Change is as Good as a Holiday?

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If you’ve been a follower of either of my science fiction blogs (Space 2049 and Star Trek: Sentinel), you would have noticed both have been pretty quiet of late.

That’s because life, as it often does for all of us, got in the way.  Suddenly, maintaining two websites became a bit too much and I took an unintended break from both.  That work/life balance thing people harp on about?  I’m obviously a long way from mastering it.

 

 

In addition to all of the change that has been whirling about in my life like some kind of steroid enhanced tsunami, I discovered, while daydreaming one day in a desperate attempt to take a break from a whack of stress, that there were other TV shows from “back in the day” that I felt also deserved a retelling.

Frustrated by the corner I’d accidentally backed myself into by creating a couple of sites that really only focused on one subject each, I decided to merge both together, do a rename and open up the playground just a bit.

Over the next few weeks you’ll see the site slowly start to take shape as I do that.  So, apologies for the absence of posts these last few months, and for the lack of updates to the Space: 2049 script, and apologies for the slight mess everything will be in as I sort it all out.

What can you expect?

Well, there’s a little bit of a story there.  As I mentioned above, in an attempt to keep myself sane through moving houses, losing a beloved dog, changing jobs, and dealing with a sudden elephant sized dump of general crap, I played an ongoing mental game/imaginative exercise to keep from slipping over the edge.

 

 

That game?  If a studio exec came up to me and said “hey, random guy, we want you to reboot some classic TV shows,” what shows would I want to invest my time in?

Turned out there were a few.  Some I couldn’t play with, like V, because I believe the awesome Kenneth Johnson is working on rebirthing his 1980s invasion epic, and Babylon 5, because I live in hope that J.M. Straczynski will get around to that soonish, but there were others that I loved just as much.

 

 

Before I tell you what they are, because I’ll play around with the ideas I have for those shows on this site, I should point something out.  This site does feature a sizable Star Trek section, but Star Trek on TV doesn’t need a reboot anymore, thanks to Star Trek: Discovery (which I love).  So why is Star Trek included?

At the time I created Star Trek: Sentinel back in 2014, there hadn’t been any new episodes of Star Trek on TV for a long time, and the new show had not been announced.  I had an idea, and felt like sharing it.  I did think about leaving Star Trek out of this site, but I love it too much, and there is one character I have long felt deserved greater exploration – Saavik.

 

 

If a studio gave me the chance to create a Star Trek show, it would be one that focuses on Saavik, in her later years, living in the time of Picard and Co.

With that said, the other shows I feel really deserve a second chance right now are Space: 1999 (Space 2049), which I’ve been working on for a long time now, seaQuest DSV (the first season), Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, and that old classic campy 80s series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (again, only the first season with a character or two from the second).

As this site evolves, it will focus on each of those shows while continuing to provide science fiction news updates and information on new scientific advances that relate to space exploration, and it will continue to advocate for a reboot of Space: 1999, while also telling the story of Saavik in the 24th Century.  Each of the shows I’ve chosen hold a special place in my heart and helped define my childhood and early adult years, or were shows, like Andromeda, that I fell in love with along the way.

The site name might change a few times over the next week or so as I find something that doesn’t clash with any other name on the internet, but things should stabalise soon.

As always, I hope you enjoy what’s on offer, and thanks for your patience and for all of the kind words (and excited encouragement) I’ve received from Space: 1999 fans these last few years.

Science fiction fans are just bloody awesome! I hope SciFi Regen can honour that – and each of the shows I’m letting my imagination play with.

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Everything Old is New Again

Space 2049 April 2018 Update

There has been a lot of criticism leveled at the entertainment industry for their habit of “rebooting” or “re-imagining” existing television shows and movies.

Sometimes that criticism is deserved, and other times it’s not.  Sometimes it does make you wonder if Hollywood has run out of ideas, but at the same time there are some stories that deserve to be retold for a new generation to enjoy.

In science fiction, probably the two most notable examples of this are Ronald D. Moore’s re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and J.J. Abrams’ rebooted original series Star Trek film.

I’m probably a little bit of an odd fan.  I don’t become instantly resistant to reboots or even remakes.  I approach either with cautious optimism.

