Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sci-Fi Yard Sale!

Appropriately timed as ever with FantaSci just around the corner, the annual Sci-Fi Yard Sale held by local fandom is this Saturday. If you're looking for a fun activity this Memorial Day weekend look no further. There will be lots of cool genre wares on display, and better still the opportunity to meet and greet others in the local fan community! So after you wake up on Saturday morning following the late night fun of our Oz Fantasmo, you can roll on over to the BIG sale : )

The event this year will be held at 4844 Linshaw Lane in the Haygood/Aragona Village area of Virginia Beach (near Pembroke Mall). For more information you can call Liz at 499-2359. The rain date (although things are looking pretty sunny right now) will be 5/30. The event will last from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Shop long and prosper!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dolph Blinds Us With Science



I may have mentioned this in one of my earlier posts about the coolness of Dolph Lundgren, but he also holds a Master's degree in chemical engineering (or something to that effect). Lo and behold I came across this bit of fun in which Dolph's scientific genius is put to the test on live television. Would love to see him play a scientist in a film, but I'll settle for his upcoming Command Performance and The Expendables, both of which look amazing!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

FANTASCI RETURNS!


Hey Superfans!

It’s my great pleasure to announce that FantaSci, the sci-fi/fantasy convention I ran here at Central Library for 5 years is returning home after a bit of a hiatus. Those of you have followed the saga may recall that the event moved offsite for a year (thanks to the heroic efforts of former guests who took on the challenge of planning it at a new locale) due to space issues. Well the library has undergone quite a few physical changes over the past year that have freed up building space, so FantaSci is back at the library once again! The event will be a daylong extravaganza featuring anime & manga, an alley of artists, toys & games, workshops and panels, special guests, and dealers in collectibles. I can safely say that the number of programs and guests we have lined up will make this the biggest FantaSci yet!

The event will be here at the library on Saturday, June 6th, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The library will close at 5:00 p.m., but the fun won’t be quite over. Your Team Fantasmo will reopen for business at 7:30 p.m. for a cultastic sci-fi double-feature! Here is your official FantaSci 2009 schedule of events:

9:00 a.m. – Library opens!

10:00 a.m. – Writing Ghostly Non-Fiction
Presented by: Pamela Kinney & Theresa Bane


11:15 a.m. – Iron Author Quick Write Workshop: FantaSci Edition
Presented by: Tony Ruggiero

12:30 p.m. – Costume Contest

12:45 p.m. – Digital Dreams: Painting with Photoshop
Presented by: Brian Bridgeforth


1:45 p.m. – Order #66: The Fall of the Jedis
Presented by: Tidewater Alliance

2:00 p.m. – New Trek Vs. Old Trek: Clever Reboot of Kobayashi Maru
Presented by: Starfleet Atlantic

3:00 p.m. – Independent Film Premiere: Taste the Blood of Frankenstein
Followed by Panel Discussion with Director Eric Miller

3:15 p.m. – Intro to the Stargate Universe
Presented by: Stargate SG-9


5:00 Library Closes

7:30 p.m. – Library Reopens for Fantasmo!

Films:

8:00 p.m. – Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (PG-13)

9:45 p.m. – Highlander (Rated R)

So there you have it Superfans, the return of FantaSci! I’d also like to send out a special thanks to Brian and Marie Bridgeforth who have developed a terrific Web site devoted to the program this year, and for creating the cool art you see above! Also I must mention Craig T. Adams and Debra Burrell of Fuzz & Stuffing Puppets (and the Doctor Madblood Show) who have been die hard supporters of Fantasmo/FantaSci since their beginnings! See you for the fun on the 6th!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fantasmo Special Edition: Wild Oz Film Festival

Hey Superfans!
Those of you who made it to our musical horror edition this month have already heard the exciting news, but for those of you who haven't brace yoursevles . . . there will be a special edition of Fantasmo this month focused on films that riff on The Wizard of Oz! Why are we doing this you may ask? Simple. The Broadway sensation Wicked is coming to town, and better still its creator Gregory Maguire will be at Chesapeake Central Library on May 28th @ 7:00 p.m.! Since Wicked is a wild take on the Oz story, your Team Fantasmo thought it only fitting that we provide a special Fantasmo to celebrate this momentous visit : )

While we're all familiar with the classic MGM film, there have been a host of Oz films over the years. These include everything from Chevy Chase (Under the Rainbow) to David Lynch (Wild At Heart). For this very special Fantasmo, we've picked a couple that are personal favorites. First off we'll be showing the 70's version of Oz, Sidney Lumet's The Wiz. This features an all-star cast including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, and Nipsey Russell (yes!). It's sort of Motown meets Oz, and the music is nothing short of awesome. Second up is the mid-80's Oz sequel Return to Oz. Starring Fairuza Balk (The Craft) and Nicol Willilamson (Venom), this film bombed because it took a decidedly darker spin on Baum's material (which is actually closer to the original story). Dorothy goes to a mental institution, the yellow brick road is destroyed, headless villains appear, and then there's The Wheelers (which you'll just have to find out about yourself). Great stuff! So without any further ado here are your full Wild Oz details:

When: Friday, May 22 @ 8:00 p.m.

Where: Chesapeake Central Library, Chesapeake, VA, 23322

Films:

8:00 p.m.: The Wiz (1978) - Rated G

10:30 p.m.: Return to Oz (1985) - Rated PG

There you have it Superfans, another perfect lineup! So strap on your ruby slippers and get ready to take a delirious trip down the yellow brick road, witnessing these cultastic takes on Oz on our wickedly huge screen . . . the way they were meant to be seen! See you there!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek (2009)

I saw my first “big summer movie” this afternoon in the form of the Star Trek reboot, and despite some reservations going in thoroughly enjoyed it. Honestly I hadn’t planned on trekking out to the movie (couldn’t resist), but it opened at the historic Commodore Theatre in Portsmouth and I’m always looking for an excuse to see movies there. Being a little curious about what J. J. Abrams would do with the franchise, it was reason enough to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon on the 2-hour mission to explore what looked like a lackluster new world . . . I was wrong. For the most part the bulk of the critical and fan community called it, and this one is a winner. From the effects, to story twists, to the characters, everything comes together nicely for the most part, making for an enjoyable Trek entry (even if it may not qualify as a classic).

First off let’s get this out of the way – I am not a die hard Trekkie (or Trekker if you prefer). I LOVE the original series. I grew up with Captain Kirk as my hero. Yes there was also Superman and Luke Skywalker/Han Solo, but Kirk was always number one (and I got a kick out of the fact we shared the same name). I was obsessed with it the way most grade school kids were in my day, had the toys, etc. As I grew older I still loved it, but I never got into the minutiae or delved into fandom proper. I simply enjoyed the shows, characters, and adventurous spirit. When the Next Generation came along I watched it now and then, and the later ones not much at all. Those just didn’t have that wild spirit, or the warmth of the character interactions in the original. So I didn’t stay connected to the continuity.

With this in mind, the only baggage I had walking into this thing was that I cared whether they got the spirit of the thing right, and that they didn’t trash the good aspects of the characters. I wasn’t obsessed with continuity details or history. I just wanted to see the central three treated with respect, and be provided with a rousing intro adventure. Mission accomplished! Quinto and Urban nail Spock and McCoy (the latter being downright stunning), and Chris Pine is terrific as Kirk. Is he Shatner? No. But let’s face it that would be a tall order for anyone. Instead he makes this Kirk his own. He still is recognizable as Kirk, but not a pantomime. A wise choice if you ask me. And I must confess, having seen the commercials Pine was my greatest concern. The previews mostly worked, but I thought he came off not so well. Those don’t do him justice, and he did a fine job all around. Furthermore, the chemistry between the central three was solid with room to grow, a factor that is critical to this relaunched franchise working down the road.

Another aspect of the film (ahead there be spoilers) that worked for me was the time travel gimmick. Without going into heavy details, the film involves time travel intervention that basically resets the entire continuity of the series. I had heard about this and groaned, but the way Abrams does it is brilliant in my opinion. Whether it is scientifically accurate I will let you decide, but honestly I don’t care as it means Kirk doesn’t have to have a lame death in Generations by sledding down the side of a mountain on a bridge. If the film accomplished nothing more than that it would be okay in my book. As it stands it does much more. It even has a wonderful role for Leonard Nimoy that should please fans. What could have been a shameless cameo is actually a rather interesting plot thread, and it is great to see Nimoy being used properly rather than given an empty walk-on moment.

What doesn’t work you might ask? Well there are a few things, but mostly they are just minor (in my opinion) details. The inclusion of a Beastie Boys song (which I happen to like, but is woefully out of place here), Simon Pegg’s alien sidekick, the Spock/Uhura relationship, the absence of the classic Enterprise design, etc. These seem like things Abrams thought would be cool, but they just are out of place in an otherwise solid film. That said they are not significant or numerous enough to derail the train. The other thing that is a little weak is the villain Nero played by Eric Bana. He never connects as a great villain, but I can excuse that as the purpose of this film is more to introduce the origins of the characters. Bana is just an excuse to get the ball rolling. Hopefully future entries will give us the likes of Khan, and a bit more in the way of great drama.

Perhaps what’s most interesting of all to me is that Abrams went out of his way to say that this film wasn’t for purists. That is certainly true as it must be, but neither is it a completely accessible by-the-numbers blockbuster. While a newbie is provided with enough quick sketches to understand what is going on, one is far better off knowing a bit of the background of the original series before seeing the film. I read that this has been a barrier to the previous films doing well overseas. To me Abrams didn’t do much in the way of correcting this, and in my mind that’s to his credit. The last thing I would want is something that labored through explaining endless details we have already been presented with over the past 40 years. Abrams gets things out of the way fast (e.g. Vulcan logic), and moves on to the new items we are all interested in (e.g. how Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru test).

No doubt there will be plenty of folks who aren’t too pleased with this incarnation of the original Trek. I was as ready as anyone to dismiss this film as an empty Hollywood popcorn affair, but it mostly delivers the goods. Yes there are some goofy details I could have done without, but the spirit of the enterprise (again couldn’t resist) is spot on. I am looking forward to seeing the next entry focused on the exploration/hopeful spirit that made the original shine, and continuing to place a priority on the character interactions which were a key to Star Trek’s longevity. Pine and company will never be “my crew,” but they did a fine job of establishing themselves as the cast of a new era.