Into the Archives: SOLARIS (2002)

SOLARIS is a 2002 movie about…. Space? Love? Time? Truth or Consequences?

SOLARIS is the kind of movie that means different things to different people. It might be a horror movie if you identify with Dr. Gordon. It could be a Love story if you relate more to Dr. Kelvin. Finally, if you relate to Dr. Snow, it’s a kind of existential introspection.
There is a beautiful planet called Solaris that demands to be explored. As with many beautiful things, the planet may be dangerous. Is it’s bright and beautiful display a beacon or a warning?
This ambiguity is what drives the ground crew behind the mission to Solaris to send a security team when they lose contact with the original team. The security team didn’t make it. No one really knows where they went or seems to care. Whatever. Apparently, the next step it to send a psychologist… He also happens to be friends with one of the doctors on the mission… and a qualified astronaut.

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Movie Review: LIFE [2017]

LIFE is a dark movie about death. Violent and inevitable death.

Oh, the joys of living on The International Space Station (ISS) with people on earth trying to micromanage your every move but, at the same time, couldn’t help you find your toothbrush.  These scientists are delighted to be living on the ISS answering the questions of elementary school children about where they shit.

Spoilers below. Continue reading “Movie Review: LIFE [2017]”

Watch Out: "XX," a female-focused horror anthology

XX is a horror anthology in four parts, all from female perspectives available on Netflix.
Mothers doing their best, Girls just trying to have fun, and Single Ladies looking for a little solidarity. In XX we get to see vignettes of everyday life going horribly wrong and getting darkly twisted.

Check out the trailer and then if you’re not convinced, check out my review of the parts and the whole of XX.

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Into the Archives: Babylon A.D. (2008)

Why am I watching Babylon A.D. (2008) in 2017? Because we just changed out cable plan from one scam to a new scam where we have ALL THE CHANNELS! I literally feel compelled to watch all the movies. It’s an urge I’ve only ever felt in times when my body wants to nap or my eyes see passed appetizers or deserts.
Upon seeing a Vin Diesel movie that was also about my favorite subject I squealed a bit then got comfortable.

clip_image001In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a battle-hardened mercenary, Toorop (Vin Diesel), lives by his own code and the credo kill or be killed. His latest assignment is to escort a young woman named Aurora (Mélanie Thierry) and her guardian, Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh), from Kazakhstan to New York. Facing danger at each turn, Toorop begins to realize that Aurora represents the last hope for mankind’s survival.

In the first few minutes, Vin Diesel does his best Vin Diesel. He grumbles and smirks and explains to someone with a gun pointed at him that as one sided as this situation may seem, it won’t end well for the guy with the (presumed) upper hand. It’s at this point where you either commit to Vin Diesel in an Apocalyptic Wasteland: The Film or bail because you’ve already seen this movie but with cars or secret agents doing X-games sports.
I took a moment to count my blessings then hunkered down for Vin Diesel the mercenary in the not too distant future. His name is Toorop and for a long time, it’s neither clear nor important if that’s his first or last name.
Toorop is hired to transport a girl to America—a country he’s been barred from entering in (this movie is heavy-handed when it comes to exposition in dialogue). The girl is a weirdo who grew up in a remote convent isolated from the rest of the world with a lady-Monk as her guardian.
The Monk, like all Monks apparently, is skilled at hand to hand combat and unphased but everything and anything she encounters. The girl, on the other hand, seems to be a toddler in the body of a twenty-year-old. She literally wanders off every chance she gets, trusts strangers, and asks every single question that enters her mind.
At one point, it’s clear there are two factions who are fighting to get the girl away from Vin Diesel and company but not at all clear why. Also not clear is why Toorop doesn’t take the millions of dollars he’s offered to let someone else finish this job he was basically blackmailed and strong-armed into taking. Honor?
Babylon A.D. doesn’t quite explore the current landscape or how it became the way it is. The movie is a series of fight scenes, explosions, quick get-aways, sexy stares, and pseudo-religious references with a capitalist and futuristic twist. But if you saw the cover art you already knew that. Therefore, if you saw the cover art and pressed play, you will not be disappointed.

