Good afternoon! I hope you’re having a great summer. Today’s post is going to be a double feature review for Mission: Impossible-Fallout and The Darkest Minds. These films have completely different tones, stories, visual effects, and target audiences. Mission: Impossible-Fallout is a spy film that’s packed with daring action sequences. The Darkest Mind is an adaptation from the YA dystopian genre. As usual, I’ll discuss the strongest and weakest elements from both movies. Is one film better than the other? Read my post to find out.
Let’s start with Mission: Impossible-Fallout. It takes place shortly after Rogue Nation. Ethan Hunt is an American spy who’s searching for John Lark, the leader of a terrorist organization called The Acolytes. Lark believes a major doomsday event through nuclear destruction will unite the world’s surviving nations. Hunt and his team are trying to discover Lark’s true identity while keeping nuclear material away from The Acolytes. It’s going to a tumultuous mission for the main characters of this film.
I think Fallout is a great movie. It has incredible action scenes that are stuffed throughout the entire story. Tom Cruise is insane! He jumps across buildings, participates in motorcycle chases, and skydives. The action scenes are intense, exciting, and brutal. It really looks like the actors are pummeling each other. The choreography is terrific and everything was filmed to fit on the big screen perfectly. Fallout should make action movie fans feel really happy. It has helicopters, car chases, a big variety of guns, and fierce hand to hand combat.
This movie has a several characters and most of them are quite intriguing. Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, the film’s leading man, and he’s a thrilling action star. His character also has a lot of humanized elements. Hunt is very compassionate toward his team and he doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. He has many skeletons in the closet and they still bother him. Hunt is a little more interesting than the average action hero. Henry Cavill plays August Walker, a rival teammate from the CIA. He’s a fabulous action star too. Walker is tough, competitive, and willing to complete a mission through any means. He exudes power and ferocity in each fight scene. Walker is probably one of Cavill’s better roles. I would like to see him play similar characters. The supporting cast rounds out with Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). They complete Hunt’s team with fun dynamics. Ilsa is the team's femme fatale, Benji handles the cyber elements, and Luther is a jack of all trades in the espionage world. Vanessa Kirby plays the White Widow, a new character in the franchise, who has questionable intentions. She’s complex and quite suitable as an action diva. I wish she had more screen time.
Fallout was put together incredibly well. The cinematography is impressive with creative camera angles. Most of the sequences have a very fast pace, but the cinematography keeps the view grounded enough to prevent audiences from getting dizzy. I think the film editing, sound mixing, and sound editing is great too. All of the technical elements help bring the action sequences together.
Lorne Balfe composed the musical score and it’s awesome. The music puts a lot of momentum behind the action scenes and brings out a lot of excitement. It seems like the music fits really well in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Fallout’s music is somewhat similar to the franchise’s previous scores and I consider that a good thing. It shows a stylistic connection to the other films. Some of you guys might benefit by purchasing the soundtrack. It’s surprisingly fun.
Naturally, Fallout has a few weak elements. However, I don’t have serious complaints. The story is a little bit convoluted. That seems to be a recurring issue in the Mission: Impossible series. I tried not to think very much about the plot’s layers. It made the experience less confusing for me. Plus, the story has some twists that pop up along the way. Unfortunately, they’re not very surprising. I’m not saying the twists are predictable, but they make sense and suit the general structure of the plot. The twists didn’t leave a big impact on me.
Some viewers will disagree with me about this part, but I definitely believe the film is too long. It’s almost two and half hours long. The film never drags, but it starts to feel kind of long after a while. I believe two hours would have been the perfect length for this movie. A shorter length would have been cheaper for the studio as well.
Fallout is really stuffed with characters. I enjoy that part, but the characters don’t get a lot of screen time except for Hunt and Walker. It’s not a big deal, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more character development from the supporting cast. All of the characters are super cool. It would be nice to see a little more interaction with them.
I also have a feeling that some viewers will be confused if they didn’t see the other Mission: Impossible movies. Fallout has connections with almost every film in the series. It especially has strong ties with Rogue Nation. If you’re going to see Fallout, definitely watch Rogue Nation first. I would also recommend viewing Mission: Impossible III and Ghost Protocol. It makes sense to connect this film with previous installments, but I think some casual moviegoers could feel a little bit confused and left out. Anybody can watch this movie, but people will miss quite a few details if they’re brand new to the Mission: Impossible series.
