Archives for posts with tag: Movie Night

Call me a fan girl and an SF geek, but I loved the Marvel Studios film, “Captain Marvel” (CM). This delightful film is the most woman-centric comics piece I’ve seen since “Wonder Woman” with the wonderful Gal Godot, who was born for the part. I truly hope she isn’t typecast for the rest of her career but that’s a risk actors take when they sign up to be a superhero.
While WW has more of an ethereal superhero plot, CM has the most personal storyline I’ve seen in quite a while in a comics film (caveat: I haven’t seen them all, but quite a few), exploring, as its central themes, the empowerment of women, friendship between women, and warm relations between black and white folks. My favorite themes in fiction and my own fiction (especially my novel, Summer of Love). The main character’s personal journey of discovering her true self, discovering her personal empowerment dovetails well with the greater plot.
Brie Larson is terrific as the lead, Carol Danvers. She captures the unruly emotions of her character, is funny, tender, and kick-ass deadly when she needs to be. Samuel Jackson, as Shield Agent Fury, is adorable (if digitally “anti-aged”), and there’s an even more adorable ginger tabby cat (a nod to “Alien”).
The story was created by a woman and a man, the screenplay written by the same woman, the same man, and an additional woman, and the film was directed by the woman story-screenplay writer and the man. No wonder it’s so good. Woman power is bred in its bones.
The screenplay is practically a perfect textbook example of what you should accomplish in your screenplay. (Note: you want to sell your screenplay, not a shooting script, which is a much different entity.) After the first screening, to acquaint me with the content, I sat through a second screening with a stopwatch and a notepad and pencil to take notes. I’m presently working on a screenplay adapting my print story that I sold to a major studio and needed some guidance and inspiration.
The rules about three-act structure aren’t arbitrary; they work to present the viewer (or reader) with a dynamic creation that carries you from start to finish. I’ve observed many effective books and stories that consciously (or unconsciously) follow the three-act structure. When I analyze my own work, stories and books, I see that I’ve consciously (or unconsciously) written often according to that structure.
A bonus: after the usual montage of Marvel Comics heroes, we see a 60-second montage of the cameos of Stan Lee in films, followed by a black page with red lettering THANK YOU STAN, and one final shot of his joyfully smiling face. As a young man, Lee started writing and drawing comic books around World War II. The comics industry had its ups and downs, publishers went out of business, but Lee persisted to create the powerhouse that is today Marvel Studios. His hilarious cameos in the films were always something to anticipate (like spotting Alfred Hitchcock in his movies). Lee died at age 95 last year. Sure enough, Stan makes a cameo in CM but I don’t know if it’s digital or was filmed before he died.
Now then: in Act One we open with Carol, known only as “Vers”, is beset by scattered disturbing dreams that seem to indicate an unknown life she had. This is always a tricky proposition to portray. The viewer has to pay attention, but attention is rewarded throughout the film, as we revisit the dreams—her fragmentary memories of a mysteriously lost life—in Act Two and Act Three and by the end make total sense of them.
Vers finds herself on HALA, the high-tech home planet of the Kree (a nod to “Forbidden Planet” and the high-tech Krell). The high-tech city, with dynamic images scrolling across the sides of buildings, is reminiscent of the futuristic Los Angeles in “Bladerunner.”
She is in training to “become the best she can be,” according to her mentor (played by Jude Law) as soldier in an on-going war fought by the Kree. She reports in to the Supreme Intelligence—an A.I. who rules the Kree and who appears as a woman. Vers’s problem is that she’s too emotional, too ready to laugh.
The Supreme Intelligence tells her “to serve well and with strength,” which is reminiscent of the oath in “Gladiator”, “Strength and honor,” and sure enough in the next scene, the African hunter from “Gladiator” appears as a member of a Kree military team.
She’s sent on a mission with the Kree team, there’s fighting (the writer-director is wise enough not to let any of the fight scenes go on too long—a problem for me in many comics films) with an alien race, the Skroll, whose appearance strongly resembles certain beloved aliens in “Star Trek”.
The Skroll capture Vers and probe her mind—more of those fragmentary memories emerge, including a woman who was once her mentor (the Supreme Intelligence takes the mentor’s appearance) and her best friend, a young black woman training to be a fighter jet pilot with Vers.
Then, at twenty minutes almost to the second, there’s a huge plot point that marks the end of Act One and spins the story around in a totally different direction.
Vers finds herself on C 53, Earth, Los Angeles in 1995. She crashes through the roof of a Blockbuster Video, curiously picks up a video of “The Right Stuff,” blasts off the head of a cardboard Arnold Schwarzenegger display, and searches for communication equipment from a nearby Radio Shack so she can contact her mentor back in the Kree universe. This is a humorous nod to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” with Pan Am as the brand on the space shuttle taking people from Earth to the Moon. The screenwriters of “2001” didn’t know the brand not only wouldn’t last until what was then the far future, Pan Am didn’t last past the 1970s. Blockbuster and Radio Shack, which seemed like indestructible brands in 1995, similarly didn’t last past the 2000s. So we viewers got a laugh out of that.
