The Martian

/ Books, Movies /

Just a quick note today. Last night, I went to see The Martian. It was very entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone. You certainly wouldn’t have to be a science fiction fan to like the movie. However, if you are a science fiction fan, I think the movie will be that much more enjoyable.

As you probably already know, The Martian is an adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel of the same title. I listened to the audiobook in April of last year and I loved it. I even remember thinking that it would make a great movie. I mean, the image of Mark Watney driving a Mars rover while listening to disco–that’s just pure gold right there.

So yeah, this one’s almost certainly going on my Hugo nomination ballot for “Best Presentation (Long Form).” Voters can “nominate up to five entries in each category” and I fully expect that when the year is out, I’ll still consider The Martian to be one of the five best SFF films of the year.

What else will I nominate in that category? Well, at this point, I would only put money on Ex Machina, but I still haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road and I’ve heard so many goods things.

The Hobbit in Review

/ Movies /

I don’t post about movies very often. Honestly, I just don’t watch that many. In general, I prefer the vast story lines that can only be achieved in television and novels. However, I did find myself in the theater last weekend watching The Hobbit.

And how could I not? The Lord of the Rings remains one of my favorite set of novels and I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Jackson’s adaptations. Even if they weren’t always completely accurate to the novel, Jackson’s films captured the mood and tone of the novels perfectly. So seeing The Hobbit wasn’t just a no-brainer, it was a requirement.

Now, going in, I was leery. Not only had the film been getting a bit of negative press, I was concerned about the fact that Jackson had taken a 300 page novel and converted into not one, not two, but three movies. Logically, if each novel from The Lord of the Rings trilogy equals one movie, then The Hobbit should also be one movie, and shorter in length even!

Walking out of the theater however, I was generally pleased with the movie. Was it as good as The Lord of the Rings? No, definitely not, but it wasn’t bad either. What’s interesting (if not surprising) was that the weakest parts of the movie were those that the screen writers added in, the bits that they expanded upon with information from other histories written by Tolkien or made up entirely.

In particular, I did not care for the super-orc with a vendetta against Thorin (I can’t remember his name at the moment). It didn’t really make a lot of sense and it didn’t seem particularly necessary. I also wasn’t that fond of the “epicness.” The Hobbit isn’t supposed to be epic. The Hobbit is a story for kids, a lighthearted romp full of adventure and juvenile fun. The movie got a little too serious at times and it just felt a bit out of place with the original intent of the novel.

I will say, however, there were some things that I really did like that weren’t explicitly pulled from the novel like the back story that was told at the beginning of the movie. I loved seeing the dwarven city within the mountain. I’ve always had a hard time visualize what they might look like and I was really impressed with what the filmmakers came up with. I also liked how the framed the story as one that Bilbo was writing on the day of his 111th birthday, which tied it nicely with The Lord of the Rings and presented a nice opportunity for cameos. And I can’t help but mention that I profoundly enjoyed the scenes within the Misty Mountains, particularly the dwarves flight from the goblins.

Overall, The Hobbit was pretty good, but a bit too long. Perhaps 2 hours would have been enough and then maybe they would not have needed to add so much non-essential material. Either way, I love Tolkien’s world and I can’t complain too much about getting another glimpse inside. Without question, I’ll see the next in theater and probably own them all on blu-ray.

Star Trek: Into The Darkness Trailer

/ Movies /

I don’t typically post about movies very often, but I just watched the trailer for the upcoming Star Trek movie and it looks like it could be really cool. Enjoy!

Disney Acquires Lucasfilm, George Cashes In

/ Movies /

Star Wars fans received some HUGE news today. Disney has bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. The deal includes the rights to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises as well as Industrial Light & Magic and LucasArts. Lucasfilm was privately owned by George Lucas so the Star Wars creator is now $4 billion richer and he was already a rich man.

$4 billion is a lot of money, but I’m willing to bet Disney will recoup the investment before too long. Between the new movies, books, graphic novels, video games, and merchandise, I expect the profits to be large.

The deal must have been kept very quiet, because I didn’t hear anything about it until almost 4:30 this afternoon when the deal was all but final. Honestly, I didn’t see this coming at all and was completely blown away. This is a really big deal and brings up a lot of questions about the future Star Wars as a franchise.

But that’s not even the most interesting part of the story. Disney also announced that they will be producing new Star Wars movies and is targeting the release of “Episode 7” for 2015, with additional movies coming out every 2-3 years.

Holy crap.

It sounds like, for all intents and purposes, the Lucasfilm infrastructure won’t change except that Lucas will move into a role as a creative consultant. I actually think this could be a very good move for Star Wars. I think we all recognize that, to put it mildly, the Star Wars prequels left a bit to desired. With George out of the picture (for the most part), I think we’ll see more creative expression and hopefully higher quality entertainment. There was a time when I was really, really in Star Wars, but that has largely tailed off in the last 6 or 7 years. This news makes me truly excited about Star Wars for the first time in several years.

