Star Trek Discovery

StarTrekDiscoverySeason2First, I must say that Discovery is definitely one of the best Star Trek TV series I have seen in a long time. If we don’t count the animated series and the movies, it is the sixth Star Trek series (after Star Trek The Original Series (1966-69), The Next Generation (1987–94), Deep Space Nine (1993–99), Voyager (1995–2001), and Enterprise (2001–2005)). After The Original, none of these series were really satisfactory (in imagination, plot and action) until Discovery.

For the first time, with Discovery, the main character of a series is NOT the captain of the USS Entreprise. The series focus on Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green [The Walking Dead]) who is the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou in the beginning before becoming Science Specialist on the USS Discovery. Born in 2226, she is a xenoanthropologist raised on Vulcan by her adoptive parents, Vulcan ambassador Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife Amanda (Mia Kirshner). She is therefore Spock‘s foster sister! Her biological parents were killed during a Klingon raid on Doctari Alpha.

The first season, set a decade before the Original series, focuses on the FederationKlingon war. During a rare encounter of the Shenzhou with the Klingons, Burnham uses her knowledge of Klingon and Vulcan strategy to try preventing the war but act against her captain’s orders. She fails and Georgiou is killed in the ensuing battle. Burnham is sentenced to life in prison for mutiny, but during a prison transfer her shuttle is damaged and she is rescued by the USS Discovery, commanded by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), where she is given a temporary position of Science Officer. The Discovery uses an experimental spore drive which, after sabotage, brings them to a parallel universe where Captain Georgiou is the Empress of the Terran Empire! After multiple trials and betrayals, the crew succeeds to end the war.

In season two (which is not over yet, as three more episodes remain to air), the captain of the USS Enterprise, Christopher Pike, takes emergency command of the Discovery from interim-captain Saru (Doug Jones) in order to investigate a series of mysterious signals. Spock (Ethan Peck), who appears to have suffered a mental breakdown, has had foreknowledge of those signals, which seem linked to the apparition of a mysterious Red Angel. They must find Spock before Section 31 to try to unravel the mystery…

The latest episode (“If Memory Serves”, 8th episode of the 2nd season and 23rd episode of the series, which aired on March 7th) was particularly impressive. It starts with “Previously on Star Trek” and then shows scenes from the pilot episode of the Original series (“The Cage”, produced in 1964-65 was never aired but later partly used in episodes 11 & 12, “The Menagerie”). In the original pilot, the captain of the Entreprise was not Kirk but Pike and Spock is the only crew-member who remained in the series. In Discovery, Spock brings Burnham to Talos IV so the Talosian can read his mind and show crucial information to Burnham, therefore both healing him and their relationship. That episode was quite something.

It has been relatively well received (with a rating of 7.4 on IMDb, an overall Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 82% [but an audience score of 48%, are they mad? !!!] and the same 82% for season 2 [this time with an audience score of 29%! Unbelievable !!!]. In my point of view, it is a series that is well worth watching, even if you know nothing of Star Trek. It is simply very good science fiction. And a third season has already been commissioned. stars-3-5

Apparently, more live-action series are planned including one with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and one with Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) focusing on the activities of Section 31. 

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Victoria S03

VictoriaS03What first interested me into this series was the fact that Jenna Coleman (one of the best Doctor Who companions) had the starring role. But, of course, it was also a very good British historical TV drama, so that was plenty of reasons to follow it. 

In season 3, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are now older (close to their 30s) and have already six children. This time the story is less political (although it covers the machinations of the foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, and the monarchy being threaten by anarchists, the revolutionary wind from France or the Chartists) and is more centred around the family. The couple struggles as they become disenchanted with each other, bringing the various type of emotions that any couple would experienced with time, but having their differences being fanned by the plotting of Victoria’s estranged sister, Feodora. Albert exhaust himself trying to find his own place (with pet projects like being the Chancellor of Cambridge or organizing the Great Exhibition). They try to give the unruly Bertie (the future king Edward VII) a proper education.

When it comes to the personal life of monarchs I am not sure if this story is truly historical — it is probably mostly dramatized — but it is quite interesting. It was well received (rating of 8.2 on IMDb as well as an average tomatometer of 84% for the whole series and an audience score of 81% for Season 3 on Rotten Tomatoes) and is well worth watching. stars-3-5

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True Detective, S03

TrueDetectiveS03“An anthology series in which police investigations unearth the personal and professional secrets of those involved, both within and outside the law”. Created by Nic Pizzolatto, with Mahershala Ali (as Wayne Hays), Stephen Dorff (as Roland West) and Carmen Ejogo (as Amelia Reardon). In the deep America Arkansas in the 1980s, two kids go missing a few weeks after Halloween. The boy is found dead and the girl is never seen again… In 2015, the crew for a crime investigation TV show is interviewing the retired detective who was in charge of this unsolved crime. The storytelling keep switching between the two era (and many years in between) as the detective remembers the details of the investigation — that’s IF he can remember, because he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In this rummaging of the past, he becomes determined to solve this mystery once and for all.

