STAR WARS REBELS Travels the Jundland Wastes Lightly

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Episode 320 “Twin Suns”
Written by Dave Filoni & Henry Gilroy
Directed by Dave Filoni

[photos: Lucasfilm]

It’s the moment so many of us have been anticipating for a long time: the final confrontation between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. And while it doesn’t disappoint, it also doesn’t deliver 100 percent.

On the planet Tatooine, with the twin suns burning the desert, Darth Maul (Sam Witwer) is searching for his nemesis and the answers to everything he’s gone through in his life. And he figures out that he can use the Sith holocron to draw out the hidden Jedi, using it to activate the Jedi holocron on board the Ghost.

Ezra (Taylor Gray) wakes up to catch pieces of the message Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) sent as a warning to all Jedi. Combined with his hearing Maul’s voice in his head, Ezra is convinced the Jedi Master is still alive and being hunted by Maul. If they can rescue Kenobi, they can enlist his help in the impending attack on Lothal.

Hera (Vanessa Marshall) needs Ezra to stay at the base and help plan the attack, because he knows Lothal better than anyone, and Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) would love to know that Kenobi is still alive, but Senator Bail Organa confirmed the Jedi’s death (ahem), and so it’s likely just a trap set by Maul, something Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) reminds Ezra has done before.

So Ezra goes anyway, stealing a ship just like Captain Kirk… oh, wait. Wrong franchise.

There are plenty of parallels to Star Wars in this story (and I mean Star Wars, not Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope… get off my lawn): Obi-Wan (now voiced by Stephen Stanton) finding young Ezra in the desert, the attack by the Sand People (complete with gaffi sticks waving in the air) and a hint about truth and perception and how destiny has a way of taking our lives and dumping them to the ground over our own plans…

 

After sending Ezra on his way, Obi-Wan’s final confrontation with Maul is almost painfully brief. But it seems that perhaps the show is giving us the transition into Obi-Wan holding back his full use of Jedi power. Maybe to remain in hiding? Maybe because he’s of an age where he doesn’t quite have a lot of fight in him? Maybe he’s focused on the bigger picture and doesn’t want to complicate things with a long drawn out battle that someone could see?

Whatever the reason, there’s an opportunity missed here: explaining how Obi-Wan could look so aged and weathered when he rescues Luke Skywalker and helps destroy the Death Star. It’s likely the use of the Force to mask his and Luke’s presence on Tatooine from other Force-sensitive beings like Maul and Ezra. Perhaps this is the incident that makes him use the Force for concealment, and that sends him on that path of wearing down?

Not every question needs an answer. This episode isn’t for that question, anyway. It’s a payoff for an arc that began all the way back in The Phantom Menace when a young padawan named Obi-Wan Kenobi sliced Sith apprentice Darth Maul in half and sent him spiraling down to his doom. A doom that plays out over several years of pain, torment, agony, twisted logic, finally to end on Tatooine, where that same Kenobi ends Maul’s suffering once and for all.

 

Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD.

 

Don’t miss our Star Wars related shows Salacious Crumbs and Star Wars Cribs on our YouTube channel, SciFi4Me TV.




Could Ryan Reynolds Return to DC Films? A Theory…

OK. Before you dismiss this out of hand, let me go through the thoughts in my head and lay out a possible (but not very likely) scenario in which Ryan Reynolds could continue to play Hal Jordan in the DC Extended Universe.

Yes, yes…Green Lantern isn’t acknowledged among any of the films, but neither was The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton, until it was.

And that’s the example to which the suits at Warner Bros. — and in particular, Geoff Johns — can point as a way of bringing the obscure film back into the fold. Obscure because it didn’t perform as well as expected, but that can describe every DC film so far. No matter that Batman v Superman made a ton of money, it didn’t make what the studio thought it should make, and collected its more than fair share of detractors and heated critics. Man of Steel didn’t fare much better, nor did Suicide Squad (Oscar notwithstanding), and even though we’re just three films into this new universe, we keep getting stories and whispers and rumors that Wonder Woman isn’t going to be much better. We even heard that a lot of BvS critics were brought out to the Justice League sets in London to see first-hand what efforts were being made to adjust the tone of the DC movies.

Too little, too late? Too early to tell, because we don’t have Wonder Woman or Justice League yet, and that’s the pudding wherein we may find the proof.

But with that as a setup, let’s take a look across the block to Marvel Studios, and The Incredible Hulk, which has been the red-headed step-child of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A recasting of the lead, a cancellation of the sequel, and dismissal of rumors that we’d ever see another Hulk solo film, and we pretty much know where this film stands.

Except…

Footage was included in Iron Man 2, and references to the destruction in Harlem have crept into the Netflix shows and The Avengers. Plus, remember when Banner mentioned trying to shoot himself? That goes back to the Norton film as well (if I recall correctly). Then we get William Hurt reprising his role as Thunderbolt Ross, and we’re hearing rumors that Liv Tyler has been spotted near the Infinity War production. So it’s a logical conclusion to make: The Incredible Hulk is OK again.

