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The Mystery of a Great Book

UltraThinMan

I spent months slaving away on my first story, a science fiction epic of grandiose proportions. When I completed it, I thought to myself, “This is great. Everyone’s going to love this.”

I was nine years old.

But seriously. I had written something I’d never read anywhere else before. It was new and bold. It was, in fact, a science fiction adventure called “Mr. Mooney Goes to the Moon” about an ordinary guy selected (by mail!) to go to the moon, where he has adventures and comes home again.

I liked it.

My parents oohed and ahhed appropriately. My sisters and brothers said, “Good job, bro!” My best friend politely said, “Nice. Now let’s go ride bikes.”

At nine years old, the secret to a really great story was still a mystery. My knowledge of those particulars lay in my distant future; I was a long way away from writing The Ultra Thin Man, and I had a lot to learn.

I’m still learning.

Learning how to write is cheap. I listened to professional writers give me conflicting advice. I heard writers and editors say use common sense. Some said intuition leads the writer in the right direction. Some believed writers write when they’re inspired. Some touted the importance of complicated outlines. Some said just start writing and see what happens.

After college, I started submitting short stories with serious intent, emerging from my insular writer’s lair to put new stories out there, competing with a scrum of writers bent on similar goals. But I still didn’t have a clue about what made a story great.

My first rejection letter came to me in 1981: a little card from Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, with a cute illustration of a pig dressed as a mailman looking up with consternation at an open mailbox, a slimy tentacle sticking out from the inside holding a letter. Editor George Scithers had typed an actual note on the card. I would’ve been awed by this personal attention if I hadn’t immediately noticed the first word, “Sorry.” He went on to say: “This fails to hold interest. The characters are one-dimensional and they tend to give long lectures about the situation instead of live in it.”

And, finally, he inserted a small dagger to the heart: “The story lacks any central wonder or new idea.”

Ouch.

Not ready to give up, I cranked out new stories and mailed those out, and the rejections piled up. Some were form rejections, some had a few encouraging notes. I took some classes. Attended some workshops. Eventually sold some stories. Not many; I still received way more rejections than acceptances. Then I debuted Talebones, a small press magazine I edited for 14 years until 2009. I received about 200 short story submissions a month. At a twice-a-year schedule, that meant 1200 submissions an issue, and I could only buy about eight stories.

Mostly, these stories (like my earliest attempts) were boring. I admired the courage of some of these writers, who were chucking their work into the mail as fast as I could reject them, but I started to learn more about my own writing. I began to see that it wasn’t so much the courage of these writers that mattered. It was about how well they could communicate with readers. You see, as an editor, I was now an audience. I had certain things I liked about stories, things I hated. I wanted to be entertained. I wanted stories to pull at my heartstrings, or strike me with fear. I needed the best stories in my magazine because I had subscribers who expected great stories.

What I learned is the same thing filmmakers intuitively understand when they make movies. The audience is most important. The audience desires story. They want to be entertained. They want to be enlightened. How do filmmakers do that? They merge language and style with strong actors and powerful images and emotional music, and they draw a cathartic response from the audience without them seeing who’s pulling the strings.

When I understood this, I realized the same rules applied to writing short stories, and when I started working on novels, I found that the rules held sway here as well. Language creates that relationship between the writer, the characters, and the reader. Maybe I could even write the type of book that got picked up for film or TV. (It’s a dream I have.) But I knew, deep down, a book that paid attention to its relationship with the audience, if nothing else, was a book that had soul.

A book with soul is faithful to itself, but it shares that experience with the reader, and that makes for a great book.

PSwenson1 credit Bobbie ClimerGuest post written by Patrick Swenson, author of the novel “The Ultra Thin Man.” Swenson is the publisher and proprietor of Fairwood Press, a small Fantasy and Science Fiction publisher based in Washington state. You can find him online at www.patrickswenson.net and on Twitter at @patrick_swenson. “The Ultra Thin Man.” is his first novel.

