“All that you know is at an end” — Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

While it was far from a critical success, and while the fan community seemed pretty divided on it (a common refrain was that Brad Bird had already done a better Fantastic Four movie with Pixar’s The Incredibles), Fantastic Four made a pretty penny in 2005, riding the new wave of Marvel films suddenly seemed to be all over the filmic landscape.

Green-lighting a sequel seemed a no-brainer, and so they brought most everyone back two years later, and decided to adapt one of the most iconic Fantastic Four comics stories ever: the coming of Galactus.

During their lengthy run on Fantastic Four, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created many brilliant stories and introduced many amazing characters: villains like Dr. Doom, the Mole Man, Rama-Tut, Annihilus, the Puppet Master, and the Skrulls, plus nicer characters like Wyatt Wingfoot, the Black Panther, Alicia Masters, the Watcher, and the Inhumans.

But ...

“You’re in love, have a beer” — Hellboy II: The Golden Army

With the first Hellboy movie being a success, it was pretty much a no-brainer for a sequel to be green-lit. The movie not only made money for the studio, it also brought a new audience to Mike Mignola’s comic book.

Unfortunately, there was a snag, in that Revolution Studios, which produced the movie, went out of business in 2006, the same year the sequel was originally scheduled for.

It took a couple years for the rights to find a home, but eventually Universal took on the property, seeing value in it.

Most of the cast was brought back, including Ron Perlman in the title role, Selma Blair as Liz, Doug Jones (providing his own voice this time) as Abe, and Jeffrey Tambor as Manning. Rupert Evans was in a play in London and was unable to return, so Myers was written out of the sequel. (Hellboy got pissed at him ...

We Come in Pieces — Star Trek Discovery First Season Overview

“I dunno,” the Star Trek fan says with a sigh. “I mean, the uniforms are all monochrome, I feel like the timeline’s all messed up, they’re just rehashing stuff they’ve done before, it all feels so military with the metal insignia, and they’re killing characters off, and it just all doesn’t feel like real Trek, y’know?”

This Trek fan is, of course, from 1982 and complaining about The Wrath of Khan.

Yes, I can do this all day.

But I won’t. Instead, let’s look back at a most uneven first season of Star Trek Discovery

This season has been a spectacular mix of really great and really wrong, crowning moments of awesome right alongside incredible head-scratchers.

There are five particularly frustrating elements of the show: two decisions that did significant damage before an episode had even aired, a third that showed a disconnect between how the show was ...

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A Waterskiing Dog — Star Trek Discovery’s “Will You Take My Hand?”

Star Trek: Discovery episode Will You Take My Hand

At one point during “Will You Take My Hand?”, the season finale of Star Trek Discovery, Tyler is explaining the ease with which he is able to chat with Klingons in the vicinity of the Orion embassy—which, the Orions being glorified pirates, means it’s pretty much space Vegas—to Burnham. “I’m a human who speaks Klingon. To them, that’s like a dog that can waterski.”

I really doubt that executive producers Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, and Akiva Goldsman, who among them wrote and directed the episode, meant that line to be a metaphor for the episode, but it totally fits. Because a dog that can waterski is actually really really cool and would probably be fun to watch. But it’s also something that you kinda stare at and go, “Hang on, why exactly did that just happen?” And there’s a lot of both those reactions in ...

Star Trek Discovery Enterprise NCC-1701

Moving Forward — Star Trek Discovery’s “The War Without, the War Within”

Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within

One of the constant complaints about Discovery that I have seen online is that it isn’t “real” Star Trek. We’ve been down this road before, of course. In 1979, people wrote letters to magazines about how they had “Star Wars“-ified Star Trek and how this couldn’t be the same universe as the beloved TV show. Gene Roddenberry spent much of 1982 telling fans to boycott The Wrath of Khan because it wasn’t “real” Star Trek and it violated his vision. Fans howled in 1987 at the notion of a Star Trek TV show that didn’t have Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and how it would never work and it wasn’t “real” Star Trek, and then again in 1993 at the notion of a Star Trek TV show that wasn’t on a starship. And many of the complaints levied against Discovery now were also levied against Enterprise seventeen-and-a-half ...

Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within mess hall
Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within Tyler and Burnham gaslighting
Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within Georgiou assumes command

“We will not accept a no-win scenario” — Star Trek Discovery’s “The Past is Prologue”

Star Trek Discovery The Past is Prologue

My introduction to Michelle Yeoh was when Jackie Chan’s third Police Story movie was released in the United States in 1996, retitled Supercop. It was released here to cash in on Chan’s newfound American popularity following Rumble in the Bronx. I went to see the movie for Chan, but was completely captivated by Yeoh, who was as good as Chan as a choreographed fighter and as an actor. In fact, she was a better actor, and Chan’s actually quite good…

I’ve followed her career with assiduity ever since, from her amazing turn in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to her being the primary reason why Tomorrow Never Dies is the only Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie I like. Her movements are elegant and beautiful, and ones I’ve grown to appreciate more the last thirteen years since I started training in martial arts.

