Category: Sci Fi


Jupiter Ascending poster

The 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune was a hit and miss film.  Mixing science fiction and fantasy, and more of a space fantasy than science fiction, it only managed to grab a small legion of fans that would later make it a cult favorite.  But unless your name is Star Wars, it’s difficult to get that sub-genre just right.  Sibling writer/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski are rolling out their own version of space fantasy next weekend with the teenager-aimed movie Jupiter Ascending.

The Wachowskis are known for their Matrix series, their screenplay for V for Vendetta, as well as writing, directing, and producing Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas.  What these films all have in common is a certain mash-up of sci-fi tech with often surreal, fantasy elements.  Like the The Matrix’s cloaked reality, the written-directly-for-film Jupiter Ascending has its own cloaked world, hidden in plain sight.  It also has a plot that could have been written by Frank Herbert.  Yet instead of going for older viewers, the casting of Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as romantic interest is looking to pick up the gap between the Twilight crowd and the next Divergent or whatever is coming next.

Jupiter Ascending cyborg

Three full trailers have been produced, revealing a Han Solo-esque Sean Bean and a Loki-esque Eddie Redmayne.  The Wachowskis’ visual style seems to be a lighter twist on Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy world stylings.  Extra special effects sequences supposedly are what caused the studio to bump the release date from last summer to February 6, 2015.  The effects and outer space sequences might be enough to get die-hard sci-fi fans into the theater, especially since the film will have a version offered in IMAX3D.

After the break, check out the trailers for Jupiter Ascending, and see if this is one for the theater for you, one to wait for video, or one to pass on.

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The Man in the High Castle Times Square

Review by C.J. Bunce

The more I read Philip K. Dick’s novels, and I’ve read roughly half, the more I want to take a highlighter to paragraphs throughout his works that keep me coming back for more.  Oddly enough, those tidbits I liked best from his Hugo Award-winning, 1963 novel The Man in the High Castle, didn’t make it into the Amazon Studios pilot released this month on their streaming service.  Enough of his framework is there, however, to make science fiction fans, especially alternate history fans, want the new studio to pick up the series and show us what more they can do with this unique work.

The Man in the High Castle generally is considered Dick’s best work.  The TV pilot and novel follow a small cast of characters living their average lives in a world where Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II.  The superpowers have divided America, leaving a neutral zone of sorts in between, and this arrangement is the key political focus of the story.  In the novel, life is more mundane and the vile realities more subtle.  In the TV series the theme is more like Red Dawn–the studio must think modern audiences need that over-arching theme of American rebellion for the show to take hold.  A key element missing from the pilot is the Japanese desire for American nostalgia.  A key character in the novel, an antique salesman named Robert Childan, is absent from the TV version.  It’s this character I was most fascinated with in the novel, so it was a strange watching the story progress without his contribution.

Davalos The Man in the High Castle

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Big Trouble in Little China Rain Thunder Lightning

Last month the CEO for Funko released a hefty list of licenses that will be getting the retro-Kenner action figure treatment this year, as reported on here and here at borg.com.  The licensed properties include the original Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jaws, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Dark Crystal, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Fight Club, Gremlins, Breaking Bad, The Fifth Element, V for Vendetta, Scarface, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Big Lebowski, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The A-Team, and The Munsters, among others.

For action figure collectors, one of the most requested films for the ReAction line, especially in light of last year’s release of Escape from New York figures, was that other John Carpenter film starring Kurt Russell, the cult classic Big Trouble in Little China. 

And Funko has just released final images of the figures and packaging for six figures from the film, and what great picks!  Best of all, 85-year-old, Minnesota-born, Golden Age of TV actor James Hong finally gets his own action figure, as Lo Pan!

Big Trouble in Little China Lo Pan ReAction Funko

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Corridor from Gattaca

In honor of Ethan Hawke’s nomination for a best supporting actor Academy Award today for his film Boyhood, we have previews for two coming films from Hawke, a Shakespeare retelling called Anarchy, and a cyber-war thriller, Good Kill.  And why we’re at it we have three trailers for some of his best past films–in case you haven’t seen these yet: the stunning sci-fi masterpiece Gattaca, the true-life adventure story Alive, and the action-packed remake of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13.

