Tag Archives: science fiction

Looper Review

If you’re looking for convention and routine, Looper isn’t going to be your most fulfilling catch.  Here we have a film that incorporates time travel but doesn’t go balls out with showing off technology or advances.  Normally the two go hand-in-hand, but we’re shown stuff that’s as subtle as it is familiar, aesthetically.  The focus instead rests on the story and characters, one of which is normally compromised for the other in other sci-fi films.  But since we have less blunt distractions in our way, the focus remains where many will argue it should be.

Speaking of the story, quite a bit goes on here and, without spoiling anything, let’s just say that ties and lines are twisted and strained.  We’re given a modest future, to say the least, where people from even later on are sent back to be killed and literally eliminated–no traces or fingerprints to find.  It’s a premise that will either fascinate or frustrate you (or both) the more you dig into it, which you can argue as being part of the fun here.

Actually, that might be the only fun you’ll get, as the film doesn’t tread lightly.  Save two or three chuckles, you’re really left with a serious face during the film’s runtime.  Thankfully, this is an engaging watch with hardly a slow or dragging moment.  That said, there were points I was saying to myself “man, I wish this movie was a lot longer so we could get and see more.”  On one hand it’s great that I’m being sucked in, but on the other I feel like since more sci-fi films stretch well past the 2 hour mark, why not Looper?

This is also to say that you shouldn’t expect a building climax that builds to epic proportions.  Looper is, at its core, a fairly personal story that brings several characters into play, but doesn’t show or build things to a grand, awe-inspiring scale.  Think of it like The Terminator with less indication of the war in the future.

Shape and spectacle are not what you should look for in Looper; but instead thought and personal investment.  The idea and premise is less original and more innovative, but it’s nice to get a little something different.  And with a year already full of solid films, it should have no problem fitting comfortably on most viewer’s top releases of the year.

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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Blog, Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review


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Sci-Fi Reboots: Dredd vs. Total Recall

This is Law-Kall!

If there’s any reboot that people are bound to flock to this year, it’s The Amazing Spider-Man.  Marc Webb’s take on the comic book hero is pulling an Incredible Hulk on us by coming just five years after its spiritual predecessor.  Early reviews have been positive enough to guarantee that, unless it happens to bomb worse than Raimi’s castration of Venom, we’ll see at least one sequel.

But while Spider-Man joins Batman and the Avengers for the summertime superhero infestation, two films set for a later release have caught my eyes.

First we have the remake of Total Recall, this time seeing Colin Farrell follow up Arnie’s role from the 1990 version.  Like most of the reboots and updates we’ve seen, Len Wiseman’s Total Recall looks darkly dystopian.  So no, it hardly looks any different from all the other films that have ripped off Blade Runner for the past 30 years.  But if we were sick of the same things, film and sports would be as dead as knock knock jokes.  And let’s be honest, good as the original Total Recall was, it hasn’t exactly aged well; not to mention the fact it’s an above average mill of one-liners.  Though I’m not anticipating this to be to Philip K. Dick’s story as The Dark Knight is to Batman, a modernization doesn’t seem as pointless as many other recent sequels, remakes and spin-offs.  The remake looks more level-headed to say the least, and though Farrell wouldn’t be my first choice, he can do well with the right material and director.  Although I don’t think anything he does in the future will top Phone Booth.

Based on the trailer, the Rekall place Farrell visits might not be directly in-line with the people hunting him down.  This could make for a small scene versus business dynamic, but knowing the source material it’ll probably wind up being one of those double agent (or double company?) scenarios.  Either way, I hope we get some creative divergences from the original.  In particular, I’d like to see a twist to the original ending.

Then we have the remake of 1995’s infamous Judge Dredd adaptation.  The remake’s clever, shortened name?  Dredd.  Does this mean the film itself will be half as long?  Now if one of these sci-fi films will truly benefit from a newer, darker look, it’s definitely Judge Dredd.  There were two things Total Recall definitely had over Judge Dredd: the story actually required paying a bit of attention and it managed to be good in spite of the one-liners.  Even with the slated September release date, we hardly got a poster of Dredd until recently.  Now that we (finally) have a full-fledged trailer, we can see just how different and similar the film is simultaneously.  On one hand, we should be getting a more investible environment and story here.  And on the other it looks just like–you guessed it: any other Blade Runner inspired film.  One of the many things comic book fans weren’t so fond of in Judge Dredd was the fact Stallone took off the mask/helmet (we’ll call it a masket).  This time, however, Karl Urban of Star Trek, Doom and The Lord of the Rings will play judge, jury and executioner with the word being his masket never comes off.