Enter Shield Agent Fury, Sam Jackson, in a scene reminiscent of “Men in Black”. Complications ensue. Certain personal details about Fury and Vers are skillfully revealed and then pay off a little later in plot points. I love it when writers pay off a setup and I become very annoyed when a setup doesn’t go anywhere.
CM also pokes fun at what appears to us now as clunky computer tech in 1995 (Carol awkwardly pecks with two fingers at a keyboard). There’s a fight between Vers and an alien enemy (the Skroll can shapeshift, taking on the appearance of whomever they see) atop a subway train reminiscent of “Indiana Jones.”
Act Two continues for fifty-five minutes with more complications circling around the storyline. There’s a midpoint at twenty minutes into Act Two. The script doctor, Linda Seger, is a big believer in the midpoint of a screenplay as a restatement of the overall themes. In CM, the two lead characters, seeking Carol’s long-lost best friend, travel in a futuristic jet plane from Los Angeles (L.A.) to Louisiana, (La.) where the friend lives. (“L.A.” to “La”—that’s a nice touch.) Vers is “going home” to her friend who has an appealing and intelligent young daughter, so we get some mother-daughter development. The personal relationships and Carol’s story of personal discovery, her personal empowerment are ramped up.
Then at fifty-five minutes, a HUGE mind-boggling plot point spins the story into a totally different direction, signaling the end of Act Two. I am NOT going to spoil the plot at this point, but my fedora is tipped at the screenwriters for a superb, memorable plot twist.
Act Three then lasts forty minutes, which is a bit long. But because of the HUGE plot twist, the writers have to re-establish certain back-stories and the forward momentum of the overall plot. Be assured the pace never flags. There are more fight scenes with multiple characters (as in all the comics films) and plenty of video-gamish space jets chasing and shooting at each other like in Star Wars. Because of the length, the writers cleverly slip in a hilarious midpoint twenty minutes into Act Three. (Okay, plot spoiler alert: the adorable cat isn’t really a cat.)
The conclusion for Carol, reinforcing her friendship with her best friend and her daughter, and for Agent Fury are fully satisfying (and the cat makes one last adorable cameo) and yet open the door to more of Captain Marvel. Indeed, a coda notes she will continue in “Avengers: Endgame”. We look forward to the film and intend to see it for Tom’s birthday in December, if the film is out on DVD.
With Captain Marvel by itself, though, a great time was had by all. If you don’t catch the film allusions (I probably missed many more), that’s okay. The film stands firmly by itself. Recommended.
Join my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206 and support me while I recover from the Attack. My first story “Arachne”, my first story published in OMNI magazine, appears exclusively there, plus a forthcoming account of how I published my first story in the premiere story venue at the time and the research I did. This review plus other movie reviews, and a couple of recipes with more forthcoming. Give back!
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Movie Night Extravaganza, reviewed in reverse order of when we viewed them. Why? Because I will have more to say about the first film we viewed than the others following.
Masterpiece Theater’s “The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I” was good for three hours. There were no radical deviations from the history, unlike BBC’s TV series “The Tudors” about Henry VIII and Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning Wolf Hall, which each wildly differ on many points of history and characterizations.
“EI”, the series starts at Elizabeth’s imprisonment in the Tower by her half-sister, Queen Mary, and goes all the way to her death. “Elizabeth” with Cate Blanchett covers that same starting point but only up to her historic announcement about her marriage. (“I am married to England.”)
I didn’t need to know more than that, really, and Blanchett is easier to look at than Anne-Marie Duff. In fact, Blanchett looks remarkably more like the historic person from what I can see on EI’s Wikipedia page. Duff had a huge role, though, and was up to it.
So my history about Elizabeth I is substantially complete.
Minor quibble: throughout the series Duff’s voice sounds like a young woman. Oh, she shouts and rouses the rabble but when she speaks privately she sounds young even when she’s depicted as middle-aged and as very old. Duff, I’m sure, would have been up to the task of modulating her voice to sound old. I suppose that was the director’s decision. Or maybe EI’s voice sounded youthful and melodic even when she was old.
And now I’m giving sixteenth century British history a rest for a while. A long, long while.
Next up: “All Is True” and “Captain Marvel”.
Join my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206  and help support me after the Attack. I’ve just posted “Arachne”, my FIRST story published in OMNI magazine, the premiere fiction venue at the time. Upcoming in a few days, a blog about how I got my first story published in OMNI, inspiration, influences, and research, plus the October Writing Tip, how to expand a novelette into a novel.
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, worldwide links, covers, reviews, interviews, blogs, round-tables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, and more!

