Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – Sword of Destiny (movie review with spoilers)

To set expectations I should let you know that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is one of my favorite movies of all time. It was the movie that re-introduced me to the martial arts genre after a decade plus of absence and showed me what could be done with that genre with today’s technology. More importantly it showed definitively that a modern epic with detailed storytelling could fit quite comfortably inside a gloriously over-realized martial arts eyefeast.

What I’m saying is Netflix had it’s work cut out for it with making a sequel, at least as far as how I would appreciate it. How did they do? Well, let me tell ya.

The Good:

  • Breathtaking scenery all over the place. Gorgeous sets. Excellent costuming. Perfect make-up.
  • Technical production and editing is superb. I didn’t notice any glaring continuity errors, even in the fast-cut fight sequences.
  • The frozen lake battle was incredible.
  • The CGI effects (with one notable exception) are very well done and generally unobtrusive.
  • Michelle Yeoh speaking Mandarin. Unf.
The Bad:
  • It was a mashup of the original movie plot plus the oft imitated Seven Samurai. This made many things very predictable, right down to who dies and when.
  • With the exception of Turtle Ma and Flying Blade the secondary heroes were flat and lifeless.
  • Only 1 extended uncut fight scene. Everything else was the super-fast cuts of individual moves spliced together that is ubiquitous in modern martial arts movies.
  • They made Donnie Yen look so much like Lou Diamond Phillips it was distracting.
  • Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen do not have chemistry, especially when compared to the almost palpable bond Yeoh had with Chow Yun Fat in CTHD. The love story here is flat and lifeless.
  • Tremendous narrative failure in the epilogue. Letting Snow Vase live scrapped the little emotional investment the movie generated.
The Ugly:
  • Retcon Jen Yu’s sacrifice from the conclusion of CTHD? Bastards, you are on my list!
  • Major CGI fail on the climactic final tower roof battle between Silent Wolf and Hades Dai. It was bad enough to break immersion and spoil the epic final battle.
TL;DR:
  • If this was stand-alone it would have been a fairly solid modern martial arts movie. That’s really what it appears to be – a treatment of Seven Samurai with enough elements of CTHD necessary to make it work in that story-line.
  • It is a technical success but is hampered by a predictable story and undeveloped heroes. It lacks the epic gravitas that made its progenitor an instant classic and as a successor to CTHD it falls as flat as its secondary characters.
  • Worth a watch it for itself but not as a successor to CTHD.

 

So a funny thing happened during second edit…

I had amazing feedback from my Early Readers and was eager to dig into the second edits for Weavers. Basically I had three things I needed to incorporate in my edit:

  • Things I had already decided to change after my own re-readings.
  • Common items in the feedback. If something was mentioned a few times it needed a critical look.
  • New ideas spurred by questions from the Early Readers.

So I started planning how to incorporate all of that. Much of it was as simple as a nip here and a tuck there. Some of it would need to be bigger. Perhaps much bigger. I have missing scenes and quite a few missed opportunities. The “magic” system needs better explanation.

And that got me to thinking about the magic system and how to explain it better, and how to introduce those explanations into the story. And how to tie the differences together over three different ages.

Which got me thinking about the physics behind the system. This is possibly unreasonably important to me. I can totally immerse in a story when the magic (whether it’s fantasy/sci-fi/horror/other) makes sense once you figure it out. If I can’t figure it out it absorbs me and defeats the storyline.

This was a problem. I had a logical hole. I had defined two basic systems but they didn’t actually cover everything I wanted to do in the full story. The first draft of the story had unintentionally deus-ex’d over a third system that needed to be there.

So that’s why I haven’t been very active lately here. I’m rolling new thoughts through the entirety of the series, and figuring out how I need to express them in the first book. Plus things that needed to be there to show continuity between the ages. And so many missed opportunities to tie the different ages together.

I found myself with 4.75 drafted novels that were pretty good. Readable, enjoyable, nice stuff, quite entertaining thank you.

Or I had 4.75 pre-drafts for something fucking amazing.

I’m going for fucking amazing.

TL;DR: I love my Early Readers!! Much rewrite happening!

So obs my current planned schedule is completely voided. I’m back rewriting Weavers  now and will be reworking the rest of the Ages schedule with the remaining reworks in mind.

A Generic College Paper (McSweeney’s Internet Tendency)

This is golden. I read this paper several times a year from different students, and each one is uniquely similar.

Since the beginning of time, bullshit, flowery overgeneralization with at least one thesaurus’d vocabulary word. In addition, irrelevant and misleading personal anecdote. However, oversimplification of first Googled author (citation: p. 37). Thesis statement which doesn’t follow whatsoever from the previous.

Utterly contrived topic sentence revealing pretty much every flaw of structured essay writing. Therefore, supporting sentence invoking source that exists only in the bibliographies of other cited material (pp. arbitrary to arbitrary + 5). Contemplative question? Definitive refutation paraphrased from a blog found at 2AM:

[continues]

Source: McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: A Generic College Paper.

Resource – Goodriter.com

Goodriter.com came highly recommended to me by an editor friend of mine. It’s free and includes a slew of writer-topical ebooks and a bunch of applicable courses. As I’m currently educating myself about a slew of publishing topics it’s going to get some heavy use. I’ll review the tools as I use them.

Sign-up here (only cost is an email address)

Current Resources:

Continue reading “Resource – Goodriter.com”

Ballin’

I am in a funk. I haven’t written anything since 11/30. I finished my NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 words at just almost the minute my Dad was breathing his last breath. I haven’t worked out the exact timing but it’s at least close enough to be spooky.

Since then, aside from not writing I’ve also been flaky. Things out of nowhere set me off and I’ll rail into a crying jag. Out of control. The opposite of me. I normally don’t rail unless a mood altering substance has been applied.

The jags aren’t an often thing but when they happen they’re pretty comprehensive. I had one today and it put me into a genuine funk. My lovely wife can generally bring me back fairly effectively. Today, not so much.

“I’ll watch ‘Emmet Otter’ with you” she says. Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas is one of my favorite movies of all time, one of the three I see every year to make Christmas complete (the others are the Rankin/Bass ‘Rudolph’ and one of several versions of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Patrick Stewart’s is my current fave). Emmet is not on her top anything list.

“I’ll watch ‘Emmet Otter’ with you” means she sees I’m in trouble and is trying to help. I know she offers this only because of her love for me. She doesn’t see Emmet the way I do.

This doesn’t matter. I don’t care about Emmet right now any way.

“No, I don’t want to watch Emmet” I say. I’m moody. I feel … goth. I let her fade off. I’m fine, just need to work things out.

She’s undettered.

A half hour later she returns. “So I’m watching a Sports Illustrated special about the Buffalo Bills in the Jim Kelly era. It’s really cool. Would you like to watch it with me?”

My college ball loving, ACC centric bride has gone and found a special presentation celebration for a team she knows nothing about, because she knows it’s a thing for me.

One hour and one sportsball narrative later, the funk is blown.

The moral of the story: Choose your mates wisely! They know what ticks inside you.

Also, I started writing tonight. Probably not a coincidence.

Planning all the things

Working on a multi-book series with four of them in process at the same time I find it critical to have a plan. There’s no better way that I’ve found to keep things sorted and focus my time where it most needs to be. As a project manager this should be pretty easy for me but I am finding it to be very difficult due to my ignorance about publishing and the editing process.

I don’t know how long a lot of things are going to take.

Estimate draft time is fairly easy. I know I average around 1,000 words an hour for fresh content. That includes on the fly research, spot editing and re-reading for context and vocabulary. I know about how long each book should be. A little math computes these times nicely.

But how long will it take me to do my second edits? At the moment it looks like I will be doing my own development edits and possibly copy edits as well. I know that’s not ideal but financial reality is a thing. How long will those edits take? I have only the fluffiest target clouds at this point.

Taking the later stage estimates with a grain of salt (or a tablespoon of it, we’ll find out later), here’s the summary of where I am and where I hope to be getting:

Progress_20151211