Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

John Carter (of Mars)

Posted by Richard on March 9, 2012

The new Disney film, John Carter, is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series, begun in 1911. The eleven books in the series are among the great classics of science fiction, and inspired many of those who followed in Burroughs’ footsteps. But did Disney do right by this legend of the genre?

Bryan Young of Big Shiny Robot emphatically says yes. He wrote not only a glowing review, but an intelligent one — the kind of review that persuades me to go see this film. Here’s an excerpt:

There’s one thing you have to do for this movie, and that is this: forget that you’ve seen every other cliched, formulaic blockbuster of the last thirty years. The source material is the thing that inspired all of the tropes we’ve seen in cinema since the old Flash Gordon serials and somehow John Carter’s adventures have remained sacred and off the big screen.

Watch this and understand that it’s true to the source material. You’ll have fun.

But on a subconscious level, you’ll be entertained by a level of filmmaking much more even handed, capable, and mature than you’re used to. The story is told elegantly, the wraparound sequences serve a purpose, the characterizations are deep and complex. …

But it’s still a Saturday afternoon serial, perfect for a matinee.

Read the whole thing, and see if you aren’t persuaded too. I’ll update with whether I think he’s right or not after I see it. If you see it first, let me know what you think.

UPDATE (3/25): Finally saw it today, and enjoyed the hell out of it. Excellent film! Go see! (If I have time tomorrow, I’ll post about it in more detail.)

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Futurama revived

Posted by Richard on June 10, 2009

Woohoo! Bender, Fry, and Leela are coming back:

There’s a future for “Futurama.”

Five years after Fox canceled the animated comedy, 20th Century Fox TV has officially struck a deal with Comedy Central to produce 26 original episodes of the Matt Groening series. It will return as early as mid-2010.

The studio doesn’t have a broadcast network deal yet, but it said it might yet reach an agreement for a network window.

“We’re thrilled Futurama is coming back,” Groening said. “We now have only 25,766 episodes to make before we catch up with Bender and Fry in the year 3000.”

Now if someone will just rescue Sarah Connor Chronicles. And make another Serenity/Firefly movie (or resurrect the series) …

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Remembering Heinlein

Posted by Richard on July 9, 2007

Glenn Reynolds has posted the transcript of Bill Bruner's remarks at the Heinlein Centennial in Kansas City. Bruner, NASA's head of legislative affairs, talked about what Heinlein meant to him personally and what he meant to the future of freedom in space:

Beating the odds, I was the first in my family to earn a college degree – a Bachelor’s in Astronomy. Now, I am a retired Air Force fighter aviator & colonel working for America’s space agency – in large part because RAH told me that race doesn't matter, military service is honorable, freedom is better than tyranny and humankind's destiny lies among the stars.

Go. Read the whole thing. Might put a lump in your throat.

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Heinlein’s 100th

Posted by Richard on July 7, 2007

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.
— Robert A. Heinlein

Today is Robert A. Heinlein's 100th birthday. There's a big celebration this weekend in Kansas City. The Peoria Pundit, at his alternate location, Heinleinblog, posted a wonderful description of what discovering Heinlein as a young teen meant to him in the long run:

My youthful politics were liberal. I've stood there like an idiot with signs proclaiming that we ought to just give peace a chance.

Heinlein would have wanted to slap me upside the head and tell me to wake up. In a way, he did just that. My first Heinlein book was "Friday." … I bought it because the cover showed a busty blonde chick wearing a blue jump suit unbuttoned down to there. I was in junior high at the time, and the sexy passes left me flustered. The heady political commentary no doubt festered in the back of my brain.

You see, that's how insideous Heinlein is. You read his stuff becauseit's so damn much fun – all that violence and action – and you end up being taught tot hink for yourself. I remeined a liberal Democrat for the next 15 years or so, but in retrospect, I have to admit there was always a little tinkle, a buzz, really, that was telling me that people really ought to be more self-reliant, and that I ought to not be supporting candidates who want to take away folks guns.

Still I knew I wasn't a Republican or a conservative.

I came across a passage describing Heinlein as "libertarian," so I visited a few Libertarian Party Web sites and decided I found a home. I left THAT home after 2001 when I heard LP standard bearer Harry Browne blame the United States for causing the terrorists to attack us. Heinlein woduld have slapped Browne silly – figurately speaking, of course. Whether or not a more libertarian-minded foreign policy priot to Sept. 11, 2001, would have gotten the terrorists mad at us or not is debatable, but there's no debate in my mind on what should have happened after Sept. 11, 2001. And it isn't sitting around hoping that they don't get mad at us again. "Starship Troopers" told us what Heinlein would have thought about that idea.

So, Heinlein left me a man without a political party to call my own. Which is where any person with a working brain ought to be.

Heinlein would approve.

There's a campaign under way to get one of the futuristic new Zumwalt-class destroyers named the USS Robert A. Heinlein in honor of the Annapolis graduate and proud Navy man. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is on board. It sounds like a fine idea to me, so I'll be sending a letter.

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Laser pistols don’t kill people, …

Posted by Richard on May 26, 2007

Thirty years ago yesterday, Star Wars opened in just 32 theaters across the country, and producers worried it would lose money. In Los Angeles this weekend, well over 20,000 fans are attending a five-day celebration of the anniversary, the Postal Service has issued Star Wars stamps, and George Lucas is making clips from the Star Wars movies available for "remixing" at StarWars.com.

But not all Star Wars fans are celebrating this weekend. An Aussie on his way to a 30th anniversary photo shoot made the mistake of letting his Star Wars laser pistol poke out of his backpack and alarm the hoplophobes in a Melbourne mall. Police, not knowing whether the laser blaster was fully charged, took no chances:

"It was a replica gun. We weren't sure what we were dealing with," Senior-Constable Daniel Sage told the Herald Sun newspaper. Photographs showed a gun closely resembling the weapon carried by Star Wars rogue Han Solo in the cinema classic.

The man had been on his way to pose for a community newspaper ahead of the 30th Star Wars movie anniversary when he was surrounded by armed police, forced to the ground and handcuffed.

Police said despite being a harmless replica and a close match to a weapon from a galaxy far, far away, the man would be charged with possessing an unregistered firearm.

Don't Australians realize that laser pistols don't kill people, people kill people? (Also, battle droids …)

In other movie news, today is the 100th birthday of Marion Morrison, better known as John Wayne. The Duke carried a plain old revolver, not a laser pistol, but he changed movies forever, too. Check out the fine tribute poem posted by commenter shirley at Firetop.

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