Mad Max Fury Road posterPosted on March 30th, 2015 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Today in history: Annette O'Toole, Lana Lang of Superman III and the TV mini-series IT turns 63 today. Happy birthday!
With three movies due out it seems as if Marvel Entertainment has bought and now owns the naming rights to summer. The first of which is The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1. Really The Avengers Part 2, or is it Iron Man Part 5…, Age of Ultron has the whole team back together again battling the robotic Ulton, one of the most iconic Avengers villains. Much like with the first Avengers flick, the fate of the very Earth will hang in the balance in this film!
Except since there are two more Marvel movies out this summer and a whole slew of Marvel films scheduled for theaters all the way up until 2019, I think the fate of the Earth has already been decided in a corporate board room.
Mr. Road Warrior himself Mad Max returns to the hellish highways of the apocalypse on May 15 in Max Max: Fury Road. This fourth outing for the character, with Tom Hardy in the title role and co-starring Charlize Theron, has Max trying to rescue a group of fellow apocalyptic travelers from the clutches of a crazed outlaw gang of motorheads.
In other words: More merry Mad Max mayhem!
A remake of the family-scarer Poltergeist is out May 22. I’m interested in this one, if just because the original 1982 film about a girl vanished into the guts of a family’s haunted house gave me the heebie-jeebies as a youngster. I mean, Poltiergeist has one of the kids in the movie being practically eaten alive by a tree one minute and terrorized by a clown doll the next. C’MON!
It helps that this new Poltergeist is being produced by Evil Dead horror auteur Sam Raimi too.
A fourth Jurassic Park movie, Jurassic World, is set to bring a little chaos to theaters June 12. While this is being billed as a sequel to the first three films from 1993 to 2001, to me Jurassic World looks to be an reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise as a whole. The trailer for this one has a slew of people visiting Jurassic Park when something goes wrong that turns loose the dinosaurs to chomp on some unsuspecting folks. Or, it’s a bigger version of Jurassic Park sans the guiding hands of Steven Spielberg.
Terminator: Genesys, the fifth film of that franchise, will “be back” in theaters July 1 with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Due to the vagaries of time travel, this time he’s joined by a young Sarah Connor (now Emilia Clarke) as the two along with Reese (now Jai Courtney) fight off a bunch of different and deadly terminators out to put an end to the Connor timeline once and for all. Or at least until the next movie.
Marvel movie #2 is Ant-Man out July 17. There’s not too much known about this one other than it stars Paul Rudd in the title role of a superhero who can turn incredibly small. But if Ant-Man follows the Marvel Mold™ of late it’s no doubt that the fate of the planet will be in Ant-Man’s teeny-tiny hands.
A fifth Mission: Impossible movie, simply titled Mission: Impossible 5, is out July 31. Even though I probably shouldn’t I’ve enjoyed the Mission: Impossible movies since the first one was released in ’96. Even if the missions the M:I teams have gone on over the years/sequels have gone from impossible to impossibler to “there’s no way in heck they’d be able to do any of this stuff whatsoever!”
The final Marvel movie out this summer, that’s really a Sony one, is Fantastic Four. A reboot of the Fantastic Four films from 2005 and ’07, this version looks to put a new, darker spin on the big four. Or, if it works it could be the dawn of a new age in the tone of comic book movies but if it doesn’t we might just have another Catwoman on our hands.
Premiering on TV screens before Mission: Impossible in 1964 was Man from U.N.C.L.E., the first series to take inspiration from the James Bond films to a TV series. Now a film version of U.N.C.L.E. is set to close the summer movie season August 14. This 1960s period piece seems to be equal parts Jason Bourne and Austin Powers.
I was an impressionable 10 year old when the animated TV series Robotech first premiered here in 1985. Back then the TV landscape was very much different that it was today, especially with kid’s cartoons. Now, cartoons air 24/7 on a variety of specific channels and via streaming services too. But back in 1985 cartoons only really aired Saturday mornings and for a few hours after school on one or two channels.
I hate to admit it but looking back for the most part cartoons of 30 years ago weren’t very good. Until I started rewatching cartoons as an adult I thought most of the ones I used to watch as a kid were brilliant. And while I might still love say classic G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons, the stories these two shows told were cliched and childish where even though characters were trying to kill one and other no one really got hurt and no one ever died.
That’s part of the reason Robotech is so memorable to me, why it’s so different from its contemporaries.
Robotech told one long story over 85 episodes and three different series. Characters in Robotech grew and changed and shockingly enough some actually died. Watching Robotech again today I’m amazed at just what weighty subjects the show told. It’s almost like Robotech was an adult themed show in the guise of a children’s cartoon. And the design and art of the show was like nothing I’d ever seen before outside feature film animation.
Years before computer 3D effects would make such things easy Robotech had jets that could turn into robots fighting alien ships which must’ve taken countless hours to animate by hand.
The story of Robotech is deceptively simple. On the eve of a third world war a gigantic alien spacecraft crashes onto the Earth and the governments of the world unite to explore and figure out uses for this new technology. Fast forward a few years to the launch of the SDF-1, a gigantic ship built from the wreck and tech of this ship when the aliens who lost the ship in the first place come looking for it. But when we use this new “Robotech” technology to fight back it malfunctions and sends the ship to Pluto where the survivors of the battle must fight their way through the solar system to get home.
And this was just the first series. The other two dealt with the continuation of this war into the future to a post apocalyptic end.
