Twilight Batman Mostly Works – Review

You’ve seen goofy Batman (Adam West), sophisticated Batman (Michael Keaton), campy Batman (George Clooney), gritty Batman (Christian Bale), and grumpy Batman (Ben Affleck).

Now in 2022, director Matt Reeves brings us emo Batman!

When I first heard that Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame was going to play the Batman, I struggled with the announcement.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. The 2019 announcement of Robert Pattinson’s casting was met with a wave of criticism by franchise fans. Over 6,800 people went so far as to sign a petition urging Warner Brothers to reconsider. Others, including Jimmy Kimmel, jumped to his defense.

For me, it was difficult imagining Robert Pattinson in a role that wasn’t a tortured emo goth. And after watching 2022’s iteration of Batman, I came away saying, “Yup! He’s still a tortured emo goth! But you know what? Oddly enough, it kinda works.”

In the three hour slog of dimly lit darkness that was the darkest darkness that ever darked, I got strong Twilight vibes from Pattinson’s portrayal of a reclusive, brooding Bruce Wayne who shunned the limelight to skulk in the shadows—a Bruce Wayne with a guyliner heavy aesthetic the likes of Brandon Lee’s The Crow meets My Chemical Romance. But hey, Batman didn’t sparkle! So that’s something.

As someone who grew up watching the 1990s animated series, with a gothic, dark, somber, serious, tough and joyless Batman, Robert Pattinson’s portrayal more or less worked for me. Sure, this Batman was ’emo,’ but he was also menacing. He didn’t hold back his punches as Gotham’s ‘Vengeance.’ And the people he rescued seemed just as scared of him as the criminals he thwarted.

SPOILERS BELOW THIS LINE!

WATCH OUT!

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Paul Dano’s Incel Riddler:

Paul Dano’s portrayal of an internet troll Riddler with his own horde of online followers ready to commit violence was something fresh, creepy and yet relatable for our time. Far different from Jim Carrey prancing around in a lime green onesie in Batman Forever, Paul Dano wears thick glasses, a home made mask, and terrorizes the citizens of Gotham with his Tik Tok esque videos. His boyish face and genuine mental illness (the likes of 2019’s the Joker) adds a creepy realism to him that made my skin crawl.

Zoe Kravitz Nails it as Catwoman

Zoe Kravitz was originally denied the role of Catwoman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises for being “too urban” — in other words, for having dark skin. That was definitely their loss!

Zoe Kravitz did a great job of bringing the dangerous, simmering sexuality of Selina Kyle to the screen. While she gets saved by the Batman once or twice, she’s definitely still capable of holding her own in a fight. And yes, she has lots of cats.

Some critics say there wasn’t much sexual chemistry between Catwoman and Batman. I didn’t mind. Batman doesn’t have to be sexy. He just has to be a somber, frowning, vengeance machine in a cape and cowl. He’s lowkey attracted to Catwoman. But it’s clear that crime fighting is his first love, so he doesn’t have much room in his life for sex or romance.

Thinly Veiled Allusions to Today’s Political Reality

In the Batman universe, you have a billionaire saving the day while the people who want to overthrow the corrupt elites are the extremist bad guys. Seems like quite the plutocratic message, no?

This was why The Joker made in 2019 was revolutionary. The Waynes are actually the antagonists, while Joaquin Phoenix’s emaciated and poverty riddled Joker is shown in a sympathetic light, even if he does end up going off the deep end.

Matt Reeves’ The Batman doesn’t go nearly as far as The Joker in showing Gotham’s wealthy elite in a critical light. But it does it more so than other Batman movies in the past. Catwoman states that Batman “must be rich,” because he moralizes to her from up high on his pedestal.

One thing that was interesting about this movie is that it takes a look at the corrupt actions of Bruce Wayne’s father, while past movies have largely shown the Wayne family in a positive light.

In the end of The Batman, the protagonists are people who are trying earnestly to do their best in a corrupt system, despite the fact that reform seems like it will never come. You see this with the Batman himself, along with police commissioner James Gordon, and Bella Reál, who is running for mayor with the slogan, “Change for Gotham.” I definitely got Obama vibes from her slogan. And I suppose that allusion to the Obamas was no accident, because the actress who plays Bella Reál, Jayme Lawson, was a young Michelle Obama in The First Lady.

Bella Reál is running her campaign in a stadium that gets flooded by water (along with the rest of Gotham). The stadium becomes overtaken by the Riddlers’ army of masked internet dorks. They have given up on trying to attempt reform within the system. They just want to destroy Gotham and its elites overall, thinking it is too corrupt to be saved.

As Bella Reál’s campaign gets overtaken, you get the vibe that all hopes for reform are lost. But Batman of course triumphs. And then at the end of the movie, Batman stays in the city to help people recover from the damage. He says that he can no longer just be vengeance, but he must represent hope as well.

My Overall Rating of The Batman: B, 84%

(No, I’m not rating it ‘B’ for ‘Batman.’)

This movie did not have the stellar acting the likes of Heath Ledger or Joaquin Phoenix. So I can’t say that it was my favorite Batman. But not every movie has to be ground breaking. Overall, I did come away from it feeling entertained.

I enjoyed Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of Batman more than I expected.

I guess vampires can turn into bats after all.

Historical Fiction on Argentina’s Dirty War

One of the things I love about historical fiction is the genre’s capacity to teleport you back to a particular era of history. Mark Whittle’s The Jacarandas does precisely that with Argentina’s Dirty War, which took place between 1976-1983. This was a time when the country was ruled by a military dictatorship and right-wing death squads hunted down political dissidents believed to be associated with socialist, communist or anti government thought. 9,000-30,000 People were killed or “disappeared.”

Mark Whittle does a great job of depicting the confusion and moral ambiguity of this time. The story follows Daniel, a university student who joined the federal police force in order to serve his country and stop left-wing terrorism in Buenos Aires. Yet Daniel soon discovers that the moral boundaries of this conflict are much murkier than he originally thought. And that besides fitness and hate, the military regime requires loyalty, batons, and electric prods.

The novel is also based off a true story!

Below I have included an interview with Mark Whittle about his process for writing this book. I also have asked him about the self publishing process, for anyone who may be interested in pursuing that road.

JBJ: I see that The Jacarandas is a true story. How did you learn of this story?

MW: I met the real “Daniel” over 10 years ago when he was a guest speaker at a charity event focused on marginalized and underserved communities. Daniel works with prisoners and their families in Argentina. He told his story of joining the federal police as a young man during the Dirty War, and how he became extremely violent and just this whole awful experience he went through. His story haunted me for years. We became friends and have been so ever since. I had once lived in Argentina and knew quite well all about Argentina’s tragic history in the 1970s.

JBJ: Did the real Daniel get to read the book? What did he think?

MW: Great question! Well, the real Daniel speaks very poor English, but I wanted him to read a draft. So I knew it would be way too much work to translate the draft myself so I tried various automated translators and, in the end, selected Google Translate. I painfully entered page by page, copied it out and formatted it to send to him. He did read it. Even today, almost 50 years later, there are still some sensitive issues so he was looking out for that. But he enjoyed it a lot. It’s worth noting that The Jacarandas is not a biography but rather historical fiction where the real Daniel is the protagonist, but I wanted to include some other historical events and themes that were not part of his experience, but absolutely part of the Dirty War.

JBJ: Do you think Argentina today is still affected by the events of the Dirty War?

MW: Yes, it is. It’s a black stain on their past that they just never seem able to get away from. Argentina has had difficulty recovering and seems almost condemned to lurch from crisis to crisis. It’s the political class has failed Argentina. It’s such a rich nation in culture, intellect, education, and natural resources but politics have been ruinous. They just can’t find a good healthy balance.

JBJ: Tell me about your experience in Self-Publishing:

MW: Well, I don’t know any other kind, so I don’t know if it’s good or bad. The Jacarandas is the first novel I’ve written. I thought I would try to traditional route but after querying about 100 agents and getting little traction, I started exploring other options. I read about writers like Andy Weir (The Martian) who published on Amazon KDP. My writers’ critique group had a guest speaker who has made a living publishing on Amazon KDP. And then hearing the experience of some writers who have had less-than-optimal experiences with agents, I decided to give it a try. I found Amazon KDP extremely easy to use. I’ve been super happy with the process and the control I have.

JBJ: What have been your greatest challenges?

MW: Probably the whole marketing of my book. I don’t do a good job of social media presence. My advertising has been limited to trying KDP’s advertising, which I am still trying to learn and perfect. There’s been good word-of-mouth spreading of The Jacarandas, for sure, but getting it to the next level is a challenge with self-publishing. I’ve been told that the best marketing of your book is to write another book. Get that read-through rate. I would say a second challenge is getting those initial reviews on Amazon. Don’t underestimate the work involved with getting a core group of readers to read your book and post a review.

JBJ: What was the most rewarding about this experience?

MW: Definitely it’s having people tell you they loved your book – either through an email or social media or in person, or simply seeing a new review pop up on Amazon. Having people say how they’ve been impacted by what you wrote, and how they liked this scene or character or how I handled x or y. Very satisfying, to be honest.

JBJ: What would you tell other people who are looking to self publish?

MW: Read everything you can about it before deciding. And if you are going to do it, do it the best you possibly can. For example hire an editor. Hire a professional cover design artist. Polish and polish and polish your manuscript so it’s perfect.

Thank you, Mark Whittle!

For those interested in checking out his novel, buy it on Amazon at the link below.

The Jacarandas – Mark Whittle (Amazon)

Why I Won’t Rush The First Draft of My Next Novel

One of the conventional pieces of wisdom fiction writers hear is, “Write a quick and dirty first draft. You can always fix it later!” As someone who has been writing fiction since 2014, I have heard this advice a lot from both professionals and amateurs. It’s practically canon, up there with, “Show. Don’t Tell.”

I myself have cranked out a first draft for a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel in a mere two months. Many people use the month of November for this very purpose.

Now some people swear by this model. It may work great for many folks. But it doesn’t work great for everyone. For me, writing a first draft is like laying concrete for a sidewalk. Once the concrete dries, it’s difficult to go back and repave it later. A story evolves naturally from character motivations. If key components of your characters’ motivations have to be changed later, then you are going to have to do massive rewrites of the plot itself, practically writing a new book. It’s like building a road to one location and then discovering you are going to have to build a whole new road because the location has been changed.

And apparently I am not the only one who thinks this way. There are several other writing sites out there that explain the pitfalls of rushing a first draft, which I will link to at the end of this article.

Rushing a first draft may work very well if you are a planner. If you have all the key plot points, scenes, and character motivations written down in an outline or in your notes, then rushing the first draft itself could work very well for you. Things like setting and the choreography of action in a fight scene can always be improved upon later. However, if you are like me, and write things by the seat of your pants, you may end up with a manuscript that takes way too long to revise because you didn’t think through key story components beforehand. Much like building a house with faulty components, and then having to build over the weak material–which is often harder than just building a whole new house from scratch.

Things you should think about before you write your manuscript:

  • Main characters and their motivations.
  • What makes your characters likeable? What do they struggle with? Why should people want to read about them?
  • What is the arc of the characters?
  • What is the key conflict of the story?
  • What is the premise of the story?
  • Key plot points. “Tent pole scenes.”
  • Genre and conventions of the genre.
  • Research key components of world building.

Problems that can happen with rushing:

  • The rewrite process takes much longer than it should.
  • You may end up rushing your book to publishers before it’s ready.
  • You may lose interest and end up working on something else. If you wrote something that takes so much time to fix that you basically have to write a whole new novel on top of it, you may just prefer to write a whole new novel instead.
  • You have something that is fundamentally not marketable.

Anyways, that’s why I’m not going to rush my next first draft until I have key components of the story thought through. This will be difficult for me, because the writing process itself is what is fun for me, and not the planning process. But I think if I can force myself to do a little more planning beforehand next time, it will pay off in the long run.

And also, it’s OKAY to write something that doesn’t sell or get published. Ultimately doing something is better than not doing it at all. Perfection is the enemy of the good. However, as we evolve in our craft, we should also work at getting better with the planning process as well.

Why Fast First Drafts Aren’t for Everyone (The Write Practice)

3 Ways to Avoid Rushing Your Book (Writing Cooperative)

5 Pitfalls of Rushing Your First Draft (Script Wrecked)

Sufi Mystics On Mercury

There’s not an abundance of sci-fi stories written about Mercury.

So in conjunction with writing my guide to World Building on Mercury, I also wrote a short story.

I am fascinated with the Dan Brown style of combining two seemingly unlike things. For him it was the Vatican and CERN’s atom smasher. For me, it was spiritual mysticism and Mercury.

I was inspired by the Sufi wisdom in The Way of the Sufi Kindle by Idries Shah. So I wrote a story that encapsulated some of these lessons.

CHECK IT OUT HERE: The Blind Mystic in Vanishing Point Magazine

Science Fiction Story About Cancer And Universal Basic Income

How far will an influencer go to get likes?

In a post scarcity near future when anything and everything is available on the net, people are literally killing themselves out of boredom.

Chemotherapy treatment might be the next edgy new thing.

READ STORY HERE AT TELEPORT MAGAZINE

Image source

#SFFpit on Twitter Today!

Image courtesy of hqwide.com

Today is #SFFpit on Twitter. You have a chance to pitch your science fiction or fantasy novel to agents in a single tweet.

#SFFpit has already started, since it is 8am-6pm EST, but you still have plenty of time to jump in. 

The rules and details about #SFFpit are here

Make sure your novel is actually finished. If you want to help your friends, you can retweet their tweets but don’t like them, unless you are an agent. 

Unlike other pitch days, #SFFpit is only for sci-fi and fantasy. But what’s great about it is that you can make one pitch per hour. Giving you 10 chances to pitch your story.

Have fun and good luck! 

1,057th Birthday – Short story, demons, humor

The denizens sent from Hell to torment the living don’t have horns, bat wings and they certainly don’t fucking sparkle. They prey on humans in a much more clandestine manner. On a demon spawn’s 1,057th birthday she goes out on the Las Vegas city strip. Ready to hunt for men. Literally dressed to kill.

Thank you Dark Dossier Magazine for publishing my short, spooky story, “1,057th Birthday.”

Top 10 Books on Writing

Below are the top ten books from Best Books on Writing – Recommendations from 36 articles, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and 53 others. (Read This Twice).

TOP TEN BOOKS ON WRITING

(Sorted by most recommended)

On Writing by Stephen King

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Story by Robert McKee

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

RELATED LINKS

Best Books on Writing – Recommendations from 36 articles, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and 53 others. (Read This Twice)

Reddit Thread on Top 100 Books

New Dune Trailer!

The new Dune movie (based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 “Dune”) is slated to come out December 18th, 2020. 

So SOMETHING good will happen in 2020. 

Denis Villeneuve is the director. He also directed Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival. 

The movie will have big name actors such as Jason Momoa and Oscar Isaac. 


READ MORE BELOW: 

Dune 2020 Characters Cast Plot Explained  (Polygon)

3 Reasons Why Dune 2020 is Nothing Like Other Dunes (Inverse)

Dune (IMDb)