Comic Movies are Ruining the Cinema

  This year Avengers 2:  The Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four, Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  Next Summer a Batman movie, the first Justice League, and so forth.  Dr. Strange, Wonder Woman, and several other characters are due to have their own movies in the next couple years too.  How many times over the last few years have we been told that all these movies are going to wreck everything in Hollywood?

So let’s look at this realistically.  It looks like we are going to have three groups of interrelated, intelligently written movie universes going on in Hollywood for the next few years.  Most of them will be blockbusters, and those that aren’t will generate more money than they would otherwise because they will be a part of a larger universe.  Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like the devolution of anything.  It feels more like the evolution of the action movie into something beyond cheesey, muscley, or specialists (martial artists, UFC fighters, and so forth).

So, is the change in action movies going to mess up romances, science fiction, and dramas?  Why would they?  Sure, they have some of the same viewers, but they satisfy very different interests.  If you want to watch a modern love story it won’t be found in a Captain America movie.  The beauty and elegance of Interstellar can’t be matched in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or an Ender sequel, and those YA dystopian movie series – Maze Runner, Hunger Games, and Divergent – seem to be gaining interest as they come out even while the Marvel universe is going full steam and DC is generating interest.

You know the action movie came into its own in the 1980s with muscular men giving one-liners that are a little painful to hear now.  In the nineties they got better, but many of the actors remained the same.  The people I have seen in the Expendables movies are what I remember of the action hero genre.  It’s great to see them all, and nice to see them still fit, but I don’t mind that they are almost the only game in town any more.  There’s something better now – improved plots, stronger characters, deeper themes, fuller arcs.  I don’t see the down side here.  Come to think of it, I kind of hope the other genres continue to improve along the same lines.

Posted in Comic book heroes, George Lucas, Sci Fi/Fantasy, Stan Lee, Star Wars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Joseph Campbell

In the summer of 1976, while a young director worked with his more experienced cast, an old professor sat just off the set trying to stay cool in the Sahara heat.  After every take, the 30 year-old director would come over to ask him if he had gotten the scene right.  The old man hadn’t written the script, and in fact he had no personal feelings about the science fiction movie being made.  After all, in 1977 science fiction was a haven for second-class directors, scripts, actors, and effects.

And the director did care.  For him it was no silly script he was working through for his next payday, it was his life’s dream.  But that was why he kept asking the old man for his input.  You see, Star Wars might have been a film about aliens and laser swords, but it was based on a universal mythology that had been laid out by Joseph Campbell over the previous decades.  George Lucas wanted it done right, and there was only one person who could ensure that.

Lucas managed to please his mentor and in the process captured the world’s imagination.  His take on the ancient theme of “Six go around the world” along with his basic ideas of twins inheriting, good and bad, and the hero from obscurity hit a chord with people that resounds to this day.  It accomplished what I hope for in my own writing, what any writer who has something to say shoots for.

  Over a decade ago, Lucas returned to his universe for three more films.  They were good, they had beautiful effects, and the acting was effective.  They weren’t as good as the originals though.  They didn’t follow the same universal themes as Episodes IV through VI.  The plots were interesting but not magical.  That, and we already knew what was going to happen and how the characters were going to get there.

Later this year Episode VII will come out.  I’m excited.  I love the Star Wars universe, I appreciate what Lucas can do with a movie, and Disney has been coming out with some great stuff over the last few years.  I just hope that Lucas has handed them the same formula he used in the 1970s, a formula that worked and touched us all.

Joseph Campbell was a brilliant man.  Where the rest of us read myths and remember them, he found patterns throughout the world and discovered a common consciousness in humanity.  He wasn’t one-dimensional, either. He worked with Carl Jung on that very subject.  He worked with Marijas Gimbutas in her studies on prehistorical matriarchal cultures.  To both subjects he added an understanding of humanity that may never be matched.

Posted in George Lucas, Science Fiction, Star Wars, The Force | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Two Eyes?  Really?

