BREAKING – Tom Holland Cast as Spider-Man

He'll have to lose that suit.
He’ll have to lose that suit.

After more than a few months of speculation, rumors, bullshit, and disappointment, it was confirmed today that Tom Holland, best known for Billy Elliot the Musical, will be putting on the spandex and playing Spider-Man.

This will be the third incarnation of Peter Parker/Spider-Man to appear on the big screen in 10 years. Tobey McGuire played the masked hero in the original trilogy from the early 2000’s and most recently Andrew Garfield has been bringing the character to life in the Amazing Spider-Man movies.

However, this will be the first time that the character will play a part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has already been confirmed that Holland’s Spider-Man will debut in Captain America: Civil War and after that we can all expect to see yet another stand alone Spider-Man movie. This one will be directed by Jon Watts and will hit theaters July 28, 2017.

What do you think about the newest version of Spidey? Are you happy to see Holland in the role or were you pining for an on screen Miles Morales? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Comicbook.co

Yesterday in the Nerd Verse… Jan 01, 2015

We listened and responded! We miss doing news articles as much as you miss reading them, so we will be attempting daily blurbs of random nerd happenings. Feedback is always welcome!

Our January 2015 Movie Previews are up. There are some winners and losers. Which are you most excited for?

Very soon, our comprehensive review of the Best of 2014 will be making its way to you all. Articles of awesomeness, and podcasts to boot. This is all new to us, so stay tuned! When it all goes live, you can find it here.

Tekken has further diversified their cast with the announcement that a new character named Shaheen (Translates roughly to “God of the Falcons” in Arabic) from Saudi Arabia will be added to Tekken 7, debuting in Japan in arcades next month. Source: Twitter

The fighting game we’re all really excited for, Mortal Kombat X, has released some details about characters and gameplay. We now know that the story takes place 25 years after the events of Mortal Kombat (9) and will feature a relatively aged Kung Lao, as well as an online Campaign mode that allows you to forge alliances with different MK factions. The game comes out in April. Source: Pelaaja magazine and AeroGrunt.

PlayStation Plus members, rejoice! Free for PS4 this month is inFamous: First Light. I don’t regret paying for it when it came out, but it’s definitely worth your time now that it is free.

A $50 LEGO set just dropped today that includes a Batman mecha-suit and, get this, a Wonder Woman invisible jet! Grodd does not stand a chance. Source: LEGO.com

I bet you didn’t know that Hawkeye writer Matt Fraction is actually a great guy in real life? If you visit WeLoveFine.com right now, you can purchase Hawkeye gear that supports Futures Without Violence, an organization dedicated to the eradication of violence against women and children (violence against men is still encouraged).

Thanks to 3D printing, is there really stopping anybody with a lot of money from becoming Batman? A collaboration of 3D printing companies say “Hell No!” Check out their prototype of the Arkham Origins Batsuit. Source: 3Dprint.com.

TV season is out to heat up with premieres of Agent Carter (1/6/15), American Horror Story (1/7/15) and Archer within the next week. Get your DVRs ready!

Athletes are modern day super heroes, and Marvel has created a documentary to show why. If you like sports figures as much as you like your comic book characters, check out their new documentary, 1 of 1: Genesis. Source: YouTube.

Phil Noto, artist of Black Widow, has put together a series of throwback, photo-realistic variants for various Marvel books set to come out in February. Source: ComicsAlliance.

The new Daredevil series on Netflix is gonna be bananas; we already knew that. What I didn’t know is that Marvel TV exec Jeph Loeb (yup, the guy that wrote Batman: Hush) is going for a vibe kind of like HBO’s The Wire. I don’t know how that will translate into Matt Murdock’s life, but those words can never be bad. Source: EW.

Robin Williams: The Legacy

“He has been battling severe depression of late.” Doesn’t seem like these should be some of the last words we hear about the legendary Robin Williams. Yet there was always something underneath his performances that let you know there was something melancholy hiding there. Some selfless thing that wanted to make the world a better place, to heal the system one person at a time.  His characters were the catalyst for bringing out the best in people around him. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting put aside his own demons to help Will. Genie in Aladdin was there to serve, yet deeply saddened by his own captivity. Whether it was Mork from Ork, Patch Adams or Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams poked fun at the human condition to make us feel better -often at his own expense.

Yesterday, the world lost a friend in Robin Williams. As we have talked about his life with our friends, we have realized how much Williams touched them;  he was more than an actor, he was a teacher. He allowed people he never met to see the best in themselves, and along the way, we got to laugh, which made all this words, actions, impressions, roles, and stand-ups all the more memorable. Today, we celebrate the life of the legendary Robin Williams by recounting our experiences with his different works. Rest in Peace.

Mork and Mindy (1978-1982)

Role: Mork from Ork

Na-nu Na-nu! Mork and Mindy was Robin Williams breakout role from 1978 and ran for four seasons. The show was a spin-off from Happy Days, where Mork made his first appearance and created to showcase Williams’ comedic genius. Mork was from Ork, a planet where humor was forbidden on the premise of observing human behavior and reporting back to his superior, Orson. Mork was a total innocent, technically advanced original geek living with a girl in Boulder, Colorado – long before it was cool. The first season the show was more about Mork discovering human and specifically American ways. Subsequent seasons became more about his romantic relationship with Mindy eventually introducing Jonathan Winters as their son hatched from an egg Mork laid (as Orkans age backwards). The show always ended with  insightful exchanges as Mork reported to Orson. One such exchange was Mork trying to explain loneliness: “when children are young, they’re told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they’re told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally, when they’re very old, they’re told not to talk to themselves. Who’s left?” — Kathy