One potential qualm I already have with the film is that I’ll always be able to tell Urban is acting, since he’s clearly trying to gruff up his voice.  But hey, it’s a step up from Stallone’s “law” and “I knew you’d say that” deliveries.  Beyond that, we have the usual mix of incredible technology but slum-ridden cities for the setting.  The drug used in the film (literally called “SLO-MO”) will probably appeal to some of the more…laid back audience members.  What I’m most curious about, as one who never read the comics, is how identifying with the characters will play out.  Just from the costume design, the judges scream symbolism of the law’s power, which not everyone is always so fond of.  And yet the people they’re against are being played up as the antagonists, so it might make for an interesting anti-hero scenario.

I doubt either film will leave a particularly big splash at the box office, especially since, after The Dark Knight Rises, our wallets will likely be gasping.  But in a summer littered with comic book superheroes and stale comedies, I’m up for a bit of standard, decent sci-fi flair.

Which do you think will stand above the other?

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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Film, Movies


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Quote Review: Inception (2010)

“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”

The very least that can be said about Inception is that it’s one heck of a discussion spawner.  Nolan really offers us something to think and speculate, resulting in something that a less attentive viewer might not get at first, but remains fulfilling for multiple viewings.  We’re also given action sequences as they should be handled in that they’re gripping but don’t leave us wondering just what the heck is going on.  This is truly one of the best all-encompassing films you’ll find.


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Theater Feature: Prometheus (2012)

For many people a film like Prometheus has been a long time coming.  Claims about whether it was indeed an Alien prequel bounced around more than a hard-hit drunkard.  Ultimately, Scott and company commented that Prometheus would be a standalone film.  Of course, given we’re in the blossoming online age, refutations to this claim came aplenty.  Now we can finally find out the truth among the summer’s biggest films.

The common, spoiler-free consensus is that Prometheus is set in the same universe as Alien, but isn’t a direct prequel.  This is about all the blind, incoming viewer needs to know beforehand.

Now that we have that cleared up, what about the film itself?  To put it simply, this is a real sparker for discussions.  Some will find this to be a surprising thought-provoker while others will at least see it as something worth pondering.  And this is a key part of the film’s theme.  We’re often searching for what we don’t know (everything) about.  Even when answers are provided, more questions can (and usually do) stem from those.  This is a key reason the film has drawn such divided and passionate discussions; it’s all the more why this is such fascinating watch.

In fact, more than anything, this theme is the driving force behind story and plot.  Beyond a group of people exploring a distant planet for answers we’ve long wondered, it’s tough to detail the film without spoilers.  When our character’s discoveries aren’t pushing things forward, their more than occasionally questionable actions are.  Development isn’t in the highest supply, but again, that’s part of the film’s style.  The story and circumstances are, to some extent, beyond them.  For what our key players provide, however, it’s mostly serviceable.  Granted, some might wonder whether Rapace or Fassbender deserve to be called the film’s key (human) character.  At least both of them provide note-worth performances, especially the latter (as always).

Beyond this, people should actually know what to expect.  Ridley Scott is doing science fiction, which he always has an eye for.  The shots are entrancing, heightened sequences are generally gripping and the art style is intriguing to say the least.  Factor these in simultaneously for some parts and we have a film that refuses to let you divert your eyes.  Ultimately, keeping your interest is what Prometheus does best, and it shouldn’t be any other way.


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Quote Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

“Careful, humans don’t like smart ape.”

Though still under a ‘suspension of disbelief’ field, Rise of the Planet of the Apes does an incredible job at utilizing potential which, frankly, doesn’t seem present or possible. The amount of investment and care which the film offers to its viewers is leagues beyond what many acclaimed dramas can accomplish. Tense, gradual build-up to the continually gripping action scenes within the last half hour also helps it feel that much more rich with content. In all, it’s another huge surprise for the summer of 2011 and is among the best that the year has to offer.

Did you enjoy Rise of the Planet of the Apes?  Leave your thoughts and comments below!


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Quote Review: Blade Runner (1982)

“If they’re a benefit, it’s not my problem.”

For all of Blade Runner’s wonderful shots, which go about as far as a film (especially for its time) could capture thematically, there are questions and plot points disregarded, oftentimes completely. Most of the plot pieces are in place, but never truly set in motion. There’s a sense of detachment to the characters as well, which might be fitting for the dark overtones, but it leaves everything feeling incredibly thin. As a result, the film is only carried so far by its strengths. It’s certainly worth watching, but Blade Runner is a jack of few trades and a master of even less.

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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review


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Quote Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

“It reminds me a lot of Bumblebee, if Bumblebee were a sad piece of s***.”

Dark of the Moon is an overbearing, convoluted mess; one that does little to utilize what potential and life was left in Bay’s version of the iconic brand.  Between its serious lack of character development, insanely bipolar tone shifts, completely incoherent plotlines, hackneyed jokes, weary pacing and special effects that are equally tiring as they are impressive; it’s hard to find even an indication of a film with any sort of true significance.  Most of the means that seem to intend entertainment fall flat; whether from being overdone or simply immature.  While the spectacle of the action scenes and special effects can’t be denied (especially so in 3D), and Bay does seem to have learned how to better shoot action scenes on their own; the final results are just bad.

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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review


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Quote Review: Green Lantern (2011)

“You don’t think I would recognize you because I can’t see your cheekbones?”

Too ambitious and underdeveloped to be a good summer film, Green Lantern glosses over the source material too much for both newcomers and avid fans of the superhero to truly appreciate. The few action sequences are enjoyable, albeit in a completely silly and thematically inconsistent way.  For that much, there is some entertainment to be had, but you’ll have to keep your expectations and standards quite low.

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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review


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Theater Feature: The Hunger Games (2012)

“This is the time to show them everything. Make sure they remember you.”

It’s been a strong, steady build up to the theatrical release of The Hunger Games, drawing comparisons everywhere between it, Twilight and even Harry Potter.  At this point, if you’re not already on board the bandwagon, there’s bound to be little which will persuade you otherwise.  But viewers on the fence or skeptical as to whether the film itself holds up need only know that it delivers.

Most of the story falls on the shoulders of its characters, who are well developed where it counts.  Jennifer Lawrence has already made quite a name for herself at such a young age, and she’s well up to the occasion as the strong yet wary Katniss Everdeen.  Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson also get sufficient screen time, offering a fun contrast of comedic touches which are practically extinguished after the first hour or so.  Josh Hutcherson also gets his share of time, often (luckily) alongside Lawrence, fitting the flawed by likable persona of his character.

If there’s one thing The Hunger Games does best, however, it’s keeping the viewer guessing as to just what will happen and how.  The Hunger Games event itself is built up in a way that there’s a constant sense of foreboding, which should keep anyone even slightly invested gripping their seat until the end.  Give credit to the marketing and publicity behind the film too, for keeping most of the second half under wraps while touting exactly what happens was a wise choice; the payoff wouldn’t have been nearly as great if this were handled another way.

While the film does touch on themes of social commentary, the focus is kept where it should be: the experience and nature of survival.  It definitely gets you thinking, but the action, suspense and character interactions all make sure your interest and enjoyment are never diminished.  Even with many smaller supporting characters who matter to the leads and story being glossed over, it’s tough to not get invested with everything that’s going on.

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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review


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Quote Review: 12 Monkeys (1995)

“There’s no right, there’s no wrong, there’s only popular opinion.”

12 Monkeys isn’t a journey one will want to take while expecting the usual sci-fi romp. The film feels as ambitious as its plotline is linear. Portions of the film are laid on a bit too thick and while a considerable amount of the thinking it evokes comes from how convoluted some of its branching arcs and themes are, there’s enough substance and merit here to keep the viewer engaged from start to finish.

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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review


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