THE SCI-FI PODCAST EP 2: “The Chosen One” in Science Fiction and Jupiter Ascending (2015)

TSFP Art Ep2 Chosen One (1)Welcome to The Sci-Fi Podcasta wretched hive of scum and villainy a bi-weekly podcast focused on in-depth discussion of all things Science Fiction. The Sci-Fi Podcast features three hosts—Mattroid, Solo, and Station!—and frequent guests. Each episode we look at a science fiction theme or franchise and take the discussion where no show has gone before.

On this episode of The Sci-Fi Podcast, we welcome guest Cody Clark for our discussion of the fantasy concept of “The Chosen One” as it relates to and is utilized in the science fiction genre. We’ll also give you our review of the recently released 2015 film Jupiter Ascending, another chosen one film from the creators of The Matrix.

Theme music courtesy of I Hear Sirens, featuring Matt on Bass and Liz on keyboard. Hear more of I Hear Sirens ethereal, instrumental, post-rock at BandCamp. Podcast production and artwork by Joshua Ligairi who can be found podcasting at Movie Stream Cast and Horror Movie Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter @IcarusArts.

Show notes after the jump.

I. [00:00:00] INTRODUCTION

—Welcome Cody Clark
—Mattroid introduces the podcast theme

II. [00:02:40] WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING IN THE CRYO-CHAMBER

—William is sick and stoned
—Cody watched Big Hero 6 (2014) with the family
—Cody temporarily fills a token sci-fi stereotype
—Station and Mattroid watched Attack the Block (2011)
—Mattroid revisits The Running Man (1987)

III. [00:08:40] REVIEW: JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)

Station!: 2.5 / Avoid It
Cody: 5 / Stream It
Solo: 4 / Avoid It
Mattroid: 3.5 / Low-Priority Stream

IV. [00:47:08] THEME DISCUSSION: “‘THE CHOSEN ONE’ IN SCIENCE FICTION”

—Defining the trope
—How it works in sci-fi
—Best and worst examples

V. [01:25:16] SEGMENTS

—This week: “The Excessive Machine”
Everyone gives a multimedia recommendation

—Station! recommends the new short film Power/Rangers
—Cody Clark recommends Guy Kay’s newest novel River of Stars
—Solo recommends J.W. Rinzler’s book The Making of Star Wars
—Mattroid recommends the 80s TV movie/series V

VI. [01:32:50] WRAP-UP

—Sign-offs, plugs, and recommendations

LINKS FOR THIS EPISODE:

—Cody says to listen to him on Movie Stream Cast
—Cody says to check out his reviews for The Daily Herald (like Cloud Atlas)
—Matt says to read his writing for The Daily Herald newspaper as “Gary the Unicorn” at heraldextra.com
—Matt says to listen to his reviews of horror/sci fi films (like JasonX) on Horror Movie Podcast
—Liz says to subscribe to The Sci-Fi Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher
—Liz says to watch Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and other things she likes
—William says to listen to him on Movie Stream Cast
—Listen to Josh dig deep on horror-temed episodes of Horror Movie Podcast

96 thoughts on “THE SCI-FI PODCAST EP 2: “The Chosen One” in Science Fiction and Jupiter Ascending (2015)

  1. Yes! I haven’t listened to the episode yet, but you’ve already redeemed yourselves from the JUPITER ASCENDING review by the promise made by the episode artwork of some discussion on THE MATRIX.

    • “The Last Starfighter” is such a fun flick.

      I love all those lighter, more kid-friendly 80’s sci-fi movies. “Flight of the Navigator”, “Explorers” and “Batteries Not Included” are all great too.

    • I have always enjoyed/loved ‘The Last Starfighter’.

      But it didn’t pass my personal qualifications for ‘The Chosen One’ theme. Alex (the protagonist and hero) was not prophesied or foreseen to be the chosen one at any point in the story. He proved himself by being the best at playing the ‘Starfighter’ arcade game. Which was really a galactic test to see who would be the best a flying a real Starship called a ‘Gunstar’.

      Also, ‘The Last StarFighter’ is listed/considered as a space opera, and I didn’t want to encourage/instigate anymore more conflict then there already was. You know, because some people believe that ‘Space Operas’, are not really Sci-Fi movies.

