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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rethink this Reboot

As impressed as I was with Iron Man 3 last week, I was conversely disappointed in Man of Steel tonight. Upon finishing this Superman Reboot one thought kept turning over within my fatigued brain after the lights came up and I stumbled from my chair. The country's economy could not endure the existence of this superhero.

The last half hour of the movie was an exhausting montage of fight scenes that left well over half the city of Metropolis in a twisted heap of shattered ruin. I found these scenes of battle, for the most part, well choreographed, but immensely over done. At films end it was obvious the producers tried to
make up for a weak plot with the overabundance of redundant action.

The story line seemed hurried and sloppily spliced together as the plot bounced back and forth between the present and the past. Superman's character was very uninspired as Henry Cavill's portrayal was extremely flat. Michael Shannon as General Zod and Russell Crowe as Jor-El gave valiant efforts in their roles. Amy Adams as Lois Lane gave a strong performance as well,  but, in the end it was not enough to make up for the general bland dialogue of the movie and the weak plot.

It was a shame for the opening sequence of the movie held so much promise. I had the impression of Avatar meets Star Wars throughout the entire Krypton segment of the films beginning, but, alas, the story telling attenuated from there and my high hopes plummeted.

 Comparing the Christopher Reeves version with this current effort I would conclude this modernized adaptation lacked the soul and personality of its predecessors. I would even give 2006’s Superman Returns much higher marks than this picture.

 I give this movie two and a half stars out of five.



Monday, June 24, 2013

If I Had a Time Machine

Tonight's blog is a repost from 5/13/13

If you had a time machine, where and when would you go? Would you walk with Jesus, or would you stride with the dinosaurs? If you thought these events might affect the belief system that helps you cope with the modern day world would you reconsider your destination? Because we are all individually different in our fundamental theologies, beliefs and interests many of us would want to see the origins of our faith, whether it be based in scientific evolution or in spiritual conviction.

I, on the other hand, would hold onto my sacred viewpoint and intrigue myself with humanities greatest and most mysterious achievements. This may be because of my Science Fiction mindset, but, my first stop would be Atlantis curious to whether Plato’s accounts of the mythical society were true. Did they possess electricity? Had they harnessed the power of flight? Exactly where was the Island Kingdom located; within the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean or was it somewhere in South America?

Then I would spin the dials to an era when the Ancient Library at Alexandria was untouched by devastating flame. I would spend weeks, maybe even months (if I could read the languages of antiquity) pouring over the long lost history of the primeval world. Can you imagine the inspired stories that would come out of such a session? How would today’s world be reshaped if such vanished history was rediscovered?

Finally, curiosity would thrust me into the future. I want to observe the day our species takes that first baby step into a bigger cosmos. How will our first contact with an alien race come about? With the discovery of so many extra solar worlds within recent history the notion we are alone in this great big universe is absolutely absurd. Would these non Earth cultures welcome us with open arms to a peaceful life amongst the stars, or will we awaken the attention of blood thirsty hordes hell bent on stealing our Mother Planets natural resources? These are questions Science Fiction has been asking since the creative minds of Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov ignited the dreams of our little Earthbound race.

Where would you take your time machine? And more importantly… why?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Iron Clad Classic



This past weekend I caught up with the science fiction tech savvy cultural world and finally took in the film Iron Man 3. Usually films fabricated from this type of formula stale after subsequent sequels and additional installments, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised in this super high tech marvel.

I found the plot fast paced, rich, witty and full of fun. Robert Downey Jr. proves through his comedic timing and inextinguishable likability he is comfortable and born to play this role. Tony Stark’s report with a young science loving kid reinforces this amiability. Add an entertainingly delightful character, the Mandarian, played by Ben Kingsley, and the humorous high jinx compliment the engaging action within the motion picture very well.

The antagonist, Aldrich Killian, brilliantly played by Guy Pearce, leaves the impression of a Blofeld or Goldfinger being a strong immoral criminal character. He possesses an intelligent and deviously villainous mind. Technology is conflict as the enemy of Stark uses a product called Extremis as a terrorist weapon. This potent compound hacks into the “hard drive” of a living being giving super human power or, conversely, converting a body into a powerful explosive. Therein lies the moral of the movie. Playing with mother nature’s design can only have adverse effects.

This film explores the fallibility of our leading actor showing the vulnerability to the condition of his super-heroism. It taxes his physical and mental endurance affecting the relationships with those around him. He begins to ask himself is he the hero or is it the suit. Tony answers this question as he is left to his own devices and must fight to protect those who are close to him. As the film hurtles toward its conclusion our hero rediscovers his identity.

