Shifting Reality: Book I of the ISF-Allion Series – Review

I have been know to review books here on Screenphiles, but it’s not something that I do on any sort of regular basis.

That being said, I just finished Patty Jansen‘s Shifting Reality, the Book I of the ISF-Allion Series and it was…okay.

The future world the novel depicts was an interesting one, though my biggest gripe is that the book, in an effort by the writer to craft what appears to be a viable future, can be very exposition-heavy.

At the end of the novel, in a section called ‘About the Setting’ Jansen explains that a ‘major disaster’ drove rural people into Jarkarta where the worker population was sourced.

What is never made quite clear is why they were sourced from that region (other than the writer being fascinated with Indonesia and it’s culture).

Another way the book would have been improved would be if more information was provided about the ISF–their origins and how they came to be–as well as Allion–which initially seems like a sinister conglomerate but ends up so much more.

Luckily Melati Rudiyanto, the main protagonist of the novel, is our eyes and ears into this fascinating futurescape because while the narrative may lag on occasion, she was interesting enough to keep me invested.

Overall Shifting Reality is a pretty good read (despite the occasional narrative lag), and worth seeking out.

I discovered Shifting Reality via The Humble Bundle, where you can pay what you like for eBooks that shift regularly in terms of genre, so this week it might be horror, though next week or could be hard Sci-Fi, and so on.

It – Teaser Trailer and Trailer 1

As far as I’m concerned–at least initially–the best horror is in the sizzle, not the steak.

Keep in mind that in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws for a good portion of the movie you never see the shark at all (for the most part a fortuitous accident.  The mechanical shark, known affectionately as Bruce, more often than not didn’t work as planned, forcing Spielberg  to improvise).

Ridley Scott’s Alien followed a similar template, where the monster was gradually teased, making its reveal all the more terrifying.

The first version of Stephen King’s IT did a similar thing, doling out hints and glimpses of the evil clown, Pennywise, before the final reveal.

And Tim Curry’s Pennywise was terrifying, though why he was so unnerving is important.

First off, clowns are slightly creepy in and of themselves.  It doesn’t take all that much to make one look just a bit off…

And I suspect Tim Curry knew this. Visually his Pennywise looked like any ordinary clown, but the way Curry’s voice sounded combined with the way he carried himself made Pennywise oddly disturbing.

This new version of Pennywise looks as if they’re trying too hard to be Scary, and it doesn’t particularly work.  As I mentioned earlier, Tim Curry’s version wasn’t necessarily trying to look scary.  In fact, he looked like a clown that you’d see on just about any circus in the country.


But what the makers of is rebooted series don’t seem to understand is that having one oversized shoe in the normal world, and the other in the bizarre, is what’s terrifying.

This new version, as far as I can tell, tries way too hard.

Bright – Teaser Trailer

Davis Ayer’s Bright is a fascinating movie for numerous reasons.  The first being that it was directed by Ayer himself, off the box office success of Suicide Squad.  Next is that it was written by Max Landis, son of John Landis and a in-demand writer.

Though what’s most interesting is that it’s being financed to the tune of $90 million by Netflix, and will be seen no where else (as far as I am aware) but there. And while I know that they get their money not from box office receipts, but subscribers $90 is a lot of moolah and as far as I know, their most expensive production to date.

Alien: Covenant Movie Clip – Prologue: Last Supper – Trailer

I really, really like this recently released clip from Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant because it seems–with good reason–to assume that most viewers are already familiar with the xenomorphs and instead spends its time developing the human characters. 

And there’s more character development in the just over four minute scene than in some entire movies, which is pleasing. 

And the ‘shout-out’ to Scott’s original–which starts around 2:47–is a lot of fun and pretty cheeky.  

Though what’s not so pleasant to me is the appearance of James Franco, that felt a little bit out of place for me.

And I readily admit that I have no particularly valid reason why I feel that way. 


Alien: Covenant Red Band Trailer

Get Out – Trailer

I admit to being influenced by reviews a bit more than perhaps should in that if someome has a terrible time watching this or that, while it by no means guarantees that I won’t see it, though it does make it much more likely. 

For instance. I was genuinely curious about The Bye Bye Man, till I watched the guys over at Half In The Bag review/mock it. 

Now, not so interested (in my defense, it sounds really, really bad). 

Seeing that there aren’t a ton of horror movies coming out, I was thinking that maybe beggars can’t be choosers till I learned Jordan Peele has written and directed Get Out for Blunhouse Pictures, and it’s getting some pretty decent press so far.

Though there are some huge caveats, the main one being that David Ehrlich’s review–while by no means negative–isn’t exactly what I’d call positive, in that it spends so much time dealing with the racial aspects of Poole’s movie that it doesn’t properly address the huge elephant in the room, which is namely if Get Out is effective as a horror movie.

After all, that’s what it supposedly is, and all the praise in other areas–while commendable–sort of miss the point. 

XX – Official Trailer

XX, not to be confused with XXX: The Return of Zander Cage, is likely named after the female sex chromosome, an indicator this anthology (in this instance a movie composed of a series of shorts) will be directed by entirely by women.  

Though what I am most concerned about is if the movie will be consistently scary because anthologies are notoriously difficult to do well due to they’re only as strong as their weakest entry (one reason Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone is one of the best of the breed is that it originally aired on network television, an episode at a time.  This meant that strong stories weren’t shown directly before or after weaker ones, enabling viewers to judge them each on their own merits, as opposed to being directly compared against what aired only minutes before).  

And having the whole project based around the fact that the directors are women?  Not too sure that that’s a great idea because I would think that it’s only relevant if their sex informs what we’re seeing on screen in identifiable ways (who we are as individuals informs everything that we do, but in this particular instance the choice of female directors need to bring some sort of additional insight–for instance, I suspect Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook would be an entirely different movie in terms of its narrative thrust as well as its priorities, if it were directed by a man) that enhance what we’re seeing on screen. 

Though if nothing about the vignettes that make up XX brings the distinctiveness I spoke to earlier, then I am unsure that there’s a point.  

The Moon (Knight) Rises?

The idea that James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) is particularly fond of Moon Knight is really great news because I can think of nothing better than seeing the Fist of Khonshu on the big screen.

But the hurdles for that happening are two-fold.  First Gunn is occupied working on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, so he doesn’t have time to direct.  

The second issue is that Marvel Studios’ production slate is booked so far in advance that even if Gunn were ready to go tomorrow there’s no guarantee that they could fit it into their schedule (according to Screenrant their production slate is filled all the way to 2028).

And that’s working on the assumption that Kevin Feige even thought it was a good idea.

But there’s a way to make it happen.  Instead of directing, what if Gunn wrote a treatment that could be ready for shooting but more than likely would form the basis of the movie that others could build on.

Then Marvel Studios would create a new imprint, in the vein of Marvel Knights, that would handle more adult-orientated characters that might warrant an R-rating (and Kevin Feige has said that he didn’t want to create R-rated movies.  This way he technically wouldn’t have to though more importantly the characters would remain faithful to the versions that their fans have come to expect).    

An important aspect of this strategy would be production budgets falling somewhere in the ballpark of $50-80 million because, while no one wants a movie to fail, if it weren’t able to meet expectations losing somewhere in the ballpark of $80 million is small change compared to the production budgets of most superhero movies today.