Mark Robyn

Mark Robyn
Celebrating the Joy of Writing

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Warning: Star Wars Spoilers ahead.

Where is Star Wars Going? Down a rabbit hole.

I just watched the latest edition of Star Wars, The Last Jedi. To say I was disappointed is to repeat what I've said since the first three movies.

The main characters, Ray Kylo Ren, Finn, even Luke Skywalker, or so bland and characterless to be mind numbing.
The planets they visit; haven't we been to all of them before?
The aliens. Cute little creatures that act like mynocks, but chirp. Boring.
One ship can somehow make it past a battle cruiser's guns and take out all its cannons with no one stopping it? How inept are the stormtroopers after all? Darth Vader would be so pissed.
And Finn, flying down the mouth of a cannon in an attempt that wouldn't have succeeded even if he hadn't been knocked off course.
And how was he able to drag Rose Tico all the way back to the base without one stormtropper taking a shot at him?
Why would Kylo Finn make all the Empire forces stop attacking so he could have a private battle with Luke? Darth Vader wouldn't have, but then Darth Vader was a little brighter than this guy.
Nothing new here.
This movie illustrates the truest axiom in movies, one that I see time and time again.
A movie is only as good as the screenwriting.
My grade: C-.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Don't Blame the Devil

Don't blame the Devil
for he didn't invent himself
He who did create him
knew what he would be

We are born into sin
so then why blame me?
Did I have a choice?
Could I opt out?

If you create a world
knowing the future
how can you blame it
for being what you knew it would be?

Aha, I knew you'd do that!
is not an excuse for your own failure
Don't blame the Devil
He was flawed from his creation

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stone Wall

I touched a stone wall

it was warm from the sun

some of the pebbles were round

others were sharp and cut my fingers

I kept my hand there for a long time

it made me feel alive

Monday, July 31, 2017


Warning: Spoilers

I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this movie. To me, this movie is an instant classic in the same vein as Blade Runner and even Star Wars. In fact I would go so far as to say, this movie is what the last five Star Wars movies should have been.

The visual effects in this movie are a delight, and what makes them even more enjoyable is that they are not gratuitous but all there to propel the plot and add something to the story.

I personally loved the two main characters, Valerian and Laureline, played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne. I found Cara's dour, never surprised or impressed demeanor to be unique and entertaining. Dane played off her well with the same attitude, which I felt mad their chemistry magic. Both seemed intent on showing that nothing surprised or worried them, as if it was a game of one-up-man-ship, which made them fun and entertaining to watch. The fact that they were young and still top-notch spies was hip and made believable by their attitudes, as if they had something about them that was above the ordinary or inbred in them that made them so good.

The movie was full of great performances, from the Commander to the strange little creatures who were selling information for any money they could get for it. The Bubble Dancer was magical, and the scene with her was touching and fun to watch. Every character had color and personality, in fact the only movie I've seen with as many interesting and colorful characters has to be Steven Spielburg's A.I.

The plot was a little hard to follow at first, but it soon became fairly easy to understand. While some background on the heroes would have been nice, I didn't feel it was really necessary. I felt the plot moved along and was believable and logical.

The market scene was really fun and fascinating, and very imaginative, though this was where it was a little hard to follow what was happening. The escape seemed a little too easy, and the plot of the thief who vowed revenge for Valerian stealing the Converter over a little too tritely. I though the robots that attacked in the end were really cool, though they were defeated a little too easily. The ending did seem to wrap up a little too quickly, but not so quick that you really couldn't just accept and enjoy it.

I personally hope that the opening weekend disappointment doesn't doom this movie series to only one film, for I'd really like to see more adventures in the City of a Thousand Planets with Valerian and Laureline. I found it a place I loved and am eager to go back to.

I may be one of the only ones who feels this way, but this is one of the few movies that I will put in my personal favorite collection, along with Blade Runner, A.I., Alien and the first three Star Wars movies.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wonder Woman B-

Slooooooow. Three times during Wonder Woman I almost fell asleep.
Glooooomy. People being gassed to death. Horrors of War. Hero dying.
Expressionless.  Does Wonder Woman have more than one expression? Does she have a personality under there somewhere? Does she ever smile?
Too much to cover. A whole movie could have been made of Wonder Woman facing the changes of the World around her, but instead it's only touched on briefly. Could have/should have been done so much better and in more detail.
What did Wonder Woman know? The writers don't really tell us, we're left to our own imagination to fill in the blanks.
She was made of clay? Seriously? And she never questioned this before?
She learned all about reproduction, and never once said, "Mom, can I meet a man?"
Why didn't someone before the Germans stumble upon this island? Hard to believe they would be the first.
Wonder Woman was sure beautiful, if a little cold.
If her mother knew all about the Real World, wouldn't she know that bows and arrows wouldn't stop them? The Amazons looked kind of precarious, defending their island with bows and arrows. What if a real force came there? Weren't they supposed to be super human or something?
If Wonder Woman killed Aries, why was there still war?
And where are all the other gods, did they take a siesta?

All the negatives aside, Wonder Woman was fun and entertaining, if a little long and nebulous in plot. I have to say it's not my favorite superhero movie, that would be Green Lantern, though I know I'm in the minority about that fact. But then I've been a Green Lantern fan since Junior High, so I'm biased.

The action sequences were fun and entertaining. The explosions were cool. The blimp explosion was awesome. The bad girl poisoner good and creepy.
All in all, it's two and one half hours I will never get back.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My review of Kong Skull Island. 6 out of 10, 4 out of 5 stars. 
Warning: Spoilers Ahead. 

Kong Skull Island had some really fun parts to it. Kong himself was great looking, though I still think they haven't come up with a Kong that really looks like a real gorilla yet, or acts like one. They always seem to have human qualities and expressions. 

The actors in the movie were very entertaining. The character of the old World War 2 soldier played by John C. Reilly was by far the most colorful and fleshed out character. The others, even the character played by Samuel L. Jackson, were fairly shallow and without much description. I have to say to me this wasn't one of Samuel L Jackson's best performances. The other actors weren't given much to work with as far as characters, there wasn't much written into the script to let us know what they were like or their backstory. 

The plot took place totally on Skull Island, which makes me personally realize just how talented the makers of the original Kong were to be able to fit just as much drama on the island in their two hours and also the whole story in New York City. 

There were some serious logic holes. For instance, why would the choppers come close enough to Kong to let him knock them out of the sky? And why would they start shooting at him, without any thought of the notion of studying this new species they'd just discovered? And when one chopper was hit, why didn't the other simply fly out of range? 

The idea that Samuel L Jackson's character would be so bent on revenge that he would act insane is a little hard to swallow. One minute he's a competent commander, and the next he is crazy, bent on killing Kong even if it puts him men in danger. 

The lizard creatures were kind of boring to me. With all the special effects, one would think they could come up with much more fascinating and terrifying creations. And there weren't that many other creatures as well. You never see the ants that are talked about, and only one giant spider. And some really big cows. 

Kong Skull Island was entertaining, but it could have been so much more. It just makes me realize how good the original was. I don't think anyone will ever surpass it for its sheer drama and edge of your seat thrills. Something about the claymation creatures in it make them even more fun, and the scene where Denham and the crew sneak up on the natives dancing will remain, in my opinion, one of the greatest scenes in movie history. I still get goosebumps thinking about it, and that hypnotic song they were singing. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Great Wall 4 out of 10 C-
Warning: slight spoilers ahead.

The Great Wall with Matt Damon was very entertaining. It had performances that were sincere and authentic. The action was fun and the special effects were good. The scenes with the Chinese women warriors dropping to attack the aliens were really cool, as were all the battles scenes.
All that being said, there were some fundamental problems that I feel led to the move's poor performance at the box office.

First problem was the title. Just calling this movie "The Great Wall" is deceiving and might have led to the wrong audience. Many who came to this movie, I suspect, were expecting a war movie or a drama, and those type of people are not the type to enjoy the alien fantasy they found themselves watching.

Secondly, there was on real setup to explain why the creatures existed, or why they only appeared every sixty years. And why did no one seem overly surprised at these weird alien creatures appearing? There was no real horror on the faces of the soldiers, no real emotions at all except a resignation to fight.

Thirdly, there were some serious logic gaps. Why did the creatures retreat after seemingly winning the battle? Why did the Emperor's Palace not get over run at the end? And if the warriors arrived after the creatures had already attacked the city, there would probably be no one left to save, since there were at least ten thousand of the creatures. Also, why was Matt Damon so good with the bow? Was he a superman? And why would a mercenary suddenly become an explorer looking for black powder?

The makers of films sometimes tend to forget that the audience is very bright, and logic gaps such as this don't go unnoticed. If you make your world too unbelievable, the audience is going to check out.

How would I have fixed this movie? 
1. Create a larger, more interesting backstory. Make some scrolls or something showing these creatures coming to attack.
2. Make the creatures more interesting. They were very generic, even the Queen. It would have been much more entertaining if they were intelligent beings, maybe a little less powerful but with more reason to attack.
3. I would have held off exposing the aliens longer to build more excitement when they are shown. Have an alien attack a small group of soldiers or a caravan, slowly develop the war.
4. I would have given Matt Damon's character more motivation. Give him a real stake in the war. And also, give him more reason to turn from mercenary to hero. He seemed to change quite quickly, after having spent his whole life as a mercenary.

All in all, this movie was entertaining, but could have been much more.
Thanks for reading.