Do Story Trilogies Always End in War?

I just blazed through Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As I neared the end, I noticed a trend in sequels, especially ones that lead to a trilogy: War.

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I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I read that the peculiars in the book were gearing up for a war against the hollows. (There’re plenty of other twists in the book that will keep you guessing). Now, I don’t know if the peculiar series will be a trilogy or keep going, but I do know they’re following a trilogy pattern set forth by many previous books.

Let’s face it. Sequels need to be more than their predecessor. Bigger. Flashier. With more risk. Some story trilogies handle this by piling on the villains. (Think about the orginal Batman movies. You have Joker in the first one. Then Penguin and Catwoman int he second. By the third, the landscape is littered with villains.)

The smarter story trilogies go for the “war” arc. In the first book, it’s only the protagonist up against the ropes. He or she has to face amazing odds. By the sequel, though, the landscape of conflict broadens. Often book two (or movie two) is a prelude to war. Characters are gearing up. The final payoff comes in the final installment where all hell breaks loose.

Don’t believe me? Here are some examples.

Hunger Games: This one is almost the template for the war arc. Book one is only Katniss. By book two, she’s swept up in a conspiracy to use her as a leader for the resistance. Then book three is all about the war.

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Uglies: Still my favorite book series, it too follows the war arc, although a bit more slowly. In book two (Pretties), Tally leaves the rebellion to go “undercover” in the city. Yet it completes the cycle by making her a super-weapon to help fight the war in the third book (Specials).

Lord of the Rings: True, both the second and third books have wars, but the scope expands. Two Towers has Rohan fighting for survival and the force against them seems gargantuan. Yet this battle seems teeny when compared to the epic clash for Gondor in Return of the King. Think about it. This book series started with nine companions, yet broadened to take on the whole world of Middle Earth.

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Star Wars: I’m only going to look at the original movies (Episodes IV through VI), though I imagine this war arc would apply to the prequels. True, the rebellion attacks and destroys the Death Star in Episode IV. Yet this was just Lucus going for broke. Who knew if he’d ever get funding for the remaining movies. Then compare the rebel force from New Hope to the rebels at the end of Empire Strikes Back. A complete scale up. The rebels are preparing for a massive battle that happens, surprise, in the third movie (Return of the Jedi).

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Does this war arc hold true for any other books or films? You tell me. Comment below if you have any other stellar examples.

Tim Kane

5 Best Scenes of Drunkeness from Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Sure, as a fan of horror, everyone’s getting plastered. Yet turn to fantasy, sci-fi, or superheroes and debauchery is more limited. When I picked these scenes, I tried to choose ones that resonated with me. A scene of drunkenness that glued itself so hard to my brain, I could never wipe it clean (unlike most nights drinking). Where possible, I included a link to the YouTube clip of the scene. Just click on the picture.

1 Superman III

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First let me say that I saw this movie nine times in the theater. I’m not saying it was a good movie. Only that I had a lot of spare time as a twelve-year-old with a bike. I think the writers were trying for a sort of Bizarro. Only in this version, Richard Pryor (playing computer genius Gus Gorman) tries to recreate kryptonite but one ingredient is unknown.  Since it’s the 80s, he has a pack of cigarettes and enters “tar” as the final ingredient. When exposed to this tar kryptonite, it turns Supe nasty and evil (this the drinking binge).

2 Iron Man 2

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I couldn’t find any pics of the best scenes, where Tony Stark is dancing with hotties or blasting water melons. Lets just say it’s what we expect most people would do with super powers.

3 Princess Bride

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By far one of my most favorite movies. This scene takes some explaining (although if you haven’t seen the movie, stop everything and go and rent it now). Inigo, a famous swordsman, has failed to defeat the Man in Black, so he gets himself rip roaring drunk. The real fun begins when the local police, headed by his pal Fezzik come across him. Fezzik nourishes Inigo back to health by repeatedly dunking his head in water.

