REVIEW: “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance”

MV5BNjVjODZmYWEtNjZhNC00MTdkLTgyMGYtNDBiODRmMzJkMDdjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjg2NjQwMDQ@._V1_If anybody had told me five years ago that 2019’s hottest new fantasy show would be a spinoff of Jim Henson’s cult classic The Dark Crystal, I probably would have questioned their sanity. I’ve long had a fondness for the original film and even appeared as a guest on the Trial by Stone podcast. Nevertheless, Dark Crystal seemed destined to remain a niche fandom. The film came out the year I was born and wasn’t a particularly big box office hit. Moreover, the movie characters are all puppets; a fantasy epic without people doesn’t exactly scream marketability.

Fortunately, we live in a wonderful, bizarre world in which Netflix is prepared to give talented artists millions of dollars to bring their crazy visions to life. Continue reading “REVIEW: “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance””

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“Becoming Superman” by J. Michael Straczynski

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Some of us might know Joseph Michael Straczynski through his work on Babylon 5. Some of us came to know him through his time on the Spider-Man and Superman comic book lines. Some might have found Joe by browsing on Netflix and finding Sense8. Some of us might even know him primarily through his always amusing and often insightful Twitter feed.

Well, unless you’ve read this book, you don’t know Joe. Continue reading ““Becoming Superman” by J. Michael Straczynski”

“Star Wars: Dark Disciple” by Christie Golden

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I am writing an article about Star Wars Expanded Universe references in the animated TV shows for an upcoming book, and so decided to reread Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple. This book is a fascinating case study in transmedia storytelling and adaptation. Dark Disciple is based on scripts written by Katie Lucas for The Clone Wars animated show before it was canceled in 2013. However, the seeds of the story originated in the Dark Horse Comics Republic line, which was part of the Clone Wars multimedia project in the early 2000s. The book both draws upon and contradicts the comics in interesting ways. Continue reading ““Star Wars: Dark Disciple” by Christie Golden”

Game of Thrones: The Final Review

gameofthronesseason8posterGame of Thrones has ended. There will be no more episodes. It would have been impossible for the writers to wrap up every single plot thread in Season 8, especially because this past season had fewer episodes (6 instead of usual 10). The final episode, “The Iron Throne,” did manage to provide a sense of closure for most of the character arcs and had some incredible visual moments. However, in its rush to the end, the final episode lost sight of some of the political commentary and themes that made Game of Thrones so compelling in the first place. The raison d’être for this story is question “what makes for a good king?” The finale barely engaged with that question, which is a missed opportunity.

*** SPOILERS for Season 8 of Game of Thrones BELOW *** Continue reading “Game of Thrones: The Final Review”

“The Long Night” (Game of Thrones S8, E3)

gameofthronesseason8posterI hadn’t planned to write reviews of individual episodes of Game of Thrones this season. I had planned to wait until the series finale to see how the entire story plays out. However, “The Long Night” (Season 8, Episode 3) feels like an important pop culture event. In addition to being the largest battle filmed for television, it also concluded a story that has been unfolding since April 17, 2011 (or even longer if you started reading George R.R. Martin’s books in August 1996). To be clear, I don’t plan to discuss every single plot twist, character arc, or the cinematography (and, no, the episode isn’t too dark). Instead, I want to focus on one overarching question: did this provide a satisfactory resolution to the central conflict between the living and the dead?

So, for posterity’s sake, here are my thoughts on the episode:

*** SPOILERS for Season 8 of Game of Thrones BELOW *** Continue reading ““The Long Night” (Game of Thrones S8, E3)”

“So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica” by Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman

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The original Battlestar Galactica brought groundbreaking effects to the small screen, while Ronald D. Moore’s reboot remains the gold standard for serious science fiction on television. Yet, while BSG has easily earned its place in the science fiction hall of fame, few books have documented the story behind the camera. In So Say We All, Mark Altman and Edward Gross attempt to do what they did with the Star Trek franchise and provide a complete oral history of the Battlestar Galactica franchise.

Continue reading ““So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica” by Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman”

Star Trek Discovery

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As some of you know, I’m a huge Star Trek fan. It was probably my first big fandom. So you might be wondering why I haven’t been reviewing Star Trek Discovery. Well, the truth is I’ve found the show to be an disappointing mess. It flouts the liberal humanism and optimistic spirit of Star Trek in favor of modern TV grimdark conventions. The show is filled with plot twists that seem more designed to shock audiences than to open interesting new story possibilities. Frankly, I don’t really have much to say that hasn’t already been said about this show. This LA Times Review of Books explains many of the problems.

Like many Trek fans, I’ve waited years for Star Trek to return to TV. It’s too bad the end product wasn’t worth the wait.

“You Win or You Die: The Ancient World of Game of Thrones” by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov

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Season 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones just wrapped up, but the speculation and commentary still rages on. A few weeks ago, I reviewed a book about medieval warfare in Game of Thrones. This time, I take a look at You Win or You Die: The Ancient World of Game of Thrones by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov, Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin. This book analyzes Game of Thrones from the perspective of Greco-Roman literature, showing how ancient epics from our own world can help us better understand Westeros.

Continue reading ““You Win or You Die: The Ancient World of Game of Thrones” by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov”

“Game of Thrones and the Medieval Art of War” by Ken Mondschein

52239536Like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings mythology, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is set in a world that looks like – and is clearly inspired by – our Middle Ages, but isn’t actually set in Europe between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance. Instead, Game of Thrones takes place in a fantastical world in which winters last a generation and magic is real. However, given the similarities between our Westeros and Medieval Europe, it’s natural to wonder how much Game of Thrones accurately reflects our own history. In Game of Thrones and the Medieval Art of War, Ken Mondschein, an expert on medieval warfare, looks at how Martin’s books – and, to a lesser extent, HBO’s adaptation – depict medieval warfare. Continue reading ““Game of Thrones and the Medieval Art of War” by Ken Mondschein”

Game of Thrones, “The Winds of Winter” (Season 6, Episode 10)

game-of-thrones-season-6-premiere-date-jon-snowWith only 13 episodes left for the show, Game of Thrones needed to wrap a lot of subplots in order to have enough time to deal with the impending White Walker invasion. “The Winds of Winter” did that, and then some. The episode killed off most supporting characters in a few dramatic scenes. As I’ve argued elsewhere, this downsizing was absolutely necessary. Game of Thrones had gotten too unwieldy; Season 5 seemed so intent on tracking the various subplots that it forgot to tell a story. “The Winds of Winter” violently confirmed that, at its core, Game of Thrones is, has been, and always will be about the three primary factions we met back in Season 1: the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens. Continue reading “Game of Thrones, “The Winds of Winter” (Season 6, Episode 10)”