Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Insecure Writer’s Support Group; Movie Reviews – Minions, Spiderhead, Maverick; and July Movie Preview

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

July question - If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

I have a couple I would select, but my heart goes back to Shannara. I grew up on those novels, fell in love with fantasy because of the series. Give me the magic of that book world.

The IWSG Goodreads Book Club July picks are –

Reaching For Normal (Bloo Moose #1) by Jemi Fraser

Magic at Midnight by Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Awaken: A Love Story by Elizabeth Mueller, our new IWSG Admin!

What good is "perfect" without love?
There is no crime in the Balance. No aging. No death. Living on the outskirts of society, Daemos escapes his prison with dark secrets that threaten the Balance. Because of this evidence, his life is forfeit. N'reena is drawn to him and the impossible happens--she falls for him. Lives are at stake, especially their own! Can she keep him a secret, or will the Balance destroy them?

Find it on Kindle Vella
You can also watch the author read the first episode on YouTube

And we need co-hosts for August 3, September 7, and October 5! Please let me know if you can help any of those dates.

Movie Reviews

Minions: The Rise of Gru

Picking up where the last Minion movie left off, this film boasts quite the list of voice actors: Steve Carell (as Gru), Taraji P Henson, Jean-Claude Can Damme, Michelle Yeoh, Dolph Lundgren, Lucy Lawless, Danny Trejo, Alan Arkin, Julie Andrews, and Pierre Coffin – the director of all other Minion/Despicable Me movies but this one.
If you’ve enjoyed the last four movies, you’ll enjoy this one. Nothing deep, just a lot of Minions being silly. And really, that’s about all I expect from a Minion movie.
Several nods to character we see later in the Despicable Me series.
Quite a few laughs and a lot of shenanigans from the Minions, but as always, their hearts are in the right place.


Starring Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett, and Mark Paguio. In exchange for a shorter sentence, convicts volunteer for drug experiments at a hidden facility.
This one was much better than anticipated. A mix of drama and thriller, the strength of the movie lies in its actors’ ability to keep you watching. What is the purpose of these drugs? How will this all end?
Hemsworth is the director of the facility and is both charming and unnerving. Teller (also in Top Gun: Maverick) is the criminal you really find yourself rooting for despite his past and what he does when on the drugs.
On NetFlix, I’d definitely recommend it.

Top Gun: Maverick

Picking up thirty-plus years later, it stars Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller, with a short, special appearance by Val Kilmer.
Similar to the first film in many ways. This time Maverick is wooing Connelly’s character, training the team for an impossible mission, and dealing with an estranged relationship with Goose’s son, played by Teller.
The flying sequences are amazing, really placing you in the cockpit. You get carried up in the story, emotionally involved.
Unfortunately, I know way too much about the military and planes, and my eyes rolled many, many times. The mission is one that could be solved a hundred different ways and much more effectively than sending the pilots on a near suicide mission. So, the complete lack of realism kind of blew it for me.
I was never a big fan of the first one, but it was fun to watch once. Recommended for fans of the first one, of which there are apparently many of you!

July Movie Preview

Here are the theatrical releases for July. Descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

8 –

Thor: Love and Thunder

Director Taika Waititi
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bakle, Taika Waititi
Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make the gods extinct.
And Sweet Child ‘O Mine will be permanently stuck in your head going into this film…

15 –

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank
Directors Mark Koetsier, Rob Minkoff, Chris Bailey
Stars: Michelle Yeoh, Samuel L. Jackson, Mel Brooks, Michael Cera
Hank, a loveable dog with a head full of dreams about becoming a samurai, sets off in search of his destiny.
I saw this for free as a kid. It was called Hong Kong Phooey.

22 –

Director: Jordan Peele
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Steven Yeun
The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.
Yep! Maybe. I don’t know…

29 –

The Reef: Stalked
Director: Andrew Traucki
Stars: Teressa Liane, Ann Truong, Tim Ross, Kate Lister, Saskia Archer
After her sister's murder, Nic, her younger sister and two friends seek solace through a Pacific island kayaking adventure. Hours into the trip the women are stalked by a shark and must band together, face their fears and save each other.
Are they 47 Meters Down in The Shallows and pursued by The Meg, or are they Shark Bait in the Deep Blue Sea with the Swamp Shark…?