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Role: Adrian Cronauer

Good Morning Vietnam is loosely based on the life of Adrian Cronauer a DJ with the Armed Forces Radio Network stationed in Saigon in 1965. He is charged with improving morale among the troops in Nam. He shakes things up at the station with his irreverent comedy and hip music (the soundtrack is pretty good, too). The troops love him and his superior hates him. The film came out in 1987, it took about that long before anyone could look back at Vietnam with anything resembling humor and it is a way funny film thanks to Williams mostly ad-libbing  his DJ spiel. Aside from stirring up things at the radio station he starts teaching American slang at an English language class for Vietnamese, falls for a local girl but gets nowhere except becoming friends with her brother who is consorting with the enemy. In the end, he leaves ’em smiling, making war a little less hell. — Kathy

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

Role: King of the Moon

This may be a very short role and Williams was not even credited as himself for the role, but it was iconic to me as a massive Terry Gilliam fan for quite some time. Imagine that I turn on a film, I remember not understanding, but being fascinated with when I saw clips as a younger man. Once I grew up and watched the film again I was surprised to see the face of a man, literally just his face, that I had also grown to love and had seen most of his roles but this one. Immediately it made 100% sense to see Robin Williams in a Terry Gilliam film and that, on top of the fact that the movie is brilliant, made it an instant classic, which led into another Terry Gilliam film, The Fisher King, which also is an amazing performance by Robin Williams. — Jacob

Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

Role: John Keating

I find it very difficult to write about my feelings for the movie Dead Poet’s Society because they are so strong.  I first watched the film when I was a senior in High School.  My favorite English teacher showed the movie in his class, which was dedicated to the study of rebels.  That teacher, Mr. Moe, taught me that rebels didn’t have to do bad things to be rebellious; they just had to think for themselves.  Robin Williams character, John Keating, is a teacher who also taught his students at an all-boys prep school in the 50’s how to think for themselves.  Upon graduating, I, along with my classmates stood on our desks, saluted Mr. Moe, and declared “Oh Captain, My Captain” in honor of everything he taught us that year.  Today, I stand to Robin Williams and declare the same.  Thank you for teaching me, and the rest of the world, how to think for ourselves, work hard, and laugh. — Adrian

The Fisher King (1991)

Role: Parry

Another Terry Gilliam film except now Robin Williams was a main character along side Jeff Bridges. The story is of a broken down depressed DJ named Jack (Jeff Bridges) who ended up  influencing a madman to kill a large group of people in a bar. Jack ends up meeting a homeless man named Parry (Robin Williams) who he takes under his wing and finds out Parry used to be a professor and went a bit crazy when his wife died in the shooting he had influenced. This is a great comedic and dramatic film combining both in a fantasy that only Terry Gilliam could envision. This is definitely an underrated film and is a testament to the talent of Robin Williams as an actor as he plays Parry in a way that makes you love, hate, and always be completely fascinated. This film also shows the true horrors that depression can do to people and sometimes what it takes to get them the help they need. — Jacob

Hook (1991)

Role: Peter Banning (Pan)

This film holds a very special place in my heart not only because it has been a favorite of mine since I was a child, but also because I was honored to have my first acting experience as a Lost Boy in my High School’s production based on the film. As a young boy, Peter Pan was one of my idols because I have never wanted to grow up, and some may say I never really have. But Hook was a magical film, one of those types that can embody a childhood in shorter than 2 hours. The fact that this film can not only give me good memories of my childhood, but teen years as well, guarantees this as a classic film for me. Robin Williams as Peter Pan is perfect To this day it is hard to envision anyone else whether young or old as Peter Pan. Bangarang! — Jacob

Aladdin (1992)

Role: Genie

You ain’t never had a friend like him. Genie easily stole the spotlight in Disney’s Aladdin and became the best wingman in history as he helps his master, Aladdin, get the girl of his dreams. Genie goes far beyond his listed job requirements, and asks for nothing in return but for Aladdin to consider setting Genie free with his last wish. What made Genie so lovable, aside from his devotion to his friends, was his frantic improvs. I mean, who could blame the guy from going off the handle? He’d had no contact in hundreds of years! Robin actually ad-libbed most of the film, too, so most of those lines are pure Williams gold. In the end, when Genie is granted his freedom, he still chooses to stick around with his loved ones, even with his semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic power. — Sherif

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Role: Daniel Hillard / Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire is one of Robin’s most iconic roles, especially for anyone born in the 80’s. His face covered in pie frosting is fairly well engraved into anyone old enough to have seen this film in 1993. To me, it was more than the great film everyone else saw, but it was a film that really hit home as most stories with good fathers do.  Mrs. Doubtfire came out at a time when my dad was starting to really disappear from my life. But on top, of that Robin’s character of Daniel Hillard worked in animation, and ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be an animator. So to see him not only working in animation but also a Chuck Jones cartoon blew my mind as a child. It seriously impacted me in a huge way and made me look forward to being what he becomes by the end of the film to my own children, if I have any in the future.  I want to make sure and never abandon them or anyone as he did initially in the film and my own father did. But of course, Robin Williams turns out being a much better father, and overall person than almost any man I have come across. — Jacob

Jumanji (1995)

Role: Alan Parrish

Jumanji was a film that, as a child, held my imagination the whole time and made me think up so many great ideas. On top of that fact it may have made me a bit scared of turning into a monkey. Despite the craziness and death defying things that happen, you know you still wanted to play that board game more than anything in the world when you watched it, if not, that is sad. Robin Williams as the boy who turned old crazy jungle man who was trapped in the game for years is great. The character development from being a long bearded crazy man to an all together family man is one of the best performances of the time despite the non blockbuster children’s film.  But every role of Robin’s is a testament to his talents, despite whatever the subject and whatever the film he made, you enjoy it by him just being there.  This one just happens to be filled with great animals and some of the best graphics for the time. — Jacob

Jack (1996)

Role: Jack Powell

A far-fetched theme along the line of Tom Hanks’ Big, Jack is the story about a boy born with a disease that makes him age four times as quickly as a normal child. The movie is sold as a comedy, but there’s a good chance you will do just as much sobbing as you will laughing. As a ten year-old, the middle-aged Robin Williams is able to channel the innocence of a child, but still teach us more about growing up than puberty ever did. Outcast by kids for being different, Jack uses his unique skills as a pseudo-adult to woo the kids, but it is his kind heart that really made him loved. At the tender age of his tween years, Jack begins to face his own mortality – and does so with such maturity and grace, showing that our time on this Earth is precious. — Sherif

The Birdcage (1996)

Role: Armand Goldman

The Birdcage was released in the mid-90’s, but this was still a time when “out” gay characters were not often found, much less the starring roles.   Williams played Armand, the Jewish owner of a gay nightclub, The Birdcage.  He and Nathan Lane, who played his partner, Albert, play the comedic roles to perfection.  Perhaps more importantly, the film his highly acclaimed for not only portraying homosexual characters, but not making them caricatures.  I remember watching this movie with my grandmother when I was little and knowing that movie, especially because of Williams and Lane, were ahead of the time. — Adrian

Great Minds Think for Themselves (1997)

Role: Genie

Although this technically this is still his Genie character from Aladdin, the context of this Disney Channel featurette was far different. A play of words from the old saying “great minds think alike,” this mini-segment that aired during the commercials in the late 1990’s. Edutainment in its purest form, each episode of “Great Minds Think For Themselves” focused on a new revolutionary mind of the 20th century. The episodes ranged from the United States founding fathers Tomas Jefferson to musical pioneers like Louis Armstrong. His blend of improvisation and passion exuded into each segment, and made learning about historic figures without boring his audience – and on a Saturday morning, that is saying something. — Sherif

Flubber (1997)

Role: Professor Philip Brainard

Flubber was one of those movies that every kid in the 90’s loved.  It also made life easier for teachers because they could show the movie, and then afterwards the class got to actually make Flubber.  Best day of “science” class ever.  A remake of the 1961 film The Absent-Minded ProfessorFlubber follows Robin Williams, who played Professor Philip Brainard, a professor who is trying to save the college he works for and his engagement to his fiancee.  The film is very slap-sticky, but no doubt was of the most memorable movies for fans of Williams in my generation. — Adrian

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Role: Dr. Sean Maguire

Robin’s performance as Will Hunting’s psychiatrist is wildly the only role to win him an Academy Award – that is, until he receives his posthumous Lifetime Award (damn well better). As a widowed shrink charged with Matt Damon’s Will Hunting, Sean Maguire is taken aback when Hunting dissects Maguire’s life after seeing a painting in his office. The result is one of film’s greatest monologues, centered around showing Hunting that he may be a genius, but there is so much more to life than what we can presume about others. This becomes the turning point in the movie, because Hunting realizes that he must take charge of his life and utilize his gifts as a math genius. Maguire took so much abuse from Hunting, the amount of courage needed to keep caring for him was just inspiring. It’s not your fault, Robin. – Sherif

Patch Adams (1998)

Role: Patch Adams

Robin’s performance as the unorthodox doctor, Patch Adams resonated in me more than any of his other films. After enrolling in medical school, Adams rubs all his classmates the wrong way – none more so than the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Adams challenges the establishment to see that treatment is just as much a social science as it is a medical one, and challenges his colleagues to put prestige aside and pursue a degree in medicine for the love of helping people. This movie has become more relevant than ever when looking at today’s prescription drug-heavy society. Even after suffering great loss, the drive to help others drove Patch Adams back into the light and back into the fight. — Sherif

What Dreams May Come (1998)

Role: Dr. Christopher (Christy) Nielsen

This film went by largely unnoticed, but in light of his death, I imagine film buffs and Robin Williams fans alike will fall in love with this movie. The story follows Christy Nielsen’s tragic journey into the afterlife. After a car crash kills both of his children, he himself dies by a similar fate. In a morbid twist of fate, Christy’s wife commits suicide, and is sent to hell. The main story involves Christy’s journey to literally save his wife from the depths of hell and reunite his family in heaven. When Dreams May Come is an introspective look at the afterlife, and a love that transcends the boundaries of heaven and hell. — Sherif

Happy Feet (2006)

Role: Ramón and Lovelace

Happy Feet is one of those special movies that makes everyone happy; I mean it is in the title.  The story follows Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), a penguin who can’t sing like all the other penguins, but he can tap dance.  Robin Williams voiced two roles.  Ramón is a penguin who is a part of the “Amigos” penguin group, and the only penguins to accept Mumble as a dancer rather than a singer.  It is Ramón who helps Mumble try to woo a female penguin (voiced by Brittany Murphy) in a scene reminiscent of Cyrano de Bergerac, singing for Mumble.  Williams also voiced Lovelace, a penguin who has a plastic rings stuck around his neck.  He is the wise penguin who knows the most about humans.  In both these roles, Williams conveyed through his voice how important it is to be accepting of other no matter their differences. — Adrian

Night at the Museum (2006)

Role: Teddy Roosevelt

This may not be the best film of Robin Williams career, but it is by far one of my favorites, if not my favorite performance of his as far as quality. I never would have thought it, but if Robin Williams was given this role in a biopic of Teddy Roosevelt, you better believe he would have gotten a bunch of awards for it. In the Museum films everyone, does a great job with the character or actual historical person, and they are all a blast to watch. Robin Williams, though, takes on this role wholeheartedly and creates something that completely proves that this series is more than just a fun little history lesson, with immature humor and a very family friendly adventure kind of film. His portrayal to me is as accurate as you can get to one of the best presidents, and of course, the true definition of the bad ass we know as Teddy Roosevelt. Obviously, this isn’t the actual Teddy Roosevelt in the film and just a wax model, but Robin sure could have fooled me. — Jacob

Man of the Year (2006)

Role: Tom Dobbs

Right before the reign of the Bush administration was at an end, a wide margin of people had become fed up with both parties, and it seemed like the only logical choice was Daily Show host, Jon Stewart. Man of the Year is a fair portrayal of what it would be like if the people actually had a representative of the people to represent them. More than anything, Tom Dobbs had the winning spirit, but it all meant nothing if we cannot win the right way.  — Sherif

World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

Role: Lance Clayton

This is by no means the best movie of Robin Williams’ career – even his best work in the last decade. Very morose in nature, World’s Greatest Dad tells the tale of Lance Clayton, a high school English teacher who finds his son dead, via autoerotic asphyxiation. Instead of leaving the scene, Lance stages his son’s death as a soul whose cry for help was never answered. Lance then brandishes a series of suicide notes to make all the children at school feel as though he was a kindred spirit, which attracts major publishers to get a hold of the work. World’s Greatest Dad is one father’s desperate attempt to save the image of his son, but at the cost of his own soul. It is especially morbid after Williams’ own death. — Sherif

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Genre – Comic Book, Sci-Fi/Action, Comedy

Director – James Gunn (Slither, Super)

Cast – Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, and so many more. 

Alluring element – Dave Bautista was one of my favorite parts and Vin Diesel almost made me cry. (Things that have never been said before.)

Scorecard:
Plot – 9
Acting – 9
Representation of Genre – 10
Cinematography – 10
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 10
Logical consistency – 9
Originality/Creativity – 9 
Soundtrack/Music – 10
Overall awesomeness – 10 
 
What can I say about Guardians of the Galaxy? My expectations going in to this film were very high. I hadn’t heard a single negative thing about it going into the theater on that July evening. Normally, I would be very hesitant of a film with as much hype as Guardians has, but, this is one of those wonderfully rare occasions where it not only lived up to its hype, but exceeded it. It was a Sci-Fi movie that had a bit of everything. It was action packed, extremely funny, heart-warming, and badass all at the same time. So, please, if you’re resisting the urge to see this because you think your expectations are too high, or “There’s a character that only says ‘I am Groot?'” Let go of all your preconceived notions and go buy your ticket and enjoy what may truly be MARVEL’s best film yet.
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The film opens with a bit of backstory for our main hero, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who prefers the name Star Lord – even if no one else seems to. Here is where we learn that Quill is an Earthling who has unfortunately suffered a great loss. He runs away and is picked up by and abducted by a spaceship. We then cut to 26 years later where Quill is a member of the Ravagers, a group of alien outlaws led by Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker). He is landing on an alien planet to steal a mysterious orb about which he knows nothing except that it’s worth a lot of money. While attempting the robbery, he is ambushed by a group of soldiers but is fortunately able to make his escape. During his escape he is contacted by Yondu who is not too happy that Quill has absconded with the orb.
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Quill ends up on Xandar (home of Nova Corps) where he intends to sell the orb, but, unfortunately for him, everyone is out to get their hands on this thing, including the mad titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) who has lent his adopted daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and his actual daughter Nebula (Karen Gillan) to Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). Ronan sends Gamora to get the orb from Quill on Xandar. In the meantime, Yondu has put a hefty bounty on Quill’s head and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) want to collect. What follows is one of the more exceptional scenes in the film where our first four A-holes find themselves in an all out street brawl. But, as it always does, the law catches up to them and they find themselves in the worst prison in the galaxy where they meet the final member of the team, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who happens to have a bit of a vendetta against Gamora. Our five losers (“people who have lost things”) stage a prison break and find themselves unwillingly a team who has to keep this orb out of the hands of Ronan.
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Guardians is one of the more visually stunning films of the summer (I loved the way Dawn of the Planet of the Apes looked, as well). The opening credits scene is one of my favorites (I have a lot of those). From the very first alien planet we see, which is full of ancient ruins and strange rat…things that Quill uses as a makeshift microphone to Xander, a very Earth-like planet in a Star Trek era. Gunn really makes you feel like this is a large and heavily populated galaxy. There is very little CGI in this film’s characters, with the obvious exceptions being Rocket and Groot (and Nathan Fillions cameo). Most of your on screen aliens are make up and practical effects which I believe is wonderful (And, why I still have faith in Star Wars). There are a couple different members of the Ravagers who I particularly like. That’s not to put the CGI down however. Rocket is so real at times that I thought it was a real raccoon, not unlike certain moments in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
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The characters, and the performances of the actors are one of the best things about this film. Everyone has an adequate backstory that leaves a bit of room for mystery for future Guardians films. Cooper as Rocket was great, he was able to really make it something that was unique and not just Bradley Cooper doing voices. Diesel did an amazing job considering he only had to say 3 words, however, despite his limited vocabulary, he still nearly brought me to tears. The stand out performance for me was Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. I’ve been a Guardians for about 3 years now and I’ve never really thought twice about Drax (except in The Thanos Imperative book) but he nearly stole the show in this. His very literal interpretation of things leads to some interesting misunderstandings. All I have to say about Pratt as Star-Lord is, perfect. My one minor complaint here would be Rooker as Yondu. He was good, don’t get me wrong, but, he was Rooker…just less of an asshole as on The Walking Dead, but, not by much. He makes up for it by having a pretty sweet weapon.
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The soundtrack for this film is one of the best parts. Quill and his mother shared a love for music and she had given him a mix tape of her favorite songs which are a mix of some of the best songs of the ’70s. From Blue Swede to The Jackson 5 to Marvin Gaye, it helps you to remember Quill’s humanity but it also allows you to tap your foot and maybe sing along…if you’re brave enough, I did and you probably should too. Plus, it was all relevant to plot points – just perfect.
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Well, if you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed this film. What am I saying, that’s an understatement. This was my favorite MARVEL film by far. It’s also one of my favorites of the year. Please, do yourself a favor, let your skepticism go (if you have any) and see this as soon as you can. Big screen a must, 3D not necessary, but fun.
For the love of Groot! Have you bought your ticket yet?!?!?
All photos belong to Marvel Comics

Surviving a Science Fictional Year

Hush Comics would like to introduce new writer J.H. Montgomery to the team.  He comes to us with a new writing series analyzing and reviewing science fiction movies from all eras.  This post is used with permission from the original posting found here.


 

What is science fiction? Anyone with any familiarity with the world of literature will find definitions elusive and fluid: it’s difficult to pin anything, definitively, into any category, and the categories swish over content like wine in the bottom of a glass. Unlike something more definitive like biology or physics herself (though, if you pay attention, physics gets a routine swish-around), the definitions aren’t grounded in something hard and objective. It’s not like classifying a rose in which we can go into nature and pluck a science fiction from a bush and contemplate the boundaries of it like we can with that rose. Instead, it’s much more like a software program being run on the cloud of our shared perceptions, and in that way, not only do our considerations of what make it that thing change, but the thing itself changes. Which means that there isn’t a set definition of the thing I seek to write about. This is also excluding the numerous definitions of constantly spawning subgenres (space opera, cyperpunk, biopunk, steampunk, psychedelic, military, paranoid, and so on).

There are many definitions, the most forgiving of which is, “A story or narrative containing science fictional elements,” which I think is called begging the question in logic classes. Or there’s Robert Heinlein’s five part definition. I think it was Einstein that said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Which is problematic: if Heinlein, one of the most prolific and respected sci-fi authors, can’t simply articulate it, then who can? Which seems to align with the fact that there isn’t a simple or succinct definition anywhere, which must mean that no one really understands it. John Campbell Jr. described science fiction as, “… an honest effort at prophetic extrapolation from the known must be made,” which is pretty good, but a little mechanical. Theodore Sturgeon (Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite, and perhaps one of the unsung heroes of sci-fi as literature) said, “A science fiction story is a story built around human beings, with a human problem, and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content,” which is less mechanical and includes the ingredients of the emotional heft required of any story that wishes to leave its mark. But then instantaneously the problem then becomes, “What about sci-fi stories that take place on alien worlds divorced of any ‘human’ element?” Or if the human is so unrecognizable as human that it’s more easily described as alien. Image’s Prophet series comes to mind as one of the most recent examples.

I can’t remember who said this, or where I read it (I want to say Ray Bradbury, but I cannot verify that), but when writing a paper for my capstone writing class, I encountered a definition that science fiction is the form of literature that extrapolates humanity to inhumane proportions in order to be able to better understand humanity. In order to study a small problem, you sometimes need a large lens.

I like these definitions and where they point. Triangulating, the definitions point to something transcendent or transhuman, which seems to be the ultimate goal of science anyway: overcoming those limitations that make us specifically human. And more recently, within the last two hundred years, our understanding of the human animal (and all animals except those that be dead) is that he’s a transitional form. As a species, we haven’t arrived at our ultimate shape, but we are simply the proto-form of the as-yet formed. Perhaps science fiction is the first science of literature to recognize this idea; it then takes it upon itself to probe both the tops and bottoms, comforts and fears, potential goods and potential evils of transcendence. So, for a more inclusive and exhaustive definition – one that doesn’t require me to add caveats nor invalidates the subgenres yet includes all that interests me – I propose the following:

“Science fiction is a genre which uses current knowledge to speculate about unknown knowledge in an inherently transcendent fashion that seeks to either better define or overcome humanness.”

This definition matches what I feel when I watch the best science fiction: the giddy thrill of new ideas, or the taut anxiety of fresh horror. It also helps to explain why some things that Blockbuster or Barnes and Noble might qualify as science fiction will be suspiciously absent from my list.

What list? Well, for the next year, I plan to watch one science fiction movie a day. Originally the plan was to watch and write about each, but the fear then became that each entry would simply become a summary of the movie with a thumbs up or thumbs down, and that’s something you can get from Rotten Tomatoes. Instead, I want to write about movies in batches: batches of series (for example, The Matrix) or themes (far future, or coexisting with the alien). This will better allow for comparisons and contextualization, which I think is more worthwhile than simple review.

But I do have weaknesses. First up is that I only have roughly 230 movies on my list. To that end, as you read, feel free to make suggestions which I will add (if I don’t have them already) or explain why it can’t be added as the definition mandates.

Another weakness is the cold war and the roughly 18 septillion B movies it spawned. I know that if I wanted to do sci-fi of the 40s and 50s, I would instantly have 365 movies. The problem is that you can only handle the, “Oh no! Aliens! Quick, shoot them in the face! I’m so glad we shot them in the face! Let’s be glad we’re nothing like them/be careful of our similarities with them/be perpetually afraid they might return!” story so much before it becomes white noise. It’s an infantile theme from an infantile time. Yet, I recognize I will have to include at least some if I’m to reach my 365(ish) goal.

