Science Fiction, Fantasy and Genre

2015-02-11 by . 2 comments

One thing that I really like about the explosion in the breadth and depth of fantasy literature is the torrent of interesting ideas. Take, for example, the explanation problem in modern fantasy – a story set in the current “real” world must explain why most people have no knowledge of or experience with magic.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know the most common solution: it’s hidden. In the Harry Potter stories, the Ministry of Magic goes to great lengths to keep magic a secret. In the Harry Dresden stories, while no explicit effort goes towards keeping magic secret, most people consciously and/or subconsciously don’t want to know about the supernatural.

Another solution that authors have used is The Big Reveal. Magic and the supernatural have always been around, and hidden, but now they’re not. In the Sookie Stackhouse novels, vampires held press conferences throughout the world, announcing their existence. This worked out better in some countries than in others. The Jane Yellowrock novels also use a Big Reveal. One of the interesting parts of stories with a Big Reveal is the evolution of the attitudes towards vampires, shapeshifters, and other supernatural entities by the public at large, individual characters, and the government.

I would also like to mention a special case of The Big Reveal found in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. In this series, magic has been dormant for hundreds of years, allowing the development of modern technology. Only magic doesn’t stay gone, and when it finally comes back, things get wild. In the stories, magic and tech are incompatible and mankind has learned to deal with whichever is in force at any given time – for example, houses have both electronic and magical lighting systems.

And then there are the authors who want to write a modern or “urban” fantasy story and don’t want either hidden magic or a reveal.

The most common form is a parallel timeline – a universe similar to our own, but where magic and magical creatures have always been public knowledge. The level of parallelism can vary significantly. The universe of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, contains much of the same history, and many of the same pop-culture elements. The first volume in the story begins shortly after vampires are granted rights as citizens with legal protections – though not quite the same protections as normal humans, since normal humans can’t mesmerize prison guards.

A less common form of “urban” fantasy is set in a completely different universe, with different geography, countries, societies, history, languages and cultures. The recognizable trappings of modern society such as cars, electric lights, printed books, modern houses/apartments/condos, and cities with concrete and asphalt are present, but none of the brands, artists, or names are recognizable. I’ve only run into a couple examples of this type, the best being a newish series The Others by one of my favorite fantasy authors – Anne Bishop.

Now somewhere out in the audience, there’s someone thinking “four distinct sub-genres.” My only comment about that is: hogwash.

I deliberately withheld one important detail about the Kate Daniels series. It’s set in the future. And they have technology that’s in advance of our own. Confusing, right? Is it even really fantasy? Or is it some kind of funky science fiction sub-genre? Honestly, I think it’s the wrong question.

The idea behind genres and sub-genres is to divide everything up into nice, neat categories. Then we can say that a given book is LGBT, alternate history, steampunk, for example. And dividing things up into these nice, neat categories is supposed to help us find the books that interest us, and avoid the ones that don’t.

Except that science fiction and fantasy writers don’t write stories so that they can fall into nice, neat categories. They write stories with fresh, new ideas. They write stories that push past the boundaries of what we’ve imagined so far, into realms that we had not yet previously imagined. That’s when writers are at their best – coloring outside the lines.

So, if we want to see great SF&F writing, do we really want to keep drawing new lines for authors to color inside of? I sure as heck don’t think so.

To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure that we need to separate science fiction and fantasy in the first place. Instead, I would just call it all speculative fiction, which has the advantage of having a recognizable acronym. Then we can talk about distinct story elements – the things that we used to call sub-genres. The difference being, that a work can have whatever DSEs are appropriate. The Kate Daniels series has a future setting, advanced technology, magic, vampires, and also shapeshifters. Not exactly a combination that fits well into a traditional sub-genre system.

Oh, and just to shake things up, how about a story with current setting, alien invasion, and vampires. Seriously. Out of the Dark by David Weber. Yeah, that Weber. Go look it up if you don’t believe me.

And quit trying to shoe-horn things into nice, neat categories. Life doesn’t work that way. Just ask the platypus.