Now I’m going to discuss The Darkest Minds. It’s a post-apocalyptic film with a much smaller budget than Mission: Impossible-Fallout. A strange disease killed ninety-percent of the world’s children and those who survived developed peculiar abilities. The government places the children in four categories and detains them in compounds. Greens have heightened intelligence. Blues display telekinetic powers. Golds are a little more risky with an ability to conduct electricity. Reds have the ability to spew fire. Oranges can control people’s minds. The latter two categories are very rare and the government considers them dangerous. As a result, the government euthanizes any children in the red and orange categories. Ruby Daly is an orange who’s posing as a green and she knows the ruse won’t last for much longer. She escapes from the facility and joins other youths on a rebellious mission to change the status quo.
I don’t have as much to say about this film, but it has some decent elements. Overall, The Darkest Minds is fun and interesting. It fits in the YA dystopian mold with other franchises like The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, etc. I find the premise fascinating and it doesn’t have many pacing issues. Its runtime is only an hour and forty-five minutes, which is completely appropriate for this type of movie. Obviously, this film is targeting teenagers and they would probably like the story. It has decent action scenes without seeming bloated or overly flamboyant. Some of the themes are eerily relevant to our current world. The Darkest Minds tries to teach the audience a lesson without being too preachy or annoying. It’s not copying the X-Men either. That part was a little bit deceptive in the marketing. Basically, this film is totally watchable. It doesn’t feel like a terrible slog.
The young cast is surprisingly impressive. Amandla Stenberg plays Ruby Daly, the film’s protagonist. You might remember Stenberg as Rue from the first Hunger Games movie. She’s the girl next door with some rebellious qualities. Daly seems more like a realistic young lady who’s just trying to survive one day at a time, rather than a superhero, femme fatale, or a natural born leader who wants to change the world. In fact, she’s quite introverted and I think that element works really well for the character. She’ll probably seem very relatable to young female viewers. The other kids are fine too. Harris Dickinson is Liam Stewart, a blue and Ruby’s love interest. He has really good intentions and is a good leader for their motley crew. I find Liam quite mature and leveled headed for his age. His powers are pretty cool and it’s nice to see a young lady falling for a good boy for a change instead of the traditional bad boy. Skylan Brooks plays Chubs or Charles, a green who provides a refreshing contrast to the other characters. Chubs is nerdy, amusing, and very helpful to his friends. Their group rounds out with Miya Cech as Suzume or Zu for short. Zu doesn’t talk for some reason, but she’s a decent supporting character who uses her electrical powers to cause some damage. She’s almost like Ruby’s little sidekick.
The Darkest Minds has quite a few disappointing elements. Jennifer Yuh Nelson is the director and she doesn’t have a lot of experience outside of Kung-Fu Panda. Her lack of experience is probably a big part of the problem. Overall, this movie would have been really good if it was put together better. I also noticed sloppy film editing, weak writing, bad dialogue, genre clichés, and a few plot holes. All of these elements hurt the movie’s integrity and contribute to a seventeen percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I’m not impressed with the rest of the cast. None of the adult characters are very good. The film also has very weak villains. Aside from the main cast, everyone else is generic, bland, and rote with lousy acting. It looks like the actors were just collecting a paycheck. The director allowed them to give lazy performances and that’s part of the problem. Concerning villains, their main plans are completely predictable. None of them are menacing or memorable either.
Should you see either of these movies in theaters? I certainly recommend Mission: Impossible-Fallout. In fact, you’ll get a better experience watching it on a deluxe screen like IMAX or Cinemark XD. If you love action films, go see the new Mission: Impossible movie. The Darkest Minds is kind of interesting, but you don’t need to see it in theaters. However, it’s definitely better than the seventeen percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I recommend watching it on a streaming service or cable. Renting it for a few dollars on Vudu or Fandango Now is a good option.
That’s the end of my double feature review. Watch out for more film reviews this year. Did you see either of these movies yet? Tell me about it in the comment section. An afternoon at a movie theater is a great way to escape from this summer heat. Take care of yourselves and enjoy your night at the movies.
