Lego Marvel’s Avengers – A First Look

The latest entry in Take Two Games’ highly successful Lego video game series is Lego Marvel’s Avengers. Similar to the Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star Wars games, Lego Marvel’s Avengers is an adaptation of multiple movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; specifically, the content of the game covers portions of Captain America: The First Avenger; Avengers; Thor 2: The Dark World;Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I recently picked up this game and played through the first few levels, and thought I would share my initial impressions.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a “review” of the video game; I wouldn’t consider myself qualified to score it relative to all other video games. As a fan of Marvel and of Lego video games in general, this is just my first impression on where this game falls among it’s peers.

more »

Filed under Review

The 13 Commandments from the TNG Bible.

2016-01-20 by . 17 comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation had a Writer/Director’s guide, commonly referred to as the bible. Within this guide was a list of 13 things that were not to ever happen on TNG (i.e. commandments).

Here we will look at each commandment, and show when TNG maybe didn’t follow their own rules.

All blockquotes and episode details are from Memory-Alpha.

Rule #1. Stories which do not materially involve our own crew. Yes, we do like to see interesting new characters — but only when used in addition to an interesting story line involving our continuing characters.

TNG Episode 7×15 “Lower Decks”

Junior officers speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This episode only has the main cast in the periphery, and focuses on four junior officers and their attempt to receive a promotion.

more »

Filed under Review

On The Death of a Science Fiction Icon: A Celebration of David Bowie’s Life and Legacy

2016-01-12 by . 2 comments

One of the greats is gone: David Bowie died on January 10, 2016. He left behind a legacy of brilliant music, groundbreaking films, and enormous contributions to the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

From his breakout hit “A Space Oddity” to his iconic concept album and persona Ziggy Stardust, and on to his Orwell-inspired masterpiece “Diamond Dogs” and beyond, his musical career, spanning nearly 50 years, defined science fiction rock and roll.

His acting performances – in “Labyrinth”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, “The Hunger”, “The Image”, and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (to name but a few) – mirrored the ethereal nature of his cosmic rock.

And the field of science fiction and fantasy returned the favor: as Smithsonian Magazine explains, Bowie inspired a number of characters in the genre we love so well.

In the Sandman comic book series, writer Neil Gaiman specifically based the character of Lucifer on the singer, while Batman scribe Grant Morrison later admitted to basing his version of the Joker on Bowie’s ’80s persona… Recently, the television series The Venture Brothers cast the leader of a massive super organization of super villains as a shapeshifter so inspired by Bowie that he took on the singer’s appearance.

more »

Filed under company, News

Highlights from 2015 – 4th Quarter

2016-01-04 by . 0 comments

In this episode of the quarterly highlights, I go Crazy Eddie with user flair.

Top Stats:

Top Question

On Dagobah, do what, did Yoda? was asked by enderland and answered by MichaelT. To the tune of 101 votes.

profile for enderland at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts profile for MichaelT at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts

Top Answer

Eowyn12 asked Harry Potter: Why 7? which was answered by rand al’thor, for 138 votes.

profile for Eowyn12 at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts profile for rand-althor at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts

Most Viewed

With an astounding 192,299 views, Who was the old man at the beginning of The Force Awakens? was asked by Ivo Beckers and answered by DVK.

profile for Ivo Beckers at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts profile for DVK at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts

Runner Ups

The runner up for both top question and top answer belongs to Does Katniss depict proper handling of a bow? asked by Himarm and answered by rand al’thor.

The second most viewed question, with what would normally be a very respectable 50,299 views, but looks pathetic compared to the top question, was Is there evidence to suggest that Supreme Leader Snoke is Darth Plagueis? asked by hawkeye and answered by DVK.

profile for himarm at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts profile for Jack B Nimble at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts profile for hawkeye at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts profile for DVK at Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts

User Favorites:

more »

Filed under Question of the Week

Jessica Jones season one review

2015-11-27 by . 0 comments

If Daredevil managed to prove anything back when it was first released, it was that the ABC stylings of Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter were not going to define the TV side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Significantly darker than anything we’d seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far but still managing to avoid the joyless grit of films like Man of Steel, Daredevil used it’s tone to tell a fascinating long form story with one of, if not the, best antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at that time. Sure, Daredevil had issues (ones that are becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of Jessica Jones), but it created a baseline for the Netflix/Marvel Studios shows that Jessica Jones adheres to nicely.

