elektra: (movie tickets)

kingsman-the-secret-service-taron-egerton-colin-firth

Bullets and bad guys and puppies with sad eyes. And Colin Firth kicking butt–what more do you need? Check out my review of Kingsman: The Secret Service at tabloid.io.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

It’s been years since I saw a movie in the theater twice in as many days–Guardians of the Galaxy is that special.

An excerpt:
Guardians of the Galaxy throws you in at the deep end and turns away, confident you’ll love what you’ll see, but not really giving a darn if you do or not. And it blasts “Cherry Bomb” on a boombox at you the whole time.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a stunning triumph for motion caption afficionados as it seamlessly integrates new technology to bring the simian cast members to life in a non-distracting why. This leaves the way open to focus on character development and plot, creating a richly realized world.

Planet of the Apes fandom encompasses three different generations of movies, both a live action and an animated TV series, comic books, magazines, tie-in novels–yet there are still more stories to be told.

And in this case, told very well. See my full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
The world has become a tiny place.

One that has a lot of Planet of the Apes movies in it.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sits firmly at the top of the heap.

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elektra: (rocketship vintage)

I’ll be on Mars, well, in Mars, Pennsylvania, starting on Friday (25 July) through Sunday (27 July) for Confluence, at the Sheraton Starpoint.

Here’s my preliminary schedule (*updated to included panel descriptions and add 2 panels):

FRIDAY, 25 July
6pm – Marshall
Is SFWA Still Relevant?
[Panelists: Denise Verrico (m), Sarah Goslee, Elektra Hammond, Christie Meiers]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America – SFWA is a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres. With a stated intent of supporting its members in a multitude of ways, does it manage to keep itself open to the needs of today’s writers, or has it become an exclusive club of snobs?

7pm – Pine
Why I’m a Fan
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Ken Chiacchia, Alan Katerinsky, Larry Ivkovitch]
We love the genres, whether it’s Science Fiction in all its electronic, beeping, gear-meshing wonder, Fantasy and each magical quest or Horror with every shadow lurking behind an innocent façade. How did we get here and what about it all keeps us?

8pm – Board Room
Reading
[Panelists: me!]
I’ll be reading from “In the Form of a Question,” in which Norse Gods play Jeopardy!. It appears in the parody anthology TV Gods–copies will be for sale in the Huckster’s Room from the Fortress Guys.

SATURDAY, 26 July
5pm – Marshall
Why did Steampunk?
[Panelists: Matt Betts (m), Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Elektra Hammond, Jeff Young]
Lately, it is being recognized as a separate and distinct genre of fiction. Why did it happen, what about it captured the imaginations of so many, what about it continues to gather forward momentum (build up a head of steam?)?

8pm – Pine
SF Series – What’s worth it and what doesn’t make the grade
[Panelists: David Hartwell (m), Eric Leif Davin, Elektra Hammond, Charles Oberndorf]
Not specifically SF — all series are fair game here. Writers have done multiple visits to the same worlds/universes. From John Carter and Tarzan to Game of Thrones, which ones are worth the time and which are a questionable use of paper or digital memory?

9pm – Marshall
Movies as Series – good and bad
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Michael Arnzen, Ken Chiacchia, Jon Sprunk]
Just as there are novels that are series, there are movies that were series. A discussion of good series, bad series and OMG-I-can’t-believe-there-was-a follow-up-to-that-dog.

9pm – 525
There is a book launch (yes, I know it conflicts with my panel!) for Fortress Publishing’s latest endeavor TV Gods. I’ll be dashing there after the panel is over.

SUNDAY, 27 July
12 noon – Marshall
How do you find the Right books to read? (Needle in a haystack?)
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Tim Liebe, Jeff Young, Alan Katerinsky]
With all the choices available now, where can you find the right mix of Hard SF and character, how about suspense and break-neck plotting, whimsical fantasy and learning from mistakes? You can’t always trust the back blurbs and sometimes the covers have nothing to do with what’s on the inside. Is there a resource or group you can trust?