After leaving the theater I felt this film was a mature well written, brilliantly acted, action packed movie with great special effects and a plot that was seamless and engaging. I give this picture four out of five stars and would consider it to be close to a Science Fiction classic.









Sunday, June 16, 2013

Of Man and Mars

By James Kirk


It’s hard to imagine the spell the planet Mars held over humanity once upon a time. Before the Mariner IV mission to Mars in 1964, the mystery surrounding our closest solar neighbor captured our imaginations and tapped into our fears. Humanity did not know what—or who—might be there. The red planet could be observed by telescopes but it withheld its secrets from us.

In 1898 English writer H.G. Wells published War of the Worlds, a work that is considered by many the first true science fiction novel. Wells was in fact both a writer and scientist, and speculation as to what Martians might be like, and how they perceive the inhabitants of earth, fueled not just his novel but the imagination of generations to come. The novel’s idea that beings from Mars might come to Earth with malicious intent was frightening to readers. And the potential for pubic fear of Martians was proven in 1938 when Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of War of the Worlds was taken as fact by listeners instead of fiction.

Many great works of science fiction have been written about the planet Mars. Edgar Rice Burroughs, more famous today for creating the character of Tarzan, wrote numerous stories set on Mars which featured a human man named John Carter who winds up on a Mars that’s populated with humanoids and bizarre Martian creatures. The character was adapted into John Carter, a motion picture by Disney in 2012.

Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles speculated that Martian civilization was advanced, and that the humanoid like beings were telepathic. Bradbury, like Wells, envisioned Martians without immunity to human bacteria.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke and The Martian Way by Isaac Asimov are books by well-known authors who were captivated by the mystery of the red planet.

Mars has been featured in my science fiction films, including two adaptations of Wells’ War of the Worlds. Since it has become known to observers that there are no cities or technology on the surface, science fiction films had speculated about what might be beneath the surface.

Mission to Mars with Gary Sinise and Tim Robbins and Red Planet starring Val Kilmer are two movies that speculate that there are secrets beneath the surface of Mars.

A human colony on Mars was once the stuff of pure sci-fi; now it is quickly becoming a possibility as scientists use data captured on Mars along with emerging technologies to make a theoretical Marian colony a reality. In May, 2013, US astronaut Buzz Aldrin called for a colony on Mars by 2040. My friend, author David Lee Jones, uses a Martian colony as a setting in his trilogy. As I write this, scientists are working on ways to put a man on Mars, should such a bold project be fully funded.

Is Mars in our future? Most certainly. But in exactly what manner mankind will live on or interact on Mars remains to be seen. For now, it remains the stuff of science fiction.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

James Kirk Recommends


Today I present a guest blog post by James Kirk. Kirk is the owner of Jamestown Coffee Company in downtown Columbia, SC. In his spare time he pens articles for internet sites such as the Lexington Anchor and Whatculture.


JAMES KIRK RECOMMENDS
Science Fiction Classics Worth Checking Out
 
MOON (2009)*** ­­­½

Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey; directed by Duncan Jones.

Sam Rockwell plays an American astronaut serving three years alone on the moon. When he has two weeks remaining on his contract, something strange happens.

Moon is one of those festival films that manages to surprise and delight, as it far exceeded my expectations. Often, "independent" and "sci-fi" add up to a nice effort and only that, with two much effort expended in trying to make "cool sci-fi" while leaving story and character back on Earth. Not so, Moon.


English director Duncan Jones said his influences were the original Alien, Silent Running and Outland, and he's crafted a story about a simple blue collar working man who's finishing up a three-year contract mining helium on the moon and wants nothing more than to return to his wife and child back on Earth. But with two weeks to go before returning to Earth, Sam Bell (Rockwell, in a role written with him in mind) begins to suspect that he is not alone on the moon.

To continue with the synopsis would include a spoiler on which the entire plot of Moon turns, so I will say only that Sam is tested physically and psychologically to his limits as a human being, and things on the lunar surface (and perhaps everything else) are not what they have seemed.
Rockwell, who appeared in Iron Man and also The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, manages a performance which is truly remarkable. I have never doubted that Rockwell was a decent actor, but did not realize he had such chops. He alone carries the movie, a remarkable feat on its own but even more remarkable since the only other actor he truly interacts with is Kevin Spacey.

In an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the moon base is run by a computer called GERTY, voiced by Spacey, and Jones uses our shared cultural familiarity with the HAL-9000 to project a sense of dread and doom on Sam's mission. It's no accident that we soon discover that GERTY knows more about what's going on than it lets on, and that ramps up the tension and suspense a few more notches.