Now, let’s take that and use it as a filter on Green Lantern. It’s still a lousy film, trying to do too many things at once, but look at what’s happened in the meantime. Ryan Reynolds has re-established himself as a superhero action star with Deadpool (the real one), and Warner Bros. has to be looking at that and frothing at the mouth with the knowledge that at one point, Reynolds belonged to their universe.

Remember, Green Lantern was supposed to kick off the entire DCEU. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) is one of the founding members of the Justice League, and he’s been conspicuous by his absence in anything having to do with the films so far. He’s not in Justice League (as far as we know), and while he’s been mentioned in connection with Green Lantern Corps, the focus of discussions have been on John Stewart and, to a lesser degree, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner.

OK, so let me paint this scenario with a broad brush:

In the wake of Parallax’s attack on the corps and Sinestro’s defection, Hal Jordan has been on OA rebuilding the Green Lantern Corps this whole time, leaving the protection of sector 2814 to the other humans who possess Green Lantern rings — and by this time, it could include not only Stewart, Gardner, and Rayner, but also Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. This not only plays into the rumors about Michelle Rodriguez playing Cruz and Tyrese Gibson or Common playing John Stewart, but also lines up with the news that Green Lantern Corps will feature multiple Lanterns.

Which brings me to my next point with regard to rumors: Armie Hammer. Consider this response to the direct question “Are you Hal Jordan or not?” on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/armiehammer/status/837359293011644416

Now, that “ummm” could mean:

  • Yes, I’m Hal Jordan, but I’m not allowed to say.
  • No, I’m not Hal Jordan, but I’m not allowed to say.
  • Actually, I’m not Hal Jordan; I’m Guy Gardner, but I’m not allowed to say.

Still with me?

What if Hammer is actually playing Guy Gardner (or for that matter, Kyle Rayner)? Remember, he was only rumored for BvS, and on IMDb (which is always true, right?) he was credited as “Test Pilot”, leading many to speculate the Hal Jordan casting. But what if that was just someone trolling fans on IMDb?

Hammer is young enough to play Kyle, but I think they would get someone who better reflects Kyle’s mixed heritage. I hear Tyler Posey might be available…

So, Armie Hammer has never been confirmed to have even talked with anyone about playing Green Lantern. But if he has, he doesn’t necessarily have to be discussing Hal Jordan. Which puts Hammer in as Guy, let’s say Gibson as John, Posey as Kyle, Rodriguez as Jessica, someone like Rami Malek as Simon…

… and Ryan Reynolds as a more seasoned Hal Jordan.

That way, he’s still in the movie, and he still has an impact on the overall story, but he’s the one who brings in the cavalry in the third act, after training all of the newbies. That way you can have John be your primary Green Lantern, training Kyle on Earth, while Guy is … Guy. The Green Lantern taken out by Batman with one punch…

I posit this theory with an appreciation for the irony in the fact that Hammer was set to play Batman in George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal project from 2007… a year before Iron Man‘s release in theaters.

This also allows for Warner Bros. to continue using Mark Strong as Sinestro, arguably one of the best parts of Green Lantern. Not only that, but since Geoff Johns is now in charge of … well, everything … you could tease the formation of the Yellow Lantern Corps, along with the rest of the color spectrum. Green Lantern Corps could be the beginning, where Sinestro comes out of hiding with the Yellow Lanterns, and at the end of the third act, just when it seems like Hal and Company are going to win, the Red Lanterns appear for a cliffhanger ending.

And you keep the whole movie in space on or near Oa. There’s no need to be jetting back to Earth every five minutes. Fight the fight there. In space. With Space Cops and Ray Guns. Green Lantern Corps could be the Guardians of the Galaxy for DC, if the treatment is right.

We know Reynolds loves the superhero world, and right now his track record is 2 bad treatments (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern) and 1 good treatment (Deadpool), so why not pull ahead with another — and hopefully better — treatment of Green Lantern after Deadpool 2? His performance as Hal Jordan needs a little bit of redemption, doesn’t it? Especially after Reynolds has proven that he’s not the problem? Given the right material (looking at you, Johns… get Goyer away from it), Ryan Reynolds could still be the DCEU’s Hal Jordan.

Indeed, it’s an off the wall proposal. But it allows Warner Bros. to recover a little bit of the investment in that movie, while adding another piece that’s been missing since Green Lantern became photographia non grata with the studio — a Green Lantern and all the science fiction environment that comes with him.

Thoughts? Let us know with a comment. Feel free to share…

 




ROGUES GALLERY #51: Dinosaurs and a Spaceship, Plus Kissing and a Hot Bot

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[recaps by Jason P Hunt]

This week, the Rogues talk about the four shows that were on the air, plus the rumor that we might soon get a Green Lantern casting announcement. Would it mean the restoration of Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern into the existing DC Films Universe?