      But back to my point:
      Yes, Alex still had to make the choice to be the hero, as do most protagonist (‘Chosen One’ or not). But he vetted himself, by his own hard work and talent. No one was looking for Alex to save the day, they were looking for anyone who had the highest skills for the job. It could have been anyone. So my overall point is that there is a difference between being a hero and being ‘The Chosen One’.

      And I still stand firm that the same goes for John Connor in the Terminator franchise and Ender from ‘Ender’s Game’. Neither are very good examples of a ‘Chosen One’ theme.

      “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”
      LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow.

      What say you all?

      • Your stance on Alex in The Last Starfighter is well-argued and you have me mostly* agreeing with you, but you are ABSOLUTELY WRONG about about Sarah/John Connor and Ender. Liz and Cody cracked the code with Terminator and Cody cleaned all of your clocks in that Ender debate.

        *Re: Alex, although he doesn’t have a “Lady of the Lake” moment, I do wonder if his story better fits the earlier King Arthur legend of pulling the sword from the stone. Only the chosen one would be able to pull the sword from the stone OR beat the high score on Starfighter. Just a thought. Do you think that counts as an alternate chosen one scenario?

        • There’s no talent or skill in pulling a sword out of a stone. There was however some form of higher power deciding when the sword could be pulled and who did it. Hence its totally ‘the chosen one’ story.

          • Yeah, but natural ability has to be part of the reason someone is ultimately chosen, even if, as with King Arthur, they aren’t displaying that talent at the time. Arthur eventually grew into the hero he was supposed to be. “The Force is strong with this one” points toward a gift, talent or potential that Luke or Anakin maybe didn’t show at first. Same with Harry Potter. There is an assumption that he is a chosen one. Even though he’s a total screw up at the time, there’s this assumption that he’ll eventually grow into his gift. Alex in the Last Starfighter had to spend a lot of time practicing before he was was the high-scorer, but there was also a lot of practice when Obi Wan trained Anakin and when Yoda trained Luke. Harry Potter (and Neville Longbottom) had to go to a school of witchcraft and wizardry for 10 years to learn and grow and prepare. Neo has a lot of talent and learns very quickly, but he still has to download some skills and train with them. Etc, etc, etc. So, I’m not sure the fact that it his place is earned means that he is not chosen.

      • “Ender’s Game” page 1, line 1: “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.”

        Wait, wait, what just happened? Is that Col. Graff foretelling on PAGE ONE, before anyone knows the full extent of Ender’s gifts, that he is “the one” who will save mankind from the Buggers? YES. YES IT IS.

        BOOM. Free your mind, Yolo.

        • I want to clarify something again:

          I made my own personal decision to define ‘The Chosen One’ using the words and under the premise of ‘Prophesy’ and ‘Predestine’. They are defined as follows:

          Prophesy:
          -“(Theology) to reveal or foretell (something, esp a future event) by or as if by divine inspiration.

          -To reveal by divine inspiration.

          -To predict the future with certainty. See Synonyms at foretell.

          -To reveal the will or message of God; speak or write as a prophet.”

          Predestine:
          -“Theology To foreordain or elect by divine will or decree.

          -(Theology) theol (of God) to decree from eternity (any event, esp the final salvation of individuals).”

          This is what makes sense to me.
          ‘The Chosen One’ is called by ‘Prophesy’ and ‘Predestine’ by some kind of Omniscient, Omnipotent and or Omnipresent being or force.

          Everyone else can (and already has) come up with, and defined ‘The Chosen One’ however they want to. That’s the beauty of it. I’m not really trying to get everyone to see it the same way. I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from and my reasoning behind it.

          P.S.
          And by the way Cody, I feel strongly that having come up with my own opinion and point of view on something, and then explaining the reasoning behind it, is one of the most obvious ways an individual can “free their mind”. Regardless if you disagree with it or not.

          So “Boom boom shakalaka boom boom”, to you too brother:)

          • But, that’s just the definition of a classical “chosen one” which negates the second half of this episode’s title “… in Science Fiction” which calls for a scientific re-imagining of a religious/fantasy-based concept.

            Plus, the quote not only supports Cody’s interesting interpretation of “The Chosen One in Science Fiction” with regard to Ender, but it also blows your “author intentionality” argument out of the water. I think Cody’s argument is strong without the quote, but that’s a death knell for your argument.

            And I think it’s great to stand by your interpretation of a text based on the evidence you have available, but I’d say that sticking to your opinion, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, is clearly not freeing your mind. However, it is human nature, as we learned in An Honest Liar this weekend, so it’s totally understandable.

