Tag Archives: joss whedon

Titan A.E.

Titan A.E. is an animated sci-fi film set in a future where an alien attack has destroyed Earth and a band of human survivors trying to locate a spaceship called Titan, humanity’s last chance for recovery. The film combines computer graphics and hand-drawn animation and the end result is visually stunning. It was directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman (they also directed The Secret of NIMH and Anastasia), and Joss Whedon contributed to the screenplay (so you know that it’s going to be good). It has a pretty impressive voice cast as well, featuring Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, John Leguizamo, Ron Pearlman, Drew Barrymore, Nathan Lane, Janeane Garofalo, Jim Breur, and Tone Loc.

The film begins in the year 3028 when an alien race known as the Drej attack and destroy Earth. Luckily Professor Sam Tucker has been preparing for this, and he’s built a spaceship known as Titan to ensure humanity’s survival. He’s forced to abandon his young son, Cale, on an evacuation ship, and the two go their separate ways. The film then jumps ahead fifteen years, and Cale is working in a salvage yard in space somewhere. Humans are scattered across the galaxy and are considered a lesser species because they have no home of their own anymore.

Cale eventually encounters Captain Joseph Korso, another human and former friend of Cale’s father. Korso reveals that the ring that Cale wears is a genetically encoded map that will lead them to the Titan. Together they could save mankind. Cale joins Korso’s crew, which consists of Akima, his sexy female human pilot and a couple of aliens of various species named Gune, Stith, and Preed. Then it becomes a race to find the Titan before the Drej can catch them and kill them. Of course there are lots of action scenes, a few twists and shocking revelations, and character developments that you saw coming a mile away. But it’s all enjoyable.

This movie bombed when it came out, and I’m not sure why. It was a mix of bad marketing and confusing publicity. It was advertised as a kid’s film, but it’s more of an action-filled sci-fi that happens to be animated. And the animation is gorgeous. It looks and feels unlike any other space fantasy flick that I’ve seen. And the action sequences are nothing short of thrilling. This movie is underappreciated and unrespected but it’s become a cult classic to some, myself included.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young


Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Serenity (film)

Once upon a time, there was an amazing television show called Firefly. It got cancelled before it could even complete the first season. But the fans demanded more stories about Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew. And somehow Joss Whedon was able to convince a studio to make a follow-up film to his cancelled show. It didn’t do too well at the box office, but it’s become a cult classic. It’s a great sci-fi flick, but if you didn’t watch the show, you’ll be confused with all the characters and backstories.

            Joss Whedon brought back all of the main cast from the TV show. Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Ron Glass, and Summer Glau all reprise their iconic characters. There’s a great extended take reintroducing Malcolm, Wash, Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, Simon, and River as Serenity fights to stay in the sky before crash landing. It’s the perfect way to reestablish what you’ve been missing out on.

The movie picks up a few months after the events of the final episode. Shepard Book and Inara have already been driven off of Serenity by Malcolm, and Simon and River seem poised to leave as well. The two Tams are still being pursued by the Alliance and Malcolm is having more and more difficulties trying to find jobs. There’s a run-in with some Reavers and you finally see how frightening they are.

            The Reavers are kind of the backbone of the story. A lot of shit happens and one of the shits that happens is the crew discovering that the Alliance is responsible for creating the Reavers. Malcolm decides that the Verse has the right to know the truth, and he eventually broadcasts the evidence after a fight with the Operative that has been tracking them throughout the film.

This is an awesome movie, a great movie, and a spectacular movie… if you’re a fan of the show. You really need to watch Firefly first to truly appreciate this flick. Serenity is your reward for enjoying the show. It’s just a glorified episode with better special effects and a bigger budget. And it makes you want more Firefly.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Firefly (tv show, not the bug)

Firefly is one of the best TV shows of all time. Never mind the fact that it didn’t escape its first season, that just means it never got the chance to jump the shark. Firefly is about nine different people looking out into the void of space and seeing nine different things. Creator Joss Whedon takes us to a universe where mankind has escaped to the skies to escape overcrowding, transforming and terraforming new planets for habitation. China and the US were the two superpowers, and the two cultures merged together. So Firefly is your basic space western with eastern flavor to spice it up. Nathan Fillion stars as Malcolm Reynolds, the captain of Firefly-class spaceship Serenity, who leads a loyal crew and a group of passengers of various adventures around the outskirts of space doing odd jobs, which may not be entirely legal.

