Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

Some spoilers ahead!

Finn, Poe Dameron and the Resistance commence a final battle against new and old enemies of the First Order. As Rey tries to find out who her parents really were.

In terms of what a Star Wars film should be, director J. J. Abraham delivers a brilliant return form, layered with Lucas magic.

Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi as much as it tried to be different was too subtle in its script, and lacked fan execution. That said, whether by accident or design with the events of Rise it makes the dialouge of Last Jedi more pertinent, for example Luke says ‘he [Kylo] would bring destruction and pain and death, and the end of everything I love.’ So in retrospect he already saw the death of Han and Leia. Last Jedi actually works better now in since Rise of Skywalker and the lines especially between Rey and Ben have more relevance. Rise of Skywalker doesn’t pretend to be anything more or less than a Star Wars film. Adam Driver is impressive, thankfully many of the characters get room to breathe, John Boyega’s Finn, Daisy Ridley’s Rey and especially Oscar Isaac’s likeable Poe. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) no pun intended gets to shine.

It’s packed with homages, throwbacks and treads new ground. Chewie gets his medal, Lando (Billy D. Williams) returns, finally we see a flashback of Leia (Carrie Fisher) training, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo cameos and the voices of many our favourite saga series main characters are heard. Denis Lawson even briefly appears as Wedge Antilles.

As much as harden fans would have liked all the force ghosts to appear it makes sense that Rey only saw those known to her, not just those who the audience knew. Leia, Kylo and Rey also get a fitting resolve. Even Hux gets closure. Mark Hamill’s Luke fittingly appears along with Ewoks, Jawas and Tatooine.

With excellent special effects, sets and music score it may not have the old school feel of Rogue One or Solo but it’s packed with action that echoes the likes of the Madalorian, Force Awakens and emotional energy of Last Jedi. It pushes buttons and fills satisfaction gaps that its predecessor couldn’t. It’s a great closure with on the nose fan satisfaction.

As a Star Wars film (while you could argue that no films should have been made since Return of the Jedi) it’s great, as a sequel to Last Jedi it excels.

Overall, Abraham’s delivers an almost impossible feat, some Star Wars magic.

An expert hitman is pitted against his own clone run by a government sanctioned security service Gemini.

Director Ang Lee offers a solid fun actioner with an injection of science fiction that echoes the likes of Assassins (1995) and the 6th Day (2000) with a feel of John Woo’s Face Off (1997).

With a notable supporting cast that includes the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Douglas Hodge, Benedict Wong and (somewhat wasted) Ralph Brown you’d think it would be a entertaining dramatic hit however everyone feels so relaxed that there’s no real sense of danger. With paper thin motive the Jason Bourne-like government conspiracy scenes never quite hit the mark lacking some much needed weight.

Even though the whole film seems an excuse for Will Smith to face off against the parallel universe Fresh Prince of Bel-air assassin, Smith is great in the duel young/old roles along side a menacing Clive Owen. Smith, however, like the reset of the cast feels flat, even during the emotional highs, possibly due to the colourful locations, cinematography and Ang Lee’s general directing style.

The CGI de-aged effects are a mixed bag at times as excellent as the wacky fight setups but at others not as effective as the young Sarah Conner in Sky Dance’s other release Terminator Dark Fate.

With global-trotting fights, chases and shoot outs throughout there plenty to like right up-to a little clone twist in the closing act along with a surprise death.

Overall, Gemini Man is a lot better then the trailer makes it out to be but it’s odd tonally flawed entertaining action film.

In Mexico City a young woman named Dani Ramos becomes the latest target of a cyborg assassin, Rev 9, from the future sent by ‘Legion’.

Director Tim Miller (Deadpool) offers a standup Terminator outing correcting Genisys working as a sequel to Terminator 2. However, opening with Endoskeleton Terminators which are wiped out because of the events in T2, a young John and (excellently CGI rendered young) Sarah Connor – it then takes a sudden story turn to present day. Miller flashes forward at times to a possible or inevitable future (never clarified in Dark Fate if it can be prevented as in T2). These snippets introduce a Salvation like future with bizzare fast moving tentacle Terminators and the creation of an technologically augmented super soldier.

It has better casting than Terminator 3 (namely poorly cast Danes and Stahl). But don’t get too excited though as it barely has the grit or grounded practical feel of The Terminator nor the substance and style of the second. Frankly there’s too much CGI which takes centre stage ripping you out of the action. That said, as a CGI driven modern action film younger viewers may find it more appealing, but this is where the likes of Halloween (2018) and also Mexican themed Rambo: Last Blood have a slight edge over Miller’s loud big outing as the aforementioned focus is on the characters not just the effects.

Emotionally the film belongs to it’s cybernetically enhanced soldier Grace brilliantly played by Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton, who returns as Sarah Connor. Both actors have great chemistry. Hamilton is great here, Miller keeps it refreshingly female orientated.

Gabriel Luna’s advanced Terminator model whose skin and skeleton can function as two separate bodies is interesting but his incognito infiltration element, to blend into any surrounding is wasted as he blatantly goes on wacky outlandish killing sprees in plain sight.

Schwarzenegger lights up the screen as Terminator but it leaves very little impact, it’s a pitty he didn’t show up in the flesh in Salvation. His 101 model has some good lines and generous amount of screen time. Many elements are rehashed from T2, others echoing the underrated Salvation, Dani Ramos (played by Natalia Reyes) is the new the Sarah Connor but with a welcomed little twist on the story.

Miller and writers thankfully keep it coherent compared to the last outing, but they never really explore the time travel whys and what. Also Kyle or Ginger never get a mention from Sarah’s lips, given her subtler scenes with both leads it felt like a missed opportunity.

Overall, with less CGI it could have been great, never the less it’s an enjoyable Terminator film, maybe coming from an analog age it’s just not my Terminator film.

On the research station lab on the planet of Xarbia a flesh-eating mutant is loose that feeds on the dwindling scientific group who created it.

With the same vibe as Galaxy of Terror (1981), Roger Corman’s Forbidden World a.k.a Mutant is an excuse for director Allan Holzman to put some cheap icky specimen effects, jumpsuits and scantily clad actresses on screen. It also comes complete with some disco/electronica music from Susan Justin and a little robot called SAM104 who looks as if he should be in sci-fi films Silent Running or Saturn 3.

June Chadwick’s blonde Barb bloody life form encounter scene is short but impressive. Jim Wynorski fingerprints are all over this, Brunette Dawn Dunlap lights up the screen screaming with unnecessary skimpy outfits throughout taking off her clothes whenever the script calls for it. Hammy Fox Harris doctor is entertaining enough, reminiscent of, but predating Brad Dourif’s Alien Resurrection performance. There’s also an interesting desert scene which echoes an episode of Star Trek in terms of style and execution.

Forbidden World is as clunky as some of ‘Subject 20’ effects, editing and dialogue. To its credit and inconsistency aside many scenes are well lighted and a handful of the practical special effects including the cocoon and kills are not too shabby. It’s common knowledge that some sets and footage is recycled from other Corman productions, including Battle Beyond the Stars and Galaxy of Terror but it’s all seamless unless your already privileged to the knowledge as it fittingly looks as if it belongs to this low budget production.

Overall, it’s energetic and amusingly gruesome even if at times for all the wrong reasons.

SPOILERS!

In the sleepy small town of Centerville, the dead return to life when the earth shifts on its axis.

The Dead Don’t Die has an unprecedented atmosphere of doom and gloom in a small town which captures an odd eerie feel
echoing The Night the Living Dead. However, it’s marred by hanking issues that prevent it becoming what could have been a cult classic.

Jim Jarmusch’s writing decision to break the fourth wall and have the characters talk about the script within the film steals all the novelty from the zany characters and their convincing emotional sentiments. Especially from Cloe Sevigny who gives her deputy believable touching grief. It simply sucks the life out from his solid directing offering.

Adam Driver’s Ronnie and Bill Murray’s Chief Robinson are wonderful as the smalltown law men along with the rest of the cast. Steve Buscemi as a small minded farmer, samurai swinging Tilda Swinton and Danny Glover’s Hank are notable, even if a little wasted. Iggy Pop’s coffee yearning zombie extended cameo is memorable.

As a side note, it’s reminiscent on places of the 2003 Australian film the Undead, including borrowing a wacky alien contact moment. Along with three teens who escape there’s another subplot involving Selena Gomez’s Zoe and her two friends. Neither story threads really pay off, aside from fleshing our Driver’s officer character with Zoe’s demise. This leaves the two separate groups fates slightly wasted and if not moot. That said, the knowing observational hobo in the woods played by Tom Waits strings the film all together.

The make-up effects, Frederick Elmes’ cinematography and location setting is great, even if some CGI is a little iffy. It’s rare for a film to seemingly go out of its way to spoil itself especially when it was so wonderfully setup. It takes away the multiple reward of rewatching value. The abruptness of the ending doesn’t help either.

When it’s being played straight the comedy wit presents itself like the joy of Lake Placid’s satire. But when it’s breaking the fourth wall and trying to be too clever, it stumbles, sadly pulling the carpet from under Driver and Murray’s stellar performances.

Overall, the haphazard script decisions rip the heart of what could have been a contemporary zom-com Return of the Living Dead type classic.

Paratroopers with a mix of experience on a mission to destroy a communication point just before D-Day discover secret base carrying out Nazi experiments.

High concept super soldiers are nothing new, but don’t expect a low budget affair, director Julius Avery’s offering of a Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith screenplay is wonderfully delivered with high production values. From a parashoot drop that could easily belong in Saving Private Ryan to like a small French town setting echoing the likes of The Keep and The Piano, Overlords hooks the viewer in from the outset.

The B-film concept is executed by Avery with blockbuster gusto, high production values, excellent locations sets and costume. The cast is on form, the lead Jovan Adepo is excellent as thoughtful Private Ed Boyce who uncovers the Nazi experiments below the church and radio tower. Taking a leaf from 1982’s The Thing with surprise deaths and sacrifices the supporting cast is out standing notable are edgy Wyatt Russell as Ford, memorable Mathilde Ollivier as Chloe, John Magaro as sniper Frank, to be honest you could list them all.

