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What happens on the fourth day?


  • Holograms That You Can Touch

    Fairy Hologram (image credit - mashable.com)

     

    That, my friends, is a fairy.  It’s tiny, pretty, and made of light.  It can’t grant wishes, but you can touch it.  It’s a hologram.  How does it work?  Force fields, like in Star Trek?  Magic?  Nope; it’s lasers.  Tiny little lasers that last for less time than it takes to see them, when fired in the proper sequence, can create holograms you can actually touch without burning yourself.

     

    Researchers at Japan’s Digital Nature Group have developed a method whereby lasers are fired for mere femtoseconds.  Wanna know how short that is?  It’s a million times shorter than a nanosecond, which is already a billion times shorter than a second.  3-dimensional plasma images are created when the lasers burn (or ionize) the air.  The term “voxel” refers to the points of light the plasma emits.  When this method was used previously, the lasers lasted longer (relatively speaking), and humans couldn’t touch them without also being burned.  Now, with the shorter laser bursts, we can.

     

    Voxels (image credit - mashable.com)

    The future has arrived…mostly.

     

     

    Obviously, we’re still many, many years away from actual Trek-style holodecks where you can interact with holographic objects and even people.  Still, this is a remarkable step forward in creating fully interactive holograms.

     

    It’s times like this that make Stephen Monteith feel like he’s living in an era where science fiction becomes science fact.  Be sure to read his original fiction at Lulu.com.


  • Here, There Be Sharks

    In May, we talked about Artificial Intelligence Apocalypses, a very futuristic threat.  In June, it was Dinosaurs, a much older one.  For July, we’re going to cover something about as old as the dinosaurs; something that has roamed the Earth, its seas technically, for hundreds of millions of years and remained at the top of its food chain for all that time.   This creature, of course, is the shark.

     

    sharktopus3139 (image credit - doblu.com)

    Well, sort of the shark.

     

     

    Now, we’re all about sci-fi here at Fourth-day, so we’ll be covering sharks in science fiction.  So, Jaws is off the list, no matter how ridiculous the sharks in those films looked.  However, we simply can’t resist the gory goodness of films like Sharktopus (pictured above), Megashark vs. Mechashark, and of course, Sharknado (the third one comes out this month).

     

    Stephen Monteith has always wanted to swim with sharks, and has always been smart enough to not do it.  You can read his original fiction at Lulu.com.


  • Affleck to Direct “Batman v Wolverine”

    batman_vs__wolverine_2_by_hal_2012-d5hwx7e (image credit - hal-2012.deviantart.com)So, there’s a rumor that the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises at 20th Century Fox are going to have a crossover event, despite studio head Simon Kinsberg saying they’ll be in separate movie universes.  There’s also a rumor that Ben Affleck’s next Batman movie (not including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, or any of the Justice League movies) will be directed by him, written by Oscar-winning writer Chris Terrio, and titled The Batman.  Here at Fourth-day, we don’t like to let rumors go unchallenged, especially ones from Latino Review, so we have our own little bit of news to break:  the next Batman movie will be titled Batman v Wolverine: Dawn of the Mutants.

     

    It’s the ultimate “who would win” question, and every fanboy knows it:  who would win in a fight, Batman or Wolverine?  There are fanmade videos, there are countless theories, but in all the crossover events, not one time have the Dark Knight and Weapon X gone hand-to-claw against each other.  Even Death Battle, our favorite fight series, has pitted Batman against Spider-Man and Captain America, but not against the Wolverine.  After Hugh Jackman finishes X-Men: Apocalypse and his third solo movie, he’s out (barring a cameo in the Deadpool film).  But, would he be drawn back for an epic showdown with the man who, we can assume, is going to make the Man of Steel himself “bleed”?

