Friday, January 8, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: 80s Sci Fi Comes Roaring Back

It’s Friday, folks.  Wahoo!  Let's get ready to party!!!

1. Garmin's Varia Vision is like Google Glass, but for cyclists (CNet)
The Varia Vision is similar to Google Glass. It's a small wearable computer that clips right onto a pair of sunglasses. A small color display hangs over the right eye and shows performance data and turn-by-turn directions from a compatible Garmin Edge bike computer.
"View Cycling Stats Without Taking Your Eyes Off the Road," via
It needs a heads-up display that shows current speed and distance traveled.  That is all.
Talking to Rolling Stone, he said:
“I’m doing Transformers … 5, is it? I’ve taken on a lot of work. … It's fun to do a movie that 100 million people will see. But this is the last one. I have to pass the reins to someone else. J.J. [Abrams] told me, ‘You’re the only guy that could do this.’ But it’s time to move on. One more.”
"More than meets the eye."
I would love to see a more cerebral variant of the Transformers franchise.  I want someone to come in and take the franchise seriously, to explore this angle of mechanical aliens from outer space in a little more detail.  Bay touched on it multiple times, and I thought the franchise was at its best when they were going through the various quandaries associated with trying to ally the U.S. military to a race of alien robots with an at-best partially shared agenda.  However, that stuff never quite made it to the center of these movies’ plots, and as a result, we got one good movie and a collection of confusing sequels.
Still.  Where else can you see a giant robot-ship dropping cars on a major city in China?
One of the N.F.L.’s most successful coaches, especially in the modern era, [Tom] Coughlin coached in Jacksonville before joining the Giants in 2004 and has a career N.F.L. record of 170-150, with a 12-7 mark in playoff games. He was 102-90 with the Giants in the regular season and 8-3 as their coach in the postseason.
I am not a fan of the Giants’ decision.  The team’s offense played very well this season, even though they had neither Victor Cruz nor any sense of stability along the offensive line.  However, the defense was terrible, due mostly to injuries.  In fact, the Giants have been the NFL’s most injured team two years in a row.  They need player makers on defense, and they need stability on the offensive line, and they’ve been crappy at finding either.
Some of this perhaps falls on the coach, and in any event, Coughlin is 69 years old.  After three losing seasons, two at 6-10, it may well be time to go a different direction.  It’s hard to argue that Coughlin is the future.  Against that, though, is the reality that the Giants have a very good franchise quarterback who is 35 years old and who is playing very well.  Disrupting the offense now would be the height of stupidity.
Will a new coach keep Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo and the system he’s spent two years installing?  Unlikely.  But if they let McAdoo go, are they then sacrificing Manning’s production in his last years in the League?  Probably.
How does that move the team forward?
It’s possible that the Giants will promote Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, retool the defense, and move on with a refreshed sense of purpose.  However, given that Spagnoulo’s unit was unquestionably the problem this past season, that seems unlikely, too.
The immediate future looks bleak in New York despite the team’s natural advantages.  That really sucks.
Netflix is planning to launch several new [DreamWorks Animation] series in 2016, including a reimagining of 1980s sci-fi cartoon Voltron and Trollhunters, a fantasy series from Oscar-nominated director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth).
Voltron: Defender of the Universe
If you’re the right age, then—like me—you probably love Voltron.  However, I have my doubts about a modern take capturing the full awesomeness of 1980s franchise TV.  J.J. Abrams could probably do it given his recent success with Star Wars, but if they make the new version too politically correct—and I don’t see how they avoid it—they will definitely ruin what worked in the original series.  
Think of it as Legally Blonde in space.
Princess Alura is a decidedly feminine, fully functional princess in 1980s-era Voltron, and it works because her fight to be taken seriously is inseparable from the rest of her identity.  She owns her girlhood without apology.  She wears dresses, befriends insufferably cute animals, and wears a bright pink uniform whenever she’s not wearing the ball gown that is the staple of her day-to-day attire.  The boys all fall in love with her.  How could they help it?  Her very princess-ness is what makes the show work.  
Alura is the beautiful, marriageable daughter of a royal house, and it makes her a target for potential matrimonial conquest by another royal house, the House of Zarkon.  Zarkon tries to press the issue through military force, and only Voltron can save the day—if Alura can learn to pilot one of the ancient mechanical lions and save her people, that is.  She does this wearing a pink wedding dress, while talking to super-cute mice, while the boys all make constant googly-eyes at her.  And everyone keeps telling her that it’s just too dangerous, that she’s not smart enough because math is hard.
Alura has a lot on her plate.  And I have a feeling that the modern audience will take for granted that she is just as capable as the boys, thereby missing the point entirely.  No way will they allow the boys to so openly crush on her, to have the villain constantly profess his love in un-ironic tones, to let Alura herself overcome all of this looking while cute-as-Hell in decidedly girly terms.  That’s just not what the kids are doing these days because, bottom line, we’re not reinforcing gender stereotypes even in the service of compelling story.
A fully functional princess in a horrific space-war.
Mind you, Alura doesn’t give a shit what you think of her dresses.  She’s the princess, and she likes dresses, and if you don’t, tough shit.  Not that she would ever put it in those terms.  
5. Vader vs. Snoke

My gut tells me that this is nothing more than a visual callback, one of many that Abrams put into The Force Awakens.  But.  It would make a certain amount of sense to have Anakin Skywalker return as Supreme Leader Snoke.  
Some thoughts:
1. The Star Wars saga is the story of the Skywalker family, but it’s really the story of Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, the one who will bring balance to the Force.  He appears in all six of the original movies, and it won’t surprise me in the least if it turns out that he was in the seventh as well.  I told my buddy Chris from the beginning that they would need to find a way to bring Vader back, and look, perhaps they have.
2. Revenge of the Sith is about the quest for immortality.  Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Plagueis, the Emperor, and even Vader himself are all searching for a means to cheat death.  Jin actually finds one!  Of note, then, is the fact that Vader has been a student of all three of the others and is reputed to be the most powerful.  Is it that difficult to believe that he would take Qui-Gon’s accomplishments a step further?
3. Sure, we saw Anakin’s body burn, and then we saw his Force ghost.  So?  This is a series that routinely ignores the laws of physics.  I can easily imagine Anakin as a lich inside a clone’s body.  Or perhaps he reanimates in some other way.  Natural laws are no impediment to this particular story.
4. “But Vader was redeemed at the end of Return of the Jedi!”
Eh.  Perhaps Force ghosts fade over time, but Anakin refused.  In the end, this might well be enough to turn Vader Dark again.  The whole point of The Force Awakens is to show that there is no victory over evil while there are no Jedi to protect the galaxy from the Dark Side.  
5.  “But we saw concept art for Darth Vader’s Force ghost just last week!”  
Sure.  But Abrams is famous for this kind of misdirection, and anyway, that concept art was never used.  If its existence proves anything, it proves that Abrams and company still consider Vader to be a dominant presence in the Star Wars universe.  That doesn’t make this theory less likely.
6. Finally, Darth Vader is by far and away the most profitable piece of the Star Wars empire.  Think of the merchandising!  From a financial standpoint, this is a no-brainer.
You’re right.  It still seems unlikely.  
But it is far from impossible.
That's all I've got.  Have a good weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Great as usual, but I really loved the bit about Voltron. There's a lot of good stuff there.