Saturday, 18 January 2014

"My" Star Wars Is As Good As Dead... Perhaps Not The End Of The World

I've been a lifelong Star Wars fan. Whereas I came to Star Trek and Doctor Who in the early 90s, Star Wars was always a part of my life thanks to my fantastic, geeky Uncle. Now I'll admit I wasn't some super-knowledgeable fan. For much of my early life I was under the impression the movies were based on books and that the first three books hadn't been filmed hence why the odd numbering.

But I really got into Star Wars in a way many proper Star Wars fans would consider sacrilegious... At the age of 13/14 and thanks to the lead up to the Special Editions. Then again my favourite Star Wars movie is Return of the Jedi so I suppose there truly is no hope for me! I loved the Special Editions, I loved the Shadows of the Empire "event" (as a Nintendo boy the fact it was one of the first games released on N64 put it right on my radar) and then I fell in love with the Expanded Universe books.

The Truce At Bakura remains one of my favourite books of all time, not just in the Star Wars line. I loved the characters of the EU and dabbled with some of the Star Wars: Legacy comics too. I fell out of contact with the latest happenings somewhat, only picking up a book here or there, totally missing the Yuuzhan Vong (something I'm pretty glad of having picked up a few of those books since) but I did listen to the Force Cast loyally and loved the rich tapestry of the many, many stories told post-RotJ.

But, given the fact I was not overly enamoured with the Prequels (though not angry like some raging fanboys), the EU became "My" Star Wars. Yes the canon was sketchy (though they had a points based system to help you out!), but I loved Thrawn, Jade, the entire history of the New Republic and its battles with the Imperial Remnant.

Now, as we prepare for the next trilogy of movies, Disney has decided to clear things up. A committee is deciding the fate of entire worlds and civilisations (imaginary ones, I admit). Beloved characters and plots will be discarded. Entire empires will cease to exist. And the Expanded Universe will implode.

It is perhaps not a bad idea. The stories won't disappear. The Heir to the Empire trilogy won't be burnt in the streets. Chewbacca will still get crushed by a moon and reduce me into a blubbering wreak. And by finally clearing house a more stable canon can be formed encompassing all the movies plus any new books and comics that come out over the coming years. It'll help make it all more accessible to new fans and to returning fans.

In fact I can't help but agree with this piece that suggests they just do away with everything but the movies.

Yes "My" Star Wars must die in order that a new Star Wars may rise... I can't wait to see what next year brings and not just because of Episode VII. Marvel will begin publishing Star Wars comics and I'm excited! A whole new Expanded Universe to explore :)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

What Fun Awaits Us In 2014?

Robocop



There is no hiding my love of Robocop. I've seen the first (and best) movie too many times to count. This year a remake is coming.

Am I excited? Yes, of course. Sure the original Robocop design was iconic and this new design is a bit of a departure. And I'm sure the storytelling style will be a radical departure from Paul Verhoeven's. But it is new Robocop, and I have high hopes it'll at least partially live up to my expectations.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes



Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a stonking good movie. I've always had a soft spot for the Planet of the Apes series, but Rise was vastly superior to all its predecessors. And now Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is coming and I cannot wait. The story of how the apes take over is one that has been crying out to be told in a more realistic fashion than the original series managed... and I think Rise, Dawn and whatever comes after are looking like they might just manage to make us all believers.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Shia LeBeouf was not the only thing I didn't really like about the first Transformers trilogy. The distinct lack of Dinobots was a definite mark against those movies. Well both of these downers are out, and I cannot wait to see what the Dinobots look like on the big screen! This is the moment I've been waiting for since about the age of 5. The only thing that Hollywood could do to top this would be to have a shower scene in a new He-Man movie.  

Comic Book Movies 

Captain America: The Winter Solider. Not exciting but I'll watch it.
Amazing Spider-man 2. Meh.
Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm still a Guardians of the Galaxy virgin, so I'll reserve excitement judgement until I've read a few of the comics. But... Rocket Raccoon looks awesome.
X-Men Days of Future Past. I LOVE the X-Men. I really do. They are MY comic book heroes. But I'm not, strangely a Wolverine fan. And now I know this is a Wolverine heavy movie I'm feeling sort of "Meh" about the whole thing. Plus Fox's screwing up of continuity still annoys me.

TV

A new Doctor! Wow. And, perhaps, a properly different sort of Doctor. I cannot wait to see what adventures the 12th/13th Doctor takes us on. That is my main excitement for the coming year.

But in new stuff that tickles my fancy...

