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Great Science Fiction Comedy Movies

By Alasdair Wilkins, Charlie Jane Anders and the mad geniuses at io9 (http://io9.com/the-13-greatest-science-fiction-comedies-of-all-time-1613425431). I love io9, but I feel like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and Men in Black deserve to be on this list too.

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

Here are the 13 greatest (live-action) science fiction comedies of all time.

13. Mystery Men

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

The film flopped on its initial release, providing yet more evidence that, as a general rule, big budget comedies just don’t do very well at the box office. For all its pyrotechnics, Mystery Men is really just an alternative comedy with surprising insight into the superhero genre. If I’m being honest,Mystery Men probably does a better job deconstructing superhero conventions than the Watchmen movie does.

It helps that almost everyone is perfectly cast. It’s hard to imagine anyone better suited than William H. Macy for the straightforward family man the Shoveler, Hank Azaria for the wannabe British fop the Blue Raja, Greg Kinnear for the narcissistic sellout Captain Amazing, Ben Stiller for the irritable asshole Mr. Furious, or Geoffrey Rush for the ludicrously over-the-top supervillain Casanova Frankenstein. The only real misstep is Paul Reubens as the Spleen, but I suppose that’s because he’s just a little too convincingly creepy.

Better than any other superhero movie I’ve seen, Mystery Men captures what it means to have a city full of costumed heroes and villains, a concept it exploits to hilarious effect. The superhero tryouts really hit upon the absurdity of D-list superheroes, the discussions of whether Captain Amazing is really Lance Hunt (which is impossible, because Lance Hunt wears glasses and Captain Amazing doesn’t) make it difficult to ever take the Clark Kent concept seriously ever again, and the climactic fight sequence manages to brilliantly use every last one of the heroes’ lame powers. Plus, Michael Bay cameos as a douche bag henchman. Sounds about right.

Also worth checking out:

The Specials, starring the always awesome Thomas Haden Church and Paget Brewster, came out around the same time as Mystery Men and is its low-budget equivalent. It may lack the action of Mystery Men, but that just allows the film more time to develop its oddball cast of characters. The recent Sky High is actually a pretty decent movie, grafting a lot of good jokes onto what could have been a lame kid’s movie (supporting turns from the likes of Kurt Russell, Lynda Carter, and Bruce Campbell certainly help). And of course there’s always The Incredibles, which isn’t exactly a comedy but is always worth watching.

12. Safety Not Guaranteed

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

A small-budget film about a group of journalists from a local magazine who go to investigate a newspaper ad seeking a willing time traveler, this movie caused a huge sensation and earned director Colin Trevorrow the chance to direct Jurassic World. And it’s a brilliantly funny movie about a weirdo (Mark Duplass) and the woman who’s drawn to him — there’s a lot of loss and pathos here, but the movie keeps a kind of indie-comedy vibe going throughout that actually helps you bond with the characters.

Also worth checking out:

Another weird time-travel movie that hit big around the same time is Hot Tub Time Machine, in which a group of middle-aged losers (and one younger guy) travel back to the 1980s at a ski resort. It’s much more of a standard gross-out comedy, but has some really nice character bits as well. And is pretty much stolen by Rob Corddry as the one jerk who doesn’t accept that you should just leave history the way it was. There are some clever uses of time travel in Hot Tub, and Chevy Chase is perfect as the hot-tub maintenance guy who knows what’s going on.

11. This Is The End/The World’s End

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Two apocalyptic comedies came out around the same time, on opposite ends of the Atlantic Ocean. And they’re both funny and kind of thought-provoking, in different ways. Which one of these you prefer probably says a lot about you.

In The World’s End, a group of middle-aged dudes decide to recreate the massive pub crawl they did when they were teenagers. But it turns out the small town they grew up in has gotten a bit more cosmopolitan since they left. It’s looking a lot more like any town, anywhere, with very generic furnishings and boring people — and maybe that’s a sign of something more sinister. It’s a weird mashup of midlife-crisis-drinking and apocalyptic silliness, which drives towards a really dark ending.

