All posts by Matt Dykes

Matt is a huge film and TV buff who studied film and moving image production at university. In his spare time he enjoys reading comics and books, the occasional gaming session and writing novels.

Strange New Worlds: The Most Important New Star Trek Series?

With the announcement on Friday 15th May of the new Star Trek series, Strange New Worlds, fans are unsurprisingly in a euphoric state. A lot of fans lauded Anson Mount and Ethan Peck for their portrayals of Captain Pike and Spock in Discovery’s second season and there were campaigns for a Pike series whilst Discovery season 2 was still airing. It looks like CBS have listened to what we want and commissioned this new series and it may be more important than we realise.

Putting aside the ability for it to offer explanations for some of the canonical irregularities that more hardcore fans of Star Trek accused Discovery of there is something way more important that it can do. Captain Christopher Pike is not someone who was just plucked out of thin air for the sophomore season of Discovery, he is quite an important character in the Star Trek mythos.

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Pandemic Picks: The Nice Guys

You will all have favourites out there, favourite actors, favourite directors, favourite writers. It’s natural that you gravitate towards certain people, with actors it’s because you probably identify with him or her more, or just that you like their performances. Directors and writers though are a little different, you don’t like the people themselves necessarily, but you like their style, their techniques, their voice. For me I love Shane Black and will watch anything that he does and for the most part I love everything he has written or directed. What really appeals to me about Shane Black is the way he can switch very quickly and almost effortlessly between hilarious comedy to serious drama. Not only that but he manages to subvert clichés by setting up what looks to be a cliché situation and then turns it completely on its head.

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Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: The Complete Franchise

Because it became clear very early on into this project that an article covering the entire Stargate Franchise would be far too long I broke it down into four parts. But I also wanted to present the full article in all it’s glory as well so here it is. What you might consider the Deluxe Edition. I hope you all enjoy it.

UNLOCKING THE GATE – THE ORIGINAL FEATURE FILM

In October of 1994, Stargate hit the cinema screens and became a surprise hit. Critics were not kind to the Roland Emmerich-directed epic adventure, but it struck a chord with audiences with it’s stunning photography and intriguing story. It launched a franchise that has become one of the most popular Science Fiction franchises of all time. A franchise that consists of: 3 films, 3 live action series, 1 animated series and, most recently, a 10 part mini-sode series. Not to mention the various games and books that were released. But we will get to all that in time; first we need to go back to the beginning, to where it all started….The 1994 feature film.

I should probably preface this part of the article with a small statement; it may seem like I am being harsh against the feature film but that is only because of everything that came after. The film started it all and without it we wouldn’t have got SG1 or anything else, however, for me the film just doesn’t hold up in comparison to the series.

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Pandemic Picks: Future Man

It’s funny how you find new shows to watch, for example with Future Man I found it purely by accident. I put a photo up onto a Facebook group for The Expanse, the photo was of my Amazon recommendations and I was pointing out that Amazon was recommending that I watch The Expanse again. See my previous Pandemic Pick on The Expanse for reasons why I would happily watch the whole series again. However, by pure chance the cursor was actually highlighting this other show called Future Man, and several people on the group mentioned how much they enjoyed that show. So, I thought I’d give it a shot.

I’ll pre-warn you, just like I was, the show is definitely for adult only audiences. Produced by Seth Rogan and Even Goldberg the series tells the story of Josh Futturman, a twentysomething janitor who lives with his parents. He is a hardcore gamer and addicted to a game called Biotic Wars, when he completes the game he is recruited by two freedom fighters from the future, Tiger and Wolf, to help them defeat the Biotics. Does it sound a little familiar? The Last Starfighter anyone? Well the show knows that it’s ripping off it’s concept from the eighties film because it makes a joke about it immediately. The series is littered with references to various Sci-Fi films including a lot of time travel films including The Terminator and Back to the Future to name two. The font that is used for the on screen text is the same one that is used in the Terminator series.

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Pandemic Picks: The Martian

Ridley Scott was shot into the mainstream with his 1979 Sci-Fi thriller Alien, he cemented his position as a visionary director of Science Fiction with 1982’s Blade Runner and then he moved onto other genres. In 2012 he returned to Sci-Fi with the mediocre Prometheus, audiences felt like he had lost his touch when it came to Sci-Fi. Thankfully he proved everyone wrong with the exceptional 2015 Sci-Fi drama The Martian.

Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Andy Weir, The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney as he tries to survive alone on Mars after he is accidentally left behind when his fellow astronauts perform an emergency evacuation of the planet during a storm. The film has a lot of elements to it that make it such a wonderful film, the acting is superb and the characters themselves are deep and believable. The realism in the film is interesting because everything feels like it is something that not only could exist, but will exist in 2035. The realism is due to the fact that the filmmakers consulted NASA in the elements of space travel and Mars.

