Review: Styx – “The Mission”

Image result for styx the missionI still remember the first time I ever heard Styx. It was “Come Sail Away” on a crappy little Panasonic digital FM clock radio in 1977. The album The Grand Illusion, Styx’s seventh, was famously released on 7/7/77, making today it’s 40th anniversary. What better way to celebrate that than to focus on a brand-new album which has been lauded as a return to Styx’s heyday. And so, the Mission begins.

The Mission, Styx’s 16th studio album and it’s first album of original material in 14 years (following 2003’s excellent Cyclorama). It’s a concept album, built around the story of a crew on a mission to Mars on the rocket ship Khedive, focusing on the characters of the Pilot (Tommy Shaw), the First Officer (Lawrence Gowan) and nominally, the Engineer (James Young). Critics have raved over it, calling it Styx’s best album since Grand Illusion and 1978’s Pieces of Eight. Having been a Styx fan for a long time, and having really loved Cyclorama (which I thought was pretty darn great), I came to this album with a mix of excitement and cautiousness, therefore I wanted to sit with it for a while before I reviewed it.

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History of Sci-Fi Cinema 9: “Rocketship X-M”

09-RXM-titleRocketship X-M (1950)
Written by Orville H. Hampton, Kurt Neumann, Dalton Trumbo
Directed by Kurt Neumann
Starring Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery
Lippert Pictures

A fanciful film, direct competition to Destination Moon, about a rocket crew who attempt to reach the moon but are thrown off course and instead land on Mars. For the most part it’s similar in structure and tone to DM, but with some significant differences. The most noticeable thing about it is, unfortunately, is that it’s shockingly sexist to modern ears and eyes. It also walks a line between an attempt at hard science and being awkwardly romantic. It gained a dubious honor by being featured in 1990 in the opening episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 ‘s second season.

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History of Sci-Fi Cinema 4: “Just Imagine”

04-JustImagine-TitleJust Imagine (1930)
Written (story, dialogue and songs) by DeSylva, Brown & Henderson
Directed by David Butler
Starring John Garrick, Frank Albertson, Maureen O’Sullivan, Marjorie White
Fox Film Corporation

In undertaking this blog project, I expected to hit all the “biggies,” all the accepted (and expected) classics. But I also wanted to discover some of the rarer gems, some of the peculiarities, in the history of sci-fi. And boy, did I find one: a science fiction romantic comedy musical. In fact, its a movie I’d never heard of until putting together this list of films to review.

Made in 1930, this film begins with a request: Just look at how much progress 50 years can bring. Why, in 1880 we had nothing but horse-drawn carriages and good manners. Today, it’s all hustle and bustle. “Just Imagine” what another 50 years will bring: What will life be like in the far-flung future of 1980…? Continue reading