It seems like it is a good time for fans of the supernatural. There are plenty of current TV offerings. Here is what some of the regulars of SciFi.SE Chat room have to say about them, presented in no particular order.
Supernatural - Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.
Keen – Two brothers traveling the US, fighting monsters. Essentially a weekly horror TV series, with a monster of the week. Layered on top is a season-long arc, which is referenced almost weekly, with arc-centric episodes every 3-4 episodes.
Grimm - A homicide detective discovers he is a descendant of hunters who fight supernatural forces.
BESW – I like it. It’s cleverly self-mocking without being self-indulgent, its premise is similar to many other shows and books on the market but they’ve managed to freshen it up, the characters are interesting, and even when there’s a bad episode Monroe makes it worth my time.
True Blood - Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.
Keen - Trashy vampire romance novels turned into a supernatural soap opera. A guilty pleasure.
Jack B. Nimble - I saw a comment for True Blood that says it is a show about sex which just happens to have vampires.
Once Upon A Time - A woman with a troubled past is drawn to a New England town where fairy tales are to be believed.
Jack B. Nimble – A lot of twists on the classic fairy tales. Who would have thought everyone was so connected? Originally StoryBrook felt like a very small town. As the story (and fairy tales) progress the population seems to be growing exponentially.
Keen – This one is harder to describe at a high level. It has a weird premise and structure. I’d say it’s a fantasy series that mashes up Disney films with some public domain fairy tales and stories, then dumps the lot of them into the real world.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - In Victorian England, the young and beautiful Alice tells a tale of a strange new land that exists on the other side of a rabbit hole.
Izkata - Skip out on the tie to Once Upon a Time, since there’s no overlap (yet).
Warehouse 13 - After saving the life of the President in Washington D.C., a pair of U.S Secret Service agents are whisked away to a covert location in South Dakota that houses supernatural objects that the Regents, an Authority above and outside any government, have collected over the centuries. Their new assignment: retrieve any lost objects and investigate reports of new ones.
BESW – Seems to be back on track after some time exploring various styles and themes that weren’t working for it. The reveal that one of the characters has a real-life terminal disease seemed a bit over-dramatic but it’s being handled well.
Donald McLean - I’ve been watching Warehouse 13 since the beginning and I like it quite a lot.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D - The missions of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
Jack B Nimble – It would be hilarious to find out that Tahiti is a sponsor of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Sleepy Hollow - Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers.
Keen - A cop/fantasy procedural with monsters of the week. The show’s fast pace and clever writing keeps it entertaining as it piles insanity upon insanity. Highly recommended.
Haven - A shrewd FBI agent with a lost past who arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine, to solve the murder of a local ex-con only to discover that the curious enclave is a longtime refuge for people with supernatural powers that holds a lot of secrets, including to her own past.
BESW - Haven has always been interesting to me (surprising since I don’t like Stephen King) but for a couple seasons that was mostly because I was fascinated by how much they could promise to reveal and then backtrack on at the last minute. However, they’ve started answering so many solid series-long questions that I’m wondering if they’re powering up for a series-ending finale. I’m somewhat concerned they’ll get renewed anyway and have to invent new plots to keep going.
There are other shows on TV dealing with the supernatural, but these are the ones that members of the SciFi.SE community chose to comment on.
- All show descriptions were pulled from the plot summary listed on their respective IMDB pages – http://imdb.com.
Frozen is a page from the Disney of yesteryear. While I’m consciously aware that there are songs in Tangled, I don’t feel like it was a musical in the classical Disney sense. Frozen reminds me of the great animated musicals such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. When I walked out of the theater the people (both children and adults) around me were still singing the song “Let it go.”
The movie revolves around two sister princesses. The older one is born with a power to create snow and ice, though is unable to control it. Her powers are subsequently kept a secret to everyone, even her sister. The other sister is born with the capacity to be optimistic in all circumstances. When things turn bad for the older sister, it is the younger sister who sets out to try and repair the damage.
Along the way they pick up a few more characters. An ice miner, a prince, and a snowman. I usually hate comic relief characters, but Olaf the Snowman is delightfully funny and his usage is clever. His naivete and the fact that he is a snowman make for a lot of great comical moments. There is also another snowman, who is quite different. I was watching the movie with a couple of 3-year-old nieces and at one point she became very frightened by the other snowman. People with smaller children should probably wait to see it at home (this is actually true of anyone who thinks it is a good idea to take little children to the theater).
