Category Archives: Science Fiction

Weekend Outlook – Pirates of the Baywatch: Guardians of the Covenant

Happy Memorial Day weekend everybody! So after you get done with your barbecue (which is really just burgers and hotdogs, or maybe brats if you’re fancy), then what are you going to do?

Maybe you’ll go shopping. I hear there are some good deals meant to lure you away from the simplicity of always paying less for things by shopping online. Perhaps you are thinking about visiting a theme park, but that’s expensive and you run the risk of dehydration. I guess you could watch any of the mediocre sporting events which will be on all weekend, you’ve got the Indy 500, the NBA conference finals, a whole bunch of baseball, or the carbonated poison water 600. But those all sound long, boring, and better watched in short clips on YouTube as a last resort of entertainment.

Why not hang out at the multiplex and catch up on those early Summer blockbusters that you have missed because you have been so busy catching up on your assignments from procrastination class or cramming for that test that you no longer remember because of sleep deprivation? It has been a relatively slow start to the summer movie season, but this long weekend should be the perfect time to catch that movie that has been calling you. We’ve got 3 sequels and an R-rated comedy TV adaptation to examine so buckle up!

If you haven’t already seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you might be a Mennonite (Note to self: find Mennonite comedian and pitch the idea of stealing Jeff Foxworthy’s signature bit). It has only been out since Cinco de Mayo and it has already made close to 3 quarters of a billion dollars worldwide! Guardians is a ton of fun and it is fairly kid friendly, so as long as your kid can dress themselves and no longer needs a high chair, they should be up for this adventure.

The premise is simple. We rejoin our lovable gang of space anti-heroes a little while after the first film ends (If you haven’t first Guardians of the Galaxy, then you should probably buy it on iTunes and catch up with the rest of civilization). Star Lord has daddy issues that he needs to work out and they do it in hilarious fashion. This is has more laughs per minute than the first film with more of the same character driven drama and amazing 80’s soundtrack. (I’m serious about the soundtrack! I literally just Googled “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass. It will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week, just be prepared.) I’ll be honest, if you haven’t seen this one, and maybe even if you have, it is your best bet. The rest are likely going to be hit or miss.

I just saw Alien: Covenant last night and it was very good, but it kind of felt like it was struggling with what kind of movie it wanted to be. But what should we expect from the 3rd film from Ridley Scott in this franchise which he helped reboot back in 2012 with the prequel Prometheus. Covenant rides the line between the heady philosophical ramblings of Prometheus and the crap your pants scariness of Alien.

If Guardians was safe for kids that can ride a roller coaster then this one is only safe if you can drive a car (manual transmissions only, none of that wussy automatic garbage). I’m serious, there is blood everywhere in this, aliens bursting out of all kinds of cavities and orifices, not to mention the synthetic on synthetic porn that almost happens. I could hear the Fassboners rising in the theater. If you’re a fan of Ridley Scott and the franchise you won’t be disappointed, but it’s not his best work. I’m seriously hoping that Blade Runner 2049 is better.

I’ll be quite honest, the only thing that get’s me excited about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Longest movie name since Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood) is the inclusion of Javier Bardem as the baddie. If you’ve seen Skyfall or No Country for Old Men you know that he can be extremely creepy and intimidating, and that’s before he’s been all zombified. Even though it looks creepy, this is Disney we are talking about and I’m sure if your emo kids are into pirates then they would be okay going to this one too.

I know that this is a total cash grab on Disney’s part. They want to revive the franchise that has brought in $3.7 billion since 2003. I get it, but even Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley were smart enough to get out after three films and here Johnny Depp is riding into his fifth. He is simply the worst pirate that I’ve ever heard of, but I have heard of him so I’ll be checking this one out on Saturday, so stay tuned for my thoughts.

Finally, we have the R-rated 90’s TV adaptation that literally no one has ever been clamoring for. Baywatch hits theaters this weekend and I can only hope that they at least got Hasselhoff for a cameo, I mean he’s in Guardians so it’s not like he wasn’t available for filming. If they missed out on the Hoff, at least they have the ghost of Pam Anderson’s boobs, a.k.a. Alexandra Daddario. It looks like they are trying to go down the comedy parody road with this one and that would be great. But they have had me worried in a couple of trailers that they might try and take this straight, and if it takes itself too seriously it will be garbage.

The critical consensus is already that it is garbage (18% on Rotten Tomatoes), but I’m hoping that this could at least be as good as Central Intelligence. I’ve never been much of a fan of Zac Ephron, but I’m willing to give him a shot. This one is for adults only, the red band trailers have been bad enough that I had to watch them after my kids went to bed. I’ll be seeing this one next Wednesday so you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for my full review.

The most important thing is for you to enjoy this weekend and remember those brave men and women who died so we can eat lots of expensive buttery popcorn and be entertained by the beautiful monkeys we pay to entertain us. Have a great weekend!