          • William: I don’t entirely (or even mostly) disagree with your definition of the Chosen One paradigm. I certainly don’t at all disagree with your right to formulate a personal definition and apply it. I just think you’re working awfully hard to disqualify “Ender’s Game” on some pretty picky technicalities.

            “-To predict the future with certainty. See Synonyms at foretell.”

            This is exactly what Col. Graff does with Ender. He’s totally convinced that he’s right about Ender and Ender’s destiny to save the human race, and that is a vitally important element of his (Graff’s) character arc across the rest of the novel. The next part of that exchange, interestingly, is that the person he’s having the discussion with (Maj. Anderson … I think; don’t have my copy of the book with me at the moment) tells him that he said the same thing about Peter, who didn’t pan out. To me, that’s poignant commentary on the uncertainty and mutability of prophecy, and I would imagine that Card, who is a deeply religious person, intended it that way. It also solidifies, at least in my mind, that this is intended to be a prophetic conversation. Almost as much as Card’s actually using the words “the one” to describe Ender from Graff’s point of view.

            Your definition of a chosen one seems to require a perhaps more overtly religious element than that, however, so let’s look at that as well:

            In the first few chapters of the novel, Ender makes a friend, Alai, at Battle School and Graff and Anderson quickly isolate Ender again by moving him into a different unit. Alai parts from Ender by invoking a one-word Muslim blessing (salaam) and kissing his cheek. In the world of “Ender’s Game,” all practice of religion has been strictly suppressed, so this is about as daring and heartfelt a way of saying goodbye as Alai could have chosen. Card takes this moment to have Ender, moved by Alai’s gesture, recall being given a secret religious blessing by his lapsed Latter-day Saint mother in childhood. And that, I would argue, is the sort of detail that is not at all accidental. Here, Card is essentially including the information that Ender was anointed by a person of faith to undertake something important in his life. The fact that Ender’s mother probably didn’t appreciate the potential significance of what she was doing (beyond acting out of love for her child and being moved by an emotional and spiritual impulse), only makes this, to me, more clearly the moment of Ender’s choosing.

            What specifically makes Ender a prodigy and not a chosen one? I think a big part of the subtext of “Ender’s Game” is that prophecy doesn’t just happen because it’s supposed to happen. The people who have a part to play have to take action to bring it about. Prophecy takes effort, and can only be deemed certain in retrospect. Of course it feels like a big gamble before it happens — it has to be taken on faith. It’s a similar subtext to what Tolkien expresses more overtly in “The Hobbit:”

            “Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!” said Bilbo.

            “Of course!” said Gandalf. “And why should not they prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

            We don’t have to agree about anything, of course. Differences of opinion are the spice of life. 🙂 It just seems to me that while Ender fits most definitions of being a chosen one, he quite clearly fits yours.

        • First,
          I couldn’t find a classical definition of “the chosen one” when I was researching this topic. So if there is one could you please send me a link to this obvious definition?

          Second,
          For someone who hasn’t read the books or isn’t a science-fiction fan you sure are passionate about your opinion and fighting other people’s battles.

          Third,
          I’m all for a reimagining of any definition or point of view of anything. But at the same time, allowing me to have my own and not being peer pressured to change it. I don’t think I have said once, anything like “you need to open your mind” so you can agree with me and my opinions and definitions. But that does seem to be what others here are doing.

          Fourth,
          In my opinion, Ender (at least in the first book ‘Enders Game’) is clearly a prodigy not a chosen one.

          Prodigy is defined as “a person, especially a young one, endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities.”

          Just because a military power instigates and manipulates a young child, doesn’t mean that that child was going to definitely do anything. The whole thing was a huge gamble.

          Fifth,
          “Sticking to your opinion, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, is not freeing in your mind.”

          This quote could be said to anyone, at anytime, about anything. It’s clearly a biased based argumentative tactic. I could say the same thing right back to you about this very debate. And use it against you for hundreds more examples about things I’ve seen you do and say. And you could do the same thing back to me. But since I feel that that is a immature and ineffective approach, i’ll just stick with what I’ve been saying this whole time.

          “Everyone can come up with, and defined ‘The Chosen One’ however they want to. That’s the beauty of it. I’m not trying to get everyone to see it the same way. I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from and my reasoning behind it.”

          It’s a total legitimate and rational way to communicate. It just seems like you’re so threatened by the very idea, that my opinion is different than yours and I am able to defend it.

          Why Josh, why?

          • Why? For no other reason than I think you’ve done a lousy job of defending the case for Ender in the face of the ideas that Cody has presented.

            5th, don’t try to act like this was my supposedly immature point when I’m reiterating something you said.

            4th, I like the “prodigy” term, but does that mean he can’t also be a chosen one? I’ve not heard any argument that refutes Cody’s point about the government “instigating” Ender (as you put it) isn’t a worthy science fiction stand-in for destiny.

            3rd, It’s not peer pressure, it’s debate. You of all people should know that and know that it’s not personal. I haven’t brought anything personal into this debate in any way.

            2nd, It’s irrelevant whether I’m a fan or have read the books because I’m doing nothing more than watching a boxing match and voting on a winner. That’s what we listeners do on the comment boards. And I don’t continue the debate to “fight” anyone else’s “battles” but because I think it is (usually) fun to debate movies.

            1st, I mean classical in the sense of our traditional understanding, definitions drawn from religious texts and fantasy texts that far pre-date a more modern notion of science fiction. If you don’t think there is an obvious definition (and apparently couldn’t find one), why are you so rigid about sticking to yours? I don’t think officiality is really the point of this discussion, but if you want official, I can’t think of a better source: http://bit.ly/1xVvndV

          • Hahaha NERDS!!!!

            Just kidding. This discussion is getting tense. I like it!

            By the way, for us who haven’t read the books or seen the movie, thanks for the spoiler alert. Question, is Ender’s Game a good movie? I remember it got kind of a lukewarm reception.

          • Juan: The movie is fair-to-middling as adaptations go. Some pretty decent elements on several fronts, but disappointing as a whole. On the printed word side of it, both “Ender’s Game” and its immediate sequel, “Speaker for the Dead,” are pretty widely acknowledged as towering classics of written sci-fi. “Ender’s Game” needs no qualifiers: Everyone should read it. “Speaker for the Dead” is much more existential and far less action oriented. It’s equally brilliant, but goes in a totally different (and for many readers, far less satisfying) direction. It’s not as easy to recommend to readers who struggle to engage with “thinky” sci-fi. After that, the many other books in the series are hit or miss. I struggled to get through “Xenocide” (No. 3) but enjoyed “Children of the Mind” (No. 4) quite a bit. The “Shadow” subset almost completely lost me with the first book, but the ones after that are a ton of fun.

            Nothing that we’ve said here really spoils anything. (Although, Eep! I sure hope we didn’t blow anything major in the podcast itself.) “Ender’s Game” isn’t so much about the “whether” of the eventual outcome as it’s about the “how.” And that “how” is transcendent. (And definitely highly spoilable. Tread with caution.) If you’re never read “Ender’s Game” or seen the movie, definitely skip the movie and read the book. What a book!

            Also, nice callback to Ep. 1: I’m definitely a HUGE “Ender’s Game” nerd.

          • That is a good definition (of the chosen one), and I did not see anything like that when I was trying to obviously find something that would back up what I was thinking.

            And I think I have said and spoken my mind on the subject enough… After this last post of course:)

            I sincerely respect Cody’s point of view of ‘the chosen one’ in the Enders Game story. And I also still feel like it’s not the best example for the theme at the same time.

            But so what? Isn’t this a great example of different instruments of opinions creating a orchestra of beautiful and diverse podcasting music?

            In the very first episode of this show I expressed my predicament of not being able to show my love and passion for the science-fiction genre, in my life. At least, not without being belittled or the butt of a joke. The only time I’m able to watch it, is when I’m alone late at night. I often feel like some kind of sci-fi deviant, addicted to the fantastical. And the deepest irony of all, is the only friend I occasionally see movies with isn’t a big fan of Sci-Fi. And happens to be the very one berating me on this very message board.

            I was told by my other cohost that my love, passion and fandom would be welcome here. But I guess that’s only if you are agreeable to the producer. Or at least be overall agreeable to the masses or the majority.

          • I totally, 100% agree with everything Cody says about the ‘Ender Game’ novels and Film.

            And not because I feel pressured to, but because I just happen to feel the same.

