Book Review: Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

MINOR SPOILERS ONLY FOR THE BOOK STAR WARS: BLOODLINE, BUT THERE ARE SOME MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS:

In a recent blog post about The Terminator, I cited Ripley from Alien as the first modern film action heroine—and she is the first who was the protagonist. But it’s Star Wars’ Princess Leia, in a supporting role, who’s the true seminal character in modern film.

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Book Review: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

I am a huge fan of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, his epic tale of the first 100 colonists on Mars.

(Still waiting anxiously as of this writing for the TV adaptation. Hello, hello–any news on casting yet?)

I’ve read some of his other books, but none of them have captivated me in quite the same way as the Mars books.

Until now.

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Fury Road and the Optimism of Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Stories

Brad Bird, director of the film Tomorrowland (as well as The Incredibles and Ratatouille) did some complaining in interviews recently about the popularity of post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories.

Here is part of what he said in an interview with Wired Magazine:

“At one time the future was consistently presented as this bright thing where all these problems were going to be solved. I remember that feeling of wow, starvation will be solved and the air will be clean, weapons will be obsolete because we’ll understand that there are better places to put our energy. And gradually that vision has just been nibbled away at until it’s basically not there. And what’s in its place is this very dark, negative version that everyone seems to have accepted.”

I haven’t seen Tomorrowland, so I’m not going to judge the film, but many film critics point out that Mr. Bird explicitly berates society in the film for abandoning the can-do optimism of the 1960s space race in favor of gloom and doom scenarios.

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Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon is a Total Trip

This post is part of the Shorts Blogathon, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently. Check out the other great posts HERE!

When I chose La Jetée as my topic for the Shorts Blogathon, I thought, why not also cover another influential French short sci-fi film? Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) is about as different film as you can find from La Jetée, yet its impact on the development of narrative filmmaking can’t be overstated.

Georges Méliès was a French illusionist who took up filmmaking at its very infancy. He was one of the first to use narrative structure in filmmaking (rather than just recording everyday life). He was also a pioneer of special effects, discovering the “stop trick” method by accident. Amazingly prolific, he directed at least 500 films. Today, about 200 survive, but there’s no doubt his most famous is A Trip to the Moon, which he made in 1902.

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La Jetée: a 28 Minute Sci-Fi Masterpiece

This post is part of the Shorts Blogathon, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently. Check out the other great posts HERE!

Today Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetée (The Jetty) is best known as the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s 1995 movie, 12 Monkeys (and the current TV show of the same name). It has also been cited as an influence on Audrey Niffenegger’s novel The Time Traveler’s Wife. I would hazard a guess that the writers of the TV show Lost also drew on it for one of their most famous episodes, The Constant.

Even if you have seen/read any of the above, they will not prepare you for the experience of seeing this short, remarkable film.

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My Review of the Movie Divergent, Where I Don’t Compare it to That OTHER Franchise

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MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW FOR THE MOVIE DIVERGENT:

There was once an episode of All in the Family where Edith was recounting the story of how she hit a car with a can of cling peaches (in heavy syrup). Archie got so sick of hearing her say cling peaches, Edith began replacing the words with “Mmm-Mmm.”

I am so darn sick of reading reviews about Divergent comparing it to The Hunger Games (and alleged “think pieces,” like this especially jerky one by Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman) that any time I feel compelled to do the same, I’m going use “Mmm-Mmm” instead.

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

To regular readers of this blog it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy, the hugely successful young adult dystopian series by Suzanne Collins. So of course I had to see the movie adaption of the second book, Catching Fire, the very first weekend of its release. I’m going to say right up front that it’s amazing. Not in a “I’m a fangirl and it followed the book closely enough to please my fangirl heart, so it’s amazing” kind of way. I mean, as a movie, it’s amazing, period. There was a lot of angst … Continue reading Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Gravity: Story Trumps Accuracy in Fiction

Gravity is a fantastic movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. Blow the extra bucks on the 3D version—totally worth it. Let me just say also, I love astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. I need to make that clear right up front. He is not only a brilliant man, he’s a COOL and brilliant man. That’s an awesome combination. When it comes to arguing the pro-science side, he’s the guy you want on your team. When we’re talking about real life, that is. When it comes to critiquing a movie, however, he kind of sucks. (Sorry, Neil. … Continue reading Gravity: Story Trumps Accuracy in Fiction

Why Orphan Black Is A Seminal TV Show

If you missed out on watching Season 1 of Orphan Black on BBC America, I highly recommend you watch it on BBC America On Demand, get a season pass on one of several digital platforms, or get a hold of the DVDs when they are released this week. Melding sci-fi with paranoid conspiracies, there wasn’t much that seemed original about the show when I first heard of it. Still, I decided to give it a try. I was convinced I would get bored after an episode or two. That didn’t happen. Instead, I found myself becoming ever more engrossed and … Continue reading Why Orphan Black Is A Seminal TV Show

Top 8 Things People Still Get Wrong About The Lost Finale

It’s that time again. No, I’m not referring to the return of the cicadas that are starting to boil up from the ground after being asleep for seventeen years. It’s the time of year to talk about TV season and series finales. And, of course, this brings about yet another opportunity for people to complain about/decry the ending of Lost. Let’s face it, this is not a once-a-year phenomenon. Any mention of Lost, any mention of anyone connected to Lost, and you are certain to see the following comments: “Worst ending, ever!” Or my personal favorite: “I wasted six years … Continue reading Top 8 Things People Still Get Wrong About The Lost Finale

Ray Harryhausen Brought The Creatures Of Our Imaginations To Life

How you react to the news of animator Ray Harryhausen’s death today may depend on your age. If you’re under the age of 40 there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of him. If you’re over the age of 40, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy and sci-fi movies, you probably grew up loving his animation and special effects. You may not know him by name, but if someone said “skeleton sword fight” it’s likely you’d know exactly what they’re talking about. When it comes to animation and special effects, we’re a spoiled lot these days. What has become … Continue reading Ray Harryhausen Brought The Creatures Of Our Imaginations To Life

5 Things That Bug Me About Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Fiction

First, let’s define post-apocalyptic and dystopian: Post-apocalyptic refers to a work of fiction that deals with a global disaster so profound there are few survivors. It may include a period of time leading up to the disaster, or it can take place years afterwards, but mostly it’s about the immediate after-effects of a disaster–war, environmental disaster, plague. The disaster can have a fantastical element, like zombies or vampires, or a sci-fi one, like an alien invasion. Dystopian usually takes place far into the future. It may be post-apocalyptic or not. Society has in some way changed profoundly, most noticeably the … Continue reading 5 Things That Bug Me About Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Fiction

Why I Love/Why I Hate Disney Buying Lucasfilm

Why I Love: More Star Wars films. Why I Hate: More Star Wars films that may exist solely to squeeze every possible dime out of an existing franchise. Why I Love: There’s a whole generation of filmmakers who grew up on Star Wars who could revive the franchise creatively. Why I Hate: There’s a whole generation of filmmakers who grew up on Star Wars who could finish it off once and for all. Why I Love: Disney ownership has not negatively impacted the quality of Pixar and Marvel films. Why I Hate: This could turn out to be the exception … Continue reading Why I Love/Why I Hate Disney Buying Lucasfilm

Book Review: The Twelve By Justin Cronin

The Twelve by Justin Cronin is the second of his post-apocalyptic/vampire trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is The Passage. I wrote a spoilerific analysis of one of the major characters in The Passage a while back. This review will refrain from divulging any major spoilers. That makes it very difficult to write this review, because, boy, are there some huge surprises in this book. Most sequels pick up where the last book left off, but that doesn’t quite happen with The Twelve. Cronin finds a clever way to bring readers back up to speed in the beginning (I … Continue reading Book Review: The Twelve By Justin Cronin

Spielberg’s E.T. And The Magic Of Childhood

Another significant anniversary has rolled around for a classic movie, this time for Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. There have been a lot of people writing about visiting the film again after having seen it as a child, and how it still made them cry like they did when they were a kid. I was not a child when I first saw the film, I was already an adult (just barely). I cried then, I cried when I watched it again this morning. After the huge box-office successes of Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Raiders Of The … Continue reading Spielberg’s E.T. And The Magic Of Childhood