So I freely admit that my second-favorite moment in ...

You Can’t Go Back to the Way Things Were — Star Trek Discovery’s “Vaulting Ambition”

There are three separate-but-connected things going on in this week’s Star Trek: Discovery, and the heart of each and every one of them is embodied by the line of dialogue I borrowed for the headline, a line spoken directly by both Emperor Georgiou and by Lieutenant Stamets. Everyone wants to go back to the way things were. Stamets wants Culber to be alive and the two of them to be happy. L’Rell wants Voq not to suffer (for all that she insists that Voq’s sacrifice was voluntary and necessary). Georgiou wants her foster daughter back. And everyone on the U.S.S. Discovery just wants to get home.

The one person who does get things back the way they were? Lorca. Go fig’.

Lots of things are pulled into focus this week, which is good, as we’re running out of episodes.

First off, we find out why Stamets has been ...

Star Trek: Discovery Vaulting Ambition Stamets Culber kiss
Star Trek Discovery Vaulting Ambition Emperor Georgiou and Burnham
Star Trek Discovery Vaulting Ambition eating Saru

“We are still Starfleet” — Star Trek Discovery’s “The Wolf Inside”

Star Trek Discovery The Wolf Inside

It really does suck to be Michael Burnham.

I mean, first you had the whole thing with her parents being killed, and then she was raised on a planet that isn’t exactly kind and benevolent toward humans (or much of anybody), she got screwed out of going to Vulcan Space School, and then she got her captain and about 8000 other people killed in an incident that started a brutal war. And then she got herself assigned to a ship run by a loony with PTSD whose first officer is her former shipmate who hates her living guts.

And all of that is as nothing compared to the crap she goes through in “The Wolf Inside.” I got dinged last week for not putting up sufficient spoiler alerts, so SPOILER ALERT! LOTSA SPOILERS FOR “THE WOLF INSIDE” IN THIS POST! ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE!

The ...

The Shape of Water Frames Communication as a Revolutionary Act

The Shape of Water, 2017

Watch a Guillermo del Toro film, and chances are you’re watching a story about communication. Some of his stories are fairy tales, some are epics, some are horror, but they all revolve around this central theme—who gets to communicate, who doesn’t, how important it is, and what it costs when you’re denied that ability to connect with others. But The Shape of Water takes this theme farther than any of del Toro’s previous works. In fact, this homage to Creature From the Black Lagoon makes it clear that communication is a matter of life and death.

[Contain spoilers for The Shape of Water]

The particular oeuvre of Guillermo del Toro turns on many themes, but communication is often the spoke of his wheel. Pan’s Labyrinth is the story of a little girl whose inability to communicate her feelings amid worldly horrors leads to her retreating into a different realm. ...

The Shape of Water, 2017
The Shape of Water, 2017
The Shape of Water, 2017
The Shape of Water, 2017
The Shape of Water, 2017

“Everybody comes home” — Star Trek Discovery’s “Into the Forest I Go”

And so Discovery reaches its “mid-season finale,” a recent phenomenon of television to make sure that people tune in for the last episode before a break, and also to reassure folks that yes, we’ll be back in a few months, don’t go away and never come back, pretty please. While it’s true you never saw this in the old days, said old days involved somewhere between three and ten sources of new programming at most. Now there’s hundreds. One can’t really blame the producers for being gun-shy about losing viewers because they took a few weeks off.

Anyhow, the storyline comes full circle, putting Burnham back on the bridge of the ship of the dead, with a chance at redemption for getting her captain killed. And it’s quite a ride.

First of all, though, mea culpa: I was wrong, and every single person (practically) in the comments was right ...

Star Trek: Discovery Asks What True Happiness Feels Like and Comes to a Pretty Devastating Conclusion

Star Trek: Discovery "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"

The latest Discovery episode, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” had multiple threads to follow, but was notable for being only the second time that we have seen any focus on Commander Saru, the first Kelpian member of Starfleet. Saru’s journey in this episode not only gives viewers a greater window into his people, but also examines an older Trek tale with a new twist… to a deeply emotional conclusion.

Saru leads a landing party on the planet Pahvo, a world that contains what appears to be a naturally formed crystalline transmitter that the Federation hopes to modify for the purpose of detecting cloaked Klingon ships in the war. Once on the planet, the party encounters a form of life that originates on the planet, making their mission suddenly far more complex; with the Pahvans now engaged in standard First Contact procedures, Saru, Burnham, and Tyler cannot carry out their ...

Star Trek: Discovery "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"
Star Trek: Discovery "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"

If You Want Peace, Prepare for War — Star Trek Discovery’s “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”

Discovery barrels toward its slightly-more-than-midway point, as this eighth episode moves things forward and sets up for the ninth, which will also be the “fall finale” before we get a hiatus during which lots of people will try CBS All Access for a trial period and binge the nine episodes.

The episode has a lot of story ground to cover, and it does so in a particularly impressive fashion, moving both the Federation and Klingon plots forward. We get strong moments for pretty much the entire cast, but most notably for Saru, who has been a bit underused lately. “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” gives Doug Jones a chance to shine.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This episode was written by Kirsten Beyer. A fellow Star Trek novelist, Kirsten has been a friend and colleague of your humble reviewer for many years. She helped roast me at Shore Leave in 2009, ...

Tough Mudder — Star Trek Discovery’s “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”

It’s always dangerous to riff on a popular story you’ve already done. You do a thing, it’s nifty, and you think, “We should do that again.” Deep Space Nine does “Necessary Evil” and it’s brilliant, so they try to do it again with “Things Past,” and it doesn’t quite come together as well. The Next Generation does “The Inner Light,” and it’s a massive hit, and several Trek shows take another shot at something “Inner Light”-ish and it can’t light a candle. “Cause and Effect” was a great TNG episode, a brilliant use of the five-act structure by Brannon Braga and elegantly directed by Jonathan Frakes. Braga himself riffed on it later on in TNG‘s “Timescape,” which wasn’t anywhere near as good, though it was still a perfectly good episode.

Discovery’s “Magic to Make the Sanest Man ...

Good Retcons and Bad B-Plots — Star Trek Discovery’s “Lethe”

Star Trek Discovery episode Lethe

One of the most challenging things one can do when creating serial narrative is retroactive continuity, or retcon: filling in a gap or establishing something about a character or situation that was previously unknown.

When done properly, it can bring an entire character into focus. (To use a comic book example, when Magneto was established as a Holocaust survivor.) When done improperly, of course, it can be disastrous. (To use another comic book example, establishing that Norman Osborn raped Gwen Stacey, and she mothered children from that.)

Star Trek has, over five decades, engaged in such retcons any number of times (my three favorites are establishing that Worf accidentally killed someone as a teenager, that Bashir was genetically enhanced, and that Troi had a baby sister who died), and in “Lethe” we have one of their most successful.

Way back in 1967, we first met ...

Star Trek Discovery episode Lethe
Star Trek Discovery episode Lethe
Star Trek Discovery episode Lethe

“Bonjour, Je Veux Mon Livre”: Hocus Pocus

Happy pre-Halloween, Tor.com! In celebration of the encroaching Pumpkin Spice Day, please accept this humble offering of one of the Butler Sisters’ all-time favorite holiday movies: 1993’s Hocus Pocus! Whoo!

Previous entries can be found here. Please note that as with all films covered on the Nostalgia Rewatch, this post will be rife with spoilers for the film.

And now, the post!

 

Okay, so, let’s go ahead and cut to the chase.

This is not only the best part of Hocus Pocus, it is one of the best non-horror Halloween scenes ever:

A bold claim, Leigh, you cry! But wait, I have supporting evidence! To wit:

  1. This scene has Bette Midler singing while dressed as a witch in it.

KEW EE DEE, BEACHES.

I’m actually not kidding. The Divine Miss M may no longer have quite the fame or presence in the pop culture zeitgeist she did ...

Check Out the Spooky-yet-Sweet Trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water

The Shape of the Water Say what you will about 2017, at least this year is giving us a new Guillermo Del Toro movie! The Shape of Water is coming to theaters on December 9th? And what if we told you that it seems to be a spooky, complicated story of love and empathy between a mute woman and Abe Sapien’s cousin? The film stars Sally Hawkins as a sensitive lab worker, Octavia Spencer as her boss, Richard Jenkins as a seemingly nice scientist, and Michael Shannon as…well, as Michael Shannon. Plus Doug Jones returns to his Del Toro collaboration as the Sapien-esque creature! Watch the full trailer below!
[via Fanboy Nation!]      

Star Trek: Discovery Reveals an Impressive Sci-Fi Cast

Star Trek Discovery Casts Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, and Anthony Rapp We have our first three major cast members for Star Trek: Discovery! We already knew that the extraordinary Michelle Yeoh would be playing a Starfleet captain, but now StarTrek.com has also announced the additions of Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp. We now know that Yeoh will be playing Captain Georgiou of the starship Shenzhou. Doug Jones, probably best known for his uncanny performances as Abe Sapien in Hellboy and The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, will be Lt. Saru, a science officer who is also a member of an alien species we’ve never seen before on Star Trek. (So…not a Vulcan?) The third character is another science officer (yay!), Lt. Stamets, an astromycologist aboard the starship Discovery who also has the distinction of being the first openly gay character in a Star Trek television series. He’ll be played by Broadway star Anthony Rapp, most famous for ...