Review: Thank God King Arthur will survive ‘King Arthur’

The legends of King Arthur and the Round Table are possibly the most abused of the West’s mythic texts, more than the Greek myths, and certainly more than venerated texts, such as the Bible. It’s amazing they’ve survived almost 1,500 years of telling and retelling by most of Western Europe’s cultures, aristocratic Victorian poets and … More Review: Thank God King Arthur will survive ‘King Arthur’

Star Wars: Rogue One has a peculiar relationship with death

Warning: Lots of spoilers. The movie Star Wars: Rogue One is a fun way to pass a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, especially if you’re a kid without much exposure to the Star Wars franchise. For anyone who has a bit more experience with the series, or who thinks much about storytelling, the … More Star Wars: Rogue One has a peculiar relationship with death

Aliens, linguistics, and disruptive storytelling make Arrival must-see sci-fi

We rarely think about our relationship with time. Life is just one damned thing after another. One word follows another. Cause and effect follow the arrow of history. What if you had a different relationship with time, one in which you perceived past, present and future happening at once, so that you know the future … More Aliens, linguistics, and disruptive storytelling make Arrival must-see sci-fi

Poll: Will you see Arrival or Rogue One over Christmas weekend?

Do you like to take family and friends to a movie over Christmas? Science fiction fans have two great choices: Star Wars: Rogue One and Arrival. Rogue One, the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso. Arrival, a first contact story, stars Amy Adams as Louise Banks. You can’t … More Poll: Will you see Arrival or Rogue One over Christmas weekend?

Ted Chiang’s sci-fi genius arrives with laser-like precision

Possible spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Arrival. The release of the movie Arrival last month prompted my interest in Seattle science fiction writer Ted Chiang. He has published only 15 short stories, novelettes, and novellas in print, including “Story of Your Life,” the inspiration for Arrival. He’s won Nebulas, Hugos, and host of other … More Ted Chiang’s sci-fi genius arrives with laser-like precision

You can remember John Glenn by watching this 2005 British TV series

The death of Sen. John Glenn on December 8 brought to my mind the extraordinary achievement of his three orbits around the earth on February 20, 1962. He was the last survivor of the Mercury astronauts, the seven American test pilots who risked their lives to prove that humans could travel and work in space. … More You can remember John Glenn by watching this 2005 British TV series

Review: Doctor Strange: It’s All Benedict Cumberbatch

I’ll be honest. Movies based on comic books don’t interest me. The only reason I went to see Doctor Strange over the weekend was Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve become a major fan after his performances in the latest BBC version of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and his movies, particularly The Imitation Game, in which he played … More Review: Doctor Strange: It’s All Benedict Cumberbatch

Two thoughts about the future U.S. Supreme Court

The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend turned national politics on its head. Not only will Americans elect a new president, but the Senate will debate the future direction of the highest court in the land. The situation makes me wake up in the middle of the night with meme … More Two thoughts about the future U.S. Supreme Court

Why parents should take their kids to see the new Star Wars

Star War: The Force Awakens has taken in $1 billion in ticket sales, and I’m betting a large share comes from parents taking their kids to see the blockbuster. It’s more than mom and/or dad looking for ways to occupy the young’ns on a long holiday weekend. What was once a triennial or quadrennial ritual … More Why parents should take their kids to see the new Star Wars

Why The Martian’s success probably won’t spawn a sequel

My two college-age daughters and I walked out of a showing of The Martian last weekend in a mild daze resembling postprandial satisfaction. You want that feeling of well-being to go on, and so the first question I asked them and an accompanying friend was, “Should it get a sequel?” The answer: “NO!!!!!” I agree. … More Why The Martian’s success probably won’t spawn a sequel

Mad Max: Fury Road sputters, despite its feminist cred

My college-age daughter Emily and I saw Mad Max: Fury Road over the weekend and we left the theater wondering what all the fuss is about. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the George Miller action thriller a 98 percent rating. Competitor Metacritic rates it 89 percent. I know three people who probably wouldn’t recommend … More Mad Max: Fury Road sputters, despite its feminist cred

Review: Ex Machina and the amoral machine

Spoilers ahead… The key moment of Ex Machina arrives when eccentric tech CEO Nathan Bateman tells Caleb Smith, his employee, why the young programmer was selected to deliver a sophisticated Turing test on Ava, Nathan’s android invention. Nathan lists off the reasons, and one of them is Caleb’s “moral compass,” his understanding of right and … More Review: Ex Machina and the amoral machine

Has Game of Thrones reached its sell-by date?

Ok, so I’m late to the party, but I just spent the last six or eight weeks (I’ve lost count) reading the 1,123-page paperback edition of George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, book five of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, mostly because my obsessive-compulsive tendencies prevented me from abandoning the door-stopper. … More Has Game of Thrones reached its sell-by date?

Review: How “Interstellar” resembles “How the West Was Won”

Interstellar is a glorious tangle, an ambitious film that accomplishes much, but fails to grab the audience by the throat. Director Christopher Nolan delivers a sci-fi epic true to the Hollywood form, spanning galaxies and taking the viewer to places impossible to visit in real life. It expands on a classic American (indeed, human) theme–striking … More Review: How “Interstellar” resembles “How the West Was Won”

Is fiction about climate change for real?

The movie Interstellar opens on November 7 and climate change drives the story. Stills and leaked reports about its plot point to an agriculture irreparably damaged by global warming, forcing the protagonist to leave Earth in search of greener pastures. Commentators are lumping Interstellar into the current crop of post-apocalyptic thrillers, which include Hunger Games … More Is fiction about climate change for real?

Utopia vs dystopia smackdown: Guess who wins.

Too dark. Too depressing. Too frightening. These are the comments some critics and authors apply to the crop of movies and novels drawing viewers and readers to the multiplexes and bookstores these days. From the Maze Runner to Divergent, dystopias dominate the best-seller and blockbuster categories, and culture watchers wonder if the public has lost … More Utopia vs dystopia smackdown: Guess who wins.

Yo-No-No!

Nothing has done as much to revive the popular interest in the Golden Age of Piracy than Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which started in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. That’s good for maritime history geeks; at least it got people asking interesting questions when they visit … More Yo-No-No!

Halibut Documentary

Tordenskjold: Boat of the Century, presented by Eat on the Wild Side, produced by John Sabella and Associates. Not rated, but suitable for all ages. Most people think of 100-year-old fishing boats as museum pieces, tied up forever at a dock after a career at sea. But documentary filmmaker John Sabella has discovered a fleet … More Halibut Documentary

Yarrr… It blows!

2010: Moby Dick, with Barry Bostwick and Renee O’Connor. Screenplay by Paul Bales, adapted from the Herman Melville novel. Not rated, though some scenes of severe injury. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit harsh: the new “re-imagining” of the classic Herman Melville novel Moby Dick doesn’t entirely blow. It mostly blows. The premise of the … More Yarrr… It blows!