Moon is one of those independents that deserved a wider distribution. If you enjoy a twisting "Twilight Zone" storyline with great acting and a sci-fi bent to it, seek this one out.

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Angels of the Oasis

As I sit behind my laptop this evening contemplating a new blog post, I have been victimized. Life has encroached upon my muse and I find myself being pulled away from task to go study for a pass/fail week of training for AT&T. Alas, there is no fun movie quote games or Fav Five lists this evening.

But this is the struggle for the starving self-published author of the modern age whose budget for life's demands leaves little left over to push our wares. The grind constantly robs from promotion time and funds. But, do not lose faith my weather beaten and trodden down brethren of the pen, there are Angels amongst the chaos of the social matrix network.

Upon wading into the tidal pools of twitterland last week I stumbled upon an Oasis in the form of a site apply named "Authorsdb.com." These folks have made it their mission to give the worthy writer a vehicle to promote our hard work.

The following is quoted from their site:
"Here at AUTHORSdB we've formed the only database of authors, including social media, book listings and much more, for today's mind-field of thousands of aspiring and established writers.  We are a dedicated website that helps authors for free.  Why free? We have a few Angels who simply want to see authors flourish.  Readers no longer have to google from several different websites to find out more about a particular author – it’s all here."

So, fellow manipulators of the manuscript, waste no more time trudging through the barren wastelands of the social sites of twitter and facebook and go submit your listings to a social site of your own peers. I guarantee the effort will earn much more mileage on AdB than on the previous before mentioned entities.

And, while you're there, be sure to rate the book cover images of David Lee Jones under the Science Fiction category within the AdB Book Cover Contest.









Whilst there please click on the book cover contest button at the top of the page.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Super Power

 

In the spirit of some of the later posts on this blog I have a question for you folks out there. If you could have one super power which would it be? Just one, no cheating.

Would you fly like Superman? And where would you go?

The power of invisibility is a good one; if you had this power how would you utilize it?

Super strength is a common trait in most heroes.

How about ESP? Think about what you could accomplish if you could read people’s minds.

Another great one would be super genius. Would you solve the world’s economic problems with it, or find the cure to cancer? Would you figure out how the human race could give up its dependence on fossil fuels?

Remember though, when you have these special abilities there is always the moral angle to explore. Selfish and prideful feelings could sway ones decency to the point an honorable citizen could deviate and cross the moralistic line. There is a fine line between hero and villain when egotism creeps into the picture.

One of the best quotes from the pop culture super hero motion pictures is from the movie Spiderman.
Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben senses his young nephew is struggling with inner turmoil. Little does the elder know that this is brought about from Peter’s new found super abilities.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Think about that when you choose your power. Would you use it for the good of mankind, or would you selfishly squander it on personal gain?
 
So, with all this in mind, what power would you choose? And, more importantly, how would you use it?





Saturday, June 1, 2013

Move Qoute Fun

Okay, so, today I felt very uninspired to come up with a new idea for a blog post so decided I would have a little fun and task myself. Giving myself ten minutes here are my most memorable movie quotes:

"You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"
“That’s my Jen-ny, she’s a whore-a, but I love her.”
“Billy, do you like movies with gladiators in them?”
“It’s John Big Boot-tay! TAY!”
“Show me the money!”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”
“I’ll have what’s she’s having.”
“You can’t handle the truth!”
“I’ll be back.”
"Say 'hello' to my little friend!"
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”
“INCONCIEVABLE!”
“Here’s Johnny!”
“They’re here!”
“There can be only one.”
“What am I? A ZIT! Get it?”
“Atica! Atica!”
“What’s the matter Colonel Sanders…chicken?”
“My Precious!”
“I feel the need-the need for speed!”
“Do I make you horney?”
“Stop side seat driving!”
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
“Yo Adriane!”
“Surely you can’t be Serious.” “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”
“Get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!”
“Khaaaaaaaaan!!!”
“You will be assimilated.”
“EXTERMINATE!”
“Good Morning Dave.”
“Get away from her you damn bitch!”
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
“Nice beaver.” “Thanks, I just had it stuffed this morning.”
“Frau Bl├╝cher.” {horses whinny}
“If you build it, he will come.”
“THIS IS SETI ALPHA FIVE!”
“There’s no crying in baseball!”

"You just watch yourself. We're wanted men. I have the death sentence on twelve systems."
"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

And I am out of time. Can you name all the movies these quotes came from?  Giving yourself ten minutes, how many can you share with us?