Category: Sci-Fi Café


The vast majority of us didn’t even have a home computer yet, not even one with a floppy drive, and we were just starting to understand what BASIC meant in all caps.  Forty years ago this weekend many of us gathered for a Disney movie that didn’t look like any Disney movie–or any previous movie–we’d ever seen.  At one of the SouthRidge III theaters–not the big one–someone threw wet Lifesavers at the screen to get them to stick.  Then the curtain dropped, the lights went down, and sci-fi was changed forever.

It’s a member of the exclusive clubhouse of the greatest year of movies–1982.  In a summer that gave us E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Poltergeist, and John Carpenter’s The Thing, Disney’s groundbreaking Tron is a great movie, and it stands the test of time as a unique science fiction classic.

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From Imagine and Lucasfilm and Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, director Lawrence Kasdan will be taking TV audiences behind the curtains of Industrial Light & Magic, the legendary visual effects, animation, and virtual production division of Lucasfilm. Light & Magic, a six-part docu-series is coming this month to Disney+.  What inspired filmmakers in Hollywood from George Lucas to nearly every other name in blockbuster films to bring the impossible onto the screen?  This series features interviews and imagery to get to that answer.

Check out this preview for Light & Magic:

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First there was Gort, then there was Harry Vanderspeigle.  Or at least the alien who took over Harry Vanderspeigle on Resident Alien, streaming now on Peacock.  That’s really all you need to know, other than the times have changed a bit since director Robert Wise premiered his landmark alien visitor movie The Day the Earth Stood Still on New Year’s Day 70 years ago.  Actually maybe the times haven’t changed at all.  For Alan Tudyk’s visiting resident alien and his town of newfound friends the stakes just keeping bigger and we need the laughs more than ever, as we learned at the midseason break this past March.

A new trailer reveals even more sci-fi comedy antics are coming for the residents of Patience this summer.  Check it out:

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The first great playset from Kenner (now part of Hasbro) from the Star Wars galaxy was the Death Star, perfect for play with the toy company’s huge line of 3.75-inch action figures, and that was followed by a line of big ships, including the Millennium Falcon, the Star Destroyer, and the AT-AT.  In recent years, after the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, Jabba’s sail barge was added to the line-up of big, high-end toys.  Hasbro has now released photographs of its next big playset from the galaxy far, far, away: an expanded version of its throne room for Jabba the Hutt from Return of the Jedi.  Spinning out of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett is Boba Fett’s Throne Room, an elaborate play environment with 50 accessories, and an exclusive Bib Fortuna figure.

Take a look inside and learn more about pre-orders below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When I previewed Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series last month I’d hoped writers Jeff Bond and Gene Kozicki (a visual effects artist on the series) would dig deep into the unique style of the very futuristic series.  I am happy to say I was not only not disappointed but dazzled by the level of work completed for what could have been the next major science fiction franchise.  What does the future look like?  Going back to Syd Mead’s future-defining work on films like Blade Runner, you must count as the next futurism visionaries production designers Grant Major and Gary Mackay.  Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series delivers photographs of props and sets that viewers didn’t get to see in the series, providing another level of behind-the-scenes production design not ordinarily seen in this kind of “making of” book.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Two episodes in and it seemed like some kind of con, a Jedi mind trick perpetrated by Disney.  Six episodes in and you’re left asking “what was the point?”  That’s the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, which arrives as the least of the 21st century Star Wars television efforts, and after six episodes, probably falls short of Revenge of the Sith and The Last Jedi.  Why was this an important story to tell?  What entertainment value did it provide?  In the end, the only thing the series served to do was give actor Hayden Christensen a chance to make up for George Lucas’s dismal script for Anakin Skywalker in the prequels.  Other than that, it was like watching an assemblage of deleted scenes left on the director’s cutting room floor from the making of Revenge of the Sith.

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Records continue to be set in the world of entertainment memorabilia, those screen-used costume, prop, and set relics costing often tens of thousands of dollars to create, sometimes appearing only moments in a film or television production, later to be sold at auction for princely sums.  London and Los Angeles auction house Propstore knew it had an important prop when it took consignment of an original X-Wing Fighter model screen-matched to the original film Star Wars The auction house even printed a separate catalog from the full auction book that showcased photographs and use of the model (no doubt the book itself will be a collectible going forward).  As expected, Tuesday a new auction record for a screen-used model was set, with the X-Wing selling for a $1.9 million strike price, and with the buyer’s premium it reached the final sale price of $2.3 million.  The model was built in 1976 and 1977 from finalized designs that stemmed from the concept artwork of Colin Cantwell (featured here and here at borg), who died at age 90 only a month ago.  The price is an all-time high sale price for a Star Wars vehicle model.  Previous sales of screen-used models included the miniature filming model of the Rebel Blockade Runner spaceship from the opening scene of the original Star Wars that sold for $465,000, and a miniature filming model of a TIE Fighter that sold for more than $400,000.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

With hits Tron: Legacy, Oblivion, The Dig, Only the Brave, and Top Gun: Maverick, director Joseph Kosinski seems to be batting a thousand, and his best work may be his new science fiction movie, Spiderhead.  Now streaming on Netflix, it should remind you of the days before sci-fi blockbusters, when science fiction tales by great futurists became the next amazing story you’d see on the big screen.  It also has the genre world’s best actors, with Chris Hemsworth as a pharma genius slash mad scientist running a penitentiary in the vein of A Clockwork Orange, and Miles Teller as his chief inmate, test subject and guinea pig.  Fresh off of The Offer, and co-starring in Top Gun: Maverick, Teller’s career trajectory seems to only be going up.  Compared to the usual direct-to-Netflix fare, especially compared to its record of sci-fi genre films (basically that’s ARQ, iBOY, The Cloverfield Paradox, Extinction, I Am Mother, The Midnight Sky, and IO), Spiderhead is in a different league entirely.  Think THX-1138, Minority Report, Ex Machina, and Orbiter 9Spiderhead is a movie you’ll wish you were able to catch in the movie theater.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s full of concept artwork, poster art, and photographs from Chapters 9-12 of The Mandalorian–and it has page after page of the galaxy’s favorite green, long-eared sidekick.  It has a long title–Star Wars Insider Presents: Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season Two Collectors Edition Vol. 1and it’s a worthy look at the first part of the Disney+ series’ second season.  As with the past editions from the first season (discussed here and here), it has more mock-ups of Topps trading cards, and more beasts, planets, ships, battles, armor, and characters.  It’s available now in a glossy paperback magazine format here at Amazon.

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We’re now only a month away from the eight-part Resident Evil live-action television series.  And it’s coming to Netflix.  Starring Ella Balinska (Charlie’s Angels), Lance Reddick (John Wick), Turlough Convery (Ready Player One), and an international slate of actors, the show catches up fans of the franchise with the infamous Umbrella Corporation three decades after discovery of the T virus.

Milla Jovovich’s badass superheroine Alice in the Resident Evil franchise, from 2002’s first film through five sequels–Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)–gave sci-fi the 21st century version of Ellen Ripley and Sarah Conner.  The tie-in to the Japanese survival/horror-themed video game Biohazard (renamed for the U.S. market) is a staple in the action movie genre–not only one of the world’s bestselling game series since arriving in 1996, it’s the world’s most successful video game tie-in movie franchise ever.  With this year’s big-budget fun zombie flick Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (reviewed here) and last year’s anime Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, the game continues to makes its presence known on TV and at the movies.

The trailer for the Netflix series has a style similar to that dark horror humor of Evil Dead.  Check out the monster zombie horror FX cranked up to 11 in the trailer for Resident Evil:

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