 

 

Short Film ‘The Listener’

I’m curious if everyone who spends time looking at movies the way that do ends up wanting to make them the way I do. It never fails. I spend a few months watching movies and then have a deep longing to make a film for myself. Don’t be surprised if you start to see more things here about formal analysis and cool film techniques. I may even put some ideas up to see if they stick. I’ll probably start with a short film or concept.

This type of short film is kind of what I have in mind. Cool concept, great execution. In this short by Michael Gilhooly we are placed in a dystopian future where everyone is constantly under surveillance. This film has a great little story that will get you very involved in its 22 minute runtime. Take a look below.

Description from the official site: In a society where everyone is monitored, Jeremy is an ambitious young Listener on the brink of a promotion who suddenly finds his loyalty challenged with the arrival of a beguiling new colleague. The Listener is directed and edited by Michael Gilhooly (@m_gilhooly), from a script written by Oliver Lyttelton. The cast includes Amit Shah, Harriet Walter, Guy Henry, Joanna Horton, Cameron Johnson and Katie Scarfe. What did you think? Who wants to help me with my dream to write and direct a short?

Weekend Outlook: Star Trek Beyond

What does this weekend look like for new releases? Two more sequels crash upon theaters this weekend and while they may not be total busts, both are probably going to fall short of the previous installments in their respective series. Star Trek Beyond and Ice Age: Collision Course represent the 21st and 22nd wide release sequels this year. Only four of them (Finding DoryCaptain America: Civil War, The Purge: Election Year and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) have been able to outperform their franchise predecessor at the box office. Also opening this weekend is the new PG-13 thriller Lights Out from producer James Wan.

Star Trek Beyond

The third film in the rebooted franchise. It makes me nervous that there is no J.J. Abrams. Instead, it is being helmed by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) although he wasn’t even the original choice. The original reboot of the series in 2009 was great and it enabled us to explore this world with a new reimagined cast. Because they had a blank slate to work with, I was a bit disappointed that Into Darkness was essentially a remake of Wrath of Khan. It was an acceptable remake, but I’m hoping we don’t see whales in Beyond. Regardless, I think it will easily end up on the top of the charts this weekend after Secret Life of Pets snuck past Ghostbusters to lead the box office for a second week in a row.

Ice Age: Collision Course

This weekend’s second sequel is likely going to fall short of second place in the weekend as it goes head to head with an original property in The Secret Life of Pets. I don’t like to hate on films, but this Ice Age series needs to go extinct. Interestingly, no Ice Age film has ever opened below $41 million. But this is the fifth in the series, sequels have not fared well so far this year, and we have had a very strong season of animation which I don’t think will help. I think it will be very close, but Pets will freeze Ice Age in 3rd place this weekend.

Lights Out

The final wide release is one that I won’t be watching unless it is a matinee showing. I’m not a huge fan of horror films but anything with James Wan’s name attached seems to have a leg up on the competition. Lights Out looks scary and with a budget of less than $5 million, I think it is safe to say that Lights Out will be in the green after one weekend in theaters. It won’t be enough to compete with Ghostbusters in its second weekend, but I think a respectable $15 million showing is very likely since it is doing well critically and there is no other genre competition right now.

How do you think these movies are going to do? My predictions are below. I’d love to hear what you are watching this weekend, even if you are just binge watching  Stranger Things on Netflix.

  • Star Trek Beyond – $60 Million
  • The Secret Life of Pets – $27 Million
  • Ice Age: Collision Course – $26 Million
  • Ghostbusters – $24 Million
  • Lights Out – $15 Million

High Rise (2016) Review

Based on the 1975 novel of the same name by J.G. Ballard, the entire movie can be summed up in the first sentence of Ballard’s novel.

Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.

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Continue reading High Rise (2016) Review

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Review

With Independence Day: Resurgence, Roland Emmerich is giving Michael Bay a run for his money and solidifying his status as the Director you call if you are looking for global catastrophe.

I try to watch a movie for what it is. This is not an artful indie flick with snappy dialogue. This 20 year old cluttered sequel to the 1996 smash Independence Day is a summer popcorn movie. That usually means destruction in between bursts of vapid or humorous dialogue, Resurgence delivers according to those expectations. But for some reason, Emmerich feels the need to continually remind us that this is an Independence Day sequel instead of just making an Independence Day sequel. It seems like we can’t go more than 5 minutes without some visual or auditory clue that we are watching the child of his most accomplished work.

Continue reading Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Review

Weekend Outlook – Independence Day, Shallows, Free State of Jones, Neon Demon

It is a very busy weekend at your local multiplex. It’s really one of those weekends that there is something for everyone. However, the battle for box office supremacy this weekend is not going to be much of a battle at all. It would be a huge upset if Finding Dory doesn’t handily take down the alien invaders.

Since its record-breaking, $135 million opening weekend, Finding Dory has continued to impress with its box office performance. Forget about comparing it to all other animated films which it has blown out of the water (no pun intended). Finding Dory‘s performance puts it in the company of films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and The Dark Knight. I’m expecting Dory to bring in another $80 million this weekend. So let’s look at the four wide releases that will hit theaters today and find out what you should watch and what your should wait for.

Continue reading Weekend Outlook – Independence Day, Shallows, Free State of Jones, Neon Demon

Not New Review: Equilibrium (2002)

Poster for the movie "Equilibrium"

Equilibrium (2002)

Director
Kurt Wimmer
Genres
Drama, Action, Thriller, Science Fiction
Actors
Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, Emily Watson, Angus Macfadyen, Sean Bean, Dominic Purcell
Overview
In a facist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system.

If you are like me and are a fan of such books as Brave New World, 1984, and The Giver or movies like The MatrixLogan’s Run, and Gattaca Equilibrium is just the movie for you. In addition to a terrifying plot set in our very own future, the movie has beautifully choreographed action sequences and spectacular acting on the part of Christian Bale. I hate predictable movies and this one could have been predictable because it has a lot of things in common with other films of its time. This explains its dismal performance at the box office and even its negative critical reception, but I think Equilibrium is a worthy addition to the genre and presents a unique story that will keep you riveted in suspense the majority of the time.

The action takes place in Libria, a generic futuristic metropolis where peace reigns supreme after a ruler known as “the Father” has eradicated war, hatred, rage and jealousy by requiring all citizens to be dosed with regular injections of Prozium, a soul-deadening designer drug that erases all emotion.

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Unfortunately, this also removed all joy, love and compassion from the world, but “to make an omelet,” right? Those who dare to feel are branded as “sense offenders,” sniffed out by “intuitive” government operatives, then snuffed out by special police forces.

Anyone who has read dystopian fiction will have images galore of which to feed off. Remember the book burnings in Fahrenheit 451? Here, all works of art and literature are incinerated, including the original Mona Lisa. I’m sure that some would say that this kind of sci-fi escapism makes them think, but thinking is allowed in this world. Feeling is what makes us human, and this drama begs us to feel.

The enforcers of this branch of the government are called “clerics,” clearly meant to be an anti-church sentiment. Christian Bale plays the highest-ranking enforcement official. His brooding demeanor suits his role as an enforcer turned rebel. He is able to smite dozens of armed men with his bare hands. Initially, you question the physics of such fights, but by the end of the film, I understood that Christopher Nolan must have seen this film. Have you ever seen the things that Batman does? Most of them are completely impossible, and many are implausible. But they are entertaining and we suspend our disbelief because the story is good. It is the same thing here.

This is definitely not a masterpiece. There are giant plot holes and parts which are laughable and don’t feel like they fit, but at the end of the day it was a good story about Batman saving a puppy. Pick it up from the $2 bin at Walmart and add it to your collection. It is worth the lesson that life is not worth living without emotion. So watch this film. Let it wash over you until you feel as grey as its stark landscape. Then take it as a reminder and go watch a real movie with exquisite beauty that will actually make you feel something. Because what are we if we don’t feel?

If You Liked… Independence Day

As we prepare for the sequel that has been 20 years in the making, lets take a look back at this alien invasion film. Independence Day is a 1996 American epic science-fiction disaster film co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich. The film stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, Vivica A. Fox, and Harry Connick, Jr. The film focuses on a diverse and interesting group of people who converge in the Nevada desert in the aftermath of a destructive alien attack and, along with the rest of the human population, participate in a last-chance counterattack on July 4th.

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Has anyone not seen Independence Day? Seriously? I want to meet you if you’ve never seen it. I would be highly surprised if you could find anyone between the ages of 30 and 50 in the United States who hasn’t seen Independence Day.

That doesn’t mean everyone loves it. In fact, according to icheckmovies.com, only 2.6% of those that have seen the the movie listed it as one of their favorites, and 1.1% disliked it. This is one of those guilty pleasure movies for me. I saw this film in the theater on opening weekend during the summer between 7th and 8th grade. If you can find a more formative time in a kid’s life I don’t know what it is. It was then that I decided I really liked Jeff Goldblum’s stilted speech and acting style and found out that the Fresh Prince could do more than dance.

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If you are like me and like Independence Day you might be looking for some other movies to watch while you wait for Independence Day: Resurgence to be released next weekend. I told my oldest son (12) that he could only see the sequel if he watched the original with me, so he obliged his old man and we sat down and watched this movie a few nights ago. Time has not been great to the effects on this film. Director Roland Emmerich loves to destroy New York City and threaten the annihilation of all mankind (Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, 2012), it will be nice to see what he can do with the technology that 20 years has given him. In keeping with the guilty pleasure nature of Independence Day, all of my selections will also be selections that I might not often openly admit to loving.

Continue reading If You Liked… Independence Day

Not New Review – Jurassic Park (1993)

Back in 1993, this little movie called Jurassic Park roared into theaters. What Steven Spielberg did with a shark 20 years earlier, he did again here with dinosaurs. I can’t recall whether I saw this film in theaters or not. I was only 10, so I doubt it, but I definitely remember watching it at home on VHS. This movie was right up my alley, I’m not only a geek over movies. I also really love science and although the science here is a bit of a stretch, I was only 10 and didn’t know better yet, so I ate it up. I could just imagine this actually happening in a few years time like the filmmakers were revealing this new scientific technique to the world and the archaeologists and biologists were watching saying, “why didn’t we think of that?”

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Adapted from a Michael Crichton novel of the same name, Jurassic Park was a great success both critically and commercially. It was the highest grossing film of 1993 bringing in nearly $1 billion dollars worldwide. That number was unheard of in 1993. Not until Titanic floated along in 1997 did anyone even come close to that number. It won 3 Oscars for its visual and sound effects and is currently sitting at an 8.1 of 10 on IMDb which places it as the 203rd best film of all time according to their top 250. Continue reading Not New Review – Jurassic Park (1993)

Saldana and Quinto Talk Star Trek Beyond

After 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness was criticized for leaning too heavily on fan service and references to previous Trek films, this summer’s Star Trek Beyond is shaping up to be something different. This time around, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are in the midst of their five year journey through space, where they encounter a new adversary in Krall (Idris Elba). This villain could potentially be the most menacing threat Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his friends have faced yet, seeing that Krall vehemently opposes the ideals of the Federation and everything it stands for.

Not only does this sound like a refreshing change-of-pace after two largely Earth bound stories, the setup also allows director Justin Lin to place the characters in situations we haven’t seen them in yet. Crashing and trying to survive on an alien planet is tough in it of itself, but being out in space for so long is sure to take a mental toll as well. According to stars Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana, who play Spock and Uhura, respectively, the Enterprise crew is going to be pushed in ways unlike anything else before.

Speaking with EW, Saldana offered her thoughts on the state of the crew collectively and how the adversity they find themselves in poses a tremendous challenge:

“We’re tired, we need time off, we’ve been working non-stop, and it’s become like a machine where you kind of forget about yourself, but you need to go back home and nurture yourself and rest. Life has a different journey for us, and instead of us having to go out and aid another population, another planet that has been the target of violence, we are the target, so this is very different. We are tested at the craziest level and not just our lives are tested, but our characters and our relationships are tested.”

It will be interesting to see how the relationships evolve over the course of Beyond. Based on the trailers, it seems as if once the Enterprise crashes, the characters are scattered across the planet and end up working in pairs to get back together. For instance, Spock is working with Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), while Scotty (Simon Pegg) finds a new ally in the alien Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Quinto told EW that the characters spend time with “unusual compatriots,” which will most likely lead to fascinating dynamics and interactions. Fans know that Spock and Bones are opposites, but they find a new appreciation for each other as they persevere through the obstacles. The Enterprise crew already had great chemistry, but those friendships will possibly be stronger after Beyond.

Arguably, Spock will be going through the most in this third film. In his interview, Quinto addressed Spock’s inner turmoil as he’s torn between his “Starfleet obligations and Vulcan roots”:

“[He is] in this existential moment in his life and at a crossroads between his obligation to his Starfleet and his Vulcan roots. His planet was destroyed and they’re rebuilding, and he’s trying to figure out where his energy is best directed to help other people. He comes into a new awareness of his own mortality for a number of reasons, and there’s a lot of stuff that he’s trying to figure out in this film. By the end, I think he realizes the best path for himself moving forward.”

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The second trailer for Beyond hinted at an intriguing character arc for Kirk, but Spock will have plenty of rich material of his own. Throughout the rebooted series, the character has always been trying to balance the two sides of his life. This includes his ongoing romance with Uhura. Quinto mentioned that Spock is wondering if he should be with a Vulcan, and Uhura “recognizes” his doubts. The two “want each other to be happy, to be fulfilled, to serve their purpose, and to realize their potential.” The actor obviously wouldn’t elaborate further, but Spock and Uhura could be going through some serious changes as they look to discover the best path for them to follow.

With Lin at the helm, Beyond was always going to have exciting action set pieces, but these comments from Quinto and Saldana indicate that there will be a lot of substance to compliment the style. The movie promises to be a deconstruction of the classic sci-fi property and convey the best of the Original Series, so there are a variety of angles for the filmmakers to explore. As Paramount plans a Star Trek 4, they could very well have a winner that will reinvigorate enthusiasm audiences have for Star Trek.

Star Trek Beyond hits U.S. theaters July 22, 2016.

Source: EW