Article – Why I Love Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu)

TL;DR – Its music, story, animation, worldbuilding, and characters that you really care for even though they are all broken in some way

Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu). Image Credit: Madman.

Article

A while back I took a moment to write about Why I loved Star Trek DS9 and since it was a great time of writing I have been meaning to get back at it again. I had a couple of choices but with the announcement that Netflix is producing a ten-episode live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop, well I got instantly dragged back in time to my high school days when the show rippled through my life with every beat of those conga drums, and well I instantly knew what to do next. Why Cowboy Bebop? Well, there are a lot of reasons, the music, story, animation, characters, but more than anything, it was the way it shaped how I viewed television and animation as a medium and got me more and more interested with how it is all made. It is also one of the go-to shows, as well as Samurai Champloo (サムライチャンプル), that I recommend whenever someone want to start exploring animation. So with that in mind let us dive into the neo-noir space-western from Shinichirō Watanabe (渡辺 信一郎) all about trying to escape the past and then realising that you can’t, and then also Ed, hello Ed.

In the Cowboy Bebop world, the human race has expanded out into the Solar System when the first Astral Gate (a faster than light transport system) exploded next to The Moon raining down Luna debris on Earth. The world had one choice escape or die on Earth and so they expanded out terraforming the Moons of Jupiter, Venus, creating the crater cities of Mars, and also Asteroid outposts across the Solar System like Tijuana (TJ). By 2071, because the human race is spread out across such a large region of space it has meant that enforcing law and order has become a challenge, so the powers at be implemented a bounty system and so Cowboys spread out chasing bounties and bringing back criminals to face justice … for a fee of course. This is where we meet our crew of the Bebop the ship they travel around the Solar System catching criminals while trying not to have to spend all its bounty on repairs.  

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Article – Why I Love Star Trek: First Contact

TL;DR – From the action to the story and the music. First Contact captures a real moment in Science Fiction history and is still probably my favourite Star Trek film.

Star Trek: First Contact. Image Credit: Paramount.

Article

As the march of time continues forth, I was reminded that it has been twenty-three years since Star Trek: First Contact came out in cinemas. Goodness, 1996, such a long time ago, a time when I was not even in high school. However, in all the time since and before I don’t think any Star Trek film has had the same impact on me (though Wrath of Khan and Beyond come pretty close). As the time is right, and we all know how important time is, let’s dive into the joy that is Star Trek: First Contact.

So to set the scene, in Generations the USS Enterprise-D was destroyed by assailants and so a new ship the Sovereign-class USS Enterprise-E was commissioned with all our familiar faces making the transition. However, just with the Enterprise is in the middle of its shakedown cruise the worst possible news happens. The Borg are back. A large cube ship is on a trajectory with Earth but the Enterprise cannot help as Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) was once assimilated by the Borg and Starfleet wants it away from the battle. But to hell with orders, which is good because this time the Borg is messing with the timeline and only the Enterprise can fix the damage before it is too late.

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Exploring the Past – Alone in Space (Ensamma i Rymden)

TL;DR – A charming little Science Fiction film even though it does have a few rough edges   

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Alone in Space (Ensamma i Rymden). Image Credit: Nice Drama.

Review

If you have read our site before, you’ll know that we are all about new Science Fiction films and ways they explore the genre. This year I have wanted to branch out and see how other countries are approaching Science Fiction to broaden my cinematic experience and today we get to do that with Alone in Space a film about being trapped alone in space from Sweden.

So to set the scene, we open in on the Svea XVI an escape ship form a dying Earth, but instead of being filled with colonists/refugees the only ones on board are Gladys (Ella Rae Rappaport) and her younger brother Keaton (Dante Fleischanderl). They try and get through the day, fixing what they can of the ship, scavenging food and stuff in their journeys and talking to the ship’s Japanese AI Otosan. Well one day there is a crash, sending everything on the ship flying. Thinking it was some debris they ignore it and go about fixing the ship only to discover they are no longer alone.  

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Exploring the Past – Jupiter Ascending (2015)

TL;DR – One of those films that are close but no cigar, but you have to admire that they go at 100km an hour from start to finish    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Jupiter Ascending. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Review

One of my true joys in life is watching and witnessing a new work of glorious Science Fiction for the first time. Like those moments when you watched Farscape for the first time or watched the flaming guitar in Mad Max Fury Road explode out into the desert sun. However, sometimes it can be just as interesting to watch a film/TV show that is close but just not quite there and today we take a look back at just such a film.

