Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Danny Ocean

Vegas hasn’t been the same with Danny Ocean (George Clooney) in town. He has broken the bank on more than one occasion. Casino owners hate him. His ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts) hates him. But he’s looking for a change. He just got out of prison and he’s got a score to settle. And what would Wednesday Warriors be without a true risk taker such as Danny Ocean hitting the scene?

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts
George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts

Danny has a plan. As extraordinary a plan as it seems, he wants to rob a casino. His friends Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) and Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) think he’s crazy. And it might just be the craziest idea he has had in a long time. Why not? The casino’s there, why not rob it?

Maybe his friends are right. Maybe robbing one casino is a crazy idea. Maybe instead of robbing one casino, he’s shooting too low. How about robbing three casinos all at the same time? His friends couldn’t call him crazy anymore, that’s for sure. After all, a stunt like that would make him insane.

In the planning phases, and as his team grows, the fact comes out that his ex-wife married Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) the owner of the casinos. What better way to taste vengeance than to take from the very man who is the supposed provider for the former love of his life?

Ocean's Eleven
Ocean’s Eleven

Danny also has a knack for remaining calm in a frantic situation. When he thinks his gang has reached the limit as to what they can do, he simply asks Rusty if they need another guy. When Rusty doesn’t respond, he takes the silence as a yes. To make sure, he asks again. Again, when Rusty doesn’t respond, Danny goes and hires one more guy.

All told, eleven make Danny’s gang. Each member has a gift. Each one has a specialty all his own that no one else can replace. This is what makes Danny Ocean’s gang unique.

As part of the heist, he commissions them to find a way to get to the money locked in an impenetrable vault, buried deep in the ground with laser triggers at every turn. If Danny is to get to that money, he will need more than an elite team a thieves. Danny will need his suave charm, his exceptional intelligence and plain ol’ good luck working on his side.

Okay, so he’s been in prison—but it has yet to stop him from committing one of the biggest heists Vegas has seen. He wants that guaranteed payout and revenge against his ex-wife for her decision to remarry, even if he won’t admit doing it because of that.

Aside from Danny Ocean’s charm and wit, he loves the thrill of the chase. Nothing can compare with watching a plan come together. He lives for this kind of stuff.

Mild mannered, level-headed Danny Ocean. He’s got an ace up his sleeve.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you seen any of the Ocean movies? What did you like the most about them?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

A World War Z Sequel

The 2013 zombie film World War Z raked in truckloads of cash at the box office. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready for a sequel. For my Monday Mayhem series, let’s talk about this for a few minutes and see if we can make any sense of wanting to have a sequel hit another blockbuster season.

World War Z Wallpaper
World War Z Wallpaper

Call this a wish list. I suppose this is my wish list of what I would like to see in the next World War Z installment. However, I’ll have to stop short of presenting other wish lists for sequels to the films Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead. I’ll leave these for another time. Right now, I want to jump in to the heart of the zombie saga based on the bestselling novel by Max Brooks.

When I speak with my friends about World War Z, they say the film is a great action movie. I agree. The film certainly knows how to pack a knockout with its vast array of visual and sound effects. I can’t get over how incredible it looks and sounds whenever I sit down to watch the thing. I don’t think this undead flick can ever bore me.

Yet, what can the sequel deliver that the first movie didn’t? The first movie contains the change a human goes through when the virus enters the bloodstream. It also features a number of battles between humans and zombies, not readily seen in other movies. The sheer magnitude of the choreographed sequences leaves me to want more. And the best part about the movie is the little moments when the audience falls for the subtle trap that nothing will happen to our hero if there is dead silence on the screen. That fallacy quickly disappears soon after watching the movie for the first time. The scares come fast, and they come frequently.

So what would the sequel need to do to keep the audience interest from waning? It would need something never tried before.

World War Z
World War Z

I would love to see a subplot where a naval ship by the coast suddenly turns into an undead barge where people would have to defend themselves against a breakout of the virus. Since the boat would be a closed environment, confined to the water or the high seas, the people trapped wouldn’t have much choice other than to fight or run. Given there wouldn’t be that many places to run, the entire subplot would yield a pivotal dramatic beat akin to the plane scene in the first movie.

The other thing I would enjoy watching in a World War Z sequel would be a battle between the zombies and the humans in a wooded area, much like the film Gladiator. With the humans having only a short supply of ammo to contend with, every shot would count. Why not have a scene where humans could defend themselves with farming equipment fashioned as swords. Have you seen a scythe? Imagine the damage a tool like that could do on the undead population. Worrying about ammo would be so outdated. A whole range of weapons exists in a barn. Have you seen the ending to the film Twister?

