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The 250, This Just In, Episode #13 – Spider-Man: Homecoming (#–)

Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney host This Just In, a subset of the fortnightly The 250 podcast looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming.

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Non-Review Review: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story feels torn between two extremes.

On one extreme, it is an epic war movie about a universe that is caught in turmoil. Through the lens of science-fantasy, Rogue One can tease out all manner of interesting ideas about the conflict at the heart of the Star Wars franchise. What does an interstellar war look like in the early years of the twenty-first century? What is the view of this epic confrontation from outside the cockpit of an X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon? There are points at which Rogue One almost plays as a war film that just happens to be set within the Star Wars universe.

Too TIE-d to continuity?

Too TIE-d to continuity?

On the other extreme, Rogue One often feels like a collection of deleted scenes intended to bridge Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith to Star Wars: Episode VI – A New Hope. The basic premise of the film involves the theft of the Death Star plans that propel the plot of A New Hope, which should be enough to connect it to the parent franchise. Instead, the film is saturated with cameos and callbacks. While it makes sense for a number of minor characters to overlap, Rogue One contorts to include two of the franchise’s biggest characters.

So Rogue One is trapped between being an exciting and exhilarating glimpse of an existing franchise from a new perspective, and feeling just a little bit too much like fan fiction. It is no surprise that the former is much more interesting than the latter.

Watered down?

Watered down?

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Millennium (IDW) #1-5 (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the more interesting aspects of IDW holding the X-Files license has been watching the company try to franchise the brand.

During the production of the show, Chris Carter was notably wary of stretching the show’s brand. He turned down lucrative branding opportunities because he didn’t want to see his show attached to “doo-dads” and “gee-haws.” It was an understandable impulse. When Fox approached Carter to launch a new show during the third season of The X-Files, he did not build a spin-off in the conventional sense. He did not launch The X-Files: Miami or The X-Files: New Orleans, although Fox might have wanted something like that.

Time goes by so slowly... And time can do so much...

Time goes by so slowly…
And time can do so much…

When Carter launched Millennium, he was adamant that it should stand on its own two feet. Carter wanted the show “to succeed on its own terms, rather than on some kind of gimmick.” There were a few sly nods in episodes like Lamentation, but it mostly stood on its own two feet. Glen Morgan and James Wong got a little bit more adventurous in the second season, with Jose Chung’s “Doomsday Defense” and The Time is Now offering clear crossover of supporting cast. However, Frank Black would not meet Mulder and Scully until Millennium, after his show was cancelled.

To be fair to Carter, there is a sense that the later mellowed when it came to the concept of a broader shared universe. During the third season of Millennium, Carter acknowledged that he had been throwing around ideas for a crossover between The X-Files and Millennium. Although his short-lived Harsh Realm never directly crossed over with any of his other work, it is possible that the series was cancelled before Carter had the opportunity; he has talked about having plans to bring Mulder and Scully into Harsh Realm.

Father of the year...

Father of the year…

Carter’s fourth television series, The Lone Gunmen, was by all accounts a fairly conventional spin-off of The X-Files. It focused on three characters who originated (and continued to guest star) on The X-Files. It featured a major guest appearance from Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner in The Lying Game. It featured a cameo from David Duchovny in All About Yves. It was perhaps the most conventional piece of franchise-building in the history of Ten Thirteen, with characters and concepts moving freely between shows.

However, it should also be noted that Carter was a lot less involved in the day-to-day running of The Lone Gunmen as compared to Millennium or Harsh Realm. Carter created the show, but the management of the series was left to the trio of Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban. Carter was only credited as writer on two of the show’s thirteen episodes, The Pilot and Three Men and a Smoking Diaper. It seems fair to say that Carter was an executive producer not particularly interested in building a shared universe as modern audiences understand it.

By Jordan!

By Jordan!

This is part of what is so intriguing about watching IDW trying to build a brand around their X-Files license. The company is very interested in turning the show into a much more tightly interwoven shared universe. Millennium is proof of that, a five-issue miniseries focusing on Frank Black that consciously builds off The X-Files to relaunch the cult nineties television series. In many ways, it represents a truer crossover between The X-Files and Millennium than that infamous seventh season episode.

Millennium is very much integrated into a shared Ten Thirteen universe.

We all have our demons.

We all have our demons.

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Is Avatar a Revisionist Take on Aliens?

I know this isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s one I’ve been mulling over quite a bit lately – especially since my aunt picked up the Alien Anthology on blu ray for Christmas. It’s been fairly frequently remarked, on-line and in-print that James Cameron’s Avatar bears remarkable similarities to his Aliens. However, it’s not the similarities that interest me, it’s the differences which reveal quite a bit. Most fascinating – at least to me – is the idea that Avatar represents an attempt to revise Cameron’s work on Aliens.

Killer queen...

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Post-Modern Prometheus: Ridley Scott’s Alien “Prequel” and Shared Universes…

So, what exactly is Ridley Scott’s upcoming Prometheus? The director was all set to make an Alien prequel a few months ago, but all the rumours coming out of the production seem to be throwing me for a loop – I’m not quite sure what to make of them. To quote Scott himself:

While Alien was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative. I couldn’t be more pleased to have found the singular tale I’d been searching for, and finally return to this genre that’s so close to my heart.

We’ll spot “strands of Alien’s DNA”, but it’s a “new, grand mythology”? I’m not quite sure what to expect of it. And that, to be honest, excites me quite a bit.

Great Scott!

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The Tommy Westphall Hypothesis

I’m a sucker for meta-fiction – the idea of storytelling outside the story. One of the more fascinating notions suggested by Marvel’s recent spate of movies is the notion that all the individual stories in Iron Man, Thor and Captain America will be tied together to be revealed to be part of a larger canvas (in this case, The Avengers in 2012). I love it when television and films are shown to occupy the same fictional reality (for example, the Star Trek franchise, spread across five television shows (possibly six) and eleven feature films). So it goes without saying that I adore The Tommy Westphall Hypothesis.

And I thought I had an active imagination! (Click to enlarge)

For those unfamiliar with the hypothesis, it basically states that most television takes place within the head of an eleven-year-old autistic boy.

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The Incredible Avengers…

The Avengers has gone form being the movie project I was most skeptical about to one of my most anticipated movies of the comic years. Indeed, the summer of 2011 is looking to be one for the books with a whole rake of massive cult and comic book films coming out – Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern and, should Gary Oldman be believed, Batman 3. However, the culmination of Marvel’s planning within the cinematic world will be the release of The Avengers in 2012. I’ve never been much of a Marvel fan, but I will concede that they have pulled off an amazing movie-making feat. They have created a fully-integrated film universe from a variety of disparate sources building to to a clear target.

Avengers Assemble...

Avengers Assemble...

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