Short Film Find: Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan film

Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan film

  • Director: Jason Satterlund (JasonSatterlund.com
  • Writer: Rob Harmon
  • Producer: James McLean & Jamie Costa
  • Published: Dec 24, 2019
  • NOTE: This is a fan film with no official affiliation to Lucasfilm/Disney.

Synopsis: Set before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV, a New Hope, an old Jedi Knight resides on the desert planet of Tatooine. His final duty, watch over, protect a special young boy, from a distance in secret. Agents of the sinister Galactic Empire arrive, to impose their presence and scout the area. What follows, is a danger for the New Hope, perhaps forcing the Knight to reveal himself.

Personal Thoughts:

Hello there!”

I’m a sucker for anything with the Star Wars label on it. All of it stems from my love of the original movies, and then the immense amount of world-building done via the expanded universe entertainments, then the Prequel trilogy movies…which I have a love/hate relationship too. I would have almost grown tired of it since the overhyped newer movies, if not for the wonderful books, games, TV series spinoffs (huge shout out to the Clone Wars, and Rebels animated series).

But the fan films, and dedication by fans to tell Star Wars stories in their own special way, has kept the spirit of the Rebellion alive. It’s the homegrown nature of it all, that I love and feel open to surprises. Kenobi – A Star Wars Fan Film fits with that tradition, making another memorable piece of many since the days of Troops and Dark Redemption.

Actor Jamie Costa as Kenobi, surprises with a performance that have Sire Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor nod in appreciation. There shows his stoic character with gained wisdom, resorting to non-violence until the tense last minute, where he carefully weighs the stakes. The Empire, as represented here continues to show the true villainy of a fascist, oppressive regime (though a little of it feels cartoonish). There also shows the relationship between Obi-Wan and the Lars…strained and conflicted on the life of Luke, and also well-acted. All resulting in action, and tension, and that when added to the relationship of characters, is what Star Wars is half about.

The other half is cool mechanical and creature/alien designs, and related details not quote shown in Kenobi. For the elements in Kenobi, and the totalness that is the Star Wars universe is shown well with the Disney+ hit, The Mandalorian (which to me comes off as another great fan film with each episode, if I didn’t know any better).

I enjoyed this Kenobi film, especially for its pacing and build. The film directors and writers of the recent films could learn by watching this film and others, where dedication and love for the franchise could inspire better overall construction. This is a pleasant reminder, that the Force of the galaxy is strongest, with its fans.

Short Film Find: Untogethered by Ryan Chatfield

Untogethered

  • Director, Writer: Ryan Chatfield
  • Producer: Amy Rockman
  • Published: Jan 17, 2019 via the DUST Youtube channel

Synopsis: “A hacker named Quinn infiltrates a cult, who are slowly killing off its members, in order to save her estranged sister, Harper. Untogethered is a sci-fi/action/drama about a hacker named Quinn who seeks to rescue her terminally ill sister, Harper, who is deeply involved cult named Sacred Paradise, who claim to grant their who claim to grant their members access to the mythical paradise called Evila. Quinn infiltrates the cult and ventures into a virtual reality world to find her sister. With difficulty, Quinn convinces Harper to follow her as they traverse the fantasy world while being chased down by virtual security and the cult leader, Mother, in order to find their way back to reality.”

Personal Thoughts:

I love little stories of the extent of total immersion technology could take us, which are usually never good. So, they become weird cautionary tales, but sometimes saved by a hero like Kevin Flynn, James Murdoch, or Neo.

Which brings to mind this short, which could have taken an entire movie length, but shortened to some decent action and key plot points towards a somewhat satisfiable end for the protagonists. I like the production for its use of VFX, colors, and music. But, I felt it could use a little more story. But that would take more time, and away from the “short.” Perhaps, I was thinking more than I should here…

While watching, I ponder on how far will technology giants in the future go in promoting immersive tech, towards the control of consumers into these special “cults.” Some video games are starting on this now but not quite VR. Take the game Fortnite, for example. It’s initially a free game that takes users into this paradise of fun, expansive usability, leading them to want more and sacrifice piles of earned money in the real world for “V-Bucks”, into more involvement of the artificial life. Fortnite has made for than 2.4 billion US dollars in 2018. The collected hours of its many users, from both the time earned into purchasing the V-Bucks and the game itself, can be put into many lifetimes now.

Or maybe, this is just a short and cheesy sci-fi film warning us of nothing.

Hardcover Comics, Graphic Novel Holiday Gift Guide 2016

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Tis the holiday season, to give something new for the sequential art lover you know…

Below, are my hardcover comic book volume and graphic novel suggestions. Why such things for gifts? Because, the hardcover format gives a lasting quality, and adds a bit of deserving specialness to it. The sequential art form within can hold deeper, longer lasting appreciation to those holding a hardbound shell, when prominent on their home bookshelf or coffee table.

So, these picks below are hand-picked favorites by us, having read and enjoyed each one. Each pick is likely available through local comic and retail bookstores. Ordering online is good too, but part of the fun for the holidays is also visiting local shops while humming Christmas tunes. So, print or write these out, and don’t forget the wrapping paper!

SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN

superman-_-american-alien

  • Writer / Artist: Max Landis / Various Artists
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 224 Price: 24.99 ISBN: 978-1401262563

“Screenwriter and Eisner Award nominee Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN) presents the seven-issue miniseries that chronicles Clark Kent’s development into the archetypal hero he will eventually become. With the tone of each issue ranging from heartwarming and simple, to frighteningly gritty and violent, to sexy, sun-kissed and funny, SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN is unlike anything you’ve seen before. This new hardcover includes special bonus features.”