What book world would you live in? Can you co-host the IWSG? See any of the movies? And what films are you seeing this month?
Enjoy your July! After next week, I will be mostly offline for the month but return August 3 for the next IWSG day.


Elephant's Child said...

Enjoy your month off.
I would very much like to visit the Ents. And seach for the Entwives who I can't help hoping are still alive...

J Lenni Dorner said...

I loved Ronel's book! Excellent bookclub selection this month.
The preview for Spiderhead didn't see great. But maybe I'll give it a shot.
For the IWSG July prompt asking which book world I would live in, I narrowed it down to three choices.
One is a short-story I published. One is from a popular series. And one is better known from television, but there are books. It's all on my blog.
Today's Google Doodle This is a tribute to Charlie Hill of the Oneida Nation, the first Native American stand-up comedian to be on a nationally broadcast television show.
Over at Operation Awesome, our Pass or Pages query contest opens Monday with July's family saga genre. Know any writers who might want to enter?

Pat Garcia said...

I think many writers have a desire to live in the world they write about.
Have a great month of July.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Lynn La Vita said...

It's amazing how books can shape our lives.
Thank you for sharing your love of writing with all of us.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Shannara is a great choice. I'd be glad to co-host any or all of these months. Let me know which ones you need me to help out.

Enjoy your July.

Nilanjana Bose said...

I'd make a beeline for Manderley or question :)

Enjoy your break!

Cathrina Constantine said...

I loved those books by Terry Brooks. I read quite a few and enjoyed that world too! Good Choice.

I did have a chance to see Top Gun and loved it.

Relax and enjoy a month off.

Cathrina Constantine said...

I forgot to add, I could co-host any month except August.

Liza said...

Hope you have a wonderful break, Alex! Enjoy the summer.

Nancy Gideon said...

Umbrella Academy, Stranger Things, Dark Winds and Better Call Saul are on my small screen this month as Can't Miss viewing. I prefer small screen to the big guy (with the exception of movie popcorn!) but Thor will get me into a seat with very little struggle! Now Imigrant Song will have an ear worm companion!

Jennifer Lane said...

Your critique of Top Gun Maverick made me laugh--my nephews, who have studied engineering and flying (one is a pilot like their dad) also thought manned flights were ridiculous in this scenario. But I LOVED the original and the sequel, so I fell for it completely.

I actually read the short story inspiring Spiderhead, and it was my favorite story in the compilation but still not my preferred read. I thought the ending was much better than the beginning. A very atmospheric story.

Hope you had a great 4th, Alex!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I can't wait to see The Minions! They always make me laugh. :)

I watched the trailer for The Reef: Stalked just the other day, and your comments are spot-on and hilarious! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Shannara would be a wonderful place - loved those stories and that world!!!

Excited to see Bloo Moose in the book club! Thanks to the group for choosing it!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I loved the Minion movie! Of course. LOL

Birgit said...

Despite the evil eye, Sauron and some evil floating around, I’d love to live in the elfin world of Lord of the rings. We just saw Downton Abbey which was a bit of a let down. Fellowes was try Ing too hard to make everyone happy...too many little plots. I still liked it though. I have no desire to see the next Top Gun Movie...I still haven’t seen the first one. Interesting that you know about all of this so you know that they could find a different path. I guess there would be no movie then. I will see Thor but I find that Disney seems to be prostituting the series now. I love the minions but I am behind in seeing the other films except for the first one. That one movie, Nope, sounds intriguing but I’ll make a pass on another shark flick. Have a beautiful Day Alex!

H. R. Sinclair said...

Great book pick! I was never sure about the new Top Gun movie, less so now. :)

Melissa said...

I want to help, but I just went back to night shift, and my schedule pattern puts me working across every single first Wednesday. I'll be doing good to post and make visits as a participant.

Enjoy your cyber break.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I would very much like to be Victor Standish in my New Orleans fantasy novel as Pat Garcia would not be surprised to find out! Heal and rest on your month off, Alex!

Loni Townsend said...

I'm looking forward to Thor. It looks like so much fun. And I enjoyed Terry Brooks' world too, though my young me gravitated to Landover first.

If you find yourself in a pinch, I can probably cohost August. I've been in a better mental space lately, and school doesn't start until the 23rd that month, so I should be good if you need me.

Diane Burton said...

My 4-ywE-OLS grandsons are anxiously looking forward to the minion movie. They'll "force" me to watch it. LOL Have a great month.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

J, Spiderhead really surprised me.

