Let’s Talk About That Post-Credits Scene (Sort-of Movie Review: The Wolverine)

“As I told you once before, you are not the only one with gifts.”

–  Oh, I’m SO not spoiling who said that

 

If anyone is here to actually read my thoughts on the movie The Wolverine, then okay, let’s get this over with: it was not good, not bad. Definitely my least favorite X-Men movie, but it sounds like a lot of people disagree with that. It had good action scenes and some good humor, but in my opinion there were too few mutants and way too many ninjas. I did like how they incorporated Jean into it, however. There should’ve been even more of that. In any case, it was a solid film, at least worth watching when it hits DVD.

Okay! Whew. Now let’s get to the REAL reason you should pay $9.50 to walk into the theater.

For anyone who hasn’t already heard, this movie has a post- (or should I say mid-) credits scene. It’s approximately one minute long, and that minute is worth more than the entire rest of the movie. Why? Because it takes a single message and shoves it in your face, so intensely that you can’t help but believe it: that the next X-Men movie is going to be the best X-Men—and possibly one of the best movies, period—ever.

There was plenty of reason to be excited for it even before this post-credits scene. Let’s look at all the reasons X-Men fans should be struggling not to pee their pants when it comes to the upcoming installment, Days of Future Past, due to hit theaters next summer:

  • Bryan Singer, the original director and writer of the first two X-Men movies, is returning to write, direct and produce this one.
  • The entire cast of the X-Men prequel, First Class, is returning.
  • The entire cast of the ORIGINAL X-MEN SERIES is returning. Storm? Yep. Rogue? Yep. Iceman? Yes, sir. Kitty and Colossus? Oh, yeah. William Stryker, Wolverine’s creator? Heck yes. Wolverine himself? You got it. And of course, Magneto and Charles Xavier, played by their original actors? Why, yes indeed.
  • Days of Future Past will involve time travel, which means the actors from First Class will mix with the actors from the original trilogy to explore our favorite characters at all the coolest—and most important—parts of their lives.
  • The film will be shot in 3D. Not really a super selling point, but still exciting.

Okay. Now, as promised, let’s talk about that post-credits scene. If you have the money to spend, I’d go and see The Wolverine. It’s a good movie, and seeing the post-cred scene for yourself is better than reading about it. But if you have no interest in Wolverine and just want the goods on the minute scene, well, here we go.

The scene involves Logan walking through an airport two years after the events of The Wolverine, AKA three years after The Last Stand. He’s about to walk through security when metal coins sitting next to him start to float into the air.

Oh yes they did. Hi there, Magneto.

That was tasty enough. But then after Wolverine threatens Magneto, he notices that everyone around them has frozen. This is a trick that true X-Men fans will remember well from X2. And yes, exactly as you’re praying, we turn to see none other than Professor Charles Xavier himself, fully alive and well.

Me in the theater:

 sam-and-dean

“As I told you once before, you are not the only one with gifts.”

Okay, so I did spoil who said that. But come on, let’s get talking!

Sadly, there isn’t all that much to do other than talk. Speculation is all we have right now. But it’s exciting speculation. This is like Avengers, except better, because it’ll presumably link up all of the X-Men movies in a super juicy, action-packed film from the original writer/director of the series himself. That’s one direction I wasn’t expecting this series to take, but boy am I glad it is. Can you imagine how much story they could pack into this? And when you throw in the element of time traveling, no character is off-limits. Maybe we’ll see another surprise visit from Jean, or Scott, or Victor Creed?

The only thing I know for sure? I’ll be one of the first in line when Days of Future Past hits theaters. Mark your calendars, people. Because on May 23, 2014, we can expect some box office records to shatter.

On Writing: A Chart of Popular YA Novels’ Word Counts

“Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.”

–  Mark Twain

 

I’m sure there are other charts or lists like these elsewhere on the internet, but I wanted to contribute one as well.

Word count is something you get to disregard if you’re just writing for fun, but any manuscripts which hope to be turned into books should have at least some grasp of their length, at least according to the agents and editors of today’s publishing industry.

I’m not going to talk about official guidelines for word count because that information is already available from far more qualified informants. Plus, the guidelines vary. Some editors say middle grade novels should be between 50,000 and 70,000 words, whereas others might say 60,000-80,000.

My novel is YA Fantasy, most closely resembling Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson stories in terms of age range and the feel of the story. To roughly gauge my target word count, I looked into the word count of The Lightning Thief. That one is 87,223 words long. The final draft of my manuscript totaled to around the same, give or take a thousand words.

That’s kind of a bad example, honestly, because I would’ve been fine if it was off by even five or ten thousand words. Also something to note: I didn’t tailor my manuscript to that length, or any length. I just wrote, made sure the story felt full and complete, then went back and looked at word count. I cut probably two thousand words, but I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave them in if I’d thought they should be there. Like I said, the guidelines are flexible, so an estimate will often do. If I’d written a YA Fantasy that was 130,000 words long—roughly 520 pages—then that would bother some publishers. Not all, but some. Same as if I wrote one that came in at 110 pages. As it is, mine comes in at a healthy average of 324 pages.

Anyway! Enough about me. Should anyone reading this plan to take my advice and look at word counts of popular books, I’ve compiled a chart of some of those YA books here.

The standard formula is page count= word count/250, since most novels generally have 250 words per page. So you can guess any book’s word count by multiplying its page count by 250. That being said, I made this chart with the help of this handy website, which will tell you the exact counts of just about any novel.

Word Counts

Here’s a Fun Nostalgia Game

“So don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s too late, cause these are the best days

There’s always something tomorrow, so I say, let’s make the best of tonight

Here comes the rest of our lives.”

–  Graham Colton, “Best Days”

 

Let’s say you stop me on the street (after creepily tracing my identity and locating where I live, something I hope never happens) and ask me a question. The question: “out of all the good memories you have, what is the most special day of the year to you?” If you asked me that, I would have a complicated answer. I would say something about how there are too many awesome days with awesome memories to pick from. That’s a good answer, right?

But, if you’d asked me the same question—say, six months ago—I’d have had a much simpler answer: the most special day of the year, as related to my favorite memories, is July 19th.

I’ll try to keep the explanation brief, but essentially, that was the first time my middle school friends and I all got together and hung out after graduation. I didn’t have too much of a social life in eighth grade. But, seven of us decided to see the sixth Harry Potter movie the summer before high school, and it was one of the highlights of my summer.

For a while, I considered that one of my most fun social outings. Every July 19th in years to come, when those friends and I all moved further and further into high school, the memory always stuck out. Then last year—July 19, 2012—I made a memory just as good. It was the last day of high adventure summer camp with a bunch of close friends, and I spent the last evening sleeping in a hammock in the rain (yes, I did that) and trying to enjoy the last hours of my last summer camp.

So yes. July 19th is pretty important to me, for the most random of reasons. And thus, I was in an especially nostalgic mood today when something struck me. I unknowingly played a little game, which I’ll spell out for everyone now.

Wrong kind, wrong kind!

Wrong kind, wrong kind!

 

A Fun and Completely Made Up Nostalgia Game

Alrighty, players, here’s how it works.

 

Step 1: Pick a form of media you enjoy

It can be personal photographs, music, movies, whatever. Heck, pick memories! That isn’t technically media, but it’ll work.

The version I played was with photographs, and that probably works the best. But, choose what you like.

 

Step 2: Pick out your top five favorites of this media

So essentially your top five favorite photographs, songs, or movies. Don’t overcomplicate this! You probably have your top five favorite photos hanging up in your room, or saved in a computer folder, or in your list of old phone backgrounds. If you don’t know what your top five favorite songs are, look at your “Top 25 played” playlist in iTunes (that’s a fun game all on its own, let me tell you). And I can safely assume you have at least three, if not five, favorite movies.

Everyone have their “five favorites” of their chosen media?

