Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How to write good

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Which is better: the book or the movie?

 By Trina Boice

This blog was started by several authors who love to write and talk about writing.

Who doesn't want to write an epic novel that inspires generations and movies?

"Call me Ishmael" is probably one of the most famous first lines of a novel. You were probably forced to read it in high school.  If not, then you may have noticed it in this weekend's box office hit "In the Heart of the Sea."

Below is my movie review of Hollywood's latest attempt to live up to an incredible book.  How did they do?

In a Nutshell:     1820. A giant, vengeful whale.  A ship.  A determined captain.  Man vs. beast.  Imagine Entertainment and Director Ron Howard create a visual masterpiece with unbelievable cinematography, sailing you to the “edge of insanity.”

This seafaring yarn graphically illustrates how Herman Melville’s famous novel Moby-Dick came to be.  While the screen definitely captures your attention, the storytelling has movie critics disappointed.  I was entertained and intrigued, as well as disgusted and exhausted. 

As always, the book is better than the movie, but these special effects are innovative and effective.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Can man bend nature to our will? – Captain Pollard  (Benjamin Walker)
  • Persistence and tenacity will see you through.
  • Integrity is worth more than reputation or money.

Things I liked:
·         THOR!  If you’re not in awe of the giant whale, then you have handsome and studly Chris Hemsworth to stare at.
·         Believe it or not, I actually like it when there are water spots on the camera lens.  That tells me there was real water in the scene and not just CGI.  Then again, some of the scenes made me wonder if the water spots were CGI!  If so, nice detail!  The water scenes are so well done that sometimes you even feel like you’re going to get splashed on.
·         The scene with the blood raining from above was disgusting and extremely powerful.
·         I liked learning more about Melville, the author of Moby-Dick, and played by Ben Whishaw.
·         How did they get some of those amazing scenes?  Drones? 
·         Interesting camera angles.  I also love how the camera goes under the water and back above the water seamlessly.  Great underwater scenes.  You might feel like holding your breath.
·         I thought the whale pins were cool.  In order to earn one, young Tom Nickerson (Tom Holland) is told that “you have to thrust a killing lance into one of the largest beasts to grace this earth.”
·         I love the mention of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Tom Nickerson asks “Have you read Hawthorne, Mr. Melville?  There’s a writer, great writer.”  Apparently, Herman Melville was quite taken with Hawthorne and even dedicated Moby-Dick to Hawthorne whom he compared to Shakespeare and called a genius.
·         Great sound effects, although sometimes a bit too loud.
·         I’ve always liked Charlotte Riley and wonder why we don’t see her more often.  She was really great in Ridley Scott’s medieval drama “World Without End.”
·         I’m always impressed with characters who rise above their temptations, like Cillian Murphy’s character, Matthew Joy. His resolve to not drink alcohol, even when things got tough, was inspiring and not seen often enough in movies.
·         I love that they included a quick shot of the words “My name is Ishmael” on the screen, which is the first sentence in the book Moby-Dick.

Things I didn’t like:
·         See it in 3D if you can, unless you get motion sickness.  You might get sea sick watching some of the scenes.  Just close your eyes for a few seconds and you’ll be fine.
·         Some scenes have so many loud noises between people yelling and waves crashing and boats creaking that you can’t quite understand what anyone is saying.
·         Animal activists will find many of the scenes unnerving.
·         I’ve never understood how all those sails and ropes work, but it’s always fascinating to watch sailors work it.
·         The scene that shows the ocean view from Owen’s house looks terribly artificial, but all of the other CGI scenes were very believable.

Interesting lines:
·         “Sometimes, the fewer questions one asks, the better.”   - Matthew
·         “I’ll come back as quick as a summer’s eve.” – Owen
“Just come back.” – Peggy
·         “Without you, the world plunges into darkness.” – Pollard senior
·         “Monsters, are they real or do the stories exist to respect the sea’s dark secrets?  The question both vexes and excites me.” – Herman Melville
·         “The whale?  So, it’s true?” – Melville
“Yes.  Too much is true.” – Nickerson
·         “The devil loves unspoken secrets.” –  Melville
·         “No right-minded sailor discards what might save him.” – Owen Chase
*    "We will surely perish out there." - Captain Pollard
       "We might also survive."  - Mr. Chase

Tips for parents:   
  • The sailors draw a picture of a topless woman.
  • Some profanity.
  • Several intense scenes with lots of blood and guts. 
  • Skeletons of dead guys might frighten young children.
  • Explain to your kids that a “greenhorn” is the old-fashioned way of saying “newbie”.

Sailing definitions:
Doldrums: an equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with unpredictable and often no winds
Port side:  left-hand side of a ship
Squall:  a sudden violent storm

I always do all the “talking” in these reviews, but I want to hear what YOU liked and didn’t like!  Please comment below!