Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015: Rear End Retrospective And Musings

The Happy New Year routine is certainly intended to be a positive, cathartic experience. I always enjoy this time of year. Of course coming off the end of those final days of the old year with so much enthusiasm and excitement is a bit like coming off an all-time natural high only to come crashing down to the realities of life and its routines beginning all over again. What's so happy and new about that? If one wasn't a mentally balanced individual you could be setting yourself up for all out depression. It's pretty clear that wheel in the cage just keeps on turning.

But I suppose the new year is a bit of a reset. It's a break from the old and the celebration of the new or what you hope to be new and improved over the previous year. Of course it's all relative. If you had a great year previously why would you want to say goodbye to it? If it was a terrible year, well, then the new year is precisely the thing for you, unless things just get worse. Then there is the cold hard fact it is the end of a calendar year and mathematically we should do something to close out the final day of 365 days. So we have the Romans, the Egyptians and the Sumerians to thank. So I like to be a glass is half full kind of guy if I can and I'm wishing you all the best of luck. So, happy new year to you all to be sure.

I spent some time in Boston over Christmas. You don’t realize just how hard it is to step outside of your comfort zone until you get older. Of course, not everyone is like that. It's like that for me though. I wasn’t always like this. But, the longer I stay connected to blogging, my creature comforts, and my routines the harder it is to break away. I have truly become such a creature of habit. My son also enjoys home or prefers the country. Stepping away for him wasn’t easy either especially heading to the city. I’m really not a city person. I used to enjoy going to the city and I settled in while I was there. Years ago, I often hopped over to the city. A bunch of us used to hit Tower Records, HMV and every other CD shop on Newbury Street to Harvard Square before downloading replaced it all and forced Tower and HMV to close their doors.

A jaunt to the Black Rose for fish and chips was always part of the event. Food always sweetens any deal. Remember that one if you have young kids and start coaching. Food is love. Kids love food.

Anyway, yeah, I’m not crazy about the city as much. It’s a self-preservation thing and yet it’s not so bad really. Of course, as I say that, there were terror threats on Boston that week. It was strange being there and actually seeing that on the news. The family was less than enthusiastic about that news. It's a mess. Never thought I'd see that day. It's here thanks to a complete absence of leadership across the world.

But yes, I did it. I stepped away from the computers and bid farewell to my dogs and did a number of normally unthinkable things just to do something different. My son asked why on Earth we had to go to the city. What’s the point of all of it Dad? I said, because it’s called living. Even I forget we need to do that once in a while.

But I digress from our 2015 Rear End Retrospective And Musings as I’ve so dubbed this little year-end retrospective post.

It’s here we look back (and behind - cough) and muse upon what has been enjoyed and celebrated with regard to science fiction here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic and offer a glimpse of what’s to come in the exciting new year. I know, let's tone down the excitement. I sound like a Doublemint Gum commercial.

2015 has been a generally good year overall here at Musings thankfully. I’ve certainly seen worse.

A good deal of time was spent on anime this year with more to come in 2016 no doubt. A fairly extensive, long term analysis was begun on anime director and visionary great Katsuhiro Otomo (here).

Anime coverage included my beloved Battle Of The Planets (here)

Ergo Proxy (here)

a thorough look at classic Gaiking (here)

Gurren Lagann (here)

Casshan (here)

Star Blazers (here)

Ninja Scroll (and other works by Yoshiaki Kawajiri here)

Redline (here)

Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honneamise (here)

Blue Submarine No.6 (here) and much more.

One anime series, outside of the fairly well acclaimed Attack On Titan, that I cannot say enough about in offering my rousing endorsement is Knights Of Sidonia (here). I relished that series and was lost in that animated universe as much as I was lost with those in Stargate Universe.

I spent a bit of time tracking the politically correct and ongoing nonsense surrounding the casting of the upcoming Hollywood film take on a Ghost In The Shell (here). It just never ends in the current political climate.

Outside of anime we remained in Japan with a close up on Toho’s marvelous Matango (Attack Of The Mushroom People) (here) one of the best non-Gojira to yield from the studio.

I also investigated the stylish but dreadful Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (here).

I spent a good bit of time on a post called Science Fiction On Film: A Visual History (here). The post is actually way too long, but was a bit of an experiment for me here and remains a work in progress. You will find updates on that post periodically.

I finally delivered on the second portion of Battlestar Galactica: Saga Of A Star World (here). As much as I love the original series it has been a slog to get something posted for it. I assure you Saga Of A Star World Part 3 is headed your way this year.

Another classic to hail from overseas which had its origins around the same time as Battlestar Galactica was George Miller’s Mad Max (here). So we offered a look back at Mad Max 3 as well as the newly invigorated and revitalized Mad Max: Fury Road.

In keeping with the Mad Max aesthetic (just add zombies), it was a good time to finally get around to Resident Evil: Extinction (here).

But Predestination (here) was one of the best science fiction films I had the chance to see in 2015. It was definitely one of my favorites enjoyed on Blu-Ray.

I only managed to analyze just three episodes of the sorely underrated Stargate Universe (here) in 2015 but hope to return to the Destiny for 2016. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this sci-fi series. It's very much in keeping with current genre classics in the making, Dark Matter and The Expanse, and seemingly less connected with its other franchise arms. It's a refreshing detour that genuinely confused or caught a lot of Stargate fans off guard.

The last summer saw me get hooked on Defiance (here) too. Though cancelled in 2015 after being addicted, it remains something of a minor little sci-fi classic in my mind and will always have a special place. Returning to that world is an easy one.

On the other hand V (here) is one world I will never return to as I finally discovered for myself. It was a truly dismal effort. Well, the effort and intentions were clearly there, but the end result was abysmal.

But the good news is we have glimpsed the future with The Expanse (here) and the excitement mounts for that series to continue.

So what will 2016 bring?

All I can do is offer my best estimation of what I’d like to cover and/or bring to you here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic in the given confines of a finite year. I try my best to deliver, but I’m imperfect as robots go.

Expectations for the new year include returns to Battle Of The Planets (1978), Stargate Universe (2009-2011), Knights Of Sidonia (2014-2015), Battlestar Galactica classic (1978-1979) as well as the new Moore version. We will also have a look at the single season of Caprica (2010). I’m optimistic we will jump into two SyFy mini-series in Ascension (2014) as well as the adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood’s End (2015) when that is released on Blu-Ray in the first half of the year.

My hope is to have a look at a few highlights from the now cancelled Defiance (2013-2015) and definitely Dark Matter (2015-present). If The Expanse (2015-present) hits Blu-Ray in the new year you can be sure I will bring it your way here.

Obviously there were will be some unexpected surprises even to me. That's what keeps things fresh for all of us. There will likely be a few films to look more closely at and one that is high on my agenda will be a formative classic covered in great detail, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) adapted from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (1968) I have a great many musings to offer on that one and look forward to it. I've been a little intimidated about how to approach a film I hold in such high regard, but I think I have my arms around it now.

Fingers crossed we can make it all happen and that everyone stays healthy throughout the new year to enjoy it.

As far as new films in 2016. Sadly, I couldn’t care a lick for most of them. For me people, most of these films have become special effects nightmares. All style with little substance. And where there is substance the love for computer generated effects have sometimes become almost distracting to me. My expectations and my standards are much higher and fortunately there is plenty from television and film, past and present, to explore. Trailers for WarCraft, Tarzan (another digital apes film), anything from Marvel including Deadpool (and anything from Ryan Reynolds), X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War (I feel like I’ve seen that film already), Dr. Strange (never dug the comic either), anything Star Wars and, good grief, Star Trek: Beyond. These films have become mindless entertainment monstrosities. I don’t mean to be a killjoy on these matters. It’s just where I am at the moment and I require something more to fill my time.

I am looking forward to The Revenant and apart from that film I suspect there will be others, but 2016 does not look impressive at a glance. Star Wars can make all the money in the world, but that doesn’t mean great filmmaking.

I wish I could be as positive about the state of film (or politics) as I am about the state of television (Longmire, Hannibal, Fargo and the list goes on) nevertheless we will cover what has meaning to me here.

I hope things improve regarding the nation's security in the new year, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Those disenchanted by the current administration's policies might be wise to give HBO's John Adams (2008) a look. If you aren't inclined to read, there are some good lessons about liberty, faith, resolve, God and country, to be discovered there, lessons entirely absent from the complete vacuum of leadership in this country today.

So look out for your neighbors and each other and cover your rears in the new year. When you get right down to it the difference you make is in your own community.

Strap in folks! More science fiction coverage on the way!


J.D. Lafrance said...

Nice recap! I for one am looking forward to your thoughts on BLADE RUNNER. I know exactly what you mean about the daunting task of trying to write about a film you really love or one that has written about extensively. There are some films I'd love to write about but am either intimidated by tackling such a revered film or feel like I couldn't add anything to the mountains of material already written on said film but sometimes I just need enough time for me to figure out the right angle to approach it. For example, with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND... For years I had wanted to write something about it but couldn't find a way in until recently.

Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks for understanding where I was coming from and further articulating that point so well.
Yes, Blade Runner would very much be my Close Encounters.

If there ever were formative films in my life it would have to be Star Wars and Blade Runner.
As such, they really are ona pedestal for me and attainment of actually adding to that
Conversation or feeling like I might have something to offer on the subject even if not profound
Has often felt elusive.

So you get me on that completely.

Having said that, thanks, I'm looking forward to making it a special post this year. I hope.

As for you, you are such a professional writer J.D. You always approach your material
Thoughtfully with often exhaustive research and genuinely formulate a wonderful articulation
Of the films you cover. The Keep, Tombstone, so many. Anyway, always a pleasure to read your
Work and hear from you. All the best this year.

J.D. Lafrance said...

Thank you for the kind words, my friend. I've always enjoyed your writing as well and am impressed by the detail that you go into your reviews, esp. in stuff like your Lana Del Rey piece (I'm still waiting for you to tackle her follow-up albums), and how your passion for what you write about - whether you liked it or didn't - always comes through.

Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thank you good sir.