In theaters Friday
One of our most anticipated movies of the year is here at last. Given how much we’ve been gushing about it in recent weeks, you already know the score: Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a time-traveling mob hitman saddled with the unenviable task of having to kill his older, balder, more Bruce Willis-y self. It’s a great high concept idea that becomes worthy of true attention thanks to the casting and the fact that it’s written and directed by one of the best emerging talents out there, Brick‘s Rian Johnson. It’s always exciting to see an established filmmaker try their hand at the world of science fiction, and if I’d had to put together a list of mainstream directors I’d want to see make a science fiction movie, there’s no question I would have put Johnson’s name on it.
Still, there are questions. It’s good to see that Gordon-Levitt isn’t trying to channel Moonlighting-era Bruce Willis, but will the prosthetics be more distracting than effective? Will Young Joe succeed at killing Old Joe? Or vice versa? And if vice versa, how big a paradox will result. Also, what’s up with all the telekinesis in the trailers? If you need me I’ll be in the corner, marking days off my calendar.
Alphas (Syfy, 8/7c) – “The Devil Will Drag You Under”
“The true intentions of apparent-turncoat Hicks are revealed after he begins working for Parish, who is plotting to cause a blackout of epic proportions.” This show has been firing on all cylinders this season, with the machinations and motivations of the effectively immortal Parish giving the show a “Big Bad” that makes the show a bit more cohesive and less “case of the week.”
Revolution (NBC, 10/9c) – “Chained Heat”
“Miles and the team set out to locate rebel fighter Nora in the hope that she’ll join them in rescuing Danny. Meanwhile, Aaron confides in Maggie; and Danny sees firsthand what Neville is capable of.” More importantly, is this show already setting itself for a disappointing “mystical” ending if/when it reaches its conclusion? I’m getting a waft of Lost coming off this show, and not in the good way.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 9/8c) – “The Ones You Love”
“Brother Adrian resorts to extreme measures, sending deadly artifacts to the agents’ loved ones, to coerce Artie into reversing the Astrolabe’s effects. Meanwhile, Mrs. Frederic and Steve uncover something shocking during a trip to the Vatican.” Is it the fact that the Pope still looks like Palpatine?
The Avengers (Blu-Ray & DVD)
One of the year’s biggest hits arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download. Why am I even telling you that? If you’re reading GFR, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already got yours pre-ordered.
“Count to a Trillion” by John C. Wright
Nebula Award finalist Wright made a splash years ago with the “Golden Age” trilogy (The Golden Age, The Phoenix Exultant, and The Golden Transcendence), then took a foray into writing fantasy, and now is finally back with a new space opera novel. Here’s the skinny, via Amazon:
After the collapse of the world economy, a young boy grows up in what used to be Texas as a tough [duelist] for hire, the future equivalent of a hired gun. But even after the collapse, there is space travel, and he leaves Earth to have adventures in the really wide open spaces. But he is quickly catapulted into the more distant future, while humanity, and Artificial Intelligence, grows and changes and becomes a kind of superman.
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) – “Dishonorable Proportions”
In a nice bit of cross-promotional marketing, Face Off is challenging its contestants to create steampunk characters from the world of the videogame Dishonored, which releases on October 9th. And if you have to cross-promote something on Syfy, better Dishonored — which looks kind of awesome — than wrestling or whatever.
“Halo: Glasslands” by Karen Traviss
Craving a little slice of the Halo universe before Halo 4 drops on November 6th? Here’s a synopsis/infodump that I’m sure will mean a lot more to people who have played the Halo games.
The Covenant has collapsed after a long, brutal war that saw billions slaughtered on Earth and her colonies. For the first time in decades, however, peace finally seems possible. But though the fighting’s stopped, the war is far from over: it’s just gone underground. The UNSC’s feared and secretive Office of Naval Intelligence recruits Kilo-Five, a team of ODSTs, a Spartan, and a diabolical AI to accelerate the Sangheili insurrection. Meanwhile, the Arbiter, the defector turned leader of a broken Covenant, struggles to stave off civil war among his divided people.
Across the galaxy, a woman thought to have died on Reach is actually very much alive. Chief scientist Dr. Catherine Halsey broke every law in the book to create the Spartans, and now she’s broken some more to save them. Marooned with Chief Mendez and a Spartan team in a Forerunner slipspace bubble hidden in the destroyed planet Onyx, she finds that the shield world has been guarding an ancient secret – a treasure trove of Forerunner technology that will change everything for the UNSC and mankind.
As Kilo-Five joins the hunt for Halsey, humanity’s violent past begins to catch up with all of them as disgruntled colony Venezia has been biding its time to strike at Earth, and its most dangerous terrorist has an old, painful link with both Halsey and Kilo-Five that will test everyone’s loyalty to the limit.
Hot Set (Syfy, 10/9c) – “Alien Queen”
Sadly, it’s not that alien queen. Instead, this episode tasks competing production designers with building a “throne room for an alien queen.”
“The Martian War” by Kevin J. Anderson
Anderson’s spin on H.G. Wells classic tale is getting a re-issue with a snazzy new tripod-heavy cover. In The Martian War, Wells’ War of the Worlds is imagined to have been based on something real that Wells himself witnessed. Along the way, Wells’ journey stretches from “from drafty London flats to the steamy Sahara, to the surface of the moon and beyond, The Martian War takes the reader on an exhilarating journey with Wells and his companions.”
“Micro” by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
Having passed away in 2008, Crichton has now entered a strange and exclusive club: successful writers whose unfinished works are completed by other people. Hence we have Micro, an unfinished manuscript found in Crichton’s archives after his death and then completed by Richard Preston, and which is getting a reprint edition this week. Touching tribute to the author’s legacy or literary grave robbing? Beats me, but here’s the synopsis.
In the locked office of a Honolulu building, three men are found dead, with no sign of struggle except for ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies.
In the lush rain forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Here, seven brilliant graduate students recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up company are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power—armed only with their knowledge of the natural world—they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself to survive.
Melding scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction in vintage Michael Crichton fashion—completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston—Micro is an instant classic of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.
Resident Evil: Damnation (Blu-Ray & DVD)
If the recent Resident Evil: Retribution didn’t fill your quota for Resident Evil material, assuming there are people who have such a quota, here’s some more of it. This time with CGI animated characters, who may actually be more convincing than the live-action cast.
Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (Comedy Central, 8/7c)
Remember that Simpsons episode where Milhouse told Bart that Alf was back, but in Pog form? Well, Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie and company are back, but in Lego form. Will Lucas’ universe be improved by making it at least 75% more blocky? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Neighbors (ABC, 9:31/8:31c) – “Pilot”
Early word on this ABC pilot is not good. That may be because, as I’ve said before, it sounds like something that’s been sealed inside an ABC time capsule since the mid ’80s. Sadly, the world has moved on from the Balki Bartokomouses of the world, for good or ill. But if you find yourself nostalgic for the misadventures of family who moves into a gated community that is filled with undercover extraterrestrials, well, here you go.
Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation #5 (IDW Comics)
The colossal comics collision of the Star Trek and Doctor Who universes continues with Captain Picard “forced to make the toughest decision of his life, and the Doctor trying to convince him to make the right choice.” And yes, that is maddeningly vague.
Last Resort (ABC, 8/7c) – “Captain”
Nary a science fiction subplot to be found, but we’re declaring this show “proactive alternate history” and steering you toward it anyway. Why? Andre Braugher and The Shield‘s Shawn Ryan, that’s why. Last Resort follows the crew of a United States Naval submarine that receives the order to launch nuclear missiles at Pakistan. After they question the order, they’re fired upon…by another American vessel.
Person of Interest (CBS, 9/8c) — “Contingency”
The Jonathan Nolan-created sci-fi procedural returns with Carter and Fusco searching for Finch, while Reese must deal with the latest number spit out by the Magic Future Predicto Machine (patent pending).
Fringe (Fox, 9/8c) – “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11”
Fringe is back, huzzah! The bad news is that it’s the first of the final 13 episodes. But the good news is that the show is looking to go out with a bang, with the Fringe team dropped into a dystopian future where those bald fedora’d bastards, the Observers, have taken over the whole friggin’ planet.
Doctor Who (BBC One, 9/8c) — “The Angels Take Manhattan”
This is it. The final adventure for Amy and Rory, and all signs point to a tragic exit indeed. What will be the final fate of the Ponds? How will their departure affect the Doctor? Just how long will the wait for new episodes seem? Tune in and find out.