The Sunday Salon: Period Sci-Fi Films

Over the holiday break, my parents and I went to go see The King’s Speech—a fantastic film, by the way. As I settled into my seat with enough sour candy to make my tongue go numb (I can’t enjoy movies without ‘em), a preview popped up. I watched as the Moon Landing was revealed to be a cover to check on an alien spaceship crash site and got very, very excited; period sci-fi? Be still, my heart.

You can imagine my dismay when the trailer rudely revealed itself to be for Transformers 3: Dark Side of the Moon. “Michael Bay must be stopped!” I muttered into my sour strawberry belts. But still, the trailer piqued my interest in historical science fiction—or period sci-fi, as I’ll be calling it from hereon out. I suppose this is why I like alternate history and steampunk (which often overlaps). And, luckily, two period sci-fi films coming out this year are based on graphic novels, making them eligible for review here at The Literary Omnivore. So today, we’re going to have a film version of The Literary Horizon, featuring period sci-fi films I really, really want to see.

Captain America: The First Avenger
July 22

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

via IMDb

I, for one, don’t read Marvel in general—there’s something about their smirking realism that doesn’t grab me… unless it’s on film. I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk (although that just might be because I love Liv Tyler). But I’ve been excited for Captain America: The First Avenger since I knew it was in production and that it was going to be set during World War II. Captain America is the rare superhero that’s tied to a specific time and place—I think the only thing that can come close is the art direction from Batman: The Animated Series. (Its classy early American Art Deco stylings is the reason why I rage over tarting up Harley Quinn and making her Goth. Sister is anything but, my friends.) The ideological clashes Superman and Batman have are paralleled in the ideological clashes Captain America and Iron Man—and I think the description of Superman as “the ultimate Boy Scout” also describes Captain America. Hopefully.

In any case, the period feel is perfect, the special effects are astounding (they turned Chris Evans into someone smaller than me!), and the cast looks solid. Chris Evans, who has recently vacated the shoes of a one Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four, has the charm and affability to carry a franchise, and I’m glad he’s getting solid work. Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter looks amazing—she’s kind of captivated me, to be honest. In one thirty second TV spot, she subtly macks on Steve and snarks at him coolly. I’m going to guess their chemistry is sizzling. (And, of course, latently tragic. Sigh.)

Cowboys and Aliens

A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys are all that stand in their way.

via IMDb

Initially, I dismissed this concept—the title itself sounds downright juvenile, doesn’t it? But with the casting of Daniel Craig, I think this production nailed something very important. Robert Downey Jr. was originally given the part, but I think having his self-deprecating charm in a movie with a thoroughly ridiculous concept would have hurt the movie’s internal credibility. But Craig (the best part about The Golden Compass) is a very internal and serious actor, and having him as the core of this film forces the audience to pay attention to it.

I don’t know much about the graphic novel itself—only that the concept was rescued from the peculiar copyright practice of ashcan copy—but I do know that Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzmann are fantastic writers. Well, fantastic writers when Michael Bay isn’t locking them in a closet and denying them food and water. (As I said earlier, Michael Bay must be stopped.) Their work on Star Trek manages to be both slick and human, and Fringe continues to blow me away as I make my way through the series. Combining that with the efficient and clever (though never exactly mindblowing) directing of Jon Favreau, the odds are fantastically good for Cowboys and Aliens. I’m especially looking forward to the traditional battle of science versus religion in a situation without much religious diversity and less doubt than your average contemporary science fiction setting.

My week has just been hectic. School, work, theater, book blog… and last night was an important ceremony for the women of my college—my class was inducted into what is commonly known as the Black Ring Mafia, while I still think we should at least try out the Black Lanterns. (And yes, I recited the Green Lantern oath with my own school ring.) I did manage to finish Who Fears Death, which was… underwhelming. I have conflicted feelings about it, but I’ll save that for the review.

TJ at Dreams and Speculation is giving away a $30 gift certificate to CSN Stores. Celia at Cecelia Bedelia is giving away a book from her best of 2010 list until Tuesday. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!

What do you make of period sci-fi and these upcoming films?

11 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Period Sci-Fi Films

  1. Every time I hear anything about Cowboys and Aliens, I immediately assume someone’s talking about Firefly and getting it wrong. :p That said, and despite my moderate level of dislike for Daniel Craig, I am kind of curious to see it.

  2. Cowboys and Aliens doesn’t look as bad as I feared. It probably has something to do with Daniel Craig though. After his turn at James Bond, I now believe he can do no wrong.

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  4. Thank you! Thank you, thank you!

    I’m not the only one watching Fringe!

    Looking forward to seeing Captain America. Chris Evans is a great actor and I think a lot of people are finally going to get to realize this. Also, Hugo Weaving is awesome.

    I’m curious about Cowboys & Aliens. It oddly looks good and, as a rule, I don’t think it should be. If nothing else, it should be a lot of fun.

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