Posts Tagged ‘blade runner’

This pretty neat The Final Version novel page has been brought my attention. It has been going a few years and contains some good observations and facts about the book by readers. I’ve copied and excerpt below.

• It is difficult to pin point when WWIII occurs, however, whatever destructive device was used left buildings standing. This leaves the remaining survivors (who have converged on a few remaining city’s world wide) have whole buildings to live in to themselves. To benefit for this arrangement occupants seemingly have to adhere to the consistent surveillance/monitoring. It echoes Blade Runner and Aeon Flux in chapters, with hints of The Thing and Mad Max in others.
• Denton visits every continent.
• Given it is set post WIII the future appears quite habitable (excluding the wastelands and industrial areas). State Side while the rain beats down there are while plastic pavements/side walks and Neon lights have made a come back.
• It’s a ‘kitchen sink’ book as it has so much in it. However, it’s pulls off bringing the sci-fi elements, (not limited to) A.I, cloning, cryogenics and Robotics together with the historic chapters and the events that are touched on subtly which include the discovery of DNA, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Anastasia’s disappearance, Spanish Conquistadors encounters, painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s fate to name a few.
• Religion is outlawed and practised by underground sects. Notbaly the MJ and King sect.

Source: FanDom http://the-final-version.wikia.com/wiki/The_Final_Version_Wiki

Order your copy here: Amazon

*** Warning this review contains major skin job spoilers ***

2049, a blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a secret that has the potential to plunge a company and department into chaos.

Without drawing too many comparisons to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, director Denis Villeneuve’s neo-noir science fiction film is powerful, atmospheric and like its predecessor mostly likely not an instant classic but a slow burning grower. All the lights are out at the Tyrell building and the weather is more unpredictable than ever before with snow, dust storms on top of the usual expected rain. Even though Hampton Fancher and Michael Green screenplay follows the excellent Ryan Gosling’s character officer K later Joe it’s very much a film about Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard and Nexus 6 Rachael. Both the advancement in A.I. relationship element is focused upon here as well the expected replicants memories, relationships, life spans and more importantly reproductive system.

Packed with excellent performances, notably limited screen-time from Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Dave Bautista in brief but impressive subtle and violent appearance. Edward James Olmos also reprises his role as Gaff and with ease gives Gosling a run for his his money in the few minutes he appears on screen. Sean Young’s Rachel is also prevalent throughout, whether it be in dialogue, photos, voice recordings, skull and bones or a better than Rogue One’s Tarkin appearance with some jaw dropping, impressive computer generated wizardry film magic.

While Harrison’s screen presence sizzles Golsing carries the film well in amongst the mesmerising effects and earthly sets that are captured by veteran Roger Deakins’ cinematography. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s music is fitting and has all the Vangelis staples and expected moving horns and beats. To Villeneuve’s credit he achieves the almost impossible and that is to conjure up a sequel that doesn’t simply rehash, but builds on the first film as Golsing’s Joe goes about finding out what or who he really is and his purpose. As well as subtly answering questions about its predecessor, namely the fate of various characters, life spans and so forth it also leaves many fittingly unanswered. Up for speculation, interestingly not a plot point, without specifically saying so it hints that rule-abiding “Skinner”, “Skinjob” K, KD3:6-7, is possibly a younger version of retired Deckard B-263-54.

A must see, but expect a futuristic breadcrumb detective story with slight of hand memory tricks and a few twists rather the Gosling’s Joe hunting down and simply disposing/retiring Replicants.

If you weren’t old enough to have seen the original Star Wars trilogy and The Phantom Menace was your first introduction to Star Wars then many will envy your fresh eyed look at the films from 1-6.

Yoda Movie Poster (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm) () Style A -(Mark Hamill)(Carrie Fisher)(Harrison Ford)(Billy Dee Williams)(Alec Guinness)(David Prowse)“That face you make.
Look I so old to young eyes?”



For the rest and the die hard, extreme countless legions of Star Wars fans you maybe disappointed with the Blu-Ray release.
Star Wars 3.75 Vintage Figure Boba FettI’ll always remember going with my dad to the dankest cinema watching the original films back to back – it was a highlight, even coming out flee bitten it didn’t seem to matter. Recreating Hoth in a kitchen bowl with snow (as it was too cold outside), getting as much play in before it melted, using paper cups to build new spaceship oh the joy of and innocence of Star Wars. The only thing that I remember about disliking the original is that the Millennium Falcon was a horrid uncool looking ship, lacking sleekness, however, overtime that seems to have dissipated.
BLADE RUNNER HARRISON FORD 11X14 PHOTOVHS came and went, then George Lucas began his tinkering with the record breaking classic(s). The 1997 re-released special editions had their faults, some of which the 2004 DVD tried to correct. Now you probably think I’m going to join the legions that are boycotting the Blu-Ray release, not a chance. And between you and me they’ll still buy it. They’re Fanboys. They wont be able to resist the power of the dark-side.

