely want people to know how much of a comics book geek I’ve become (especially superheroes), but it was for that reason I wrote the post. That, and because Avengers is such a popular search item currently, I figured it would boost my view count. Does that not just shout megalomania, Tony-Stark-style? I didn’t feel passionate about revealing my thoughts; I was too tired to write and forced myself to just because I hadn’t for two days. We’re all on the internet like it’s some high school party, keeping up appearances.
Obviously, I’m not immune. I’m consumed, sucked in, and obsessed. I crave attention as well and am as self-centered as Superman if he hadn’t found Earth and had instead floating in space his entire life thinking he was the only living organism in the universe. Of course it affects me. That’s the nature of the beast call ego-centrism. When my psychology teacher inferred it passed after adolescence, I wanted to laugh. Our generation may never grow out of this, never stop fueling our own need for obsession and rejection of privacy in return for new-age love.

No need to stop feeding the ravenous machine that is Derek Berry’s ego, so comment and like and view this post sixty times to give me delusions of internet-grandeur. Just giving you something to think about.

The Avengers: Why I’m Stoked

Tonight, at midnight, The Avengers will assemble and undoubtedly save the world as well as sweep in millions in box office dollars. The movie featuring A-list superheroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk will be a spectacular display of intergalactic action sequences and  awesome fighting. We’ll see fights of Captain America against Iron Man, Thor against Iron Man, and Thor against Loki. Expect this to be pretty amazing.

I shall be going at 3:55pm tomorrow, so expect a full review by tomorrow night. So, what are the reasons I am excited?

1.) The Avengers Canon

For those of us who read comic books, The Avengers might be the most confusing group of superheroes following the X-men. The reason is that throughout the group’s history, there have been an insane multitude of different heroes on the team from Spider Man to Ant Man, from the Wasp to Black Widow (they had a big infestation problem, apparently.) When I first heard years ago that an Avengers movie would be made, I was curious about who would make the cut. From the looks of the trailers, we have a very decent line-up. Then several directors worked together to build each character’s individual films to contribute to the overarching movie that comes out tonight. Look out for how this director Josh Whedon uses group dynamics as a conflict, as this was a serious conflict in the comics.

What’s particularly interesting is that who will take the role as a leader. Nick Fury rallies them, but who will lead the team? Cap? Iron Man? Thor? Hawkeye (haha, just kidding!)? We might be surprised to see how this group works together, if they work together at all. We know already that several key characters who are protagonists will come head to head.

Spoilers: By the end, Iron Man and Captain America began a civil war, and now Captain America is dead. In the comics, anyways. What if this happened in the movie? Weird.

2.) Scarlett Johanssonn

Let’s be honest, guys. This chick is hot, and when you place a hot chick in a full-leather-suit, you’re going to get people’s attention. Funnily enough, a friend of mine wore this same costume to comic con. Quite a lot of people wanted to take their pictures with her for some reason.

3.) Crossovers Can be Great

As a lover of many individual comics, it’s sometimes strange, sometimes great for comics to cross over. Just like those Scooby Doo episodes with the Harlem globe Trotters or Batman. The Avengers is just one type of crossover, where many different heroes of the same universe unite to fight a common cause. Because this is simply on film, I feel titillated to watch it unfold. They’ve done such a great job of building each character that once you combine them, you know cool stuff will be going down.

4.) The Cast

Apart from Scarlett Johansson, the cast is male-heavy (because most superheroes tend to be males.) But we have quite a sick line-up for this movie. First comes Chris Evans as Captain America. Now, Evans played another Superhero “The Human Torch” of the Fantastic Four at which I thought he acted splendidly. Originally, I thought it was not so cool to give him another superhero role, but after see the Captain film, I feel fairly confident that he embodies the character.

Next up are two new additions, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk and and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. Now, I absolutely love Edward Norton and was sad to see him go, but Mark Ruffalo will be an intriguing replacement, I’m sure. After seeing him in The Kids Are Alright, I like him as an actor. Hopefully, he’ll be able to capture the underlying fury versus the calm demeanor that Bruce Banner possesses.

I have only seen Jeremy Renner in the new Mission Impossible movie, and though I wasn’t incredibly impressed, I’m not worried.

Chris Hemsworth has to put on a rather ridiculous accent for Thor, but come on, Thor is awesome! I will in fact be dressing up as Thor for this film.

We’ve got Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and man, does he play the perfect Fury? No doubt, this was probably the second best casting choice.

What was the best? Robert Downey Junior. This guy absolutely kills it as Iron Man/ Tony Stark. He has infused his character with such realism and megalomania that his very presence is augmented on screen. And I believe because of the success of the Iron Man movies (in part because of Downey), Iron Man will play a more significant role than usual in this upcoming film.

Tell me your own thoughts about the movie both before and after you see it. Are you stoked?

Modern Day Horror An Impossibility?

