Thursday, October 22, 2009

Star Trek vs. Batman

I first saw a trailer for Star Trek vs Batman years ago, around when Star Trek: New Voyages and Starship Exeter first came out, and I was excited about fanfilms. At the time I thought the trailer was all there was ever meant to be for it, and all the "coming soon" stuff was either a joke or just another project with good intentions that wouldn't get finished.

Then today I learned that no, it didn't stop at the trailer, the thing was actually made! Well, I had to check it out.

The premise is pretty straight forward-- the Enterprise gets hurled back to 1967, and Kirk and Spock wind up in the middle of a scheme by Joker and Catwoman in their fight with Batman and Robin.

The script is excellent. There are some genuine laughs, and a even a half-serious attempt at some drama, although that in itself is a parody of specific Star Trek episodes.

The acting is a mixed bag-- Kirk, Robin, and Catwoman are excellent. Batman and Spock are both pretty weak, which is a shame, because the dialogue written for Batman perfectly captures the old TV show, and you can just imagine Adam West saying it. The Joker has Caesar Romero's laugh down perfectly, which makes up for his delivery. And McCoy deserves an honorable mention, because while he doesn't look a thing like him, he sounds closer than John Kelley in New Voyages/Phase II.

Fanvids have gotten so good that it's easy for me to nitpick that Spock's costume is too big or that everyone has a bright green line around them when they're on alien planets... but then I think, Oh wait, let me compare this to my own Star Trek fanvid. (That would be "Star Trek V: Super Heroes O.") Oh yeah, this one kicks my butt. And besides, it would be missing the point-- that we love these original shows, sometimes because of what they got wrong as much as for what they got right. This fanvid was made with such dedication that you can truly feel the love for the source material.

Yeah, I have to agree with Fan Cinema Today-- I would include this one in any top 5 must-see fanvid lists. So what are you waiting for? Go on over to and see it!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

With having got to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on DVD today, I accomplished two things. Firstly, I've now seen all the films that were on my must-see summer movie list. And lastly, I finally rented something from a Redbox!

As to the movie itself: Eh. Not bad.

I think Transformers movies have to be seen in the theater. Or at least in a home theater. First off, the robots look so much alike that the only ones I could easily tell apart was Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. Oh, and the two chatty littler ones. I know they're going for more realistic, but the bright colors help me tell who's who. I'm sure if I had seen this in the theater, it would have been easier to notice the details on all the silver robots and keep track of them.

The cons:
* What was the point of bringing back Megatron? He didn't really do anything except bring the Fallen to Earth, and since Starscream was already there, he could have served that purpose just as easily.
* I think I actually hated Sam Witwicky more in this one than I did in the first one. And this time his family annoyed me too, which they didn't so much in the first one.

The pros:
* Devastator!
* The Matrix of Leadership!
* Multiple Primes!
* Jetfire!
* Arcee!
* Wheelie worked out pretty well, too.
* The military working side by side with the Autobots. Really, maybe it's because I got into transforming robots with Robotech, but I wish this movie had focused just on NEST. The human soldiers obviously considered the Autobots comrades-in-arms and I think there's a lot they could have explored there.

I realize the allure of a Transformers movie is the robot fights, but I think I would have got more out of it if I could have seen more detail... so again, it's probably best seen the big screen. I'll have to try harder to make it Transformers 3.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doctor Who: The Scales of Injustice by Gary Russell

This tells the story of a secret organization that moves in after UNIT is done, collects up everything alien left behind, from the tech to the bodies of both the aliens and their victims. Adapting and using what they can figure out and saving what they can't, they're outside the government, hidden from the United Nations, and beyond the law. "Torchwood created by Russell T Davies" my butt!

More than that, it's a great departure story for Liz, and a neat transition story between "The Silurians" and "The Sea Devils." Having seen "The Silurians" twice in the last year, it makes me really want to see "The Sea Devils" again! But sadly, I don't think Mylene is ever going to make it past episode 3 of "The Daemons" in our WhoQuest so if I want to see it, I'll probably need to just watch it on my own, which she says she doesn't want me to do so I really don't want to do that to her, but I don't want to pressure her into watching something she doesn't want to watch, cause that's no fun. But I digress.

If Paul Cornell is the Peter David of Doctor Who, then Gary Russell is the Keith R. A. DeCandido. He's got such a feel for the whole mythos. Never mind the wonderful touch of having the book broken up into 7 episodes, just like all but one of Liz Shaw's stories were; he goes to great lengths to piece together the rotating UNIT cast we saw all through Pertwee's first season and discuss how all these men served together along with Benton and Yates, even though the show hadn't settled on them as the UNIT leads yet.

