Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

The View from My Chair: Who owns the Universe?

My attention was directed to this video today

This got me thinking, when it comes to the Universe created by one individual but loved by a very large group of fans, who actually “owns” the universe?  In the legal sense the universe is “owned” by the copyright holder.  I cannot go around writing stories about space battles in far off galaxies and call it “Star Wars” without some lawyer showing up and issuing me a cease and desist.  I cannot write stories of young wizards named Howie, Don and Chermoine saving the universe from the evil Tromedlov without somebody notifying J.K Rowling.  If I  want to write detective stories about a 19th century detective I’d better not name him Sherlock Holmes or I’ll be hearing from the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  At least I’d better not write anything like that and expect to sell it to others.

I’m not going to delve into the legal realms of “Fair Use” or how much can I write about these situations and steal from the original idea while still making it seem like something new.  Rather I want to look at the serious fan and their disagreements with the original authors about the nature of “their” universe.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew so disenchanted with his creation, Sherlock Holmes, that he killed the detective off in “The Final Problem”.  As the author, this was Doyle’s right to do so.  The public however had other ideas.  The outcry over the “death” of the great detective led Sir Arthur to resurrect his creation in the “The Adventure of the Empty House”, in this instant the “ownership” of the universe changed hands.  No longer could Sir Arthur lay complete claim to his hero.  Yes, legally the Sherlock Homes universe is still owned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but it was the fans who forced the resurrection.

The Harry Potter universe is another instance of certain fans being at odds with the author.  My sister has undertaken a re-writing (in fan-fiction of course) of Harry Potter 7.  According to my sister (and a few of her friends, a few of mine, and nearly half a million writers at J.K. Rowling screwed up the Harry Potter universe with book 7.  “Harry should have married Hermionie,” “Harry should have died,” the list goes on of the supposed “wrongs” that Ms. Rowling has done to “their” universe.  Now I cannot claim to be a reader of the Harry Potter novels (my kids are) but I have seen the first six movies.  Great cinema? not really but they are nicely done movies.  My point is that the fans have taken a very possessive view of the universe.  The universe if J.K.’s to do with as she pleases.  If she had wanted to end book 7 with the magical equivalent of the atomic bomb, killing every magical being in existence she certainly could have.  Would have made the fans happy? probably not.  But the fans need to be aware of the fact that this is Ms. Rowlings’ universe, she only invites us in.

This brings me to George Lucas and the universe that he created.  Star Wars entered into the public’s collective conscious in 1977.  I was 10.  I was enamored with the story being told on the big screen.  I collected the comics.  I played with the toys.  I gained an interest in science fiction that has never gone away.

When Mr. Lucas re-did the original trilogy in the 90’s, I brought my family to see Lucas’ vision.  The redone effects made (in my opinion) a good film better.  Did Han need jump out of Greedo’s way before toasting him?  Maybe not, but this is Lucas’ universe not mine.  George can do with this universe whatever he wants.  It is his house, he is only inviting us in.  Now, Mr. Lucas has been more than generous allowing folks to rummage around and play in his universe.  The Expanded Universe of novels, comics, games and whatnot have added to an already rich tapestry.

I do not understand the vehemence folks use when discussing Jar Jar Binks.  Do I like the character? no.  Do I wish Jar Jar had been one of Anakin’s victims on his slide to the dark side?  yes. (Meesa no wanna die Annie).  Does that change the fact that George Lucas can do whatever he wants with the character? no.

I don’t remember where I read it but I recall this interview with George Lucas.  He states that he had always intended to kill Jar Jar off but kept him around simply because Star Wars is his universe and won’t be dictated to by the fans.  If I am remembering correctly and this is the reason Jar Jar didn’t die, then I applaud Mr. Lucas for sticking to his guns.

The question remains.  Who owns the universe?  Answer the creator.  We should be thankful that we’re allowed to play inside.

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Movies, News, Reviews and Culture, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Warner Bros. – 128 mins – PG-13

 Robert Downey Jr. …  Sherlock Holmes
 Jude Law …  Dr. John Watson
 Rachel McAdams …  Irene Adler
 Mark Strong …  Lord Blackwood
 Eddie Marsan …  Inspector Lestrade
 Robert Maillet …  Dredger
 Geraldine James …  Mrs. Hudson
 Kelly Reilly …  Mary Morstan
 William Houston …  Constable Clark
 Hans Matheson …  Lord Coward
 James Fox …  Sir Thomas
 William Hope …  Ambassador Standish
 Clive Russell …  Captain Tanner
 Oran Gurel …  Reordan
 David Garrick …  McMurdo

Synopsis from IMDb:  After finally catching serial killer and occult “sorcerer” Lord Blackwood, legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson can close yet another successful case. But when Blackwood mysteriously returns from the grave and resumes his killing spree, Holmes must take up the hunt once again. Contending with his partner’s new fiancée and the dimwitted head of Scotland Yard, the dauntless detective must unravel the clues that will lead him into a twisted web of murder, deceit, and black magic – and the deadly embrace of temptress Irene Adler.

VS: 1.9 pointed ears
I am not a Sherlock Holmes fan.  I ‘ve read maybe one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels.  I am familiar enough with the character that I know the basics.  From what I remember of the Holmes canon, this movie is a faithful interpretation of the character right down to Holmes’ use of cocaine (inferred in a scene but not mentioned on screen and my reason for a point 1 reduction).  That said I was sufficiently intrigued by the trailers to put this movie on my “See it if it comes to Grundy” list (Grundy being our local dollar theater).  I was not disappointed.  I enjoyed this film from start to finish.  The violence is not gratuitous and is used to depict Holmes’ analytical mind in more than one scene.  19th century London looked appropriately gritty and smog infested.  Given the state of special effects that shouldn’t surprise me but it did look nice.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Mrs VS enjoyed the movie (but I’ll let her tell why in her section).

Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes to the nines.  Never did I see a hint of Tony Stark, too often when I go to see a film I can be distracted by seeing too much of an actor’s previous performance.  Downey gave life to a character who could well be an ancestor of Tony Stark without calling on the previous character. 

I also failed to see the supposed “gay subtext” in this movie.  I suspect that blog rumors and pronouncements of the former  are from people who are over analyzing everything.   This movie goes in the DVD collection when it is released.

Mrs. VS: 1.5 pointed ears
This was a fairly decent movie.  The scenery was appropriate to the era being depicted.  It is not a good-looking movie, but then 19th century London was not a beautiful place.  I happen to like murder mysteries (ed note I didn’t know that) and this movie was rousing good mystery.  The man bursting into flames was a little gratuitous but understandable given the aspirations of the villain.

Pvt. B.
rating coming

PIT #2: 2 pointed ears
This movie is the best movie of 2010 (OK it’s only February but it’s STILL a good movie).  This movie took everything that I knew about Sherlock Holmes and put it up on the screen.   You can be a complete Sherlock noob and still enjoy this movie.

PIT #3: 2 pointed ears
This movie rocked.  I didn’t see a single kissing scene.  Although there were no car chases, I understand that is because the automobile had not been invented in Holmes’ time (though we did get to see a large ship sink).

Overall 7.4 out of 8 ears

Families be warned the PG-13 rating is earned for depictions of (legal) drug use, depictions of cultic rituals and minor language.

Definitely a must-see if you get the chance.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , | 5 Comments