Leonard Nimoy, March 26, 1931 — February 27, 2015

Friday, February 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Leonard Nimoy Dead-smallLeonard Nimoy, the gifted actor who breathed life into the emotionless Vulcan Spock — and in the process created one of the most famous and enduring TV characters of all time — died today in Bel Air, California.

Nimoy was born in Boston in 1931. His first major role was at the age of 21, when he was cast in the title role of the film Kid Monk Baroni (1952), followed by more than 50 small parts in TV shows and B movies, including an Army sergeant in Them! (1954) and a professor in The Brain Eaters (1958). He was a familiar face in westerns throughout the early sixties, appearing in Bonanza (1960), The Rebel (1960), Two Faces West (1961), Rawhide (1961), Gunsmoke (1962), and on NBC’s Wagon Train four times. He starred alongside DeForest Kelley (the future Dr. McKoy) in The Virginian (1963), and with William Shatner in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E (1964).

Nimoy was the only actor to appear in every episode of the original Star Trek series, which ran from 1966-69. He received three Emmy Award nominations for playing Spock, and TV Guide named him one of the 50 greatest TV characters in 2009. The role both haunted him and enriched for the rest of his life — which he famously addressed in two autobiographies, I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995). After Star Trek ended Nimoy found regular work on the small screen in Mission: Impossible for two seasons, the TV documentary In Search of… , and more recently in Fringe. He also appeared in eight feature-length Star Trek films, including the recent reboots directed by J.J. Abrams. He directed two, Star Trek III: Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Star Trek was one of the first science fiction shows to be taken seriously as adult entertainment, and Leonard Nimoy was a huge part of that success. In his near-perfect portrayal of a hero in flawless control of his emotions, Nimoy connected with his audience — and an entire generation of young SF fans — in a way that very few actors, living or dead, have succeeded in doing. Leonard Nimoy died today of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, at the age of 83.


Belated Movie Review #2: Apocalypto

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Adrian Simmons

Apocalypto-smallI recall that 10,000 BC (Belated Movie Review #1) and Apocalypto came out at roughly the same time. My recall is wrong! Apocaltypto is from ’06 — a full two years earlier than 10KBC!

Still, it was a stone-age adventure movie and has been on my list to see for almost a decade, so I finally did. Like 10KBC, I’m going to RECOMMEND it. Conditionally, as you’ll see below.

A lot of work went into this — cast of thousands! Build an entire Mayan city/prop in the jungle! Translate “I wanna dip my balls in it!” into Mayan! What it is NOT, outside of the first 15 minutes, is particularly fun or pleasant or uplifting. Leaves you kind of feeling like you just watched Leaving Las Vegas, only with more ripping out of still-beating hearts.

The plot is very similar to 10KBC. A group of hunter gatherers in forest are going about their lives, hunting, gathering. A group of slavers from the nearby city-state sweep into the village in a pre-dawn raid. Grizzly fighting ensues, with the hunter gatherers on the losing side.

Things get much grimmer as the slaves are marched off to the city, through the city, and right up to the pyramid in the middle. Still-beating hearts and decapitations and Jaguar Paw (the main character, although it takes a while to figure this out) is next on the block (literally) when an eclipse starts up.

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Will Steven Spielberg Cast Chris Pratt in the Indiana Jones Reboot?

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Chris Pratt-smallThe internet is abuzz with rumors that director Steven Spielberg is considering Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt as his next Indiana Jones.

Deadline broke the news last month that Spielberg was interested in Pratt for the Indiana Jones reboot currently in development at Disney; yesterday Deadline expanded on the story, and it was quickly picked up by Forbes, People, io9, and other media sites.

Officially, there is no comment from the famed director, other than to confirm that there is still no script and the project is still in a very early stage. Based on Pratt’s recent popularity — and that fact that he was reportedly Spielberg’s first choice for the hunter role in Jurassic World, the newest installment in the Jurassic Park franchise from Universal coming in June — he seems a logical enough choice, however.

In addition to Jurassic World, Pratt is also scheduled to appear in the upcoming Image comic adaption Cowboy, Ninja, Viking from Universal. He’s also reportedly in talks to join Denzel Washington in a remake of The Magnificent Seven from MGM.

I wasn’t even aware there was a planned reboot of Indiana Jones (or a The Magnificent Seven remake, while we’re on the topic.) After having seen what Pratt accomplished in The Lego Movie and Guardians though, I’m on board. I think he’d make an excellent choice — particularly if Spielberg directs.


Writers as Barbarian Conquerors!

Friday, February 20th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

This is possibly the most brilliant way to think about writing ever. I can’t believe I’m just thinking about it now, and certainly won’t have to beat the metaphor into shape. Well, maybe a bit. But, who the heck cares. You can now view your writing as a freaking barbarian invasion! Like I said: brilliant.

BattlePlan_small

Barbarians don’t post plans on the Internet, so I interviewed one and drew this. You’re welcome.