Westworld. Yes, there is a new TV series coming based on Michael Crichton's Westworld. As a lover of Michael Crichton's writing, and the less said about Jurassic Park the better because I might wet myself with excitement, I cannot wait to see where they go with this show. So many possibilities.
Gotham. A police procedural set in Batman's Gotham City? Do I really need to sell this to anyone? We're there.
Star Wars: Rebels. Star Wars. That is all.

Oh, as always, GAME OF THRONES!

Comics 

The X-Men have been so strong in 2013 that I am just stoked, so stoked, to see where they go this year. With weaker titles like Astonishing gone and the formerly great but getting slightly iffy Wolverine and the X-Men getting a new number 1, I am hoping this year is even better.

And finally.

GODZILLA!


There is a time and place for a reserved British outlook on life. This is not that time nor is it the place. GODZILLA! is coming. It has been 10 years since the last Toho movie and 16 years (year, 16!) since the watchable but cringe-worthy American version. Now, finally, Godzilla may rise again into a post-Avater cinematic world. I have all my fingers crossed that this will blow us all away. Even if it doesn't... it is still new Godzilla!!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Doctor's 50th: How Was It For You?

Something has been very wrong with the universe of late. I've not been that into New Who. It would be unfair to say that it was Steven Moffat's fault. However, I've found the disjointed, long-form, timey-wimey nonsense has gotten a little much when it came to the "Impossible Girl" stuff. That isn't to say I didn't love Clara. I just didn't love the Clara story. I felt it was an attempt to do something different, which should never be discouraged, and that it failed.

By the end of series 7 I was contemplating whether my 20 year love affair with the Doctor was coming to an end. "I'll always have Big Finish", I comforted myself. But then...

Night of the Doctor came along. What a beautifully tight 7 minutes of perfection. Paul McGann! As the Doctor. Maybe Steven Moffat had a plan... I was intrigued, excited and I couldn't wait for the 50th anniversary special. Did it live up to that prequel?

YES!

There was plenty of "fanwank", as they say. The opening titles, the shadow of the police man, Foreman's yard, Coal Hill school (with one "I. Chesterton" as head Governor), UNIT (and a reference to the 70s/80s controversy), all 13 Doctors (yeah, 13!) and... well there's more. So much more.

But it wasn't too fanwanky. That was the beautiful part, everything was so subtle and completely devoid of heavy-handedness that I thought maybe we were watching a different show.

And the story. For a show about time-travel and science fiction, the story was solid, straightforward and lacking any unnecessary baggage. Zygons, Daleks, Gallifrey, UNIT, Doctors, moral decisions. It was all in there and it was all good.

And the jokes. Oh the jokes! John Hurt did a wonderful turn of being "that fan" using his position as a "classic" Doctor to mock all the foibles of New Who in a way that wasn't cruel. Tennant and Smith made a wonderful double-act too.

And Billie Piper. I dislike Rose Tyler and when I saw Billie Piper was in it, I sighed my "It's all going to be about her. Again" sigh. But it wasn't Rose and Piper was amazing! The Moment was her best part yet.

AND TOM BAKER! Tom isn't one of "my" Doctors. I'm a wannabe 80s fan. And because of his perceived reluctance to be part of Doctor Who (see his Five Doctors snub et al.) I've always had a little niggling downer on him. But oh wasn't he good? A future Doctor with an old face. SQUEE

It was just so right. Not perfect, nothing ever is, but right. So many more things I could write about but there just would never be an end to this post.

Goodness it was good.

Then came the After Party on BBC 3. It would seem the BBC realised fanboys wouldn't be able to cope with near-perfection. They'd need a scapegoat for their fanboy rage. And so they presented us with one of the worst live shows of recent memory, car crash telly in which the highlight was Bernard Cribbins stealing cake from Sylvester McCoy. It was truly awful. Thank you BBC, you know just what we need. You always do.

But there's MORE! Peter Davison, being the ever awesome man he is, wrote and directed a small little tribute to Who. The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was the best thing on TV last night. That takes nothing away from the 50th special. Nothing. But this, this was sublime. Hilarious. I want a series! The three 80s Doctors were amazing, the cameos superb (Janet Fielding ending Peter Davison's dream stands out). And the ending... oh that ending. I don't care, whatever the truth may be, the "statues" in The Day of the Doctor will always be the three Doctors. Oh so excellent.

We were spoilt. Spoilt like we never have been before and may never be again. What a treat!

