Amazon and Netflix have been engaged in an ongoing scuffle over exclusive streaming content for a while now, even aside from both of them diving into the world of actually producing original shows. While Netflix has a lead on the original series front, Amazon Prime has landed exclusive streaming rights to several big science fiction “gets” such as TNT’s Falling Skies, CBS’s Under the Dome, and BBC America’s Orphan Black — one of our favorite new shows of 2013 (and favorite things of 2013, for that matter). Now Amazon has reeled in another sci-fi fish: Syfy’s Defiance, which returns for a second season this summer, and which is now available for streaming by Amazon Prime customers.
I had high hopes for Syfy’s Defiance last year. It was nice to see the former Sci-Fi Network airing some actual sci-fi again. Plus, Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon was on board as a writer and executive producer. Maybe it’s just because my expectations were set at “Farscape,” but when Defiance finally premiered, it was something of a let-down. It wasn’t bad, mind you, just…not great. But I have to admit, the new trailer for season two up top looks pretty great, and there’s one other compelling reason I’ll be giving the show a second chance this summer: Linda Hamilton.
I was really excited for Syfy’s Defiance. The concept of a community of humans and aliens trying to make a life together after a devastating war was ripe with dramatic potential, and even better, Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon was onboard as an executive producer and Battlestar Galactica’s Bear McCreary was handling the music. Unfortunately, Defiance proved to be only sort of okay, never really reaching its full potential. Nevertheless, it earned a second-season pickup from Syfy, so hopefully it will hit its stride when it returns this summer. But you won’t have to wait that long to return to the world of Defiance, thanks to a series of “minisodes” which will bridge the gap between the first and second seasons.
Pacific Rim was one of my favorite films of the summer. The movie was a blast, that rare cinematic outing that knows exactly what it wants to be and then puts every last ounce of energy and gusto into being that thing in the very best way possible. Pacific Rim is like eight-year-old Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham invited us over to their house to play robots vs. monsters, but their parents gave them a $200 million “afternoon fun” budget. That should put a giddy little smile on your face, and as I’ve often said, if you can’t find joy in giant robots punching giant monsters, then you, my friend, are already dead. Pacific Rim is, succinctly, a blast.
If you didn’t check Pacific Rim out in theaters, it hits Blu-ray, DVD, and digital formats today. In addition to the movie itself being a damn good time, the combo packs include an audio commentary with del Toro, a ton of behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel (you can actually see some of that right here). Hell, the collector’s edition even comes with a replica of Gipsy Danger’s the Jaeger piloted by Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Make Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Sadly, it’s not life-sized and functional, but that’s what you people get for not going to see it on opening weekend and driving up the box office. I did and they gave me mine, but then the police confiscated it after I tried to pilot it solo and flattened a neighborhood birthday party.
Bring on the rocket punches!
Most of the much-hyped science fiction movies of the spring and summer were met with mixed reviews and box office success. Oblivion pulled in $280 million worldwide, but didn’t win over critics terribly well (53% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). Star Trek Into Darkness did better, earning nearly half a billion worldwide and receiving largely positive reviews (87% fresh), but earned the ire of many Trek fans not happy with Abrams’ handling of their favorite fictional universe. Even Pacific Rim, which we loved, only did so-so here in the States, earning much of its $407 million worldwide box office from international markets such as China. But if you asked me to name the best science fiction movie of the year so far, none of those would be in the top slot. Instead, I’ll evangelizing about Europa Report, the rare hard sci-fi flick that beautifully evokes the danger and wonder of outer space, wrapped up in probably the most satisfying finales I’ve seen in ages. If you haven’t seen it yet, mark your calendar: it hits Blu-Ray and DVD on October 8.
The first season of Syfy’s Defiance may have come and gone, but thanks to the innovative cross platform collaboration between the show and the accompanying massive multiplayer online videogame from Trion Worlds, you won’t have to wait months and months in order to get your fix. One of the coolest things about this whole shebang has always been that events from the show, and even some in the game, breach traditional boundaries, and one influences the other. In fact the producers plan to take this collaboration to an even higher level next year. Defiance just launched a contest where the winner will have his or her character from the game appear in season two of the show.
According the Defiance website, in the contest, which runs from July 8 through July 30, players must replay all of the cross over content, and complete the most major ArkFalls during that time. The top ten players will qualify to have their avatars appear in season two, and the winner will be announced on September 15. This is a pretty unique prize. The writing staff will develop a backstory for your character—you can’t help but wonder if you’ve already come up with an elaborate one yourself, if they’ll let you contribute ideas—and he or she will appear in an episode in the upcoming sophomore season. There’s no word how big the role will be, but does it matter? This is like winning a virtual walk on role.