  A Neti, Tree Species

 So just a thought on alien species.  What do you think they would look like?  Science fiction writers have always been great about pointing out how their thinking and values might seem strange or even backward to ours.  Of the masters, Clarke had the most amazing ideas on perspectives and appearance.  Childhood’s End had a race that looked like devils, and the Rama series had some nifty descriptions.  I especially enjoyed the creatures with three eyes, three arms, and three legs.

But it makes me wonder, could an intelligent being work with three eyes?  Spiders operate with multiple eyes.  What would have happened if they’d become the dominant species on the planet?  How about bats.  For all intents and purposes they can’t see.  What would things have been like if they had been forced to adapt or die?  How about if a species didn’t have eyes the way we would understand them?  Something that registered heat, radioactivity, or elements?

Is two or four legs a necessity.  Four gives greater speed but reduced mobility.  Would six legs have its own advantages?  Does it need to be a multiple of two.  Are fingers necessary for the development of higher functioning?  Our technology couldn’t be worked by hoofs or tentacles, but could a race develop technology that could be?  Gears, dials, buttons – all larger for less sophisticated digits?  Could they ever work with miniaturized technology?  Or would their deficiency force them to develop intelligent robots to do it for them?

 A Lyran

 I’ve often wondered about skin colors.  Would our race have a different color on a planet other than brown, black, pale, and yellow?  Different sun, different radiation, different chemical compounds in the air?  In time would develop more efficient lungs for a low oxygen planet, more efficient muscles for a higher gravity?

Would a sentient life form have different sense organs than us?  Maybe a species living in space could have an organ to detect gravity?  Or time in a way foreign to us?  I wonder if there is any evolutionary reason why a species might develop microscopic or x-ray vision.

Must all life forms be aware of at least four dimensions?  Would it be seriously neat if one was aware of more than four?  I keep coming back to the wormhole beings in Deep Space Nine.  I wonder if something like living without linear time is even possible.

That brings up another question.  Does life need to have a tactile form?  Does it need to be a solid, liquid, or gas?  I know science fiction is filled with creatures of light, but really?  I find it hard to believe that a gas could be intelligent.

Just a thought.  Have any?

Posted in Comic book heroes, Frank Herbert, George Lucas, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sci Fi/Fantasy, Science Fiction, Stan Lee, Star Trek, Star Wars | Tagged | 16 Comments

Better Plots, Better Stories

  Even the least interested science fiction fan over the last century could tell you that plots are becoming more complex and interesting.  The updates between versions of Battlestar GalacticaStar Trek, and V are only the three most obvious examples.  Watch the original Flash Gordon and compare that to Sliders.  Buck Rogers against Stargate.  You get the idea.

So why is it that aliens aren’t a mainstay?  You can’t argue there aren’t any different sentient species out there.  Even the most conservative estimates are that there should be thousands of different species in our galaxy alone.  Nor can you say that they don’t make the plots more interesting.  Watch an episode of even the original Star Trek and try to make the argument that the constant clashing of different cultures isn’t the best part of the show.

You might argue that even the grandmaster of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, didn’t feature them.  That’s true, but it’s also true he had stories with aliens.  The atmosphere of the time was a fear of the unknown, so any plots where aliens weren’t technologically inferior or comical were generally rejected.

  We have no excuse now.  Again, Stargate was immensely successful and it had humans confronting technologically superior aliens nearly every week.  Edge of Tomorrow and Independence Day both featured superior aliens and both have sequels coming.

Why aren’t they a mainstay?  Just a suggestion here, but generally either a story (t.v. show or movie) has been about either humans fighting each other or their creations, OR about humans united against a common foe.  The plots couldn’t have handled both.  But with the storytelling we’ve seen now with BSG, Gotham (from what I’ve been told), and a couple of the new crop of shows on Sci Fy, I think the storytelling has reached a point where it can accommodate both at one time – and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it.  Imagine meshing the depth and variety that would be possible.  Well, you imagine.  I’ll wish my mind was capable of seeing all the possibilities.