So to set the scene, we open in on Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who lives with her extended family in Chicago after her father Maximilian (James D’Arcy) was murdered back in Russia and her mother Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy) fled to the States. Jupiter spends her time cleaning rich peoples houses and dreaming of getting out of it all. Well one day she gets that wish after a genetic test shows that she is the perfect reincarnation of the old matriarch of House Abrasax, an ancient alien dynasty that seeded life on Earth all those years ago.  

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Exploring The Past – Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shinseiki Evangerion, 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン) (1995)

TL;DR – An ambitious series drawing inspiration from multiple religious and mystical frameworks that while pioneering in many respects, completely fails to stick the landing

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン, Shinseiki Evangerion). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Today I get to finally explore the third pillar of 1990s sci-fi anime with the massively influential Neon Genesis Evangelion. For me, this was almost a form of closure given how much I have watched the other two pillars Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell but I never got to see Evangelion. It was also interesting to see a show that has been massively influential to the genre but watching it with 20 years of extra context on top of it. Well if nothing else, the ending stinger to last year’s Desert Bus now makes sense. With that in mind, let’s dive in and explore Hideaki Anno’s work of gods, and angels, and science, and man.

So to set the scene, in the year 2000 a great calamity arouse across the world when the second impact occurred in Antarctica blasting the icy continent to ruin and melting all its ice causing extensive flooding across the world. The UN authority declared that the cause was a giant meteorite impact, hence common term of it being ‘the second impact’ (okay sort of, but also sort of not, it gets complicated). However, this is all a cover, because what really happened is that a creature of great power was discovered under the ice, this Angel was called Adam and something the researchers did trigger him destroying everything. 15 years later, Shinji Ikari (Megumi Ogata/ Spike Spencer/ Casey Mongillo) is running through deserted streets to a pick-up location. The whole area has gone into emergency lockdown for some unknown reason, and that reason turns out to be a second angel that everyone kind of expected was coming. Just before he is crushed, Shinji is rescued by Captain Misato Katsuragi (Kotono Mitsuishi/ Allison Keith/ Carrie Keranen) and taken to Tokyo-3 where a secretive organisation Nerv has their headquarters. The leader of Nerv is Shinji’s father Gendo Ikari (Fumihiko Tachiki/ Tristan MacAvery/ Ray Chase) who is at best distant, but a more fair description would be icy or even abusive. However, Shinji does not have time to process that because he is announced to be the Third Child, and one of only a few people that can pilot an Evangelion which he has to do like now.

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Exploring the Past – Into the Wild (2007)

TL;DR –.A really frustrating film that nevertheless sucks you in and leaves you heartbroken. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Into the Wild. Image Credit: Paramount.

Review

Well, last night I noticed Into the Wild had come onto Netflix. I had heard some good things about it a couple of years ago and I thought it would be a nice relaxing film to put on before going to bed. Oh wow, did I ever get that wrong.

So to set the scene, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) gets dropped off on an Alaskan trail and walks into the wilderness a lot less prepared than maybe he should have. Ignoring the concerns from the guy that dropped him off he begins the march into the wilds of the north until he finds an abandoned bus and uses that as a base of operation. When then jump two years into the past and see why it is Christopher set off on this journey.

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Movie Review – God’s Own Country (2017)

TL;DR – Much like the Yorkshire Moors that is filmed on, this is a film that is both harsh and yet filled with moments of beauty   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

God's Own Country. Image Credit: British Film Institute.

Review

My family originally came from Yorkshire, so when I spot a film set in the region I always give it a watch to try and connect with my past. Well, I am not sure what I expected when I loaded up God’s Own Country, but what I got was a film that was both frank and also a little optimistic in a world of bleakness.

So to set the scene, Johnny lives and works on a farm with his father Martin (Ian Hart), and his grandmother Deirdre (Gemma Jones). He spends all day grafting on the farm and all night in the local town drinking. Wake up, chuck out the contents of his stomach and repeat. Most of his friends have gone off to university, however, because his dad had a stroke and can’t work the farm like he used to, Johnny has to step up and take all that pressure. Given some issues, Martin calls in some help, as they are about to go into calving season, and Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) a Romanian farmhand takes the job. There is instant tension between the two because Johnny sees Gheorghe has a manifestation of his failure but he needs the help.

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