1pm – Crawford/Venango
Tom Smith Live!
If you’re looking for me–I’ll be here, listening to the World’s Fastest Filker.

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Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

The Purge: Anarchy is ambitious dystopic near future, with a few too many plot lines crammed in. It gives you a glimpse into a frighteningly possible world, from the rich who do whatever they please to the poor who try to survive, and the politicians who run things. My full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
The Purge: Anarchy is bigger than the first film, but not necessarily better. There’s a solid look into the world here, this time focusing on the disadvantaged–those who can’t afford to hide behind expensive security systems, with all the safety money can buy.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great movie for fans of the comic book–it’s got the “look and see” of traditional Spidey in all his teenaged angsty goodness. Both Spidey and Peter Parker pack a ton of growth into a really solid movie, with a great cast of supporting characters. See the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
It is not power-packed with action sequences, chases, and special effects (although all are present!), instead opting for a larger dose of character development. The result: like the Spider-Man comic books of old, the viewer is drawn into Peter Parker’s complicated, angst-filled life, where decisions are more complex than just how to defeat a particular foe, and every action has a consequence.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Transcendence is a good idea, with a great cast, that maybe didn’t end up the way the writer or the director visualized it. There are certainly some interesting concepts here, and some of the ideas will keep you thinking long after the movie’s over. For more, see the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Transcendence is one of those movies that mixes in a lot of philosophizing and responsibility-for-the-future content in with its story telling. Fortunately for the casual moviegoer, it keeps the message well camouflaged, and it isn’t nearly so preachy as Seagal’s archetypic On Deadly Ground.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

In a year filled with sequels and three-qals, Catching Fire was highly anticipated and certainly lived up to the hype. More of all the things that made The Hunger Games a big hit, with a different story to tell, and more, bigger everything. See my full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
A number of past Hunger Games-victors are also brought into play in Catching Fire. Like Haymitch, they have been shaped by their experiences. Particularly of note are Johanna Mason and Finnick Odair, who combine sharp wits and lethal physicality with charming recklessness.

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elektra: (sara bellum for buzzy)

The amazing Jean Marie Ward interviewed me back in May, while we were both at Balticon, about what I do for buzzymag, the editing process, and all the different hats I wear. She’s fantastic to work with, and I’m proud to be a part of buzzymag, and to work with her.

An interview with Elektra Hammond

You can watch the interview or read the transcript at buzzymag.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is in theaters now, a sterile big budget adaption that kills lots of aliens while generating a ton of controversy over whether Card’s outspoken views should influence your choice to attend this movie. it’s a personal decision, and each person needs to do what feels right to them: skip th emovie, balance seeing the movie with a donation to an appropriate cause, etc. The political hot potato and projected sales make a sequel unlikely to follow soon.

Ender’s Game effectively creates a disturbing future, full of hard choices. The cast is mostly effective in their roles, the sets are extraordinary, and it’s easy to believe sequences are happening in space. What was missing seemed to be the introspection from the book–it’s not one I’ve read, and I felt there was something missing. My full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
The world’s smartest children have been recruited to fight the war, raised on war games, their quick minds more able to adapt to the possible strategies needed to defeat the enemy. Ender Wiggins is one of these children–intelligent, athletic, well-trained.

This is his story.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Escape Plan is the newest geri-action flick, showing that Stallone and Schwarzenegger still have it. It’s got a well-crafted script and some great twists. My full review is up at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) wrote the book: Compromising Correctional Institutions Security. Instead of doing a regulation tour, with speaking engagements and signing copies, Ray takes a different approach.

He breaks out of prisons.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Movies that feature cars driving around in circles can be tricky–yet Ron Howard’s Rush is both entertaining and exciting as it depicts a piece of history. Exotic locations and rich lifestyles enough to satisfy a Bollywood film keep things fresh and interesting as the plot develops. See my full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Movies based on real life can be tricky–after all, the audience knows how they end. Apollo 13 and Titanic are both examples of movies that made history fascinating, by transporting us inside characters’ lives and showing us historical events from their perspective.

