Quick rant here: I really wish Disney’s live action team had some better ideas than to keep remaking classics as live-action films. They’re doing a good job with some of them—I loved Cinderella, remember?—but the previews for Pete’s Dragon and The Jungle Book actually turned me off. And the lineup for their future films isn’t very promising—with the notable exception, of course, of next year’s Beauty and the Beast directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson as Belle.
When people ask what the difference is between Salt Lake Comic Con and its FanX event, the only real answer you can give is the size. Part of the Salt Palace space is closed off and so there are much fewer artists and vendors. There are also fewer attendees, so when it comes to fighting crowds it’s much less of a hassle.
The good news is, I will be attending Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX event next week. I am planning perhaps my most intense cosplay ever for the occasion: I am going as Mira Nova from the TV show Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. This will involve painting my face blue and wearing a wig, and I am currently working on sewing the dress (and like all of my sewing projects it’s consuming my life). So far, it’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of time and money. There are pieces of the project I bought as far back as October. Why am I doing this? Why am I cosplaying an obscure character from an obscure TV show in hopes that a few people at FanX will recognize me?
Because it’s worth it. If you ever saw BLoSC back in the early 2000s and knew what a brilliant show it was, you would see.
The irony of all this is that I was never a huge fan of Toy Story, where Buzz Lightyear, the Little Green Men, and Emperor Zurg originated. But right after Toy Story 2 came out, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command premiered with a feature-length event, The Adventure Begins, starring Tim Allen. Then the show came on ABC and Disney’s One Saturday Morning. I couldn’t tell you at what point I fell in love with the show or specifically why. But the show’s female lead, Mira Nova, grabbed my attention quickly and kept it. The humor was a big draw, too. Booster was okay but I really loved the zany robot XR. As for Buzz Lightyear himself, well, for me it was never about him. At least at that age.
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command took place in a very engaging original world even while making riffs on Star Trek and other popular science fiction, but it was also never afraid to poke fun at itself. Some of the episodes veer off towards the cheesy side, some are brilliant, some are better animation quality than others. The show very rarely referred to its Toy Story origins, except for in the “Strange Invasion” and “Stranger Invasion” arc where it becomes the butt of a brilliant joke that I know better than to spoil here.
I’ll give you the scoop on the main cast, since you may not have seen the show. Buzz Lightyear himself in the show is a little less nuanced than the Toy Story version, a straight-up, stereotypical hero who is sometimes so caught up with himself that he isn’t aware that the ladies find him desirable. But he’s occasionally interesting to watch, as in when he saves the day in “Speed Trap.”
Booster is a large alien who likes to eat food, and he also has a thirst to prove himself as a hero. There aren’t any moments that stick out for me except for “Plasma Boy,” where he falls in love with a girl but has to compete her boyfriend.
XR the robot is the main comic relief, with his killer one-liners, smart attitude, and tendency to blow up in nearly every episode. However, he gets to be a hero on multiple occasions, including in “Enemy Without a Face” when all of his flesh-and-blood friends start fighting each other.
Now, the meat: Mira Nova is a princess of an alien race known as the Tangeans that can “ghost” through solid objects. In addition to her powers and beauty, however, she is a level-headed counterbalance to Buzz’s high-and-mighty act and the voice of reason for Booster and XR. Her best episode? In “The Shape Stealer,” Star Command goes on a lockdown and Buzz is trapped outside with the nemesis. No one else can get to him. She puts her helmet on and ghosts through the armored security of the space station. Flawless.
Mira isn’t overly sexualized on the show, but she’s comfortable with her femininity while kicking butt for a living. Maybe there’s some flirtation with Buzz at the beginning of the series but she saves the show by being the one woman who doesn’t want him. I think she’s mostly attached to Buzz because he’s her hero and her team leader. Mira does get a bounty hunter love interest in the episode “Star Crossed,” and he was okay, I wasn’t terribly attached to her relationship with him, but the episode itself was one of the best in the series. She is definitely a heroine for any young girl to look up to, and I can say that even though she would never make the official lineup she is my favorite Disney princess.
