Tag Archives: sci-fi

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer is a 2013 sci-fi action film based on the French Graphic novel Le Transperceneige. It takes place in a future where mankind has created a new ice age, the whole world has frozen over, and the only survivors are stuck on the Snowpiercer, which is a super train that never stops running. The train is kind of a metaphor for society. The poor passengers are stuck in the slum-like tail section and the elites have a life of luxury in the front cars. Chris Evans stars as Curtis Everett, one of the poor tail-bound passengers who leads a revolt against the elites. The poor work their way up the train with the main goal of reaching Wilford, the creator and controller/captain guy. That’s the basic plot. I don’t want to go into too many details, because I think you should watch it. I’ve seen your Facebook profile, I know your taste. Snowpiercer is right up your alley.

Snowpiercer is not your typical dystopian action flick, mostly because it’s not a Hollywood film. It’s a South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho. Don’t worry though, most of the dialogue is spoken in English. It just has a different style of editing that’s different from the quick cuts and over-the-top action sequences that you’ll find in Michael Bay films. It didn’t get a big reception in the US, mostly because of Harvey Weinstein being a dickhole as usual, but the critics seem to like it. I like it and I’m very critical. I watched it on Netflix, you can too.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

0-1

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Serenity (film)

Once upon a time, there was an amazing television show called Firefly. It got cancelled before it could even complete the first season. But the fans demanded more stories about Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew. And somehow Joss Whedon was able to convince a studio to make a follow-up film to his cancelled show. It didn’t do too well at the box office, but it’s become a cult classic. It’s a great sci-fi flick, but if you didn’t watch the show, you’ll be confused with all the characters and backstories.

            Joss Whedon brought back all of the main cast from the TV show. Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Ron Glass, and Summer Glau all reprise their iconic characters. There’s a great extended take reintroducing Malcolm, Wash, Zoe, Jayne, Kaylee, Simon, and River as Serenity fights to stay in the sky before crash landing. It’s the perfect way to reestablish what you’ve been missing out on.

The movie picks up a few months after the events of the final episode. Shepard Book and Inara have already been driven off of Serenity by Malcolm, and Simon and River seem poised to leave as well. The two Tams are still being pursued by the Alliance and Malcolm is having more and more difficulties trying to find jobs. There’s a run-in with some Reavers and you finally see how frightening they are.

            The Reavers are kind of the backbone of the story. A lot of shit happens and one of the shits that happens is the crew discovering that the Alliance is responsible for creating the Reavers. Malcolm decides that the Verse has the right to know the truth, and he eventually broadcasts the evidence after a fight with the Operative that has been tracking them throughout the film.

This is an awesome movie, a great movie, and a spectacular movie… if you’re a fan of the show. You really need to watch Firefly first to truly appreciate this flick. Serenity is your reward for enjoying the show. It’s just a glorified episode with better special effects and a bigger budget. And it makes you want more Firefly.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element is a cult sci-fi classic starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, and Chris Tucker. French director Luc Besson started writing the script when he was still in high school, so the film is a bit of a passion project and you can see the love and attention to detail despite all the plot holes and action flick clichés. Seriously, how many times does Bruce Willis have to save the day?

Every 5000 years, the Great Evil comes to destroy life, because that’s what you do when you are evil. There’s only one way to destroy the Great Evil, and that a collection of four magic stones that represent the four elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. When you combine the four elements with the Fifth Element you unleash the Divine Light that defeats the Great Evil. Obviously.

Bruce Willis plays Korben Dallas, a down-on-his-luck cab driver and former soldier who lives in New York City in the year 2263. One day a half naked chick falls into his cab and he decides to help her out for some reason. The half naked chick calls herself Leeloo (played by Milla Jovovich). Not only is she described as a perfect being, she also happens to be the Fifth Element and the only thing that can save our planet. Dallas takes Leeloo to Priest Cornelius (Ian Holm), a guardian of sorts who knows all about the Fifth Element and how to save the world.

