Pacific Rim Uprising

pacificrim2-posterAs bad as this movie is you cannot but love it if you are a mecha (or giant robots) and a kaiju fan — which I am. There’s plenty of action (although not very realistic and playing loose with the laws of physics), not much story, a hint of human drama, and a bit of humour. There’s not much originality either, but let’s call it an “hommage.” The term Jaeger reminds me a little of Heavy Gear (although it could come from so many other sources: it means hunter in German, could refers to infantry troops, a bird, a car, or several anime or manga), some designs seems inspired by many giant robots anime (Giant Robo, Mazinger, The Big O) and, of course, the kaiju part if inspired by Ultraman, Godzilla and Gamera, but the biggest “influence” is without contest Neon Genesis Evangelion — and this is probably the closest we’ll ever get to an Evangelion live-action movie. The alien monster attacking Earth, using alien technology to develop weapon against them, the synchronization part, the tall slender design similar to the rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury (damn! I love that design!): that’s seems all “inspired” by Evangelion. Although they’ve gutted all the really interesting stuff (mystical bits and human drama) it is still pretty entertaining.

There is plenty of cool stuff in this movie. No transforming robot but instead a combining kaiju. Not a bad idea. And I’ve certainly LOL when the pilots of Bracer Phoenix have to eject and land at the feet of a statue of a… Gundam! Beautiful and really funny. I couldn’t fail to notice the heavy Chinese presence in the cast and crew (not surprising since producer Legendary was bought by the Chinese Wanda Group and some of the shooting was done in a studio in China). It did relatively well at the box office but was not particularly liked (rating of 5.6 on IMDb and 44% / 41% on Rotten Tomatoes !).

All in all, it offers brainless sci-fi action and lots of mecha & kaiju nostalgia. If you are a fan. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMDbOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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Transformers: The Last Knight

TransformersTheLastKnight-covThis story literally puts Earth against Cybertron. It’s Megatron versus Unicron. The Transformers have been here since the night of time. They fought with King Arthur, they fought in World War One, and even against Hitler. But we didn’t know about it because their existence has been occulted by a secret society started by Merlin himself, as he was entrusted with a power staff to control them all (or at least the three-headed dragon made of the bot-knights of the round table!). And Stonehenge is a weapon (more or less; maybe more a socket for a weapon…)!

Under the influence of Quintessa, Optimus has become Nemesis Prime! However, Yeager’s Autobot partner, Bumblebee, turns him around and, with the help of the bot-knights, they fight back against Quintessa and Megatron’s plan to destroy Earth. But it is far from over as the fight will continue with yet another movie (no, please, make them stop!)…

This movie offers a few good ideas (transformers in the past, steampunk influences, introduction of interesting new characters like Viviane or Izabella), but they are unfortunately slapped together in a messy way. The editing is horrendous, the dialogues terrible and don’t even get me started with the bad humour! At 2h34, the movie is way too long and the action is going too fast — transformations are just a blur and it feels like you’re watching a movie in fast-forward! Definitely entertaining but also rather annoying (particularly Cogman, the Bot-ler). I guess it is mostly for the hard-core fans.

The movie made plenty of money but it was disliked by viewers (with a mere 15% critic rating and 44% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes and 5.2 on IMDb — strangely the next film, standalone prequel Bumblebee, did very well with a Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 94%). Maybe it’s time to pause and rethink the franchise… stars-2-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblio MtlGoogleIMDbWikipediaYoutube ]

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Mars S02

Mars-TV-posterI just finished watching the second season (and the end) of Mars, a National Geographic docudrama about what the colonisation of the red planet could look like. It’s based on a book by Stephen Petranek, How We’ll Live on Mars Amazon / Biblio ]The series has 13 episodes (two seasons of six episodes, plus a prequel).

It offers a fictitious story intertwined with interviews of real scientists and personalities (such has Elon Musk, Susan Wise Bauer, Andy Weir, Antonia Juhasz, Neil deGrass Tyson, Adam Frank, Stephen Petranek, Bill Nye, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Zubrin, Ann Druyan, etc.) to discuss the feasibility and necessity of exploring and colonizing Mars. It shows not only the scientific aspects of such endeavour, but also its human side. It is filmed in a very realistic way and the acting is good (although there’s no known actors in this international cast). A companion book was created to go along the TV series: Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet [ Amazon / Biblio ].

It is really interesting, particularly if you like hard science-fiction (series like The Expanse), but I would rather see a TV series adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson Mars trilogy… I am disappointed that it lasted only two seasons as it could have been so much more. The constant interruption of the storytelling with interviews can be annoying sometimes, but it gives the story more realism and makes the series not only entertaining but also educative. However, considering how slow space exploration is going right now, I think that starting the story in 2033 is a bit too optimistic. It was relatively well received by viewers and critics (ratings of 61% / 66% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.5 on IMDb) and it is worth watching if you like space exploration. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonGoogleIMdBOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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Travelers S03

Travelers-s03This week-end I binge-watched the third season of the Canadian-American sci-fi TV series Travelers that was just released on Netflix (December 14th). 

A little similar to the older TV series Continuum (2012), this is a time-travel story where people from the future travel back in time to try preventing a dystopian future and possible civilization-ending events. Although, this time, the people themselves don’t travel in time, but it is rather their consciousness that “overwrites” the mind of present-day people who were about to die and of whom they assume the identity. Those well-trained travelers follow a strict set of rules (or protocols) and are executing missions that are given to them by the Director, an artificial intelligence that rules the future and monitors the timelines. 

