The Greatest Sci-Fi Hallmark Ornaments

While Hallmark’s Star Wars and Star Trek ornaments are well known holiday merchandise, we cannot forget the other related Hallmark genre ornaments. No, not the Harry Potter stuff, though those ornaments are great, but the ornaments based on popular science fiction films and TV shows. Although they’re not as numerous as Star Trek and Star Wars ornaments, they’re just as well-crafted. It’s too bad more aren’t produced because these sci-fi Hallmark ornaments are great gifts and additions to any fan’s Christmas tree. These are the best ones created to date, hopefully more will come in the future.

avatar ornament

10. Avatar Jake Sully (Avatar, 2010):

Fans can easily imagine that the tatted-up warrior hero from Avatar is protecting a giant mother tree with this dynamically posed ornament.

9. Nautilus (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 2011):

The miniature version of Captain Nemo’s steampunk sub is a faithful recreation of the Disney’s 1950s adaptation.

rocketeer ornament

8. High Flying Hero (The Rocketeer, 2014):

This was one of those limited-edition Hallmark ornaments that is hard to find, even when it was released. It would make a fine gift for any fan of the underrated gem of a film.

7. Alien (Alien, 2014):

One would think this kind of ornament would never work. Seriously, this alien creature is the stuff of nightmares. But it works thanks to its meticulous detailing and organic exo-skeletal look that somehow fits within a tree.

6. Cylon Centurion (Battlestar Galactica, 2011):

The sound effects of the distinctive robotic Cylon voice (“By your command”) is the highlight of this sci-fi Hallmark ornament. If only Hallmark would make more ornaments of either version of Battlestar Galactica, including the ships. “Sigh”

Continue reading

Advertisements

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

It’s 2015, Where Are My Flying Cars & Hoverboards!?

Okay it’s now the year 2015, we first caught a glimpse of this year from the classic film Back to the Future, Part II. As many readers know, in that film Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) time travel from 1985 to 2015 and spend the first act of the movie in that time period.

The movie obviously showed us what 2015 would be like and no kidding, they got many details wrong. There isn’t any shame in this, Back to the Future, Part II came out in 1989 and the production team made their best guesses as to how the future would be like over twenty years from then. Things where bound to be incorrect.

As wrong as many predictions were, the whimsical look of Hill Valley, CA circa 2015 showcased several nifty products and events that make us wish they were a reality today. Believe it or not some devices and events do exist to an extent, while others don’t and just aren’t practical. Let’s look at some of them:

  • Flying cars: Best represented by Doc Brown’s converted DeLorean, Back to the Future, Part II had the best representation of flying cars delorean_flyingseen on film. All the vehicles sure look flashy and seemed convenient. The good news is that flying cars are being tested right now, the bad news is that in the end they may be impractical. Think about it, anyone operating them has to become a pilot and let’s not get into the logistics of actually using them and the headaches they will cause.
  • Hoverboards: Like flying cars, this device is in the testing phase. Technically they do exist, called the HENDO Hoverboard, it’s a magnetic skateboard that only works on copper surfaces and float an inch above ground. That’s hardly the commonplace item seen in the movie. No doubt that when they do enter the market they will be for the one percenters only and probably won’t be available in pink for a while.
  • Nikes Air MAGs: Nike is in a race to air magsactually have those famous sneakers worn by Marty McFly ready by the year’s end. Called the Air MAGs, these sneakers were actually recreated in 2011 and look just like the way they did in the film. But sadly, they didn’t self lace themselves.That doesn’t mean that Nike is giving up! The problem is the power source for the sneakers to lace themselves. The shoe manufacturer will probably solve this problem, but expect it to sell for a high price.
  • Power jackets: Remember that jacket Marty McFly wore that had self-fitting sleeves and dried itself? That would be a neat piece of wardrobe to have, especially if power pants were available with the same features. No more worrying about the expanding waistline and having to get new pants.
  • Dust repellent paper and fax machines: When Marty bought the infamous sports almanac that listed future winners, the saleslady mentioned that dust repellent paper seemed to be a common feature of books and other periodicals in 2015. Such paper doesn’t exist, but there isn’t a need for it. Digital media in smartphones and tablets are making dead tree products obsolete. In the film,  fax machines were in every room in a typical suburban home. OK most homes have fax machines built in printers, but they’re not in every room nor are they needed.
  • TV blinds: Having blinds doubling as TVs is a nice idea, but the one shown in the older Marty McFly home didn’t have the HD or 3D capabilities that are a must for the flat screens that many of us have.
  • Holomax movies: Best represented by the holographic shark used to advertise Jaws 19, these Holomax movies promised advanced jaws 19holographic technology with our movies. Clearly, we don’t have that but 3D is now a common feature of big-budget spectacles as well as the super huge IMAX screens. As for Jaws, that franchise remains underwater in the 1980s.
  • TV glasses: Marty’s daughter, Marlene (also played by Michael J. Fox) was seen in the film donning a pair of sunglasses that let her watch TV and answer phone calls. That is one thing Back to the Future, Part II did get correct since Google Glass and similar smart devices have those features and more.
  • Rehydrators: Remember when Grandma (Lea Thompson) brought over a tiny pizza pie that she placed in a contraption that grew the food into a normal size meal? Sounds convenient (albeit unappetizing), but the tech doesn’t exist. But fear not, 3D printers can produce food, so very soon we will have a variation of the rehydrator.
  • Rejuvenation treatments: Prior to the film, Doc Brown underwent a supposed rejuvenation treatment that added years to his life (don’t worry Marty, we didn’t notice the difference either), as for reality: botox anyone?
  • Mr. Fusion: This little household mr fusiondevice (that was mounted on the DeLorean and used garbage as fuel) is probably the answer to our energy problems if only we didn’t have to worry about the fact that it’s basically a small nuclear reactor. How safe is such a thing? Imagine nuts, terrorists and other malcontents trying to use Mr. Fusion as a weapon. Perhaps if we embrace nuclear power and can ensure that it’s 100% safe to use, such a device can be invented way down the line. But we’re talking decades from now at the best.
  • Cubs, lawyers and weather: Some of the funniest moments in the movie are that in 2015 lawyers are abolished, which ensures a faster justice system (as if lawyers and politicians will ever let that happen), the Chicago Cubs win the World Series (the baseball team has a few months to either prove or disprove that notion, but there is a baseball team in Miami, only they’re called the Marlins), and that the weather can be accurately predicted to the minute (given what we know about the weather variables, that is highly unlikely).

Waldermann Rivera