At first glance, Firefly seems like your standard slice of sci-fi. There are spaceships, advanced technology, crazy weapons, new phrases… but then you start to realize that it’s very different from most science fiction shows. There are no aliens for starters. It as much a sci-fi show as it is a western. That might seem like two clashing ideas but Han Solo is a fucking cowboy. It is a human drama that relies on the chemistry between the characters and the cast.

A good cast will make or break a show. A show like Lost can go off the deep end and start involving time travel and purgatory, but if they have likeable and relatable characters people will come back each week.

Nathan Fillion stars as Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a former sergeant for a losing army in a civil war. He resents the Alliance, the current government for beating him in the fight for independence. He is honorable and has good intentions, but will fight dirty if he needs to.

Gina Torres plays Zoe, the first mate. She fought alongside Mal as a Browncoat and his been loyal to him ever since. She is fierce, ferocious, and a great fighter. She is married to Wash (Alan Tudyk), the pilot of Serenity. He is kind of a coward, and naturally serves as comic relief. Adam Baldwin plays Jayne Cobb. He is basically a mercenary that currently works for Mal, but he would sell him out if the price is right. Rounding out the main crew is Kaylee (Jewel Staite) the ship’s mechanic and the heart and soul of Serenity. She is sweet and innocent, and if she is in trouble than the ship is in trouble.

Malcolm Reynolds and his crew do random heists and various illegal activities to pay the bills and keep Serenity in the sky. Occasionally they pick up passengers for legitimacy. One passenger is Inara Serra (played by Morena Baccarin), who works as a companion. Companions are legal prostitutes, and in the future they are respectable. Inara and Malcolm have a little chemistry but they rarely act on it.

In the pilot episode, they pick up a few new additions to the passenger list. Ron Glass plays Book, a Shepherd (a priest or pastor), with a shady past who knows way more about crime and criminals than he should. Also jumping on board is Simon Tam (Sean Maher), a brilliant doctor whose main concern is his younger sister. Summer Glau plays River Tam, Simon’s sister and the main reason for Serenity to keep evading the Alliance. She has a much higher IQ than her genius brother, which he describes as making him seem idiotic. So she is really smart. She is also really crazy. The Alliance fucked with her head and turned her into a human weapon that’s way beyond Jason Bourne.

The crew stumbles their way around the galaxy, meeting new people and doing crazy things. They make enemies and become heroes more than once. The crew fights amongst each other, they bond, they become friends, and they become family. And you get to know each character and what they represent.

The best episode of the entire series is Out of Gas. They use a non-linear structure that flashes between the current perilous storyline of Mal with the history of the crew and how they all came to join Serenity. This one episode sums up the entire series.

I have a crazy theory that Malcolm dies in Out of Gas. The next episode, Ariel, they do an elaborate Hollywood style heist that seems out of place for the show. Shepherd Book is inexplicably absent, there’s no religious influence and we know that Mal is an atheist. They suddenly start to reuse characters that appeared once and suddenly come back, in this case the mysterious Two by Two, Hands of Blue guys. The episode after that, War Stories, brings back another character, the evil crime lord Niska, who comes back and captures Mal and tortures him to death before reviving him and telling him, “You died, Mr. Reynolds.”

The episode after that, Trash, brings back Saffron, another character from one episode. In a universe with countless worlds to explore, Malcolm keeps running into key figures from his past. Maybe he’s dead and is holding onto his memories, trying to keep from slipping into the void.

