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.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jurassic World - Just A Good Fun Film

Jurassic World - 2015
If there is a word to sum up every Jurassic Park movie, it came from Dr. Ian Malcom in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).  Early on in that film he said, “Oh Yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts.  Then later, there’s running and um, screaming.”

Yep, that about sums up this latest addition to what might be called “Hammond’s Mistake.” One would think that after trying, and trying again, with each incarnation of the dinosaur theme park that we would have learned our lesson and realize that what has been extinct for 65 million years should probably stay extinct.  After all, dinosaurs were only interested to doing two things; eating and making little dinosaurs.

Well, it is now some 22 years after that first Jurassic Park incident and the all new Jurassic World is a fully functional and somewhat successful theme park located on Isla Nublar. Unfortunately, revenues in the park have been falling because the exhibits have become fairly common. It has been determined that they need to create new dinosaurs to perk up revenues and keep the park solvent.

Meanwhile, the park’s director, Claire Dearing is receiving a visit from her nephews Zach and Gary. Claire is one busy lady and has her assistant take over care for the boys.  They are supplied with nice accommodations overlooking the main plaza of the park and given wristbands that allow them access to all of the rides and exhibits.

Simon Masrani, the park’s owner asks Claire to accompany him to see the new exhibit that will most assuredly rejuvenate the public’s interest in the park. The new dinosaur has been dubbed Indominus Rex (Latin for Untameable King).  This new dinosaur, which never existed in nature, is made up from the DNA of numerous extinct species as well as a few modern ones. It is bigger, faster, louder, and more vicious than anything that has ever existed on land.  A special enclosure has been designed for it, designed by the best engineers, and there has been no expense spared.  Even with that being said, Simon wants the park’s Velociraptor expert, Owen Grady, to come in and check the enclosure for vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, Owen is working with his Raptors on a part of the island that is not open to visitors.  He works with four animals that he has worked with since they were hatched.  He has apparently been training them to obey commands, which they do, but there is tension between Owen and the animals. Owen is approached by InGen’s head of Security, Vic Hoskins who is very happy with the progress that Owen has made and explains that he can see that the Raptors are able to take commands and could be used as weapons.  Just then, a member of the staff falls into the enclosure and Owen enters to rescue him, and then barely escaping with his life, proving that the raptors may be tame, but only to a point.

At about the same time, the boys manage to ditch Claire’s assistant and go off on their own to explore the park.

Claire goes to Owen’s bungalow to get him to carry out Simon’s request. At this point, we also learn that Claire and Owen have had a past relationship that has cooled. Reluctantly, Owen agrees to honor Simon’s request.  When they arrive at the Indominus’ enclosure, there appears to be nothing there, but Owen finds claw marks in the concrete indicating that the animal has escaped its enclosure. Owen and two members of the staff enter the enclosure only to find that the dinosaur has faked an escape. Indominus then attacks the trio killing two, but Owen escapes by hiding under a vehicle, cutting the fuel line and dousing himself with gasoline to hide his scent.  Indominus is now roaming the park.

InGen soldiers make an attempt to capture Indominus using nonlethal weapons and are all killed. Claire orders that the northern part of the park be closed, while at the same time, the boys are exploring there in a gyrosphere vehicle. Indominus arrives and attacks the boy’s vehicle, but they manage to escape and arrive at the original Jurassic Park Visitor’s Center.  The boys get one of the abandoned jeeps running and head for the new park. As the boys leave in the jeep, Owen and Claire arrive at the old building, but are also attacked by Indomenus.

Simon decides that he will take a helicopter and go after Indominus, but it escapes him by breaking into the aviary where the Pteranodons and Dimorphodons are housed. They begin to escape and attack the helicopter, which crashes into the dome of the aviary releasing all of the animals from that enclosure.

As Zach and Gary arrive back at the park, the flying dinosaurs begin attacking tourists.  Finally, Claire’s assistant sees the boys by is snatched up by a Pteranodon that flies over the tank that contains the Mosasaurus, a very large carnivorous ocean-going creature.  The Mosasaurus jumps out of the water and eats both the Pteranodon and Claire’s assistant.  Just then, Owen and Claire arrive and find the boys.

