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.

Continue reading “Into the Archives: SOLARIS (2002)”

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.

Continue reading “Watch Out: "XX," a female-focused horror anthology”

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.

Review: OBLIVION

I feel like mentioning that this review has spoilers is the right thing to do, but really Oblivion spoils itself in the first five minutes and this review turned into more of a recap.
I don’t think good movies tend to start with five minutes of exposition explaining the setup and back story and what the main character’s job is and who that lady in his bed is and oh let’s not forget “the mandatory memory wipe five years ago.” For fuck’s sake. So now I know you’re not who you think you are.
Apparently aliens invade Earth because they’re greedy. To kick things off they blow up the moon which makes everything on the planet go haywire. After that, the aliens dropped troops and fucked shit up. Then the aliens got fought off but left the planet in ruins. The Humans built a thing called The Tet and are going to use it to travel to Titan (the moon by Saturn). Before that though, they want to harvest all of Earth’s water because it’s theirs and they want it. Unfortunately, there are still aliens kicking around the planet like… say, a resistance. Weird, they totally lost the war, why won’t they just go home? Tom Cruise works as a repair man charged with keeping the water things online. And the Scavs (left over scavenger aliens still fighting for some strange reason… If only he still had his memory).
Note: This all happened in voice over. The movie hasn’t really started yet. Just lots of sweeping imagery of really pretty devastation and oddly alien looking structures…
We got Oblivion in the mail from Netflix and kept if for at least a month before watching it. Maybe that was the first sign. There was just something repelling us before we even opened the package.
Eventually, Tom Cruise shuts the fuck up and the movie starts. He hops in his plane and does his round to check the water things and make sure the drones are online and whatever. This movie already sucks.
Tom Cruise plays Jack and some redhead plays Victoria, a team. She mans the comms and stuff from their loft and he does the rounds in a futuristic plane, making sure the water things and drones are online.
Jack keeps having these dreams or this pretty brunette. I wonder if that has anything to do with his mandatory memory wipe. Oh well let’s ignore it for now. Down on the surface he repairs a drone with some gum and gumption.
[This was so hard to watch from the jump but it’s even harder to write about.]
The drone is in a football stadium and Jack takes this opportunity to tell an elaborate recap for a game that neither Victoria nor the audience wants to hear. The drone comes online and starts acting sketchy like it doesn’t recognize him or actually sees the Scavs behind him.
Onward he goes, fixing drones and staying out of the “radiation zones.” Jack follows a drone signal to this busted up library and finds a book he falls in love with and SURPRISE the drone is a trap. It’s just a trick under a tarp. There are Scavs watching him and trying to catch him. Hopefully they eat people aliens clones whatever he is.
He’s Tom Cruise so he gets away.
More flash backs. Jack goes to a secret hide away he has filled with Earth stuff like books and a record player. Oooo, why’s he so obsessed with stuff? Why can’t he just follow the rules and be content like Victoria?
The Scavs send a signal and it ends up being a message off planet. Something falls out of the sky. HQ tells Jack not to check it out but he does. It’s pod filled it sleeping astronauts. Oh snap, on is the chick from his dreams. A drone comes along and scans the bodies and starts shooting. Jack is all, “WTF, they’re humans!” So he stands in front of the drone to protect the lady from and shouts his name and it shrugs as best as a drone can and goes back to making rounds.
He brings her home and his wife is not pleased. The lady is like, “They must have woken you and Victoria up first.”
NOTHING IN THIS MOVIE IS SURPRISING.
Astronaut (I think her name is Julia) wants her flight recorder. Obvi the right thing for Jack to do is go AWOL and take her. Scavs come and bob them and drag them off.
Back at the Scav base, which seems to be the stadium, Morgan Freeman sits across from Tom Cruise and says a ton of cryptic shit that doesn’t matter. He turns on the lights to reveal ZOMigawd they’re all HUMANZ! Eventually, after a bit of snarling and posturing, the humans let Jack and What’s-Her-Face go. In parting, Morgan Freeman is like, “If you want the truth, check out the radiation zone”
HQ wants Julia…. Some shit happens and Victoria gets Jealous and gets HQ to try to kill Jack and her (clever). Victoria dies and Jack gets away with the girl. They run around a lot. Sometime in all this Jack shows Julia his lair and Julia reveals she’s his wife and she’s been asleep for 63 years.
The drones are sent to kill Jack and he runs away and eventually goes into the “Radiation Zone” and discovers it’s just the territory covered by THE OTHER JACK CLONE. The Jacks fight and Julia gets shot and I feel no surprise.
So much sigh.
He takes the other Jack’s plane to the other Jack’s house and kisses the other Jack’s Victoria. He steals a first aid kit and takes it to Julia and then takes Julia to Morgan Freeman’s rebels.
They use drone parts to make a bomb that only Jack can make because he’s the repair man that the drone know and love. Then, because he’s a wanted felon, the drones descend on the base and kill most of the people and break the bomb.
Jack decided he should deliver the bomb himself and Julia is like yay! we can die together and I’m like yay! they’ll be dead and it’ll be over.  So they box up Julia and he flies to HQ because, “You wanted me to bring you the survivor.”
On the way there he decided to listen to the flight recorder. Um, that’s a vital piece of human history you’re taking on a kamikaze run. That could come in handy when rebuilding and explaining to the Jacks and Victorias what happened.
He gets in there and there’s a bunch of incubating Jacks and Victorias and the HQ lady is still acting like there’s nothing weird about that. but when he says he’s excited to meet her she says he’s lying. “I just want my people and Julia to survive.” Oh now poignant and cryptic and totally not a lie.
Die already, please!
So HQ isn’t suspicious at all and the drones hanging around don’t feel they should even gear up. they just hover while Tom cruise open up the body case and “This isn’t the survivor you were supposed to bring us (it’s Morgan Freeman because he was mortally wounded and wanted to take part in the kill).” He says something corny and blows up The Tet.
WHERE’s JULIA?!
They tricked her into going into the body box and then shipped her to the lair.
Three Years Later… Julia is at the lair with a little girl that apparently they had time to conceive.  Some of the people from the Morgan Freeman team and the Jack that (semi)original Jack beat up and stole from arrive at Julia’s door and she’s geeked because she has “him” back…. Um isn’t half the planet’s current population Jack and Victoria clones? Any Jack will do since they all seem to be drawn to her? Is she like a Queen Bee now?
Apparently Jack has been searching for her ever since he shot her because love at first sight and nostalgia and reasons
God Oblivion was an awful movie.
 