With remakes flooding the market at least Lucas controversial revisiting has saved fans from that. Contentiously regardless of tinkering much of what Lucas has done simply enhances the films. And looking back at the original, originals (no, not a typo) as ground breaking at they were I’m content with the digital corrections and replacements. In the same vain as Blade Runner corrections, lip-syncs, removal of wires and stunt doubles to names few it helps solidify the film, even igniting new interest for an new generation with the publicity that comes with it.

King Kong (Two-Disc Special Edition)Watching Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future complete with it’s original optical effects in tact; would a digital bastardised version have destroyed the story? or make the film better? There was a missed opportunity that would have been more fitting than Steven Spielberg’s E.T from guns to walkie-talkie incident but it was Zemeckis and Spielberg’s call respectively. Should 1933’s King Kong be digitally replaced? Well if Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack were still alive and wanted to do so, why not eh? If Spielberg replaced Bruce with a photo realistic shark I must say I’d be happy with that as he’s simply now a distraction from the great performances.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Two-Disc Widescreen Enhanced and Original Theatrical Versions)If the creators are still alive and decided to undertake arguably unorthodox changes let them I say. So long as studios have their blessing.
Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]In Star Wars case you could say the studios and George are missing a money making opportunity especially by not releasing the original trilogy unaltered but is there really a need to go as far as saying Lucas “raped my childhood” as countless bloggers have posted. There’s a lot of hate there.
If you are that cut up about it go and track down the bonus DVD released in the 2 disc special edition. As Yoda put it, “Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Meanwhile the rest of us can watch blinking Ewoks, Vader shouting ‘Nooo’, new monsters and an array of slight correction in peace.

There are films that are great, timeless and classic.Then there films that have an edge and atmosphere that resonates and stays with you. For me there is many and I’ll start with this handful. Some you’ll want to visit again and some you wont, they are a good and bad selection but one thing they have in common is that they ooze atmosphere.

Dead and Buried (1981) Dead And Buried Movie Poster 11x17 Master Print

There are a handful of horror films that I can say are underrated and exude atmosphere, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Dead People (1973) and Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) rank as some unsung cult sleepers. Dead and Buried while better known sits fittingly with the above for sheer eeriness, as director Gary Sherman takes you to the odd, clicky, fishing town of Potters Bluff where visiting tourists and passer through are killed only for their corpses to be brought back to
life to serve the town.
Reminiscent of Jaws 2 (no one believes the sheriff), The Wickerman (1973) (plotting towns people) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) (they are not who they clam to be) to name a few, Dead and Buried still manages to remain fresh and intriguing until the shocking end.
James Farentino wonderfully plays sheriff Dan Gillis who must solve the case and wrap up the mystery, and Melody Anderson is perfect as his wife. Jack Albertson gives a fine performance as the mortician and Robert Englund has a small role, the rest of the cast are first-rate.
Dead and Buried is only hankered by some choppy editing and despite the amount of writers on board, Sherman’s well crafted film benefits from ‘too many fingers in the pie’, including Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. The film is enhanced from a shot on location look which adds to the genuine creepiness of the goings ons and Joe Renzetti’s music is fitting. There’s some notable blood and gore effects by the late great Stan Winston which even though are a by product of the story they are excellently executed.
Overall, a must see excellent underrated chiller.

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

A disturbed woman recently released from a mental institute has various nightmarish experiences. She becomes further disturbed after moving to an old farmhouse on a Connecticut island with her husband and friend where they meet a mysterious squatter.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a 1971 low budget gem, possibly the foundation or inspiration for many horror films that followed. It’s skillful directed by John D. Hancock who creates a foreboding atmospheric horror, with chills and spills.

The supporting cast are notable and Zohra Lampert plays the lead role of Jessica admirably, with emotional range and depth. In addition, Mariclare Costello is excellent as the creepy lodger Emily.

It suffers slightly from some 70’s film trappings, the intrusive use of the score, choppy editing and the sound is a little off but these are only small distractions, and to the movies credit it doesn’t look like a low budget film.

The on location shoot adds to the realism and there are many surreal moments, involving the odd towns people, a girl in a graveyard and the body in a lake. Creepy old photos, folkloric tales, unexplained noises all add to the unease and tension of this smouldering horror.

It draws in the viewer making you consider is what Jessica experiencing real or not. The film builds up modestly, tackling possible vampirism, haunting and ghosts which are all handled in a believable manner. I can only compare the ambiance to that of The Haunting (1963), Exorcist (1973), House of the Devil (2009) Carnival of Souls (1962) and another underrated horror Dead People a.k.a Messiah of Evil made the same year (although not released until 1973).

It’s Hancocks ability to execute pure creepiness and eeriness that sets Let’s Scare Jessica to Death apart from many horrors. If only the majority of modern horrors could stir up the same sensations experienced.

The House of the Devil (2009)
Student Samantha Hughes takes a babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse, she soon realises her clients harbour a terrifying secret.
Director writer Ti West delivers an elaborate painstakingly created homage to 70’s and early 80’s style thriller/horrors. It feels authentic, from the period costumes, 70’s style title sequence, complete with font, swipes and stills reminiscent of countless films, to the music and camera work to match. The film is pure nostalgia and he does a fantastic job at handling a slow set up which keeps the viewer interested.

