The Last Sci-fi Blog: The Movie on Everyone's Mind, 'The Odyssey' in Space and More

The Last Sci-fi Blog: The Movie on Everyone's Mind, 'The Odyssey' in Space and More

Jan 31, 2013

J.J. Abrams Is Directing Star Wars Episode VII and That's a Good Thing

Even though it's only a week old, the news that J.J. Abrams is directing the next official Star Wars movie is officially ancient in Internet years. If it were a person, it would look like Julian Glover at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Countless articles have been published on the subject and it's been talked to death by the fans and pros alike. BUT THE TOPIC CANNOT BE PUT TO REST UNTIL I'VE HAD MY SAY.

Ahem. Excuse me.

I've had a love/hate relationship with Mr. Abrams for awhile now (his Star Trek is terrific in spite of its lunkheaded script but Super 8 was bad to enough to send me out of the theater ranting), but I'll be the first to admit that he's exactly the man that LucasFilm and Disney need sitting in the big chair on this one. He's a smart, genuine geek with a genuinely interesting eye (go screw off with your lens-flare jokes) and the rare ability to mingle awe and humor with action and adventure. He's also the right age to have grown up with the original trilogy and certainly dislikes the prequels as much as the rest of us and will do everything in his power to capture what people love about Star Wars, not what they love to b*tch about.

J.J. Abrams makes silly, big hearted adventures for children and their dorky parents. He's a better match for Star Wars than he ever was for Star Trek. He's perfect.

Mind MGMT Is Heading for the Big Screen and That's a Good Thing

Matt Kindt's Mind MGMT is one of the best comics hitting the stands right now; a terrifying and complex conspiracy story about a shadowy government agency that recruits and trains psychics to be invisible weapons on all kinds of battlefields, from the Middle East to the ads in your local newspaper. It deals with letters crafted to kill their reader, assassins who can heal their wounds through sheer willpower and artists whose work can incite or end revolutions. It's brilliant. It's wonderful. If it weren't for Saga, it'd be the best science fiction comic being published. 

And Ridley Scott's Scott Free production company has bought the rights and plans to adapt it for moviegoers. 

Although any future film version will lose the brilliant ways that Kindt bends and breaks the comic book medium (not to mention his quietly extraordinary watercolored art), the possibilities for a great movie from this source material are endless -- this is a comic that reads like The Bourne Identity meets They Live meets Scanners. It's a little too early to get excited, so go ahead and get interested.

They're Making a Sci-fi Version of The Odyssey and That's, Uh…

At one point, I was planning on writing an entire column about sci-fi adaptations of classic stories. After a hard-core thinking session, a few Google searches and a near-fruitless cry for help on Twitter, I found myself with shockingly few quality examples. Sure, Outland may be a cool science fiction riff on High Noon and Battle Beyond the Stars is obviously Seven Samurai, but they can't make up for the embarrassing number of "Romeo and Juliet IN SPACE" books, comics and movies lying around (I actual used to have a Manga adaptation of MacBeth that took place in a Blade Runner-esque dystopia).

Anyway, this was all in response to the news that someone in Hollywood is planning to translate Homer's The Odyssey to the cosmos, an idea that, while not great, certainly isn't that bad. After all, we're talking about a story where a captain gets lost at sea and battles through all kinds of deadly monsters to get home to his family -- swap out of the word "sea" with "the desolate and inky blackness of outer space and you've got an effective movie pitch. Granted, it's a pretty generic movie pitch when boiled down to its base elements, but hey, at least they're being honest about their inspiration here. Because if they didn't, nerds like me would write science fiction columns about how "they're sooo obviously ripping off The Odyssey!"

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