(Also, Mira was voiced by actress Nicole Sullivan, who also played Shego in Kim Possible. I have asked repeatedly for Sullivan to come to Salt Lake and it hasn’t happened. So if they won’t bring me Mira Nova, I’ll bring Mira Nova to them–aka that’s part of the reason I’m doing the cosplay.)
While the central cast is the glue that holds the series together, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command offers a host of supporting and minor characters that are to die for. Other heroes of the series include Commander Nebula, the head of Star Command; Buzz’s love interest biologist Osma Ferbana; the President of the Galactic Alliance, the adorable LGMs; and Cosmo the diner operator. The villains are delicious: there’s Zurg with his grubs and brainbots but also the malicious Gravitina, the sinister energy vampire NOS4A2 who delivered some of the most thrilling episodes of the series, the egotistical Torque, and Buzz’s traitorous old friend Warp Darkmatter, now in the employ of Zurg. We even get a few characters in between, like the Star Command Psychiatrist, Mira’s father priggish father King Nova, and the scumbags on Tradeworld. If you like the worlds of Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy you will love this show.
My mother is a huge fan of BLoSC, and she says it’s not just a show for kids but there’s humor for the adults as well. Watch The Adventure Begins if you get the chance, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. If someone knows of a way to watch the show online (preferably for free) let me be the first to know, I may start looking myself, but Disney seriously needs to release the show in DVD/Blu-Ray so the fans aren’t as tempted to pirate it. In the meantime, I am getting very, very close to finishing my Mira Nova cosplay, and I will have pictures for you. Hope to see you at FanX!
“It is our choices, Harry, that make us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Over the last few years, I have come to realize that there is a lot of truth to this statement. Choices are what decide whether we’re good or bad, not what we’re capable of doing. Choices also determine our character more than the bad things we put up with in life. There was a banner on the wall of my high school gym: attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. That is the difference between a villain and a victim.
WARNING: Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t want spoilers for Supergirl
The world we live in isn’t perfect. There are two ways to deal with it. One, either you take what you want by force and be angry about everything that’s not going your way. Two, you can accept that you can’t change everything, and you can still treat others the way you want to be treated.
The two leading ladies of the recent Cinderella remake fell on different ends of the spectrum. I admit, because of the complete reversal of character roles in Maleficent I was curious what direction Disney would take with this new live-action fairy tale. I wondered about the evil stepmother especially. Would we see Lady Tremaine’s motivations for abusing her stepdaughter? Would she be given a sympathetic angle? As it turned out, my questions were answered, but only very subtly–blink and you’ll miss it. I have only figured out Lady Tremaine after almost a year of reflecting on the film and of course rewatching it multiple times. Cinderella and Lady Tremaine aren’t much different from their counterparts in the classic animated film on the surface, but on closer inspection they are very well-rounded characters.
It was a busy week in the world of geek. Lots of big announcements, and a few things you may have missed. Let’s take a look back on the week that was November 2-November 8.
Star Wars VII Gets a New Name
In arguably the biggest story of the week, Star Wars Episode VII received a title, or at least the title was made public. The film is a little over a year away, but geeks and nerds everywhere are anxiously anticipating the release, and the title reveal only adds to that anticipation. The name was made known on StarWars.com, along with the news that principal photography has been completed and we may be getting a teaser trailer soon. Just in case you missed the reveal, here is the title in all its glory:
What do you think? Personally, I think the title is promising. Way better than Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones (Easily the worst Star Wars title ever). The Force Awakens sounds great, and I can’t wait for next December.