Lastly, no sequel would be complete without new characters. This is where Brad Pitt himself could fall by a new strain of the zombie virus, but he’d have enough sense to quarantine himself before the full effect of the infection kicked in.

Actually, after thinking about it, maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. The film wouldn’t have anywhere to go after that little debacle, unless it happened in the end and proves to be a cliffhanger for a subsequent film.

Maybe?

BUY IT NOW!

What do you think a World War Z sequel should look like? Should Brad Pitt once again lead the cast?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Tyler Durden

“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.”

If that sounds like the craziest line you’ve ever heard from a movie, you’re probably right. Then again, the character who said it was pretty crazy. So it’s understandable why anyone would think that.

Brad Pitt is Tyler Durden
Brad Pitt is Tyler Durden

Released in 1999 and directed by David Fincher, Fight Club soon went on to become a cult classic among film buffs. I know, I was one of them. That’s why for Wednesday Warriors I’d like to talk a bit about Tyler Durden played by Brad Pitt and what he means to the average viewer watching the movie for the first time.

I’ll try not to spoil it, but I will make a few references to the film’s content that may seem like I’m spoiling it—I’ll try not to. I promise.

A lot of folks have heard about Fight Club‘s rules. If you haven’t, I’ll lay down the first two as a starting point for this post:

The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!

The movie begins with The Narrator (Ed Norton) who’s sick of his corporate day job and wants to change his life but isn’t sure how to do it. He’s living a miserable existence, possessing miserable things, and taking part in miserable activities as a way to buy his time until he dies and leaves this miserable world.

The Narrator then meets Tyler.

Tyler Durden's perspective.
Tyler Durden’s perspective.

Tyler has a different perspective on things. He believes people should break free from their depressing schedules in order to truly experience a meaningful life. He believes those stuck in their pitiful routine have given up and need a shot in the face to snap them out of the rut.

Enter Fight Club.

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club
Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club

“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” Tyler says to The Narrator. Of course, The Narrator will do no such thing. To sucker punch someone because they ask? It doesn’t make sense. Yet Tyler insists, wanting The Narrator to make sense out of the nonsense. This is how Fight Club comes to life—two guys beating the crap out of each other until someone says uncle.

Yet, what Tyler wants The Narrator to understand is it really isn’t about the fight. Anyone can pick a fight. Anyone can also beat someone senseless. The whole exercise is about feeling alive again. Doing something beyond oneself as a means to feel every bit that kid again before the establishment got a hold and knocked the kid out of them.

This is what Tyler says:

Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

Tyler may appear antiestablishment and may give the impression he hates all forms of authority. In reality, he’s quite the opposite. He’s the type of person who wants to push people to question their beliefs, think about their morals, and tempt them to understand who they are as a way for them to become stronger than they think they are on their own individual merits.

Tyler is not antisocial either. He is very much the people person no one expects him to be. A leader. An instigator. Different. And it’s that difference that sets him apart from other leaders to light the flame of independence in an effort to stir a crowd to action.

Tyler Durden. Rabble-rouser.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you seen Fight Club? What do you think of the Tyler Durden character?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Claudia

They are flesh and blood, but not human. Probably haven’t been human for hundreds of years. Some might call it being born into darkness. For a little girl who has lost her parents to the plague in New Orleans, it certainly feels that way.

Kirsten Dunst as Claudia
Kirsten Dunst as Claudia

As Women Who Wow Wednesday continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, which began last week with Maleficent, let’s examine the short life of Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) the vampire from the movie Interview with the Vampire, based on the book written by Anne Rice.

In 1791, Louis du Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) is only twenty-four when Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) turns him into a vampire. Before then, as the master of a large plantation, just south of New Orleans, Louis’ riches meant nothing to him. He’d lost his wife and child months earlier, and he longed for death. Young, vibrant, full of life, Lestat cuts Louis’ life short in an act of pure selfishness. Some may say, though, Lestat imparted Louis the essence of eternal life. However, how eternal is a life if it rests in the throes of damnation?

Claudia’s parents die by the plague. With the desire of wanting to revive her mother, the five-year-old asks Louis for help. Instead of bringing her mother back from the dead, a power Louis does not possess, he feeds off Claudia short of taking her life. Leaving her for dead, and with Louis’ conscience tearing at him for having drained Claudia of her life, Lestat bestows upon her eternal life, thus making her a vampire just like them.

