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REVIEW – Logan

March 17, 2017 Leave a comment
LoganDirected by: James Mangold
Produced by: Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner
Screenplay by: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Story by: James Mangold
Edited by: Michael McCusker, Dirk Westervelt
Cinematography by: John Mathieson
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Jayson Genao
Year: 2017

 

Released in 2000, about 3 years after the abomination known as Batman & Robin seemingly killed off the superhero film genre, the first X-Men, even more so than its 1998 predecessor Blade, proved that comic book superhero movies really could find new life in cinemas, provided that the filmmakers took their subjects seriously. While Fox’s X-Men films have had more than their fair share of stumbles, particularly last year’s massively disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse as well as more egregious works like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Last Stand, they have also proven that the studio is willing to take some bold chances, too, rebooting and reorienting timelines with period films, or greenlighting a breakout R-rated comedy action film that proved that risks sometimes pay off with Deadpool. By far, however, the breakout element out of any of these films has been Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, who has been a constant presence throughout all these films from the very beginning, appearing in films even when his presence wasn’t necessarily needed because the studio knew he was just that good in the role. Hugh Jackman’s a talented guy, no doubt, but we’re all curious about whether or not it would have been as good as it has been had it not been for his casting in the first X-Men film – something that both nearly didn’t happen and was once a controversial decision at the time due to Jackman’s height betraying the comic character’s usually small stature. That was over 17 years ago, however, and now we’re facing the end of an era, with Jackman declaring Logan will be his final film as the iconic berserker. And thank God for that, as I think we’d all be disappointed if his cameo in Apocalypse was the end and not the phenomenal Logan – a film that may very well be the best superhero adaptation since The Dark Knight. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

December 18, 2016 Leave a comment
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDirected by: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Sheamur, Simon Emanuel
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Edited by: John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, James Earl Jones, Valene Kane
Based on characters and concepts by George Lucas
Year: 2016

 

Disappointment. No, that’s not my reaction to Rogue One. Heck no! But it was the general consensus I gathered from people after they were told that the 2016 Star Wars film was not a follow-up to last year’s The Force Awakens but rather an ominously pre-A New Hope film that was mostly independent from the Skywalker family and friends’ saga. Most of that was just because they were eager to see that story continue, but, for some, there was also an added level of scorn for a film they seemed to consider… illegitimate. Which is unfortunate, as Rogue One, in both style and focus, is a much more important and bolder move forward for Disney and their still nascent new property, signaling a promising future for the franchise that isn’t beholden to repeating itself for the sake of nostalgia and familiarity. Read more…

REVIEW – The Iron Giant

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment
The Iron Giant.jpgDirected by: Brad Bird
Produced by: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff
Screenplay by: Tim McCanlies
Story by: Brad Bird
Edited by: Darren T. Holmes
Cinematography by: Steven Wilzbach
Music by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, M. Emmet Walsh, Cloris Leachman
Based on the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Year: 1999

 

Disney may have reigned at the box office in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, the quality of their non-Pixar-produced films was undoubtedly beginning to slip, and so it’s no real wonder that other studios – particularly DreamWorks – were taking notice and trying to take a bite out of their share of the box office. Despite having the backing of a major studio behind it, however, Warner Bros. Animation struggled to find its footing with theatrical releases during this era. Space Jam, the studio’s first in-house feature film production, was a considerable success, but it relied upon familiar Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan (and an already existing and popular advertising campaign for shoes that already merged the two brands) to basically have the film market itself. Later films wouldn’t be able to use that crutch, however, and anemic advertising strategies for films like Quest for Camelot, Osmosis Jones, and even Looney Tunes: Back in Action – which no longer had the brand popularity and the basketball star to rely upon – did little to drum up ticket sales, and none of the films achieved the critical acclaim to even make them legit cult classics. There was, of course, one film released in between all this, however, that, despite the botched advertising (some of which, for some reason, used Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane”) and underperformance, did manage to eventually make a name for itself not just as a cult classic, but as truly one of the most underappreciated animated film classics. Read more…

Halloween Movie Month 2016

October 1, 2016 Leave a comment

 

 

Paranormal Activity - Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat

Six. This year marks the sixth time I have done a Halloween movie theme month. Not only that, it also signals that I have now been running this blog since I was 25. This year marks my 30th birthday, which also just so happens fall on Halloween. To say that Halloween 2016 is a scary one for me is an understatement. But, the reviews must go on! (Well, not really, but I enjoy writing them, even if I’m fairly certain not many people are actually reading these.) As a result, though, you would think that I might have big plans for this year. Well… I don’t. But one idea did just occur to me, and it’s actually something I intended on reviewing last year, but it completely escaped my mind: How about I review a film starring one of my former high school classmates that also just so happens to be on Netflix?

Darkroom - Kaylee DeFer

The film is called “Darkroom” and stars aforementioned classmate Kaylee DeFer, whom I went to school with until she moved. I’m not going to pretend I knew her well or anything – she was perfectly nice, but we just didn’t have the same social circles – but it’s still kinda surreal to have a former classmate who has now had roles in films shows like Gossip Girl and was even a crucial character in the string of events that led to Ted Mosby meeting his wife on How I Met Your Mother. I think the most interaction I ever had with her was our freshman year during our school’s Shakespeare week, and we were assigned to reenact the gravedigger scene from Romeo & Juliet. I sliced my hand open on the metal pole I was using as a prop and started bleeding, resulting in the scene – and my own burgeoning acting career – being cut considerably short. So… yeah, I’ll get around to doing that one, unless it’s no longer available on Netflix or some other service. (And, really, why wouldn’t it be? I only discovered it because I noticed her on the cover while browsing, and that’s probably the only way anyone has watched it.)

28 Weeks later - Infected

I do intend on reviewing some other horror classics I haven’t gotten around to, though, perhaps the original Amityville Horror, as well as perhaps some newer ones, like a certain computer-based film I actually put on my Favorite Films of 2015 list that I admittedly only saw once. (I’m curious whether it holds up, particularly by just watching it on a laptop this time.) I do think this year will be considerably more horror-heavy than previous years, if only because I’ve actually been really in the mood for them, rather than the more lighthearted stuff like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Ghostbusters (take your pick which, just don’t troll my site). Perhaps it’s just the bleak impending doom of turning 30, though? [shudder] I guess, if the mood strikes, I could end up doing something more cheerful.

Regardless of what goes on though, just know that I’ve been looking forward to this month and watching some suitable movies for it. Until then, consider reading some of my previous seasonally appropriate reviews, linked below.

Happy Halloween!


The Blair Witch Project10 Cloverfield Lane

28 Days Later

28 Weeks Later

Alien

Aliens

Attack the Block

The Babadook

The Blair Witch Project

The Cabin in the Woods

Contagion

Dawn of the Dead (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2004)

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don't BreatheThe Exorcist

Frankenweenie

Friday the 13th (1980)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Grave Encounters

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

Hocus Pocus

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Juan of the Dead

Krampus

The ExorcistThe Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

The Mist

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Paranormal Activity

ParaNorman

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブル)

Shaun of the DeadPoltergeist (1982)

Predator

Psycho (1960)

The Purge

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saw

Scream

Shaun of the Dead

The Sixth Sense

Sleepy Hollow

Slither (2006)

ZombeaversSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

The Thing (1982)

This Is the End

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

The Twilight Saga

Under the Skin (2013)

The Visit

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

The World’s End

Zombeavers

Zombieland

REVIEW – Star Trek: The Motion Picture

September 17, 2016 Leave a comment
Star Trek The Motion Picture.jpgDirected by: Robert Wise
Produced by: Gene Roddenberry
Screenplay by: Harold Livingston
Story by: Alan Dean Foster
Edited by: Todd C. Ramsay
Cinematography by: Richard H. Kline
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney
Based on the TV series created by Gene Roddenberry
Year: 1979