Get this for: Superman fans of any age, short story readers, those who like a little art variety, fun-loving campy readers, fans of the Flash TV show (also Smallville.)

ALEX + ADA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION DELUXE EDITON HC

alex-ada

  • Writer / Artist: Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughan / Jonathan Luna
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: November, 2016
  • Pages: 376 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1632158697
  • Age Range: 16 and Up

“Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse puts the work of a master storyteller back in print—with some material in English for the first time! Stel and Atan are intFrom JONATHAN LUNA (THE SWORD, GIRLS, Spider-Woman: Origin) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter, Ruined) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids, but after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot and takes a huge risk to unlock Ada so she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android. Can they survive the consequences? This oversized hardcover collects issues #1-15”

Get this for: Science fiction drama fans, android lovers, Black Mirror fans, futurists

MOEBIUS LIBRARY: THE WORLD OF EDENA

edena

  • Writer / Artist: Moebius
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 360 Price: 49.95 ISBN: 978-1-50670-216-2
  • Age Range: 16 and Up

“Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse puts the work of a master storyteller back in print—with some material in English for the first time! Stel and Atan are interstellar repairmen trying to find a lost space station and its crew. What they discover about the universe and themselves on the mythical paradise planet Edena, though, changes their lives forever. Moebius’s long-out-of-print World of Edena story arc gets a deluxe hardcover treatment, with its five main chapters—Upon a Star, Gardens of Edena, The Goddess, Stel, and Sra—collected here!”

Get this for: Fans of Moebius art, fans of classic Heavy Metal magazine and similar art of the late 1970s, early 1980s style, imagination lovers, science fiction fans

RIC AND MORTY BOOK 1

ric-and-morty-1

  • Writer / Artist: Zac Gorman / various artists
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 296 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1620103609
  • Age Range: Older Teen and up

“The hit comic book series based on Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s hilarious [adult swim] animated show RICK & MORTY is now available in its first deluxe hardcover collection! Join the excitement as depraved genius Rick Sanchez embarks on insane adventures with his awkward grandson Morty across the universe and across time. Caught in the crossfire are his teenage granddaughter Summer, his veterinary surgeon daughter Beth, and his hapless son-in-law Jerry. This collection features the first ten issues of the comic book series, including ““The Wubba Lubba Dub Dub of Wall Street,” “Mort-Balls!,” “Ball Fondlers Special,” and more, along with hilarious mini-comics showcasing the whole family. This special hardcover edition also includes an exclusive sound clip of Rick and Morty and all the cover art from the first ten issues of the comic book series!”

Get this for: Ric and Morty fans, of course. Also, those who like to laugh and not take a lot of things too seriously.

BRIEF HISTORIES OF EVERYDAY OBJECTS

brief-histories

  • Writer / Artist: Andy Warner
  • Publisher: Picador (Imprint of Macmillan)
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 224 Price: 20.00 ISBN: 9781250078650

“Brief Histories of Everyday Objects is a graphic tour through the unusual creation of some of the mundane items that surround us in our daily lives. Chapters are peppered with ballpoint pen riots, cowboy wars, and really bad Victorian practical jokes. Structured around the different locations in our home and daily life—the kitchen, the bathroom, the office, and the grocery store—award-nominated illustrator Andy Warner traces the often surprising and sometimes complex histories behind the items we often take for granted. Readers learn how Velcro was created after a Swiss engineer took his dog for a walk; how a naval engineer invented the Slinky; a German housewife, the coffee filter; and a radical feminist and anti-capitalist, the game Monopoly. This is both a book of histories and a book about histories. It explores how lies become legends, trade routes spring up, and empires rise and fall—all from the perspective of your toothbrush or toilet.”

Get this for: History and obscure trivia lovers. Those who engage in silly small talk. Those who need a new coffee table book. Anyone who likes to laugh and learn.

KLAUS

klaus

  • Writer / Artist: Andy Warner, Dan Mora
  • Publisher: BOOM! Studios
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: November, 2016
  • Pages: 208 Price: 34.99 ISBN: 9781608869039

“Who is Santa Claus? Meet the man before he became a myth.He’s a myth. He’s a legend. He’s loved worldwide by children and adults alike . . . but does anyone truly know the origins of Santa Claus? Set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic, Klaus tells the origin story of Santa Claus. It’s the tale of one man and his wolf against a totalitarian state and the ancient evil that sustains it. Award-winning author Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, The Multiversity) and artist Dan Mora (Hexed) revamp, reinvent, and re-imagine a classic superhero for the 21st century, drawing on Santa’s roots in Viking lore and Siberian shamanism, and taking in the creepier side of Christmas with characters like the sinister Krampus. Klaus finally answers the burning question: what does Santa Claus do on the other 364 days a year?.”

Get this for: Grant Morrison fans, Santa Claus, Krampus fans, dark humor lovers, those who enjoy a mix of clever writing but not take it too seriously.

TURN LOOSE OUR DEATH RAYS AND KILL THEM ALL!: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FLETCHER HANKS

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  • Writer / Artist: Fletcher Hanks
  • Publisher: Fantagrahics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 376 Price: 49.95 ISBN: 978-1606999677

“Fletcher Hanks was the first great comic book auteur: he wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered all of his own stories. He completed approximately 50 stories between 1939-1941, all unified by a unique artistic vision. Whether it’s the superhero Stardust doling out ice cold slabs of poetic justice, or the jungle protectress Fantomah tearing evildoers from limb to ragged limb, contemporary readers are stunned by the pop surrealism and outright violent mayhem of Hanks’ work. Originally featured in two paperback volumes, this deluxe hardcover collects―for the first time―all of Hanks’ previously published material, plus several gems newly discovered for this volume, making this the very first complete collection of the works of Fletcher Hanks. Full-color illustrations throughout.”

