Category Archives: science fiction

Super Dimension Century Orguss – whimsical space and time travel nonsense

At first glance, Super Dimension Century Orguss is a fluff piece of children’s science fiction that ultimately, and oddly, aims to sell fewer toys than its Super Dimension sister series (Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, both of which were adapted into the mega-series Robotech worldwide). At second glance, the series clearly has no other aim than to be a light-hearted science fiction piece of fluff television. It’s only upon a third glance that the viewer sees the series as a broken science fiction epic. Read the rest of this entry

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Peter Capaldi: (12th) Doctor’s Choice

There is no doubt in my mind that Peter Capaldi will be an amazing Doctor. To say he is an amazing actor should mean nothing to a Doctor Who fan, since his character in Torchwood‘s Children of Earth series was so believable that his decisions, and final moments, made the series that much more devastating. And I have to admit, in somewhat of an ironic fashion, the fact that he is an older man is a breath of fresh air for the show.

But the news was somewhat underwhelming for me. Talk on various blogs about the possibility of a woman or a person of color (or both) portraying the Doctor got me more excited. The fact that the Doctor is another white male is just par for the course. I know that he will make an amazing addition to the series, but I can’t help but feel disappointed that a series about exploration and endless possibilities is stymied by its need to adhere to some silly status quo.

Pacific Rim – the dream of the 80’s is alive in theatres now!

There’s a certain group in our culture who grew up through the 70’s and 80’s and had an understanding of the beauty present in giant mechas and robots. It sounds weird, but it’s true. How else can you explain the nostalgia for Transformers that has repeatedly managed to revive the franchise? Even knowing that the main purpose of the series is to sell toys, we knew that there was more there. Fans of Transformers have yet to see a big screen payoff (although the 80’s film has its moments), but IDW’s comics are an unexpected treasure. Godzilla fans get something great every now and then, although it seems Toho is hanging its hat for a while. (The upcoming American film is concerning but promising.) What we haven’t really gotten is the clash that our toys used to have. Anime only sates the appetite so much before the fans say, “I want to see real people in mecha punching monsters dead!” Yeah, our over excitement taxes our grammar a bit…

Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim does more than satisfy our taste for giant destruction. It whets our appetite and makes us long for so much more. And it’s not because the movie is missing anything. It’s that the movie does so much and makes us believe that maybe we might someday get to see more like it. Read the rest of this entry

X-Men: The Arcade Game – theme vs mechanics

X-Men is one of the most popular beat-em-up games to have ever existed in the arcade. It helps that the game featured one of the most well known comic book teams and was often housed in arcade cabinets allowing 6-player simultaneous gameplay, but a bad game wouldn’t have managed to muster the staying power this game had. Actually, I should say has, as the game continued on in the minds of players who encountered it in the early 90’s. When perfect translations of arcade games starting finding their way onto home consoles, X-Men was one of the ones people were most eager to see.

In revisiting it on the Playstation 3, I found myself transported back to a more simple time in video game history. While each of the six characters – Cyclops, Wolverine, Dazzler, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler – were individuated by design, animation and the effect of his or her power, every character played almost exactly the same way. The point of the game, for the most part, was to clear the screen of enemies and move to the right. There was a story to follow, sure, but it’s not one that needed to be followed. Save Kitty Pryde and Charles Xavier from Magneto and other characters were comically made blatantly evil. Sometimes it seems like the game lampshades just how evil it made the characters, although this is made worse by the horrible translation. Magneto spouts some very infamous lines, but none more than, “X-Men, welcome to die!”

In retrospect, that’s pretty polite. Read the rest of this entry

Fringe ends

Another great sf television show was lost last Friday. Fringe was a show that I got into late – and I understand very clearly that I am part of the problem because of that. We are offered so few challenging shows on television, so it is up to us to not only support them but also share them with other potential viewers. I failed to get on board sooner, mostly thanks to the fact that the first season is merely adequate. It doesn’t sell the high concepts that came in the later seasons. Read the rest of this entry

The Superior Spider-Man

“That’s stupid!”

“It’s just going to return to the status quo in a year anyway!”

“Worst thing since ‘One More Day’!”

Those are the most common reactions to the conclusion of The Amazing Spider-Man #700. Read the rest of this entry

Xenoblade Chronicles

“I’m sorry, I just got out of a pretty intense relationship, and I’m just not ready for anything long term yet. Can we just hang out and have a little fun?” – Me to most other games after finishing Xenoblade Chronicles

 

It is unexpected for any Wii game to take nearly 100 hours to complete. After all, Nintendo is supposed to be the well-marketed system for the casual crowd. The focus should be on the Just Dance and Mario Party games, not an intense and sprawling action RPG that has taken some obvious cues from MMORPGs. But earlier this year, thanks in part to Operation Rainfall, Nintendo released Xenoblade Chronicles in America. I have been playing the game on and off since its release in April, and I am happy to report that I finally finished it. Read the rest of this entry

Avengers vs X-Men

This year’s Marvel summer event was Avengers vs X-Men, a series of missed opportunities and character derailment. Early interviews with those involved said that this event was supposed to finally lock the X-Men into the proper Marvel Universe instead of in their own bubble of experience. While that mission has certainly been accomplished, the execution certainly could have used some work. This series is probably the ultimate example of a plot driving the characters instead of the other way around. Read the rest of this entry

Tales of Time Travels: Looper and Doctor Who (“The Angels Take Manhattan”) double review

This post may contain spoilers about Looper. I’ve done my best to keep it somewhat vague, but perceptive readers might be able to figure it out. As for Doctor Who, I’m less vague. Why? Because I think the accessibility of television shows allows us to tiptoe far less.

Time travel stories are simultaneously some of the most intriguing and frustrating science fiction tales out there. They offer glimpses of possibilities that we will likely never, and should never, know while being burdened with the fact that they must tell a compelling narrative. If most individuals were provided the means to travel through time, the stories would be uninteresting and/or disastrous. Meeting idols and family members do not necessarily make for compelling fiction. Nor does the likely scenario of someone simply breaking time and space for doing something stupid. (“Well, they’re going to learn how to make fire eventually, so what the hell?”)

io9, likely directly inspired by watching Looper, recently posted an article about how messy time travel stories, those with uncertain rules and no desire to adhere to a stable loop and timeline, are some of the most interesting. I cannot say that I agree, but I can understand Charlie Jane Anders’ point of view. After all, when the end is the beginning is the end of a story, where’s the fun of it? Everything seems boxed into place in a manner that seems to hit the border between OCD and OCPD. But that doesn’t mean time travel stories should eschew rules. Otherwise it becomes far too convenient. Read the rest of this entry

Dredd

Without hesitation, I can say that Dredd is the best comic book movie of 2012. Put away your bat-shaped pitchforks and mighty hammers so that you can hear me out. Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers were both considered fantastic epics that were the culmination of years of build-up. Both were huge and explosive. When you walk out of the theater, you comment on what a rush it was. Then what do you walk away with?

Dredd is a much smaller film. Not only is the budget smaller but the length doesn’t even attempt to touch the other two films. If the other two films were explosives, then Dredd was a bullet from a sniper rifle. It is exactly that precision that I appreciate about the film. Read the rest of this entry

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