Transformers Dark Of The Moon? Apology Accepted Michael Bay.

June 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Transformers Dark of the Moon Was Exactly What I Needed | Movie Review 2011


I’ve been beyond pumped to see the third installment of Michael Bay’s robot opus for a long time.  The incredible disappointment of Revenge of the Fallen is still fresh in my mind.  The truth is, I love movies like Transformers and to have the second film fail on so many levels… hurt.

Then details of a third and presumably final film in the franchise (until the reboot of course) began to surface…  On the moon. (Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.)  People started talking about the film’s potential to be the biggest and coolest Transformers movie yet.  Many others had already written it off.  I couldn’t.  I love action movies too much to write it off.  The third film had too much to prove to fail in my eyes.

XTRA | There’s No Way Transformers 3 Will Suck

I had a rough morning today. It was one of those mornings where stress took over and I was in a pretty bad mood.  While I was out running errands, I realized that it probably wasn’t worth it to rush to the theater to see Dark of the Moon.  The next available opportunity wouldn’t come until a week from now and I made the decision to skip the movie.  This made my day even worse.

I went about my afternoon and slowly my mood began to change.  I decided that a movie like Transformers would put me over the top and turn this gloomy day around.

I was 100% right.  It was a fantastic decision on my part.


This movie was bound to have critics no matter what.  People either love or despise the franchise and make no mistake, this film is not without flaws.  But I submit that there are 3 things about the new film that make it the best in the series.

  1. It has a better story.
  2. It has better stakes.
  3. It has better action.

That’s all I wanted to see.  When the theater went dark, all I wanted to do was shut my brain off for a few hours and forget the crappy morning I had.  The movie is a little on the long side but by the time the ‘Bay-hem’ started I had long forgotten my troubles.  Transformers Dark of the Moon is my favorite film in the series. It stands up nicely next to the first and I’ll probably go on pretending that the sequel doesn’t exist.

There were more than a few moments when I had to cringe at the enormously high levels of cheese but that’s what I signed up for.  Each and every person who walks into the theater to see Transformers 3 knows exactly what to expect.  True, there is a lot of failed attempts at humor but there is also depth and emotion if you find yourself invested in the story.  I certainly was.

The final hour was a non stop battle that didn’t feel rushed and really paid off the large amount of screen time they spent setting it up.  When the credits rolled I left the theater feeling like Michael Bay and his team achieved what they set out to achieve.  Dark of the Moon felt like an apology to fans of the series.


However, I do strongly disagree with the whole ‘cable’ incident involving Optimus Prime…  Really Optimus?  Cables? I also thought there were a few too many convenient ‘setups’ that audiences will see through.  There were also a few questionable last minute ‘saves’.  Still, for every flaw there was an action scene that blew me away and a few twists that had me smiling.  That’s really what summer movies are about.  They can’t all be The Dark Knight although that would be amazing.

To be able to escape my crummy morning for a few hours helped me immensely.  When the lights came up, I felt better.  We all have off days.  It’s perfectly normal but today, I’m happy I have such a strong connection to movies.  They mean more to me than I’ll ever be able to put into words.

Sometimes, a little action and fun is all I need.

Transformers Dark of the Moon delivered today.  Who knows what movie will be around next time I need a pick-me-up?

Ron Suppa Interview

June 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

Interview with Screenwriter, Author & Teacher Ron Suppa | Real Screenwriting: Strategies and Stories from the Trenches


Ron Suppa is a producer and a screenwriter.  He also teaches screenwriting at UCLA and is the author of one of my favorite books:

Real Screenwriting: Strategies and Stories from the Trenches.
Click here to read my full review.

What I loved about the book was that it went far beyond writing a screenplay.  It’s about the life a screenwriter leads and features tons of insight and personal stories from someone experienced with a lot of great advice to share.  With Real Screenwriting you get countless lessons from someone who has taught thousands of writers around the world as a teacher and author.  It’s a fantastic read.