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Free Fall

Oct. 23rd, 2013 12:10 am
elektra: (movie tickets)

A gorgeous exploration of the loneliness of space, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity will please the casual filmgoer. Those who like their science to be, well, scientifically accurate, may have some issues with it. See what I had to say at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Those who remember the space shuttle Challenger know how easy it is for something to go horribly, terribly wrong in space. That was over in seconds–what if things start to go wrong and you need to figure out how to get back to Earth?

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elektra: (movie tickets)
captain phillips movie poster Captain Phillips

Director: Paul Greengrass

Writers: Billy Ray, Richard Phillips (book), Stephan Talty (book)

Stars: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, David Warshaofsky, Corey Johnson, Chris Mulkey, Catherine Keener, Yul Vazquez, Max Martini

It’s the season for Oscar bait and awesome performances, and “based on historical events” movies have always been a favorite of Academy voters. Hot on the heels of Rush comes Captain Phillips, based on the true life experience of a freighter captain who runs into Somalian pirates.

The situation would make an awesome board game. Resources for the freighter crew include limited or improvised weapons, money for bribes, knowledge of the environment versus superior firepower on the side of the pirates, who are reluctant to actually kill anyone–that greatly decreases the possibility of a big ransom payoff. Both sides have the limited ability to call for help and advice from their colleagues outside, who are moving toward the ship . . .

The movie shows you both sides of the equation: Captain Phillips, first in Vermont, then in Oman as he takes command of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama; and a group of poor men in Somalia, sent off to grab a ship for ransom.

Phillips (the ever impressive Tom Hanks) is vigilant, well aware of the dangers of the coast off Somalia. But preparation can only take you so far.

When the pirates actually show up on radar, the crew works it by the book, calling Maritime Operations for help and evading as best they can. Eventually, though, there begins a days-long confrontation between four armed pirates led by the impulsive Muse and the virtually unarmed crew.

Terror in a situation they never expected is portrayed amazingly through the eyes of the freighter crew, in scene after scene as the stress levels up. The pirates are more playing things by ear, and less certain when things don’t go as planned. The film makes clear just how much influence a leader can have, as the two groups of men, respectively, take their cues from their captain and his demeanor.

As the title Captain Phillips indicates, Tom Hanks is all over this one, and he delivers. In spades. On the other side of the equation, first-time actor Barkhad Abdi is remarkably convincing and terrifyingly real as the pirate captain. These two playing off each other are the best moments in the film.

This one is not for the faint of heart–the reality it’s based on is even grimmer and more extreme than the movie, but they took it plenty far. It is well worth seeing and will easily keep your
attention for its more than two hour running time.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

A movie about spirituality and desperation and what happens when hope is all but lost, Prisoners is gripping and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

An amazing cast led by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal gives absolutely outstanding performances of a compelling script. See the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) personal philosophy, passed down from his father is: “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.” He’s a devout survivalist, and a bit of a control freak. When his daughter and her friend are kidnapped–his world is turned upside-down.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Mobsters with some issues trying to play it straight and keep a low profile. Who thought that was a good idea? The full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
The Family is a dark comedic slice-of-life film about a not-so-ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances.

They’re a family that takes nothin’ from nobody, in the finest mob tradition, as seen through the filter of European eyes, played absolutely over-the-top for maximum silliness.

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elektra: (movie tickets)

Vin Diesel is back in the epic conclusion to the trilogy begun in Pitch Black. See him fight more mercenaries, deal with an even more hostile environment, see him fight against overwhelming odds and . . . my full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Are you afraid of the dark? Are you afraid of the boogeyman? Did you like Pitch Black? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”–you will enjoy the new follow-up to The Chronicles of Riddick, titled simply Riddick.

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