I have recently finally watched all three feature length episodes of this short new science fiction tv mini series, and now I am looking back over it again. Now there are currently a good number of various science fiction, fantasy and comic-book inspired new television series running, all competing for our attention and viewing figures.
Other series are still running for the usual twelve to twenty or so episodes, but this new bold series was suprisingly set for just three feature length parts. This I only learned late, but actually did add a strong structure and dramatic pace to the show.

The show focuses on a secret unknown space mission which took place in the late 50’s, with all of America never learning about it in any way. The crew and passengers on board this spaceship spent around fifty years there, moving through space with the intention of learning more and seeing more. With a mysterious death at the start of the first episode, the peaceful community of passengers onboard begin encounter dangers they have never seen in all of their time in space.

As the show progresses, there are more mysteries and revelations as we learn more about the reasons for the space mission and just what is taking place onboard. The visual style, direction and budget all impress and give us a very unique modern science fiction show unlike most others in recent times.
The show does start off fairly slow and like a detective mystery in space, but gradually a number of other characters and events show us more, with layers of secrets and lies, tensions and fears challenging all on the spaceship Ascension.
I assume that being a very short mini series, it allowed the makers to hold a larger budget, giving the show a visual style which looks very much like a Hollywood sci-fi movie. It moves along much like a good science fiction novel, with a largely interesting collection of characters and drama. I think it seems to have not really gained the ratings figures that it may have hoped for, but I do think that it has a good number of well written elements, even though some of it may be flawed or needing of editing in parts. By the end of the series, it reminds us in some ways of shows such as The X-Files, Dark Skies, Defiance and others which some topical themes of government cover-ups, corruption, class tensions added into the story. This series may not be what many expected from the early adverts and poster publicity, but it is worth seeing. Could there be another series to follow it up? It may not happen, I hope that we do see where the story could continue.


MARVEL MASH-UP: Spider-Man joins the Heroes at last

It almost just did not seem like it would ever really happen, the studios were doing their own distinct seperate things, competing against each other for overall domination of summer box-office in cinemas.
The mighty MARVEL comic and film studios had been doing almost everything right ever since the release of the very fist IRON MAN film back in 2008, with only one or two slight bumps in quality or miss-fires (most of you are thinking IRON MAN 2 right?). They seemed to have it all planned out so well, knowing their audience and loyal army of comic-book fans. If they gave us what was in the comics and hardly changed much as the characters and tales were adapted onto the big screen then we all were happy, much more than happy for a long while. Looking at the box-office figures of just the Avengers movie internationally tells us that they really do know what they are doing. But not everything is how they or the fan might want it to be.
Before the first IRON MAN film swept up so well at the cinemas, previously other companies and film studios had snapped up the rights to some of the comic book characters and titles while Marvel had been in a financial dry period years before. The Fantastic Four and Spiderman along with X-Men were owned by 20th Century Fox, Sony and Warner Bros.
From around the year 2000, Fox was the studio have the great success with establishing the X-Men film series so well, and then eventually we had two Fantastic Four movies of arguable quality before 2010. As the third X-Men movie recieved a frosty reception and the Fantastic Four films were not exactly instant massive hits-although they did do well enough on release-Marvel soon gave us IRON MAN and they took the lead.
Now we have had several years of successful Marvel produced movies, critically and commercially, and with their films planned out for released up to around the year 2019 everything seemed absolutely set in stone.
Finally for reasons that are not entirely clear, Sony have come to a sudden agreement with Marvel and Spiderman will be used in the Marvel films from this moment on.
Why did they happen? Why now and for what real reasons?
With at least over half a dozen new movies planned over the next seven or eight years, including more multi-character Avengers feature films, the entire list has now been shaken up and and new order put in place to allow for Spidey and his adventures on screen. Was this the best way to enter him into the fold along with the other Marvel heroes including Thor, IRON MAN, Captain America and a number of new and interesting characters currently being established for the mainstream cinema audiences?
We can look at the response to last years Amazing Spiderman 2 and perhaps understand why Sony have decided to finally make a sensible pact with Marvel after all of this time, and all of the Spiderman films of varied quality.
Even while the two most recent Spiderman films featuring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone may have initially seem to have been surprise big hits in cinemas, rebooting the series after the troubled end of the Sam Raimi trilogy a few years before; the most recent film did seem to throw in again just too many characters, subplots, lame dialogue and teen angst drama scenes. The balance was totally off, just so badly paced out scenes and a film diving head on into comic-book camp right alongside to infamous nadir example of Batman and Robin in the late 90’s.
So even though Amazing Spiderman 2 did set up another sequel and on-going storyline of villians and subplots relating to Peter Parker and other characters, will any of that continue when next we see him on screen? How will that sit with us? We were expecting the lead up to some kind of strange Super villian ‘supergroup’ movie inspired by the ‘Sinister Six’ storyline of the comics but will that make it to cinema? (In all honesty, I just am not entirely sure how that was supposed to work out. A big gang of evil comic book villians commiting some mega crime event…with no Spiderman…or Spiderman and some friends?)
Next up, we are now unsure about which actor will be playing old Webhead when he joins with the other Marvel Avengers on screen. If we read into some of the marketing and promotion strategies planned by Marvel internationally- and with mainstream films in general-they were aiming to increase their pull in Asian and Eastern cinema audiences, which can be seen in the cinematic visual and direction style and even the actors chosen to star in the film.
How will this all add to the already planned Marvel cinematic universe? Will effect be even better, finally uniting all of the main well known classic Marvel characters or could it see Marvel lose some quality and confidence in the films and audience they have already?
Over the next few years and movies we will see just how the Marvel machine continues on.

National Libraries Day-Reading is living…

Today in the Uk we have National Libraries Day. This is at a time when we are regularly reading, hearing and seeing news about many local and national libraries closing down and seriously struggling due to the recession and financial cuts.
Many of our libraries are seeing most or some of their staff cut or dropped, and many that communities have visited and known all their lives now closing down.
Many people may not go along to their local libraries often these days- there are so many things in our lives that can distract and entertain us, from our phones, internet, video games, television and more- and some people may have the view that libraries are increasingly irrelevant in modern times. This is not exactly true I think.
The main city library where I live in Manchester has only just reopened after a few years, and it is now a truly stunning hugely modern state-of-the-art place, full of many kinds of interactive touch screen tables, screens, archives, bookshelves and much more. Alright, this one cost a heck of huge sum of money and it had been planned and in the works for a long while.
What do we need libraries for today?
Same as always and more-they offer access to many kinds of books-fiction to non-fiction, borrow, browse, borrow again for free. Meet others who like to read, chat about books, writers, get away from the noise and action of the shops and our lives for some quiet time.
There is talk of reworking libraries in order to save them- add a coffee shop counter, some food stalls, music or other things (is that the kind of thing needed or suitable?)
Whatever your reason for going along now or in the past or again, libraries have always offered great things for society- education, information, escape in stories. Go along to your local libraries now, show some support and love books today and in future.