Note: Comics history buffs, vintage pulp lovers, classic Golden Age art fans.

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL BEATS UP THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

squirrel-girl

  • Writer / Artist: Ryan North / Erica Henderson
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 120 Price: 24.99 ISBN: 978-1302903039

“Proof that we’re living in the best of all possible worlds: THERE’S GONNA BE A SQUIRREL GIRL GRAPHIC NOVEL! It’s a stand-alone adventure that’s both great for new Squirrel Girl readers, and also for people who ALREADY know about how she can talk to squirrels and also punch really well! Behold: a story so HUGE it demanded a graphic novel! A story so NUTS that it incorporates BOTH senses of that word (insanity AND the weird hard fruit thingies) (they’re fruits, did you know that?) (I didn’t until I looked them up just now, so looks like we’re all learning science from this solicit text for a comic book!) Squirrel Girl has defeated Thanos, Galactus, and Doctor Doom. TWICE. But in this all-new graphic novel, she’ll encounter her most dangerous, most powerful, most unbeatable enemy yet: HERSELF. Specifically, an evil duplicate made possible through mad science (both computer and regular) as well as some Bad Decisions. In other words, SQUIRREL GIRL BEATS UP THE MARVEL UNIVERSE! YES. I CAN’T WAIT, AND I’M THE GUY WRITING IT..”

Get this for: Marvel fans, squirrel lovers, Deadpool fans, fun people.

ODY-C: CYCLE 1 HC

ODYC 1

  • Writer / Artist: Matt Fraction / Christian Ward
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 400 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1632159274

“ODY-C, modeled after Homer’s Odyssey, is a psychedelic, gender-broke science-fiction epic that tells the story of three legendary warrior-queens, Odyssia, Ene and Gamem, returning home after a centuries-long battle. Told in verse with a visual sensibility that redefines the very possibilities of the comics medium, this gloriously oversized hardcover also has exclusive bonus materials including essays by classicist Dani Colman, teaching aids, and a massive 10-page fold-out previously only available in the sold-out first issue.”

Note: Science fiction fans, epic story seekers, Greek epic tales connoisseurs, psychedelic art lovers, fans of the 5th Element.

That’s all for now. If you have any added suggestions or notes to add, please share in the comments below!

– Orion T

Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2016.8.30 – Another Odd Bunch..

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This week, I finished reading some of the latest tales involving fashion bloggers, medieval knights, aliens, detectives,  superish heroes, and a lot of weirdness in-between. I can’t say my life is improved for taking on this strange mix, yet I feel there is that satisfaction of wondrous discovery in reading new comics.

So here we go with the new issues, fresh off the shelves (with minor spoilers).

RECENT COMICS:

Island #10 (Image Comics), by various artists and writers

Another great issue of mixed stories and art presentation. Part of the fun I see in such an anthology is the discovery of creative talent out there. I love Farel Dairymple’s art and writing for the first story here, which is actually three binded together by the observations of a young curious girl. From that, I feel drawn to check out his award-winning work, Wrenchies. The second story is by Gael Berthand, who tells of a fantastic adventure with no words. I love when a storyteller tries for this, and it works; leaving the reader to admire the scenery and feel more on the emotions of the characters at play. The third story is a funny one, with a stranger world best endured at a slow pace, to take in the strange details and nuances, leading to a barbaric yet quirky end. Overall, this Island is the best issue of the series I enjoyed in recent memory.

Hard-Travlin’ Heroes  with Dog-Welder and Six-Pack #1 (DC Comics), by Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, John Kalisz

Why?!!  Because Garth Ennis writes, and this time he looks to make a welder of dead canines the next big DC comics star. Such feels a bit strange is this sub-world of the DCU, where the Hitman now has less presence than the great Six-Pack, a drunken superhero with delusions of greatness. Still, there is some bizarre necessity to bring back the faded team of misfits, “Section Eight.” Yet, there shall perhaps be the story of just 1/4 of the original cast, where the reader somewhat must know some background info on the long-time (yet personal fav) canceled Hitman series, and the spin-off, All Star Section Eight. The odd details and questionable build-up of this return left me thinking, why?! I can only hope the answers lead to the return of Hitman for at least a mini-series, preferably by Garth Ennis and John McCrea.

Chew #57 (Image), by John Layman, Rob Guillory

Finally, we have some answers toward the whole damn series and where I think it’s heading and end. The storytelling is finally showing off some calculation since the first story arc, as Savoy delivers truths and consequences to our heroic cibopath. A dilemma shoes in the end, where perhaps Tony Chu’s power is also his greatest curse. My best hopes are in seeing just how other supporting characters may come in play, in perhaps some changes to the situation, or to save the detective. Or perhaps, there is an end to a strange world populated with much rising weirdness. I have been curious since issue #1, as to what this series really amounts to as a limited tale, and perhaps seeing things come together gives me a little satisfaction towards the end. We shall see.

Snotgirl #2 (Dark Horse), by Bryan O’ Malley, Leslie Hung

I find frustration in this series now but somewhat can’t stop reading it. Is it the colors and awesome art? Or is the ridiculous melodrama on the strange world of fashion blogging and self-obsession. There, some bizarre satire and pretentious commentary in this story where I feel as lost as the protagonist, who for now is dealing with some stalker and a recent murder..maybe.  Maybe I should read it again, or not. It’s all kind of hypnotic in reading this strange comic, of which I must eventually escape.

Lake of Fire #1 (Image), by Nathan Fairbairn, Matt Smith

SW PICK OF THE WEEK!! An interesting read with much more than expected. The premise seems simple, an alien ship crashes on Earth in the midst of the Crusades, so expect Knights vs. Aliens. Yet, I found more in this double-sided issue. For starts, the art with the colors brings much to life as a sort of animated movie that needs to happen. The facial expressions and placement within the sequential paneling is perfect and keeps me engaged on the visuals alone. The characters have plenty of buildup within the story, enough motivation and preparation for that’s too come, leaving enough for further build-up. Further situations of that time raise questions on what such a hostile invasion could be viewed through the eyes of people who have not grasped the concepts of extraterrestrial life, with their minds closer to their religious beliefs. There is a call for bravery and heroic deeds, as to a cliffhanger that terrifies and delights. I can’t wait for the next issue.

Notice #2 (Millicent Barnes), by various artists and writers

NOTE: CURRENTLY ONLY DIGITAL VIA  COMIXOLOGY

Another wonderful little anthology of stories this week, of which I enjoyed. Though unlike Island #10 of which I reviewed early, these the stories within are stranger, shorter, and varied in colors and art direction. Such is a wonderful joy, for those wanting more inventive thinking in their comics, where one can enjoy the strange imaginations of other, and make their own interpretations from it all. I can’t say much more about this, as the plots are hard to put into reviewable context. just check it out for yourself, for at least the stranger visuals and imaginative storytelling sequences.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss anything on the shelves worthy of reading?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and seeker of great comic books and all related wonderful things.

 

SW Fan Film Review – Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

 

Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

  • Writer, Director, Executive Producer: Vic Mignogna (also stars as James T. Kirk) 
  • Time: 42.12
  • Release: Released on Youtube May 28, 2016
  • Notes: Purely a fan-made work, and the 6th episode in a series so far.

Synopsis :

“A troubled creature pierces the Enterprise hull, pitting the crew against a pursuer that threatens to tear them apart.”

Personal Thoughts:

Star Trek Continues, is a fan-made film based on the original TV series of work of Gene Roddenberry. It’s on-canonical and not affiliated with the CBS or Paramount copyright holders. Yet, it feels far closer to the feeling of the original premise than the movies and other popular fan films out there (including the highly controversial Axaner fan-film).

What sets this series on its high pedestal goes beyond its truer to original set-design, effects and costumes. The premise is kept alive, to see out new life and new civilizations and boldly go.. Here we get just that, though the new life finds them. It’s the high question of just how far we as humans can fit into the universe, when the variables of life are so much greater than our comprehension.

For this episode, our somewhat familiar crew encounters a creature (Usdi) who can fly through space, affect emotions, has a very unearthly appearance that at times seem closer to the Horta than human. Much of the episode is a desperate need to understand this, while dealing with the changing of their own emotions. Neither side seems to fully understand how one affects the other. It’s a story they may not need a Star Trek to tell it, but such the setting and vessel called Enterprise fits perfect.

That’s due to the maze of conflicted negative emotions leading to mutiny and discord, to add drama I suppose to this bottleneck episode.  Somehow, Eliza surpasses where even Spock fails in her emotions, to better understand the creature. In establishing successful first contact, the sides must find some connection and mutual understanding. Here, there is a parental bond that is eventual understood by the humans, which brings about a positive end for both.

Overall, a good story that reminds us that Star Trek is not about galactic warfare and eminent warp core breaches. I feel it’s about finding our tiny place in a vast universe, as explorers and knowledge gathers. Such is more exciting, to deal with unforeseen dilemmas and complex situations; than to learn and grow from it all.

The crew once again does well to emulate not imitate the original cast. I see at this point, the cast are looking to match the mannerisms and characteristics of the crew members, not the actors who originally portrayed them. The acting is good enough, and acceptable for a fan broadcast. Vic Mignogna does Captain Kirk best, though I feel it’s his involvement in the overall production that leads the presentation to its success. He is a captain on and off the set. The characters of Spock, McCoy, and Scotty are also taking on a life of their own, as the Abrams movie versions by other different actors have also done.

But the only problem I see in this, is the lack of possible development the show can do for such characters. I doubt there will be any drastic changes for the main crew, as such would remind the un-canonicity of the science fiction copy. Yet, we have some original cast members, mostly of the female crew members. Perhaps in future episodes, they could develop and capture the hearts of the fans in the changes they go through.

Overall, a great episode for being fan-work. I would enjoy more, but also hoping for more original crew members and stories of such that revolve around them. I hope for the show to stay to its roots, and stay away from other overall complex canon on Romulan-Klingon-Vulcan-whatever other established aliens overdone by the other canonical series and expanded lore. Keep it real, and I will boldly watch.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Film – C (299,792 km/s) by Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier

C (299,792 km/s) from Seaquark Films on Vimeo.

Temple

  • Studio: Seaquark Films
  • Director: Derek Van Gorder
  • Producer: Otto. Stockmeier
  • Musical Score: SelloRekT/LA Dreams
  • Time: 14:45 Release: Released on Vimeo 2013
  • Notes: For more info, visit c-themovie.com

Synopsis :

“C is the story of Lieutenant Commander Malleck, and her radical act of mutiny aboard the 
KESTROS IV. With the help of her co-conspirators, she attempts to harness this weapon of mass destruction for a grand new purpose. But when a contingent of ground crew led by Second Lieutenant Kai threatens her master plan, Malleck must use the ship against them in order to succeed.

To build the future, we looked to the past. No CGI or greenscreen was used in the making of the film; all our sets and props were built by hand and filmed in-camera. Combining new advances in digital camera technology with traditional special effects, we sought to create a unique look through lighting design, camera tricks, miniature photography, split-screen, and stop-animation. We believe that this approach allowed us greater creative possibilities on a low-budget science-fiction film”

Personal Thoughts:

C (299,792 km/s), is a modern example to what I feel science fiction should reach towards..

I think upon watching this, to expect the random unpredictable outliers in our future civilizations. We set our rules, only to have the eventual revolutionaries break them; otherwise, we face destruction either from boredom or the caveman natures of conflict on who has the bigger stick. We meet the hero or anti-hero (depends on POV) in Malleck as a maverick more than a mutineer. We know little of her background and purpose, other than odd hints to her plan. The result, is interesting for what or may not benefit our hopes for space travel.

The best answers in consideration and reflection is the old-school cool video snippets between. We have explanations on the past and future of the overall manifest destiny, and how the need for advancement has always intertwined with human conflict. Was it such relics of science truth in found footage the inspiration for Malleck? We don’t know. What is important, is the old message lives on and a new story is told.

For the 15 minutes present, there is enough memorable style and brilliance. The cinematography and designs mixed best of the early 80s, late 70s of hard science fiction putting space travel on its true visionary track, almost derailed from the Star Wars and Galacticas. But, we get some sweet action scenes and interpersonal drama to keep the pace going.

A short note on the action I found interesting, is the ineptness of Kai and his soldiers. From the start, we can mistake them as the protagonists. And, perhaps they were; but they fail terribly. It seemed the intelligence and cleverness of Malleck were enough to keep control of the story towards her own end. Such is a constant in storytelling, as the better vision is often guided by the more intelligent.

Also, a huge shout-out to the music produced with the awesome early synth track pumping, with feels on rewind back to early days of electro-pop. Such music, combined with the practical effects, lighting styles, and feelings of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I feel a nostalgic vision of the future kept alive. We need this, as new distractions may lead us astray in looking down, into those little black mirrors.

Still, the overall triumph of good science fiction whispers to those who dream, and eventually push us a little more towards making a new realty.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Film – Temple (by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen)

Temple

  • Director: Nguyen-Anh Nguyen
  • Actors: Osric Chau & Yue Qi
  • Sound design, Musical Score: Cult Nation & Kannibalen Records
  • Time: 9:14 Release: Released on Vimeo February 29, 2015, premiered in 2015
  • Notes: For more info, visit thefilmeffect.com/temple

Synopsis :

“2045 A.D. A new genetic disease is causing humans to reject their own organs. Cybernetic enhancements are the only means to survive. One desperate man is forced to steal cybernetic implants to save an innocent life.

Personal Thoughts:

A beautiful combination of great VFX, sound, scripting, and editing.

The story content itself is a reinvention of several dystopian concepts left from the past 80s/90s era of sci-fi urban cyberpunk fiction. One being the idea of the failures of genetic enhancement, though in this setting the enhancements are necessary for survival. I can only wonder what kind of genetic diseases could lead to this sort of necessity. Another being the idea where technology wins and surpasses humanity, as we see not only the boost of tech in humans but in vehicles and city development as well. The “filthy air” and “flood” are hints and perhaps warnings towards continued harm to our global environments.

Then we have a major theme and moral dilemma for the sake of drama. Our main character and narrator cares little for the opponent, as we have little back story from him other than his want to survive and fight back. He takes no joy in the fight, as he must save another he cares for from dying. In this cruel world, we ponder his moral judgement in the choice of who lives and who dies, based on his martial arts skills. Yet here we are, and can hope for a happy end beyond the nine minutes shown.

The martial arts action is great though not as necessary I think to the overall story. We have a feeling we know who the winner will be and that may deescalate where the overall tension goes. Yet, the brutality and gore result does heighten the gritty mood and shock of the violence this world brings. There is a high degree of nihilism we get from the feeling where “we all have to become monsters.”

The music is very captivating, with elevated electronica mixed with ambiance and tension. The audio set mood feels established for the grit and futuristic noir. The visuals of deep colors and grainy filters used with timed depth of field techniques feel suitable, feels modern to this era of indie filmmaking. These are good things. Together with the great editing and cinematography present, I can envision a full movie worthwhile for independent audiences looking for hard-sci combined with meaningful action sequences.

Overall, a great watch that serves enough as a standalone tale leaving much open. This would be a great prologue to a large story where perhaps the woman is the main protagonist, and perhaps a more cheerful ending. I can hope someday for that bigger story.

– Orion T

Stranger Reading Suggestions: Recent low cost digital comics…

Looking for something new without stretching your wallet?

I have just the things for that sequential art appetite, especially good for those who enjoy some variety in their browsing. Check out my chosen below, all fairly recent in 2016, though some suggests going back to 2015 for earlier issues. Each is available online through the Comixology digital comics reading service. Even better, each issue can be at your enjoyment for 99 cents; a price that wasn’t standard for comics of around 20 pages since the mid 1980s.

Check these out:

(click on the title of each for a direct online link to download and purchase)

GOOD NIGHT #1

Good Night

  • Writer, Artist: Fey Nefeloma
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Nevo Digital
  • Price: 0.99, Age rating: 9+
  • Notes: Original webcomic at goodnight.nocturnenebula.com

“Ayesha, a bright, young girl with a fear of monsters, questions her caring father the whereabouts of her absent mother.”

A very touching black and white comic series starter with curious fantasy and light horror elements. I love the idea that behind the monsters here, where lies an interesting story that’s starting to unfold. The setting feels very modern, yet has some fairy classic fairy tale style moments. The ending left me wanting more..

KINGS AND CANVAS #3

King and Canvas

  • Writer: Neil Kleid  Artist: Jake Allen colorist : Frank Reynoso
  • Released: Jan 13, 2016 by Monkeybrain
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 12+

“In this corner, fighting for aid in his journey to Queensbury: Mammoth! In the other corner, the Gateway Champion, determined to keep Mammoth’s crew from heading west: Argos Dane! It’s champion vs former champion for the fate of the quest…but will Mammoth throw the bout in order to get everything he’s ever wanted since escaping Gaol? Ding, ding, kids. Grab a ringside seat for the fight of the…well, the fight of this issue, anyway.”

A fresh series I have recently jumped on to. Love the art style and fight sequences, a combination punch of shonen manga meets classic Saturday morning cartoon faire. The 3rd issue shows the pacing going well, and the characters further developed. It’s a must for anyone looking for some good adventure, a little historical fantasy, and a heavy dose of fun.

THE HALF #1

The Half

  • Writer: Justin Porter   Artist: Jeremy Stain
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Half Assed Industries
  • Price: 0.99 Age rating: 17+

“A young boy finds his way amid the ashes of love and the myth of family.”

It’s a very dark series with serious matters dealing with domestic violence and psychological abuse. The first issue sets up a strong premise for what could lead to anything at the end, as there some curious hints of something far more unfamiliar afoot. The coloring is especially done well with the stylized art, for a story package that will keep my curiosity for whatever comes next.

GUARDIAN OF THE FOREST

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  • Writer: Robert James Mediavilla   Artist: Diana Naneva   Letterer: Danny Djeljosevic
  • Released: Feb 17, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Model Town
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 17+

“What is a guardian of the forest without a forest?” This question has plagued family man Ben Taylor’s life since he unwittingly unleashed a supernatural force upon his small town. Now, as the body count rises and the creature draws closer, he and his daughter will come face to face with the brutal answer.”

A dark horror short story with a surprise twist. The fantastic dramatic build-up is in huge part to the awesome art and color, shading detail, balanced with great pacing. There is much to the story for its mere 14 pages of comic art, 4 pages of straight text; with elements of religion, myth and metaphors.

EVO-Z #1

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  • Writer: Paolo Ferrara   Artist: Silvano Beltramo
  • Released: Feb 2, 2016 via Comixology Submit by Mache Models
  • Price: 0.99  Age rating: 12+
  • Notes: Available via Comixology Submit, though translated from the Italian free version at machemodels.com

“Hunted, lost, Thy is an exobiologist, member of a scouting mission, who finds herself plunged into an unknown universe.
Fighting for survival – in the middle of a war about to explode and of which she, inadvertently, was the fuse – Thy finds some extravagant allies, aliens with mysterious abilities and needs, with whom she will try to find a way to return to her galaxy of origin.”

Evo-Z is hard science fiction full of variety and interesting sci-fi concepts and designs. The vehicles are based upon the original concepts from Germàn Impache, a master modeler with work displayed at machemodels.com. The story has much going on, not allowing for a quick read. This is a good thing, with much to take in for its fantastic world-building and character depth present.

BANDETTE #12

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  • Writer: Paul Tobin Artist: Colleen Coover
  • Released: Jan 27, 2016 by Monkeybrain
  • Price: 0.99 Age rating: 12+
  • Notes: Ongoing series, in print volumes via Dark Horse Comics

“The Voice holds Daniel hostage! Bandette and her Urchins scour the city in an effort to locate their abducted friend, while Daniel looks for a way to escape his captivity, and Inspector Belgique sets his sights on apprehending The Voice himself! All the while, Monsieur and Margot narrow in on the elusive prize at the root of the whole affair: the House Of The Green Mask!”

Love the heck out of this series since the first issue. At this point in the 12th issue, our spunky protagonist is well established as a unique lead unlike any other in all the comic book lands. The classic French style setting and expanding cast of characters are further well-developed and paced well for expanded interest. While this issue is not exactly the best jumping on point, this is worthwhile mentioning to anyone looking for something newish and different with high emphasis on fun.

That’s all for now. If you checked out any of the titles presented and have thoughts to share, or have suggestions of your own (cheap or free, accessible online or app)..let us know in the comments!

-Orion T

 

 

Short Star Wars Fan Film: Rebel Scum

Rebel Scum

  • Director, Writer: Timothy Van Nguyen
  • Production Company; Blood Brother Cinema
  • Publish Date: January 9, 2016 – Time: 9.07
  • Notes: For more info, visit bloodbrothercinema.com

Synopsis :

“A Rebellion pilot is hounded by death from the merciless Empire and a frozen grave, after being abandoned during the retreat of the Rebel Alliance from Hoth. Rebel Scum pays homage to the original Star Wars trilogy; nearly all visual effects were created without the use of CGI, using time honored methods such a stop-motion animation. Shot on location in -30°C (-22°F) at Columbia Icefield in Alberta Canada.”

Personal Thoughts:

This is fantastic work, especially with the cinematography.

The stop motion on the Imperial Probe Droid is a great throwback to the early Empire Strikes Back special effects use. Its mechanical movements, ominous floating, and the sound effects are well-played. The AT-ATs were also well done in detail and motion, but not as awesome creepy as the Probe Droid.

The story itself is a cool little tale, well done for one using no words. A favorite thing about the latest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens), was the little insight of a soldier’s POV in the intergalactic conflicts. After the Clone Wars, they must have personal struggles as well, and must ponder just how high in duty they take their cause to live and fight.

