Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Action”

Misleading packaging: why reviews matter

FarCry

There is nothing worse than picking up a book, movie, whatever, expecting to be entertained based on the cover. The above example is the movie Far Cry, starring Til Schweiger, in what looks like a cool action flick. The description even makes you look past the fact that this is a video game adaptation, promising a slick action-eer:

An ex-special forces soldier turned boatman is hired by a journalist to investigate a top-secret military base on a nearby island.

The problem with this packaging is that this is a film by Uwe Boll. Til Schweiger is a fantastic actor and a major box office draw card, especially in his home country of Germany. He was also the driver behind one of my favourite films of all time, Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Yet not even Til can save us from the worst director of all time.

One of the things that amazes me about Uwe Boll is not so much the fact that he is still making films (petition to stop him making films) but the fact that he is able to attract the money and star power to his movies. You would think that actors would be keen to avoid working with Uwe so that they don’t sign a career death note. But Til, Ron Perlman, Burt Reynolds, Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Eric Roberts, Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff, Claire Forlani, Leelee Sobieski, John ‘Gimli’ Rys-Davies, and Ben Kingsley (although, Kingsley may be an Oscar winner, but he has appeared in some truly awful films), have all lined up to appear in a Uwe Boll production. Why!?! Rys-Davis has implied that the money is good and Uwe is easy to work for. No mention of exactly how good Uwe is to work with; I’m going to assume running hot and cold hookers and blow.

This speaks to the underlying problem with picking good entertainment. We can be easily mislead with a cool blurb, impressive trailer, a spot at the front of the store, a stand that tackles you to the ground and forces you to buy the movie/book. It is why movie stars are paid big money, because they have a brand that audiences recognise, and that can guarantee box office sales. In publishing you have name brand authors like James Patterson occupying the front of the store because they are reliable bestsellers. And Lee Child was recently shown to have the strongest brand in publishing, with fans following him from book to book more than any other author, because of his reliably entertaining books. Uwe Boll is the opposite of this brand of success and reliability.

Essentially media consumers like us are less likely to try a new author, or watch a film by a new director, or one that stars actors we haven’t heard of, because of the Uwe Boll’s of this world. We want our entertainment to be entertaining – I know, not much to ask really – and we hate being mislead by slick tricks. We see a cool poster or cover, we see a big name actor attached, or read a cool blurb, only to be sorely disappointed. So instead of trying something new, we stick with what we know and trust.

I guess that is why I promote books I’ve read and liked on this site. That is why we need people to review books, movies, TV shows and music. That is why we need to find people with similar tastes to make recommendations to us. If we can’t stop Uwe Boll making films, at least we can tell people about the films that are worth watching.

Rules of thriller writing

archer-gun

1) If in doubt kill a character.

2) Plot holes can be filled with dead bodies.

3) Nothing screams thriller more than characters screaming for their lives.

4) Car chases and shootouts are mandatory.

5) The hero can’t die, unless you really, really want them to.

6) The bad-guy must die horribly, unless you want them for the sequel. Even then, the sequel could be a zombie thriller.

7) Beloved minor characters must die the most gruesome and pointless of deaths.

8) Minor bad-guys must follow the inverse ninja law.

9) The only reason a gun should ever run out of bullets is if it puts the hero in even more danger.

10) The rules of physics and biology do not apply to the hero, unless it puts them in even more danger.

11) Deus ex machina can only be used once in the story, so use it wisely.

12) If your story hasn’t given your readers a heart attack, rewrite it so that it does.

See also:

http://davidmorrell.net/on-writing/writing-advice/

http://www.creative-writing-now.com/how-to-write-a-thriller.html

http://www.writerscentre.com.au/sydney/thrillerwriting.htm

Book Review: Arctic Floor by Mark Aitken

Arctic FloorArctic Floor by Mark Aitken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is nothing quite like a marketing executive, especially when they work in publishing. These are the people who come up with the fantastic ideas like: dog on the cover because dogs sell books, no dogs in the book; bright and cheery cover art, book about a serial killer; quotes recommending the book by famous authors, authors that have the same publisher. In this case the marketing department came up with a brilliant idea: Matthew Reilly is an Australian author who sells a lot of books, let’s mention him on the cover, despite the fact that the two authors write in a completely different style.