 

As some of you may know already, September 8, 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the first ever episode of Star Trek airing on NBC. The show ran for a total of three seasons before being cancelled in 1969. Apart from a brief animated series that ran from 1973 – 1974, fans of the show for the next decade would have to settle for reading rumors of a new series titled Star Trek: Phase II. However, by the late 70s, and in the wake of the financial and critical success of sci-fi films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars, Paramount Pictures began to rethink their plans and ultimately decided to ditch the riskier, long term commitment that was the Phase II series and, instead repurpose its assets for a film – one that would feature the return of the original series cast to their respective roles rather than set up a new crew. As a result, a whole ten years after the cancellation of the original series, and despite a troubled and rushed production schedule that required both on-set rewrites and a postproduction that lasted until mere days before the film’s debut, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was finally released to theatres… and, yeah… it didn’t do nearly as well as the studio had hoped it would. (Kinda sounds familiar, huh?) Read more…

REVIEW – April and the Extraordinary World [Avril et le Monde truqué]

September 10, 2016 Leave a comment
April and the Extraordinary WorldDirected by: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
Produced by: Michel Dutheil, Franck Elkinci, Marc Jousset
Screenplay by: Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand
Edited by: Nazim Meslem
Music by: Valentin Hadjadj
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc-André Grondin, Bouli Lanners, Anne Coesens, Benoît Brière, Macha Grenon | English: Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tony Robinow, Mark Camacho, Tod Fennell, Paul Giamatti, Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons
Inspired by the work of Jacques Tardi
Year: 2015 (France/Belgium), 2016 (U.S.)

 

Just when it seemed like steampunk had died, along comes April and the Extraordinary World to potentially reignite interest in the once unavoidable not-quite-underground subgenre. A French/Belgian/Canadian coproduction featuring a world guided and inspired by renowned French comic artist Jacques Tardi, Avril et le Monde truqué (as it is known in its native language) is a film that’s a throwback to a great number of things: the sci-fi of Jules Verne, the grand adventure of Tintin (as well as sporting a similar ligne claire art style), that period of time in the 2000s and early 2010s when steampunk was seemingly the new black, and also the bygone days when science was universally understood in terms of all the positive changes it could provide the world, rather than obsessing about how it could potentially destroy us all, regardless of benign or malicious intent. That last point, in particular – the responsibility of science as a force for good in this world and for humanity – is primary focus. Read more…

REVIEW: Wizards

August 5, 2016 Leave a comment
WizardsDirected by: Ralph Bakshi
Produced by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Ralph Bakshi
Edited by: Donald W. Ernst
Music by: Andrew Belling
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Steve Gravers, James Connell, Susan Tyrrell, Mark Hamill
Year: 1977

 

I’ve only seen a few films of Ralph Bakshi – Cool World, Fritz the Cat, and now this movie – but there was a time when his works were always in the back of my mind whenever the subject of animation history came up. Ever since I was a kid, in fact, which is funny since almost none of his work is remotely child-friendly, except for perhaps his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. As a nerdy kid who studied almost anything that piqued my interest (but especially movies and video games), reading about Bakshi’s subversive, gritty, adult, and oftentimes controversial works always fascinated me. Revered as, if anything, noteworthy departures from the traditionally family fluff that, even today, is usually thought of as the default mode for animation in America, his stuff always stood out as almost mythical or even forbidden to my adolescent mind. I’d see references to it in stuff like The Simpsons and recognize the reference for what it was, but apart from maybe a few clips here and there, Bakshi’s animated films seemed to be spoken of in terms normally reserved for “banned” films like Song of the South and the infamous Censored Eleven – eleven Warner Bros. animated shorts that have been withheld from distribution due to their controversial, racially insensitive material. (I wasn’t far off in that regard, in retrospect, either.) Read more…

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