Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

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.

Four teenagers attending a summer camp lives are changed when aliens attack.

From director of Terminator Salvation and the BabySitter McG offers a tonally awkward affair. I like much of McG’s work, I’m a fan but Rim is colour corrected to space and back, the cast are fine but the script doesn’t fit there ages making it slightly lewd and off putting.

Maybe if Zack Stentz’s dialogue had come from the camp leaders and they had led the adventure or the kids dialogue fit their ages the invasion sci-fi may have faired better as a family film.

There’s CGI aplenty as the kids journey from their camp with an important key to Pasadena, California. With with a regenerating alien, an alien dog reminiscent of Predators and spaceship attacks it echoes Independence Day from the off. The best scenes borrow from better science fictions and oddly the kitchen attack is straight out of Jurassic Park.

Overall, it could have been a family alien adventure with a Goonies/Stranger Things vibe but sadly it comes off as a crude and weird invasion flick with a touch of Porky’s (1981) and Poison Ivy (1985).

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.

Possible spoilers ahead

Captain Marvel, finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle which takes her to Earth in 1995 which opens up her mind to her past.

As fan of classic Marvel comics, I must be honest and say (Thor Ragnarok aside) I haven’t been a great admirer of the arguably padded out borderline pretentious film outings. Thankfully, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel is one of the better more enjoyable instalments introducing shapeshifting aliens Skrulls and the Kree, powerful humanoid warriors.

With great acting, smouldering likeable blonde Brie Larson is fantastic as Captain Marvel which expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ties into a past story thread, namely the Tesseract cube and future threads, including Fury’s pager. There’s a great performance with plenty of screen time from Samuel L Jackson as de-aged Nick Fury, oozing screen presence Jude Law and mostly prosthetic makeup Ben Mendelsohn are particularly note worthy with their characters offering some story twists. There’s fantastic action, effects and music throughout – it’s one of the better stories of any MCU with an interesting 90s setting and top pacing as Fury and Marvel team up.

As expected there’s some end credit scenes The first will connects to Avengers: Endgame and the humorous second bookends the film.

Overall, a solid superhero actioner, you can’t go wrong.

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.

The studio appears to have scrapped their version and adopted the Director’s Cut as the standard which can be streamed 0n Amazon.

Highlander Connor MacLeod must reveal the truth about the Earth’s anti-ozone shield while fighting some immortals sent from the past.

It lacks the danger and finesse of the original, but thankfully the new Highlander 2 edit with updated effects makes this troubled and poorly executed sequel at least watchable, compared to the original theatrical release.

Michael Ironside and supporting cast give distracting, larger than life theatrical performances. Sean Connery lights up the screen, and Christopher Lambert is notable especially in the aged make-up. Virginia Madsen comes off in the best light, although she is not given enough to do, going from strong feisty conservationist to love interest in a blink of an eye. Nevertheless, the script is poor and the editing is still choppy. The film has a serious pacing issue which no amount of re-jigging can correct.

It has some redeeming qualities, the sets and score are excellent and director Russell Mulcahy gives some fantastic sweeping shots. The new cut now makes sense; for example why MacLeod becomes immortal again, hinting that he has forgotten a past, prior the setting of the first film, and gone is the idea that Ramírez and Connor come from another planet.

If you must watch Highlander 2, avoid the ‘The 1991 Quickening’ version at all cost and watch the 2010 blu-ray release and the version currently streaming on Amazon . Although it’s far from a kind of magic.