Filed under Lessons-Learned

Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015 – Heroes, Villains, and Anti-Heroes in Harry Potter: Who’s Who? Panel

2015-02-04 by . 1 comments

I attended a panel titled Heroes, Villains, and Anti-Heroes in Harry Potter: Who’s Who?.

The panel was run by two college professors, a YA novelist, and 17-year-old Harry Potter enthusiast.

This panel was more of a discussion about villains and anti-villains in the Harry Potter world. Panelist Paul Draper, an anthropologist, started out by saying that Lockhart was his favorite villain. He said “Lockhart is a minor villain who is only looking out for himself, he is not a global villain.” He went on to say there are lots of minor villains.

He also gave an interesting blurb on the difference between a hero and villain.

A hero says “I have a good side and a bad side. I have to suppress my bad side and choose my good side.” A villain says “I only have a good side.”
It has been said that “everyone is a hero in their own story.” Voldemort saw himself as a hero. In his mind, everything he was doing was good.

There was some discussion that because horcruxes negatively influence people, were the Dursley’s such awful people because Harry “the Horcrux” Potter was living with them for so long? This question was quickly countered by the realization that Hermione and Ron spent all those years with Harry and they didn’t seem to be affected. Although things did seem to improve for the Dursley’s now that Harry was gone 10 months of the year. This question of whether Harry was a proper horcrux has been asked and answered.

There was quite a bit of discussion of how kids sorted into Slytherin are automatically hated at Hogwarts by all the rest of the students. They are viewed with fear and suspicion. When Malfoy is sorted into Slytherin he is immediately boo’d by the Weasley twins. The thing no one mentioned (which I suppose they forgot) was that Ron had just been teased by Draco for being poor. He likely mentioned this to his brothers. In my mind the twins were probably booing Draco the person, and not Slytherin the house. Maybe that begs the question of Why did Slytherin House not get disbanded? But of course, we have an answer to that question.

The panel could have benefited from an expert from Scifi.SE. Perhaps next year they’ll ask Slyterhincess (aka JKR) to be on the panel, in order to put these questions to rest.

Looking back, the panel spent only a minimal amount of time answering the panel topic. They named Lockhart and Malfoy as minor villains, Snape as an anti-villain, and Hermione and Ron as the heroes that enabled Harry to be the hero.


Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015 – Tom Felton Panel
Harry Potter Movie Marathon Highlights

Filed under Conventions

Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015 – KIDCON and Disney Princesses

2015-02-03 by . 0 comments

The Comic Con of yesteryear may have been for single men who loved comics and pop-culture, but the Salt Lake Comic Con goes out of its way to make sure families feel welcome at the convention. The number one rule of cos-play says “Salt Lake Comic Con is a family-friendly convention.” There is also a section of the convention floor titled KIDCON. This is an area with activities, games, and photo ops with Disney Princesses.

KIDCON corner, as seen through the laser obstacle course.

KIDCON corner, as seen through the laser obstacle course.

The bunny hop game.

The bunny hop game.

The laser line obstacle course with Princess Elsa in the background.

The laser line obstacle course with Queen Elsa in the background.

Hiccup and company.

HIccup and company.

Giant Big Hero Six at the entrance of Salt Lake Comic Con.

Giant Big Hero Six at the entrance of Salt Lake Comic Con.

The number of princess, both in cos-play and as features of booths, is staggering. There was a dedicated Princess Tea Party booth offering free tea parties with kids’ favorite princess. Many attendees came as their favorite princess. The children love it.

Last year after the regular Salt Lake Comic Con my three-year-old niece told my wife:

I know you met the real Elsa, I saw a picture of it.

She was referring to a picture of my wife posing with Queen Elsa her mother showed her on Facebook. You expect Elsa and Anna to be the most popular, because of the recent movie, but princess from all eras were present including: Belle, Snow White, Rapunzel, Aurora, Merida, and Ariel.

Princess Merida, Queen Elsa, Cinderella, and Belle (and others).

Princess Merida, Queen Elsa, Cinderella, and Belle (and others).

Elsa and Anna running a princess party booth.

Elsa and Anna running a princess party booth.

This stage coach was for promoting the new live-action Cinderella movie.

This stage coach was for promoting the new live-action Cinderella movie.