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A Modern American Classic: The 25th Anniversary of Heat

It’s rare that films come along that are recognized as an instant classic, but 25 years ago the Michael Mann written and directed crime epic Heat did just that. Heat was not just any crime thriller; it was an intricate story that wove interconnected plots together like a fine suit with a realism that is rare in crime cinema. Not only that, it was one of the most meticulous and detailed films not only in the crime genre itself but in all of cinema history.

It is not widely known but Heat was actually based on a true story that happened in Chicago in the early 1960s. Neil McCauley was a real career criminal who had been in and out of prison throughout his entire adult life. The pursuit of McCauley was led by Chicago Detective Chuck Adamson, who would later serve as the inspiration for the character of Vincent Hanna. Adamson and McCauley did sit down and have coffee like in the movie and on 25th March 1964 McCauley was chased down during the execution of a robbery and gunned down by Adamson. When Michael Mann was introduced to Adamson by a mutual friend, a man by the name of Nate Grossman, the McCauley story captured Mann’s imagination. He put a lot of the real events into the story that would eventually become Heat.

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Pandemic Picks: Deadpool

So, I was wracking my brain to think of what Superhero movies would I be recommending people to watch now that they have time and immediately of course I thought about the whole MCU because, you know, we have time to watch them all now. But I wanted a single film I could recommend, a lot of Superhero films these days have the problem of, “Well before you watch this you need to watch that first, but you also have to watch this before you can watch that.” I just wanted one film that a new viewer could pick up and enjoy. Then I thought, Deadpool.

And why not? This is a film that was a labor of love for Ryan Reynolds. It took him eleven years to get the movie made and the amount of love he had for the project shows on screen. The film is a very faithful adaptation of the comic character, even down to the fourth wall breaking and the fact that the character knows he’s in a comic book. Having recently gone back and read some of the old Deadpool comics the characters that are in the film are all taken from the original comics which I had no idea about at the time.

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Pandemic Picks: The Big Nerd Pub Quiz

A slightly different Pandemic Pick for me today. This is something I’ve been playing with some of my friends for the last couple of weeks. It’s a Pub Quiz that you live stream through YouTube and answer the questions in a Google document. Lots of fun and great for getting a group of friends together to participate in.

It’s run by Mark Hughes who live streams from his bedroom in Rostrevor Co Down, Ireland. So far there have been five of them, I missed the first one which I’ve heard was very nerdy. After the first one Mark took some feedback and it became a little more of a traditional pub quiz and less nerdy with a sports round and general knowledge rounds. The audience is growing with each quiz and the sixth one is scheduled for Saturday 11th April at 20:00 BST. On top of these there are also some specialist quizzes coming soon including a Star Trek and a Star Wars one. The Star Trek one I am most looking forward to as if you’ve read my previous articles on my trips to Star Trek conventions you’ll know.

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Pandemic Picks: Airplane!

Today’s Pandemic Pick is the classic comedy film Airplane! Surely I’m not serious… I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. I promise that is the only time I’ll say that in this article… maybe. Airplane! is one of those films that everyone has either seen or at least knows some of the jokes from. It’s considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, comedy films of all time. But what is it that makes it such a great comedy?

The film is the brainchild of the writing team of brothers David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, they based the film on a real disaster movie that they had caught on late night TV called Zero Hour about the pilots of a commercial flight getting food poisoning and a ex-World War II pilot is forced to take over. Sound familiar? Because that is pretty much the exact plot of Airplane! It’s hard to imagine that there is a film out there with the same plot as this zany comedy that played it straight.

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Pandemic Picks: The Expanse

I’ll be honest, I was of two minds on whether I would do a Pandemic Pick on The Expanse or not because I know at some point it’s going to be the subject of one of my deep dives. Probably when it’s all over and I can do a proper retrospective on the series. However, this is what I am currently watching at the moment and I’m absolutely loving it, more so on the second viewing as well.

Whenever I recommend this show to anyone the first thing they ask me is, “What’s it about?” Well, that’s difficult to explain without spoiling it because the way the story unfolds is you are thrown into this world and are basically left to catch up with what is happening. I love that about a series though, it treats us like an adult, it says here is the world that you’re going to be in for this series but don’t worry you’ll catch up. The way the story unfolds sets up more and more of the events and situations that govern the world this story takes place in. It feels weird referring to it as a world when the series setting is the Solar System, not one specific world.

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