Photo Credit: Bobbie Climer

At the Intersection of Geeky and Cool: Hackers in the Movies

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Despite continued efforts on the part of government coalitions and private security firms to stem their activity, hackers continue to present a significant threat to any individual or organization intent on keeping information secure. According to a 2011 survey from the Ponemon Institute, 90 percent of companies claim to have been targeted by hackers. Fortunately, the reach of individual hackers remain far less extensive than what is portrayed in the hottest hacking movies of the past 20 years, but films such as “Hackers” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” still do an excellent job of showing the potential consequences of security breaches.

Hackers

One of the earlier films starring Angelina Jolie, the 1995 cult hit “Hackers” focused on a group of high school computer geniuses attempting to bring down a group of corrupt corporate leaders. Yes, the film’s protagonists were definitely dorky, as reflected in the alias ‘Zero Cool,’ but they also retained the sort of geeky hip status later seen in such real-life figures as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. At the time of its release, the film received some flak for engaging in what many termed as ‘hacksploitation,’ but critic Roger Ebert ultimately viewed it as a valuable contribution to an increasingly prominent film genre.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Based on the hit novel by Stieg Larsson, the American remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie appealed to British and American audiences, with its casting of Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Although the plot failed to completely revolve around hackers, this subculture still played an essential role, allowing protagonists Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist dig up the dirt necessary to solve a deadly mystery. Expect even greater influence from Lisbeth’s hacking friends in such future releases as “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Much of the hacking plot from the novelized sequels reflected the reality of circa-2004 hackers and, assuming this subplot is retained in the upcoming films, should give audiences an inside look at the real lives of international hackers.

Live Free Or Die Hard

The fourth installment in the popular “Die Hard” series, “Live Free Or Die Hard” shifted its focus to the efforts of cyber terrorists, a growing concern among audience members in 2007. Despite the liberal interpretation of cybersecurity taken by screenwriters and film producers, many elements of the “Live Free Or Die Hard” plot were based in reality. For example, while critics deride fears concerning the diversion of natural gas as overblown, they do acknowledge the ability of talented individuals to access everything from personal bank accounts to the Social Security Administration, exemplifying the need for experts at LifeLock and identity theft protection companies at large to continue to provide fraud protection and thwart hackers.

The Matrix

In “The Matrix,” hackers are viewed not as villains but as victims of a very punitive and misleading system. But unlike their fellow sufferers, talented characters Trinity and Neo find the means to fight back, utilizing their tech talents for the good of society. Action heroes reflect society at large, which is why Neo and Trinity’s status as computer geeks proved so significant throughout the course of “The Matrix” trilogy.

Guest Post Written by Jerry Holloway

Jerry has a degree in computer science and writes about the ever-evolving world of computers.

From “Easy Rider” to “The Terminator”: The Hottest Motorcycle Actors

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Motorcycles remain the quintessential sign of the rebellious spirit — although they’re nowhere near their level of Hollywood glory from the 1960s and ’70s. However, a comeback just might be on the horizon! Fueled by films in which cool-talking dudes ride snazzy bikes while wearing sweet motorcycle helmets, the return to the motorcycle age offers excitement for enthusiasts of all ages. It also means a renewed interest in such classics as “The Great Escape” and “Easy Rider” — films perfect for inspiring and fostering that enduring motorcycle spirit.

Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”

Steve McQueen’s motorcycle stint in “The Great Escape” is arguably the most iconic motorcycle jump in cinema history. First, the 1961 Triumph TR6 Trophy Bird had to undergo significant changes before it became an integral part of the film. Set in World War II Germany, the film would not have worked with a 1961 motorcycle. Instead, set designers painted it an unobtrusive gray to hide the anachronism — not that such efforts stopped McQueen’s biking antics from stealing the show! To be fair, McQueen didn’t actually take part in the iconic fence jump for which “The Great Escape” is still remembered. A stuntman stepped in for those honors, leaving McQueen the enviable task of riding a sweet bike in all the ‘easy’ scenes.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator”

Say what you want about Arnold Schwarzenegger, or rather, “Ah-nold,” you must admit he looks pretty snazzy on a motorcycle. In “The Terminator,” the beefcake movie star brought Austrian appeal to his Honda 750, with which he chased the adorable (but surprisingly effective) Honda Scooter carrying Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. Later films included equally impressive bikes, such as the Indian Motorcycle from “Terminator 3.” According to USA Today, Schwarzenegger reunited with the beloved Indian Motorcycle during a 2010 visit to Simi Valley.

