henryherz.com

Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


1 Comment

Day 1 of San Diego Comic-Con 2016

Here is a photo journal of my first day at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 #SDCC2016:

14Incredibles

Family cosplay of the terrific animated movie, The Incredibles.

02BradBird

Speaking of The Incredibles, director Brad Bird (who also did the amazing Iron Giant movie) was in the house.

03Trex

Inflatable T-rexes terrorize an unsuspecting convention-goer.

04HatkeRothfuss

The talented picture book author/illustrator Ben Hatke (JULIA’S HOUSE FOR LOST CREATURES, NOBODY LIKES A GOBLIN) was interviewed by the rockstar fantasy novelist Patrick Rothfuss (THE NAME OF THE WIND). They stare with disdain at lesser mortals.

05LainiTaylor

And in the audience was fantasy novelist Laini Taylor (DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE series, DREAMDARK series).

06BenHatke

Yours truly with the blurry, but still talented Ben Hatke.

07KamiGarcia

Four goddesses of the YA fantasy pantheon: Alexandra Bracken (DARKEST MIND series), Kami Garcia (BEAUTIFUL CREATURES series and THE LEGION series), Mary E. Pearson (THE REMNANT CHRONICLES series), and Marissa Meyer (THE LUNAR CHRONICLES series).

08SeananMcGuire

The bright and snarky urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire (OCTOBER DAY series). She said the audience could ask her anything (if they dare).

09MaryRobinetteKoval

As luck would have it, author Mary Robinette Kowal was there to accept the challenge, and asked Seanan about the time she was a phone sex operator.

10Wookies

Apparently Star Wars wookies come in all kinds of girly colors.

11MsFrizzle

In the kind of ridiculous mashup you only see at Comic-Con, a mother and son cosplay as Ms. Frizzle (THE MAGIC SCHOOLBUS) and demon hunter Constantine.

12Viking

An incredibly accurate cosplay of the Floki character from the TV series Vikings.

13UrukHai

“What do you mean I can’t get into Hall H!?”

15Alien

“Your puny wall cannot keep us out, Donald Trump.”


4 Comments

Famous Spaceships from TV & Movies

I enjoy a well-conceived plot and fully fleshed-out characters, but like every science fiction buff, I also enjoy high tech gadgetry. This post is a gallery of some of the best known, nay, iconic spaceships from TV and movies. Enjoy the variety of shapes and sizes!

Enterprise
USS Enterprise (original Star Trek TV series)

“The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is the central starship in the fictional Star Trek media franchise. The original Star Trek series features a voice-over by Enterprise captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner), which describes the mission of Enterprise as “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before”.” — Wikipedia

Millenium Falcon
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

“The Millennium Falcon is a fictional spacecraft in the Star Wars universe commanded by smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee first mate, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). The highly modified YT-1300 light freighter first appears in Star Wars (1977), and subsequently in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983) and in a cameo in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).

According to Star Wars creator George Lucas, the Millennium Falcon’s design was inspired by a hamburger, with the cockpit being an olive on the side. The ship originally had a more elongated appearance, but the similarity to the Eagle Transporters in Space: 1999 prompted Lucas to change the Falcon’s design.” — Wikipedia

DeathStar
Death Star (Star Wars)

“A Death Star is a fictional space station and superweapon appearing in the Star Wars science-fiction franchise created by George Lucas. It is capable of destroying an entire planet with its powerful superlaser.

The original Death Star’s completed form appears in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), it is the Galactic Empire’s “ultimate weapon”, a space station capable of destroying a planet with one shot of its superlaser. The film opens with Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) transporting the station’s schematics to the Rebel Alliance to aid them in destroying the Death Star. Tarkin orders the Death Star to destroy Leia’s home world of Alderaan in an attempt to pressure her into giving him the location of the secret Rebel base; she gives them the false location of Dantooine, but Tarkin has Alderaan destroyed anyway, as a demonstration of the Death Star’s firepower and the Empire’s resolve.” — Wikipedia

DrWho
TARDIS (Doctor Who TV series)

“The TARDIS; Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is a fictional time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who and its associated spin-offs.

A TARDIS is a product of the advanced technology of the Time Lords, an extraterrestrial civilisation to which the programme’s central character, the Doctor, belongs. A properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and any place in the universe. The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior, which can blend in with its surroundings using the ship’s “chameleon circuit”. TARDISes also possess a degree of sentience (which has been expressed in a variety of ways ranging from implied machine personality and free will through to the use of a conversant avatar) and provide their users with additional tools and abilities including a telepathically based universal translation system.” — Wikipedia

ALiensDropship
UD-4L Cheyenne (Aliens)

While technically more of an orbital assault ship than a spaceship, we’re including the Cheyenne Colonial Marine Dropship because of its cool combination of firepower and troop transporting ability, without which, the Colonial Marines wouldn’t be able to face off against the aliens in, well, Aliens.

FifthElement
Fhloston Paradise (The Fifth Element)

This  Steampunkesque space cruise ship gets shot up pretty badly as Corbin Dallas and Leeloo retrieve the four Element stones from Plavalaguna, and fight off a group of heavily-armed Mangalore mercenaries who also want the stones. Later, the ship is blown to bits, after the cruise ship passengers have fled. The ship’s destruction also helps  the passengers avoid the food poisoning so common on real-world cruise ships…

Thunderbird5
Thunderbird 5 (Thunderbirds TV series)

“Thunderbirds follows the adventures of the Tracy family, headed by American multi-millionaire philanthropist Jeff Tracy. A widower, Jeff’s adult sons – Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan – are named after Mercury Seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Gordon Cooper and Alan Shepard.

Unknown to the public, the Tracys are the force behind International Rescue: a secret organization committed to saving human life, founded and funded by Jeff. Assisting the family in this mission are technologically advanced land-, sea-, air- and space-rescue vehicles and equipment, deployed after conventional rescue techniques prove ineffective. Foremost are five machines called the Thunderbirds, each assigned to one of the five brothers:

  • Thunderbird 1 – a 115 feet-long, hypersonic, variable-sweep wing rocket plane used for fast response and rescue-zone reconnaissance, and as a mobile control base. Piloted by primary rescue co-ordinator Scott Tracy.
  • Thunderbird 2 – a 250 feet-long, supersonic, VTOL, lifting body carrier aircraft, which transports major rescue equipment and vehicles to rescue zones in detachable capsules known as “Pods”. Piloted by Virgil.
  • Thunderbird 3 – a 287 feet-tall, vertically-launched, re-usable, single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft used primarily for space rescue. Manned by astronaut Alan (with Scott as co-pilot).
  • Thunderbird 4 – a 30 feet-long utility submersible used for underwater rescue. Piloted by aquanaut Gordon and typically launched from Thunderbird 2’s Pod 4.
  • Thunderbird 5 – a space station, 296 feet-wide and in permanent geostationary orbit, which monitors SOS transmissions and relays communications within IR. ”
    — Wikipedia

spaceghost
Phantom Cruiser (Space Ghost TV series)

“Space Ghost is a fictional character created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth for CBS in the 1960s. In his original incarnation, he was a superhero who, with his sidekick teen helpers Jan, Jace, and Blip the monkey, fought supervillains in outer space. In the 1990s, the character was brought back as a host for his own fictional late-night talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. In the 2000s, he was revamped as a serious superhero once again in a DC Comics mini-series.” — Wikipedia

Futurama
Planet Express Ship (Futurama TV series)

“The Planet Express Ship is a fictional spaceship in the animated series Futurama, which bears the official designation U.S.S. Planet Express Ship. The ship was designed and built by Professor Hubert Farnsworth and is the sole delivery ship of Planet Express, a delivery service owned by the Professor. The ship is typically treated as an inanimate object, though Bender refers to the ship’s autopilot as “him” (and laments being defeated in a martini-drinking contest by same) in “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back”. The later episode “Love and Rocket” shows the ship to have an artificial intelligence, voiced originally by Maurice LaMarche and then (after installation of “new improved ship’s personality software” including “adjustable voice”) by special guest Sigourney Weaver.” — Wikipedia

A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
S.S. Heart of Gold (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

“S.S. Heart of Gold is the first prototype ship to successfully use the revolutionary Infinite Improbability Drive. It is 150 metres long and has been represented in various shapes. The original radio series did not specify a shape. In the novel adapted from the first four episodes of the radio series, it was described as a sleek white running shoe, which the TV adaptation adopted as a basis for its depictions. In the 2005 movie, it is more spherical with a hole and red brake lights on the rear that form the shape of a heart, a shape derived from a teacup in the brownian motion producer that powers the Infinite Improbability Drive. It also features a mural around the hole which depicts the invention of the Drive. It was built as a secret government project on planet Damogran from where Zaphod Beeblebrox, the then-President of the Imperial Galactic Government, stole it at the launching ceremony.” — Wikipedia

Jupiter2
Jupiter 2 (Lost in Space TV series)

“Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series created and produced by Irwin Allen, filmed by 20th Century Fox Television, and broadcast on CBS. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes airing between September 15, 1965, and March 6, 1968. The first television season was filmed in black and white, but the remainder were filmed in color. In 1998, a Lost in Space movie, based on the television series, was released.

Though the original television series concept centered on the Robinson family, many later story lines focused primarily on Dr. Zachary Smith, played by Jonathan Harris. Originally written as an utterly evil but extremely competent would-be saboteur, Smith gradually becomes the troublesome, self-centered, incompetent foil who provides the comic relief for the show and causes most of the episodic conflict and misadventures.” — Wikipedia

Serenity
Serenity (Firefly TV series)

“Serenity is a fictional spaceship that appears in Joss Whedon’s Firefly television series and related works. Set in the 26th century, the series follows the nine-person crew of the Firefly-class vessel, a small transport ship, as they earn a living through various legal and illegal means. The ship is the main setting; it appears in all fourteen episodes, the film, and all of the published comics.

Serenity first appeared in the pilot episode of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, which is set in the year 2517, in a star system humanity migrated to after using all of Earth’s resources. She is the property of Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), a former sergeant who served on the losing side of a civil war that ended six years before the series began. Mal acquires Serenity from a used spaceship yard after the war (as depicted in flashbacks during “Out of Gas”), intending to hire a small crew and take various jobs to support himself and wartime comrade Corporal Zoe Alleyne, while keeping out of the way of the Alliance, the multi-planetary government they were fighting against.” — Wikipedia

BattlestarGalactica
Battlestar Galactica (Battlestar Galactica TV series reboot)

“The story arc of Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant star system, where a civilization of humans live on a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race of their own creation, known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden sneak attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. Out of a population numbering in the billions, only approximately 50,000 humans survive, most of whom were aboard civilian ships that avoided destruction. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the eponymous Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of Colonial Fleet officer Commander William “Bill” Adama (Olmos) and President Laura Roslin (McDonnell), the Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.” — Wikipedia

Buckaroo
Black Lectroid Ship (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension)

“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, often shortened to Buckaroo Banzai, is a 1984 American science fiction film. It concerns the efforts of the multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10. The film is a cross between the action/adventure and sci-fi film genres and also includes elements of comedy, satire, and romance.