A group of evil shape shifting aliens known as the Mangalores are working with a wealthy industrialist named Zorg (Gary Oldman). Zorg is working for the Great Evil and they are after the four stones. Zorg and the Mangalores have a minor disagreement that results in the Mangalores also trying to get the stones for themselves. The stones have been left under the care of a famous blue alien singer named Diva Plavalaguna.

Dallas gets recruited by the military to try to save the world. He and Leeloo win a rigged contest to go to a Diva concert. They get to hang out with Chris Tucker, and they also get attacked by the Mangalores, I can’t decide which is worse. But Dallas ends up with the stones.

The Great Evil unleashes a giant fireball towards Earth and Dallas and the Priest and Leeloo must find out how to use the stones and unleash the power of the Fifth Element. Of course they save the day and disaster is averted. And then Leeloo and Dallas have sex in tube in front of the President and a bunch of scientists. It might be one of the best endings of all time.

Luc Besson created a unique world that is instantly recognizable. Yeah, there are aliens and spaceships and flying cars and unrecognizable technology, but they also showcase how Korben Dallas lives. He lives in a tiny cramped apartment, but the space is utilized brilliantly. His bed slides into the wall. His shower and closet come down from the ceiling. He smokes cigarettes with super long filters. The technology doesn’t seem that far out of reach, it seems obtainable and practical.

The world seems realistic, but some characters are absurdly outlandish. Gary Oldman is a great character actor, but his performance as Zorg is off-putting. He uses a ridiculous accent and you can’t take him seriously. Chris Tucker plays the annoying D.J.  Ruby Rhod. His character is a cartoon. An annoying cartoon that has no place in an action/sci-fi flick. He has little to no effect on the plot; he just serves as comic relief. But you don’t need comic relief in an action/sci-fi flick. There’s also that reoccurring and unfunny bit with Korben’s mom constantly calling and complaining to him. The less said about that the better.

The special effects are decent for the time, but they use body suits for the Mangalores and other alien species and it looks cheesy. Mangalores should be intimidating; instead they look like cheap Halloween costumes.

This isn’t the best sci-fi movie, but you should see it. It’s a little bit different than most blockbusters. It’s not a Hollywood movie. It was made in France with a French crew and French director… so when you see it you can pretend like you’re cultured and are watching a foreign film. They made a sequel to this movie called The Sixth Sense, and that film moved the franchise into the supernatural realm. It’s a very different movie in a lot of ways; it’s hard to say which one is better. But both are required viewing to be a film buff.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

The Matrix

No one can be told what the Matrix is; you have to see it for yourself. And you’ve should have seen it by now. It’s been out for 13 years. Andy and Larry Wachowski wrote and directed The Matrix, one of the greatest action/sci-fi films ever. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a hacker who finds out the world is a lie perpetrated by machines to control and harness energy from humans, and that he is the One prophesized to save mankind.

Thomas Anderson A.K.A. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is a hacker by night and an office drone by day. He senses that there’s something wrong with the world, but he can’t quite grasp it. He gets enigmatic clues about something called the Matrix, but he can’t figure out its meaning. He meets a mysterious hacker named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) who leads him to man named Morpheus who can help him find out what the Matrix is. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) gives Neo a pill to swallow, and since you should always take strange pills that a stranger gives you, Neo swallows it and reality collapses into a dream and he wakes up in the Real World.

Morpheus finds Neo and takes him on his ship, the Nebuchadnezzar. Morpheus is the captain, Trinity is a crewmember, and there are a few other crewmembers including the shady Cypher (Joe Pantoliano). Neo finds out the truth about the Matrix. Humans developed machines that got too smart and that lead to a war and that lead to us getting our asses kicked. Now the bulk of mankind is harvested for energy. The Matrix is a simulated reality that the controlled humans are connected to. The world that they know is a computer program.

Neo learns that he can manipulate the computer program, that he can bend the rules of gravity and physics and learn Kung Fu. Morpheus believes that Neo is the One, that he will end the war between the machines. Neo doubts himself; he can’t quite free his mind. Neo learns all the rules about the Matrix, and he learns that the Agents are bad. Especially Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving).

