I saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and I have some thoughts

Hi everyone! Originally, I was going to make this post about my favorites of 2018 but I ended up seeing the newest movie in the Fantastic Beasts franchise tonight. In my previous post about having “too much story,” I admitted that I was hesitant about this movie and if it was messing with the original lore too much. You all know that I am a die hard Harry Potter fan, who also enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie. Let me tell you what I thought. Spoilers Ahead!

I wanted to start by talking about the thing I liked about this movie. First, I loved seeing Newt again. I really enjoy his atypical characteristics. Eddie Redmayne is charming as anything and it comes through again. In addition to Newt, I also enjoyed seeing him and Jacob back together for adventures. I can’t go any further without mentioning how I loved seeing Newt and Tina together. (I really ship it.) As for the story, I did enjoy seeing the lore of Grindelwald come to life as that was a very important part of what led to Voldemort’s rise to power. Along with that, seeing Dumbledore before in his teacher days was one of the best parts of the movies. There was some really good world building and great character development. I can’t completely say the movie didn’t have some great elements. 

Let’s get to what I didn’t like. First, I’m still not happy about Johnny Depp being casted. He did a fine job in the movie but they should have replaced him with someone less controversial. I shouldn’t feel guilty supporting this movie. There was definitely some muddling of the lore that seemed to appear out of nowhere and with no preface. With the reveal of Credence possibly being a Dumbledore and not a Lestrange, I found myself a bit baffled. I know it’s mostly for sequel bait but it’s still a weird reveal. Along with the whole familial confusion, there was also infanticide! I was not expecting to see babies being murdered and I was disturbed as any other person should be. My biggest gripe, beyond all of that, is that there were not enough beasts in the movie. I wanted to know if Newt had made any progress in helping people learn to understand magical beasts but that was completely thrown away for the Grindelwald plot. The actual beasts are what drove the first movie and I really enjoyed seeing all of that. The charm of the first movie just got lost in this one. Only Newt, Tina, and Jacob were the driving forces of what made the first movie so enjoyable. 

In conclusion, I don’t think this movie gave “too much” story. Instead, I thought it told the wrong story. It wasn’t a badly written story by any means. It was just too much of a turn from what the first movie delivered. The plot twists felt as though they were mostly there for shock and sequel bait as opposed to story building. Now, I am aware that this is JK Rowling’s world and she can do whatever she wants with it. There, however, has to be some consistency. I understand we can’t know everything about the Wizarding World. I am just saying, though, that the world building felt lost in the epic-ness of the movie. I’m not hating on this movie by any means. I would definitely watch it again. I’m just intrigued as to where the story is going to go from here. 

Is There Such a Thing as “Too Much” Story?

Hi everybody! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything. I keep meaning to post more book reviews but I always feel the need to read multiple books at once and I just end up slowing myself down. You all know how it is.
Today, though, I wanted to talk about something I’ve noticed other book nerds and authors talking about which is: when should a story truly end? This whole conversation has been spurred on by the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald, which is the much anticipated (and slightly controversial) sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t give my opinion on it but it got me thinking about franchises and if there really is such a thing as ending a story, especially when it is incredibly popular. (Note: I’m mostly going to be focusing on mediums like books, movies, and television. I’m not going to be talking about anime or video games as I don’t know much about those mediums and they would warrant their own discussion.) 

Let’s start with examples of franchises who have done a great job with universe expansion. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the first one that comes to mind. First off, the franchise has lasted for a decade now with some of the most successful trilogies and crossovers in the history of film. Regardless of whether you are in this fandom or not, you have to admit that the MCU has done an incredible job with story telling. They took the usual superhero story formula and found ways to twist it and shape into nuanced and interesting stories. They’ve introduced characters and remade characters that were, at one point, laughable. While MCU hasn’t “ended” certain characters’ stories, they have realized that other characters deserve a spotlight. Audiences are still getting answers about the original characters as well as the new characters. These have even spawned successful tv series. When they decide to “end” certain characters’ stories, audiences will still have other characters to follow. That is what will keep a franchise going. (Granted, MCU does have a vast collection of source material to choose from.) Comic book based franchises have always tended to do the best. The DC tv shows have been some of my favorites in the past couple of years because they took notes from MCU. These franchises know how to  keep audiences looking for more at the end of each episode or movie, just as the original source material did. 