          • @Juan – As someone who hasn’t read the book, I can give you an opinion of ENDER’S GAME the movie as its own thing as opposed to as an adaptation. From that perspective, I can say that it is fair-to-middling as movies go. 🙂

          • William. You, more than most, should know berating when you see it (that’s also a call-back to episode 1). Everything I wrote was expressed in the spirit of fun and thoughtful debate due to my passion for movies and as well as discussions about movies and movie podcasts in particular. I seriously doubt you actually took it as anything else, but if you did, I apologize whole-heartedly. I’ve never know you to be so sensitive or backdown from a debate. I hadn’t realized the extent to which you were looking to this podcast and forum for safe haven as an oppressed science fiction enthusiast.

    • Cloud Atlas just seemed messy and pointless.

      The Matrix was actually a Doctor Who rip-off from when they were 12 and 14 in an episode called “The Deadly Assassin”. Not that they shouldn’t have done it. But they should at least credit the source. Or who knows, maybe it’s a cosmic coincidence.

      • There are so many influences present in The Matrix, it’s probably a chore for them to sit and list them all–like a Quentin Tarantino movie. I’m not a Whovian, but I can pick out a myriad of direct influences from the Allegory of the Cave to Alice in Wonderland to the Ghost in the Shell. I am interested in checking that Dr. Who episode out now … thanks for mentioning it!

  2. Thanks for putting me on the spot Josh…I’m not the most articulate of the bunch…and after learning what Juan went through learning english…he puts me to shame with his posts…its about Alex Rogan a teenager who lives in this close knit trailer park. One day he finds out he failed to recieve his college loan so life is looking pretty bleak for him…Anyways there is this Starfighter video game that is somehow in his trailer park that he ends up beating…Shortly after a representative of the company (an alien) that made the game shows up and tells him that the game was a test so they could find the best starfighters in the universe to protect the galaxy from a hostile invasion…things go bad and all the other pilots are killed and he becomes the only chance the universe has to defeat the invasion…the movie is much better than my description…

    • Please dont get me started on My Science Project…maybe you guys should do just an 80’s themed episode…I would crush it!!!

      • We will be doing an 80s themed show; we’ll do one of each decade from the 60s to the present.

        As kids born in the late 70s (except Station!), we all grew up with great 80s television and movies, and some of the very best, most daring and zany sci-fi came from that decade.

        Super happy to hear that you’re hoping for that episode, because I can’t wait for it.

        In fact, this ties into something William and I were discussing last night. Hmmmm…maybe something awesome is just about to happen.

  3. I think this song, along with the first verse, are very fitting with what I was saying about why “The Chosen One” (theme and use in storytelling), have been around for so long. And that it really can be viewed as a reflective critique, on how important and special we think we all are, as individuals, as a species and so on, and so forth, until we prove it to be the truth or die trying.

    From the band “Fleet Foxes”: The song is called “Helplessness Blues”

    “I was raised up believing I was somehow unique.
    Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see.
    And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be,
    A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.”

    • Lovely song, and very thoughtful lyrics. Definitely would have been a great fit for the discussion. Looks like they filmed in AZ or NM? The pan that starts at 1:35 could almost be Utah Valley from the Squaw Peak Road overlook (or from Squaw Peak itself), but for the conspicuous absence of Utah Lake.

  4. Pingback: Episode 047 — Releasing Sunday Morning |

  5. I missed all of the list-making fun in the Ep. 1 comments with everyone’s favorite sci-fi movies, so I’ll weigh in here. I tried to do this off the top of my head, which is my standard M.O. for lists, so that they actually reflect the movies that are uppermost in the ol’ memory banks. Although doing it that way almost always leaves me feeling like I’m forgetting multiple somethings. Here’s what I came up with:

    1. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
    2. The Matrix
    3. Star Wars
    4. The Terminator
    5. The Thing (1982)
    6. Gattaca
    7. The Iron Giant
    8. Alien
    9. The Empire Strikes Back
    10. Inception
    11. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    12. Galaxy Quest

        • “The Wrath of Khan” is a lean, exciting, almost note-perfect classic of the genre. You should definitely check it out sometime Dino.

          I also love “The Voyage Home” but most of the other Star Trek movies tend to blur together a bit in my memory.

          • Dino: If you’ve seen the original series episode “Space Seed” (you can stream it for free on Hulu), then “The Wrath of Khan” will definitely have a stronger resonance. And the whole thing is more emotionally satisfying if you have a little basic knowledge of the characters and their relationships.

