Tag Archives: movies

Great Whale Moments In SF History

Today is World Whale Day! As we use this day to think about how we can help out and appreciate our cetacean friends, I will take this opportunity to list all the whales that swam into our hearts via science fiction. So pour a glass of water, get out your copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale, and have a whale of a time perusing this list.

Image result for the godwhale

Rorqual Maru, The Godwhale (1974)

Somewhat of a sequel to T.J. Bass’ Half Past Human, this novel is one of the earliest examples of “biopunk” a subgenre related to cyberpunk and steampunk but with biotechnology. Rorqual Maru (is that a cool name or what?) is the titular Godwhale, a cyborg/blue whale hybrid that helps the novel’s protagonist in his search for answers.

Image result for leviathan scott westerfeld

The Leviathan, The Leviathan Trilogy (2009)

What if Britain & it’s allies used genetically modified animals to fight World War 1? Scott Westerfeld answers that question with the Leviathan, a giant airship made (literally) of a whale that can fly through the air (airwhale) thanks to a combination of animal genetics (because Darwin was able to crack the DNA code a century ahead of schedule). Whether you think this is ethical or not is up for debate.

Image result for orca dc comics

Orca, Batman

Introduced in Batman Issue #579 (2000)

Experiments with killer whale tissue turns marine biologist Dr. Grace Balin into Orca, one of Batman’s lesser known antagonists. More info on her here and here.

Image result for orka marvel

Orka, Marvel Comics

First introduced in Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner #23 (1970). With the help of his psionic amplifier belt, fallen Atlantean soldier Orka has the powers of a killer whale and uses those powers to fight various heroes in the Marvel universe (so why is he blue?) Read more about him here and here.

The Whaladon, Star Wars: The Jedi Prince Series (1992-1993)

First introduced in The Glove of Darth Vader, Whaladons are a species of intelligent creatures in the Star Wars galaxy that our heroes fight to protect from poaching. Detractors of the kids-centered books will summarize the series as “The Rebel Alliance Saves the Whales”. But hey, they can’t be worse than Aftermath, right?

Kenixkilhunter

(The one under Kenix Kil’s foot is a Herglic.)

Herglic, Star Wars Legends

These sentient, bipedal, water-based aliens are native to the planet Giju and have appeared in various SW comics and role playing games throughout the years. They made their first appearance in Dark Force Rising, the 2nd book in Timothy Zahn’s beloved Thrawn Trilogy. Because of their large size, it’s difficult for them to enter buildings and ships causing much embarrassment. Nevertheless they are peaceful, easygoing creatures. You can read more about them here.

Image result for star trek the voyage home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

For all of Star Trek’s optimism, it seems illogical (no pun intended) that in the 23rd century humpback whales would be an extinct species. But they are and that’s bad for the crew of the Enterprise when they discover that a deadly probe is orbiting Earth. Spock comes to the conclusion that the “call” the probe sends matches the “songs” of humpback whales and will continue to wreak havoc until its call is answered. So the only solution is to go back in time to the 20th Century, capture some humpback whales, bring them forward in time to the 23rd Century and use them to respond to the probe’s signal. Not an easy task.

Didn’t they have a copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale on the Enterprise?

Image result for star trek where sea meets sky

Star Trek: Where Sea Meets Sky (1998)

Written by Jerry Oltion and part of The Captain’s Table Series. This is Captain Christopher Pike’s story. He and his crew encounter airwhales known as “titans” who, in Oltion’s words: “scooped hydrogen from the atmospheres of gas giants for food and laid their eggs on terrestrial planets.” Unfortunately this causes a lot of collateral damage to the inhabitants of the terrestrial planets so of course it’s up to the Enterprise to find a solution.

Kaminoan_rider

Aiwha, Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones

Non-sentient cetacean creatures native to Kamino and Naboo, they can launch into the air from the sea. Their names are taken from the word “airwhale”. They were designed by Terryl Whitlatch though an early concept was made by Ralph McQuarrie for The Empire Strikes Back. You can learn more about them on Wookiepedia.

And now to conclude this list, here’s some pictures of space whales:

Image result for space whale Image result for space whale

Image result for space whale

And an air whale:

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, science fiction

The Best-Dressed Ladies of Genre Fiction

Syfy Wire wrote a piece listing who they think are the best-dressed ladies of sci-fi and fantasy. While I appreciate the (fangirl) writers of this article for making Padme Amidala #1 in the fantastic fashion department, the other choices were, meh, to say the least. So to remedy that, I put together my list of the best dressed ladies of genre fiction. The only criteria is this: they must make at least two costume changes over the course of their story.

padme-amidala-costume Star-Wars-Clone-Wars-Micro-Series-2003-image-star-wars-clone-wars-micro-series-2003-36179378-445-297 9bfc2986fe028a81034f1f23639dfcc5

1. Padme Amidala, Star Wars

When we first met Padme in The Phantom Menace, she was the 14-year-old Queen of Naboo and went by her middle name Amidala. She wore huge robes that covered her entire body, elaborate headdresses and white face paint. Why? Protection! Thanks to this queenly facade, whenever Amidala was in danger she could switch places with her low-key but equally fabulous handmaidens and no one would be the wiser. When I was a high school freshman, my female classmates and I would gab enthusiastically about which Amidala dress was our favorite. Then came Attack of the Clones and Amidala was now a senator. No more heavy dresses, no more elaborate hairstyles, now her wardrobe was more flowing and romantic. But the fashion sense was still there. If anything, being senator of Naboo meant…more dresses! Then in Revenge of the Sith Padme had to fall back on her queenly roots again as she used full bodied gowns to cover her pregnancy. But hey, the movies weren’t the only ones to showcase Padme’s unique style. Who can forget that fur-lined “snow bunny” outfit she wore when she went to Illum with Yoda in Clone Wars?

Number of Costume Changes (counting films and television only): 50

Home_Slide_The_Avengers_

2. The Ladies of The Avengers

No I’m not talking about the 2012 film or the Marvel comic. I’m talking about the hipper British TV show that ran from 1961 to 1969. For nine years John Steed – played by the sophisticated Patrick Macnee – would fight diabolical, dastardly villains with wit, a smile, a derby and an umbrella. Along side him was always an equally competent lady partner. From 1962-1964 it was Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman). From 1965-1968, when the series switched from black and white to color, it was Emma Peel (That’s Dame Diana Rigg to you). Then in the final season (1968/1969) it was Tara King (Linda Thorson). Each woman had her own personal style and if there was one thing The Avengers had in abundance, it was style! Whether it was Cathy’s black leather catsuits (and “kinky boots”), Emma’s Mod ensembles or Tara’s youthful miniskirt’s, these ladies brought new meaning to the phrase: “dressed to kill”. Watch all 161 episodes to see them all.

3. Altaira Morbius, Forbidden Planet (1956)

The first big budget science fiction film ever made, this 1956 smash hit influenced every sf creator, from Gene Roddenberry and Irwin Allen to George R. R. Martin. So it shouldn’t surprise us that costumes were a part of the budget, the most memorable being Altaira’s (Anne Francis) self-designed dresses and jewelry. When we first meet Altaira, she’s wearing no shoes, amber/ruby jewelry and – gasp! – a minidress. This was before Mary Quant made waves with her mini skirt design. In fact Altaira’s hemline was so ahead of its time, the film wasn’t shown in Spain until 1967. To impress Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen. Yes, that Leslie Nielsen), she switches to longer dresses with emeralds around her neck. But by the end of the movie she’s back to her short skirts. Good thing she has Robby the Robot to provide the materials.

Number of Costume Changes: 4

4. Wonder Woman

Throughout her 76 years as The First Lady of Comics, Wonder Woman has gone through many wardrobe changes, from culottes to skirts, and eagle to W breastplates. What’s never changed is the color scheme of her armor: red, blue and gold. But let’s not forget her other wardrobe choices: on Themyscira she wears a loose, short athletic tunic for freedom of movement. When going about her daily business in Man’s World as Diana Prince, she chooses an elegant, classy style (mostly pantsuits). When acting as Ambassador for the Amazons, she wears a classical toga. If we were to discuss every outfit Diana has worn – from comics to cartoons to live action – we’d be here all day.

5. Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, Batman (1966)

Former Addams Family matriarch, Carolyn Jones, committed her first crime in Gotham City as the glamorous Marsha, Queen of Diamonds. This diva loves diamonds. She loves diamonds so much that she’ll cast a spell (using her Aunt Hilda’s love potion) on any man to make him steal a diamond for her. But the one diamond she wants more than anything is the Bat Diamond, which generates power for the Batcave. Marsha appeared in five episodes of Batman wearing – what else – diamond jewelry but also some memorable outfits to go with that ice. What other woman would make giraffe print look so good?

Number of Costume Changes: 9

e670f21e7daef16d37f309eb1e374cbd--flash-gordon-the-flash

6. Dale Arden, Flash Gordon (1980)

From one comic book wardrobe to another: Both ’60s Batman and ’80s Flash Gordon were scripted by the same writer: Lorenzo Semple Jr. so it makes sense that the projects were full of camp, colors and great costumes. It’s no surprise that the beautiful Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) would catch the eye of wholesome quarterback Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) while wearing a coral colored dress with a white jacket. As she (unwillingly) becomes Ming’s prisoner/bride to be, she’s dressed in glittery orientalist-inspired gowns (pointed shoulder pads!) and intricate diadems. But no flashy (no pun intended) apparel can stop her from helping Flash save the universe!

Number of costume changes: 6

7. Peggy Carter, Agent Carter (2015-2016)

Agent Carter, we hardly knew ye. If your show had stayed on the air, who knows how many more fashions we’d see on this secret agent as the world moved on from World War 2 to the early stages of The Cold War (screw you, Disney). One thing’s for sure, we saw a lot of memorable outfits in the two seasons of this beloved show. Peggy proved that you can kick butt in heels and a skirt without smudging your lipstick. Who didn’t want to wear a red hat at a jaunty angle after the first episode? Or go to bed with your hair curled in bobby pins to get that wavy look the next morning? Or work at the office in a pinstripe pattern? Heck, raise your hand if you wished you had a time machine that could take you back to 1946 for a shopping spree and a makeover? View them all in 18 swingin’ episodes.

Agree with my list? Who are your favorite fashion divas of science fiction and fantasy?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under female characters, science fiction

Don’t Knock “Man of Steel” to Build Up “Wonder Woman”

z-HenryCavill-SDCC-2014-19

Well.

What was originally a planned review of Wonder Woman – a film I’ve already seen twice in theaters – is now a lecture about how the internet’s irritating habit of throwing shade at any franchise’s predecessors, needs to stop.

What made me decide to write this post was this article by Mikhail Lecaros from GMA News Online titled “Wonder Women: Gal Gadot’s Live Action Predecessors, From Lynda to Dawn”. The “listicle” gives a run down of actresses who donned the mantle of the Amazing Amazon before Gal Gadot, from a silly 1967 pilot starring a pre-Planet of the Apes Linda Harrison to an even sillier 2011 pilot starring Adrienne Palicki. As I scroll to the bottom, it turns into a totally different article. When discussing the beloved 2017 film, it compares it to the 1978 Superman and the current Captain America series (say what?). Then it goes into this little gem:

In an age of overwhelming uncertainty and cynicism, it is downright refreshing to see a hero up on the big screen who’s doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, and not as a result of contrived pathos or self-loathing. Seeing as the DC Extended Universe’s big-screen idea of Superman is an angst-ridden loner with a predilection for killing and collateral damage, Wonder Woman is an excellent choice to be the upcoming “Justice League’s” moral compass.

But who knows? There’s buzz that Superman’s current bout with death will see him resurrected to be more of the virtuous leader he’s usually known to be, but that seems to be more of a retroactive fix than anything else. In Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the DCEU has finally given moviegoers something we never thought we would see from this franchise: a hero we can all look up to.

Take that, Henry Cavill.

There’s so much wrong with these last two paragraphs. First of all it takes attention away from Wonder Woman and centers it on her male counterparts. Hidden sexism right there. As if a woman can’t rise through the ranks without bringing a man down. People didn’t go to see Wonder Woman in droves because they were hoping for a DC film “done right”. They went because they wanted to prove that female superhero movies can be successful. They weren’t looking for a hero to look up to – we already saw her as a hero – that’s why we wanted a Wonder Woman movie and DC delivered. Second it singles out Henry Cavill, an actor just because the author didn’t like his take on Superman. But why Henry Cavill, who had no control over the script and was only doing what he was told to do? Why not say “take that William Dozier” or “take that David E. Kelley”? Better yet, why not say “take that Marvel” who – after 15 films so far – has only one planned female superhero movie? Drop dead, I say. Why have there been three actors to play the Incredible Hulk but no She-Hulk movie? Why not Spider-Gwen: Homecoming instead of Spider-Man: Homecoming? And since Marvel left Peggy’s story in mid-air, it’s high time they give us a third season in the form of an Agent Carter movie.

 Say what you will about the DCEU, but at least their Wonder Woman movie was their fourth entry and there are rumors of a Wonder Woman sequel, a Batgirl movie and a Gotham City Sirens movie which has Margot Robbie reprising her role of Harley Quinn. I’ll take this moment to also point out that despite having a male lead, Man of Steel treated its female characters a lot better than most superhero movies:

  • Throughout the film, 15 women appeared on the screen with at least one speaking line.
  • Both of Superman’s mothers outlive his fathers and both have a scene where they stand up to the villain(s). Let’s also not forget “YOU THINK YOU CAN THREATEN MY MOTHER?!”
  • Not one female character is subject to the male gaze yet Superman was subject to the female gaze twice: when Faora gave him the roving eye and when a women soldier said “I just think he’s kinda hot”.
  • The only female character that was subject to the male gaze was a victim of sexual harassment – and Clark came to her defense (I had to smile when that sexual harasser walked out of the bar and found his big rig destroyed – HA!).
  • For the first time Lois Lane wears pants on the job instead of a skirt – ’nuff said.
  • Speaking of Lois, she’s the one who learns from Jor-El how to escape from Zod’s ship, how to turn off the Kryptonian world engine (or whatever it was called) and she bravely volunteers to join Superman on Zod’s ship. She’s also the first human outside of Clark’s family to accept him for who he is and unlike previous Lois Lanes she already knows Clark and Superman are one and the same.
  • Zod’s right hand “man” Faora wears armor instead of a tight jumpsuit and there’s no hint of a sexual relationship between her and Zod.
  • According to this postMan of Steel had the highest female audience demo.

Now why do I point this out? Because it was these feminist moments in MOS that made me confident that DC and Warner Bros. could pull of a successful, feminist Wonder Woman movie and if it wasn’t for the success of Man of Steel, we wouldn’t have gotten Wonder Woman. If Man of Steel had failed at the box office, DC and Warner Bros. would’ve never had the confidence to go forward with a planned movie universe and we’d still have to wait to see Diana’s story on the big screen.

Now here’s the third problem with Mr. Lecaros’ article: he singles out MOS as an example of “uncertainty and cynicism”. Hasn’t he ever heard of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy? Or Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Or Logan? Weren’t these films also uncertain and cynical? Weren’t these films also about angst-ridden loners with a predilection for killing and destruction (I don’t know which film he saw but Superman was nothing like that in Man of Steel. Your describing General Zod, honey.)  Or do they get a free pass because they received high scores on Rotten Tomatoes? Why is Batman allowed to evolve from a batusi dancing good citizen to a brooding loner still moping over his dead parents? Why can Captain America get away with being such a sad sack? Why is Aquaman cool all of a sudden because now he’s some beer guzzling biker dude? Even the new Wonder Woman is tougher and hardened (at least by the end of the movie) than her ’70s predecessor. But Superman can’t do a little soul searching? He has to be some happy go lucky goody-two shoes stuck in the ’50s or ’70s?

Despite being lighter and softer than its forebears, Wonder Woman was still a serious film. It did not hold back from showing the audience the horrors of World War 1. It showed gas poisoning, wounded soldiers with missing limbs, a character suffering from shell shock, a whole village bombed to death, horses getting whipped, people starving, refugees. And (spoilers!) a character blows himself up in a Zeppelin-Staaken R. VI. When I first saw the film, I walked out of the theater feeling a little depressed by what I saw, not because the film was depressing but because WW1 is a depressing subject. I read a lot of books about World War 1 and let me tell you I can feel the turmoil jumping off the pages.

Now I’m not saying you have to like Man of Steel. In conclusion I’m saying this: judge Diana’s movie on Diana’s merits. Don’t give in to hate and haughtiness and throw shade at her male cohorts. Just enjoy the movie and be glad she’s finally on the big screen.

Take that, haters.

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under DC Comics, female characters, Wonder Woman

Yay! There’s a New Wonder Woman Trailer!

Warner Bros. has released the official Wonder Woman trailer. And I’ve viewed it 4 times already. And the first viewing spread a huge smile across my face. Here’re my thoughts on this second trailer:

  • Themyscira is gorgeous! The waters are crystal blue and the beach is white. Was it filmed in Hawaii or New Zealand or some other island? You’ll notice how Diana’s clean, majestic city is a sharp contrast to the smoggy city that Steve Trevor takes Diana to. Which city is it anyway? Is it Paris or London?
  • We now know that the disfigured woman is a villain. Some speculate she’s Dr. Poison. But is she the Big Bad of the story or is she a henchwoman? And once again, what is Danny Huston’s role in all this? Is he a weapons dealer or something more?
  • How did those soldiers find Themyscira? Does this mean that it’s not in the Bermuda Triangle, making it easier to find?
  • I like the scene where Steve tells Hippolyta: “you’re in more danger than you think.” It reminds me of the anti-isolationist stance (some believed) Marston was using in the early days of Wonder Woman. Bonus points for Diana’s firm stance on defending others.
  • Diana looks like she’s sneaking into the armory. Is it part of the traditional Amazon contest or is she defying her mothers’ law? Will there be scenes of an Amazon contest to bring Trevor back to Man’s World?
  • Another funny scene between Diana and Etta Candy, who will probably help acclimatize her to Man’s World. This may be our first fish-out-of-water superhero movie (sorry Thor, you don’t count).
  • I’m glad to finally see a “bullets and bracelets” scene.
  • I like how Diana slowly climbs out of a trench and Steve screams “DIANA!” It shows he truly cares about her.
  • Who was the Amazon that swung behind Diana and was shot by a bullet? Does she get killed? Did Diana become so distracted by saving Steve that she neglected her duties to her sisters?
  • The look on Diana’s face is priceless/precious when Steve calls her his secretary. If you remember the Comic-Con trailer, you’d understand why this is so ironic.

But, a word of caution. This is the first  live action theatrical Wonder Woman film in movie history. It’s also the first major superhero movie directed by a woman. It has a lot riding on it. It’s expected to prove that female-led superhero movies can make a profit. It’s expected to please Wonder Woman’s fans which is the most divisive fandom in comics. In other words: broken base, thy name is Wonder Woman. I believe we shouldn’t set our hopes too high so that if the film doesn’t live up to some people’s expectations, we’ll have years of disgruntled fans bashing and shaming DC like Star Wars fans did to  George Lucas after the prequels. I will see this movie because I want Hollywood to learn that women-led films can make money and become classics. But most movies I’ve liked had trailers/commercials that interested me, so this film looks promising.

Another thing I want to address is the killjoy Marvel fans who accuse this film of ripping off Captain America: The First Avenger. It proves how little they know their history. This film takes place during World War One, as I’ve said time and time again, Captain America takes place during World War Two. World War One = trenches, biplanes, gas masks. World War Two = fighter planes, GIs, Nazis. Heck, Steve Rogers is a baby during the First World War. I believe the reason the filmmakers chose to break with tradition and place Diana’s story during the Great War was so that they could avoid these accusations in the first place.

Well those are my thoughts. What are yours? What did you like about the Wonder Woman trailer? What are you looking forward to seeing in the movie?

Leave a comment

Filed under comics, Wonder Woman, world war 1 fantastic