So there’s a bunch of philosophical hoopla about the nature of reality and prophecy and fate vs. freewill. They visit the Oracle and she talks to Neo about his future. She tells him what he needs to hear. Then the shady Cypher is revealed to be working for the Agents. He sells out his crew and tips off their location. Morpheus gets captured, the unnecessary crewmembers die, and now its time for Neo to man up and save Morpheus.

They get a shit ton of guns and have a cool fire fight and kill lots of innocent guards who aren’t agents or evil. They decided not to bring spare magazines, so each time the clip runs out they just whip out a new gun. I guess it’s easier to just carry 20 guns rather than reloading. Neo and Trinity rescue Morpheus. Trinity and Morpheus go back to the real world, and Neo gets attacked by Agent Smith. And Neo stands his ground for a while, but then he runs away like a bitch. Just as he’s about to exit the Matrix, he gets shot. And he dies. And then Trinity kisses him and he comes back to life. And now he’s the One. And then he kills Agent Smith, but not really, because Agent Smith comes back in the sequels. But we don’t know that yet. But for now, Neo has saved the day, and things are looking up for mankind

.

Quick factoid: Will Smith turned down the part of Neo to star in Wild Wild West. Thank god, because he would have ruined this movie. Keanu Reeves is not a good actor, but he is perfect for Neo. He lets the events unfold around him, he doesn’t talk much, and he just reacts and looks bewildered by everything. And it suits the movie perfectly.

The action was and still is amazing. The fight choreography is as good as it gets. The bullet time sequence is one of the coolest shots in history. The action is great, but this film works because the action and philosophical scenes go hand in hand. This is a smart movie. The sequels tried to be smart and got pretentious

.

If you haven’t seen this movie in a while, go back and watch it. There’s a great buildup, and the dialog is very layered. There’s a lot more to The Matrix than you might remember. It deserved to be the start of a franchise. And even though the Wachowski Brothers went kind of crazy, the Matrix Universe is still worth exploring.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Gattaca

Andrew Niccol (the Truman Show) directs this picture about a future where science has progressed to the point when you can choose the best of your genetic material to make a genetically enhanced child. If you are genetically modified you are a “valid” and life is good. If you are conceived the old-fashioned way (i.e. drunken humping), you are an “in-valid”. With me so far?

Ethan Hawke plays Vincent Freeman, an in-valid who not only has to deal with an unfair lot in life, but has a lifelong sibling rivalry with his superior valid brother, Anton. Vincent dreams of being an astronaut, but he has a bad heart. Frequent genetic testing means that he can never be chosen to go to the stars. The only way to accomplish his dream is to borrow someone’s valid DNA.

Vincent finds a valid named Jerome Morrow who looks just like Jude Law and is willing to share his amazing DNA. Jerome was a kickass athlete who was supposed to be the best, but he was only second best, so he gave up on life and stepped in front of a car. Instead of dying he ended up in a wheelchair. Vincent uses Jerome’s hair, blood, urine, even his skin cells to get a job at Gattaca, a space agency with an upcoming mission to Saturn’s moon Titan.

It would be interesting enough to have the whole moviebe about an in-valid trying to sneak into a good life that he’s never supposed to experience, but Hollywood demands bloodshed, so of course there is a murder at Gattaca. Detectives find Vincent’s eyelash, and he becomes a prime suspect. He must keep pretending to Jerome, but the increasing police presence is putting a strain on his chances of going to space. Another thing that Hollywood demands is an unnecessary love story. Uma Thurman shows up to play the love interest Irene. She thinks that he is a perfect specimen, they get close, she finds out the truth about his lame DNA and gets mad, then they make up, yada yada yada, you’ve seen it three hundred and seventy-six times.

So how does Hollywood choose to end a science fiction movie about genetically modifying humans, space travel, murder, romance and paralyzed Jude Law? With a swim race of course. Fucking Hollywood.

It’s a pretty decent movie overall. There’s an interesting premise that is hidden under all the extra bullshit. It came out in 1997, but the treatment of in-valids by the valids is pretty relevant in this post 9/11 world. There are lots of cool ideas, and this movie will make you think about those cool ideas.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment