Sunday, January 8, 2017

Reviews: Rogue One and Moana

Over the holidays, I caught two fun movies.

First was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

This was nowhere near my favorite Star Wars story, but it was a nice and refreshing break from the main saga. Rogue One has more grit and war-like feel than any of the other movies, and gives me hope that we'll see more shoot-off stories in the future.

Rogue One fills in some gaps in between Star Wars III and IV. Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, leads a group of ragtag misfits on a mission to obtain the Death Star plans. Right off the bat, you may wonder if they're going to be successful. No -- I better not give it away.

This movie dares to go into new places not breached many times before. For example, Tarkin and young Leia make appearances with a little help from impersonator actors and CGI. Many fans complained and asked, "why?" but I say, "why not?" I was impressed with what was accomplished.

My main disappointment with the movie was the protagonist, Jyn Erso. She just didn't do much for me. The only interesting thing about her was the relationship with his father, but as it was, I found myself liking her sidekicks much more than her. Donnie Yen was funny and awesome as Chirrut Imwe.

There was still plenty to keep my interest. The Death Star itself is an impressive presence throughout the whole film. There were plenty of Easter eggs to tickle my funny bone -- such as Jimmy Smits mentioning how he was going back to Alderaan to take care of business. Poor guy.

I watched in both 3-D and 2-D. 3-D didn't add much. I wish I could have seen it in 2-D IMAX. The glasses were just too distracting.

If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend catching it while it's still in theaters.

Moana caught me by surprise. I had avoided it for over a month, dismissing it as a PIXAR miss, but with its beautiful imagery and wonderful story, it may be one of my favorites.

Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) is chosen by the gods to save the Polynesian islands from a thousand-year-old curse. Together with the demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson), she journeys across the ocean to fulfill her mission.

Most amazing was that to me, it felt like a Polynesian story, and not some Americanized version of a Polynesian story. Yes, I'm not up on my Polynesian legends, but wow -- was that some amazing view into their culture!

Only one thing bugged me, but this is nearly inevitable in every movie with an amazing story. You can almost find a plot hole that's annoying if you think about it too much. If the curse really were 1000 years old, and it's killing off islands, why did it take so long to get to Moana's island, and why did no one seem to know what was going on? But hey -- it was still fun.

I strongly recommend catching this in the theater (though it's getting near the end of its run). The animation makes it worth it, and I doubt it would be as awesome on a small TV screen.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Preview

2017 is a prime number. I'm not sure why I always start these goals with interesting number facts, and there's nothing interesting about 2017, but why break with tradition? Since this is a prime year, and I have a prime-number age, it means it's a prime year for kicking up the goals a notch.

I will still be building up my music publishing business, but now that it's up and running, I can spend more time with the writing I had chosen to partially neglect last year. So, more time for accomplishing goals!

  • "Justice" (novel)
    • Submit to an editor
    • Make any needed changes
    • Get it published (self-publishing on Amazon)
  • "The Last Actuary" (short story)
    • Submit to Actuarial Speculative Fiction Contest
  • "Space Cadets" (novel)
    • Finish first draft
  • Short stories
    • Write three new stories
    • 26 magazine submissions (don't include "The Last Actuary" contest submission above)
  • 5 goal review sessions throughout the year
Good luck with your own goals.

Mel's Year In Review: 2016

At the end of 2015, I reported that I had the worst year of fiction writing. 2016 went a little better. Unlike 2015, I had an excuse not to do so much writing: I was putting together a music publishing company, which I knew would take a lot of time. For 2016, I had set some low grade fiction goals, and I did decently well.

I successfully finished the 6th draft of my novel, "Justice." I've chosen an editing service, which I will approach in early 2017, and I'm still on track to releasing the novel in 2017.

I successfully completed the first draft of "The Last Actuary," which I will submit at the end of January 2017 to another contest.

I made six submissions to magazines, which was twice as many as I submitted in 2015, but I still fell short of my goal of 26. This is my biggest regret for 2016, but I felt I made great strides in other areas.

Other stats for 2016:
  • 23 posts in this blog (same as last year).
  • 7,685 pageviews, bringing the total to 60,381 (up 15%).
  • The Mormon Mel had 3 new posts and 382 new pageviews for a total of 1,576 (up 32%).
  • The Music of Mel had 14 new posts and 1,381 new pageviews for a total of 4,812 (up 40%).
  • The Econo-Mel had 2 new posts and 364 new pageviews for a total of 1,999 (up 22%).
  • The Melkim Blog is a new blog with 10 posts. Evidently, since it's a Wordpress site, I haven't yet figured out how to capture the number of blog posts. (Something fun to research this next year).
  • My YouTube videos had 32,273 views for a total of 327,389 (up 11%).
  • I reviewed:
    • 13 movies
    • 10 TV shows
    • 5 books
  • Evidently, this past year, I only had one non-review/update post, and here it is:
How did you do in 2016?