Frozen has a lot of things going for it, good characters, songs, jokes, animation, and fun. Maybe it is the start of another run of great Disney films.
Thor: The Dark World is decent film. In this movie an ancient enemy called the Dark Elves is attempting to revert the universe back to a time when there was no light. Apparently the ideal time to do this is every 5000 years when the 9 realms are in alignment. The last time this happened, a great war was fought and the Dark Elves were annihilated. This makes me wonder if there was a war every 5000 years with the Dark Elves after light began or if the universe is less than 10,000 years old, making the first war the only war.
The subtitle the Dark World refers to the world of the Dark Elves, which has subsequently fallen into ruin. As an inhabitable planet it is pretty forgotten. Why haven’t the Asgardians (or other realms / races) moved to colonize the now abandoned Dark Planet? It should be noted that the Dark Planet is dark in name only. There appears to adequate light available.
The Dark Elves had a secret weapon (the Aether) they hoped to use during the convergence, but that weapon was captured by the Asgardians and locked away. As it happens, the convergence is happening again. This becomes the major plot point of the movie, as Jane Foster comes in contact with the weapon, which kind of/sort of possesses her. There are also dark forces trying to acquire the weapon in time to use it during the convergence.
Thus we see Jane Foster brought to Asgard in an effort to cure her of the Aether. There is the obvious question of the rational of Thor being in love with Jane Foster. She is from another world and will not live the standard 5,000 years of an Asgardian. There is also the obvious looks from Sif, who is probably the logical choice for Thor. But really, unless Jane were somehow given the same lifespan as Thor, Sif just has to bid her time before she can marry the heir apparent to Asgard. At most it is going to be 60-70 years. What is that amount of time considering the lifespan of Asgardians? Also Sif has been around for a long time, apparently not making her move, she can hardly blame Jane for that. The dark forces subsequently come to Asgard to acquire the Aether, and there is much conflict. Thor is eventually forced to seek the help of Loki, his imprisoned brother.
Before the movie came out I asked my wife if she was interested in seeing it. She said “I don’t know, from the trailer it isn’t clear to me that Thor will take off his shirt.” I said “is that all Thor is to you, just something to ogle?” she replied “that is all Thor is to anybody.” For the female audience that loves Thor for his muscles and not his origin story, I will say that what you seek is in the second movie, if only briefly.
I felt the movie was a worthy sequel to original movie. It was certainly better than Iron-Man 2. At least these characters get sequels, the same cannot be said for poor Hulk, who doesn’t even have his own movie yet (with the current actor).
For all the questions I raised in this review, there are only 7 tagged as thor-the-dark-world on the Scifi.SE site at the time of writing. Over half of them are related to the end credits scenes.
Warning, potential spoilers ahead (for those who didn’t read the book).
The internet is extremely polarized, maybe it is because of all the 1′s and 0′s, but there is only enough room on it for love or hate. If you walk out of Ender’s Game unsure which extreme position to take, here are some things that might help you.
Something to love: After 28 years of screwing around, they finally made it into a film
Something to hate: The beloved children’s book The Hobbit gets 3 – 3 hour movies while we get a 2 hour film that could have easily been 2.5 hours and refined a few points
Something to hate: “The enemy’s gate is down” is now Bean’s idea
Something to love: Bean still says it as the end of the movie to try and relax everyone
Something to love: The Battle Room is pretty cool and larger than you imagined
Something to hate: The Battle Room now has an incredibly distracting view of the Earth
Something to hate: All of the kids appear to be the exact same age and Bonzo is inexplicably a foot shorter than everyone else
Something to love: Almost all of the important characters are represented
Something to love: Rather than just shooting light, the guns now shoot balls of energy
Something to hate: The Battle Room is reduced to paintball in zero gravity
Something to hate: Ender’s fight with Bonzo is short and ends more in an accident than intent to win
Something to love: Ender still drinks the blood of his fallen enemies
Something to love: Many of the special effects look amazing
Something to hate: The mind game looks like an modern day video game
Something to hate: The film portrays Ender as having been in only one army and only one battle before being promoted to commander
Something to love: We don’t have to see Ender cry himself to sleep every night because no one loves him
Something to love: Peter and Valentine take a major back page to the story
Something to hate: If Peter and Valentine were your favorite parts of the book, then you hated the book as well
Something to hate: The Formics are never called Buggers
Something to love: Ender still gets to destroy that filthy Bugger race
Continuing from our first live chat, some of the originals from the chat room also watched Star Trek TOS “Space Seed.”
Netflix incorrectly classifies Star Trek TOS “Space Seed” as a prequel to the Wrath of Khan. That is like saying Batman Begins is a prequel to The Dark Knight. It isn’t a prequel if it was made first.
All images pulled from TrekCore
Turbo is a film that doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. Is it the type of story where the character isn’t satisfied with their existence and hopes for something more from life (such as A Bug’s Life)? Is it a racing movie where the lead character needs to grow up a little (such as Cars)? Is it a super hero origin movie (such as Spider-Man)? Unfortunately this movie is all three, and it doesn’t do a good job with any of them.
Theo / Turbo is a garden snail who happens to live next to the current Indy 500 champion. As such he obsesses and dreams of being a professional racer. After nearly killing himself a few times, trying to prove he is faster than he is, he sets out on a rainy night to get away from his sad slow existence. Eventually he accidently finds himself involved in an illegal drag race. When the driver hits his nitrous oxide Theo / Turbo undergoes a Spider-Man type transformation that turns him into some kind car / snail hybrid. Rather than just making him fast, it also gives him headlights, taillights, a radio, and a backup beeper. From there a series of even more improbable events leads him to have an opportunity to fulfill this dreams.
It is somewhat distracting to me that all of the snails can understand English being spoken by humans. From our perspective the snails also speak English, but of course none of the humans can hear or understand them. It is also distracting that once the nature of this special snail is revealed to the public (and the world at large) that the scientific community doesn’t appear to be at all interested in it.
Overall this movie was not very good. I remember only thinking a couple of things were funny or clever. I saw this movie at a drive-in theater with a number of children. In general those kids were bored and were more interested in snacks than laughing at the movie. I don’t remember really hearing any laughter at all through the film. So even as a movie just for kids I don’t think it delivers well. It reminds me of Bee Movie, which also felt flat.
So in the end this is a movie that is trying to be A Bug’s Life without the diverse bug characters, Cars without the growing up, Spider-Man without the character development, and Bee Movie will all its so called comedy. Maybe there is a demographic who is looking for that kind of movie, but it isn’t adults or children.
Warning – This review may contain spoilers or information not immediately obvious from the trailers.
Like many people when I read the book I was caught up by the all the stories of before, during, and after the zombie apocalypse. The individual stories, the psychological, political, and societal reactions from the characters brought a feeling of how real and terrible the breakdown of society would be.
When I saw the movie I immediately recognized that a lot of that had been taken out in order to create a fast paced action movie. It reminded me of the movie 2012. In that movie you follow a family as they race from one disaster to another trying to escape the destruction of the Earth. World War Z felt very similar. Instead of seeing many accounts across the entire world we follow one man, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), and his family while he goes from one disaster to another looking for a solution to the zombie problem.
In the book there isn’t a cure (although there are stories around people claiming to have them). Subsequently the book is about survival. When the book ends societies and the Earth as a whole are forever changed because of the apocalypse. In the movie things are obviously going to be different, but I get the feeling not in the same way.
Everyone everywhere has been talking about how the movie has nothing in common with the book except for the title. Here are some of the things that are in fact the same.
- Both have zombies.
- Israel abandons some disputed territories and builds a wall around their protected zones.
- The initial outbreak area is in East Asia.
- Major cities fall with people trying to flee to the sea.
Here are some things I think the movie does a poor job of explaining or takes too far.
- From infection to becoming zombified is super fast sometimes and really slow or non-existent other times. Once that stuff is in your blood it shouldn’t take long for it to latch onto your soul.
- The portrayal of how bad the teeth are in England (it is too horrifying).
- The zombies working together to overcome barriers.
- Zombies are attracted to some sounds, but not other sounds (like sounds made by other Zombies). These zombies are apparently smart enough to distinguish sounds by their origin (even when it is a pop can knocked over by a human that ultimately bursts open).