Other franchises, however, have done this without a printed source material. The Star Wars franchise is a really good example of this. The newest trilogy has done a great job introducing compelling new characters and reviving the lore that fans want to learn more about. This is also what Fantastic Beasts has done and I truly enjoyed the first movie. What all of these franchises have in common is they know how to revive stories instead of just redoing the same old thing or trying to do too much with newer things that fans don’t care about. Taking it back to the printed word, authors often can’t help but  continue world building. JK Rowling is constantly dropping little tidbits about the Harry Potter series and, while I do love it, it can also be exhausting sometimes.  There are authors like James Patterson who are just constantly releasing books in every genre and it’s hard to get excited about these books anymore because you just can’t keep up with these series. It is really hard to get audiences excited when they have a market that is so saturated with extended franchises. That is why the actual world building process has to be carefully though out, like the MCU. The Harry Potter series has a really rich history and has characters like Newt Scamander, who have their own adventures. Authors, writers, and directors who genuinely care about their creative properties are going to have the most success in having a long lasting series. 

Let’s get to the franchises that flop. The biggest reason for this is because of money. Horror movie series are the biggest offenders of this. Over the summer, I saw the newest Jurassic Park movie and you could tell they tried really hard to make it fresh and new. At the end of the day, though, dinosaurs ate people and no one learned anything. JK Rowling is going to be mentioned in this section as well for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The play fell victim to its own hype. The lore got muddled in the process. The new characters fell flat while the older characters didn’t get any proper development. It shouldn’t feel like the writers are reaching for substance. I’m also fully aware that finances plays a part in why some of these franchises feel the need to keep going but, I’m not going to focus on that too much. The lack of involvement of the original authors has also caused problems. Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, has spoken about how he regrets not being involved in the movie adaptation process. You can’t just cobble together a franchise because one particular part worked out nicely. 

In conclusion, franchises can be kept alive if it is a well thought-out effort on everyone’s part. It is perfectly fine to end a franchise, even if fans will be sad about it. It is better to have a fulfilling ending than an empty sequel. There really is no such thing as “too much story” when the story is written in a dynamic and thorough way. 

Thanks for sticking around if you made it this far. I really appreciate it. Let me know your opinions about franchises and extended universes. 

How I Pick My Novels

Hi everyone! I’m both glad (and not so glad) to be back home. I had spend this past weekend in New Jersey and New York. One of my college graduation presents was tickets to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway so I was beyond excited. I also got to visit Sleepy Hollow. Overall, it was a very exciting weekend. Now that I’m back, I decided to do a blog inspired by a author/Youtuber I follow, Jenna Moreci. Some of you may have heard of her as she has recently released her debut novel, The Savior’s Champion. She is very funny so I definitely recommend you look up her channel. She recently did a video called “How I Choose My Novels.” Naturally, I’m copying her. All credit goes to Jenna Moreci for this.

Genre: Like the rest of you, I have preferred genres. All of them fall under the fiction category. Within that, I like to see which genre I haven’t read recently so I can mix it up. I also like to see novels that break genre. I want to give myself a variety, as well as you who read my blogs.

Author: Normally, I don’t concern myself with authors too much but, obviously, I do gravitate towards my favorite author. I also like to know which authors are up-and-coming so I can hop on a bandwagon. I like being a part of fandom, as do a lot of you.

Reviews: There are many books I’ve picked up solely because I heard many people enjoyed it. Reviews really do have an impact on which books I choose. In fact, your reviews have helped me pick books. I prefer to read book by average readers rather than professional critics. I feel like professional critics can be “too” judgmental at times. I just want to know if a book was good or not. I don’t want an analysis.

Book Length: As much as I would love to read super long books, I don’t always have the time or the patience. I tend to have a short attention span so I’ll avoid thicker books. I would love to buckle down and read something like Les Miserables or War and Peace but, let’s be real, my last three brain cells wouldn’t be able to handle that.

The Blurb: Ah yes, the might blurb! I must read the blurb of every book in the store before I make a decision. A vague blurb isn’t going to interest me and a long blurb is going to lose my attention. I need a nice sized-blurb with just enough detail. The blurb is what’s going to sell your book.

The Cover: Unlike the popular phrase, I do judge books by their cover. I even did a post where I talked about book covers. A nice, eye-catching cover is the first thing that makes me pick up a book. I’m not going to gravitate toward something with a bland cover or a cover with too much happening. I will most definitely avoid a book with a movie poster as the cover. (I think it’s tacky but that’s just me.) We do judge books by their covers and we can all admit it.

 

How I Learned To Love My Writing (And You Can Learn Too)

Hi everyone! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything. I keep telling myself I’m going to finish my TBR pile soon but then I just want to watch Avengers: Infinity War on repeat until Loki is alive again (spoiler). Also, let’s face it, part of the writing process is just opening your Word document and then your just end up watching YouTube videos for five hours straight. Don’t act like you’re not guilty of doing that. Anyways, I wanted to talk to you about how I learned to eventually learned to love what I write. I made a previous post about my crappy writing habits and I mentioned how I don’t always like what I write. While that is true, I’ve learned more about how to appreciate what I write. I’ve decided to share with you all some of the things that keep me loving being a writer.

  • Accept that it’s not going to be perfect the first time around. We all wish that we could have a brilliant idea during the first draft. That, however, is not true. Chances are that you aren’t going to like how your plot sounds on paper. As someone who has studied editing and publishing, I can tell you that the process to “perfect” a book takes a very long time. The writing process itself may take along time and it may not be perfect even then. As long as you have the commitment and patience, you can accomplish it.
  • Don’t write hoping to impress others. In my sophomore year of college, I decided to start to pursue a minor in Writing. This made sense since I was (and still am) and English major. Once I got into the classes, however, I realized I was trying way too hard to impress my professors and classmates. It got to the point where I would spend way too long even thinking about the story then I would end up writing at the last minute. Most of those stories didn’t turn out great. Don’t forget that your writing is for yourself, first and foremost. Enjoy the solitude that comes with the writing process because plenty of people will come along to go over every detail of your work. Make yourself proud by just fulfilling your accomplishment.
  • Let your imagination run wild. It’s easy to get caught up in the genres. We all want to fit into one specific genre because we love certain authors so much. This, however, shouldn’t limit you. Your ideas are going to sound silly sometimes. Your worlds and characters are going to raise eyebrows but that’s perfectly fine. Get weird with it. Don’t settle for ordinary, regardless of your preferred genre. Let loose once in a while and that might be how you strike gold.
  • Tap into your emotional side. The best stories are the ones that move us emotionally. It’s hard to communicate your emotions. I still have a hard time with it. Don’t let this hold you back, though. Make your story sad. Make your story angry. Make your story joyful. Don’t be afraid to put a healthy dose of “the feels” into your writing. I’ve learned I feel more in tune with my emotions once I put them on paper.
  • Congratulate yourself every so often. If you’re a person with a day job, like me, then you can have a hard time finding time to sit down and just write. You might be too tired or just not in the mood. When you do find the time, make sure to give yourself a nice little pat on the back. It doesn’t matter if you get one page or ten pages done, you still made progress. So give yourself a round of applause for hitting your goals because you deserve it.

