Friday, December 2, 2016

Hitting the "Pause" Button

Hey, guys. Bad news.

I'm putting Dragons, Zombies and Aliens on hiatus until June. I've bitten off a bit more than I can chew with my last year of college and a new job writing for TheThings.com. So I need to put this on the backburner until I graduate. Then I can actually write quality articles you'll want to read. :)

Loves and kisses:
Christina "DZA" Marie

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Avatar the Last Airbender" Graphic Novels


Avatar: the Last Airbender is my favorite show from childhood. It was only three seasons, but it was thoughtful, funny, packed with action, and it really made you stop and think about ethical issues. In a kids' show!

But one thing that always drove me nuts were the loose ends. What happened with Zuko's mother is a mystery. Toph's parents have to know what's going on with her (she's traveling with the avatar, after all), so there's got to be a meeting there. And what happens when Katara and Sokka go back to the South Pole?

Question no longer! They're doing a graphic novel series! These are in order:

The Promise is about Zuko struggling to be the Fire Lord. Because apparently running a nation is hard. Especially right after a war. Who knew?

In The Search, we look for and find out what happened to Zuko's mom. I repeat: WE FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO ZUKO'S MOM!!!

The Rift centers primarily on Toph and Aang and the clash of old vs. new. Also, we run into Toph's dad. It's a little awkward.

Smoke and Shadow throws Zuko in for a loop, as the radical New Ozai Society decides "We don't want a teenager on the throne. We prefer the homicidal maniac."

And finally, North and South centers around our favorite Water Tribe siblings as they go back for a home visit. Only, things are never as simple as a happy family reunion. Part 1 came out this year and Part 2 comes out in February 2017.

These are all absolutely incredible. They do the show proud. I highly recommend them!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Arrival Review and Explanation

Monday Movie! Arrival

On the DZA Review Scale, I give it a spectacular, or a go see this now, like right now. It's engaging, riveting, and a bit twisty-turny that confuses some people (hence the spoiler-filled explanation at the end of this review). And it's incredible. 


I have literally no complaints about this movie. The actors nailed it. The story perfectly captured human complexity, sociology and suspicion. The aliens were mind-blowing. It relies very little on special effects and almost entirely on script, which is a refreshing break from most sci-fi blockbusters. Not even the romantic subplot annoyed me, because it wasn't annoying and was critical to the story. 

If I wanted to be knit-picky, (minor spoiler here) the only thing that comes to mind is the fact that China was Bad Guy No. 1. They're the first country to declare war on the aliens. I found it mildly racist, but since America didn't do much better and it was trigger-happy soldiers that killed one of the aliens, I don't think anyone's going to cause much of a fuss. 

Also, if you have neutral feelings about linguists, this movie will make you respect them a helluva lot more. 


Explanation (Spoilers!)

For those of you who saw the movie and are wondering What the hell just happened, allow me to explain. The opening scene is Amy Adams' character, Louise, raising her daughter Hannah, from birth to Hannah's death as a teenager from a rare disease. We're led to assume that that's Louise's backstory, but the truth is it hasn't happened yet

The aliens' gift to humanity is their language. As the characters explained, the theory is that the language you use primarily determines how you think and view the world. Since the aliens think in a very fluid manner, they also view time as fluid. Basically, they can see the future (which is the whole reason they're on Earth in the first place; we help them out in 3000 years). Once you understand the language to the point that Louise understands it, you can see the future, too. 

The chronology of the story is: 

Louise is a linguist professor with some military history.

Aliens show up.

Louise cracks the aliens' language and learns to see the future. 

Louise uses her new skill to convince everyone, specifically China, to calm the fuck down.

Aliens leave.

The international celebration happens, where General Shang shares his phone number with Louise and tells her the critical information she'll need (or rather, needed) to get him to stand down. 

Louise and Ian get married. 

Louise neglects to tell Ian, "So our future daughter is going to get an incurable disease and die before she's old enough to drive. You sure you want to have a kid?"

Hannah's born. 

Louise writes a book about the alien language and begins teaching it at universities. 

Louise decides that now is the best time to let Ian know about their kid's imminent death, and it pisses him off so much that he leaves. 

Hannah dies. 


So not only is it an alien movie, it's a time-travel movie of sorts. And it poses a very interesting question: if you knew exactly how the rest of your life would go, and that the next decision you make will bring immense happiness and unbelievable pain, would you go through with it? 

I know I quoted this on my Blair Witch review, but I'm showing it again. Because Doctor Who really does explain it best:


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Thanks for reading! :)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Best Sci-Fi Movies of 2016 (So Far)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comes out in December, and I am counting the minutes until I am sitting in the theater. So to kill some time, and in honor of RinnRead's Sci-Fi Month, I figured we could revisit some of 2016's best sci-fi movies. I pulled the top 5 based on reviews and my own (less than) humble opinion. If you think I'm leaving something out, let me know!



10 Cloverfield Lane


Watch it here on Amazon.

Cloverfield came out in 2008 as a found-footage sci-fi horror about a monster attack in NYC. This year saw a sequel, arguably better than the first movie. 10 Cloverfield Lane focuses more on the horror element of sci-fi horror. Most of the movie takes place in an underground bunker, where the protagonist is stuck in an abusive relationship with her "savior." The line on the poster says it best: monsters come in many forms.


Into the Forest


Watch it here on Amazon.

End-of-the-world dystopia + sister relationship woes = very good movie. Already I feel bad for them: they're stuck in the middle of the Canadian woods with no wifi.


Star Trek Beyond


Watch it here on Amazon.

I already did a full review of this awesome movie here


Kill Command


Watch it here on Amazon.

