The Walking Dead: The Next To Die

 

Walking Dead season 6

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Major spoilers ahead

OK, we’re all still digesting the most recent episode of The Walking Dead and over what happened in it. But what happened is actually the norm for The Walking Dead, since major characters get killed off in the TV show (and comic book) all the time, so we should expect death. It doesn’t mean that we have to like it. OK, this is the last warning about spoilers before we get started.

quarry walkers

So, Glenn became the latest fatality in the walker-infested world of The Walking Dead. It shouldn’t come as a surprise given that he’s been dead for some time in the comic books. It’s just that we all expected Negan to come along and bash his head in, not fall into a swarm of hungry walkers. BTW, thank you Nick for being a coward til the end and taking out the one person who saw something in you.

Anyway, who’s the next one to die? Will it be fatalities from the comic books like Carol and Abraham or will it be someone who is still alive like Carl? Leaving out the Alexandrians, who we don’t care about, here are the main heroes from the TV version of The Walking Dead. What are the odds they’ll survive the zombie apocalypse?

rick mad
Rick Grimes: The main character in The Walking Dead, the story is told mainly from his point of view. Creator Robert Kirkman stated that the story will end when Rick dies, so he’s likely to last until the final episode. His hand, though, is another story and it’s already being foreshadowed.

darDaryl Dixon: If the show’s creators believe the fans’ declaration: If Daryl Dies, We Riot, then it would be a mistake to kill off the major original character in the show. Then again, what’s been going on with him lately? Most of the time he’s moody, wants to be by himself. Maybe he’ll be written out but not killed so he can come back for the special episodes.

Carol Peletier: The formerly abused carol disguise 2housewife has become the female version of Daryl: a complete badass. Robert Kirkman recently said that is the one character he refuses to kill off in the TV show because he loves how she has developed.

Michonne: This modern-day samurai just seems too tough to be killed off…or is she? Rest easy folks, odds are that she’s not going anywhere. She’s on a Daryl level of popularity ever since she was introduced in the comics.

michonne

Maggie Greene: The only surviving member introduced in season two and Glenn’s wife. She’s going to maggiehave some dark days ahead, lots of fodder for character development. It would be waste to then just kill her, but this is The Walking Dead. Also let’s consider the wild speculation that Glenn somehow survived (yeah, I know that would be far-fetched), suppose it’s true, what would be a greater tragedy than having him go home only to find out she died?

carlCarl Grimes: Rick’s son has lost an eye and half his face in the comic books and he is a candidate for carrying the torch given his young age. But his infant sister who was killed in the comics is still alive. That means one of the Grimes kids has to die, and killing Carl would be a twist. Like with Rick Grimes, at the very least expect him to lose an eye. Having him waltz around with an eyepatch would be easier (and cheaper) to film than a missing hand.

sasha

Sasha: This lady has had a death wish in the second half of season five and who can blame her since her brother and lover died at that time. Now she seems to have snapped out of her funk. All the more reason to kill her off. Whenever someone on the show finds some peace then they’re history.

Abraham Ford: Killed in the comic books fighting Negan’s army, Abraham was always a bit crazy and this season he’s picked up Sasha’s reckless, suicidal verve. Ever since he found out that Eugene lied about having a walker cure, his life has lost meaning. Perfect candidate.

eugene abraham

Eugene Porter: This oddball is too goofy to be killed off. I predict doing so will touch off a firestorm on a Daryl level.

Rosita Espinosa: Abraham’s girlfriend hasn’t had much to do lately and is becoming a redshirt. Perhaps she bites it in the mid-season finale.

rosita tara

Tara Chamblers: She was originally part of the evil Governor’s group, but quickly realized her error and has become a staunch member of Rick’s group. Though her story is pretty interesting, and her friendship with Eugene is nice to watch, but she hasn’t caught on like Daryl or Carol. She may be next.

morgan fights walkers

Morgan Jones: The first dude Rick met when he woke up from his coma is a fan favorite given his badassery. But let’s be real here, his let’s-all-get-along attitude is costing the group. He’s in danger of being a liability, then don’t forget he’s already dead in the comics. Can anyone say Dead Man Walking?

T. Rod Jones

 

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Back To The Future, October 21, 2015 & Beyond

hill valley 2

Forget about May the 4th (sorry Star Wars fans), the real date to look out for is Oct. 21, 2015, 4:29 pm to be exact. Any self-respecting Back to the Future fan knows this is the date where Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd), Jennifer Parker (Elizabeth Shue) and Einstein the dog time travel to from 1985 in the classic film Back to the Future, Part II.

Now that that fabled day is here, how cubbies windoes it compare to the future seen in that film? To be filmmakers got wrong. But the film has made some predictions that come close. For instance, technically we do have flying cars it’s just that they’re not commonplace, and while the Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series, they’re in a fight for the pennant with the Mets. On that note, Back to the Future, Part II got the dates for the World Series completely wrong. We’re still in the middle of the playoffs, while in the film on this date, the Cubs swept Miami–at least the film correctly predicted that Miami would have a baseball team, it’s just that this year the Marlins didn’t even come close to getting a Wild Card spot.

eyewearIn a recent interview, co-writer and producer Bob Gale admitted that when making Back to the Future, Part II the future predictions  wouldn’t be too accurate, so instead efforts were focused on creating an optimistic vision of the future. And what an awesome future they presented us. We all wish it came to be, but many elements are with us today like flatscreen TVs, video calls, wearable eye tech and the self-lacing sneakers are coming!

As fun as it is to compare reality to fiction, what makes Back to the Future, Part II such a classic is that it went the dark route as a sequel. Many followups to film classics doc explains timelinetake their characters into dark places and this film isn’t an exception. It also explored another time travel motif: the Butterfly Effect (the first Back to the Future film was about the Grandfather Paradox, while the third film examined predestination). Marty McFly buys a sports almanac on October 21, 2015 with the intent to go back to his time period and get rich making bets. What happens is that Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) gets a hold of the almanac and the time traveling DeLorean and alters the timeline when he goes back to the 1950s. The resulting chaotic divergence creates a timeline where Biff becomes a one-percenter and rules Marty’s hometown Hill Valley with a tyrannical fist. The town becomes a lawless hellhole where Marty’s father was murdered in the past and Doc Brown has been committed into an asylum.

Marty realizes that the calamitous events are his fault and goes about correcting the timeline by going back to the first film. The way director Robert Zemeckis intertwined the actors into the footage from the first film was simply genius and flawlessly executed. It was a pioneering use of special effects and editing that still holds up and which we take for granted these days.

marty and docThe Back to the Future trilogy overall continues to enthrall viewers and interest in the films continues to grow. The logical question is will there ever be any more films? Ordinarily, the answer would be no. Zemeckis and Gale have been adamant about not continuing the story. As far as they’re concerned, the story ended with Marty McFly rebooting his future and Doc Brown time traveling with his family. Besides, how could they top the original trilogy? Remaking it would be a mistake since trying to find actors to replace Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd is an impossible task. Lloyd last week declared that if asked he would return to his role in a fourth film. The issue is with Michael J. Fox. Frankly, he is too old to play a teenager and is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The best thing to a reunion we’ll get was the cute short the two actors made recently.

*It has to be added that Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd reprised their roles of Marty McFly and Doc Brown on Jimmy Kimmel Live on October 21, 2015. The skit felt faithful to the spirit of the trilogy and we got an explanation from Doc as to why our 2015 is different than the one depicted on the film: we’re in an alternate reality! It was all in good fun and concluded with Doc hopping into another time-traveling car (not the DeLorean, that car was left with Marty and Jimmy) to go back to the past and correct the timeline. Needless to say he didn’t do so, but for all we know he probably created an even better 2015.

However, one way to continue Back to the Future would be to have it focus on the children of Marty McFly and Doc Brown. The original actors could appear in supporting roles as time travelinis being done with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the main story could be about a time-spanning romance between Marty’s son and Doc’s daughter. Or come up with a story where Marty and Doc’s children try to change history and learn some lessons about fate. If they put their minds to it, Zemeckis and Gale can come up with something. If Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Ghostbusters can return after so long, maybe one day we’ll see the DeLorean hitting 88 mph again.

José Soto

Frankenstein Still Resonates Today

 

frankenstein boris

Frankenstein’s monster is an iconic horror figure that has terrified and fascinated audiences for generations and has done so in several different formats.  The reasons for this are varied and include the ideas that were present in the original novel written by Mary Shelley in 1818 titled Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.  It tells the story of a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who creates a human being from the body parts of corpses. His reason for doing this is to bring life to a dead body, thus transcending death itself.

henry frankensteinThis brings to mind the idea of zombies that are so popular right now in society as well as the idea of playing God. All of the fears that come with modern technology that can potentially cause chaos (such as the fears of cloning, or bio-engineered diseases) are all present in this story. Frankenstein’s creation is a hideous creature that wipes out his creator’s family, but is also portrayed as a somewhat sympathetic character. Someone who was brought into this world recklessly and thrown away by his father. The monster’s attempts to integrate himself into human society fail miserably and his subsequent rampage further increases the terror and misery caused by irresponsible scientific actions.

This is reminiscent of the ideas presented in the Jurassic Park movies where bringing extinct creatures to life cause death and destruction. Even if the motives were possibly noble to begin with, who doesn’t dream of seeing majestic dinosaurs live again, the end results are always catastrophic.

The many different movies in subsequent decades about Frankenstein’s monster show the lasting power of this story. The most famous is obviously the classic 1931 film Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff.  His great performance as the menacing creature is still remembered today and is the benchmark for any Frankenstein movie.  The look and sound of the monster is what everyone thinks of now whenever the name Frankenstein is said. Halloween costumes, and TV shows like The Munsters all show how iconic that original design is.

curse of frankenstein

The story of Frankenstein’s doomed creature has been retold many times since the ’30s. The Hammer film studio in Great Britain produced an excellent version in 1957 starring Christopher Lee as the monster and Peter Cushing as the mad scientist titled The Curse of Frankenstein.  More recently in 1994, Kenneth Branagh deniro frankensteindirected and starred in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Robert De Niro as the monster. While it received mixed reviews I think this is a great version of the story and is very faithful to the original novel. De Niro’s performance is both frightening and tragic and the film touches on all of the important ideas that Mary Shelley presented almost two hundred years ago. The idea of the all-too human desire to cheat death at almost any cost still resonates with us. Another theme it explored was that science is seen at first as the way to salvation and a better life, but the characters realize that these visions of ours don’t always come true and sometimes make things much worse.

mary shelleyThe fact that Shelley was only 18 years old when she wrote this classic novel is impressive and the fact that almost two centuries have passed since its publication show that great ideas that touch on fundamental themes always stand the test of time, and still have relevance regardless of the genre and the times. In addition, while the novel and movies are seen as firmly in the horror camp for obvious reasons, it can also be said that they are in the realm of science fiction as well with its previously mentioned emphasis on science and research into both biology and questioning what it means to be human. Frankenstein is definitely a story that asks these questions and will continue to both scare and thrill audiences, this Halloween and for years to come.

 

C.S. Link

Marvel Phase Three and Beyond

new schedule

Marvel Studios has once again captured headlines lately with their announcement for their upcoming film slate. While the news that a sequel to Ant-Man will be made came as a nice surprise, there are now rumors percolating about what films will get produced. It’s intriguing food for thought starting with the revised schedule for their Phase Three Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films.

Phase Three

The third phase of the MCU films starts next year on May 6 with the release of the eagerly awaited Captain America: Civil War, which many are calling Avengers 2.5 because it’s stuffed with so many superhero characters. Next in November 4, the Sorcerer Supreme himself Doctor Strange makes his big-screen debut.

team cap

From there Marvel Studios amps up their schedule by releasing three films per year starting in 2017 with Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 on May 5, a Spider-Man reboot for July 28 and finally Thor: Ragnarok on November 3. Now the 2018 slate has been changed to accommodate the second Ant-Man film. This means that Black Panther has been moved up to February 6, instead of July 6. That slot now goes to Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers: Infinity War, Part I debuts on May 4. Sadly for some fans, the Captain Marvel film originally scheduled for November 12,  2018 will instead come out the following year on March 18. The final two Phase Three films for 2019 will include Avengers: Infinity War, Part II on May 3 and Inhumans on July 12.

