Category Archives: Sci-Fi

Neverland (Miniseries)

 

Been sort of a while since I posted. Been a bit busy with the end of the semester and while I’m continuing to watch movies (or TV shows), I’ve just been too lazy to write any posts about them (though I do have probably twenty draft posts waiting to be finished). At some point I’ll sit down and finish a bunch of these posts so that when I’m busy I can at least provide some content.

So SyFy released a miniseries called Neverland last week (I think it was last week). I only learned about it a few das before it aired because of a banner on SyFy. Normally I’m not a huge fan of SyFy, but I’ve enjoyed some of these miniseries that they produced, though two episodes isn’t much of a miniseries.

Anyways, Neverland is supposed to be an origin story fo sorts for the classic Peter Pan, though there’s a fair mix fo science fiction and fantasy in this incarnation. The story basically shows how Peter, the Lost Boys, and Hook went from our world to Neverland. Incidentally all of them “lived” together in our world. It was actually kind of neat seeing how they took that relationship and played it out towards the classic tale we all know. Unfortunately it did seem a bit too much like Oliver Twist and Fagin.

Overall it was interesting, especially if you’re a fan of Peter Pan stuff. It’s not the greatest, but it was a good effort. By biggest problem was probably some of the science fiction stuff. I understand what they tried with it, but it was unnecessary. It just made the show run longer. The whole fairy/mineral dust thing wasn’t needed. And while the orbs were kind of neat, again they weren’t needed. It just gave them something else to focus on, when I would have rather seen more of the characters development for other reasons or just in general.

The effects and everything technical was ok. None of the CGI was horrible, but for what it was it worked. I’m not sure about the whole snow forest thing. That just seemed a bit bizarre to me.

Rhys Ifans plays Hook, which I actually thought he was a good choice for the role. He was ok, but he’s done a lot better and could have done better. He was good at playing a Hook that wasn’t a cartoon villain. I just wish he would’ve had more development in the character. Bob Hoskins plays Smee, essentially reprising his role from the Spielberg Hook. His performance in Hook was a lot better, though he was given a larger role in that movie. Here is is basically wasted. Keira Knightly is another star name added to the. Anyone who got their hopes up for this, don’t. She plays the voice of Tinkerbell. I honestly didn’t recognize it and I only knew because I looked on IMDB before watching. That and Tinkerbell again is another wasted role here. Q’orianka Kilcher plays Aaya, the chieftains daughter (what else?). I’ve seen her in other movies and liked here, so I’m not entirely sure what the deal was with this movie. She played a pretty stiff character which I wasn’t fond of. That and for whatever reason, her character spoke very stunted english. Most of the time. You could hear Kilcher talking better every now and then which made it even more bizarre. That and the other’s talked perfectly normal. I’m not sure whose decision that was, but she didn’t pull it off, whatever way it was supposed to go. Charlie Rowe plays Peter. I don’t really have a lot of thoughts in this. He was okay.

SyFy built a nice premise, wasted money on some big names for either pointless roles or doing god knows what with them and just kind of lead the second episode down hill. The first part was better. It seemed to move faster. The second part was just kinda blergh.

Some may like it, others not so much. It wasn’t so bad that I would tell people to just avoid it. It’s mostly a matter of whether you’re a fan of Pan and/or SyFy.

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Gamer

Gamer is a movie that is actually really interesting. A lot fo what it touches on has the potential to make a great movie if it were written well. Essentially the movie takes place in a world were essentially The Sims and an FPS (first person shooter) are now real virtual games. The catch being that the “character” you play is real human being.

There’s more to it than that, but it’s unimportant. The movie fails to actually explore a potential goldmine for a premise. Instead we just get basically nothing in depth. It’s just an action flick.

The Slayer sections I suppose are shot ok. It does look like it could be Call of Duty or some similar FPS. There was a lot of quick cutting here though which made it hard to watch. I understand why it was done, but it didn’t really work. That and none of those sequences are really that interesting or special. The Society sequences are just disturbing. Again, the directors/writers could have done a lot with just this, but they don’t really. The way Society is presented is that it’s home to a bunch of perverts and they go out of their way to pretty much portray any sexual fetish they can find. Again I can see the reasoning for it, but since they didn’t develop it, it just felt like it was done in bad taste.