In This is The End, Hollywood personalities play themselves at a party — where the Biblical apocalypse suddenly happens and everyone is screwed. Seth Rogen, James Franco and friends wind up cowering in a basement, being preyed upon by Emma Watson and strange monsters. And the whole thing gets more and more Biblical until it reaches an honest-to-God religious ending. For my money, World’s End is funnier but This is the End is cleverer.

Also worth checking out:

Seeking a Friend at the End of the World is another apocalyptic comedy, which doesn’t quite have the same bite as these other two but has some really neat moments and more of a focus on characters resigning themselves to the end of the world. Definitely worth watching. And Attack the Block isn’t really a comedy, per se, but it does have an apocalyptic feeling and a lot of funny bits.

10. Spaceballs

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Mel Brooks’s Star Wars parody is from his later, weaker period, and it lacks some of the wit and inspiration that made Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein classics. Neither Bill Pullman’s Han Solo character nor Daphne Zuniga’s Princess Leia are particularly memorable, placing most of the comedic responsibilities on the rest of the cast.

Luckily, the supporting players are more than up to the challenge. Brooks roped in two SCTVpowerhouses, John Candy and Rick Moranis, to play the Chewbacca and Darth Vader roles, and these two are crucial to the film’s success. Candy’s Barf is about as lovable as any half-man/half-dog (he’s his own best friend) possibly could be, providing Spaceballs with the bare minimum of emotional investment needed for it to be more than a string of hit-or-miss comedic setpieces.

Still, it’s the villains, including Moranis’s Dark Helmet, Brooks’s President Skroob, and George Wyner’s Colonel Sandurz, who consistently steal the show. Moranis is particularly inspired as the least likely person to play the galaxy’s greatest villain, and the fact that he plays the part as though it’s any other Rick Moranis role gets funnier with each passing scene. The film’s constant willingness to break the fourth wall doesn’t necessarily make for the most satisfying narrative, but it does provide some fantastic gags, as we’ll see below.

Spaceballs is far from perfect, but it established many of the conventions that would dominate future space opera parodies, and it represents a comedy legend’s one great attempt to take on the science fiction genre. For that alone, it earns a place on our list.

Also worth checking out:

If you’re looking for an even sillier parody of Star Wars, look no further than Hardware Wars. If you’re looking for something of the unintentionally hilarious variety, I’d recommendStarcrash, the highly unauthorized Italian remake of Star Wars that may or may not star Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff. (It totally does.)

9. Cabin in the Woods

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon teamed up to make a satire of classic horror movies where a group of teens spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods… but this movie takes some bizarre turns and winds up being a lot more than that. The whole thing is brilliantly, sardonically funny, and the characters are so pigeonholed as stereotypes that they wind up growing beyond that and becoming something more. And in the process of commenting on how horror movies serve our need for clichéd bloodshed and stereotyped characters, this film winds up saying something profound about storytelling and the human race.

Also worth checking out:

Joss Whedon’s webseries Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is also screamingly funny and has a lot of dark observations about human nature. The two works have a sort of complimentary darkness and silliness to them, and you could almost imagine the Evil League of Evil being a consultant to the people organizing the mayhem in Cabin. Also, Whedon’s Firefly movie,Serenity, is very funny, though not really a comedy.

8. Army of Darkness/Shaun of the Dead

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

I’m probably stretching things a bit to consider these films science fiction. (I’ll countArmy of Darkness because there’s time travel and a Day the Earth Stood Still reference, and Shaun of the Dead makes it, because the zombies might have been caused by a meteorite, which is sort of like science.) As such, I’ll just combine these two brilliant horror comedies into one entry and say that, together, they just about add up to one science fiction comedy. And why not?

The debate as to whether Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness is the better film will likely rage on into eternity, but I think it’s fairly clear where I stand. Casting aside the last shreds of seriousness seen in Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness is nonstop badass quips and undead slapstick. That’s a winning combination right there, and Bruce Campbell has never been better than he is here.

