Nov 282014

It appears that the only thing that could snap me out of my extended blogging absence is the first trailer for the next Star Wars movie. As I frequently note, trailers can be deceptive indicators of a movie’s true quality, but this brief preview does its best to hit all the classic Star Wars motifs. We see glimpses of a desert world (Tatooine, perhaps?) as well as a menacing Sith-like figure, X-wing fighters skimming the surface of a body of water, and a magnificent shot of the Millennium Falcon evading a squad of TIE fighters. The trailer does a nice job of sparking speculation about the rest of the movie. Does the Empire still exist? What are the Sith up to? Who are these young whippersnappers featured in the trailer?

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until next December (or perhaps the next trailer) for answers. In the meantime, here’s your fix:

Jul 282014

Movie trailers are notorious for overpromising the entertainment value of the final product, so I’m hesitant to make too much of this new trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road:

But it looks really good. The Road Warrior (or Mad Max 2, for the Aussies and purists out there) is one of my favorite movies and one that I can watch numerous times and still thoroughly enjoy. This trailer seems to capture the choreographed mayhem and post-apocalyptic punk sensibilities of that movie. The fact that director George Miller minimized the use of digital effects for his action sequences also nudges the needle of my internal Pop Culture Anticipation Gauge from WARY to EXTREMELY CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC BECAUSE IT COULD STILL SUCK.

Like I said, the movie could turn out to be a complete mess. But Fury Road is now one of my more eagerly anticipated blockbusters of 2015 (alongside the Avengers sequel).


Apr 302014

Disney unveiled the cast for Star Wars: Episode VII yesterday, confirming rumors that many of the original stars (Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker) will reunite as everyone’s favorite former rebel scum. The cast also features a number of actors with lower profiles, keeping with the spirit of the first movie. Other bloggers have noted that the cast is heavily tilted towards men and it’s a fair point, although Disney has responded that at least one more female role has yet to be cast. I’m pretty sure that the Star Wars galaxy is populated with plenty of interesting women with stories to tell, no matter how far away it is.

I’m also taking bets on how long it will take the Internet to produce hybrid Star WarsGirls slash fic featuring Adam Driver’s character in really uncomfortable sex scenes.

Apr 252014

Joel Hodgson, creator of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000, revealed that he may revive the series online sometime in the not-so-distant future. For us long-suffering MSTies, this is promising news. MST3K could find great success as a streaming series and I would gladly contribute to a related Kickstarter. I get a little giddy just thinking about all the riffing possibilities that our hyperactive 21st century pop culture would provide for a series reboot. And the movies! If Hodgson could get the rights to something truly awful like The Happening, we may witness true brilliance unfold before us.

Feb 102014

HBO has posted a surprisingly lengthy trailer/behind-the-scenes look for the fourth season of Game of Thrones. The brief glimpses of various scenes in the video seem to confirm that this season will generally follow the latter half of the third book in the series (Storm of Swords). The show’s producers broadly hint that even more surprises await in this new seasons and I’m curious to see how fans unfamiliar with the books react to certain…unexpected…developments.

Here’s the video:

I’m finally making my way through the fifth book (Dance of Dragons) and, while it’s never boring, it has a certain plodding quality that often besets the middle volumes of fantasy series. I can see that Martin is arranging the pieces on the board for what I hope will be a satisfying endgame, but he probably could have accomplished this in substantially fewer pages. The TV series will need to find a way to remain faithful to Martin’s vision while sustaining narrative momentum, which won’t be an easy task.

Jan 242014

The Mac is celebrating its 30th anniversary today. While I’m primarily a Windows user now, a Mac Plus was the first computer that I could control with head movement. I spent a lot of time doodling with the drawing program and playing primitive arcade games. And now, I own a tablet from the same company that I can control with a single switch behind my ear. That realization is both amazing and a little disorienting.

Jan 142014

Now that Disney holds the deed to the entire Star Wars universe, it can do as it likes with the place. For starters, Disney has announced that it will take a lightsaber to the vast wasteland that is the Expanded Universe. The EU is the collective term for every bit of narrative detritus that isn’t part of the actual movies–books, comics, videogames, and so forth. The grand moffs at Disney will decide which bits are worthy of being designated as canon while the rest will be left to rot in the garbage compactor of some distant space station. Since nearly everything in the EU is execrable drivel, little will be saved. This move will give Disney plenty of room to tell new stories without worrying about whether it’s in conflict with some terrible paperback tie-in published in the 90s.

Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing Grand Admiral Thrawn make an appearance in one of the sequels. He may be the only character from the EU worth preserving.

Nov 222013

Fellow Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans may remember the annual Turkey Day marathons that aired during the Comedy Central years. I missed out on these because I didn’t catch the fever until the Scifi Channel era. Fortunately for me, creator Joel Hodgson will be hosting an online Turkey Day marathon this year to mark the show’s 25th anniversary. Hodgson will be selecting the episodes and I can only hope he chooses Pod People and Final Sacrifice, the best episodes from the Joel and Mike eras respectively. Depending on whether Aaron Rodgers returns in time for next Thursday’s game against Detroit, this may be my best option for Thanksgiving entertainment.

Nov 192013

Some Star Trek fans like to dress up as Klingons or Starfleet officers. Others like to write long-form essays that posit an economic theory of Star Trek. Rick Webb does an excellent job of explaining how a post-capitalist, post-scarcity economy might evolve from democratic traditions and a greatly expanded welfare state. In such a society, it could be perfectly acceptable for people to not work since everyone has access to the resources needed to live comfortably. Instead, people are motivated to seek personal enrichment and fulfillment. For some people, this might mean joining Starfleet. For others, it might mean becoming a competitive 3-D chess player.

It’s an economic theory that perhaps relies on an overly sunny view of human nature, but Webb makes it sound plausible. As he points out, we already are on the threshold of a post-scarcity economy, but we do a crappy job of allocating those resources. If we look at Star Trek through Webb’s critical prism, the implications are clear: humanity can do better.