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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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LOVE, a movie about isolation

The movie cover for LOVE caught my attention more than the description. Most of the space is space and down there in the bottom corner is an astronaut just siting like he’s waiting for a bus. This is actually a pretty accurate summary of what happens in the bulk of the film.

Stranded alone aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Lee Miller fights to survive the stress of isolation and stay alive. But everything changes when he discovers something unexpected that allows him to travel through space and time.

That synopsis isn’t quite right. It’s more like 2001 a Space Odyssey than any actually time travel movie. Meaning, the character starts to go a little mental and the audience get to go with them.
Lee is a dedicated and diligent astronaut on a mission to hang out on a space station and relay data back and forth between him and Earth. His station is about thirteen feet by four feet with about four feet of clearance. His mission starts out well and he even gets a video message from his brother about a new baby. Unfortunately, it’s not long before contact lessens and stops completely.
A year and a half stretches on-and-on and we watch Lee deteriorate from patient to… well I’m not quite sure what happened. Scenes of Lee on the station are spliced together with scenes of another Lee who lived during the Civil War and  individuals being interviewed about what’s important to them for what seems like an end of the world video journal compilation.
This is one of those movies where you may or may not get it. Not to say I think it’s over some people’s heads but that it’s ambiguous. Maybe he dies or maybe he’s greeted by aliens. Maybe he died before Earth stopped talking to him or maybe he’s both Lee of the future and Lee of the past.
It’s all very strange but also peaceful and unsettling. Personally, I found it hopeful.
[rating: 3/5]

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The changing face of zombies.

Zombies are boring now. They’ve been done. Old news. I am no longer afraid of a zombie apocalypse, because everyone has a plan. Not only will we survive it, we’ll crush it.
Zombies have already said everything they, as a horror monster, say about our fears and our culture – our panic about communicable infection, our overwhelming terror about the slow, creeping inevitability of death. Or have they?
Continue reading “The changing face of zombies.”

World War Z Extended Trailer: “The more human beings we save, the less we have to fight”

There is no shambling in World War Z. There are hordes of super fast, single-minded zombies rushing anything that hasn’t yet been converted. It looks both terrifying  and amazing. Also, it seems Brad Pitt is the only person in the whole world with the skills, intelligence, and dogged curiosity to solve this zombie problem—if it can be solved—before the 90-day deadline.
Check out the extended World War Z trailer:

Time to get back on my cardio grind…

LiveBlog: Black Sheep.

Inspired by the success of my live-tweeting the so-bad-it’s-good The GraveDancers, I have decided to liveblog Black Sheep today, at about 3:00 pm GMT.
A little bit about Black Sheep: It’s made by a New Zealand guy, and it’s effectively about genetically engineering sheep so they become flesh eating, virus transmitting monsters. It’s a zombie-werewolf film. With sheep. Yes, I am doing this to myself out of choice. Why? I have nothing better to do.
Oh, and so the joke is out of the way RIGHT at the start… It’s a Ewepocalypse. Yes, I went there.
See you at 3:00. If you have a copy, why not join in? Put your reactions in the comments.
[liveblog]
Well, that was a thourougly ridiculous film. But I enjoyed t. Some wonderful moments – sheep farts saving the day, and some clever lines. But overall I found it kind of bland.
 
Your thoughts?