In the control center, Hoskins takes command of the park and decides that Owen must use his Raptors, that he has trained to hunt and kill, to track down the Indominus and kill it. However reluctant, Owen agrees that this may be the only way to stop the bloodshed.  When the Indominus, is confronted by Owen and the Raptors, Indominus (that is part Raptor itself) communicates with the smaller dinosaurs, turning them against the humans and more InGen soldiers are slaughtered, but again, Owen manages to escape.

Meanwhile, Hoskins and Dr. Wu are packing up all of the dinosaur embryos to take them off the island.  Owen, Claire, and the boys arrive and ask what he is doing.  Hoskins explains that he intends to continue to develop Indominus Rex into a weapon as he was intending Owen to do with the Raptors, but suddenly a Raptor arrives on the scene and kills Hoskins.  Owen, Claire and the boys escape from there only to find themselves surrounded by Velociraptors outside. Indominus arrives on the scene and apparently attempts to goad the Raptors into attacking Owen, but Owen has managed to reestablish his connection with the animals and they turn on Indominus and are apparently killed. As Indominus fights off the Raptor attack, Claire releases the Tyrannosaurus Rex and it chases her to where Indominus is. There is one remaining Raptor that teams up with the T-Rex and forces Indominus near the edge of the Mosasaurus tank. The huge aquatic animal lunges out of it’s enclosure and pulls Indominus in killing it.  The T-Rex and the remaining Raptor, having had enough, flee into the forest. The park’s survivors are evacuated to Costa Rica and in the final scene of the film, the T-Rex stands on a helipad overlooking the park and lets loose a thunderous roar.

This film is utterly predictable and follows the formula in every way.  It didn’t matter what the situation was, we knew that Owen, Claire, and the boys were going to survive and everyone else was going to get munched by one dinosaur or another, however, it was very satisfying when Hoskins got his.  But, that is not saying that this is a bad film, on the contrary, I found the movie to be very entertaining and worth going to see as an afternoon matinee. The pace was very fast and once it started, the two hours of the movie went by very quickly,  There was no guessing game and the story unfolded in the usual Jurassic Park way.

The acting in the film was well done.  Chris Pratt as Owen was not as over the top as I would have expected him to be, and his character was likable, as was Bryce Dallas Howard. However, it took a little time to warm up to her as she started out in the film as a typical corporate stooge, but later understood that the animals she was dealing with were actually living beings and not just assets. Hoskins was perfectly portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio as the opportunist who only wanted to exploit the animals as weapons he could sell, perhaps to the highest bidder. I enjoyed Irrfan Khan’s performance as Simon, and genuinely felt bad when his helicopter went down killing his character.  While his interest was to make the park profitable again, he didn’t feel like someone that would want to do that at any cost, and he did indeed rely on his staff to guide his decisions.  The one single actor that appeared in the first Jurassic Park film was B.D. Wong, who reprised his role as Dr. Henry Wu, the geneticist that was the mastermind behind the creation of the animals in the park.  I was taken a little aback when I learned that he was actually working with Hoskins (shades of Nedry?) to exploit the dinosaur’s weapons potential.

If there was an area of disappointment for me, I would have to say that I was a little disappointed in the film score.  One of the best parts of the Jurassic Park series was the awesome music of John Williams, who apparently handed over the baton to Michael Giacchino for this romp through the park, but as I listened, I found that the score, while it fit the action on the screen, was somewhat unremarkable and subdued.

Is there a message in this film?  What is the writers and director trying to tell is is the moral of the story?  Well, for me, the very first part of the film was what it was all about.  Now imagine what it would be like to go to a place like Jurassic World and see and interact with creatures that have been extinct for millions of years.  That in itself, for me at least would be beyond amazing.  But then, even when we are surrounded by marvels that are beyond the imagination, they soon become mundane and we look for bigger thrills, and when we cannot find them for ourselves, corporate society is only more than happy to provide them for us.

In any case, whether there is a deeper message intended or not, Jurassic World is a fun and entertaining film that is worth going to see at least once. There is really no new information (other than they are now creating new dinosaurs) and there are no big reveals. It follows the formula that was established in the first movie, starting with the Ooos and Ahhs, and then follows the running and the screaming, and as the people flee for their lives, the term fast food takes on a whole new meaning.

Well, there it is…

Qaplah!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Star Trek: Captain Pike - Looking At The Story Of Captain Christopher Pike - An Indiegogo Project

 Star Trek: Captain Pike - Looking At The History Of The Future

While it seems that CBS and Paramount are content to just let Star Trek, one of their most popular properties, just sit on the shelf and gather dust, we the fans continually ask for more.  In recent years, there have been many new incarnations of Star Trek available in the books, and movies. While the books are great (I happen to be reading an excellent one right now), we still want the visual experience. J.J. Abrams produced and directed two films that have raised a lot of controversy within fandom and have been accused of falling short by many.  I have even heard people who described the J.J. films as being "amazing" turn around and are also bashing them.

Another source for us Trekkies is the recent trend of producing fan films. Some are trying to break new ground with all new concepts, while others are leaning more towards the traditional Star Trek concept of episodic television.  All are well produced and feature great casts and are quite professionally done.


I have recently been hearing about a new project that is in the works called Star Trek: Captain Pike.  But I haven't been hearing very much, so here is my contribution to help boost the signal for something that promises to be fresh and something that fans have been asking for.

Star Trek: Captain Pike will give us a visual story of the second commander of the USS Enterprise, Captain Christopher Pike. Building on the story by Gene Roddenberry in his pilot for TOS, The Cage which didn't air, but was later reworked for the only two part episode of the original series, The Menagerie. The concept is being developed by Todd Shawn Tei along with others who have gathered an all star cast and are striving to do a film that is professional in all aspects.

ST: Captain Pike is the story of what took place in the years prior to Kirk's command.  The story will explore how Pike came to take command from Captain Robert April, the first commander of the Enterprise, as well as his relationship with his father, Josh Pike.  According to Tei, one of the most important aspects of his production is that it isn't just about battles and conflict, but will explore more of the interpersonal relationships that were the basis of what Star Trek was all about.  For instance, we know that Spock is loyal to Captain Kirk, however in the Menagerie Spock was willing to end his own career, as well as Kirk's to bring Pike to Thalos IV so pike could live some semblance of a normal life. What were the events that led to this fierce loyalty spock had for Pike? This is just one of the aspects that Tei promises will be explored in what he hopes will become an ongoing story that will unfold as new films are produced and released.

The cast that has been lined up at this point includes a list that is a veritable who's who in Star Trek.  Along with Todd Shawn Tei (starring as Captain Pike, producing, directing, and writing) is Robert Picardo, Chase Masterson, Linda Park, Dwight Schultz, and Water Koenig.  Also among the talent participating is Ray Wise, Eric Roberts, Bruce Davison, Jorge Pallo, and Rico Anderson. The Links point to their IMDB pages.


An undertaking such as this cannot be done without funding. Tei has chosen to fund Star Trek: Captain Pike through Indiegogo.  There you will be given the opportunity to help fund the project and there are perks at various levels for donating.

You can learn more about ST: Captain Pike in an interview with Tei and one of his co-writers, Walter Doty that M Sieiro Garcia and I did for The Scifi Diner Podcast.

Here is a list of links to also check out...

 







Well, there it is...

Q'aplaH!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ruminating on O Comic Con - A Fun Day for Chrissy and Me!

O Comic Con - May 2015

I heard that there was a new convention starting in the area quite by accident.  When I checked the guest list for O Comic Con I, that is when I knew that I was going to attend. Among the guests were listed, Mick Foley of Professional Wrestling fame, Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica, and Walter Koenig of Star Trek and Babylon 5 fame. I said to myself, "holy crap!  Walter Koenig! I'm going!"

How often does one living in the middle of Nebraska get to meet someone like that? Someone that I have been watching on television and in films for nearly 50 years?  Not very often. So do I sound a bit fanboyish? I admit that I am guilty as charged.  I went to O Comic Con for one purpose, and one purpose only; to shake hands with someone I consider a living legend and an icon of something I love.

When I announced to my family that I intended to head to Council Bluffs, Iowa to attend this convention, Diane suggested that we make a family outing of it and all go. Cool. We got up at 4:00 AM and headed out to O Comic Con.  The plan was that Chrissy and I would do the con thing and Diane would go shopping and visit the casinos in the area. Little did I know what I was in for as I we arrived.

First, I was pleasantly surprised as I walked in and found that a good friend, Mr. Troy Rutter actually made it after he didn't think he would. Troy worked at in Hollywood on Babylon 5 as their web administrator back in the days before Facebook and Twitter. He knows his way around a con and it was a pleasure to see him again.

