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.

Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: Part 2

Re-Opening the Gate – Stargate SG1

Due to the success of the original film, there was intention for Stargate to continue, the original creators of the film envisioned a trilogy of films-whilst others had a different idea. Producers Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner had been working on The Outer Limits together and both of them, independently from each other, approached MGM with the same idea: a TV series based on the Stargate film. Upon realising they had the same idea, they decided to work together on the project. They spent three months studying the original film to learn the mechanics of the Stargate and came to a conclusion: there was no way that the Stargate would only go to one place. From the idea that the gate requires 6 symbols and the point of origin to establish a connection (and there are 38 symbols on the gate itself, not including the point of origin), you can deduce that there are 1,987,690,320 different permutations of gate addresses possible. That’s a lot of potential addresses to go to. So, it makes sense that there are Stargates all over the galaxy rather than just two.

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Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: Part 1

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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Social Commentary In Entertainment: The 30th Anniversary of Alien Nation

I’m going to pretend for just one minute that I didn’t start watching Alien Nation because the main character’s name is shockingly close to my own. I didn’t see an advert for it on the Sci-Fi Channel at the age of 13 and hear “Detective Matt Sikes” and think to myself, “That’s almost my name! I have to watch this show.” No- it was the incredible social commentary that drew me in, the social commentary that was entirely absent from the advertisement. The truth was, 13-year-old Matt Dykes heard Detective Matt Sikes and saw an action-packed cop-show advert that happened to have aliens in it and wanted to watch the show. But you know what? I am so glad I saw that advert because when I was able to sit down and watch Alien Nation, I was blown away by the series. It wasn’t long before I was recording them on video. Once the DVDs were finally released in the UK, my pre-order was placed immediately. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have watched all 22 episodes of the series close to 30 times over the last 18 years. What is it about the series that drew me in, apart from sharing a very similar name to the main character? The answer really is this: everything. The characters, the setting, the stories, the music, everything about the series. It was interesting, it was different and it had something to say.

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Petition This!

I remember a time when a film was released, people watched them. And if they didn’t enjoy them or they didn’t like them, they might have gotten annoyed about it or they maybe complained to their friends about how shit it was. Now people seem to think that if they don’t enjoy a film or TV series, they have a right to petition the makers to go back and remake it to how they want it. I, for one, am sick of it.

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Pop Quiz Hot Shot: The 25th Anniversary of Speed

“There’s a bomb on a bus” -a simple statement, but one that would set the stage for the most exciting bus ride ever committed to celluloid. Not only would Speed be a rip-roaring action thriller that would get your heart racing throughout, it would also launch Keanu Reeves career into the stratosphere and pull him from the shadow of Theodore “Ted” Logan. It would go on to showcase him as a bankable action star. It would also launch Sandra Bullock’s career just as high. A film that would make major movie stars out of it’s two leads is definitely one that will leave a lasting impression, and Speed did just that.

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Dancing with the Devil by the Pale Moonlight: Batman 30 Years Later

In a time where superhero movies were not dominating the box office; where the idea of a dark, moody and serious comic book movie was something that people would screw their noses up at, one film managed to break the mold of what we conceived comic book films to be. It showed us that they could be serious and didn’t have to be about extraordinary characters.

But the transition from the pages of comic books to the big screen was not an easy one.

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The Death of the Western: the 50th Anniversary of The Wild Bunch

The genre of the western film was a staple of Hollywood cinema from the earliest days of film. It was a genre that would continue to attract audiences throughout the decades. The first film that showed that cinema could be a commercial success was a western called The Great Train Robbery. The era of John Wayne only served to further blast the Western further into the stratosphere, with Wayne personally starring in over 80 different Westerns alone. It was a genre that seemed like it would never die- until 1969 with the release of The Wild Bunch.

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In Space They Still Can’t Hear You Scream: The 40th Anniversary of Alien

Still seen as one of the most iconic horror films of the modern era, Alien has re-written the book on what a Sci Fi Horror film could be, and in doing so, has launched the careers of several influential people in modern cinema. From its humble beginnings to its worldwide phenomenon- even 40 years after its release, Alien still has the power to terrify audiences to this very day.

The brainchild of writers Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, the story of how Alien came to be is one of risk and timing. Dan O’Bannon worked on a student film called Dark Star with John Carpenter and it was through this that he got into contact with Ronald Shusett. Shusett had heard about Dark Star from a friend and contacted both O’Bannon and Carpenter. After a phone call with both, he found that he had more of a rapport with O’Bannon and invited him to his house. They both decided that they would like to work together on a project, and Shusett had acquired the rights to the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. Meanwhile, O’Bannon had been working on his own script about an alien monster that systematically attacks and kills the crew of a space ship. He had written 29 pages so far and was stuck. Shusett read the initial pages and decided that they should focus on O’Bannon’s script as it would be a cheaper film to shoot.

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Blood, Grit and Skulls: Garth Ennis’ The Punisher MAX 15 Years Later

Garth Ennis has always been known for more adult comic writing and his series Preacher is a perfect example of this. However, his writing has also always had a sense of humour to it. He had been brought on to re-launch The Punisher with Welcome Back Frank in 2000 and after a successful run under the Marvel Knights imprint, he wanted to try something different. In 2002 Ennis teamed up with Darick Robertson and wrote a proposal for a short run of comics about Frank Castle’s time in Vietnam. This outline would ultimately become The Punisher: Born. This became the framework story for the series, detailing the differences between Castle and another main character in the series, a young Private called Stevie Goodwin.

At this time, the MAX imprint was relatively new. It was created in 2001 when Marvel broke from the Comic Codes Authority to establish their own rating system. The first series in the MAX line was the Jessica Jones Alias series- which served as inspiration for the recent Netflix series. The MAX line allowed artists and writers greater freedom to tackle more adult storylines. It wasn’t just about blood, gore, swearing and nudity- the stories would tackle hard hitting themes such as rape and also give readers the first ever star of their own comic that was openly gay (Rawhide Kid). The MAX imprint was essential for Garth’s Born mini-series. It allowed them the freedom to really drive home the horrors of war. With the success of Born, a new series of The Punisher was greenlit with the first issue premiering in March 2004.

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One Giant Leap for Filmmakers: 50 Years Since the Moon Landing

July 20th 1969 was a watershed moment for the human race; from the moment that spacecraft touched down on the surface of the Moon everything changed. The real-life events- that 20 years previous would have seemed like science fiction-became science fact and the stars were within our grasp for the first time ever. We could land a human on the Moon, then we could colonise it. If we could land a human on the Moon, then we could land a human on Mars. The fantastical had become reality and we now knew what it took to travel amongst the stars.

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