Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Argylle Movie Review

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A reclusive author who writes espionage novels about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate realizes the plot of the new book she’s writing starts to mirror real-world events, in real time.

Why did I come to this movie again?

Some friends wanted to see it, and I was like…fine. (I’d heard it was pretty bad, but sometimes going in with low expectations is best.)

4 of 5

Characters

I loved Bryce Dallas Howard in this! She did a great job playing a seemingly mild-mannered spy novel writer who was way out of her depth. The character was cute and fun, and then something more. I also love that she told the director that she wasn’t going to lose a bunch of weight to fit an ideal actress size for this film, and the director said that was fine, he wanted her as an actress, not for what she looked like.

Henry Cavil was there for eye-candy effect, which worked.

Sam Rockwell did a pretty good job too.

The bad guys were simply bad, which isn’t enough these days. Audiences want more.

I honestly didn’t mind the characters. This movie was set up as ridiculous from the first few minutes, and it only went downhill from there. I wasn’t expecting much in the realm of character development, and I didn’t get it.

Is that a win-win? I’m not sure.

3 of 5

Did I care what happened?

I didn’t fall asleep, but the two people I was with did. The pacing felt jerky, but it kept me entertained.

4 of 5

Plot Holes

If this was a superhero film, I’d say, “of course there are plot holes.” Since this was sort of like a superhero film, I’ll say, “there weren’t just plot holes, but more like plot chasms.”

So many things didn’t make sense, and there was literally a plot twist every ten minutes. Maybe more. I stopped trying to keep track and simply ride the chaos.

3 of 5

How many times did I yawn?

Like I said, the pacing felt jerky. I don’t love it when the director uses the main character falling asleep or unconscious and waking up somewhere new as a scene change, and this film did it four or five times.

There was plenty of action, and more than enough twists, so I didn’t yawn at all. I did roll my eyes a lot.

4 of 5

Cool Factor

I’d love to say this film looked great, but frankly the CGI was awful. Between the unrealistic cat, the obviously green-screen backgrounds, the cartoon oil spill, and the horrible body double CGI in the action scenes I felt like I was watching something from at least 15 years ago.

Now, if you’re in it for pure cheesiness, then this is your movie. The action was over the top and the characters cliché.

3 of 5

The End

Um…the ending was okay. I guess. I left this movie almost as confused as when I started, which isn’t good. The threads sort of wrapped up, but not really.

4 of 5

Overall Enjoyment

I’m glad I went and saw this on $5 Tuesday at the theater. Was it fun to watch? Yes. Did I laugh a few times at the silliness of it all? Yes. Would I see it again? Probably not.

3 of 5

Total: 28

That’s a Green Belt!

White Belt: 1-10
Yellow Belt: 11-19
Purple Belt: 20-25
Green Belt: 26-30
Brown Belt: 31-35
Black Belt: 36-40


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Alaska at 40 below

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A few weeks ago I had the privilege of going to Fairbanks for a writing retreat.

Yes. I said Fairbanks. Alaska. In January.

Here’s the thing, last fall I was in a bad mental space as a writer. I felt grumpy, unworthy, and had imposters syndrome breathing down my neck.

So, when Craig Martelle put out a call for writers to come to his home town for a writing retreat, I was like, “Fine, I’ll sign up for your stupid retreat and you can reject me and validate my feelings that I’m a failure as a writer.”

Three days later I got the invite to come.

I was shocked. I might have cried, and this was the conversation opener with the hubby. “Uh…honey…do you want to come to Alaska with me?”

He, of course, said yes!

What goes on at a writing retreat?

Well, at this one, eight authors sat around a table and did writing sprints for six to eight hours a day. We would type like crazy for 20-30 minutes, then chat for a bit, get up, stretch, walk the dog, and then write again.

Over the course of three days I put 20,000 words on the page! That’s not my biggest number for a retreat, but it’s up there, and I’m thrilled with it!

Between typing and eating, we did things like go outside.
(Hey, when it’s in the -30F range that’s a big deal.)

We made snow angels. (Click here if you’re on Facebook to see the video!)


We drove during the sunset…at 4pm.


We went to some natural hot springs, and froze our hair!


And we stood outside in -40F to take a picture.


And we saw three moose!

It was fun to get to know writers from around the country. It was amazing to experience that kind of cold weather. It was refreshing to get that many words written on a project that’s been kicking my trash.