“My classes strive to master the “rules” only so that we may creatively break them.”
Ron Suppa

Screenwriting Book Review | Real Screenwriting: Strategies and Stories from the trenches by Ron Suppa

I recently had the opportunity to interview the author about screenwriting, his experience writing the book and how he began teaching aspiring writers.  Here is a look behind the scenes of what inspired Real Screenwriting, what inspires him as well as some helpful advice for those looking to live the screenwriters life themselves. (Myself included)

When did you first become interested in screenwriting and film?

As a young entertainment lawyer for a large law firm the drafting of writer’s contracts was my first introduction to screenwriters and the film business.  After I made the career move to the other side of the desk as an independent film producer, reading countless scripts in search of the few pearls that I could carry to financiers and talent became the most critical and enjoyable part of my job.  Somewhere deep inside I knew that I always wanted to be a writer, and I had published short stories and poetry since college, but screenwriting never really entered my mind until a studio development executive waived a paycheck in front of me.  I believe he thought hiring me for a project that he was committed to develop but which I’m fairly certain he had some deep reservations about was the cheapest way to go.  I embraced the opportunity, learned that I really could do it, and saw my first draft screenplay go into production three years later.

What inspired you to begin teaching aspiring screenwriters?

I was having a lunch meeting with a director at a local deli and we were talking about a particular screenplay and how I hoped to develop it as a producer and the woman across the aisle from us happened to work at UCLA Extension and she leaned over and suggested that her screenwriting students could learn a lot eavesdropping on our conversation. She wanted to know if I would be interested, as a way of giving back to the industry, in developing a course on writing for independent production.  I was flattered and also excited about the possibility of working with new writers, fresh ideas and new voices, so I wrote a lesson plan, submitted it, and was in the classroom teaching it, and loving the teaching of it, within a few months.

What led to the creation of Real Screenwriting?  What challenges did you encounter when writing the book?

I had found in teaching screenwriting that there wasn’t enough time in the course to satisfactorily explore both the writing and the marketing of scripts, which I regarded as equally important.  So I wrote a book on This Business of Screenwriting to cover what to do after the screenplay was written and had it published.  Later another publisher approached me to expand the book into the full screenwriting course.  Of course this meant that all my best material could no longer be used in class since it was now in a book, but that only helped me bring new films and new writing and selling techniques to my courses at UCLA and other venues where I was fortunate enough to teach.

I loved the ‘stories from the trenches’.  Was it always the plan to include them?  How did that idea come about?

I had written a regular column on screenwriting for Creative Screenwriting magazine since its inception.  It was a very personal column from my unedited point of view and that sort of forced me to mine all my experiences as a writer, producer and director and even as an entertainment lawyer, in order to come up with material for nearly 15 years of columns.  I had maintained the copyright on all my work and so I was able to transfer and expand upon a lot of those experiences, wherever relevant, to Real Screenwriting.

Did you feel any pressure when writing something meant to instruct and inspire writers around the world?

In any creative endeavor there is always the responsibility to try and get it right, in this case to convey both the process and the experience of writing for film and television.  To do that, I met with other writers and producers, read the other books existent on the subject and then basically tossed it all out in order to write something from my perspective that was fresh, credible and useable by writers both new and advanced.

Was there a defining moment when you realized how much your book has helped writers?  A moment that inspired you?

There is no greater reward for a writer than to be read.  When someone tells you, in person or in an email or a note that your work has somehow enriched their life, that’s the icing on the cake. That’s also why I teach. My students’ progress mirrors my own and the satisfaction I receive from seeing that progress and seeing the joy and fulfillment that writing and the creative world can bring to someone’s life is priceless.

In your experience, what is the single greatest challenge a new screenwriter must face?

The blank page.

What is the most common mistake new screenwriter’s make?

Not granting themselves the freedom to fail.  There are too many half-baked, half-finished scripts lying in desk drawers all over town because the writers hit a wall and couldn’t get over it.  True writers don’t quit.

If you could give ONLY one piece of advice to an aspiring screenwriter what would it be and why?

“If the desire to write is not followed by actual writing, then the desire is not to write.”  That’s quoting myself from my book.  Writers write.  Stop the excuses; write every day for the rest of your life.  Or don’t.  The world needs more readers than it does writers anyway.