We decided to kick back last night with some movies and a pasta dinner.

We saw “Deadpool,” which was an unexpected worldwide hit. This is a Marvel Comix movie that is something of a spoof of Marvel Comix movies. It wasn’t nearly as laden by profanity as the reviews said and not nearly as slapstick. We liked it. There was an unexpectedly serious, sentimental subplot.

Next up was “Stir of Echoes” with Kevin Bacon in the lead. This film was released the same summer as “The Sixth Sense” and also is a supernatural thriller involving the dead. Not quite as compelling as the bigger film, but enjoyable enough if you like that sort of thing.

Finally, since I’ve been writing about Peter Sellers, we saw “The Mouse That Roared.” Tom saw this as a child when it was first released, I’ve never seen it. This is a very gentle comedy with Sellers again playing three roles. The satiric premise is that the smallest country in the world, facing financial problems, declares war on the United States, intending to lose and then collect reparations.

So there you have it. Altogether, a pleasant time was had by all. Today, back to work!

On the last lap of the weekend movie marathon, Tom and I saw “The Congress” and “Predestination,” two films each based on an SF story.

The Congress” was recommended to us by our video rental staffer, who let me have this movie for free since it was my birthday. Plus, she approved of our other selections. She told us this is based on a Stanislaw Lem story. I’m not familiar with the story, which has little or nothing to do with politics. A Facebook Friend of mine kindly posted a Wikipedia link to the story, which you can find by visiting the Timeline on my Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/lisa.mason.7393264.

This turned out to be a very strange SFnal film, a large segment of which is animated. Essentially, an actress is offered a lucrative deal to turn her image and gestures into a digital character that the movie producer obtains the perpetual rights to use in any kind of film, in any way. The actress doesn’t approve, but she’s got a young son with a degenerative disease, so she agrees for the money. Some plot twists didn’t make sense, and I recall that the concept of media actors being replaced by digital constructs has been explored in written fiction some years ago (I think Connie Willis wrote a short novel based on this premise). But overall the film is interesting and different and the animation is wonderful.

And finally, “Predestination” is an adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s 1959 classic story “All You Zombies—“, one of my favorite SF stories—hilarious, profound, and mind-blowing all at the same time. I’m not going to give away the plot more than that. The filmmakers did a fabulous job of tackling the story and updating and amplifying it. Highly recommended.

So there you have it, my friends. Now, back to work!

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

As part of our birthday weekend movie marathon, Tom and I saw “Big Eyes.” This is the story of Margaret Keane, the artist who obsessively painted children with overlarge eyes. Amy Adams is one of my favorite actresses working today and she is pitch-perfect as a Doris Day-style early Sixties woman with a streak of rebellion and an artistic inclination.

We loved the scenes of North Beach in the early 1960s—talk about movie-making on your street, San Franciscans! Those classic cars, wow! Our old friend, the late Enrico Banducci, has a part in the story.

Through a series of misunderstandings leading to a campaign of lies, Walter Keane took credit for Margaret’s work, though in fact he never painted one stroke in his life. The film reveals Walter’s tragic delusion about being an artist and his real genius at marketing and promotion. I’m happy to say Margaret finally received her rightful recognition in the art world’s gentle equivalent of “Gunfight at the OK Corral.”. Cudos to director Tim Burton for telling her story while Margaret is still alive.

