Ode to Action Movies
by Maura Milan

I have a confession to make. I am an action movie fiend, and it was only until a
few years ago that I’ve been brave enough to admit it. If I hadn’t, then Ignite the
Stars probably wouldn’t even exist. Why had it taken me so long to actually
scream to the world that I LOVE ACTION MOVIES?  Because I was too scared
of my peers and teachers judging me. I guarantee that if I talked about how
Demolition Man or Time Cop was a work of art in some of my college film
classes, I’d be laughed out of the classroom. So I lied to myself for years about
what my favorite movies really were.  But even then, the artsy movies I liked
were action movies in disguise. Wong Kar-Wai’s films were essentially low
budget action movies, and Jacques Audiard made elevated crime thrillers.

I remember for a college application essay, I wrote all about the movie Run Lola
Run. I watched it hundreds of times the summer before my senior year. It was
THE movie of the year for me. I loved it for its intense emotion, cinematic
brilliance, and its unapologetic use of color and frenetic editing. And I never
EVER thought of it as an action movie. When really, that’s what it was. The girl
was literally running the whole time. Like Tom Cruise does in every Mission
Impossible movie. Like Keanu Reeves did in Speed so he could get onto that

So, I;m going to say something I truly believe now, without fear of anyone judging
me. The action movie genre IS an art form; storytelling at its finest. It makes you
feel. It makes you gasp. It makes you cross your fingers when Neo makes that
leap of faith across that building. It makes you hope. It reminds you to believe.

Initially, I was going to write this article and tell you that watching action movies
helped me craft all the fun action scenes in Ignite the Stars. And that’s true. I
learned all about pacing, fight choreography, and high stakes from watching
these movies.  But really, I just wanted to tell you the big lesson I learned from all
this. And that’s to write what you love. Textbooks, teachers, peers are going to
tell you what you should write, how you should write, what you should like and
why, and what you should hate and why. The hardest part is fighting through that
noise. Once you do–well that’s the greatest feeling. It feels like you’re Spider-
Man swinging in between skyscrapers, like you’re Ripley in that badass Power
Loader suit, like you’re Ia Cōcha proudly putting on her helmet with its blood
wolf’s feather, fierce and bold.

There are still friends of mine who laugh when I ask them if they want to watch
the next Fast and Furious movie with me. But I don’t mind anymore. It just means
there’s more popcorn for me.

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