Natalie, I know I have you down for one coming up.

Cathrina, thanks!

Nancy - funny!!

Jennifer, check out the movie then.

Madeline, I aim to amuse.

Melissa, no worries.

Loni, thanks!

Fundy Blue said...

I haven't made it to the movie theater yet. I might see "Top Gun" just to see the flying sequences. I loved what you did with Byron and his flying in CassaStar. I may have some brain fog ~ I think I already volunteered to co-host in September. Did I? I can't do August or October. Take care!

PT Dilloway said...

No matter what, The Reef has to be better than Jurassic Shark. The first Top Gun was pretty laughable too in terms of accuracy; it's too bad they didn't fix that with the sequel.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Great movie reviews. I liked Top Gun back in the 80's. Now, not so much. Cruise is no longer a favorite of mine. I'll watch the movie when it starts streaming.
I could co-host in Oct.

cleemckenzie said...

It's great to see our members' books featured. I've read several of Jemi's and enjoyed them.

I have to see Top Gun I guess because everyone says it's a good movie. I liked the first one.

Sadira Stone said...

I always enjoy your movie reviews. Hubs is itching to see Top Gun, so I'm looking forward to that one. Happy writing in July!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I sympathize with how you feel about Top Gun, Alex. Sometimes it is better if you can immerse yourself in fantasy. I feel the same way when so many good Hollywood movies are filmed in Toronto pretending to be NYC. Like we wouldn't know. Happy IWSG Day.

Tonja Drecker said...

Shannara! I'd forgotten about those. I'd enjoy helping out in October if you still need co-hosts for then.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Alex, I thought you may want to live in the Cassa World :)
Enjoy your month off!

A Hundred Quills said...

Hi Alex. Here's a fan of Top Gun, surprised to meet a non-fan here! 😀😀

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to re-up Netflix and watch Spiderhead. I love those kinds of movies. I'm iffy on the new Top Gun - the first one was ruined by the goofball love story.

I'm happy to co-host, August my first choice, but can do September or October.

Botanist said...

Book world ... so many to choose from, but I always thought Iain M Banks's Culture would be a cool place to live.

The Minions are fun. Sadly a lot of cinema-goers experience is being ruined by the Minions TikTok craze with a lot of rowdy behaviour. I think social media should be renamed anti-social media :(

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Louise, September is good!

Pat, Jurassic Shark was beyond awful.

Thanks, Mary!

Joylene, that's pathetic.

Thanks, Tonja!

Rachna, I didn't think of that until I saw other selecting their book worlds.

Ian, it should!

Carol Kilgore said...

Enjoy your time off. We all need that every once in a while.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Hi, Alex! Thank you for the spotlight. I found your take on Top Gun amusing. Haha! It bites how movies don't get roasted for not sticking to reality like writers do. *sigh*

J E Oneil said...

I actually saw Spiderhead a few weeks ago. Mjolnir would definitely not approve of Thor there.

I can't wait for another Jordan Peele movie. That looks so awesome.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Hi Alex! I can help with co-hosting if you need me. Could it be one of the later dates, though?

Ah, the magic of the book world. As long as I'm grounded in the world, I believe. I keep up with new books and movies through your blog, Alex. Thanks for all you do, sir, to assist your fellow writer. All best to you!

talklady said...

Yo, Alex, I'll happily co-host as needed. I like to 'go social' and confessing insecurities doesn't daunt me! Heck, I have as many of them as I have freckles!

I was hoping that you'd see-review the Elvis movie. I've heard that the movie is great, but I wasn't an Elvis fan. Now... I am a Tom Hanks fan, so maybe.

Enjoy your time off -

Liz A. said...

Miles Teller seems to be everywhere these days. I just finished The Offer (on Paramount +), and he was the lead in that (playing the producer of The Godfather).

Karen Baldwin said...

My daughter is a big fan of Shannara. She has every book. I really need to read one. Have a great time off. said...

Hi, Alex.
It's great to get your military take on Maverick. I actually saw it and really liked it. But as ignorant as I am about the military, I did have a phew "Come on, Hollywood" moments (Is it that easy to steal/borrow and fly off on a precious fighter plane?) Ha.

I think I'd like to be lost in Alice in Wonderland. No wait, make that Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!

Cheers and well wishes.

Olga Godim said...

I read a few Terry Brooks novels, although not all of them, and I remember them kindly. I'm not surprised at your choice.
I could co-host in August or September, but not October.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Shannara's a great choice!

diedre Knight said...

Howdy, Captain!

Loved your answer to the question. I realized I've already created worlds in which I'd rather live sometimes ;-)
I'm the only one who hasn't seen Top Gun: Maverick. I probably will though, one of these days.
If your review of NOPE was intended to entice, it worked ;-)

Sandra Cox said...

Shannara is a good pick:)
Thor is on my to-see list:)
We'll leave the light on for you.
If you need me to co-host holler.

Sherry Ellis said...

I had never heard of Shannara. Sci-fi, I presume. I couldn't think of a fantasy world where I'd like to live, so I chose Corfu, Greece from a memoir.

Nope is sure a funny name for a movie!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elizabeth, so true!

Thanks, Victoria!

PJ, thanks! Sorry, haven't seen that one. I like Hanks as well.

Karen, you should!

Robyn - no! Not that easy.

Olga, thanks - we needed some August help.

Sandra, thanks!

Sherry - fantasy! Author Terry Brooks.

Rhonda Albom said...

I am looking forward to the new Top Gun, and pleased to see a movie I think I would like on your list. As for books, I grew up with Little House on the Prairie, but I don't think I would want to live it. I think I would choose something from the steampunk era. said...

I can co-host in September, Alex. Enjoy your month off!

Cherie Colyer said...

I'd live in the Harry Potter world, hopefully as a witch.

Enjoy your month off.

mail4rosey said...

I don't know that I'd live in any book I've read but I might ask my students that question next year. You've got me curious about Shannara. We saw two movies this week (it's like a movie summer over here this year, lol). Minions The crowd clapped at the end which left me surprised. It's a warm and fuzzy feeling when the theater claps, lol, but I just thought it was a normal Minions movie, like you said. The kiddo enjoyed it! And we saw Elvis. I was so surprised that I didn't enjoy it more. I thought it was too long and a tad bit boring (yeeikes). I guess I wanted more of a concert, lol. The actors were good though, very realistic.

mail4rosey said...

Oh, and today is Thor! We are definitely going to see that one. :)

G. B. Miller said...

Seriously? A reboot of a mediocre 70'sish cartoon? Sounds like they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel for reboots.

Haven't been to a movie since "The Secret World/Lives of Pets" came out, so while they look interesting, I'm not inclined to sit in a theater with my fellow man just yet.

Not quite sure what book world I would like to live in since I haven't read much in the way of fiction for the better part of 50+ years. Maybe the world of where Lonesome Dove/Streets of Loredo are set, or maybe Shogun?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Kim, thanks!

Rosey, Terry Brooks is the author - check out his books. And we are seeing Thor early on Friday.

Deniz Bevan said...

Hope you have a wonderful month off!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex - the Minions have had a lot of viewings here - I saw an extraordinary film 'Flee' recently ... absolutely incredible - I wrote about it at the end of June. Superb film ... :

"This animated documentary: 'Depicts the refugee experience through vivid animation, pushing the boundaries of documentary film-making to present a moving memoir of self-discovery …'" - the creativity of the film really sets the mind wandering ...

Growing up I loved the romantic 16th books about Angelique - I learnt so much ... history, science etc etc ... typical good read books for a teenager!

Have a great holiday - cheers Hilary

Damyanti Biswas said...

Watching Minion: Rise of Gru was just splendid :)

Kate Larkindale said...

I kind of already live in the Shannara world - the TV series was shot here!

I will have to look up Spiderhead. It sounds interesting. And in Top Gun, did anyone else find it weird that everyone had aged 30 years except Tom Cruise who seemed to have only aged about 15?

Mary Kirkland said...

I watched Spiderhead and just didn't care for it. I found it kinda boring.

If I had to pick a book to live in it would probably be one of the vampire books where all the males are always looking for mates. lol

Chemist Ken said...

Shannara got me back into high fantasy, reminding me if the thrill I'd gotten from LOTR.

Gwen Gardner said...

I don't think I realized Shannara was a land in books. I watched a series on Netflix with the same name which I really liked. I'm wondering if they're the same?