Cinderella and Rapunzel.

Cinderella and Rapunzel.

Princess Aurora, outside the Princess Tea Party booth.

Princess Aurora, outside the Princess Tea Party booth.

Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience (and the regular one) is a place the whole family can enjoy.

Filed under Conventions

Featured Answer: How long was Bill Murray’s character supposed to be in a time loop in the film “Groundhog Day”?

2015-02-02 by . 0 comments

February 2nd is Groundhog Day.

How long was Bill Murray’s character supposed to be in a time loop in the film “Groundhog Day”? was asked by aceinthehole and originally answered on October 20, 2011 by DVK. He cited several different statements from the director Harold Ramis. The question quickly drew thousands of views and the answer was accepted.

Roughly 4 months later (5 days after the question was circulated on Groundhog Day) a new answer was submitted. Screenwriter of “Groundhog Day” Danny Rubin submitted this answer.

Allow me to jump in here. Hi everyone. As mentioned above my original intent was that Phil would live for longer than a single lifetime. That was the point of the original script: to see how a person might change if he lived longer than one lifetime (it was always about a man who could not escape life). The studio felt that the loop shouldn’t last longer than two weeks. They were afraid the audience would freak out if it lasted any longer. Because my bookcase calendar (also mentioned above) was a specific record of passing time, Harold chose to remove it from the script, and in that way he could tell the studio it lasted two weeks or whatever and nobody could point to anything in the script that contradicted that. This explains why the length of Phil’s incarceration strikes so many as a mystery: it was designed to be a mystery. Still, the sensibility of the characters as they progressed I think required a guiding clock, and Harold provided that. His sense was that it lasted about ten years, and I think the movie reflects that sensibility.
Still, I think it’s fun the way people keep guessing and counting and arguing. My answer shouldn’t discourage that pursuit. Who ever said that I know what I’m talking about, anyhow?

This answer was accepted and became the 4th highest voted answer on the site (203 votes at the time of this article). The “Word of God” is a powerful thing.

Filed under Question of the Week

Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015 – Tom Felton Panel

2015-01-31 by . 2 comments

Friday January 30th at 3:00pm 2500 people filed into the South Ballroom at the Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience 2015. They were there to participate in the panel featuring Tom Felton, better known to most as Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies.

Tom Felton comes across as a really great guy. When asked why he always seems to play evil or unliked characters he jokingly said he that is how he really is, and he just acts when he isn’t on screen.


The following questions were answered during the panel. While they were not personally asked by me, they lined up with the questions asked by members in the meta post.

How do you really feel about being sorted into Gryffindor (on the Pottermore website)?

I called JK up and said it must have been a glitch in the system. But she said I was sorted into Gryffindor because that is what I am.

Earlier in the day while taking photos with fans, a certain fan asked him to wear a Gryffindor scarf since that was his house. Relating this in the panel he said:

I very begrudingly wore a Gryffindor scarf for a photo op.

His general sentiment was that he would have preferred Slytherin.

Do you agree with JKR’s view expressed in interviews, that all the girls who are deeply attracted to Draco (as opposed to the actor) are way wrong and shouldn’t be?

Although he does have some redeeming qualities in the later films, he is still a slimy git.

How much input into the personality of your character did you have from JKR?

I picked her brain over the years to try and better understand his character.

In light of Draco Malfoy’s early characterization as a one-dimensional bully, if you’ve read J.K. Rowling’s updated information about Draco, what are your thoughts on Draco’s development into an almost reclusive figure, who eschews his parents’ Muggle-hating values, collects Dark Arts [artifacts], and develops a fascination with Alchemy? As Draco’s actor, does this surprise you?

I really enjoyed the background coming out on Pottermore.
I realized he really didn’t fit into the normal Malfoy family. So later in his life he got to reinvent what it meant to be a Malfoy.

From here are some questions which I thought were interesting or otherwise noteworthy.

In a special feature on Chamber of Secrets you mentioned being Draco hasn’t helped you get girls. How was that changed now that the films are done?

I actually met my girlfriend of 7 years in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. She was an extra, a Gryffindor (laughter from the crowd) At the end of the last film, when you see me with a wife and son, Jade got to play my wife. That is not really my son.