Complete with CGI dinosaurs, face-offs against doppelgangers, Speed Force shenanigans, keeping secrets from everyone because of reasons, and emotionally rash decisions, this week proved to be a tough slog to get through for most of us…

And Gideon needs to be seen in person more.

The panel: Jeff Hackworth, Thomas Townley, Jason Hunt

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GOTHAM: Logo.
Returns April 24

 

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Episode 215 “Exodus”
Written by Paula Yoo & Eric Carrasco
Directed by Michael A. Allowitz

So, Cadmus is using the alien registry to round up all the immigrants mutants metahumans this week and … not kill them? Instead, Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) has convinced Dr. Luthor (Brenda Strong) to pack them all up, throw them on a massive spaceship that’s apparently evaded notice from anyone in the world, and haul them through hyperspace to a distant planet, because television doesn’t have enough “bad guys want to expel all the immigrants” metaphors…

Kara (Melissa Benoist) wants to expose the situation by writing an article, but Snapper (Ian Gomez) is the one TV journalist who actually acts like a real life journalist is supposed to act —  you know, caring about verifiable sources and corroboration and fact and all — but Kara’s not having any, so she publishes the story on her own. Gets fired.

Alex (Chyler Leigh) gets benched because J’onn (David Harewood) thinks she’s emotionally compromised — and he’s right — but after she goes rogue, busts into the Luthor facility, gets trapped on the ship as it launches, and manages to break a bunch of things only for Kara to save her at the very last instant… yeah, she’s back at work and J’onn is apologizing?!

To quote the famous philosopher: “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works…”

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Episode 315 “The Wrath of Savitar”
Written by Andrew Kreisberg & Andrew Wilder
Directed by Alexadra La Roche

How many times can Barry (Grant Gustin) carry the Idiot Ball on this show?

We begin with the news that he and Iris (Candice Patton) are now engaged, which is great news for everyone on Team Flash. Except Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is none too pleased that Barry didn’t ask for permission. And when Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) figures out the engagement is just one more way Barry’s trying to change the future, it gives us yet another example of a man who does stupid, terrible things for all the right reasons.

Meanwhile, Savitar is back, because when Barry threw the Philosopher’s Stone into the Speed Force, it wasn’t quite all of the stone. Turns out, Catilin (Danielle Panabaker) held onto a small sliver of the stone in the hopes of using it to get rid of her powers before she turns into Killer Frost and starts doing terrible things.

And Wally gets his time with the Idiot Ball, too, but we can all see where this is going, right? We know who’s wearing Savitar’s mask, right?

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Episode 213 “Land of the Lost”
Written by Keto Shimizu & Ray Utarnachitt

Directed by Ralph Hemecker

Team Time Tamper heads back to Jurassic Park! Only it’s not because they have a plan or anything. It’s a crash landing caused by Rip (Arthur Darvill) giving Gideon (Amy Pemberton) instructions that cause all sorts of mayhem and chaos.

So the ship is broken. Rip is broken.

Sara (Caity Lotz) and Jax (Franz Drameh) learn from Rory (Dominic Purcell) that it’s possible to go into Rip’s mind to fight off the bad turrible things keeping him from being himself, so they dive into the Rip Matrix, finding a gorgeous personification of Gideon hiding in there as well. Turns out when the Legion of Doom set Rip to thinking his team was all against him, they didn’t figure for Gideon.

Fighting evil versions of themselves and the rest of the team, Sara and Jax work from within Rip’s mind to restore his memory while Ray (Brandon Routh), Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), and Nate (Nick Zano) hike out to T-RexVille to retrieve a piece of the Waverider. And while Ray is making the most of his return to the era, Nate and Amaya are feeling a little awkward at feeling a little amorous. Ray reminds Nate that he can’t do anything to alter Amaya’s future, because at some point her village gets ransacked and the Vixen totem gets passed to Amaya’s granddaughter, who doesn’t exist yet.

Wow, this is heavy…

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New Episode March 15

 

 

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H2O #151: In Which We Discuss the Biggest Lightsaber Battle in the World

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The battle is about to begin!

This week: an extended episode in which we have guests! Stefan White and Steven Fuller from Kansas City’s Friends of the River join us to talk about the upcoming attempt to set the world record for the “Largest Lightsaber Battle in the World” — complete with representatives from Guiness World Records! On May 6th, over ten thousand people will gather on the shores of the Mighty Mo, the Missouri River, to wage the largest lightsaber battle ever. Many groups have been large, but this is the first attempt to set a world record.

More importantly, it’s a chance to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Children’s Mercy Hospital here in Kansas City. May is also Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, and this is a chance to raise money for ongoing research to help kids live long enough to receive lung transplants so that they can live into adulthood.