Banzai prepares to test his Jet Car, a modified Ford F-350 pickup truck powered by a jet engine and capable of exceeding Mach 1. The car is also equipped with a secret device called an “oscillation overthruster”, which Banzai and his associates hope will allow it to drive through solid matter. The test is a success: Banzai stuns onlookers by driving the Jet Car directly through a mountain. Emerging on the other side, Banzai finds that an alien organism has attached itself to the undercarriage.

Hearing of Banzai’s success, physicist Dr. Emilio Lizardo breaks out of the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane, after being held there for 50 years. A flashback shows Banzai’s mentor, Dr. Hikita, was present at Lizardo’s failed overthruster experiment in 1938. Crashing half through the target wall, Lizardo had been briefly trapped in the 8th dimension where his mind was taken over by Lord John Whorfin.

Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of alien reptiles who wage war against Planet 10. After being defeated by the less-aggressive Black Lectroids, Whorfin and his group were banished into the 8th dimension. Lizardo’s failed experiment accidentally released Whorfin and he soon brings many of the Red Lectroids to Earth in an incident that was reported in 1938 by Orson Welles in his radio broadcast The War of the Worlds, only to be forced by the aliens to retract it all as fiction.” — Wikipedia

Click to Tweet: Famous Spaceships from TV & Movies at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-DV via @Nimpentoad


Leave a comment

If Looks Could Kill – Deadly & Beautiful Heroines

The following heroines (and anti-heroines) from science fiction and fantasy movies kick butt, and look good doing it. The film summaries are all from http://www.imdb.com.

Charlize Theron as Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman

TheronCharlizeSnowWhite

“Once upon a time, King Magnus and his Queen have a beautiful daughter, Snow White, who is raised with her best friend William. When the Queen passes away, the King grieves her death but has to fight against a dark invader army. He rescues a beautiful prisoner, Ravenna, and on the next day he marries her. On the wedding night, Ravenna stabs King Magnus on the chest and brings the enemy army led by her brother Finn that destroys the King’s army. Ravenna imprisons Snow White on the Northern Tower of the castle while William, his father The Duke and a few survivors escape from the castle. Years later, the kingdom is completely depleted and Queen Ravenna, who is an evil witch, keeps her beauty draining the youth of young ladies. When the Magic Mirror tells that Snow White would be the source of her immortality, she asks Finn to bring the princess to her. However, Snow White escapes and flees to the Dark Forest. Queen Ravenna brings a Huntsman that misses his wife and she promises to bring her back to life provided he catches Snow White to her. But when he captures Snow White, he discovers that the evil Queen lied to him and he becomes the protector of the princess. Meanwhile William learns that Snow White is alive and he heads to join Finn’s men to meet her. The Huntsman and Snow White meet the eight dwarfs that bring them to the magic Fairytale Land. When they are attacked by Finn and his men, William also finds them and the group heads to the Duke’s castle with the intention of beginning an uprising against the evil Ravenna.”

Charlize Theron as Aeon Flux in Æon Flux

TheronCharlizeAeonFlux

“The year is 2415. 400 years after a virus wiped out half of the world’s population, the people that survived the virus now live in Bragna, a fortified city that is surrounded by a wall isolating the people from the virus infested rest of the world. Living in Bragna City, Aeon Flux, a mysterious female assassin who works for a underground group of rebels led by Handler. Aeon’s latest assignment is to assassinate Trevor Goodchild, a member of the council that controls Bragna City. When Aeon’s younger sister Una is killed by government agents, Aeon disobeys orders and decides to protect Trevor, and suspects Trevor’s brother Oren and the council members are plotting against Trevor. And when Handler learns Aeon failed the mission, Handler orders Aeon to be eliminated, and Aeon must risk everything as she not only protects Trevor, but also uncovers secrets and answers about her mysterious past and the government and all life in Bragna City itself.”

Milla Jovovich as Leelu in The Fifth Element

JovovichMillaFifthELement

“In the twenty-third century, the universe is threatened by evil. The only hope for mankind is the Fifth Element, who comes to Earth every five thousand years to protect the humans with four stones of the four elements: fire, water, Earth and air. A Mondoshawan spacecraft is bringing The Fifth Element back to Earth but it is destroyed by the evil Mangalores. However, a team of scientists use the DNA of the remains of the Fifth Element to rebuild the perfect being called Leeloo. She escapes from the laboratory and stumbles upon the taxi driver and former elite commando major Korben Dallas that helps her to escape from the police. Leeloo tells him that she must meet Father Vito Cornelius to accomplish her mission. Meanwhile, the Evil uses the greedy and cruel Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg and a team of mercenary Mangalores to retrieve the stones and avoid the protection of Leeloo. But the skilled Korben Dallas has fallen in love with Leeloo and decides to help her to retrieve the stones.”

Milla Jovovich as Alice in Resident Evil series

Resident Evil: Extinction

“A virus has escaped into a secret facility called “The Hive,” which chemically turns the staff (Umbrella Corporation) into man eating zombies and releasing the mutated lab animals that they were studying. The complex computer (The Red Queen) shuts down the base to prevent from infection. The parent corporation sends in a military unit, where they meet Alice who has only a short time to remember who she is and what is her mission. who which is suffering from amnesia due to the nerve gas released into her bathroom. The military must shut down the computer (The Red Queen) and make their way back out of the Hive. Fighting their way past zombies, mutants and The Red Queen before the T-Virus escapes and effects the rest of the world. Its up to Alice to defeat the virus, if she loses, we all lose.”

