"No less a critic than C. S. Lewis has described the ravenous addiction that these magazines inspired; the same phenomenon has led me to call science fiction the only genuine consciousness-expanding drug." Arthur C. Clarke

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G.I. JOE: RETALIATION Release Delayed

I had included G.I. JOE: RETALIATION in my list of Top Ten Science Fiction Films of 2012, based on the original release date of June 29.  Despite the first trailer being released with Super Bowl XLVI last February, Paramount announced that they would be pushing back the release until March 29, 2013.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

Based on reports, the primary two reasons were to add 3D and to reshoot scenes with Channing Tatum.  The producers have apparently written out Tatum’s character’s early death and had to reshoot scenes with Dwayne Johnson, because in test screenings their relationship was praised.

I agree with the decision to make that rewrite.  Keeping Tatum’s character would strengthen the connection between the first and second movies, as opposed to having two movies based on the same premise but with different characters/stars.  I think this will make this upcoming movie better, and to be honest, this franchise needs all the help it can get.  If this movie tanks like the first G.I. JOE film did, the franchise might be done.

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Top Science Fiction Films of 2012 #1: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Number One on my list of films (as well as many other people’s) for the remainder of 2012 is the final Christopher Nolan Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.  It only makes sense that this film would have an even greater level of anticipation than it’s predecessor in the series, The Dark Knight, which was especially fueled by the tragic saga of Heath Ledger, who overdosed on prescription drugs just a few months before the film’s theatrical release.  The film grossed just over $1 billion at the box office, which is the twelfth-highest mark of any film in worldwide sales to date.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Dark Knight Rises begins with Batman on the run from Gotham City Police after taking responsibility for the crimes of the late Harvey Dent to protect Dent’s reputation.  It is eight years later when Bruce Wayne/Batman returns to Gotham.  Now, the villains taking over the city are revealed to be Bane and Selina Kyle (Catwoman).

The film, directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer, returns Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucious Fox.  Bane is played by Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle.  Secondary characters include Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, and Matthew Modine.  Many members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have cameo roles as the Gotham Rogues football team.  I would like to point out (as a side note) that this cast includes four (4) Oscar winners (Bale, Caine, Cotillard, and Freeman), an impressive feat for a big-budget action film.

One clue to at least a secondary plotline is the revelation that Liam Neeson has a cameo role, and while it is unclear whether it is in flashbacks or not, the importance to the plot remains.

English: Image of the Batwing filming in Pitts...

English: Image of the Batwing filming in Pittsburgh in the The Dark Knight Rises.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There has been some speculation among fans as to if Bruce Wayne will even survive this final film.  This theory comes about from a short conversation in the trailer between Batman and Selina Kyle:

Kyle: “You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.”

Wayne: “Not everything.  Not yet.”

Nolan was reluctant to return for this third film and killing off Batman would put an end to the series and alleviate any pressure on him to return for a fourth.  As well, Bale has said that this is his last film as Batman, and he is becoming typecast in the role, which is never good for an actor.  Nolan has said: “The key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story…rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story…Unlike the comics, these things don’t go on forever…”  That sounds like not only the end for the story but the end of Bruce Wayne.

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R.I.P Ray Bradbury

Beloved science fiction author Ray Bradbury died last night at the age of 91.  Bradbury is most famous for his novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953), one of the seminal works of the science fiction genre.

Photo of Ray Bradbury.

Photo of Ray Bradbury. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The New York Times obituary says that Bradbury sold over 8 million books in 36 languages.  His other well-known works include The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, and The Illustrated Man.

Awards Bradbury received include the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, an Emmy, the World Fantasy Award life achievement, is a Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master, an SF Hall of Fame Living Inductee, received the Prometheus Award, and also received a special citation from The Pulitzer Board as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In his honor have been named an asteroid, an award for science fiction, a crater on the Moon, and a park in Waukegan, Illinois, his birthplace.

Bradbury published his first story in 1938, started to write full-time in 1942 and, as he said, wrote every day from that day until his death.  He should be an example for all of us young writers to work hard and persevere.

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New PROMETHEUS Trailers

The new trailers for Ridley Scott‘s PROMETHEUS are incredibly good, and I wanted to share them.  I cannot wait to see this movie when it comes out on the 8th: Here is my preview.

And if you really want to, this is the first PROMETHEUS trailer in slow motion:

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Commercial Space: SpaceX’s DRAGON

The maiden launch of the SpaceX Dragon on the ...

The maiden launch of the SpaceX Dragon on the Falcon 9. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the first time, a privately-owned shuttle has docked at the International Space Station in a test run on May 25, and making a water landing on the 31st.  The Dragon capsule is being developed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to carry cargo both to and from the ISS, with funding from NASA.

The capsule was unmanned, carrying cargo from the space station when it landed in the Pacific off the coast of Baja California last Thursday.  Eventually, SpaceX officials say, the capsule will be able to hold up to seven astronauts on their way to the ISS or back home to Earth, but will probably not carry astronauts until 2015.

COTS 1 Dragon recovery

COTS 1 Dragon recovery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is important that the capsule survived in its fall back down and not only up.  The Dragon is alone among automated cargo capsules worldwide that does not burn up in its fall back to the Earth, which is obviously necessary when bringing cargo back, especially astronauts.

This is a very important step in the current effort to replace the newly-retired space shuttle program, which are becoming museum pieces as we speak.

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Top Sci-Fi Films of 2012 #2: THE AVENGERS

I finally saw The Avengers a few days ago, so I figured i would wait to write my preview of the film until after I had actually seen it, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.  I had meant to see it very soon after it’s release, but with finals and a move it did not happen so quickly.

The Avengers (2012 film)

The Avengers (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Avengers is the culmination film of the Marvel Universe, bringing together superheroes from previous individual films as well as those not seen before.  It essentially follows Nick Fury as he puts together this team, in spite of the government’s reluctance to put these heroes together under their watch, to fight Loki and his supernatural army from taking over the Earth.

It is the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following Iron Man (2008)The Incredible Hulk (2008)Iron Man 2 (2010)Thor (2011)and Captain America: The First Avenger.

The film is directed by Joss Whedon, who brings his brand of space-opera-type science fiction and humor, very welcome in my opinion in a film such as this.

The team is comprised of Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), along with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).  Loki is played by Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg reprises his role as Phil Coulson, and Cobie Smulders plays another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.  Stellan Skarsgard and Gweneth Paltrow reprise their roles from previous Marvel Universe movies as well.

What I liked about the plot was that it incorporated parts of the plots of previous films in the story problem.  Loki, the villain of Thor, is the instigator, and the power is supplied by the Tesseract, the cube with infinite power that the Red Skull found and tried to use in Captain America.  With this power, Loki commands an army to take over the Earth, his army arriving through a portal opened to another world by the Tesseract.

Under Whedon’s guidance, this film has taken the Marvel Universe another step forward, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing A-list actors participate in an ensemble film, each taking a back seat at points.  I look forward to many more films by Marvel, as I am sure many of you do.

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Top 10 Science Fiction Films of 2012 #3: SKYFALL

Coming out in the UK on October 26th is Skyfall, the twenty-third James Bond film.  I include it in the science fiction genre because of the technology aspect that has become integrated into the series over the last fifty years.

The film returns stars Daniel Craig and Judi Dench as Bond and M, respectively.  The rest of the cast is dominated by Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the primary villain, Ralph Fiennes as a government agent, and Naomie Harris as the primary love interest.  The film is directed by Sam Mendes, director of American BeautyJarhead, and Revolutionary Road.

Skyfall, according to what has been released so far, centers around Bond’s relationship with M after certain facts about her past are revealed.  MI6 is attacked and Bond is challenged with the response.

Having been a lifelong Bond fan, I will definitely go see Skyfall as soon as I can when it comes out in the United States sometime in November.

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