You fall back in love with the time and more importantly the innocent, struggling student character of Samantha, played superbly by Jocelin Donahue. There’s no 80’s style bad performances, it’s naturalist oozing 70’s grittiness. The House of the Devil is wonderfully acted, every member of the cast is first-rate with their subtle and realistic portrayals. There is an exceptional stand out supporting cast which include Tom Noonan (Manhunter 1986); Dee Wallace (Howling 1981); cult horror actress Mary Woronov and newcomer Greta Gerwig as Megan is notable.

The first three quarters of the film is crisp building up an everyday tension after a series of odd phone calls and awkward situations while taking the viewer back to around 1983 America. Pay phones, walk-men, Fawett hair and skinny jeans. The last last reel is a Rosemary’s Baby (1968) set up as you are jarred out of the normality that came before and the film turns on it’s head to blood, violence, murder and satanic ritual.

The lighting is naturalist, West is not afraid to cast shadows creating an eerie and ominous atmosphere. The effects and make up are excellent and the music soundtrack and score is well placed.

A tension building 70’s/80’s crafted horror but made in 2009. Perfect.

Valhalla Rising (2009)

Valhalla RisingLess conforming than 2005’s Beowulf and Grendel and more experimental, this is an artistic, slow and wonderfully filmed piece of cinema. Sadly, marketed as something of a 300 type spectacle will leave some critics annoyed.
A fighting one eyed slave escapes from the Vikings to end up with Knights on their journey to the Holy Land but they end up in a strange and primitive land.
The small cast led by ‘One Eye’ Mads Mikkelsen and ‘The Boy’ Maarten Stevenson who speaks for him is more than adequate in the lead roles. With sparse dialogue, strong visuals and stunning scenery. Feel the icy wind, taste the fresh cold water, watch the mist, smell the bark of the tree’s. This type of film is an acquired taste, it has a dreamlike quality to it. The bloody fight scenes are few and far between, heightened by a strong modern distorted guitar score that suits the film.

Valhalla Rising is earthly, atmospheric, religious, conventual and anticlimactic. Conventional viewers will be disappointed but others may enjoy the journey.

Day of the Woman (1978) a.k.a  I Spit on Your Grave

Meir Zarchi’s Day of the Woman, better known as I Spit on your Grave was a longtime banned VHS in the UK. Later passed by BBFC like Evil Dead (laugh) and The Last House on the Left to name a few ‘video nasties’.
I Spit on Your Grave Poster 27x40 Camille Keaton Eron Tabor Richard PaceIt’s a basic tale also written by Meir Zarchi, a New Yorker Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) rents a lakeside cottage in the woods of Connecticut, however, later is she gang raped and thought dead. However, alive and recovered she takes her revenge against the rapists.

Those who say it’s a feminism film are off the mark. It’s nasty, needless and arguably gratuitous exploitation. The rape scenes are graphic and I feel unfairly more intense than the revenge scenes later. A product of its time and made to shock, it certainly does that. It’s not a film I would want to watch again or have in my collection. However, I’m sure there is a strange audience out there who would.

The film is well constructed and directed. The locations are for the most part picturesque and ooze the 70’s vibe of that time gone by, in contrast, the lack of a music score sinisterly adds to the realism of the barbaric violence. The cast are below average, however, the unknown lead Keaton gives an amazing performance, and it’s a shame she’s only known for this film. As a side-note I was surprised to find out that she is the granddaughter of actor Buster Keaton.

Only watch for curiosity, Keaton’s performance or possibly the revenge kills. That said, it’s not recommended.

Dead People (1973)  a.k.a Messiah of evil

Before Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, there was Dead people a.k.a Messiah of evil. Shot in 1971 the film was not released until 1973. Like H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon and The Wicker Man (1973), weird locals are hiding a horrific secret… In Messiah, the people of Point Dune worship the rise of a red moon as they become zombies.
Messiah Of Evil (1973)The story-line is disjointed, but this adds to the mystic, surreal and dreamlike quality of the film. Admittedly, there is some irregular editing and the score is very much of its time, but there’s plenty to like about it.

Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and the aforementioned clearly have taken its cue from Willard Huyck’s jumbled but effective film. Especially the scene where slinky brunette Anitra Ford is pursued through a supermarket. There is also truly creepy scene again with Ford and an albino trucker, played by Bennie Robinson,you’d think he would have been in a lot more movies.

It oozes dread and suspense, it’s a chilling 70’s horror flick that despite its faults is a lot better than some of today’s so called horrors.

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

1994’s underrated zombie horror classic based on the comic Dylan Dog by Tiziano Sclavi, it stars Rupert Everett (in his best role) and enchanting Anna Falchi.
Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetary Man) Rupert Everett Anna Falchi Region 2 Pal Unrated German Import English Audio Widescreen“Zombies, guns, and sex, OH MY!!!” was the tag line, and while it’s true it has those things Dellamorte Dellamore is so much more, macabre and violent, with atmosphere you can taste. Excellent music by Riccardo Biseo & Manuel De Sica and direction amazingly executed by Michele Soavi.
Spellbinding and arguably the strangest, most effective zombie film out there to-date.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Dawn of the Dead Laserdisc (1978) (Uncut) [EE3296]Dawn of the dead, there’s loads of reviews here. I’ll start with the bad, make-up consistency, poorly edited, poor sound, intrusive score music and a pie fight. Sounds horrid eh? Like a bad B-movie? Well Dawn of the Dead through all it’s faults is still a classic sub-genre film. I wont go into all the under tones, subtext of consumerism, mass hysteria, social commentary and satire yada, yada.
This is possibly George A. Romero’s most balanced and satisfying of all his zombie films. What it boils down to is film has dated.. Even so, the script is very well written and the film oozes atmosphere, the emptiness, notably the basement, and airfield scenes.

Tom Savini provides some fantastic gore effects, many of which stand up effectively today. While it’s gory, bloody, violent and disturbing, I would think today’s film viewer has hardened up to it, but this is not fault of the film, it is an amazing product of it’s time.

Many horror buffs think it’s overrated, but it’s more that just a straight horror, the character interaction, even down to the priest speech is understated. Should they have had a bigger budget and more time, maybe the faults I mentioned wouldn’t have been made. However, made they were and Dawn of the Dead is still the finest zombie film to date, a must see.

The Living Dead (1974)

Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (original title)

Let Sleeping Corpses LieA crop dusting machine from the agricultural pest-control is emitting ultra-sonic waves that are re-animating corpses… 


A lot have said this is underrated, granted it’s overlooked. It is Atmospheric with an ominous feel. It has great locations and is at times genuinely creepy. However, it’s shares more with Fulci than Romero. The acting is not aided by the bad dubbing. To its credit it has an eerie musical score by Giuliano Sorgini and a number of suspenseful sequences but it borrows many of its best sequences from Night of the Living Dead. 


I watched director Jorge Grau’s offering under the title of ‘Let Sleeping Corpse Lie’ but whichever name you see the film under don’t be mistaken or mislead, it’s a solid zombie horror movie and of its time with fine cinematography from Francisco Sempere. It’s a lot better than the low budget DTV zombie films that there’s no shortage of at the moment.

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner - The Final Cut - Movie Poster (Size: 27" x 39")I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s and Blade Runner is one of his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.
Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neo-cityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air; all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a Vangelis score; which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to, there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and even delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

If history has taught us anything it’s that father of three director/ producer Ridley Scott knows how to make a gripping movie.

Self proclaimed perfectionist born in 1937 Tyne and Wear, nominated and winner of Numerous Oscars, Scott is now surprisingly in his 70’s.

Rid’ Scott started in the TV commercials and become known for his stunning visuals, weeping landscapes and backdrops, at times coupled with a close-up of a character’s face in foreground. Scott has an array of films under his belt covering many genres which include The Duellists (1977), Legend (1985), Black Hawk Down (2001), Hannibal (2001) and Body of Lies (2008) to name a few.

While not part of the 70’s 80’s Hollywood in-crowd like heavy weights Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola and Scorsese, Scott’s seems to be the dark horse, a British, dry, witty guy and above all intelligent with a good business sense who loves a good cigar.

He has personally brought me hours of entertainment and if you are reading this he’s probably captivated you too.

Below are my thoughts both good and bad on a fist full of Ridleys finest moments.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Possibly one of Scotts most intricate and underrated films. Orlando Bloom plays Balian of Ibelin who after a committing a murder travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century. Soon he finds himself defending the city and its people.

Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray]With a fine cast including the likes of Philip Glenister, Liam Neeson and David Thewlis to name a few it’s a casting directors dream. Marton Csokas performance as Marton Csokas is exceptional and Michael Sheen has a small part and pivotal part (especially in the directors cut). Eva Green, Jeremy Irons and an unrecognisable Edward Norton are a great support. However, Bloom desperately wrestles with the substantial script and size of the film appearing a little uncomfortable at times. That said, even though he is the main character, the story, really revolves around the other characters. Balian appears more as a narrative tool.

The locations are breathtaking, from the misty woods and shores of France – to Holy sites of Jerusalem. Again Ridley, incorporating amazing sets and utilising visual effects, production designer Arthur Max, set decorator Sonja Klaus and crew painstakingly recreate the period. Janty Yates costumes are fantastic. Weapons, flags and props look authentic, all this attention to detail coupled with Harry Gregson-Williams score and John Mathieson Cinematography give the film a wonderful look and atmosphere.

All in all, one, if not the best crusade film ever.

Alien (1979)

Space, spaceships, androids and aliens, and no it’s not Starwars or Startrek…

Alien (The Director's Cut)Alien is a perfect blend of characterisation, visual effects, sound and score. What separates this from the two franchises above is the gritty realism, a brooding atmospheric and claustrophobic feel that has given the film both cult and classic status. So much so it spawned its own franchise.