I watched The Woman in Black for the second time last night and came under the impression that every horror movie ever made should take place in the 1800s, perhaps the early 1900s. Once the characters get technology, all the mystery is gone.

So you think there might be a poltergeist in your house? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that. The wonderful new spectral locator app on your IPhone will indicate whether or not paranormal activity is going on within your home. When you find out a ghost is haunting your attic, sell your house and move away!

How lame would that be, though, if through some technology we could trace ghosts, kill vampires, and reverse every killer zombie plague? Thanks a lot, Richard Matheson!

Would  The Ring not lose a lot of its scare value if someone received a tweet, “U will die in 7 days #Evilcurse.” Then, Samara comes climbing through your IPad as you’re trying to watch 30 Rock on Hulu.

My point is, with as many technological advances as we have today, the things that once were scary have been demystified. We’re no

longer superstitious of demons possessing people with epileptic seizures. Not every crow means death. But back in better, less complicated times, true horror existed in uncertainty. These days, we are too certain that we know everything. Not that we can ever truly know anything.

Think of Plato’s wall, and what doubt it casts on the shadow of reality being truly reality, a real world and not one of shadows. Maybe this idea itself, the sheer notion that perhaps we paragons of technology don’t know EVERYTHING, perhaps that is today’s new horror. No more ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. Only uncertainty. Only a true ignorance where once we presumed was vast, concrete knowledge. Every day, we learn that things we absolutely knew without a doubt were never in fact true.

Is this merely more reason to lament the days when we were certain about our own uncertainty, not so mixed up about it?

What we need is more ghosts and haunted houses. Call me cliche, but I love those stories. In fact, check out this Litreactor article on Haunted Houses.

What are your thoughts? What’s the last good horror movie you’ve seen/horror book you’ve read set in modern day? Or do you prefer to kick it old school?

The Hunger Games: Why I’m Stoked

Thursday night, fans will take to the streets to stand in line to see the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games, based on a popular book by Suzanne Collins. I am completely stoked for this movie, but I have put off talking about it because I feel like we’ve been inundated with talk about it. Here are some things I am looking for.

1.) Will The Hunger Games movie address the brutality of violence much the same as Collins did?

Collins certainly does not shy away from the grotesque details even in this young adult novel. But by turning these violent games into film form, is that not glamorizing death and gore and child-fighting? The first thing I thought when they said there would be a movie was, “Ooh, we get to watch kids kill each other.” Or will the movie focus more on the injustice of this rather than amp up the violence? I’m very interested in seeing how the director addresses this.

2.) Josh Hutcherson

While I will certainly watch Jennifer Lawrence who won an Academy Award, I’m more interested to see how Josh Hutcherson will peform in this movie. I have been watching his career since the dismal Cat in the Hat. But his performance in The Kids are Alright was fantastic. When he was cast as Peeta, my first thought was “perfect.” This guy is going to knock the performance out the park. He’s going to kill it. So, watch out for this kid’s performance.

3.) Suzanne Collins

Not to sound like a hipster, but I like Suzanne Collins before the whole Hunger Games craze. In fact, I got just as involved with her The Underland ChroniclesI am very happy she has received so much commercial success, because I want to see what she does next. If people really like The Hunger Games, maybe they’ll make a movie about giant rats, giant cockroaches, and Gregor!! Crossing my fingers.

4.) Scenes Removed or Added

I know a lot of readers, when seeing the movie adaptation of their favorite books, freak out when things are changed. I see these changes as sometimes very positive, because it allows the film to tell a slightly different story than the book does. Which means both can be consumed as separate entities, yet still enjoyed. But I think The Hunger Games will mostly stick very closely to the text, with the addition of perhaps one extra scene and the deletion and downplaying of a few characters.

5.) Lenny Kravitz as Cinna

Cinna was one of my favorite characters, and I was interested in what who would be cast. There are some casting decisions I found to be perfect: Tucci and Sutherland. But Lenny Kravitz seems like the most interesting choice.

He looks so cool. Love his music. If he is also a good actor, that’s a plus. We shall see what happens next Friday, when the movie is released.

6.) Haymitch

Definitely one of my favorite characters. Perhaps most people do not like Woody Harrelson, but I think he can both intense and very funny. Evidence: Zombieland and Friends with Benefits. I’m interested in watching him get drunk and embarrass himself.


See you on the 28th. The world will be watching.

If I were “On the Road”

When I discovered that a film had been made of On the Road, I was a little incredulous. It chronicles Kerouac’s somewhat true, somewhat made-up, and basically plot-less. But it’s a portrait of a life, of a wild life, a life of frivolity and existentialism. Of freedom, thoughts, and philosophy.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” – Jack Kerouac

It’s strange since I am now rereading the book, now 18. Almost of age with the characters, more so at least than when I first read it when I was 14.