Overall I felt it was a decent enough zombie action movie. The one question both the book and the movie fail to answer is: If these zombies have unlimited energy why doesn’t anyone think to trap them in giant mount wheel that turns a turbine and get unlimited energy forever? You’d just need a guy or two standing behind a secure window to entice the zombies to move towards you. Think people! Think!
Although I went into the film with a few spoilers (having listened to a movie review podcast and seeing a few questions on SciFi.StackExchange) I was surprised by the amount of information I didn’t already know.
Man of Steel presents a more science fiction origin to Superman than we have previously seen in films. In the comics and cartoons we know that Krypton was technologically advanced and Superman reaps some of the benefits of that, but in the movies the Kryptonian technology seems to be based primarily on crystals and their ability to make houses. In Superman Returns Lex Luthor captures some crystal growing technology and attempts to create a new continent. When asked how he is going to defend it he says he’ll use the advanced technology. Considering it is just him and his idiot henchmen, I have no confidence in his ability to do this. I have great confidence in Zod, because with Man of Steel the technological superiority of the Kryptonians is obvious. Also, they are all supermen.
Superman’s powers are giving a slight polish to the established canon. Having evolved from a significantly harsher planet, Kryptonians on a whole are highly adaptable. Martha Kent describes the baby Clark Kent as wheezing and coughing through the night as his lungs tried to process Earth air. He gains super strength and speed from the Earth’s young sun. His additional abilities of x-ray vision, heat vision, and telescopic vision are a result of the Earth’s atmosphere. Superman now loses some powers when he is removed from that environment (somewhat… inconsistently). Hopefully the great Superman powers race won’t begin where in every new movie he needs more and more ridiculous abilities (I’m looking at you, Superman IV).
For the first time on film we see the super speed and destructive strength of a super charged Kryptonian at work. The almost teleporting nature of the attacks is what I imagine The Flash would look like. Speaking of other characters, there are at least two Easter eggs in the film. One referring to Lex Luthor and another referring to Wayne Enterprises. With the exception of the Easter egg billboard in I Am Legend I am not aware of any cross references between any DC heroes before in the films. Everyone knows that DC and WB would love to see the same kind of money from a Justice League movie as Marvel did with The Avengers. Green Lantern didn’t do well, but maybe if Man of Steel does extremely well JL will still happen. If DC wants to do an origin story for every member of the Justice League they still need to do 5 (Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and presumably Batman).
What did I think of it? I felt the movie was fairly slow throughout the middle. The intense action scenes at the start and end seemed to compound the feeling on nothing happening in-between. I find myself frustrated by the mentality of Hollywood that every super hero must reveal their identity on screen (or at all). Batman has told so many people that he is Bruce Wayne he has probably just started printing it in on this business cards.
Sadly the same may be true for poor onscreen Superman. The action of the film was both amazing and horrifying. This isn’t the same kind of Superman we saw in the 70s and 80s. I walked out thinking the movie was okay.
I finally saw Iron Man 3. Better late than never, right?
I’m actually not so sure.
The movie wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t good. I really liked the original Iron Man, and felt that Robert Downey, Jr. had really nailed the character of Tony Stark. Iron Man 2 was a bit of a disappointment, but Mickey Rourke’s performance was a redeeming factor. Iron Man 3, however, had no comparable standout performances.
I don’t mean to detract from Ben Kingsley’s acting abilities; indeed, he did an admirable job. Similarly, I cannot fault Guy Pearce in his portrayal of Aldrich Killian.
Rather, I place the blame on the characters themselves.
While I admittedly am not intimately familiar with the comic book series, I know enough about the franchise to have been very interested in seeing The Mandarin introduced as Tony Stark’s latest nemesis.
The Mandarin, as depicted in Iron Man 3, is a total dud. To say the character lacked depth is a massive understatement. The buildup of mystery and menace the movie endeavors to enshroud him in is deliberately and intentionally sacrificed as a major plot device, yet the result of that sacrifice is the revelation of a far lesser menace.
It is clearly supposed to be a surprise twist (I am trying to avoid spoilers), yet the only surprise seems to be “hey, guess what? The situation is not nearly as interesting as you thought it was. Bet you never saw that coming!” Yay?