My first exposure to this was the sort of reboot that was Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I was a very young teenager at the time, and remember being incredibly excited by the idea.  The four or five other friends I had who were Trekkers were not.  They thought it was a terrible idea, though almost instantly became Next Gen fans when the series finally hit Australian shores (as good old video cassettes we had to rent).

When it was announced Ronald D. Moore was going to re-imagine Battlestar Galactica I was a little more cautious than optimistic, because he was going to make some pretty significant changes, but there was excitement and I ended up loving it.  Both the BSG of my childhood and this more adult version could happily coexist and receive equal amounts of affection from me.

When news broke that J.J. Abrams was rebooting the original series Star Trek I was more optimistic and excited than cautious.  I admired his skill as a director and really liked some of the actors that were being announced.  Plus, thanks to the new BSG, I had learned the difference between a reboot and a re-imagining.

A reboot is a mostly faithful remake of an original property.  The characters and a lot of their backstories are intact, though parts of the overall story may differ.

A re-imagining is where the overall premise stays the same, and maybe even a number of the characters, but many things can and often do change.

Both Moore and Abrams delivered genre defining classics, approaching their material from different perspectives.  Battlestar Galactica became an almost instant hit.  There was initial fan backlash but that quickly faded, especially when BSG shining light Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo in the original), accepted a role on the new series. He told fans we could enjoy both and that both were shows worthy of admiration.  The 2009 Star Trek film was also an almost instant hit.  It has the highest US opening gross of any Trek film, and knocked the Dark Knight off it’s highest grossing IMAX perch by more than two million dollars.

The 2009 version of Star Trek has some issues (hello transwarp beaming and the destruction of Vulcan and death of Amanda), but highlighted the best of each main character while delivering a wonderful story.

Galactica’s story of survival against overwhelming odds, and Star Trek‘s story of a better and brighter future for humanity are stories that deserve to be retold so that new generations can appreciate them, learn from them and be inspired by them.

That’s when a reboot or a re-imagining works.

And, now, another beloved series has been given new life because it has a story of family, ingenuity and overcoming extreme odds as a team that is worth telling to a new audience, and that series is Lost in Space.

Rescuing Doctor Smith

Unless you’ve been holidaying on an island without an internet connection for the last six-months, you know that the reboot aired in April of this year and was very well received.  So much so it has earned a second season.

As should be expected (unfortunately) there were plenty of professional critics who found fault with the show, but no one listened to them because we’ve learned their opinions are just that… their opinions, and they are rarely worth the time taken to deliver them.  The rest of us loved the show.  The series has a 95% approval rating on Google from every day viewers like you and me, a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and IGN gave it an 8.5 out of 10.

The series is based on the original 1965 slightly campy television show starring Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Jonathan Harris, Marta Kristen, Angela Cartwright, Bill Mummy, Rick Turfeld and Bob May (both as the robot), and the reboot is a relatively faithful recreation of the fan favourite.  The new robot even manages a “Danger, Will Robinson.  Danger” or two.

The Robot and Will

While being a pretty faithful reboot, there are some differences.

The biggest changes are a Battlestar Galactica worthy gender swap, with Doctor Smith now a female and played by one of my favourite actresses, Parker Posey (seriously, if you haven’t seen her over the top performance in Josie and the Pussycats – the movie, you are missing out), and the robot who is now an alien mechanism that initially menaces everyone before befriending Will.  Then there’s Don West, who is now an interstellar mechanic rather than a military man.

If you’re a fan of Lost in Space those changes might irk you, because, let’s face it, Jonathan Harris in his iconic role as Doctor Smith became the star of the series, but I do encourage you to give this new version a go.  This isn’t the first reboot we’ve experienced, but it is the best and you should check it out with a little more optimism than caution.

For anyone who isn’t a long time fan, here’s a very brief LiS history: there have been two previous attempts to reboot Lost in Space, one as a film series and another as a television series.

In 1998 there was a film reboot that had great potential but was sunk by a bad script and some overly ambitious special effects.  Starring Matt LeBlanc, Mimi Rogers, Gary Oldman, William Hurt, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabert, Jared Harris and Jack Johnson, Lost in Space the movie had no shortage of talent but it’s story was average and largely disappointing.

The film reboot featured cameos by original series cast members June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Angela Cartwright, and would have featured cameos by Jonathan Harris and Billy Mummy but both declined because the roles weren’t suitable.

Then, in 2004, The Robinsons: Lost in Space tried to recapture the original’s magic with a very serious pilot that is actually not bad.  Starring Jayne Brook, Brad Johnson, Mike Erwin, Adrianne Palicki, Ryan Malgarini, Dick Tufeld and Gil McKinney as new character David Robinson.

This particular reboot was sort of faithful to the original, but chose not to include Doctor Smith, and made John Robinson a retiring war hero who helped save Earth from an alien invasion.  The robot was there, and was the worst thing about the show, and for some reason Penny was a baby and they had a second son, but everything else was pretty spot on.

The unsuccessful pilot had a little too much teen angst and it’s pacing was off despite having been directed by John Woo, but it put a smart framework in place around the whole idea of the Jupiter 2, making it part of a colonisation effort.  It always seemed a bit weird to me that the original Jupiter 2 and the movie Jupiter 2 were crewed by just one family, off on an interstellar voyage alone – the original series family to colonise space, the movie family to build a jump gate so people could go off exploring.

Though the pilot failed to go to series, elements of it seem to have made it into this new version.

The new Jupiter 2 is part of a massive colonisation effort and is housed with many other Jupiters about the colonisation vessel Resolute. That mothership is knocked off her flight path by an alien attack, forcing the families and their Jupiters to launch prematurely and they all end up stranded on a mysterious planet.

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This latest version boasts incredible special effects, a really wonderful cast, a solid story and a story arc that is both engaging and smart.

Having said that, it’s not a perfect show.

It feels like the writers don’t quite know what to do with the new Doctor Smith.  As much as we all loved Jonathan Harris’s over the top, magnificent scene stealing portrayal, that approach wouldn’t have worked with a modern audience.  So they took the humour away from Doctor Smith and made her a little more menacing, and most definitely mentally unbalanced. It’s a good choice, but the character still feels rough around the edges despite Parker Posey’s strong performance.

Likewise, it feels like they’re still trying to sort out Don West, played by Ignacio Serricchio.  His character is probably the least developed.

The Robinson family, however, are – to me – pitch perfect.  The characters are beautifully realised and their relationships are very convincing.  The stand outs are definitely Mina Sundwall as Penny and Maxwell Jenkins as Will.

The rest of the cast is made up of Molly Parker as Maureen Robinson, Toby Stephens as John Robinson, and Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson.

In this iteration of Lost in Space, Maureen is the Mission Commander.  She’s an aerospace engineer who is taking her family to a pre-established colony on Alpha Centauri where she hopes they can build a new life after a disastrous impact event left the Earth largely devastated.

Maureen is the biological mother of Judy, Penny and Will.

John Robinson is a former US Marine.  His marriage to Maureen has been a little rocky, thanks in large part to the numerous secret missions he was often on, keeping him away from his family.

John is the adoptive father of Judy and the biological father of Penny and Will.

Judy is a bit of a prodigy.  At 18 years of age she is the medical doctor for the mission (multiple colonists travelling to Alpha Centauri, not just the Robinson family).

Penny is, as with the original, the middle child.  She’s artsy, dreams of publishing the first book written on another planet, and is the most outspoken of the Robinson children.  Where Judy tows the line, Penny looks for ways to bend and twist that line.  Or abandon it completely.

Will is really the character who we, as the audience, experience this adventure through.  He befriends the robot, and through his influence changes the mechanoid from what appears to be a killing machine, into a helpful, human-friendly companion.

As mentioned above, Don West is one of the mechanics on the Resolute, the colony ship carrying the Jupiters to Alpha Centauri.  He’s a bit mercenary, but has real heart which we slowly get to see throughout the first ten episodes of season one.

Doctor Smith isn’t Doctor Smith.  She’s actually June Harris, a criminal and potential psychopath who drugs her sister, assumes her identity, and lies her way onto the Resolute.  In the attack that strands multiple Jupiters on an alien world, she impersonates Doctor Zachary Smith who is wounded by the robot (and played by Bill Mummy from the original series).  She leaves him to die and spends most of the first season lying to and manipulating everyone.

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The Jupiter 2 probably isn’t as much of a ‘character’ yet as it was in the original, but it does play a large part in every episode of the show.  It’s a relatively faithful reproduction and amalgam of all of the Jupiter 2’s that have come before it.

As with the original series, the show is very much about family.  This version of the Robinson’s is a little more dysfunctional than any of the others we’ve ever seen, which is a good thing because it creates drama without resorting to overly annoying angst. How does this version of the Robinsons differ? Maureen and John are separated, Judy is Maureen’s only child from another marriage, and Will is a very anxious and slightly lost but still, eventually, heroic little boy. In previous versions he was a lot more confident and driven. In this version we see him earn his confidence and strength and it’s beautiful, because it’s incomplete and we know, like us, he still has a long way to go.

The show is compelling and full of heart and worth your time.  It’s visually beautiful, wonderfully acted and well written.  The direction and cinematography are outstanding and like watching a feature film, and every set and prop drips realism and functionality.  You believe you’re on board the Jupiter 2, and believe a vessel like it would have been made by human hands and launched into space to serve as home for a family as it joins a colonisation effort.

What the show proves is that the old can become new again, and that there really are some stories that deserve to be retold over and over again because they’re important, and because they’re relevant. Every generation deserves its own Lost in Space, it’s own Star Trek, and even its own Star Wars because those stories will never not be morality tales that can inspire and positively affect us. Humanity is a work in progress, and these stories are our touchstones and are the signposts that help us aspire and dream and grow.

Since watching the new Lost in Space series, I’ve spoken with friends and family about it.  All of them have universally enjoyed the show, with many saying that one of the things they loved most was the fact they could watch it with their children.  That doesn’t mean that the show is childish in any way.  It’s not.  It’s intense, breathtaking and exciting, but not in a way that alienates children, though in a way that could make them snuggle down in mum or dad’s arms during the tense moments!

Every time I see a remake done this well, it gives me hope.

There are ways to bring back beloved shows with powerful messages that will work in the 21st Century, with just a few simple tweaks.

As always, I maintain hope that we’ll see a reboot of Space: 1999.

Until then, enjoy this wonderful blast from the past.  Season 2 of Lost in Space will air in the first half of 2019 on Netflix.

Lost in Space was developed by Matt Sazama, based on the work of Irwin Allen.  It’s score is by Christopher Lennertz, featuring snipits of John Williams’ iconic original theme. The cinematographer is Sam McCurdy.

The show is produced by Zack Estrin, Kevin Burns, Jon Jashni, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Neil Marshall and Marc Helwig.

It was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Each episode runs from between 47 minutes and 65 minutes.

For more information on the original series, visit the LiS Wiki.

For more information on the Netflix series, visit the official Lost in Space page.

To watch the unsuccessful 2004 pilot for The Robinsons: Lost in Space, visit YouTube.  The resolution is terrible, the special effects are unfinished, and it’s broken up into ten or so minute chunks, but you’ll find it engaging if you’re a fan.

Here’s hoping the rights holders for our favourite 1970s sci-fi series get the message and consider a reboot of a fan favourite show that still has an important and relevant story to tell.

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Closer to the Future

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It’s been an interesting few weeks for those of us who want to see humanity take that next step toward colonising our solar system and beyond.

In 2015, a team led by Michael Gillon from the University of Liege in Belgium, detected three Earth-sized planets orbiting the dwarf star.  That in and of itself was a win for astronomy, but the story of Trappist-1 didn’t end there.  On the 22nd of February this year, astronomers announced four additional exoplanets in orbit of the star – three of which were in the star’s habitable zone.  To top that off, scientists suggested that all seven, conceivably, could be habitable because it was possible they had liquid water somewhere on their surface.

Could the Trappist system be a future home for humanity?

As our technology continues to advance, it’s possible, but would we want to because the planets aren’t the most hospitable.  All of them are very close together, which means the gravitational interactions are quite prominent.  The planets are most likely tidally locked (one side of each planet permanently faces the star) and there would almost certainly be staggering differences between the temperatures on the light and dark sides of each world.  Each planet is also each exposed to very strong x-rays and UV, FUV (far ultraviolet) and EUV (extreme ultraviolet) radiation.

If we were to explore this system at some point in the future, it would no doubt be an exciting and fascinating voyage but would we find life and would we then attempt to establish a colony on one of the worlds?  It’s unlikely, unless future observations present us with additional information that makes the expense of such an exhibition worthwhile.

The next question we need to consider is, could life evolve in such harsh conditions, and could it be sentient?

For more information on the discovery, visit NASA here.

Not long after this news excited news outlets and scientists all around the world, many of those same outlets began reminding us of recent promises made by certain space capable powers that there would be a moonbase on our satellite soon.

The European Space Agency has wanted a moon base for a while, first announcing their interest in May of 2015.  Why?  It’s the logical successor to the International Space Station, says Johann-Dietrich Wörner, the Director General of the ESA.  For more information, visit this link here.  A year after securing the top job, Johann-Dietrich next proposed we go one step further and create a village on the moon.

China has been talking about creating a base on the dark side of the moon, and the Japanese have been looking to Luna with moon bases on their minds too.

NASA, arguably the most famous and prolific space agency in the world, has been talking about creating a base for a very long time, and in January of this year teamed up with Bigelow Aerospace to announce they will be working with the business on a number of space-based missions.  Sadly, none of them are a moonbase.  Bigelow, a private aerospace company, will be going that alone.

For more information, visit Space Industry News here, and Bigelow Aerospace‘s official site here.

What everyone involved in the race to the moon agrees on, is that we can establish a moonbase before 2050 – and launch a mission to Mars before then too.

I don’t know why there is suddenly so much interest in the moon, except perhaps for the financial benefits of being able to establish tourism and mining facilities there, but I’m glad multiple agencies and at least one private business is finally giving the idea serious consideration.


We’ve had the capability for some time, and now it’s exciting to see all of this talk about taking to the stars again to do something other than launch another communications satellite.

The cost in prohibitive, but the benefits far outweigh the expense.  As Earth continues to suffer under the weight of a growing population it can no longer easily support, one possible solution is allowing people to colonise the moon and Mars.

Now all we have to do is wonder who will get to the moon first, and whether or not our prediction (in our Space 2049 fan script) of a multinational and private business collaboration establishing a joint moonbase, is on the money.

In an alternate timeline somewhere, Commander Koenig and Doctor Russell are smiling!

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Nu-Trek III Update – TrekCore’s Rolling Dubai Coverage

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TrekCore continue to update the world on the ongoing filming of the new Star Trek blockbuster due out next year, in time for Trek’s massive 50th anniversary.

According to TrekCore, the filming in Dubai will wind down over the next few days, but until that happens they remain committed to bringing us as much information as they can on the production.

Rather than post something every time TrekCore sticks up a new video, I’m just going to alert you all to the fact that TrekCore is running a series of rolling updates and anytime they come across new still shots or videos they will be linking to them and featuring them on their site.

Go check out day four of TrekCore’s Star Trek Dubai coverage right here.  I’m not sure if I’ve read this right or not, but TrekCore seem to be suggesting that the new uniforms we’ve been seeing in shots and video footage over the last few days are for the USS Yorktown – so that might explain some of the uniform confusion.  I’d be interested to know what you think!

While there’s no precedent that I can recall in Star Trek for ships having different uniforms, they did have different insignia in the original series.  Maybe the new costume designer has taken that idea to a whole new level!

Go bookmark TrekCore and stay up to date on everything Star Trek Beyond.

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Nu-Trek III Update – Filming Starts in Dubai

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This weekend, the next stage of filming for Star Trek Beyond kicked off in the beautiful city of Dubai.

TrekCore have three stories focusing on the Dubai location over at their website.  Don’t worry too much about spoilers because there’s not a lot to give away, however, if you consider anything to be a spoiler, be warned that the second and third articles do show what appear to be even more new Starfleet uniform designs – this time on a group of extras in some kind of crowd scene.

The first article focuses mainly on the mystery of the green-screen encased portion of what looks like a starship’s saucer section, though we’re still left wondering whether or not the crashed ship is the Enterprise.

The second and third articles focus on local tabloid video and photo shots of the production and the new uniforms.

It’s probably a good time to congratulate Justin Lin and his team on the secrecy they’ve been able to maintain for the upcoming blockbuster.  We still know next to nothing about Star Trek Beyond, and that’s exciting!

To check out the first article at TrekCore, click here.  As well as a focus on the crashed saucer section it also lets us know that Sofia Boutella has arrived in Dubai.

The last two articles are here and feature footage shot by locals on what are no doubt smartphones.  It’s these two articles that give us a look at the new uniform designs.

Thanks once again, TrekCore, for being one of the most up to date information sources for the new Star Trek film.

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Nu-Trek III Update – New Locations and a New Breed of Bad Guy

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Star Trek Beyond has started filming out of the beautiful United Arab Emirates city of Dubai, closing down roads and taking to the air with early morning helicopter flights across the incredible cityscape.

TrekCore has the full story, as well as some intriguing set photos that are courtesy of a recent TMZ report and Dubai locals.

None of the images give anything away about the film, so don’t be too worried about spoilers, they do, however, give us an interesting look at the production as it moves closer to completion.

To check out the photos, jump over to TrekCore here and read their article.

Star Trek Beyond Dubai Press Conference

As well as the change in shooting locations, multiple websites (TrekCoreTrekNews, and TrekMovie) have seized on a recent interview conducted by MTV with Idris Elba on his still unnamed character in the new film.

Idris had this to say…

“Simon and the team have written a very interesting, complex journey for my character.  You’ve never seen me play a character like this.

“I think Star Trek has prided themselves as being quite classic when it comes to villains, like ’he’s a guy who wants to end the world,’ there’s no doubt about that. But in this version of the film, there’s a slightly different twist to that.  It’s quite an interesting journey, which I think is groundbreaking for the franchise. But, it still keeps with the ’classic bad guy is a classic bad guy’ tone.”

So… Idris Elba’s character wants to end the world?  Or a world?

Interesting!

We don’t know a lot about the character Idris will be playing, but hopefully he’ll present a challenge worthy of Kirk and his crew.

Idris does say that he is looking forward to everyone seeing the film, and maybe this wonderful actor will bring us a villain good enough to join the ranks of such notable adversaries as Khan Noonian Sing (the Wrath of Khan version) and General Chang – probably two of the best ‘bad guys’ to ever grace a Star Trek movie.

We’ve only got eight and a bit months to wait until we find out!

Star Trek Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg (who also wrote the film with Doug Jung), John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Idris Elba.

As reported last month, it’s release date has been moved back a couple of weeks to the 22nd of July 2016.

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Nu-Trek III Update – A New Release Date for Star Trek Beyond

 

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If you’re like me, you’ve been counting down the days until July 8 2016, and the release of Star Trek Beyond.

Unfortunately… or fortunately… we have to wait just a tiny bit longer.  14 days to be exact.

Star Trek Beyond has been pushed back two weeks to July 22, for reasons we’re not entirely sure of.  Some media pundits are suggesting it’s to take advantage of an IMAX opening to bump profits, and some are suggesting that it’s a simple logistics issue because it’s a huge production that started filming a little later than it probably should have.

One thing is for certain – it’s not because the movie has been seen by a test audience and judged a disaster.  Often, when a movie does get a delayed release date, it’s because some part of it doesn’t work and either the studio has ordered a change after seeing a cut of it, or a sample audience has reacted badly and the studio has realised the film doesn’t play well and needs a bit of work.

Those sorts of release date delays are months long, not just a couple of weeks!

Until Paramount gives an official reason, all we can do is speculate.

For me, I can wait an extra two weeks, whatever the reason for the change.

So, let’s reset our clocks.  July 22, you’re my new favourite day of the year for 2016.

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