A Wrinkle in Time Deserves a Place Next to All the Wild Fantasy Films of Your Childhood

A Wrinkle in Time, 2018

If I could take all the beloved fantasy films of my childhood and coat them in glitter and light, A Wrinkle in Time would be sitting in front of me, winking. While diehard book advocates may find themselves bothered by the changes made in this adaptation, it is a gorgeous journey that deserves the taking with a cast that literally glows in every frame.

A Wrinkle in Time manages quite a feat in taking a beloved book over half a century old, and updating for today’s children in a way that manages to broaden the themes of the story and reflect the world we occupy more presently. While it does not replicate the visuals of the book down to each description, it does promote a different visual vernacular for fantasy films that will hopefully catch on the future. I would welcome Ava DuVernay to try her hand at Oz films ...

Gaslighting and How to Combat It: The Power of Jessica Jones, Season One

The first season of Jessica Jones left most everyone I know with a lot to talk about. And there are plenty of reasons, of course—the show is smart, sassy, well-written, beautifully-acted, and features a female lead who is allowed to be as complex as women truly are.

It is also a show that puts female experiences of abuse and trauma under a microscope, and forces us to confront them.

Spoilers for season one of Jessica Jones, of course.

This is not to say that the show refuses to acknowledge other forms of abuse—Kilgrave’s victims are many and varied as human beings, and every single one of them is deeply traumatized by their exposure to him. But this show is about Jessica, and very specifically concerned with the experience of moving through the world as a woman. There are discussions cropping up all over the internet; thoughts about rape culture, ...

Putting Time Travel in the Star Wars Universe Reveals the Breaking Point of the Force

Star Wars: Rebels, A World Between Worlds

The Star Wars universe has time travel now—everybody panic!

Wait.

Okay, it sort of does. But panic is actually not necessary! Because the fact that time travel has finally been introduced has served as a valuable lesson about who wields power in this galaxy and when there is just too much going around.

[Major spoilers for the last episodes of the Star Wars: Rebels, as well as The Clone Wars.]

If you were watching the Rebels episode “A World Between Worlds,” you were probably a little shocked (/confused/excited/furious?). The remaining Ghost crew trekked to the Jedi temple on Lothal only to find that the Empire was busy trying to excavate the darn thing. And they were doing a pretty good job of it, too. Ezra had already been nudged toward the temple by the Force-connected guardians of the planet (lots of Loth-cats and Loth-wolves, one who might ...

Star Wars: Rebels, A World Between Worlds
Star Wars: The Clones Wars, Mortis trilogy
Star Wars: Rebels, A World Between Worlds
Star Wars: The Clones Wars, Mortis trilogy
Star Wars: Rebels, lothwolves
Star Wars: Rebels, A World Between Worlds

Farscape’s John + Aeryn Are Science Fiction’s Greatest Love Story

John Crichton Aeryn Sun Farscape best science fiction love story

Science fiction as a genre has plenty of gorgeous love stories to go around, ones that leave you in tears or fill your insides with fluffy candy heart goulash (just pretend that sounds appetizing…). But for years now, when I think of the words “true love” there is only one pair that continues to impress me with how well they embody the phrase.

Farscape’s John Crichton and Aeryn Sun should be on the cover of a book called “How to Do Romance Right in Storytelling For All the Times Ever.” I will ghostwrite it, if you need me to.

Which is not to say that there aren’t other couples in the SF pantheon that make me all wibbly. I’ll cop to being a sap; I love a good romance as much as I love good villains and snarky dialogue. But Farscape was a show that continually broke ground ...

John Crichton Aeryn Sun Farscape best science fiction love story
John Crichton Aeryn Sun Farscape best science fiction love story
John Crichton Aeryn Sun Farscape best science fiction love story
John Crichton Aeryn Sun Farscape best science fiction love story
John Crichton Aeryn Sun Farscape best science fiction love story
John Crichton Aeryn Sun Farscape best science fiction love story

Here’s Why You Should Hunker Down and Binge-Watch All of Star Wars: Rebels

Star Wars Rebels, Ghost crew

As fun as it can be, Star Wars is a pretty fraught universe. We don’t always talk about that because unpacking the vast amount of carnage and destitution is a pretty tall order for a franchise that is largely thought of as popcorn entertainment by the masses. But we also don’t really talk about it because most Star Wars stories are Big Picture ones. They are about the Most Important People doing the Most Important Things in the universe. And that typically comes with a lot of sadness and scale and scope.

Which is why it’s totally understandable that you might have missed Star Wars: Rebels bringing that galaxy far, far away down to earth.

To be fair, the characters in Rebels are not playing for small beans. These are some of the initial operatives that form what later becomes the lauded Rebel Alliance. What they do matters and will ...

Star Wars Rebels, Kanan and Ezra
Star Wars Rebels, Rex and Ahsoka
Star Wars Rebels, Hera
Star Wars Rebels, Zeb and Kallus
Star Wars Rebels, Sabine
Star Wars Rebels, Thrawn

Why Are You Reading Reviews About Black Panther When You Could Be Watching Black Panther?

Black Panther, 2018

Do you really need anyone to tell you that you should go see Black Panther? Do you?

You are reading these words, so maybe you do. So I’ll do my best here.

[This is a non-spoiler review of the film.]

Words kind of fail me, though, so I’ll start with similes and see where we end up…

Black Panther is like heading to a feast and finding that every food on the table is one of your favorite dishes, so you cry because you’re not sure how you’ll ever eat with that many possibilities and limited stomach space?

Black Panther is like reading a book and then being furious when it’s over because you can never read it for the first time again.

Black Panther is like realizing that you’ve spent your life rolling around in a dumpster because you just rolled around in gold leaf and puppies for ...

Black Panther
Black Panther, 2018
Black Panther women
Black Panther, 2018

Dumbledore is Not “Explicitly” Gay in Upcoming Fantastic Beasts Film and That Makes No Sense

Jude Law, Dumbledore, The Crimes of Grindelwald

Last week it was revealed that J.K. Rowling’s screenplay for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will pretty much avoid the subject of Albus Dumbledore’s sexuality. Despite the fact that Dumbledore’s youthful infatuation with Gellert Grindelwald is a key factor in informing their meetings later in life, particularly during the point at which this film is set, as Grindelwald grows in power and Dumbledore is trying to avoid doing his utmost to stop him—a point in time when the shattered relationship between these two men is shaping the wizarding world in untold and terrifying ways.

In case anyone is confused about why this choice was made, director David Yates had this to say to Entertainment Weekly when asked about whether the film would address Dumbledore’s sexuality:

“Not explicitly. But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were ...

Buffy and Angel
The Pevensies
Luke and Leia, Return of the Jedi

So… What is Solo: A Star Wars Story Actually About?

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Two mysterious teasers in, and it’s still a little odd trying to piece together what Solo is. That is, unless you’ve got a little background info on some of those characters and name drops. So let’s go through these sneak peeks and see what we’re looking at!

Here are the two teasers in question to jog your memory:

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet

In the first teaser—where Han seems to be signing up for the Empire—it’s possible that this is part is a fake-out; Han’s face is largely covered, making it more likely that this is some sort of set-up for the job we find out about in the second teaser. That being said, Han’s Imperial training (something that was fleshed out in A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy) is still likely in play. In the voiceover, Han mentions he was kicked out of the Flight Academy for “having a mind ...

Identifying with “Uncool” Characters: Why I Love The Jungle Book’s Bagheera

The Jungle Book 1967

When I was a kid (like a kid kid who was under the age of ten), I had a very specific pet peeve regarding the entertainment that I consumed. It centered around the inevitable bashing of any character who showed an inclination toward logic, pragmatism, and worry. My thirst for adventure—oddly—developed gradually, over time. As a very small human, I had an overly-developed sense of caution about the world, and so I was drawn to characters who looked before leaping, who made plans, who considered dangers.

What I’m trying to say is, I hated Disney’s The Jungle Book because no one listened to Bagheera.

I loved worriers and voices-of-reason as a kid. When I was five, C-3PO was the best part of Star Wars. It caused me acute physical distress to watch Pinocchio ignore the words of Jiminy Cricket. My favorite character in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was Alpha 5, ...

The Jungle Book 1967
The Jungle Book 1967
The Jungle Book 1967
The Jungle Book 1967
The Jungle Book 2016
The Jungle Book 2016

Star Wars: The Rebellion Won Because They Treated Their Droids Like People

R2, 3PO, Attack of the Clones

It’s no great secret that R2-D2 is the real hero of Star Wars. In fact, that might be the fandom’s favorite joke of the past four decades—everyone would be dead, multiple times over, without that rolling trash can’s help. Same goes for C-3PO, if we take into account how Artoo relies on him to redirect the bad guys with his babbling and multitude of diplomatic excuses.

But the truth of the matter is a bit uglier than that. Because the only reason that R2-D2 is capable of helping in the first place is because he’s treated like a person… instead of an expensive piece of hardware.

It’s pretty clear, even on a first viewing, that the Star Wars universe doesn’t treat droids well. They are bought and sold like computers rather than beings with clear personalities, preferences, and desires. They are ordered en masse as aids, weapons, and soldiers in ...

The Force Awakens, R2, Luke
The Clone Wars, Anakin, R2
Rebels, Chopper, Hera
R2, socket
Chopper, Imperial paint job
Cassian, K-2SO, Rogue One

Small Stories, Big Worlds: Why I Love Epic Stories That Stay Personal

You know when you’re reading Lord of the Rings, and you really wish the book would just let us spend some time with Rosie Cotton while she’s busy slinging ale at the Green Dragon?

Or is that just me?

Fans of science fiction and fantasy love good worldbuilding. But setting the stage by creating a magnificent new realm usually means the plot focuses on major historical arcs in said world. Once you’ve set up so much, developed all the minute detail, it makes sense to do the broad strokes and really create a mythology. How to Save the World; How to Win the War; How to Shape Reality With a Few Simple Building Blocks. They make great blockbuster film trilogies. They demand the creations of fan wikis and doorstopper guidebooks. They are the stories we take comfort in whenever the world seems a bit too claustrophobic.

Still, there’s something special ...

Wow, People Are Really Mad at Poe Dameron

Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Leia, Poe

I mean, I’m not. But other people are.

At first glance, there’s an interesting theme at work in The Last Jedi. That theme seems to turn on practically every female character in the film looking to their male cohort and saying “Don’t do that!” and the men turning around and saying “I’m definitely going to do that!” And then things go generally wrong and we all plant our faces in our hands and sigh.

Here’s a brief (not comprehensive) list to that end:

  • Leia tells Poe not to continue his attack on the Dreadnought, but he does;
  • Rose tells Finn how disappointed she is to see Resistance fighters trying to cut and run, then realizes he’s doing that exactly that;
  • Amilyn Holdo repeatedly tells Poe to stop bothering her about her plans for the fleet, he commits mutiny after barging in on said plans;
  • Rey tells Kylo Ren ...
The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron
The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron
Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Poe
Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Leia
Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Poe

Wow, People Are Really Mad at Poe Dameron

Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Leia, Poe

I mean, I’m not. But other people are.

At first glance, there’s an interesting theme at work in The Last Jedi. That theme seems to turn on practically every female character in the film looking to their male cohort and saying “Don’t do that!” and the men turning around and saying “I’m definitely going to do that!” And then things go generally wrong and we all plant our faces in our hands and sigh.

Here’s a brief (not comprehensive) list to that end:

  • Leia tells Poe not to continue his attack on the Dreadnought, but he does;
  • Rose tells Finn how disappointed she is to see Resistance fighters trying to cut and run, then realizes he’s doing that exactly that;
  • Amilyn Holdo repeatedly tells Poe to stop bothering her about her plans for the fleet, he commits mutiny after barging in on said plans;
  • Rey tells Kylo Ren ...
The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron
The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron
Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Poe
Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Leia
Star Wars, The Last Jedi, Poe

Luke Skywalker Isn’t Supposed to Be “Nice”

Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi

It’s that time again. Time for me to talk about Luke Skywalker—Jedi Master, colorful milk enthusiast, champion spear fisherman, galactic treasure—and the multitude of ways that he continues to be generally fabulous while no one notices. Even now, when it should have become pretty darned obvious. When there is an entire film dedicated to the obviousness of this.

And yes, I am talking about The Last Jedi.

Spoilers ahead.

Look, I’ve said it all before. Luke Skywalker is not a bland Wonder Bread hero, despite his humble farmboy beginnings and seeming obsession with power converters. He spends the entirety of Return of the Jedi kicking ass in a very personal, understated way. He has his own goals and he sticks to them. This helpfully speeds up the demise of the worst overlord the galaxy has ever known, but also robs him of a father. Such is the nature of the ...

Luke Skywalker over the ages
The Last Jedi, Jedi books
Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi
Rey and Luke, The Force Awakens
Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi

Space Opera is More than “Fantasy in Space”

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

It’s important to remember that the term “space opera” was first devised as an insult.

This term, dropped into the lexicon by fan writer Wilson Tucker, initially appeared in the fanzine Le Zombie in 1941. It was meant to invoke the recently coined term “soap opera” (which then applied to radio dramas), a derogatory way of referring to a bombastic adventure tale with spaceships and ray guns. Since then, the definition of space opera has been renewed and expanded, gone through eras of disdain and revival, and the umbrella term covers a large portion of the science fiction available to the public. It’s critical opposite is usually cited as “hard science fiction,” denoting a story in which science and mathematics are carefully considered in the creation of the premise, leading to a tale that might contain more plausible elements.

This had led some critics to posit that space opera is ...

Farscape, season 2
Battlestar Galactica 1978
Galaxy Science Fiction, first issue, 1950
Jupiter Ascending

5 Things Albus Dumbledore Should Have Told Harry Potter

The world is full wise old men who will tell you all the important bits of information that you need to complete your world-saving quest… if you live in a fictional epic about that sort of thing. Problem is, these wise old men never tell you the whole story, do they? They give you half. Or a quarter. They tell you the truth, but they reframe it like it’s an old story, or a play that they saw at this really good theatre once. They teach you lessons like they are doling out candy—too good to eat all at once.

But surely that can’t always be true.

Albus Dumbledore kept a lot of things from Harry Potter throughout his years at Hogwarts, and even after his death. But the hardest part about these secrets is that they were often revealed strategically, or Harry had to find them out for himself ...

Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows, part 2
Snape and Lily
Dumbledore and Grindelwald
Draco, Half-Blood Prince
Albus Dumbledore, Pride flag

Do Not Ever Ask For a Cup of Jawa Juice at the Spaceport Cantina

Obi-Wan Kenobi, drinking

The pantheon of fictional booze is plentiful and fun to ruminate on while sipping other non-fictional types of booze. But for every Romulan Ale and Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, there could be something far more sinister lying in wait.

What I’m saying, Star Wars fans, is don’t ever head into the Mos Eisley cantina (known as Chalmun’s, to the locals), and order a cup of Jawa Juice.

But why? you ask. It sounds like a perfectly decent beverage.

I thought so too, friend. I thought so too.

But as it happens, I was wondering about the composition of Jawa Juice the other day. It does sound like a very nice beverage, after all, if you presume that it is a juice made by Jawas. Which I did. There wasn’t any indication that it was even alcoholic, frankly; the first time that we encounter the drink is in Attack of the Clones ...

Obi-Wan Kenobi, drinking
Obi-Wan Kenobi, drinking
Obi-Wan Kenobi, drinking
Obi-Wan Kenobi, drinking
Stra Wars, bantha
Star Wars, Nightsisters

Laugh Hard, Run Fast… Be Kind. Doctor Who: “Twice Upon A Time”

Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time

The Twelfth Doctor has left us. It’s time for our collective mourning period, Whovians.

And this was one heck of a way to say goodbye.

Recap

The Twelfth Doctor runs into his first incarnation at the South Pole, both of them refusing to regenerate. As they are meeting, they come across a World War I captain who has stumbled into their timeline. A glass entity shows up and to collect the captain; it is part of a group from the far future called Testimony, who harvests something from people in the past, moments before their deaths. They must return the captain to his death or disrupt the timeline. When the Doctor refuses to give him back, they claim that they will return someone to him in exchange: Bill Potts. The Doctor isn’t sure that he believes that the person in front of him is the real Bill, as he believed ...

Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time
Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time
Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time
Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time
Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time
Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time
Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time
Doctor Who, Twice Upon A Time

Not Some New Man: The Hidden Pattern Behind the Doctor’s Regenerations

Doctor Who, Regeneration cry

Regeneration can be confusing for even the most ardent Doctor Who fan. Our intrepid hero literally becomes a new person and the adjustment is always a little heartbreaking, as though you have to say goodbye to one friend in order to gain another. The process itself is woolly; the Doctor himself admitting upon his seventh transformation that it was “a lottery” and that he had never been any good at it.

But does regeneration make sense, even if you’re no good at it? I think it does. In fact, I’d argue that the events leading up to each regeneration have a very heavy impact on how the next incarnation turns out. Though he can’t pick out faces and then discard them the way other Time Lords can, subconsciously, the Doctor is clearly and cautiously reconstructing himself, adapting according to his triumphs and failures each time.

Don’t believe me? The pattern ...

Doctor Who, First Doctor and Susan
Doctor Who, Second Doctor and Polly
Doctor Who, Third Doctor, Sarah Jane, UNIT
Doctor Who, Fourth Doctor and Romana
Doctor Who, Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Turlough
Doctor Who,, Sixth Doctor and Peri
Doctor Who, Seventh Doctor and Ace
Doctor Who, Eighth Doctor and Grace
Doctor Who, War Doctor
Doctor Who, Ninth Doctor and Rose
Doctor Who, Tenth Doctor and Donna
Doctor Who, Eleventh Doctor and Amy
Doctor Who, Twelfth Doctor and Bill
Doctor Who, Thirteenth Doctor

Talking to Geeks at Parties (About Your Favorite Shows/Books/Movies)

Ever have a conversation with someone who you don’t know well, and everything is just jiving and you’ve found your new best friend? And you’re talking about how much you love this one TV show (or comic/short story collection/movie in a series), and they’re like “you know that one installment?” and you’re like “yeah!” and they’re like “I mean, it’s just the worst one!”

…and your budding friendship is over in a matter of seconds?

In truth, this is not a deal breaker, but I feel like it’s something that people are bad at having meaningful conversations about—we don’t all love what we love for the same reasons. And fandom can exacerbate this divide and make it seem utterly insurmountable, when in reality, we all like different things from our entertainment for completely reasonable reasons.

Reasonable reasons. Heh. Say that eleven times fast.

Perfect example of this ...

Doctor Who, season 4, The Unicorn and the Wasp
Star Trek, the Original Series, season 1, Shore Leave
Batman the Animated Series, Harlequinade