Meanwhile, nobody puts more time and effort into their comedies these days than Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz might be the most intricately constructed comedy I’ve ever seen). Shaun of the Dead is no exception, taking the relatively mundane idea of a zombie comedy and adding onto it a dense web of callbacks and subtle visual gags that demand repeat viewings. It’s also just a funny, eminently quotable movie, with Nick Frost’s Ed getting all the best lines. Although I still don’t see the point of owning a car in London.

Also worth checking out:

For more Bruce Campbell goodness, look no further than Evil Dead 2. If you must look slightly further, then check out Bubba Ho-Tep, where Campbell plays an aging Elvis Presley in a nursing home who teams up with a black JFK to fight a mummy. It’s as awesome as it sounds. Fans of Shaun of the Dead should definitely give Wright and Pegg’s series Spaced a try. It’s not science fiction, but it’s one of the most proudly geeky series ever made.

7. Groundhog Day

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

It’s easy to forget how committed this film is to its time loop premise. Bill Murray is funny enough that I’d gladly watch a film about him as an asshole weatherman even if he wasn’t trapped reliving the same day for an unspecified span of time. (Director Harold Ramis once said it was thousands of years, but the official word now seems to favor about ten years.) The fact that the film keeps coming up with new takes on its premise is what elevates it to the heights of science fiction comedy.

Murray’s repeated attempts to woo Andie MacDowell, each day slightly modifying his behavior so that he can give her exactly what she wants, is one of the best examples of what makesGroundhog Day so good. On the one hand, it’s simply a funny idea, as the callbacks and repetition mount and build up comic momentum. But the film also wonders about what it really means to live a life without consequences, as by his hundredth attempt Murray isn’t even bothering to hide his preparations for his next attempt, fully aware no one will remember his sleaziness.

The film is also refreshingly willing to tackle darker territory. Murray’s attempt to save a homeless man are positively heartbreaking, and there’s real pathos in a nurse’s observation that this is simply his time. His ultimate despair and repeated attempts to kill himself are funny in the bleakest, grimmest way possible, but they’re part of the reason the film’s eventual happy ending feels so richly deserved.

Also worth checking out:

There’s at least one other Bill Murray/Harold Ramis science fiction collaboration I can think of that’s worth watching, but I can’t quite remember the name. Maybe it’ll occur to me later in the list.

6. Tremors

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Of all the homages to fifties monster movies,Tremors was one of the first and it’s still the best. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward make a wonderfully stupid, profane pair as they try to evade the massive earthworms that have come to devour their desert town. The other twelve residents of Perfection, Nevada, are just as fun to watch, with the survivalist couple and their well-armored rec room a particular highlight.

The film reverently captures the charm of old monster movies without resorting to cheap parody for laughs. Instead, the humor comes from exploring how actual people might react to being attacked by fifty-foot earthworms, and the results are pretty damn hilarious. The gloriously terrible special effects are also part of the appeal of Tremors – if, as is sadly inevitable, they ever remake Tremors, I can only hope the Graboids don’t make the leap to CGI. Some things really ought to be sacred.

Also worth checking out:

Slither is a much more recent homage to this kind of movie, and it has the added advantage of starring Nathan Fillion. For more cult eighties movies, there’s always The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension, which is sort of paying homage to every film ever made.

5. Ghostbusters

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Oh yeah, this is the Murray/Ramis film I was thinking of. The special effects inGhostbusters haven’t necessarily stood the test of time, but the movie’s enduring themes of “Who you gonna call?” and not being afraid of no ghosts have kept it relevant well into the 21st century.

Day Aykroyd has always struck me in interviews as being far more interested in the paranormal than any normal person should be. (It’s possible his claims that he sincerely believes we will soon be visited by ghosts are all part of an elaborate joke, but if so, that is some serious commitment to a bit.) Either way, his and Harold Ramis’s complete belief in the seriousness of the ghostly threat lends the film some much-needed authenticity. The rest of the cast, including Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson, all get their moments to bring the funny, and nobody wastes their opportunity.

