X-Men: Days of Future Past – A Movie Review

Though it took me far longer than I intended, I’m glad I finally made it to the theater to see this film.  I’ll go ahead and say it: it’s the best of the X-Men movies thus far.  Why is it the best, you ask? How can it be better than X-Men 2?  Let me explain …

In the past, the X-Men movies perhaps tried to do too much with too many actors – actors that weren’t always up to the challenge.  Not so with this installment.  I think we all agree that Hugh Jackman owns Wolverine.  It’s not a direct comic book adaptation, but that’s okay.  He’s made the cinematic Wolverine his own.  Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are untouchable.  James McAvoy, with this movie, certainly won me over as a younger, less capable Professor Xavier.  I’ll watch anything with Michael Fassbender, and he makes Magneto somehow noble and terrifying at the same time.  The villian, Peter Dinklage, can steal the scene from anyone, anytime.  And finally, I have to give Jennifer Lawrence props.  They knew what they were doing giving her Mystique the heart of the film.  That young woman has proven time and again that she can act!

Those are the actors most visible in the film, those are the actors most focused upon, and that is why the film is so very good.  Ellen Page, Halle Berry, Shawn Ashmore, and others get some screen time, but they are nowhere near the actors mentioned above, and the powers that be recognized this.  Days of Future Past primarily gives us the best actors for the majority of the film, and it proved to be a smart move.  Quality is always better than quantity.  They made me care about their characters.  For me to enjoy a movie, I have to care.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a comic book movie, so certain things must apply.  The special effects are flat-out amazing.  It’s so wonderful to see Sentinels actively menacing mutants in an X-Men movie.  Colossus and Iceman finally look the way we all demanded – their powers, and the other characters’, look organic.  The special effects are certainly better, by far, than previous films, but they are also far less obvious.  I forgot I watched special effects and simply accepted what I saw as the story.

Of course, the film is not perfect.  I’m still not sure why Kitty Pryde is suddenly able to send people through time, nor do I understand why Anna Paquin got top billing for a film she’s basically not in.  There are a few scenes where mutants were tossed in for the heck of it, especially during the Saigon scene, but it’s nowhere near as superfluous as it’s been in the past (X-Men 3 and Wolverine: Origins spring to mind).

But wait, what about the whole Quicksilver thing?  Okay, Quicksilver is in the movie for twenty minutes, and he ruled the entire twenty minutes.  Is he in there to piss off Disney?  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  He was the only character I was really leery of seeing in this movie.  His silver clothes looked ridiculous in the photographs.  But it works.  The clothes work with the character, trust me.  His speed is mesmerizing.  I love what they did with it.  Evan Peters put the Avengers on alert.  Right now, he is Quicksilver.

By and large, though, the film sets up a premise, sticks to that premise, plays the premise out, and offers a satisfying conclusion to the premise.  The actors provided heartfelt, passionate performances, and the action could not have been better.  It captured much of what made X-Men 2 work so well, and took it up a notch with better everything.  (I won’t lie, though, I long for the day Alan Cumming returns as Nightcrawler.)

On a final note, I adored the ending.  I won’t go into detail, in case someone has yet to see it, but I actually felt great relief and joy by the ending these characters earned.  Wherever they may take the franchise from here with Apocalypse, I’m glad I got to see where these characters’ iterations ended up.

 

 

Andropia’s First Review

Dr. Jane Thomas kindly posted this review of my novel, Andropia.  It reads as follows:

Andropia, Scott William Foley’s intriguing novel reminiscent of utopian and distopian fiction, presents a number of big questions. What does it mean to be alive? What constitutes humanity? Should we question authority, and if so, why? What is our purpose in life? Does futility mock all endeavors? This slim book rivets attention from the first page, making it nearly impossible to put down until the last word is read. Foley also incorporates many historical and literary references into his story, and though a reader doesn’t need to know these references to enjoy the book, they enrich the writing by evoking concepts that further add to the significance of his science fiction thesis.

The story consists of two parts, the first, a novel that includes the questions mentioned above and populated with a number of engaging characters. The second part consists of eight stories, seven of which are backstories to the novel. Although the novel and the stories can each stand alone, taken together, they extend the questions and provide a deep dive into the complexity of existence.

Among the many attractive characters are Isaac and Amelia, the two heroes of the novel. Readers will identify with these characters, eagerly follow their activities, and when the final questions are answered, will realize that everything we know and everything we believe will be turned upside down. Parts of the story I still can’t get out of my thoughts, and the more I think about it, the more questions arise. Andropia is in some ways subversive, in many ways disturbing, and in all ways a thoroughly good read!”

Many thanks, Jane!