In Rebel Scum, we a nice example of a Rebel fighter. He is also a family man, with extra motivation to survive in the Hoth wilderness. The Imperial soldier is a perfect contrast, clean-cut and cold as the icy planet itself. Her darkened eyes and deathly skin gives off a hateful vibe, perhaps thinking the Rebel fighters as ungrateful troublemakers. To suddenly miss and be shot by one, is a humiliation to her.

The conclusion leaves much open. Will the Rebel soldier as an Imperial sabotage from within, steal some secrets, and return to his family? Can the Imperial soldier now trapped in the Rebel fatigues survive the Probe Droid and “join” the Rebellion? While the answers are best left to the viewer, I would much welcome an extension to the story by the filmmakers here.

Overall, Rebel Scum is a now a personal favorite among the Star Wars fan films out there. I am also turned to other works by Blood Brother Cinema, which now have my interest on bloodbrothercinema.com.

 

– Orion T

Hardcover Comics Volumes and Graphic Novels Holiday Gift Ideas..

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I got some gift suggestions for this holiday season, with something for everyone out there..

Below, are my hardcover comic book volume and graphic novel suggestions, (away from the superhero genre). Why such things for gifts? Because, the hardcover format gives a lasting quality for those who like their books on a shelf, and adds a bit of deserving specialness to it. The sequential art form within can hold deeper, longer lasting appreciation to those holding a hardbound shell. That’s how I see it, as I find myself bound to the hardcovers in my collection.

So, these picks below are hand-picked favorites by me (Orion!), having read and enjoyed each one. Each pick is likely available through local comic and retail book stores. Ordering online is good too, but part of the fun for the holidays is visiting local shops and checking out the holiday deco around. So, print or write these out, and don’t forget the wrapping paper!

Sweet Tooth – Deluxe Edition – Book One

Sweet_Tooth_Deluxe_Edition_Book_One

  • Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
  • Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics imprint)
  • Hardcover Publication Date: Sept 8, 2015
  • Pages: 296 Price: 29.99 ISBN: 978-1401258719
  • Contains violent and mature content

“Kids like Gus have a price on their heads. Seven years ago, the Affliction raged like a forest fire, killing billions. The only children born since are part of a new breed of human-animal hybrids. Gus is one of these children, a boy with a sweet soul, a sweeter tooth-and the features of a deer. When vicious hunters descend on his isolated forest home, a mysterious and violent man called Jepperd rescues Gus. The hulking drifter promises to lead Gus to The Preserve, a fabled safe haven for hybrid children. As the two cross this dangerous new American frontier, will Jepperd corrupt the boy he’s nicknamed Sweet Tooth, or will Gus’s heart change Jepperd?  Written and illustrated by spectacular talent Jeff Lemire, SWEET TOOTH is a haunting tale of survival in post-apocalyptic America of friendships formed in tragedy, and the good and bad in humankind. Collects SWEET TOOTH #1-12, as well as never-before-seen sketches and an introduction by celebrated actor Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex, Frost/Nixon)..

Note: For anyone who loves a good hero’s journey through difficult times, with some fantastic twists and character development along the way. It’s got the right blend of humor, action, drama in post-apocalyptic storytelling.

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland HC

Little Nemo

  • Writer: Eric Shanower
  • Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Publisher: IDW, HC Publication Date: July 23, 2015
  • Pages: 120, Price: 19.95, ISBN: 978-1631400599

“An all-new, all-ages series full of magic and whimsy from award-winning creators Eric Shanower (Adventures in Oz) and Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key)! Spinning out of Winsor McKay’s brilliant early 20th Century strip, Return to Slumberland sees King Morpheus’ daughter, in the Royal Palace of Slumberland, selecting her next-playmate – Nemo! Only Nemo has no interest in being anyone’s playmate, dream or no dream! Winner of the 2015 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.. “

Note: A magical blend of breathtaking art and storytelling; for anyone who enjoys a fresh fairy-telling with all the magic of the original Windsor McCay strips. This book is a true imaginative escape, for all ages.

The Kurdles

Kurdles

  • Writer/Artist: Archie Goodin
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics, HC Publication Date: May 1, 2015
  • Pages: 60 Price: 24.95, ISBN: 978-1606998328

“Sally is a teddy bear who gets separated from her owner while on a drive in the country. Desperate to find her way home, she stumbles upon Kurdleton, home to a most peculiar group of characters in the midst of a crisis: their forest house has grown hair, eyes, and a mouth! The creatures work with their new friend to keep Kurdleton from growing legs and running away! Goodin, an animation industry veteran, delivers a timeless classic in his debut graphic novel, introducing an unforgettable and charming cast of characters. Printed in an oversized format to showcase Goodin’s stunning, hand-painted artwork, The Kurdles will capture the imagination of all ages.

Note: A warm story for all ages, and a good starter for the those discovering comics for the first time (and not so much interested in the superhero stuff out there).

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection HC

MOTU

  • Writer/Artist: various
  • Publisher: Dark Horse, HC Publication Date: October 21, 2015
  • Pages: 1,232 Price: 29.95, ISBN:978-1616558772

“The toy juggernaut Masters of the Universe and its subsequent action figure lines featured memorable pack-in minicomics that aided in playtime for children across the world. This oversized hardcover collection features sixty-eight US releases, including all minicomics from the eighties Masters of the Universe line, the eighties Princess of Power line, and the eighties and nineties He-Man line, plus an introduction to the minicomics in the current Masters of the Universe Classics toy line. Relive the illustrated adventures that fueled your imagination!

Note: Ridiculous fun on some many levels, as these reprinted comic stories originally came with the toys (with pushes to buy other relayed MOTU toys). Many comic artists and writers had their early start with these in the early 1980s – Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Bruce Timm (Batman), Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), and many more. Plus, it’s packed with interviews and other surprises. Overall, a gem for 80s nostalgia lovers, fantasy art seekers, and MOTU fans.

Locke & Key – Master Edition – Volume 1

Locke And Key

  • Writer: Joe Hill
  • Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Publisher: IDW, HC Publication Date: June 4, 2015
  • Pages:  328, Price: 49.99, ISBN: 978-1631402241
  • Contains mature and violent content

“Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder: Locke & Key. Written by Hill and featuring astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them… and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all… Locke & Key creator Hill has received the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story, and the Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award-2007, among his growing collection of critical accolades.”

“Named a “modern masterpiece” by The A.V. Club, the critically acclaimed series takes on new life in a reformatted hardcover collection. The Locke & Key Master Edition, Vol. 1 features the first two arcs, “Welcome to Lovecraft” and “Headgames,” with all-new cover art and design by co-creator Gabriel Rodriguez. “

Note: My favorite comic horror story epics of all times. This is my favorite edition of the series for its cool cover design and book-shelf friendly spine. A fantastic comic story that takes you about a third of the way in, and leave you wanting more. Highly recommended for anyone who loves classic Stephen king stories, character building, and plot twists.

Wayward -Deluxe Edition- Book One

Waywad vol 1

  • Writer: Jim Zub
  • Artist: Steve Cummings, Tamra Bonvillian, John Rauch
  • Publisher: Image Comics. HC Publication Date: October 14, 2015
  • Pages: 300, Price: 39.95 ISBN: 978-1632154736

“Rori Lane is trying to start a new life in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can she unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late? Image Comics’s new supernatural sensation gets the deluxe treatment in this oversized hardcover collection that includes every stunning cover illustration, design sketches, and extensive essay material on Japanese culture and mythology by noted monster scholar ZACK DAVISSON. Collects WAYWARD #1-10.

Note: Fantastic for those who love a little modern Japanese supernatural horror, combined with Japanese mythology. The art is beautiful, especially for those who appreciate modern digital coloring style. Story is great too, but enhanced further with the many extras within this edition.

Archie vs. Predator – HC editon

Archie Predator

  • Writer: Alex De Campi
  • Artist: Fernando Ruiz
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics, HC Publication Date: November 4, 2015
  • Pages: 128, Price: 19.95, ISBN: 978-1-616558055
  • Contains violent content

“When Archie and friends head south for Spring Break, party games and beach games are soon replaced by the Most Dangerous Game! As the unparalleled fierceness of Betty and Veronica lures the trophy-collecting Predator to Riverdale, will the kids even realize they’re in danger before it claims them all?! Collecting issues #1-#4 of the smash-hit series!”

Note: This one is pure fun with  all that one could love about the Riverdale case, combined with the over-the-top violent actions of the Predator. This is highly recommended for those with a sense of humor, and old-school slasher flicks.

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, The Last of the Clan McDuck – The Don Rosa Library Volume 4

ROSA-vol4-COVER_FINAL

  • Writer/Artist: Don Rosa
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics, HC Publication Date: Dec  2015
  • Pages: 192,  Price: 29.99, ISBN: 978-1-606998663

“Uncle Scrooge, the world’s richest duck, knows exactly where he got every coin he ever earned. And in this fourth book of Duck epics by Don Rosa, that story begins to unfold at last! Relive Scrooge’s Scottish boyhood as “Last of the Clan McDuck,” then his teenage years as “Master of the Mississippi” on Uncle Pothole’s steamboat! Witness Scrooge’s first fights with the Beagle Boys and Flintheart Glomgold — and in a bonus “Chapter 0,” his earliest meeting with Magica De Spell! Presented with brilliant color and a treasure trove of Rosa’s cover art and behind-the-scenes factoids, these Duckburg epics are back in a definitive, comprehensive edition for posterity — at a bargain price worthy of Scrooge himself!”

Note: Why Volume 4? Because, this reprints the early half of the greatest Duck story of all, “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.” Currently out of print as a standalone story, this story is now available through the Don Rosa Library (probably through volume 5, and maybe six). A sky-high recommendation for anyone who appreciates gripping art and storytelling, with solid character development on our iconic richest duck

Saga – Deluxe Edition – Book One

Saga

  • Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
  • Artist: Fiona Staples
  • Publisher: Image, HC Publication Date: November 24, 2015
  • Pages: 504,  Price: 49.99, ISBN: 978-1632150783
  • Contains mature content, graphic imagery depicting sex and violence.

“Collecting the first 18 issues of the smash-hit series, this massive edition features a striking new cover, as well as special extras, including never-before-seen sketches, script pages, and a roundtable discussion with the creators about how SAGA is really made. Altogether, this hardcover contains over 500 pages for less than fifty bucks! Written by Eisner Award-winning “Best Writer” BRIAN K. VAUGHAN (Y: The Last Man, The Private Eye) and drawn by Harvey Award-winning “Best Artist” Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), SAGA is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel’s fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults that Entertainment Weekly called, “The kind of comic you get when truly talented superstar creators are given the freedom to produce their dream book. 

Note: My personal favorite ongoing comic series now ongoing. I can’t recommend this enough to those wanting everything in their sci-fi, fantasy stories…action, humor, philosophy, conflict big and small, challenging ideas, concepts and landscapes that open the imagination, character development, an involving cast..the list goes on. This deluxe edition will give new readers plenty to jump on, and sturdy enough to reread as I have multiple times.

That’s all for now. I may come back with a second helping of suggestions who also waiting till the last-minute. in the meantime, if you have any added suggestions or notes to add, please share in the comments below!

– Orion T