            Part of the beauty of “The Wrath of Khan,” however, is that you could walk into it cold and it would still knock your socks off. It’s tremendous.

          • Thanks Cody. I never watched the television series, so just never watched the movies because I didn’t think I’d get anything out of them. Seems that was an incorrect assumption, so I’ll definitely add the movies to my queue.

      • What? What about David’s and Juan’s inclusion of Akira and Ghost in the Shell? Do they not count as traditional animation?

    • Cody, love your list. After hearing you own* everyone on this episode, I can see now why Josh considers you his hero. Let it be known that from this day forth, you are also my hero and I your groveling looser. Also, I’m beyond excited about your inclusion of The Iron Giant, only one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time and space. I think your taste in movies, especially animation is very close to mine (Hey Josh, I should be your hero too!). Of course this is based solely on what little I’ve seen you post. Anyway, great pick(s)!

      *Let it also be known that I absolutely adore everyone and I think everyone’s thoughts, theories, and ideas are of the highest caliber. You guys blow my mind with your knowledge and I have nothing but respect and praise for each and everyone of you. It’s such a joy that this podcast now exists in this reality and I hope that in the near future when the promises of flying cars, hoverboards, and time travel are met, this podcast is still standing, giving hope to a new generation of earthlings fighting the good fight against the also promised, alien invasion.

      • I’m humbled, Juan, and deeply honored. Funny story about “The Iron Giant:” In 1999, when I was working at Mr. Showbiz (defunct and vanished from the interwebs since 2001), they tossed me a New Guy assignment to do a one-on-one phone interview with the nobody director of some animated movie opening that summer. Yes, it was Brad Bird and “The Iron Giant.” I talked to him for 35-ish minutes (one of two times I’ve interviewed him; the other was in person at a roundtable for “Ratatouille”), and my memory is that it was a pleasant and informative conversation. (He’s a very smart guy.) Memory is all I have to go on, however, since my phone malfunctioned and didn’t actually record our interview. I ended up with nothing. I was crushed. I never got to write anything up. I still got to review the film when it opened, however, and loved it from start. It’s a long-lived favorite.

  6. Guys this episode was even better than the first one. Some excellent and thought provoking discussions going on. I especially loved the ideas expressed regarding John Connor as a Chosen One and the implications that time travel might have on such a concept. Amazing!

      • Thanks David (and Yos). I think they are getting better as we record, with each of us gaining more understanding of the other, the format, etc.

        But honestly? Best part about all of this is you guys…reading the comments, seeing the downloads and knowing people like it…yeah.

  7. How do you think The Reluctant Hero fits into the discussion? Not necessarily the chosen one, but also not a willing hero.

    Anyway, I’m with Cody – Neo is my pick as the best example of The Chosen One in science fiction.

    • I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with Avatar: The Last Air Bender, but that’s my pick for the best chosen one by far. I know it’s an animate series, but guys, it’s so full of rich ideas and characters that are actually developed and that *gasp* pay off in a big way in the end. I also really like this particular chosen one because it’s not an all powerful being that happens every 10,000 years. Rather, it’s a chosen one that gets reincarneted and taps into the knowledge and power of previous chosen ones (Avatars in this case) in order to build upon what his/her ancestors made possible up until their death. It’s a.fantastic twist of the chosen one mythos in my opinion.

    • Reluctant Hero is a concept that mirrors a chosen one in many ways but is, to me, it’s own thing.

      One example could be Han Solo. He’s barely in it at first, and even then only with the promise of financial reward. Does this negate his heroics, or are we trained to believe that a hero is only a hero if he’s selfless?

      It’s probably a good segment of its own on a show. Thanks for the heads up, Dino!

      • I actually wonder if the definition of The Chosen One essentially precludes the presence of reluctance in the hero. One recurring theme found in the chosen one narrative is this feeling of a greater purpose, and a searing desire to figure out what that is. In every example of a chosen one I can think of, said individual seems to accept and, in most cases, relish their role as the savior.

        The Reluctant Hero, on the other hand, seems to be a hero of circumstance. They take on the role of the hero because they’re in a position to do so and nobody else will. Peter Quill doesn’t want to save the galaxy in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY* because of some greater calling or idealistic view; he wants to save the galaxy because he’s “one of the idiots who lives in it” and finds himself in a position to actually do something about it.

        * I know, probably a weak science fiction example, but was the first thing that came to mind.

        • Reluctance is just one point on the arc of the Heroes’ Journey. Most heroes initially reject “the call” although some are more reluctant than others (as Matt pointed out with Han). For this reason, I’m not sure if reluctance precludes the ability of the heroes to also be the chosen one. Neo struggles. John Connor struggles. Anakin doesn’t even become a hero at all. He goes the other way. So, I think even the chosen one can be a reluctant hero. I would say that can maybe take that idea a step further to “Anti-Hero.” An anti-hero type–like a Han–usually accompanies an innocent chosen one type–like a Luke. Stryder and Frodo might be a good fantasy example of that. I don’t know. Just riffing.

          • Except that Aragorn (Strider) is not actually reluctant at all. That’s just boilerplate late-21st-century psychobabble that Peter Jackson & Cohorts grafted into the character for the movies. Aragorn as Tolkien wrote him is a deliberate and deeply thoughtful king-in-hiding who has been carefully preparing to rise to his birthright and claim the throne of Gondor for decades (he’s longer-lived than the movies make him seem).

            Many (though far from all) of my foremost gripes about Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies center around how badly he mangles several key characters by insisting on contemporizing them. Movie Faramir is another deeply annoying example.

          • @Cody

            Spot on. Anyone who’s read Tolkein’s works should know that Aragorn is a far cry from his cinematic counterpart. He’s not a ranger hiding from his destiny; he’s waiting for his chance to rise.

  8. Hi Mattroid and Station (STATION!),

    I just want to commend your excellent taste for television series. I absolutely love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I love that you’ve championed it twice now. It was for a long time my number one pick for all time favorite television series until Breaking Bad debunked it and it now sits at a very close second spot. What do you guys think of its spinoff, Angel? I actually like it a lot and there are times where I think Angel surpases Buffy in a way. The quality of the show wasn’t as even, particularly towards the end, but what an ending!

    Also, I wanted to know if anyone has seen the movies that I list below. I don’t see them pop up very often, but that’s probably because they’re very recent. Anyway, I’d say they’re worth your time. “The Machine” is probably more typical sci-fi, but the other two are more along the lines of “Her”.

    The Machine (2013)
    Frequencies (2013)
    I Origins (2014)

  9. Juan,

    I’m an “Angel” guy, for sure. Absolutely incredible, especially season 5. Station! loves it too, but Buffy is hers and Angel is mine, if that makes sense.

    We’ve discussed doing a Buffy/Angel podcast, and probably will when TSFP is rolling. We’d cover all episodes and canon-Comics.

    And we were talking about “The Machine” la few nights ago but haven’t pulled the trigger. Good?

    • The Machine is a big disappointment, but only because it was full of potential and had such a strong start. As the movie progressed, I was so captivated and on board for the ride of my life, but then it sort of changed gears and left me wondering what went wrong. It’s a low budget movie and I understand the limitations that they had, so I’m thinking that perhaps this was a victim of a limited budget and ambitions greater than they could afford. I still consider it a pretty decent to strong sci-fi, but it’s just one of those movies that could’ve and should’ve been great, but wasn’t, and that pains my soul to no end.

  10. So, I watched both THE FIFTH ELEMENT and BLADE RUNNER this past week. I had seen both movies before, but so long ago that my memory on both was fuzzy.

    I liked both movies. THE FIFTH ELEMENT was goofier than I remembered, which keeps it off my top 10 sci-fi list. Nonetheless, it’s really good and I definitely enjoyed my sit. I’ll be watching this one again in the future.

    Something struck me when watching BLADE RUNNER – I remembered almost all of the visuals throughout the movie, but the actual story had escaped me. Needless to say, the visual representation of 2019 LA, both glitzy and gritty, as well as the character design are absolutely awesome. I also really loved the sound and music of the film. It’s such a good science fiction story as well, but I feel like I was missing something. Because of that, I need to watch this one again… soon. It may very well sneak into my top 10 sci-fi list. At the very least, it’s a movie I can’t stop thinking about.

    • The sci-fi classic that’s next up on my list for a re-watch is TWELVE MONKEYS. This is one that I *think* I’ve seen before, but honestly can’t even remember. More likely, I probably saw a few scenes here and there when flipping through channels.

      Excited about this one.

        • One of the (many) benefits of having a pregnant wife is she tends to pass out the second the lights go out, so I’m essentially free to watch whatever I want.

  11. So, I got click-baited into reading a stupid Star Wars list, but it had one point that happened to relate to this discussion. It suggests that the Star Wars films are actually ANTI Chosen One Prophecy. Also, Mattroid, this article agrees that the chosen one trope is lazy.

    “One of the worst trends in modern moviemaking is the constant falling back on the crutch of a prophecy. Saying your hero is destined to save the day means less time needs to be spent seeing them become someone capable of actually saving the day on their own merits. The Matrix did it, Harry Potter did it, heck Frozen almost did it. But the worst, most prominent example has to be Star Wars, right?

    When we’re introduced to Anakin he comes along with the old baggage of midichlorians; the concentration of Force-giving microbes is so high in his body that Qui-Gon and eventually the rest of the Jedi believe he was a long-ago prophesied Chosen One destined to ‘bring balance to the Force’.

    It’s painfully by the numbers. That is, until Episode III delivers a massive curve ball. Not that Anakin turns evil, we knew that all along, but that the reason his midichlorian count is so high has nothing to do with the prophecy; because Palpatine created Anakin using the Force of course his Force prowess is going to be through the roof.

    The Jedi incorrectly believe Anakin is the key to the prophecy against all better judgement and it directly ties into their eventually destruction. By the time the Yoda begins to question the potency of their foresight in Episode III, it’s too late; Anakin has already began his spiral towards Vader. So the prequels aren’t about an overarching destiny to the saga at all; they’re showing how destructive reliance on it can be. If anything, Luke’s the Chosen One for actually being able to turn Vader back.”

    • Sorry to be dense, but what is this about? I’m pretty sure there are no movies before “Star Wars.” I think I would know if George Lucas had ever decided to TAKE A GIGANTIC DUMP on one of the most enduring cinematic mythologies of our time. Like, I’d remember if he had ever done something only THIRTY OR FORTY TIMES AS EMBARRASSING as Ewoks and the “Star Wars Holiday Special” put together.

      Wolfman, are you sure you haven’t been dropping acid again?

      • When ISN’T he dropping acid? Never. The answer is “never”.

        But it’s an interesting article. I agree that this trope is often an example of laziness, despite Cody’s well-stated agrument to the contrary. But anti-chosen one? Meh.

    • Oooohhhh, that article has a couple goodies. But my take on chosen one, anti-chosen one and Obi one. So, no one talked about the original Star wars (soon to be called “midtrilogy”? ) as a chosen one story, right? Not until the prequels did we see that Anakin is linked to a prophesy of bringing balance to the force. Well, he did so in two ways in my mind: the first way…by wiping out most of the Jedi until there are just two (Ben and Yoda). Counter balanced by two Sith (Vader and Sidious). Yikes!!! But a perfect balance.
      Way #2: he later takes down the Emperor due to his son who converted him back. So, kinda round-about, but galactic peace was restored. The Clone wars animated series actually has a lot more fun with the force and dark side being balanced.

      Eitherway, even though you know Anakin will become Vader, and even though Haden is a terrible actor, I still felt the story of his fall from grace was so interesting. A lot of fogginess made him lose his way. Cool metaphor on how gradually people can get lost down wrong paths in real life.

    • Hi Dino,

      We were scheduled for Thurs but family issues bumped it back a couple of days–super mega apologize to all, since it’s my fault.

      The new and pretty spectacular episode should be up later today.

      Thanks for understanding.

  12. ***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT***

    The Star Wars films are now available for purchase on iTunes. You can pre-order today, and they will be available beginning this Friday, April 10.

    I mention this here, not because they’re science fiction (since we all know they are fantasy), but because I thought, of all the Movie Podcast Network shows, the hosts here and this audience would be most interested.

    • Thanks for the notice, Dino.

      If you really want good quality versions of the OT, seek out “The Unspecialized Edition” versions which have been fan restored. These versions remove most of the 90s Lucas alterations and improve the colorization of the blu-rays, which had far too much contrast with blacks and reds.

      Also, please pardon the delay. The F13 episodes of HMP kicked Josh’s trash and he’s working diligently to have this very long episode up and running today.

      • Thanks for the tip on “The Unspecialized Edition.” I already have five different copies of the OT, so what’s one more?! (at least that was my thinking when I plunked down the dough the other day to pre-order the iTunes digital versions)

        And, no worries on the delay, Mattroid. I’ll… be… right… here.

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