Weekly Ramble No. 3

The final episode of Sherlock was a bit of a mess in my opinion. I felt like I was watching a mash-up of Skyfall, The Crystal Maze and a Batman film in which the Joker takes over Arkham Asylum. It is still one of the best things on UK television but this season was generally not as good as previous seasons. Anyway, after three long episodes, that’s all folks for another year. There’s some talk about Cumberbatch’s Marvel commitments possibly meaning that we’ll be waiting some time for the next series of Sherlock and hopefully that will give the writers time to think up some decent stories. I wish they’d move on from exploring the characters and relationships, and get on with some proper detective work.

I went with Biggy (no relation to Siggy) to see Assassin’s Creed along with very low expectations based on some of the internet trash talk that surrounded the movie. I was hoping that I’d like it as much as I did Suicide Squad despite the similar negative rumblings, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. The film is quite flawed in a number of ways and only vaguely entertaining. As good as that other recent computer game silver screen adaptation Warcraft I guess.

I am a big fan of the AC franchise, when its not got anything to do with sailing and pirates, and I remember thinking ‘this will make a good film’ when I was playing the very first instalment back in the day. They’ve made a valiant stab at making good film. The assembled cast is a good bunch of actors with my old favourite Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire) rubbing shoulders with the likes of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons (in full-on Die Hard evil Englishman mode). The fight and free-running sequences capture the frenetic kinetic energy of the game and there are some subtle nods to the franchise along the way for gamer-geeks like moi. The reimagined animus makes a lot of sense and while I was disappointed that the hidden symbols and ancient alien civilisation don’t make an appearance at least the Apple of Eden is central to the story.

The problems with the film are as follows:

  • Awful script that even the actors didn’t seem to get behind in a lot of scenes
  • Slow pacing
  • No feeling of suspense, ever
  • Not enough time spent inside the animus in ancient Spain (and why Spain instead of more well known vistas like Rome or Venice ffs?)
  • Too much time spent in the real world (come on guys, no-one liked those bits in the game, give us more running around and jumping off roof tops – that’s the spectacle we came to see)
  • Too much CG eagle footage… yawn…
  •  Almost zero character development apart from the main guy
  • Flat ending.

People who haven’t played the game seem to enjoy the film more. Anyway here’s the trailer:

I won’t implore you to go and see it at the cinema (although the action scenes will look pap on tv) but equally I’m not going to out-and-out damn it. It’s not as rubbish as Independence Day: Resurgence for example. Hollywood isn’t setting a good record for game conversions, but perhaps some day I will be raving about the new Halo film. Here’s hoping.

This week, I also finished reading number9dream by David Mitchell. It is a great read, full of imagination and interesting characters. I love the way Mitchell blends several stories into one without the feeling that they are just bolted together. It has certainly got me thinking about how I can improve my writing. he is not afraid to play around with the way his stories are arranged – even to the point of swapping from reality and fantasy, present and past, seemingly in mid-sentence and certainly frequently mid-paragraph. Sometimes it’s like looking at the brush strokes of a famous painter.

I feel there are influences from Haruki Murakami in number9dream but that’s in no way a bad thing. Maybe it’s because it is based in Japan, The Beatles get a mention and in some ways it is a story of love, loss and the search for meaning (themes that very much define a lot of Murakami’s earlier work). Mitchell writes about a lot of things I am interested in and so I find his books so much more entertaining and captivatingly eclectic than most one-trick-pony authors I enjoy such as Lee Child or Bernard Cornwell.

Inspired perhaps by Mitchell’s masterful writing, and after a (much needed) two-month break I made some bold decisions and started writing my 2016-2017 Project again. I have had plenty of time to get some perspective on the story and its structure, and resolve some of the things I was uncomfortable with. I don’t want to fall into the trap of a lazy ‘that’ll do’ final version – I’d rather take my time and try and get it right.

I’ve picked up The Rough Guide to Jordan again to read as research for a section of the new book. I also made the decision to change the story from a third person past tense perspective to a first person current tense perspective (like number9dream). It is far more engaging to read a book written in the first person, I find it easier to write that way and the current tense adds a layer of immediacy and suspense not really that strong in the past tense. It also worked rather well for Lee Child in Persuader. It will present some challenges, but if I don’t challenge myself, how do I become a better writer?

In between all this, I watched Bad Neighbours on tv with Siggy. It is actually a surprisingly funny and well put together film. While the humour is verging on puerile at times, I can’t think of any gags that I didn’t find funny. It is certainly one of Seth Rogen’s better films and all the cast including Rose Byrne, Zac Effron and Dave (‘not the James’) Franco are very good in it. There’s a sequel out now on rental in which the frat house next door becomes a sorority house (a pretty obvious idea for a sequel). I am hoping that it might eventually find its way onto one of the streaming services I subscribe to.

Among other great presents (:0), I got Siggy a load of box sets of Family Guy for crimbo. We’ve been enjoying season nine (the one where Brian the dog controversially gets run over right? [it’s like Batman and Robin all over again]). I especially enjoyed the episode ‘Three Kings’ which lampoons the Stephen King films Stand By Me, Misery and The Shawshank Redemption. the humour is well observed and as a big King fan I’m afraid I found it a lot funnier than Siggy.

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