Archive of ‘Book, Movie, & TV Reviews’ category

The Martian Movie – A Divine Comedy in ABBA

Ridley Scott's "The Martian" is a stunning visual reminder of what our space program can achieve. Top image: Matt Damon in "The Martian" Trailer. Bottom image: 1989 painting by Les Bossinas/ NASA

Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” is a stunning visual reminder of what our space program can achieve. Top image: Matt Damon in “The Martian” Trailer. Bottom image: 1989 painting by Les Bossinas/ NASA

The Martian movie was everything I had hoped for. Based on the book by the same name, this movie captured our fascination with space, our fears of space travel, and our ability to use reckless abandon (with some intelligence) to conquer these exact same fears.

Matt Damon does wonders as astronaut Mark Watney, a man thrown literally into the thrashing winds of a martian inferno, only to MacGyver his way to safety – i.e. science the shit out of everything – while singing disco tunes the entire way. Though ABBA beats and space survival might sound incongruous, they fit well together in this movie, just like humor and sorrow fit well together in everyday life. Unlike many other harrowing survival stories (think Gravity) that stretch the bounds of drama and belief, Mark Watney’s unrelenting motivation to fix things and just make it work, seems more true to reality. After all, Apollo 13 did happen, and despite what the conspiracy theorists say – man made it to the moon before the existence of graphing calculators, the internet, or next-day shipping. We’ve got it within us to do it again, singing all the way. (more…)

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Silent Sentience – Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and the Concept of Self in Science Fiction

What does Joss Whedon's Dollhouse tell us about our notions of self? Image Source: Dollhouse, "Hollow Men." Copyright Fox.

What does Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse tell us about our notions of self? Image Source: Dollhouse, “Hollow Men.” Copyright Fox.

The premise of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse begins simply enough. Rossum Corporation, a mega biotech firm, has developed the technology to “imprint” a person with the personality of another. To further their research (and make a profit at the same time), Rossum creates the Dollhouse – an organization that rents imprinted people, known as “Dolls” or “Actives”, to the highest bidder. These Dolls are generally volunteers, people escaping from their past, who sign a five-year contract to Rossum. Their memories are wiped and stored, leaving them in an “Inactive” blank slate for the new personalities. At the end of the five year period, the volunteers’ original memories are imprinted back into their bodies, and these former Dolls live out the rest of their lives, richer than ever.

Dollhouse starts with the generic fantasies. Clients rent out dolls for their own sexual desires or other strange fetishes. As the two-season series continues, however, the darker side of the Dollhouse presents itself. After all, Dollhouse technology presents infinite possibilities beyond sexual fantasy play – it can mean the rise of the super soldier, the hope of resurrection, and the consequent evils of immortality. But at the same time, Dollhouse begs a fundamental question. If we can imprint an entire artificial self on another human being, what does this mean about the concept of self – the very concept of a soul? Does the original outweigh the imprint – or are both equally human beings, necessitating our respect and protection? If so, is Topher’s last act one of mercy or genocide?

Various science fiction shows and books have addressed this subject of the self before, from Star Trek to Neuromancer to Dune. Let’s take a look at how the Dollhouse narrative compares to these previous works, and addresses the concept of self. (Caution – Spoilers Ahead!)

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Continuum – Top Five Story Arcs From Seasons One to Three

The final season of Continuum will premiere on Syfy on Sept. 11 at 11/10c. Image Source: Continuum, "Second Time". Copyright Syfy.

The final season of Continuum will premiere on Syfy on Sept. 11 at 11/10c. Image Source: Continuum, “Second Time”. Copyright Syfy.

Can’t wait until the last season of Continuum airs on September 11? Or are you just looking to fill the dark void of your Friday SyFy lineup, now that season 1 of Killjoys and Dark Matter are over? Either way, it’s time for a Continuum refresher. In this fast-paced cop and time travel drama, the never-ending plot shifts and character developments can be utterly overwhelming. Let’s break down some of the top story arcs from the first three seasons of Continuum, so you’re ready, locked and loaded for season 4. (more…)

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Killjoys S1E10 Review: Escape Velocity

S1E9 Enemy Khlyen || S1E10 Escape Velocity || Season 2 (??)

The Company frames Alvis Akari for a massacre on Leith, while all hell breaks loose in the Quad. Image Source: "Killjoys", Escape Velocity. Copyright SyFy.

The Company frames Alvis Akari for a massacre on Leith, while all hell breaks loose in the Quad. Image Source: “Killjoys”, Escape Velocity. Copyright SyFy.

Each episode of Killjoys builds upon the past, layering and layering themes repeated throughout the season. The finale of Killjoys was no different. “Escape Velocity” finally answered some of our lingering questions about Khlyen and Red 17, in ways foreshadowed by previous episodes. Yet, we are still left wanting. We need more episodes to learn about the Killjoys universe – not just to uncover one more mystery about Dutch’s past – but also because we care about what is going to happen to all of the characters. Killjoys has done a fantastic job of fleshing out the characters’ relationships with one another, and revealing the motivations behind their actions. So this post will focus on the growth of our characters, the ABC building blocks of the entire Killjoys series. (Caution – Spoilers Ahead!) (more…)

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Killjoys S1E9 Review: Enemy Khlyen

S1E8 Come the Rain || S1E9 Enemy Khlyen || S1E10 Escape Velocity

Dutch uncovers Khlyen's location, and he is closer than she thinks. Image Source: "Killjoys", Enemy Khlyen. Copyright SyFy.

Dutch uncovers Khlyen’s location, and he is closer than she thinks. Image Source: “Killjoys”, Enemy Khlyen. Copyright SyFy.

As soon as I found out the title for this episode, Enemy Khlyen, I was excited. What revelations would we have about Dutch’s former mentor, captor, and father-figure? Though not all was revealed, Enemy Khlyen gave us further clues to Khlyen and Dutch’s past. Now, we have enough information to at least fuel some speculation about the origins of the Level 6 RAC, Red 17, and the imminent Quad class war. (Caution – Spoilers Ahead!) (more…)

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Killjoys S1E8 Review: Come the Rain

S1E7 Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye || S1E8 Come the Rain || S1E9 Enemy Khlyen

A storm is brewing in Westerley. Toxic rain hails from the badlands. Image Source: "Killjoys", Come the Rain. Copyright SyFy.

A storm is brewing in Westerley. Toxic rain hails from the badlands. Image Source: “Killjoys”, Come the Rain. Copyright SyFy.

Compared to the dramatic revelations of the last episode, Killjoys “Come the Rain” takes a slower approach, as the characters come to terms with their changing relationships to one another. Dutch and D’Avin go through Jenga-inspired trust exercises, while Johnny and Pawter Simms conduct trust exercises of their own – all while a deadly poisonous storm brews across Westerley. (Caution – Spoilers Ahead!) (more…)

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Killjoys S1E7 Review: Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye

S1E6 One Blood || S1E7 Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye || S1E8 Come the Rain

Dutch, D'Avin and Johnny visit "Utopia" - a space port dedicated to all that is techie and illegal in the Quad. Image Source: "Killjoys", Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye. Copyright SyFy.

Dutch, D’Avin and Johnny visit “Utopia” – a space port dedicated to all that is techie and illegal in the Quad. Image Source: “Killjoys”, Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye. Copyright SyFy.

In this episode of Killjoys, the team goes on a rip-roaring ride through Utopia – a mecca of extreme tech, drugs, and sex set adrift in space. Dutch gets a new haircut, a new outfit, and a new love interest. But how long can utopia really last? Especially when the team meets the real Dr. Pim Jaeger? (Caution – Spoilers Ahead!)  (more…)

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