James Bond is back. Three years after the veritable anniversary smash hit that was Skyfall, director Sam Mendes gives us Spectre.

Here’s what I thought of Spectre in a nutshell:

It’s a fantastic James Bond movie, it shows the franchise adapting to a modern way of storytelling. It introduces repercussions and consequences into a narrative previously devoid of actual development. But it also fails to deliver on the big villain reveal, leaving the most hyped and most anticipated aspect of its story lacking and kinda… underwhelming.

If you want more than the gist, there be spoilers beyond the cut.

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The Cultural Appeal of James Bond, and How He Could Endure

The twentieth-century James Bond is, to use M’s words, ‘a misogynist dinosaur, a relic of [a] cold war’ that never turned hot, and he’s the result of an unholy trinity of (toxic) hyper-masculinity, international terrorism, and whatever the hell ‘quintessential Englishness’ actually means.

Just after the UK premiere of SPECTRE, a colleague of mine and I got talking about my mild Bond obsession. Since he’d been put off by Quantum of Solace’s comparatively weak performance, he asked me how I would explain that 007 became such a cultural phenomenon that he’s still around today, and that the franchise is actually still growing. Since pulling meta out of my butt at a moment’s notice is kinda my whole thing, I may have gone off on a fifty-year tangent. I’ve been since asked to put my thoughts into writing, so here you have it.Read More »

the falling sky cover

Fiction Meets Science — Pippa Goldschmidt, “The Falling Sky”

(A German translation of this review is available on the Bremer Literaturkontor website.)

No spoilers were harmed in the making of this review.

On June 18, 2015, astronomer-turned-novelist Pippa Goldschmidt visited the House of Science in Bremen, together with her translator Zoë Beck, to read excerpts from her novel “The Falling Sky.” As part of the series ‘Fiction meets Science,’ novelists, literary scholars, sociologists, and STEM scientists observe the relationship between literature and science. This examination takes place on two levels: literature becomes the object of sociological study within the context of public discourse on science and scientific progress, for one. On another level, there is a field of tension between science and its representation in art.Read More »

Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

If you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet, I strongly urge you to.

Not only does it tell us, in the wake of summer action blockbusters like Age of Ultron and Fast and Furious 7, that this genre is neither dead nor dying — it tells us that it works across gender boundaries.

Tom Hardy’s Mad Max introduces us to a not forgotten hero, but one left in the dust of time, at least when it comes to the silver screen. It introduces us to the hero of a franchise, the male hero — and we get to know him through the role he plays not in his own story, not in some heroic journey that he’s mapped out for himself. We get to know him through the action he takes not for himself, but for others, through his role in someone else’s story.Read More »

Minority Report first look

FOX 2015/16 line-up — trailer reviews

Out of the FOX line-up for this fall’s TV season, these two shows caught my eye — Minority Report and Lucifer. After NBC has done away with its really, really bad Constantine idea, FOX has picked up the Downstairs end of the story based on DC’s Vertigo Lucifer comics. Minority Report, of course, is the sort of origin story/precursor/continuation of the Tom Cruise movie based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, from the perspective of the three Precogs featured in the movie.Read More »

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl/Kara Zor-El

First Look 2015/16 — the first pilot season trailers are up on the air

Hey folks — it’s barely summer, and it’s time to get a good look at what US television is offering us this fall.

Here’s a selection of trailers that a) grabbed my attention and b) made me want to see more, and soon, or c) made me go, oh no, not this again.

Supergirl (CBS)

Stars Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers/Supergirl, Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen, Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, and David Harewood as Hank Henshaw

Supergirl has me the most excited by far because, dude, it’s not a plane, it’s not a bird, it’s definitely not a man. It’s a girl.Read More »

Legend — official trailer

Aside from the fact that I’d watch Tom Hardy fry an egg and I’m really excited to see him in not just one but two leading roles, this movie will be of special interest to us as Whitechapel fans. In Legend, Tom will play both of the infamous Kray twins, whose modern sort-of reincarnations (and fictional […]