The cast has potential, but just falls flat. Gerard Butler doesn’t really do anything but run around and look tough. Same with Terry Crews, who I feel is underestimated and poorly placed in action movies. He’s a really funny guy. Kyra Sedgwick is wasted and doesn’t do a good job. Really the only performance that was good was from Michael C. Hall and really it wasn’t that great, especially knowing how good he is.

The music choices were good though. The technology presented is also interesting as well, especially Castle’s house/fortress.

In the end the movie just misses completely. An interesting idea problem drew the names it did as well as the audiences, but the final result from the movie just doesn’t work well.

Limitless

If only I could somehow organize everything in my head and focus. In a sense that’s what Limitless starts out as. A struggling writer ends up taking a pill that gives him a burst of nonstop adrenaline in addition to organizing whats in his head and allowing him to learn faster. Essentially his brain becomes a supped up computer.

Limitless is riddled with plot holes. I don’t know how you could expect it not to be. The film is outrageous and that’s kind of a good thing. It isn’t supposed to be realistic. You know the first clue to that? They don’t ever attempt to explain the drug. The movie takes a nifty idea and just tries to have some fun with it. I liked that. Still, there are some holes that are frustrating and the movie isn’t quite even. The tone tends to fluctuate and at times the story was a bit wandering. The ending was really good. It’s actually a bit of twist maybe. On one hand I expected it. It made sense, but in the back of my mind I kept going, nope won’t end that way. The movie is about drugs really, so the studio wouldn’t let it go that way. I’m kind of glad they did.

The visuals were pretty damned good though. I really liked the cinematography here and the style worked. The music was also great as well. It did a great job of matching up with the film. That and the Black Keys “Howlin’ For You” was a great choice, but I love that song anyways.

The acting was ok. There weren’t any glaring performances that blew. Bradley Cooper is hard to take seriously at first. I mean the half-assed attempt to make him look like a bum didn’t really work. I did however, like the effect they used on his eyes. The man has some lovely blue eyes to begin with, but when he’s drugged they make a point of highlighting that. Not sure if contact were used at some point, but I sort of noticed the effect. Anyways, he kind of falters in some of the more dramatic moments, but overall he did a pretty good job. Robert DeNiro was DeNiro. I don’t know how much he was really even acting, but he was still great despite the small screen time. He still kicked Cooper’s ass.

Not an amazing movie, but it had enough working for it to keep it a fun, fast, visually striking flick that keeps your attention for most of the movie. Usually if they start loosing you, they ratchet things up real quick to bring you back in.

V for Vendetta

Remember, remember. The fifth of November The gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason. Why the gunpowder treason. Should ever be forgot.”

For anyone unaware yesterday was the fifth of November, a day which has gained some popularity since the movie V for Vendetta was released. In honor of that day I decided to watch V for Vendetta. The movie is based off of comic book/graphic novel by Alan Moore. I own V for Vendetta, however I have yet to actually finish it. I always get sidetracked, often by reading Batman instead. Regardless I don’t have any desire to compare it to the graphic novel.

I’ve always enjoyed the movie, but I think it grows on me more and more with every viewing. I think that as I’ve aged I’ve started to grasp more aspects to the film since, if you want it to be, it can be quite deep. That’s one of the best aspects of this movie. It isn’t just an action film. Actually I wouldn’t really classify it as an action film. The movie has a great story that is well written and carried out. Along with that the dialogue is great. V is probably the first character that comes to mind with great dialogue, but really Sutler has some great rants and Prothero’s speeches are actually great as well.

The performances go along side the writing in helping to cement how solid this film is. I have to start with Hugo Weaving as V. I suppose this maybe a spoiler to some, but V never takes his mask off (that you can actually see). His face is never revealed. That means Weaving spends the entire movie with that mask on. A mask that has a very specific set of facial features permanently glued on. Weaving does an amazing job here expressing V even though you don’t see his face. A lot of it has to do with has voice acting, but he also does a great job physically at helping to give the character some life. It really is a performance that probably get’s overlooked because of the genre and that he is wearing a mask. The supporting cast is great though. Again, John Hurt’s head as Sutler is great. He does a wonderful job giving raving rants and Stephen Rea does a good job with Finch. Natalie Portman wasn’t bad and I was actually a bit disappointed in Stephen Fry’s appearance. His character seemed quite a bit like the man himself and I kind of wish more of that would have come through.

