Blurb: Journey into the fantastical world of The Gryphon Series, written by Stacey Rourke, with original artwork that brings to life pivotal moments from the beloved Young Adult series!
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award-winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.
I decided to take on the challenge of a video game movie adaptation. I wanted to review something a little different and think I found something special, but; does that mean I liked it? Let’s find out.
If anyone is interested in my experience of watching Max Payne, click here to see my notes. Oh, and I think I might start using these notes to make a recap video. I’m working hard to improve my You Tube channel and hope you’ll check out some of the new content.
This review will consist of me asking myself 10 questions and answering them to the best of my ability.
1. What is this film about?
Loosely, and yet still pretty close, based on the video game of the same name, Max Payne is a NYPD detective out for revenge. (Wait, kinda sounds like the premise for a dozen other movies. Did it really need to be based off this game?) Anyway, Payne turns to cold case work so he can keep looking into and digging up leads for his wife and child’s unsolved murder, earning black sheep status at the precinct and on the streets. Then one fateful night, a series of wing tattoos and a new murder brings him closer to finding answers that he’s not ready to deal with.
2. What did I think of the title, poster, and or trailer?
I remember seeing the trailer of this movie, back in the day, when it was first released and thought it didn’t look too bad for a video game movie. (Let’s be honest, they are 50/50 hit or misses.) In any case, I thought the cast sounded pretty cool at the time. Mark Wahlberg (rapper turned actor) and Christopher Bridges aka Ludacris (another rapper turned actor) appearing on screen with Beau Bridges (no relation) seem like a once in a lifetime event. I’m actually impressed with how both of these men have handled their acting careers, not making it a joke but not taking it so series that they make movies that just don’t fit them.
3. What did I think of the main character(s) and how the actors performed them?
I knew very little about the Max Payne game, but it wasn’t completely foreign to me either. I’d seen other people play the game and so had an idea of what to expect. I don’t think this is one of those films where you can really get the character wrong without doing something completely out of character, like making Max a drag queen or making him walk with a limp and speak with a lisp. I think Wahlberg did fine. All the major actors did fine, though there were a few times I had trouble believing Mila was supposed to be so kick-@ss. Oh, and there were a few priceless performances from the supporting and minor characters, but that just added a bit of humor to the overall presentation.
4. What did I think of the direction and cinematography?
This is where I’m sure gamers will come out of the woodworks to torch my house, but I don’t care. I liked the way this movie was filmed. I don’t know if the director or screenwriter is to credit, but I liked the unofficial supernatural elements they added to the fill, even if it does all boil down to “Kids, drugs are bad.” Seriously, check out my notes on watching the movie.
For the most part, the film is dark, in that classic noir style, but the flashbacks seemed to have an amber tone to them. Not sure what filter they used, but it brightened the movie without adding too much realism. On a scale of one to 10, considering when this movie came out, I’d still give the effects about an 8. They aren’t that bad, and for a story like this, they aren’t really overused.
5. What did I think of the soundtrack and score?
I can’t think of anything that really stood out about the soundtrack, but I do remember liking it. I thought it suited the mood of the film. I think I remember some metal songs and some deep instrumentals.
6. What did I like about the story as a whole?
The plot was okay. It wasn’t some ultra-hard or twisted mystery to figure out and the characters weren’t so complex that you could figure out their motives, but it wasn’t bad either. I guess what I liked most was that the story was simple, but not so much so that I became annoyed. This is brain candy.
7. What did I not like about the story?
I thought the government experiment cover up was a bit cliché, but like I said, “brain candy”. Oh, and, who shoots an automatic weapon around blocks of C4?
8. Would I recommend this movie to others and what would I rate this movie?
Yes and no. I have a bunch of friends who can appreciate a good action flick for being just that. They can appreciate that some stories don’t have a lot of depth and that violence is inevitable. If they haven’t seen this yet, I’ll invite them over to watch it. And as video game movies go, this is one of the better ones. For a video game movie, I’d give this a 5; but that’s not my general rating.
On a scale of 1 to 5 movie reels, I give this film 4 reels. What can I say? I appreciate mindless entertainment.