Watch Out: A Boy and His Dog [1975]

Starring a young Don Johnson and a  shaggy dog, A Boy and His Dog opens on an average day after the end of the world. The boy, Vic, and his dog, Blood, are trying to survive and, if possible, thrive. Always at the top of the list are food, sex, and entertainment.
A Boy and His Dog is one of my favorite movies with its cheeky mix of post-apocalyptic wasteland violence and 70’s… not to mention a “talking” dog. It’s not clear if the dog is actually talking, telepathically communicating with the boy, or if the boy is just imagining it. I’m pretty sure the dog is telepathic and chooses to only speak to the boy.


 

In the post-apocalyptic future of 2024, Vic and his telepathic dog, Blood, roam the wastelands hunting for food, water and females. When Vic is lured underground by a young girl, he finds himself separated from Blood and trapped in the anachronistic society of Topeka. The Leader tells Vic he is going to be the father of a new generation, but Vic soon learns instead of hooking him up with women, the Topekans are planning to hook him up to a machine. Meanwhile Blood is above ground waiting for his human partner to return and save him from dying.

If you’re not about old movies, you can also read the book that A Boy and His Dog is based on by author Harlan Ellison, Vic and Blood.

The cycle begins with “Eggsucker,” which chronicles the early years of the association between fourteen‑year‑old loner Vic and his brilliant, telepathic dog. The saga continues and expands in “A Boy and His Dog,” in which Blood shows just how much smarter he is than Vic, and Vic shows how loyal he can be. The story continues in “Run, Spot, Run,” the first part of Ellison’s promised novel of the cycle, Blood’s a Rover. Here Vic and Blood find surprising new ways to get into trouble—but getting out of it may be beyond even their combined talents.

 

Watch Out: Primal [2010]

Primal is a movie I found accidentally. I can’t tell you what to look for if you want to find the genre because I don’t really understand what twists and turns brought me to a life where I have now not only watched this movie but I also want you to watch this movie.
Whoever you are, you should watch Primal. Not because it’s a “good movie” but because you should see it. Like 2001: A  Space Odyssey … Yes, I’m saying I didn’t think that was a good movie but a movie worth seeing all the same. Make no mistake, these movies are not going to be in the same place in the theatrical history books.
Primal is a cautionary treasure trove to be studied and learned from. the acting is decent and the writing is really okay.

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Pacific Rim Review

Pacific Rim is not a hollow, soulless film about big stompy robots. Pacific Rim doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. Yet, none of you are going to see it. This is a crying shame.
Pacific Rim is an impeccable summer action film. It is beautifully shot and well-told. There is nothing groundbreaking about it but if you wanted groundbreaking you wouldn’t be watching films about big mechs battling battling monstrous aliens.

I Like Big Mechs and I Cannot Lie.