The film also addresses—as it must—the question of “What is art?” More specifically, “Is it bad art?” From the North Beach gallerist selling (or not selling) abstracts across the street from the Keane gallery to the outraged New York art critic, Margaret encountered some pretty harsh criticism. With his inimitable logic, Andy Warhol—no stranger to this question—issued this proclamation, “How can it be bad if so many people are buying it?”

Well, yes. Seventeen million dollars’ worth of how-can-it-be-bad in the early 1970s. One could also ask the same question of “Fifty Shades of Grey” or Damian Hirst.

So there you have it, my friends. Even the gatekeepers don’t know what will resonate with large numbers of consumers until something hits big.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

After two days’ respite from the Winter Solstice Movie MiniFestival, we kicked back on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a traditional Christmas dinner and a homemade pumpkin pie and viewed four movies: Radio Free Albemuth, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick; Walking With Dinosaurs, an animated educational BBC production following the life story of Patchi, a young pachyrhinosaurus; A Promise, a historical romance based on the novel Journey Into The Past by Stefan Zweig; and Star Trek: Into Darkness, the new franchise helmed by J.J. Abrams.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

2014 has been the first landmark year I’ve had in a long time with two major story sales to a prestigious print magazine that will be published in 2015, the publication earlier this year of a memoir about writing, a trip to New York City, and several other major, beneficial personal and family developments. Wow!

So we kicked back on the Winter Solstice with a homemade pasta dinner and three movies: The Giver, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

In The Giver, teenagers grapple with a totalitarian government that controls every aspect of their lives—their family units, their clothes, their houses, their food, and their deaths, daily drugs them into submission, has eliminated all books, and suppresses their memories, even their perception of color.

In a graduation ceremony, the government assigns each teen a lifetime job and attendant duties, which makes a lot more sense than Divergent with the rather silly premise that each child is born into a faction, then in a graduation ceremony, each teen can choose to belong to a different faction (what totalitarian government would ever give teens such a choice?).

In TG’s graduation ceremony, a teen boy is appointed The Receiver, an apprentice to The Giver, in this case an elderly man who lives in a vast library (“They’re called books.”) and has access to society’s collective memories, which he imparts to the boy through a visionary telepathy.

When the teen-boy glimpses a vision-memory that offers hope of breaking the government’s control, he sets out on a quest to free the collective suppression.

Recommended. Yet if TG sounds derivative of Hunger Games, Divergent, and even Pleasantville, note that TG the book was published by Lois Lowry in the early 1990s, optioned at about that time, and has been in development hell for something like nineteen years. The book performed reasonably well a decade before Hunger Games was a gleam in Suzanne Collins’ eye and long before Young Adult became the hot new marketing ploy of the Big Five Publishers.

Now that my Omni story Tomorrow’s Child has been in development hell at Universal for fourteen years (with three scripts, including mine), I can well imagine Lowry’s elation that The Giver finally hit the Big Screen, as well as her frustration that the project took so damn long to get there. Probably because it was released in the wake of Hunger Games and Divergent, the film didn’t perform well at the box office. Such is the happenstance of timing in the culture. Who knew the U.S. Marines would liberate the coastal city of Casablanca and make worldwide headlines literally on the day of the premier of Casablanca, a film plagued with script changes, cast changes, and other production delays? Talk about luck!

That The Giver and similar films appear at all in the culture is welcome news that we ourselves are not There—yet. It would be a pity, though, if people have become bored with fictional critiques of totalitarian governments due to a surfeit of films.

My first reading and viewing experiences in life were of talking animals, fantasy and science fiction, and myths: Charlotte’s Web, the Mary Poppins four-book series, A Wrinkle in Time, Myths and Enchantment Tales, Kipling’s The Jungle Books, The Golden Book of Dog, Cat, and Horse Stories, and Alice in Wonderland, all of which remain on my bookshelf to this day. So my Inner Infant (“the I.I.”) enjoys SFF tropes, talking animals, and witty animation. The Garden of Abracadabra, my adult urban fantasy, introduces a magical talking cat who will continue in the Abracadabra Series and will get her own series in the future.

A movie reviewer for The New Yorker roundly trashed Guardians of the Galaxy as derivative of Star Wars and even more juvenile. But since we like juvenile entertainment, we were willing to take a chance. Good choice! We were highly entertained by the ensemble motley crew—a young adventurer Peter Quill, a green-skinned woman (played by Zoe Saldana), a machine gun wielding, talking genius raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a tattooed assassin, and a tree man (the I.I. has loved talking trees since The Wizard of Oz)—and their galactic quest.