Marines are stuck on an island with a homicidal robot. In other words, it's Lost + Terminator with Vanessa Kirby. What's not to love?


Arrival


Just came out in theaters. No pirating! *glare*

I always see Hawkeye every time I see Jeremy Renner, which is kind of annoying as it takes me out of every other movie he stars in. But that's not going to stop me from seeing Arrival this weekend, and it certainly doesn't stop the rave reviews. Nothing beats amazing actors working a simple premise: aliens show up, and we need to figure out why.

You can read the full review here.

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Thanks for reading!
If you think I've neglected to put a movie on this list, let me know in the comments! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

"Doctor Strange" Review

Monday Movie! Doctor Strange

Bechdel Test: fail
Mako Mori Test: fail
Sexy Lamp Test: pass

On the DZA Review Scale, I give it a solid fantastic.


I'll level with you: I never read the Doctor Strange comics. And I was less than thrilled about the whitewashed casting and Marvel's bullshit excuses about it. 

But...I did see Doctor Strange in theaters on opening night. And it was great. Trippy, but great. 

I love Benedict Cumberbatch. He's incredibly talented and nails every role he gets (Sherlock, Khan, Smaug...). 

And I love Marvel. I wasn't even pissed about the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests failing because the love interest (Christine) is a doctor in her own right who saves Strange's life without getting all misty-eyed about it. And the Ancient One, while having a questionable casting choice, is badass. She also has some very...ah, strict?...teaching techniques. (She strands Strange on Everest to get him to teleport. Chiwetel Ejiofor's character Mordo hears about it and gives a resigned, "Not again.")

I would wholeheartedly recommend seeing this movie. Marvel may make a few mistakes, but they are trying (The Ancient One is a man in the comics, so they get points for genderbending), and they still made a damn good movie.

Also, we found out in the credits scene that Doctor Strange will, in all likelihood, be in Thor: Ragnorak. Think about that. Benedict Cumberbatch. Tom Hiddleston. Chris Hemsworth. My ovaries just blew up. 

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Thanks for reading! :)
What were your thoughts on the movie? What about Tilda Swinton's role as The Ancient One? 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Westworld Review and Theories

HBO's Westworld

Bechdel Test: pass
Mako Mori Test: pass
Sexy Lamp Test: pass

There are only five episodes so far, but it is quickly approaching monuments levels on the DZA Review Scale.


It's RinnReads Sci-fi Month! Whoo-hoo!

Basically all this event is is a bunch of bloggers geeking out about science fiction. As if we need an excuse to do that. :)

To kick off this glorious occasion, I've binge-watched the entirety of the new HBO show Westworld. That's not as impressive as it sounds, as there are only five episodes so far. But they're each an hour long and I did it in three days, so it sure felt impressive.

The sci-fi Western genre has always captivated me. It's the clash of the sleek, elegant technology of the future with the rustic grit of the Old West that somehow mesh together beautifully. In that alone, Westworld is a master.

The concept: humans have created a theme park, called Westworld, where people can go and literally do whatever they want. The "hosts" are all robots that all have personalities and backstories, but they all believe they're human. The human visitors can do whatever they want with and to the hosts, and the hosts cannot kill the humans.

That concept alone, of course, brings out the very worst of the human visitors. In the first twenty minutes of the pilot, our main villain butchers a family and rapes the rancher's daughter. All because he can. There's nothing anyone can do here that will stop him. (Side note: that daughter, Dolores, spends the first four episodes being the damsel--because that's what she's programmed to do--and in episode five turns into a complete badass.)

While I do believe that there is evil in every human being, the one thing that I have to complain about this show is that it marginalizes the good in humans. All but one (maybe two) of the "good" guys are robots. And the majority of the villains, people with very questionable motives, and apathetic characters are human. While the very purpose of the park is to "unleash the beast within" and all that crap, the fact that 90% of all the humans are bad guys, from the guests at the park to the owners, just strikes me as wrong. There is evil in every human, yes, and it does come out. But there's also good in every human. I wish Westworld did a better job of representing that.

As you can see, it's a very thought-provoking show. The story is all-consuming The actors are incredible and the characters have depth. The plot keeps you guessing. While all the characters are safe to a certain extent (all of the robots keep getting killed in horrible, bloody ways, and the park just fixes them right up and sends them back in), you don't know what they're going to do. Especially now that the robots, who cannot hurt a living thing, are now beginning to rebel.


Theories

One of the biggest questions of the show is Arnold, the co-creator of the park who died more than thirty years ago. How did he die, and why are all of the "malfunctioning" robots talking to him? And then of course there's the maze, the center of which everyone seems to be trying to find.

My theory as to Arnold's death is that Dolores is the one who killed him, as she was the last person to see him alive. We've seen that she is capable of killing living things: the fly at the end of the pilot. Arnold may very well have programmed her to be able to kill, had her kill him in his fit of insanity, and the ability to do that got lost somewhere amid all the updates and tinkering she's been through.

I think the center of the maze is the key to unlocking that ability. That once whatever's in the center is unleashed, the robots will be able to fight back with violence. Arnold wanted to destroy the park, and that is an excellent way to do it. Also, the Man in Black seems eager to put some actual risk in the game. He's so bored with life that even the park has grown old. He wants to create a real Wild West, where people stand to lose something.

As for Arnold himself, I think he managed to put a piece of his consciousness into the robots' code. A drive to reach the center of the maze and destroy Westworld.

If and when the robots do manage to gain their freedom, it really will be the Wild West.

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Thanks for reading! :)

Comments are love! What are your opinions and theories about Westworld?