I grew up a Star Trek fan. Star Wars wasn’t on my radar until I saw a Millennium Falcon toy at my friend’s house. I was intrigued, as it had none of the sleek lines and graceful architecture I saw in a Constitution or Galaxy-class vessel, but it didn’t stick. I then saw the movies, later on the USA network. I thought they were good, like nothing I had ever seen before, but it still didn’t stick. Then, my mom bought me Assault on Selonia, the second book in the Correllian Trilogy featuring the young Solo Children, Thrackan Sal-Solo, and Mara Jade, alongside all the film’s heroes. Leia had a lightsaber. This was a world that entranced and fascinated me, and since I had read the middle book, I, of course, went to find the first and third, and thus it stuck: I was a Star Wars fan.
My immediate family is made up of introverts and geeks, but somehow I never was fully exposed to Star Wars (or Star Trek for that matter) as a child. I occasionally saw bits and pieces at friends’ houses, but it never grabbed my young imagination. (Frankly, I was convinced it was a very long, very dull movie.) As I grew older, I simply dismissed the original trilogy as something "not for me: . . . until Star Wars: A New Hope was re-released in theaters in 1997.
Decades after the release of Ridley Scott’s legendary space horror film, Alien, the lone survivor of the commercial towing vessel Nostromo, Ellen Ripley (and her portrayal by the enormous talented actress Sigourney Weaver), continues to powerfully influence the depiction of women in the science fiction genre. Easily ranking as one of the most iconic and well-developed cinematic heroes of our time, Ripley’s endurance as a pop culture figure and feminist symbol stems from the grace and depth of the four ambitious films the character appeared in and continues to impact today’s genre heroines, be it on the silver screen, television, video games, or a multitude of other mediums.
Early cinema fair often turned to literature for inspiration and source material. The space horror genre is no different; its roots can be traced back to early 20th century science fiction writers such as H.G. Wells (The War of the Worlds, 1898) and Robert Potter (The Germ Growers, 1892), featuring alien invasion storylines. As films grew in popularity, filmmakers were looking past the reality shorts that defined the medium, realizing that this new format could be used to tell stories that entertained.
I’ve always wanted to travel in space. I’m talking serious interstellar travel to destinations at the far reaches of our universe. This desire is fueled by a completely unrealistic expectation that these journeys would be filled with Hubble photo gallery vistas or at least have the feel of the Star Trek: The Next Generation opening title sequence.
While the financial success of The Hunger Games franchise, as well as its undeniable cultural impact across the globe, has it made it a hit with readers and movie-goers everywhere, many of my fellow peers in Geekdom still seem hesitant to embrace the series for the important, powerful, and well-crafted sci-fi epic it truly is. Featuring a captivating and relatable heroine, a complex and fascinating post-apocalyptic society, and an undeniably powerful message regarding where we are now, as a people, and where the future, and our own actions, may take us, The Hunger Games novels and films are exactly the type of intelligent and engaging material sci-fi fan and self-described geeks regularly seek out. Yet, much like Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer before it, The Hunger Games has suffered from the prejudices of those who have little to no knowledge of the series and view it as something it is most certainly not: a poorly written, ultra-soapy YA romance resembling Twilight with bows and arrows.
I have never been a Bond fan. Sure, I knew who 007 was, had heard the famous introduction “Bond, James Bond,” and could ID Tom Collins’ and Angel’s lines in Rent as referencing the famous spy (although Pussy Galore never wore anything resembling Angel’s costume!), but since I had fallen asleep every time I tried to watch GoldenEye (three separate occasions; Disney’s White Fang also shares this dubious honor), I wasn’t putting the films on my must-watch list. Then, a few months ago, a new friend convinced me to give the classic films a try. Instead of watching just any Bond film, I needed to see some of the iconic ones that brought the franchise to life. Working with him and another friend who is a female Bond fan, we worked together to pick some of the good Connery and Moore-era films to see if my opinion could be swayed at least a little.
Given the recent splurge of YA fiction properties (and, more specifically, dystopian YA fiction properties) in both bookstores and cinemas, it’s easy to understand how even a dedicated geek and proud Whedonite could dismiss Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series as just another part of the latest pop culture trend. As a life-long geek and hard-core Whedon fan since Buffy: Season One, I wish to stress that Collins’ unflinching and imaginative novels are closer to Orwell’s powerful 1984 than Meyer’s sparkle-infested Twilight books, and Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen is following in the footsteps of everyone’s favorite blonde vampire slayer in more ways than one!
After Sundance 2014, I was ready to discuss my favorite films I had the pleasure of seeing and share my overall views on the festival, like usual. As my time in Park City, Utah, drew to a close, I’d begun compiling a list of movies I wanted to recommend to our FBC community. It all seemed pretty straightforward.
Shortly thereafter, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away. My overall experience of the festival and the films I saw there, in particular the two he starred in (A Most Wanted Man and God’s Pocket), films that I watched alongside him in the theater, has now changed considerably.