The film didn’t remind this viewer at all of Star Wars, which the I.I. frankly hated. The magic orb Quill steals reminded us of The Maltese Falcon, a mysterious object people are willing to kill for. The use of early 1980s sappy pop music added just the right humorous touch and reminded us of the latest X-Men film, which we greatly enjoyed. X-Men spoofed early 1970s pop music and clichés, with the opening scene of a Clint Eastwoodesque, sideburned, nude Hugh Jackson lurching up from a tryst on a waterbed while Roberta Flack’s “The First Time” croons on the reel-to-reel tape deck, the same tune Clint Eastwood plays over his nude love scene in a forest pool in 1971’s Play Misty For Me. That the waterbed/forest pool is ripe for a sight gag (Jackman *is* the Wolfman) didn’t make it any less hilarious when the gag arrives a couple of minutes later.

But that’s the latest X-Men (I think the subtitle is Days of Future Past, but I didn’t have time to review it when we saw it earlier this year and don’t precisely recall the full title), which is highly recommended. As for GotG, the distinguished Glenn Close appears in a very minor role as the leader of a good realm. Zoe Saldana has apparently been typecast in SF films—she plays Uhuru in Star Trek: Into Darkness, which we saw on Christmas Eve (I’ll review that over the weekend, if I can). If so, she would make a terrific Ruby A. Maverick in Summer of Love.

In GotG the tree man, Groot, turns out to be one of the most memorable characters with a nicely rendered arc that slowly reveals his powers and personality. He starts out as an inarticulate strongman, introducing himself, “I am Groot.” He repeats this phrase with a different inflection and in different circumstances so that, when tragedy strikes, the viewer truly cares. And when redemption arrives at the end, with another silly 1980s song, the viewer leaves the theater with a smile on her face and a silly song in her heart. I like the use of purposeful repetition that takes on new meaning as the story progresses and use that device in Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day, which will be published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction some time in 2015.

Since the I.I. practically memorized Myths and Enchantment Tales, I admit I was envious of Rick Riordan’s wild success with his reinterpretation of Greek myths as a YA series. Apparently, though, retelling of Greek gods and goddesses is strictly the province of Young Adult. I’ve seen reviews over the years of authors attempting adult retelling of the myths. With their violence, seductions, betrayals, and infidelities, the myths are ripe for adult drama. But somehow none of those books has achieved much success.

Riordan’s Percy Jackson books and the movie adaptations, here Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, are squarely aimed at the teen market and therein lies their limitations for this reader/viewer. When I was fourteen, I was reading Brave New World and The Last Temptation of Christ. As a teen, I would have scorned books like Riordan’s as the shallow end of the pool.

But, as mentioned above, the I.I. enjoys witty juvenile entertainment and animation. One of the best films we saw in 2014 was the 2009 film of Charlotte’s Web, a moving, beautifully rendered animation and faithful adaptation of one of my all-time favorite books. Another excellent animation is the witty Rango, with its sly rapid-fire movie references and a genuinely scary villain.

The high point for this viewer of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters was seven minutes of animation of the ”hippocampus,” a water horse PJ summons to take him and his sidekicks across an expanse of sea to a ship they’re searching for. A team of animators took considerable care in creating this delightful character who has more charm and personality as a horse than any of the live actors.

The rest of SoM is a rather predictable quest story and a touch too teen-boy-centric for this viewer’s taste. That a teen-girl ship’s commander botches her mission and surrenders her command to the teen-boy is not, in this viewer’s opinion, a very good message.

Not that female characters always have to be successful or “good.” But in a culture in which only 15 percent of speaking roles in 2014 films were girls/women according to The Hollywood Reporter’s year-end report, a statistic that has proven true every year going back forty years, when they do appear, female characters need to matter.

It’s interesting that other distinguished Academy Award winning “older” actresses are showing up as dictators of oppressive governments—Kate Winslet in Divergent and, in The Giver, a witchy, silver-haired Meryl Streep. I suppose we should be glad these female roles are of leaders and not, say, of waitresses.

So there you have it, my friends. If you only have ninety minutes for juvenile entertainment, choose GofG and save SoM for another time. Sadly, The Giver is way behind the YA dystopian curve but, if you’re interested in the trope, choose this film and save Divergent for later.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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