Marlon Brando in “The Wild One”

Bad boy Marlon Brando captured the hearts of millions of teens with his 1953 appearance in “The Wild One.” Although not necessarily his best film, photo stills from the movie continue to elicit female interest — both from Brando’s Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and his soulful eyes. Enthusiasts at the Daily Mail claim that Marlon Brando and his Triumph Thunderbird are in the midst of a revival, posting record sales of 49,000 bikes in 2009 alone.

Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider”

No list of the hottest motorcycle stars is complete without Peter Fonda and his Captain America Harley-Davidson from the classic rebel film “Easy Rider.” Considered the ultimate motorcycle movie, “Easy Rider” set the standard for all later biker films. Although Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper also offered their acting expertise (and sweet bikes) to the effort, Peter Fonda proved most successful in raising heart rates. Sadly, according to KVUE ABC News, a 2010 fire destroyed Fonda’s iconic “Easy Rider” bike, along with a whole host of other vintage automobiles and motorcycles. Fortunately, Peter Fonda did not suffer the same fate.

This guest post was written by William Martin.

William Martin knows a thing or two about video marketing. Chances are, you’ve seen the work he’s done for his clients on YouTube ads.

Great Movies that Started as Books or Plays

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You’ve probably never thought of Disney as a giant recycling company, but it’s one of the best in the entertainment business at taking old classic tales such as “Cinderella,” or books such as “101 Dalmatians,” and turning them into feature films. Its popular movies are then spun into television shows, Disney books and ice skating shows. A few, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” and now “Aladdin,” have also been recreated as Broadway musicals Continue reading

A Brief History of Single-Season Television Shows – Infographic

The current TV season officially ends next Wednesday, May 22nd, and with it comes several show cancellations. A second season is never a sure thing; TV networks commonly cancel shows that started off with a lot of hype. In fact, approximately 25% of shows get canceled after their first season.

666 Park Avenue, Last Resort, and Golden Boy are just a few shows on the chopping block this year after only one season. Check out the data we compiled covering single-season shows from 1955 to today.  You’ll be surprised to find that some of the best known actors and executive producers in the industry were also attached to several canceled shows. Continue reading

Before You See the Movie…Read the Book!

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Our sister site, BSCkids, recently discussed the merits of reading the book first before watching some of this year’s most anticipated films including Warm Bodies, The Host, and Catching Fire. Here we discussed some of the more adult films coming out this year including The Hobbit and Gatsby. 

In general, film industry executives and production companies are more willing to finance movies that are based on books, since such projects automatically come with a built-in audience. 2013 proves to be no exception to this rule, as numerous page-to-screen adaptations, most of which are geared towards teenagers and young adults, are slated to premiere this year.

While it may be easier (and undoubtedly less time-consuming) to simply wait for the movies to open in a multiplex near you, you would be doing yourself a severe disservice and missing out on much of what makes these popular stories truly great. Cinema and literature are both art forms, and as such, are capable of expressing and conveying different aspects of the human condition. Film allows you to see fantastic worlds and iconic characters brought to life on screen, but it also presents a very narrow depiction of a story – by necessity, only one person’s vision can be immortalized on celluloid at any one time, and all too often, a director’s Sirius Black or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looks nothing like the one you pictured in your mind the very first time you read a Harry Potter book. Where movies enable the audience to quite literally sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, literature encourages readers to become active participants in the story, rather than mere bystanders. With books, you never have to press pause in order to go back and re-analyze a particularly mysterious moment, and there is nothing stopping you from reading a favorite scene over and over, delighting in the clever dialogue and beautiful imagery on the page. Books also have no fixed length, unlike movies, most of which run around an hour and a half long, and can thus go into more detail, focusing on background characters and subtleties that truly bring the fictional world of the story to life. For all these reasons, children and teenagers who are excited about 2013’s upcoming movies should make the time to hit up their local bookstore or library before going to the movie theaters. Try reading one of the suggested books below before you watch the film version, and see for yourself how much richer the experience becomes!

