Leonard Nimoy: His Legacy Will Live Long & Prosper

rip leonard

Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock the first officer of the starship Enterprise on Star Trek, has died today at the age of 83.

Nimoy not only was renowned for portraying the stoic, emotionless Vulcan, but he was a noted film and TV director, photographer, musician and poet. Among his best known directorial pursuits were Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Three Men and a Baby. The first two films helped to increase interest in Star Trek , which led to numerous successful spinoff films and TV shows. Nimoy also capitalized on his fame and appeared in or lent his distinctive deep voice to other well received TV shows and films like Star Trek: The Animated Series, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, A Woman Called Golda, Columbo, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and The Outer Limits. He also hosted the ’70s paranormal documentary TV show In Search of…, which still has a cult following. His other prominent genre work was appearing as the enigmatic scientist Dr. William Bell in several episodes of Fringe.

But Nimoy will be best remembered for his spockportrayal of Spock. The cool and logical alien on Star Trek was an instant hit with fans and helped popularize the fledging show back in the mid ’60s. Although Star Trek only lasted three seasons, the show’s popularity grew afterwards in syndication and has become an integral part of our modern culture. A large part of merit is due to Nimoy’s performance, which garnered him Emmy nominations.

nimoyStill despite his fame, Nimoy was enigmatic about the benefits of having played Spock and feared being typecast. His ambiguous feelings led to him writing his famous autobiography I Am Not Spock. He was so ambivalent about the Spock character that he was hesitant to reprise the role when Star Trek was revived as a series of films. This was why Spock was killed off in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, since the death would allow him to have some closure with the character. However, as we all know the film was so well done and Nimoy had a positive experience while filming it, that he changed his mind and was willing to continue playing Spock. This led to him directing the next two Star Trek films, the latter being considered one of the series’ best films. He also reprised the role in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in the last two Star Trek films. By this time, he had embraced the character and realized how it helped open other opportunities for him like his directing and artistic endeavors.

goodbye spockWith his passing, we are again reminded how the past is slipping away from us being that three of the original Star Trek actors are now deceased. But his boundless legacy, which includes introducing the world to the most famous alien in sci-fi culture, will live long and prosper long far into the future.

José Soto

Advertisements

Top 10 Oscar Nominated Genre Films

GRAVITY

For those who are still griping about the Oscars and what gets nominated for Best Picture just remember that the Academy often snubs genre films.

To date only eight science district 9fiction films received the Best Picture nominations. While fantasy films have received nominations since the 1930s, only one has actually received the Oscar for Best Picture. Everyone knows that was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which some feel was a consolation prize to Peter Jackson for the body of his work.

Many of the genre films that have been nominated are still considered groundbreaking classics, especially when compared to what the films that won. Here are the top sci-fi/fantasy films that have been nominated for Best Picture and lost.

clockwork 210. A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece was a dark and disturbing look at violent youth in the near future. Even more disquieting were the rehabilitation methods to cure criminal behavior.

9. The Wizard of Oz: One of the earliest genre films to be nominated for Best Picture is an immortal classic to this day. The enduring legacy of this musical fantasy is due to its well realized characters and plotline.

oz 2

8. Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s tour de force sci-fi/space disaster film was a riveting and tense survival film featuring a terrific performance by Sandra Bullock as a stranded astronaut struggling to return to Earth.

7. It’s a Wonderful Life: Frank Capra’s immortal classic is the must-see film during Christmas and it’s no wonder. George Bailey is given a special look into how his world around him would’ve changed if he hadn’t existed. It’s still powerful to this day and a Christmas staple.

avatar sully

6. Avatar: James Cameron’s sci-fi epic about disabled veteran who gets a new alien body on another world was a stunning visual experience. A meticulously created world and dazzling special effects buttressed the film’s story of a man finding a cause and a second lease on life.

5. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Steven e,t,Spielberg’s most personal film about the bond between a young boy and a stranded alien is spiritually stirring. Sadly, by the time the awards were handed out it experienced a backlash and the supposedly more important movie Gandhi won instead.

4. District 9: This dark look at humanity’s racism extending to stranded aliens in South Africa gave audiences food for thought. It also did the impossible by turning ugly, insectoid alien creatures into sympathetic characters to root for when they faced off against human bigots.

raiders 3

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark: The true fantasy element isn’t revealed until the end, but hints of the supernatural are peppered in this Steven Spielberg/George Lucas romp that is better remembered for being an ode to the old matinee serials and one of the best action films of all time.

balrog

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: This is considered the best of the Rings trilogy and it blew away many fans’ minds with its sweeping, majestic scenes and the complex realization of Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth. It was a truly epic fantasy come to life.

luke ben1. Star Wars: One of the greatest science fiction films of all time with its ambitious scope, philosophical undercurrent and beloved characters lost out to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Come on! How narrow minded are Academy members? Apparently as narrow as an exhaust port on the Death Star. This snubbing probably best encapsulates the inane voting done by Academy members throughout the history of the awards.

Academy members have to broaden pottersville_470their horizons and be willing to look past their prejudices. They keep awarding the prizes over and over again to forgettable pieces of drek like A Beautiful Mind and Shakespeare in Love, yet wonder why so many dislike their choices or why the ratings for the shows are going down.

This list left out other genre favorites like Jaws, Inception and Toy Story 3, but these are just my personal picks. If anyone wants to add their own picks, go ahead and comment below.

Lewis T. Grove

12 Monkeys Is A Worthwhile TV Adaptation

12 monkeys

12 Monkeys is the latest sci-fi TV show from Syfy and an adaptation of the classic Terry Gilliam time travel classic film from 1995 (which itself was a remake of an obscure French short film called La jetée).

The TV show follows the same premise as the original film. Mankind has been driven nearly to extinction by a deadly virus that begins in the near future and a few decades from now, scientists send back in time a lone man to learn how the calamity started so that it can be undone. But there are many differences, many of which were done to fit a serialized TV format.

pallid man torturesThe time traveler, James Cole (Aaron Stanford), isn’t a prisoner forced to volunteer, but a drifter willingly recruited by a scientific group to undergo the temporal jumps. In the original film, when he voyaged to contemporary times the film had us guessing if he was insane. Not so here. In fact, he is quickly able to convince his present-day comrade, virologist Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) that he is a time traveler. In the course of the series, Cole and Cassandra track a doomsday cult called the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, who are responsible for unleashing the virus. That differs significantly from the film and as with these TV shows finding the cause of the virus and stopping it isn’t accomplished within two hours like in a film.

time traveler

In each episode, Cole uncovers an important facet of the virus or the army and goes back to 2043 to report his findings. Of course, this hampers the TV show because if he is successful then the virus is stopped, humanity is saved, his timeline is erased and the show ends. However, to its credit 12 Monkeys has explored the headaches of time travel and it impacts on future timeline for better or for worse. For this reason, scenes that take place in the present aren’t nearly as interesting as those set in the future. It’s a well realized post-apocalyptic future with barren and broken buildings and roving armies of scavengers. One of the best episodes to date called “Atari” largely took place in the future and explored Cole’s tortured past.

2043

The piecemeal revelation that Cole wasn’t exactly a good person in the past is a good twist and makes him a more interesting character. It’s fascinating to see some of his morally questionable acts and why he decided to help change the future in the episodes. A lot of that has to do with his close friend in 2043, Ramse (Kirk Acevedo), who acts as Cole’s conscious. Ramse is so well played by Acevedo that we have to wonder why he wasn’t chosen to play Cole. After all, with his bald head he looks more like Cole as portrayed by Bruce Willis in the original film and is a better actor to boot.

going backThe other characters are hit or miss. Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire), an insane math whiz whose father is believed responsible for the virus, is overdone with her Hollywood crazy method acting. Meanwhile, Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa), the enigmatic creator of the time machine, is a mysterious, though sympathetic character that is quietly desperate to change time.

On the whole, 12 Monkeys seems at times to be your standard time travel show, but it is still generally entertaining despite its faults. It’s not in any way up to the level of the original film, but it’s a worthwhile adaptation.

Lewis T. Grove

It’s Official Now: Spider-Man Will Join The Marvel Cinematic Universe!

spidey mcuMarvel Studios and Sony Pictures officially announced on February 9 that Spider-Man, the beloved flagship superhero of Marvel Comics, will now be a part of the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s clear that the rumors and email leaks about this happening were valid.

This development obviously paves the way for Spider-Man to appear in other MCU films like Avengers: Infinity War and give Marvel tighter control over the character. In addition, this agreement between the two studios will also allow for characters from the MCU like Iron Man or Thor to appear in standalone Spider-Man films.

First the plan is for Spider-Man (who sadly will be recast–spidy irongoodbye Andrew Garfield, you were a great Spidey) to appear in an unspecified future MCU film. Then another solo Spider-Man film will be released on July 28, 2017 that will be a co-production between the two studios with Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal overseeing the film. The announcement didn’t make clear which film Spider-Man will appear in, but undoubtedly he is a shoo-in for Avengers: Infinity War, Part I. That film is due to come out in 2018 so that means he can probably make his debut appearance in next year’s Captain America: Civil War! That would be just amazing (pardon the pun) since Spider-Man was an integral part of the comic book mini-series of the same name last decade. UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has reported that Spider-Man will indeed make his MCU debut in the third Captain America film.

 

From glancing at the MCU and Sony’s original film schedule, the next Spider-Man film, originally scheduled for 2018, has been bumped up a year earlier. The new schedule pushes back the new Thor film, Thor: Ragnarok, to November 3, 2017 and the Black Panther debut film will now come out in 2018. The domino effect continues as Captain Marvel will now premiere on November 2018 and the Inhumans movie has been re-scheduled for 2019.

One film that may have been lost altogether is the Sinister Six film that was supposed to come out next year and directed by Drew Goddard. In the joint announcement there wasn’t any mention of that movie’s fate, which was to feature Spider-Man’s greatest foes teaming up to defeat him. Perhaps Goddard may be assigned to direct the next Spider-Man film instead.

Also unclear is whether or not plans to do a film about the Black Cat will go forward. Given the crowded production plate, there may not be any room for that character now, which is probably for the best. While a vital character in the Spider-Man mythos, the Black Cat may be unfairly compared to the more well-known Catwoman by average moviegoers who don’t follow comics.

live civil warOverall, this is hands down very exciting news that pumps new blood into the floundering Spider-Man film franchise. Now he is back where he belongs with the right people making sure we get the best Spider-Man on film. And that is how it should be because Spider-Man is Marvel’s best known and popular superhero. So, it only makes sense that Marvel Studios handle Spider-Man. Just look at what they have accomplished to date. Starting with Iron Man and continuing with Guardians Of The Galaxy, Marvel Studios have shown that they produce the most faithful and spirited big-screen adaptations of their superheroes. In the end, it benefits both studios. Sony still retains their film rights to Spidey, but pass on the logistics of putting out a quality film to another studio that has proven they have the talent to produce a topnotch Marvel superhero film. Marvel Studios gets a bonafide superstar added to their roster who can help pave the way for a Phase Four of their MCU because let’s face it by the end of the decade some of the actors currently playing our favorite heroes may either want to move on or be too old by then to realistically play the characters. Who better than Spider-Man, who will probably be recast with a much younger actor, to help spearhead the MCU in the future?

?????????????????????????????????

This development also demonstrates the tenacity of Marvel Studios and Disney. Systematically, they have steadily regained the film rights for many of their characters. With Spider-Man now in their clutches, the only big name characters not under Marvel’s direct control are the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Trying to regain the rights to the X-Men from 20th Century Fox will be much harder to pull off if not impossible given the frosty relations Marvel has with Fox and the continuing success the latter film studio has had with the revitalized mutant film franchise. That could be the main reason why Marvel seems to be de-emphasizing the mutant heroes lately. But as for the Fantastic Four…that would depend on how Fox’s reboot is received. If it flops, then Marvel has a stronger hand in getting them back. If it succeeds, then it will be quite some time before the Fantastic Four joins Spider-Man and the rest of the Marvel Universe on film.

For now though, let’s celebrate this film development.

José Soto

 

 

The Legend Of Zelda Coming To Life

zeldaThe recent announcement by Netflix that it will be developing an original TV series bases on the iconic The Legend of Zelda video game series has caught many by surprise including myself. Nintendo’s only other foray into live action movies or TV based on their games was the not so well received Super Mario Bros. from 1993.

Another odd fact is that there is no major voice acting in the games. Link, the hero of the story doesn’t talk. You only hear him scream or grunt. It will be very interesting to hear him say something for the first time, let alone seeing him portrayed in live action by an actor.  Having said that, the fact that their next project is based on Zelda while unexpected, actually makes a lot of sense.

The Zelda universe has a vast and rich mythology that spans almost 20 games released over a span of almost 30 years. Each game is a tale set in a fantasy world called Hyrule, which is somewhat reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, populated by goblins, wizards, all sorts of fantastic creatures, and a race of elf-like beings that struggle against the evil Ganon. He is a huge villain obsessed with obtaining the all powerful Triforce, a relic from an ancient time that bestows ultimate power to anyone who has it. Again, very much like the One Ring to rule them all from the epic The Lord of the Rings saga.

zelda 3

The success of both Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies and the HBO TV show Game of Thrones, demonstrate that there is a market for live-action epic fantasy stories. The key to the success of any Zelda show will be who Netflix hires to translate the great stories told in each game to the TV screen. As with movies that are based on books demonstrates, this can be a tricky task. However, since this will be a TV series, it will have many hours to tell any such story, instead of the restricted two- hour-plus limit of a movie. This can definitely be a positive since the saga of The Legend of Zelda is as complex as it is interesting. Hopefully, whoever is hired will be able to do justice to the highly regarded Zelda series, which has set a very high standard for quality in all of its games. Nintendo, who is known for protecting all of their characters should be able to make sure this happens.

C.S. Link