Let’s Talk About Space Operas {A Rant}

Posted in Movie Reviews, Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

When the first trailer for the film: “VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017)” appeared I got excited. It looked really cool and like I thought with “JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)“: “Hey space operas are making a come back!” This appeared to be a common thought among movie fans and critics in the lead up to the film’s release too.

Then the film opened to complete critical and box office failure.

The criticism I read was all the same, hated the acting, too much CGI, silly plot, cheesiness, you know the usual complaints. But the one thing nearly every review said that struck a cord with me: “I was hoping this would bring back space operas like Star Wars did, but I was wrong.” I’d read these same arguments back when Jupiter Ascending opened and now seeing them again I’ve come to an unfortunate conclusion: people don’t understand what a “space opera” is.

Wikipedia defines “Space Opera” as: “a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance and risk-taking. Set mainly, or entirely in outer space…”

The term to take away from that definition which I believe to be the main sticking point for people is: melodrama.

Melodrama isn’t realistic. At all. In fact it’s designed NOT TO BE realistic, because if it was all the other elements you must accept for the story to work would crumble. All of the supposed “cheesy” moments and “bad acting” is intentional and crucial to conveying the melodramatic. The romantic subplot of Valerian was silly and one dimensional, I won’t deny that. But could I look away? Not a chance! It’s a soap opera in space…you could call it a…space opera!

And when it comes to the acting, I hear criticism thrown towards the writing. That even if the actors were good nobody could make this dialogue work! Seriously?

I want to take everyone back a few decades. Back to when a little film called: “STAR WARS (1977)” was breaking records. Does anyone remember some of the dialogue in that film? The entire saga? I mean let’s be real, the culmination of the series love story is the Princess admitting she love the Rogue and him responding: “I know.”

I’m sorry did everyone just block that out?

I believe space opera watchers have the same mentality that Godzilla fans have. We tend to gloss over the cheese we don’t like for the epic cheese we love. To tie this back to Star Wars, we love lightsaber fights, space battles and rubber muppets. We skip over kooky dialogue and intergalactic politics {well some fans do at least!} And I get it, cheesy cinema isn’t for everyone, but walking onto a dairy farm and declaring it a bad farm because you’re lactose intolerant is foolish.

I guess what I’m saying is no form of artistic media is perfect, but before you toss your two cents into the void please understand why you didn’t enjoy it. Some art is just for fun, other art is all serious. Disregarding something because your genre expectation was off is pointless.

More succinctly: know your genre.


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22


[FLICK REVIEW] “Death Wish (2018)”

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

I don’t hate all remakes. They can be as good and on a rare occasion surpass the original film! Most however, are worthless wastes of money and time.

And then there is Eli Roth’s glorious film: “DEATH WISH (2018)“!

A remake of the 1974 classic from Michael Winner starring the late, great Charles Bronson, this new Death Wish brings Bruce Willis into the role of Paul Kersey, now a Chicago doctor instead of a New York architect who after his wife is brutally murdered goes on a spree of vigilante killings. The basics of the original film are still here, but being 2018 several changes have been made.

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review/Thoughts

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2018 by theporkchopexpress


So finally, all the teases and plot threads that have been building throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe have come together in: “AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)“! The sequel film-goers have been promised to be the end all be of comic book films….yeah about that… Continue reading

[READING REVIEW] “Drive” & “Driven” by James Sallis

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

Let me start by saying I firmly believe the Nicolas Winding Refn film: “DRIVE (2011)” is one of the best films of the twenty-first century. So, receiving both the novel: “DRIVE” which the film was based on as well as the sequel novel: “DRIVEN” this past Christmas was a treat.

Written by author James Sallis, both books try for that old, pulpy styling in the prose. Sort of a modern Raymond Chandler feel, but not as hypnotic and lyrical.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s take this one book at a time…

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[FLICK REVIEW] “Prince Of Darkness (1987)”

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

To mark prolific director John Carpenter’s 70th birthday watching one of his classics was a must. In my case a classic I’d yet to see. This year brought me to: “PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)“, the second part of the unofficial “Apocalypse Trilogy”, which features “THE THING (1982)” before it and “IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994)” after it.

After watching this in what I can best describe as shock I have to ask, why isn’t this film brought up more when discussing Carpenter’s filmography? Sure I see it in top ten lists of his work, but it always seems to get the shortest discussion. Perhaps it confused too many people to get full recognition? This is fully understandable considering the plot.