4 Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

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I often replay the drinking game between Gimli and Legolas. The dwarf pounds beer after beer, while the elf only gets tingly in his fingers.

5 Star Trek (J. J. Abrams remake)

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Why is this my first choice. Well, I wish I could have found a movie clip, but it’s such a great scene. Chris Pine (as James T. Kirk) simultaneously flirts with Uhura, insults some aggressive bar folk, and gets his butt kicked. Here’s how the lines went down:

Lt. Nyota Uhura: I’m impressed. For a moment there, I thought you were just a dumb hick who only has sex with farm animals.
James T. Kirk: Well, not only.
Burly Cadet #1: This townie isn’t bothering you, right?
Lt. Nyota Uhura: Oh, beyond belief, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
James T. Kirk: You could handle me, if that’s an invitation.
Burly Cadet #1: Hey, you better mind your manners.
James T. Kirk: Oh relax, cupcake, it was a joke.
Burly Cadet #1: Hey, farm-boy, maybe you can’t count, but there are four of us and one of you.
James T. Kirk: So, get two more guys and then it’ll be an even fight.

What are your favorite drunken scenes from sci-fi, fantasy, or superhero movies? Comment below.

Tim Kane

It’s Midsummer: Time for Human Sacrifice

One of my most favorite flicks to watch this time of year is The Wicker Man. Not the god-awful remake with Nicolas Cage, but the 1973 original with Christopher Lee. For those of you not familiar with that name, he’s probably better known these days as Count Dooku from the Star Wars prequels or Saruman from The Lord of the Rings. For me, I shall always remember him as Dracula from the series of Hammer monster films in the 60s and 70s.

The Wicker Man shows the conflict of traditional Christianity, in the form of Sergeant Neil Howie, and paganism, in the form of Summerisle. It turns out the the crops last year weren’t so splendid. Therefore, the island needs a human sacrifice. A virgin to be precise. They lure the sergeant there on the pretense of a missing girl. Though he’s the one they’re after. The film culminates with the poor fella being locked in a ginormous wicker man and being set ablaze.

The comedy of the film lies in this totally proper sergeant butting heads with some free loving hippie pagans. There’s a scene where naked girls are leaping over a fire in order to get pregnant. Sergeant Howie objects to their nudity. To which Lord Summerisle (played by Christopher Lee) responds: “Naturally! It’s much too dangerous to jump through fire with their clothes on!”

A year or so ago, I stumbled upon a version of this wonderful film as played by the Muppets. Below is a YouTube preview. But the real fun lies in the web-comic. It completely embodies the spirit of the film.

Tim Kane

Geek Speak: A Twenty-First Century Disease?

Often my mind works in quotes. “My friends, you bow for no one.” or “How about a magic trick?” These sorts of things bounce through my brain like pin balls. Sometimes I tilt, and get sucked into pop-culture mayhem. I don’t know if this is a twenty-first century disease, but I do know that it plagues me.

I sat down at the table with a plate of mash potatoes. My very first thought, even before butter or salt or silverware was: “This means something.” Then I formed the potatoes into a replica of the Devil’s Tower. My colleague sitting next to me had no idea what I was going on about.

Then, when I heard a friend of mine issue a tiny little squeak of a cough, I instantly thought: “I think I have the black lung.” He got it, and a series of Zoolander quotes ensued.

I’m lucky in that my wife gets most of these. We have the same humor level and watch mostly the same films. Likewise, my fellow teachers at school are geek inclined. Yet when did conversation turn into requotes from movies or television? It’s almost like my mind has become a twitter stream and I’m in constant retweet mode.

I find this frustrating as a writer because I dare not let this stuff slip into my pages. First, this stuff is so dated that it becomes obsolete within a few years. Second, this type of trivia is specialized. Only a few close friends will get all the references. Not an idea situation for young readers who don’t understand how cameras can work with film.

Tim Kane