Hawke is one of those under-rated actors who seems to put plenty of intensity and passion into his roles, whether for big movies like Dead Poet’s Society or Training Day (which earned him his first Academy Award nomination), for remakes of classic works like Hamlet and Great Expectations, or the lesser known films that follow.

Assault on Precinct 13 Ethan Hawke

First up, a trailer for the strangest choice of a Shakespeare play we’ve yet seen, Anarchy:

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Westley The Princess Bride Cary Elwes

Oliver Queen, Supergirl, Firestorm, Captain Jack Harkness, Amy Pond, and Princess Buttercup’s Westley all set to appear

For more than a decade Planet Comicon has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  Last year’s show featured William Shatner and the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and this year Planet Comicon is bringing in some of today’s biggest names from TV and movies featuring fan-favorite superheroes.

Stephen Amell Oliver Queen

The star of the CW’s Arrow, Stephen Amell will be attending the event along with cousin Robbie, who starred in Tomorrow People and is the new Firestorm on the CW’s The Flash.  Genre mega-star John Barrowman, Doctor Who and Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness, will also headline the Con this year.  Barrowman played Arrow’s key villain from seasons 1 and 2, the Dark Archer.

Amy Pond

Most famous for playing the Doctor Who companion Amelia Pond opposite Matt Smith, Karen Gillan will make a rare convention appearance this year in Kansas City.  Gillan starred most recently in 2014’s blockbuster hit Guardians of the Galaxy as Nebula. Also appearing from Guardians of the Galaxy is Michael Rooker, who played the blue-faced mentor to Star-Lord, Yondu, along with Sean Gunn, who was the physical on-set actor as Rocket.

Guardians Michael Rooker

Rooker appeared on The Walking Dead, and also appearing from that series will be Scott Wilson, known to fans for his role as Hershel Greene.  Wilson has starred in plenty of TV shows and movies, including The X-Files, CSI, The Last Samurai, The Twilight Zone, and the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth.

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Kings Comics Star Wars variant #1    GameStop variant #1 Star Wars

It’s what Star Wars fans have been hearing about for months.  This week Marvel Comics is releasing its first Star Wars comic book since it lost the license back in 1986.  We discussed the history of the licensing a few weeks ago here.  Three new monthly series are on their way: a main title beginning Wednesday, followed by Darth Vader and Princess Leia-focused titles discussed back in July here.  Unlike past series the new stories are going to be considered “canon”–officially part of the Star Wars movie universe unlike past Star Wars tie-ins and tie-ins from most other sci-fi and fantasy franchises.  We’ve previewed Issue #1 and agree it’s going to be a pretty good year for Star Wars.

Tidewater Star Wars Issue 1 variant    Alex Ross art store Issue 1 variant

Launch parties are planned for Wednesday across the country for the release of writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday’s new Star Wars #1, which already has orders totaling more than one million copies–likely to be the bestselling comic book of 2015.

Rebel variant Star Wars 1 cover    B&W launch party variant Star Wars 1

But there’s only one comic book store where you can celebrate the release with writer Jason Aaron and get one of the several new variants autographed, and that’s Elite Comics in Overland Park, Kansas.  Check out a preview of Issue #1 after the break.

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Chappie police robot

First we saw CNN’s Anderson Cooper reporting in the Black Widow comic book series, now he’s leading up the latest trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s 2015 release Chappie.  Columbia Pictures has switched gears since the original trailer was released, from a quirky preview about a Pinocchio-esque robot trying to be real to a story that looks a lot like RoboCop.

It gets better–this trailer actually may bring in more moviegoers.  It reveals more action, the kind of action that Blomkamp showed us he could provide in his Academy Award-nominated geopolitical sci-fi thrill ride District 9.  And where the first trailer sidelined stars Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver, now they’re front and center.