More Ants!

Ant-Man turned out to be a bit of a surprised for many who predicted it would be Marvel Studios’ first flop. Instead it made $178 million domestically and even more overseas. While it wasn’t a humongous blockbuster, Ant-Man earned a healthy profit and lots of good will from fans who appreciated its quirky charm.

waspThe fact that there will be a sequel proves that Marvel has a lot of confidence in the property. So what will Ant-Man and the Wasp be about? Here’s a thought, while the first film was basically a heist caper, the sequel could be a rescue story or have a man vs. nature motif. The film could be centered on rescuing the original Wasp who was lost in the quantum realm in a flashback scene in Ant-Man. In fact, some observers of the film picked out a silhouette that resembles the Wasp when the title hero was momentarily trapped in the subatomic universe. Having Ant-Man and the Wasp exploring the quantum realm and finding new worlds will be a fun twist and visually arresting. After that if Marvel Studios decides on another Ant-Man film they can call it Giant-Man as Ant-Man morphs into Giant-Man to follow the comic books in a sense.

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The Martian Survival Tale

martian poster1

Director Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi offering, The Martian, is a sometimes riveting, but always entertaining survival tale taking place on the red planet.

Based on the novel by Andy Weir, It stars Matt Damon as Mark Watney a botanist who is part of an exploratory mission on Mars. A sudden sandstorm causes the mission to be aborted, but Watney is struck by debris and lost in the storm. Presumed dead, Watney is left behind Mars as his fellow astronauts leave the planet.

watney on mars

Miraculously, Watney survives the storm and makes his way back to his expedition’s habitat. From there he uses his skills and training to live on Mars by growing food, creating water, etc. His dilemma is how to stretch out his limited supplies long enough for an eventual rescue mission that won’t happen for four years. In the meantime, NASA discovers that he is alive and is able to establish communications. With the world now aware that Watney is marooned, all attention and resources are devoted to find a way to rescue the stranded astronaut.

ares 3 crewThe Martian is a well-put together, hard sci-fi yarn that thankfully uses real science to come up with plausible means for a human to survive on Mars. The film is bolstered by a smart script by Drew Goddard and heartfelt performances not just from Matt Damon, who is the centerpiece, but by the entire cast. The Martian literally has an all-star cast which includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Jeff Daniels and many more. They all turn in solid work and inject The Martian with needed humanity. This film unexpectedly has a human heart at its core, it isn’t dry or lifeless, and that is what makes it stand out. We see this many times with the scenes back on Earth and in the return vehicle as everyone scrambles and makes sacrifices to bring Watney home. The altruistic efforts certainly give one a pause to hope for humanity. Watney’s plight is shown to be in the film as some kind of unifying event for the world as seen by the large crowd scenes that hark back to the early Apollo missions.

It does have its issues though. It’s heart and emotion are assets, but sometimes they take away from other needed aspects. Many critics are praising its use of humor, but this colonistfilm isn’t some slapstick comedy nor is it that funny. For the most part, the humor works, but it also undercuts the tension that a film like this requires. This doesn’t mean that The Martian is without any thrills, several scenes are captivating and makes audiences curl in theater seats, especially the final act. However, it could’ve used more of a gritty survival aspect that was sometimes glossed over. While audiences saw how underweight he got from lack of food and detailing his efforts to create water, it should’ve have dwelled on his isolation and boredom a lot more. It would have been a bonus to see Watney act as an explorer and let us witness the barren beauty of the red planet. Perhaps he would’ve discovered the flowing water that NASA recently discovered in real life.

watney kneel

 

Complaints aside, The Martian is an enjoyable adventure that can be enjoyed not just by sci-fi fans but by general audiences.

Lewis T. Grove