The movie does have some action to it, though I don’t feel like it’s that much really. What there is though is great. It’s wonderfully shot, as is the whole movie. I love films like this that are dark, because I feel like its easy to screw them up. There are plenty of movies that just use poor lighting and leave it at that. V however just looks very sleek and as dark as things are, you can actually see the details in the set.

V for Vendetta is a surprisingly excellent movie that is likely to get snubbed by people because of the genre it’s thrown in, which is a shame. I feel like the movie probably would appeal to a pretty wide audience assuming they sit down and watch it. I also feel like a lot of the themes of the movie are actually pretty prevalent in our current day. Defiantly a movie to watch and own.

~As a final side note to the movie’s impact on our culture just look to the quote at the beginning of the post or how popular the Guy Fawkes mask for the movie has become since its release.

Attack the Block

I admit, I’m something of an anglophile to some extent. I enjoy a lot of media related items in regards to the UK, especially when it comes to their more independent comedy films. They seem to do a good job with those.

Which is what Attack the Block is. Big Talk Productions is the group behind the film, which may mean nothing to a lot of people. The production company is behind the Edgar Wright gang including people like Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, etc. I didn’t find Attack the Block as good as those films, but as far as I know the only person involved from that group was Nick Frost with a very minor acting role. Still that production name got my attention.

So Attack the Block (not Attack of the Block or Blog, which I keep typing accidentally) is an alien invasion film set in South London. A small group of hoods and up having a “war” with some aliens. The story isn’t anything special. It’s pretty basic, but director Joe Cornish did a good job at helping to make the film entertaining and provide something of a different take on the genre.

The aliens. Must mention them. Initially they are handled well. You don’t really get a good look at them, and what you do see is really nice looking. Unfortunately, by the halfway point or a little later that no longer matters. For whatever reason we see the aliens up close and in detail (well sort of). There are a number of shots that no longer obscure the aliens as well. Basically they are no longer a surprise and they actually start to seem a bit hokey because of it. Had the director kept them obscured (at least while they were alive and moving) like he initially did, then that alone would’ve improved the film.

In going with the decrease in care of the aliens deception the thrill of the movie faded as well. While this isn’t Silence of the Lambs, the movie started out at least doing a good job at building some nice tension and suspense. It actually seemed a bit like a rarely decent slasher film. Unfortunately things kind of unraveled on that end. I’m guessing it probably had to do with the added focus on developing the characters more as well as doing some fancier action scenes. While those are good things, the thrills and surprise didn’t need to be sacrificed.

The characters and of course cast is what helps make this film. It seems that most of the actors (at least the “hoods”) are relatively new or first time actors. They were all extraordinary great. I hope I get to see them in more films. And these characters do speak with a heavier accent with slang, but I was perfectly able to understand them.

Having browsed IMBD (which I usually regret doing) there seem to be a number of topics regarding racism with this movie. I don’t want to dwell on that whole debacle, but I’ll touch on it. I didn’t find it racist. The cast is mixed and yes the kids are all non-white or mixed but one (could be wrong on that. Figuring out someones race by appearance is nota  good idea). There’s racism in the movie if you want it I suppose. I never saw that, but I can see where it wouldn’t be hard to pull that out.

The movie does however touch on race/class half heartedly. The movie is a comedy/action flick, not a social commentary. Yet there are a few random attempts to delve into the kids lives and rationalize why they are mugging someone in the opening of the film. The final scenes are very much making a big deal about that. Unfortunately I wasn’t fond of it because it wasn’t developed. There was room in this film to add that social commentary. It actually could have been a really nice addition. The movie though does not run with this theme for most of the movie and its large addition to the end of the film was out of place. The movie is short and I would have glad sat and watched a two hour version had they chosen to flesh those themes out.

That’s my biggest complaint. The movie seemed like it might have been edited down quite a bit. That or they added some stuff randomly at the end. The movie overall is really good, but again I would have loved to seen a longer version where they fleshed things out more, because I think they could have done it. The ending just didn’t mesure up to the rest of the movie.

Despite any negative comments above, I really loved the film. It’s short so it is really watchable in that sense. It’s also a great comedy with some nice action and thrills in it. Great pacing as well. Defiantly worth checking out and I feel like it has a good rewatchability factor.

Ever Since the World Ended

My senior thesis revolves around post-apocalyptic literature and films so I’ve been doing a lot of reading and film watching with movies revolving around those themes. I haven’t posted reviews of most of them, due mostly to the volume of movies I’ve watched. That and some are just pretty crappy.

Ever Since the World Ended is kind of crappy. The ideas behind it are good and actually quite interesting. On that level it’s actually helping a lot for my thesis, but the movie itself just doesn’t work. Part of it probably has to do with it being an indie film, but that really isn’t an excuse. There are a number of amazing indie films out there.

It’s twelve years after some plague took out most of San Francisco and presumably the rest of the world. There are 186 people left in the city and we don’t see most of them. The film is set up as a documentary. Some fo the survivors have some film equipment and make a crappy documentary. It’s not very cohesive. They sort of start talking about the onset of the plague, but not for long. They get into this one community and just branch of into a bunch of little nonsense stories that don’t fit together.

That’s the biggest problem with the story. I’m willing to forgo how unbelievable a lot of it is. I can accept that. The stories they tell don’t quite make sense. I feel like I’ve missed a lot of the documentary’s footage. The Mark story for example is still confusing. Same with the ending. It’s just this random snippets put together. That and we only see a small portion of the survivors and these survivors seem to be living in quite the cushy world.

The ideas behind the film ar interesting though. Brining up the human need to be in groups, to have society. How much better the world might be with this complete wipe. A lot of the major problems just gone (though there are obviously new ones). The idea of a clean slate, yet so many people trying to get things back to the way they were. The desire to go back to normal, to constantly think about the past. How to cope without some larger body to do your dirty work (the killing of Mark). They are great ideas and they are portrayed decently, but not really fleshed out and they kinda get lost in the mess the movie creates.

Some of the visuals are pretty nice. Especially on the beach or in the woods. It looks pretty, but it’s not enough.

Oh, Adam Savage makes an appearance here. That amazing man from Mythbusters who doesn’t look like a walrus. His character is actually really interesting. Unfortunately he doesn’t get much screen time to actually develop.

Nice idea, some neat aspects, but just kinda crappily put together for me. I can handle that it does get a bit dull, but really the end result wasn’t a good enough of a payout. Gus Van Sant’s Death Trilogy has those long moments that could be dull and are for some people. The difference is that the whole movie and those scenes are much more captivating. Most people here will get bored and wont finish it. No problem with that. Not much of a reason to try and finish it in my opinion.

Doomsday

I let this film passed by me when it came out. It didn’t look like my cup of tea. I generally prefer the books that deal with zombies or the apocalypse rather than the movies. However I decided to take a look at Doomsday as sort of research for my senior thesis.

I was surprised by this film. I had very low expectations and to some extent the film fulfilled that. Yet, it wasn’t that bad and I’m not quite sure why. The movie is horrible flawed by a lack of connecting various elements in the film. There are attempts at trying to provide some background and explanation, but it isn’t done all that well.

So the big thing with this movie. A virus has struck Britain and they finally built a giant wall and closed the gates, leaving Scotland to the home of the infected. Some years past and now the virus has reappeared into the city. There are some odd political movements done in this bit and all together it seemed very odd. Point is they send out a small group to find a cure across the wall because, low and behold some people are apparently still alive over there after some thirty years. There are two factions in this land. The first is a group looks like a mix of punk/industrial kinda style. They also eat each other and live in Glasgow. Overall very bizarre people, but nothing new really. Kind of a Mad Max feel almost (in fact they even have a car chase later). The second group lives in a castle and ride horses. Most of the men wear some kind of armor and the women are dressed in brownish dresses with bonnets.

There is a connection between the groups and there is a story. However the links are made in passing and aren’t dealt with. The punk-cannibals were actually pretty cool, more so if developed. The medieval thing could have been cool if it were on its own and developed. That’s the problem. The movie is a hodgepodge of cool ideas that don’t really fit and aren’t developed. That and the movie plays homage or steals from plenty of other films. How you feel about that is up to you. Some people hate when people do this, others love it or appreciate it. I didn’t really mind, but that has more to do with the film just being thrown together in general.

Still, I enjoyed the movie. The music seemed pretty good and some of the action bits were ok. I’m a fan of some of the cast like Bob Hoskins, David O’Hara, and Malcolm McDowel. Actually I though Rhona Mitra and Adrian Lester weren’t terrible considering what they were given. That and I guess some of those bizarre cool bits caught me off guard. Thinking about the film after the fact, it wasn’t that good. In the moment though, trying not to analyze it, it was passable.  It’s an instance of a film having more than enough ideas to make several good movies, but instead crams them all into one.

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