In case this isn’t clear, Jade, his girlfriend of 7 years whom he met on the set, played his wife in the epilogue scene where Harry sees Draco with his wife and son.

What are some of your favorite moments from being on the Harry Potter set all those years?

The robes they had us wear had really deep pockets. So I used to stuff candy and sodas and Redbulls in there. By the end of the day I’d get to wardrobe and he would find all this chocolate in the pockets. Eventually they decided to sew up the pockets on all the robes, probably because of me.
I actually used to give Redbull to ten-year-olds. I got told off on that too.
Michael Gambon hid cigarettes in his beard.

What is your favorite film from the series?

When I was a kid it was Chamber of Secrets. Now I would say Half-Blood Prince is my favorite.

What did you do to first prepare for the role for Draco?

I don’t have anything close to direct quotes, but I’ll relate the story he told. When he went to audition he hadn’t read any of the books. It was an open audition so there were hundreds of kids there. Chris Columbus (director) was walking down the line asking kids what their favorite part of the books were. It wasn’t until Chris asking the boy next to him that he realized he didn’t have an answer. And he heard the boy say how great is was going to be to see Gringotts.

So when Chris turned to me I said something like: “Those Gringotts, definitely. I can’t wait to see them fly. I love me some Gringotts.” He just looked at me, and I think he decided I would make a good Draco.

When asked about current or future projects Tom Felton said that he has a documentary coming out about super fans and conventions. He said it would air on the BBC in April of 2015, and hopefully in the United States sometime after that.


Harry Potter Movie Marathon Highlights

Filed under Conventions

The (new) Star Wars Canon guide

2015-01-28 by . 6 comments

Over the years, there have been 1366 Star Wars tagged questions on SFF:SE. These have attracted some great answers from a wide variety of sources including the Star Wars films, comics, games, TV shows, novels, art-books and RPGs. The number one response asked in comments is always “how canon is that source?“.

With the purchase of LucasFilm by Disney there have been some recent changes to the way in which Star Wars licensed properties are managed. I thought that now would be a good time to provide the definitive guide (I wish) to the New Star Wars Canon.

Canonicity in the Star Wars universe is, as of April 2014 determined by a working group comprised of representatives of Disney and LucasFilm known as the Lucasfilm Story Group.

The primary change made is that the old canon system (G-Canon, T-Canon, etc) has been nuked from orbit and only the original six feature films (the Original Trilogy and the Prequel trilogy), Clone Wars TV show, Clone Wars film and Star Wars : Rebels TV shows are considered to be part of the official Star Wars film canon.

All other properties (with a few small exceptions) are now lumped together under a single banner known as Star Wars : Legends. Those exceptions seem to include the film’s novelisations (where they elaborate on things seen on screen), the official Data Bank (which replaces the old Data Bank website) and elements of the Jedi Path Manual.

“While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.”
LucasFilm Statement – Apr 2014

Those other film and TV properties that were originally deemed to be G-Canon and T-Canon (the Star Wars Radio Dramatisations, Star Wars Holiday Special, Ewoks films, Star Wars : DroidsTV show and Star Wars: Ewoks TV show) are now all considered to be Legends properties.

Moving forward, all future properties (films, books, comics and games) will be licensed and fully compliant with the Star Wars Story Group’s rules regarding canon status, unless explicitly stated. Excluding the exceptions listed above, the full list of canon works (past, present and near future) now stands as follows:

  • (Film) Episode I: The Phantom Menace (and the novelisation by Terry Brooks)

  • (Film) Episode II: Attack of the Clones (and the novelisation by R. A. Salvatore)

  • (Film) The Clone Wars (and the novelisation by Karen Traviss)

  • (TV Show) The Clone Wars: Season 1-5

  • (TV Show) The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions

  • (Comic) Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir by Jeremy Barlow

  • (Novel) Dark Disciple by Christie Golden (not yet released)

  • (Comic) Kanan: The Last Padawan by Greg Weisman (not yet released)

  • (Film) Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (and the novelisation by Matthew W. Stover)

  • (Novel) Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp (not yet released)

