Tag Archives: spaceship

The Tommyknockers (book)

Late last night and the night before,

Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at the door.

I want to go out, don’t know if I can,

‘Cause I’m so afraid of the Tommyknocker man.

The Tommyknockers is a 1987 sci-fi novel written by Stephen King. It takes place in the same universe as most of his other books, but this one is about aliens as opposed to ghosts and monsters and the supernatural. It begins with Wild West novelist Bobbi Anderson discovering the tip of an enormous spaceship sticking out of the ground in the small town of Haven, Maine. She feels compelled to dig it out, but the ship starts releasing an odorless, invisible gas that starts to transform Bobbi and the citizens of Haven into something else, something not human.

There are a few characters who are immune to the “becoming”, one of them being Bobbi’s lifelong friend (and occasional lover) James Eric “Gard” Gardener. Gard is immune to the gas because of a steel plate in his head from a skiing accident a few years earlier. He helps Bobbi to dig out the ship over the course of a summer, watching helplessly as Bobbi and the townspeople start losing teeth and their sanity.

What’s cool about this story is that there is no real main character. You could argue that Gard is the protagonist, you could point to Bobbi being the one who drives the plot forward, but the main character is really the town of Haven. The story is about how the spaceship affects the townspeople. It seems like almost every citizen in Haven gets at least one chapter that explores how the “becoming” changes them. There are a lot of background characters and subplots, but the whole thing comes together nicely in the end.

This is a great book, one of my favorite Stephen King stories. It’s pretty lengthy but it’s never boring. Stephen King knows how to tell a good story, and he has a great writing style. It’s casual, yet detailed. He has fun with the narrative, jumping around on the timeline and exploring the minds of different characters. It’s also a metaphor for substance abuse, so there are a lot of things to pick up on if you read between the lines. Read it. You’ll like it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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District 9

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 is the best South African sci-fi film ever made, I’m pretty sure of that. In March of 1982, a huge alien spaceship arrives over Johannesburg. It’s filled with a bunch of sick and dying aliens, and they are forcibly relocated them into District 9, a government camp where they can live in squalor and poverty. A guy named Wikus is tasked with relocating the aliens to a new camp, but things hit a snag when he gets infected by a mysterious fluid and starts mutating into an alien

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The aliens of District 9 are humanoid insect looking things called prawns. They have their own language, but can understand English. They have a thing for cat food. The South African government hired a private military company called Multinational United to remove the aliens from District 9 into a new ghetto called District 10. Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copely) works at MNU, and while he’s in the middle of serving up eviction notices in District 9 he gets sprayed by a weird black fluid. Before long his hand and arm start mutating, becoming prawnlike.

MNU finds out, and they start experimenting on him. His newfound prawn DNA makes him the only human who can use alien weaponry. Wikus escapes from MNU and goes back to District 9 to find a cure.

He returns to the house where he got sprayed. It’s owned by a prawn named Christopher Johnson and his young prawn son. Christopher tells him that the fluid is spaceship fuel, and the prawns need it to go home, but it will also revert Wikus back to human form. Wikus and Christopher launch an attack on MNU headquarters, grab the fuel and try to reactivate the spaceship.

In the climatic battle, Wikus and Christopher are getting shot at by MNU soldiers and Nigerian gangsters. The best way to end a movie about alien racism is to have a shootout. It’s logical, it’s practical, it’s the only reasonable way to end the movie.

District 9 has a lot of political undertones. It’s a commentary on racism and bigotry. Wikus is an asshole in the beginning. He sees the prawns as inferior. He just assumes that he is better than they are. As he starts to become less human, he becomes more humane. He starts to care about the prawns, and at the end he sacrifices himself for them.

This is a cool movie. There are no big name actors. It’s shot like a documentary, with lots of interviews, hand-held shots, and pseudo-found footage. The CG prawns look realistic and the action scenes are pretty intense. It was originally a short film called Alive in Joburg, and it was expanded into the flick that it became.

District 9 proved that you can make a successful sci-fi movie without any stars, an established director, or a huge budget. All you need is a cool concept and an explosive over the top ending where people blow up and splatter blood everywhere. It’s a good movie with a mediocre ending. But it has a great concept and that’s what makes the movie worth watching.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Independence Day (film, not the day)

Before Roland Emmerich went crazy and started spewing out ridiculous disaster movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, he made an awesome disaster movie called Independence Day. This was one of the best summer movies of the ‘90s. It had it all: a sweet cast, amazing special effects, and good action scenes. Plus Vivica A. Fox plays a stripper.

The movie stars out with a bang. It starts on the moon and a giant shadow creeps across its surface, steadily heading for Earth. Before long, giant spaceships are hovering over 36 major cities across the world. As we learn about the threat, we are introduced to the main characters. Jeff Goldblum plays David Levinson, a genius who discovers a hidden code that indicates the aliens are going to attack. He goes to Washington, D.C. to warn his ex-wife who works for the President of the United States. Bill Pullman plays the President, a former combat pilot.

Will Smith plays Captain Steve Hiller, a pilot for the Marines. He wants to become an astronaut, and he has a stripper girlfriend named Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox). Randy Quaid plays Russell Casse, he’s a pilot too. Seriously, the whole world gets destroyed, but half the survivors are pilots. If you wanna survive Independence Day, you should start taking flying lessons.

The hidden code that David finds turns out to be valid, and the ships attack simultaneously across the world. Millions of people die, but if you jump into a storage closet in a tunnel, you’ll be fine. That’s how Vivica A. Fox survived. She plays a stripper in the movie by the way.

So the world’s been half destroyed, and we have no idea how to stop them. Will Smith flies around and gets one to crash and then he punches it in the face and welcomes it to Earth. And then he and the alien body get a ride from Russell Casse and his family to Area 51. And the President is there, along with David and all the other people who haven’t died yet. The alien turns out not to be dead, and we find out that they want to take over the world and they want us to die. So we decide to nuke them. And it doesn’t work, and we don’t know what to do. And we seem pretty fucked.

Then David gets an idea. He’ll simply use his Apple laptop to upload a virus to the mother ship to disable all the other ships, while simultaneously the survivors across the world will launch a global attack on the alien ships. Will Smith and David fly to the mother ship, and the President and Russell Casse and all the other survivor pilots take to the skies in a desperate attempt to save mankind.

Not to spoil anything, but we won. We beat the aliens. And David takes up smoking. He probably stops recycling too.

This movie came out when I was ten years old. It was the movie of the summer. It was like my Star Wars. It was an event. And when we went back to school we shunned the ones who didn’t see it.

There are a lot of funny moments and lots of great one-liners. There are also some touching moments, like when the President has to tell his daughter that mama ain’t coming back. Some of the actors do a great job, like Judd Hirsch as Julius, David’s father. Some of the actors do a terrible job, like James Duval as Miguel Casse, Russell’s son. He looks like he went to the Keanu Reeves School of Wooden Acting. I think Bill Pullman’s speech with the bullhorn is one of the best fake president speeches of all time. Oh, and Vivica A. Fox plays a stripper.

Of course there are lots of plot holes (like where’s the Secret Service?) and poorly written characters, but the movie is exciting and fun and entertaining. I like being entertained, it’s fun. I think it’s weird how everyone laughs at Russell whenever he mentions being abducted by aliens ten years earlier. They know that aliens exist now. They should be apologizing for having doubted him.

Independence Day is a cool movie. It was the first time Will Smith saved the world. He does that every other summer now. This was back when it was still special. Seriously if you haven’t seen this movie you missed the ‘90s and I feel bad for you.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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