The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger will be the Joker in the second Batman movie. I have to admit that my respect for Ledger grew quite a bit after seeing the movie Cassanova (which I went into with low expectations). I think that he’s going to bring some genuine style to the Joker, something that was sorely missing from the Nicholson era. In fact the best thing about this Batman franchise reboot is that the primary characters are more heroic overall – even the villains.

Stargate sequels?

Stargate DVDThe most magical thing about the original StarGate movie was how it took our own ancient history and intertwined it into something epic. It took the Erich von Daniken mythos and gave it a serious treatment, asking What IF? as only SF can do. And the result was a blast of a movie that the television spinoff never really rivaled.

Well, Dean Devlin is back and has plans for two sequels. Via AICN:

Devlin is currently in negotiations with MGM regarding the development of two STARGATE theatrical sequels. These would complete the trilogy originally planned by Devlin and then-partner (but still friend) Roland Emmerich – and would stand independently of television spin-offs STARGATE SG-1 and STARGATE ATLANTIS. Devlin indicates that original leads Kurt Russell and James Spader have already expressed interest in returning.

If memory serves, Devlin once suggested that STARGATE sequels would be different in tone and setting than the original film — each continuing an arcing storyline of humankind –VS- alien opportunists/overlords, but in divergent locals. Could be interesting to see where this goes…especially if issues like cultural connection are played upon as they were in first film. Wonder how the conceit might feel in today’s splintered world?

More details at SciFiWire.

make it stop

Episode 2: The Ghauri Family

Paris and Nicole trade in their designer dresses for traditional saris when they take over the responsibilities of a traditional Pakistani mom. With the patient help of their “husband” and Americanized fifteen-year-old “son,” the girls manage to dress, speak and dance like conservative Pakistani housewives…or at least their version of it. But things don’t go as well when Paris and Nicole decide to share their experiences, namely how they like to party.

I wish it was a joke.

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Galactica: Downloaded (via Jammer)

I’ve been subscribing to Jammer’s reviews for years. He’s a scifi otaku extraordinaire whose episode synopses and reviews have been so high quality that it’s almost sinful that they haven’t been published in book form yet; you can get them all for free at his website. He started out reviewing Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) and moved on to Deep Space Nine (ST:DS9), Voyager (ST:VOY), and Enterprise (ST:ENT). He also reviewed each of the Star Trek feature films. He’s got complete archives for every episode of every season of each of these shows, and is presently working on the original series (ST:TOS). I can’t recommend his reviews highly enough to anyone who is/was a fan of Star Trek.

Near the end of Enterprise’s run he decided to begin reviewing the new Galactica series. This was partly a decision borne of frustration with the Rick Berman era, especially the massive wasted opportunities of ST:VOY and ST:ENT. Galactica offered a fresh start of sorts and he has approached the series with the same attitude he always had for Star Trek – high expectations. And no pulling punches when the series failed to meet them. The basic philosophy of science fiction as a genre – not spaceships and aliens for their own sake, but rather exploration of human society and the human condition by alien (biological, or circumstantial) perspectives – is one he keeps front and center as he reviews an episode and renders judgement on a season or a series as a whole.

And thus far, Galactica seems to be dethroning ST:DSP in that regard. Jammer’s review of Downloaded just arrived in my inbox, and his insight into Baltar and Six’s relationship is both succinct and insightful:

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a disturbance in the Force

I wrote a few days ago of my victory over the Lucas Empire, bending the Bearded One to my will in re-releasing the original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD without the plot “enhancements”.

It seems that celebration may be premature. Quint of AICN delivers the bad news:

The releases are going to be the 1995 Laserdisc masters and The Digital Bits confirmed today that they won’t even be anamorphic widescreen transfers, just the letterboxed transfers, which would mean we’re not getting the full theatrical experience. For sound junkies there is no option to listen to a digitally remastered THX soundtrack. We’ll get the two-channel stereo.

all the original STAR WARS films were released as 70mm experiences during their releases, which would mean they did have a 6-channel audio mix originally, so the 2-channel stereo only option on the DVD just became officially ridiculous.

In other words, these DVDs will look and sound like crappy laserdisc versions, with sound akin to a pair of headphones. Not even minimal surround sound or digitally remastered film!

As if to add insult to injury, the DVD covers will also suck, using stupid photoshop-level montages rather than the original stylized artwork of the 1970s-era posters. Quint has scans, so go take a look.

It’s clear that these are “bastard” releases that are intended to scoop up extra change from the hardcore. As Quint notes, it’s a real dilemma for a true-blue fan. Will these sucky DVDs be the only way we can ever get the original Star Wars? (My letterbox VHS tapes aren’t going to last much longer). Or should we hold out for a future release with the real remastering and full six channel sound?

Since I am budgetarily constrained, my answer is easy – wait, for what I really want rather than this half-assed effort which is really a step backwards IMHO from the VHS tapes I already own. Still, it’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow, that the very DVDs I’ve clamored for years to see are now not worth purchasing. I hope that Lucas follows through and does release “real” versions in the years to come. I’ll pay a lot more for those should they become available…

A beautiful mind

Is Baltar hallucinating his vision of Six after his escape from Caprica, or is she real, somehow? Watching the season 2 finale and now catching up on the mini-series has given me insights that I don’t know I’d have had, had I seen it in broadcast order. I will, however, approach the issue from within the standard chronology.

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Han shot first

A long time ago, on a blog far away, I called for a boycott of Episode III.

And how the Empire trembled!

However, though convinced of the righteousness of my cause, my resolve began to waver.

Well, to make a long story short, I’m not Mahatma Gandhi, ok?

But it seems that the mere existence of my boycott threat – however short-lived – ultimately attained the desired goal. For behold, I claim total victory:

In response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means you’ll be able to enjoy Star Wars as it first appeared in 1977, Empire in 1980, and Jedi in 1983.

This release will only be available for a limited time: from September 12th to December 31st. International release will follow on or about the same day. Each original theatrical version will feature Dolby 2.0 Surround sound, close-captioning, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish for their U.S. release.

All has occurred exactly as I have forseen.

Han shot first

Battlestar Galactica: The Mini Series

I grabbed a torrent of the series pilot and have finished about half. Even though some aspects of the plot are thoroughly spoiled for me, having been watching regularly since Pegasus in episode 2, it was gripping and fresh. I haven’t been this excited about television sci-fi since Deep Space Nine and Babylon-5 – and Galactica has already surpassed both.

The best thing about watching the pilot was how it underscored many of the relationships whose dynamics I’d inferred by the end of season 2. For example, father-son tension between Bill Adama and Lee Adama was always a subcurrent which I’d really only glimpsed – Bill mentions that trust was something of an “issue” between them in an offhand comment, or Apollo is genuinely gobsmacked at his promotion. You could read the love in Apollo’s eyes and hear the pride in Bill’s voice and you wonder, as I did coming in mid-season, what deep emotions are being tapped here? What events were they whose powerful closure I am witnessing here? It’s as if I stumbled onto something private and intimate, and regular viewers of the series were part of that intimacy.

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