Milla Jovovich as Violet Song Jat Shariff in Ultraviolet

JovovichMillaUltraviolet

“Set in the late 21st century, a subculture of humans have emerged who have been modified genetically by a vampire-like disease, giving them enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence, and as they are set apart from “normal” and “healthy” humans, the world is pushed to the brink of worldwide civil war aimed at the destruction of the “diseased” population. In the middle of this crossed-fire is – an infected beautiful woman – Ultraviolet, who finds herself protecting a nine-year-old boy who has been marked for death by the human government as he is believed to be a threat to humans.”

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

HamiltonLindaTerm2

“Skynet, the 21st century computer waging a losing war on humans sends a second terminator back in time to destroy the leader of the human resistance while he is still a boy. His mother is the only one who knows of the existence of the Terminators, human-like robots that exist only to kill and are nearly indestructible, and Sarah, the boy’s mother is currently in a state mental hospital because of her ‘delusions’. A second protector is sent back to the past by the Human resistance to protect John Connor, their future leader, at all costs.”

Kate Beckingsale as Selene in Underworld

BeckingsaleKateUnderworld

“Vampires and Werewolves have been sworn enemies for hundreds of years. Now fought in a Gothic-like setting, the conflict takes an unexpected and deadly new turn. Selene, a beautiful vampire warrior, uncovers a Lycan plot that could prove fatal for her entire race. She shadows a human, Michael, the Lycan’s supposed target. Although she finds herself becoming attracted to him, he becomes infected with the lupine disease during a violent struggle with the Lycan overlord, Lucian, long thought to be dead. Now both sides must decide how to end the conflict and save their species as new and terrifying secrets unearth themselves and threaten their entire existance.”

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien series

WeaverSigourneyAliens

“Fifty seven years after Ellen Ripley survived her disastrous ordeal, her escape vessel is recovered after drifting across the galaxy as she slept in cryogenic stasis. Back on earth, nobody believed her story about the “Aliens” on the planet LV-426. After the “Company” orders the colony on LV-426 to investigate, however, all communication with the colony is lost. The Company enlists Ripley to aid a team of tough, rugged space marines on a rescue mission to the now partially terraformed planet to find out if there are aliens or survivors. As the mission unfolds, Ripley will be forced to come to grips with her worst nightmare, but even as she does, she finds that the worst is yet to come.”

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

JolieAngelinaTomeRaider

“A member of a rich British aristocratic family, Lara Croft is a “tomb raider” who enjoys collecting ancient artifacts from ruins of temples, cities, etc. worldwide, and doesn’t mind going through death-defying dangers to get them. She is skilled in hand-to-hand combat, weapons training, and foreign languages – and does them all in tight outfits. Well, the planets of the solar system are going into planetary alignment (Which occurs every 5,000 years), and a secret society called the Illuminati is seeking an ancient talisman that gives its possessor the ability to control time. However, they need a certain clock/key to help them in their search, and they have to find the talisman in one week or wait until the next planetary alignment to find it again. Lara happens to find that key hidden in a wall of her mansion. The Illuminati steal it, and Lara gets an old letter from her deceased father telling her about the society’s agenda (Her father was also the one who hid the key). Now, she must retrieve the key and find and destroy the talisman before the Illuminati can get their hands on it.”

Anne Parillaud as Nikita in La Femme Nikita

ParillaudAnneNikita

“Nikita is a young lady who with two Nihilist friends commit robbery and murder while on drugs. After her trial she is not executed or taken to prison, but to a school for special operatives. She is told that Nikita no longer exists and she will be trained to pay back society for what she has done, as a spy/assassin. She is trained for over two years and with no warning is handed a gun in a restaurant and told to kill the man at the next table as her handler leaves.”

Zhang Ziyi as Jen Yu in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

ZiyiZhangCrouchingTiger

“Li Mu Bai, a great warrior decides to turn in his sword, the Green Destiny to a treasured friend. When the sword is then stolen, it is up to him to retrieve it. At the same time he is trying to avenge his master’s death by the evil Jade Fox. He is joined in his quest by Shu Lien, the un-conceded love of his life. During all of this, they are introduced to Jiao Long Yu, the mysterious and beautiful daughter of a well known family. She is the mysterious link to all these tales. But through all the many subplots, this is in essence, a love story.”

Zoe Saldana as Cataleya in Colombiana

Zoe Saldana is "Cataleya" in TriStar Pictures' COLOMBIANA.

“A young woman grows up to be a stone-cold assassin after witnessing her parents’ murder as a child in Bogota. She works for her uncle as a hitman by day, but her personal time is spent engaging in vigilante murders that she hopes will lead her to her ultimate target – the mobster responsible for her parents’ death.”

Carrie Ann Moss as Trinity in The Matrix series

MossCarrieMatrix

“Thomas A. Anderson is a man living two lives. By day he is an average computer programmer and by night a hacker known as Neo. Neo has always questioned his reality, but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Neo finds himself targeted by the police when he is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. Morpheus awakens Neo to the real world, a ravaged wasteland where most of humanity have been captured by a race of machines that live off of the humans’ body heat and electrochemical energy and who imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. As a rebel against the machines, Neo must return to the Matrix and confront the agents: super-powerful computer programs devoted to snuffing out Neo and the entire human rebellion.”