The other major character introduced is Aldrich Killian. He’s intended to be a brilliant mind in his own right, and the very beginning of the movie clearly shows that the character is supposed to be a foil, and potential antagonist, to the flamboyant genius and showmanship of Tony Stark. However, the character turns out to be remarkably one-dimensional, and his motivations and overall role turn out to be decidedly generic.
The titular character also lacks the depth seen in the previous titles. Clearly there is intent to add depth, by highlighting Tony Stark’s insecurities and emotional sensitivities, yet it seems that either the true character-building elements were largely cut from the final production, or what exists was tacked on as an afterthought.
Within the first 20 minutes of the movie, it is established that Tony is having some residual problems from the events at the end of The Avengers. These problems crop up a couple of times during the movie, yet are never actually resolved in a meaningful way. Instead, it’s just “stuff he’s dealing with”, and doesn’t really accomplish anything towards adding depth to the character.
Indeed, it feels like it may be tacked on strictly to provide some links to The Avengers, which appears to be a common theme in Marvel Studios’ recent titles. It seems like they are trying to bring the same breadth and depth to the Marvel Universe on screen that the comics enjoy. However, instead of meaningful cross-over appearances and side stories that play integral parts of individual story arcs, as seen in many of the printed titles, they are peppering the movies with just enough references for someone who has seen the other films to say “oh, yeah… I know what they’re talking about.”
Unfortunately, this also means that those who have not seen the other films will just find the references confusing or uninteresting.
The movie itself does have some redeeming qualities. In particular, we are treated to lots of explosions, and some eye-catching special effects. The confrontation at the conclusion of the movie attempts to incorporate some of these special effects in a meaningful way into the plot, but it doesn’t really make up for a somewhat anticlimactic battle.
The basic plot, however, is somewhat interesting, and we do see some interesting characters along the way. Harley Keener, played by Ty Simpkins, was perhaps the standout of the movie, and I found the scenes with him better than most of the dialogues with the more prominent characters.
The fight scenes were well-coordinated, and the abilities of the protagonists are both eye-catching and distinctive.
All in all, I found the movie to be a significant disappointment. It failed to achieve the appeal of the preceding entries in the series, and certainly fell far short of the bar set by The Avengers.
Easter Monday was a rainy day in Canada. As a result my kids were suffering from boredom. So we checked the local theater schedule. They convinced me and my wife to take them to The Croods. As the kids chose the movie, I wasn’t expecting too much from it and I certainly wasn’t expecting to write a review about it. However, the movie ended up being a nice trip to an amazing fantasy world, so I thought I’d share my thoughts about it.
Some technical specifications that may have affected my viewing experience: My kids barely understand English so we watched version with the French translation. I will not review anything related to the voice acting. As my dear wife cannot support a 3D movie without being sick, we chose the 2D version of the movie. So I cannot say a word about the 3d effects in the movie. Finally, I ended up eating quite a bit of popcorn on account of having had a light dinner earlier in the evening.
As far as the story goes, I was expecting some kind of hybrid between Brave and Ice Age. We have all seen this: a teenage girl gets rebellious in a prehistoric landscape, sprinkled with action and jokes, nothing new under the sun. But I was pleasantly surprised. This is mostly a story about fatherhood. Yeah, there’s a rebellious girl and a love story, but that is secondary. The main story is really about a father who would do anything to protect his family and has to let his big girl grow up. But enough about the plot, All you need to know is that it was interesting enough, fun enough, and touching enough to be a decent family movie. My kids liked it and I wasn’t bothered by it during the viewing.
What is interesting in this movie, from a fantasy stand point, is the world they created for it, especially the fauna. Most of the species you could see in the movie are some kind of hybrid between two or more modern day species. Mix an elephant with a mouse or an elephant with a giraffe. Combine a leopard with a bear and an owl. That’s just a small sample of the incredible animals the caveman family encounters on their trip. It’s where this movie shines. Instead of dragging us into another world of silly talking dinosaurs; it creates an original and exotic world that stands on its own. It is what amazed my inner child and surprised me more than once. These inclusions give the movie a unique artistic signature and literally steal the show by the end.
Finally, I would recommend the The Croods as a family movie outing, kids will be happy and, what proud parent would not do this for his offspring? Especially if it involves eating popcorn.