Archive for the Science Fiction Category

Review: Star Wars – The Force Awakens (2015)

Posted in Movie, Reviews, Science Fiction on December 19, 2015 by Barrie Suddery

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WARNING: POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

After nearly a decade, the Star Wars franchise blasts back on to the big screen in J.J. Abrams‘ long-awaited episode seven.

The film is set some thirty years after the death of the Emperor and follows the search for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who has gone into self-imposed exile after the failure of his attempt to resurrect the Jedi Order at the hands of his apprentice, now named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who was seduced to the Dark Side of the Force by Snoke (Andy Serkis), the Supreme Leader of the First Order that arose in the aftermath of the galactic civil war and is attempting to restore the Galactic Empire. With the Senate of the New Republic refusing to acknowledge the threat of the First Order, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) has gone back underground and is the General in command of the resistance within the First Order’s territory and is supported in a deniable fashion by some elements of the New Republic. To some viewers dismay, the original trilogy cast are secondary to the plot and this is very much a ‘passing of the torch’ film, with the new characters taking centre stage as it focuses on Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger on the planet Jakku, and Finn (John Boyega), a defecting Stormtrooper, who meet on Jakku after Finn helps resistance fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) escape from the Star Destroyer he was being held prisoner on, and how they all are swept up in the search for the last Jedi.

As with all Star Wars films, the effects are stunning and the action fast passed and thrilling, but my prejudices against Abrams’ story telling abilities remain very much intact as the plot is a rehash of episode four with Lawrence Kasdan‘s writing efforts seemingly limited to ensuring the original trilogy characters remain true to form. Of the original trilogy characters, it is Han Solo (Harrison Ford) who drives a lot of the action forward as we learn that Kylo Ren is, in fact, his and Leia’s estranged son, Ben Solo. Because the plot is a reworking of episode four, we could see very early on that Solo was the Obi-Wan figure and that he would meet his end at the hands of Kylo Ren in the same way that Obi-Wan died at the hands of Darth Vader. Even so, his death is a genuinely shocking moment as, even though we all saw it coming, it was still a surprise to see that the writers and studio had the nerve to kill off such a popular character.

There are a lot of plot holes and gaps in the storyline such as how Han lost the Millennium Falcon, how the First Order came about and why they’re not using clone Stormtroopers who are programmed for obedience, and who Snoke is and how he came to lead the First Order. I know that there is a trilogy of novels being written by Chuck Wendig to bridge the gap between episodes six and seven, but there’s no guarantee that all of the fans will read them which means the pressure is now on episode eight to deliver a lot of this back story. Having said all of that, the writing is very well done with well-rounded and likeable characters, good action set pieces and an excellent lead in to episode eight in 2017.

One of my biggest gripes with the writing is that it was stressed that this would be a new storyline for the Star Wars universe and that it would not have anything to do with the story lines in the extended universe novels, and yet it certainly borrows from both the Heir to the Empire and Fate of the Jedi series so much so that I have to wonder why they didn’t just film those books. Even with all of the above mentioned flaws I’d still recommend going to see it, but, for me, this was a six out of ten movie that just about escapes being a ‘meh’ moment.

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Review: Robocop (2014)

Posted in Movie, Reviews, Science Fiction on March 2, 2014 by Barrie Suddery

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WARNING: POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

After much hype and fan-boy trepidation the latest outbreak of Hollywood’s ‘rebootitis’ syndrome has come to the screen with this year’s Robocop remake.

Like the original, this is the story of Detroit policeman Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) who, is this version, is a Detective instead of a Patrolman. Working with his partner Jack Lewis (the criminally underused Michael K. Williams), Murphy is investigating the activities of Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow) who has managed to get his hands on weapons from the police evidence room thanks to two corrupt cops John Lake (Daniel Kash) and Andre Daniels (K.C. Collins).

While this is going on, Omnicorp (yes they renamed it) is struggling to overturn a U.S. senate ban on the deployment of drone technologies inside the country. Headed by the extremely bland and not at all scary Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), they come up with the idea of placing a man inside one of these drones as a way of getting around the ban and assuaging public concern that drones are unaccountable. After Murphy is severely wounded in a car bomb attack, Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) is brought in to turn Murphy into Robocop.

So far, so bland; not great, but not too much of a stinker either.

Unfortunately, this is where the new version goes completely off on it’s own tangent, departing from the source material so much that it’s almost a completely different movie. Some will argue that this is a good thing and I agree, if it’s done well, but from this point the movie becomes a maudlin sci-fi B-movie that tries to pass itself off as a blockbuster.