Find out more here: Battle4KC

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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STAR WARS REBELS Serves Up a Hot Special

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Episode 318 “Special Cargo”
Written by Matt Michnovetz
Directed by Bosco Ng

[photos: Lucasfilm]

It’s the beginning of the beginning…

We’ve all known for a while, that Rebels was going to eventually get us closer to the events in Rogue One, and we’ve already seen the addition of Saw Gererra in the series. Now, we take our first few steps toward the assembly of what will be the Rebel Alliance as a fighting force to take on the Empire.

The Ghost is in the midst of a debris field waiting to make a rendezvous when they encounter an Imperial probe droid and … everything goes to pot because they can’t get a clean shot before the rebel fleet shows up.

And Captain Vander of Gold Squadron! He looks just like Angus MacInnes, but Yuri Lowenthal sound anything like him. And the rebel ship is carrying “valuable cargo” that the Empire really wants. Turns out it’s Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), who’s now on the run because she’s been speaking out against the Emperor. She’s on her way to The Meeting among all the various rebel cells, working to unite everyone in a coordinated operation based out of Dantooine.

Moving through the Archeon Nebula, the Ghost takes on heavy damage after encountering the new prototype TIE interceptor, and then Governor Pryce (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) is waiting on the outside of the nebula to capture Mon Mothma.  And just when it seems like the rebels will have to give up the Ghost (sorry… had to), Gold Leader and Ezra (Taylor Gray) pull out of the nebula and use their ion cannon to ignite the protostars in the nebula, knocking out Pryce’s two Star Destroyers and allowing the Ghost to escape.

Some very good effects here, with the Mutara Archeon Nebula playing brier patch for the Rebels. The addition of Gold Squadron was a nice touch, too, especially since we just saw them in Rogue One at Scarif. I just wish Yuri Lowenthal had at least tried to sound a bit like Gold Leader…

Ion cannon were used to great effect this week, as it helped stave off the new TIE interceptor (which is going to have to meet a rather decisive demise before the end of the series…) as well as knock out two Star Destroyers. This show and Rogue One have shown more ways to destroy a Destroyer than almost all the other movies combined, seems like…

The end of the episode gives us a payoff that’s just big enough to make you wish for this kind of solid writing all season: Mon Mothma making a desperate plea to unite the Rebellion, officially resigning her position as a Senator and throwing in with people who are going to fight and die for a lost cause. And the final shot of the fleet assembling … this is the kind of thing you want happening all the time in the series. There’s even a hint of John Williams in the musical sting at the end.

It’s nice that Lucasfilm continues to have Genevieve O’Reilly play Mon Mothma, just as they’ve had Forest Whitaker come in to reprise his role as Saw Gererra. It shows that there’s a little more attention paid to the connections between the animated series and the overall movie universe (are you paying attention, Marvel?), and it feels more like the series is integral to the broader stories being told (are you paying attention, Marvel?).

One of these days, though, Grand Admiral Thrawn really needs to do something brilliant to show off his tactical genius.

 

 

Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD.




DISCOVERY Finds a Captain and a Cadet

Star Trek: Discovery, which has been delayed yet again, has added two more to the cast: Jason Isaacs and Mary Wiseman.

Isaacs, whose credits include the Harry Potter franchise, Awake, and The OA, will play Captain Lorca, the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Discovery. 

Wiseman joins the cast as Cadet Tilley, in her final year at Starfleet Academy. Her credits include study at the prestigious Julliard school, Longmire, and Difficult People, as well as several stage productions.

The two join a cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, Terry Serpico, Maulik Pancholy, James Frain as a young Sarek, and Sonequa Martin-Green in the lead role as the ship’s first officer, Lt. Commander Rainsford. David Semel is set to direct the first episode.

Star Trek: Discovery will air its first episode across many of CBS’ platforms, including the main network, and then run the rest of the episodes exclusively in the United States on the CBS All Access digital channel.

 




ROGUES GALLERY #50: Stupid Is as Stupid Does

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[recaps by Jason P Hunt]

It’s our 50th episode! Discussions abound as we analyze the latest episodes of SupergirlThe Flash, and Arrow — stupid pills are being taken by just about … everyone in all three shows. What’s up with the Mon-El story? What’s up with apes in Central City with no panic in the streets? What’s up with that Prometheus reveal?

Plus: Aquaman footage from Zack Snyder, casting news for Black Lightning, and Vertigo’s legacy is now in the hands of IDW.

 

The panel: Ann Laabs, Dustin Adair, Jeff Hackworth, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt, and guest Sari Al-Shehbaz

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GOTHAM: Logo.
Returns April 24

 

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Episode 214 “Homecoming”
Written by Caitlin Parrish & Derek Simon
Directed by Larry Teng

Daddy’s home!

And it’s a good thing, right? Well, it is for everyone except Mon-El (Chris Wood), who seems to be the only one questioning the coincidence of Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) being rescued just in time to warn the DEO about the super-nuclear-fusion-bomb thingy that Cadmus is planning to drop on National City. Like National City is the only place on the planet where aliens live? Is National City in a bubble? Like Kandor?…

But wait. How many people took the stupid pills this week?