  • (Novel) Tarkin by James Luceno

  • (Novel) A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

  • (Novel) Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy by Jason C. Fry

  • (Novel) Ezra’s Gamble by Ryder Windham

  • (TV Show) Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion

  • (TV Show) Star Wars Rebels: Season 1

  • (Film) Episode IV: A New Hope (and the novelisation by Alan Dean Foster)

  • (Comic) Star Wars by Jason Aaron

  • (Comic) Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen (not yet released)

  • (Comic) Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid (not yet released)

  • (Short Story) One Thousand Levels Down Alexander Freed

  • (Novel) Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne (not yet released)

  • (Film) Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (and the novelisation by Donald F. Glut)

  • (Film) Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (and the novelisation by James Kahn)

  • (Short Story) Blade Squadron by David J. Williams

  • (Film) Episode VII: The Force Awakens (and the novelisation). (not yet released)

Original answer to the question How is canonicity of derivative works determined for Star Wars?

Filed under Question of the Week

Agent Carter – Pilot Episode

2015-01-07 by . 3 comments

This mini-series begins with some of the final scenes from Captain America: The First Avenger. With Steve Rogers piloting the large ship into the ocean and Peggy Carter on the radio.

The year is 1946, and Peggy Carter is still heartbroken over the loss. She lives in a small single room apartment which she shares with another girl. The apartment only has one bed, with they apparently share. Not in a scandalous kind of way, but rather in a way that depicts real life living in New York. She works for the telephone company, but when she arrives is led into a secret area which is the base of operations for the Strategic Scientific Reserve.

Agent Carter

Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is a strong willed, independent woman in a (presumably) man’s job, where the men don’t really want her around. She is frequently asked to fetch coffee, file reports, answer the phones, and otherwise be a glorified secretary who happens to carry a gun.

Dominic Cooper reprises his role as the young Howard Stark. It seems a number of his more dangerous inventions have suddenly turned up on the black market and are being sold to enemies of the United States. He is subject to congressional hearings on the matter and no doubt is being investigated by the real FBI, but SSR makes finding him and his inventions a top priority. Stark seeks the help of Agent Carter to clear his name and find his inventions. Agent Carter must do this behind her superiors’ backs, because Stark is assumed guilty until proven innocent, and she is too much of a dame for important work. Stark lends her the assistance of his butler and confidant Edwin Jarvis.

Agent Carter is picking up right where Captain America ended (if you don’t watch the final scene where he is in modern day New York). Captain America the person is still a part of 1940s pop-culture. He has a radio program, to which poor Peggy (and the watching audience) must hear everywhere she goes. He’s still being mentioned in the newspaper, and no doubt his famous trading cards are in circulation.

I’m not exactly sure what the SSR’s mission is now that the war is over. Where as before they were a function of the military, with Colonel Chester Phillips acting as the leader, now it appears to just be some g-men bureaucrats. Furthermore, I’m not sure what jurisdiction the SSR has. Apparently they can interrogate people and do company wide inspections personnel.

The Marvel Movie Wiki has this to say:

The S.S.R. continued for a short time after the war, taking on cases such as the Zodiac, but was disbanded in 1946 and its former membership absorbed into a new agency, S.H.I.E.L.D.

Given that Agent Carter takes place in 1946, and a short run mini-series with 8 episodes, I’m guessing this series will end with the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. Last night was a 2 hour premiere, with two 1 hour episodes back to back, which I guess means there will only be 6 more airings.

Filed under Review

Highlights from 2014 – 4th Quarter

2015-01-06 by . 2 comments

Top Stats

Highest Voted Question: Where does the stereotypicial image of the ‘Grey’ alien come from? asked by raki. The runner up question (by 2 votes) was What did Padmé die of? asked by Richard.

The question with the most views, 21517, and a score of 1 (not a typo), was In which order should I watch the X-Men movies to know Wolverine’s full sequential story? asked by parto. The runner up, with 16978 views and a score of 19, was Who exactly constructed the tesseract room in Interstellar? asked by Jason Sebring.

The question with the highest voted answer was Where did King Arthur get his sword, Excalibur? asked by Christofian and answered by Brouellette.

Top User Picks

Darth Satan liked the question Is a lightsaber’s hilt resizeable?

An awful, awful, awful, awful question that prompted an excellent answer

Richard liked several.

Why is Wednesday Addams named … Wednesday?

I thought I’d found the definitive answer, only to discover that there was an even stronger one waiting in the wings.

He greatly enjoyed Thaddeus‘s answer to What’s under the crystal bridge in Asgard?

I especially enjoyed the maps and pictures

And, pinnacle of humility that he is, he also enjoyed his answer to the question In “The Matrix”, why are there no animals?

Shevliaskovic liked the question Unknown feature on Middle Earth’s map? and his subsequent answer.

I..liked my answer there because I found some interesting discussions.

The user Null liked the question Why didn’t Qui-Gon Jinn use his Jedi mind tricks to exchange his Republic credits?

It exposed what nearly amounts to a plot hole, as demonstrated by the poor answer (as noted in the comments, I think the answer was poor because of the filmmakers, not @Richard).

Filed under Question of the Week

Technologies We Should Have In 2015

2014-12-31 by . 4 comments

2015 should be a big year in technology, if the movies are any indication. There are some of the things we are either supposed or have, or are woefully missing out on.

I personally don’t see the appeal of bringing a pet back to life but that is the initial premise of The 6th Day. Here are the technologies

  • Cloning of pets
  • Cloning of humans, with memory transplant
  • Jet Copters
  • Virtual Prostitutes

The present is made significantly more disappointing if you consider how much we were promised from Back to the Future 2

  • Mr. Fusion
  • Power Laces
  • Self Adjusting/Drying Clothing
  • Robot Gas Stations
  • Holographic Movies
  • News Camera Drones
  • Robot Trashcans
  • All things Hover (cars, boards, belts)
  • Exceptional Weather Service
  • Food Hydrators

The movie Memory Run (or Synapse, depending on who you ask) seems to offer only a couple of things

  • The ability to move a consciousness into another body
  • The ability to monitor and control someone based on their behavior (violence = bad)


Filed under Review

Jack’s Bad Movies – AE: Apocalypse Earth

2014-12-29 by . 1 comments

IMDB’s description

A group of refugees from Earth work to survive on a hostile alien planet.

If Predator, Star Trek TNG, Planet of the Apes, and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor had a love child abomination, it would be AE: Apocalypse Earth.

The movie opens with Earth under attack from a hostile alien force. It doesn’t look good for humanity, as several ships are attempting to leave and make interstellar journeys in the hopes of colonizing new worlds. Everyone else is left to their fate. Lt. Frank Baum (Adrian Paul, best known for the Highlander TV Series) and his squad are attempting to get a group of refuges to the safety of a starship. They get everyone on-board and the ship takes off, taking Baum and his squad for the ride. Baum gets very upset about this because he wants to go back to Earth to defend it. The captain (Richard Grieco) says this isn’t possible, and that Baum should just buckle down in cryo-sleep for the long ride to wherever. There is some discussion on how some of the passengers were chosen because of their critical skills, and others won a lottery. This all becomes moot when the Baum wakes up from cryo-sleep to find the ship is crash-landing on a green planet. Nearly all of the passengers and crew are killed. So all that talk about how people were selected was just wasted air time.

Baum wakes up to a chaotic scene in which passengers from the ship, albino humans, and nearly invisible cloaked beings (Predator style) are running all around the wreckage. The cloaked beings, called Chameleons, are killing humans and albinos alike, so Baum finds a completely functional and loaded machine gun in the wreckage and begins killing them. He gathers up a few survivors, including the injured Captain, and runs randomly into the jungle. Within the jungle they round up a few more survivors and eventually encounter a group of humans in orange jump suits who are not from their ship. These jumpsuit people were on another ship which had left Earth a month before, but they crash landed on this planet 2 years ago! How could this be? We’ll just hand wave special relativity and move forward. Turns out they have been prisoners of the Chameleons all this time living in a kind of zoo, and their captors have been trying to see if they can breed with the local Albino population. The ship crash landed on the zoo, and that subsequently freed some of the captives.

This group of now a dozen or so people now have a dilemma, what to do? Baum, the unofficial but also official leader, still wants to return to Earth (because… reasons!). The annoying short guy, who you feel like is going to get a lot of people killed because of his stupidity, says ‘why are you in charge’ to which the reply is ‘because I have the gun.’ I guess he isn’t happy with this answer, because he continues to ask this question and sow seeds of discontent with the survivors. There is also an android named TIM (aka Lt. Cmdr. DATA). They kill a lot of Chameleons, which carry these energy guns which on the surface seem pretty effective, until you remember Baum kills like 6 of them just with his knife. Only one guy ever thinks to pick up one of the alien guns, even though they are don’t have enough weapons to go around.

Eventually the party gets ambushed by giant scorpion things and a woman with camouflage skin shows up to help. Amazingly this woman speaks English, which she learned by overhearing the prisoners in the zoo. She also comes from an albino clan, which live in caves, but because she was different she was exiled to the surface. Online comments say she is the highlight of the movie on account of her bikini outfit, but I think the real gem here is her apparent super intelligence. Just by observing the prisoners in the zoo, she picks up broken English. When she gets to a point in a conversation where she can’t explain something and says so, someone will just supply an English word to her, without additional context or explanation, and she says ‘yes’ or nods her head that this word, which she had never heard before, is indeed the correct word for what she was trying to explain her point. It is amazing.

Now it is just a series of jungle fights, jungle runs, and sexy times in the river, and then the group finds an old human spacecraft. Everything is in perfect working order, except the power-cell, which should last 1000 years, is somehow dead. No worries (or even questions) about that though, because they can use the one from their crashed ship.

They don’t have the man power to get the power-cell, so they team up with camouflage girl’s old tribe. Turns out, they have crate-loads of human made guns in perfect working order in storage. So without any training or planning, everyone grabs a gun and heads off to get that power source. Did I say everyone? I meant, everyone except the two trained military soldiers grab guns. Those two guys get comically childish bows and arrows, which clearly do not work. I appreciate the movie keeping it real by showing how this absurd distribution of weapons results in nearly everyone getting killed during the assault.

Anyways, they finally get the power source and get back to the ship they found. The short idiot tries to leverage this so that they don’t have to flee the planet, but instead he dies as he lived, a traitor. They take off from the planet, easily dispatching a Chameleon spaceship and an orbital defense platform. By this time the group has been whittled down to Baum, camouflage girl, the captain, and TIM the now damaged android. But no worries, they can finally go back to their beloved Earth, which as far as they know, is still being ravaged by an alien race.

This all leads up to the big surprise reveal, it was Earth all along! Actually, no one was surprised. The telltale signs being, the other albino humans and the camouflage girl are obviously humans who have just adapted to the planet. The ship they found, while inexplicably in perfect working order despite many years in the jungle, was obviously human made (it had English signs on the door). This planet has lots of Earth plants and animals. The crash-landed humans were able to breed with the indigenous albinos. I could go on, but those are the only examples I remember.

TIM the android explains that he piloted the ship to several star systems, but didn’t any habitable worlds. With only 100 years of cryo-sleep available to the crew he ultimately decided to head back to Earth and see if things had improved since the aliens conquered it. Thanks to relativity, this was roughly 25,000 years after their initial departure. I guess whoever was piloting the other ship which had arrived at the planet 2 years previous had the same idea. Also, I guess the captain gave full executive decision making to TIM? Otherwise, that android is kind of a jerk. Anyways, the Chameleons have terraformed Earth to turn it into one giant jungle. Probably a downer for the few survivors trying to flee this hellish planet in order to get back to a war-torn Earth only to discover they were one and the same place.

One wonders how Earth lost the initial war, given the ease in which Baum is able to kill numerous Chameleons. Maybe he could have single-handedly won the war had he not been trapped on the colony ship. Fortunately, we will never know the truth.

The acting is very poor, with the line delivery being painful at times. A few of the special effects actually look decent, but then in the next scene are so comically bad you wonder how many different people worked on them.

And that, people, is AE: Apocalypse Earth, currently available on Netflix Instant.

Filed under Bad-Movies, Review