The X-Files: The return is out there

Many years have passed, many more new cult genre science fiction or paranormal tv shows have come to entertain us, and the two films were released to mixed responses. In recent times and months we have come to learn that one of the biggest genre cult television shows will return with the two main actors and the time may be perfect.

The X-Files was a massive world-wide success in the mid-to-late 90’s, through several series of paranoid paranormal investigation, alien and monster encounters, government secrets and cover-ups challenged with Mulder and Scully the brave duo we cheered on with each new episode.

Like the soon to return Twin Peaks (the other early 90’s huge cult hit show) The X-Files will return to the small screen among a number of shows which have been influenced by it in various ways, from the writing, themes and it could be a challenge for it to rise above them. Or will new X-Files shine brighter beside the inferior shows which are similar but not quite the same?

We can not be too sure of what exactly we will see from the new series, where it will pick up with the characters and plots after such a long time away, but as it was often one of the most cerebral and respectful genre/science fiction shows, we can hopefully expect it to challenge us and make us think or question what we know in and around our world.

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ANT-MAN: The small but troublesome Marvel movie

So what is probably the most troubled and problematic Marvel comic movie since Iron Man stormed all over the box office a good few years ago, Ant-Man is finally going to land in cinemas in just a few weeks now.

Have you been waiting for this movie since it was first rumoured, all those years ago when new guy Brit film Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright?

Along with writer Joe Cornish (director of Brit comedy sci-fi hit Attack the Block, and star of the clever cult late night Adam and Joe show) Wright worked at the original screenplay for number of years while Marvel was establishing itself in Hollywood with the Iron Man films, and the others which then all led up to the first Avengers movie. A loose and rough working teaser cilp of the Ant-Man FX work eventually appeared, which gave many people optimism after a long while of irregular rumours and slim news about the project.

The Ant-Man movie did always seem a very unexpected and unusual choice for one of the early new Marvel movies (although now, many Marvel films have been released and very successful) but the director involved kept many people very interested and curious about just what kind of film we would be getting, given the clever, quirky style of Shaun of the Dead previously.

Sadly in the last couple of years, after so very long working hard at the project, Edgar Wright left the movie, with the usual ‘creative differences’ stated as the main reason, but there has been varied speculation for his moving on ever since. It seems most likely that he did have a more wild and radical film in mind to the kind of movie Marvel need to put out which will sit well alongside the Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and other major films they have planned.

With the new director Peyton Reed in place while Ant-Man was still being finished, and it seemed more big name Hollywood actors were still being added into the movie at that stage; what seemed to be almost a total production mess of hoped for but eventual comic-book big screen accident was somehow still coming to be some kind of actual film.

Now at this stage, we have  a new comic book inspired movie called Ant-Man starring dead-pan comedy actor Paul Rudd in the title role, unexpectedly Michael Douglas, and Evengeline Lilly among others, in what now does look to be a hopefully credible, fun and well produced film to maybe match some of the previous Marvel studio movies.

Do you think this could be the Marvel movie which will not hit all marks? After the strange mix of fast-paced action and comedy seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, perhaps this film will land all of the perfect marks in all of the right ways? Come a few weeks from now, we will see just how big the Ant-Man will be.

Do we all go into space? -Science Fiction in tv and film

This is 2015, I’ve just finished writing my new science fiction novel, now I am taking a short break to catch up with films, blogging and more; and now I am just thinking about who we see in many of these films and television shows set out in deep space.

I am sure that casting is better than it has been in the past, we have come far over the last few decades but in some ways I feel that we’re still not seeing a true depiction of the people from all walks of life and culture around us represented on screen.

How often do we see characters of Asian, Eastern background included in science fiction shows or films as part of the main cast of characters? How many lead characters might be gay or LGBT? Does it matter to the show or story?

They should not be pushed in for the sake of it, but they should also not just be omitted because it might be difficult or a challenge to include them easily.

This is something of a regular, increasing topic thankfully I believe, and we are seeing changes and gradual discussion.

Shows like the urban fantasy LOST GIRL include lesbian or bisexual characters, vampire horror drama TRUE BLOOD really explored gender regularly, and new show PENNY DREADFUL has lust and sex involving characters of all sexual orientations. But what about sci-fi?

Science fiction can tend to steer clear of sex and relationships, focusing more on technology, space exploration, alien contact. At times though, alien species in the past have been metaphors for minority races, and racial tensions explored as seen in Star Trek and Alien Nation among other shows.

Often these days some ask about the lack of black actors in big lead roles. Are many just not interested in science fiction work, or does it come down to the writing and casting?

What I might be considering here overall, are thoughts about real potential future space travel and exploration-which countries might explore the known planets around us first or who the successful teams of astronauts might be comprised of and where they may come from?

Are space ship crews and starfleet members always going to be simply American?

Five Fascinating Facts about J. G. Ballard

Possibly the most important and significant UK author of the last century…

Interesting Literature

Interesting facts about the life and books of J. G. Ballard

1. When they rejected J. G. Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash, one publisher remarked that the author was ‘beyond psychiatric help’. Known for exploring unusual and controversial human impulses and their relationship to modernity and technology, Ballard said that everything he wrote was inspired by his early childhood and teenage experiences in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai in the early 1940s. His most popular novel, Empire of the Sun (1984), is about these early years which showed him the ‘pathology’ underlying modern life.  In 1987 Steven Spielberg successfully filmed Empire of the Sun. David Cronenberg directed Crash in 1996; the novel, and film, focus on people who get a sexual thrill out of car accidents. A film adaptation of his 1975 novel High Rise, starring Tom Hiddleston, is set to be released soon. Ballard also provided the story for the…

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Movie Review: ‘Ex Machina’

Funk's House of Geekery

ex machina 2Plot:  Programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnal Gleeson) works for Bluebook, the most used search engine in the entire world.  When he’s chosen by reclusive Bluebook founder Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) to spend a week at his secluded estate in the mountains, Caleb is intrigued.  Soon he discovers that Nathan is working on something even more important than a search engine–artificial intelligence.  Moreover, Nathan wants Caleb to help prove that A.I. Ava (Alicia Vikander) is the real deal.  But are Nathan’s intentions truly altruistic or do secret, darker motives drive him?

Review:  Somewhere inside Ex Machina is a fantastic movie waiting to be unleashedIt’s just too bad director Alex Garland and company weren’t able to realize Ex Machina‘s full potential.  Uneven pacing, sub par acting (especially by Gleeson), and a plot-line so slow to develop that it challenges R2D2 traversing an oil slick covered glacier for deliberateness, Ex Machina proves a science fiction…

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TERMINATOR GENISYS-THEY’RE BACK, SOMETIMES

Right here in the UK, I think it looks like the new movie sequel/prequel/reboot (whatever) Terminator Genisys is due in our cinemas in around three weeks from now. I’ll be honest, it has taken me a long while to develpe much interest in this movie even while being a big fan of the Terminator franchise.

When first pieces of news and rumours started to slip out around social media about this new Terminator film, I like many people was quickly skeptical and jaded. Let’s face it-look at the previous two movies which never totally convinced or satisfied fans.

Many of us much just think ‘why are they doing this yet again, if not just for some easy cash?’

There can often be various reasons why we get more dumb predictable sequels to well loved or classic movies. We had very high hopes for Terminator 3, but it fell to pieces half way through even while it did have some very cool stunts and scenes early on.

A few years passed, with more videogames, comics and stories inspired by the Terminator movies and suggesting yet again what fans might really like to see on screen but never had. When the next new sequel did arrive, it actually seemed like we might just have been getting what made sense and what we all wanted for a long time.

Terminator:Salvation came with huge style, set in the future times of John Connor and the robot wars. There were again some very great stunts, great robots machines designed and even some of the script was fairly good but mostly (for me personally) the acting was almost overall dreadful and some it just was not how it should have been, as if it had not really had the good final draft it needed before being filmed.

So now in 2015, we will have Terminator Genisys, and this time it all goes crazy. Oh yes, in perhaps seeing how audiences reacted to T-Salvation, we are getting yet another flip around take on the terminator tale, this time the origin story of the first film being possibly mixed up with more alternate future changes returning onto our present time.

Now in this movie, Sarah Connor does reappear but she is much younger, and we get John Connor as well-but possibly not how we might hope or expected him to be. Yes it seems the filmmakers are taking a good few bold chances with this one, maybe it is because the recognize that there is a strong loyal fanbase waiting to see something intelligent and challenging done with the Terminator story.

Is that what we are getting this time? Should we even get our hopes up this time?

If you have seen the trailers for Terminator Genisys so far, you might, like many people have been thinking…WHAT…THE…HECK? JUST…WHAT??

Does it all looks quickly far too confusing, or was it the fact that they seemed to have just taken all of the bits and pieces we know and like from the Terminator films and squeezed them in, with some slightly cringe worthy changes.

At this point, does the spin-off tv series Sarah Connor Chronicles look much better than this? (That series was of course, very, very cool.)

Like many modern big budget Hollywood trailers, did they show us far too much too soon?

As most of us still see Terminator 2 as the peak of this science fiction movies series, and while Salvation did give us something we had been waiting to see for many years still something was missing. In a few weeks, we will see just how far is too far this time for the Terminator movies.

SENSE8- Challenging small screen shows of our times

It has been released now, and a good many are watching or have even possibly seen all of it now. Are you watching it? Do you intend to do so? Will you aim to watch it all in one long sitting? This is yet another new series for Netflix to be offered to viewers all in one go or episodes one at a time as usual, depending upon preference. As many of us move to watching box sets, recording series and binge-watching for hours at a time in evenings or in spare time, is this shaping the way stations and producers create new shows like this? Has the viewing experience had a certain clear influence on the making of a show such as SENSE8? I know I myself have recently been watching parts of new series such as Continuum and Penny Dreadful two or three episodes at a time to catch up, days or a week or two after the show was first show. Sense8 as a show was written and partly created by the well-known Wachowski pair who gave the world The Matrix (and those questionable follow-up sequels) and since then some hit-and-miss films of varied quality. They have often if not actually always been very bold and adventurous in continually making at least creatively challenging and unusual movies, usually very visually striking and pushing CGI and film-making technology. So how are the Wachowskis taking this sensibilty to the small screen? From the short but various trailers I have seen, it seems that they are transfering their recognizable visual style fairly well and the concept seems like it could have some good things going for it. It seems a little similar possibly to two or three other fairly recent sci-fi tv shows in the last couple of years, but we know that a big draw with this is going be people interested in seeing the Wachowskis do television. So will you be watching? After the not too amazing response to their most recent and also science fiction movie Jupiter Ascending, should the filmmaking pair really have gone ahead with more sci-fi, even if in this different format and scale? In a short while we will be seeing the reaction, and I also have viewed some episodes so I come back to this soon. I do hope that it will be a good show, as I am a fan of their work when it does work well it can still be spectacular.