The formula of using a Philip K. Dick short story as a foundation for an action film had been established by the time director John Woo got around to making “Paycheck” (2003). It’s the earliest PKD story – written in 1952, published in 1953 — to be turned into a film. Writer Dean Georgaris (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — The Cradle of Life”) takes the hookiest part of the story – a person sends clues to his future self before his mind-wipe – and builds a fairly engaging mystery-actioner around it.
After three TV seasons and 10 previous books, the “Roswell” saga arrives at its country-spanning conclusion, “Turnabout” (November 2003). Andy Mangels’ and Michael A. Martin’s novel, the wrap-up of the many threads laid down in “Pursuit,” finds different groups of heroes fighting little battles and doing little missions until it all comes together in a huge showdown. I enjoyed reading it, and the authors serve all the main characters well.
Green Lantern” (2011) has a reputation for being garbage, but it’s a perfectly fine adaptation of the DC superhero who was created in 1940 by Alan Scott and Martin Nodell. If you go in hearing about how bad it is, you might even think “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” Since my superhero-watching journey is partly for the sake of learning about the major figures in comic-book lore, I found this to be a painless piece of homework.
Roswell’s” book-based “Season 4” starts with “A New Beginning” and “Nightscape,” but the stakes seriously ramp up in “Pursuit” (September 2003). Authors Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin, who previously wrote “Skeletons in the Closet,” tell us that Max and Liz have now gotten married – as per the flash-forward at the end of Season 3 – so now all bets are off. There’s no continuity reason why Max, Michael, Isabel, Liz, Maria, Kyle or anyone else can’t be hurt or killed.
My friend who likes to laugh at bad movies dragged me to “Transformers” in 2007, but I’ve forgotten everything about that movie and haven’t followed the franchise since. The prequel “Bumblebee” (2018) gives people like me a new entry point into the saga as it tells of an “E.T.”-style friendship between 18-year-old California grease monkey Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) and relatively small (and therefore cute) and mute Autobot Bumblebee.
Eye in the Sky” (1957) is one of Philip K. Dick’s most influential novels – or at least prophetic of what future authors would explore – as he delves into subjective realities. Also explored in his short story “The World She Wanted” (1953), “subjective reality” is the idea that everyone’s perception of the world comes from inside themselves rather than outside.
After launching “Season 4” of “Roswell” in book form with “A New Beginning,” Kevin Ryan also writes the second “episode,” “Nightscape” (July 2003). He continues putting the teens into genre situations not found in the TV series; “A New Beginning” is a small-town kidnapping mystery and “Nightscape” is a haunted-house horror story.
Philip K. Dick is known for wild ideas, so sometimes I anticipate them from the title. Before reading “The Man Who Japed” (1956), I would’ve guessed “to jape” means to jump through time or dimensions, and while the book does touch on that concept, it actually means “to pull a practical joke.” It should be noted PKD didn’t invent “jape” – Merriam-Webster says it originated in the 14th century and had a resurgence in the 19th century – but I think it’s fair to say he resurrects a forgotten word.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching “Ad Astra” (2019). Director James Gray’s film blends a solar system travelogue with the family drama of Brad Pitt’s Roy McBride hoping to connect with his estranged father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones). Clifford is on a spaceship orbiting Neptune as Roy starts off from Earth. “Ad Astra” is one big metaphor about a gulf in a relationship, but its space-porn visuals and the delicate, somber music from Max Richter made it irresistible for me. (Other viewers will find it too slow; this is a matter of taste.)
Executive producer Jason Katims says in the DVD commentary for the series finale of “Roswell” that a theoretical fourth season would’ve found the teens on the road, helping people with their powers while staying a step ahead of the Special Unit. The closing image of Max and Liz getting married at a rural church is a nod to what Season 4 might’ve been.