     

    How would it work, you ask?  Well, with the Fantastic Four rumor, it’s known that the new series of films about the First Family of Marvel will be tampering with dimension-hopping.  We already know that DC is exploring the “multiverse” in its television franchises, and as we said, there have been crossovers between Marvel and DC before (at least in the comics).  A basic story could be easily contrived, especially with such “marvelous” storytellers as Affleck and Terrio.  Not that fans would care, of course, since a Batman v Wolverine movie would break a billion within a month of its release date solely on the strength of its title.

     

    The only real obstacle would be, of course, how to get the studios in agreement with each other.  Even though Warner Bros. is committed to its slate of films at least until the end of the decade, I can’t see how they wouldn’t be intrigued by this kind of project (and the aforementioned box office dominance it would command).  As for Fox, if they’re looking to do a franchise crossover, this would blow the proposed X-Men/Fantastic Four project completely out of the sky.  With all the buzz Sony and Disney created with their new “shared” Spider-Man, Tom Holland, the mere idea of doing a studio crossover of their own would be enough to bring them to the bargaining table.

     

    BvW (image credit - comicbook.com)

     

    What do you think?  After Superman and Wolverine, who would you like to see Affleck square off against next?

     

    Stephen Monteith admits this is probably the least likely of all the rumors he’s started on this site (though it’s definitely the coolest).  You can read his original fiction at Lulu.com.


  • Zombeavers Is The Best Zombie Beaver Film Ever!

    Zombeavers

    Of the many deliberately ludicrous and over-the-top nature-gone-made films to be released in the wake of Sharknado, Zombeavers is one of the most impressive.  Certainly, it’s probably the best film that will ever made about zombie beavers.

    The film takes place in one of those isolated areas of rural America where cell phones don’t work, everyone drives a pickup truck, and nobody would dare be seen without a shotgun in his hands.  Of course, if you’ve ever seen a horror movie before than you know that any area this isolated is going to inevitably be ground zero in a mutant beaver attack.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s all John Mayer’s fault.  Yes, that’s right, John “Your Body Is A Wonderland” Mayer.  He makes his feature film acting debut here, playing a dumbass trucker who, after his truck collides with a deer, ends up losing a barrel of toxic waste.  That barrel rolls into a nearby lake where it turns the local beaver population into zombeavers!

    (Whenever I watch anything on Netflix, I always turn on the closed captioning.  One of the joys of watching Zombeavers came from getting to read sentences like “Zombeavers growl,” at the bottom of the screen.)

    Meanwhile, three sorority sisters are spending the weekend at a nearby cabin.  Jenn (Lexi Atkins) is depressed because she caught her boyfriend cheating on her.  Zoe (Cortney Palm) is sarcastic, uses “bitch” as a term of affection, and owns a puppy named Gosling.  (I related to Zoe, despite being a cat person.)  Mary (Rachel Melvin) owns the cabin and is determined to have the perfect girls weekend.  Unfortunately, those plans are ruined by both the surprise arrival of their boyfriends and a sudden zombeaver attack…

    Fortunately, there is a potentially crazy but helpful hunter wandering around the woods.  His name is Smyth (“Smyth with a y,” he says upon introducing himself) and he’s played by veteran character actor Rex Linn.  Linn doesn’t get much dialogue but he still manages to make every line memorable as he gives a performance that strikes a perfect balance between drama and parody.  At one point, Linn delivers a monologue about how, in the 1970s, everyone in the county got “beaver fever.”  It’s  ludicrous and the joke is so obvious but Linn bring so much commitment to the monologue and to his performance that he sells it.

    And really, the same can be said for Zombeavers as a movie.  It’s ludicrous.  It’s silly.  There’s not a single beaver joke that doesn’t, at some point, get made.  And yet, the film works.  It’s a parody that somehow manages to remain credible.  Yes, the zombeavers are intentionally designed to look fake but you still would not necessarily want to come across one at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night.  Yes, the characters say a lot of silly things but the cast delivers those lines with both a straight face and a lot of conviction.  (In fact, all three of the lead actresses are totally natural and convincing in their roles.)  Everyone involved with the film — from the cast to crew — is so committed to the material that it works even when it shouldn’t.