Welcome back to my blog! I have another special guest. Many of you know that I have a soft spot for good mysteries and crime fiction novels. Christopher J. Lynch is an author of hard boiled crime fiction and he’s also one of my mentors. He introduced me to the world of self-publishing and many of its opportunities. My life changed quite a bit after I attended one of his self-publishing seminars. Thanks for talking to me, Chris.
Q: When did you become interested in the mystery genre?
A: I’ve always enjoyed the crime genre, especially as it relates to criminals pulling off extraordinary crimes in clever fashion. By writing the novels, I get to live – as all writers do – vicariously through my characters and commit crimes. I really enjoy the challenge of a big caper, and love it when it seems hopeless for my character.
Q: I believe every author has a reason for sharing their work. Why did you decide to share your stories with the world?
A: For several years I attempted to make a go of it as a writer, and had no luck. I was chasing trends and trying to write what I thought would sell, as opposed to what I really enjoyed. Then one day a co-worker shared with me a story he had written for a local paper that had published it. It was at that moment that I realized that the reason he was successful and had sold something is because he was writing about what really interested him – in this case, a local baseball coach. I decided at that moment to only write about what really interested me, and let my passion end up on the page. And it did! I sold five articles the very first year I adopted this philosophy, and I haven’t stopped since.
Q: You seem to stand by self-publishing rather than traditional publishing. Why did you choose this method?
A: For myself, it boiled down to two things. The first was control: If you go the traditional route, you typically have to give up creative control of your story to an editor. You also have to give up the control of your cover design – and even your TITLE - to the marketing department. I wasn’t ready to give that up, and so I retain all control and the rights to my works.
The second issue was time. IF you are able to get and agent, and IF they are able to get you a contract, it can take up to 2 ½ years for your book to ever hit the market! Once I finish my manuscript, I can have it edited, the cover created to my specs, format the book and have it ready to upload in about a month. And once I upload it, the eBook is available for sale on Amazon in about 6 hours, and the print book in about two days. Now that’s fast!
Q: I enjoy your One-Eyed Jack series. Would you mind explaining some details about your crime fiction books?
A: It all started with a short story that I wrote about a professional blackmailer, a character who in most books is just secondary and only pops in and out from the shadows now and then.
One Eyed Jack is different. He doesn’t do blackmail as a sideline to other types of crimes: selling stolen goods, illicit gambling, scams, etc. His focus is entirely on blackmail. He has a sophisticated business model of discovery, documentation, contact, and finally, collection. Every phase of the process is designed to protect his anonymity as much as possible. “The first rule in the business of keeping secrets,” he likes to say, “Is to keep yours better than the other person keeps theirs.” And it works great for him, until one little thing seems to trip him up. And that’s when the fun really begins!
Q: Your protagonist seems to be somewhat like an antihero. Jack is a shady character, but he does a lot of noble deeds as well. Are you intrigued with antiheroes?
A: I’m not necessarily intrigued by antiheroes, and I didn’t set out to try to design him in such a way, it just kind of happened. One thing I did consciously avoid though was the Robin Hood stereotype, as I felt it was too cliché and convenient. In my books, Jack never sets out to save anyone, it just always works out that way.
Q: It can be difficult for an author to create new ideas on a regular basis. How do you keep finding new ideas for your work?
A: This is something I never struggle with. In fact, I have too many ideas and not enough time! With the One Eyed Jack books, I always look at the world through Jack’s prism and I’m always on the lookout for activities that maybe on the surface appear legit, but can have a nefarious angle to them.
Many times, I don’t even have to analyze something myself, and the ideas drop in my lap. I’ll give you an example of something plucked straight from the headlines: We all know about America’s substance abuse problems. Because of this, numerous treatment facilities have popped up to cash in on the gold mine of taxpayer money available.
Well, not surprisingly, several of these operators began to head down the dark path by recruiting homeless individuals to check into their facilities. Some even have hunters that would get bounties for every new body they brought in. This sort of malfeasance is grist for the mill for a character like One Eyed Jack.
Q: What are some of the biggest influences on your writing?
A: Other writers that I admire, like Raymond Chandler, Lawrence Sanders, and Lee Child.
Q: You also give a lot of self-publishing seminars. In fact, they’re free most of the time. Why do you provide this resource to the public?