The Required 2011 Roundup

/ Books, Movies, TV /

Happy New Year folks! In January last year, I did a little recap of my favorites from 2010. This year, I’ll keep with the same tradition and report on the novels, television, and movies that I enjoyed most in 2011.

Books

I read A LOT of killer books in 2011. I’m pretty sure my next post will be dedicated solely to my favorite reads in 2011, but here’s a quick glimpse.

Best Reads

These are the novels that I enjoyed the most in 2011. You’ll notice that, as usual, all of the novels fall into the science fiction / fantasy genre.

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  2. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
  3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  4. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Best Surprise

These are the novels that I enjoyed more than I expected. Both were excellent.

  1. The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Biggest Disappointment

These are the novels that didn’t live up to my expectations. Boneshaker was all right, but too simple. The other was just terrible.

  1. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
  2. The Phoenix Unchained by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Best Character

Oh man, this was tough. I read a lot of great books this year and many of them had wonderful characters. In the end, I think I would choose the following as my favorites.

  1. Logan Ninefingers (from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy)
  2. Kvothe (from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller chronicles)
  3. Mr. Wednesday (from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods)

Movies

Best Movie

Here are the movies that I saw this year that I found the most enjoyable. I didn’t really watch a lot of movies this year so I kept the list pretty short.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt 2)
  2. X-Men First Class

Television

Best Television Show

These are the shows that I enjoyed the most in 2011. This is actually a little tough as most shows air of the span of two calendar years, but I did my best.

  1. The Big Bang Theory
  2. Castle
  3. Warehouse 13

Best “New to Me” Television Show

I watch a lot of television programming via Netflix. These are the shows that I started watching in 2011 and enjoyed thoroughly.

  1. The Big Bang Theory
  2. Castle
  3. Twin Peaks

Best Character

  1. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
  2. Richard Castle (Castle)

I could have gone into a lot more detail, but I really enjoy making lists and I didn’t want to over complicate things. As I mentioned, I think I’ll do a separate post regarding the books I read, because I would like to delve into a bit more detail there.

So long 2011 and thanks for all the fish!

Official Prometheus Trailer!

/ Movies /

Just two days ago, we got the sweet  new Hobbit trailer and now today the new Prometheus trailer is unveiled. Looks like 2012 is shaping up to be a good year for movies. I just hope the apocalypse doesn’t ruin it for us!

From what I understand, Prometheus is a prequel to Alien and is the first Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott since the original. Personally, I’ve always felt that Alien is by far the best in the series, although many people really liked James Cameron’s Aliens.

Aliens is a cool action flick with sweet, venom-spewing monsters, but Alien is the ultimate sci-fi thriller. The entire film is creepy and haunting even though there is only the one alien on the ship. I really feel that it is an amazing film and I would rank it among my favorite sci-fi movies.

That said, here’s the trailer:

First Official Hobbit Trailer

/ Movies /

The Hobbit was the first fantasy novel that I read (which wasn’t until college) and, since then, I’ve devoured as many fantasy novels as possible, but I still consider The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to be my favorites. The characters and world is so imaginative and wonderful…I just love it.

The entire reason that I even read The Hobbit to begin with was because of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. I was engrossed by the movies and they inspired me to read the novels. Now, I love the novels AND the films. The films are not perfect in all of the details, but they do a wonderful job conveying the major themes and imagery of the novels.

Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit won’t hit theaters for a year, but the first official trailer has been released and it looks amazing. If the movie ends up being half as good as it looks, I will be thrilled. Enjoy!

A Rare Movie Review: Time After Time

/ Movies /

Let me start by saying that I’m not a huge movie buff. Sure, I like movies, but I don’t typically watch all that many. I tend to stick more to television, books, and videos games. That said, I do like to continue to expand my repertoire of science fictions movies…I’m just not in a big hurry I guess.

Now that I’ve prefaced this sufficiently, I would like to make a few comments about a movie that I recently watched on Amazon Instant Streaming called Time After Time. I have Amazon Prime and I was trying to find a free movie to watch. When I came across Time After Time, I recognized the artwork and I noticed that it had a good user rating.

Not convinced, I shot over to imdb.com to check out the movie’s profile. The overall rating was 7.2/10 and the summary sounded intriguing. Here’s what it said:

H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper to the 20th Century when the serial murderer uses the future writer’s time machine to escape his time period.

H.G. Wells? Jack the Ripper? Time travel? I’m in.

The movie was filmed in 1979 so, right off the bat, there were some (unintentional) laughs as H.G. is awed by now outdated television sets and other bits of technology. But that was okay…it actually added a little charm to the movie in a way.

And the movie had a few intentional laughs as well. It was meant to be pretty lighthearted (for the most part) and, in general, it was enjoyable.

However, there was one gaping hole in the plot that I just couldn’t believe. At this point, if you haven’t seen the movie and you don’t want it spoiled, stop reading.

So Jack the Ripper starts killing in modern day San Francisco and H.G. puts it upon himself to stop him. In the meantime, he meets a lady, Amy, and to convince her that he’s really from the past, he takes her to the H.G. Wells exhibit at some museum where the time machine is currently on display (and completely functional).

Once there, they hop three days into the future and find a newspaper that indicates that Amy (as well as another woman) will be victim to Jack the Ripper. At that point, they make the decision to go back three days to stop Ripper, because the newspaper tells them when and where the next crime will take place.

Unfortunately, a flat tire ruins the whole plan and H.G. and Amy fail to stop Jack. And so they resolve to stop him when he shows up to kill Amy. Anyways, the whole thing goes to hell. H.G. gets arrested, Amy’s friend is killed, and they just barely win the day in the end.

So, if you are a clever reader, perhaps you have noticed a pretty sizable flaw in our intrepid protagonist’s plan. It seems pretty odd to me, but H.G. Wells seems to have forgotten about the TIME MACHINE that he invented! How’s that again? H.G. Wells forgot about his Time Machine–the entire reason for his presence in 1979 San Francisco. Yeah.

That means that they didn’t have to use Amy as bait, because they could have just gone back to the museum and TRIED AGAIN. Or, better yet, they could have gone back to before the FIRST murder and saved EVERYONE.

I’m sorry, but how does that kind of storytelling make the cut? I guess that’s why Back to the Future is the best time travel movie and not Time After Time.

But speaking of Back to the Future, I could not get past the irony that Mary Steenburg is the actress who portrays Amy in Time After Time and also Clara in Back to the Future III. And in both, she falls in love with a time traveller. Weird.

2010 in Review

/ Books, Geek Stuff, Movies, TV /

With the coming of the new year, I decided to reflect on the books I read and the movies and television that I watched in 2010.

Books

Best Reads

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  3. Changes by Jim Butcher
  4. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Best Surprise

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Changes by Jim Butcher

Biggest Disappointment

  1. Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
  2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Best Character

  1. Winner: Kelsier (from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn)
  2. Runner up: Fitz (from Robin Hobb’s Farseer series)

Movies

Best Movie

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  2. Scott Pilgrim vs The World
  3. Inception
  4. Tron Legacy

Most Anticipated Movie

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Television

Best Television Show

  1. Lost
  2. Chuck

Best New Television Show

  1. The Event

Best “New to Me” Television Show

  1. Supernatural
  2. Arrested Development

Best Good Guy

  1. Chuck (Chuck)
  2. Hurley (Lost)

Best Bad Guy

  1. The Man in Black (Lost)
  2. Volkov (Chuck)

Hottest Lady

  1. Greta (Summer Glau) on Chuck
  2. Sarah on Chuck

So long 2010 and thanks for all the fish.

My (Way Late) Harry Potter Review

/ Movies /

November was a crazy month filled with lots of writing and, unfortunately, the blog was forced to take a back seat. However, I did manage to find time to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 on opening weekend. Now that I have some time, I thought I would throw out my two cents on the film.

Basically, I loved it. I say that now, but after I see it another time or two, I’m sure I’ll start noticing the little things that they got wrong and the things that they left out. Nonetheless, when I left the theater, I was really satisfied. At this point, I think I would even venture to say that it’s the strongest of the films so far and definitely the best since Goblet of Fire, which is probably my favorite otherwise.

I think the main reason that I liked it so much was that it was so loyal of the book. I think everyone’s biggest complaints about the movies in general, at least since Prisoner of Azkaban, is that they leave out key scenes, themes, dialog, or other elements of the novels. In fact, most of the films aren’t just guilty of this once or twice, but several times.

Of course, I think everyone understands that it’s impossible to convert a full novel to a feature length film without losing something and we are forced to forgive WB on some level. But with HP7 being split into two films, the writers were able to include so much more than usual and it was great.

For once, I felt like scenes were given a reasonable amount of time to play out. It didn’t feel so rushed. In fact, there were times that it may have even dragged just a little. For example, I’ve heard the complaint by some that the camping scenes went on too long and were boring. I actually think that they did a great job. In the novel, those chapters WERE depressing and somewhat boring. Mostly, they were frustrating because Harry and company didn’t know what to do. I thought that the film did a great job capturing the frustration that J.K. Rowling meant the characters and the reader to feel.

Another thing that was great about HP7 was the acting. Dan, Emma, and Rupert have come a long way as actors and I thought they did a pretty good job. However, it was the other actors that were really fantastic. The films always seem to be excellently cast and this was no exception. The actor that played Yaxley was particularly good.

The movie really kept me glued to the screen and the two and half hours just cruised by. I totally wasn’t ready for it to end; I could have sat there for five hours to see the full thing without a problem. I’m definitely excited to see Part 2, which I think will also be fantastic. They should have plenty of time to really do an awesome job with Gingrotts and the final battle. July can’t come soon enough!