Movie Review: Escape From Tomorrow

My mother and sister were once trapped for two and a half hours in the “It's A Small World” attraction at Disney World. I hadn't a clue what their ordeal was like until I suffered through Escape From Tomorrow, which at least was an hour shorter . This is the type of movie that gets so much attention for the story behind its production and its so-called “audacity” that the poor quality of the finished product becomes almost irrelevant. Roy Abramsohn, a sort of poor man's Steven Carrell, is Read more [...]

Gravity: The Science Fiction Film in Free Fall

Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity has received an exceptional amount of critical acclaim for a science fiction film, more so for any other I can remember since Peter Weir's The Truman Show.   This may be because, as with Weir's film, many don't recognize it as belonging to the genre. Yes, it takes place in outer space, the most familiar setting for the science fiction film, but since it (like the 1969 film Marooned) deals with events that could conceivably and possibly happen in the immediate future, it's Read more [...]

The Real Thing: An Intellectual Defense of Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby’s The Thing From Another World

  If you were to survey most of the reviews on the Internet, you probably wouldn't realize that The Thing From Another World has not only long been considered to be a classic, but is one of the most important science fiction films ever made. And if you're using the Internet exclusively as a resource, that's part of the whole problem. Although even the very best science fiction films of the Fifties have had to struggle against unfair blanket criticisms and mischaracterizations, the case Read more [...]

The Jeffersonian Rocketship: Heinlein’s American Ethos in Destination Moon

With today's review of Destination Moon, we begin a three-part look at three of the most important science fiction movies of the 1950s, films that have had an immense impact on  genre cinema since their release, and are also united by their conservative political leanings, either explicitly stated or in the form of subtextual undercurrents. And just to make it clear, the approach I take to film criticism is one of strict formalism; in other words, I do not care a wit as to what the politics expressed Read more [...]

Book Review – A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

When a series of books spawns an award-winning HBO Series, I suppose one should take notice.  I have an aversion to popularity contests when it comes to books, but I decided to give this one a try.  I was not disappointed. Probably the best thing this book does is get rid of a lot of fantasy novel norms.  The good guys are always good and the evil guys always evil being one of them.  This book dismisses that idea by giving each character both lovable and despicable qualities.  Even the Read more [...]

Movie Review: Frankenweenie

I saw Frankenweenie in a nearly empty theater on its opening weekend, and while competition from the already-successful Hotel Transylvania no doubt contributed to its financial disappointment, the morbid subject matter and the unfortunate fact that too many people nowadays refuse to a watch a movie made in black and white no matter what the actual quality were no doubt factors as well. That's all the more the pity since it's one of Tim Burton's very best films, his funniest and most personal since Read more [...]

Book Review – A Canticle for Leibowitz

Canticle - song used in liturgical services When looking through the Hugo winners of the past I discovered this book as a winner. I wondered because one of the other nominees that year was Deathworld by Harry Harrison.  It seemed strange to me that Deathworld would lose to a book which I had never heard of at the time.  Having read it now for the first time, I would say I can understand the dilemma.  For my part it would have been close as both books are not only well written but imaginative Read more [...]

The Not-Quite Ultimate Adaptations

I concluded last month's review of The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum with the wishful speculation that there might exist some alternate reality where Weinbaum's stories served as a plentiful source of wonderful film adaptations. What I failed to note that is that Weinbaum has not been ignored by Hollywood; there has already been one theatrical release and three television adaptations based on his work. Unfortunately, one of these is lost, and the three remaining hardly do justice to the source Read more [...]

Looper and Judge Dredd a Double Review

Two very different science fiction movies. One with a slightly ludicrous reason for time travel, but a movie that is at the same time thought provoking and filled with top notch acting. The other a gory action thriller which treats the futuristic elements as backdrop for the story rather than trying to push the story along with the backdrop (see the new Total Recall for the wrong way to do this). This was a good weekend for science fiction at the movies.  Before I get into the meat of the review Read more [...]

The Best of Stanley Weinbaum

One of the great tragedies in the history of science fiction was the premature death of the writer Stanley Weinbaum. His death in 1935 at the age of just thirty-three cut short his writing career which had barely lasted for a year and a half. Even sadder still is that he is nearly forgotten today when in a just world he would continue to be remembered as one of its great authors. Although his first story, “A Martian Odyssey”, remains an oft-anthologized classic, the rest of his oeuvre remains Read more [...]