Remember, if you want to get your own copy of Andropia, just follow the link:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=KYL4N7D8D4XHG

or send $13.95 to:

Scott William Foley
P.O. Box 174
Normal, IL  61761

The shipping is free, and please allow up to three weeks for delivery.

If you’d like to read the first few chapters, click on this: Andropia Sample Chapters!

The Bronx Kill by Peter Milligan – A Book Review

The Bronx Kill is a graphic novel released through Vertigo’s crime imprint.  In case you’re not aware, Vertigo is a division of DC Comics, aimed at mature readers and offering mature content.  Not pornographic, mind you, just a little bit more adult-themed.  Think of DC as network television, and Vertigo as HBO.

Peter Milligan delivers a story about a young writer who opted to ignore the family’s history of going into law enforcement.  He takes his young wife to visit The Bronx Kill, a space of forlorn land where terrible things have happened to his family in particular.  She is fascinated by it, especially given his father’s past.  The writer soon leaves the country in order to research his newest novel, but when he returns, his wife—and his life—are irrevocably changed … and it has everything to do with The Bronx Kill.

I have to admit that much of Milligan’s story was predictable and well-tread.  However, he put enough suspense into it to make it an enjoyable read, and once through the first third of the book, I couldn’t put it down—despite its familiar ingredients.  Milligan did one thing, however, that really set The Bronx Kill apart.  He inserted excerpts from his main character’s latest novel, and it isn’t long before the passages begin to parallel the main storyline.  I thought this was a nice touch that really made the book feel special.  It definitely augmented the book’s quality in my mind.

James Romberger provided the art for The Bronx Kill, and he does a serviceable job.  To me, his work didn’t really stand out as especially captivating.  And while he successfully conveyed the mood, the story’s progression, and the action, his pictures just didn’t seem to totally fit with Milligan’s themes.

Overall, The Bronx Kill is a fast, enjoyable read with some moments of real originality.  If you’re a fan of crime noir and sequential art, I’d give it a try.

Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll – A Book Review

I’ve read Carroll’s Land of Laughs and found his characterization very impressive in that particular book, although I felt his plot bottomed out toward the ending as it abandoned those previously established traits.

With Bones of the Moon, however, I never really connected with his protagonist, Cullen James, or her friends and family.  While they had interesting backgrounds, they simply didn’t feel real to me.  Because of this, and what I consider awkward dialogue, I couldn’t fully immerse myself in Bones of the Moon.

I would like to note that Carroll had an incredible concept.  I especially enjoyed the role of abortion in the novel and the psychological undertones that resulted.  Carroll did a remarkably nice job of leaving the specifics of the fantasy world that his main character travels to rather vague.  At one point, you think that she is slipping into Rondua during her dreams, but then you suspect that it’s just the opposite: that Cullen is sliding into our world from Rondua.  But then, just when you’ve about made up your mind one way or the other, Carroll hints that perhaps this is all simply in her head—the mind’s way of dealing with an unhealed emotional scar.  And then the end of the novel arrives, and all three of these possibilities converge, and you’re left with no answers at all.

If this sounds complicated, it is.  And, had the dialogue been just a little more practical, I think things might have been different for me.  But the dialogue tended to teeter on the edge of hyperbole, and this took me right out of the novel.

I won’t give up on Carroll, though.  The two novels I’ve read by him have had some extraordinary qualities and it’s obvious that his imagination is superb.  Perhaps I’ll try one of his more recent works and see what I think since the two I’ve read were from before 1988.

It should be noted, by the way, that Carroll had rave reviews for Bones of the Moon by none other than Stephen King himself, so take that into consideration.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger – A Book Review

With The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger delivered a complex, captivating, and perfectly orchestrated plot with rich, rounded characters who demanded the reader’s interest.  The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my all-time favorites and I recommend it to anyone looking for a great read.

It is because of my love for The Time Traveler’s Wife that I am heartbroken to report that Her Fearful Symmetry failed to reach any of its predecessor’s achievements.

I had many issues with Her Fearful Symmetry.  Its characters’ actions were inconsistent; its plot was muddled and haphazard; its revelations were predictable and clichéd; and its entire premise was passé and, frankly, far below Ms. Niffenegger’s standards.  I kept waiting for it to get better, and it simply never did.

Truthfully, I wanted to like this book.  I was so excited to get an advanced copy and read it.  I couldn’t wait to shout from the rooftops and spread the word about its brilliance.  However, as much as it pains me to do so, and even though the thought of hurting Ms. Niffenegger’s feelings haunts me, I cannot lie about Her Fearful Symmetry – I simply did not enjoy its plot, characters, or technique and I do not recommend you read it.

But with that being said, The Time Traveler’s Wife is seriously a masterpiece and I wholeheartedly urge you to go pick it up, support the author, and give it a read.  You won’t be disappointed.