Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013: A Prisoner Of The Past (Retrospective)

As you know, I've been in something of a reflective mood of late and the end of the year does that and it is certainly apropos.  Gosh, 2013 is over and I'm another year older and, hopefully, at the very least wiser.



We look forward to a new year in 2014 - a fresh start, a new beginning, as much as I do love embracing the past.  I'm looking forward to its challenges.  I think.  And hopefully they will be of of the healthy variety for everyone.

This is our fourth official retrospective here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic.  We look back at the year that was 2013.  It's always nice to reflect on the things that got my writing juices flowing and put it all in perspective before looking at what lies ahead.  I think it's therapeutic for me.



As many know it was not a year without loss beginning first and foremost with the loss of my grandmother.  I wrote about her in my final post of 2013.  I'm sure many of you out there have had your own family trials.

The year saw the loss of some of the greats from Margaret Thatcher to Nelson Mandela as well as the amazing Jean Stapleton, James Gandolfini, Richard Matheson and Ray Harryhausen (the last four in the span of two months).  Roger Ebert's passing came just days before losing my gram.  So it was indeed a strange time compounded by the loss of one of the greats - my Gram.



In the spirit of reflecting back on all those dear yesterdays I began a segment this year called I Remember That.  Highlights within included The Little Rascals, Grizzly Adams, dancing to Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven, Big Wheels, an Amazing Spider-Man piggy bank and much more.



On the music front we looked back with affection at some 1980s classics beginning with Canada's David Duchovny look-alike Corey Hart and the epic sounds of Scottish band Simple Minds. we also looked at sultry, brazen newcomer Lana Del Rey who will certainly see a big year ahead with the release of her new recording Ultraviolence (2014).




On a happier science fiction note we lensed our way into the worlds of both Fringe (2008-2013)and Falling Skies (2011-present). I unexpectedly cut my detailed look short on Fringe with the passing of my grandmother and have yet to return to it, but Season One improved significantly in originality as the series progressed and, like this year itself, it was both a strange and interesting journey.







Kaiju eiga (giant monster) mania began in a big way with a look at Toho's Mothra followed by the original Gamera film.  Contemporary kaiju pictures kicked off in glorious fashion with Guillermo del Toro classic Pacific Rim (2013).  Gareth Edwards Godzilla primer Monsters (2010) was also evaluated and has this writer on the edge of his seat for Edwards' big summer film in 2014. We also looked at the oddball kaiju picture in the form of the strange world of Big Man Japan (2007) as well as 1970s gem The Last Dinosaur (1977).













As many of you know, Pacific Rim mania was all the rage here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic in 2013.  I was damn near combustible with enthusiasm.  It was pure kaiju crack, worshipped to pieces and I can't wait for a sequel.

So while the summer brought us the monstrously satisfying Pacific Rim it also yielded the mildly disappointing Elysium (2013) with its heavy-handed political message.  I never did have a chance to review it, but perhaps in 2014.  We also took a look at Man Of Steel (2013) where opinions were generally divided and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) along with Pacific Rim.




I took an unexpected turn with a look at a classic 70s favorite The Warriors (1979) by Walter Hill and the delightfully moving Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009).




We returned to some science fiction television classics with a touch of Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007), Lost In Space (1965-1968), Space:1999 (1975-1977) as well as Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994). Looking back I'm a bit gobsmacked I never returned to Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969) in 2013.  Oops!  Hmmm. Boy, how did that happen?  Well, tough year and I definitely need to rectify that especially in honor of my Gram who loved ST:TOS.






FAB Friday has been a little lighter following the passing of Gerry Anderson in December 2012.  We did take a cold hard look at the disaster that was the not so imaginative Thunderbirds (2004).  No, International Rescue was not staving off a disaster in as much as they were sadly in the thick of it with that film remake.  Ugh. We expected more from Jonathan Frakes on that one.



The end of 2013 saw a return to anime inspired in many ways by the excitement that was the emerging Pacific Rim which merged the best of kaiju with anime.  It was a terrific film.  Well, anime, as a medium, is no less thrilling my friends.  I'm fairly selective within though.  Ergo Proxy (2006), Gatchaman (1972-1974) and Battle Of The Planets (1978-1985) came heavily into focus and I hope to continue looking at anime more closely in 2014 beginning with my continued, comprehensive look back at Battle Of The Planets.




On a personally satisfying note, I had the pleasure to chat with editors Adam Chamberlain and Brian A. Dixon as well as James McLean and Joe Tangari for a Millennium Group Podcast in support of the book Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium.  As many know I was able to contribute an essay to that collection and the book is a truly wonderful compendium of great writing, articles and interviews on the world of Millennium.  You really can't go wrong picking up a copy in print or on Kindle. It was great being interviewed by that team.  This, of course, followed their amazing interview with Barbara Bain.  Now that's a tough act to follow.



So that's it my friends.  How did I stack up on my promises for 2013 in my year end retrospective at the very beginning of this year?  Where did I fail?  Actually, it's not where I failed, but how terribly I failed readers.  Good grief.  I planned to look at Classic Battlestar Galactica, the pilot of Lost as well as Stargate Atlantis.  As Yukon Cornelius would say - Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I did deliver a bit more of The Incredible Hulk.  But I never returned with Resident Evil Extinction or Star Trek: The Original Series or The X-Files Season Two. Goodness gracious that is bad.  Mind you, I did some false starts on many of these which were rough drafted. Argh!



Okay, all I can do is promise to try better. My God, I can't do worse.

So what do I hope to bring you in 2014 that I can look back on in 2015 and discuss how terribly I failed you? (laughter).



Well, there are things I can't wait to see in 2014 and first and foremost will be Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014).  I'll have it here for you. But no promises. (laughter).  I really enjoyed Oblivion (2013) and Tom Cruise continues to deliver some solid science fiction outings from Vanilla Sky (2001) by Cameron Crowe to Minority Report (2002) to War of the Worlds (2005), both by Steven Spielberg - all outstanding choices. So I'm very interested in Edge of Tomorrow (2014).  If there are others feel free to let me know.  But I've seen a few trailers that simply don't interest me.  In fact, there's not a lot in 2014 that has me enthusiastic in a Pacific Rim-sized fashion.  Sure Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks good.  Guardians Of The Galaxy I'm most intrigued by but don't know enough.  Additionally, and I'm showing my age, it's not the Guardians Of The Galaxy I grew up with when I read Marvel Comics.  That original group featuring Vance Astro, Martinex T'Naga, Charlie-27, Yondu Udonta, Starhawk and Nikki would be terrific on film too. So, I'm curious particularly with the sci-fi galaxy element.



I still plan to check out a few genre outings including The Last Days On Mars (2013) and The Colony (2013). I enjoy a solid, straight ahead sci-fi thriller that doesn't try too hard, but looks believable now and again.

I'm also anticipating, not with high expectations, Mamoru Oshii's live action Patlabor: The Next Generation.  Still, that's more likely another year away when it lands stateside.  But I do finally get to see the live action Space Battleship Yamato (2010), which will see its release here in the states this year along with Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo (2012). I'll be honest, my initial viewing of Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance (2009) was underwhelming compared to the series experience.  I guess nothing will ever quite match up. In fact, I really enjoyed, to the contrary of many, Evangelion 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone (2007) because it remained relatively faithful to the original material. Though, I suppose, if you are going to make over a franchise, a carbon copy is less than satisfying creatively so I can understand the alternate take on the series.  But, it's pretty clear there is indeed a marketing effort to sell new Evangelion figures and characters a la the Star Wars licensing dynasty.  (shrug).




On the television front, I have high hopes for Ronald D. Moore's Helix (2014) on SyFy.  I should probably give Defiance (2013-present) another look too. I made a mistake with Stargate Universe (2009-2011) as a recent investigation revealed.  I'd prefer not to do that again. The Walking Dead (2010-present) gave us a fairly solid set of episodes for the first half of its fourth season.  I can't say I was disappointed.  I don't love the show, but there have been a few excellent episodes.  Falling Skies is still on my radar.  I'm not sure I loved that third season, but again there were some excellent moments and I still want to support it enthusiastically going forward.  The ratings remain steady.

I'm also pretty jazzed about Japan imports Attack On Titan (2013) and Knights Of Sidonia (2014) coming from the world of anime. I'm also more than ready for the next installment of Ghost In The Shell: Arise (2013).



So, my hope is to bring you more classic 1970s vintage adventure and originality in the form of Tatsunoko's translated Gatchaman in the form of Battle Of The Planets.  So if you loved your Sandy Frank classic you'll see more of it here.

Other hopes and dreams include some additional kaiju classics (Do you like how I kept that category nice and general? I was specifically non-committal), modern anime classics Blue Submarine No.6 (1998-2000) and Yukikaze (2002-2005). Beyond that I hate to promise too much after that appalling miss in 2013.  Still, plenty more ahead and hopefully some surprises too.

And when The One To Be Pitied isn't commandeering my television away from me for The Twilight Zone marathon, I hope to do a binge on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (2005-present) with my son.  We're addicts. This is also following a heavy addiction to The Office (2005-2013). We have a thing for quirky, irreverent humor.



As of this writing Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic has delivered you 872 blog posts of varying quality.  I'm now entering my seventh full year at this.  Based on the law of averages you'll be here to see me reach my 1,000th post in 2014.  Wow!  I hope you'll continue to join me for the ride and this ongoing adventure called blogging as we go forward into the future while imprisoned by my love for the past. And let's not forget I was fairly over the moon over something brand new called Pacific Rim.  Oh how I loved it.  As I reside comfortably embracing the past let's see keep an eye and see what tomorrow brings.



Happy New year folks. All the best in 2014.

2 comments:

Roman J. Martel said...

Wow, you've really covered quite a bit of stuff this last year. I just started watching "Fringe" this year too. It started off a little rocky, but I'm about half way through the season and it is picking up. Curious to see where it ends up that is for sure.

Well I just discovered your blog this year, but I have to say it was well worth finding. I'm looking forward to reading more in 2014!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Wow. Thanks Roman for that vote of confidence and, likewise, thrilled to have discovered yours and folks like El Vox too.

Like you, very curious to see where Fringe goes myself and hope to at least return to watching it soon. I got as far as Season Two's first episode and then took an extended break on it.

Here's looking at a great year!