Star Wars Episode CCXXIV–A Little Originality People!

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I realized this whole sequel/reboot nonsense had gone too far when Disney announced Star Wars VII, and I was ambivalent. I mean, this isn’t a Clash of the Titans reboot we’re talking about; it’s STAR WARS! Harrison Ford’s supposed to be back. Ditto Mark Hammill.  Lawrence Kasdan’s involved. I should be dancing in the street, fist bumping other SW fans. What does it say that I can’t muster so much as a shrug?

It says Hollywood has either forgotten or is deliberately ignoring one of its golden rules: Always leave them wanting more. Though I liked Prometheus, I read enough comments about how the movie ruined great and mysterious Space Jockey, that some things are better left unexplored. And who can forget the midi-chlorian gut-punch. That was awful. Thank George, I-mean-God, the next two movies left that alone.

Now, I fully understand there’s a big difference between the decision to delve deeper into a plot point and the larger issue of too much redux. The latter is where I started, and it’s where I’ll finish. I don’t know how many of you remember the days when sequels were a joke. Very little effort went into them.  Shoot, I’ll never forget reading reviews and magazine (yes, magazine) articles speculating on when/if there’d ever be a sequel that was better than the original.  Now, it pretty much happens all the time–as if the director, or whoever, gets money for part one, does that conservatively, then goes to town on part 2, once he proves himself. This is a good thing.

The bad? IMHO, its just that we see too many of them. And the reboots. GAWD! I understand how great they can be–I’m talking to YOU Christopher Nolan, but at the same time, I’d give a lot for some originality. Unfortunately, originality means risks. It’s always easier to present an audience with a known quantity, especially when it’s done well. Given the HUGE budgets involved in today’s moviemaking, we all understand the studios are hedging their bets.  Audiences too. We keep going to the movies until they’ve long overstayed their welcome. I mean, do we really need another Conan with Ahnuld? I’ll admit to liking the Amazing Spiderman, but come on! The last incarnation was barely put to bed when production on the new one started. In reality, we’re on Spiderman 5, Iron Man 4, Thor 3, etc. Any bets as to when Batman will be back?

I didn’t think so.

It’s getting ridiculous, and it’s made worse by the lukewarm reception original films are getting. If not for the Oscars, I might not know Hollywood made anything BUT sequels and reboots.

So, I’ll leave you with this…in the comments below, state what movie you would hate to see remade, but fully expect it to happen.  I’ll start with a cop out because I can’t make up my mind–Gone with the Wind or Titanic.

And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

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Ah, fandom! That oft stereotyped and much maligned cultural phenomenon. Back in the day, being a SF/fantasy fan was social suicide. Oh, how times have changed. What once was shunned, now is–dare I say it, cool. More than cool–it’s become transformative. For a while, cell phones looked suspiciously like Star Trek communicators. Some still do. SF references and tag lines become part of our cultural fabric.  Use the Force. Beam me up. No one takes Khaleesi’s dragons! The San Diego Comic Con gets as much respect as Cannes, more when you consider how Comic Con can make or break a movie. I’ve even read Queen Elizabeth loves Doctor Who! (As well she should).

Cosplay? Cosplay is now as professional as a major studio’s wardrobe department. And the fans? Let’s just say fanboys have to be torn to the point of schizophrenia. Always, they were the anti-cool–the ones who snickered at the ‘it’ crowd. The true fan loathes the mainstream, but in reaching it, said fanboy has found a sweet consolation. Have you seen today’s fangirl? In costume? Gulp!  It’s changed, and vivre the change. Cosplay’s become our version of SI’s Swimsuit Edition.  Don’t believe me? A simple google search for cosplay will be enough to convince you. Just don’t do it at work. Okay?

So, thank you Twilight!  I may not dig you, but I like your influence. Ditto Hunger Games. And let’s not forget the inimitable Sailor Moon. Geez! How is it that a genre that so fetishizes women so blatantly attracts so many female fans? Not that I’m complaining. I grew up loving anime. The increase in popularity means greater availability of titles stateside.  A win-win!

To all you post Star Wars/Star Trek fans, I raise a glass of Romulan ale. Thanks for opening the basement door and letting us out! We reward you with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates! With the internet, the cell phone, and movies on demand. That’s our legacy! The dream of a few geeks who looked at SF and said, why the hell can’t we have that stuff.

And now we do.  All but the flying car, and I hear that’s on the way too. Cheers!

Go Ask Mom!

I love fantasy. The world building, the magic, the fantastic creatures. The escapism. Over time, I’ll discuss all sorts of things on this blog–stuff I like, stuff I don’t–but for my opening act, I’ve chosen to examine fantasy TV. And not just any fantasy. Today, I marvel at the greatest fantasy of all time. The classic TV series Father Knows Best. What’s that you say? Father Knows Best isn’t fantasy? Au contraire, my friends. This husband and father begs to differ.

Father Knows Best. Really? In what universe? I’d argue Al Bundy is closer to the modern father than Jim Anderson, who, according to Wikipedia, that fount of all knowledge, is “a thoughtful father who offered sage advice whenever one (or more) of his children had a problem.”

Sage advice? My sage advice is almost always. “Go ask Mom.” Unless it has to do with golf. Or yard work. Or what channel some show’s on. I do own the upper hand when it comes to the most important aspect of my kids lives–operating and troubleshooting their phones. That earns me some cache, just not enough to out do my wife’s seemingly endless wisdom. Let’s face it, compared to our spouses, we’re amateurs. The farm team. They have maternal instinct; we have sports metaphors. We bellow and threaten; they utter two words, and all chaos stops. Immediately.

That’s truth. It’s why, by the end of the 20th Century, Father Knows Best style fantasy faded, and we saw the rise of shows like Married with Children, Home Improvement and Everybody Loves Raymond. National Geographic’s got nothing on these shows, with their lovable, befuddled dads, too smart kids, and all-knowing Moms. Don’t believe me? Well here’s proof. The pic below is my car. That’s right. For some reason–one known only to Dads–I forgot to close my car window. In the Blizzard of 2013. Not before. Not after. During.

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Father Knows Best? Welcome to the Twenty-First Century. Welcome to reality TV! Now, I’m not saying we don’t still have good fantasy on TV. We do. If I ever need to get my fantasy fix, there’s always Mad Men. Right? Right!