To a kid who’d grown up assured via cartoons that the good guys always win and that the bad guys can always parachute out of their exploding helicopters before hitting the ground, Robotech came as a bit of a revelation. I’d never seen anything like it before and I’m not sure there’d been any show up to that point to deal with all the stuff in Robotech before.
Even so, there were only a few of us at school who were into Robotech. The show aired at the staggering early time of 6:30AM against things like the early news and the farm report. It was on so early that I used to get up, watch Robotech and go back to bed for an hour before I had to really get up for school.
So, at least in our area, Robotech was never as popular as the other cartoons even though there were the usual tie-in comic books, toys and action figures to go along with the series. After the original Robotech series ended that was pretty much it for Robotech for the next few years.
While Robotech is still very much outside the mainstream for people like me who grew up with the show or came to discover it later it was world changing. I don’t think after seeing Robotech I could take other cartoons that didn’t take on real-world topics like Robotech as seriously as before. Where’s the fun in watching a show like Voltron that also had gigantic robots facing off against aliens when each week’s episode was almost a mirror of what had come before when I could be watching Robotech instead?
It’s been a few years since the last time I sat down to watch episodes of Robotech and probably decades since I’ve watched the series as a whole. But if this is any indication as to how much the series meant, no, means to me whenever I play a clip of the Robotech title sequence and the synthetic violin strings start up there’s a chill of excitement that goes up my spine where I’m 10 years old again up too early to catch my favorite cartoon on TV.
Original air date: February 4, 1996
The war has started to turn in our favor when the Chigs launch an experimental fighter that’s capable of wiping out entire squadrons in the blink of an eye. When the 58th are thrown into the fray looking to eliminate this threat will they be be able to take out this alien Red Baron or will they become yet another statistic?
“Never No More” is probably the best episode of Space: Above and Beyond, it’s certainly the best up to this point. While other episodes have dealt with things like the war with the Chigs and what it’s like to leave loved ones behind and sometimes see them die, “Never No More” is the first episode in the series to handle all that in one episode so succinctly.
Here, the tables are finally starting to turn and the Earth forces are beginning to make advances against the previously seemingly unbeatable Chigs. But whenever squadrons of our fighters go off to patrol around a certain planet they end up getting wiped out by a single, special, Chig ship. And even when we send scores and scores of fighters against this Chig fighter dubbed “Chiggie Von Richthofen” we’re only able to score a temporary victory over it after having suffered massive losses.
The Earth is set to mount a major new offensive against the Chigs, they think they know the location of the alien’s home planet is, but in order for it to start we first must destroy this new fighter less it continue to kill Marine pilots.
With “Never No More” we get a whole heck of a lot of Shane Vansen’s backstory here. This is mainly of her turning down an engagement proposal from her high school boyfriend in a flashback before the war, which with these two characters is where the real interest in this episode lies.
In flashbacks the character of Capt. John Oakes (Michael Reilly Burke) is a bright-eyed kid who’s excited to fly off to a great adventure after graduation in the Marines. But that adventure turned to something darker after the outbreak of the war and more recently with the loss of his girlfriend to this Chiggie Von Richtofen.
And Vansen, who’s been so closed up to this point with the loss of her parents as a kid, comes off as someone in “Never No More” with a bit more heart than I think anyone had expected. She’s in love with Oakes but with the realities of what’s going on around them their relationship is something different. Them being together even for a little while is some small respite from a war that’s taken so many of their friends and comrades.
“Never No More” has more gut-wrenching emotion than all the previous episodes combined. And after watching this episode when it originally aired I was never able to hear the Patsy Cline song “Never No More” the same way again.
“Never No More” also features what I’d guess is the most special effect shots of any episode of the series up to this point – even if some of those shots were cribbed from earlier episodes. There’s shots of Marine Hammerheads stalking this Chig fighter and the battles fought between them too. While these shots look a bit dated today none-the-less they were groundbreaking for the time this episode aired.
We also get a bit of the wider scope to the war here too. There’s an (I think) Israeli pilot playing cards with the 58th in one scene and in another the “Fighting Finns” who are I’m assuming Finnish pilots in another.
The Chigs develop a fighter that’s practically invisible to the Marines yet after the next episode they never use this again. Chig technology that could seemingly turn the war in their favor yet they only ever use it once is a common theme throughout SAaB.
Capt. John Oakes: “He disappeared about 100 of these ago.”
On who he is now compared to as a teen when receiving death notices is a normal occurrence.
TC McQueen about Chiggie Von Richthofen: “You might as well be talking about ghosts and werewolves because there is no such thing.”
Shane Vansen: “The only certainty is now and I sure don’t believe in forever.”
Capt. John Oakes: “I hate the word you said to me that night, but I’ve come to believe them.”
TC McQueen: “You’re sending them into the dark without a light.”
Shane Vansen: “I’m so sorry that she’s not here, but I’m not sorry that I am.”
Pilot: “Sir, how do we detect it?”
TC McQueen: “When a plane in your formation goes down, you know you’re in the schoolyard.”
Commodore Ross: “Abandon all hope my ass!”
Oakes girlfriend Brandt is leader of the “Soaring Hornets.”
Cooper Hawkes has no poker face.
“Never No More” takes place around February 14, 2064. Valentine’s Day.
Vansen and Oakes went to El Cajon Valley High School.
Oakes went to the Marine Corps High Intensity Survival Training on the Moon in the Sea of Tranquility.
The operation the Marines are participating in at the start of the episode is “Shadow Watch.” Later they join operation “Red Baron.”