All posts by Dayton Martindale

Before the Dawn: A Look Back at One of Sci-Fi’s Great Franchises

One month ago, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes came out to impressive critical acclaim—and has made a lot of money. Few were more excited than I, and in anticipation I took a look back at some of the franchise’s earlier works. I won’t review Pierre Boulle’s original 1963 novel (frankly, the films are much more interesting), I haven’t read the comic book adaptations, and I’ve yet to view the 70s TV shows. But I’ve now seen all eight films and I want to share that with you. 

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A Taste of Their Own Meta-Cine

A new type of hyper-aware genre entertainment seems to be emerging of late. Call it “meta-genre,” or “meta-cine”: films, as well as television shows, that self-consciously invite us to reflect on the conventions of genre itself. Is it parody, or is it more? Paul Popescu and Dayton Martindale examine why it might be good to take our new meta-cine.

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Buffer Oscar Predictions

With the Oscars so close, the Buffer editors love nothing more than to debate the outcomes of each category. Here are our predictions for the winners of some of the top categories for this year’s Academy Awards.

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Her: A Portrait of the OS as a Young Woman

Spike Jonze is a co-founding member of MTV’s Jackass, a part owner of a skateboarding company, an award-winning director of commercials and music videos, the creative director of an online television channel, the editor of a teen music magazine, a BMX photographer, and who knows how many other things. Yet on top of all these eclectic interests he has managed to become the critical darling (or at least this particular critic’s darling) of the last fifteen years.

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Korra Takes a Midseason Detour de Force in “Beginnings”

Avatar Korra is a frustrating character, which is part of what makes The Legend of Korra a frustrating show. The show’s original release sounded like a godsend: brand new adventures set in the same world as Nickelodeon’s superb mid-2000s fantasy series Avatar: The Last Airbender?—count me in! Yet the story of the next Avatar has largely failed to live up to Airbender’s legacy. That’s not to say it’s a bad show; the first season successfully expanded on the original series’ themes of moral complexity, and the central conflict over equality between benders and non-benders made Korra far more than just an empty dose of nostalgia. But the fault lies with the characters: whereas Aang, Katara, and Sokka were a pleasure to hang out with in Airbender, Korra and her friends, despite being slightly older, are somehow less relatable. These teenaged leads range from boring to angsty to annoying to stubborn. Frankly, they can be kind of a drag to watch.

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Steel Steals My Heart

Man of Steel is not a Superman movie. The Clark Kent on the screen might seem familiar: he leaves his home planet for Kansas as an infant, he knows how to fly, and he wears the classic cape and tights. Played by the preternaturally handsome Henry Cavill, he certainly looks the part. But this is not the hero you may know and love: this Clark Kent steals, doubts, and lets civilians die. The name “Superman” is bandied about once or twice, but it’s more of an obligatory homage than an unreserved embrace. Man of Steel borrows freely from the preexisting mythos, but it blazes its own path to create a surprisingly thoughtful big budget sci-fi flick.

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