Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi’ Category

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1

March 18, 2018

Released this week on disk, Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood‘s book, The Handmaid’s Tale exceeds all expectations. Why? Well first there’s the obvious: the production value swings off the charts – writing, directing, acting, costumes, set design, cinematography all outstanding. The tenor of the production brought literal chills to my body. By episode three I was curled up in a ball on the sofa. The Handmaid’s Tale might possibly be the first excellent television series I don’t suggest binging on. Let the terror settle in a bit similar to how Hulu released it – one episode per week. But the real reason I felt wrecked to my core was that this 1985 Sci-Fi novel now reads as a warning to our potential future. And not something in the distant future we need to pay heed. Instead it feels very much like the possibility of what might happen to our country if Trump walks away from the Presidency for even more greed and power leaving the executive branch shattered and ripe for Pence and his insane far-right christian cronies to take over the country once and for all declaring martial law on all of our freedoms. And by all I mean every woman, all men who don’t follow strict heteronormative behavior, people of color, the poor and disenfranchised and my own personal group – LGBTQ folk. So the creators at Hulu have done their job well scaring the shit out of me and making The Handmaid’s Tale a call to arms. Each of us is required to do what we can to keep these lunatics not only at bay, but to bury this hatred for diversity and freedom once and for all. Love truly must win in all its beautiful colors and permutations.

Shout out to a crazy great cast including Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, Amanda Brugel, Joseph Fiennes, Madeline Brewer, O-T Fagbenle, Ann Dowd (shudder), and Alexis Bledel (shattering her Rory Gilmore curse forever). Words cannot describe how visceral my reaction to The Handmaid’s Tale has been. It deserves all the praise your friends have doled out, it deserves all the awards, it’s deserves attention and it deserves to be an artistic warning to every decent human being to do everything in their power to crush this hatred and darkness in humanity once and for all. 5 out of 5.


Netflix Reboots Lost in Space

February 21, 2018

Had no idea this was happening: Netflix reboots the 1965 television series, Lost in Space. My first thought was how will they cast and write the Dr. Smith character without making him an awkward and offensive gay stereotype? No, I don’t hate fem men. And I am fine with LGBT characters being evil. But the original Dr. Smith character hearkens to a time in film and television history where gay people were either punch lines or villains. So Netflix has two words for my concern: Parker Posey. Yup, the producers turned the character on its head and made him a woman. Genius. Brilliant. And if anyone can play evil and fun simultaneously, it’s Parker Posey. Now I can’t wait to watch the reboot. Also looking forward to Toby Stephens (Cambridge Spies) as the Dad.

Lost in Space launches April 13 on Netflix.

Read Nerdist’s take on Parker Posey as Dr. Smith.
Bonus question: who is actor Toby Stephens mother? (Hint: she’s British acting royalty.)

Watch the Lost in Space trailer on YouTube.

Blade Runner 2049 (Blu-ray)

January 15, 2018

I try hard to love Sci-Fi. Novels are easier. They come in all sizes, shapes, and stripes. Hollywood’s adaptations tend to follow a set of standards I find boring and reductive. So I came to Blade Runner 2049 with my usual sense of hope mixed with dread. Luckily the film is not awful. But is it great? Definitely not. Certainly the style, the sets, the CGI, the mood of the film rockets to the top. And it’s not even the story, adapted from the Phillip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that’s mediocre. The core premise of Dick’s idea proves fascinating: what if AI were to reproduce? What would that mean for humanity? Unfortunately, the film doesn’t dig deep enough to answer any of these questions. It uses well tread Hollywood images to keep the film from being too cerebral. There are quiet, dirty, macho heroes. There are a lot of naked women. Please someone make a film with quiet, dirty, female heroes and lots of naked sexy-toy men. To the film’s credit, there are two strong female characters who unfortunately are underutilized. There are one-dimensional villains. There’s always too much violence. Why does a human have to shoot an AI in the head with a gun? Why can’t they deactivate the unit? And my biggest gripe with these colossal films – they are too damn long. Two hours and 43 minutes? Really? Did the 150 million run out before the editing crew got there? Filmmakers need to check their ego and keep these films around 90 minutes or go into episodic television work.

So in the end, did I hate Blade Runner 2049? No. Did I fall asleep and have to rewind part of it? Yes. Did I sigh over the same ole same ole? Definitely. 3 out of 5 because there are elements of the film worth experiencing. Although maybe you should just read the book.

Travelers: Season 2

January 8, 2018

Netflix continues importing the Canadian Sci-Fi comfort food show, Travelers. And boy am I happy. Season 2 finds the five travelers from the future digging deeper into their host bodies’ lives. More than one mistake is made, but of course these are humans from a world ruled by AI, so it’s almost encouraged they screw up. I love the interplay between the team. Eric McCormack holds his own as star and producer. Just as strong are his team, MacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman, and Patrick Gilmore who plays non-traveler David. Travelers proves to be the perfect winter comfort food show. Especially if you’re looking for low-key Sci-Fi with little CGI. Travelers is definitely more about the human experience. I’m up-ing my rating to a 4 out of 5. Would definitely watch this again.

Dark: Season 1

January 2, 2018

The Netflix German television series Dark dropped this season heralded to be an international take on the Stranger Things phenomenon. I’m not a fan of Stranger Things, so I came to this series assuming it would be better since it’s produced outside of the U.S. Yes, I have a bit of international snob in me. Even though Tom Tykwer is not associated with Dark, the series has a real Run Lola Run feel to it. Instead of three possible paths to an outcome, Dark imagines three time periods, 1953, 1986, and 2019 all happening in tandem with each other through time travel. Four families are affected by the disappearance of children. Dark slyly combines science with science fiction with suspense. The drama takes place in a small German town that has been home to the country’s first nuclear power plant. It’s unclear throughout the season if the disappearances are part of a possible serial killer, the power plant, or a disruption in time. I found part of the series to be fascinating, the pace and characters perfectly in tune with the horrific unfolding of events. The time travel seemed plausible. And the torrential rainstorms became their own character. I kept wondering how cold the actors must have been filming those scenes. What troubled me was the amount of characters I needed to keep track of and the difficulty in telling the teenage characters apart. They all looked too similar to me and I kept forgetting who belonged to whom. In the end, I enjoyed the series. I was able to drop in and drop out without feeling the tug of an outstanding series. I give Dark a 3.5 out of 5. Certainly the final moment made it clear they have a green light for Season 2. Perhaps not all is lost for those characters currently stuck in time periods not connected to their own world.

Alien (Blu-ray)

November 3, 2017

Rounding out my scary Halloween week movie watching, I turned back time to 1979 and caught Alien on Blu-ray. I remember being scared the first time I saw the film. Alien in 2017 reads as a very simple film with a camp monster. It harkens back to B movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon and classic films such as James Whale’s Frankenstein. Why do so many science fiction films portray characters as scrappy? Is that an American thing? It’s a trope I’m frankly tired of in a big way. Alien is worth watching for Sigourney Weaver and other cast members John Hurt and Ian Holm. Veronica Cartwright’s screaming gets on my nerves. In the end, it’s the kind of film you watch for the set designs and animation more than the story. 3.5 out of 5 for Alien.

Halloween Favorite Films and Television 2017

October 27, 2017

Twas the weekend before Halloween, and all through the blog.

Each year I repost my favorite spooky reviews: films and shows worth watching during Samhain season. Blessed be and trick or treat.

From the archives,

American Horror Story – first couple seasons are the best
The Bat – give Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead some sugar
Black Mirror – get your Sci-Fi, near future tech savvy freak show on
The Cabin in the Woods – new-ish camp classic
The Conjuring – Connecticut ghosts!
Halloween – the original
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special – can it possibly get any more camp than this?
Paranorman – genius animated film with zombies and witches centering around bullying!
Les Revenants (The Returned) – amazing two season French television ghost story.
Rosemary’s Baby – what’s not to love about a nice NYC couple living next door to a coven of witches?
The Shining – the original
True Blood – Alan Ball’s adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris

Reel Charlie spooktacular categories to peruse:
Directors – Alfred Hitchcock

Journey to the Center of the Earth

September 20, 2017

I usually love most classic films Steve Hayes recommends. This time I simply couldn’t arouse any excitement for the 1959 Jules Verne adaptation, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Not even Alan Napier in a pre-Batman’s Alfred role, Pat Boone singing, or a nearly always shirtless Peter Ronson could help me sustain interest in this sci-fi classic. I loved the silly effects, but the story snoozed me out. 2 out of 5. Next.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

August 29, 2017

So I really loved Guardians of the Galaxy so much I gave it a 4 out of 5 which is enormously generous of me for a big Hollywood blockbuster film. I came into the sequel hoping for fun and distraction from our cruel world. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 started out hopeful with some good dialogue and outstanding special effects. Soon it morphed into too many battles and the same old shtick. Even Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) and Sean Gunn (Gilmore Girls) couldn’t save this. Too bad because the franchise started out strong. Oh well, the curse of the sequel. 2 out of 5. Next.

‘Sense8’ is back in production, and the finale is going to be totally ‘epic’ (Queerty)

August 12, 2017

Has your cluster been informed yet? Sense8 is coming back for one final epic wrap-up movie. The Netflix series that was too big for just two seasons is back in production and due to release their final film in 2018. Watch an extended “thank you” video from creator Lana Wachowski, her cast and crew. Adorable clips abound. I still get chills when I think of this series. For all its imperfection and limitation it certainly did propel storytelling forward. It created a world where everyone is equal, where everyone’s voice and love are honored. Sense8 wrote the manual for the future of humanity.

Read the full article on Queerty and check out Lana’s fifteen minute video.
Check out Reel Charlie’s reviews of Sense8: Season 1, the Sense8 Christmas Special, and Sense8: Season 2.

Instead of sharing a pic of the cast or creators or a poster, I want to share two pics of my favorite supporting actors – Max Mauff who plays Felix and Michael X. Sommers who plays Bug.


Max Mauff (Felix)

Michael X. Sommers (Bug)




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