Rebecca Romijn as Mystique in X-Men

RomijnRebeccaXmen

“In the near future, when children are being born with a special X-factor in their genes, giving them special powers and making them mutants, the seeds of a new Holocaust are being sown by Senator Robert Kelly. The situation brings into opposition the fellow mutants and former friends, Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto, and Professor Charles Xavier. While Xavier wants a peaceful means of stopping the hatred toward mutants, Magneto seeks to even things out with a machine that would speed up the mutation process in all humans, making everyone equal. To stop Magneto, Xavier brings together a special group of mutants called “X-Men” to stop him. In the meantime, two mysterious mutants emerge: Logan, a powerful and aggressive mutant with no past, no memories, and a young girl named Rogue. Their quests for identities eventually land them in the sights of Xavier and Magneto, but for what purpose?”

Tilda Swinton as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

SwintonTildaNarnia

“The film tells the story of 4 children who go to live with an old professor during the war. One day, while playing hide and seek, Lucy, the youngest of the children, finds a wardrobe which leads to a magical land called Narnia. However Narnia is being ruled by the evil White Witch who has made it snow for 100 years and according to an old prophecy, Edmund, Lucy, Peter and Susan are the “chosen ones” who will defeat the Witch. They are assisted by the true ruler of Narnia, the lion, Aslan. With the good Narnians on their side all 4 children must now defeat the witch using all their strength and fulfill their destinies to become the new kings and queens of Narnia.”

Click to Retweet: If Looks Could Kill – Deadly & Beautiful Heroines at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Cp via @Nimpentoad


Leave a comment

Robots in Movies

This post was inspired by Doug Gross’s CNN article at http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/19/tech/innovation/robots-pop-culture/index.html. The first nine robot writeups below are from him. Although they don’t have feelings, some important movie robots have been overlooked, so I’ve appended them below.  Enjoy.

01-robots-capek

Rossum’s Universal Robots

“R.U.R.”

“Rossum’s Universal Robots — was a Czech play that premiered in 1921. It is believed to be the first time the term “robots” was used to describe artificial people (who, in the tale, are made in a factory from synthetic material). In Czech, “robota” means forced labor. As happens in these cases, the cyborg-like creations in the play seem perfectly happy to serve humans, until an uprising ends in the extinction of the human race. Can’t win ’em all. The play was a huge success and, by 1923, it had been translated into 30 languages.

02-robots-metropolis

Maschinenmensch

Maschinenmensch

The first movie robot wasn’t far behind. In 1927, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” became the first feature-length sci-fi film, painting a picture of a dystopian future that would be echoed decades later in movies like “Blade Runner.” In it, rich industrialists deploy a female robot to impersonate Maria, a woman they fear will organize the workers they oppress. Pop artists from Queen to Nine Inch Nails to Madonna have made music videos either inspired by “Metropolis” or using clips from it. A half-century after “Metropolis,” the appearance of “Star Wars” droid C-3PO would be largely inspired by the robotic Maria.

03-robots-asimov

Asimov’s Three Laws

The short story they come from, “Runaround,” was written in 1942, but would become more widely known when the story appeared in science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s 1950 collection, “I, Robot.” Before Asimov, most robot stories followed a similar pattern: Scientists create robot; robot goes haywire and attacks its creators. Bored with that, he set up new rules of the robotic road. His Three Laws are:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

• A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

• A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

It wasn’t that things would always go well from there. Many of Asimov’s stories, and the stories and films that his laws inspired, focus on trouble that arises when robots have trouble knowing how to obey the laws in tricky real-world situations. But they are also credited with helping create the “lovable” robot in science fiction: an archetype popularized in TV and movies, from “Lost in Space” to “Star Wars” to “Short Circuit.”

04-robots-robby

Robby the Robot

Robby made his first appearance in the 1956 movie “Forbidden Planet.” From there, he became arguably the silver screen’s first mecha-celebrity. In old Hollywood’s great tradition of over-the-top, and often misleading, ballyhoo, the movie’s poster showed Robby manhandling a maiden, but he’s actually a helpful robot with a dry wit to boot.

After “Forbidden Planet,” Robby, or sometimes just the vaguely humanoid suit, went on to appear in dozens of movies and television shows, from “The Twilight Zone,” “Lost In Space” and “The Addams Family” to the much later “Mork & Mindy” and “Earth Girls Are Easy”.

05-robots-hal

HAL 9000

“2001: A Space Odyssey” was Stanley Kubrick’s epic, groundbreaking film from 1968, and HAL 9000 was unquestionably its star. Represented by an impassive, disembodied voice but able to mechanically control the spaceship Discovery, which he’s tasked with running, HAL represented our fears of technology gone awry as the Space Age dawned.

Instead of obeying Asimov’s Laws, HAL, first and foremost, is devoted to making sure his ship’s mission is a success. And that command has a deadly, and near-disastrous outcome. Some argue that since he didn’t have a physical form (at least by the strictest standards) HAL is not really a robot. But Carnegie Mellon thought he deserved to go into the Robot Hall of Fame with its inaugural class in 2003.

06-robots-star-wars

R2-D2 and C-3PO

It’s hard to argue anyone did more to propel robots from hardcore science fiction into the wider public consciousness than these two when they hit the screen in 1977. Full of personality, gallant and always helpful, the pair have appeared in all six “Star Wars” films to date. Creator George Lucas has said that R2-D2 is his favorite character from the movies.