One of the things that made the original Omni-Consumer Products (OCP) corporation so villainous was that they attempted to strip Murphy of his humanity altogether, wanting to keep his crime fighting skills and killer instincts intact, but remove his compassion and Human judgement. Here, this is only done when, during a simulated hostage rescue, Murphy fails to match the reaction times of the purely robotic drone he was competing against. As a result of this, Dr. Norton reworks the surgery so that Murphy only thinks he’s in control when in ‘combat mode’, giving him and the public the illusion of Human control and accountability. Even then, it’s still very much a Human and emotional Murphy who goes home to visit his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan). It’s only after Murphy goes into shock after reviewing CCTV footage of the car bomb that nearly killed him, that Norton reworks Murphy’s brain chemistry to reduce his emotional responsiveness and, even then, it’s only done so that Omnicorp can roll out their new ‘product’ on time.

Comparing it with the original 1987 Robocop movie,  we can easily see that this was a waste of time and money as it simply doesn’t hold a candle to the far superior writing, acting and ideas behind the original which was a biting satire on modern consumer culture and corporate greed whereas this is just an undemanding sci-fi action flick .

Acting wise, I am sure that Kinnaman did his best but he just doesn’t compare to Peter Weller’s Alex Murphy whose acting takes us on Murphy’s journey from emotionless cyborg to Human cop using just facial expressions and the tone of his voice. As for the ‘bad guys’, it’s pretty obvious that Keaton, Oldman and Garrow just turned up to collect their cheques because all of their characters are quite bland, uninteresting and not even remotely frightening when compared to Ronny Cox’s truly amoral and wicked Dick Jones, Kurtwood Smith’s  riotously OTT Clarence Boddicker and Miguel Ferrer’s smarmy, money grubbing Bob Morton.

The producers recently and quite bravely challenged everyone to, “watch it before you shit on it.” Well I have watched it now and wouldn’t want to waste my feces on this garbage.

Do yourselves a favour and grab a copy of the original.

The return of Red Dwarf

Posted in Humour, Science Fiction, Space, War News on July 27, 2012 by Barrie Suddery

I just saw the most glorious clip of recent times.

Red Dwarf is coming back to our screens soon on Dave and here’s a link to a small clip http://scifi.icanhascheezburger.com/2012/07/24/sci-fi-fantasy-trailer-red-dwarf-x/

This is most definitely a win for class, taste and quality.

Who knows; if this keeps up I might just be able to forgive Humanity for all of those Twilight movies…

Dedication

Posted in Science Fiction, Star Trek: T.O.S., Wallpapers on March 26, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

This is a wallpaper of the original U.S.S. Enterprise from the 60’s Star Trek. I found it online at the Star Trek LCARS Blueprint Database, the link for which is in the Web Sites section of this page. Drawn by an artist called Aridas Sofia, it captures the simplicity and majesty of the ships’ design and shows yet again the dedication the show has inspired in fans over the years.

Designed by Walter “Matt” Jefferies, it was a trend setter for science fiction spacecraft design as Mr. Jefferies was a pilot and had a keen understanding of engineering, which definitely showed with this ground breaking design. For example, how many of you know that the Enterprise was designed in such a way that no one would ever have to go E.V.A?

The design incorporated the idea that everything could be repaired or replaced from inside the ship. It sounds simple enough in hindsight, but at the time it was a brilliant and innovative idea which set the trend for the Star Trek franchise and which every spacecraft designer, both fictional and real world, have emulated since.

It’s a classic.

More Fan Protest Art

Posted in Farscape, Science Fiction, Wallpapers on February 1, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

I’ve found some more fan art posters protesting Farscape’s cancellation.

The Art of Fan Protest Campaigns

Posted in Farscape, Science Fiction, Wallpapers on January 30, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

I just found these Farscape fan art posters online.

They were created by a fan called Ratscape in protest of the Sci-Fi Channel’s decision to cancel the show and deprive the fans of its fifth and final season.

Obviously the protest didn’t work as the cancellation went ahead, but it does show how passionate and talented genre fans can be.

 

Ronald D. Moore: The Prophet Spake

Posted in nuB.S.G., Science Fiction on January 29, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

I found the writers’ bible for Ron Moore’s version of Battlestar Galactica on the Cheezburger website. I’m assuming it’s all legit as it’s still up there today. If that’s not the case, please say so and this post will be taken down immediately.

I find it answers a lot of questions I had about the direction and tone of the show as well as laying the ground work for the technology used by the Colonials and the Cylons.

It’s in Adobe pdf format and is clickable so it’ll open in your browser.

Enjoy.

BSG Writer’s Bible