 

Step 3: Count how many of these five items existed a year ago

Again, don’t overcomplicate this. Look at your five favorite songs, movies, pictures or memories and see how many of them existed on July 19, 2012 (or a year ago from whenever you’re reading this).

 

Step 4: The Results

Here’s the part I really wanted to blog about, and I’m sorry that this game doesn’t have a spectacular and fun ending. But I hope it was interesting to you.

Allow me to give some background: I came up with this post when I was sitting in my room. I have a wall right next to my bed with eight photos hanging up, eight of my favorite ones. Two are from Prom, two are from my senior class trip to Boston, two are of my Ideal Readers and I, one is from my 18th birthday party, and one is from my Senior Week trip.

I glanced at these today, and I realized something: that while summer camp one year ago might FEEL like yesterday, it wasn’t. And no matter how clearly I remember one year ago, not a single one of these pictures had been taken back then. With my five favorite songs, four of them were released after July 2012. Favorite movies? Same thing. I was blown away by how much had happened in what felt like no time at all.

As usual with my posts, you’re probably wondering what the point of all this is. I don’t really know. It does make me feel better to know I can go one year and build all these memories but still stay the same person. I still act the same as in 2012, which is (was) one of my main worries about summer next year. I’ll have finished my freshman year of college, and I’m a little nervous how that’s going to change me.

But, who says it will? With any luck, I’ll be sitting here typing one year from now, still with the same personality and same love for the friends I made throughout high school.

Except hopefully, I’ll have another group of pictures. Not to replace the old set…just to hang right beside it.

ReBlog: What J.K. Rowling’s Pseudonymous Novel Says About Commercial Success

“Even J.K. Rowling can write a good book that drops into the ocean and barely makes a ripple.”

–  Nathan Bransford

 

In case anyone hasn’t caught the news recently, a tiny little detective novel which came out back in April has now risen to the top seller lists. Why? Because everyone just found out that this tiny little detective novel was actually written by J.K. Rowling.

Very sneaky, Miss Rowling! But really, can anyone blame her for wanting to release a book under a name that’s not…well, one of the most famous names in the literary world?

Anyway. Published author and avid blogger Nathan Bransford posted about this today before I got the chance to, and he says pretty much everything I was going to say.

So, take it away, Nathan:

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2013/07/what-jk-rowlings-pseudonymous-novel.html

6 Random Movie Inconsistencies That Bother Me

“This sucker will stop a knife.”

–  Lucius Fox, when giving Batman his armor

  

1.  Oz: The Great and Powerful—The Psycho Wizard

This Wizard of Oz prequel was solid; I liked it. James Franco played an excellent balloonist.

For those who haven’t seen it (spoilers): The balloonist shows up in Oz and meets this girl who he falls in love with. But then, this girl’s older sister—who happens to be the Wicked Witch of the East—tricks her into thinking the balloonist is playing her. The girl’s rage is so much that she transforms into the Wicked Witch of the West and sets out to destroy the balloonist for his trickery.

That’s all well and good. At the very end of the movie, the balloonist (now the Wizard) speaks with the Witch of the West and tells her he’s sorry for everything, and wants to work things out.

wzdofoz

He says if she should ever stop wanting to kill him, just give him a visit and they can reconcile. The Witch screams “NEVER!” and flies off into the distance while the balloonist watches in sorrow.

But Hold on a Minute There…

The only problem with that scene? In Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy shows up to meet the Wizard, he orders her to kill the Wicked Witch of the West! More specifically, to get her broom, but somehow I don’t think the endgame he had in mind was simple thievery of cleaning equipment.

So in short: how does a Wizard decide to kill a woman who he’s specifically hoping will some day want to work things out and marry him?

Answer: he doesn’t! The screenwriters of the Oz prequel should’ve bridged that gap and ended the movie with James Franco wanting to get rid of the witch, not reconcile with her. Because Wizard of Oz was written first, and now I’m forced to believe the titular character has a severe case of bipolar disorder.

