Batman: 75 Years Old & More Popular Than Ever

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Batman is celebrating his 75th anniversary this year so let’s take a look at why this character has such an enduring legacy. Batman is a very versatile character that seems to be at home in any era. He got started in 1939 during the Depression and has gone through many changes during the years. One just has to look at his comic books through the decades, the Batman TV series of the ’60s and The Dark Knight film of 2008 to see how easily and successful Batman can be and reflect the times that he is existing on. This means he appeals to a wide audience and will continue to attract fans and not become irrelevant regardless of whether he appears in either comics or movies. Another trait that makes the Caped Crusader interesting is the fact that he has no superpowers.

All of his strengths and arsenal are the result of years of training and brain power. He does not have the luxury of a mutation or any outside force to give him his powers. Batman batman 2does it the hard way. This means he can be more vulnerable, but also somewhat more relatable as well. This doesn’t mean that he is not just some wag with a cheap costume. He uses his many resources to make himself into a first class fighter and detective with a formidable arsenal (like the always cool Batmobile or Batwing) to fight crime.

Any discussion of Batman’s popularity must also include his rogues gallery of villains, some of the most interesting in the genre. Obviously the best one is his nemesis the Joker, the insane killer clown. Who wouldn’t be afraid of that? Not to mention other classic characters like The Penguin, the Riddler, his former ally Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face and his sometime love interest Catwoman. All are in their own right fascinating characters who are in some ways as popular as Batman himself. These iconic characters all show up in highly successful comics, movies and video games that are some of the best to have been created.

The 1989 Batman movie was a phenomenon that foreshadowed the super hero craze of today, which includes the critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy. He is so popular that he will be featured in the upcoming sequel to Man Of Steel and the eventual Justice League film. The Caped Crusade has also conquered the world of animation with many excellent animated series like Batman Beyond and Beware The Batman.

ccccIn regards to other media, the Batman: Arkham video game series for the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii U and soon for next gen systems is widely regarded as one of the best to feature a super hero that has ever been created. These include Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Batman: Arkham Knight. All of this illustrates why Batman is still, after 75 years, a very popular and relevant character that will continue to entertain audiences for years and decades to come.

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New Trailer For X-Men: Days Of Future Past

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If anyone is tired of seeing yet another trailer or footage for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 can revel in the new trailer 20th Century Fox released today for X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

One thing noticeable about this trailer from the teaser released last year are the Sentinels! We get some interesting glimpses into the mutant-hunting robotic nightmares that plague the X-Men. Another thing is that we get to see much more action shots, which should delight those actionphiles that need a further reason to see the newest X-Men film. While Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) fans should be happy since he is obviously one of the major characters in the latest X-Men film, it’s clear that Professor X (Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy) and Magneto (Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender) are prominent characters, too. They seem to be center of the conflict going on in the latest trailer. OTH, the super-fast mutant Quicksilver (Evan Peters) still looks bleech.

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There’s the feeling from watching the footage is that most of the film will probably take place in the 1970s rather than the post-apocalyptic future seen from at the trailer’s beginning. Regardless, in Bryan Singer’s hands and based on what’s been shown so far, X-Men: Days Of Future Past is one of the must-see films for this summer.

Waldermann Rivera

Celebrating Farscape, Part Two

castThe beloved sci-fi TV series Farscape celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. It was a true space opera with epic and inventive storylines and colorful characters. Farscape starred Ben Browder as John Crichton, an astronaut from Earth that got sucked into a wormhole and was stranded on the other side of the universe. Crichton quickly made friends and foes as he first struggled to survive, then tried to find a way to get back home. One such person he met during his travels would become the most important person in his life.

A Star-Crossed Affair

sunOut of all the exotic alien beings John  Crichton met in his spacefaring adventures, the one he connected with the most was Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black). In a clever bit of irony, the show’s creators had her antagonistic alien race, the Sebaceans, look exactly human. Coming from the harsh and militaristic Peackekeeper culture, Aeryn was disdainful toward Crichton, who she saw as weak. Actually she was hostile towards him because she blamed him for being stuck with the Moya crew, who were escaped convicts. She was part of the Peacekeeper force trying to re-capture Moya , a living ship, in the pilot episode, but her fighter ship was accidently pulled into Moya’s docking bay. Though she tried escaping, Aeryn was unable to return to her people because she was considered contaminated from her prolonged exposure to aliens, including Crichton. Eventually she became part of the crew and one of Moya’s fiercest defender. Crichton and her began to feel something for one another but tried to deny them. In the time-travel yarn “The Locket” the idea of them having a relationship was explored when old, future versions of themselves were shown to have been in love with each other.

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However, things weren’t so clear cut with them. For many episodes there was a “will they or won’t they” aspect as they bickered with each other and had other relationships. In the second season finale “Die Me, Dichotomy” Crichton admitted his love for her when it seemed that she died. Spoiler: She did die but was resurrected by fellow crewmate Zhaan (Virginia Hey). Things took a strange twist in the third season when Crichton was duplicated by a mad alien scientist (“Eat Me”). During that time the crew of Moya was split up with one Crichton remaining onboard Moya, while the other took off with Aeryn onboard Talyn, Moya’s offspring spaceship. That Crichton and Aeryn fully developed their romance and he actually found a way to return home, but tragically died at the end of the two-part episode “Infinite Possibilities”.

Meanwhile, the Crichton on Moya was unaware of all this and was expecting a happy reunion with her when the two ships finally made their rendezvous (“Fractures”). Instead he found a heartbroken woman who was unable to reciprocate his feelings. As far as he was concerned they were back to square one. This constant back and forth would’ve been tiresome to watch in your standard TV show but this was Farscape; it was provocative and scintillating.

Always In His Mind

John Crichton had an additional emotional bond with another alien, but in the other extreme. He had a burning hatred towards the creepy Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), who first appeared in the episode scorpius and chick“Nerve” and quickly became the main villain in the series. Clad in a thick leather suit and tight-fitting cowl, Scorpius had a cadaverous appearance with his pasty white, scaly skin, bloodshot eyes and short, dark teeth. He was a cold and calculating person who spoke in an unexpectedly eloquent and sophisticated tone and who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Scorpius is one of the greatest sci-fi villains and that is due to several factors which include Pygram’s performance and the character’s back story.

As explained in the episode “Incubator” the alien is a hybrid resulting from when a humanoid Sebacean female (who make up the Peacekeepers) was raped by a reptilian Scarran. When his mother died at childbirth, Scorpius was raised harshly by his Scarran caretakers who looked down at him as a halfbreed to be tortured and experimented on. After reaching adulthood, Scorpius escaped and joined the Peacekeepers with the goal of defeating the Scarrans. It should be noted that the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans were bitter rivals constantly on the verge of war. This episode went a long hidden memoryway to explaining Scorpius’ motives and the revelations added more dimension to his character. The viewer understood why he was so ruthless and brutal and why he was so determined to get Crichton. When he is introduced in the two-part episode “Nerve”/ “The Hidden Memory”, he learns from torturing a captured Crichton that the astronaut has buried knowledge in his subconscious on how to create wormholes. Crichton unknowingly received this information by advanced aliens he met in the episode “A Human Reaction”. From then on, Scorpius became an alien version of Javert, who was obsessed with capturing his very own Jean Valjean.  Scorpius was desperate to gain Crichton’s buried knowledge in order to construct weapons and use the wormhole-based weaponry against the superior Scarrans.

An interesting development was that before Crichton escaped Scorpius’ clutches in their first encounter, Scorpius implanted a sort of neural clone into Crichton’s mind. During times of great stress or danger, an imaginary version of Scorpius would appear to Crichton, usually as part of bizarre hallucinations. Sometimes this implant saved Crichton’s life, other times it kept him from killing Scorpius. The interactions between Crichton and “Harvey”, as he called the implant, were the highlights of many episodes. Their discussions unveiled many insights into Crichton’s character, sometimes they were humorous, other times they were poignant. Continue reading

Celebrating Farscape, Part One

farscape 3Farscape, the sci-fi TV show from the late ’90s that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, has received some attention lately and it’s quite warranted. It’s undeniably one of the very best sci-fi TV shows ever made. Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon and produced by Jim Henson Productions and Hallmark Entertainment, Farscape rivals such classics like Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica thanks to the way it presented truly alien characters and worlds and more importantly well-written scripts with complex, nuanced characters. Though it was cancelled in 2003, the show has come back to the limelight with its availability on Netflix, daily airings on the cable channel Pivot and with recent news that one of the show’s writers (Justin Monjo) is penning a screenplay for a Farscape film.

The show starred Ben Browder who played John Crichton, an American astronaut who was testing an experimental mini-space shuttle called Farscape One. While in space, his shuttle gets sucked into a wormhole and Crichton wound up on the other side of the universe. Once there, he inadvertently joined a band of moyaescaped alien prisoners on a prison ship they commandeered called Moya that is actually alive. This gets him into trouble with the prisoners’ pursuers, the Peacekeepers, a militaristic power, who ironically enough look human. Think of them as xenophobic, intergalactic Nazis. One of them, Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) also wound up in cahoots with Crichton and the prisoners even though she’d just as soon throw them back in their cells. For most of the show’s run, Crichton and his eclectic group evaded the Peacekeepers and other foes, while he looked for a way to create a wormhole to return home. During his experiences he bonded with his reluctant alien allies, including Sun.

No Ordinary Space Hero

From the start, Farscape had an offbeat vibe to it and it started with the main character John Crichton. He easily could’ve been the typical stoic and rugged hero, but thanks to Browder’s acting chops and comedic skills, Crichton was much more than your standard space hero. He often referenced pop culture; specifically genre fare. At every opportunity he mentioned Star Wars, Star Trek, Looney Tunes and other genre classics. Actually an animated version of Star Trek’s Enterprise ship appeared in one episode as part of a hallucination he was experiencing!

It was all part of the way he dealt with the bizarreness that he experienced during his travels. Many of these references and his sometimes erratic behavior were downright hysterical and lessened the tension during many nail biting sequences. Rather than being the straight man, Crichton was the comedian who was able to see the absurdity of many situations he was stuck in.

Yet, he was heroic and often the voice of reason amongst the crew of Moya. Despite his bravery Crichton sometimes made bad calls out of good intentions. More often than not he just charged into a situation and improvised on the fly. Certainly that got him and his friends into more trouble, but he accepted responsibility and tried to make amends. These faults made him more fallible and relatable. And when it came down to it, these characteristics made Crichton someone to root for whenever he made a humorous quip and fired away with his beloved pulse pistol affectionately called Winona.

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But this didn’t mean that Crichton lacked a serious side. It was clear the humor he exhibited was to alleviate the stress he was undergoing. Crichton was obviously homesick at the start of the series and he knew returning to Earth was an impossibility, yet like a modern-day Quixote he continued looked for ways to do this. Later in the series, he realized that going home would lead to more problems and it conflicted with the life and deep relationships he established with his comrades. Often, he found himself making sacrifices for others and was rewarded with deep emotional bonds, both good and bad. Continue reading

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Unveils Its Final Episodes

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The sixth and last season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, entitled “The Lost Missions”, just premiered on Netflix. As the final season of the excellent series it’s a shortened one with 13 episodes as opposed to the usual 22. The purchase by Disney brought about the cancellation of the series and the creative team led by Dave Filoni has moved onto the upcoming series called Star Wars Rebels.

This sixth season has four story arcs which begin with a very interesting storyline about a clone trooper named Tup that suddenly attacks and kills his commanding Jedi general. His fellow clone trooper named Fives (Dee Bradley Baker) investigates anakinwhat caused this violent behavior and uncovers a conspiracy going back to the creation of the clone army in their birthplace planet Kamino and the Sith Lord Darth Sidious (Tim Curry). This story, as well as others in this season, lead directly to events in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of the Sith, which makes this season a very good send off for the show.

The next story arc involves Senator Padme Amidala (Catherine Taber) and an old flame named Clovis who gets involved with political intrigue involving the Banking Clan as well as Sith Lords Sidious and Count Dooku (Corey Burton). While this may not sound very exciting, these episodes actually show how Palpatine further consolidated his control over the Republic and also have both Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Padme questioning the nature of their secret marriage.

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The third story arc features everyone’s favorite Gungan Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) and Jedi Knight Mace Windu (Terence ‘T.C.’ Carson) trying to solve a mystery involving a planet where its spiritual leaders are disappearing and dealing with a prophecy about darkness taking over the galaxy. These two episodes were good although not quite as significant to the overall story of the Clone Wars as compared to the other arcs.

The last batch of episodes deals with the Jedi trying to find out about the murdered Jedi Sifo-Dyas and Yoda (Tom Kane) being contacted from beyond the grave by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), who shows him how he can continue to exist after death. Qui-Gon has him travel to a world that is the origin of the Force itself and face his worst fears. This references a scene in Revenge of the Sith where Yoda tells Obi-Wan Kenobi that he has discovered the secret of existing in the Force after death. It is a great way for Star Wars: The Clone Wars to end, with Yoda knowing that while the Clone Wars may end badly, there will be a way for the Jedi to continue on.

destroyerStar Wars: The Clone Wars was in the middle of production when it was cancelled, but the last season is one of the strongest in the series. The quality of these episodes shows that even at the end the writers still came up with very interesting ideas and perhaps the shortened run prevented any weaker episodes from coming up. Overall, Star Wars: The Clone Wars will go down as first rate Star Wars action and drama that did justice to its cinematic counterparts. Hopefully the upcoming Star Wars Rebels series will continue this trend.

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