Monday, April 24, 2017

I've Finally Seen: JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (2016)

© by Gerald So | 8:30 a.m.

As much as I know Tom Cruise doesn't fit Lee Child's literary image of die-hard 6' 5" former U.S. Army MP Jack Reacher, I'm an unabashed fan of Child and the first Cruise Reacher movie. I rooted for and was excited to hear of a sequel, but when the theatrical reviews were mostly negative, I couldn't convince myself to see it in a theater or buy it on Blu-ray for $20 this January. Blu-ray for $13 last week? Sold.

Adapted from the novel Never Go Back, which I own but haven't read, Reacher hitchhikes to D.C. to take his phone friend Maj. Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) to dinner. When he arrives, though, Reacher learns Turner has been arrested on espionage charges. He tries to find out more, but the people he talks with wind up murdered, so he has to save Turner and himself while investigating the crime.

The producers chose to adapt this particular book because it compelled loner Reacher into a cooperative, quasi-familial situation meant to bring out more sides of him than the first movie. That makes sense theoretically, but Reacher experiencing emotion doesn't mean he's going to show it.

Print characters can show emotion to readers intimately, without showing it outwardly. To show the same emotion to viewers, movie characters have to be more demonstrative, and that's not much in Reacher's makeup. At best, he affords Cruise raised eyebrows played for humor. Laugh at the stony man facing complicated emotional dynamics.

That's the movie's biggest flaw, but it doesn't make for a bad movie. It's just I'd already seen Tom Cruise Reacher do his action thing in the first movie. To sum up, I'm glad Jack Reacher got a sequel, and I'm glad I waited to pay what I did to own it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

So Busy

© by Gerald So | 7:00 p.m.

In April, National Poetry Month, the normally weekly Five-Two becomes daily featuring prose reactions to poetry. This year, I've picked poems from across the Web to expand visitors' horizons.

Meanwhile, the Short Mystery Fiction Society announced its 2017 Derringer finalists April 1. I haven't held Society office in three years, but I'm still asked to advise, which is tricky because, though I have no current authority, my voice carries the weight of my 2008–10 presidency and 2012–2014 vice presidency.

Since leaving office, I've tried to speak for those not being heard. At any given time, those may be the current officers, members, or bystanders' views of the group. Yet I tend to be misheard as speaking from self-interest.

I take a wider view of the Society, as teammates helping each other win ever-greater respect for our craft. My latest way of doing that is interviewing Derringer finalists ahead of the May 1 winners announcement.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bones: "The End in the End"

© by Gerald So | 6:45 a.m.

The people behind Bones knew this would be its final season. With that, I wondered how much of it would feel designed to leave the characters in a particular place.

Despite being a procedural, Bones stands out for its authentic, spontaneous character moments. Beyond the formula of pairing Brennan's intellect with Booth's instincts, I believed they could fall in love and stay in love because of who they are specifically, down to their quirks.

True to form, though the final killer was an out-of-left-field throwback to Season 1, the finale served fans without being too obvious about it. I was a fan of Bones all twelve seasons. I can't say that about other shows that have run as long. And things were left in a good place to be called back should a future lineup need a shot of marrow.

That being said, for now, thanks to the cast and crew for years of entertainment, and best of luck on future projects.