Are there any new books on the way? Screenplays? What’s next for you?

I’m actually writing novels and short stories as a way of re-energizing and reinventing myself for this new Hollywood tent-pole, pre-sold, pre-marketed environment we now face as screenwriters.  But there’s always a spec screenplay in some stage of development sitting in that far corner by the window, seeking the light.

Special thanks to Mr. Suppa for the interview.

Pick up his book Real Screenwriting: Strategies and Stories from the Trenches here.

For more interviews featuring screenwriters and filmmakers click here.

All Time Best: Meaningful Movie Quote

June 28, 2011 at 8:05 am

All Time Best: Meaningful Movie Quote | Best Movie Quotes | The Dark Knight "Why Do We Fall"


Many people who quote movies regularly usually turn to comedies or inside jokes for their material.  We quote from movies like Dumb & Dumber or recite lines from the King of quotes himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

XTRA | Movie Quotes: Get To The Choppah!

XTRA | All Time Best: Quotable Movie Character

What about the quotes that stick with you because of their meaning.  For me there have been so many lines that made me sit back and think about the big picture.  Tiny lines of dialogue that have an enormous impact on the way I see the world.  Spoken words that influence the way I see myself.  It sounds a little dramatic but that’s the point.  It’s a big reason why I love movies.  Sometimes, a writer comes up with a line that sticks with you.  Sometimes, it’s only you.  A private inside joke that you turn to when you face a difficult challenge or even  your worst fear.

Meaningful movie quotes can appear in pretty much any type of movie.  You never know when one will hit home but it’s inspiring every single time.

  • “Find a truly original idea. It is the only way I will ever distinguish myself. It is the only way I will ever matter.”
  • “Mama always said life was like a box a chocolates, never know what you’re gonna get.”
  • “Behind this mask is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.”
  • “Find a job you love, never work a day in your life.”
  • “It is not who you are underneath…but it is what you do that defines you.”

You probably recognized a few of those quotes.  If you figured out the last one you’ll definitely see why my favorite meaningful movie quote comes from:


“Why do we fall?  So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

What a fantastic quote and a perfect way to think about our low points in a new way.  I like to think about Christopher Nolan typing away not knowing how much that line would impact my life.

But it does and I’m extremely thankful for that.  Not to mention the film itself is incredible.

Have a favorite?  Comment below.

All Time Best: Meaningful Movie Quote | Best Movie Quotes | The Dark Knight "Why Do We Fall"

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad?

June 21, 2011 at 8:29 am

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review


When someone tells you that a movie is absolutely incredible you’re probably more willing to give it a shot.  When EVERYONE tells you it’s amazing it’s almost impossible to resist.  Especially if you trust their opinions.

The same can be said when someone despises a movie.  You’re probably still willing to sit through it but there’s almost no chance you will if EVERYONE hates it right?

I do my best to ignore bad reviews and focus more on whether or not I genuinely want to see a movie.  I definitely wanted to see Green Lantern but did the movie defy my lowered expectations?



A few weeks ago, I wrote about how nice it would be if we had a summer movie season free of flops.  The streak definitely didn’t last long as Green Lantern is my first official flop of the season.

What went wrong?  To be honest, there was a lot I actually liked about the movie.  The sequences on the Lantern’s home planet of Oa were really interesting albeit cartoony.  I went in not knowing a great deal about Green Lantern’s mythology.  It’s incredibly complex and extremely cool but it took them an eternity to set things up.  Green Lantern had to be a challenging story to adapt.  How do you introduce such a complex back story without sacrificing the action audiences have come to expect in a summer movie. 

I believe this is the movie’s greatest failure.

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

The story is well told but it takes more than an hour before we get to see Green Lantern in action. The movie disappointed me further because once the action arrived, it really wasn’t all that great.  I’m torn because Ryan Reynold’s Hal Jordan hasn’t truly grasped his true power yet.  I completely understand that his journey towards becoming a hero is the spine of the story but we really only get about 10 minutes of full tilt Lantern action.  Had the film delivered a more satisfying finale, I think a lot of critics would have been a little more lenient with their scathing reviews.  This was the downside to Ang Lee’s Hulk as well.

