Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Netflix Death Note - The Story that Could Have Been

There's a problem you run into when becoming a published author, that I hadn't anticipated.  Me, always an avid reader, has found it really hard to read as many books as I used it.  It's not just about the time investment or the work to find stories I'm interested in with all the novels out there - it's the intimate knowledge of the process of getting published.  I know all the work that goes into getting out there and all the blood, sweat and tears that come from those before they hit this point and all those who haven't made it yet.

So when crap comes across my plate, it tastes even worse then I could imagine.

So with that in mind, let's talk about the Death Note movie from Netflix.  This is not a review, but it does contain spoilers so if you have a desire to see this movie after all of the horrendous reviews you've scrolled past on your social media feed, you might not want to read this.  Or do.  Maybe.  Whatever.

Beyond all the issues with whitewashing and the watering down of the story - which trust me, I could write pages about.  But both of those have been tackled in several other reviews, so I'm going to aim a little differently.

See, along with the being able to taste the infinite details of the crap set before me, I also find myself graspoing at plot threads that could have worked.  In some cases this makes me like certain movies that others might have hated.  With the Netflix Death Note there is a specific thread that my creative side latched onto.  In other words, lets talk Mia Sutton.

In the movie, Mia Sutton initially reaks of 'edgier then you Bella Swan.' However, as the movie goes on, she's obsessed with finally having power on her own terms that isn't filted through a stereotypical glass.  (AKA: To be a popular girl, one must be a cheerleader.  To be noticed in high school, one must fit in a specific archetype.  But to be a god, she can kill whoever she wants.)  Mia becomes more 'Kira' then this protrayl of Light ever is, and she also becomes a villian in the film.  There in lies the thread of a plot that would be interesting.  Give her a different Death God/Shinigami and have this girl be smart enough to not make herself the figure head and instead manipulate a fuckboy into killing for her and keeping her hands clean.

That, right there, is the makings of plot gold and a story that we don't often see told.  Yes, she is a female caught in a storyline about sex, as many women are, but this is sex on her own terms and used as a weapon.  In a world where the sultry badgirl is so common, why not take the moment to flesh her out and give her a little more then expected.  You can have a smart woman and then write a really engaging story about her downfall. That is a story I would devour that and happily hunt down surrounding media for like fanart and fanfic.

Sadly the Netflix version of Death Note doesn't hold up to this premise which it offers.  It chooses to focus squarely on Light, and while he has some doubts about Mia, they're easily passed off in the lackluster finale in a very YA fashion.  Instead of a showdown like they deserved, Mia makes her last fatal move and unceremoniously dies in a bed of flowers, along with any dream that she might have been a more interesting character.  I wish they'd delved a bit more into her story, give us a reason why she likes to kill so much and why she feels she needs this power, heck, show her planning and plotting more with Ryuk, because I'm sure he's intelligent enough to leave her clues... after all others can see his eaten apples.

All in all the movie presented us with a very different take on Misa Misa and didn't follow through, much to my dismay. That's not to say that the original Misa Misa was perfect, she was however very interesting and much more fleshed out then this version.

If you take anything away from this movie, whether you watch it or not, I hope you look at your own works and take a step back.  If, at any point, any of your characters can be replaced by a 2 dimensional cardboard cutout then you have not done your job as a writer and story crafter.  It is up to you as a creator to show us all sides of a character you create - not to hand us an archetype and expect us to fill in the details.  We, the audience, came to watch your movie... not play MadLibs with the plot points from the last handful of things we've watched.

I think, to a degree, a lot of movies of late are getting sloppy.  Well written character moments are traded in for flashy montages and chase scene climaxes that are a dime a dozen.  Be bold, take a chance.  Flesh out a character for the audience and give us a reason to love and/or hate them.  Let us see their path and convince us with your writing that this is the path they chose, where ever it may lead.  Because therein lies the stories we want to read and see.  Therein lies the best kind of storytelling.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Books You Should Check Out: Paper Terminal by Tyrine Carver

Fall is right around the corner in Minnesota and the weather is cooling down - the perfect time to curl up with an open window, a blanket and a book.  So perhaps add this one to your shelf?

Paper Terminal is the first illustrated novel adventure of Riley.  She's rescued by and then dragged into the magical wake of two people who are constantly getting involved with Sirens, Dragons and a mysterious entity who is trying to kill her.  Or maybe they're trying to kill her dead brother.

And remember how I said illustrated novel?  Not only is this Riley's story, but it's punctuated with beautiful art by MuseTap Studios, of whom Tyrine is a member.  I've already started to fall in love with the characters through her art and can't wait to read their adventures.

You can pick up the book at this link!

Check it out, and don't forget to leave a review if you do!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review: Jessica Jones Season 1

What's it about?

On the Netflix side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe there's a little apartment turned into an office with an often broken window in the door.  This is Alias Investigations and - if you can convince her to help you - Jessica Jones is one great PI.  However, at the moment she's out of the office, trying to track down the man who ruined her life. 


There's a lot of really good things about Jessica Jones.  First and foremost it's a super hero show with women in the forefront - front and center.  Yes, I said women: plural.

The show does an amazing job of showing us a variety of female characters (good and bad) that have been severely lacking for sooooo many years. We have super hero females, best friends, lovers, assholes and innocent victims.  Men are barely present in this series, which is a refreshing change, but they are present in some very integral parts.  The downside is that this really highlights the lack of such care in the Cinematic Universe as a whole and makes me glare at the movies for not offering us more.  (I love Scarlet Witch, I do, but come on, give us more main females then just her and Black Widow!)

The down side is this show also made me realize something else about the Cinematic Universe and I find it super troubling.  There are no female characters in the Marvel Universe who do not come from a place of sexual trauma or abuse.  And if you think they don't, it's because we haven't heard all the details from their backstory yet.  This is a serious problem with female characters and probably deserves a huge rant in and of itself.  However I'm gonna stop myself, cuz this is a review.

Back to the good stuff, one of the things this series does amazingly well is side characters.  Aside from being fully fleshed out with a lot of really diverse bits, they are given an important part that makes the series as a whole work.  While the character of Jessica Jones is trying her best to hunt down Kilgrave and stop him, he's leaving a pile of bodies around her.  Jessica Jones doesn't have time to mourn all these bodies (though she really wants to), so these side characters do it for her and give the audience that much needed release.  There isn't a stack of nameless faces around her like a slasher movie, nope these are actual people and the series goes through episode after episode to show us that and remind us.  It has a very sobering and real effect that I don't think could have been portrayed in a better way.

Kilgrave himself was a really interesting villain and one who kept me guessing.  Aside from being written incredibly well, David Tennant did an amazing job portraying him.  At every turn he was more and more devious and untrustworthy.  This isn't just a man you fear.  He's a man you hate and avoid because you don't dare give him an inch.  There were several times in the story where it seemed like they were trying to give him some motivation for how he was - but then it came to light that he was lying again, manipulating with every fiber of his being power or not.  It's truly scary to see someone who can do nothing but manipulate everyone around him.  And he's really really good at it even without his power.  Seriously, this kind of character and writing gives me nightmares and inspires me to create at the same time - I love it.

Final thoughts?

Overall I'm quite happy with the series even with it's flaws.  I'm looking forward to jumping into the rest of this world and what comes from it.  Hopefully the amazing female characters cross over into the other series, because there's a few I would love to see again, aside from Jessica herself.

Where'd I get it?

Steaming on Netflix of course!