9. Is there anything I would have changed or done differently?
I think I would have done a better job of addressing the drug issue behind all of this. Even the additional scene after the credits, suggesting that there might be a sequel, focuses on Payne’s desire for revenge. Someone should be doing something about that drug problem.
10. Was there anything in this movie that could be related to me or anything I have written?
I like the Valkyrie/demon imagery in this story, though I don’t know how accurate it is. I always thought Valkyries looked like stereotypical angels. In any case, I like how scary they come off and try to capture that kind of fear in my own stories wherever suitable. I do write about angels and demons in my Eternal Curse Series.
Hi there, just wanted to share this impromptu video. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tomorrow’s monthly movie review will go up on Wednesday. I totally put this off too long and only just figured out what I want to review. It’s coming. Until then, please enjoy this short video.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords
Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Dan Nimak. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down. Be sure to check out the special offer at the end.
Toi Thomas:Hi thereDan! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.
Dan: Thanks so much for inviting me, Toi. I really appreciate it.
Toi Thomas:So tell me, who isDan Nimak?
Dan: I was confirmed at birth as a total left-brainer – math degree and all (though the degree came several years later). Mysteriously, my memory didn’t kick in until the sixth grade, when I fell in love with books. I even tried “writing” one then. Thankfully, no copy of that masterpiece exists. I do remember someone died at the end, so it must’ve been YA instead of MG. Fast forward to three years ago: In an illogical attempt to verify right-brain vital signs, I decided to write a book. I’m not sure what happened, but I now have two completed novels.
Toi Thomas: I can relate. My first, 12-year-old, attempt at a novel “accidently” burned in a fire. Oh well. Glad to see that your left-brain and right-brain are working well together. Two novels is no small feat.
Toi Thomas: Now, before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author.
Toi Thomas:What makes you geek out?
Dan: Any type of science fiction, and especially my current favorite shows: Doctor Who, Dark Matter, Killjoys, The Man in the High Castle. (Based on the bookby Philip K. Dick.)
Toi Thomas: Wow, you really are a sci-fi fan. I like it. Plus, if you are going to write science fiction, you should partake in the culture. Any thoughts on Firefly? I’m always curious about that one.
Dan: I’m a big fan of the Firefly series, though I must admit I was one of the many who missed out on its initial release. I didn’t catch up until a friend recommended the Firefly movie finale “Serenity,” which came out a couple of years later. It’s definitely one of the most unique sci-fi series ever (in my humble, little opinion). Now that you’ve mentioned it, I think it’s about time I watch it again!
Toi Thomas: I like you, missed the initial airing, but have since watched the show and movie. Now, I’m just holding out for an animated series… Moving on.
Toi Thomas:Okay, so what was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
Dan: EZ question!Half Magic, by Edward Eager. I was eleven years old when I randomly read this book, and it absolutely showed me how reading could be FUN. I seriously had no idea until I picked up that book. Thanks, Mr. Eager.
Toi Thomas: What a fun endorsement. I’ve never read that book, but I can now see it on my TBR.
Toi Thomas:In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?
Dan: I’m cheating and naming two people. I would have loved interviewing Robin Williams. And for the same reason, I’d love to interview Gary Larson (The Far Side comic strip, retired in 1995). No two people have ever made me laugh out loud like Robin and Gary did.
Toi Thomas: I totally get that. I don’t think people give enough respect to people with the ability to make others laugh. There’s no Oscar for best comedic performance and none of the writing awards that acknowledge it are ever publicized or televised. I like that you can appreciate humor; so many people don’t. Do you by any chance incorporate humor into your writing?
Dan: Definitely. I believe Middle Grade needs a good mixture of adventure, mystery, drama, fun and humor. And hopefully, my readers will laugh at the appropriate times.
Toi Thomas: Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.
Toi Thomas:So whacha got for me today?
Dan: “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?” is a Middle Grade adventure about a trio of twelve-year-olds and a dog named Blue invisibly traveling through time. They enjoy the best summer ever – until the trip in which one of the friends truly disappears. A fourteen-year-old girl from the Salem witch trials helps with the search, and they soon discover that finding their lost friend will lead to a life-or-death decision. Here’s a partial review from “The Page Turner” – “The writing is quick and clever…and as hard as it is to manage time travel without plot holes, this one aced it.”