Unlike Louis, whose manner of killing involves butchering animals but not people, Claudia’s hunger for blood has no bounds. From the moment Lestat made her into a predator, Claudia shows no regard for human life. Housekeepers fall to her scheming, leading Lestat to scold her, “Now, who will we get to finish your dress? There’s a practicality here! Remember, never in our home!”

Interview with the Vampire's Claudia
Interview with the Vampire’s Claudia

In the early days, Claudia’s victims died quickly. As time passes, she learns how to play with them, delaying the moment until she takes what she wants. No one is safe. She uses her diminutive appearance to draw victims into her arms. Shopkeepers easily surrender their goods to the vicious killer. Even her piano teacher dies at her hands, prompting Lestat once again to ask, “Claudia, what have we told you?” Of course she remembers, “Never in the house.”

One day, Claudia sees a woman bathing, then realizes she will never grow older than the eternal child she is. She discovers the truth, provoking her to loathe both Louis for taking her life and Lestat for giving her another. However, she also realizes she and Louis are in the same predicament, locked together in hatred.

But she admits, she can’t hate Louis.

As the story goes, Claudia takes vengeance upon Lestat, breaking one of the everlasting laws among vampires—vampire shall not kill vampire. As opposed to physical strength, she uses stealth and cunning to do it. Those attributes make Claudia one of the most feared fictional characters in Horror. It’s also the reason she takes one of the top spots in Women Who Wow Wednesday. She proves someone doesn’t have to bulge with muscle in order to get things done.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

If you’ve seen Interview with a Vampire, what did you think of Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Claudia?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Indestructible Zombies

Let’s talk about something serious for a change, something that has been on my mind since the summer. If I could call it a great disturbance in the force, I would. But then I would have to admit surrendering to the dark side for taking the Star Wars universe out of context. Okay, so I’ll call it a logic problem. Then again, that may prove too pointed of a statement. How about this for Monday Mayhem: Since when have zombies become indestructible?

World War Z's Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane
World War Z’s Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane

I’m a huge fan of World War Z, and for those folks who have read my stuff since the beginning, you will know I’m also a fan of George A. Romero’s zombies. You know the ones, slow, dragging, lurching, not much intelligence. What they lack in aptitude they make up in multitude. In other words, they may be slow, but if they corner you in an alley with no way out, it’s lights out for Thursday night bowling—permanently.

It took a while for me to warm up to the notion zombies could run at the pace of a Kenyan sprinter. I attribute the sudden surge in velocity to an adrenalin rush fostered by the zombie virus, whatever that zombie virus might be. I accept it. It would also account for the incredible behavior change in the undead’s muscle stability and lack of flaccidity. Add to the laundry list a slow decomposition rate instead of the typical mortis states, and we have the making of fast zombies.

I’m okay with that idea. It makes logical sense.

World War Z's destroyed cities
World War Z’s destroyed cities

Where things start getting out of hand is seeing zombies crash into immovable objects at blunt-force-trauma speeds. When a head attempts several times to smash through a windshield, wouldn’t said head sport a few scars of the incident? Perhaps a concussion or two? Even more so, if a zombie attempts to scale a massive wall and other zombies use its body as a footstool, wouldn’t it be fair in saying said zombie would break a few bones in the process of its journey? And how about after scaling the wall, which I’m assuming thirty feet high, wouldn’t the zombies plunging to the other side land on the ground in a big huge splat?

Guide me here, folks. Sometimes I miss things along the way. I’m willing to suspend disbelief up to a point, but when the laws of physics run amok in a film—a zombie film, not a superhero comic book film—I’m not sure if I can accept the latest twist in zombie resilience. Anyone have a reasonable explanation for the undead’s sudden ability to fend off broken bones, torn ligaments, shattered faces and lack of rotting in World War Z?

So many questions, so little time.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

What’s your reaction to World War Z’s superhero zombies?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Can Zombies Swim?

World War Z will be out on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow. The official release dates to remember are September 17, 2013 for the U.S. and Canada, October 21, 2013 for the U.K., and October 23, 2013 for Australia. The big deal is not the release dates, but the content of the movie. I promise I won’t give you any spoilers for this film. This movie is too good to spoil for anyone. Am I looking forward to the release? How about asking me if a zebra has stripes. Today is Monday Mayhem, and today I’d like to concentrate on World War Z’s base of operations.

World War Z
World War Z

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, World War Z’s base of operations is a ship in the middle of the ocean. I think this is genius. What better way to avoid zombies than to float on water with little to no contact with the mainland.

Which begs the question: Can zombies swim?

