Monday, July 29, 2013

San Diego Comic-Con AAR

There isn’t much I can say about Comic-Con that you would not hear from anyone else that has or will write about their experience. It is craziness, excitement, amazing, frustrating, and yes even fun. As I have written about in my preparation guide, you might want to plan ahead if you want to maximize your experience. And even when you have a plan, be prepared to change your plans and keep your eyes open for different opportunities.
The biggest thing at San Diego Comic-Con is Hall H. It is often where all the biggest panels will happen and where a lot, if not almost everyone will want to get into. Depending on the panel you want to see, or a panel that happens before or after the panel you want to see, you may have to wait hours just to get in. That is if you get in at all. Depending on the panel, like this year’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Panel, you had to be in line as early as 4:00 AM the morning of the panel if you wanted to get a seat in the back. If you wanted to be closer you had to stay overnight, outside the convention center. But there were other opportunities. On Thursday, you could have easily gotten into Hall H to see the panel for Ender’s Game and seen Harrison Ford’s sense of humor and previews of what has been labeled to most scientifically accurate science fiction movie ever, Europa Report. My wife and I walked into a barley existing Hall H line a little after 7 AM and sat in the second row.
But as you will always hear me say there are a lot of other panels that are good and you should really give them a chance. To many to list but you can certainly look them up. The dealer floor was crazy as usual and I am not ashamed to say that after ten minutes of trying to navigate the crows I no longer had any problems bumping people out of the way who were too busy tweeting to notice where they were going. If you can’t pull it over to the side to tweet, you’re asking to get bumped into. The Comic-Con/Hall H funk was also in full effect with some people. Seriously, take a shower. Don’t diminish the experience of others.
Basically, Comic-Con is controlled chaos with very little sleep. It can be fun and a fantastic experience. If you don’t like crowds or are claustrophobic, maybe not so much. And look for outside events such as w00tstock, Nerd HQ, The Nerdist Podcast, and the Geek & Sundry Lounge to round out your experience. You may go once and decide to never go again. But to me, it is an experience that every nerd/geek should have at least once.

Too much Logan?

It’s an old question. Can you have too much of a good thing? If the recent information about the latest X-Men film is to be believed, Days Of Future Past will be five of six films where Wolverine is the lead character. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I am a fan of the character in every incarnation, comic, film, and animated. Logan is a popular character and Hugh Jackman has done a very good job bringing him to life. But increasingly, the theme of the films seems to have become Wolverine and the X-Men instead of the X-Men.

Days of Future Past is a popular and influential storyline in the X-Men comics. It’s a very good story which I enjoy re-reading from time to time. And Wolverine was just a part of the ensemble. In the upcoming film, Wolverine will apparently be sent into the past to stop an assassination that will usher in an apocalyptic future where mutants are imprisoned and hunted. In the comic the character tasked to save the day is Kittie Pryde. I was excited when Days Of Future Past was announced as the next film partially because again this story is s favorite of mine, but also it would give one of my favorite actresses, Ellen Page, a chance to be lead in an action franchise. And lets face it, there have not been many successful action movies with female leads. I understand why wolverine will be the center of the action, but it is a missed opportunity.

For now, I am still anticipating a great film. I admire Jackman and I expect he will deliver another great performance. It should be difficult for Days Of Future Past to not be good with the size and caliber of the cast not including Jackman. And we can at least hope that more characters in the X universe will get their own films to expand on this mutant filled world.

Monday, July 1, 2013

My favorite scifi cars

Lists like this circulate from time to time. They are popular because they appeal both to nerds and car people. Although I think that in all actuality, we can call them card nerds. So this is my list of sci-fi cars that I’d want to drive. I write this in the full realization that I have nerd like tendencies for various things, obviously including sci-fi, comics, and cars.

1966 Batmobile, Batman

There have been a few versions of the Batmobile, each more advanced hten the last, but the 1966 model from the TV series has the muscle car feel that I still prefer. It began its life as a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept.

DeLorean DMC-12 time machine, Back To The Future

Back To The Future made the car iconic. It’s a shame the guy that made the car made some really bad choices and killed any future the car could have had. It was only in production for two years but a new DeLorean company will rebuild you one out of old and new parts.

Mach 5, Speed Racer

Speed Racer, the movie, was a brilliant piece of bubble gum. The Mach 5 manifested into a very sleek and powerful looking machine. It’s a car with enough tech and gadgets that James Bond would find it very appealing.

KITT, Knight Rider

Michael Knight would have been nothing without KITT. Based on a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) is a self aware AI program inside of a highly technologically sophisticated car. And for all those curious, KITT’s light bar was a nod to the Cylons of the original Battlestar Galactica series.

M4S, The Wraith

I doubt many people have seen The Wraith. The M4S concept is a real car that is very fast. It was designed by Dodge in 1986. It could go from 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and could hit 194 mph on a 500 hp four cylinder engine.

Pursuit Special, Mad Max

The car in Mad Max and Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) is a customized 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. These models were only produced in Australia but for the right money you can have one restored and shipped to you in its original form or even customized to look like the Interceptor.

Much Ado About Nothing

So Shakespeare has nothing to do with science fiction. And besides the cast and crew, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing has nothing to do with science fiction either. But nerds can have culture too, dammit, and you should really see this film. If the involvement of Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, etc. are all that motivates you to watch one of Shakespeare’s comedies then so be it. Even if Wedon had not been involved and the end result was the same, you should give it a chance.

We tend to think of Shakespeare in terms of the costumes and stage and a people speaking a funny form of English that we sometimes have a rough time understanding. The trick is to experience these plays with knowing the context of the time and language that they were originally performed in. We might not get all the references but if we pay attention, we can understand. And when we understand we can make it easier for other people to understand. And that is what Joss Whedon attempted and what I feel he accomplished. This new version of Much Ado About Nothing is set in the contemporary world. It is in black and white, but the cloths, homes, cars, etc. are modern. The only thing that is the same is the language. But that shouldn’t stop you from understanding and getting what is going on.

Baz Luhrmann successfully pulled off a modern interpretation with his Romeo And Juliet. The actors in both of these films do is not just stiffly recite lines, they convey the emotion behind the language. To simplify, if you saw a couple fighting in a different language, the woman being more aggressive and the man pleading and being more meek, chances are he did something wrong. You wouldn’t know what is being said, but you know what is happening. Shakespear writes in a version of the English language that we are not used to hearing, but the actors in Much Ado About Nothing, in how they speak their lines, translate what they are saying through their tone and body language so that we do understand the fighting, the sorrow, and the humor. We might not catch every line, but we are still in on the joke.

Much Ado About Nothing works because the people in from of and behind the cameras took pride in their art and obviously enjoyed what they were doing. It wasn’t for the money. The film is only in limited release and may be there and gone within a few days of arriving at any given theater. Movie magic is not just found in special effects. It would be a shame to miss this magic in theaters before it is gone.