Tag Archives: sci-fi

Men in Black 3

It needs to be said, right up front, that MIB^3 was an entirely unnecessary movie. Even if there was no other reason, it is troubling that this is the movie that tells the world a) that Tommy Lee Jones deems himself ready to retire or b) that the studio figures he cannot cut the mustard fighting aliens and/or quipping deadpan against Will Smith. Let’s be honest, both of these are crimes against humanity. Plus, blah blah blah Hollywood sequelitis, nobody can write well about time travel, et cetera.

But the thing is, a movie doesn’t have to be necessary to be fun, and probably I will not ever get tired of watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tackling his way through alien goo, incomprehensible technology, and Tommy Lee Jones’ deadpan to save the world yet again from the latest space-borne menace. Mind you, I will probably have the good grace to feel bad about it before I walk into the theater, and in direct proportion to the amount of missing Tommy Lee Jones. But I’ll still like it. We’ll all still like it. I mean, come on.

Star Trek

MV5BMjE5NDQ5OTE4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTE3NDIzMw@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_Obviously, you are aware of this movie, and you’ve probably already formed your own opinion. And anyway, I’d be leery of spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen it. In theory, this constrains my review by quite a lot, but I figure it leaves me free to talk about what I really wanted to anyway. But, first things first. Did I like it? Enough to see it three times on opening weekend. Did it have flaws? I can think of a couple offhand, one extremely nitpicky and one that, absent, would have failed to feel like a Star Trek movie anyway. Plus, I think I’m willing to claim that at one point, there was actually an insufficient amount of technobabble. Was it accessible to non-fans? I feel as though it really was, and the reviews I’ve heard from non-fans (and in one case, an actively anti-fan) have borne this impression out. So you should really go see it, if this has not already occurred.

Because what J.J. Abrams made here was a philosophical, character-driven action movie, and really, how many of those do you think exist? Of the ones that exist, how many do you think aren’t insufferably smug about it? This right here is a narrow field to occupy! Action: ’cause, you know, space battles and laser gun fights. Character-driven: the driving forces of the story are all based in interactions. Kirk and McCoy’s friendship. Kirk and Spock’s rivalry. Spock’s relationship with his human mother. Nero’s irrational impulse for personal rather than systemic revenge. (He’s the bad guy.) Philosophical: take a group of people that shook the foundations of the Federation (and, projecting outward less than you’d think, the galaxy) and drastically change their history. Okay, many of the changes were not drastic, but one was, and there are clear, subtle ripples from there even before the main plot of the movie takes over. And then explore the question of random chance versus unalterable destiny.

I liked that by the end of the movie, the history of the Federation is vastly divergent from the one that fans of five TV series and ten movies know. And I like that it’s not going to be “fixed.” It was a bold move that I think is going to pay off in spades for the future of the franchise. But as much as I approve of that, I absolutely adored watching as, moment by moment, destiny pushed beloved characters into roles that they had fallen into by seeming happenstance in the original timeline. This new Trek may have surprisingly non-causal time travel that never really existed in “my father’s” Star Trek, but it also has some modicum of fate. And that’s kind of cool.

Millennium Falcon

I’m not entirely sure why I bother to review Star Wars books at this point, except that it’s expected of me to review everything. It’s just, the context is pretty small, or something. Nonetheless, I’ve typed this much, so I may as well finish up! Millennium Falcon performs a few duties for the Extended Universe. Primarily, it puts together a history of one of the most famous starships in science fiction from before the days when Han Solo owned her (starting with a fairly cheesy Christine-on-the-assembly-line homage and, thankfully, improving from there). Secondarily, it provides a plot hook for a treasure hunt, and then places the Solo family on that hunt as a way to heal some of the still painful wounds brought about by the most recent Sith assault on the galaxy. Lastly, and probably most importantly to the ongoing storylines, it sets up the newest political threat to the Jedi Order, albeit behind the scenes and in throwaway moments.

The book itself was good but not great. I can’t really recommend it as a standalone, and if you weren’t planning to read it in that sense, you probably will regardless of anything I say on the topic. But the secondary characters were all pretty decent, and the stories-within-the-story format reminds me a lot of World War Z.

Return of the Jedi: Infinities

I know it seems like I should be a long way behind, but I’m not. No movies in an Age, one of my books vanished (and has since been replaced, but I’m in the middle of another books right now, which is huge and comfort material, because I wanted to turn my brain off for a bit), I’ve been playing Final Fantasy (and sure, doing well, but the end is days off yet at the minimum). However, I have read several comics lately, and I think I’m willing to review them. So, there’s that.

I was out looking for issues of Serenity, and I came across a 4-part Dark Horse offering, Return of the Jedi: Infinities. A minor change during one of the Jabba’s Palace scenes launches an alternate history of Episode VI. I like Star Wars, and I like alternate history, so I went for it.

Here’s the thing: it’s got flashes of unique vision, although a lot of the story seems to involve moving the chess pieces around such that the characters wind up in essentially identical situations, only slightly more bleak about it, for maximum angst. Which isn’t that bad in itself, except that the closing scene of the story is complete cheese, both on paper and in the execution. I didn’t buy it a bit, put the thing down in disgust, and may have been scarred for life if only I wasn’t aware of the awesomeness of other comics that are available these days. (Such as that Serenity I mentioned, once the third issue comes out and I finish the story. Or Sandman.)

The Joiner King

Apparently, there are new Star Wars books set later in the continuity than the New Jedi Order stuff (which has ended, so that partially explains that.) I read it between two weeks and a month ago. I wonder, therefore, if I can remember the title. …and, as it happens, I did so while explaining myself just now. It’s the Dark Nest trilogy, with this particular first book being called The Joiner King.

Even after over a decade of books detailing the rise of the new generation of characters, I’m still only minimally attached to them. It didn’t help my enjoyment of the book that a lot of what happened revolved around pheromones changing peoples’ brain chemistries such that they act in new and unexpected ways. I’m not going to come out and call it a sloppy plot device until I see how it plays out over the next couple of books, because, right, trilogy. Nevertheless, it tainted an otherwise fairly decent story. Standard adventury goodness, some rehashing of the Jedi trying to find their way in a changed galaxy and the government trying to find its way in a new galaxy, but those parts worked despite being rehashed, because the galaxy is more fundamentally changed than it was even after the fall of the Empire.

My favorite part was incidental so far, involving Luke’s discovery of some old recordings of his father and mother in Artoo’s memory banks that the droid keeps trying to prevent him from seeing, for reasons unknown. Because, like I started to say before, I’m mostly still interested in the original characters, 10 years on or not.

In sum: Interesting main plot conceit. Tantalizing side story. Character Template Modifications of Weirdness +2. Decent new characters. (An Ewok with a death mark on his head in multiple systems; cheesy, but it makes me giggle.) It’s not bad Star Wars, but I’d claim that most bad Star Wars has been stamped out these days. Not brilliant Star Wars, either. If you were already going to read it anyway, still do; if you weren’t, I’m not here to change your mind.