 

 2.  X-Men: First Class—Xavier’s Mobility Miracle

I love the X-Men movies. My least favorite was actually the most recent installment, X-Men: First Class. It was pretty good, but there was one major point of the movie that irked me: in the end, Xavier is confronting Magneto when one of the agents starts shooting at him. Magneto then directs the bullet into Xavier’s back, which causes his paralysis for the rest of the franchise. Pretty cool explanation, right?

x-menpara

But Hold on a Minute There…

First Class is the most recent one to be released in the series, but it’s the very first one chronologically. It takes place in 1962, Origins takes place in the 70’s, and the trilogy is in the “not too distant future.” So, if Xavier gets paralyzed in 1962, why do we see him at the end of Origins

xavierwalk

…walking around?

And for those who don’t like Origins, you can always sample X-Men: The Last Stand, which shows Xavier walking around with Magneto “twenty years ago,” which would be in the 80’s. Conclusion: First Class took Xavier’s legs out of commission way too soon.

 

3.  The Dark Knight Rises—A Speedy Recovery

I’m going to assume we’ve all seen the final Batman movie by now; in any case, if you haven’t, there are minor spoilers here.

There are quite a few plot holes I could pick on here. One of them I already mentioned, that being that Batman’s armor will supposedly “stop a knife,” yet doesn’t do a very good job when he gets stabbed.

btmnstbbd

“This was a horrible lapse of judgment on my part.”

However, I have larger filmography fish to fry. My real issue is with the bit a little before the stabbing, where Batman escapes the prison. After having his back literally snapped, Bruce somehow manages to recover without the help of any trained physicians. He then climbs out of the prison, which is apparently located in Morocco, North Africa.

But Hold on a Minute There…

How in the world is Batman back in Gotham only ten minutes later? Granted, that could be longer in movie time, but there’s a bomb set to go off within hours. That means that it couldn’t have taken Bruce more than an hour or two to get halfway around the world. Unless he has a flying craft stashed somewhere—a distinct possibility, I guess, since he’s Batman—there’s no good reason for his instant transport.

 

 4.  Inception—Why the Whole Movie Was Unnecessary

I promise not to pick on this movie too much, considering how much I liked it.

For anyone not familiar with Inception: Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is on the run and isn’t allowed back in the United States to see his kids. He’s hired to break into a guy’s mind and implant an idea there. If he pulls it off, his boss will tug on enough strings to let DiCaprio back into the United States. The whole movie is based on DiCaprio getting back to his kids. And admittedly (spoiler alert), when he does at the end of the movie, it’s a touching scene.

Plot twist: the entire movie was a dream.

Plot twist: the entire movie was a dream.

But Hold on a Minute There…

Not to be all basic or anything, but…erm, why couldn’t Michael Caine, the kids’ surrogate caretaker who was completely aware of the situation, just fly the kids out to DiCaprio?

Answer: because none of the movie would’ve happened, and this movie is great. But still, that plot line should’ve been tweaked.

 

5.  Iron Man—Actor Replacement Time!

I want to be fair here: sometimes replacing actors is beneficial. I loved Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk in Avengers as opposed to Norton in The Incredible Hulk. There are also times when you literally have no choice but to replace an actor, such as in Harry Potter when Richard Harris (the first Dumbledore) died in October 2002.

Then there are times when Hollywood gets in the way, communication is screwed up on both ends, and the result of the mess is an actor either walks away or is fired. This has happened in many cases I can think of, but the movie franchise I was hurt the most by was Iron Man. In the first (and best) movie, we had Terrence Howard playing Rhodey, Tony Stark’s best friend.

rh1

But Hold on a Minute There…

rh2

You can’t just switch out an actor! Well, obviously you can, but not without guaranteeing the sequel will be worse than the original! I liked Terrence Howard. A lot. And it doesn’t matter how good Don Cheadle is, I think the original actor would’ve been better.

 

6. The Lightning Thief–What’s Up With Annabeth, Seriously?

“She was probably my age, maybe a couple of inches taller, and a whole lot more athletic looking. With her deep tan and her curly blond hair, she was almost exactly what I thought a stereotypical California girl would look like.”