It is the same Hell’s Kitchen from Daredevil that we find ourselves in for much of Jessica Jones. We follow our titular character as she attempts to make a living for herself as a Private Eye, but Jessica is significantly more than she appears – gifted with super-strength and very limited flying abilities, she gave up her attempt at super-heroics after a prolonged encounter with a man who can control minds, Kilgrave, left her with severe PTSD.

In case that basic synopsis isn’t enough of a clue, the topics that Jessica Jones deals with are sensitive ones. Although the idea of mind control has been used in various ways in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before now, it’s never been explored in such detail – the implication of somebody being able to control not just your actions but your very thoughts and emotions is naturally horrifying, and the loss of agency that comes with that haunts everyone that Kilgrave uses. And it isn’t just an allegory for rape or sexual abuse – Jessica herself is a rape survivor thanks to Kilgrave, and much of the shows focus on human sexuality (and the diverse nature of it) shows us her taking that aspect of herself back from Kilgrave. One of my only concerns going into Jessica Jones was that this aspect of the show would be handled poorly, in an exploitative way or used for shock value, but I’m pleased to say that it isn’t.

If some of that sounds a little heavy for a superhero show then you’ll be pleased to find out that Jessica Jones isn’t just a superhero show, at least not in the way that you might expect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very ‘comic book’ at times, with multiple characters having superpowers and the show having subtle (and not so subtle) links to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe – but in much that same way that Daredevil was a crime show first and a superhero show second, Jessica Jones is very film noir for much of its run time, with Jessica the cynical and jaded narrator talking us through her thoughts. She’s a fascinating character to base a show around, in some ways the prototypical noir protagonist – deeply damaged and self-destructive (particularly in her coping mechanisms) but also truly heroic when given the chance, she isn’t so much an anti-hero as she is a hero who has been through too much, and thanks to an emotional and often understated performance from Krysten Ritter I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.

The entire supporting cast is on the whole pretty great, particularly Mike Colter as bulletproof bar owner Luke Cage and Carrie-Anne Moss as cut-throat lawyer Jeri Hogarth, but special mention has to be made to David Tennant as Kilgrave. The way he is written and how that ties into the subtext of Jessica Jones already meant that Kilgrave was destined to be the best villain in a Marvel Studios production to date, but Tennant’s performance takes that and elevates the entire thing to a new level, making Kilgrave one of the best villains of any comic book property that I’ve ever seen. Kilgrave is broken at a fundamental level, petty and cruel and completely lacking any concept of right and wrong thanks to how long he has been abusing his powers, and the result of that is that he has no regard for anyone beyond what they can do for him. His motivations are simple and make sense in a twisted way once you understand the character, which just makes his particular brand of villainy all the more disturbing – because people like Kilgrave (sans powers, obviously) exist in the real world.

He is effectively the living embodiment of entitlement, a disgusting human being without a moral compass who decides what to do based on what he wants right now and nothing more – but he’s also charming when he wants to be, a true manipulator who hides just how nasty he actually is behind a carefully crafted façade of niceness and a level of self-pity that is both understandable and almost certainly unearned, and Tennant balances these two sides of the character perfectly. More impressively, Jessica Jones isn’t afraid to humanise Kilgrave without ever justifying him – his back story is a sympathetic one, but we see other characters with much the same story who have taken a very different path, and the show doesn’t try to explain away his actions by making you feel sorry for him.

The fact that everything about Kilgrave ends up tying into the subtext and themes of Jessica Jones is a testament to how well written the show actually is, never mind the consistently high quality of each episode . Whereas Daredevil peaked very early on and very slowly went downhill from there (I should mention here that Daredevil was still never anything less than good even in its worst moments), Jessica Jones starts off good and continuously gets better until it peaks around about episode nine with what I can only describe as some of the best few episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. It does drop in quality slightly over the last few episodes with the introduction of sub-plots that the show doesn’t need and an increased focus on the most tertiary of side characters taking some of the momentum out of the build up to the final confrontation, but even here it is amongst some of the best television of the year.