    Zombeavers is currently available on Netflix and should be watched by anyone who loves insane monster movies.  It’s the best movie about zombie beavers ever made.

    Lisa Marie Bowman loves all animals.  You can read more of her at Through the Shattered Lens and Horror Critic.


  • You May Have Missed This: Dino-Riders

    We tend to cringe, nowadays, when we hear about “cynical” efforts by studios to make movies out of literally anything, especially toys.  We’ll talk more about that in a later article, but first, I want to point out that there was a time, not too long ago, when entire TV shows were made specifically to sell toys that already existed.  These were shows that have become beloved, even critically-praised, but whose original purpose was the most cynical one possible.  Granted, franchises have always lived or died based on how much money they make, and we all know where the real money is made.  Still, there’s nothing quite like the pain of growing up to realize that your favorite childhood cartoon characters (Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man, and especially the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) were only on TV because their toys needed to be marketed.

     

    I doubt I would have cared about that as a child, actually, because I still got to watch awesome TV adventures about robots, reptiles, soldiers, and aliens fighting battles with vehicles and lasers and out-of-this-world technology that were so much cooler than anything on this planet.  And I got to see it all in one show:  Dino-Riders.

     

    All you -really- need to know is right here.

    All you -really- need to know is right here.

     

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  • This Movie is a Disaster! (and that’s okay)

    Hmmm.  Could be,

    “Fourth time’s the charm, right?”

     

    Michael Crichton never planned to do any sequels to the novel Jurassic Park.  Even though the film rights ended up in a massive bidding war before the book was even published back in 1991.  Even though the 1993 live action film ended up setting world records in ticket sales.  Even though fans and studios begged him.

     

    But authors aren’t made of stone.  He eventually gave in, though the resultant book has a few pointed jabs at the forces who induced him into it as well as to problems he had with the film adaptation.

     

    Most fans have been far more forgiving than him.  Even though paleontologists might cry, what makes for a good science fiction novel doesn’t make for a great movie.

    Spielberg delivered on a cinematic mixture that combined action, mystery, suspense, adventure, humor, and heaping helpings of sheer, knee-knocking horror.  It only seems natural that someone would want to get a sequel to such a delight.

     

    And yet, we haven’t.  Not really.  Say what you will about their flaws, but 1997’s The Lost World tried to be less a thrill ride and more an ecological parable than anything else.

     

    Likewise, 2001’s Jurassic Park III was basically about seeing how many times dinosaurs could attack humans, yet still leave just enough victi-…er, protagonists left.

     

    After an extended hiatus, many have accused the so far tremendously popular Jurassic World of being just a big budget remake of the original film.  After all, it has a good intentioned but clueless CEO.  It has two kids in peril.  It has an attempt to use cloned dino secrets for nefarious goals.

     

    It even has the return of Rexy herself.

     

    She's a T-Rex

    “Now -everyone- remembers Rexy, honey-chile.”

     

    I would point out that yes, it re-uses many ingredients from the first film.  But while the first film delved into thriller territory with side quests into straight up horror and sense of wonder adventure, Jurassic World conforms itself strongly to the age old formula of the Disaster Flick.

     

    It even has the bickering twosome that hate each others guts who you just -know- will be a couple by the time the big storm o’ dangerous events have quieted.

    Now they're gonna get all huffy with me.

    “Is that all we are to you? Two stock characters in a formula film?!?”
    “Makes sense to me. Dunno what’s wrong with you.”

     

    There is nothing wrong with this.  It’s a formula that’s served Hollywood well since the 1950s.  It even frees the film up to not try and justify the quite frankly goofy, campy plot with either a preachy moral or scene after scene of pointless gore.

     

    That’s not to say there isn’t any gore.  It’s just done in the manner of one of those 1990s era first run syndicated SF action shows, which gave a wink and a nod and never let the audience miss out on any of the sheer fun of the showmanship.

     

    Does this detract from the power of the work?  Heck yes it does!

     

    But some films are feasts, to be devoured hungrily and digested.  Some films are cool, refreshing drinks to cleanse the palate and clean out the system.

     

     

    Jurassic World, like many disaster films, is a piece of hard candy.  It’s to be chewed, enjoyed for the syrupy sweet, minty flavor.  That’s all.

    Mosasaur's love sharks.

    “I could use a mint myself.”

     

    Do Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt’s characters lack the endearing banter that Laura Dern and Sam Neill’s characters had?

     

    Well, yes.  But instead they fulfill the role of the Uptight Person who learns to -live- life after enduring a catastrophe.  While the other is their Manic Pixie Dream Boy in a weird reversal of the normal pattern.

     

    Does Masrani just not have the bouncy gravitas of Hammond?

     

    Yes.  But he still has one heck of a memorable exit.  Plus, it’s refreshing for a CEO to be depicted as savvy and not 100% corrupt.

     

    Is there a conspiracy subplot that never quite gels or connects to the rest of the film in a meaningful way until the entire flick is almost over?

     

    Yes.  Yes there is.  Still, during a disaster movie there is ALWAYS a wildcard element thrown in just to be the doorstop that keeps from closing too quickly.

     

    Are the kids more annoying than spunky and heroic?

     

    Human hamster balls among the dinos.

    “HEY!!!”
    “Just for that, I hope the reviewer gets eaten next.”

     

    Well…I’ll put it this way.  At that age, with parents getting ready to divorce, nobody is at their best.  They improve.  Slightly.

     

    In the end, Jurassic World displays a delicious awareness that it in itself is a processed, pre-molded product.

     

    Pretty much every line we get from Chris Pratt’s badass raptor trainer or Jake Johnson’s Fan-Of-A-Certain-Chaos-Theorist makes it quite clear the film makers are aware of the flaws of the film…and revel in them.  Disaster films that have meta awareness -and- cloned dinos are a rare treat.

     

    An Indominus Appetite

    “I like it when we have…TREATS.”

     

    So do I, Indominus.  So do I.

     

    *******************************************

     

    Review by John R. Ellis.

     

    All images, photos, logos and characters belong to their respective owners, used here for the sole purpose of review


  • Fifth Annual Uni Awards, Video Game Edition

    Posted on by admin Comment

    Uni AwardThe Fourth Annual Uni Awards were bereft of all but the Movie Edition.  The Third had only the Movie and TV Editions.  This year, we’re getting the show back on track with the Video Game Unis.

     

    Of course, we’re only using video games that have sci-fi, fantasy, or paranormal elements.  If you can think of a video game we missed, then feel free to add it in the comments.  While scaled down a bit from previous years (the result of an evolving list of categories and the fact that none of us have played any of these games), we’re currently scouring the globe for people who have played them to help us present the awards on Monday, July 13.  If you’re a gamer and would like to present one of the awards, then either leave a comment or email Fourth-day founder Stephen Monteith at smonteith@fourthdayuniverse.com.  And don’t forget to vote.

    (more…)


  • New Episodes 6/13/2015 (Cinema Sins, Pogo, Nostalgia Critic, and More)

    It’ll be a showdown for the ages when Star Wars and Star Trek collide (again) on the Internet.  Also, Cinema Sins takes out its frustrations on yet another movie musical, Pogo releases a new remix, and…well, just keep scrolling for more.

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  • Re-Watch: Jurassic Park Trilogy

    jurassic-park-logo (image credit - pickywallpapers.com)

     

    Jurassic Park has always lived in my memory as a cinematic masterpiece.  The acting, the dialogue, and especially the dinosaurs were all amazing.  The sequels have always lived…less kindly in my thoughts.  I watched the first movie half a dozen times in theaters as a kid.  I can’t even remember if I even saw both the sequels in theaters.  I’m fairly certain, though, that including Sunday’s re-watch, I’ve not seen either of them more than twice all the way through to the end.  My initial impressions of the trilogy (that the first is amazing and the others are awful) were born out through the re-watch.

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  • Digging for Meaning in Dinosaur Tales

    Fish out of water stories are always popular, even non-sci-fi ones.  They give us a chance to see something familiar through new eyes.  When you add sci-fi elements, such as time travel or alternate dimensions, you get movies like Thor and Back to the Future, where almost nothing is familiar to the protagonist.  It provides great opportunities for both comedy and drama.  And the best examples, I think we can all agree, are the ones with dinosaurs.

     

    The Banner of Irony.

    The Banner of Irony.

     

    Whether it’s accomplished through genetic engineering (like in the Jurassic Park franchise), time travel (Meet the Robinsons), magic (Night at the Museum), or some other means, dinosaurs return to Earth after 65 million years of being extinct.  Or, maybe they were never actually extinct.  Maybe they were transported to another dimension, realm, or planet.  Maybe, like in The Lost World (no, not that one), they’re still here, living far beneath the surface of the Earth. (Keep your eyes open for a Mole People Spotlight in the future.)  However it happens, the thunderlizards are back to kick the puny little humans off the planet.

     

    Thunderlizards rule!

    Thunderlizards rule!

     

    Obviously, this isn’t your typical anachronism tale.  First of all, the dinosaurs (usually) aren’t all that smart, so any “adjusting to the new situation” is going to be wholly on the part of the humans.  How do we react to the reintroduction of these dangerous and (usually) very large creatures into our environment?  Popular responses seem to be hunting, studying, or domesticating them for some purpose (usually a military one).  Far more common is the practice of putting them on display.  Jurassic Park has tried four times now to find a “safe” way for people to view these prehistoric wonders.  But, as Ian Malcolm observed in the second film, it always starts with oohs and ahhs, but later there’s running and screaming.  And that’s pretty much the formula.

     

    Actually, it’s pretty much the formula for any “put the monster on display” movie.  But, if you don’t want your dinosaur film to be relegated to B-movie status, then you need more than just A-list actors and truly special effects/animation.  What is it that elevates this type of story above popcorn fodder status?  What’s the moral?  Well, that depends on how the dinosaurs got here.  The best, and really only, moral you can tell in the case of the genetic tampering method is the “don’t play God” storyline.  It’s used in every great gene-manipulation tale, not just the ones with dinosaurs.  Jurassic Park has taken a shot at delivering this moral a couple of times, but after one and a half tries, it just sort of stopped.  We’ll talk more about their efforts to do so in future articles.

     

    What about other morals, if you’re using time travel or magic to resurrect the species?  Well, there’s still potential in “upsetting the natural order”, “abusing great power”, and “screwing with history for no good reason”.  Any time two species who have been separated by so many millions of years are “thrown back into the mix together”, you have your choice of “this is wrong” messages to send.  That’s assuming, of course, you want to include a moral at all.

     

    The truth is, this is a genre that exists purely for spectacle.  Jurassic Park III certainly realized that, even if the first two took a stab at having some “depth”.  I mean, come on, dinosaurs are awesome!  They’re gigantic creatures that make everything cooler, even classical music.  Remember this piece of music?

     

     

    “The Rite of Spring” is an excellent piece of music, to be sure, but without Fantasia adding dinosaurs, I might not even know about it.

     

    Usually, when I do a Genre Spotlight like this, I like to find the deeper meaning behind why the genre exists, and why it persists.  And yes, there is a lot of value in exploring whether we should or shouldn’t be tampering with nature.  But some times, it’s okay to just have a genre that is awesome for awesomeness’ sake.  Dinosaurs make everything cooler.

     

    Tyrannosaurs in F-14s (image credit - fatmanatee.tumblr.com)

    Even fighter jets.

     

     

    Stephen Monteith’s going to write a new short story featuring dinosaurs.  In the meantime, you can read his other original fiction at Lulu.com.



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