But Hold on a Minute There…

Annabeth

“The camera adds ten years.”

Um.

On Freshman Orientation

“I’ve always heard every ending is also a beginning…we just don’t know it at the time. I’d like to believe that’s true.”

–  Emily Prentiss’s final words

 

For anyone who enjoys my “life is complicated, here are my thoughts” articles, this should be a good one. I hope so, seeing as it’s my 100th post.

About three weeks ago, I had my college freshman orientation day. I promise to write about that in a second, but first I’d like to talk about my high school orientation day. For anyone in or about to enter high school, I think you’ll find the comparison to be a nice level of extreme.

 

On High School Freshman Orientation:

What a day this was! As soon as I walked into the auditorium, I saw hundreds of bright faces. A crowd of people I knew immediately motioned for me to join them, and I nervously sat with them as we took a tour of our future educational institution. I made at least ten new friends and couldn’t have been more excited for Freshman year.

Oh, wouldn’t that have been nice.

Okay, here’s how it really went: I walked into the auditorium and didn’t know a single person. I’m socially awkward as is. Throw in the decision of making me sit next to a stranger, and you might as well shoot my social life in the chest. But, I had to do it, so I found an empty seat and sat there, scrolling through my phone in an attempt to look busy.

And I know what you’re thinking: why didn’t you just start talking to people?

At that point, shyness wasn’t the barrier. I was willing to put myself out there to make friends. Problem is, the people around me were already talking, and they didn’t sound like the kind I wanted to make friends with. A few of them were planning to get drunk afterwards (these were fourteen year olds, mind you) and a few others were yelling things so pointless that I could actually feel my brain cells dropping dead one at a time. One of such kids is someone who I recognized because he used to pick on me in third grade. He posted something on Twitter a week before graduation that I think is worth sharing:

The irony of this is stunning.

The irony of this is stunning.

Anyway. Orientation. I got herded into my group, and a few current sophomores at the school gave us a tour of the building. I’m not joking when I say that people needed maps to find their way around to all the classrooms.

Then we were ushered into the cafeteria, where we had pizza before being released. This was two days before the first day of high school, and it was turning out exactly like I’d expected.

A few comments on that. First of all, keep in mind I was coming from a small private school to a huge public school where I didn’t know a single person. And second of all, I’d like to highlight something for anyone about to start high school: don’t judge the entire student population by the first people you meet. If you do that, you aren’t going to be a happy camper. It took up until I walked into my Honors English class to start making friends. And those friends are the ones I still hang out with today. They’re the 9’s and 10’s on the morality spectrum of high schoolers, the ones who help make fun of the kinds of kids who were sitting next to me in that auditorium.

So I guess my point, however backwards, is this: don’t expect high school orientation to be fun. It’s not representative of what kinds of kids you’ll meet, and certainly not a good way to judge high school overall.

Someone should really fix that.

 

On College Freshman Orientation:

Ah, the real part of the post. This is a bit of a different picture to paint.

There are some things that are the same for all orientations. The feeling of not knowing anyone, the social awkwardness, the focus on making a good first impression…all of those were there for my college orientation. But that’s where the comparison stops.

They grouped us alphabetically to certain tables, just in case you thought you were safe by showing up with someone you knew. I was at a table with around ten other people. At first, we all kept to ourselves, scrolling through our phones. Then one girl looked up and said, “So…anyone have anything interesting to say?”

The words came shooting out of my mouth:

“Lobsters pee out of their eyes!”

Oh yes I did. OH YES I DID.

The entire group burst out laughing. Some more than others, but it was enough to put me in a permanently good mood. I asked everyone if I should wear my name tag, and two other kids agreed to do it if I would too. By almost-lunchtime, I was already friends with a handful of people, especially the girl who’d first talked at the table.

She and I sat together for lunch, then we made friends with another girl and another guy. The four of us went to the bookstore together, bought school t-shirts, and of course friended each other on Facebook.

Yes, there is a point to this story.

When it came time to schedule classes at the end of the day, the four of us arranged to have classes together as much as possible. Our days were going to be busy, but fun too. We listened to a lady tell us how you should study two hours outside of class for every hour in class. We heard schpeels about all the concerts on campus, and the comedians that visited, and the different activities.

On the drive home, I realized two things:

  1. I’d completely forgotten to get my student ID, which was pretty much the only job I’d had.
  2. More importantly: I realized that throughout the entire day, I’d hung out with people I’d known for four hours, the same way I’d hang out with my friends I’ve known for four years.

THAT’S my point of this article. Orientation did its job, for once, because it made me realize how different of a world college is. And, on a sadder note, it made me realize how quickly I’m going to move on from all the friends who pretty much make up my life right now. A month ago, I thought I’d be the one college kid who kept super close ties to all of his high school friends. But now, I don’t want to be that kid. Because while I don’t yet love my new college friends as much as I love my high school ones, I think I can get there pretty easily.

How does that make me feel about college? Well, excited, obviously. And sad, too.

I used to think I’d be sad because I missed my friends. But now I’m realizing that I’m going to be sad about not missing them. It’s weird to think that I’m ready to replace my current ones with people I haven’t even met yet.

And yes, I used the word ‘replace’ intentionally. Don’t get me wrong, I’m never going to stop caring about the friends I have now. For the rest of my life, I’m going to love them as much as I love them now. But there are so many memories I have left to make in so many new places. And yeah, it’s weird to think about making those memories with new people. Am I ready for that? No, not yet. I haven’t said goodbye to everyone. But will I be ready when the time comes?

I think so.

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

“You know, you really should announce your weapons AFTER you fire them. For example…” [Tasing Gru] “Lipstick taserrr!”

–   Agent Lucy Wilde

 

DM 2I’m very selective about which animated movies I see. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an animated movie in theaters before this one. That being said, Despicable Me 2 is the most fun I’ve had at the movies in quite a while. And yes, I liked it better than the first one.

(No, there aren’t any spoilers in this review).

For one thing, it wasn’t directed, written or produced by someone different than the original, which is always a plus. They got the whole team back together again, and it really shows. The screenwriters, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, make sure not to recycle jokes and instead take the story in a different direction than before.

The premise: Gru has settled down with his three girls and is fine with life until an Anti-Villain League agent, Lucy Wilde, kidnaps him and takes him to the League’s director. Gru is tasked to track down a new villain working on a serum which will mutate…well, pretty much everything. Meanwhile, his girls are growing up and his minions are mysteriously disappearing.

Before I saw this in theaters, my girlfriend came over and we watched the first movie. That was fun, but it’s not a requirement here. The script is independent enough that you can have no problem understanding it if you never saw the first Despicable Me. And trust me, even if you didn’t see the first one, this one is still worth watching.

What I liked: For one thing, it was funnier! Oh, yes it was. I won’t give away anything, but the dialogue is amusing, the small humorous touches glow with quality, and of course the minions are even more enjoyable than before.

Second: the storyline was quite a bit better than the original. In the first Despicable Me, it’s your classic villain-turns-good-and-learns-to-love tale. The sequel, on the other hand, more or less breaks its mold and is just a fun ride of twists and turns. The new character, love interest Lucy Wilde, is arguably the most fun cast member. She, along with the steady stream of jokes, keep the movie pumping at a fast pace.

If you’re worried about there not being as many heartfelt scenes as the first movie, fret not. This one is more emotional in a lot of ways, and the way it creates new problems for everyone and resolves them so neatly is a fine touch. The ending scene is probably the best, which I won’t spoil, but it really is a fun celebration.

In summary: No matter what age you are, no matter if you liked the original or not, see this! It’s one of the rare kids movies that works for adults, too, and even if you don’t find it funny, I can almost promise you’ll find it fun.

Rate: 8 out of 10.

The only question they leave unanswered: was Avery, in fact, a boy’s name or a girl’s name? I guess we’ll never know.