Posted in Frank Herbert, George Lucas, Star Trek | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

A List:  Knights of the Round Table

 

 Now I won’t for a moment entertain the idea that there was a Round Table, or that Arthur’s knights followed the rules of a twelfth-century feminist instead of a fifth-century code of honor.  On the other hand, Arthur did exist and he had to have warriors.  In that spirit, I thought I would list off the list as some of the major writers knew it.  I’ll do them without commentary and see what you find interesting:

 

 Culhwch ac Olwen                                     Chrétien de Troyes             Sir Thomas Malory

*Kei                                                                 Lancelot du Lac                    Accolon

*Bedwyr                                                         Bedivere                                Andred

*Greidawl Galldofyd                                    Calogrenant                          Balin

*Gwythyr son of Greiddawl                        Edern ap Nudd                    Balan

*Greid son of Eri                                           Erec                                      Calogrenant

*Cynddelig the Guide                                  Esclados                               Claudin

*Tathal Twyll Goleu                                     Gauvain                                Dinadin

*Mailwys son of Baeddan                          Gonemans                           Gaheris

*Cnychwr son of Nes                                  Keu                                       Galahad

*Cubert son of Daere                                 Meleagant                           Galehault

*Fercos son of Poch                                    Yvain                                    Galeschin

*Lluber Beuthach                                        Perceval                               Gareth

*Conul Bernach                                           Tristan                                  Gawain

*Gwyn son of Esni                                                                                     Gornemant

*Gwyn son of Nwyfre                                                                               Hector de Maris

*Gwyn son of Nudd                                                                                  Kay

*Edern son of Nudd                                                                                 Kahedin

*Cadwy son of Gereint                                                                            Lamorak

*Fflewdwr Fflam Wledig                                                                          Lancelot of the Lake

*Ruawn Pebyr son of Dorath                                                                 Lionel

*Bradwen son of Moren Mynawg                                                         Loholt

*Moren Mynawg                                                                                      Lucan

*Dalldaf son of Cunin Cof                                                                      Meleagant

*the son of Alun Dyfed                                                                           Mordred

*the son of Saidi                                                                                      Ywain

*the son of Gwryon                                                                                Palamedes

*Uchdryd Host-sustainer                                                                       Pellinore

*Cynwas Cwrfagl                                                                                     Percival

*Gwrhyr Gwarthegfras                                                                          Sagramore

*Ysperir Ewingath                                                                                  Segwarides

*Gallcoid Gofyniad                                                                                 Tristram

*Duach son of Gwawrdur the Hunchback                                         Ywain the Bastard

