Friday, January 5, 2018

2016 And 2017: Bye Bye Bye Bi-Retrospective

The passion for this blog comes and goes unfortunately. Such are the rhythms in this life for me.

When 2016 ended I had little energy for this thing. I was like Superman with a necklace chock full of kryptonite. I write when I feel it of course. At least I try. I can't say it's getting easier to write. Far too many external concerns have taken me away from this place. The ebb and flow of those issues will have an impact going forward but we will always do our best.

Nevertheless, we'll look back and try to look ahead.

The highlights for me in 2016 were likely writing about anime's Blue Submarine No.6 (1998-2000), Stargate Universe (2009-2011) and SG-1 (1997-2007), the Ascension (2014) mini-series, The Expanse (2015-present), Space:1999 (1975-1977) and anime's Knights Of Sidonia (2014-2015).

We took a peek at Continuum (2012-2015) starring the ever so hot Rachel Nichols (are we still allowed to say that in 2018?). We even wrapped up a look at the original Battlestar Galactica's Saga Of A Star World (1978).

Winter hibernation may have had a roll in enjoying a long siesta well into 2017. For whatever odd reason, that spectacular first season of pop culture sensation LOST (2004-2010) pulled me from my slumber. I know. Crazy, but appropriately so was the show.

We saw a sprinkling of Battle Of The Planets (1978) in both 2016 and 2017. We also carried over Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Universe into 2017 along with Knights Of Sidonia, The Expanse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009).

Apparently we took 2016 off regarding a look at Kenneth Johnson's The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982) but bounced back to that transformational series again in 2017.

We also jumped back in time for a taste of Land Of The Lost (1974-1976), but then leaped way ahead to the Ronald D. Moore re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009) as well as doomed spin-off Blood And Chrome (2012).

I began a series of posts dedicated to spaceships. That makes sense here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic so why not. One of those focused upon was the Daiku Maryu from anime Gaiking (aka Dino Mech Gaiking) (1976-1977) of which I'm currently painting an iteration of here at home when I have a free moment or two and those are scarce I can tell you.

As a general overview regarding these last two years, I found the Netflix film What Happened To Monday? (2017), starring Noomi Rapace by Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola, to be one of my favorite science fiction films. It was one of the most satisfying stories in two years worth of subpar science fiction.

So what lies ahead for Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic? Honestly this writer has no freaking idea.

Of late I've been travelling back in time, of a sort, and enjoying some Criterion edition Blu-Ray films over the last year and exploring some of the classics. As many here know, despite my love of quality science fiction, I'm not a huge fan of mainstream action films or effects heavy superhero films. They just don't interest me including Star Wars. Though, truth be told, I broke down to attend with my son, both of us skeptical mind you, and we found Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to be a marked improvement over The Force Awakens and enjoyed it considerably. He found it to be easily the best of the last three pictures including Rogue One.

But I've been having a love affair with these Criterion releases. To prove that point out some of the films I've enjoyed of late include: Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957), Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (1971), Andrew Haigh's 45 Years (2015), Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone (2001), David Fincher's The Game, Ang Lee's The Ice Storm (1997), Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas (1984), Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), Roman Polanski's Tess (1979), Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981), Martin Rosen's Watership Down (1978) and Erik Skjoldbjaerg's Insomnia (1997).

The Criterion film thus far that I'd rank as my absolute favorite would be Jan Troell's The Emigrants (1971) and The New Land (1972). These are striking and beautiful films. It's a journey worth your time. The two films clock in at a whopping, epic 393 minutes. It's easy to see the influence of these two films on a beloved series like Little House On The Prairie (1974). There are literally scenes within these two films that struck me as mirrors to scenes regarding the plight of the Ingalls family despite the adaptation of that series based on the books (1935) of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Emigrants and The New Land are astonishing films with long establishing shots, intimate close-ups, often little dialogue but powerful in terms of emotional resonance. The Emigrants, a foreign film, was nominated for best film in 1972 but was ultimately taken out by The Godfather.

The Criterion films that I found less than mesmerizing, even a bit labored or slow in some fashion for my taste, would be Hal Ashby's Being There (1979), Lars Von Trier's Breaking The Waves (1996), Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Steve McQueen's Hunger (2008), Byron Haskin's Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964) and Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne's Two Days, One Night (2014). Many more to go folks.

As for revisiting science fiction here at the site whether it be those vintage era, nostalgic glory days or something more contemporary of high quality this writer hopes to spend some time offering something of quality to you here on your visits.

What I will do and what I'd like to do are clearly two very different, competing objectives.

There will definitely be more of The Expanse. I adore that series and the books from which it is sourced. The latter have delivered exciting, expansive reading. I'm itching for more Battle Of The Planets, Stargate Universe, and Space:1999 to be covered here.

In anime I would love to finish Knights Of Sidonia, Attack On Titan (2013-present) and explore Mazinger Z: The Impact and Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (aka Star Blazers 2199). I also intend to watch the two live action Attack On Titan (2015) films as well as the Japanese release of that new Shin Godzilla film (2017). I am eagerly anticipating the Mazinger Z: Infinity film in 2018.

Currently I've been watching Robotech (or Macross) (1985), a series best enjoyed through a young person's rose-colored glasses, but still ever so influential with significant attention paid to character for an animated series of this vintage.

On the strictly science fiction front as entertainment, this writer, or more fittingly, this viewer is eager to see The Expanse Season Four and Colony Season Three to air in 2018 on television as well as new Netflix series Altered Carbon. In theatres in 2018 the most anticipated science fiction films for me would be Alex Garland's Annihilation, Mortal Engines with minor interests in Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Predator and Alita: Battle Angel.

So we'll certainly see how things go people. But wherever you are out there, all the best to you and much health in 2018.