The first two seasons (set in Louisiana with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and then in California with Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams) were more about the horrors of the crime, the darkness and corruption of the human psyche, wrapped in a mysterious aura. This time, the series seems more down to earth as the detectives are investigating a rather ordinary crime that is made to look like a horrible case of pedophile ring by the simple incompetence of the police work and high level political interference. The interest of the story now lies somewhere else, more into the form and less into the content. This simple case is rendered complex through its maniacal storytelling with constant flashbacks alternating with flash-forwards. It’s as if the script had been shred into pieces and we try to reconstruct the plot strip by strip, in random order. This is purposely and skillfully done to make the viewers deeply feel the confusion in the mind of the main character who suffers from dementia. As annoying a device as it could be, it is VERY effective — mostly because of the dazzling acting performance of Mahershala Ali (Academy Awards winner for Best Supporting Actor in Moonlight in 2016 and in Green Book in 2018).

If solving the crime is the obsession of the mains characters, the story itself is less about the investigation as it is about the conflits between the protagonists: between the two detectives themselves, between the detectives and their higher hierarchy, between the victims’ parents, between Hays and his girlfriend/wife — who are all under tremendous pressure to see the case solved — or even within Hays himself as he struggles to remember. This series might also have a slight supernatural aspect when Hays (haze?) confronts the ghosts of his past (the Viet congs, the conversations with his dead wife) — or is it rather due to the disease? The series exposes the emotional range that the characters go through as they all try to successfully resolve their conflicts — or not. In the end, despite the laboured and twisted storytelling, the mystery will be solved—but the man who once was a ranger in Vietnam slowly gets lost in the jungle of his own mind…

Despite lower Nielsen ratings than the previous two seasons, the series was well received with an overall IMDb rating of 9.0 (for all three seasons) and Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 85% / 83% (compared to 87% / 97% for the first season and 64% / 60% for the second). All in all, for me, it’s an excellent TV series and probably my favourite of the three seasons. stars-4-0

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dBD #130

dBD130-covJe feuillette le plus récent numéro de dBD (février 2019) dans l’espoir de découvrir de nouveau titres intéressants. Malheureusement, je suis déçu car je n’y trouve rien de bien passionnant pour moi. Toutefois, ce numéro nous offre un hommage à Stan Lee par une interview avec Jean-Marc Lainé (biographe de l’artiste américain) et une interview avec Didier Tarquin (Lanfeust de Troy) qui revient avec U.C.C. Dolores, une BD de SF très prometteuse où une nonne hérite d’un croiseur de guerre et se lance vers la Frontière spatiale (voir le sommaire de ce numéro pour plus de détails sur le contenu). 

Dans le cahier critique on retrouve notamment Nymphéas Noirs de Cassegrain, Duval & Bussi chez Dupuis (adaptation d’un thriller de Bussi qui se déroule à Giverny, “quoi de plus naturel que d’adapter un roman policier aux airs impressionnistes en BD”), Journal d’une vie tranquille par Tetsuya Chiba (Ashita no Joe) chez Vega (autobiographie de son enfance en Mandchourie, “extrêmement séduisant”), Avant de partir par Jung & Koo chez Sarbacane (manhwa coréen “merveilleusement étrange”), ABCD de la typographie chez Gallimard (ce collectif, scénarisé par David Rault, ambitionne de tracer “l’histoire de la typographie latine, intimement liés à celle de la BD”), Ragna Crimson par Daiki Kobayashi chez Kana (dark fantasy, histoire de chasseurs de dragons avec des personnages attachants, qui “tient pour l’instant ses promesses”), et Talentless t. 3 de Looseboy & Furuya chez Doki-Doki (“un peu la rencontre entre Battle Royale et les X-Men). Un magazine riche en information pour les amateurs de BD.

dBD #130 — Février 2019. [collectif dirigé par Frédéric Bosser] Boulogne-Billancourt: dBD sarl, février 2019. 100 p., 23 x 30 cm, 8.90 €. ISSN 1951-4050. Lectorat adolescent (12+). stars-2-5

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Logan

Logan-covThis movie from the Marvel universe is far more darker than the comedic Deadpool movies I commented earlier. Here, an aging Logan (aka Wolverine) is taking care of an Alzheimer Charles Xavier (Prof. X) along with Caliban. The X-men are no more–as mutants has been chased into near extinction. Although Transigen, under Dr. Zender Rice, is trying to create and weaponize new mutants. A compassionate nurse helps a bunch of mutant kids escape, but they are separated. With only one kid left under her care, she seeks Wolverine to help bring them to a sanctuary in the north. He first refused but grudgingly takes up the task when the nurse is  killed and he realizes that the young mutant girl, Laura (aka X-23), has the same powers as he and that his own genes were probably used to create her. It is the end of a generation and the birth of another…

