Notice...

The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.


***SPOILER ALERT***
Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Monday, December 30, 2013

An Interview With Edward Of Planet Earth Author Nicholas Eftimiades And Your Chance To Receive A Free Autographed Copy

Interview with Nick Eftimiades, author of Edward Of Planet Earth

I first learned about Edward Of Planet Earth and the author Nicholas Eftimiades by listening to an interview on the Scifi Diner Podcast.  The idea intrigued me, so I went to Amazon.com and downloaded for my Kindle and began reading.  I enjoyed the story and posted about it on this blog.

Nick was very appreciative that I would review his book on this blog and we began our on-line friendship.

A few weeks ago, I contacted Nick to see if he might be interested in an interview.  He was more than happy to accomodate me, so here it is.  We talked about Edward and his two other non-fiction books on Chinese intelligence, and on how we Americans are viewed by people in other countries.  But the discussion was not just limited to books, we also discussed the future implications of the evolution of our technology.


Those who are interested in learning more about Nicks Books can visit anywhere books are sold on-line.  He can also be found on-line on his blog.  Recently, he posted an article on his blog that outlines the intelligence implications of the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars.  This was an interesting anylitacal look at Star Wars and a fun read.  We also visited about The Federation of Galaxy Explorers, a non-profit organization intended to promote interest in space exploration in school aged children and young adults.


Well, there it is...

QaplaH!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Episodes Of The Dune Saga Podcast & SciFi Diner Featuring A Babylon 5 Discussion - I'm On Both, So You Must Listen - Resistance Is Futile

There are two items to cover today...


David, Scott and I got together after reading Dune: The Machine Crusade, the second in the Legends of Dune trilogy and had a lot of fun discussing the book.  We covered many aspects of the story, we talked about the characters, we covered our favorite quotes from the book, and read and commented on reviews of the book as well as our listener feedback.

We would love to have you listen into our conversation, but if you need a refresher on Machine Crusade, sstart by listening to David's Dune In Ten summary of the of the story.  After listening to that, jump right in and listen to our commentary on The Dune Saga Podcast #2 episode.

You can feed back to us in numerous ways including sending an e-mail to dunesagapodcast@gmail.com, post on our Facebook page, We are on Twitter at @dunesagapodcast, and you can leave us a voice-mail at 1-888-508-4343.

We will be reading the third and final installment of the Legends series, Dune: The Battle of Corrin.  Please send your comments for the show before January 21st.


What happens when Scott, Miles and M leave the SciFi Diner unattended, well you can find out if you listen to Raul Ybarra and me take over for one episode.  We learned that certain members of the Diner cast have never watched the epic television series Babylon 5.  We were agahst at this, so Raul and I got together and hijacked the diner for an overview of the series.

Listen to our discussion of many aspects of the show that is approaching it's 20th anniversary on The SciFi Diner Podcast Episode 192 - A Babylon 5 Rewind.

You can feedback to the Diner as always, or if you would like, can send feedback directly to Raul at raul@thechristiangeek.net or on Twitter @rytchgeek.  As for me, you can e-mail me at arrowoodjj@gmail.com, leave comment on my Facebook page, or find me on Twitter @JimArrowood2.

Well, there it is...

QaplaH'!





Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Movie Report Card - A Look Back The 2013 Sci-Fi Films I Saw and My Grades For Them



My 2013 Sci-Fi Movie Report Card


It was a great year for science fiction in the theaters and on television.  I spent a lot of time at the movies this year, the most I have since I closed my theater.  I liked most of what I saw and loved some of what I saw.  So I thought I would recount the movies I saw in the theaters and a few on television and assign grades to them.   I also took the time to compile the ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB just to see how I stacked up against them.  I think the results are interesting.  You may agree or disagree with my grades, and please feel free to feed back to me on Facebook, Twitter, or G+ if you wish.  I would love to know what you think, one way or the other.  So here are my grades of the films I saw.  In each the title is also a link to my review of the film in question.



Tomatometer: 11%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 38%

IMDB: 5/10

My Grade: A-



I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.  One thing that helped my enjoyment of this movie was reading the prequel book After Earth: A Perfect Beast by Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, and Peter David.  While others have mentioned that they don’t like Jaden Smith, I had no problem with her performance.  The scenery for this film was breathtaking and the story was solid.   It is a fun movie, but I would have liked to see more action from Will Smith, whom I have come to respect as an outstanding actor.




Tomatometer: 69%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 62%

IMDB: 6.8/10

My Grade: A



An action packed film with a decent story and a few surprises.  It centered around the state of health care in the future, with the haves versus the have-nots.  The story was solid, and action was nonstop, and the performances of the actors were well done.  While the main character, portrayed by Matt Damon, wound up sacrificing himself in the end, it was satisfying to see that his sacrifice was not in vain, and the poor downtrodden did finally prevail.




Tomatometer: 61%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 74%

IMDB: 7.2/10

My Grade: A+



I read the book in preparation for seeing this film and was impressed that the film actually was the book.  I completely recognized the characters in the film and thought they were played excellently by the actors.  The parts of the book that weren’t in the film didn’t affect the film at all and so it wound up being Ender’s story.  The visual effects were outstanding and on a large scale.  For me, it was superior in every way, and it was a film that I was able to take my family to.  It was great to see Harrison Ford back as well.




Tomatometer: 79%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 59%

IMDB: 6.5/10

My Grade: B



A found footage style film, which I am not a big fan of, was a decent film with no big named actors.  I was not able to watch this in the theater because it was held to a limited release; too bad too because I would have loved to see this on the big screen.  The visuals were incredible.  I found the story a bit hard to follow at times not understanding where some of the dialog was relevant to the film.  I was also a little taken aback when I learned that there are giant luminescent squid on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.  In order to see this, I bought it on BluRay, so I will be seeing it again to see if the parts that didn’t fit for me will become a little more clear.




Tomatometer: 97%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 85%

IMDB: 8.4/10

My Grade: A+



From the first time I saw the trailer for this film, I knew that I had to see it.  The plot wasn’t all that remarkable; just a rehash of a theme of survival of a single person, but it was done well.  Were there plot holes?  Oh yeah, there were plot holes big enough to fly the ISS through.  But despite the inconsistencies with physical science and orbital mechanics, this was still a great film and one of the best of the year as far as I was concerned.  One didn’t have to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate it.  The visuals were absolutely stunning.  Sandra Bullock and George Clooney played their parts as astronauts well.  I am looking forward to getting this on BluRay when it is released, the sooner the better.




Tomatometer: N/A

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: N/A

IMDB: 4.2/10

My Grade: C



SyFy advertised the heck out of this movie for its television release.  I just had to give it a look.  This was an unintentionally comical movie that surprisingly held my attention for two hours.  I laughed most of the way through it because it reminded me of the films that they used to poke fun at on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 television show.  I could actually imagine Mike and the robots comments.  One of Syfy’s big selling points was that Denise Crosby was the star.  I suppose that they were hoping to get us Trekkies watching because of this, and it worked, at least in my case.  Crosby actually played a very small part in the film.  For me, I thought this movie was so bad, it was good, or at least it was entertaining for its high level of stupidity.




Tomatometer: 78%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 80%

IMDB: 7.4/10

My Grade: D



I am not a fan of the Iron Man film franchise to begin with, but of the three Iron Man films, I didn’t like this one the most.  Yes, I know I am in the minority, and I’m okay with that.  For me, this film was not as much about Iron Man as it was a two-hour Robert Downey Jr. running stand-up comedy act.  It was nothing but a string of lame jokes and backhanded remarks that did nothing to add to the story.  I didn’t care about the characters, and I didn’t care about the story.  Add to that the way they destroyed one of the best characters of Marveldom (the Mandarin), and demolished another one of the coolest characters, War Machine (changing him into Iron Patriot), left me cold.  The two things that were good and saved this from me giving a grade of ‘F’ was that the visuals were good, and that Tony Stark decided to hang up the armor at the end.  I hope it stays that way, because I am hanging up on this franchise until some major changes are made.




Tomatometer: 20%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 29%

IMDB: 5.5/10

My Grade: C+



Fine performances from a good cast, good sets, and good locations couldn’t make up for a weak story and script.  Films using the subject of Mars haven’t been very great movies in the past and this one is not an exception.  What starts out as an interesting film soon deteriorates into a sci-fi/horror version of a zombie apocalypse on the Red Planet.




Tomatometer: 56%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 76%

IMDB: 7.4/10

My Grade: A+



In the review of this film, I called this the best superhero film I have ever seen, and that still holds up.  This reboot of the superman story had everything I want to see in a film.  Great characters, great writing, great story, and great filming.  But what stole the show for me was Michael Shannon’s portrayal as General Zod.  He was incredible as the single minded guardian of the people of Krypton.  In previous incarnations, Zod was just evil, but in this movie, he was a character trying to fulfill his role in his society.  Some have complained that Superman killed Zod, which goes against what Superman stands for, but in my estimation, Superman had no choice in the matter.  I am eager to see the next installment of this saga that includes an aging Batman, and perhaps even Wonder Woman.




Tomatometer: 54%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 61%

IMDB: 7/10

My Grade: A



Not a very fast moving film, but one that challenges one to think a bit.  I thought this was one of Tom Cruse’s best films.  It was an original story and the ending was somewhat reminiscent of the ending of Logan’s Run.  I liked the vehicles and the scenery and the surprises that were in this film.




Tomatometer: 72%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 78%

IMDB: 7.1/10

My Grade: B+



This was a visual effects romp that didn’t pretend to be anything more than it was, just a fun film with robots fighting monsters.  There were lots of cool moments during battle scenes.  This film didn’t require its audience to think, and was nothing but action from beginning to end.  There was really no hard hitting story, nor was there much character development, it was just a good sci-fi/action film, as it was apparently intended to be.




Tomatometer: 87%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 90%

IMDB: 7.9/10

My Grade: A-



While I thought Into Darkness was a great film, I didn’t think it was a great Star Trek film.  What I wanted was a new and fresh Trek story from JJ Abrams.  After all, he did what I though was an awesome job of creating an alternate timeline for the franchise, I wanted and was expecting a new story, but instead we get a retelling of TWOK.  I have a few nit-picky problems with Into Darkness which I covered in my review on the blog.  I am very comfortable with the actors playing the classic Enterprise crew, and I thought Benedict Cumberbatch did a fine job portraying Kahn, but I didn’t care for the look of the new Klingons.  I am relieved to learn that JJ will not be directing the next film, and am likewise relieved that there will be a new writing team.  Perhaps we will finally get something new.




Tomatometer: 65%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 83%

IMDB: 7.6/10

My Grade: A+



Marvel did this one right.  For me, at least, Tom Hiddleston as Loki stole the show.  One doesn’t know whether he is an ally or a foe, but he and Thor have some fantastic exchanges or dialog.  This film had everything that one might want from a marvel film and was the most like seeing a comic book come to the big screen as one can get.  It had action, it had some humor, and the actors were perfect for their roles.  Outstanding in all aspects in my opinion.



A Look Ahead…



So what does the sci-fi movie landscape look like to the upcoming year?  I don’t think it will be as strong as last year.  I have compiled a list of films that are slated for release in 2014 and based on the previews that are available, give them a yes, I will see them in the theater, no I will not see them in the theater, or maybe I will.  Here it is with the trailers, where available…



I, Frankenstein – January 24th – Maybe
 



RoboCop – February 12th – No

 

Mr. Peabody and Sherman – March 7th – No

 

Divergent – March 21st – No



Noah – March 28th – Yes



Captain America: Winter Soldier – April 4th – Yes



Transcendence – April 18th – Maybe



Godzilla – May 16th – Maybe



X-Men: Days of Future Past – May 23rd – Yes



Edge of Tomorrow – June 16th – Maybe



Transformers: Age of Extinction – June 27th – No



Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – July 11th – Yes



Jupiter Ascending – July 18th – Maybe



Guardians of the Galaxy – August 1st – Maybe



The Giver – August 15th – Maybe



Resident Evil 6 – September 12th – No



The Maze Runner – September 19th – No

 Sorry, I couldn't find an official trailer.


Interstellar – November 7th – Maybe

 Sorry, I couldn't find an official trailer.


Tomorrow Land – December 12th – Maybe

 Sorry, I couldn't find an official trailer.


Left Behind – No Date Given – No

 Sorry, I couldn't find an official trailer.


Well, there it is…



QaplaH’!

Zombie Apocalypse On The Red Planet - The Last Days On Mars - Strong Acting, Weak Story



The Last Days On Mars – 2013

Magnet, the same film distributor that brought Europa Report to the U.S., again brings this film to us on a limited release.  I checked on Amazon and found that I could rent this for $7 and thought I would pop for it.  It wasn’t worth that in my estimation.

A crew of eight scientist/astronauts are finishing up their expedition on the Red Planet and are making ready to get back to earth on their Aurora transport ship.   They are all tired and starting to get on each other’s nerves and are looking forward to going home.  One of the scientists, Petrovic, has discovered that there is something that looks like it may have been alive on Mars.  He doesn’t reveal this to his crew mates presumably because he wants to get the credit for his discovery.  Against the wishes of the others, he decides to make one last trip to gather more samples.  While taking a core sample, the ground underneath him collapses and he falls into a deep fissure and is presumed dead.

The commander of the crew, Brunel and rover driver Dalby head out to retrieve Petrovic and realize they are going to need equipment to get their ill-fated crew member.  Brunel leaves Dalby at the site and disappears before the rest of the crew returns.  Campbell volunteers to descend into the fissure to retrieve Petrovic’s body, but there’s no body to be found, but instead he discovers that there is indeed some sort of life present, and it is growing.

The crew returns to their habitat and are immediately attacked by two humanoids that we soon learn are Petrovic and Dalby turned into…

Wait for it…

Zombies.  Yes, now we have zombies on Mars.

Commander Brunel is one of the first to be attacked, with a rock hammer.  He of course becomes infected and begins to become zombified.   Since the habitat has been taken over by Petrovic and Dalby, the rest of the crew moves Brunel into the hydroponic structure and tries to help Brunel.  They take a blood sample and determine that a bacterium is responsible for the problem and might be treated with antibiotics.  While the antibiotics seem to work for a while, they are ineffective as a cure.

So one by one, every member of the crew is zombified with the exception of one Campbell.  He manages to escape, but discovers a small cut on his face.  Figuring he has been likewise infected, he decides that he will plunge the ascent vehicle into the Martian atmosphere rather than take a chance of bringing the infection back to earth.

So thanks to Campbell, the Zombie Apocalypse is avoided, this time.

I am not a huge fan of horror films, and am not a fan of zombie films.  I am therefore not a huge fan of this film.  While I do not care for this movie, it is not without some good points.

The acting and direction is quite good.  One could see that the people on the expedition were ready to leave Mars after their six-month sojourn away from earth, and were ready to come home.  Where this movie suffers is in the story and script.  It wasn’t strong enough to be a great film, and wasn’t quite corny enough to be a ‘B’ movie, so sadly it just kind of falls flat.  The location chosen for the filming was convincing enough to be a Martian landscape, and the vehicles as well as the sets were well thought out and constructed.  In all aspects outside of the story, this was a decent film.  I would have liked to see a bit more character development, especially for Campbell.  There were really no strong characters in this film; even Campbell didn’t stand out as a person with much strength, which is too bad because this film really needed a strong character to take on the lead.  It could have been done better.

Well, there it is…

QaplaH’!