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Tag Archive: Mark Morris


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you put aside the summer theatrical release of The Predator (a blast of a military/sci-fi action film, check out our review here), and take a look at the two novels that supported the movie, you’ll see a much bigger story Shane Black created to continue the saga of the alien race first introduced to audiences in 1987’s sci-fi classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Predator.  We reviewed James A. Moore’s prequel to the film, The Predator: Hunters and Hunted, here.  Moore gave readers the best of Predator scenes, as one of what we would later learn to be multiple aliens arrived only to first face off in hand to jaw combat against an alligator in the deep South.  Now writers Christopher Golden (Alien: River of Pain) and Mark Morris (The Great Wall) have arrived with The Predator, The Official Movie Novelization

Taken together with Hunters and Hunted, the prequel and novelization bridge the events of Predator 2 in some 600 pages with a to-be-seen future story of advanced, evolved, and upgraded Predator hunter-killers–the place where the novel leaves audiences in the final scene.  It is not the action star squad that is the focus of the entire story arc, it’s Sterling K. Brown’s quasi-government, too-cool-for-CIA alien chaser Traeger.  And if you missed the end of his story arc in the film, you’ll be happy that Holden and Morris’s novel provide a finish worthy of this loathsome villain.

While the novel is faithful to the film, readers will certainly see a lot more than they could see as theater goers–the key scenes in the movie are predominantly filmed in dark and shadow, so the novel amplifies what may have been missed in the outdoor action scenes.  Readers will also better get into the heads of the show’s main stars, the soldier McKenna, his son Rory, and scientist Casey, in addition to the Looneys–the men in McKenna’s ad hoc strike force against the Predator Upgrade creature.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, reviewed here at borg.com, is a summer marvel, director Luc Besson’s epic sci-fi, space fantasy we loved, but was overlooked by many because of its clunky title, its lackluster publicity efforts, and its spectacular visuals that overshadowed its simple love story in the eyes of many mainstream movie critics.  It deserves another look, and for those who missed the story for the special effects, its novelization by author Christie Golden is a great way to see what you may have missed.  Another movie that suffered similarly, but only for U.S. audiences, was director Yimou Zhang’s epic film The Great Wall, reviewed here at borg.com, a late winter release full of inspired, colorful, medieval martial arts battles, but a thinner narrative that was also arguably overshadowed by its own dazzling imagery.  Mark Morris’s novelization of the film fleshes out and clarifies the roles of all the characters that filled the enormous cinematic event.

Putting the movies aside, if you’re a fan of novelizations–if you just enjoy experiencing a film word by word, zipping along with a fun action adventure–each of these books should accompany you in your luggage on your next vacation.  I’ve read and enjoyed this segment of genre fiction for years, and remember spending cross-country trips in the backseat of the family car reading the novelizations of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, The Empire Strikes Back, and the 1989 movie Batman.  Years ago before videos, DVDs, Blu-rays, and digital HD, when the prospect of seeing the movie again in the near future was slight, fans really could only turn to novelizations and the rare films that received the comic book adaptation.  You might think the market may not be as great for novelizations today, yet movies continue to get re-written into novels.  And many are still reading–and loving–them.

Both Valerian and The Great Wall have similar narrative structures.  Both involve two protagonists that embark on a hero’s journey against a giant landscape of action and activity.  In Valerian, two spacepilot operatives are charged with the mission to re-capture a stolen artifact, and along the way they are pulled into a greater conflict involving the fate of millions.  In The Great Wall, two medieval warriors are on a quest to seek the rumored new creation called gunpowder, when their search is cut short by a rare, mythic encounter that could spell certain doom for the cities bordering China’s Great Wall.  The relationship of each of these pairs of characters is very modern, full of dialogue with modern quips, verbal sparring and ribbing each other despite their friendships, and the characters themselves are not necessarily relatable or even likeable at first glance.  If you don’t immediately buy the characters’ relationships, then the global conflict they take us through, despite the films’ epic visuals, may simply not work for you.  But if you give them a chance and jump aboard with the characters, then both stories can be great fun. The novelizations are a great way to give them that chance.

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