The obvious comment about this movie is that it is very violent. It is even quite troubling to see such a young girl committing extremely violent acts (and even more having such a young actress performing it!). However, the story is very reflective and rich in emotions. You wouldn’t think that those could go well together. It works only because the acting is quite excellent as the actors give superb performances (particularly the young Dafne Keen, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart) in expressing a nuanced range of feelings : angst from not seeing the path forward, rage for being somewhat “powerless“ over their situation, regrets from bygone days and past mistakes, longing for a normal life and family, etc. Also it is clear that the director, James Mangold, has put lots of stylistic research into this movie (notably taking inspiration from film noir and old westerns like Shane, which is featured into the movie).  All this makes of Logan a surprisingly good superheroes movie. And indeed it was successful, both at the box office (earning five time its budget) and in reviews (with ratings of 8.1 on IMDb and of 93% / 90% [critics/audience] on Rotten Tomatoes). It is well worth seeing. stars-3-5

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dBD #121

dBD-121dBD c’est toute l’actualité de la bande dessinée.

dBD, c’est chaque mois de longues et courtes interviews, des dossiers, des analyses, des portraits d’auteurs, un portfolio qui revient sur les images et les planches marquantes d’un créateur, des visites d’ateliers, des retours sur le passé et sur des albums majeurs dans l’histoire de la bande dessinée, des coups de gueules et de cœur mais également un important cahier critiques et un tableau des étoiles établi par des journalistes spécialisés.

dBD n’est pas un magazine que je lis régulièrement, même si je suis un grand amateur de BD et qu’il couvre aussi un peu le manga — que j’adore encore plus que la BD en générale. Et je n’en ai parlé qu’une seule fois jusqu’à maintenant lorsque j’ai commenté le numéro 215, qui mettait Valérian en couverture.

Dans ce cas-ci, dBD #121 a attiré mon attention à cause de sa couverture sur Naoki Urasawa (pour les détails sur le contenu, je vous renvoi au sommaire du numéro sur le site du magazine). Apparemment, c’est la première fois que dBD consacre sa couverture à un artiste japonais — et ce à l’occasion d’une exposition à l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris des planches d’Urasawa, qui avait déjà été mis à l’honneur à Angoulème. L’article de cinq pages passe en revue la carrière du mangaka qui est très connu en France pour ses nombreux succès: Monster, 20th Century Boys, Pluto, Billy Bat. Mais il ne faut pas oublié Master Keaton, Happy!, Yawara!, ou Pineapple Army. Je l’ignorais mais Kana a même publie une anthologie intitulé Histoires courtes de Naoki Urasawa. 

J’ai feuilleté le reste du magazine avec intérêt. Il faut dire que, dans le cas de dBD, c’est surtout les actualités et les critiques qui sont intéressantes. Je connais très peu les auteurs de BD qui publie de nos jours. La scène BD est très différente de l’époque de mon enfance où elle se limitait surtout aux auteurs et artistes orbitant autour des périodiques Pilote et Tintin. La quantité de titres publiés annuellement de nos jours est tout simplement époustouflante! Ah, si j’avais des centaines d’heures pour lire chaque semaine!

Quelques titres ont attiré mon regard: la revue L’Histoire consacre un numéro Hors-Série à la série de BD Alix de Jacques Martin; San Antonio de Frédéric Dard fait un retour en BD avec San-Antonio chez les Gones par Michaël Sanlaville chez Casterman; Delcourt/Tonkam réédite Fruits Basket par Natsumi Takaya en douze volumes doubles (Perfect) et en rajoute avec la publication du spin-off Fruits Basket Another; critique de Le coeur des amazones par Bindi & Rossi chez Casterman (“une relecture féministe du mythe” troyen); critique de Le goût d’Emma par Takahama, Maisonneuve & Pavlowitch chez Les Arènes (les aventures d’une critique culinaire); critique de Osamu Tezuka, Une vie en manga chez Pika (“biographie colossale”); critique de Souvenirs d’Emanon par Kajio & Tsuruta chez Ki-oon (histoire décevante mais “graphisme enchanteur (…), trait d’une élégance rare”); et une critique de L’Atelier des sorciers par Kamome Shirahama chez Pika (“une belle découverte”). Un magazine riche en information pour les amateurs de BD.

dBD #121 — mars 2018. [collectif dirigé par Frédéric Bosser] Boulogne-Billancourt: dBD sarl, mars 2018. 100 p., 23 x 29.7 cm, 8.90 €. ISSN 1951-4050. Lectorat adolescent (12+). stars-3-0

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Deadpool 2

6252772_sa.jpg;maxHeight=640;maxWidth=550It was unavoidable: the bad guys kill his girlfriend. The anti-superhero tries to redeem himself to be worthy of her but he remains a jerk. It offers the usual thin story (this time about family and friendship), senseless violence and teenage humour, but even worse than the first movie. Although it IS amusing to see the Marvel universe NOT taken seriously. It was a success at the box office (earning seven times its cost) and it got a surprising rating of 7.8 on IMDb and 85% on Rotten Tomatoes! Again, it’s mostly the performance of Ryan Reynolds that sustain the film. For myself, I would say that it was an entertaining movie but only if you are a hardcore fan (which I’m not). stars-2-0

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