With season two of the critically-acclaimed SyFy series The Expanse set to premiere on February 1st, I thought it was high time I went back and took a look not only at season one, but at the Blu-ray set of season one!
Film novelizations are, in their own way, just as tricky a needle to thread as film adaptations of novels. You’re taking someone else’s words and ideas, meant for one medium, and transposing them to another, hopefully doing them justice while at the same time adjusting and adapting them to fit the new medium. At their best, film novelizations can open up the world of the movie considerably, adding more scenes and characters and background information which couldn’t possibly be crammed into a two or even three-hour movie. At their worst, they’re a limp, lifeless transposition of the screenplay, lacking any of the energy or vitality which made the film entertaining. The Vonda N. McIntyre novelizations of Star Trek 2 – 4, or Peter David’s adaptation of The Rocketeer, are examples of the former; the Alan Dean Foster adaptation of The Force Awakens, the latter.
So where does Rogue One’s novelization fall? Somewhere in between. It doesn’t wildly expand the scope of the film, but it fills in just enough gaps in characterization and plot to make it, I’m shocked to report, the first novelization I’ve ever read that I enjoyed more than the film it was based on. Continue reading
Rebels has — in its own, piecemeal way — been dealing with the fallout from “Twilight of the Apprentice” all season long. Now, in the mid-season finale “Visions and Voices,” things between Ezra and Maul come to something of a turning point.
We’re less than a month out from Rogue One and discovering just what a non-Saga, “anthology” Star Wars film looks like. Lucasfilm seems to be dipping its toe in the non-Saga pool gently, giving us a story — the theft of the plans to the first Death Star — separate from but still intrinsically linked to the original Star Wars film. In the meantime, to whet our appetites and give us some backstory for the characters we’ll meet in the film, Legends and Tarkin alum James Luceno has brought us Catalyst, the story of Galen Erso and Orson Krennic (Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn in the film, respectively) and how their unlikely friendship led to the development of the galaxy’s most powerful weapon.
Random House has consistently released audiobook versions of the novels in the new canon, and Catalyst is no exception. Catalyst is performed by Jonathan Davis — not the lead singer of Korn, but the veteran of more than four hundred(!) audiobook recordings, over of thirty of which were under the Star Wars banner.
So, how does Catalyst work — as a stand-alone novel, as a film prelude, and as an audiobook production? Read on to find out! Continue reading
Fenn Rau returns, we learn a little more about what’s happened on Mandalore since the Empire took over, and Sabine finally gets a jetpack. “Imperial Supercommandos” serves not only as a sequel to season 2’s “The Protector of Concord Dawn,” but doles out a little more insight into Sabine’s backstory.
John Scalzi is a busy guy. In between writing novels, winning Hugo awards for said novels, and extolling the virtues of churros on Twitter, he’s managed to write a short story called “The Dispatcher,” which, as read by Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto, was released earlier this month as an Audible exclusive, for free. The audio story will remain free until November 2, so we thought we’d give it a listen and let you know if it’s worth your time.
Ever since Ahsoka Tano walked into the sunset in the season five finale of The Clone Wars, I’ve hoped for a novel or a comic series detailing her post-Jedi existence. The release of Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir and Dark Disciple, a comic and a book, respectively, based on storied intended to be The Clone Wars story arcs, heightened my anticipation. Fortunately, right on the heels of the Rebels season two finale — which showed Ahsoka once again striding away from the camera into an uncertain future — we got the announcement that everyone’s favorite Togruta Padawan would indeed be getting her own novel. Heightening the excitement was the later announcement that the voice of Ahsoka herself, Ashley Eckstein, would be performing the audiobook.
To the jump!
It’s safe to say season one of Rebels was a success, though it was criticized by many as being too small scale and low stakes. Season one certainly had a limited scope — by design, and, in my opinion, smartly so — though the three-part season finale, which reintroduced Grand Moff Tarkin, included a spectacular battle in orbit of Mustafar, and teased us with the arrival of both Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano, hinted at a somewhat wider scope and scale for season two. Did season two build on what season one laid down in a logical and satisfying way? Was the show able to continue to develop its characters while achieving a larger scale? And is the recently released Blu-ray set of season two worth picking up, even if you’ve already seen all the episodes? That, my friends, is what I’m here to tell you.
The second season set of Star Wars: Rebels looks and feels a great deal like the season one set. As before, the video is 1080p, presented in the show’s original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. English, French, and German audio tracks are available in Dolby Digital 5.1, while Spanish-speaking fans will have to be satisfied with a 2.0 mix. The season’s 22 episodes are spread out across 3 discs, along with each episode’s corresponding installment of Rebels Recon, the YouTube after-show hosted by Andi Gutierrez, StarWars.com’s social media correspondent. Disc three also includes two short featurettes, “Connecting the Galaxy,” and “From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs. Ahsoka,” both of which I’ll discuss below. Continue reading
The following review endeavors to be as spoiler-free as possible. Obviously, however, there is some discussion of plot and character elements. If you’ve already decided to watch the show and want to go in as fresh as possible, maybe save this review until after the fact.
Netflix, by this point, has well-established itself in the original programming department. From flagship programs like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, to more esoteric shows like Sense8 or Hemlock Grove, Netflix’s shows run the gamut in both genre and quality. Its latest effort, Stranger Things, which premiered Friday, July 15th, was announced out of the blue a month ago, promising a nostalgia-driven science-fiction/horror drama set in the eighties. The trailer evoked the adventure and innocence of ‘80s adventure films like E.T. or The Goonies, as well as the harder edge of classic horror fare like The Thing or The Evil Dead. The show stars Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine — stars emblematic of the eighties — alongside an ensemble of relative unknowns, in a story of a small town besieged by mysterious disappearances, bizarre occurrences, and shady government operatives. It is created, produced, and many of its episodes written and directed by Matt & Ross Duffer, The Duffer Brothers. Two more relative unknowns, the brothers are probably best known for working on the Fox series Wayward Pines.
The trailer generated a lot of excitement, not only due to the fact that Netflix had stealthily made this show without hardly anyone hearing about it, but for the promise of its intoxicating blend of sci-fi, horror, and ‘80s paranoia. Does the eight-episode series live up to that promise, or is it just another empty vessel for self-indulgent nostalgia?
By now a great many of you have likely already purchased and read Life Debt, the second novel in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy. Some of you may be waiting, however — for payday, for a free moment … or for someone to help you decide between the print version and the audio version. Likewise, there may be some of you who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to (or prefer not to) read the print version, and may be waiting to hear if the audiobook is an acceptable presentation of Wendig’s prose. Hopefully this review will help those folks, as well as anyone else who might be considering the audio version, decide if it’s for them.