Jessica Jones isn’t perfect, but the minor flaws it contains are more than made up for by the multitude of strengths that come with them. In a time when television is regularly giving us shows that raise the bar for what the small screen can offer, Jessica Jones still manages to stand out as a show worth paying attention to, a legitimately great season that would work just as well on its own as it  does as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jessica Jones is stronger and more confident in its first season than the vast majority of shows ever manage to be, and I can’t wait to see what the Netflix/Marvel Studios partnership brings us next.

For more film and TV review and other articles like this, visit ScreenNerds.

A Guide To The DC Cinematic Multiverse

As we prepare for the first in a long line of tightly-integrated films based on popular DC characters, this seems like a good time to take a look at the current state of DC Comics foray into television and movies. In this post, we’ll take a look at the history, and the current status, of the DC Cinematic Multiverse (a term I just made up.) That is, we’re going to look at all of DC’s movie and television adaptations, and see how they are (or aren’t) related.

A quick note: I’m intentionally excluding animated shows from this discussion. While I’m a huge fan of DC’s animated work, for the most part these shows played by a much looser set of rules (Batman and Robin meet Scooby Doo, for example), which tend to muddy the waters. For our purposes here, we’re going to define cinematic as meaning live-action adaptations only.

With that out of the way, let’s start with… more »

Filed under Series

Story where the number 3 is the monster: Finally Answered!

2015-10-27 by . 2 comments

Of the 4128 story-identification questions on the site, 757 remain unanswered. The most famous of those was:

Story where the number 3 is the monster?, Also known as “that story no one can answer” or “the one that might have been a dream” was asked just 3 months after the Science Fiction & Fantasy site went live. In that time it has amassed over 140 upvotes. It only took 1645 days to finally get the answer.

Over the years it has enjoyed moderate recognition as many have tried to find its dark secrets.

Keen Jan 31 ’12: Hahaha, the unanswered question about the number 3 being a monster has 33 upvotes.
Jack B Nimble May 10 ’12 I spent so many hours looking for that number 3 story. With nothing to show for it.
I believe the question itself is the real monster.
I went to the 3rd street library at 3 o’clock and looked at the third page of every third book and read three lines hoping to find the elusive [beast] before my last three brain cells gave way.
John O Feb 20 ’13: I’m about to stop answering story-idents. I get tired of identifying and getting low scores and no acceptance.
Jack B Nimble: @JohnO Just answer the only one that matters.
Jack B Nimble: If we ever get that answer the site will be complete.
alexwlchan Jul 17 ’15: Woo, canon answer to nearly three-year old HP question. \o/
phantom42: @alexwlchan awesome! next up: that damned monster that’s the number 3.
ryan Aug 26 ‘ 15: speaking of which, it took me 5 years to get to there on stackoverflow, anyone wanna spoon feed me some mega rep here so I can do it faster?
Richard: @ryan – Easy peasy. Answer this one and you’re pretty much guaranteed instant celebrity
ryan: @Richard that was mean :( the answer to this scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/2937/… doesn’t exist

Here are a few tales of woe about the 4 year effort to answer this question.

user14111 (known for his scifi magazine collection and knowledge):

The description had me completely fooled. I thought it was kiddie-lit; it never occurred to me that it was a story published in a regular science fiction magazine. That saved me from ransacking my collection for it, which would not have done any good. I reposted the question in the Children’s section of the BookSleuth Forum at Abebooks.com, but got no response.

Richard (known for answering everything):

I tried when I first joined the site, but to no avail.
In order to atone for my dismal failure I’ve contented myself with helping Kyle Hale by editing in some quotes from the story itself (and a nice picture) and offering a chunky bounty.

Praxis:

I had been working on the question on and off for the past eight months.
I went to great lengths to answer this, even checking leads that had been largely dismissed. Apart from the obvious search attempts, here are some specific things I tried.

Consulting with R.L. Stine

The OP mentioned,

I don’t think it was R.L. Stine, but I cannot remember the author.

I wanted to be absolutely sure, given the R.L.-Stine-esque nature of the description, and so in July of this year I contacted him directly:

RemnantOfPraxis: @RL_Stine Quick question, if you have a moment. There is a now-famous question on a few forums regarding a horror story...

RemnantOfPraxis: @RL_Stine According to the asker, the narrator is a boy who was scared only twice a day for exactly one minute, when the clock read 3:33.

RemnantOfPraxis: @RL_Stine At those times, the 3's would be powerful enough to leave the clock and run around terrifying the boy!

RemnantOfPraxis: @RL_Stine The asker suggested it might have been one of your stories. Ring any bells? Thanks for your time and have a nice day. :-)

RL_Stine: @RemnantOfPraxis Not my story. Let me know if you find out whose.

(Original)

I was impressed that Stine responded within an hour. At least that definitively ruled out a large chunk of horror literature. (Of course, I have updated Stine regarding the solution to the mystery.)

Visit to a horror specialist

In August of this year, I had a two-hour meeting with a librarian in the city I currently live in, who curates the library system’s horror collection. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of 20th Century horror short stories, but couldn’t think of a “3:33″ short story that matched this one in both content and time period. The ones he brought up that were closest in content and time where ones that I had already ruled out.

Interestingly, he did ask me if it could have been a number other than 3, as there are plenty of horror stories involving clocks and various times. However, I mistakenly vetoed this, asserting that the OP must have gotten that main detail right!

To repent for my mistake, I, along with @MikeEdenfield, reached out to @Zompz (the OP, who hadn’t been active on the site in about a year) to let her know that the mystery had been solved by our new expert sleuth, @KyleHale.

Success

Kyle Hale’s answer offers the full story of how he triumphed where so many before him failed.

I did an embarrassing amount of research to confirm this.

Filed under Question of the Week

Highlights from 2015 – 3rd Quarter

2015-10-02 by . 0 comments

Top Stats:

Top Question

Praxis asked Which 2015 technologies were correctly predicted by Back to the Future II?, receiving 203 votes, which was answered with many pictures by Wad Cheber. An answer that would have also been the top answer on the site, if it hadn’t been for…

Top Answer

JeanPaul (AKA Azrael) asked Who are these DC superheroes?. Two answers came in within a minute, and one more two minutes later. Someone jokingly said “you didn’t answer the question unless you name everyone in the portraits too.” Jack B Nimble stepped up and identified everyone, receiving 190 votes. Runner up was the answer to the top question (182).

Most Viewed

CodeMed asked Which Marvel movies have NOT included Stan Lee cameos?, answered by Richard. This is a question which at the time of this writing has over 21,000 views (5000 more than the runner up) and only 7 votes. Runner up was the top question (203 votes).

User Favorites:

more »

Filed under Question of the Week

Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 Summary

2015-09-27 by . 3 comments

According to the founders, this year’s Salt Lake Comic Con had over 120,000 attendees, breaking their previous record. Thanks to better management the traffic moved smoothly and everyone was able to enter in a timely manner. Wider lanes in the main hall meant less congestion, and overall it was a very smooth event. SLCC also broke the Guinness World Record for having the most comic book costumed characters assembled in the same place. Which I guess… is something.

Here is a short summary of the panels I attended.

Designing the Starships of Star Trek Panel

This panel was hosted by John Eaves.

John Eaves is a designer and illustrator best known for his work on the Star Trek franchise, starting with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He served as a production illustrator on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise and was involved in all four Next Generation movies, specifically being responsible for the design of the Sovereign-class Enterprise-E. He also worked on a variety of films, such as Top Gun, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Valkyrie and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. – Wikipedia

John Eaves showed a number of design art pieces from Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Generations, First Contact, and Nemesis, and all three of the new Star Trek films. One thing that was interesting to me was when he said they used to receive a full script of the show or film, but with the secrecy today they only receive a 4 page summary of the parts they need to work on. He said he did a lot of design work for a character named Alice, only to later learn that it was Kahn in Into Darkness. ~

At the end of the panel he said he didn’t only work on Star Trek. He said that he had just finished working on Captain America: Civil War, and that he would be starting on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on Monday, September 28th.

~ Some of these details may have come from the State of Trek: Looking Ahead to Star Trek at 50 Panel, I can’t necessary remember.

Ian Somerhalder Panel

I can’t tell you much about this panel, other than it started 30 minutes late (making it only 20 minutes total). Ian Somerhalder finally appeared on stage, answered a few questions, and departed.

Con Man Web Series: Sneak Peek Panel

The panel opened with guests Felicia Day, Sean Astin, and P.J. Haarsma. Alan Tudyk, who was on location in London for an unnamed role in the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, was meant to participate live via Skype. When the time came to get him connected, he suddenly appeared on stage. The audience went wild.

Con Man is a crowd funded web-series starting Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion, with guest stars of Felicia Day, Sean Astin, and others.

Wray Nerely (Tudyk) is a struggling actor who starred as a spaceship pilot on Spectrum, a canceled science fiction series that went on to become a cult classic. Wray’s good friend Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion), who starred as the ship’s captain, has become an A-list movie star. Frustrated by Jack’s success and his lack thereof, Wray travels the science fiction convention circuit, makes appearances at comic book stores, and visits pop culture events. He navigates the odd people and incidents he encounters along the way while learning to love the fans he has. – Wikipedia

The panel showed two clips and premiered a trailer for Con Man. Based on those clips, it looks like a very funny series. The series is available on Vimeo on Demand starting September 30th.

Disney Infinity 3.0 Panel

I asked if any of the playsets deviated from movie events, and if so, were their stories canon. I received this reply:

The TWILIGHT OF THE REPUBLIC PLAY SET is a completely new story which went through all the approvals and is considered canon along side the movies, cartoons, and recent novels.

The panel also gave away 900 free Disney Infinity 3.0 characters to the participants of the panel. I received a Darth Vader figure. Later I came back and saw they hadn’t given them all away, I asked why not and the man behind the counter said they’d probably have extras, so he gave me a second figure, Sam Flynn, from Tron Legacy.

Filed under Conventions

Minority Report – Pilot

2015-09-22 by . 1 comments
Minority Report is set 10 years after the events that took place in the Steven Spielberg directed movie, but instead of Tom Cruise attempting to prevent crimes before they occur, it’s Meagan Good who’s serving up her own brand of justice as Detective Vega.

Minority-Report

The show opens with a recap of the events of the movie and origin of the three Precogs. It then jumps 10 years into the future, where we learn at least one of the trio as left their island sanctuary. That island living was good for them, because they are all a lot thinner and more attractive.

Precog Dash is back in D.C. trying to make it on his own. He has flashes of murders, but he doesn’t get the whole picture (he needs his twin to put the pieces together). After witnessing a murder 40 minutes in the future, he dashes (pun intended) to try and stop. He arrives just a moment too late.

Enter Detective Vega (Meagan Good). She is a homicide detective investigating the recent murder. She lives in the shadow of the now defunct Precrime (the first fifteen minutes has several news reports in the background stating how things have become worse since Precrime closed). Murder is back with a vengeance in D.C. and Vega can’t help but marvel at the days when unnatural deaths were extinct in the nation’s capital. As she is leaving the scene of the murder she is followed by Dash. After an encounter in an vacant stairway he gives her a drawing of the killer. Vega is able to run down the killer with the image and begins looking for the mysterious informant. She easily finds him (no one can hide in the future!), moments before he has another Precog episode about a murder to take place the next day. Vega and Dash team up to stop the murder of a prominent politician and his wife.

Here are some things I noticed about the show:

  • Dash’s murder insights come in a variety of timeframes. From several seconds, to forty minutes, to a day, but not the four days they enjoyed in the movie (for premeditated murder).
  • Minority Report, the film, is famous for predicting several key technologies, such as multi-touch interfaces and breeding crack babies who can see the future. This pilot tries to capture that magic; with HUD contacts, small surveillance drones, and the future of advertising.
  • Dash’s twin brother doesn’t look much like him as an adult (in the kid flashbacks, they are identical).
  • They did manager to get one actor from the film. Daniel London reprises his role as Wally the Caretaker, at least for the pilot.
  • The show seems to be going out of its way to make sure we know that Meagan Good is a woman.

Overall I thought the pilot was okay, but I feel like the detective with the none-cop partner has been done. I’m thinking of Sleepy Hollow, Forever (canceled), Castle, Bones, Due South, Rizolli and Isles, Fringe, just to name…a bunch. Are there any detectives out there who are partnered with other cops?

Anyways, Minority Report. If you loved the movie for all the elements that weren’t Tom Cruise, you might like the TV show.

Filed under Review