What could a Cell Phone do?

It has been said: great movies are timeless. But they’re not always tech literate!
No, I’m not talking about those old sci-fi movies where one can see the strings holding up the model spaceship. Nor am I referring to the early days of CGI and those screen dinosaurs that just look a bit too animated. I’m mostly thinking of the times where the plot and characters could have been drastically impacted by the lack or even the presence of modern technology. 
I’ve recently started playing this little game while watching old movies — many of them being the films I’ve loved for decades. I watch a movie and pick the moment that perhaps a cell phone or even the internet would completely change how the plot resolves. I guess it could be like the YouTube parody “How ‘blah blah’ should have ended…” Yet, call it, “how would that play out if he had a cell phone…” The internet is also a big cheat for lots of characters roadblocked by information problems. 
Now, the game could could ridiculously funny, if you use these concepts in historical movies prior to the 20th century. If only Elizabeth Swann could have whipped out a cell phone instead of using all of Jack’s rum to start a signal fire? Or sadly nostalgic (i.e. how old we’re getting), when thinking that ‘what if’ Suzie wasn’t sitting around her ham radio when Dustin needed to know Planck’s Constant in Stranger Things 3. Today, the kids would whip out their iPhone! 
At first, I mused myself with the game as a way to study plot holes and logic problems in my writing. Not that it happened often, but perhaps I have a character trapped inside a burning building. It’s a modern crime adventure. The character comes to the realization that no one can hear the screams for help. Spoilers: I want this character to die in the building before help arrives. But did I show or explain why this character doesn’t have a cell phone? If I did, then why aren’t they using it? See how that can be useful in plotting and outlining a believable story?
Sometimes I find that these little pesky details happen all too often in modern movies and television. It’s as if the writer just wanted the story or plot to happen in a certain way that they forget about common sense, technology, and reasoning. Even more troublesome is when the story forgets or stumbles on its own technology like recent Star Trek and Star Wars movies. Writers should really think about the situation and discuss the possible outcomes with other writers or readers. There’s no shame in altering a story or just adding that little narrative of the dead battery on the cell phone.
How Hollywood has changed. I think about to some great moments in cinematic history and how some couldn’t be made today. Take that very emotional scene from Spider-man 2 where Spidey/Peter just barely stops the runaway subway train. Poor Spider-man has had his mask damaged and removes it. He shoots web after web after web to stop the subway from racing off the edge of the raised platform. Just as he stops the train, he collapses in exhaustion, as he starts to fall, the passengers catch him and help carry him to safety inside the interior of the train car. They marvel how he’s just a kid and he’s no different than any of them. It’s a heartwarming scene and we forget that sometimes our heroes are just like us. Sometimes too much so. I get goosebumps just thinking bout it. Yet, the film was made in 2002. Could that scene have the same impact today in 2020? Or more specifically could that character be severely hurt by removing his mask? See, back then cell phones weren’t as common as today. And nearly all of them didn’t have a good or working camera. But if you were a passenger on that train and Spider-man just took his mask off, there would be 25 smart phones popping photos (or heck) even shooting video of the event to be put on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube later.  
**Sidebar: This is one thing that clearly irritates me and provides great anxiety within modern super-hero movies and shows. The character removes their mask every 10 minutes, and there seems to be no regard for being exposed! They have no concern for the possibility of being seen by a traffic camera or just a pedestrian on the street with a smartphone. I could count dozens of times in the MCU movies, Justice League, Man of Steel etc, where it’s obvious the writers had no concern of protecting their identities. Or is the real issue that actors need their close ups — logic be damned to us seeing their pretty faces….but I’ll get that at another time…**
This past Christmas I was re-watching my favorite Christmas movie — Die Hard — and realized that if the terrorists tried to take over the Nakatomi Plaza building today, they would have to do more than just cut the phone lines in the basement. They would need to bring cell phone blockers. Then, as they rounded up all the party goers (hostages), they would have to confiscate their smart phones. Or perhaps that would be Hans Gruber’s plan all along! He hopes that the party crashing goes viral on Instagram so the FBI shows up to cut the power on the building causing the last seal on the vault to go…
But I digress.  
Next time you want an old movie, find the scene that “would be so much different if they just pulled out their iPhone…”

Something Star Wars could have learned from Lord of the Rings!

