Among the Stars, A Return to My Geek Heaven

I’ve always been a big fan of science fiction, going back to my childhood. The last few years have seen a great influx of original scifi properties, and even though many of them were not as successful as I might like it’s still been very gratifying to see the increasingly regimented production environment open up enough for the likes of District 9, Moon, Looper, and Her. However, in spite of all of this it still feels like there’s a void to fill when it comes to my original passion: space opera. After Star Wars defined my childhood and Firefly informed my teenage years, my excitement for fun, swashbuckling space adventure has largely gone unfulfilled (JJ Abrams’ first Star Trek is the major exception there). But it looks like this year might be the best opportunity in a while to solve this issue, with two movies coming out within a few weeks of each other: Jupiter Ascending and Guardians of the Galaxy.

First, let’s review the trailers:

Seriously though, how AWESOME do these things look?!?!?!? With the spaceships, and the aliens and the raccoon, and Chris Pratt, and the lasers, and Mila Kunis, and Channing Tatum, and the music, and Sean Fuckin’ Bean, and Zoe Saldana, and the Wachowskis and James Gunn, and… GAHHH SO EXCITED!!!

*Deep Breath* Anyway…

Both films seem to be the sort of old-school cosmic fairy tales that my beloved Star Wars is, and can hopefully push the same buttons that the galaxy far far away did in my childhood. The worldbuilding is unapologetically large-scale and unrestrained, and full of visual inventiveness, both are equally bizarre and outrageous in terms of casts and crazy design work, and both look action-packed and flat-out fun. The biggest difference between the two is tone: Jupiter Ascending is presented as more serious-minded while Guardians of the Galaxy looks much more comedic, but I don’t have a problem with either approach.The only issue I might have is that they are both tied back to Earth, rather than being completely separate universes. For Guardians this is understandable as it is part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I feel Jupiter Ascending could have very easily been its own world, unrelated to modern human society.

It’s a minor quibble though; regardless I’m still thrilled that there are new movies picking up the slack and providing the cosmos-spanning excitement and adventure that was my gateway into storytelling in general, and movies in particular. Just watching the (awesome!) trailers is a reminder of some of the things I love in film, and I already feel the stirring my own imagination and creativity again. Hopefully the movies are as good as I think they’ll be, but just their existence is exciting enough for now. And if I’m really REALLY lucky, maybe they can kick off a rebirth of the space opera genre, and one day I can get a chance to contribute one of my own.

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