Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

Androids Mother and Father flee Earth to settle on the planet Kepler-22b. However, when their mission doesn’t go as planned, Mother shows that she is not the same as Father when confronted with threats – both human and unhuman.

Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves is pretty mesmerising. Expands on the Artificial Intelligence themes of Blade Runner and Alien. It’s edgy with high production values from the outset. Although the music, topography and holographic technology aesthetics mirror those in Prometheus and Alien Covenant, Raise by Wolves has it own identity. Scott’s touch and DNA is all over the screen elevating it to another level.

Actor Amanda Collin’s Mother is one of the creepiest and most dangerous memorable Art Deco looking AI’s to grace the screen. But Abubakar Salim steals many scenes as likeable Father. Travis Fimmel is a welcomed addition and there is more to his character Marcus as the episodes proceeded.

The visuals are outstanding for a television show, following in the footsteps of the likes of Game of Thrones and Westworld. Yes there’s evolving alien creatures and dangers on Kepler but the triangle of conflicts, namely AI, atheists and faith deliver plenty of drama. There’s story twists within the welcomed metronome pace and there’s plenty of nods to other science fictions littered throughout, even a (possibly unintentional) homage of sorts to Class of 1999 in the 2nd episode with the medic robot and more.

The series is scary, emotional and intriguing, the apocalyptic flashback imagery echo The Terminator. Like many TV shows that have explored AI and religion, Caprica; Westworld, Battlestar Glacticia and Almost Human to name a few Scott’s offering has its own memorable legs. Highly recommended.

A cosmonaut with an alien parasite inside of him (which periodically leaves his body) is contained in a research facility. A young doctor is recruited by the shady military to assess the man but uncovers a sinister truth.

Although writers Oleg Malovichko, Andrei Zolotarev ideas are derivative, borrowing from countless others. The creature is reminiscent of Prometheus’ (2012) Hammerpede design. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop Sputnik being an effective claustrophobic alien horror.

Thanks to director Egor Abramenko’s gripping set pieces, gross-out gore and overall production values Sputnik its own legs. The serious dark and ominous tone elevates Sputnik, delivering a satisfying, gripping experience.

Notable are lead actors Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor Bondarchuk and Pyotr Fyodorov.
Oksana subtle performance is impressive, echoing the leads in The Thing (2011) and Underwater (2020). Bondarchuk commands his scenes with great screen presence.

The Soviet-era setting and character study performances coupled with a closing twist puts Abramenko’s offering up there with some of the best of the genre.

Here’s the trailer to the web series Alien Covenant II: Gods and Monsters. It is the prequel to Alien and continuation of Prometheus and Alien Covenant. Based on my unmade original story and pitch.

Spoilers!

A rescue team from Earth are against the clock and must save humans on Sirius 6B from the robot Screamers before the planet is wiped out by a class 10 solar meteor strike.

None of the original cast return in director Sheldon Wilson’s offering, we are told that Peter Weller’s grumpy, in search of love, Joseph A. Hendricksson committed suicided on reentry to Earth, presumably in a tussle with the killer teddy bear screamer left on the spaceship.

The visual effects are surprisingly effective with some convincing composites and some impressive practical effects. There’s more gore, chopped of limbs, torsos, heads split open, impalement, a fist punched through a body and a head. The sets and production design are great but it’s has a direct to DVD look (especially in the first half) and lacks the filmatic feel that its low budget predecessor managed to achieve.

As the contingent of soldiers get picked off one by one, we’re introduced to some annoying feral people better placed in Mad Max. We find out that Victoria Bronte is Hendricksson’s daughter giving fans some much needed connection to the first. Arguably this could have been revealed much earlier on. Lance Henriksen turns up briefly as Orsow injecting some weight into the shenanigans. Both actors Gina Holden and Stephen Amell are notable.

Unfortunately, the Miguel Tejada-Flores (who also co-wrote the original) script lacks execution, it can be clunky in its delivery and at times lacks logic. What Tejada-Flores and Wilson do well is expand and attempt to build on the Screamer mythology. That said, sometimes less is more.