Toy Story 4 Announced for Summer 2017
Remember how you felt at the end of Toy Story 3? If it was anything like how I felt, it was contentment. It felt like a good ending to the Toy Story films. It wrapped everything up, and it felt like a conclusion, albeit, an emotional one, but a happy one. The movie was hugely successful, netting over $1 Billion worldwide. So what do big movie makers do when a film does so well? They say, “Forget how well we wrapped that up, let’s make another sequel.” In a move that surprised no one, Disney announced this week that Toy Story 4 was on its way. The good news is that there’s hope for this film as John Lasseter is returning to direct the film. It is due out in June of 2017.
The Joker Set to Appear Again on the Big Screen
Reports have come in this week stating that Jared Leto may be playing the Joker in the upcoming Suicide Squad film. This tells us a couple of things, one being that the Joker will be appearing in the DC Multiverse. It makes me wonder if he might make an appearance in the upcoming Batman v. Superman movie first, or if Batman’s greatest foe will really be introduced to us in Suicide Squad. I guess we will have to wait and see. The film set to be released in August, 2016. What do you think, is Jared Leto up for the role?
Final The Hobbit Trailer is Released Ahead of December Release
The latest, and assumed final, trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was released by Warner Bros. earlier this week. This is the final chapter in the Hobbit Trilogy, bringing the adventure to its end. It looks pretty exciting, and I can’t wait. Although there is something bittersweet about the trilogy ending. Who knows when we will see another Fantasy epic like this again?
Is Benedict Cumberbatch Playing Doctor Strange?
Rumors having been flying for a while about who would be playing the Sorcerer Supreme. They have ranged from Keanu Reeves to Collin Firth. It now appears Marvel has set their sights squarely on Benedict Cumberbatch. So, this means, if the rumors pan out, Benedict Cumberbatch has successfully conquered every facet of geekdom. He will become our king, and we will have to bow down to him. Of course, it could all be rumors and there could be no truth to it whatsoever.
Holiday Movie Season has Arrived
Other than Summer time, the Holiday Season is the time for big budget films. This year’s round has officially begun with the arrival of two geek centric flicks. Interstellar and Disney/Marvel’s Big Hero Six both opened on November 6. Neither scored exceptionally well with the critics, but both should be big hits. As a refresher, here are the trailers for each film:
Which one will you be seeing this weekend, or are you saving your cinema cash for being things coming?
ICYMI: THE OSU Does Star Trek
If you didn’t see this, it’s just cool. Ohio State University has one of the best marching bands ever, and what they do with their formations is just incredible. Last Saturday, they performed a halftime show based on some Sci Fi films, including Star Trek. Definitely worth a look and listen:
That will wrap up this week’s look back on what’s been happening. Let me know your thoughts or if I missed anything in the comments below.
When Disney purchased Lucas Films a few years ago, all the old rumors began to circulate again. The rumors probably started a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and they have persisted ever since. I am of course talking about the rumors that there would be another trilogy of movies that continued the stories of Han, Luke, and Leia. I remember hearing these rumors as a kid, before Jar-Jar was even a twinkle in George Lucas’ eye. That was always the assumption, that there would be more story concerning what happened to our heroes after Return of the Jedi. It was a rumor fueled by numerous books that came out that took place after Return of the Jedi. There was the fact that George Lucas was very protective of his characters and what the authors could and could not do to them. Fans believed this meant that the movies were already written, just waiting to be made.
Then the prequels happened. Little known fact about the word prequel, no one had ever heard of it before Phantom Menace. Another little known fact, after Phantom Menace, many Star Wars fans never wanted to hear that term again. I was patiently waiting for my sequel, and instead we got Episode I. This began a whole new round of rumors. George Lucas had originally written 9 episodes for Star Wars, we had seen the middle 3, and now the first 3 were coming out, and then it was only a matter of time before the last 3 would be produced. I don’t even know how these rumors circulated so well. This was way before Facebook, and the internet was still AOL dialup, but that was the rumor. Part of me really believed it, until I saw the new prequel trilogy that created more plot questions than it answered, which didn’t make sense if Lucas had written all 9 episodes all in advance, if that were true then we would have seen Yoda and Obi Wan visiting the trade federation, Yoda as the Master and Obi Wan as the padowan (I’m sorry about the long run on sentence, but when you’re passionate about something, it can’t be avoided). After Episode 3, the word was that the story was now finished. That was it for Star Wars movies. So much for this mysterious sequel trilogy.
Then the Rebel Alliance and its heroes got bought up by a different empire. This one had big round ears. Disney came in and bought Lucas Films, including Star Wars, and the rumor mill started right up again. Why would Disney buy the rights to Star Wars if they weren’t planning on doing something with it? We all hoped that maybe a third trilogy might be in the works, and Disney did not keep us waiting long. One of the biggest stories associated with it at first was who was going to write the script for the new movie, which meant it was not already written, which also means maybe the dialogue might be slightly better. But now, Episode VII is not a rumor. It’s happening. There has been a lot of talk about what we should expect from this movie. A lot of discussion about what the story will be about and who the bad guys will be and so on. Will Luke turn to the dark side? (I hear they have cookies. Smart move, Luke) Will Han and Leia be married with children? (Great idea for a sitcom, BTW) Is Chewie now forced to sleep in the dog house? Are C3PO and R2D2 still together? These are the burning questions.
I don’t care about any of them. Not in the slightest. I don’t care what the story is, as long as it doesn’t stink. I don’t care what characters are in the film. I’m not looking for any of that. Let me tell you what I am looking for in Star Wars 7. It’s just one thing. One thing, that doesn’t really have a name so I am going to need about 500 more words to describe it, because that one thing is a feeling.
I was born in 1982. Return of the Jedi came out in 1985. Technically, that means I was alive when it came out, but chances are I either A. didn’t see it in the theaters, or B. wouldn’t remember if I had. I am officially on the older end of what I like to call the VHS generation. This is the generation of kids who never saw Star Wars on the big screen, but consumed it constantly on VHS. To the point that I wore the tape out. That was no good, because that happened when the videos were not available to buy in stores, so we had to wait until it came on TV and record it to a blank tape. Then, as I was in Jr. High, the trilogy came out on VHS, digitally remastered in THX. This is the most perfect version of Star Wars that exists to own on home video. The sound was remastered so it sounded great, but it was the last version that wasn’t the “Special Edition.” The year this came out, it was the only thing I wanted for Christmas. I told everybody I only wanted one thing. That was it. And I got it, and my life was complete. No more bad recordings, this was it. I think my parents still have that version at their house. I have been tempted to steal it and take to Wal-Mart and have them convert it to DVD. Let my kids grow up with the “Han Shot First” version. But, I digress. I never had the opportunity to see a Star Wars movie for the first time in the theater. Huge screen, loud sound, crowded house filled with other Star Wars geeks just like me. I tried to capture that feeling when the Special Edition was released in theaters, but it wasn’t the same as experiencing the story for the first time that way.
When Phantom Menace came out, I thought it would be my opportunity to finally experience it. That feeling, and to a certain extent, I did. It almost felt that way. It was the same music, some of the same characters, the same light sabers. It was almost right, but not quite. Episode I was a snore, and it all looked too “new.” This was supposed to be before A New Hope, yet everything looked newer and nicer. Plus, CGI. Everything was CGI. No more shooting on location or scale models. Computers were the future now, and didn’t look better? No! It looked like it was made in some computer world, and it didn’t feel real, like Star Wars should. By the time Episode III came out, I went to the theater with zero expectation to ever get the feeling of seeing a Star Wars movie in the theater. I just didn’t want it to suck. It sucked less than the other prequel movies.
What I am looking for in this Episode VII is that Star Wars feeling. I want the scale models and the on site filming and the real special effects. No more computer stuff, or at least a minimal amount. It sounds like our friend JJ is delivering on some of that. There are supposedly scale and life-size models of ships and other things, plus muppet like creatures and people in costumes and so on. If all of that is true, then it is on the right path, and maybe just maybe I will finally get to experience that Star Wars feeling. Just try to keep the lens flares to a minimum.