07-robots-terminator

Terminator

Mention any major advance of robotics, technology or artificial intelligence and, to this day, you’ll inevitably hear something like this: “Skynet just became self-aware. Skynet is the system that leads to the Terminators, the titular robots of the series of movies (and later TV shows) which began in 1984. A new embodiment of our worst fears, the robots of “Terminator” are time-traveling killing machines — and it’s all because the people in charge let what we can do get ahead of what we should do.

08-robots-star-trek

Data

Call Data the “anti-Terminator.” The android from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is a creation that science has made so painfully close to human that his hyper-powered mind can’t help but yearn to be one of us. The bad jokes weren’t enough. Ultimately, an “emotion chip” granted Data’s Pinocchio-like wish to become “real.”

09-robots-wall-e

Wall-E

The idea of a friendly robot with a ton of personality was well established by the time “Wall-E” came along in 2008. But the Academy Award-winning film is arguably Pixar’s best, and a huge reason for that was Wall-E’s wordless yet emotionally moving “performance.” Like much great science fiction, “Wall-E” also tackles larger societal issues like rampant consumerism and environmental waste, while still offering up a robot who connected with millions of viewers, young and old, on a personal level.

I’d like to add the following honorable mentions that failed to make Mr. Gross’s list:

Bishopinhalf

Bishop from Aliens

Lance Henriksen plays the creepy “synthetic” Bishop, who is good at mumbly-peg, fixing radios, distracting Alien queens, and speaking after he’s been torn in half by said Alien queen.

From Wikipedia: Aliens is a 1986 American science fiction action film co-written and directed by James Cameron and starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, and Lance Henriksen. It is the sequel to the 1979 film Alien and the second installment of the Alien franchise. The film follows Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley as she returns to the planet where her crew encountered the hostile Alien creature, this time accompanied by a unit of Colonial Marines.

gigantor-volume-one-dvd-review-20090428114839410-000

Gigantor

Yeah, sure, it was a TV show, not a movie. But a giant robot!? That could fly!? One of my favorite shows growing up.

From Wikipedia: Gigantor is an American adaptation of the anime version of Tetsujin 28-go, a manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama released in 1956. It debuted on U.S. television in 1964. As with Speed Racer, the characters’ original names were altered and the original series’ violence was toned down for American viewers.

iron_giant

Iron Giant

You don’t want to get this robot mad. He makes Optimus Prime look like a sissy.

From Wikipedia: The Iron Giant is a 1999 American animated science fiction film using both traditional animation and computer animation, produced by Warner Bros. Animation, and based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. The film was directed by Brad Bird, and stars Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., Vin Diesel.

optimus

Transformers

C’mon, who wouldn’t want a Camaro like Bumblebee? Firepower AND street cred.

From Wikipedia: Transformers is a 2007 American science fiction action film based on the Transformers toy line. The film, which combines computer animation with live-action, is directed by Michael Bay, with Steven Spielberg serving as executive producer. It is the first installment of the live-action Transformers film series. It stars Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a teenager who gets caught up in a war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, two factions of alien robots who can disguise themselves by transforming into everyday machinery.

austin

Fembots from Austin Powers

C’mon, who wouldn’t want a Fembot or two? And bra-mounted machine guns!?

From Wikipedia: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a 1997 American action comedy film and the first installment of the Austin Powers series. It was written by Mike Myers, who also starred as both Austin Powers and the antagonist Dr. Evil, Powers’ arch-enemy. The film co-stars Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, and Michael York. Will Ferrell, Mimi Rogers, Carrie Fisher, Tom Arnold, Rob Lowe, Christian Slater, Cheri Oteri, Neil Mullarkey and Burt Bacharach made cameo appearances.

goldenarmy

Golden Army from Hellboy II

Um, yes, I would like an army of indestructible golden steampunk robots, thank you very much. And may I just add that the sword fight in the Elven throne room is the best cinematic fight scene of all time.

From Wikipedia: Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a 2008 American supernatural superhero film based on the fictional character Hellboy created by Mike Mignola, starring Ron Perlman. The movie was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro.

westworld

Westworld

Again with the robots we don’t know are robots? Those are the scariest kind.

From Wikipedia: Westworld is a 1973 science fiction-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III. It stars Yul Brynner as an android in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as guests of the park.

BladeRunnerjpg

Blade Runner

No list of movie robots is complete without this film. It has some of the best movie quotes of all time (see my favorites).

From Wikipedia: Blade Runner is a 1982 American dystopian science fiction thriller film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered organic robots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation.


Leave a comment

Famous Movie Puppets

This post was inspired by Matthew Ponsford’s CNN article at http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/08/showbiz/10-greatest-movie-puppets/index.html. The first ten puppet writeups below are from him. I have added my own commentary and five additional classic movie puppets. Enjoy.

01Kermit

Kermit the Frog
Originally fashioned from a green ladies coat that Jim Henson found in a bin (plus a pair of ping pong balls for eyes), Kermit the Frog has gone on to be one of the world’s few internationally recognized puppets — or, rather, Muppets. He can already count seven hit films, a recording contract, a bestselling autobiography and countless TV appearances among his achievements –and he’s set to appear on the big screen again next year in “Muppets Most Wanted.”

Henry: Superb choice. Kermit and the Muppets are quintessential puppets.

02Yoda

Yoda
Despite being a three foot green alien puppet, Jedi Master Yoda manages to give off a convincing impression of wisdom and deliver some of the “Star Wars” saga’s most crucial lines. George Lucas drafted in legendary Jim Henson-collaborator Frank Oz to bring the elderly Jedi to life, a choice which ensured Yoda had a sense of humor to match his worldly knowledge.

Henry: “Judge me by my size, do you?” Excellent choice.

03ET

ET
When Steven Spielberg chose to create a heart-warming alien story for children, the easy option would have been to cast a cute and cuddly puppet. Instead audiences got waddling, faintly frightening E.T. But Spielberg’s instincts were proven correct again, as the film went on to become the highest-grossing film ever released (at that time).

Henry: “Phone home.” Excellent choice. Plus, he likes Reese’s Pieces.

04Gizmo

Gizmo
Audiences loved “Gremlins” adorable mogwai Gizmo — but the puppeteers did not. The tiny rubber puppet was prone to malfunctioning and so frustrated the crew that they added a scene in which the creature gets strapped to a dartboard and pelted with darts.

Henry: Dry clean only. Excellent choice.

05Pinocchio

Pinocchio
Cinema’s most famous puppet — no strings attached. Animation, rather than puppetry, brought “real boy” Pinocchio to the world — famously in the Walt Disney classic, and later to a new generation (this time CGI) in an oddball turn in Shrek. Live-action adaptations of the classic novel by Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro are rumored to be in the pipeline.

Henry: Not a movie puppet per se, but a character that’s a puppet. Well played, sir.

06Chucky

Chucky
Puppets can be terrifying too. Case in point: Chucky, the “Good Guy” doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer in the movie “Child’s Play.” The mixture of childlike puppets and murderous violence provoked controversy — with protesters claiming Chucky made children violent — but the film’s popularity was not damaged. It has since spawned five sequels.

Henry: Arguably the most bad-ass of all movie puppets. Excellent choice.

07Ludo

Ludo
When teenage babysitter Sarah is transported to Labyrinth’s strange maze-world (populated by Jim Henson’s puppet creations), she is helped by kind-hearted hairy beast Ludo, who sees her through the quest to recover her baby brother. The cumbersome puppet was operated by puppeteers underneath the monster suit, who could watch events unfolding on a TV screen inside Ludo’s stomach.

Henry: “Rocks friends.” One of the best characters in this movie, along with the young but already lovely Jennifer Connelly. Excellent choice.

08RedBalloon

The Red Balloon
Not all of cinema’s finest puppetry makes use of such complex animatronics. Albert LamorisseIt managed to turn a helium balloon (with a mind of its own) into the joint-protagonist of his classic short film “The Red Balloon.”

Henry: A classic movie from my childhood. A bit of a stretch calling a balloon a puppet, though. 

09Alien

Alien
It’s just a few seconds of cameo, but makes a big impression and turns the film on its head. Not even the cast members (who were left in the dark about what was about to take place) were expecting the titular “Alien” to burst out of John Hurt’s chest. The shock of the creature’s arrival disguises the fact that what we’re looking at is actually a relatively simple puppet — and a whole load of blood from a butcher’s shop.

Henry: I hate when that happens. They made Alien vs. Predator, so how about Alien vs. Chucky: Battle of the Puppets?

10KimJongIl

Kim Jong Il
Even after the advent of photorealistic CGI, puppetry isn’t dead — in part thanks to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose clumsy marionettes in “Team America: World Police” satirized Hollywood’s slick action blockbusters. But it’s the film’s villain — then Korean leader Kim Jong Il — who steals the show.

Henry: How can you not love a marionette version of one-third of the Axis of Evil? Excellent choice.

I’d like to add the following honorable mentions that failed to make Mr. Ponsford’s list:

Gerry Anderson death

The Thunderbirds
Per Wikipedia: Thunderbirds is a 1960s British science-fiction television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Filmed between 1964 and 1966, it was produced using marionette puppetry interwoven with scale-model special effects sequences, in the form of a mixed technique dubbed “Supermarionation”.

Henry: I suspect Parker & Stone got some inspiration from The Thunderbirds. Either way, I can tell you is that this was one of my favorite TV shows growing up. The vehicle designs still look fresh after 40 years. THAT is good design work.

11Skeksis

Skeksis
Per Wikipedia: The Dark Crystal is a 1982 American–British fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The plot revolves around Jen, an elflike ‘Gelfling’ on a quest to restore balance to his alien world by returning a lost shard to a powerful but broken gem. Although marketed as a family film, it was notably darker than the creators’ previous material. The animatronics used in the film were considered groundbreaking. The primary concept artist was the fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, famous for his distinctive faerie and dwarf designs.

Henry: The image above is of an evil Skeksis, but the movie is filled with other delightful creatures, including: Mystics, Landstriders, Podlings, Gelfings, Garthim, and Aughra, the lovable ogre-witch with one removable eye.

14Critters

Critters
Per Wikipedia: Critters is a 1986 cult comedy horror science fiction film. The film begins on a prison asteroid in outer space. A group of unseen creatures known as Crites are set to be transported to another station. When the seemingly intelligent creatures cause an explosion that kills two guards and injures three, hijack a ship away from the station, and escape, the leader of the station hires two transforming bounty hunters to hunt the “Critters” down.

Henry: The seemingly contradictory description “cult comedy horror science fiction” aptly summarizes this movie. Definitely worth a rent by any self-respecting horror or sci-fi fan.

15SesameSt

Sesame Street
Henry: Do I really need to explain this one? Bert, Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster belong in the top ten! We were robbed!

13MeetTheFeebles

Meet the Feebles
Per Wikipedia: Meet the Feebles is a 1989 New Zealand black comedy film directed by Peter Jackson. It features Jim Henson-esque puppets in a perverse comic satire. Like Henson’s Muppets, the Feebles are animal-figured puppets (plus some people in suits) who are members of a stage troupe. However, whereas Henson’s Muppets characterize positivity, naïve folly, and innocence, the Feebles present negativity, vice, and other misanthropic characteristics.

Henry: This movie makes the list as a nod to the great Peter Jackson making films before he had 9-digit movie budgets.


Leave a comment

Comic-Con 2013 Badge Resale Drawing #SDCC

This just in from the folks at Comic-Con.

comiccon

“Comic-Con International is pleased to announce that because of returned/cancelled badges we will once again be able to offer those badges for resale. This year we have also reduced the allotment of reserved badges for certain departments. Comic-Con has decided to add these badges to the resale for our attendees. We currently have several thousand single day badges available for resale, only 3,100 of which are Saturday badges. 4-Day badges are sold out.

Due to the very limited number of badges available and our vendor EPIC Registration being focused on coordinating onsite registration, the Comic-Con 2013 badge resale will be conducted utilizing a random drawing.

To enter the Comic-Con 2013 Resale Drawing, login to your Member ID account now and click the blue notice that says “Click Here to Enter a Drawing to be Eligible for the Comic-Con 2013 Badge Resale!”

The drawing entry period will remain open for 48 hours only, and will close June 12, 2013 at 10:59:59 AM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Late entries will not be accepted.

You must have a valid and confirmed Comic-Con Member ID to enter the drawing.
Anyone who has already registered for or purchased a 4-Day badge (with or without Preview Night) or a single day Saturday badge will not be eligible to enter the drawing.

Those selected to participate in the Comic-Con 2013 badge resale may purchase their own badges, as well as badges for one additional guest. You may purchase for any guest who has a confirmed Member ID (as of June 7, 2013) and does not have a 4-Day badge (with or without Preview Night) or a single day Saturday badge. Your guest does not need to be selected from the drawing pool to be eligible to purchase.

Comic-Con will notify everyone who is selected to participate by email on or before June 17, 2013.”


3 Comments

10 Best Suits of Movie/TV Armor

Mike Eisenberg did a fantastic piece over at screenrant.com on the 25 Best Movie Weapons of All Time (though I have to say I missed seeing Prince Nuada’s extendable spear from Hellboy II or vampire Selene’s exploding shuriken from Underworld II). His article inspired this post.

The Witch King of Angmar – The Lord of the Rings trilogy

witchkingThis guy is Sauron’s right-hand wraith, and he’s bad-ass to begin with. He’s strong, he’s mean, he casts dark magic, and he rides a frickin’ dragon. Any time you’ve got real pointy armor, you are clearly up to no good. The gauntlets and boot armor visible when the Ringwraiths are hunting the Hobbits in the Shire are exquisitely detailed.

Batman – Dark Knight movies

batmanDon’t hate me, but I’m not a big fan of the Batman movies because I think they’re poorly written. That said, Batman has some wonderful toys, and flexible body armor that just won’t quit. Plus a cape. Who says stylish can’t be functional?

Robocop – Robocop movies

robocopAn oldie, but a goodie. The armor design left some of his face exposed, but I think that was to remind us he was still part human and so we could hear him better. Love the tuck-away holster feature built into his armor.

Prince Nuada – Hellboy II

princenuadaUnlike many of our other featured suits of armor, Prince Nuada’s is light and flexible. That is perfectly suited to his lightning fast fighting style. I’d say his fight in the Elf Throne Room is the best sword fight in cinematic history. Hellboy II is a fun movie, but it is worth watching for that scene alone. I have a theory that Nuada is Guillermo del Toro’s version of Tolkien’s Feanor. Nuada gets bonus points because every piece of clothing he wears in this movie is stunning.

Lord Tywin Lannister (and everyone else) – Game of Thrones

tywinWe all know the meatgrinder plot of Game of Thrones and the gratuitous nudity are a big part of the appeal of Game of Thrones, but for me, the beautiful suits of armor are also a draw. Lannisters always pay their debts, and always wear beautifully crafted armor. Game of Thrones gets bonus points because every piece of clothing that nobility wear in this movie is stunning.

Lord Elrond Halfelven – The Hobbit

elrondYes, Elrond kicks goblin butt in The Lord of the Rings too, but I fell in love with the mauve armor he wears in The Hobbit. Classic elf armor – functional but swooping and suggestive of nature. Elrond gets bonus points because every piece of clothing he wears in this movie is stunning.

Ripley’s Power Loader – Aliens

aliens2Technically, a power loader is not intended to be armor, but Ripley uses it with great effect. “Get away from her, you bitch!”

Vampire Armor – Underworld II

underworld2Vampires are fast and strong. Now wrap them in steel. Then mount them on horses. What army on earth could withstand a charge from Vampire heavy cavalry!? Love the Spartan style helmets. One of the best opening scenes in action movie history.

The Black Knight – Monty Python and the Holy Grail

holygrailWhat this armor lacks in effectiveness, it more than compensates for in humorous effect. And you’ve gotta’, er, hand it to the Black Knight. He takes a lickin’ and keeps on kickin’… “Have at you!”

Iron Man – Iron Man & Avengers movies

ironmanLet’s face it. Iron Man’s armor is the Holy Grail of, er, sets the gold standard for armor. Protection, movement, and firepower. All it needs is a vending machine attachment for when he gets hungry.