The Kings of Summer
The Kings of Summer: Patrick (Gabriel Basso), Joe (Nick Robinson), and Biaggio (Moises Arias).

The Kings of Summer [film]

The King of Summer

I watched this indie flick recently and have to say it’s one of the finest films that I’ve seen –  even outside of the usually disposable genre of teen-comedy-dramas that it belongs too – and stands shoulder to shoulder with other poignant, coming of age american classics like ‘Stand By Me‘, ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘The Breakfast Club‘ (to name but three). It features well rounded characters and great dialogue, full of idiosyncrasies, witty remarks and amusing banter – without being forced or contrived – remaining true to the people it portrays, their lives and the setting.

An additional bonus is the score and choice of music used in the film, which is consistently excellent and offbeat, perfectly suiting the changing moods of the story without being obvious, trite or guilty of crass, commercial product placement like so many other movies are these days. I can just imagine some suited corporate executive desperately exclaiming at one of their meetings: “Wait gang! Let’s shoe-horn that latest Rhianna track into this sci-fi blockbuster about an alien invasion! It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the movie’s themes, setting or tone right? As long as people hear it an’ go out an’ buy it in droves – that’ll be awe-some! Riiiight?! *COUGH!* Man, I can’t wait to get paid! Got’a get my mouth an’ throat disinfected professionally after sucking on Satan’s steaming hot member all week…”

Ahem, but I digress… The score was composed by Ryan Miller (who is lead singer and guitarist for the band ‘Guster‘) and features choice tracks from Thin Lizzy (if you don’t know who they are you’re either very young or don’t have eyes or  ears), MGMTYouth LagoonThe Orb (feat. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry), and Kevin Writer and Douglas James (as ‘The Skywalkers‘).

Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller performing with the band GUSTER.

The film comes from an original screenplay written by Chris Galletta – which is his first produced script – and it’s also Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts debut full length feature, so it’s doubly impressive how deftly they and the entire production team have executed the whole thing. All of the choices made for the project are excellent, even down to the placement of leaves littering the exterior locations (maybe I’ve gone too far with that, but what the hock, I’m laying down some serious praise here). The casting and performances by all of the actors – including the smallest walk-on part or cameo – are superb and all perfectly suited to their roles bringing some inspired comic and dramatic weight to their roles and this really helps make the whole thing feel cohesive, slick and exude quality.

Biggio camo.
Biaggio camo.

Young actor Moises Arias who plays the oddball ‘Biaggio’ (and can be seen more recently – playing another wacky ‘B’ – ‘Bonzo Madrid‘ in the film adaptation of the first novel of Orson Scott Card‘s existential sci-fi saga ‘Ender’s Game‘ – which, incidentally, being a great appreciator of the books – I also thought was superb) is especially notable. Arias is a real find, and some might not consider him much to look at, but he’s fascinating and hilarious to watch, with a great dramatic range and excellent, precociously comic sensibilities for someone of his age. This is not to say that any of the other cast featured in the film are in anyway inferior, it’s just that his character is the most eccentric and stand outs because of it.  

Bonzo Madrid
Bonzo Madrid in the film adaptation of Ender’s Game

The film feels classic but is very much a contemporary piece and somehow taps into that nostalgia feeling of similar movies like those mentioned above (see: for a comprehensive list) without being a weak homage or losing it’s cutting edge.

Rent/buy/stream it and watch THE KINGS OF SUMMER here:

The Kings of Summer–145752.html

Visit the film’s official website:

Buy and listen to the films soundtrack/score here:

The Kings of Summer


Buy/rent and watch ‘STAND BY ME’ here:

Stand By Me–3579.html?trkId=oc3fHwN0smbyeRf_yQ8CxQ2

Buy/rent and watch ‘THE OUTSIDERS’ here:

The Outsiders;discs-1983–10088.html

Buy/rent and watch ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB’ here:

The Breakfast Club–12448.html

Official website of sci-fi/fantasy author ‘ORSON SCOTT CARD’:

Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card author of Ender’s Game

Buy/read the book ‘ENDER’S GAME’ here:

Ender's Game

Rent/buy the movie adaptation of ‘ENDER’S GAME’ featuring Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Moises Arias here:

Ender's Game–147512.html 

Official website of the ‘ENDER’S GAME’ movie adaptation:

Ender's Game

Official webpage of Ryan Miler’s band ‘GUSTER’:

Buy and listen to their music here:

Official website of ‘MGMT’:

Their track/s featured in the film can be found on this album ‘ORACULAR SPECTACULAR’ and you can buy and listen to them here:

MGMT Oracular Spectacular

Official website of ‘THE ORB’:

The track/s featured in the film can be found on this album ‘THE OBSERVER IN THE STAR HOUSE’ and you can buy and listen to it here:

The Orb presents: The Observer in The Star House


Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation

The track/s featured in the film can be found on this album ‘THE YEAR OF HIBERNATION’ and you can buy and listen to it here:


Ready Player One art by Dalton James Rose

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I urge anyone that grew up in – or raised a family through – the 80′s and 90′s like me that loves games (of both the video and tabletop variety), comics, movies, music, fantasy and sci-fi to immediately purchase and read this superb sci-fi novel. Like fellow fantasy/sci-fi novelist Patrick Rothfuss (who wrote the equally superb Kingkiller Chronicle) is quoted as saying on the back cover: ‘This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt like it was written just for me.’

I wish I could do better, but I can think of no better hook-line to describe it and entice you than the quote on the front cover from a USA Today review which states; ‘Enchanting. Willy Wonka meets The Matrix‘ – though there’s also a pinch of ‘The Last Starfighter‘ in there too.  Here’s the blurb/synopsis from it’s page:

“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”

Ready Player One book cover

Ready Player One book cover illustration by WHISKYTREEINC designed by Jim Massey

Wade's AVATAR arriving in the OASIS at the Club called THE DISTRACTED GLOBE

Wade’s AVATAR arriving in the OASIS at the Club called THE DISTRACTED GLOBE from Ready Player One by poster artist Gordon Jones

Not only is it a great read, but it’s packed with cultural references (both obscure and well-known – ‘Spectreman‘ anyone?) to various things from those periods that older readers (30+) will be able to appreciate in a haze-state of pure nostalgia, while still being a relevant, topical and believable work of speculative, satirical fiction about our future, that takes into account how rapid advances within the fields of interactive technology and entertainment media are starting to radically alter our society on every level –  as well as serious economic and environmental issues – and projects them into a future dystopia where they have reached their apex, and redundant cultural artefacts from the past become the key to saving the world from potential corporate hegemony. Woof.

Spectre Man & his nemesis 'space ape man' Dr. Gori!

Spectreman & his nemesis ‘space ape man’ Dr. Gori! By deviantartist PUNGANG

The concept is so smart and deceptively simple that it kills me that I didn’t conceive of something similar myself and I have the highest regard for author Ernest Cline and wait with keen interest to see what he comes up with next.

Ernest Cline & his Delorien

Ernest Cline & his Delorien (yes really, it’s his)

Without meaning to diminish what he has accomplished, he has conceived of a fictional world/platform that has allowed him to incorporate his passion and knowledge of all the geek/pop-culture that he grew up with that has obviously inspired him through his formative years, while also exploring new cultural and technological concepts, extrapolated from current trends and developments in a futuristic setting. So it looks both to the past and to the future and as a result has a wide appeal to a multi-generational audience, including middle aged parents of teenagers and even their grandparents above them.

'Fantastic Crossover Ultimate Battle' from Ready Player One

‘Fantastic Crossover Ultimate Battle’ from Ready Player One by deviantartist SharksDen

It incorporates all of the classic genre tropes of a more traditional ‘hero’s journey’ fantasy saga, where the protagonist ‘comes of age’ through a ‘rites of passage/trial by fire’ thanks to a lot of the plot driven virtual world quests and experiences that the character has via his avatar, while also being a very contemporary, forward thinking, subversive science fiction novel about environmental concerns and the impact technology has upon society. And it’s very funny too! His use of certain classic video games and characters from japanese pop-culture in crucial scenes is meta-level comic and dramatic genius (well, to those of us who get why in any case).

'Joust' from Ready Player One

Joust from Ready Player One by deviantartist zippo514

For another extra-meta-level cultural geek kick, you should also listen to the audiobook, as it’s read by current nerd-lord host of Geek & Sundry’s board game game show ‘Tabletop‘ and 80′s child star Wil Wheaton (who playedWesley Crusher in ‘Star Trek The Next Generation’ and Gordie Lachance in the classic coming of age drama ‘Stand By Me‘ – based on Stephen King‘s excellent short story ‘The Body’). As he is mentioned a number of times within the book in various contexts this is highly amusing on a number of levels.

Wil Wheaton & magnificent beard.

Wil Wheaton & magnificent beard.

Wil Wheaton sans magnificent beard.

Wil Wheaton as ‘Wesley Crusher’ in ‘Star Trek: TNG’ sans magnificent beard.

Tabletop Logo


• Buy/read ‘READY PLAYER ONE’ the book:

• Buy/listen to ‘READY PLAYER ONE’ as an audiobook:

• Author ERNEST CLINE’s official website:

• Everything you ever wanted to know about ‘SPECTRE MAN’! (& will probably wish you didn’t after):

• Buy/rent/watch the film ‘WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY’:

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory–4983.html?trkId=H-Cu99kDEQ8RLjfGBJdFHw2

• Buy/rent/watch the film ‘THE MATRIX’ (though if you haven’t seen this film & don’t already own it – where the frak have you been?!! & what is frakking wrong with you? KEANU RULES!):

The Matrix
The Matrix. Again Neo.–1658.html?trkId=Ucr2BVJ4IQTr4X5khvV5-w2


The Last Starfighter

• Visit the GEEK & SUNDRY website:

• Watch episodes of WIL WHEATON’s board game game show TABLETOP:

Tabletop Logo

• Don’t know who WIL WHEATON is? Shame! Educate yourself here:

• Buy/rent/watch the film ‘STAND BY ME’:

Stand By Me–3579.html?trkId=oc3fHwN0smbyeRf_yQ8CxQ2

• To read the novella ‘THE BODY’ by STEPHEN KING you should purchase the anthology ‘DIFFERENT SEASONS’:

Different Seasons

• WHISKYTREEINC who illustrated the cover for Ready Player One:

• SHARKSDEN Deviant Art page:

• ZIPPO514 Deviant Art Page:

• BUTTNUMBATHON poster art Facebook page where you can see more of GORDON JONES work:

• The AINTITCOOLNEWS article about READY PLAYER ONE where I cheekily pilfered certain images from (thanks & sorry):