And that’s not how you destroy a computer server, Jeremiah…

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Episode 314 “Attack on Central City”
Teleplay by Aaron Helbing & David Kob
Story by Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by Dermott Daniel Downs

It’s Planet of the Apes 2! Except it’s not.

This week, the conclusion of Grodd’s (David Sobolov) master plan to use Gypsy (Jessica Camacho) to portal his army to Central City, where how many hundreds of apes in armor go trekking through the streets with nary a whimper from the citizenry, the media, the police, the National Guard, the old lady on the corner, the blind guy selling newspapers… Barry (Grant Gustin) and Team Flash are almost afterthoughts this week, with the main conflict involving a lot of CGI. And Solovar (Keith David).

Meanwhile, Jessie (Violett Beane) and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) decide they’re going to be together, and after Harry (Tom Cavanagh) tries to guilt-trip them both, he agrees to let her move to Earth-1, where H.R. (also Tom Cavanagh) is still causing everyone to wonder why he’s still there…

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Returns March 7th

 

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Episode 515 “Fighting Fire With Fire”
Written by Speed Weed & Ben Sokolowski
Directed by Michael Schultz

Oliver (Stephen Amell) throws Green Arrow under the bus this week, admitting that he ordered the cover-up in the case of Billy Malone’s death. This doesn’t go over too well with Prometheus or Vigilante, who are each after Oliver for … reasons. Oliver and Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) don’t agree that this is the best course of action in the face of impeachment hearings, but it’s Oliver’s play to make. Chase is ready to hand in his resignation and fall on his sword to preserve Oliver’s administration.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Prometheus is actually … Adrian Chase? So who is under the Vigilante mask? Dustin has a theory…

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SHIN GODZILLA Wins Big at (Japan’s) Academy Awards

It’s something you’ll likely never hear in the United States: Shin Godzilla has won Best Picture.

On March 3rd, the Nippon Academy-sho Association hosted the 40th Japan Academy Film Prize (第40回日本アカデミー賞) in Tokyo, and Big G was a big winner, taking home seven awards and helping Toho dominate the event.

Also known as Godzilla: Resurgance, the film is an update of the classic version of the Gojira kaiju monster from Toho, Ltd. Because of the recent success of the American Godzilla reboot from Legendary Pictures, Toho took it upon themselves to do their own reboot, and took G back to his city-stomping origins, eschewing the more recent monster vs. monster format.

The new film — which was the top grossing Japanese live action film of 2016 — resurrects Godzilla in the aftermath of a natural disaster instead of the horror of the nuclear destruction that spawned the first film in 1954.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgyq6YKeIms

The awards taken home by the film:

■ Picture of the Year
Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ, Shin Gojira)

■ Director of the Year
Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi; Shin Godzilla

 

■ Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Kousuke Yamada; Shin Godzilla

■ Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction
Takayuki Kawabe; Shin Godzilla

■ Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction
Yuji Hayashida and Eri Sakushima; Shin Godzilla

■ Outstanding Achievement in Sound Recording
Jun Nakamura and Haru Yamada; Shin Godzilla

■ Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing
Hideaki Anno and Atsuki Sato; Shin Godzilla

 

Toho had a strong showing at the award ceremony with other projects: Rage, 64 Part 1Your Name, all of which took home awards. But the biggest winner of the night was definitely a science fiction film.

Let that sink in.

 




STAR WARS REBELS Renewed for Season Four

[featured image courtesy Lucasfilm Ltd.]

The Force is strong with the crew of the Ghost. Disney and Lucasfilm have announced that Star Wars Rebels will return for a fourth season on Disney XD. Production is already underway on a set of new episodes.

“The team behind Star Wars Rebels delivers epic storytelling that has captivated fans of all ages across the globe,” says Marc Buhaj, senior vice president, Programming and general manager, Disney XD. “We’re excited to continue sharing the journey of these fan-favorite Rebels with our audience in the fall.”

Rebels rated as Disney XD’s #1 series in total viewers for 2016 and #1 animated series for key kid and boy demographics, with over 60 million engagements across digital platforms. The show also had several elements appear as Easter eggs in Rogue One, and many speculate the end of the show’s run will be the battle of Scarif.

One of the many rumors currently across the internet has Rebels characters Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren possibly appearing in The Last Jedi, played by Benecio Del Toro and Laura Dern, respectively, although Del Toro is also rumored to be playing the son of Boba Fett, so take anything you hear with bags of salt at the ready.

But if there’s a connection between The Last Jedi and Rebels, it makes sense to continue the series. You can read recaps of the current season through this link.

 




STAR WARS REBELS Sneaks In a Decent Spy Story

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Episode 317 “Through Imperial Eyes”
Written by Nicole Dubuc & Henry Gilroy
Directed by Saul Ruiz

[photos: Lucasfilm]

This episode, the story is told from the perspective of Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) as he navigates the intrigue of trying to keep his cover from being blown wide open, revealing his identity as the Rebel agent Fulcrum.

Which is still hard to buy into, but OK…

After picking up a “bounty hunter” escaping Lothal — actually Ezra (Taylor Gray), his only disguise a helmet — Kallus and Lieutenant Lyste (Liam O’Brien) are summoned to rendezvous with Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), who’s getting ever so closer to identifying Fulcrum. To that end, he’s brought in Colonel Yularen (Tom Kane — welcome back!) to spearhead the investigation. Assigned to work with Yularen, Kallus now  has to face the possibility that Fulcrum is about to be exposed.

Turns out, Ezra’s mission was to extract Kallus so he wouldn’t be in danger any more. Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) and Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) are en route, only they don’t have the clearance codes to get into Thrawn’s ship, because they didn’t expect Ezra and Kallus to be there. They’re supposed to be on Lyste’s ship… so now they have to get the information to the extraction team without exposing Kallus.

Only Thrawn has already started to tighten the noose, and Yularen is mainly there to accelerate the process. So Kallus does what any good double agent does — he throws Lyste under the bus. Using Lyste’s identity cylinder, Kallus breaks Ezra out of the holding cell and gets them into Thrawn’s office, where Ezra and Chopper hack into the computer to get the clearance codes and change the information about potential locations for the Rebel base.

By the by, among Thrawn’s artifacts (in keeping with his original characterization by Timothy Zahn): Hera’s Kalikori, Commander Gree’s helmet, and the Holy Grail.

In the end, Kallus figures he can still do more as Fulcrum, so he opts to stay behind, “capturing” Lyste like a good Imperial. Of course, Thrawn isn’t fooled, telling Yularen that he’s sure Fulcrum is Kallus, as Lyste wouldn’t be capable of such cunning. So next episode, look for something clever from Thrawn and Yularen, maybe — if the writers can actually give us a Thrawn that’s as clever as the one we got from Timothy Zahn…

OK, so it’s not a bad episode. Plenty of intrigue, and Kallus proves himself to be pragmatic when it comes to maintaining his cover, even at the expense of a junior officer who’s in way over his head. But it feels like too little, too late for this season, which has felt a little flat for most of the episodes. Yes, they all moved pieces of different stories forward, but the introduction of Thrawn should have brought with it so many story opportunities. Thrawn is arguably one of the most intelligent strategists in the Empire. Rebels really should have made the most of his gift of being able to understand an entire group of people just based on their artwork.

Instead, we get a lot of little stories that put pieces in certain places but don’t really do anything to advance Thrawn as the menace he could be. The Grand Admiral’s presence should have been set up as the catalyzing element in the formation of the Rebel Alliance. His strategy, his ability to inspire loyalty and coordinate more effective responses against individual rebel cells, should have been the push the Rebellion needed to finally band together.

We still might get that, but it’ll mostly be because the writers make it happen that way, not because it feels organic to the story we’ve been told so far.

 

Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD.




SFWA Announces Nebula Award Nominees, Heinlein Award

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have announced their nominees for this year’s Nebula Awards, with a corrected ballot that was announced on February 20th.

Due to an error in word count verification, Cat Rambo’s “Red in Tooth and Cog” was replaced on the Novelette ballot by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s “The Orangery”. Turns out Rambo’s work came in with a word count under the eligibility threshold of 7,500 words.

Rambo, who’s also the current president of the SFWA, said, “The Nebula Awards are about celebrating amazing works by talented writers in our genre. I choose to see the silver lining in that we elevate another writer to the stage, and keep the ballot otherwise intact.”

 

Novel

  • All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
  • The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Ninefox Gambit,Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)

Novella

  • Runtime, S.B. Divya (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “The Liar”, John P. Murphy (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

Novelette      

  • “The Long Fall Up”, William Ledbetter (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
  • “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories”, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “The Orangery”, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)

Short Story

  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Sabbath Wine”, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Things With Beards”, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door”, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, Alyssa Wong (Tor.com)
  • “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)

In addition to the Nebulas, the SFWA also presents the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

Bradbury

  • Arrival, Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/Xenolinguistics
  • Doctor Strange, Directed by Scott Derrickson, Screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Kubo and the Two Strings, Directed by Travis Knight, Screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm/ Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’, Directed by Jonathan Nolan, Written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO
  • Zootopia, Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, Screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios

Norton

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

The latest Grand Master to be added to the roster is Jane Yolen, who was selected in November 2016. Yolen’s reaction: “To know I am now on the same list as Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, and Ursula Le Guin is the kind of shock to the system that makes me want to write better each day. Revise, revision, and reinvent.”

Voting will begin among active members on March 1, 2017, with the award presentation during the 51st annual Nebula Conference, held this year May 18-21 in Pittsburgh, PA at the Marriott City Center.

 

First presented in 1966, the Nebulas are given to the best works of science fiction and fantasy published in the United States as selected by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, made up of professional science fiction and fantasy authors.

More information here: http://nebulas.sfwa.org/nebula-conference/

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The SFWA has also announced that this year’s Robert A. Heinlein Award for “outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space” will be presented to Robert J. Sawyer.

The award will be presented during the 51st Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention (Balticon 51), and Sawyer will join via Skype while he attends ConQuesT in Kansas City.

The Heinlein Award was founded by the Grand Master’s long time friend Dr. Yoji Kondo, and recipients are selected by a committee of science fiction writers.

More information here: http://www.sfwa.org/2017/02/robert-j-sawyer-wins-2017-robert-heinlein-award/

 




ROGUES GALLERY #49: Supergirl’s Boyfriend, Emily’s Boyfriend, and a Big Gorilla

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[recaps by Jason P Hunt]

The Rogues are back with another episode discussing the latest episodes of the DC Comics television outings. This week: SupergirlThe FlashLegends of TomorrowArrow, and Powerless. Plus: Black Lightning has a star, The Batman has a new director, and his sidekick is getting a surprise movie of his own?…

The panel: Ann Laabs, Dustin Adair, Dave Margosian, Jeff Hackworth, Jason Hunt

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GOTHAM: Logo.
Returns April 24

 

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Episode 213 “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk”
Written by Jessica Queller & Sterling Gates
Directed by Stefan Pleszczynski

It’s the Valentine’s Day episode. Yuck.

And with Winn (Jeremy Jordan), we get yet another “forbidden” match. Lesbians with Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie (Floriana Luna). Mortal enemies, first with J’onn (David Harewood) and M’gann, then with Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Mon-El (Chris Wood). And now the human-alien match with Winn and Lyra. And a poor cover of The Police…

The main thrust of the story has the doesn’t-look-like-him-at-all Mxyzptlk (Peter Gadiot) wooing Kara, seeking her hand in marriage because out of all the creatures in the universe, she’s The One. Or something. This has the effect of making Mon-El extremely jealous, and the whole episode turns into something from Dawson’s Creek or something…

And nobody pronounced it right.

https://youtu.be/JHJuEbNB0u8

Easter Eggs:

  • Kara was called brave and bold
  • McGurk was mentioned
  • “Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane.”
  • Kara quotes Batman: “You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts.”

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Episode 313 “Attack on Gorilla City”
Teleplay by Aaron Helbing & David Kob
Story by Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by Dermott Daniel Downs

It’s the episode fans have been eagerly anticipating since the very first episode of the very first season, when Grodd was first mentioned: Team Flash goes to Gorilla City!

Grodd has captured Wells (Tom Cavanagh), and Jessie (Violett Beane) has jumped to Earth-1 (how?) to enlist the help of Barry (Grant Gustin) and the rest of the team. And oh, by the way, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) now has powers, and that’s cool, right? Except it’s not. Jessie is cool to the hip junior speedster. So while she and Wally mind the store with H.R. (also Tom Cavanagh), Barry takes everyone else to Earth-2.

“Welcome to the jungle.” Where they’re promptly captured. Because…

They wake up in cages. Grodd pontificates and monologues about Solovar’s plan to lead a gorilla army to Earth-1 to attack Central City (just Central City, mind you… I guess the rest of Earth is good, bro?) because humans are terrible, awful, and no good. This is only partially the case, as Grodd manipulates Barry into a very-CGI battle with Solovar in the arena. And with Solovar’s defeat, now Grodd can reveal his true plan — his plan to attack Earth-1, which up to now had been stymied by Solovar…

You wicked, wicked monkey…

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Episode 212 “Camelot/3000”
Written by Anderson Mackenzie
Directed by Antonio Negret

Rip goes to Detroit in the year 3000, where Dr. Mid-Nite of the Justie Society has a piece of the Spear of Destiny. And they figure out the other piece of the spear is in Britannia. King Arthur’s neighborhood.

Turns out King Arthur’s knights are being captured, and Ray (Brandon Routh) tries to sell the idea that the Time Team is a group of warriors on a quest against evil. So Arthur wants them to pass a test given by Merlin … oh, wait… not Merlin. It’s Star Girl! She says the final mission of the JSA (along with a Time Master named Rip Hunter) was an operation to retrieve the spear, which was then broken into four pieces and scattered throughout time. Star Girl took on the persona of Merlin and formed the Knights of the Round Table.

And then Rip shows up with Damien Dhark (Neal McDonough). With a device that lets him control King Arthur.

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Episode 514 “The Sin-Eater”
Written by Barbara Bloom & Jenny Lynn
Directed by Mary Lambert

Escape!

China White (Kelly Hu), Cupid (Amy Gumenick), and former bad cop Liza Warner (Rutina Wesley) escape during a bus ride, stealing the bus and heading for Star City. The gal pals are after the money Tobias Church left behind from the crooked Amertek deal, money he never got to use because he got killed by Prometheus.