The last weakness is the letter of the law versus the intent. The letter of the law is, “A movie a day, write about them in groups,” but the intent is, “sustained and thoughtful writing over the course of an entire year about a specific topic.” To that end, there are several days I plan on taking off (my anniversary, my daughter’s first birthday), but I fear laziness, especially in the face of such a daunting task. I might need some of you to egg my house from time to time.

This should be fun, and I invite participation. It’s why the Good Lord Kabbalah Monster saw fit that blogs have comment sections. I might not always respond or interact, but I will do my best to do both and will, at the very least, read. So please: tell me why I’m wrong or what I overlooked, or what movie I’m forgetting. I’ll post at the end of each batch what’s coming next so that you can tell me what should be included.

This project is, itself, a project of transcendence: through it I will be learning as much about the limits of my own conceptions of what constitutes humanity as well as the boundaries of story.

Stay tuned.

cover art by William Blake (yeah, that William Blake)

Monthly Movie Preview: August 2014

July has come and gone in the blink of an eye. August promises to close out the summer in style, with a few notable blockbusters and some good independent films sprinkled in. Check out what we have to say about August’s films:

August 1 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro

I’m hooked on a feeling… that this might be the greatest Marvel movie ever made. Although the Guardians have been around in comic books for decades, and the team being used for the film having existed since 2008, the number of people who can name any of the individual team members is far surpassed by the volume of fans who have no idea what is going on – and that will work to the film’s benefit. Nobody has any expectations of this rag-tag group, whose diversity is its strongest card. A talented set of actors, endless humor and explosive action will round out the intergalactic adventure that, at worst is a thrilling movie to see with the family, and at best could be this generation’s Star Wars. One thing is certain – we will be at the theaters on Friday to find out. – Sherif

August 1 – Get on Up

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis (True Blood), Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer

HEEEYYY!!! Now one more time, say that with your best James Brown impression. Couldn’t do it? That’s okay, because Chadwick Boseman sure can when he plays James Brown in the upcoming biopic titled Get on Up. If you are a fan of James Brown, soul, funk, music, and history, this movie is for you. Be prepared to get on up and enjoy this movie directed by Tate Taylor (The Help). However, get on up silently because, well, you are still in a movie theater. I honestly believe this movie is going to be great and it’ll make you feel so many emotions including excitement, happiness, sadness, and sorrow. Despite this movie being about the music of the godfather of soul, it is also about his family and his life, which has not been struggle-free. Basically, I think this movie is going to be fantastic; however, if James Brown and his music is not your thing, it is possibly the drama and the history will be enough to hold your interest. So one more time, get on up, and give it your best HEEEYYY!!! – Evan

 

August 5 – Dragonball Z: Battle of the Gods

Starring: Original voice cast

I’ve been trying to get into DBZ since I recently signed up for Crunchyroll, but there are just so many other great animes out that I haven’t gotten a chance to get to really dive into the series. What really has me interested is the fact that a year after its release, Funimation has taken it upon themselves to get the American theatrical release rights and is showing this in select theaters for a few nights. Something happened with a Tekken animated movie a few years back and it was definitely worth the trip. I don’t personally care about this movie and I figure that any major fan would have already seen the dubbed version, and while I don’t really care for some of the business practices of Funimation, this gives me hope for the future. Anything that gets a big enough following could be a potential candidate for the big screen. There are plenty of animes I would pay to see so if this is your type of thing, make sure to get out there and support it as it will give companies a reason to continue doing this in the future. – Robert

 

August 8 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Starring: Johnny Knoxville (voice only), Tony Shalhoub (voice only), Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Whoopi Goldberg

August is here, and whether or not fans burn down the House that Bay built depends on this film. Long-time fans are either reserved or outraged, whether it be the way the Turtles look, the fact that Megan Fox is playing April O’Neil, or if it’s just based off the fact that Michael Bay is the director. All of these points are quite valid, but I can’t help but want to take a chance on this new take on the Heroes in a Half-Shell. We all have our own impression on what we consider the Turtles to be, and I think that any major motion picture attention to the franchise is a win in my books. There’s simply no way this TMNT incarnation will be as amazing as the originals, or even the new Nickelodeon television series, but as long as Bay can capture the magic of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that made it such an instant classic 30 years ago, it may continue to be at the forefront of pop culture for all ages. – Sherif

August 8 – What If

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver

Originally titled The F Word for its initial 2013 debut, What If is the tale of Harry Potter trying to avoid being put in the friend-zone with a decidedly hot blonde. It sounds like a cliché concept, but What If has already garnered a lot of critical acclaim, earning Best Adapted Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards. Daniel Radcliffe is finally believable as an adult actor, and his best friend in the movie is played by Adam Driver – who is the one sole reason that HBO’s Girls is a watchable show for me. This movie won’t break any new ground, but for any guys looking to get over the Friend Zone hump, this would be the movie to take her to (unless she likes TMNT, in which case you should just marry her). – Sherif

August 8 – Step Up: All In

Starring: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani, Stephen Boss, and Cyrus Spencer

Confession time:  I have seen every single episode of So You Think You Can Dance.  Every. Single. One.  I haven’t seen any of the Step Up movies, but I am always happy for the contestants of SYTYCD when they make it to gigs beyond the show.  For Stephen Boss aka tWitch and Cyrus Spencer aka Glitch, this is exactly the case.  And really, is anyone going to see these movies for the plot?  No, its a dance movie.  But the dancing should be worth seeing this film, even if it is just for the SYTYCD alum.  – Adrian

August 15 – Frank

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson (AKA Bill Weasley), Scoot McNairy

I have absolutely no idea what to make of this movie. It looks like Deadmau5 has a crack-head brother or something and we are getting to watch the story of his tomfoolery. The story of a guy who wears a fake head and never ever takes it off seems like it could be humorous but I don’t know if this is my kind of comedy. After watching the trailer my interest is definitely piqued but there are too many other things I would rather see so I would say that I will wait to rent this at Redbox or something, but truth be told I will probably forget about this movie once I’m done writing this. – Robert

 

August 15 – Life After Beth

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Anna Kendrick, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon

As much as I love these actors and zombies, I am rather sick of people being in love with monsters. Although the idea may be over done in this we see upcoming actor Dane DeHaan (Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Zach, a young man who we see struggling emotionally due to the loss of his girlfriend. This quickly changes as Zach sees Beth (Aubrey Plaza), his lost girlfriend and finds she has been resurrected somehow, and although she initially shows no signs they start to figure out she is a zombie and needs to eat human flesh. This will almost guaranteed bring laughs if for nothing else due to the cast, but ultimately it will be lost among the other blockbusters this month. It is definitely not a family film and is marketed towards the teen and young adult community. Although the film itself may be easily forgotten due to other massive films this month don’t forget it as it will likely be a well liked film among certain groups. – Jacob

August 15 – The Expendables 3

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer(?), Terry Crews, Victor Ortiz, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Initially sold as a man-gasm inducing thrill-fest, this franchise is two strokes away from permanently shooting blanks. I love action flicks as much as the next guy, and I genuinely thought the franchise was a good idea, but is there something really so wrong with just letting the legends ride off into the sunset without having to sit through multiple hours of screaming, slow-motion firefights and catchphrases that barely worked twenty years ago? Let’s be honest; nobody is watching this film for the acting, or the storyline. Twenty & thirty-something men get to see some of their action star idols duke it out as one last hurrah. The third installment gives us Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson (the new bad guy), Harrison Ford, a post-prison Wesley Snipes and Kelsey Grammer. If the fate of the world is in Frasier Crane’s hands, we’re all screwed. There’s no way I’m influencing you’re decision to see The Expendables 3, as you’ve likely already made your decision before reading this. – Sherif

August 15 – The Giver

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift

I won’t lie.  When I see the trailer for The Giver, I get chills.  Based off the book The Giver by Lois Lowry, the movie will be a look into one boy’s world… a utopia that isn’t actually that perfect.  It feels odd to be writing a preview on this for two reasons.  One being that practically every millennial and younger have read the book in school.  The other being that if I say much more for those who don’t know the plot, there is a lot to give a way.  In short, go see this movie.  You will not be disappointed.  -Adrian

August 22 – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Starring: Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Bruce Willis

Is it 2005 again, or did Robert Rodriguez just find a way to make Jessica Alba hot again?? It’s been nearly a decade, but Frank Miller’s Sin City is coming back to the silver screen in its second installment, A Dame to Kill For. Just like last time, the star-studded cast will take turns adding their pieces to the puzzle. Sin City vets like Alba, Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin are back, but several big name newcomers will also be sharing the spotlight, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Viewers should expect multiple plot twists, both in a sequel and prequel aspect to the original. Miller and Rodriguez’s visual style also looks to be prevalent throughout the film. This is going to be a fun movie any way you look at it. If you can’t wait for the movie to come out, you can also read the graphic novel of the same name, as it was released over 20 years ago. – Sherif

August 22 – To Be Takei

Starring: George Takei

Oh my! To Be Takei is a documentary depicting the life of brilliant and ever-exuberant George Takei. It tells his story from his childhood in a Japanese internment camp to his ground breaking role on Star Trek to his coming out story and marriage. This promises to be an incredibly inspiring film, especially for anyone who has felt trapped by society just for being who they are. George cleverly reminds us in the tagline that “It’s Okay to Be Takei!” As a Trekkie and proud member of the LGBT community, I’m extremely excited to see this movie hit the big screen, On Demand, and iTunes on August 22nd.  – Charlotte

 

August 22 – Are You Here

Starring: Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler

This movie looks like it could be a more light-hearted sequel to Due Date. The movie stars Zach Galifinakis as yet another crazy person with a myriad of issues, only this time he inherits a small fortune and everybody seems to be out to get it from him. It actually looks pretty funny but looks like it might have more of those light-hearted friendship moments than I would prefer from a movie with him in it. His usual style of comedy hasn’t yet grown old to me so this definitely looks like something worth checking out. – Robert

August 22 – If I Stay

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jaimie Blackley, Liana Liberato, Mireille Enos, and Joshua Leonard

Honestly, I have never read If I Stay.  However, it doesn’t look half bad.  The story follows a teenage celloist named Mia who has a pretty good life going on until her family gets in a fatal car wreck.  Mia experiences an out of body experience while in a coma and must decide whether to go back to living or go… elsewhere.  I don’t know whether this will appeal to the masses, but anything that gets teenagers to read seems pretty decent to me. – Adrian

August 29 – Life of Crime

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Yasiin Bey

Life of Crime reminds me of the type of comedy that my parents would have watched when I was a kid, and one that I wouldn’t have understood for the life of me. I have a feeling this could be the same way. Tim Robbins plays a rich man whose beautiful wife (Aniston) is kidnapped. When the kidnappers attempt to collect the ransom, Robbins refuses to pay. If it sounds like an idea that’s been done before, that’s because it has. The 1986 movie Ruthless People had pretty much the same premise, and Life of Crime is credited as being based off the book The Switch. I’d be lying if I said that Jennifer Aniston, Mos Def and Tim Robbins didn’t sell me on seeing the movie, but otherwise, Life of Crime doesn’t bring nearly enough to the table to make me want to sit through it. – Sherif

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

Genre – Sci-Fi/Action

Director – Matt Reeves (Felicity, Let Me In, Cloverfield)

Cast – Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, Kirk Acevedo (Miguel on OZ)

Alluring element – Apes riding horseback using machine guns. I mean, COME ON!

Scorecard:
Plot – 9
Acting – 10
Representation of Genre – 9
Cinematography – 9
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 10
Logical consistency – 8
Originality/Creativity – 9
Soundtrack/Music – 9
Overall awesomeness – 10
 
 
Guns don’t kill people. Monkeys with guns kill people. The highly-anticipated sequel to the 2011 prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, takes place ten years after the events of the first film. Life has pretty much sucked for the humans since they created and successfully infected themselves with the Simian flu. The virus is a twist of irony, originally designed to cure terminal disease in humans. Civilized life as we know it now is pretty much dead and gone. If you’re seeing this film without watching Rise, you’ll be a little lost, but there aren’t any huge jumps in logic you need to make to understand Dawn. The introductory sequence of Dawn does a decent job of filling us in what happened logistically, but we really get no feeling of empathy for what happens to the humans because we come in ten years after the outbreak has occurred – something that we can probably assume was done on purpose.
Stupid humans.
Stupid humans.
The main difference between the films is that in Rise, you cheered for the apes the entire time. The evil humans tortured and experimented on the apes, and the apes wanted nothing but to be free and left alone. This isn’t like Deep Blue Sea, where the experimented sharks became expert-level human hunters. No, things are not so black and white in Dawn, which is what makes the film so great. The culmination of action is a slow-building process, comprised of bad decisions and miscommunications that make complete logical sense as they unfold, but still give you the gut-wrenching feeling as they happen. It only takes one bad seed to spoil a whole bunch, something that both sides become guilty of. Knowing the truth as a member of the audience and not being able to do anything about it is the toughest part of watching the film; you just want the good guys to win.
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Visually, Dawn is completely awing. We get a great look into the life that the apes have built for themselves. Their culture is thriving, there are litters of young ones roaming around, and there is a noticeable group dynamic between the community (and some straight-up frightening war paint). Dawn was filmed using a combination of live-action stunts, CGI and motion-capture suits, giving it a very realistic look. In fact, a lot of the stunts were overseen by former Cirque du Soleil gymnast, Terry Notary.
Just monkeyin around in the MoCap suits
Just monkeyin around in the MoCap suits
Caesar, the same leader from Rise, has unanimously been given the crown of, well, Caesar. Among him are his most trusted friends, Maurice the Orangoutang, Rocket (a bully turned second in command), and Koba (the ugliest, most jaded SOB in the land). The apes stick to their side of the Golden Gate bridge – which we can only assume is Oakland. Caesar has seen the good in humans and has a much more well-rounded understanding of them than apes who had been tortured their whole lives by scientists. This difference of opinion thereafter becomes the dividing line between the apes, and is ultimately what mucks everything up.
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Monkeys riding horses – a sure sign that you will lose.
What makes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes such a compelling story is that it borrows elements from several other classic stories. There is an amazing parallel to the story of Julius Caesar, which was referenced briefly in the first film. The great commander was victim to the betrayal of his closest when blind ambition superseded the logic and strategy of the current leadership. He was struck down so that a new era could begin – the Roman Empire. Whether or not Caesar in the film fulfills the prophecy of the Ides of March, you’ll have to watch to find out. The archetypal story influence doesn’t end there, though. Dawn borrows elements from other classical animal stories, notably Animal Farm, The Lion King and The Fox and the Hound.
The Orwell is strong with you, my friends.
The Orwell is strong with you, my friends.
To keep the apes with the greatest amount of civility, Caesar creates basic rules to live by, the strongest rule being “Ape not kill ape,” which is strikingly familiar to Animal Farm’s “No animal shall kill any other animal.” Everybody is a fan of the life that Caesar’s spoils have wrought, but become sheep under the more ambitious and “passionate” apes who want to imprison and torture the humans. With deception and, really propaganda, the humans become the target, and the peaceful ways of Caesar (Snowball in Animal Farm) are only as strong as his position in leadership. There is, of course, more development in the book, but it looks like things could easily get to that point in the third film, set to premiere in two years with Reeves repeating as director. Let’s just say that the end of the movie is far from the harmonious ending we wish we had as a viewer (we do know that, in the end of either Dawn and Animal Farm , things don’t necessarily work out for us humans).
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The most emotion I felt during Dawn were the scenes that reminded me of how I felt watching Disney movies as a kid. The Lion King references are more visual than anything, but it’s certainly arguable that there are some plot similarities, too. There is a particular seen that made me scream “Scar!!” in the theater. For those that saw Rise, you will be getting those nostalgic pains that Fox and the Hound did. The whole time, I just wished that we could go back to the time when Caesar was causing havoc with James Franco, before the Simian flu, before the all out war between humans and primates. I miss the good old days. Or if I couldn’t have that, I just wanted to go back to the beginning so we could watch the apes in their own civilization. The entire movie could have done without humans altogether. Specifically Gary Oldman, who basically reprises his role of Commissioner Gordon, but a complete jerk, and his desperation causes more grief than it does solve problem.
Do you remember when Caesar just just a tyke??
Do you remember when Caesar just just a tyke??
Clocking in at just over two hours, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is briskly-paced and each event naturally progresses the story. There was never a time I had to wonder how much time was left, or how long it had been. This is a heavily under-appreciated quality in a movie, and if you just sat through the latest Transformers movie, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Dawn was able to keep me engaged throughout the film, and it was largely due to the great ambiance of a post-apocalyptic world where desperation leads to a series of realistic pitfalls. The tremendous acting by Caesar’s Andy Serkis and company sell what has been the greatest movie of the year thus far. In 2014, Apes rule, and I’m okay with that.

All photos belong to 20th Century Fox