PLANNING THE BATTLE

Like any good invading army, you must first plan which of your troops are going where. It’s known as “plotting” in the writing world. It doesn’t need to be super detailed, but you should know the attack plan of your knights (aka hero) and archers (aka secondary characters. Sorry, Hawkeye). Plus, you should know a bit about your enemy’s defenses (aka villain).

Build up enthusiasm in your barbarian army with awesome speeches (aka writing down cool scenes).

FIRST WAVE OF ATTACK!

This is where you plunge in and WRITE! KILL! DESTROY! Your armies are in place. Your knights are totally rocking it! Your archers are shooting those little wooden arrows like they can’t run out AND THEY DON’T BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BOOK!

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Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar in Development as a TV series

Friday, February 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Dreadstar 3-smallJim Starlin, who has seen several of his most famous comic creations transition to the big screen, has reportedly signed a deal to bring his long-running space opera Dreadstar to television.

Jim Starlin is famous in comic circles as the creator of Thanos, the villain of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films, as well as Drax the Destroyer and Gamora, two members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. His run on Captain Marvel, which introduced Thanos and his quest to end all life to prove his love for Death, was a high-water mark for superhero comics of the 1970s, and elements from his Infinity Gauntlet storyline have become the unifying storyline for Phase II of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In 1980 Stalin introduced a new character, Vanth Dreadstar, in Epic Illustrated #3. Dreadstar’s early adventures were eventually collected in Metamorphosis Odyssey, a grim far future tale of a desperate battle against the Zygoteans, who conquer and enslave virtually all life in the Milky Way. Metamorphosis Odyssey ended with Dreadstar and his companions destroying the entire galaxy, rather than have it fall into the hands of the Zygoteans (I told you it was grim).

No one really dies in comics though, and Dreadstar eventually returned in Dreadstar #1, one of the flagship titles of Marvel’s new Epic comic line, in 1982. Epic published 26 issues before Dreadstar switched publishers to First Comics. Starlin wrote and drew all the issues until he left with issue 41 (March 1989), and Peter David took over writing chores. Dreadstar lasted a total of 64 issues.

Dreadstar had a very different feel to Metamorphosis Odyssey. Whereas the latter is considered an allegory, Dreadstar is straight-up space opera. Set a million years after the destruction of the Milky Way, and halfway across the universe, it follows the adventures of Vanth Dreadstar and his crew of gifted oddballs, including the powerful sorcerer Syzygy Darklock and the wise-cracking Skeevo, as they get caught up in a galaxy-spanning conflict between the Monarchy and the tyrannical Church of the Instrumentality. Dreadstar was closer in spirit to Star Wars than anything else, with desperate battles, betrayals, robots, and ancient and mystical powers influencing events at critical moments.

Variety reports that Universal Cable Productions and Benderspink will develop the series, with Starlin serving as executive producer and writer. No word on a release date yet. See the complete article here.


Goth Chick News: The New Poltergeist Clown – Oh Hell No

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Poltergeist then and now

Poltergeist then and now

Poltergeist might have been the first time I was ever truly scared by a movie.

Of course I grew up on a solid diet of Universal Studios movie monsters along with an array of black and white horrors from Hammer shown on late-night TV. But in all of those, no matter how high the creep factor, it was fairly clear that these stories depicted reel reality, not real reality.

But then along came little Carol Anne Freeling and her off-air television.

Suddenly, all “real” scary stuff was up there on the screen; the craggy dead tree knocking against your bedroom window, lightning storms looming ever closer, the half-open closet door…

And the clown… under the bed.

I mean come on, Vincent Price as The Fly was enough to make you watch at least part of it through splayed fingers, but deep down you knew a fly with a human head was pretty darn unlikely.

But an evil clown under your bed? Entirely plausible.

To this day, even as low-tech as it now appears, Poltergeist still gives me a shudder. It knew what scared us alright.

So it is with some trepidation that I remind you that a reboot of Tobe Hopper’s original fright fest is due to hit theaters on July 24th, in 3D no less.

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Star Trek Kickstarter Warps Ahead

Thursday, February 12th, 2015 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

When I first reported on the trek continues crewStar Trek Continues Kickstarter a few weeks ago it was newly born. This morning it’s just reached its first stretch goal, which means that not only will there be two more episodes, but the people who devote their time and energy to creating this will be building us an engineering set as well!

If this is your first time hearing about the series, follow the link above to find a wonderful take on Star Trek that may be the closest we’ll ever get to seeing new original episodes of the quality of the best of the original series.

Here’s what I said about the second episode, “Lolani,” on this very web site, although it holds true for all three of the episodes made thus far: ”… it feels like a lost episode. It’s not just the sets and the effects, which are truly astonishing in their faithfulness, it’s the pacing, and the music cues, and the fadeouts, and the story beats, and the writing — and the actors. These people understand who the original characters were and inhabit them — and I swear that this script could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest entries in the original run.”

trek scottyThe staff and crew aren’t getting paid for their work:iIt’s a labor of love done in their free time. Hours and hours and hours of their free time.

I hope you’ll join me in swinging by to donate money to their new Kickstarter, which you can find here. Now that they’ve hit their first stretch goal I’m hoping in the final four days of fund raising they can get enough capital to construct a planet set so they can beam down to visit strange new worlds!

If you’re skeptical about the sound of any of this, I invite you to visit the site and try out these three fine existing episodes for yourself. If you’re a fan of the original show, you’re likely to be astonished.

Live long, and prosper.


Marvel Team Up: Spider-Man to Appear in Captain America: Civil War?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Marvel Civil War-smallWhen unidentified hackers released a host of embarrassing Sony Pictures internal e-mails last year, one of the things they revealed was that Sony, who owns the film rights to Spider-Man, had unsuccessfully negotiated with Marvel Studios, producers of Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers, on a possible Spider-Man/Avengers crossover. Just the possibility was tantalizing to Marvel fans, even if it looked like it hadn’t amounted to anything.

Now Marvel and Sony have announced that the crossover will occur after all. Both studios have confirmed that Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film, followed by a Spider-Man film to be released on July 28, 2017. While exact details have not been released, speculation is rampant that the likeliest candidate for the first project is the third Captain America film, Captain America: Civil War, based on the best-selling storyline that prominently featured Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Cap in its comic book incarnation back in 2006.

The announcement is bad news for fans of the Mark Webb-Andrew Garfield incarnation of Spider-Man, however, as BuzzFeed has confirmed that Garfield will not be reprising the role of Spider-Man. That’s unfortunate, as I thought he did a fine job.

The announcement clearly took some major behind-the-scenes effort, as it has shuffled the release dates for Marvel Studios major projects, pushing back almost all of their upcoming films to make room for Sony Pictures’ third Spider-Man picture. The release date for Thor: Ragnarok has been moved from July 28, 2017, to Nov. 3, 2017; Black Panther has been re-scheduled for July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel to Nov. 2, 2018, and Inhumans to July 12, 2019. The three announced Avengers films, Avengers Age of Ulton and Infinity War Part 1 and Part 2, are still scheduled to open on May 1, 2015, May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019, respectively. Sony Pictures is also moving forward with their previous plans for Spider-Man spin-off films featuring the Sinister Six and Venom, although those release dates will likely be impacted as well.

Read the complete details at Marvel’s website.


The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Massey’s ‘The Speckled Band’

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Massey_IntroI’ve posted about the stage play that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, based on his Holmes short story, “The Speckled Band.” In 1931, it was brought to the screen (though it had been filmed a few times before), with Canadian actor Raymond Massey in his first credited role.

Band was only the third Holmes “talkie,” following Clive Brook’s The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) and Arthur Wontner’s The Sleeping Cardinal (also 1931).

The film incorporates several of the play’s variations, including the name changes (Roylott to Rylott; Julia to Violet), the inquest, adding an Indian manservant, etc. One significant change from the original story is that Watson is a friend of the girl’s dead mother and is the one who brings the case to Holmes. This gives Athole (yep: that’s really his first name) Stewart’s Watson a meatier part in the story.

Stewart plays a more Doyle-like Watson, as compared to Ian Fleming, who played a doofus Doctor in Wontner’s Cardinal: the type of portrayal that, sadly, would be all to common in the coming decades. It’s nice to see a black and white era Watson who wasn’t there for comic relief.

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Belated Movie Review #1: 10,000 B.C.

Sunday, February 1st, 2015 | Posted by Adrian Simmons

10,000 BC poster-smallI was interested in 10,000 BC (10KBC) when it first came out, but somehow never got around to seeing it. Finally rented it. I am going to RECOMMEND it — with the caveat that if you go in with an understanding that this is a pulp fantasy lost-world adventure.

As we all surely know, some movies are good, some are bad, and some are okay but hampered by their advertising campaign (or lack thereof, in the case of John Carter). 10KBC fits in the latter category. Here’s the thing. If you’re going in anticipating something kinda historically accurate, like say Quest for Fire*, you’ll be disappointed.

Framing is what this movie needed! It needed to start with a couple of archeologists unearthing a golden pyramid topper and their elation being clouded by the fact that it is 5,000 years older than the oldest pyramid. Dum dum duuum! Or, alternately, a 1940s guy pacing in his room next to a typewriter, wracking his brain for ideas — baby needs a new pair of shoes and all that — taking a big drink of something brown and boozy then snapping his fingers. “Ice Age Atlantean adventure!” he shouts, then starts typing.

Did I mention the Atlantean influence? See, that’s what the ads should have communicated. Once you realize that the there is an Atlantean lost-world/we-are-the-gods tie-in, all is good! It’s as if you’ve had something brown and boozy, and can thus forgive a lot in a movie. Had I been in charge of the movie, much less its advertising, I would have mentioned it waaaay earlier.

Anyway, if you want your stone-age adventures (and at HFQ we most certainly do as, exemplified by Last Free Bear and Living Totem), then 10K BC is for you!

* Yes, I realize that “Quest for Fire” isn’t actually that historically accurate.


Adrian Simmons is an editor for Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. His last article for us was Frodo Baggins, Lady Galadriel, and the Games of the Mighty. See more of his thoughts as the HFQ Facebook page.


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