Chalk up another win for Gary Russell!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Smallville, Season 9 - "Savior," "Metallo," "Rabid," & "Echo"

I go into Smallville with low expectations. That way, I tend to enjoy it more. Even then, I still manage to get disappointed, but I think that's partially because Smallville does a lot right, so I start getting excited, and then they screw up, so I feel let down all the harder. (Case in point: building up Doomsday all last season, very successfully I might add, and then not only is the final throwdown 90 seconds long, but he doesn't even kill Clark. Like, not even as a season cliffhanger. Not even for a scene and then he gets revived. Nothing.)

So, I went into Season 9 (Nine?!? Really? Nine?!?) with the usual low expectations. And so far, the show's either meeting or exceeding them.

Things I like: The new costume. [Credit where it's due department: I found the image of Clark in his new costume on] 1), I'm glad he finally has a costume. 3), The design is similar enough to the outfit that Clark wore when he came back from the dead in the comics (after Doomsday, just like now!), so it works for me. And 7), he's no longer being called "The Red/Blue Blur," he's now just being called "The Blur," which sounds better.

I also like the interaction between Clark and Ollie. That continues to be some of the best scenes in each episode. I like where Ollie's story has been going.

I like that out of four episodes, we've had Zod, Metallo and Toyman. Verrrrry nice.

I like the blooming romance between Clark & Lois. The closing shot of "Echo" featuring them facing each other with the "Daily Planet" logo behind them was especially nice.

I like that the show didn't go right back to status quo by the end of the first episode. It took at least two episodes.

Things that are okay: What made Clark change the symbol inside his family crest (The "S" Shield) from being an 8 (as it's been shown in the show up to now) to an S? I get they looked similar so that's why when he started being called Superman he'd switch it to an S, but... he's not being called Superman yet. So what's the internal logic for the change? Shouldn't it still look like the more Kryptonion "8" symbol?

The stories in general have been okay.

The Zod storyline's been okay. I think I've figured out the backstory for Zod & his troops already, but I don't know where it's going to go yet.

Things I don't like: Poor Chloe getting her heart ripped out every episode. It's rude of Clark. Not that Clark hasn't always been insensitive in Smallville (which leads to me calling him Dick Clark a lot) but it's boring and it feels like that's the only way the writers know how to create drama and it's no fun to watch. I mean for crying out loud, Chloe's stood by you for eight seasons, treat her with a little appreciation. I'm convinced that by the end of the season, Chloe will have been driven so over the edge by Clark's insensitivity that she'll shave her head and start calling herself Lex Luthor. (Oh, and I can't believe Clark STOLE that guy's donut right out of his hand!! What a dick!! Although I do have this odd craving to go to Dunkin' Donuts now.)

I don't like when they start giving Kryptonians super-powers that they don't have, such as telepathy. In the case of "Echo" it's mitigated a little bit because it was explained away as some test that Jor-El created, but it still just rankles my inner fanboy.

And I'm disappointed that after coming back from being "away" for three weeks, Clark didn't star wearing glasses. He's started living a dual identity now, so this would have been a good spot to work that in. But I doubt they ever will on this show.

So all in all, I'm trying to not invest too much in the show again, but I'm enjoying it enough to keep watching.

Just like I did for Season 8.
And Season 7.
And Season 6.

Really, just how is it this show has run for nine seasons?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Star Trek: Voyager - Unworthy by Kirsten Beyer

The post-television Star Trek books continue to take Star Trek to all-new heights of AWESOME.


The spoilers here are mostly for the previous Voyager book, Full Circle, also by Kirsten Beyer. However they're the set-up for this book, so I really can't discuss this book at all without mentioning them. And besides, it's written all over the back cover.

Unworthy is another of the post-Nemesis/post-Destiny books, so it's completely going forward with all the characters, and the authors are free to do pretty much anything they want with them.

The TrekLit world hasn't really known what to do with the Voyager characters since they got home. Pocket printed four books, all by Christie Golden, showing how their homecoming went and the difficulties of re-acclimating to the Alpha Quadrant and the first mission of the USS Voyager under the command of Captain Chakotay (since we saw Admiral Janeway in Star Trek Nemesis). While I felt the books would have worked great as the last few episodes of Voyager, they received a rather lukewarm reception... much like the show itself. Christie Golden got busy with non-ST projects, and there were no new Voyager books for years, and many of the characters wound up guest-starring in other Trek books, especially Admiral Janeway and Seven of Nine.

But with the mega-event that was the Star Trek: Destiny book trilogy, everything changed. And now Voyager's getting a fresh start.

Starfleet has now worked out a slipstream drive, meaning that ships can now go from quadrant to quadrant in days instead of decades. It's not easy, so it's used sparingly. Not every ship has it. But Voyager has now been equipped with it. And Voyager's new mission is to lead a fleet of eight ships back to the Delta Quadrant. This time they know they can get home. They can still communicate with Starfleet Command, albeit with a delay (the wonderful plot device that always gave good ol' Kirk so much leeway). They can try to clean up some of the messes they made on their first trip through the Delta Quadrant, continue peaceful exploration of the Delta Quadrant, and try to deal with some of the fallout from the Destiny books (which is HUGE).

It is a fantastic set-up and something that, to be honest, probably should have been done somewhere around Season 4 of the TV series.

With an entire fleet at its disposal the cast has gotten a bit huge, but it works really well. Nearly all the main characters are here (and the ones that aren't have very good reasons not to be). They've all grown a lot since the TV series, and are so much more the interesting for it. Chakotay went through hell in Full Circle, and all through Unworthy he now has a calm serenity that makes him wonderful to watch. Seven of Nine's journey to find her balance between human and Borg has never been played so well. Tom has grown into a responsible person, B'Elanna has accepted her Klingon heritage, and the lengths the two of them have to go to make their marriage work and protect their daughter really made me care. And Harry, well, he's still Harry, and I feel he spends most of his time reacting to everything else that's going on, but he never once felt out of character.

I hated to put this book down. And now that I've finished it, I want to go back to the beginning of Full Circle and just start reading them both again. (I won't, though. I have too many unread books to justify doing that.)

This is the best time for Trek books, ever.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stargate Universe - "Air"

Well, this was an interesting premiere. Take the hook for Stargate, mix it up with the original concept for Macross, throw in a healthy dash of Star Trek: Voyager, and wrap it all up in the trappings of the Battlestar Galactica remake, and you have SGU: Stargate Universe.

(Fun alternate titles: Stargate Galactica, Stargate Dimensional Fortress Destiny, and Battlestargaticross! I can't come up with alternate titles that include Voyager, because everyone knows Star Trek titles are no fun anymore.)

We have an all-new cast, made up of both military SGC officers and civilians who were working together on a research outpost when a crisis hits. They do an emergency evacuation via their Stargate and wind up in an Ancient spaceship, and promptly get stuck there. They're far from home (that's the Voyager part), and only by learning the secrets of this mysterious, giant spaceship will they be able to get back (that's the Macross part). As the ship draws close to planets that have a Stargate, the ship's Stargate activates and they send their team through so they can explore the planet (the Stargate part) and find whatever they need at the moment (more Voyager). And while of course the military is in charge, they still have their duty to protect the civilians with them, many of whom are learning they have to step up if they're all going to survive (more Macross).

And of course we have the heavy angst, the moral dilemmas, the shaky camera work, and the raunchy sex scenes of the Galactica remake.

Unlike Galactica, I didn't feel like people automatically made the wrong choice, and I did feel that the characters had good moral compasses. Dr. Rush seems to be the obvious Dr. Baltar character-- he's the long-haired, bespectacled scientific pragmatist who essentially gets them into the mess but is quick to point out how it's not his fault. However he does seem to be of a stronger moral fiber underneath it all than Gaius Baltar was. Oh, and he sounds Scottish instead of English.

SyFy is obviously hoping this show will keep their Stargate fans and pick up their Galactica fans at the same time. Will it work? Beats me. I can never predict these things. I don't really need to have a Galactica-flavored Stargate, but it doesn't offend me either, and the premise does work for me. As long as they treat it more like Atlantis than Voyager-- have them actually make contact with home, but appreciate the value of where they are, so that "getting home" isn't the constant drive of the show-- then I think this could be a great series. I love ships, and I always said Stargate had some of the best looking ships, and the Destiny is no exception. So I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with this series.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gateways - edited by Martin H. Greenberg

I love short story anthologies, because (1) they don't take too long to get moving, (B) they give you a wide variety, and (iii) I can quit reading within a day if a "must read now" book comes along, and then come back to it without having to try to remember what was going on.

I always loved the concept of stumbling across a special gateway to somewhere else. When I was a kid (back in the pre-CNN late 70's and early 80's, before every child abduction was broadcast on the news) I would often just wander around the neighborhood for hours, investigating forests and quarries and wherever the train tracks led me. Sometimes I was alone, but a lot of the time I was with my friend Frank. And there was always a feeling of adventure, as if the next forest might just reveal a sparkling window among the trees that could take us anywhere.

This anthology brings back that feeling, not just because that's actually what it's about, but because (being an anthology) each story uses a different kind of gateway and tells a different kind of story. Some are science fiction, some are fantasy, some are horror. The gateways can be anything, from magic windows to space portals to even role-playing games. They can go anywhere, from the obvious far-away worlds to different times to dark netherworlds. So going into each new story gave me that same tingle of excitement and discovery.

The risk with anthologies is there is inevitably something you won't like, but each of these stories were intriguing enough that I got something good out of all of them. Quite a few of them, like "Double Trouble" by John Zakour and "Worlds Enough ...and Time" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, I'd love to see more of. I really don't care for horror stories, but the ones here never got gory, so the gateway concept (and often the characters themselves) was enough to keep me interested.

All in all, a very fun book!