Several characters in “Home Improvement,” the title of this week’s funnier-than-normal episode of The Magicians, deal with some concept of home. First, there’s Fen, who does whatever she can for her homeland, even if that that means undergoing back-breaking yard work for the supposed prophet in her dreams. There’s also Alice, who must visit her mother to cast a location spell for Zelda, the Librarian who has her own home-related desire to find her daughter in the mirror realm. And then there’s a very-pregnant Poppy (a recurring character played by Felicia Day), who is expanding her own home — first by stealing dragon sperm to inseminate a dragon egg, and then by embracing the human baby growing inside her. Home for the gang is a fickle thing, something so flittering it’s hard to hold on to, yet something so powerful that it drives our characters to go great lengths to preserve (or push away). Read More »
The Magicians is an ensemble show, with the gang of main characters flitting across interwoven storylines in perpetual battles to save their lives and/or magic. In “The Side Effect,” one of my favorite episodes this season, the roles that characters’ play gets flipped; the spotlight moves away from the core gang (Quentin, Julia, Margo, Eliot and Alice) and shines on four side characters: Zelda the Librarian, Fillory’s own Fen, the warrior-woman Kady, and the kinda dead Penny 40.
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Episode 6 of The Magicians, “A Timeline and Place,” addresses the long festering question: what the hell is the original Penny (AKA the Penny from Timeline 40) doing? Last time we saw him was in Season 3, where—stuck in the Afterlife branch of the Library—he had a chat with Hades that convinced him to take on the role of a Librarian in the eternal (and infernal?) institution. Thankfully, actor Arjun Gupta has remained on the show playing the Penny from Timeline 23—a more subdued, melancholic version of the character who is also in love with Julia instead of Kady. Fans, however, miss the original Penny, and after many episodes we finally get a glimpse of him in his new Librarian persona. Even better, we get to see a conversation between 23 and 40, a trope that has been done on other shows, but is still enjoyable here, and even a little bit bittersweet when Penny 40 tells 23 to let Kady know that he still loves her, and that he’s sorry.
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The fourth and fifth episodes of The Magicians are slower paced than the beginning of the season, allowing viewers to marinate in some under-explored relationships and to circle back to some dangling storylines. The results are mixed, but the show’s quick dialogue and unexpectedly poignant character moments make both episodes—especially Episode 5—rich fodder that fans will enjoy.
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Want to throw virtual pancakes or milkshakes at kitties and bunnies in a strawberry-scented diner? If the answer is yes (and who out there would say no?), you’ll love Ralph Breaks VR—a hyper-reality experience created by The VOID and ILMxLAB that uses VR technology, physical stages, and sensory effects to make you feel like you’re in the weird world of the internet with some animated friends.
Ralph Breaks VR, which was released in November 2018 in tandem with the Ralph Breaks the Internet movie, is the second time The VOID has partnered with ILMxLAB, an offshoot of Lucasfilm that focuses on immersive entertainment. The first collaboration—Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire—is an unbeatable experience, one that puts you in the role of a Resistance spy dressed up as a stormtrooper, blaster guns and all. Ralph Breaks VR creates an entire world in its own right; during the 20 to 30-minute adventure, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz lead guests (who choose one of six “Netizen” avatars) into their internet-world, which includes, among other things, the aforementioned pancakes and milkshakes.
Like Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, guests strap on VR goggles and vibrating vests for Ralph Breaks VR. And while the physical stage areas for the two experiences are similar, the Wreck-It Ralph world that guests see through their goggles is a more gamified and kid-friendly experience. The final product, refined and iterated on after innumerable hours of testing, has resulted in a fun, pancake and milkshake-throwing time. Here are some things that stand out about the experience and how the designers came up with certain attributes of the Wreck-It Ralph world.
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It’s three episodes into Season 4 of The Magicians, and the gang’s memories are back! Also, everyone wants to kill them. At the beginning of the hour, the immediate threat comes from evil Eliot, who wants to torture them to death (you know, for funsies). Margo, however, deftly distracts evil Eliot by setting the monster’s sights on Bacchus. While she, Eliot-Monster and Josh head off to Fillory to kill a god, however, the rest of the group still has murder problems—with Fogg’s glamouring spell lifted, the McAllisters will soon hunt them down and kill them.
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The title of this season’s second episode, “Lost, Found, Fucked,” is as descriptive as it is indelicately alliterative. At the beginning of the hour, our favorite memory-less magicians are indeed lost; by the end of the episode though, Julia—like an overachieving Jesus—has died and resurrected herself hundreds of times in order to break the magic battery keeping the persona-creating glamour alive. Julia’s death-inducing efforts work—everyone finds themselves again as their memories crash back into their minds. Most of the crew, however, barely have a chance to nurse their glamour hangovers before they find themselves fucked again, this time by the monster-controlled Eliot, who shows up to kill Penny, Kady and Josh because he’s jealous Quentin likes them more than him.
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At San Diego Comic-Con last year, The Magicians co-creator Sera Gamble said the show strived to end on a cliffhanger each season in order to keep the fans (and the writers) guessing what happens next. The end of Season 3 was no exception, where the magicians we know and love successfully bring back magic only to have Dean Fogg wipe their memories and give them magic-free identities and lives. On top of that, the Library (for everyone’s own good, of course) has seized control of the newly restored magic and, oh yeah, Eliot has been possessed by a murderific entity that even the gods are scared of.
There are, to put it mildly, a lot of moving pieces. Season 4’s premiere episode, “A Flock of Lost Birds,” however, does an excellent job addressing each in turn while giving fans much-missed time with the characters they love, even if most of those characters, in a metacommentary for the ages, are thrust into personas that Dean Fogg pulled from an obscure comic book.
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Mortal Engines — a bombastic film produced by Peter Jackson and coming to a theater near you on December 14 — is not only full of roving cities, fantastic airships and a killer cyborg, but is also based on the eponymous book by Philip Reeve.
“Uh oh!” you might be thinking. “Another film based on a book! Do I have to read the book before I see it?”
You’ll likely get contrary answers depending on who you ask; some, for example, might say you should read the book before seeing the movie, while others might urge you to go into the film with fresh eyes. I’m here to offer you another option: instead of reading Mortal Engines, read something else in the steampunk genre. That way, you’ll get into the mood for the movie without spoiling the story itself. Genius, right? I know! But before we get to my recommendations, let’s talk about what’s considered steampunk.
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There’s been a growing trend of networks and studios developing science fiction and fantasy books for TV or film. The 2018-19 television season alone includes at least five new ones—Justin Cronin’s The Passage on Fox, George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers on SyFy, Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens on Amazon Prime, Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook on Starz, and Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 on AMC—and networks have several others they have optioned or have in development (just a few are Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death on HBO, N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season on TNT, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series on Amazon Prime, and Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom on AMC).
And that doesn’t even get into movies. For example, Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines will be coming out as a Peter Jackson-produced movie this December, and other books like Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne, V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank The Moon have been optioned for the big screen as well. Patrick Rothfuss has even scored a hat trick with The Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy, and has the series in development for film, television and video games.
Despite all this activity, there are a still an innumerable number of books that deserve to come to life on the screen. Here is my pick of some that should make the cut (note: I haven’t included any books that have had recent reports of being optioned), and what fans of existing films or shows they might appeal to.
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