Still, this is pretty much completely Bill Murray’s movie. Legend once had it that he didn’t even read the script, instead electing to ad-lib all of his lines. That’s since been denied by pretty much everyone involved, but his hilariously natural, seemingly off-the-cuff readings make it easy to see why the rumor took hold in the first place. Besides, he really made me rethink the wisdom of strapping an unlicensed particle accelerator to my back, and that’s really just a public service.

Also worth checking out:

Whatever you may have heard, Ghostbusters II is a pretty decent film and worth checking out, if only for Cheech Marin’s random cameo (his one line is still stuck in my head years after I first saw the movie). The eighties was something of a golden age of science fiction comedies, and there are no shortage of other movies to check out, including Weird Science, Short Circuit, andEarth Girls Are Easy.

4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

It’s the rare science fiction franchise that has the guts to make one of its big-budget movies into a fish-out-of-water comedy, but that’s exactly what Star Trek does here. I’m not sure anyone would have guessed the series would have concluded the loose trilogy begun in Wrath of Khan with a lighthearted time travel story about saving humpback whales in eighties San Francisco, and I really doubt anyone would have guessed such a movie would end up being one of the best Star Trek movies.

It helps that the entire cast has so completely grown into their roles. William Shatner is legitimately good as Captain Kirk here, and he displays a newfound willingness to not take himself seriously that would serve him well in pretty much all of his future roles. Leonard Nimoy, who also directed the film, is appropriately spacey as the recently resurrected Spock (though that also might have something to do with all the LDS he took during the sixties). The always brilliant DeForrest Kelley adds another dimension to their adventures in the past as McCoy angrily surveys the state of 20th century medicine.

Then there’s Uhura and Chekov’s attempt to find the nuclear vessels in Alameda, which takes the form of an amusingly unrehearsed scene where they ask real passersby in San Francisco where the ships are. Speaking of nuclear vessels, it’s quite possible that, without this film, Chekov’s inability to pronounced his v’s would never have taken on such legendary status. And there are few things quite as enjoyable as watching Scotty wrangle with a primitive Apple computer.

Also worth checking out:

The two Star Trek fans in Free Enterprise are way too insufferable for their own good, but the film is worthwhile if only because William Shatner takes his capacity for self-parody to its logical conclusion. In this case, that conclusion is a rap interpretation of Julius Caesar where he plays all the parts.

3. Sleeper

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Woody Allen only once turned his attention to the science fiction genre, but it was more than enough to show he knew what he was doing. Supposedly a “wildly distorted” adaptation of When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells, Allen’s story hits upon pretty much every science fiction trope that doesn’t involve space. From cryogenics to dystopias to changing sexual mores to slapstick robots – it’s all here, and it’s all hysterical.

The decision to freeze his character in 1973 and awaken him in the 22nd century was undoubtedly part of the movie’s success, as it would have been impossible to believe such a staid, repressive future society could ever create an oddball like Allen’s trademark character. Besides, Allen’s unique status allows him to return to similar territory he tackled in Bananas, as he becomes the world’s unlikeliest revolutionary.

Although Allen’s turn as a robotic butler and the orgasmatron are justly famous, perhaps the film’s best running gag is Allen’s willingness to wildly fabricate 20th century history. He calmly agrees with a historian that sportscaster Howard Cosell was used to punish political prisoners, he tells Diane Keaton that giving guns to criminals was considered a public service, and he claims that Bela Lugosi was the mayor of New York. I wish I could get cryogenically frozen, if only so that I could get the chance to make up historical “facts” half as good as those.

Also worth checking out:

Mike Judge’s Idiocracy tackles a lot of the same material, although the dystopian elements ofSleeper are replaced with a more straightforward brand of dumbassery.

2. Galaxy Quest

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Galaxy Quest is a rare trifecta: it’s a great science fiction comedy, it’s a brilliant comedyabout science fiction, and it actually works as a pretty decent science fiction film in its own right. The film never loses sight of its parody of Star Trek‘s most cliched tropes or its affectionate skewering of the various neuroses of the has-been actors, and it’s a tribute to Galaxy Quest‘s comic dexterity that it perfectly balances both threads. It’s also about a million times better than any film starring Tim Allen should be.

Admittedly, some of that is down to his supporting cast. Alan Rickman long ago passed the point where he was even capable of turning in a bad performance, and here he actually has good material to work with as a seriously tortured British thespian who absolutely despises his catchphrase. The movie’s deconstruction of science fiction wouldn’t have seemed quite so definitive if Sigourney Weaver hadn’t been involved, and she shows even more comedic chops here than she did in Ghostbusters. Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell get tremendous comic mileage out of the latter’s existential angst over whether he’s the doomed extra or the plucky comic relief, maybe the film’s best bit of sustained meta-comedy.

Even so, one shouldn’t dismiss Tim Allen’s contribution just because the rest of his filmography is so full of, well, total crap (the Toy Story movies excepted, of course). More than any other recent actor, Allen captures all that was so distinctive about William Shatner: the hamminess, the bravado, the willingness to turn in terrible performances in terrible films.

It’s an open question whether a better actor could have so fully inhabited the Captain Kirk role; in fact, I might go so far as to say he was perfect for the role. Considering the stories that Allen “purposefully” tried to replicate Shatner’s legendary dickishness and prima donna tendencies on set, I’d say he knew that too. Whatever works, I guess.

Sigourney Weaver Seduces Aliens, Drops Dope Rhymes In New Galaxy Quest DVD

Just how multitalented is Sigourney Weaver? Here she is, seducing two aliens and then doing a rap…

Also worth checking out:

There’s plenty of other Star Trek parodies out there, but I don’t think any will ever top theFuturama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.” Or, for that matter, any episode with Zapp Brannigan, who Matt Groening has described as 40% Kirk, 60% Shatner.

1. Back to the Future

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Quite simply, there’s never been a more complete science fiction comedy. It’s legitimately interested in the mechanics of time travel, placing a time paradox at the heart of the film’s central conflict. The film never backs away from the admittedly creepy comedic potential of a mother unwittingly falling in love with her time traveling son, and the film’s exploration of Marty McFly’s culture shock and unwitting anachronisms hilariously climaxes in rocking out just a little too hard at his parents’ dance. Back to the Futurealso respects the rest of the science fiction genre, as can be seen in Marty’s brilliant disguise as Darth Vader, extraterrestrial from the planet Vulcan.

Michael J. Fox plays the kind of likable, active protagonist I still don’t understand why we no longer see in comedies. Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown might just be the definitive mad scientist in modern film, and it’s hard to imagine a more perfect bully than Thomas F. Wilson’s Biff. Lea Thompson is cute and hilarious as Marty’s mom, and Crispin Glover dials down his total insanity to steal the film as George McFly.

I’d keep going, but I think I need to go rewatch Back to the Future now.

Also worth checking out:

Why, Back to the Future Part II and Part III, of course. The first sequel might be the best pure science fiction of the bunch (though it’s not as funny as the original), while the third is basically a payoff for all the running gags set up in the first two movies by doing them all over again in the old West. Which is, to be honest, kind of brilliant.


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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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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


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Interview with ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish’ middle-grade author Mo O’Hara

Originally from America, Mo moved to London because she wanted to live abroad but spoke no foreign languages. After a brief and unsuccessful stint as a serving wench at the Tower of London Mo found work as an actress and comedy performer. It was when she toured the UK as a storyteller that she started writing for kids.   Mo’s debut novel, ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish’ was published by Macmillan in the UK, the USA and Germany this year.  It’s follow up ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish the Sea-quel’ came out in the UK in July 2013 and will be out in March in the US. ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish- Fins of Fury’ will be out in Jan 2014 in the UK.

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For what age audience do you write?

I mostly write funny books for kids that are between 6 and 11.

Henry: ‘Fins of Fury’ is clearly a play on the Bruce Lee movie, Fists of Fury. Are there any plans for a tie-in with AMC’s The Walking Dead? The Wading Dead, perhaps?

Tell us about your latest book. 

My latest book is ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish- The SeaQuel’. It’s been described as Finding Nemo meets Shawn of the Dead.  It’s a classic story of a boy and his undead fish but Frankie (the zombie goldfish) is both funny and fierce.

Henry: Finding Nemo meets Shawn of the Dead!!! Can I just say, this is why I love writing and reading kid’s books. You’ve inspired me. My next project will be a dystopian board book: The Very Hunger Games Caterpillar.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book? 

I hope my readers get a good story, some good laughs and no paper cuts.  These are all important for a positive experience of a book.

Henry: As my friend Ame Dyckman says, papercuts are “only a flesh wound.”

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

I find starting the story the most difficult. I think I have an inbuilt fear of a blank page or a blank screen. Once I have something down, no matter how rough it is, I can keep going and make it better.  I will book dentist appointments though to avoid starting a new story (and that’s pretty bad).

Henry: I agree. Revising is much easier than getting that first draft out of my head.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

There are stories everywhere: open your ears and your eyes.  Also, just believe you can do it.

Henry: Quite so. I was presenting to an elementary school class, and I noticed that one boy had one sneaker that was totally shredded. Not worn and in need of replacement, but as if it had exploded. When the plot gels, I will write The Boy with the Exploding Sneakers. Brandon Sanderson said his book ‘Steelheart’ came to him when he was frustrated by traffic gridlock.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I had a boy tell me that my book was the first ‘proper’ book that he read cover to cover ever in his life. To be someone’s ‘first book’ is an amazing thing. For me that is beyond ‘WOW.’

Henry: Plus, he called it a ‘proper’ book. I had a parent tell me that after reading Nimpentoad, their child was willing to eat mushrooms. One small step…

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Join writers’ groups but join positive ones that will support you in your journey to publication. I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators) and it has given me support, advice, laughs, great friends and invaluable experience over the years. Also, READ, READ, READ!

Henry: Excellent advice. I too have found SCBWI membership invaluable.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I only came across this after his death but this quote from Nelson Mandela moved me. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, because love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Henry: Beautiful. I taught my sons when they were very young that people are like flowers. They come in all different colors, and the world is better for having diversity of colors.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I treat myself when I finish something. Sometimes a little motivation like a coffee or a cool notebook can spur me on. Sometimes, I admit, doughnuts are involved. 🙂

Henry: The therapeutic value of doughnuts is well-known. It’s a scientific fact. And scientific facts are the best kind of facts.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would love to Teleport. I get really motion sick so if I could travel sickness free that would be amazing. Although I wonder if you can get Teleportation sickness? Hmmmm? That would be really unlucky.

Henry: I would’ve guessed you opting for breathing underwater (to play with Zombie Goldfish). At least Teleportation Sickness would be over quickly. My big fear with teleportation is rematerializing partially inside something else. That will leave a mark!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I thought about this for ages but I don’t think I could resist the urge to do some literary matchmaking, but that could go horribly wrong. So, I might just see if Shakespeare is free and the two of us can just grab a pizza and chat.

Henry: Only one guest!? This is known as bogarting the Bard.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

It’s gotta be a dragon. Dragons are just the best. On all levels. Smart, fierce, breathe fire. They’re the best.

Henry: No argument. Best cinematic dragons: The Hobbit, Dragonslayer, and Shrek.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I play with my kids and my kittens, I sing (until people tell me to stop), and I hang out with friends and talk. My daughter once said to me, ‘So talking and having wine or coffee for you is like playing in the playground for me isn’t it?’ I have very perceptive children.

Henry: Your daughter is brilliant.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

‘Here lies Mo. It was her time to go.’

Henry: Famous for granting my peculiar wish, she wrote a book combining zombies and fish.

Where can readers find your work? At all good bookshops, both real and virtual.

Henry: Mo’s website is at http://www.moohara.co.uk/

This interview also appears on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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TV villains we love to hate

There’s something very interesting about well-written bad guys. In no particular order, here are ten TV villains we love to hate.

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Mike Ehrmantraut – Breaking Bad

Per wikipedia, “Mike Ehrmantraut (played by Jonathan Banks) is a former Philadelphia police officer who works for Gus—and, on occasion, Saul—as a private investigator, head of security, cleaner, and hit man. His reasons for leaving the force in Philadelphia are never specified. His main lesson as a cop is to not take “half measures”; he once told Walt that he decided at the last second not to murder a wife-beating husband, only to later arrest that man for smashing his wife’s head in, killing her. In Season 4, Jesse and Mike begin a rough and rocky relationship, and although initially frustrated at being assigned to Jesse by Gus, Mike learns to like him after Jesse begins to show potential. However, Mike does not like Walt in the least as he tells Walt that he’s dangerous to him; Mike considers Walt to be selfish, arrogant, and egotistical. Mike later becomes a reluctant partner in Walt and Jesse’s meth operation, still despising Walt and feeling depressed over Jesse’s choices. Mike is a calm and calculating individual who efficiently performed his duties for Gus, using his extensive knowledge to do so without detection. He is never shown to target or involve any innocent bystanders in his duties. Like Walt, Mike is a family man; he enjoys an affectionate relationship with his granddaughter Kaylee (played by Kaija Roze Bales).”

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Sue Sylvester – Glee

Per wikipedia, “Susan “Sue” Sylvester is a fictional character of the Fox musical comedy-drama series, Glee. The character is portrayed by actress Jane Lynch, and has appeared in Glee from its pilot episode, first broadcast on May 19, 2009. Sue was developed by Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. For the first four seasons of Glee, Sue is the coach of the William McKinley High School cheerleading squad, and a ruthless bully to both students and faculty members alike. Because her cheerleading squad competes with the glee club for the school’s limited funding, she is often at odds with the club and more particularly its director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Sue Sylvester is the main antagonist of the series. In the fifth season (2013-14), Sue is made the school’s new principal.”

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Stewie Griffin – Family Guy

Per wikipedia, “Stewart Gilligan “Stewie” Griffin is a fictional character from the animated television series Family Guy. Once obsessed with violence and matricide, Stewie (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) is the youngest child of Peter and Lois Griffin, and the brother of Chris and Meg. Over the duration of the series, he has also come to have a very close friendship with the family’s anthropomorphic dog, Brian.”

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Gus Fring – Breaking Bad

Per wikipedia, “Gustavo “Gus” Fring is a fictional character in the American television drama series Breaking Bad on AMC. He is portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito and was created by series creator Vince Gilligan. Gus is one of the most prominent methamphetamine distributors in the southwestern United States. He owns and operates several legitimate businesses, including a chain of fast food restaurants (called Los Pollos Hermanos) and an industrial laundry facility, as fronts for a vast and sophisticated drug operation. Gus maintains a friendly and low-key exterior; he takes an active role in managing his front businesses and personally supervises employees and serves customers at his fast food restaurants. In order to keep up appearances, Gus is a booster for the DEA and has made large donations to the agency’s Albuquerque office. However, Gus is ruthless and Machiavellian in managing his vast drug empire. He employs a number of enforcers and has personally killed rivals and associates.”

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Barry Kripke – Big Bang Theory 

Per wikipedia, “Barry Kripke, Ph.D. (John Ross Bowie) is a co-worker of Leonard and Sheldon’s who frequently clashes with them. He works in plasma physics. Kripke has a case of rhotacism in which he pronounces the letters “R” and “L” as “W” in much the same way as Elmer Fudd from Looney Tunes and Gilda Radner in her “Baba Wawa” sketches. However, as demonstrated in the season 5 episode “The Beta Test Initiation”, Kripke is either unaware of or unable to modify the way he speaks. In his first appearance, he pits his robot, the Kripke Krippler, against the men’s robot, M.O.N.T.E., in an unofficial robot fight. On another episode, Sheldon attempts to befriend Kripke in order to gain access to an open science grid computer to carry out research, but it turns out to be futile, as Kripke has no control over the computer’s usage time. Kripke continues his antagonism towards Sheldon, when he pulls a prank on Sheldon when the latter is a guest on NPR’s Science Friday. Sheldon tries to befriend Kripke another time when he is feeling excluded by his friends, but Barry connects more with the others in Sheldon’s new proposed group. Kripke purchases an iPhone with voice recognition technology, but due to his rhotacism, the device is incapable of understanding his verbal “wequests”.

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Tywin Lannister – Game of Thrones

Per wikipedia, “Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) is Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, and Warden of the West. He is a calculating, ruthless, and controlling man. He married his cousin Joanna, and their marriage was a happy one. She was his beloved companion and most trusted counselor. When she died giving birth to their dwarf son Tyrion, he was devastated and it is said that “the best part of Tywin died with her.” He never remarried. Tywin loves his children Cersei and Jaime, but he despises Tyrion for being deformed and for causing Joanna’s death. In his youth, he single-handedly restored the honor and fortune of the Lannisters and dedicated himself to maintaining his family’s prestige. He was appointed the Hand of the King to Aerys II Targaryen at a young age and held the position for twenty years. He proved himself a capable leader and his tenure was marked by peace and prosperity.”

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Al Swearengen – Deadwood

Per wikipedia, “Albert “Swejen” Swearengen (Ian McShane), is the proprietor of the Gem Saloon, born in England but raised in a Chicago orphanage under an abusive figure known as Mrs. Anderson. He mentions on occasion that Mrs. Anderson ran a brothel at the girls’ orphanage before running the boys’ orphanage. Swearengen was among the first settlers of Deadwood, earning him several land claims and a position of power. The Gem Saloon, offering alcohol, prostitution and faro also acts as Swearengen’s base of operations.

Swearengen is cunning, manipulative and initially appears to be the most cynically amoral of all the characters, showing no hesitation in resorting to violence and murder when it serves his business interests. When former Montana marshal Seth Bullock comes to camp to sell hardware, his upright, law-abiding manner and strong sense of justice serves as an unintended, yet upending threat to Swearengen, and they initially butt heads until Swearengen decides to make Bullock the “face” of Deadwood and encourages him to pick up the badge again, turning Bullock’s respectability to his advantage in securing the future of the camp.”

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Nucky Thompson – Boardwalk Empire

Per wikipedia, “Enoch Malachi “Nucky” Thompson is a fictional character and the protagonist of the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire. Played by Steve Buscemi, Nucky is based on former Atlantic City political figure Enoch L. Johnson. Nucky is employed as treasurer of Atlantic County, New Jersey, but in effect controls the region as a political boss. Nucky is a corrupt and powerful Republican politician who leads a double life as a gangster, and continuously struggles to meet his interests on both fronts. Charming and intelligent, he is adored by the people of Atlantic City, especially its poor and immigrant inhabitants, for his numerous acts of charity. However, in private he has a tight grip on the politics and vice of Atlantic City. Throughout the series he is portrayed as a Machiavellian politician who makes his henchmen do the dirty work, while showing a more humane side to his friends and family. However, by the end of season 2 he is shown becoming more ruthless in order to compete in the violent bootlegging business.

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Zombies – The Walking Dead

Per wikipedia, “The Walking Dead is an American horror drama television series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way.”

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Walter White – Breaking Bad

Per wikipedia, “Walter Hartwell White (also known by his clandestine alias Heisenberg) is a fictional character in the American television drama series Breaking Bad on AMC. He was created by series creator Vince Gilligan and is portrayed by Bryan Cranston. Walter once was a promising chemist and among the founders of the multi-billion dollar company Gray Matter Technologies, but he soon left, selling his shares for $5,000 for personal reasons and becoming an unhappy and disillusioned high school chemistry teacher. After being diagnosed with Stage IIIA lung cancer, he resorts to manufacturing methamphetamine to ensure his family’s continuing financial security after his death. As the series progresses, Walter gradually becomes darker and more villainous.”


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Is a Zombie Invasion Possible?

AMC’s series “The Walking Dead” has helped bring zombies to the fore in pop culture, and has (dare I say it) spawned various discussions about the real possibilities of zombie-like behaviors. This fun, yet terrifying, infographic is courtesy of http://wish.co.uk/blog/zombie-invasion-infographic/. Click once to zoom.

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