RoboCop or Chappie

It still looks to be more light-hearted like Blomkamp’s District 9 and certainly less dark than his Elysium, but that might be a good thing, too.  Elysium sorely lacked any heart, and this may be an attempt to re-balance Blomkamp’s movies for a wider audience.

See for yourself–check out this new trailer for Chappie, after the break:

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Now Wait for Last Year classic cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Now Wait for Last Year suffers from those chronic problems that plagued many of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novels: Dick’s obsession with drug-induced fantasies and his misogyny that begins to grate on modern readers after only a few of his novels, despite a clever idea that could net a solid read if only Dick wasn’t his own worst enemy.

Now Wait for Last Year follows a doctor on future Earth who specializes in organ transplants that allow people to live for decades past their historic life expectancy.  He hates his wife and she hates him.  She stumbles into taking a drug that prompts an incurable addiction and then slips the drug to her husband as revenge.  And then they discover that drug has a side-effect: the right dose will make you travel back or forward–or even sideways–through time.  A new spin on time travel is the classic Dick sci-fi hook for this story.  The trouble is that Dick mishandles it–too many deus ex machina rescues, including more than one by a talking cab familiar to fans of Total Recall, as well as too many references to then-recent history, an ugly future and no redeeming characters.  The writer of some of the best science fiction stories of all time produced far better novels than this entry.

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Cardassian-Galor-class-starship

The online toy and collectible superstore Entertainment Earth gave us a heads-up on a one-day only sale today on select starships from the official Star Trek starship display model collection.  The collection is a line of detailed ships from the various Star Trek series and movies produced by licensee Eaglemoss, with dozens of ships both famous and obscure set to be released in the series.

We’ve previewed three of the eight ships in the line that are on sale today:  the sphere ship used by The Borg in Star Trek: First Contact, the Ferengi Marauder, and the Cardassian Galor class vessel.  The Sphere was created by Star Trek concept artist John Eaves.  Designed by Star Trek senior illustrator Andrew Probert, the Marauder first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The Cardassian ship was designed by Star Trek illustrator Rick Sternbach, and popular in episodes of Deep Space Nine.  We’ve seen detail of one of the real studio models of the Marauder and think this sturdy, die-cast metal and plastic hand-painted model is a great replica at an affordable price for Trek fans.

Star Trek NCC-1701 Enterprise 2009 SDCC Die-Cast Vehicle   Star Trek Starships Tholian Starship with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Starships Romulan Bird Prey Vehicle with Magazine

Star Trek Starships Ferengi Marauder Vehicle with Magazine   Star Trek Starships Jem'Hadar Bug with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Starships Krenim Temporal Weapon with Magazine

Star Trek Starships Borg Sphere with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Cardassian Galor Class Starship with Magazine   Star Trek Starships Maquis Raider Vehicle with Magazine

Each of the ships come with a display stand and a magazine with content similar to that found in issues of the popular and now out-of-print Star Trek: The Magazine issues from years past, including images from the episodes and films and design details of each ship.

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Star Trek Apes cover

Scott and David Tipton have done it again.  They’re back with a new Star Trek series, but this time it’s a mash-up with Planet of the Apes.  And Issue #1 explains how it all comes together, and we’ve got a preview below.  Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive, Issue #1, is now available at comic book stores everywhere from IDW Publishing.

Finally we get to see Sulu and Uhura on an away mission together, donning Klingon disguises.  It’s the classic Trek–images by Rachael Stott and Charlie Kirchoff of George Takei and Nichelle Nichols as opposed to the reboot actors John Cho and Zoe Saldana.  Yet the circumstances and action are updated and modern–storytelling like you’d see in the reboot series.  It works–great, in fact.

Trek Apes cover

So how does the starship Enterprise (the original, not the bloody A, B, C, or D) find its way into a universe where apes rule Earth’s future?  You’ll have to pick up Issue #1 to find out.  Meanwhile, check out this preview, courtesy of IDW Publishing, after the break.

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