All posts in Films

Writerly update, March 2012

I’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks, working on a new novel that I hope to be announced sometime soonish. Having spent the previous two months editing, it feels good to be back creating something new, although it’s going to take a a little time yet to get the daily word count back to what it should be (2000 words a day).

Last weekend I was in Macclesfield, where we first moved to from New Zealand, and was delighted to see Empire State on display at the local Waterstones with the following sign:
… which is pretty neat! (my thanks to Anna too – Waterstones booksellers are wonderful people who really know what they are talking about, and that face-to-face interaction is just something you can’t get from the likes of Amazon).

Actually, while I was signing their stock, a customer came into the SF section looking for a particular Robert Rankin book to take on holiday. The store didn’t have it, but the bookseller who was helping me sign copies quickly introduced me, and quite literally hand-sold him a copy of Empire State! He seemed pretty happy to meet an/the author, and I hope – whoever you are! – that it makes for good reading on the plane.

There’s a couple of new things online too. Firstly, Starburst magazine interviewed me – my first telephone interview too, which was cool. There’s also a great new review over at Book Monkey.

Finally, we got around to watching the 1998 film Dark City for the first time, because so many reviews of and comments on Empire State have mentioned the similarities. I hadn’t heard of it until last month, but I’m glad I checked it out. It’s smart and stylish, without being pretentious, and has a number of similar concepts to my book. We watched the director’s cut, but apparently the theatrical version is also worth a look. Oddly enough, when I mentioned on Twitter that we’d watched the film, several people replied to say they’d go and buy Empire State, as Dark City was their favourite film and they hadn’t realised the book had certain similarities!

Of course, should Empire State ever be adapted for the big (or small) screen, I’d really want Jennifer Connelly to be in it. I can dream, right?

Super 8

Last night we saw Super 8 – the UK finally getting a release two months after the rest of the world. I’m sure there was some logical business reason why there was such a delay, but (as with Pixar’s Up in 2009) the gap between the worldwide release and the UK one did tend to sap interest, I think. In these days of social media, it just seems a little odd, especially for a major SF film like Super 8 (given that SF fans are more likely to be following releases and reception closely online).


Super 8 was damn good. It was spectacular and dramatic with a superb cast and a very identifiable collection of characters. The film works because it is very well written – going back to my post a little while ago about conflict, change and need, you can see this in each of characters on screen. This elevates any kind of story in any medium to something special, and Super 8 achieved it.

Go see it!

Yesterday was another steady day on Night Pictures. This novel has a fairly long set-up, which no doubt will get tightened up during round two. But I’m near the end of that section, and after today this will start to happen.

Project: Night Pictures (missing persons, ghost towns and TV hackers)
Words yesterday: 2,010
Words total: 16,461/100,000 (16%)
Word to go: 83,539
Days to go: 54

Green Lantern

As I mentioned the other day, I like me my DC Comics. And over the last five years or so, Green Lantern has been consistently awesome under the guidance of Geoff Johns.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve been looking forward to the film for a long time. Despite the bad reviews, I saw it last night, and am happy to report it was pretty gosh-darned cool. Loads of fun, and some great performances (yes, even from Ryan Reynolds).

For a full review, I’d point you over to Bleeding Cool where my friend Michael Moran has pretty much summed up how I feel. It’s a spoiler-free review, so feel free to dive on in.

Could the film have been better? Of course. I would have liked to have seen more of the brilliant Kilowog, and perhaps for the sequel (which is hinted at in the mid-credits sequence, which I won’t spoil here) it would be cool to have it as an ensemble piece, with a team of Green Lanterns going into battle.

The best bit for me, I must say, was a cameo appearance by my favourite Lantern of all, Bzzd. Blink and you’ll miss it, but it was the icing on the cake for me.

X-Men: First Class (spoiler-free!)

If you hadn’t already noticed, this year is a pretty big one for superhero films. We went to X-Men: First Class last night, and I rather enjoyed it, despite some crappy CG and very obvious greenscreen (although probably not helped by the poor projection). There are a couple of plot holes, which I won’t mention as they’re spoilerific, but I was surprised that they managed to sneak in as they kinda leapt out of the screen and smacked me on the forehead (metaphorically speaking… this was a 2D session, after all).

Perhaps the biggest issue – and I’m not quite sure whether it was intended to be this way, or whether it’s just me – is that this is really Magneto’s film. In fact, dare I say, perhaps this should have been the shelved solo outing for the character, X-Men Origins: Magneto, with the young team of X-Men the secondary focus. Despite his Irish accent (I’m not sure Magneto should have one), Michael Fassbender steals the show. But more to the point, Magneto appears to be pretty much right about absolutely everything – nothing shown in the film runs counter to his interpretation of how the world works, and by the end of the film it’s clear the X-Men – Charles Xavier, in particular – are a bunch of deluded do-gooders.


I’m a big fan of comic book villains who are really more like anti-heroes – Catwoman and Poison Ivy immediately spring to mind. I’m no X-Men expert, but Magneto certainly seems to fall into this category.

I just wonder if, perhaps, this was slightly unintentional in X-Men: First Class? Magneto is protrayed as a ruthless, driven individual with a strong agenda, and sure, he kills a few people in the film (mostly Nazis). But he’s very sympathetic. Too sympathetic? I’m not sure. But I do know by the end I was rooting for him, not the X-Men, who came across as naive and a bit wet.

I hope Fox’s plan for First Class to be the first of a trilogy pans out, because I’ll be very interested to see where they take it.

3rd April, 2011: In Brightest Day…

You may have noticed I’m a fan of superheroes. In fact, I write superhero fiction and have one and a half superhero novels coming out next year (Seven Wonders is the one and Empire State is the half, mainly because while it has superheroes in it too, but I don’t think of it specifically as a superhero book).

I therefore read an awful lot of superhero comics, Green Lantern being about my favourite. Starting with Green Lantern: Rebirth, then through rest of the trilogy with The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, Green Lantern has been some of the best science fiction/space opera I’ve read in any format.

Yesterday, four minutes of footage from the forthcoming Green Lantern movie was released. I’m not going to embed a flash version here, because I recommend downloading the full high definition 1080p version and watching it on your HD TV (if you have one – if you don’t, just go with the largest version you can watch).

While it is still difficult to judge a two-hour film on just four minutes of footage, it’s better than the regular trailers.

For me personally, the footage left me speechless. It is just incredible. Of course it’s a total CG-fest, which may be offputting to some, but I think it suits Green Lantern very well.

Those four minutes show why I love superheroes and why I write superhero fiction. I just hope the rest of the film stands up… but the early indications are: hell yes it will.

Project: Hang Wire (serial killers and superheroes in San Francisco)
Words yesterday: 2,110
Words total: 68,532/100,000 (68%)
Total words for 2011: 98,513