The-Hobbit-Part-1The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a quick-read of a fantasy novel that chronicles the exploits of a wizard, a band of mischievous dwarves, and a little hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. The book, much lighter in tone and style than Tolkien’s master saga The Lord of the Rings, is relatively short (at least by Tolkien’s standards), with a page count of around 300 pages.Most readers will be able to finish the novel in less time than it takes them to watch one of Peter Jackson’s sprawling, three-hour-long epic adaptations on film. Young children will love the antics of the dwarves in The Hobbit and will identify with Bilbo, a fun-loving hobbit fond of food and creature comforts, while older readers will enjoy meeting the character of Gollum for the first time and analyzing the ways in which the events in the book lead up to and foreshadow the darker tale of The Lord of the Rings. The second film in director Peter Jackson’s Hobbit prequel trilogy, entitled The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, opens on December 13, 2013.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby appears on most high school required reading lists for a reason – although it was first published in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel remains one of the most searing, heartbreaking depictions of love, loss, and the deception of the American dream ever to appear in print. The Great Gatsby so fully transports readers back to 1922 Long Island that, for the duration of the book, you find yourself half-believing that you are physically in the middle of one of Jay Gatsby’s infamously extravagant parties, surrounded by the smell of illegally-obtained gin and the swinging blare of jazz horns. Although young children will not easily grasp the subject matter or antiquated language of the novel, teenagers and advanced readers will be raptly drawn into Fitzgerald’s lively portrayal of the Roaring Twenties, and will identify with the book’s themes of social stratification, shifting gender roles, obsession, and disillusionment, themes that are readily recognizable to a generation of young people inheriting a world facing economic collapse, an increased gap between those that have and those that do not, and a growing sense of disenchantment with the supposed American “dream” of material wealth and mass consumption that has been handed down to them. Director Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby opens on May 10, 2013.

And in case you missed here:

catching-fireCatching Fire is the second book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling Hunger Games trilogy, and should not be missed by anyone planning on viewing the film. The book goes into far more detail than will be possible to explore in the movie’s short time span, introducing not only the entire resistance movement dedicated to overthrowing the Capitol but also a variety of fascinating, extremely complex adult characters like Finnick Odair, Annie Cresta, and Johanna Mason, all previous Victors of the sadistic Hunger Games who are still struggling to deal with the ramifications of winning. The novel is full of intense action sequences tempered by pivotal, oftentimes touching interpersonal moments crucial to heroine Katniss Everdeen’s individual growth as well as her changing relationships with Peeta, Gale, her mother, her little sister Prim, and her stylist Cinna. Catching Fire, as a book, is able to dig into a Panem that is darker and more complicated than the one portrayed in the PG-13 film version, and older readers will be attracted to the gritty reality that appears below the polished surface of the glitzy Capitol. The film version, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, opens on November 22, 2013.

Soul-Crushingly Bad Movies Inspired by Video Games

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Hollywood filmmakers are, to put it bluntly, a rather greedy and opportunistic lot. No trend, brand or character is immune from being brought to the big screen in an attempt to wring some profit out of movie-goers. Video games are no exception and the results over the years have been mixed. “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” was pretty good, and if you didn’t love the plot, at least you couldn’t disagree with Angelina Jolie’s wardrobe.

Unlike Tomb Raider, many games don’t have a compelling plot or enough characters to justify a film adaptation. But with the recent announcement of an Angry Birds movie in 2016, you might download games online today and see movie trailers once a large enough fan base is established. Angry Bird creator Rovio is financing the full-length animated movie themselves, so we may start seeing more gaming-related films being produced outside of the traditional studio system.

We’ve highlighted three of the worst movies made from video games. What do you think is the worst? Let us know in the comments!

TEKKEN

The Game:

The original game in the franchise was released in 1994 as an arcade game and eventually for home gaming on PlayStation. TEKKEN was one of the most popular hand-to-hand fighting games of the era, allowing players to choose from a wide variety of fighters. It gave rise to several sequels and is beloved by many a video game aficionado.

The Movie: Tekken (2010)

The film was produced in America and only theatrically released (with any minuscule amount of success) in Japan. Stateside, it was so poorly received that it was given a straight-to-video release. Even the producer of Tekken (the game) publicly bashed it, saying in a tweet from his @Harada_TEKKEN account, “That Hollywood movie is terrible.” Further derisive comments on Rottentomatoes.com include:

  • “…a limb-snapping effort of escapism surrounded by bland writing and sleepy performances.”
  • “The fight sequences – dreamlike and almost-spiritual in the original game – are relegated to UFC-style octagons, shot like shaky-cam snuff and soundtracked by Insane Clown Posse-wannabees. It’d be headache inducing if it weren’t so damn boring.”
  • “…You do not want to see Tekken the movie.”

BloodRayne

The Game:

Released by Terminal Reality in 2002, this game features a well-endowed, scantily clad female protagonist by the name of Rayne. She is a dhampir (half-vampire) intent on hunting down her vampire father and striking down any vampires she meets on the way. She joins the Brimstone society and works with them to vanquish the undead and prevent powerful occult relics from falling into the wrong hands.

The Movie: Bloodrayne (2005)

If you invoke the golden rule, you can’t say much about the film except for facts. So, here goes: Meat Loaf was in it. Ben Kingsley, Michelle Rodriguez and Billy Zane were also in it. The movie had a budget of $25 million and grossed almost $3.6 million, which leads us to believe it wasn’t well received.

Critical responses on Rottentomatoes.com were pretty forthright about how terrible the film was, saying things like:

  • “The fight scenes are the worst kind of editing-room cheating, meant to cover for actors who haven’t been trained to wield anything more intimidating than a cell phone.”
  • “Turgid drama and incompetently staged action sequences…”
  • “This is a movie that begs you not to watch it.”

Super Mario Brothers

The Game:

Back in the day when the original Nintendo console was king, everyone who was anyone had a copy of Mario Brothers. Mario and Luigi are some of the most recognizable video game characters in the world. Every platform ever sold by Nintendo features multiple game titles with these guys as featured players or stars. It must have seemed like a slam-dunk in Hollywood, bring the duo to the big screen.

The Movie: The Super Mario Brothers (1993)

Despite starring talented actors like Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper and Samantha Mathis, this film is a flop. The world of Dinohattan is campy and the action is not compelling. We kind of wish they’d flushed this concept down the pipes.

Critical highlights on Rottentomatoes.com include these gems:

  • “Game over, man.”
  • “Super Mario Bros. is about as playful and challenging as an unplugged pinball machine.”
  • “They should have used cheat codes to make this a winner.”
  • “It will baffle kids, bore adolescents, and depress adults.”

Guest post written by Mark Sumner

A very busy film editor, Mark is glad that his film trivia is being put to some use and that he can use his writing abilities to supplement his artist’s income.

4 Things Fans Want to See From the TMNT Reboot

Are you ready for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to return to the big screen? Based on what they’ve seen from an early draft of the script, some diehard fans aren’t too crazy about the whole idea.

A leaked draft of the script for “Ninja Turtles” alters the origin story for iconic comic book heroes in a half shell that are stirring controversy. Reported changes include making Casey Jones and April O’ Neil into a teenage couple and turning the turtles from mutants raised in the sewers into aliens from another planet.

Director Michael Bay is spearheading “Ninja Turtles” through Platinum Dunes, his production company. The franchise reboot was green lit by Paramount and is slated for a 2014 release. Bay has built his career on producing and directing action and science fiction films characterized by explosive action scenes and larger-than-life special effects. Paramount turned to Bay to revive the franchise after his success with “The Transformers” trilogy.