Following that initial surprise, it was time to go and get in line to meet Walter Koenig.  Chrissy and I were quite lucky; we were fourth in line.  Unfortunately, Mr. Koenig was late in arriving, but it was nice that the staff were on hand to keep us informed when he would arrive.  By the time Mr. Koenig arrived, the line had gotten quite long, so we had to keep moving.  I got an autographed photo for $40, which I consider to be a reasonable price and moved on.  It would have been nice if there would have been more time to visit.

Next, we cued up for Jamie Bamber.  His line was not as big and Chrissy and I were able to visit with Mr. Bamber for a few minutes.  I was impressed with how warm and friendly a man he is. I had a question I wanted to ask, and got an answer. There are episodes of Battlestar Galactica where his character, Apollo looks about 50 pounds heavier than before or after. I read, and have heard that he actually put on all of that weight for the show. He assured me that he did not, although he said it "would have been more fun" that way as opposed to sitting in makeup for four hours everyday before shooting started.  He asked if I had let Chrissy watch the show, and I apologized explaining that I thought she might be a bit too young yet.  He agreed, explaining that his own children had not seen the show yet and that I should wait a few more years before Chrissy enters that world.

Later, Chrissy and I attended a Q&A session with Mick Foley. For those of you that are not up on professional wrestling personalities, Mr. Foley is known as Cactus Jack, Dude Love, and his most famous character Mankind. It was fun to listen to him talk about his days wrestling, what his favorite matches were, and other work. But what was more impressive was to listen to him talk about his philanthropic work. He told how he had been sponsoring a your lady from the Philippines from the age of three, and that just a few days before, he had made the final payment for her to finish her nursing degree. He also talked about how much he enjoyed being Santa Claus. Even though Chrissy knew nothing about him, she enjoyed Mr. Foley's talk.

The rest of our day was spent wandering around and visiting and getting photos with numerous people we encountered.  I made sure to be polite and ask before I took photos, and was not turned down once.  Some of the costumes are just outstanding, while others are in various stages of being built. I cannot imagine the amount of time and money some of these people invest in their attire, but it is all in fun and one of the best parts of O Comic Con was just people watching.

I asked Chrissy to write down a few words of her experience at this event, here is what she said...

"The cool part was spending time with Dad, and we met Darth Vader, Thor, Chewbacca, and other people from the movies. We also went to a Q&A show with Mick Foley.  We also spent part of the day with a friend, Troy.  The day was pretty fun."

The best part of the day for me, meeting Mr. Koenig and Mr. Bamber, was only topped by being able to share the experience with my daughter.  We had a blast!

One of the best things about going to this event was being able to visit with friends I have made at OSFest.  So I want to shout out to Tom Ulrick, Matt McKeever, Mitch Obrecht, Christopher Crane, Jason Burns, and of course Troy Rutter.  I look forward to seeing you all again later this summer at OSFest 8.

As far as the running of the con itself, I didn't experience any problems as an attendee.  But if anyone that is in charge of organization is reading this, I might offer a suggestion that would have made things a bit better.

A printed program would have been nice, or even just a schedule on poster board would have been helpful.  The schedule was online, but the WiFi in the convention center was secure, which meant that I had to use data to check it.

In any case, as I said, Chrissy and I had a great time and both of us are ready to go to O Comic Con II!

Following are some of the other photos I took at O Comic Con.

Well, there it is...

QaplaH!


What an honor it was to shake Mr. Koenig's hand.

It was also awesome to introduce him to Chrissy.


I felt we would be safe with the 501st on the job.

We just happened to see LaForge walking by.

Chrissy is a Star Wars fanatic, so we had to get pictures with anyone that was in costume.

Chrissy said that this Batmobile replica was very cool.  It was very detailed.

I really liked this display.

Chrissy wasn't too sure about this.

The 501st had a great presence at the con.

Malificent!  Awesome costume, and an awesome lady wearing it.

Elsa and Anna took a few seconds off from lunch for a picture!  Thanks Girls!

We tried to free Han from the carbonite, but pressed the wrong buttons.

I'll bet it was warm in this outfit!

We found the mighty Chewbacca!

Awseome Predator outfit.

Marvel had a presence. Iron Patriot and Black Widow.  Can't imagine the work that goes into these costmes.

When I saw this guy, I thought it was Chris Hemsworth himself.  Must have been his twin!

Kiss arrived to Rock and Roll All Night!

These ARE the droids we were looking for.

Vader.


Glad he left Jabba behind.

Apollo.

One of my most treasured possessions.