It’s been 9 years since Duncan Jones hit it out of the park with his debut film Moon. Since then his output has been… worrisome. But now he’s back with a force.
Duncan Jones manages to turn the grimy, ugly Berlin into something visually stunning and so believably futuristic that it serves as a terrific counterpoint to the dark story line. This is one where world-building is everything. Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux give a tour de force of performances.
The supporting cast is great too, the city of future Berlin very much included. At first you wonder if the film really needed to be near-future (cyberpunk) science fiction, and while the story could easily be told in a mundane present day setting, the themes of the story very much necessitate the futuristic elements. Much like its spiritual successor Moon, the film very much deals with isolation, compassion, and always acknowledges a baseline of humanity. I found it amazing how even the smallest of side characters gets a humanizing moment. It sells the depravity of the underworld even more, and creates a baseline of realism that often lacks in these types of films. Continue reading “Review: Mute (2018) – Flawed But Still Amazing”
Since I’m reading so much anyway lately, never mind the fact that I’m an aspiring writer, I should actually look at some books (the Shadow review also went over well so here goes nothing).
In the near future, Earth has colonized the moon with the city of Artemis, a sort of research base turned tourist trap for rich idiots. Our protagonist, Jazz Bashara, is a small time smuggler tasked with industrial sabotage for a big payout. Then things go sideways…
People who know me or have read my output know that I am a massive fan of Andy Weir’s first novel The Martian. It was a brilliant hard-scifi book that combined meticulous research with a beautiful characterization for Watney and humanity as a whole. The plot was throwaway, another version of Robinson Crusoe/Castaway like we’ve seen many times before.
Artemis is a fun hard-scifi book combining meticulous research with cheesy capers and a plot that might as well star the crew of the Ocean’s Eleven movies. Come to think of it, a Chinese acrobat flipping through a security system in 0.16G would be awesome.
But you already see that Andy Weir has a type of story he likes. And that is fine. There is currently no other popular science fiction author who does well-researched near-future scifi as well as he does. If all he does for the next few years is to write more books in this vain I won’t complain. Though you can see why some people might have been disappointed by the book. Continue reading “Review: “Artemis” by Andy Weir”
So to do things a little differently this time, I (Jessica) will write the main review.
So I find myself in a very familiar position this week of being in the minority position. The reaction to this episode is overwhelmingly positive, and I have very mixed feelings.
Was this episode thrilling and action packed? Absolutely. Was it a satisfying conclusion to the mirror universe arc? Maybe?
I couldn’t help but feel that, despite all of the explosions and slow mo asskicking, that this episode was a bit anti-climactic. After all the build-up to Mirror Stamets, he’s killed almost immediately. I had horrible flashbacks to the Mirror Universe on DS9 (which I’ve already mentioned were among the weakest parts of DS9) where everybody died for the shock value of it and it never mattered. After an entire season of building up Lorca he’s … a fairly run-of-the-mill evil Terran. Well. That’s okay I guess. He goes out really dramatically, yet it somehow didn’t feel earned. Probably because we saw him being an interesting morally ambiguous character for most of the season, then as a baddie bad baddie who deserved to die in such a way for a mere episode. There are comparisons to be made to the death of Gul Dukat on DS9. While many people were also disappointed in that ending, at least it felt earned. We’d watched Dukat being a monster, albeit a complex one, for seven seasons, with one of the best performances in Trek history given by the magnificent Marc Alaimo. While Jason Isaacs is also a wonderful actor and gave it his all as Lorca, he kind of got kneecapped in this episode by the hard left turn into stereotypical baddie the script took his character. A similar thing happened to Dukat as well, but even that was not THAT hard of a turn and felt more slowly built to. And considering I am one of the people who thought Dukat should have died in Waltz and was a way less interesting character afterwards, the fact I’m making this comparison is a bad, bad sign. Discovery so far has been really rich and intricate and it feels like that got tossed aside for some good ole ‘splosions and martial arts.
With all that said, Jason Isaacs did a wonderful job as Lorca, and I’m very sorry to see him go (assuming of course we won’t see Lorca return in some way). He took what could have been a thankless asshole captain part and made an interesting character, a very welcome addition to the franchise. I’m very sorry to see him go. Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery “What’s Past is Prologue” Review”
How to sum up this week’s episode?
“Here, have my ganglia.”
Oh boy. The Mirror Universe arc is shaping up to be one of the most intense storylines in Star Trek history. And that’s not saying much considering that this basically means the ‘Dominion War’ arc on DS9, the ‘Delphic Expanse’, and the ‘Rise of the Federation’ arcs on Enterprise. Star Trek is generally bad at these things and I have some mixed feelings on this brand-new arc right now. Mostly positive, but it would be intellectually dishonest not to at least mention a few problems.
First of, I’m pretty disappointed at the way this episode handled both Lorca and AshVoq. Tackling the latter first, the entire storyline felt rushed and underdeveloped. As much as I am interested in seeing it develop further from this point out, with essentially Fake!Ash stuck in Voq’s changed body, the connections to both L’Rell and Burnham, it’s all interesting but the way here could have used some fleshing out and some more misdirection. I mentioned it a bit in the last few weeks, but having Voq disappear from the show the moment Ash Tyler shows up should give any one ringing alarm bells. Just because the point of the storyline is to deal with the fallout of the events doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a suspenseful lead-up as well.
Coming to Lorca, I’m so not into the fact that he’s from the Mirror Universe. Lorca worked much better as a ‘get shit done’ Starfleet captain, very much in line with what we’ve seen in the ENT, TOS, and DS9 days. Up until now Lorca didn’t appear all that different from Jellico, Sisko, and latter day Archer. And while a huge amount of Trekkies rioted at the idea of Lorca compromising his morals to save the Federation, I loved the idea of returning to a more pragmatic captain. Though the fact that he fit in so well in the Prime Universe is arguably a statement in itself, it feels like a betrayal of this season’s theme: What is Starfleet? Apparently it still means backpaddling on important issues that have plagued Star Trek’s storytelling in all the wrong ways for the last 30 years.
Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery “Vaulting Ambition” Review”
I’m not a comic reviewer. I never have been, mainly because I don’t have an incredibly interesting pull list. It currently consists of three titles: Saga, Injection, and The Shadow.
The Shadow is one of those characters where I absolutely adore the concept, the pulp precursor to Batman, the two guns packing vigilante who murders his way through the mob. The laugh, the outfit, the absolute ‘justice’ of judge, jury, executioner. I love him the same way I love Dirty Harry and the Punisher and appreciate other vigilante fiction like the first Death Wish (the first one. I still have standards): we are a society of law and order in which justice prevails over punishment. Vigilantism is never acceptable. As much as you may feel like it you do not get to take the law into your own hands, because once you do you are no longer just but only perpetuate the circle of violence. Doesn’t mean it can’t be compelling as all hell in fiction.
The Shadow always had an allure above all of the other vigilante characters, the proto superheroes, because he was very much at home in his time period. A 1930s character in attitude, setting, morality, very much not a main character one should look up to. Over the years, his never-changing nature has made him stay compelling in the sense that the writers very much understood that he belonged in a very specific moment in history and should never be taken into the present. With falling crime rates, the lowest numbers of murders on record, the idea of vigilantes taking the law into their own hand and murdering their way through entire gangs is not something we associate with heroes anymore. Maybe we never should have. Continue reading “The Shadow Vol. 3 #1-6 Comic Review”
Discovery brings us an episode in which stuff happens and Reddit looks down at the unwashed masses like us with an upturned nose and a sense of superiority. In other words: Monday.
A few weeks ago I read a Reddit post that, for once, didn’t analyze a weekly show that was written and plotted in one go, essentially telegraphing certain elements of story that won’t be as noticeable during a binge. In that post, a fan complained about Discovery airing on CBS All Access, essentially removing it from the cultural discussion entirely outside of a few people. What I have to say to that is: hahaha, now you know how we feel, American pleb!
In all fairness though, it is a valid concern, yet one that, for once, I cannot share. Discovery has been the first time ever that I am able to experience a Trek show as it airs and talk about it with friends and other “people” from around the globe. As a viewing experience it’s second to none and most definitely an experience that would have been lost on us by dumping an entire season on us three months ago. Our feelings on Discovery change and evolve as the first season is still airing, while the people behind the show prepare for season 2, and while events outside of nerddom influence our opinions.
In regards to Discovery, this most recent Mirror Universe episode has proven one thing to me if nothing else: Discovery doesn’t follow very much in the footsteps of DS9. DS9’s storytelling was very deliberate (that’s a nice word for slow), it’s a couple of episodes that advance the ongoing story, then a bunch of stand-alones that build on the premise and build character to influence the next series of events. That is not the storytelling of Discovery at all. This show does very much feel like a continuing serial. It takes a lot of the high concept storylines from the TOS era and gives them some time to breath. Nowhere is this more apparent than in this series of episodes. There is a consistent theme and we are given time to appreciate it. In many ways it’s an approach to storytelling that Enterprise showrunner Manny Coto pioneered. And like with most new approaches it took a while to get it right. Discovery has. Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery “The Wolf Inside” Review “
Discovery’s first ‘classic’ stand-alone.
Discovery has finally done it. They’ve managed to make their first ‘I want to revisit this multiple times’-episode.
Okay, that doesn’t sound as grandiose as saying they made their first classic, but here’s the thing: an episode, a movie, a book, they can be utterly brilliant and yet I might not want to revisit it. “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” meanwhile is just 45 minutes of high concept fun and character bouncing off each other.
Let’s go to the obvious complaint people will have: this has been in Trek episodes before. Time loop that one of the crew remembers and then they slowly have to piece together what’s going on. Yes. It’s also never been done quite right. A time loop story can only work with great direction and enough material to substitute for already seen bits and pieces from previous loops. I love my Star Trek, but good pacing has never been a strong suit of it. Previous shows, when doing this concept, have always suffered under the talk-heavy nature of something like TNG or Voyager, grinding the pacing to a hold. This episode with the long title (I know, Ctrl+V…) plays it more like a chess game between Mudd and the crew, while in TNG’s example of “Cause and Effect” it’s a natural(ish) occurrence they need to tech-tech their way out of. This is much better.
Rewatching TOS from the beginning, I cannot believe how much I ignored Harry Mudd. Outside of Khan he’s the only enemy to face Kirk more than once, and for the love of Spock, he’s such a delight here in this reimagined, younger and more ruthless form. The fact that nobody died in this, at least permanently, and his large ham personality makes his presence such a delight. He’s essentially playing a game by reloading the save file. Giving the crew a person to play off of instead of technobabble makes the conclusion of sending Harry off with Stella so much more satisfying. Continue reading “Star Trek Discovery: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” Review”