Michael Bay was quick to distance himself from the controversial script, saying neither he nor Platinum Dunes had anything to do with it. If Michael Bay wants to satisfy longtime fans of the franchise, these are four things that must be included in “Ninja Turtles” when it finally hits theaters in 2014:

1.) Turtles must be from Earth

Making the ninja turtles come from another planet doesn’t make sense and isn’t necessary. Their origin story has the turtles come forth as a result of chemical enhancements from toxic waste. The same is true with Master Splinter, the rat who becomes their shepherd. They reside in the sewers and use it as their base while they fight villains in relative anonymity. Bringing the turtles in on a spaceship kind of defeats the purpose of working as ninjas. Why not just blast the bad guys with ray guns?

2.) Shredder needs to be the central villain

No Ninja Turtles movie is complete without Shredder as the primary antagonist. He is a villainous ninja master who leads the Foot Clan and battles the turtles while trying to establish world domination. Turning Shredder into an American general in charge of a secret military division called “The Foot” introduces a foreign concept into the franchise. There has never really been an issue with military or government forces.

3.) April O’ Neil and Casey Jones need to be adults

Changing April and Casey into a teenage couple undermines what their characters are all about. One reason they work as adults is that they can do things for the Ninja Turtles in the outside world while they remain in the shadows. April and Casey are valuable allies in fighting villains. It’s hard for them to fill their roles in a realistic manner if they’re teenagers.

4.) The movie needs a “Dark Knight” style approach

If the new reboot is true to the original comics, it needs to have a dark edge to it. No campy plots or dopey humor will cut it. Movie fans proved with the Dark Knight trilogy that they like gritty realism to guide the plot and define the characters. It will give the movie added layers of depth.

This guest post was authored by Miranda Perez. When Miranda isn’t blogging about the latest restaurants and trends, she is traveling to discover new and delicious creations. Her frequent flier miles are her most prized possession.

Taking A Look At The Hobbit In 48 FPS – Guest Post

Whether it’s turning the shorter prequel to “Lord of the Rings” into a trilogy or filming the story in 48 frames per second (fps) there is no end to the spurious speculation surrounding the much-anticipated live film rendering of “The Hobbit.” What fans hope will be a cinematic masterpiece may end up being better known for its pioneering use of 48fps technology. When it was finally settled that Peter Jackson would once again be at the helm bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s world to life, it seemed like all the drama would die down. But dear Bilbo and his ilk are getting no free passes – and fans who got a sneak peek at the high frame-rate footage were less than enthusiastic.

Jackson, who originally planned a mass release of “The Hobbit” in 48fps, changed his mind after the response to a 10-minute 3D preview at CinemaCon in April. The high frame-rate version will now be a limited release, in order to give people time to get used to the sharper, more life-like images. According to James Cameron, who is a proponent of 48fps and even plans to shoot future “Avatar” sequels in as many as 60 frames per second, “If watching a 3D movie is like looking through a window, then [with this] we’ve taken the glass out of the window and we’re staring at reality.”

That doesn’t sound too bad, so what’s got everyone’s knickers in a twist? Since 1927 movies have been shot in 24 frames per second, and that is what our eyes and minds are used to seeing when we watch a film. The biggest difference in the 48fps world is that everything looks smoother – so smooth that some viewers think it looks fake. High frame-rate eliminates the strobing and flicker that we have become so accustomed to in 24fps. When those interruptions are missing, the action looks wrong to us. Another complaint is that the high definition provides too much reality, making sets look like sets and exposing every flaw of man, prop or beast.

Some who saw the CinemaCon sneak peek felt the reality captured in 48fps made the movie seem less magical, less of an escape into a different world. Others found the footage similar to what they’d seen in IMAX 3D nature documentaries – at least on the big, expansive shots of Middle Earth that fans came to expect from Jackson in “The Lord of the Rings.” Those appreciative fans sang a different tune when it came to intimate scenes of dialogue, saying that everything looked different and jarring. The conclusion being that 48fps looks awesome on wide, capacious shots but our eyes and minds have a hard time processing it on close-ups.