The concept is quite interesting and it is cleverly written. Of course such stories are a basketful of paradoxes that are often confusing and not always credible so it is generally better not to scrutinize them too much. However, it is compelling and very entertaining. Despite all common sense telling me it should be bad, I liked it a lot.

The first season (12 episodes), which aired in late 2016 on Showcase and Netflix, introduced the characters and the setting of the story as the travelers main mission is to prevent an asteroid from destroying the northeastern seaboard. Each episode bring a minor mission and develops further the relationships between the travelers and their entourage. One of them, Marcy, has trouble with her host’s body. They all must battle a rebel group of travelers called the Faction, which want to save humanity from the control of the artificial intelligence.

With the second season (12 episodes), in 2017, the story concentrate around the fight against the Faction and their leader in present-day, known as Traveler 001. The third season (10 episodes), which was released only on Netflix, continues the Faction story arc. The travelers a battered and their cover story is blown — but their existence is known only to the top levels of governments. They are forced to work under the oversight of the actual FBI. As none of their missions seems to improve the future and as the Faction is gaining ground, the prospects are quite bleak for the travelers… 

No fourth season has been announced yet and the third season’s ending could very well also be considered the end of the series. However, it also leaves an opening for a sequel…

All in all, Travelers is a very good science-fiction TV series, well worth watching. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ GoogleIMDbNetflixRotten TomatoesShowcase  Wikipedia ]

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo-covThe latest Star Wars movie offers us quite an interesting (but simple) story with the usual (improved?) special effects. It’s the story of someone who gets out of the slums, with audacity and a bit of courage, doing what’s need to be done. A story of love and betrayal. It has a moral (hey, it’s Disney after all), lots of action and great humour. It also has a bunch of very interesting characters (and excellent acting to go with it). It’s sort of a growing-up story, about how a slum kid become… well… a kind of accidental hero. For the Star Wars fans it also offers lots of back story: how Han got his name, how he met Chewbacca and, later, Lando, how he got the Millenium Falcon and what makes it such a special ship, and, finally, how the rebellion started. 

It might not have the depth of the original movies (although that fame might be due in part to the legend, greater music and fantasized childhood memory) but it is, in itself, a good movie. It might not be THE Star Wars movie but, as the title says, it is A Star Wars movie. However, it is a fact that it didn’t performed well at the box-office, barely breaking-even, and was less appreciated by the fans than the critics with an audience score of 64% versus a critical rating of 70% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It’s a little blend, yes, but it’s still quite entertaining and well worth watching. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBAnQBiblio MtlGoogleIMdBOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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SDL: Entrevue capsule avec Francine Pelletier

entete-communique-02-300x148Dans le cadre du Salon du livre de Montreal 2018, je voulais faire une série de mini (capsules) entrevues avec des auteurs (surtout de science-fiction) de chez nous. Malheureusement, l’ambiance sonore du salon n’était pas adéquate pour des entrevues, alors celles-ci ont été faite hors-site. Le principe de l’entrevue capsule est de s’en tenir à deux ou trois questions de base et que l’entrevue ne dure pas plus que trois à cinq minutes. Cela doit être compacte et bien se digérer!

Voici donc la première de ces entrevues capsules, réalisée avec Francine Pelletier. Pour en savoir plus sur cette auteure de science-fiction — à ne pas confondre avec la journaliste homonyme — et de polar (sous le pseudonyme de Catherine Sylvestre) vous pouvez consulter sa bio/bibliographie sur le site des Éditions Alire ou sur Wikipedia.

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Fanzine reminiscence

Like most people, I had many different periods in my life, each corresponding with the major activity or fancy of a specific era. I had my “childhood” period (spent stupidly frolicking, questioning the universe and learning to be a decent human being—of which I have very little recollection), my “academic roman” period (where I worked on my Master degree and PhD in roman history dedicated to an obscure roman emperor and the impression that was left of him through a biographical compilation), my “SFQ” period (where I published — in collaboration with a few friends — a fanzine on Quebec Science Fiction, as well as a few anthologies and short stories compilation), my “anime & manga” period (where I published a fanzine-turned-magazine about Japanese popular culture, as well as a translated filmography of the first thirty years of anime in Japan) and, finally, my “library” period (where, as a library underling, I do my best to help promote the love for books and knowledge). I am proud of everything I’ve done, but sometime I feels like my curriculum reads as a list of failures…


Cover #16, by Pierre D. Lacroix

I was recently googling to kill time and ended up searching entries about my old SFQ fanzine, Samizdat. That’s the period of my life where I think what I wrote, published or did had the least impact on the universe. However, I was surprised to discover it was mentioned in quite many places. Of course, it is one thing to have SFQ insiders like Yves Meynard, Jean-Louis Trudel or Claude Janelle mentioned it when they talked about the history of the genre in Quebec, but I was impressed to see it mentioned in a couple of British academic publications like Science Fiction Rebels by Mike Ashley (Oxford University Press) [Amazon, see extract bellow] or New Directions in Popular Fiction edited by Ken Gelder (Palgrave/MacMillan) [Amazon, extract].

Science Fiction Rebels by Mike Ashley

Science Fiction Rebels by Mike Ashley, p. 342 [ actually, it ran for 25 issues until November 1994 ]

Now, I am more proud of that work and, maybe, those years (the “good old time”, like I was recently reminiscing with Yves at the book fair) were not wasted after all. I feel better already. Like Hippocrates said, Ὁ βίος βραχύς, ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή, or, to quote Horace, Exegi monumentum aere perrennius ! 😉

All I need now is my own entry on Wikipedia !

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