Amaze-balls.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

My Top 5 Favourite Doctor Who (TV) Stories

Today is the day we've all been waiting for. Doctor Who is 50 years old!! And the internet is awash with lists. Especially those ranking episodes. Hats off to those who've ranked EVERY episode of Doctor Who, and even to those who just ranked every New Who episode. Of course these lists come with one great big disclaimer: every episode of Doctor Who means something to someone. I read those lists with a sense of wonder that there are so many to choose from and annoyance at slights against episodes I quite enjoy (and the fact Time and the Rani 4 places from bottom, it deserves to fall off the list completely...)

I've not seen every episode, despite being a fan for 20 years!, and admit I'm totally top heavy interms of 1980s Doctor Who (those were what was being repeated on UK Gold when I first got into Doctor Who at the age of 10 years old). But I thought I just pay tribute to my favourite TV episodes of my favourite show! 

1. Survival 


When I became a fan of Doctor Who this was the end of it all. But in reality, I feel like it was the beginning of Doctor Who as we know it today. The Seventh Doctor and Ace (my absolute favourite TARDIS team) arrive in Perivale, Ace's former home, and find all is not as it seems. So far, so Doctor Who. Except its suburban setting, its focus on Ace's friendships and its general overall feel seem like a soft run for the sort of Doctor Who Russell T. Davies would sell us in 2005. It even had cat people, one of RTD's reoccuring themes! It felt so different to what had come before (though well in keeping with the general Ace character arc) that it is quite unforgettable. Sure some of the acting is truly appalling but I just loved it. Even the Ainley Master seemed to be more than just a pantomime villain for once. 

2. Earthshock 


Nobody splits fans quite the way Adric does. I started watching Doctor Who properly with The Keeper of Traken, so Adric may not be my favourite companion but I do still have a soft spot for him. Meanwhile... I LOVE THE CYBERMEN! So an episode that makes Adric into somebody truly likeable whilst making the Cybermen seem properly menacing for the first time in a long time (and so far this has been unrepeated since) was always going to make my list. Of course the heartbreaking conclusion was, that the dinosaurs were killed by the Cybermen, was almost too much to bear. I jest, I jest. Poor Adric. (P.S. I love Tegan...) 

3. The Dalek Invasion of Earth 



An epic tale with some fantastic shots of Daleks in London. The First Doctor at his finest with a heartbreaking speech to Susan as he leaves her behind. This is a solid story with a grand scale that I couldn't possibly leave off of my list. 

4. The Doctor's Wife



How could you not love this episode? The TARDIS has been the constant companion/owner of the Doctor, never failing to get the Doctor and friends into (and then out of) trouble. Here she is made flesh and given a voice. And didn't it work well? Heartbreaking and joyous all at once, and House is actually quite a menacing villain as he torments Rory and Amy.

Idris: There's something I didn't get to say to you.
The Doctor: Goodbye.
Idris: No. I just wanted to say, Hello. Hello Doctor. It's so very very nice to meet you.
The Doctor: Please. I don't want you to.
Idris: I love you.

*cue sobbing off screen in the living rooms of the nation*

5. Remembrance of the Daleks


Ace. With a "magic" baseball bat. Versus the Daleks. They didn't stand a chance really. I love this episode, the hat-tips to An Unearthly Child, the supporting cast and the great cliffhangers of episodes one and two. Hovering Daleks, the Special Weapons Dalek, Davros in moderation, companion in need of rescue but only because she was about to use an anti-tank weapon to destroy a Dalek. If you like Doctor Who but are "Meh" about this episode then I'm sorry but you are wrong!! ;) Plus it, rather heavy-handedly, deals with racism and hatred. EPIC.

I want a rematch of Ace versus a Special Weapons Dalek. I've always wanted to see a Dalek look scared...

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Given What Disney Is Doing For Live-Action Marvel, Imagine The Possibilities With Star Wars...

When Disney purchased LucasFilm, I spoke of my lack of concern and expressed my long repressed love for Disney. My confidence in Disney's stewardship of much beloved fictional universes 

                                                  Reason For Loving Disney #2

This week Marvel, another recent Disney acquisition, announced that on top of several upcoming movies and the brand new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D TV show they would be releasing, via Netflix, 4 more TV shows which would ultimately lead in to a mini-series named The Defenders. 

With some rather strong storylines playing out in the comic book world too (as Marvel reinvents its universe in the latest round of "Marvel NOW!" releases), Marvel is going from strength to strength.  

