‘Doctor Who’: 12 New Rules (and 4 Suggestions) for the Twelfth Doctor

This August, the “new,” revamped Doctor Who returns for its eighth series (or 34th series, if you count the entire show as a whole). Peter Capaldi took over the lead role from Matt Smith in the final moments of the last Christmas Special, and Whovians are excited to see what the man who played Lucius Caecilius Iucundus and John Frobisher will do with the role, apart from gesticulate wildly and talk about his kidneys.

Unfortunately, Doctor Who has run a bit off the rails since show runner Steven Moffat took over from Russell T. Davies in 2010. Moffat wrote all the best episodes of the RTD era; but under his tenure, let’s just say the overall storylines and plotlines have been less than satisfactory. Not terrible, mind you; but it hasn’t been the greatest era in Doctor Who history. There have been problems.

Sure, they’ve pretty much wrapped up shooting the 12 episodes that the BBC magnanimously permitted to be produced for the eighth series. But that doesn’t mean I can’t lay down some new ground rules for the show, which Moffat will be required to follow under the International Treaty for Bloggers to Have Absolute Control of the Things They Love signed in Berne, Switzerland in 1979.

Spoiler alert, by the way. Sweetie. Continue reading

Bunny Sleds & Teleporting Eagles — the Periannath.com Review of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

Oy vey.

New on Periannath.com, my (mostly) former Tolkien blog: my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Excerpt:

The Hobbit is 95,000 words; The Lord of the Rings is 481,000. The Hobbit is a children’s book; The Lord of the Rings is decidedly for adult readers. The Hobbit is a fairy tale; The Lord of the Rings is high fantasy, and created an entire new genre of fantasy fiction. The two books are very different in tone. But when Peter Jackson decided to make a film adaptation of The Hobbit, he decided that it should have the same dramatic high fantasy tone as his Lord of the Rings films. This was a major mistake.

Check out this review, and my other Tolkien adaptation reviews, at Periannath.com!

The Ten Worst Science Fiction Films of All Time: ‘Prometheus’

I feel pretty, and witty, and gay!!!

Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'

In the late 1970s and early ’80s, British filmmaker Ridley Scott made two of the ten best — hell, two of the five best science fiction films of all time: 1979’s Alien and 1982’s Blade Runner.

In the intervening 30 years, Ridley (now Sir Ridley) made movies about giant-horned devils, suicidal feminists, lady SEALs, historically inaccurate gladiators, charming brain-eating serial killers, and homeless archers. But he did not make another science fiction film.

During those years, I always said I hoped Scott would return to sci-fi. And when I heard that Scott had decided to helm a sequel reboot remake prequel to Alien, I was absolutely thrilled.

Then I saw it. Continue reading

The 100 Quotations Every Geek Should REALLY Know

The Fate of the Phoenix

The Fate of the Phoenix

So Wired.com has up a post called 100 Quotations Every Geek Should Know, which is really a list of 17 quotations every geek should know, some quotations every pop culture fan should know, and some stupid quotes no one should care about.

As someone who has been an actual geek for a very long time, I felt compelled to put together a better list. For the purposes of my list, I’m limiting the science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and various other sundry geek-related properties to one quote each. Otherwise half the list would be Monty Python, Star Wars and Douglas Adams.

But first, the 17 items that the Wired post got right — these are quotations you definitely should be familiar with if you’re a geek. Continue reading

The World Congress on Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

The following text was composed for marketing materials for the 10th WCIRDC in November, 2012.

The World Congress on Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease (WCIRDC) is a unique and exciting multidisciplinary program, to be held this year in Los Angeles, California. The Congress is the premiere global meeting dedicated to obesity, diabetes, metabolism and energy balance, linking research to clinical practice, and highlighting our theme — exploring new frontiers in metabolism — tomorrow’s clinical science today. Continue reading

Ten Famous Science Fiction Properties That Would Make Great VFX Movies — Part 4 ‘The Airtight Garage’


This is a series of posts discussing ten existing science fiction properties (from literature, animation, games and comics) that could serve as the basis for ground-breaking live-action VFX films and television shows. This time: Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s 1976 graphic novel
The Airtight Garage.

For an explanation of the choices for this list, see the first entry.

Number 7 of 10: The Airtight Garage (US title, comic, 1976), aka Le Garage Hermétique de Jerry Cornelius, Le Garage Hermétique de Lewis Carnelian

In the Before Time, in the Long Long ago, in the late 1970s and 1980s, some movie execs decided it might be a good idea to make a few big-budget effects-heavy comic book movies. So we had two classic films based on DC Comics characters. The first was Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman, a hammy cheese-fest that nonetheless managed to charm the audience, largely via Gene Hackman’s movie-saving charisma and Christopher Reeve’s unshakable determination to play a ridiculous character as seriously as possible. On the other hand, the producers spent literally one-third of the $60 million budget to hire Marlon Brando in a cameo; and Margo Kidder gave a performance as Lois Lane that should have tipped off any competent psychiatrist that she was suffering from bipolar disorder and needed help.

The other was Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, the first superhero film ever to capture the comic book fanboy’s love for the source material (in this case the uncredited Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (1986), but that’s a fanboy rant for another blog post). Burton, following Miller’s lead, showed mainstream audiences that comic books can be dark, intellectual, weird, artistic and funny. And Jack Nicholson was a thespian ruminant, chewing the scenery and then chewing it again. Continue reading

Ten Famous Science Fiction Properties That Would Make Great VFX Movies — Part 3 ‘Appleseed’

This is a series of posts discussing ten existing science fiction properties (from literature, animation, games and comics) that could serve as the basis for ground-breaking live-action VFX films and television shows. This time: Shirow Masamune’s manga and anime franchise Appleseed.

For an explanation of the choices for this list, see the first entry.

Number 8 of 10: Appleseed (manga: 1985-89; anime: 1988, 2004, 2007)

If there’s one thing modern CG can render with absolute realism, it’s hardware. From modern consumer automobiles, commercial aircraft and military vehicles to futuristic robots, mecha and spacecraft, VFX artists have mastered the art of heavy gear, from 1984’s The Last Starfighter to last year’s Avatar.

But the military hardware, vehicles and spacecraft in modern VFX movies and television shows and video games do not show as much creative variety as one might expect, given the nearly boundless flexibility of CG. Spacecraft usually look much like the USS Sulaco from 1986’s Aliens, which itself isn’t terribly original. The “APUs” in Avatar are nearly identical to the battlemechs from the BattleTech franchise, themselves inspired by anime mecha. And any time you see a BFG (Big “Effin’” Gun) or any other large military prop in a sci-fi film, TV show or video game, it seems to come from the same prop house or 3D model library as all the others.

This isn’t necessarily because production designers and VFX artists are lazy or unoriginal – there are creative and production concerns. If a giant futuristic space blaster looks exactly like what the audience expects a giant futuristic space blaster to look like, a filmmaker need not waste time explaining what it is. The same goes for spaceships – film-goers unfamiliar with sci-fi (are there any of those left?) might be confused by the giant, spherical spaceship at the end of the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (they were already confused by the plot); but will instantly recognize the alien ship in 2009’s District 9, given its resemblance to the bastard love child of the giant saucers from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Independence Day (1996). Continue reading

The Best of Kunochan from Periannath.com

As you can tell, I am no longer posting regularly to Periannath.com. Indeed, from this point forward I will only be posting the occasional feature article, such as a film review or a Tollkien 101; I’ll leave the day-to-day Tolkien news to TORn.

Here are some links to the Best of Periannath.com (so far).

Film Reviews:

UGLY ELVES & INFLATABLE ORCS: RANKIN/BASS’ 1977 ‘THE HOBBIT’ REVIEWED

ROTO-ORCS & INVINCIBLE DOORS: RALPH BAKSHI’S 1978 ‘JRR TOLKIEN’S THE LORD OF THE RINGS’ REVIEWED

GLOW-IN-THE-DARK HOBBITS & HOMOPHOBIC FRODOS: RANKIN BASS’ 1980 “THE RETURN OF THE KING” REVIEWED

Humor:

BILBO BAGGINS IMAGE MACROS

GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S ‘THE HOBBIT,’ COMPOSED ENTIRELY OF SCREENCAPS FROM ‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS’

IF TOM BOMBADIL HAD APPEARED IN PETER JACKSON’S ‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS’

IF GLORFINDEL HAD APPEARED IN PETER JACKSON’S ‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS’

IF LOTR HAD BEEN WRITTEN BY A GAME DEVELOPER

Also, here are all the installments of Tolkien 101.

And be sure to read Sauron’s Blog!

Ten Famous Science Fiction Properties That Would Make Great VFX Movies — Part 2 ‘Erma Felna EDF’

This is a series of posts discussing ten existing science fiction properties (from literature, animation, games and comics) that could serve as the basis for ground-breaking live-action VFX films and television shows. This time: the furry animal sci-fi comic Erma Felna EDF.

For an explanation of the choices for this list, see the first entry.

Number 9 of 10: Erma Felna EDF (comic, 1983-2005)

It took a few decades, but computer graphics engineers have mastered the modeling and rendering of hair and fur. This has allowed a tremendous level of sophistication in CG animals that are realistic (the giant ape in 2005’s King Kong), cartoonish (the new CG Chipmunks films), and somewhere in-between (Aslan the Lion from the Chronicles of Narnia adaptations).

But little has yet been done in the realm of anthropomorphics, what is sometimes referred to as “funny animal” or “furry” animation and comics. These are usually representations of characters with animal heads and other bestial characteristics, but humanoid (“anthropomorphic”) bodies, intelligence and the ability to speak. Such furry characters may or may not wear clothes; may live in their own “furry” world, or in the real world with humans; and may have their own animal-based culture. Such creatures appear in children’s literature (Beatrice Potter’s 1902 The Tale of Peter Rabbit; Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 The Wind in the Willows) and in adult stories (Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1980-91); Kirsten Bakis’ 1997 Lives of the Monster Dogs). Continue reading

Ten Famous Science Fiction Properties That Would Make Great VFX Movies — Part 1 ‘Wings of Honneamise’

This is a series of posts discussing ten existing science fiction properties (from literature, animation, games and comics) that could serve as the basis for ground-breaking live-action VFX films and television shows. First up: the 1987 anime feature film The Wings of Honnêamise.

In the 1980s and 90s, effects-centered films and television shows occupied specific niches. In film, an effects-heavy movie like Ghostbusters or Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a summer tentpole release designed to reel in teen audiences of repeat viewers; while a show like Star Trek: The Next Generation, with its $2.5 million an episode budget, was a risky experiment in capitalizing on 1960s nostalgia.

Today, most movies rely heavily on VFX, many of those effects invisible. Greenscreen sets and set extensions, digital makeup, and post-production fixes for on-set mistakes are just a few applications of digital technology used in films and TV shows that the average viewer might think had no effects whatsoever.

But audiences still want “effects-heavy” films, from The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings trilogies at the turn of the millennium to the Iron Man films and Avatar today. And for the first time in TV history, shows from Firefly and Battlestar Galactica to V and Human Target are recreating the experience of effects-heavy, action-oriented movies on the small screen.

Two factors have led to this renaissance in effects-driven entertainment. First, technological advances have made it cheaper and cheaper to create top-quality effects. And second, those same advances have made it possible to realistically render visions that were never possible before. Today’s VFX artists can create worlds that just ten years ago producers would have said could only be represented with traditional animation. Rumor said James Cameron abandoned his Spider-Man film project because he was dissatisfied with the realism of the character’s CG web-slinging. Can you imagine the director of Avatar having such a concern today? Continue reading