Idris Elba at a 2007 American Music Awards aft...
Idris Elba at a 2007 American Music Awards after-party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know what else you want from a film. I don’t know what more you could want from a summer blockbuster. You have perfectly choreographed fight scenes, excellent CG and tons of explosions. You have a genuinely well-written plot with some rather good acting. You have monsters that are beautiful in their terrifying ugliness. You have Idris Elba, managing to make a Dad Moustache look sexy. Idris Elba should be in everything. You have back story that isn’t narmy. And you even have a couple of interchangable white men with sandy hair, for those of you who can’t bear to see a film without one of them present.
Your basic plot is that these huge, ugly monsters are coming through a crack between universes, lodged deep in the pacific. After they kill millions of people, all the worlds governments come together, share their resources, and build the Jaegers to combat them. However, stronger ones come through, and after a while the Yaegers can no longer do the job. The last few Yaegers and the director come up with a plan to stop the Kaiju once and for all.
I’m missing out a lot of context. As always, I can’t remember anyone’s names, which doesn’t help. Suffice it to say there’s a nice subplot playing with mind-melding – the Yaegers require mind-melded pilots working in sync – and some stuff about recovery, love of all kinds, bravery and self-sacrifice.
You have gigantic robots run by two people, beating up Kaiju. You have fight scenes between giant robots and terrifying monsters, through the glittering streets of Hong Kong. You have a fully-realised, beautifully shot world waiting on the brink of Apocalypse. Pacific Rim has everything you want, everything you wanted from all the films that disappointed you. If Transformers broke your heart, if World War Z makes you want to cringe, then you should see Pacific Rim.
If there’s a flaw it’s that I wish there’d been more time spent on some of the teams piloting the Jaegers. We didn’t really get to know them, and that was a shame.
Quite simply, if you claim to love big robots, and you don’t see Pacific Rim, you are a liar. If this fails, and Uwe Boll’s next butchery of a film succeeds, it’ll be your fault.
It’s directed by Del Toro, for gods sake. DelToro, borrowing heavily from Anime influences.  Pacific Rim is Evangelion without the incomprehensible philosophy and teen angst. Pacific Rim is Transformers, crossed with Godzilla, directed by someone competent.
Pacific Rim is what would happen if someone looked directly into your nerdy heart, plucked out all the things that bring you joy, and slapped them on the screen. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a film. I really can’t. I can’t remember the last action film I watched that didn’t leave me feeling hollow, or manipulated, or like the director thought I was a moron.
Until I saw Pacific Rim.
I can’t think of a better way to spend two hours in a dark room this summer. Well, I can, but that also involves Idris Elba.
4.5/5
 

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Worth Watching: Pontypool

I take full advantage of streaming Netflix. Often the movie selection is heavy with shitty, straight to DVD films that no one wanted to watch from jump street. However, every so often I find a gem! This weekend I found Pontypool.
Pontypool is an easy title to overlook. The name means nothing to you if you’re from most of the world. But that’s kind of the point when you realize what’s happening as you follow the story.
Slow to start, Pontypool is one of those movies where neither you nor the protagonists know what’s happening or why. Something is happening and everyone is scared and confused. The film focuses on a radio jockey who can’t hold his tongue and his tragically devoted producer and production assistant.
Unlike most zombie/infected movies, the conflict centers not around the biting and attacking but around the other symptoms.
In a small town in the French Canadian province of Ontario, people start acting strangely. They do the typical zombie things like attack in groups, hunt the uninfected, and chanting random phrases.
Oh, most zombies don’t chant random phrases? Yeah, I thought that was weird too.
In Pontypool the infected show symptoms via their impaired speech and then obsession with specific words… There’s a scene in the film where the radio jockey has to fill air time and realized it’s time for obituaries. He highlights each death in their small town in a way that’s both poetic and disturbing, matter of fact and high level enough to still feel respectful.
You should definitely check out Pontypool for a different perspective on a common trope.

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I accidentally watched the Tekken movie

I turned on the TV this morning and apparently I had stumbled onto the Tekkenmovie. A handsome Asian guy was running parkour style through what looked like a Chinese favela policed by cyber soldiers. 
Based, vaguely, on the game Tekken many of the characters from the classic fighting series chow up, including Yoshimitsu.
The film is set in a super-crowded future controlled by corporations and centers around Jin Kazama, a street rat from the poverty center on the city, “The Anvil.” Jin used to  use his skills as a fighter to advance his goal of getting paid and living comfortably in fits and starts.
One day Jin crosses the wrong people with, people with the connections to murder his mom and start him on a path or vengeance and fight clubery.
Overall, I’d say it’s  a solid action film with some oddly misogynistic plot holes. The women, Christie MonteiroNina Williams, and Anna Williams are exempt from the Tekken universe rules that apply to the men. Somehow the tournament is won without Anna even fighting or Christie ever actually getting eliminated…
I didn’t find it horrible. However that might be because I like movies like Crank, Torque, and Stick It… anything about dystopias and choreographed bad assery. This is a fun action-packed romp through a future controlled by oligarchies and top down power.
If you’d like to turn it into a drinking game, you can drink every time there’s a flashback or someone tells Jin how to live his life.

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