A lot of Star Wars fans are fearful of what may be coming and how carefully Disney will look after the franchise that means so much to them, I just need to point out the care and planning Marvel has been putting in to the creation of its "cinematic universe". Unlike Fox's handling of the X-Men franchise, Disney/Marvel has forged a consistent and high quality product that appeals to mass audiences whilst not causing the sort of fanboy tantrums (and I say that as someone who almost became homicidal when there was a brief consideration of rebooting Buffy) caused by things like... the Phantom Menace! 

Disney didn't buy Marvel or LucasFilm out of a love of Iron Man or Han Solo. They didn't do it because they felt some deep artistic need to tell stories in those various fictional universes owned by those companies. They did it to make money. But they have shown that in making very large sums of money they haven't forgotten to make a story that appeals to all the right people. 

Yes there are plenty of Disney flops and there are plenty of political reasons not to like Disney. But Marvel fans are now getting the sort of output that couldn't have been dreamed of before and I have a feeling that Star Wars fans are only a few years away from a similar tsunami (in a good way) of quality live-action stories that they have been praying for for years. 

Until they buy out the rights to Star Trek and replace Captain Picard with Mickey Mouse, Make Mine Disney!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Make Mine Marvel (Again)

DC got me back into comics. I was always a Marvel boy and had probably spent less than £50 on DC comics in 16 years of comic book buying up until 2011. And I'd drifted away from buying any comics in the few years before that. Then the New 52 happened. With the advent of Comixology and some great new continuity free jumping on points, I started buying DC comics at an unhealthy rate, which upsets me as it means I'd given the DC management exactly what they were after... a new reader who was free with his cash. I'm a sucker for every comic ploy there is (events, new #1s, reboots etc.)

Now I did also start to buy X-Men comics again but I kept my spending limited. After Marvel Now though (and with the soon to begin All-New Marvel Now, yes I'm a total sucker) Marvel is on its way back again.

DC's stuff grabbed me initially just because of the novelty factor. I'd never really read a Batman comic or a Superman comic. I mean, I had to give it a go. But gradually I've lost interest in a lot of titles I was enjoying. Whereas if an X-Men comic went through a bad stage, I'd stick with it because I simply love the characters and always want to give the writer another chance, I had no such loyalty to any of the DC lot. With the exception of Scott Snyder's Batman run (undoubtedly one of the best comics out there at the moment) many DC comics have suffered from poor writing and, recently, too many crossovers. The current Forever Evil stuff has completely passed me by, I'm just not that into it.

Meanwhile after Marvel Now, Marvel's stuff has just gone from strength to strength. I thought the X-Men were doing pretty excellently after the Schism storyline with both Wolverine and the X-Men and Uncanny X-Men Vol. 2 being great but after the start of All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3, they've just gotten even better! Sure I think the X-Men books could do with a cull (I'm pretty glad X-Men Legacy is coming to an end), but the quality of writing is just going getting better and better. And I've expanded outwards.... not just Uncanny X-Force (Vol. 1 was a tour-de-force that was very difficult to follow, but Vol. 2 is proving to be worthy of a place on anyone's pull list) and Cable and X-Force but also Young Avengers (up there with Batman in my opinion), Avengers Arena and Uncanny Avengers (I really dislike the Avengers, but all three of these titles are keeping me interested).

I'm still buying a couple more DC titles than I am Marvel but as I become ever more unforgiving with culling my pull list, I fear DC may slip back to the also ran category.

Marvel doesn't just feel like home to me, given the characters there have been ones I've grown up with, but it also feels fresh and powerful. So until DC cancel all their titles and relaunch their range in some transparent attempt to get fools like me to buy more comics, Make Mine Marvel!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Will X-Men: Days of Future Past Manage To Confuse The X-Men Movie Canon Even More?

So...

When X-Men: First Class came out, it seemed to be a complete reboot of the franchise. Surely it couldn't be anything else given the many conflicts it had with the original X-Men movie trilogy. At the time IGN made a fantastic Youtube video pointing out the problems...



Well now we've got the first footage from Days of Future Past, and I'm starting to wonder just how much more confusing things are going to get.



Of course this movie includes (well at least I hope it does!) time travelling mayhem which almost certainly means that on top of any "canon" confusion we have, we'll have a whole bunch of new confusion too.

But where does Storm fit in to all this? An adult in the first trilogy and a child in First Class, we have Halle Berry returning as grown up Storm. Is she from the future? Does it matter? It is obvious the writers are just going to write what ever works best, canon be damned. But for fanboys like me, and I'm not suggesting writers write for us fanboys alone!, if can be a little annoying.

Wolverine appears too... which furthers the already existing continuity problems.

We'll know more on Tuesday when the first full trailer will appear! Am I excited? HELL YES!!