Ryan Reynold’s does his best to bring the fake looking CG suit to life but I found myself wondering when the big time action would kick in.  A lot of that probably had to do with Hector Hammond, the film’s human ‘villain’.

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

I’ll get to ‘big baddie’ Parallax in a moment but Hector Hammond really bugged me.  All he seemed to do was scream in pain before we cut away to more of Hal Jordan’s personal struggle to overcome fear.  He didn’t really cause that much action at all.

When the time came for Mr. Hammond to be unleashed he really didn’t do that much and was ‘dealt’ with pretty easily in the end.  The real threat was Parallax but he only shows up once every 30 minutes or so to remind us he exists.

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

Look at how bad ass he looks? I expected more.

Let him destroy a couple chunks of a city!  Make him more of a threat to Hal Jordan.  After spending so much time setting up an epic encounter with such a powerful villain, I was willing to give the movie a positive review if it delivered.  It didn’t.  The final battle was short and relatively painless for the Green Lantern.

It’s unfortunate.  I had the same complaint about the first Iron Man as well.  That final battle wasn’t the greatest.


In the end, it just took way to long before we saw the Green Lantern reach his potential.  It’s really just a full length origin story.  In a way, I don’t blame the filmmakers.  There is so much mythology to cover and it could have been a complete mess if they didn’t treat it properly.  Overall, I thought they did a great job setting up The Green Lantern Core and Oa.

But having so much story to tell ultimately took over what could have been a huge popcorn summer smash.

However, I also think that with all the back story out of the way, they can truly knock a sequel out of the park.  I’ll be willing to give it a shot.  Why not!  I may not have liked this movie but I did like the world…  You never know…


Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

Movies That Scarred Me For Life: Gremlins

June 15, 2011 at 6:47 am

Movies That Scarred Me For Life: Gremlins | Movie Blog | Horror Film Blog

Movies that scarred me for life is all about the movies that keep you up at night.  The horrors you just can’t seem to get out of your head.  But beyond the monsters, ghosts, slashers and aliens, there are also the cringe worthy films you wish you never saw.  Movies that made you wish you had the lost two hours of your life back.  There are tons of ways a movie can scar you for life.  This series will look at 12 of my personal favorites.

Gremlins 1 & 2

I’m was terrified of Stripe!

Movies That Scarred Me For Life: Gremlins | Horror Movie Blog

At least I was long ago…  Look at that picture!  He has a gun!

Gremlins is a classic that I now look back on fondly.  Every so often, I’ll put in the DVD and I’m instantly reminded of how awesome and bad ass Gizmo is. However, shortly after I stop laughing at ‘bright light, bright light!’, I remember how scared I once was.

XTRA | All Time Best: Movie Monster

I used to imagine those late night snackers popping out of every corner of my house…  And promptly run away.  There’s something creepy about mischievous and intelligent monsters.  They make plans!  They cause havoc!  They steal plows!  They sing karaoke!

In all seriousness, I really did hate the thought of Stripe hatching somewhere in my bedroom.  I wouldn’t have fed him after midnight but he would have found a way.

Because Furry Stripe is still kind of an ass.

Movies That Scarred Me For Life: Gremlins | Horror Movie Blog


One way or another, I felt destined to encounter the leader of a Gremlins batch some day.  I hope I’m not alone in this but you know that chilling feeling you get when you are in a basement and suddenly you rush up the stairs to escape?  Stripe caused many, MANY sprints up the stairs in my childhood home.

I’d reach the top of the stairs and realize that I left a light on.  Worst.  Day. Ever.  I’d have to slowly creep back down the stairs wondering what will jump out at me next. (I had a vivid imagination as a kid.)

It got worse when Stripe became a spider in the sequel!

Stripe Mohawk Gremlin Spider Mutation

XTRA | Movies That Scarred Me For Life: Arachnophobia

Eventually, I got over it and now both Gremlins films are treasured additions to my collection.


Click here for more Movies That Scarred Me For Life.