Ranking my favorite sci-fi/fantasy franchises

This blog is mostly about Star Wars, but like most fans, there are many other franchises out there that I love. I thought I’d list them here and rank them, based on my level of obsession and commitment. I love them all to varying degrees, but here they are from least favorite to most:

Blade Runner. I’m not sure if this counts as a franchise, since there are only two movies, but I also thought I heard that there’s a series in the works. At any rate, Blade Runner came to my attention in the early 80’s when the first one came out (it was released in 1982) since Harrison Ford was in it. At 12 years old, I was deep into my Star Wars obsession, and had my first celebrity crush on Ford. But I was a bit disappointed in the trailer, since it looked nothing like Star Wars, and Harrison Ford didn’t look like Han Solo, lol. I didn’t actually watch the film until much later, in my twenties, and I absolutely loved it. It just looked cool, and was cerebral in a way Star Wars wasn’t, and realized this was science fiction while Star Wars was fantasy. When Blade Runner 2049 came out in 2017, I was excited about it. Some people either didn’t like it, didn’t understand it, or thought it was way too long and convoluted. I loved it, though. Ryan Gosling was incredible in the role of K/Joe, and it explored all the philosophical themes I loved in the original (what does it mean to be human? What is love? What is real? etc). And Ford was great.

Indiana Jones. Another Ford franchise I’ve loved since childhood. Raiders of the Lost Ark remains one of my favorite nostalgic films. The franchise is low down on my list because the films have been kind of hit or miss. Raiders–awesome. Temple of Doom–gruesome and silly. Last Crusade–awesome. Crystal Skull–disappointing. I’m hoping number five continues the pattern and is awesome, and a fitting farewell to the character.

Mad Max. I first saw Beyond Thunderdome when it came out in 1985. At the time, I thought it was pretty cool, although now I consider it the weakest out of the movies. I backtracked and saw the first two Mad Max films, and while the first one was decent, it was The Road Warrior that cemented my love for the franchise (and young Mel Gibson was extremely easy on the eyes, too). The Road Warrior was quite simply an action masterpiece on wheels, and I’m not someone who’s into action films, really. It has to be action blended with something else, like an existential dystopian journey. When it was announced that there would be a reboot with Tom Hardy as Max, I had my doubts. No one but Mel could play Max. But I was wrong. Tom did a great job, but I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t really Max that did it for me this time; it was Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. I absolutely love her, and the film has the same high-octane car chases as the originals. I think there’s a Furiosa sequel on the way, and I’m on board.

The Terminator. I missed this one when it first came out in 1984 because I was too young to go see it in the theater. I caught up with it later, and instantly loved it. The idea of it just blew my young mind–a robot coming back through time to kill a woman so she wouldn’t bear a son who would inspire a human rebellion against the machines?? What?? That’s so cool!!!–and Arnold Schwarzenegger was awesome as the Terminator. I also related to Sarah Connor, because she was just some normal waitress who happened to be the mother of John Connor. And oh, the father was the guy who came back in time to protect her from the killer machine. OMG, What???? The son sent his own father back in time so he could be conceived??? It was all so mind-bending to me, lol. And of course, the sequel was fantastic, and Sarah Connor had grown into this badass fighter who would do anything to protect her son. She was one of the first badass women action characters (next to Ellen Ripley, see below) who was inspiring to me at the time. The subsequent sequels were fine, but couldn’t quite recapture the magic, and I think I even skipped the last one or two, I don’t know. But the first two will always be rather high on my list of faves.

Alien(s). This was another instance where I saw the second movie before the first one, and then backtracked. The second Alien movie, simply called Aliens, is by far the best of the bunch. I saw it in the theater and just sat on the edge of my seat teeming with adrenaline the whole time, lol. The aliens are terrifying and gross and Ellen Ripley is one of my female heroes, next to Sarah Connor, naturally. Just a normal woman who got caught up in something that required her to do insanely brave things, not only to survive, but to help those she cared about to survive, too. When I backtracked and saw the first Alien movie, I was surprised at how different it was; it was more of a slow burn that eventually boiled into terror. The subsequent movies weren’t that great, to be honest. The third one was just grim and depressing, and the fourth was kind of weird and unsettling. I like to just pretend the third and fourth never happened, and Ripley and Newt lived happily ever after with Hicks.

Marvel. Marvel is a relatively recent obsession, starting just last summer with the Loki series. I loved it so much, and worked through all the films for several months to catch up. Where had I been all these years? Lol. I will confess, I thought the “comic book movies” silly and for the nerd boys (nevermind that I was, and had been for years, a nerd girl). But Loki opened the door for me, and I’m so glad he did. It was so fun discovering all these movies, and some I absolutely loved, and others, meh, not so much (here’s my ranking of the films). And the D+ shows have been mostly great; I especially loved, besides Loki, Wandavision and Moon Knight. I haven’t been keeping up with the shows–I haven’t watched Ms. Marvel or She-Hulk, which is surprising for me, since they’re female-centric, but I think I just got a case of Marvel fatigue, lol. They’ll always be there and I’ll catch up some day.

Star Trek. Ah, Star Trek. For me, it all started with The Next Generation in the late 80’s. I think I’d seen a few shows of the original series before that, but it didn’t capture my attention like Next Gen. It was silly at times (especially looking back, lol), but it found its rhythm in later seasons and put out excellent episodes. I think it’s the only series of which I’ve seen every single episode (besides Enterprise). I loved Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but didn’t watch all the episodes for one reason or another. Enterprise is another favorite; I have a soft spot for Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap, and just found the show fun and entertaining. The newer shows, like Discovery and Strange New Worlds, I haven’t seen at all, and I’ve only seen the first season of Picard. I hope to remedy that some day. And the films are a whole other thing. I enjoyed some of the films with the original crew (2,4, and 6 specifically), and the Next Gen films were mostly good, particularly First Contact. And the new JJ. Abrams Trek films about the original crew with new actors are quite good, too. I’ll always love Trek and what it represents–mostly, faith in humanity and an examination of science and ethics–and Jean Luc will always be my favorite captain.

Lord of the Rings. This is another relatively new obsession, although this one started over twenty years ago (!) with the release of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. I had never read the books before this (but have since read them twice through) nor did I ever feel the need to. But damn, when that first trailer came out, I was gobsmacked! I had to see this movie. And when I did, I just stared up at the screen in awe. This was just something I had never experienced before, besides what I felt with Star Wars. It was gorgeous, stunning, epic, and so full of heart I could barely breathe. It was quite simply one of the best movies I had ever seen, period; at least until The Return of the King came out. That was an experience I’ll never forget. It deserved its gazillion Oscars (okay, eleven, but it really swept that year, and it’s a fantasy film, which had never happened before). I immediately read the books as soon as Fellowship came out, and I enjoyed those. Then I tried The Silmarillion. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be a LOTR expert or any such thing. There’s just too much. I didn’t get too far before I set it down, defeated. But that’s okay. It’s actually a good reference book as I watch the new Rings of Power show, which has been quite good, though probably doesn’t follow it to the letter. I’ve also been re-watching The Hobbit trilogy, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s great fun and has some lore in there, too.

Star Wars. As you might have guessed, this franchise takes the top spot in my heart. I made a blog about it, after all. There’s just something so special about this galaxy far, far away. Maybe because it’s about hope amid relentless tyranny. Maybe it’s the characters and their journeys. Maybe it’s the futuristic space setting, but as the song says, it’s not the future. It’s a fairy tale, a once upon a time in space. Maybe it’s the nostalgia: I fell in love with it when I was ten years old, over forty years ago, and it’s been with me ever since. Whatever the reason, Star Wars will always be a part of me, a meaningful part of me, as weird as that sounds. I mean, I even got a Jedi Order tattoo on my arm last year, to solidify my commitment, lol. And it’s not static; it’s alive and well after all these decades, evolving and adapting and always recreating itself, while still remaining the same at its core: the story of good versus evil, of darkness ever rising, and the light always to meet it.

What are your favorite franchises? Sci-fi/fantasy or not, let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update (Monday Edition)

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

I normally post this on Saturday or Sunday (hence, “weekend”) but I needed some time to watch the first three episodes of The Rings of Power, so here we are. But more on that later.

First, I’ve been getting back into my reading of N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. It’s such an enthralling story, but I’ve been so busy watching stuff this past week that I haven’t opened the book as much as I would have liked. I did get a big chunk of the book behind me, though, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’ll write more on it when I finish it.

On Kindle, I’ve been slowly reading through A New Hope, which was ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. It’s so weird, because the story is the same as the movie, obviously, and some lines taken from it are word for word. But there’s also more dialogue in there than in the movie, which makes sense. Movies pare things down. Or a scene is slightly different. For example, I just read today about the cantina scene in Mos Eisley where Ben Kenobi cuts off the arm of that alien that had been bugging Luke (I forget his name; he didn’t have a name, or a name for the species, for that matter, in the book). But he also cut a couple of characters in half as well. Pretty gruesome, Obi-Wan, lol. The author also makes some references to Earth-related creatures, like dogs or pandas or dinosaurs. It kind of takes me out of the story for a second when the author does that. Oh well.

Skywalker and Kenobi, together again.

I watched Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi’s Return on Disney+ on Wednesday when it dropped, and enjoyed it. I always enjoy these behind-the-scenes shows, but this one was special because I loved the show so much, lol. Just seeing Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen gush about how glad they are to be back in Star Wars just makes my heart happy.

I also finished my rewatch of The Bad Batch, in preparation for Season Two (which was initially on Sept. 28 but now, I hear, has been moved to Jan. 4 of next year). I’m looking forward to seeing them maybe branch out a bit and join the fight against the Empire. I also hope we learn more about Omega; in other words, what is it that makes her so special? What is her enhancement? Yes, she’s good at strategy, but I don’t think that’s it. I’m still holding on to my theory that she’s Force-sensitive, but we’ll see.

Live-action Ezra.

Some casting news has me excited, which is that Eman Esfandi has been cast as Ezra Bridger for the Ahsoka show. I’m not familiar with this actor, but based on his looks alone, I think they nailed it! All he needs is blue eyes, and we have our Ezra. I am chomping at the bit for the Ahsoka show!

I’ve watched the trailers that dropped on D23 day for The Mandalorian S3, Tales of the Jedi, and a new one for Andor. They’re all very exciting. Looks like Mando S3 will be focusing on more Mandalorians, with Din perhaps trying to atone for his “sins.” Personally, I think Din needs to break away from his cult-family and pave his own way. It will be interesting to see how he and Bo-Katan interact and what will become of the Dark Saber.

Dooku and Mace Windu in Tales of the Jedi.

Tales of the Jedi is an animated show that will drop all six episodes at once, I believe. They look to be about Ahsoka, and Count Dooku. This one looks really cool and I’m looking forward to it.

The Andor trailer just shows us more fantastic footage from the upcoming show, and just makes me even more excited to watch. Ten days!

So over the weekend, I watched the first three episodes of The Rings of Power. Yes, I bit the bullet and signed up for Prime. I just really wanted to watch this show, and the free shipping on all the Star Wars books I buy won’t hurt, either. So what do I think of it so far?

The short answer is: I love it. It’s gorgeous, mesmerizing, intriguing, and I love that the creators have made Galadriel the center of the show, among a fascinating ensemble cast.

I’m totally on board for badass Galadriel.

I understand that there are some Tolkien purists who are furious (big surprise) that they’ve “mangled” Tolkien’s mythology. Well, here’s some news: not everyone is familiar with The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s book that contains the stories that the creators have drawn from. I actually have the book on my shelf, it’s been there for decades; I think I managed to read 50 pages of it years ago. Does it bother me that the creators of the show have adapted these stories into something else, something that may appeal to a wider audience? Nope. It’s a great show. And don’t get me started on the racists who complain about the dark-skinned characters in the story; they don’t even deserve a rebuttal.

Anyway, I’m totally invested in this story now. I haven’t thought about Middle-Earth for a long while, but it’s so worth going back. To see Galadriel and Elrond in their relative “youth,” to see characters only touched on in the films, like Durin, Elendil, and Isildur. And the new ones are great; I especially like Arondir, the elf who’s in love with the human woman Bronwynn. I’m really worried about him right about now, lol. Halberd seems to be a kind of Aragorn figure, the man who would be king, but who refuses the call at first. And the Harfoots, a kind of pre-hobbit people, are just charming. Norri is delightful. And who is the tall stranger from the meteorite she helps? I keep thinking he must be a wizard, he just doesn’t know it yet. Or maybe it’s obvious, I don’t know.

There’s a lot of exposition coming from characters, but that’s understandable. There’s so much history in this world, you need to know the context of what’s going on. And the elves tend to speak a bit theatrically, poetically, a bit dramatically, but let’s be honest, they’ve been around for thousands of years; they’re gonna be a little weird, lol.

So yes, I love it, and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

Star Wars: The High Republic–Phase 2 Preview

Phase 2 of the High Republic will be upon us soon, and as a fan who loves the HR, I thought I’d list the upcoming books. I could only find a description for the adult novel, Convergence.

Phase 2, Wave 1:

  • Path of Deceit (YA), by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland, Oct. 4th, 2022.
  • Convergence (Adult), by Zoraida Cordova, Nov. 15th, 2022. Here’s the Amazon description:
  • It is an age of exploration. Jedi travel the galaxy, expanding their understanding of the Force and all the worlds and beings connected by it. Meanwhile, the Republic, led by its two chancellors, works to unite worlds in an ever-growing community among near and distant stars.
     
    On the close orbiting planets of Eiram and E’ronoh, the growing pains of a galaxy with limited resources but unlimited ambition are felt keenly. Their hatred for each other has fueled half a decade of escalating conflict and now threatens to consume surrounding systems. The last hope for peace emerges when heirs from the two planets’ royal families plan to marry.
     
    Before lasting peace can be established, an assassination attempt targeting the couple tilts Eiram and E’ronoh back into all-out war. To save both worlds, Jedi Knight Gella Nattai volunteers to uncover the culprit, while Chancellor Kyong appoints her son, Axel Greylark, to represent the Republic’s interests in the investigation.
     
    But Axel’s deep distrust of the Jedi sparks against Gella’s faith in the Force. She’s never met such a puffed-up, privileged party boy, and he’s never met a more self-serious, relentless do-gooder. The more they work to untangle the shadowy web of the investigation, the more complicated the conspiracy appears to be. With accusations flying and potential enemies in every shadow, the pair will have to work together to have any hope of bringing the truth to light and saving both worlds.
  • Quest for the Hidden City (Middle Grade), by George Mann, Feb. 14th, 2023
  • The Battle of Jedha (Audiobook), by George Mann, Feb. 14th, 2023

Phase 2, Wave 2 (No covers available yet):

  • Cataclysm (Adult), by Lydia Kang, April 4th, 2023
  • Quest for Planet X (Middle Grade), by Tessa Gratton, April 4th, 2023
  • Path of Vengeance (YA), by Cavan Scott, May 2nd 2023

I plan to read all of these books, the adult and YA as they come out, and eventually get to the middle-grade books (I usually get these on deal on my Kindle at a later date). I may even read the script of the audiodrama The Battle of Jedha, although I didn’t for the Phase 1 audiodrama, Tempest Runner. Tempest Runner is about the Nihil Lourna Dee, and I wasn’t that invested in her particular story outside the novels. But Jedha? Yes, please! Ever since Rogue One and the YA book Guardians of the Whills (with Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus), I’ve had a fascination for Jedha and the holy city.

I can’t wait for this next Phase of the High Republic!

Have you read the High Republic books? Looking forward to this Phase? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

Not much to report this week, besides some re-reads and re-watches.

It’s interesting how this rendition of Ahsoka looks more like live-action Ahsoka than animated Ahsoka.

I finished my re-read of the Ahsoka novel on my Kindle. While I liked it when I first read it, I find that I like it so much more on this second read. I’m not sure why. I think maybe because I know Ahsoka so much better now than I did when the book came out–I don’t think I’d watched Rebels at that point yet. I think I had watched Clone Wars, otherwise I wouldn’t have known or been interested in the character. I don’t know, but I love the book! Makes me very excited for the Ahsoka show next year!

How the Obi-Wan Kenobi show made me feel.

Learning about the making-of doc about the Obi-Wan Kenobi show put me in a mood to rewatch the series (I think it’s the third time for me), and it just gets better with each rewatch. I don’t have much else to say about it except how wonderful it is (Leia-under-Ben’s-coat still makes me wince, but whatever, lol). For me, with Star Wars it’s about how it makes me feel. Is everything perfect? Nope. Does everything make sense? Not always. Does it get me in the feels? Hell yeah! Emotional satisfaction is more important to me in the final analysis. That’s how I learned to love the prequels. Are they often silly? Yes. Have I learned to love that silliness? Yup. Star Wars makes me feel happy. That is all.

Omega’s innocence is endearing.

With The Bad Batch Season Two coming up (I think it’s back on for Sept. 28th?) I decided to rewatch the first season again (I think I’m on viewing #3 with this one, too). I’m up to episode 6, so about halfway through. I continue to be surprised at how much I love these guys (and girl). I just love listening to their banter, and I want to know what’s going to happen with Crosshair, and what is it about Omega that’s so special, and what direction will the squad go in? I’m here for it.

These are the books I read when I was a kid.

Once I finished Ahsoka, I had to find new Star Wars for my Kindle, so I chose the Original Trilogy novelizations. These are books that I read countless times back in the day, but it’s been a long while (literally decades). I thought it would be fun to go back and reread them and see what sticks out to me. I just started reading A New Hope, and one thing that sticks out is that mechanicals aren’t called droids, they’re called robots, which is a bit weird. Of course, this book came out months before the movie even released, so yeah, some things changed by the time of the film. Some of the dialogue is slightly different, some deleted scenes are in there, like when Luke talks with Biggs on Tatooine. Lots of little things. This will be fun!

So basically, what I’m saying with all this rereading and rewatching is that I really need some new Star Wars stuff, lol. Andor is just around the corner, and probably The Bad Batch, and October will see the first book of Phase 2 of the High Republic (stay tuned for a post on the upcoming books in the HR). So I’ll be swimming in it again very soon. We’re very spoiled in this golden age of Star Wars, don’t you think?

What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!