Toi Thomas: I agree with The Page Turner Review; after reading the book myself, I can attest to your ability to address plot issues while keeping the fun rolling. Here’s a look at my reviewas well.
Toi Thomas:Now, Dan, tell me who’s starring in this 2-dimensional script read ofHas Anyone Seen My Brain?
Dan: Addi, Brain and Jaden make up “The Blue Team” (named after Addi’s dog, Blue). While Addi is the true “brains” of the group, Jaden provides the comedy. And it’s Brain who has to make a heart-wrenching decision that determines the fate of one of the friends. They seek some timely assistance from Anekia, but the girl from the Salem witch trials has her own issues.
Toi Thomas: You have a way with words; no spoilers here, but you’re right. Anekia does have a whole set of issues it takes Brain a while to acknowledge; he is just a kid after all. Would you be willing to admit as to whether one of the characters is your favorite?
Dan: I’d have to go with Anekia, which you know, isn’t her “real” name. Even though she’s dealing with some serious 17th century problems, she wants to help her new friends hundreds of years in the future. Plus…she is very capable of getting even with Jaden (no spoilers) in the humor department.
Toi Thomas:I see. Well, overall, what do you feel about this story is going to reel in the readers?
Dan: I wanted to lightly touch on 17th century Salem, with a focus on friendship, tough decisions, and forgiveness. (I threw in a little baseball for the fun of it.) I hope many will enjoy, and I’m very grateful for those who take the time to give my story a shot.
Toi Thomas: I think the baseball was a fun touch. There are so many angles to which you could pitch this lovely story: Salem Witch Trials, Baseball, Time Travel, Invisibility, Coming-of-age, and so much more. I really think you’ve got something here.
Toi Thomas: Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?
Toi Thomas:If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Dan: I’ve got to refer to you, Toi, on this. When I first read your review of my book, a fist pump was involved regarding, “It’s a very touching story with a coming-of-age significance and an ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ impact.” I suppose I’m a sucker for happy endings.
Toi Thomas: It’s funny that you say that. I was thinking over the holidays, that people don’t watch that movie enough anymore. It’s a classic worth watching from time to time.
Toi Thomas: Let’s play zombie urban survivor. What 3 things do you need to survive a black-out in Central Park the day zombies attack?
Dan: My kindle; my solar panel charger; and, my soon-to-be-acquired zombie blaster.
Toi Thomas: A hardcore reader to the end. That’s what I like to hear. Even in the zombie apocalypse, we have to let the good times roll.
Toi Thomas:Speaking of good times, what’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?
Dan: I guess I could get all “deep” and mention the birth of our three daughters. The miracle of birth is certainly wonderful, but to be honest, the word “gross” comes to my mind more often than the word “fun.” We’ve had a lot of great times traveling and hiking in many places. For a single event of pure entertainment, I’d have to rank zip-lining several hours through the Smoky Mountains on a beautiful fall afternoon a few years ago as one of the best!
Toi Thomas:Aww, how sweet. Yes, the birth of a child is indeed wonderful, but I agree that zip-lining is probably more fun. I love it.
Toi Thomas: Last question of the day; here we go.
Toi Thomas:Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?
Dan: For the immediate future (2017), my goal is to complete “Dioji,” the sequel to “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?” I’m also working on another novel, with a hopeful appearance during 2017 as well. Ten years from now, I will be found zip-lining on a regular basis through the Smokies.
Toi Thomas: A sequel to HASMB sounds great. I can’t wait… And here’s to a future of fun and zip-lining.Is there a question you would like to ask me before you go?
Dan: Would you mind sharing my special offer with your readers?
Toi Thomas: Of course not, Dan. I’d be delighted.
Dan is offering both “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?” and “Above the Rain” as free eBooks. All you need to do is tell him which book(s) and what version (mobi or epub) you would like. Please email him through the “Contact” link on his site and let him know either your email address or your kindle email address, so he can send you the files.
Toi Thomas:Dan, thank you so much for spending time with me today.
Dan: It’s been my pleasure, Toi. I hope you and your readers have a great 2017. And on a personal note, I’d like to congratulate you and wish you luck with your guest appearance at a Fantasy convention this spring. Please keep us updated with the details!
Thanks again Dan. Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more fromDan Nimak, check out these great links: