The Book of Dust: The Lyra We’ve Been Waiting For?

the-book-of-dust-volume-1-finalOver twenty years after the release of the first His Dark Materials novel, Philip Pullman is delivering a companion series. The Book of Dust will hopefully be the trilogy fans have been waiting for. Pullman promises that with Dust we’ll catch up with Lyra Silvertongue, the protagonist from the first Materials book, now that she’s a young adult in her home world. But will it live up to the hype?

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How About No: Why a Firefly Reboot Is Probably a Terrible Idea

There was a bit of a splash last week when it was revealed that Fox might, finally, be interested in revisiting the Firefly property. The word used was “reboot”, not revival or renewal, but the company’s apparent make-or-break factor was that they would only revisit it if Joss Whedon was interested in coming back to run the whole deal. Presumably, eternally optimistic Browncoats everywhere raised a cheer of joy, their hope renewed. But should Firefly come back to the airwaves?

Frankly, I think that’s a terrible idea.

Well, to be clearer, it’s a terrible idea unless they address the various and sundry deeply problematic problems that the original series had. The issue I’m coming up against is this: I suspect that eliminating all of these problems would make a show that barely resembles the beloved-by-many original. The show suffered from a variety of racisms with a strong sexist undercurrent, and these were not so much vague issues as they were built into the worldbuilding of the show, deep down in the foundations. Let’s get digging, shall we?

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What Would Steve Rogers Do?

On December 20, 1940, Captain America #1 went on sale, and the world learned the name Steve Rogers. The United States was nearly a year away from declaring war on Nazi Germany, but famously, Steve Rogers debuted with a right hook to Hitler’s jaw.

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Despite the star-spangled costume and the hyper-patriotic code name, Steve never falls into the traps of American jingoism. He resiliently stands for the better angels of our nature, and for the highest ideals of the American experiment.

Last Friday night, a terrible crime was committed in Paris. As frightened citizens and visitors sought shelter, Parisians responded with the social media hashtag #PorteOuverte—open door—offering their homes to anyone who needed to get off the streets during that dark night. But an ocean away, twenty-six American governors gave in to the opposite urge, closing their doors to refugees fleeing the same evil.

In this world, in this America, Steve Rogers will return to theaters with Captain America: Civil Warstanding tall as a frightened world demands registration and monitoring of super heroes. And as cowardice and bigotry threaten fundamental American values, it’s time again to turn to the Star-Spangled Man.

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Final Fantasy: Returning to First Grade With Its “Girls Have Cooties” Mentality

All people who play video games must make a choice: there’s no possible way we can invest ourselves in every game franchise that hits the market, so we pick a certain set of titles to get into, to watch more closely than others. I think I’ve gotten the biggest response from people, however, when I tell them which series I never got into. Yes, people seem strangely shocked that I really could not care less about the Final Fantasy series. The games are okay, and I understand why people like them, but I don’t exactly give a shit when a new one is announced. As such, when people began relaying news of Final Fantasy XV and how it played, it didn’t catch my attention as much as, say, news on the new Tales of game. Still, these new forays into the Final Fantasy series have been garnering attention on a level I can’t just blissfully ignore. No, there’s some bullshit going on that’s indicative of the societal standard in gaming that only serves to cater to the boy’s club mentality.

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Always a New Musical

It seems that there is always a new musical.

That is, it seems that there is always a new musical based off of some existing property, where the source is often a non-musical entity. I am a lover of theatre from a young age, taking in my first professional theatre shows as a child of seven years. I’ve been seeing Broadway shows since the single digits, and yet, I find myself pulled in two different directions by musical theatre. There are some shows that I’m unreasonably fond of, like In the Heights, Tim Rice’s Aida, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812Wicked, The Scotsboro Boys, and Spring Awakening. In fact, there’s a good list of the best recent musicals over on Buzzfeed (I deem it good because it includes almost all my favorites).

But there is many a musical that is just bad because it attempts to cover a weak or hackneyed story with music and spectacle. Now, certainly this is doable; it’s possible to include enough high notes and bright lights to distract most audience members from the fact that your show is garbage. Musical theatre however, really requires more, not less. An emphasis on spectacle over content can really be the death of a show, like Spider-Man, where other musicals that are just plain bad, like Leap of FaithThat’s not to say that the success or failure of a show is necessarily tied to its goodness or badness.

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Theatre Thursdays: The Last Five Years Film Ready for Release

The Last Five Years Movie PosterJason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years never had a particularly long run in its off-Broadway productions, but it has proven immensely popular through the years. The story is simple: a young couple meets, marries, and divorces, but there’s a small twist that makes the show unique. The characters, Cathy and Jamie, each tell the story of their relationship in episodes. While Jamie’s go from start to finish, Cathy’s begin at the relationship’s demise and go back in time to their first meeting.

A movie adaptation of the musical was announced in early 2013, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan; however, with the exception of releasing the poster, there was almost no news concerning the production. Few photos were released, no premiere date was announced, and I started to question whether the movie was still on track. Happily, the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this month and is scheduled for commercial release Valentine’s Day, 2015.

With the movie finally ready to be released, I have begun doing what every fan does when a book/TV show/play is announced for a film adaptation: wondering how the magic of the original will translate to the big screen. There are a lot of aspects of the musical which make it difficult for a film adaptation. With the exception of one scene, the two characters never dialogue; there isn’t really a narrative thread to the show, and the back and forth structure of the storytelling can be confusing.

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Theatre Thursdays: MC Andrew Lloyd Webber

Jellicle Songs for Jellicle CatsLord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running hit musical Cats will return to the West End this December, more than a decade after its original run ended. Between tours, community theatres, regional productions, and student performances, the show is perennially performed, so you may be asking yourself, “Why should I spend the extra money to see this mounting?” Thankfully for you, the good Lord has an answer ready: the Rum Tum Tugger raps now!

Yes, Lloyd Webber will be re-writing the fan-favorite song “The Rum Tum Tugger” into a rap in order to fit his new vision of the Rum Tum Tugger being “a contemporary street cat”, according to this article. The column also reports that another song, “Growltiger’s Last Stand”, will be re-written as well, because it, along with “The Rum Tum Tugger”, never satisfied Lloyd Webber.

Now here’s what’s giving me a headache over this news: first, the last thing that needed improving in this show was the music; second, the shallow, gimmicky feel of the news; and third, Lloyd Webber’s claim that T.S. Eliot invented rap as a justification for the change.

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