Amongst the explosions, shootings and blood the pacey sci-fi setups are more or less recycled from the first film. It lacks Philip K. Dick‘s philosophical questions, paranoia and sense of desolation that its predecessor attempted to touch on.

It’s a passable sci-fi B-movie, if somewhat cliched especially in the Alien/Terminator-like closing act. In fact, as DTV film and sequel, to Wilson’s credit, it’s probably one of the best of its kind.

May contain spoilers.

After a meteorite lands on a farm, a family find themselves infected by a mutant extraterrestrial organism.

From Richard Stanley the visionary atmospheric director of the sci-fi Hardware and occult thriller Dust Devil comes Color Out of Space, colour U.K. spelling?

After a long hiatus Stanley returns with a film more appealing to a wider audience, that said, the H.P. Lovecraft foundation source material with the director’s own touch it’s far from mainstream. Interestingly actor Elijah Wood is one of the producers. With practical effect visuals reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and Brian Yuzna’s Society (1989) it excels Huan Vu’s 2012 impressive low budget film adaptation. The colour and digital effects rival 2018’s Annihilation.

It’s a film about every family’s worst nightmare. Nicolas Cage’s Nathan and children deal with rural life, in a bid to help their mother’s Theresa (played brilliantly by Joely Richardson daughter of Vanessa Redgrave) recovery from cancer. Shotgun touting Cage is on arbitrarily oddball form when things start to fall apart and people get mutated. Elliot Knight plays hydrologist Ward Phillips, who knows there’s something wrong on the property, Tommy Chong as Ezra, aptly the pothead hermit and Josh C. Waller as Sheriff Pierce are notable even if their appearances are brief.

Madeleine Arthur is impressive as troubled Wicca practising teen Lavinia Gardner. Brendan Meyer plays Benny but it’s young Julian Hilliard that steals the show as Jack who can hear the alien.

Some of most creepy scenes include the siblings especially the well staged black hole cosmic meteorite crash. Lavinia has a terrifying memorable attic scene where she comes face to face with her mutated mother and younger brother. Stanley offers strange coloured vegetation, a smelly glowing pinky purple meteor. Fingers are chopped off, bug creatures fly around, a squid-like creature appears, there’s mutated alpacas, bolts of purple lightning which fuses people, he successfully captures the madness of Lovecraft’s work.

It may not be as rounded as Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski Void (2016) that drew from Lovecraft but it’s is a Stanley film after all with all the cosmic infection galore trimmings. Stanley and Scarlett Amaris script possibly could do with some more meat on the bone as the dialogue is sparse. That said, Stanley naturally goes for the subtle, intelligent filmmaking route, at times ambiguous rather than a spoon feeding.

It’s a fine looking film with Steve Annis’s cinematography, there’s vibrant special effects and a complementing eerie soundtrack from Colin Stetson, it’s also dark, terrifying, emotional and gut wrenching at times. In true Stanley style it’s expectedly arty but there’s plenty there for diehard horror fans too.

Colour Out of Space may not be Stanley’s The Island of Dr. Moreau remake we’ve been waiting for since 1996 but it’s a solid H.P. Lovecraft adaptation and a welcomed return to the directing chair.

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.

A bounty hunter makes his way through the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.

Directed by Dave Filoni The Mandalorian chapter one is excellent, it may not be a feature length film but this live action series is thankfully the next best thing. Created by Jon Favreau and with Disney and Lucas Film wallet he offers great production values, practical effects, hidden FX and a music score to match, it does not disappoint.

Actor Pedro Pascal expertly echoes Boba Fett injecting his own nuances and movements into this new lead character. The tone is perfect and feels like Star Wars should.

It is not just all new Uber characters and elements. It welcoming builds and expands George Lucas’ established universe. For example recycling/reusing established species and droids (including the Ewok’s Battle for Endor’s Blurrgs) to name but a few. Filoni also offers an IG bounty droid mirroring the IG-88 ESB character. You get to see a bounty droid in action.

With a job from Carl Weathers’ Greef Carga, Pascal’s Mandalorian tracks a target for a well-paying client (Werner Herzog) he freezes and shoots his way through the episode with The Man with No Name prowess. With the help of an indigenous character Kuill (voiced by Nick Nolte) and the bounty droid IG-11 our hero proves his honour durning a surprise reveal of a familiar unknown Star Wars species at the closing of the first episode.

Overall, aside from some iffy CGI it’s pretty much a TV Star Wars action adventure dream come true. Captures that Stars Wars magic.

Chapter 2: The Child

When Jawa’s strip Mando’s ship, he must undertake a dangerous task to retrieve an item to trade with little thieves to get them back.

Disney and Lucasfilm offer another quality episode echoing the serial tone of the Planet of the Apes TV, ‪Star Trek‬, Flash Gordon series’ to name a few and a handful of Western films.

Nick Nolte is again memorable as his moody character Kuillas as he helps The Mandalorian mediate with a group of Jawas. There’s some great action scenes, Mando (brilliantly played by Pedro Pasca ) climbing a Jawa’s
Sandcrawler vehicle, killing and burning Jawas, fighting a Rhino-like creature harking back to Attack of the of Clones’ Reek. To top this episode off theres a bit of force ‘magic’ thrown in for good measure as Mado’s bounty gets to show off his skills.

Overall, director Rick Famuyiwa delivers an action packed standalone episode with the overarching thread still teasingly present.

Chapter 3: The Sin

The conflicted Mandalorian violates his bounty hunter code and goes on a rescue mission with grave consequences.

The Sin is another strong instalment as Mando grapples with handing over the baby of his last bounty. Director Deborah Chow’s offering oozes atmosphere of the fallen Empire and hints of the new Republics lack of reach and power to bring peace to the galaxy.

In the third episode Mando shoots, stabs, electrocutes, burns and explodes his way through Stormtroopers and bounty hunters like butter.

The sets and special effects here are first rate, the narrative is strong and the action comes thick and fast. It also spends time to explore the Mandalorian’s culture also beliefs and fans are treated to a great shootout in the closing act with help from his armoured friends.

Carl Weathers gets a little more screen time. More trilogy Star Wars sub-characters appear which is a joy for fans. Packed with nods, the Empires science devision hark back to Rogue One, IT-O Interrogator droid from New Hope, glimpse of an order 66-like purge and even a battle droid from the prequel films to name a few.

Overall, the series goes from strength to Mandalorian forged beskar armour strength, successfully expanding the Star Wars universe.

Chapter 4: Sanctuary

The Mandalorian teams up with an ex-soldier to protect a village from raiders.

The Sanctuary is a solid enough entry which in the closing doesn’t go they way the casual viewer may expect with The Mandalorian making another important choice.

However, it does fall short of expectations story wise feeling very much like a Star Trek episode/film, with Western themed plot that echoes of likes of The Three Amigos, Blazing Saddles, High Plains Drifter to name a few, in which the indigenous village population must learn to protect itself against the odds of a greater danger.

That said, Star Was fans will find it great to see an AT-ST walker included in the plot. This episode introduces a new and welcomed character, the action orientated soilder namely Gina Carano as Cara Dune. Pedro Pascal as The Mandalorian is on his usual perfectly cast form. It a shame they didn’t use an already established spieces as the raiders (although they are reminiscent of something from Ewoks).

With great effects, action setups and a little heart it’s good but excluding the main overarching story, this filler episode’s plot is slightly worn.

Chapter 5: The Gunslinger

A wannabe Bounty hunter requests Mandos help to bring in a nutritious assassin.

Chapter five is joy that returns Star Wars fans back Tatoonie and Mos eisley cantina as Mando travels across the dune sea to do a job to get credits to repair his ship.

Gunslinger is another great episode with loads of nods to the films, speeder bikes, Tusken Raiders, droids as far back as episode I and II, an EV droid from RotJ, Dew-backs of New Hope to name a few. Even the table where Han Solo killed Greedo appears and Beggars Canyon where Luke used to knock about gets a mention!

It’s a welcomed fan service episode that new comers and sci-fi fans would also appreciate with its great effects, sets, music, direction, action setup and shoot outs.

There’s an interesting tease in the closing that hints at a beloved villain saga character may well be returning.

All in all a return to Star Wars form.

Chapter 6: The Prisoner

A team of unsavoury characters plan a prison ship breakout with the help of Mando.

With double crosses and century guards part 6 is a standard prison break affair only its just what the Star Wars universe needs on screen (better the the brief breakout in Rogue One), echoing Predator and Batman in terms of weapons and action.

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa and written by Famuyiwa and Christopher Yost. The anti-hero group cast are great Mark Boone Junior is on subtle form, Natalia Tena is a little OTT but Clancy Brown and especially Bill Burr are on point.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is more physical and the bounty hunter character’s morals are fleshed our a little more.

It’s a solid enough episode with icing on the cake being a squad of X-Wings turning up in the closing.

Chapter 7: The Reckoning

Kuill and Cara Dune team back up with Mando in a deal to take the heat off the child he protects.

Director Deborah Chow offers tension infused episode, tightly paced with plenty to enjoy. There’s creatures in the night attacking the group, more Ugnaught-isums from Nick Nolte’s voiced Kuill. Carl Weather gets more screen time and development. The Child’s healing powers are reenforced (connecting it to the recent Rise of Skywalker saga film).

More double crosses, action and tests of conscience. More Star Wars nuggets, familiar droids, more Blurrgs (from 1985’s television film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor) Stormtroopers, a tie fighter, Deathtroopers and Scout-troopers and their speeder-bikes, to name a few. Interestingly it pushes the benefits of the fallen Empire now that there is no order.

A welcomed darker instalment that ends on a dramatic cliffhanger.

Chapter 8: Redemption

Mando, IG-11, Dune and Karga must face off against Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and a legion of Stormtroopers in one final battle to save the Child.

The season 1 finale is yet another fine instalment. You know you’re hooked and a series is doing something right when you get upset that Scout-troopers harming the Child and characters that make self-sacrifices bring a lump to your throat, namely IG11 and the fate of Kuiil.

We get more of Mando’s backstory through flashbacks as his parents hide him from a battle droid and get to see more Madalorians in action.

Baby Yoda, er, The Child gets to shine in this episode and the special effects used to bring him to life are impressive. Once again Gina Carano’s Cara Dune and Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga offer a solid backbone to the episode as Mando discovers the fate of the Madalorians as they try to escape via an underground river of lava.

Overall, a satisfying ending to a strong first season.

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.

An expedition to Saturn’s moon Titan uncovers an alien being that stalks corporate rivals from the U.S.A and Germany.

In the vein of producer Roger Corman’s Galaxy of Terror (1981) and Forbidden World (1982) director William Malone’s
Creature arguably is better put together than the latter thanks to Bette Jane Cohen’s editing, lighting and set design. Essentially Malone’s American science fiction horror film is another rip-off of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien (1979) and is also reminiscent of Life Force which was released the same year.

As expected Klaus Kinski b-movie master walks his pompous Hans Rudy Hofner role. Nevertheless, the female actors out shine their male counterparts in terms of performances. Lead Wendy Schaal is on her game along with Twin Peaks classic styled blonde
Annette McCarthy, Diane Salinger does a V-like Jane Badler’s Diana,
however, striking Marie Laurin steals the show with screen presence, even if unnecessary naked at times.

Malone offers some smokey space atmosphere assisted by Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker’s music. The director does his best with the confines of the budget plus his and Alan Reed’s own script limitations, even borrowing some Star Wars’ sound effects.

There’s a handful of decent gore, make up and special effects work by Robert and Dennis Skotak (who incidentally went on to work on Aliens the following year). In addition the above average space costume design predates Total Recall (1990).

Overall, it’s worth watching once even if out of FX interest.

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.