My first reaction to this particular half-true novel was to treat it as a veritable guide to living life. A how-to manual. Who needs a job when you can take a typewriter and drugs and set forth into the Wild West? But that was such an idealistic way of viewing these adventures. Sure, they’re fantastical, and Kerouac mesmerizes you with beauty and savagely constructed words, but there’s a sadness in this story too.

On the Road truly is the tale of youths, hopeless and lost, dream-less. Directionless but powerful, like grenades set loose. He once explained, “I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.” And in these characters, we find ourselves completely enamored. The lovable Prodigal sons before they return home.

I’m not sure how well this can be translated into a movie, but I liked the look of the trailer. And can the style be translated to film at all? Part of what makes this book magical is how beautifully it’s written, like a backwards Bible but with better metaphors. Because I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I’m worried as well. And also exciting. This book and this writer are very big influences on my own writing.

But that can’t be half as hard as translating David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas to film. I recently finished that, and… well, you can read about it here:

What do you think about this classic becoming a film? Can it even be done? Share your thoughts.

 

Cinematic Books, Worth Making?

My book will probably never be a movie. Right now I’m holding my breath for it to become a book. But once I get an editor and publisher, I doubt many agents will option by movie. Even so, I doubt they’d do anything with the rights other than hold onto them. A lot of authors don’t realize that this is what happens to a lot of books. Some books, people would love to become movies, but some agent bought those rights and is holding out.

Once a book is picked up to get published, and if said book is generating any sort of buzz, you can be sure film agents are looking into making the book as a movie. Sometimes, just because the movie is super popular, an agent or director will option the movie or buy the rights. But not all books are right for the silver screen. There was a recent article on this in TIMES magazine that definitely worth checking out.

Why would some authors not want their books transformed into cinema? Let’s explore that shall we?

When books become movies, the author makes money. Sometimes, lot’s of money. No, not as much money as the producers or actors, but still– lots and lots and lots of money. Take Twilight for example, which significantly bolstered the sales of the novel. While books like Twilight and Harry Potter were popular pre-film-versions, the film sagas dramatically increased their revenue. The newest IT book to be made into a film is The Hunger Games. It will likely make a lot of money because it kicks ass and has a huge fan base.

Another book becoming a movie is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathen Foer, which I happen to have liked. What intrigues me, however, is that the story based on some survivors of 9/11 does not seem like it could be easily transferred to film. There will be probably be significant changes to the plot line, which is fine, but… here’s where we have a problem. Authors are EXTREMELY protective of their darlings. Many understand that in movies, things need to be changed. But some can’t stand the idea of some director they don’t know meddling with the world and character the author created.

Some things are changed merely because they cannot be put onto the big screen. Take American Psycho for example. The book is one of the most disturbing pieces of literature I’ve ever seen and the movie a fun-gory piece of camp, though not exactly a masterpiece. Why? Likely because despite it being gory, they could not include all of the thematic significance expressed in the book. That, and they left out the scene that would be certainly inappropriate to speak of here involving a rat and a woman’s you-kn0w-where. Curious? Read here.

But my book, though I think there are no rats involve, contains similar gut-retching scenes. Scenes that on paper make your skin crawl, but in a film would just be… out of place. I’m not saying it’s anywhere near as bad as The Human Centipede or anything, but it’s still pretty bad. So, for the sake of this argument, let’s compare my book to something that would make a better movie: The Hunger Games. 

The Hunger Games, if you’re disdainfully ignorant, is about Katniss Everdeen who is forced by her oppressive government to fight-to-the-death 23 other teenagers. Basically, there are kids doing crazy awesome stuff to kill each other. The book isn’t just good because of the fighting, but also because it explores political intrigue and the repercussions of suppressing a people. In this series, there is a real element of horror underlying everything. Scenes that could very easily become film. Also, it’s written in first voice, present tense. Perfect for a film.

Now… my book. It’s not that I wouldn’t like it, but firstly, I’d be super protective of my baby. Secondly, there are just too many static scenes for the screen. On page, there might be a level of tension as Sebastian sits on a psychiatrist’s couch, lying to him. But on screen, it might come across as just talking. Also, maybe there is such thing as too much murder. And maybe my book has it.

Either way, it’d be cool anyways.

What books-turned-movies did you enjoy? Any you didn’t?

I highly suggest you read The Hunger Games and watch the new trailer.

Also, while you’re at it, check out the synopsis for The Savagery of Sebastian Martinelli, my book.

Review: Moneyball

Flashback Thursday!!

From now on, I’d like to make this a “thing.” I’ll post something I either wrote or made a long time ago so you can go chortle at me. Or LOL.

For this week, I’d like to introduce you to D-Kizzle and Fredrick Fredrickson! They are characters I created in the tenth grade to make youtube videos with. Keep in mind, this video I will show you is something very embarrassing. But I always knew people would dig them up one day, so why not show it to you now?

Did you ever do or write something you’re very embarrassed of from your past? Next week, I’ll make sure to post something I’ve written.

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