With first class gross out special effects, as the gore amps up and mutations showing inhuman strength plays-out with an end baddy showdown granted it loses the realism of the WWII shooting and explosive action setups throughout. Nevertheless, it’s still an entertaining, tense at times, finely crafted film from Avery. Recommend.

Orin, an escaped slave must free his people from an underground mine but first journey across the galaxy to fulfil his destiny.

Directed and produced by Steven Hahn, and written by Jeffrey Scott Starchaser borrows from Flash Gordon, Star Wars, the King Arthur Legend, even a bit of Blade Runner and many more. It’s more young adult orientated, almost in the ballpark of Ralph Bakshi, there’s disturbing 2000 A.D-like half-human, half-machine Man-Droids, Fembots. with some above PG choice language and surprise deaths, it offers an emotional clout and punch.

While the pace is at times is a little clunky like the Battle Star Galactica carbon robots, the animation (with no use of rotoscoping) is outstanding for the time. The music Andrew Belling is fitting. The characters, especially the robot leads are quite likeable, the evil overlord Zygon is notable. The voice acting is great and there’s even a nice little twist to close of the proceedings.

Overall, refreshingly made before CGI it borrows from the best and worst of sci-fi and comes out on top. Recommend.

Contains Spoilers!

A bus filled with colourful mentally stressed military try to stop an intergalactic sports hunter to save sniper’s son who is in possession of alien tech that his dad unintentionally sent him after his P.O. box was closed.

Following the events of Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990) notably including Peter Keyes’ son (as confirmed in the prequel tie-in novel and set presumably after 2010’s Predators, although not directly referenced), director Shane Black along with co-writer Fred Dekker echo the modest fun of past Predator movies. They offer a mix of gore and humour, while adding new elements and leave narrative breadcrumbs setting up future sequels.

Alan Silvestri’s Predator theme music is expertly reworked but is arguably heavily used by Henry Jackman. The on location night-time shoot adds atmosphere along with the dawn space ship crashing last act. The weaponry that the Predator wields is as fanboy neat as the original character design and effects on display. Even if the Predator dogs are not a menacing as in Predators.

Plot wise the writers give the classic Predator, here more agility, personality and motivation for helping the humans (as he is part human) without spelling it out in your face. They subtly explain why the “Tracker” Predator can see in heat POV without his mask due to his inbuilt biotech/biometric enhancements.

Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) is on usual form and is excellent as army sniper Quinn McKenna who encounters the Predator during a mission in Mexico. Know-how, gun-toting biologist Olivia Munn is impressive alongside the soldiers including actors Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane and Alfie Allen. Also in the castings favour is child actor Jacob Tremblay who doesn’t come across as annoying as Rory, Quinn’s autistic son. At times you care about the characters and morn when they meet their demise, Rhodes’ Williams in particular. Actor Sterling K. Brown is notable as the unscrupulous Govenment Agent.

The Predator is non-stop entertainment, mixing expected lowbrow dialogue and macho talk with no holds barred action sequences and special effects. Yes it’s exciting but the action does grow more outlandish in closing followed by off the wall human Predator robotic weaponisation.

This entry ups the ante, Uber style with larger action sequences bigger thrills but doesn’t reinvent or progress franchise (especially the Yautja species history or social structure as well as in previous films) as much as touted or deserved.

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

***This review contains spoliers***

Suffering from amnesia, confused and alone Melissa slowly discovers that the world isn’t what it supposed to be.

Award winning short film Mörkret Faller A.K.A Darkness Falls, not to be confused with Darkness Falls (2003) comes from Swedish director/writer Jarno Lee Vinsencius. I was lucky enough to view a screener of this well crafted little gem, Vinsencius offers a tight sci-fi thriller short with a filmactic feel.

Opening with an aerial shot in a chilly winter setting, we are introduced to an injured girl who awakes in dusted snow white forest. Hearing noises she fleas into the night to a café with no memory of who she is. Vinsencius’ offers a moody atmospheric piece which echoes the likes of Memento, Insomnia and the best of X-files, running just under a perfectly paced 15 minutes the dialogue driven Darkness Falls packs plenty in, mysterious letters and meetings, as Melissa tries to unravel who she is. The acting is first rate, the small cast have a respectable weighty presence, striking Joanna Häggblom is impeccable as Melissa and notable is Niclas Fransson as Felix.

Darkness Falls hots up when Melissa meets a man David (played by the talented actor Demis Tzivis) who knows what she is going through and they are chased by shady female agents. Vinsencius injects some interplanetary hi-jinks and effects used at just at the right moments. In addition, he throws in a twist loop ending with some impressive alien creature design from Ellinor Rosander and a sound scheme by Michael Tiedtke. With reminiscent Philip K. Dick story vibes and some DNA of my own novel The Final Version there’s paranoia mysterious leaders and tracking transmitter chips. Its dark, high concept stuff, with clones and duplicate planets but Jarno Lee Vinsencius reins it successfully on a personal level.

Intriguing, well scripted, grounded short – highly recommended.