Firefly is a great show. I can geek out and talk about it for hours if someone would let me. Joss Whedon created a fully realized universe, oftentimes fantastic, but always relatable. You recognize the characters and their problems. They just happen to be living on a spaceship in the future.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

The Avengers

It’s very refreshing to go to the movies and pay a shit ton of money and know that you are going to be entertained. Very few films come with that kind of guarantee. The Avengers is one of those movies. It has everything you want in a summer blockbuster: a great cast, a great director, great characters, great special effects, and great story. Joss Whedon knows how to direct large ensemble casts, and every character gets adequate screen time and at least one memorable moment. The Avengers kicks off the summer blockbuster season, and it’s going to be a tough act to follow. The world is in trouble and the Avengers must assemble, and it takes a while, but they learn to overcome their differences and become a team (and a family), and save they New York City and the world.

There is a huge cast. Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson all show up. And they all get their moment to shine. There is no lead, but Robert Downey, Jr. wants you to think it’s him. Quick props to Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson. He has no powers, but he was no doubt a hero. He inspired the Avengers to become the Avengers, with a little manipulation from Nick Fury.

It might be helpful to first watch Iron Man, Iron Man 2, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger but it’s not necessary. I never saw Captain America, and I don’t feel like I had to. I understood his role and position on the team, and each Avenger gets ample screen time to establish or reestablish characters. Hawkeye and the Black Widow each get a good introduction scene; you learn their personalities, their capabilities and get a sense of who they are.

Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America all have dramatic entrances. You know the real heroes have arrived when they show up. The first half hour to 45 minutes kind of drags, but it’s important for the plot and it’s never really boring. As soon as the Helicarrier gets attacked and Banner transforms into the Hulk, the movie kicks into overdrive and never gives up. The action is intense and overwhelming. It’s sensory overload like Transformers, but unlike Transformers you are aware of what’s happening. You know who the villains are, who the heroes are, and what’s at stake.

Some of the funniest moments happen in the midst of battle. The Hulk in particular had some great moments (throwing the ejected pilot, sucker punching Thor, beating the shit out of Loki). Mark Ruffalo became the best Hulk with the shortest amount of screen time. BTW, Lou Ferrigno voiced the Hulk, a little nerd knowledge for you. Each hero has their share of quips though. It’s very reminiscent of comics: some spectacular display of violence followed by a witty remark.

Comic book fans will jizz in their pants. There are so many hidden Marvel moments to get excited about. Everyone loves a good Stan Lee cameo, but there are so many references to the Marvel Universe that your geeky head will explode. There is too much to take in, and you have to see it multiple times and talk about it to people nerdier than you are just to calm down a little. It makes you feel like a little kid, asking who that was, or what this was about. It’s rare to be excited about a movie these days. Don’t take it for granted.

I saw it in 3D. I was a little skeptical, because most films shot in 2D that get converted to 3D look terrible. The 3D is shoddy and the characters look like cardboard cutouts. A simple test is to take off your 3D glasses: blurry means that it is 3D, unblurred and in-focus means you wasted your money. This movie is actually 3D, and it’s worth paying a few extra bucks for the full experience. The cinematography alone is impressive, so seeing it in 2D is not missing out on much. Everybody wins. There are some great shots in the NYC battle. There’s a rapid shot where the camera is looking through the shattered rear window of a cab. Another great shot shows Captain America’s reflection in an overturned motorcycle’s mirror.

So this movie has already been ridiculously hyped. It has made over $207 million in its first 3 days in the US. It’s made over $1.008 billion. It’s already the #11 movie of all time. It wont be Avatar status, but it’s going to be in the top ten for sure. This isn’t the best movie of all time. But it will be a lot of people’s favorite movie. And you can’t fault them for that. This movie is a great blockbuster. There are a lot of great characters, funny moments, and jaw-dropping special effects. And it has heart.

Joss Whedon compares the Avengers to a family. They don’t always get along. They fight and bicker and argue with each other. But they come together when the need to. They work together and they save New York City. And saving New York City is always good.

This movie appeals to everyone. I saw it with three lesbians and an old man. We all had a blast. This is an awesome movie and I can’t wait to see it again. It is one of those movies that you geek out over and you do your best Iron Man and Hulk impressions to try and recreate the magic. Just see it already. Don’t be the only one left out.

Critically Rated at 15.5/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment