Swords and Space Radio - Half Way Point of 2014 Season

Last night we recorded episode XXIII of Swords and Space Radio, and finished up the first half of the 2014 season, the second full season of Swords and Space and first with my father, Richard, joining me as co-host. You can listen to last night's show, reviewing Godzilla and Edge of Tomorrow below:

New Entertainment Podcasts with The AMDG Radio Network on BlogTalkRadio

The network takes a break for the month of July, but we'll be back on the 5th of August with a special "crossover" episode with our friends from Culture of Comics: Swords and Space XXIV/Culture of Comics #27: Jupiter Ascending and Guardians of the Galaxy

In the mean time, I'm going to try to focus on getting the blog back to a more active status and knuckle down to do some more writing. I know this has been promised a few times before, but with your encouragement I can do it.


Edge of Tomorrow (Movie Review)

Title: Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Excellence: 4 stars (out of 5)
Summary in a Sentence: Another very solid science fiction offering from Tom Cruise that features not just good action and special effects, but a very serviceable underlying plot, lifelike characters that the viewer will connect with, and a great new take on the "Groundhog Day" style reliving of the same day over and over.

This film will be discussed on Swords and Space Radio Tuesday 10 June:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amdg/2014/06/11/swords-and-space-xxiii-godzilla-2014-and-edge-of-tomorrow

Finally a film that I took the time to go see at the theatre and was not disappointed by one bit. This film was great, and I haven't been this enthusiastic about a new sci fi movie since Dredd a couple years back. It was relased just last week on 5 June, so there's plenty of time for readers to check this great sci fi action/adventure out in theatres -- you won't be sorry.

The basic plot is quite straight forward: Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is forced into what's little more than a suicide mission that is part of an attempt to halt the subjugation of earth by aliens called "Mimics". Killed within minutes, Cage then finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop - forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying over and over. He ultimately joins up with Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski and together they try to use his reliving of the same day to defeat the alien menace.

The cinematography was great and the world well-developed and realistic. This certainly helped with the suspension of disbelief, and the battle scenes were well-paced and appropriately devastating to give the viewer a very real sense of how desperate the human battle against the Mimics is.

The plot was fast-paced and well-conceived. There was even a bit of humour here-and-there, and the performances were, without exception, very well done. Special "props" to Bill Paxton for an unexpected (and very strong) performance as a drill sergeant from Kentucky. I was a bit skeptical about the Emily Blunt character going in, but I thought she was done quite well. That she goes into battle wearing a stength-enhancing combat exoskeleton compensates for one of my usual complaints about the D&D Warrior Babe trope (i.e. that women physically aren't as strong as men) and she did a good job of portraying a character who is much more than her exterior hard appearance suggests.

I only really had nits about the film. I wasn't crazy about how the military was portrayed, throwing completely untrained troops into battle, but I suppose this was done to convey just how hard-put humanity is. I also thought that Emily Blunt's character engaging in a very strenuous pre-battle workout was unrealistic since no soldier would exhaust themselves like that on the eve of battle, but I can see why it was done in the context of the film to convey her single-minded devotion to her craft (making war against the Mimics).

Overall, I thought this a fine, fine film. The most enjoyable new science fiction film I've experienced since Serenity way back in 2005. Unlike Serenity, it's doing quite well in the box office, thanks no doubt to a robust marketing effort and the star power of Tom Cruise -- who, it must be said, has rarely let me down. He is a strange, strange man in his personal life, but he chooses good films and performs well in them.


D-Day 70th Anniversary

Today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. I personally don't make a huge deal of this, because as I've been on record as saying before, I don't see WWII as being some great "good versus evil" struggle. It was a monumental and horrific war that altered the course of history, that is for sure, but when one considers our alliance with the Soviets (an even more brutal and evil regime than the Nazis) and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no side can claim the moral high ground.

That said, a reader sent me the above-posted picture of my old regiment, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (at least some of them) embarking on a landing craft on D-Day. They landed on Juno Beach.

I don't think any of the veterans I had the pleasure of meeting were members of the R Wpg Rif Battalion that landed in Normandy. I remember stories of Italy from the old soldiers I sat with at mess dinners. They had nothing but respect for the German soldiers they faced, and had fond memories of joining forced with British troops to brawl with Americans.
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