The acting is provided by a perfect heavy-weight cast that includes John Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt. Dan O’Bannon’s screen-play, coupled with Ridley Scott’s visuals stop this becoming just another monster alien movie or space film. The subject matter is delivered completely seriously and you become immersed in the dread, fear and uncertainty as even the main characters get killed off (which has become common place these days). Who will be the hero or the heroine?

H.R.Giger creature designs of the face huger and Alien is the ace in the hole and Jerry Goldsmith score mixed with the sound effects gives the film a nightmarish feel that build up the tension to breaking point. Scott’s direction is outstanding, creating the most fantastic and memorable moments in film history which push your fear threshold.

Compulsive viewing for Sci-fi fans who want story over action or in this case a steak to digest instead of fast food. If you’ve never seen Alien what it treat it will be to watch it fresh.

Blade Runner (1982)

I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s and Blade Runner is one of his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.

Blade Runner (Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neo-cityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air; all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a Vangelis score; which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to, there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and even delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

American Gangster [Blu-ray]American Gangster (2007)

Consistent Ridley Scott recreates 1970s America in the true life story of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a heroin kingpin from Manhattan. Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts, an incorruptible detective, who works to bring down Lucas’s drug empire.

An interesting and contrasting character study on many levels, Russell Crowe performance is excellent, his personal life is in turmoil, yet he is totally focused on his work. Where as Washington’s character is in control of both his personal and ‘work’ life. Washington is on top form, equalling if not surpassing his Oscar winning performance in Training day (2001).

The costumes and makeup are excellent. The supporting actors give weight to the production and there are some memorable performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin and Ted Levine to name few.

I’ve seen both the theatrical version the 175 min extended version that includes approx. 19 minutes of additional footage. While the extra footage doesn’t jump out at you, the ending is notably different but just as captivating. For a lengthy film America Gangster zips along at a fast pace, accompanied by a great music soundtrack and a enhancing score by Marc Streitenfeld.

The 1970’s is painstakingly created with amazing realistic set design. Scott’s direction coupled with Harris Savides cinematography captures the feel and tone of the time. Scott not only recreates Manhattan but also Vietnam and the war is at it’s height. Credit deservedly should g to Steven Zaillian’s

A perfectly crafted film and gratifying cinema.

Robin Hood (2010)

I hold Ridley Scott in the highest regard, one of the most creative and demanding directors of his time. However, Robin Hood is an unequivocally unnecessary prelude to a timeless folk tale of a man who fights against the Norman invaders. The direction, subtle effects, locations and so on are remarkable and are what you would expect from the director of such films as Gladiator and The Kingdom of Heaven to name a few.

Robin Hood [Blu-ray]The cast is superb, a mix of old greats and new comers that include Max von Sydow, Cate Blanchett, Scott Grimes, William Hurt and Russell Crowe as Robin the legend himself. With a heavy laden script for the seemingly padded out story the high calibre actors’ graft their way through the latest incarnation of Robin Hood with ease. There are a few droll moments but the screenplay appears unsure if it wants to be another Disney, Costner Robin Hood or a serious war movie tackling issues of the time of corrupt politicians, generals and monarchy.

With an estimated budget of $200,000,000 and the acting talent and creative people behind Robin Hood, you’d thing Scott would have suited to tackling a period piece not centred around the rise of Robin Longstride. Due to this it leaves the viewer unsatisfied.

It’s a lengthy movie and there is much to enjoy, the score, performances, cinema photography, action scenes are admirable. However, as a Robin Hood film it’s a bit of a miss, and you can’t help feel that as the last reel runs that that’s where the story should have begun.

Gladiator (2000)

Despite it’s historical inaccuracies Gladiator without a doubt deserves it’s 5 Oscars. The story follows Maximus, a Roman general who’s family is murdered after he is betrayed and left for dead. While the story is echoes The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Gladiator revenge theme is far more ambitious and poignant.

Gladiator (Sapphire Series) [Blu-ray]Meticulous portraying the social and political issues of the time, proved director Ridley Scott united with David Franzoni story and screenplay single handily bring back the sword and sandal epic prompting a flurry of copycat films. The opening scene is astounding, the fights are incredibly choreographed, however, Gladiator is far from perfect, let down by a variety of CGI shots, the lack of grandeur that other epics have and several hollow palace scenes. That said, Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer score is exciting, emotionally moving as much as the actor’s performances.

Thankfully, Mel Gibson turned down the part of Maximus that Russell Crowe portrays with such conviction and energy. Even though it was Oliver Reeds last great performance and one of Richard Harris finest, as Marcus Aurelius, the new comers hold their own and are just as effective. Juaquin Phoenix. Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi and supporting actors are perfectly cast. Aside from the magnificent sets and locations to the cast credit it’s the ability to render the viewers concern for these characters is what separates Gladiator from being an run of the mill flick.

It’s no masterpiece but far from a gladiatorial coup de grace. Scotts compelling Gladiator is impressive, moving and exciting.

Prometheus (2012)

The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-223 in 2093.

Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on LV-223 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien (2122A.D) comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel. This change in location allows Prometheus to sit as a stand alone film.

Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average sci-fi. That said, Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special and allows set-ups for future instalments.

It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce (who is sorely underused) Idris Elba as everyday man Janek and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is astounding as Meredith Vickers, a hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.

http://1.gvt0.com/vi/EjYp116AXfU/0.jpg

The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.

Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.

Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it feels fresh.

Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological warfare to name a few and although it feels a little rushed it’s a grower just like the spores themselves.

Science fiction, a long, long time ago in space the final frontier…
Way back in the USA 1916 a pioneering underwater film based on Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was made. In social commentary contrast the European Metropolis(1926) followed. Then the atomic bomb caused a renewed interest in science, a boom in science fiction happend in 1950’s,  1968 saw the Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey and the rest is history as they say. Is so difficult it pick out sci-fi films because there are so many and they such an array of topics.
I’ve covered some of the mainstream ones, including Alien, Blade Runner, Moon and Stars Wars in in my previous posts
and

So below are some modern notable Sci-fi films that are either underrated or overstated, that is in my personal opinion.

Ultraviolet (2006)
The opening few minutes of Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet is a rip roaring, pulse pounding set up of action sequences and chases. Then the film calms down for a little breather until the next amazing fight sequence.
Following a holocaust some humans have become Hemophages, a sub-species with enhanced physical abilities. Violet, must protect a nine-year-old boy who has been marked for death by the human government.
In the wake of 2005’s disappointing Aeon Flux, underrated Kurt Wimmer director of Equilibrium (2002) writer of The Recruit (2003) and Salt (2010) set about creating an up-to-the-minute Sci-fi.However, after shooting wrapped Kurt left after being pressured to deliver less emotional PG-13 rated film. In turn, Ultraviolet was completely re-edited by the studio and unfortunately this lowered the quality of the film significantly. Acting wise, William Fichtner puts in an unusual performance, Sebastien Andrieu and Nick Chinlund both seem unsure what’s going on.
With an abundance of forgettable bad guys, Milla Jovovich excellently plays Violet who has enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence. Her character at first seems very one dimensional as she plays her usual Resident Evil kick-ass self. But even in the short running time her character develops, you’re given glimpses into here past, as she bonds with six played well by Cameron Bright.
There’s great effects, stunts and a thumping score. A lot of reviews have criticised the CGI usage, however, it’s stylised, hyper-real and sleek. It’s not meant to be faithful representation of a real world. Holograms, swords, a new invented language, gun-fighting and martial arts. It’s science fiction entertainment, set 21st century, nothing more, nothing less.
It’s fast, it’s fun – Ultraviolet is an pleasing sci-fi action but possibly could have been so much more if Wimmer was allowed to deliver his cut.
The Road (2009)
The Road is a touching film of a father bonding with his son in post-apocalyptic setting where stealing, gangs and cannibalism has become the norm’.
John Hillcoat delivers a breathtaking dark vision, and while the story is emotionally engaging it never becomes captivating. It is excellently written and Viggo Mortensen is first-rate as the troubled father, who tries to educated and prepare his son for this new harsh world. However, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce are sorely under utilised.
Its not a film to be enjoyed and you need an acquired taste. Nevertheless, it is arguably the most truthful and touching post-apocalyptic film to date, but also the least rewarding.
Thirteenth Floor (1999)
Made the same year as The Matrix, Thirteenth Floor was lost in ‘bullet time’, leather coats and guns and sadly failed to be appreciated or reach a large audience.The set decorations are of a high-quality, the CGI effects are very subtle and mostly used to recreate L.A.
The cast are excellent, notably Armin Mueller-Stahl as Fuller and the charming Gretchen Mol. Writer/Director Josef Rusnak delivers a perfect vision of a virtual reality simulation of 1937 Los Angeles against the distinguished cold sleek computer enterprise. The contrast of the past and present is astounding, this murder mystery oozes atmosphere.
Craig Bierko plays Douglas Hall who cannot recall the night his colleague was murdered. Now a suspect he tries to uncover the truth, but the reality is harsher than he could ever imagine.With a twisting script based on the book by Daniel F. Galouye it is a well made grounded sci-fi that is sorely underrated and overlooked.
It’s must see for those who don’t need big bangs and explosions in their Science fiction.

Æon Flux (2005)
Æon Flux was lost in the flurry of 2005’s sci-fi films, including Doom, Star Wars: Episode III, Serenity and War of the Worlds. Not even Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd or Charlize Theron in tight outfits (even though less revealing than in the cartoons) could draw in the crowd.
Looking back fans of the MTV animated Æon Flux felt short changed, and I don’t blame them. The character of the film adaptation is very different to what fans had grown to love, an amoral, egotistical, volatile and sharp Æon. Where as the movie incarnation of Æon is plain moody and vulnerable. However, if you view Æon Flux as a standalone movie it’s a more rewarding experience.
Æon is assigned to assassinate the leader of last city on earth, but she uncovers a world of secrets and conspiracies. Packed with styled sets and costumes, there’s plenty to enjoy on screen. It’s different to most films set in the future, no grit, everything in 2415 is bright and hopeful but there is an atmosphere of something lurking under the facade.
There are some great special effects and action sequences. Marton Csokas is the perfect protagonist and Theron delivers a physical performance that she clearly put a lot of time and effort into. Nevertheless, the usually great Pete Postlethwaite is wasted and Jonny Lee Miller appears subdued throughout.
The film is competently directed by Jennifer’s Body’s (2009) director Karyn Kusama, it’s packed with some great sci-fi idea’s, including an array of weapons, genetically enhanced characters and gadgets. However, the screenplay is full of clichés and some jarring editing that’ll make you feel a lot of interesting stuff maybe on the cutting room floor.
While Kurt Wimmer’s Ultraviolet (2006) is slightly better and more fun and if you put aside the fantastic animated series, Aeon flux is still entertaining.
Avatar (2009)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) as Neytiri is fantastic, as usual Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) is well cast in a strong lead role. Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez’s brief appearances are welcomed. Also Stephen Lang, as the tough Colonel Miles Quaritch gives a great performance.
Avatar is a visual spectacular with great acting and effects. It’s a moralistic tale, of following orders or protecting an alien world. However, the story is lazy, reminiscent Cameron’s own Aliens, Dances with Wolves, Apocalypto and Pocahontas to name a few. It mirrors Custers last stand, Vietnam and many other conflicts throughout history.
While the effects in creating the moon Pandora are mind-blowing, the lack of originality leaves you disappointed. I’m sure teenagers will teens love it, it’s the perfect money maker. James Cameron is a fantastic director and is instrumental in pushing industry movie techniques forward. However, in all the special CGI effects the great writer Cameron appears to have forgotten about his older fans, who wanted a meatier, original and complex story.

Carriers (2009)
Carriers follows a group of young survivors who make some tough choices after an infection has spread worldwide bringing civilisation to its knees.
There are a few harrowing and emotional parts in Carriers but it fails to connect with the viewer. Unusually pretty Piper Perabo and Chris Pine (of Star Trek fame) leads an excellent small group of unknown actors in a well directed virus survival film. However, Carriers is simply an anomaly, there’s no gloss, it has the spirit of big budget ‘The Road’.
The cinematography is great, the music and the script are fine but it feels too long and flat. It’s missing that impending doom atmosphere considering the characters hopeless situation.It is by no means a bad film, it explores morals and values, however, its just not very engaging or entertaining.
I’m sure directors/writers Àlex Pastor and David Pastor will go on to do something really great, but this just isn’t it.

Star Trek (2009)
J.J. Abrams incarnation of the phenomena known as Star Trek, wisely sticks closed to the spirit, look and fun of the original TV series. It follows the young James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew-members as they battle in space against a time travelling alien species.
With a star studded cast including Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, funny man Simon Pegg, reliable Karl Urban, and the exquisite Zoe Saldana as Uhura, it really is a pleasure to watch.
If you’ve never seen Star Trek it doesn’t matter as the story can be viewed as a stand alone sci-fi adventure film. However, die-hard fans will love the references to earlier Star Trek stories and characters.
Recommend, new version of a sci-fi classic.

Science fiction is a huge spanning genre of fiction. It’s an incubator for imaginative minds to create visions that help us to glimpse not only the future, but also something about ourselves. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible. I’ve left Terminator and Alien(s) out both I’ll visit in the future, in the meantime here are my comments on a few old classic films and new comers of Sci-fi…

Repo Men (2010)

It’s is the near future, Jake and Remy are repossession men for body organs. After a repo’ goes wrong Remy’s heart is replaces and he finds himself on the run before his heart is repossessed.

It’s a high concept idea with a twist at the end. The gory repo scenes are cringe worthy and action scenes backed with a pumping music score are amazing. The sets, location and effects are attention-grabbing. Miguel Sapochnik’s directing admirable but its failing is the screenplay, Repo Men is a jarring mismatch of a film, it doesn’t know what it wants to be, one minute a social commentary, the next minute a comedy, then an action, a serious thriller and so on. It just doesn’t gel and as a result it’s a let down.

Schreiber’s Frank is menacing as one of “The Union” heads and there’s a welcomed cameo appearance by John Leguizamo (Asbury). A lighter, healthier Forest Whitaker makes an impression in this odd toned movie, quirky lead and ever reliable Jude Law looks uncomfortable with the role Remy. Alice Braga’s (Beth) performance is average and she isn’t atheistically beautiful enough to convince the audience of Remy’s infatuation with her.

Unfortunately, Repo Men tries to cater and appeal to a spectrum of movie goers and as a result fails to entertain or satisfy in any capacity or arena.

Planet of the Apes (1968)


Franklin J. Schaffner is never given enough credit when it comes to the genuine sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes. The talking points are usually the twist ending, or the late great Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall.

A philosophical sci-fi made in 1968 and nominated for two Oscars it still holds up today as a social parable, effective drama with a relevant and underlining social commentary. It’s the primitive depiction of an ape civilisation rather than technologically society made Planet of the Apes standout as the iconic film it is haled as today.

‘Apes builds up nicely, there’s a wonderful score, (groundbreaking for the time) by Jerry Goldsmith, creating eerie and ominous atmosphere with the first exciting ape reveal at about 30 minutes in.

The film is wonderfully directed and has a solicitous and thought proving screenplay by Michael Wilson & Rod Serling. That said source material was from Pierre Boulle’s very wry, whimsical and thoughtful novel. Astoundingly Boulle is also author of The Bridge over the River Kwai.

The few visual effects are sufficient but the ape make up is admirable and star of the show. Recognisable only by their voices Kim Hunter as human conservationist Dr. Zira and the anxious Cornelius played by McDowall are splendidly magnificent as they assist Taylor played by the boldly cast film legend Heston to escape the command of the apes. The attractive Linda Harrison, who plays Nova is effective and the British classical actor, in orangutan make-up Maurice Evans is outstanding, giving a weight of believability to the subject matter.

Planet of the Apes is an original science fiction must see.

Blade Runner (1982)

I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scotts’ and Blade Runner is one of
his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.

Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neocityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a score by Vangelis , which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

RoboCop (1987)

A cop is brutally murdered in the line of duty only to be resurrected as a robot cop. With a mission to clean up Detroit stopping criminals and corruption unwitting Robocop meets his killers.

 Social commentary, religious connotations and cutting satire, Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop is now over 20 years old, some of the effects have dated and some of the acting is like two-day-old chicken, but it holds up. It is indeed an often-imitated sci-fi classic. It could have been just another Terminator rip-off but all it shared was a machine theme as it had a whole world of its own. That said, it borrows heavily from lesser known films Jean-Claude Lord’s The Vindicator and The Wraith both made a year prior.

Amongst the rival robot ED-209 and TV commercials what’s more interesting about Robocop (played by the now elusive Peter Weller) is the loss of his family and how they have moved on after Alex Murphy’s gory death which is only partly explored. There’s a lot going on in Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner writing underneath all the action pieces.

Miguel Ferrer as ‘Bob’ is excellent, his performance has all the 80’s Wall Street feel of the time, doing whatever it takes to get to the top. Ronny Cox plays ‘Dick’ Jones and gives the bad guy dimension. It shows a corporate structure and how they also use the underworld to get an immoral job done, in this case using Clarence and his gang played terrifically by Kurtwood Smith.

Basil Poledouris’ music is fantastic and heightens the films punches and subtleties, the action is great as to are the costumes and practical effects. It is a comic book film for adults but is unusually grounded in a surreal plausibility.

It’s Orion Pictures fine production, part man, part machine. All cop.

Moon (2009)

David Bowie’s son directs his debut film. Duncan Jones comes out of his fathers’ shadow and into his own in this low-key sci-fi which is destined to become a classic.

The style is without a doubt influenced by Silent Running and 2001: A Space Odyssey. You could argue that there is also a hint of Gattaca in there, but this does not detract from the strong emotional story line.

Sam Rockwell’s subtle and edgy performance is Oscar worthy, as to are the effects. As Duncan Jones first film it certainly doesn’t show, it screams traditional in the modern sense of film-making. Kevin Spacey voices the robot GERTY, his smooth tones and look are reminiscent of 2001’s HAL and his monotone voice adds tension.

The film is not an action; Moon is a well-rounded package, almost pure sci-fi, and thought provoking playing out a believable premise. It’s a tighter 2001 for a 2009 audience, compulsive viewing.

Star Wars (1977)

It was a long time ago when I first saw Starwars, I watched it as part of a trilogy and then Lucas’ CGI altered edits.

There’s not much I can add that isn’t already littered on the, net, countless books and so on. It has become ingrained in popular culture and it is impossible for me to watch it with fresh eyes. It was great to see my son watch it for the first time and no doubt his children will enjoy it too.

The story is that Luke Skywalker must try to save Princess Leia from the evil clutches of Darth Vader. It could have been an awful b-movie but its strength is a great bold script, memorial characters, fantastic effects, costumes and John Williams timeless orchestral score. It has a princess, lasers, alien creatures, spaceships, and more. It’s a good old fashioned tale of good versus evil and there really isn’t much not to like.

It has inspired and has been imitated in numerous films, books and games. It has changed the way Sci-fi is made and will remain a timeless charming classic.

If you only ever see five films in your lifetime, this is one of them.

Surrogates (2009)

In a world of masks, who’s real and who can you trust? A well made sci-fi, a hybrid reflective of high concept low-budget 70’s-80’s films. Sadly it was in and out of the cinema so fast I missed it.

Bruce Willis character tries to unravel the mystery conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and is forced to abandon his own surrogate, risking his life.

Excellent direction by Jonathan Mostow Radha Mitchell is as usual on top form, Rosamund Pike (give a poor performance) and Ving seem out of place. That said, the effects and music are amazing – I was pleasantly surprised. Overall very entertaining, suspenseful and while not totally original, it combines the best ideas around to deliver a thought provoking piece.