A: I really believe in giving back and helping others. In fact, I teach writing at a maximum security prison north of Los Angeles. I helped one of the inmates publish a book, and the group is currently working on an anthology that I’ll get published.
As far as the seminars and helping other writers – who could in reality - be competition for me, I feel that we as writers should stick together to help others, and not have a protectionist, “bunker” mentality. I know several writers who won’t share info with other writers or help them, which I feel is based upon an insecurity with their own writing. If I helped someone to self-publish and then they went on to be a bestselling author, I would feel very satisfied and happy to be a part of the thing that led them there.
Besides that, giving the seminars has let me meet some great people – yourself included. Writing can be a very solitary job, but being an active, engaged author should not be.
Q: Many people would like to be authors, but very few individuals bother to write anything. They have plenty of ideas, but not enough motivation. Do you have any advice for people who struggle with this problem?
A: I’ve done quite a bit of mountain climbing, and have led many people on climbs – including a group of blind hikers. One of the things I tell people that are struggling to make the climb is that it really only comes down to putting one foot in front of the other. You do this enough times, and you’ll get to the summit.
Writing is the same way. If you only write a page a day, in a year you’ll have a novel. It may not sell, and you may not even like it, but you have accomplished something that most people have not. Another thing to always remember is that all great writing is re-writing.
Q: Marketing is a challenging task for authors. What are some of the most valuable marketing techniques or strategies?
A: I wish I had a magic bullet for this, but I don’t. Everyone does social media, blogs, etcetera’s – including myself, and so it’s a crowded, noisy market out there. The best advice I was ever given was from another author (see, she helped me out). She said that the one thing that sells more books, is more books to sell.
You can only push a single book so much before you reach the point of diminishing returns. But if people like your first book, they will likely buy your second, third, and so on – especially if it’s a series.
Q: Do you have any publications outside of the mystery genre?
A: Yes. I wrote Eddie: The Life and Times of America’s Preeminent Bad Boy, the authorized biography of Ken Osmond, the actor who played Eddie Haskell on the iconic TV show, Leave it to Beaver. I’m proud to say that the book is one of the highest rated celebrity biographies on Amazon.
BTW: I was able to convince Ken to let me write his life story by sending him a copy of One Eyed Jack. Ken fell in love with the character and my writing, and the rest is history. So, if you want to read what Eddie Haskell reads…?
Q: I usually find a way to connect these mystery interviews with my universe. What would happen if One-Eyed Jack fell in a time loop and wound up in a steampunk world? Do you think he would survive?
A: Oh yes, Jack is a survivor. It may take him a little time to adapt to his new surroundings, but remember, it all comes down to people, not technology. And people have always lied, cheated and stolen, - and this makes them Jack’s prime targets.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: Two of my One Eyed Jack books, and the Eddie Haskell book have been adapted into audio books and are doing quite well. I also have free download codes if any of your readers would like one they can contact me through my website.
Also, I’ve kept this a secret until now, but I’ve been working with a great scriptwriter over the past 6 months and we are just about ready to start shopping our One Eyed Jack TV pilot and bible around. Our hope is to get and agent and to get it sold and produced as either a TV show, or a streaming series.
After that, I have a couple more Jack books to write as well as a standalone thriller. Then my plan is to switch gears and start writing the biographies of first responders who have died in the line of duty, such as the recent murder of the Long Beach Fire Captain.
I wrote and published a very nice book after my own son, a United States Marine, died in the service of our country, and I would like to do the same for the brave men and women who protect us every day. My work would of course be gratis for the families of those who have passed. Again, it’s my way of giving back.
That’s the end of our interview. Thank you very much for participating and explaining so many awesome details to my viewers. You helped me quite significantly during the past few years and I know you’re doing the same for other writers. Good luck with your goals and projects. Most importantly, have fun being an author!
I hope you guys enjoyed the interview! Check out the One-Eyed Jack series if you love crime thrillers. If you're thinking about self-publishing a book, try one of Christopher J. Lynch's seminars. It's a very helpful place to start. I'm going to leave some links to his author website and written works. Please leave a comment if you have anything to say about this post. Thanks for visiting and I'll see you guys next week.
Christopher J. Lynch's Author Website
One-Eyed Jack on Amazon
Eddie: The Life and Times of America's Preeminent Bad Boy on Amazon
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