I grabbed Mark’s book from my local library because I saw he had a new book out, the third in a series, and I hadn’t heard of him previously. A fellow Aussie author, with a comparison to Matthew Reilly on the cover: this should be gold. Needless to say, the marketing people drew me in with false advertising. Mark’s book is a thriller and was a decent read, but he was more Cussler or Archer than Reilly. In fact, I was more reminded of Sahara (swap baking temperatures for freezing cold) than I was of Ice Station.

False advertising aside, this is quite a decent thriller. Worth a read, if you are after a James Rollins or Clive Cussler style novel. I’d expect later books in this series will probably “grab” the reader more, so maybe check out Mark’s new one.

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Book Review: Lockdown by Sean Black

LockdownLockdown by Sean Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometime last year Matt Hilton recommended a few authors to me, one of them being Sean Black. I dutifully downloaded a sample of Lockdown onto my Kindle, just letting it sit there, doing the electronic equivilent of gathering dust. Actually, in the digital age, I wonder if we will develop so many little phrases like “gathering dust” since the electronic medium has a lack of physical presence to have relatable descriptions assigned.

Over a year later I finally started Sean’s first novel, bought the full Kindle version, and plowed through this fast paced novel. I really enjoyed the brisk narrative and I could see similarities to Matt’s writing, which is probably why he was recommending Sean’s work.

Guess now I have to find more of Sean’s books.

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Book Review: Temple of the Gods By Andy McDermott

Temple Of The Gods (Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase, #8)Temple Of The Gods by Andy McDermott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ridiculously fast paced action, check. Plot that squirms and worms its way along as fast as the action, check. Nina and Eddie blowing up everything they come across, check. Must be another adventure by Andy McDermott.

In my book Andy McDermott and Matthew Reilly are the kings of fast paced action novels. There is no stone left unthrown, no ancient monument left intact, no bad guys die peacefully: brilliant! Of course this style of novel is not for everyone, especially if you have a pacemaker or take beta-blockers. Some people like to read literature, so there is no accounting for taste.

I have unfortunately missed the previous installment in the series, Empire of Gold, jumping straight from The Sacred Vault. This didn’t affect my enjoyment, but there is reference to past adventures throughout in the plot, so it is best to read the series in order. The cadre of evil billionaires are back again, something the world never seems to run out of for some reason, causing more trouble in their quest to dominate. If you take a close look you will recognise who the people are based upon, Gina Rhinehart and the Koch brothers being alluded to as evil: who’d have thunk?

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Book Review: Temple by Matthew Reilly

TempleTemple by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a little sad. Not because of this book, this book was great. I’m sad because I’ve now read all of Matthew Reilly’s books at least once. I have to wait for his next book to be published: wait!!

If anything, Temple is probably one of Matt’s best books. In typical Reilly style it redefines fast paced and action packed, but this also feels more complete than the Jack West Jnr series. It is also one of his longer books, so plenty of entertainment in this novel to keep you going.

In short, read it.

For those Matthew Reilly fans like me who are awaiting Matt’s next release, it seems he is back writing again after the tragedy last year. Hopefully he is on the mend emotionally as well and can continue to entertain us. Apparently his fans have been out in force to see him at the Supanova events, including the Doc.

A harem of Leias?

Guess this makes Matt the taller version of Marty McFly.

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Book Review: McGrave by Lee Goldberg

Mcgrave Mcgrave by Lee Goldberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are some books that you read and feel enlightened about the world around you. There are some books that are fascinating and insightful, making you think. Then there are some that are just unashamedly fun.

McGrave is a straight up actioneer, pure fun, and revels in what some would call cheesy cliches. Instead these cliches are actually part of the humour Less has used to make this story fun.

This story was originally written as a pilot for TV and reminds me greatly of the 80s cop shows. In fact, if you ever saw the hilarious Sledge Hammer, then you could imagine a similar take on action and cop adventure played straight. This McGrave adventure is certainly an escapist pleasure and it had me laughing and entertained throughout.

Treat yourself, unless your idea of a treat is Tolstoy.

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