Last week I wrote about the first two books in Pocket Books’ re-launch of the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel series, set after the final canonical on-screen Next Gen adventure, the (truly terrible) film Star Trek: Nemesis. Here are my thoughts on books two and three of that re-launch!
Before Dishonor – when the early books in the TNG relaunch were originally announced, I was especially excited because it seemed that Pocket Books had assigned some of their best heavy-hitters as authors of the first wave of books. Some of the very best long-time Trek authors (Michael Jan Friedman, J.M. Dillard, and Peter David) were being mixed with some of the very best of the newer Trek authors (Keith R.A. DeCandido and Christopher L. Bennett). I was particularly excited for Peter David’s book, as Mr. David has always been one of my very favorite Star Trek authors. (I mentioned in my last post that his magnificent Borg novel, Vendetta, might be my very favorite Star Trek novel of all time.). So I was very eager to read Mr. David’s book in this new TNG series.
Unfortunately, like the books that preceded it, Before Dishonor is rather a mixed bag. There is a lot that I love about it. As always, Mr. David’s prose is fantastic, very funny and very compelling. I love that aspects of the book’s story are intended as a direct sequel to the events of Vendetta. (Not only do we return to the great idea that the planet-killer seen in the Original Series episode “The Doomsday Machine” was originally designed as a weapon against the Borg, but the book also refences the storyline in Vendetta in which Geordi tried and failed to restore a rescued Borg woman to her individuality. (It’s a story that is very similar in essence to what would, years later, be told on Voyager with Seven of Nine, just with a much less happy ending. By the way, I have heard Peter David say that people at Paramount originally nixed his idea because they insisted that there was no such thing as female Borg, a ludicrous idea that Mr. David humorously references in this book.) I love that Mr. David involved Spock in the story. And I love love love the very controversial fate given to Admiral Janeway. I could rant for days on how poorly Janeway was characterized on Star Trek: Voyager. I love the idea of a woman captain, but I felt that Janeway as written was unbelievably arrogant and blindly stubborn. I love that in this book her hubris finally catches up to her. I know that Voyager fans were upset, but I loved it.
So what doesn’t … [continued]
I love Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie from 1978, and for much of my life I thought Superman II was even better. (My preference has swung back slightly, in recent years, towards the original film.) Those two movies were a huge part of my childhood, and more than any Superman comic book I have ever read (and I have read a lot), they shaped in my mind the quintessential depiction of Superman. I stand by my love of Bryan Singer’s homage to the Donner films, 2006′s Superman Returns (has it been that long since Superman Returns came out??? Crazy!!), and I remain bitterly disappointed that we never saw a sequel to that film.
I was excited, though, by the news that Zack Snyder would be directing a new Superman film, working with the Batman Begins team of Christopher Nolan (serving as producer) and writer David S. Goyer. I love both 300 and Watchmen (particularly the super-long Ultimate Cut of Watchmen) — I think they’re both terrific adaptations of very difficult-to-adapt comic books — and so I was eager to see what Mr. Snyder could do when playing in the bigger sandbox of the Superman mythos. I suspected he could bring a new energy to the depiction of Superman on film, and his involvement certainly promised an increase in the action quotient (something that even I admit was sorely lacking in Superman Returns).
My enthusiasm for the Superman reboot dipped when I heard that they were planning on re-telling Superman’s origin. That seemed silly to me, as Superman has probably the most famous origin of any comic book character ever. Why waste time re-telling, yet again, an origin story that everyone on the planet already knows? Just cut to the chase and tell a great Superman story! My enthusiasm grew again when the first trailers for Man of Steel began to surface. I was dazzled by the visual spectacle, and really started to get excited for what seemed to be a very different depiction of Superman on film.
I just left an IMAX screening of Man of Steel, and I am delighted to report that Mr. Snyder and his team have delivered on that promise. They have threaded the difficult needle of delivering a dramatic reinterpretation of the character and his origin, while at the same time presenting us with a depiction that is, without question, iconically Superman.
The film opens with Jor-El on Krypton, and we spend a lot more time on Krypton than I would have expected. I loved every second, and almost wish we had a whole film set on Krypton, chronicling the breaking of the friendship between Jor-El and Zod. (The idea that Jor-El and Zod … [continued]
OK, this is the greatest thing I have seen in a long time (BUT BEWARE SPOILERS IF YOU ARE NOT UP TO DATE WITH GAME OF THRONES!!!)
I love The Princess Bride!
I’ve completely lost faith in M. Night Shyalaman over the past decade, but that being said I still think Unbreakable is his best film, and I would so love for the long-rumored sequel to someday happen. The one flaw with Unbreakable, in my mind, is that the story feels incomplete — it feels like the first act of a larger story. So every time Mr. Shyamalan talks about a possible sequel, I am happy.
So this is interesting: in the months after the success of Skyfall, there was a lot of talk that Bond 24 and 25 (the next two Bond films) would be two connected films. That was denied by the Bond producers. But amidst the recent news that Skyfall Director will be returning for the next Bond film, the 24th, comes this rumor that Mr. Mendes is going to commit to helm the 25th Bond film as well! I love the idea of a two-part Bond film, that would be super-cool if that happens.
Zack Snyder (director of Man of Steel) and Bruce Timm (mastermind behind Batman: The Animated Series) are collaborating on a Superman short film in honor of Superman’s 75th anniversary? Awesome!
I have Superman because of my huge anticipation for The Man of Steel (which I hope to see this weekend!!), so now’s as good a time as any to read this terrific piece looking back at Superman II! That film was a HUGE part of my childhood…!!
There’s been a lot of rumors flying in recent weeks about the inclusion of the character of Quicksilver in both Fox’s upcoming X-Men movie, Days of Future Past, as well as the Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ upcoming Avengers 2. It will be fascinating to see how this all shakes out!
(Speaking of Days of Future Past — Nixon! Love it!)
And with that, my friends, I wish you all a great weekend. I’ll be back next week with my thoughts on Man of Steel, season four of Arrested Development, and cartoons making fun of Star Trek Into Darkness. Hope to see you all back here soon!… [continued]
I came in very late to this party. Beginning back in 2004 with Green Lantern: Rebirth, writer Geoff Johns began weaving an epic outer space saga in the pages of Green Lantern. Not only did Mr. Johns completely revitalize and re-energize the Green Lantern comic book (returning original modern-day Green Lantern Hal Jordan to comic-book life and reinstating the character as the central focus of the Green Lantern comic book), but he radically reinvented and expanded the Green Lantern mythos in a way that I can’t imagine ever being undone. For years, readers of Green Lantern accepted the book’s premise that the space-faring peace-keeping group the Green Lantern Corps were powered by the green energy of will, but Mr. Johns expanded that idea to suggest an entire emotional spectrum — different colors representing different emotions, which each color having a ring-bearing corps of its own. This is such a clever idea, and has quickly become so accepted in the DCU that I can’t ever imagine that concept not being forever linked with Green Lantern moving forward.
I had read about what Mr. Johns and his talented artistic collaborators (among them Ethan Van Sciver, Carlos Pacheco, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Doug Mahnke) had been doing with Green Lantern for years, but I never actually read any of those comics until the relaunch of the DCU with the “New 52″ universe-wide shake-up. Green Lantern #1 was one of the many new DCU issue #1′s that I sampled, but after the dust cleared, Green Lantern was one of the very few new DC titles that I continued to read. (I also stuck with Green Lantern‘s sister title, Green Lantern Corps, as well as Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman.) I was immediately hooked into the story (that began in the re-numbered Green Lantern #1), which launched with the intriguing notion that villain Sinestro had somehow again become a Green Lantern, while Hal had been booted out of the corps and was now stuck on Earth, powerless. A few issues into the re-launched series, I decided that I wanted to start from the beginning and catch up on everything that I had missed.
And so began a year-long re-reading project, in which I tracked down the collected editions of Mr. Johns’ lengthy run. I wrote about this Green Lantern saga repeatedly here on the site. In my first post, I discussed Green Lantern: Rebirth, the mini-series that re-launched Green Lantern, and the first several story-lines of the relaunched Green Lantern comic book. Then I wrote about The Sinestro Corps War, the massive crossover event in which GL’s nemesis Sinestro forged his own corps — using the yellow power of fear. This … [continued]
The first trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has just been released, and it is pretty terrific:
Beorn! Bard! Legolas!
Barrels out of Bond!
It seems like the third season of Game of Thrones began just a few minutes ago and now, ten pretty terrific episodes later, it’s over and the long, long wait until next spring and the next season begins.
Overall, season 3 of Game of Thrones was another phenomenal season of this spectacular show. I have found the first three seasons of the show to be remarkable consistent in style and quality. If you really made me list my favorites, I’d say that season 1 still remains my favorite season of the show, with season 3 coming in just a hair better than season 2. (By the way, friends, as I often do, I will try to avoid any outright spoilers in this review, but I can’t avoid discussing certain plot twists when discussing the season, so please be warned. There be spoilers here!!)
In season 2, my two biggest complaints were how uninteresting I found the stories of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. I had loved both characters in season 1, but in season 2 it felt like both of their stories were just treading water. Their stories felt totally disconnected from all of the other story-lines in the show, and I found it hard to really care about what was happening to them. I was pleased that, in season 3, both characters were given far better story-lines. I loved watching the evolution of Jon Snow’s relationship with the wildling Ygritte. The actress playing Ygritte (Rose Leslie) is dynamite, and I felt Jon Snow’s character came to life when paired up with her. Suddenly I cared about Jon Snow again, because I was invested in his relationship with this girl. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, I was also more interested in Deanerys again, mostly because they managed to incorporate some great visual effects sequences and some fun action into her story. I loved getting to see her dragons wreak havoc in episode 4, “And Now His Watch is Ended” when they destroyed Astopor, and I also loved getting to see Sir Jorah, Grey Worm, and Daario kick some ass at Yunkai in episode 9, “The Rains of Castamere.” I also loved the return of Ser Barristan (last seen in season 1 being unceremoniously shown the door by Cersei and Joffrey).
Speaking of “The Rains of Castamere,” that shocking episode is, of course, the heart of season 3, and I suspect one’s feeling about that episode will affect one’s over-all judgment of the season. The Red Wedding (which I had heard mentioned, but about which I remained, thankfully, totally unspoiled) arrived and quite a few of the show’s most beloved characters were brutally massacred. It was an incredibly shocking, brutal turn … [continued]
The latest DC Universe animated direct-to-DVD/blu-ray film has arrived: Superman Unbound. Like many of these DCU animated DVDs have been, this new film is an adaptation of a great story from the comics — in this case, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Jon Sibal’s reinvention of Brainaic that ran in Action Comics #866-870 in 2008.
Mr. Johns’ story in those issues of Action Comics is terrific. It manages to be a very new-reader-friendly story that reinvents both the villain Brainiac as well as the cast of characters surrounding Clark and Lois at the Daily Planet in a way that makes them new and fresh, and not overly bogged-down by continuity… and yet Mr. Johns’ story demonstrates a detailed grasp of DCU continuity, as Mr. Johns references previous Brainiac appearances and the backstory of characters such as Cat Grant, he features General Zod in the story’s prologue, and he even finds a way to clarify the often confusing, tangled histories of the Kryptonian cities Kandor and Argo (both of which somehow survived the destruction of Krypton and both of which have been used, someone inter-changably, in various non-comic-book Superman stories).
And Gary Frank’s art (inked by Jon Sibal) is magnificent, possibly one of my top two or three favorite renditions of Superman ever. Mr. Frank uses Christopher Reeves’ face as his model for Superman/Clark Kent, and it is wonderful to behold. (And I was pleased to see that Mr. Frank drew other artistic cues from Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie, such as the crystalline-look of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.) Mr. Frank can draw super-hero fisticuffs as well as he can draw a meeting in the Daily Planet offices. I love his design-skills (his newly-redesigned robotic Brainaic minions are fantastic) and I find his detailed line-work to be quite beguiling.
Sadly, this new animated DVD/blu-ray adaptation is a total disappointment. Geoff Johns’ story has been stripped of all danger and excitement. What has been left is a completely generic, bland Superman adventure, far inferior to the previous Superman/Brainiac stories we saw years ago in Bruce Timm’s Superman: The Animated Series and the follow-up Justice League series.
Geoff Johns’ story depicted a newly fierce, dangerous Brainiac, whose menacing robotic minions had no compunction about brutally murdering the inhabitants of unsupecting planets. When Superman finally makes in on board Brainiac’s ship and encounters the true Brainiac at the ship’s core, it feels like a moment of true threat and danger for the Man of Steel. Sadly none of that menace is present in the animated adaptation. The awesome prologue of the comic story, with General Zod on Krypton, has been replaced by a generic earth-bound incident in which Supergirl and Superman stop some terrorists … [continued]
Well, Star Trek Into Darkness was a disaster (click here for my full review), but luckily there are still a lot of incredibly devoted, creative Star Trek fans all over the world keeping the fandom of Star Trek alive.
I have written a lot on this site about the amazing fan-produced episodes Star Trek: Phase II (formerly Star Trek: New Voyages). Over the past decade, they have been producing incredible full-length Star Trek episodes, intended to be the fourth season that never was of Star Trek the Original Series, featuring the continuing adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the crew of the Enterprise. These Phase II episodes haven’t been perfect, but boy have I been impressed with the extraordinarily high quality of their productions — with amazing special effects, costumes, sets, lighting, and props, these episodes really look and feel like professionally produced episodes of Star Trek, and each episode seems to get better and better. (Here are links to my reviews of their last two episodes: 2011′s Enemy: Starfleet! and 2012′s The Child.)
Last year, another group of Trek fans, made up of several who had been associated with Phase II, as well as several associated with another series of Trek fan-made films, Star Trek Farragut, announced their intention to produce their own new series of Star Trek episodes entitled Star Trek Continues. As with Phase II, Star Trek Continues was announced as an attempt to realize the never-made fourth season of the original Star Trek series, featuring new full-length Star Trek episodes featuring Kirk and co.
After releasing three short vignettes (of varying quality — I loved the first one that picked up seconds after the last shot of what turned out to be the final classic Trek episode, “Turnabout Intruder,” but I was not wowed by the other two), Star Trek Continues has released its first full-length episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity.” It is fantastic. (Watch it here!)
First of all, let me say that I am suitably impressed with how quickly the Star Trek Continues folks were able to produce and release this episode! I am loathe to criticize the wonderful Phase II productions, but there are episodes that they shot (and fans like me started reading about and anticipating) YEARS ago that still have not been completed and released. Yet Star Trek Continues produced and released this episode in less than a year. That’s fantastic — I really hope they are able to keep up that pace!!
“Pilgrim of Eternity” picks up the story from the original series Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” in which the Enterprise crew encountered what appeared to be the Greek god Apollo on … [continued]