Tara Tyler said...

super fun and informative packed! as usual
side note: i bet the humble elizabeth seckman didn’t mention her recent release - i’m recommending her latest book for a plug if you have room next month

movies are slim pickins, but i guess considering the limited 2020 production schedule that’s to be expected
but HONG KONG PHOOEY!! yesss

btw, your forgot... in the middle of a Sharknado!

ps - i can host Aug 3, summer is my jam!

Tara Tyler Talks

Nick Wilford said...

We saw Spiderhead. And the kids have seen Minions of course. My daughter fashioned her own dungarees for the occasion. My wife has a Tom Cruise allergy so we never see his movies, but I'm fine with it. The original Top Gun was enough for me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Kate, that's cool. Just wish the series had been better and not so teenage-angst ridden. And Cruise did look younger, but then Kilmer has had so many serious health issues.

Ken, very cool.

Gwen, they were. Very, very, very loosely based on the first trilogy.

Tara, she didn't mention but I will plug it next month. And appreciate the offer.

Janet Alcorn said...

Haven't seen Maverick yet but probably will so I can drool over the airplanes (same thing I did when I saw the first one 30+ years ago). Who cares about Tom Cruise or the story when there are airplanes? :-)

I'm always happy to co-host the IWSG. I can do any month this year except September. Enjoy your offline time!

Shady Del Knight said...

Hi, Alex!

I'd be interested in watching Top Gun: Maverick because I liked the original well enough and I love Jen Connelly. Right up my dark alley are the UFO sci-fi horror thriller Nope and The Reef: Stalked. Hey, if I sat through all 25 sequels of Sharknado, I'm sure I'd enjoy Stalked. Thanks for mentioning Mandy Moore's shark survival film 47 Meters Down.

Have a great week, good buddy Alex!

Andrew Leon said...

I'm also not really a fan of the first Top Gun.
Weird that we'd agree on that movie.

Juneta key said...

I love that world too. Dang so many I cannot choose just one, but I guess if I did it would be Star Wars.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Janet, thanks! And unique thing to drool over...

Shady, you can survive anything...

Andrew, at least we do!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'd definitely love to step back into Jane Austen's world. Although I'm not sure I could handle that much needlework and piano playing!

mail4rosey said...

Hi Alex. I'm back to revise my last comment. I said Thor was just okay, enjoyable but just okay. Now that I've read the girl at the start of the movie is the Hemsworth's daughter, it makes me like it more. I'm not sure why. Probably the mom in me, lol.

Al Penwasser said...

Natalie Portman wielding the Hammer? I just can't.

Al Penwasser said...

As a former Navy flier, far too many AYFKM moments in "Maverick." But, I shut my brain off and enjoyed it.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Top Gun was a refreshing feel-good movie. I didn't get lectured by Hollywood, so I give it a double thumb's up!

Toi Thomas said...

I'm so late making the rounds this month, but what a great post.
I haven't seen Minions: The Rise of Gru yet, but that's mostly because I'm behind on the overall series. Enjoyed the first two and will get caught up someday. The rest of the movies are a blur for me. I will see Thor: Love and Thunder but maybe not in the theater.

Toi Thomas said...

Oh, and thanks for sharing the book club selections.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

So much good news! I'm so glad that movies are in the theaters again, and that I feel "safe' to go.


Michael Di Gesu said...

Yay, I can leave a comment. I have had such a hard time with so many problems leaving comments! I figured if I use Chrome, I can leave comments on some sights. So frustrating!

Sorry for the rant, Alex...

YOU and me both! I LOVE the Shannara novels! They totally inspired me to write fantasy and I am amazed at how Brooks can create such a VIVID and IMPRESSIVE World.

Michael Abayomi said...

I still haven't seen the first Minions film, which was largely why I'd opted to skip this one. Will probably have to catch them both on streaming someday.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I'll watch the Minions movie -- always good for a laugh.

Patsy said...

My first published novel was based, very loosely, on an idealised version of my early years, so that would be a nice place for me to visit.

Sandra Cox said...

And I still haven't seen Thor. Sigh.
Have a great one, Alex;)

Deniz Bevan said...

I'm ashamed to say I haven't read Terry Brooks yet. Going to go see if there's a Kindle sale on!

Blue Grumpster said...

I know absolutely nothing about the military and planes, and I still felt the mission was one that could be solved a hundred different ways and much more effectively than sending the pilots on a near suicide mission.

And yet, I still enjoyed it a whole lot. Now, how does that happen?