So those are the ways I have learned to love my writing. Let me know about how you learned to love your writing as well. I can’t wait to hear from you all.

So I’ve Graduated! Now What?

Hello everyone! I know its been taking me forever but I finally found time to write here. It’s been taking me forever to finish what I’m reading but I’ll get there soon enough. In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on college graduation and get the conversation going. I officially graduated from Kent State University on May 12th. It was a wonderful ceremony. Also, it was actually the first college graduation I’ve ever been to. The iconic Michael Keaton was our main speaker and he was hilarious and inspirational. The weather was nice except, because I’m so pasty, of course I left with a beet red face. Now, I have returned home with little to no idea of what the future holds. Because I like making lists, I’m going to do a pros and cons list of being an official graduate.

Pros:

  • Free from the general pressures that come with academia
  • Don’t have to deal with dorm living
  • Don’t have to deal with the hectic atmosphere of the college campus
  • Don’t have to pay for things like textbooks, parking, etc
  • Not having to go to any obligatory events like meetings in the dorms
  • Finally feeling like a truly independent adult (even though I still live at home)
  • Not having to travel back and forth two and half hours to get home
  • Being able to feel settled in my own space
  • Not having to go to lecture classes (I hated those especially)
  • Being able to partake in my own hobbies
  • Not being overwhelmed by classes
  • Finally having home cooked meals
  • Having a new found freedom

Cons:

  • Not having the convenience of a college campus
  • Not having my friends close by
  • Having to deal with “adult things”
  • Missing some of my favorite spots on campus
  • Not having my clubs
  • Not having a routine with classes
  • Not having my fun classes
  • Having roommates to talk to
  • Being able to go to events with free food
  • Free stuff, in general
  • Not feeling as productive as I used to be (working on changing that though)
  • Having a new found freedom

I’m sure I’m not alone in how I feel now. I certainly feel accomplished and I can’t wait to get my diploma in the mail. It is hard to not feel apprehensive but I know that I have a lot to look forward to. I’m excited for the future and I can’t wait to share what I experienced with all of you. While I’m at it, I’m going to post a picture of my Harry Potter-themed graduation cap below.

Just Some Updates

Hello everyone! It’s been a hot second since I have posted anything but I just wanted to do some life updates. If you don’t care, then I completely understand but I would appreciate if you stuck around to read this.

First thing I wanted to talk about was my lack of activity. I am about to graduate college the week after this (!!!) so I have obviously been super busy with that. The build has been chaotic but fun, nonetheless. I’m prepping for finals week so it hasn’t given me time to finish any books. I’m currently trying to finish book two of the Themis Files, Waking Gods and I know that the third book is going to be released tomorrow. I’m also reading Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. That one is a bit longer but I’m very excited to share my thoughts on it. There are some new book releases I’m very excited for that I will be sure to share with you since I will have more time. In the meanwhile, please forgive my on-and-off social media presence. Speaking of that, I do have a twitter now so you can follow me @capt0bvious96 and I will follow you back, I promise.

Next thing I wanted to address was doing more requests. I really want to start engaging more with all of you and would love to start reviewing suggested books. I also really want to start doing movie reviews, if you are interested. I’m really glad you all like my Current Favorites articles so I will definitely do more. The next thing I want to talk about is my favorite tv shows. If you have any suggestions for me, though, feel free to leave them in my comments or now you can tweet at me if you so wish.

The last thing I will talk about is my writing. I’m starting to really get into the swing of this new story I’m writing. If you are at all interested, I would definitely like to do some writing challenges in order to keep myself on track. I’d like to know what writing challenges any of you have done in the past. I am trying to be more consistent with my writing schedules and I will have more time on my hands to do that.

Thanks for sticking around to read this whole thing. I truly appreciate. I know that realistically most of you aren’t too invested but, to those who are, I want to give you my biggest thanks ever. If you are reaching the end of your school year, then I wish you the best of luck on your finals.