In the meantime, Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) gets officially sworn in as an SCPD officer, and Oliver (Stephen Amell) visits Prometheus’ mother to get her help locating the villain, and Prometheus doesn’t care for that too much, so he sends a letter to the Anti-Crime Unit with information that Green Arrow killed Detective Billy Malone.

And Thea (Willa Holland) is a little manipulative minx…

 

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H2O #150: In Which We Discuss Books, Audiobooks, and Our New Schedule

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Who would have thought we’d make it this far? Episode 150!

This week: discussing the books we’ve been reading — or in Mr. Harvey’s case, hearing. From re-reads to new review copies, plus a bunch of audiobooks, we’re talking about — and recommending — a few titles for you.

Plus, a programming note: moving forward, H2O will be on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode. Which means episode #151 will drop on March 11.

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AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Spins Out of Control — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #109

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Episode 416 “Self Control”
Written and Directed by Jed Whedon

What an ending!

This week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives us a two-thirds-season-finale with a bang and a twist that probably took more than a few people by surprise, followed by another twist, followed by another twist. And the road to get there wasn’t too straight, either.

The reveal of the final LMD. That scene between Fitz and Simmons. That scene between Simmons and Daisy. The fight choreography. The sacrifice play. This episode had everything in just the right doses, mixed with just the right amount of suspense, surprise, and subtlety. Props to Chloe Bennet and Elizabeth Henstridge for their performances tonight.

The panel: Kammie Settle, Mindy Inlow, Jason Hunt

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STAR WARS REBELS Dances (by the Numbers) on the Edge of the Blade

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Episode 316 “Legacy of Mandalore”
Written by Christopher Yost
Directed by Mel Zwyer

[photos: Lucasfilm]

Changes, they are a-comin’ for our band of merry misfits, who find themselves caught up in the machinations of Mandalorians on one side and Mandalorians on the other, with one of their own caught in the middle holding the darksaber.

The Mandalorians aren’t too pleased that Sabine (Tiya Sircar) has returned home, if the rockets they’re shooting is any indication. the attack forces a crash landing, and the Mandalorians aren’t happy to see Jedi, either. But when they realize Sabine is with them, they stop long enough to talk. Her brother Tristan (Ritesh Rajan) takes them to the stronghold, where Momma is none too pleased. At. All.

“Stop that ship! Blast them!”

Ursa Ren (Sharmila Devar) reveals that Tristan is working for Gar Saxon (Ray Stevenson), called “The Emperor’s Hand” in this episode. Is that the first mention of the Hand in Rebels?

Except she betrays Sabine and the Jedi, handing Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and Ezra (Taylor Gray) over to Saxon, along with the darksaber. So when Saxon betrays Clan Ren, Momma is taken by surprise. Which is when the lying-in-wait Fenn Rau (Kevin McKidd) shows up with the Jedi’s confiscated lightsabers. And then the battle. And then Sabine ends up with Ezra’s lightsaber, taking a stand against Saxon.

“Impressive. Most impressive.”

It’s an impressive fight on the ice, and Sabine of course wins the day, because she’s Sabine Ren and knows a thing or two about fighting with a blade, now that she’s had lessons. Not only fighting for Mandalore, she’s fighting with extra effort for her family. This includes her father, a prisoner on the planet. She’s won her right to wield the darksaber, even if she doesn’t feel worthy. And even though she’s Mandalorian, she rejects the Mandalorian Way and spares Saxon’s life.

So naturally we get the scene where Saxon pulls a blaster and the show gives us several close-ups of faces reacting to the shot. Who’s been shot? Who shot J.R.? Why, Saxon has a bullet in his chest. From Momma’s gun.

“Do you remember your mother? Your real mother?”

In the end, Sabine opts to stay on Mandalore to help unite her people and fight back against the Empire. One wonders about the timing of this, as Sircar has just landed a starring role on the pilot for the new series Start Up, and she has a recurring role on The Good Place. Did she get spread too thin and need out of a project?

It’s an episode with a predictable ending, as far as the main plot goes. Christopher Yost’s script is mostly paint-by-numbers, with all the usual expected story beats one would find with the “disgraced child comes home to family caught in a web of intrigue” story you find in numerous other places. But it’s what I’ve come to expect from this season of Rebels. They’re not taking any chances at all, and it means missed opportunities.

Leaving Sabine behind will open up some different story possibilities, perhaps even send Ezra along a darker path because he misses his friend? If there’s anything to the rumors about Benecio Del Toro’s character in The Last Jedi, there may be more to Ezra Bridger than it appears in the animated series. And could Laura Dern be playing an older Sabine Ren?

Don’t forget, in the last episode, the Bendu noticed Sabine. Does that mean she’s Force-sensitive? Not touched on in this episode, but with The Last Jedi referring to Jedi, plural, could it mean the Rebels crew makes the jump to live-action?

 

Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD.