Tag Archives: Villain

The day I review “Star Trek Into Darkness.”


“Into Darkness” might be the best Star Trek film ever made. That claim invites the wrath of Khan and his fans, but I will risk it. The franchise reboot already fights uphill against They Changed It, Now It Sucks.

The film opens with two vignettes. In media res, snappy dialog explores Trek themes; it’s episodic, a day-in-the-life for the Enterprise. The next scene changes gears entirely as a silent drama unfolds for new characters…episodic again.

Then Kirk’s called out for being Kirk, and the movie explodes. Simple motives become complex. Mentors clash. It’s impossible to tell who the villain is. My nitpicks vanished as the characters engaged me.

I was guessing until the very end. We’re in the hands of expert storytellers: They let us feel ‘in the know’ seconds before The Reveal.

But I was surprised (even shocked) just as often.

“Into Darkness” turns Mood Whiplash into art. There’s hardly time to digest one transformative event before the next tragedy unfolds. Armor Piercing Questions leave cast and audience deliciously clutching for purchase. You don’t know the right course any more than they do.

The characters evolve, yet remain believably iconic. That particular tightrope is why I don’t attempt fanfiction, but Abrams succeeded on the silver screen. Shatner’s Kirk was a surefooted, his reputation established. Our younger Kirk has the same  instincts, but no clout, and it matters. When success in Starfleet directly contradicts the conscience of his crew, you wonder which way he’ll leap.

True to form, Kirk Takes Third Options, but even those have consequences.

Fans of the Original Series may miss the methodical, scientific storytelling of trial and error. “Into Darkness” is more about human ethics than understanding new life. It’s not cerebral in the puzzle-solving sense, it’s cerebral the way “The West Wing” was, rapidly moving from topic to topic (quite hypnotic). The heroes are larger than life, but they also make mistakes. I have new respect for Chris Pine; Quinto and Cummerbatch were already favorites.

The action borrows as much from the superhero genre as Star Trek. Fortunately, the plot isn’t just an excuse to blow things up. People fight when they’re out of options. I would prefer advanced choreography to quick cuts and shaky cam, though. That kind of storytelling has also evolved.

The ending will be intensely personal for any Trekkie. Whatever you think of his choices, Abrams was faithful to the spirit of the franchise, and he borrows with pride from your favorite moments. Just like the characters, the plot manages to be both iconic and new.

See this one in theaters. You won’t be disappointed.

And later when you buy it, it’ll fit snugly in your collection. Right across from Wrath of Khan.

The day I went politely dark side.

Last week was stressful. I needed a break when I could be both un-creative and harmlessly vengeful. (Pundits have missed the point of violence in video games…it’s so we don’t act out in reality.)

Typically, I prefer light-sided Sith. Their questlines are convoluted, balancing acts of kindness with impressing their masters and hiding their secret generosity. Dark Jedi balance similar deception among their elders. The gun classes (Trooper, Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, Imperial Agent) are less polarized.

Dark Sith are a different animal. They’re afforded regular opportunities to be truly vicious. Normally, it’s exhausting. But sometimes you just need to play the villain. Tordethal was my first villain who pulled no punches. Weaklings and cowards who beg for mercy get receiving end of Force Lightning. *zap, crackle* Let that be a lesson to my coworkers! Yeah!

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Ethics: Would you kill to save your daughter?

Every Monday, I explore a different ethical dilemma. Today, I ask how far you would go to save your child from harm.

Are morals universal or situational? Do you believe it is wrong to kill, always, without any possible justification?

Or do you feel that desperate times call for desperate measures, and some situations require you to do whatever it takes?

Just how far would you go to defend your wife or daughter from an assailant?

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Just because it isn’t racism doesn’t mean it’s not discrimination.

Jaleel White (Urkle)
I have never been hired for a job when I wore eyeglasses to the interview. I have always been hired when I wore contact lenses instead.

The same statistics apply to my dating life.

Glasses = no date or girlfriend. With contact lenses…perhaps success was not guaranteed, but at least there were successes.

When I was growing up, my younger brother was popular and well-liked by guys and girls alike. I was an outcast, and the god’s honest truth is I spent much of my time hanging out with my brother’s friends because for the most part, I didn’t have friends of my own. My brother was regarded as good at sports, whereas I was picked last for every single team event gym class had to offer. My brother never needed glasses; I did.

When I was in high school, a girl once asked me:

Your dad and your brother are really cute! …what happened to you?

(If you’re wondering, my father does not wear glasses.)

One is tempted to blame my classmates for the way I was treated, but I submit to you that my classmates are blameless. They were taught to view glasses-wearers a certain way.

Clark KentSupermanStuttering, nervous and insignificant news reporter Clark Kent wears glasses. His alter ego, Superman, who rescues women and stops bullets, does not. Downtrodden and clumsy Peter Parker, who slouches his shoulders and becomes tongue-tied around women, wears

glasses. The hero Spider-man, who can win a high school cafeteria fight without throwing a single punch, does not.


Quiet, unassuming watchmaker Gabriel Gray of the Heroes ensemble wears glasses. The villain Sylar, who is nigh unstoppable and takes what he wants without asking, does not wear glasses.

Jerry Seinfeld, the hero of his own iconic sitcom, does not wear glasses (at least not in the show). His loser friendGeorge Castanza, who deliberately or accidentally sabotages every single job or relationship, wears glasses all the time. Mutual friend Elayne Benes, who is sometimes socially awkward and sometimes relatively normal, sometimes wears glasses. (Go figure.)

George CostanzaJerry SeinfeldI think these women would be pretty good looking if they weren’t wearing glasses.

–Jerry Seinfeld, “The Glasses“, Seinfeld, NBC, aired May 30th, 1993.

Do you think perhaps that glasses are a sign of intelligence? I urge you to reconsider. Jimmy Neutron, boy genius, does not wear glasses. His sidekick Carl Wheezer, wears glasses though, and is described as “nervous, timid and suffering from hypochondria”.

CarlJimmy NeutronOne major annoyance wearing glasses is that one cannot also wear sunglasses — at least, not and retain some shred of dignity, unless you shell out major money for prescription sunglasses or eyeglasses which change shade to match your environment.

And I confess to you, my biggest concern when putting on a pair of sunglasses is not protecting my eyes from the sun (although that is also a factor, particularly with eyes as light as mine), but vanity.

Someone in sunglasses is much cooler than someone without them.

Bad to the bone.

Bad to the bone.

For your consideration, I submit to you Ahnold in the glory of his Terminator 2 days, complete with motorcycle, leather jacket, and shotgun, while “Bad to the Bone” plays in the soundtrack. This objet d’art would not be complete with a dark pair of sunglasses, even in the dark of night.

Just imagine this fearsome terminator wearing a large pair of spectacles instead and see whether he inspires the same fear and awe — I think not.

So far I’ve just been citing examples and letting you make up your mind. But does the issue go any deeper?

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Perhaps part of the reason sunglasses make you look “tougher” is because they mask those windows.

In behind-the-scenes footage, actor Lawrence Fishburne admitted to deliberately removing his sunglasses for the semi-truck fight scene with an Agent in The Matrix: Reloaded. His reasoning? He wanted his character to appear more vulnerable, in part to reprise his near-fatal beating in the first movie, for which he also lost the shades.

If showing your eyes makes you appear more vulnerable, and hiding them less so, what does that say about prescription glasses? They have one of two effects on your appearance:

They can make your eyes look tiny and distant, or larger and bug-eyed. Next time you’re chatting with a friend in spectacles, take a moment to see how his or her appearance is distorted.

Either way, it makes you look more vulnerable.

