The Athletic Nerd: The Final Post

August 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

4 YEARS OF MOVIES, SCREENWRITING & INDEPENDENT FILM

It’s hard to believe I started this blog 4 years ago. So much has changed in the world of movies and in my own life. Honestly, I’ve evolved just as much, if not more, than this site. More than anything I’ve learned, that I’m happy when I write.

When I first started The Athletic Nerd, it was meant to be an outlet used to promote the short films we were producing in those days. Over time, I incorporated reviews, interviews, top 10 lists, short films and more. At the peak of this cinematic blogging adventure, I was writing 6 posts a week. Things were going well and traffic steadily increased which fueled my passion to keep updating the site. To keep writing.

Recently, I took some time away from this blog in order to finish my latest screenplay. After a few weeks, I decided to put everything on hold and just enjoy the summer. Why not? I went out more, I saw more movies, I went to England, I read a novel and I relaxed. For the first time in years, I wasn’t writing blogs or screenplays and I wasn’t producing short films. I took a vacation from it all. It was a great chance to reflect on where I wanted to focus my addiction to writing.  It was an interesting experiment that lead to a few important realizations.

In addition to my career as a professional editor in television, I love to write screenplays. I can’t get enough. In fact, this past May I launched a brand new screenwriting site called The Screenwriting Spark.

But… I haven’t finished many screenplays in the last few years… I have no excuse. I just didn’t set aside enough time for screenwriting.

When it comes to this blog, there are a number of changes I’ve wanted to implement but I was limited. This blog has a certain style and focus that just didn’t fit my new vision.  I just turned 30. I watch movies differently now and I want to write about movies differently.

I realized it was time for a change. The combination of more free time, more time for screenwriting & the prospect of developing a new movie blog was too intriguing to ignore.

So I’ve decided, with mixed emotions, to end The Athletic Nerd.

It was a tough decision to make but I’m excited about it nonetheless. I’m ready to move on. Throughout the next year, I’m going take more time for myself and my family. I’m going to write more screenplays and FINALLY (read: maybe) send them out into the world. When I’m ready, I’ll launch a brand new movie blog. A place where I can continue to share my love of films.

After 4 years, 1000 posts and well over a million page hits, it’s hard to say goodbye. I’ve learned so much in the last 4 years. I plan to use that knowledge to create something better in the near future. I’m not done with movie blogging yet. I’m just taking an extended vacation to focus on other things.

For now, the plan is to keep The Athletic Nerd online. I’ve cleaned up my archives considerably but many frequently visited pages remain.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who stopped by my blog to read about movies, screenwriting & independent film. I’m already looking forward to launching something new when the time is right. Until then, you can still follow me on Twitter @17west or check out The Screenwriting Spark.

Cheers,

Jason

A Closer Look At Pacific Rim

July 14, 2013 at 7:41 am

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

MASSIVE MONSTERS ENDANGER WIDE SHOTS

Batman Begins was a phenomenal movie but the frantic fight sequences drew some criticism because they were difficult to follow. Ultimately, directing fights in this way is a choice and not all people disliked those scenes. I certainly learned to appreciate them over time.  Michael Bay’s original Tranformers suffered from similar complaints.  The action was filmed so close at times, it was difficult to discern which robot was which.

Guillermo Del Toro’s epic Pacific Rim is full of larger than life battles. Unfortunately, those battles are as frantic as Batman Begins and as difficult to follow as Transformers. Will I learn to appreciate these sequences more over time? I’m not so sure.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t like Pacific Rim.  On the contrary, I thought it was a refreshing change in a summer filled with established franchises and sequels.  The main reason I was so excited to see Pacific Rim was Guillermo Del Toro’s imagination.  The director puts so much talent and dedication into every creature he creates and you can see the effort on the screen.  The Kaiju & Jaegers are massive creations that feel real and when the camera does pull back, they are breathtaking to behold.

I just wish more of the film’s big fights took place during the day.  These giant monsters look their best during the day but the majority of the action takes place at night and it’s always raining.  This was the major reason why I found the fights a bit disorienting at times.  The shots are beautiful but edited so quickly, you barely have time to process what you’re seeing.  However, what I did process was pretty cool.

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

In terms of story, the film does a pretty remarkable job overcoming an enormous amount of exposition in the first 25 minutes or so.  It’s a well put together opening that truly sets up all the action to come.  In terms of characters, I felt more connected to supporting roles rather than the two Hero pilots Raleigh and Mako.

Idris Elba steals the show here but leaves just enough for Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman to shine.  I don’t blame the screenwriters or the director for my lack of connection to the main characters.  It happens sometimes.  You can win over everybody.  In the end, it’s Elba’s Stacker Pentecost who truly drives Pacific Rim as an intimidating Marshall.  He’s the glue that pulls together many of the film’s pieces to allow for an emotionally satisfying end.

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

Unfortunately, I don’t think it was enough as the film seems destined to be labelled a ‘bomb’ with it’s domestic numbers coming in lower than expected.  When the summer began, I expected Pacific Rim to perform more like Inception and less like John Carter or After Earth.  It’s a bit troubling because studios rarely bet on a new franchise.  They are tough to sell.  How do you introduce the world to a brand new world?  I think they did a good enough job to get at least a 60-70 million dollar opening weekend.  Hopefully it does well overseas.  I’d love to see a sequel to this some day.

Irony alert:  Isn’t it interesting that you praise a film for it’s originality in a world of sequels…  And then look forward to a sequel.  I suppose the film does wrap up it’s story pretty well.  Maybe this is a ‘one-and-done’ film.

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

I had to see Pacific Rim.  I love big action movies in the summertime.  Every week, new heroes emerge to challenge for the coveted box office crown.  Pacific Rim is imaginative and entertaining.  It does a fantastic job creating a detailed world but doesn’t quite take full advantage of the huge assets that populate it.  A little less rain and a little more day light would have easily taken the film from a 6.5 to an 8 in my eyes.

Still, I signed up for giant monsters and robots and that’s exactly what I got so I think 7 is a fair number.

Click here for more Reviews.

COUNTDOWN | 15 Movies to look forward to for the rest of 2013

A Closer Look At Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim

Start A Screenwriting Blog Tour on The Screenwriting Spark

July 4, 2013 at 10:04 am

Start A Screenwriting Blog Tour on The Screenwriting Spark

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION?  ALL YOU NEED IS A SPARK!

The Screenwriting Spark is two months old now!  I’ve had a lot of fun collecting screenwriting resources and networking with screenwriters around the world.  Today, I posted a new ‘feature’ on The Spark.  (Actually, it’s more of an idea than a feature.)

The Screenwriting Blog Tour!

Finding inspiration is an extremely personal process.  I find that going on a screenwriting blog tour and reading about other people’s screenwriting adventures helps unclog the blocks in my mind.

So I decided to organize and easy way to discover new screenwriting blogs using The Ultimate Guide To Screenwriting Websites.

Click here for more!

The Screenwriting Spark

15 Movies To Look Forward To For The Rest Of 2013

June 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

15 Movies To Look Forward To For The Rest Of 2013 | July - December Movie Preview

JULY – DECEMBER 2013 MOVIE PREVIEW

It’s hard to believe 6 months of 2013 has come and gone.  It’s been a fantastic year for movies thus far but there are tons of amazing films on the way.

COUNTDOWN | January – June 2013 Movie Review Round Up & Rankings

COUNTDOWN | 44 Movies To Look Forward To In 2013

Here are 10 movies I’m looking forward to the most:

15. ENDER’S GAME

October 25th

I don’t know a lot about this property but, like The Hunger Games, it’s hard to ignore when so many people love the material it’s based upon.

14. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

November 20th

I wasn’t a giant fan of the original but I’m curious about the sequel regardless.

REVIEW | The Hunger Games

13. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5

October 25th

I’ve written a lot about the entire Paranormal Activity franchise.  The fourth installment was the first I didn’t enjoy at all.  Let’s hope the 5th doesn’t rely on the same scares and actually advances the mythology.

15 Movies To Look Forward To For The Rest Of 2013 | July - December Movie Preview

XTRA | The Athletic Nerd on Paranormal Activity

REVIEW | Paranormal Activity 4

12. KICK ASS 2

August 16th

The first film was over the top but it had it’s moments.  We’ll see how Jim Carrey’s recent decision affects the film leading up to it’s release.

REVEW | Kick Ass

11. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

November/December

It’s hard not to get excited for another movie from the incredibly talented Coen Brothers.

10. THE MONUMENTS MEN

December 13th

Matt Damon, George Clooney, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin and more…  The cast alone is worth a top 10 mention.

Click here for more on the film.

9. THE WOLVERINE

July 26th

I seriously hated X-Men Origins: Wolverine but this movie has a very good chance of erasing that movie’s existence from my mind.

8. PRISONERS

September 20th

A fantastic looking drama with an impressive cast.

7. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

November 15th

Martin Scorsese reunites with long time collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio in what looks like one of the best films of 2013.

6. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

December 13

I can’t wait to go back to Middle Earth!

COUNTDOWN | Top 5 Moments: The Desolation of Smaugh Trailer #1

REVIEW | The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

XTRA | The Athletic Nerd on The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit & Middle Earth

5. ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

December 20th

Easy pick.  The first film is one of my favorite comedies.

4. ELYSIUM

August 9th

An impressive looking following up to District 9 by director Neill Blomkamp

3. GRAVITY

October 4

One of my most anticipated movies of the year.  I can’t wait to see this.

XTRA | 5 Reasons Why Gravity Is A Must See

2. THOR: THE DARK WORLD

November 8th

The next chapter in Marvel’s Phase Two set of films.  How can that not be high on the list!

COUNTDOWN | Top 5 Moments: Thor The Dark World Trailer #1

XTRA | Marvel Cinematic Universe Archives

1. PACIFIC RIM

July 12th

Giant Robots vs Massive Monsters directed by Guillermo Del Toro.  That is all I needed to hear.

COUNTDOWN | Top 5 Moments: Pacific Rim Main Trailer

Click here for more Movie Countdowns.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out

June 28, 2013 at 11:30 am

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out Watching | Man of Steel Review 2

WELL…  I CAVED…

I thought I wouldn’t want to see Man of Steel in theaters twice but I was wrong.  On a rainy afternoon, I caught a nice relaxing matinee.  Turns out, Man of Steel is MUCH better the second time around.

REVIEW | Man of Steel is the Superman movie we wanted right?

I think my main issue with my first viewing was the lengthy first act.  It’s completely understandable that his iconic origin must be established.  There are many moments people expect to see but as I said in my review:

It’s interesting for such a fast paced movie to feel slow.  Time crawls when you can’t wait to see super speed.

I just wanted to see Superman in action.  My feelings about the movie changed once I finally saw the Man of Steel fly.  Well, watching the film a second time allowed me to truly appreciate the story free from the unbelievable anticipation I felt the first time.  Man of Steel has since become my favorite movie of 2013 thus far.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

I suppose it’s not fair to the other films I’ve seen as I’ve only seen them once.  I simply couldn’t resist watching the incredible action sequences on the big screen again.  I just didn’t expect my original complaints to disappear. Here are 10 things that stood out:

Editor’s Note:  I’m perfectly comfortable admitting that I can be an idiot sometimes.  It’s important to mention this for #10 to make sense.  Also there are spoilers ahead…

10. 20 MINUTES LATE!

I was reading movie news on the bus heading to the theater when I realized I may have missed my stop.  I pulled out the map on my iPhone and realized I had!  So I got off the bus.  It was 12:49 and the movie started at 1…  I was going to be late.  Thankfully, another bus going the opposite direction arrived quickly.  To my horror, I realized a few streets down the road that I was still going away from the theater.  And then I figured it out.  My map was upside down…  I shouldn’t have left the first bus.  I got to the theater at 1:19 thinking I had missed the first few scenes.

It turns out, I missed nothing.  I even got a chance to see the latest Pacific Rim trailer.  How could I be 20 minutes late and NOT miss any of the movie?  These commercials and trailers are out of control!

9.  FAORA IS A BAD ASS

The final fight maybe the highlight of the movie but this entire sequence was pretty awesome.

8.  IS THAT ACTUALLY CHRISTOPHER REEVE?

This story broke a few days before I saw Man of Steel the second time.  I was on full alert and I think I agree.  They CGI’d a frame of Christopher Reeve in there.

Read more about the story and see an animated GIF of the sequence here.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

7.  HENRY CAVILL IS SUPERMAN BUT IS HE CLARK KENT?

Clark Kent is Kal-El’s disguise but we rarely see him in public as an adult.  He spends much of the film hiding and it isn’t until the final moments when we get to see the real Clark Kent.  It’ll be interesting to see how Henry Cavill plays the role in the inevitable sequel.

6.  RUSSELL CROWE IS A SCENE STEALER

Jor-El is an integral part of Superman’s origin and Russell Crowe truly shines with many fantastic moments.

5. ZACK SNYDER IS AN AWESOME DIRECTOR

It’s not easy to craft shots when Superman is traveling at such high speeds but Snyder succeeds throughout the movie.  There are so many unbelievably creative shots.  Especially when Superman is at full speed.

Side Note: That World Engine is action is awesome.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

4. IT’S SUPERMAN!

When he finally arrives, they don’t waste anytime posing him in iconic ways.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

 3. LOIS & CLARK DIDN’T HAVE TO KISS

We know what’s coming.  I didn’t think they HAD to kiss.  Save some moments for the sequel.

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

2. THE SCORE IS INCREDIBLE

Hans Zimmer did an absolutely spectacular job with the score.  It stayed with me after long after both viewings.  You can hear it in action in the trailer above or at length in the clip below:

1. FANTASTIC FLYING FIGHT

When Superman and Zod take to the skies in their epic final battle I was mesmerized.  I think it’s time to revisit this post:

5 Awesome Gravity Defying Movie Fights

Question: Which film caused more damage their respective final acts: The Avengers or Man of Steel?

Man of Steel Second Viewing: 10 Things That Stood Out | Man of Steel Review 2

Click here for more Movie Countdowns.