All in all, I had a great time.
But I’m not sure I’d go back when it was quite that cold.

I sent this meme to the group when, the week after we were there, it warmed up to 0 degrees.

The one thing we missed was the Northern Lights. 🙁
I guess that mean’s we’re going back to Alaska or Iceland. How sad.


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Books Read in January

January was a busy month for me.

I was gone for eight days on a cruise. Then, a week later, we went to Alaska to see the northern lights.

You would think I would have read a bunch on the cruise, but I ended up playing games with my family and watched movies on the plane.

I started one book and stopped reading at 25%. I might pick it up and finish it, but I was kind of bored, and that’s not good when you’re staring down another 75% of a book that’s over 500 pages long.

If I remember right, I made the goal to read 50 books this year.

I’m already behind. Hopefully I can catch up!

Sweet and Clean RomCom
Cute and fun with a sassy lady. There was more than just the romance plot to this one.
Military Sci-Fi
I’ve listened to a bunch of the books in this series, and I keep coming back for the characters. This was a fun radio drama style installment that leads nicely to the next book.
Mystery/Thriller
I saw this on a Bookbub promo and decided it sounded interesting. This is book 18 in a series that I haven’t read anything else in. However, that didn’t keep me from enjoying the writing, loving the characters, and getting sucked into the plot!

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Blue Beetle Movie Review

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An alien scarab chooses Jaime Reyes to be its symbiotic host, bestowing the recent college graduate with a suit of armor that’s capable of extraordinary powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle.

Why did I come to this movie again?

I was on a plane, saw it on the list, and decided I wanted some mindless entertainment for a couple of hours. Honestly, I’ve felt pretty meh about this movie since it came out, which is why I hadn’t seen it yet.

4 of 5

Characters

I really liked Xolo Maridueña (the guy who played Jamie) in Cobra Kai, and I think he did a decent job here. Jamie’s character was…fine. Nothing super new or exciting as far as a superhero origin story goes.

Through the first part of the movie his family was annoying to the point of me almost switching to another show. I get that he had to bond with the beetle, but having his family treat something that could be priceless like a $5 ball from WalMart made me cranky. They mostly redeemed themselves by the end. I did like his dad, and who doesn’t love a warrior grandma?

The bad guy didn’t do much for me. She’s evil, wants money, and will do anything to get it. They tried to give her a backstory, but it fell flat for me.

The love interest was just kind of there for convenience of the plot.

The Beetle should have had a lot more screen time.

3 of 5

Did I care what happened?

I only sort of cared what happened. Without a strong draw to the characters I wasn’t terribly invested in what was going on.

3 of 5

Plot Holes

This is a superhero film, of course there are plot holes. In this case I felt like they underexplained anything that had to do with the actual plot.

For instance, the girl’s dad was a pseudo superhero? Tell me more about that. Give me more than a two-sentence explanation that leaves me with more questions than answers. And can anyone who has a license fly the Blue Beetle mobile?

Why did the beetle choose Jamie? They skirted the issue and we learned nothing more about it.

What exactly is the hierarchy at the big evil corporation?

Why couldn’t Jamie find a job after coming home from college? Pretty sure people in big cities hire college graduates no matter what neighborhood they’re from.

3 of 5

How many times did I yawn?

The pacing of this film was okay. Instead of yawning, let’s talk about how many times I rolled my eyes.

Many.

I liked that they used a minority family who were down on their luck, but just how many times can they remind us that anyone with money or power is evil? Approximately 85 in two hours. Show us once. If the writers do that correctly, you don’t need to tell the audience about it again. And again. And again.

4 of 5

Cool Factor

This film looked good. Granted, I was watching a small screen in the back of an airline seat, but I didn’t get thrown out of the story by any of the effects, and while they didn’t explain much about the Beetle, I did think it was cool.

4 of 5

The End

While the finale was super fun, it bordered on ridiculous. His family, who were barely competent at the beginning of the show, break him out of a high security facility? Like I said, it was fun. I laughed more than once, but I was also rolling my eyes a bit.

4 of 5

Overall Enjoyment

I’d give this one a meh. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. I did have low expectations, so that probably helped.

I think this movie tried to straddle the line between campy and serious, and didn’t quite get the balance right.

3 of 5

Total: 28

That’s a Green Belt!

White Belt: 1-10
Yellow Belt: 11-19
Purple Belt: 20-25
Green Belt: 26-30
Brown Belt: 31-35
Black Belt: 36-40


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