Before we conclude, take a moment to glance over this article. Look at each pair of pictures. In each pair, you’ll find a bumbling doofus and one suave hero. Which is which? And what’s the most obvious difference between them?

matrix-reloaded-neo-glassesIf you wear glasses, you’re a nerd, dork, dweeb, loser, or victim. You can’t wear sunglasses to be bad to the bone like the terminator or the savior of two worlds like Neo.

Heroes like Superman, Batman, and Spider-man don’t need glasses to save lives. Geniuses like Jimmy Neutron don’t need glasses. Comedians like Jerry Seinfeld don’t need glasses.

If you want to play the part of the bumbling sidekick, though, be prepared to don a pair of onerous frames.

And if you’re forced to wear them in reality, be prepared to be relegated to the part of bumbling sidekick.

We’re Learning

Learn the difference!More on the first 13 lines of Woman’s Best Friend:

The start is good. There’s nothing there that wouldn’t keep me from reading on.

A couple of minor items that I think might keep the start a bit more taut.

Having personally had a big dog barking out the window at night, there is generally no problem identifying your dog. Its not the dog, but the relentless barking that’s important.

You can identify Jessie as a golden retriever at another point. The silhouette at the window gets in the way of the opening’s tension.

The other phrase that I noted… Her thought of having the car home anyway is a distraction to me. Mark could have taken a taxi home. It’s a little hitch in the suspense, unless her thought is no matter who it is something’s wrong. We want to know what’s out there as soon as possible.

Hope that helps a little bit.

I’d be happy to give your story a read.


This looked pretty smooth to me as far as grammar, syntax, and sentence structure; no flaws that I could identify. I’m assuming that, in addition to being modern suspense, this is some type of speculative fiction story, SF, fantasy, horror, or otherwise. If my assumption is correct, I have to say there isn’t enough “otherness” to spark my interest in the first thirteen. I’d imagine the hook is the dog’s unusual behavior and the implications that arise from that. I’d read on with the hope and/or expectation that the monster or demon or alien or villain pops up pretty quickly after this. If it didn’t, and the style continued as is (not saying the style is bad, but I’m a big fan of verbosity and descriptive imagery) I’m not sure how far I would make it. Just one man’s opinion and preferences, though.If this piece is not intended to be speculative, please ignore my comments


I thought this was both well written and mildly luring. I would offer to read, but unless you can promise a “wow-ing” speculative event, I would probably be uninterested simply because I am a genre reader and don’t typically get interested in ‘Normal’ stuff

But if you think it breaks a mold, fell free to send it my way.


Hey Jason, My take.

This is an any day in anyone’s life opening. Dog barks, wakes owner, not very compelling. Your second paragraph read like a geometry thereom. A couldn’t be B because B wasn’t in C and A didn’t have D and B wasn’t at E and E needed to equal F for A to be near E.

Dog barking at what no one knows opening is as done as MC waking up from dream opening (post one of them and watch those complaints roll in).

So, in other words, opening lacks a hook.

So; what have we learned? 3.5ish votes that this is compelling enough to turn the page, and one solid vote “no”. You can’t please everyone, but the “no” helps in a big way too. He echoes an already-expressed sentiment by another: Too many irrelevant details in paragraph 2.

Early consensus: Paragraph 2 needs work.

More than that, I’m interested in the 1.5 votes for “I’ll read it IF…” as in, if it really is science fiction. Even though they are only evaluating the opening, this is already insight to the whole story. No out-of-the-ordinary element is evident. And if not, why do they care? Like me, they get enough reality FROM REALITY; they read to go someplace else.

This makes me conscious that Naomi’s encounter in the clearing doesn’t happen for quite awhile. This is time I may be boring or annoying the reader. (And thus the magazine editor.)

The final reviewer points out that the opening is five minutes out of anyone’s life. Even though I, as the writer, may know how beautiful and mysterious the scene is when connected with upcoming events, my reader may not necessarily get that experience.

It is likely the next draft will start much closer to the encounter in the clearing, possibly WITH that encounter, or at the very least, with a hook referring ahead to that encounter to promise the reader something more interesting than an annoying dog is afoot.