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[READING REVIEW] “The Reading Buddy” by Bryce Gibson

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

Well this book was full of surprises!

Awhile back when I announced my transition from film making into writing books I stared getting followed on Twitter by various authors and book related sites. One of these authors to follow me was Bryce Gibson, a southern author based in South Carolina. After a quick glance at his material I quickly followed him back. His work focuses on darker stories set in the South. I live in {and like} the South and I like darker stories, sounds like a winner.

His newest work: “THE READING BUDDY” became my first piece to read. Its description of being a throwback to teen horror novels from the 1990s just screamed READ ME!

That’s when the surprises started.


  • It’s well written.
    So, as a throwback to ’90s horror it reads accurately. Even being set modern day the dialogue and tone feels like the classic Fear Street books. This isn’t an easy tone to achieve so hat’s off to Mr. Gibson! As a person who likes older media it’s exciting to find newer work that drips in old school.
  • It was a fast read.
    I usually do my reading at night before bed. I start and read until I’m tired. Most of my recent reading has taken a week or more due to only reading 10 pages or less before needing a good night’s rest.
    I read The Reading Buddy in three sittings.
    The longest being the final night where I burned through the final 100 pages unable to put it down! Now these particular 100 pages were a surprise that lead into my next point-
  • It jumped genre in a great way!
    Overall the book is indeed a throwback, but not entirely to ’90s teen horror. I’m not sure if Mr. Gibson did this intentionally, but it sure reads like he did. You see as I hit the last 100 pages it changed from teen horror into Italian Giallo!
    Several plot points which developed kicked my Giallo loving legs out from under me, I was not expecting the plot elements that were introduced at all. To be honest after reading several negative reviews I understand their confusion with this book. They saw this switch and couldn’t roll with it, but for me as a junkie for both types of horror I was more than giddy for what it brought me. I won’t spoil these elements here, just trust me when I say they are great and surprising to see in an American teen horror novel. Please keep this up Mr. Gibson!


  • A main plot point didn’t matter.
    There is something in this book that was advertised as a main point that ended up not meaning…anything? I guess it’s there as a red herring, but doesn’t really work for me because of how little it matters. To make it one step worse it tries to be a final “Gotcha!” moment which…didn’t work for me.


Heck yeah I’d recommend it! If you like horror/teen horror/Giallo/southern fiction it will appeal to you. It sucks you in from cover to cover. This book that will make a great movie someday. And for sure Bryce Gibson is an author to keep your eye on.

If you wish to buy a copy of “The Reading Buddy” CLICK HERE!


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22

M.H. Smith’s 2018 Manifesto

Posted in Life Events, Many Subjects!, Message(s), Project News!, Updates with tags , , , on January 1, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

So yeah 2017 didn’t go the way I expected. In fact I’d say it was a year of lazy failure on my part. Taking this into account, I’ve drafted my manifesto for 2018.

~On A Professional Level~

  • Complete My Assassin Short Film
    In 2017 Chris Widdop and I were able to complete filming on an assassin projected we started in 2016. The editing is well underway and by years end: IT WILL BE RELEASED!
  • Complete My Giallo Web Series
    By the end of January the two remaining scenes will be shot and I can begin work on the audio. The audio work is extensive and will take the longest to complete, but I’m confident for a 2018 release. More info is coming soon in a Giallo Update.
  • Continue Podcasting
    Podcasting is fun and I’ve got several episodes recorded that I plan on finishing. If I can get other people’s schedules to line up several more will be recorded. Once my film load dies down a consistent podcast schedule is very possible.
  • Publish Short Stories
    I’ve been slowly working on several short stories which are now in various drafts of completion. By Christmas at least one will be available for the world to read!

~On A Personal Level~

  • Read
    I was able to read several books in 2017, but I need to read more. This requires time, time which I plan to give this year! My hope is for one a week, but we’ll see how that goes…
  • Watch
    My wife and I have amassed a large backlog of movies in our collection that we haven’t seen. Like books I plan on crossing off as many as I can in the coming days.

These are my main goals for the year of 2018. It’s possible I’ll be able to add things throughout the year, but that will require success in what I’ve already listed.

Time to get to work!


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22