The new Star Wars sequel trilogy was a movie series that was produced without direction; produced without logic; produced without a destination. When embarking on such a monstrous journey, one of so much expectation and financial investment, you’d think there would be a map — some kind of plan or outline. If anything, the Star Wars sequel trilogy did not!
While considering my thoughts and opinions of the three Star Wars sequels, I parallel the them with the making of the Lord of the Rings. The Peter Jackson trilogy was probably the most desired and anticipated movie series outside of Star Wars. The Tolkien fans are just as numerous and possibly just as judgmental and opinionated. The trilogy was a massive undertaking. Beginning with convincing a studio that they weren’t investing in one movie but three! In Jackson’s mind, there was no conceived way to adapt the first book and hope it was a success and hopefully get the green light to have a shot at the second or third books. He was going to make all three movies or none at all.
So what did Jackson do once he knew he was going to make a Lord of the Rings trilogy of films? He spent years researching, reading, adapting and planing. The books were meticulously adapted into the three screenplays. Those screenplays would continue to evolve to best convey the story cinematically. It goes without saying that adapting novels for the silver screen is difficult. Even in this venture, he had to rearrange scenes and add elements to provide a great movie going experience. Sometimes these changes irritated the fanatic readers of the book series. But, Jackson had a plan. 
He even shot the movies all at once. There was days in 1999 or 2000 when shooting included scenes for Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King. There was sets being built for Two Towers as Fellowship was still in production. The monumental task of the film series was too great for Peter Jackson not to spearhead the entire creative process. He knew that if the films were to appear visually the similar he had to direct them. He knew, if the story was going to hold up, he needed to take charge of the continuity and writing process. He wasn’t also responsible for the creative direction of the movies but he was responsible for the financial success too. He also wore the hat of chief financial officer. There was hundreds of millions of dollars at risk and he knew it.
So, I think about Disney’s approach to their recent investment — most likely the most important and infamous franchise of all time — Star Wars. A new trilogy was obvious. Yet, unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney and Lucasfilm threw out all previous expanded universe materials (only film and television productions were now official canon). They didn’t look to the thousands of books and comics as inspiration but insisted that new Star Wars needed a fresh slate so it could be creatively rewarding. It’s not contested that the MCU films were not direct translations of specific comics but its evident they were used to inspire the writing of those films. So why did Lucasfilm decide their vast library and resources were no longer important?  
Unlike Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, Disney and Lucasfilm decided to create each film separately. JJ Abrams was brought on board to write and direct the first film. Lucasfilm would then award the other two films to other directors. Those directors would be responsible for writing (or commissioning a script) and create a film without consulting the prior film’s creative staff. This seemed reckless for such a financial investment. Why wasn’t there a film bible, Force Commandments, or stone tablet with the Sequel Trilogy outline? Three directors could have worked and most likely been fine. But there should have been three scripts completed before production started. There should have been an absolute projection of where the story and characters were going. Instead we got the opposite. We got a trilogy made up on the fly. We were told no director would agree to the job if they couldn’t make the movie ‘their own’. **before the criticism of “that’s how the original trilogy was filmed” debate begins, lets agree that was a completely different set of circumstances. GL wasn’t even sure he’d get the opportunity to shoot a sequel or a trilogy for that matter. Yet, I’m pretty sure he knew the beginning and end of the Prequel Trilogy before he started writing The Phantom Menace.**
So consider, ‘what if’ Lord of the Rings had been green lit by New Line Cinema with three directors (along with their own unique screen adaptions of the book they were assigned)? What if these movies were injected with the director’s own interpretations of the source material or just decided to take a hard turn for the sake of cinematic (and creative) story telling? Would have those movies been a success? Would they have been such a passionate and honest love letter to Tolkien’s masterpiece? Would they still be talked about today? Or even re-watched by millions to this day? I don’t think so!

Author Unknown….

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The politician and/or law maker and/or law interpreter (lawyer) will not see eye to eye on this simple 27 word sentence.   Regardless, its importance is to protect the people.  It should never be manipulated nor distorted for political or social propaganda. 

The right of the People to be armed was (and still is) so that the People can repel or oppose a tyrannical government. The government is a tool of the People. Not the other way around.   

It’s important that not only does the People possess Arms but those suitable to oppose a government. Any government that puts restrictions on Arms for the sake of social or political gain is violating the 2nd Amendment. 

Do not fear a fellow Gun owner.  But fear a Government that has disarmed its citizens.  For that population is at the mercy of the Government. 

Some will protest that an Assault Weapon is not needed by a law-biding citizen or Hunter.  This is also incorrect.  It is my very need of said Weapon so we the People can keep the Government in check.  It’s common sense we don’t use an AR-15 to hunt.  It has never been about hunting. The AR-15 is to protect the foundations of this nation.   It is to protect the People.  

By simply making a Weapon illegal turns the law-biding citizen who is brave enough to protect his Home, His Nation and Way of Life into a criminal.  It is scientifically proven by statistics and criminal records that making a weapon illegal will not keep it out of the hands of criminals or threats to our Nation.  

Disarming our citizens tells our enemies we are now defenseless.  Our 2nd Amendment right has kept our Nation safe from foreign invasion for 200 years. 

I do pray that our military and National Guard do not become corrupt or support a tyrannical government.  Because if they do, and that government has disarmed its citizens, then we as a Nation are doomed.  

We have endured a tough time of overwhelming tragedy and violence in the last few decades  We all agree this is absurd and regrettable. But one can never rid the planet of darkness.  To try, is to delude oneself.  We must stand tall and carry on.   I’d rather live in a dangerous world with Freedom, than live in a sterile, controlled, and safe one with no freedom.  

Remember our founding fathers designed this Nation with careful thought and experience. It was never meant to be the megalomania government it is slowing turning into. It was never envisioned to control the People.  This is a Nation  “Of the People,  For the People and By the People!”   

Amen!