Stephen Colbert Casts Himself as “Darrylgorn”, Aragorn’s Older Sexier Brother, in New Lord of the Rings Skit

Stephen Colbert’s love of the Lord of the Rings is well-known, from his trivia games with LOTR actors to his cameo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

On a recent episode of The Late Show, Colbert introduced the idea of yet another LOTR trilogy featuring…himself! [Read more]

Discovering Journey to the Beginning of Time, Karel Zeman’s Classic Sci-Fi Film

Jurassic Park appeared in theaters in June of 1993, when I was five years old. I was dinosaur-obsessed to an intense degree; I played with toy tyrannosauruses, ate dinosaur-themed candy, and read dinosaur picture books. Somehow I contrived to learn the Latin names of various saurians; I figured it was good training for my inevitable career as a paleontologist. In pursuit of that future, I even dug up the backyard in search of dino bones. Given this level of obsession, I was heartbroken to learn that my parents would not let me go see the new dinosaur movie. I didn’t quite understand that Spielberg’s film was about people running from dinosaurs that wanted to eat them. Who needs menace and suspense when there were dinosaurs? I would have been perfectly happy watching a dinosaur movie where nothing went wrong and no one was imperilled. I just wanted to see dinosaurs in motion. It took more than twenty-five years for me to discover that the movie five-year-old Matt really wanted to see was Czech director Karel Zeman’s Journey to the Beginning of Time.

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“Whatever it takes” — Avengers: Endgame

One of the amazing things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in an age with a twenty-four-hour news cycle, with more sources for news than you can shake a smartphone at, and with interest in movies based on superheroes at an all-time high—not to mention the sheer number of people involved in making these films—is how tight a lid they’ve kept on information. Even though Infinity War and Endgame were filmed back to back, and had long post-production times—long enough, in fact, that Captain Marvel was made after these two, and yet was released between them—very little information came out about either until they were released. Hell, the title of Endgame wasn’t released until December 2018, eight months after Infinity War hit theatres.

And then it took three months after Endgame’s release for any news about any of the 2020 and beyond films to be released. In part, that was because so much happened in Endgame, and so much of the status quo was upended.

[That’s America’s ass!]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

5 Works Involving Weird, Unsettling Isolation

I have long been chasing the thrill I first experienced in first grade over the story of Cain and Abel in the Book of Genesis. Cain and Abel were, of course, two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain becomes jealous of Abel (the Lord’s favorite) and then murders him. As punishment he is banished to wander the earth, and Cain begs God to protect him from all the people he’ll encounter in his travels who will kill him. But Adam and Eve and family are the only people on Earth, right? So who are the people who will kill him? Who are those people?? This was creepiness and mystery and awe. These first-grade feelings have to do with an empty earth and a weird one, one in which not everything makes sense to its wanderers.

Other books have come close to provoking this reaction. Often these books are post-apocalyptic; often they feel Biblical. I realized I am fascinated by the way people put societies together—it’s my favorite thing about The Walking Dead, which I see as a series of political experiments. I am fascinated by a world that exists before or outside of civilization; I went through a real intrigued-by-Neanderthals stage because of this. Space movies, too, can inspire it.

Here are five books that have a strange “empty earth” quality and harken back to that young excited awe, the one I got again when I watched Lost, Snowpiercer, I Am Legend, and The Leftovers—a feeling I don’t exactly have a name for, except that it’s both awful and awesome.

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Netflix Releases Episode Titles and Descriptions for The Witcher

We still have one month left before The Witcher arrives on Netflix, but now we have a much better idea of the plot. On Friday morning, the streaming giant released titles and descriptions for all eight episodes in season one. Of course, they didn’t make it easy. All of the synopses are written in enigmatic verse that makes one long rhyme when combined, while the titles are all in the form of mysterious GIFs featuring runes and backdrops. See if you can decipher them below!

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The Luddites Were Right: 6 SF Works That Show the Downside to New Technology

It’s a given: new technology is always better than old technology. And even if it were not, it’s our duty to the economy to purchase the new shiny.

Only a reactionary would object to ticket scanners merely because they are much slower than the bespectacled eye. Or object to mandatory software upgrades on the specious ground that everything they do, they do less well than the previous release.

Sure, sometimes the new thing is a bit disruptive—but isn’t a little disruption good for us all? At least that’s what the people who stand to profit from disruption tell us….

Let’s examine the contrarian position: newer isn’t always best. And let’s take our examples from science fiction, which is dedicated to exploring the new…and, sometimes inadvertently, showing that the newest thing may not work as intended.

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DC Universe’s Stargirl Release Pushed Back, Will Also Air on The CW

When Warner Bros. launched its streaming service DC Universe, it came with the promise of a number of exclusive, original shows: Titans, Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Stargirl. Yesterday, the company announced that it’s moving Stargirl‘s debut back from its original January 2020 release date, and that episodes of the series will also air on The CW.

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10 Great Monster Moments From Buffy: The Vampire Slayer

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer was at its absolute best when its metaphorical demons were on point. The season-long baddies had their ups and downs (yay Mayor and Angelus! boo Adam and The Nerds), but nothing could beat a really good monster of the week to highlight whatever our favorite Slayer and her friends were going through during that episode. Because in the end, the monster didn’t matter so much as what it represented about their lives. (Except that one praying mantis teacher who tried to seduce Xander. We’ll take that one at absolute face value and not think about it anymore, at all, ever.)

With that in mind, here are my top ten (in no particular order) monsters of the week:

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The Internet Is Watching You, and It Really Wants to Help: Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on Catnet

When I started writing this review, a week in advance of publication day, most readers were still waiting for Catfishing on Catnet. I, on the other hand, had read my copy six times. The novel is based on Kritzer’s 2015 short story, “Cat Pictures Please.” The story won a Hugo Award, and also my heart. Kritzer has a gift for writing things that are analytical, insightful and incredibly reassuring. And the idea of an artificial intelligence that wants to improve our lives in return for pictures of cats, is all of those things.

There is no actual catfishing in Catfishing—no one attempts to catch catfish and no one attempts to manipulate anyone else into thinking they are in a romantic relationship. CheshireCat, the AI running CatNet, has no problem with the first behavior in appropriate contexts, and definitely would not tolerate the second on its carefully curated forums. For readers of a certain age, CatNet is a nostalgic monument to a time when the internet was young and new and felt safe in a way that it never does now. It was a place where isolated lonely people could find their far-flung tribes. As a reader who still maintains close connections with her due-date group from Hipmama, Catnet feels like the forum we all wished we had been able to create and then spend all our time posting on.

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Childhood and the Burden of Knowledge in His Dark Materials

One of the most compelling themes in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is the way in which he represents childhood as both a sacred time and a space for profound frustration at the complexities of the adult world. It’s one of the most unifying themes across all of children’s literature, and a difficult trick to pull off effectively. It is especially difficult to strike this balance in children’s fantasy, since the magical elements of the world can sometimes serve as deus ex machinae that make the adult world literally less complex. While Pullman’s novels are excellent at giving the reader a limited, childlike perspective on a world that is overwhelmingly complex and adult, the television series, in broadening its perspective, must also account for those complexities. The difference in approach between book series and television series was starkly illuminated in this week’s episode.

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Okay There’s No Joker 2 in the Works But We Still Want a Poison Ivy Origin Film

So it turns out Joker 2 isn’t in the works, after all? On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published an article alleging that Todd Phillips had taken a meeting with Warner Bros., and emerged with not only a deal for a sequel to Joker, but the rights to one other DC character’s origin story. (We reported on it here.) Today, the director himself debunked the rumors, telling IndieWire no such meeting ever happened.

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The Many Adventures of Tom Swift by “Victor Appleton”

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

In the 19th century, the pace of technological innovation increased significantly; in the 20th century, it exploded. Every decade brought new innovations. For example, my grandfather began his career as a lineman for American Telegraph in the 1890s (it was just “AT” then—the extra “&T” came later). In the early 20th century he went from city to city installing their first telephone switchboards. He ended his career at Bell Labs on Long Island, helping to build the first television sets, along with other electronic marvels. It seemed like wherever you turned , in those days, there was another inventor creating some new device that would transform your life. With the Tom Swift series, starting in 1910, Edward Stratemeyer created a fictional character that represented the spirit of this age of invention. That first series found Tom building or refining all manner of new devices, including vehicles that would take him to explore far-off lands.

Tom Swift has appeared in six separate book series’ that span over a century, and in this week’s column, I’m going to look at three of them. Two I encountered in my youth: Tom Swift and His Motor Boat, which I inherited from my father, and Tom Swift and His Flying Lab, which was given to my older brother as a birthday gift. As an example of Tom’s later adventures, I’m also looking at Into the Abyss, the first book in the fifth series.

[Read more]

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