Tag Archives: science fiction

Voltron: Legendary Defender

Voltron Legedary DefenderYes, I marathoned this one the day it debuted. Stayed up until 1:00 a.m. because I had to know if the creators would finally do justice to a show I loved. Voltron: Defender of the Universe will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved every cheesy aspect of it and still do. I have seen the original Japanese GoLion version, but even that can’t eclipse my love for the American one.

Spoiler alert because there is no way I can talk about this show without comparisons to the original.

Overall, I really liked Voltron: Legendary Defender. If I had to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it a 7 (which is far above what I’d have given the more recent Voltron Force). It wasn’t perfect, but it had a strong story, likeable characters, and good animation . I don’t ask for much when it comes to guilty pleasures, but I’m relieved that Legendary Defender wasn’t a complete embarrassment.

Initial thoughts:

Shiro: He has a mechanical arm and amnesia issues. I guess this makes him the Winter Soldier of the Voltron team. I have a huge girly crush on Winter Soldier, so I’m a-okay with this. I’m also very grateful his disappearing act happens before the show starts and not during episode six. His personality is more aligned with the original Keith and his confrontation with Haggar was a nice callback to Sven’s confrontation in the original show. I really hope they keep him around. Exploring his PTSD issues would give the show a depth beyond flying the Lions around the galaxy.

Keith: It’s going to take some getting used to having Keith flying red lion and being the hot head/lone wolf of the team. If the writers ever do disappear Shiro, I hope they promote this Keith to Black Lion. What makes Keith’s hotheadedness more tolerable than some of the later Lance incarnations is that Keith is more of a slow burn. He doesn’t get pissed just out frustration. He needs a damn good reason. Maybe this is because he got kicked out of the academy? I want to know more about the situation surrounding his time there. Not sure how I feel about him still having a mullet though, but at least it’s not halfway down his back.

Lance: Who would have thought Keith would be the hothead and Lance the voice of reason? Never saw that coming. I don’t dislike this, because the teenage hijinks of the pilot episode got really old, really fast. I hope they’re setting up a good cop/bad cop team-up between Keith and Lance because the role reversal would be interesting to explore. I don’t mind the flirting as much as I thought I would, but I do hope the encounter with Rolo and Nyma kills the worst of his impulses. At least it’s not as constant as Hunk’s trope of always looking for food.

Pidge: Whoa! Pidge is a girl? What a pleasant surprise. It fits nicely because it explains her size without making it look like Galaxy Garrison is sending a child into battle. I only wished they made it more clear if Pidge is a girl who cross-dresses for the sole purpose of her finding her family or if she’s truly transgendered. The fact that she doesn’t change her clothing to look more feminine, and the artist didn’t suddenly give her a female figure, makes me think Pidge might be transgendered. I like her story arc and hope she continues to clash with the rest of her team, maybe get her own episode down the line.

Hunk: Biggest disappointment. The one thing Voltron Force got right was making Hunk a huge guy, but still battle ready. Here we have the fat guy who’s obsessed with food and a flight mechanic who’s afraid to fly. The first is insulting, the second doesn’t make sense. He gets better about not puking while flying, but I hope they ditch the the whole “he’s fat and therefore must always be on the lookout for food” if they have a season 2. I was glad to see he got his own story arc with the Balmarans.

Allura: One good thing about Allura flying the castle is the writers are under less pressure to have her fly one of the Lions. She still might at some point, but at least she’s not going to become a member of the team for lack of anything better to do with her. Flying the castle is pretty damn impressive. As for her hulking out – well, it was pretty cool watching her drop throw Shiro into the escape pod. The corrupted castle episode was also a nice callback to the original white lion episode, where the lion pretends to be the spirit of her father and lures her away.

Coran – Kill him, please. Even when he’s not overacting, he’s overacting. Just have him catch a laser to the chest and be done with him. I much preferred the British butler of the original.

Zarkon – Another surprise. He’s the original Black Paladin. This is a story worth exploring. I want to know how and why. Who did he fly with? What happened to them? Finally, a break from the mustache twirling. He’s a hands on Emperor who does more than sit on his throne all day long. We’ve got the meat, let’s add the gravy.

Haggar – eh, nothing’s changed here. She’s still does Zarkon’s bidding, but I don’t see her following her own agenda yet. At least she’s lost the cat.

Sendek – A more serious and deadly version of Yurak, not that the name change changes his outcome. I’m a little surprised they killed him the way they did instead of having him fight his way free to torment the team in the future.

The Space Mice – Hated them in the original. Hate them now. My headcannon has feral cats wandering the hallways of the castle keeping the rodent population under control.

The music – The main theme sounds like the generic muzak you hear while waiting in line for a ride at EPCOT. Not inspiring at all. Even “Let’s Voltron” from Voltron Force had some zip and dash to it. This is just bland and boring.

Nanny – oh, wait – no Nanny. Yay! May she never return. Also no Lotor or Rommel. I wonder if Pollox will play a part in this universe at all? It would be kind of cool to have twin badass cousins flying castles around the Galaxy.

I guess this means I’m looking forward to season two.

Favorite Heroines

Favorite Heroines

Rita/Edge of Tomorrow

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Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow

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Zoë Washburne/Firefly

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Buffy Summers/Vampire Slayer

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Peggy Carter (Agent Carter/MCU)

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Ellen Ripley

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Sarah Connor

Lena Headey as Sarah Connor

 

Princess/General Leia

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I know, I know, it’s supposed to be a top five list. What good does it do me to own a list and be able to break the rules if I want? I’ve talked about Edge of Tomorrow before. Buffy & Zoë are Joss Whedon creations. Black Widow was awesome even before Joss got hold of her and continues to inspire. Peggy Carter is the new woman on the block, taking names and knocking the men senseless with all the wit & style of James Bond. I’ve loved Ellen, Sarah, and Ripley since I was a kid. Who are your favorites?

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v. SupermanTL;DR version – don’t waste your money. Long version includes spoilers. Lots of spoilers because this movie sucked my brain out one ear and spit shot it across the street.

Okay, ready? This is going to be a long vent.

First, some redeeming features to the movie:

  1. Ben Affleck doesn’t suck at Batman. I’m ambivalent to Batman in general, but Affleck worked for me here.

  2. Gal Godot didn’t suck as Wonder Woman. Then again, she didn’t have to do much except look sexy, flirt with Bats, and growl during the battle. Still, she’s  pretty good at growling.

  3. Henry Cavill is still pretty, even with a scar.

  4. Nod to Robin existing in this universe. Or formerly existing since we don’t know if it was Dick Grayson or Jason Todd who was killed. I’m voting for Jason because I would love to see Under the Red Hood live action.

  5. Jeremy Irons as Alfred. Cranky without pontificating.

  6. The Clark/Lois love scene at the beginning. Nice touch.

  7. The Martha and Batman exchange when he rescues her. Also, nice touch.

Non-redeeming features. While the plot in and of itself wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t brilliant, and the whole film was dragged down by bloated waste of stuff the audience didn’t need to know and/or didn’t need to see. It reminded of how I felt about the Dark Knight, an okay film that could have left 45 minutes on the cutting room floor. Specifically:

  1. Why did we need to waste so much time rewatching the death of Martha & Thomas Wayne? Everyone who’s going to see this movie knows Batman’s backstory.  It would have been so much better if they’d handled that with the same deft touch that they handled Robin’s demise.

  2. Wonder Woman served no purpose. They used her as a funnel for a product placement sequence advertising the Justice League movie. Yes, she fights at the end, protects Batman while Superman is distracted by rescuing Lois (again), but there was no real reason for her to be there.

  3. The reason Wonder Woman shouldn’t have been there is because there was no reason they couldn’t have blocked the final battle with Superman and Batman teaming up and still have the same outcome.

  4. Superman has to save Lois no less than three times during the movie. Batman then has to save Martha Kent. Really people? So much saving of women just to avoid fridging them?

  5. Batman, the world’s greatest detective, has been emotionally manipulated by Lex Luthor for over two years? Seriously?

  6. Lex’s security is so bad, no one notices Bruce Wayne or Diana Prince wandering down to the computer servers in Lex’s house all three times.

  7. Lex is the new Joker. For someone who finds the Joker boring on a good day, this didn’t help. Joker is psychopathic, Luthor is sociopathic – learn the difference people.

  8. They had to make Lex psychopathic because he has no motivation. He makes vague references to getting beaten by Daddy and Daddy’s childhood during the Third Reich, but Lex himself has no personal reason to want Superman dead.

  9. Batman decides to bring Doomsday from the uninhabited island BACK TO METROPOLIS so Bats can find the kryptonian spear to stop him? Why couldn’t Bats just go to Metropolis, get the spear, then return to the island where no one was getting hurt? (And this is a guy who based his whole anti-Superman vendetta based on Superman supposedly not caring about the thousands killed during his battle with Zod).

  10. Batman’s crossfit training montage. Yes, he’s sexy, but for a movie already bloated to 2 1/2 hours, it was unnecessary and didn’t move the story forward.

  11. Useless Bat-dreams/nightmares that tells the audience what we already know: Batman fears Superman’s god-like powers.

  12. Batman decides not to kill Superman because their moms share the same first name. Ummmm, okay.

I could go on but this blog post is going the way of the movie – bloated to the point of useless. Just wait for it to come on TV at some point and make sure you have something else to keep yourself busy while you watch it.

Favorite Villains

Favorite Villains

Darth Vader (original flavor)

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Kingpin/Wilson Fisk

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Weeping Angels

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Wicked Witch of the West

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Hans Gruber

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I have Hans Gruber on my mind because of Alan Rickman’s recent death. Yes, I toyed with the idea of putting Snape up there, but like the Alien Queen (who just wanted to save her babies), Snape was not a nice person, but was he really evil? Hans was evil, no if, ands, or buts.  Further down the list is The Master from Doctor Who (Ten Era). And before anyone asks,  I’ve never seen Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, or the Sopranos, probably because they have awesome villains and I’d die of fright or righteous anger.

Deadpool: A F*&^%ing Great Movie!

Pity the poor bastards who thought I could write a Deadpool review without spoilers. There you have your f*&^%ing warning.

I’ve avoided the Deadpool comic precisely because of the character’s reputation as an obnoxious, misogynistic son-of-a-bitch. I’m no prude, but I usually find writers who think they’re pushing-the-envelope with foul language and aggressive sexuality are just unimaginative bores. When the first trailer for Deadpool dropped, it caught my attention, but really… an R-rating is not a selling point for me. Deadpool was going to have to walk into Mordor to make a me a believer.

He went there and back again. The opening credits alone are worth the price of admission. Once I saw “Written By The Real Heroes Here”, Deadpool had me hooked.

Don’t panic. Deadpool is still a crass, sarcastic beast, but by the time the audience meets him, his heart has already grown three sizes and continues to grow — at least for a few choice characters we’re introduced throughout the movie. The rest get theirs in a bloody, spectacular fashion. There really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking about the story: Ryan Reynolds plays Ryan Reynolds out for vengeance against the guy who turned him from a handsome mercenary into a gruesome mutant. Morena Baccarin plays the prize (albeit brilliantly). Along they way, Deadpool meets up with X-Men Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (someone please make a NTW movie – soon!) for a showdown that manages to not destroy an entire city.

Despite the same old, same old storyline, I bought into it. The love story between Wade and Vanessa works because they have the same kind of crazy.  The story structure cut between past and present without losing the the main plot thread. And then there’s Leslie Uggams in the creepiest hurt/comfort scene ever. Ewwww.

Deadpool works in the way a movie is supposed to work: it got my attention, held it, and made me very happy at the end (and yes, there is an Easter Egg after the credits).

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Favorite Time Travelers

Why yes, I was inspired by the recent Back to the Future Day, but alas, Marty McFly is not anywhere near my favorite time travelers. This is usually where I state that the list is in no particular order, except I’m making an exception for #1.

Kyle1. Kyle Reese: The Terminator – A man volunteers to go through time in an experimental time machine to save the woman he loves who doesn’t even know he exists? Yep, he’s my #1 hero on top of favorite time traveler.

2. Enterprise Bridge Crew – Star Trek 4: the Voyage Home – It’s not just about the whales. It’s about friendship, love, loss, sacrifice, and forgiveness. And it’s damn funny to boot.

Wolverine3. Wolverine – The X-Men: Days of Future Past – It’s not just about Hugh Jackman’s delectable bare backside. Well, okay it is, but you could make the argument that the rest of the movie was well done too. Strong plot, lots of action, and Stewart & McKellan showing us friendship can withstand all challenges and endure the test of time. (I’d also like to point out that Michael Biehn has an equally delectable backside in Terminator – in case anyone is keeping track).

4. Phil – Groundhog Day – he’s iconic at this point, though how many people remember the character’s name? I recently rewatched the movie and it holds up quite nicely.

Lola5. Lola – Run Lola Run – An award-winning German language film about a young woman trying to save her boyfriend from being murdered. She runs, but fails, so she screams, resets time, runs again, fails again until the third time around.

6. The Doctor – Doctor Who – perennial favorite. Not even going to differentiate between which one because there’s so many to choose from.

7. Sam Winchester – Supernatural: Mystery Spot – One of the best episodes of the entire series and remember, we’re talking 11 seasons here. Yes, it’s inspired by Groundhog Day and even starts off pretty funny, but becomes less and less so as the story progresses.

Now I need an opinion from all of you: Do Captain America and the Winter Soldier qualify as time travelers? Let me know because I’m on the fence about it.

Release Day! Valley of the Blind

Valley of the Blind
Valley of the Blind

Do you remember Seeker from Blood Surfer? The cute guy with the solid black eyes who chats up Hannah in the Arena and later helps Scott find Hannah with his super vision? InValley of the Blind, you find out how Seeker became a hero before he joined T-CASS. Valley of the Blind is the first short story in the Tales from Thunder City series. Here’s a teaser for you:

“I have a brother.” He scrolled through the report too numb to think, to wonder. His throat closed over his words. “A younger brother. They kept him but tossed me.”

“I know it’s not the answer you wanted.” Mister E had said, coming around to sit on the corner of the desk, his fingers stroking his goatee. “Is there anything I can do?”

Asher read the words, but he couldn’t think through the punch of bitterness. “Is he like me? Is he an Alt?”

“I doubt it,” Mister E had said. “He has albinism like you. If they put you up for adoption because of your Alt ability, it’s more than likely the would have done the same with him.”

“But you can’t be sure.”

Mister E hesitated. “No — but Asher, he’s fifteen. Almost three years younger than you. If he were an alternative human, his power would have manifested by now. Someone would have noticed.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Asher slammed closed his laptop. He was one of the few Alts who couldn’t hide his differences as easily as the others. Without his special glasses, everyone could see the black ichor in his eye sockets instead of normal human eyes. Other Alts could hide their ability. Mr. E could turn invisible, but how would anyone know unless they actually saw him do it? “We need to find out before the Alt-ban goes into effect.”

“Don’t use your brother as an excuse to cross the Bay.” The investigator’s sympathetic gaze turned hard. “If you’re caught in Star Haven after midnight, T-CASS and Thunder City won’t save you. They won’t break Star Haven’s law because you had to satisfy a hunch.”

You can find Valley of the Blind at your favorite book stores:
KindleKoboiTunes, and Nook.

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NecronomiCon Report

I came back from Tampa to find a light nip in the air. My con roommate, Dawn Bonnano, would have laughed at me, since I shipped her back to the frozen tundra of Chicago. Yes, I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather.
Me & my roomie
This year was my first year as a panelist instead of a moderator. It’s so weird answering the questions instead of asking them. I didn’t have a lot of time to attend panels beyond the seven I was on. Yeah, seven. They originally had me on ten, but I dropped three for my own sanity.It was hard to tell which side won the DC vs. Marvel panel with all the fists flying, but the body count indicated a tie. The same with Marvel Movieverse (and TV land). How can Marvel get it so right with the movies, Agent Carter, and Daredevil, but get it so wrong with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Can We Love Heroes Who Use Their Brains Instead of Brawn?, whereupon I risked the wrath of the fandom by ‘fessing up that I preferred RDJ’s Sherlock to BC’s. Yep, that’s how I roll.

One of these things is not like the other
I took a quick peek at the NecronomiProm, which hosted its third wedding this year. Firefly themed! I also accomplished quite a bit of holiday shopping in the dealer’s room. So much geeky stuff to choose from.I’m not sure if I’ll make it back to NecronomiCon next year, but I’m going to try.

Meet me at NecronomiCon 2015

NecronomiConFlorida’s Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Convention
October 9-11, 2015

So who’s going to NecronomiCon this year? ​You’ll get to see Timothy Zahn, Richard Lee Byers, Lucienne Diver, and Pam LaBud to name a few. ​ I’ll be there​ too,​ so if you want to find me, here’s my panel schedule:

DAY TIME ROOM EVENT NAME
Friday 6 PM SHC North Can We Love Heroes Who Use Their Brains Instead of Brawn?
Friday 7 PM SHC South Marvel Movieverse (and TV Land)
Saturday 11 AM Audubon C Crossing Genres
Saturday 2 PM SHC North Who Does It Better–Marvel or D.C?
Saturday 7 PM SHC North Mythology in Supernatural 
Saturday 10 PM SHC North Guilty Pleasures
Sunday 10 AM SHC North Using Historic Fact in Your Fiction

The Fantastic Four Movie Review

The Fantastic Four. I really wanted to love this film. I really want to at least like this film. There are elements of possibilities here, but in the end, this was a mess of missed opportunities. Where to begin…

Fantastic FourA long list of spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

The main problem with this film is that it never tells you why. Which “why?” Any why.

Why do Ben and Reed become friends? You see Reed as an over the top, misunderstood geek getting ridiculed by his own teacher at school. Ben looks like the kid who’s going to be the one who shoves Reed’s head into a toilet. He doesn’t. Why? What does Ben see in Reed that makes him stand by Reed’s side all through school. (Take note: the younger actors who play Ben and Reed had more chemistry together than any of the adult actors in this film. Kudos to their acting coaches).

Why does Dr. Storm proclaim his son can build anything, yet Johnny can’t even build a working street racer?

Why does the Baxter group leave four teenagers alone in a lab with a working interdimensional transport with no guards?

Why can Reed get Ben into a facility with a working interdimensional transport without going through five hundred layers of security?

Why did they delete all of the cool action beats from the trailers? The few action scenes in the movie are so out of context you have to wonder why they were filmed at all. The only exception was Reed fighting in the forest. That one was actually pretty cool to watch, but there wasn’t enough there to keep me interested.

Why did they skip a year? Why did the cut out everything about the team getting used to their powers?

Why does Grimm forgive Reed so easily? They were best friends, then Reed abandons Grimm to his fate for a year. It doesn’t matter than Reed was trying to help from a distance.

Why does Johnny welcome Reed back so readily? Those two hardly know each other.

Why wasn’t Sue allowed to join the boys in their drunken transport to the other dimension? This pisses me off the most. If she’s supposed to be part of this team, she should have been allowed to join the drinking party and make the same mistakes as the boys. Stupid mistake or not, Sue is now the pretty princess stands apart from the the others, who always has to take the moral high ground. Boring, boring, boring. The writers and the director had no balls when it came to giving Sue her powers.

What the hell happened to Doom pre-transport? He’s set up as this anti-government rebel without a cause with a huge crush on Sue that goes absolutely nowhere. There seems to be a wink and a nod that he’s actually working for someone else, but he does nothing to make us believe he’s about to betray the team. There’s no sense of his growing rage. We left to assume that he joined the project so he could be close to Sue especially when gets all jealous when he sees Reed and Sue flirting, but in the same scene Reed incorporates Doom even deeper into the project. They become drinking buddies for crying out loud.

What the hell happened to Doom post-transport? He wants to destroy Earth because ::mumble mumble:: REASONS. Nothing about being torn away from Sue. Nothing about wanting anything more than to go back to the primordial existence on this other planet because ::mumble mumble:: REASONS. He has no motivation to be doing what he’s doing. He’s pissed and he’s powerful and he’s boring as hell.

I’ve read the rumors about studio interference on this project, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. All I have to work with is what’s up on the screen and what’s up on the screen is terrible.