*Brathach son of Gwawrdur the Hunchback                                    Bors

*Nerthach son of Gwawrdur the Hunchback

*Cilydd Hundred-holds

*Canastyr Hundred-hands

*Cors Hundred-claws

*Esgeir Gulhwch Gofyn Cawn

*Drust Iron-Fist

*Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr

*Lloch of the Striking Hand

*Anwas the Winged

*Sinnoch son of Seithfedd

*Wadu son of Seithfedd

*Naw son of Seithfedd

*Gwenwynwyn son of Naw son of Seithfedd

*Bedyw son of Seithfedd

*Gobrwy son of Echel Mighty-Thigh

*Echel Mighty-Thigh

*Mael son of Roigol

*Dadweir Blind-Head

*Garwyli son of Gwythawg Gwyr

*Gwythawg Gwyr

*Gormand son of Ricca

*Menw son of Teirgwaed

*Digon son of Alar

*Selyf son of Sinoid

*Gusc son of Achen

*Nerth son of Cadarn

*Drudwas son of Tryffin

*Twrch son of Perif

*Twrch son of Anwas

*Iona king of France

*Sel son of Selgi

*Teregud son of Iaen

*Sulien son of Iaen

*Bradwen son of Iaen

*Moren son of Iaen

*Siawn son of Iaen

*Cradawg son of Iaen

*Dirmyg son of Caw

*Iustig son of Caw

*Edmig son of Caw

*Angawdd son of Caw

*Gofan son of Caw

*Celin son of Caw

*Connyn son of Caw

*Mabsant son of Caw

*Gwyngad son of Caw

*Llwybyr son of Caw

*Coch son of Caw

*Meilig son of Caw

*Cynwal son of Caw

*Ardwyad son of Caw

*Ergyriad son of Caw

*Neb son of Caw

*Gildas son of Caw

*Calcas son of Caw

*Hueil son of Caw

*Samson Dry-lip

*Taliesin Chief of Bards

*Manawydan son of Llyr

*Llary son of Casnar Wledig

*Brian son of Fergant king of Brittany

*Saranhon son of Glythwyr

*Llawr son of Erw

*Anynnawg son of Menw son of Teirgwaed

*Gwyn son of Nwyfre

*Fflam son of Nwyfre

*Gereint son of Erbin

*Ermid son of Erbin

*Dyfel son of Erbin

*Gwyn son of Ermid

*Cyndrwyn son of Ermid

*Hyfeid One-mantle

*Eiddon the Magnanimous

*Reidwn Arwy

*Gormand son of Ricca

*Llawfrodedd the Bearded

*Noddawl Cut-beard

*Berth son of Cado

*Reidwn son of Beli

*Iscofan the Generous

*Yscawin son of Panon

*Morfran son of Tegid

*Sandde Angel’s Form

*Cynwyl the Saint

*Uchdryd son of Erim

*Eus son of Erim

*Henwas the Winged son of Erim

*Henbeddestyr son of Erim

*Scilti Yscafntroed son of Erim

*Teithi the Old son of Gwynhan

*Carneddyr son of Gofynion the Old

*Gwenwynwyn son of Naf

*Llygadrudd Emys

*Gwrfoddw the Old

*Culfanawyd son of Goryon

*Llenlleawg the Irishman

*Dyfynwal the Bald

*Dunart king of the North

*Teyrnon Twrf Liant

*Tegfan the Lame

*Tegyr Talgellawg

*Gwrddyfal son of Ebrei

*Morgant the Generous

*Gwystyl son of Nwython

*Rhun son of Nwython

*Llwydeu son of Nwython

*Gwyddre son of Llwydeu

*Drem son of Dremidydd

*Eiddoel son of Ynyr

*Glwyddyn the Craftsman

*Cynyr the Fair-bearded

*Henwas

*Hen Wyneb

*Hen Cydymdaith

*Gallgoig

*Berwyn son of Cyrenyr

*Paris king of France

*Osla Big-Knife

*Gwyddawg son of Menester

*Garanwyn son of Kei

*Amren son of Bedwyr

*Eli

*Trachmyr, chief huntsmen of Arthur

*Llwydau son of Cilcoed

*Hunabwy son of Gwryon

*Gwyn Godyfron

*Gweir Dathar Wenidawg

*Gweir son of Kadellin Silver Brow

*Gweir Gwrhyd Enwir

*Gweir White Spear

*the sons of Llwch Llawynnyawg

*Llenlleawg the Irishman

*Cas son of Saidi

*Gwrfan Golden Hair

*Gwilenhen King of France

*Gwittard son of Aedd king of Ireland

*Garselid the Irishman

*Panawr Head of the Host

*Atleudor son of Naf

*Gwyn the Irascible

*Celli

*Cuel

*Gilla Stag-leg

*Sol

*Gwaddyn Ossol

*Gwaddyn Oddeith

*Long Erwm

*Long Atrwm

*Huarwar son of Halwyn

*Gwyddrud

*Gwydden Astrus

*Sugyn son of Sugneddyd

*Llwng

*Dygyflwng

*Anoeth the Bold

*Gwefyl son of Gwastad

*Uchdryd Cross-Beard

*Elidir the Guide

*Brys son of Brysethach

*Gruddlwyn the Dwarf; 

Bwlch son of Cleddyf Cyfwlch, grandson of Cleddyf Difwlch

Cyfwlch son of Cleddyf Cyfwlch, grandson of Cleddyf Difwlch

Sefwlch, son of Cleddyf Cyfwlch, grandson of Cleddyf Difwlch

*Eheubryd son of Cyfwlch

*Gorasgwrn son of Nerth

*Gwaeddan son of Cynfelyn Ceudawg

*Pwyll Half-Man

*Dwn the Vigorous Chieftain

*Eiladar son of Pen Llarcan

*Cyneddyr the Wild son of Hetwn Silver Brow

*Sawyl High-Head

*Gwalchmei son of Gwyar

*Gwalhafed son of Gwyar

*Gwrhyr

*Cethtrwm the Priest

*Clust son of Clustfeinad

*Medyr son of Methredydd

*Gwiawn Cat Eyes

*Ol son of Olwydd

*Bitwini the Bishop

Posted in Arthurian | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

BSG III?

In my blogs I have mentioned the new Battlestar Galactica series a few times, with its beautifully drawn characters, the varied and engrossing plot that was everything that Sci Fi should be, and the unexpected twists.  Honestly, if I could ever create anything that clever and real in my writing I would happily retire knowing I would never be able to top it.

So when I bring up this next topic, please keep in mind where I am coming from – a place of deep respect and awe for the universe.  A few days ago I learned that the same person who created the original series will come out with a reboot movie next year.  I admit, I’m starved for BSG.  I devoured the soap opera Caprica series, I saw some potential in the prequel movie Blood and Chrome, and I have been waiting for someone to say they have managed a script that lives up to the series for a movie or even a miniseries.  I would love to see the surviving players back for another hurrah!

But to go from the gold that was the BSG cast and backdrop to anything less will be torture.  I have seen the best Sci Fi t.v. show ever.  I suppose it’s possible that something better will come along (alright inevitable), but I very much doubt that this show will ever be topped, and I am confident that it will be awhile before anyone does a better series.  Besides, I don’t want to see another cast.  BSG II came out hardly a decade ago.  The cast are all still active and healthy.  It feels like it would have if someone had tried to recast Star Trek in 1976 with a movie.  It was another decade after that before that crew made their last movie, and only the start of a sequel t.v. show finally allowed the public to move on.  That gives us another decade at least before we could be ready for another version of BSG.

And to be honest, Wagon Train to the Stars doesn’t hold a candle to the second version of Battlestar Galactica.  Nor do any of the Star Trek shows.

Posted in Sci Fi/Fantasy, Science Fiction | 9 Comments

I Have a Question

As a student of history with a curiosity about the future I have noticed a definite trend about cleanliness.  When the first apes were forced out of the dense forests they ate meat raw.  In fact, they took what they could of a carcass lying on the ground.  Only later, after the discovery of fire, did we think to cook it and kill off all the potential bacteria in the meat.

Pottery, first used after we became agrarian, provided another level of cleanliness.  So did the sanitation system offered by Roman aqueducts.  Europeans slipped backward during the Middle Ages, when it was thought that a person’s oils were sacred and should only rarely be washed off, but we did improve again once science got moving forward.  Soap, refrigerators, better cooking methods – lots of things have provided mankind with the tools to keep ourselves and our food cleaner in the intervening centuries.

Parallel to that has been a trend toward keeping our homes cleaner.  During the ice age we lived in caves.  No one would have thought of sweeping let alone vacuuming them.  Nowadays to have a dirty floor is downright embarrassing.

 

 So my question is simple.  Do you see that trend continuing?  Are we going to have droids in the twenty-second century that continually pick up every piece of lint and dust that touches the ground?  Are people going to pass through some sort of force field that sterilizes microscopic organisms before we come into a house?  Each night will we be scanned for any infectious agents?  Will we have methods that flash freeze all foods at the push of a button, or dehydrate them?  Maybe we will be like it is in Star Trek too, where all food is materialized on request.

 

 I personally think that cleanly beyond a certain point is unhealthy.  Maybe I just can’t get an OCD person out of my mind, but to need an environment to be too clean can be just as unpleasant mentally as a mess can be physically.  Don’t get me wrong, it would be great not to worry about cooking or cleaning (my two least favorite things to do), but maybe it wouldn’t be worth the price.  Somehow, the idea of living Han Solo’s universe where everything is five minutes away from falling apart seems better than living in Star Trek’s, where everything is always perfect.

Posted in Frank Herbert, George Lucas, Historical Science Fiction, Prehistoric World, Sci Fi/Fantasy, Science Fiction, Star Wars | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments