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How to Make a Hollywood Action Movie

I have money (sometimes). I like to spend that money on tickets to action movies. GOOD action movies. Action movies that make me go “Yessss! That is so AWESOME!” not “Guuuugh, that is sooo LAME!” I have seen a disturbing number of the latter type films in theaters lately so I thought current and future Hollywood producer types might appreciate (okay, more NEED than appreciate) this guide on how to get my money from me.

You could be forgiven for looking at the less-than-stellar repertoire of action stars like Steven Segal or Jean Claude Van Damme and extrapolating the formula for making a successful Hollywood action film as follows:

The Hollywood Action Equation: Boobs + Bombs = Money

Roughly translated as: boobs plus bombs equals massive pile of money

But if all you want is successful, go back to Underachievers Anonymous, because you’re obviously not getting the message. Film is an art form as well as an entertainment medium. Contribute, dammit! You should be aiming for maximum entertainment value: and that means making a GOOD action movie.
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Daybreakers Review


I had been looking forward to seeing Daybreakers ever since I saw the trailer shot of the people plugged into the blood-sucking machine. It reminded me of two other darker sci-fi action-horror type movies: The Matrix before it went all philosophical on me (because the robots had people plugged in too) and 28 Days Later (because it takes place not during the outbreak of the epidemic but after, when horrors dominate).

The basic idea behind the film is this:

In a vampire-dominated world, humans have been hunted to near extinction and a blood substitute is desperately needed to stave off famine.

I thought: an original (and very cool) story idea plus a Matrix-ey feel? Sign me up! After the Avatar letdown I needed something that looked original to actually BE original. I saw Daybreakers the day it came out, and boy was I ever NOT disappointed!

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McLeod’s Daughters Review: Television Writers and Crimes Against Storytelling

We interrupt our series of articles on how to save money in a recession to bring you this important article on why I hate TV.

It’s not that I don’t watch TV, because I do (too much). It’s just that television has the ability to let you down harder than any other medium. You can be totally in love with a show and then it’ll take a left turn on 5th and Stupid and suddenly the whole world it created for you is ruined, retroactively destroying your enjoyment of what came before it because you know what’s going to happen later on.

Greedy executives who won’t let a story die a natural death are the guns to the heads of TV writers, who are forced to commit atrocious crimes against storytelling to keep the money rolling in.

I’ll use the Australian drama McLeod’s Daughters


…as my example, because if you’ve been reading through my old blog entries you already know my feelings about Star Trek: Enterprise.

This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, because the material I cite was released in 2004 and approximately zero other people I know have ever heard of the show. But just in case:

WARNING! Spoilers up until the end of the end of the 3rd season of McLeod’s Daughters

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How to: Make a Horror Movie I Will Pay Money to See

If you’re even remotely connected to civilization, you can probably name about 30 horror movies made in the last twenty years that were not worth the time it took to watch them, let alone the 5-10 dollars (depending on whether you rented it or saw it in the theaters) you had to pay for the privilege of finding this out.

bad horror movies
I’m not naming any names, but…

You know the kind I’m talking about. They seem to be made according to a set of golden rules that go as follows:


1. Monster creatures/bad guys must spend as much time on-screen as humanly possible regardless of special effects quality and should never enter a scene unaccompanied by a loud blast of music.

2. Human characters must be as boring, whiny, and/or stupid as possible and explode like a bag of blood with a grenade in it when so much as grazed.

3. “Surprise” endings must be neither surprising nor the end of anything at all.

Getting a whiff of any of these tenets via the trailer is enough to send me and my money in the direction of another (ANY other) theater. (Congratulations, Midnight Meat Train you made me watch The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)

In the interests of securing better entertainment for myself and my fellow moviegoers and more money for filmmakers (though only as a byproduct) I thought I would make this guide on how to make a movie that I will pay money for, using two films from 2007:

… as examples of what to do and what not to do, respectively. Rogue, despite its thoroughly generic poster, was surprisingly good. AVP:R also surprised me. Not by being bad, but by the depths of its horribleness.

Spoilers follow for AVPR. I consider this a favor to you, the reader. I’m saving you from having to waste two hours of your life watching it when you could stare at a blank wall instead and feel that your time was better spent.

I won’t spoil Rogue, however. That one you need to watch.

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The Thorn Birds Miniseries Review: Why does no one else think this is terrible?

 The Thorn Birds: the book

For the longest time, whenever I heard “The Thorn Birds” I thought of “The Thunderbirds”. The former is a novel by Colleen McCullough about the Australian Outback in the 20th Century and the latter is a British television drama featuring marionettes who fly toy rockets and rescue people.

When I did finally get around to reading the Thorn Birds book and learned that it was awesome, I borrowed the video of the Thorn Birds miniseries.

It’s about a girl named Meggie who moves to a sheep station in the Outback with her Irish family and falls in love with an older Catholic priest named Ralph that she can’t marry but keeps trying to bone anyway. For years. Her other family members play into the story as well, as does the Vatican, World War II, and Queensland being very hot, but for the purposes of the miniseries and therefore this review, they’re largely irrelevant.

Usually I feel slightly guilty about not paying for things but am I ever glad I didn’t hand over any money for this one. It saves me the trouble of demanding it back.

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