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Tune into the Future: When Sci-Fi Prophecies Get It Right, by Kate Voss

14 Sep

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By melding science fact with science fiction, filmmakers can explore how new technologies may impact and influence our culture before they are actually invented. As moviemaking tools improve, so widens the creative control of SF screenwriters and directors responsible for bringing these visions to life. SF helps us realize both the power and potential of digital worlds, showing how they may impact us and our knowledge of science more broadly if and when they ever manifest themselves in society. Here are five films that showed gave us our first glimpse at some of today’s most important technology.

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Trepidation, Anticipation: The Terminator Returns, by Kate Voss

20 Jul

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When Arnold Schwarzenegger uttered his classic line “I’ll be back,” he wasn’t kidding. In Terminator Genisys, the newest link in the Terminator chain, we see Arnie return to the screen as one of the most iconic cyborgs of all time. Running a franchise that has become nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, encompassing a television series, comic books and a string of video games, it was only a matter of time before some sort of cybernetic reboot reappeared. Though after watching the events of Genisys unfold all over the temporal map and shake the franchise to its very core, the tidal wave of mixed reviews that hit the film come as no surprise.

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Conan and Schwarzenegger, by Kate Voss

13 May

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Conan the Barbarian is largely thought of to be Arnold Schwarzenegger in a loincloth. With the new Legend of Conan film featuring Arnold in the titular role once again, this is a pop culture image sure to be carried on for years to come. The truth is though, Robert E. Howard’s original stories of Conan have been around for a long time, and they even pre-date J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. They have had a profound impact on almost all sword-and-sorcery fantasy since their publication, while the original films launched a film and political career for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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What Inspired Game of Thrones, by Kate Voss

9 Apr

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Game of Thrones has become a pop culture juggernaut, crossing from the realm of literature into a hit HBO series and helping complete the evolution of cable into the premiere platform for captivating television series. While the writing skill of George R.R. Martin is what has catapulted this property to stardom, there are many things that have been borrowed from other ‘sword and sorcery’ fantasy stories.

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We, Robots: Isaac Asimov’s Robot “Laws” Revisited, by Kate Voss

19 Feb

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2015 promises to be the “Year of the Robot.” Chappie, Ex Machina, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron are among the films that will see release this year that deal with robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). It’s interesting to reflect on how much has changed over the course of the past 75 years, in terms of both technology and popular entertainment. For everything that has changed, however, it is sort of remarkable how many modern science-fiction tropes can be traced back to science fiction’s “big three.” I refer, of course, to Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov.

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Top 5 Home Invasion Horror Films, by Kate Voss

30 Oct

Halloween’s around the corner, and what better way to spend it than watching intruder horror flicks when you’re home alone? Home invasion films are exactly as the name implies: movies that feature a killer breaking into the protagonist’s home as a major plot device. Films like these are often hailed as the most frightening films in the horror genre, and for good reason. Here are our top five home invasion horror movie picks for a terrifying Halloween movie night:

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The Faces Behind the Voices of The Simpsons, by Kate Voss

3 Sep

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With the coming television season, The Simpsons brings their season count to 26. The show began humbly in the late eighties when cartoonist Matt Groening (who has since championed other successful animated programs including Futurama) began contributing crudely animated sketches to the all-but-forgotten Tracey Ullman Show. While the quality of the animation has improved marginally over the years, the true strength of the show has always been in the writing and the voice-acting. Not only has the show endured over a period spanning four decades, but more remarkably still: they’ve managed to retain their principal voice cast.  It is these voice actors that have helped set The Simpsons apart from the rest of the pack.

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In the Shadow of the Beast: The Cross-Cultural Impact of Godzilla, by Kate Voss

21 May

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On the surface, it’s not hard to understand the enduring appeal of the Gojira franchise: an enormous lizard-like life-form lays waste to an urban landscape (occasionally with the help of other, equally rubber-suited, reptilian pals) and has radioactive fire-breath to boot. Yet it was Godzilla’s unexpected humility that allowed him to make the leap from a scaly sociopolitical supervillain to Saturday morning cartoon superstar, a feat rarely, if ever, seen in popular culture. Not just any old reptile monster could sustain sixty years of films, television shows and video games. His capacity to be seen as a multidimensional character, as something more than just an irritated dinosaur, captivated audiences when the film was exported to America. While the fantastical appeal of a lizard creature that can stomp buildings beneath its feet is undeniable, Godzilla’s greatest achievement lies in his remarkable ability to transcend film genres and language barriers, securing his place as one of the first “soft power” success stories.

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Top 10 Valentine’s Day Horror Films, by Kate Voss

12 Feb

Sitting down to a bowl of popcorn and a romantic movie, possibly with your significant other, is a great way to spend the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day. You know what’s even better, though? Watching a classic, gruesome slasher film with a hint of romance. Here are the top 10 horror films to watch on Valentine’s Day for all those sickos out there.

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10. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

For the horror fans who want a few laughs thrown in with bloody flesh-filled vomit, and would enjoy a demonic Adam Brody and an almost-romantic encounter between Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer’s Body is the perfect film for this Valentine’s Day. Megan Fox plays the popular cheerleader Jennifer, who gets sacrificed by Nikolai (Brody) in an attempt gone-wrong to make his band wildly successful. Spoiler alert: she’s not as virginal as she claimed to be. The living-dead cheerleader then goes on to eat a large portion of her high school.

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