Ah, let’s think about this from the perspective of the zombie. The undead know nothing. That’s a given. They function purely out of instinct—instinct being their craving for human flesh. They act on human presence, hunting humans down until they’re dead. But that human presence depends on a number of factors. What if humans have hidden themselves away to the point of disappearing? What then? Will the zombies find alternative food sources to satiate their hunger? What if humans appear resistant to the zombies’ intent to eat them? Will the zombies move to another feeding ground?

Or…will they learn how to swim in order to find additional food sources?

Sounds far fetched, I know. But, what if? Is it possible? Can zombies swim?

Ships
Ships

Let’s have a look at zombie buoyancy. If those maggot bags want to swim, they will have to learn how to float. If they moan then air is in their lungs, which means they can float. However, there’s this whole decomposition thing going on that may also prove fruitless for their effort if their body cavities lose pressure. And of course coordination between the limbs. They’d have to know how to perform one or more of a number of strokes if they’re intent is to swim to their destination, such as: front crawl, butterfly stroke, breaststroke, dog paddle, human stroke, survival travel stroke, breast feet first stroke, snorkeling, finswimming, inverted backstroke, inverted butterfly, back double trudgen, flutter back finning, feet first swimming, corkscrew swimming, underwater swimming, gliding, turtle stroke, sidestroke, combat sidestroke, and moth stroke.

Of course, the question remains: would zombies be able to even get their arms around their head in a full 360° turn? Have I mentioned about the zombie ocean predators? Crabs and lobsters love rotting meat. It’s their job to eat that stuff.

In all likelihood, zombies would walk to the shore and keep walking from the shore into the ocean until such time they’d walk themselves to a second death by either natural decomposition or ocean predator. That is, unless they fall into the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans.

Was the decision to have a command center in the middle of the ocean a good thing in the movie World War Z? Yes. Unless zombies know how to swim, it’s the safest place on earth.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

What do you think of swimming zombies? Do you think zombies can swim?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Mrs. Smith

How would you feel if you realize your marriage was sputtering as a balloon losing air? For the women: what if your marriage was with Brad Pitt? Do you think you’d try to save it? For the men: how about if Angelina Jolie was your wife? Would you like one more chance to make it right?

Angelina Jolie as Mrs. Smith
Angelina Jolie as Mrs. Smith

From the start of the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play the namesake couple seeking help for their floundering marriage. Looking at them, you wouldn’t think they needed counseling. They look incredible together, even though the chill in the air could freeze anything within the radius of a few feet.

As part of this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday series, today’s highlight is Jane Smith. Be forewarned, if you haven’t seen this movie, spoilers lie ahead.

Meeting for the first time in Bogotá, Colombia, Jane approaches John on the run from the Columbian authorities. The attraction couldn’t be more genuine. Locked in a hug, the sound of sizzling fills the room. Without waiting, they marry. As the years move along, Jane becomes the perfect wife. Her home, immaculate. Her cuisine, extraordinary. Her marriage? Not so much.

In the whirlwind of their short courtship and subsequent marriage, Mr. & Mrs. Smith forgot one crucial element for making their relationship work. Honesty. They didn’t confess their innermost thoughts to one another. And—they didn’t tell what line of work they were in. Oh, they rehashed some made up story about working in an office, but they didn’t tell the whole truth. In essence, they lied to one another. Then they wonder why their marriage is sinking faster than an anvil placed on floating paper.

Mrs. Smith
Mrs. Smith

The truth? Both John and Jane are assassins. Pretty good ones, too. They work for competing agencies, vying for the same contracts in their small, niche industry fishbowl. When a mission Jane has assigned goes afoul, she discovers the reality. Her husband’s working for the other side. He has to go. At least, this is what her agency wants. Unbeknownst to her, John’s agency has a similar contract. She has to die, too.

One evening, as the Smiths have dinner in their lovely suburban home, a lively discussion ensues. Well, not that many words pass between them, but they sure know how to communicate. From one corner of the house to the other, their communication consists of firing at each other with live rounds of ammunition. Vases blow. Furniture explodes. Walls collapse. Still alive, baby? Your aim’s as bad as your cooking, sweetheart. And that’s saying something!

A few more attempts on her life, and Jane’s had it. She wants John taken out. Not so fast, there’s the small matter of what the agencies have done to perpetuate this hatred between the couple. Purpose-filled, analytical, she later learns the agencies played them against each other in an effort to even out the playing field once they were gone.

They take a last stand, and they eventually find themselves in marriage counseling once again. This time, they’re gushy-eyed all over each other. Their marriage survives intact.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Mr. & Mrs. Smith? What did you think of Mrs. Smith?