Jackson kind of agrees. He has stated that he doesn’t’ think high frame-rate technology is right for all movies, and that smaller, character-driven movies might not be the best fit for 48fps. And even he admits that viewing 48fps film can take some getting used to.

“It does take you a while to get used to,” Jackson said, later adding that “you get used to it reasonably quickly. We have obviously seen cuts of our movie at 48 and in a relatively short amount of time you have forgotten (the frame rate change). It is a more immersive and in 3D a gentler way to see the film.”

In consideration of the difficulty some audience members may have adjusting to the new technology “The Hobbit” will be released in 48fps, 24fps, 3D and 2D. For such an anticipated movie, it was a risky choice for Jackson to jump into the future of cinema, but it may be the perfect way to ease moviegoers into the next age. And, for those diehard fans out there, trusting Jackson’s judgment goes a long way. It will be interesting to see which format of the film sells the most tickets and how audiences react to a complete, polished 48fps version of Bilbo and Gollum mooning over their so-real-it-looks-fake “Precious.”

About the Author:

The author, Lisa Forester, has been enamored with The Hobbit since elementary school.  When she isn’t making her way through middle earth, she is a professional blogger.

Captain America Through the Years: the Good, the Bad & the Awesome

The blockbuster success of 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger “ and 2012’s “The Avengers” have revitalized the 70-year-old Captain America character by making him accessible to a whole new generation. This newfound popularity is epitomized by the number of Captain America costumes being sported at Halloween parties and conventions like Comic-Con.

Although his look has changed significantly over the years, Captain America remains a great hero to young and old alike. And no matter how amazing, atrocious or downright cheesy the various Captain America movies have been, kids of all ages can go get their costume at buycostumes.com, Halloween costumes or, with some extra dedication, make their own. You’ll have to choose first, which Steve Rodgers you want to portray, as the onscreen outputs have proven a decidedly mixed bag.

What is it about this particular comic book superhero that makes him so difficult to bring to life on film? Perhaps, like his predecessor Superman, Captain America’s iconic, quintessentially American idealism only truly resonates with certain audiences during specific periods of time. Or perhaps his story has simply fallen into the hands of several filmmakers whose lack of adequate funding was matched only by their woeful lack of talent.

Whatever the case, Captain America’s movie career hasn’t always been met with the critical and commercial acclaim that it currently enjoys. Here’s a quick look back at the evolution of Captain America through his various onscreen appearances.

Captain America (1944)

This Saturday-matinee serial by “B-move” studio Republic Pictures marked the first time that a Marvel Comics character had been adapted into another medium. Dispensing with the comic book’s “Super-Soldier Serum” origin story, the film recasts Captain America’s alter ego as Grant Gardner, a District Attorney investigating a series of suspicious deaths linked to a villainous saboteur called “The Scarab.”

The series also makes significant changes to Captain America’s traditional weaponry, replacing his trademark shield with a common handgun. At the time of its 1944 release, “Captain America” actually received a fairly warm critical response due to its elaborate action sequences and textbook cliffhanger storytelling. Despite the missing shied and Republic’s obvious budgetary limits, the Captain America costume in this serialized film remains essentially faithful to its comic book predecessor.

Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)

Like the 1944 film, these two made-for-TV movies take significant liberties with Marvel’s source material. In this case, our hero is the son of the original Captain America and saves the day while zooming around on his custom street bike. Like so much pop culture from the 70’s these movies are outrageously campy by today’s standards. The pacing was bad, special effects were cheap and acting was wooden. That isn’t to say, however, that they aren’t fun! With his “futuristic” Plexiglas shield and his crudely painted motorcycle helmet, this Captain America is “far out” to say the least.

Captain America (1990)

The 1990 film version of “Captain America” was the first to keep Marvel’s original back story. Shot entirely in Yugoslavia and starring “Revenge of the Nerds” actor Matt Salinger in the title role, it was never officially released in the United States. This shot at telling the Captain America story may have been a misfire, but it did feature a modern yet authentic costume in brilliant red, white and blue.