Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Geology Watch: Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)




Watched:  05/08/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Eric Brevig

So, this movie feels like an experiment, and given the year of release, 2008, Journey to the Center of the Earth might well have been Hollywood floating all the latest toys and the concept of "movie as amusement park ride" more than they were trying to make an actual movie.  But they also still wanted to be Hollywood, so, while it does feel almost like a Cliff's Notes version of a movie, it does have a legit star in Brendan Fraser.   

First - it's clearly intended to be seen in 3D.  And like other 3D features - from Creature to the Black Lagoon or Friday the 13th 3D, there are clear set-pieces intended for the experience that just look weird on my regular ol' flat TV.  Things are basically hurled at the viewer from time to time.  You get it.

Second - I checked, the movie was also an early entry for use in 4DX or whatever they call it.  This was when some theaters decided to add fancy-assed chairs that rumbled and maybe moved, and sprayed water in your face (no thanks).  And there are multiple places that the movie feels like it should be part of a ride at Universal Studios or something.

I'll editorialize and say:  I think this is a perfectly fine avenue for Hollywood to pursue.  It would be weird for many-a-movie, but I think there's a market for thrilling movies that are a bit of an interactive experience.  I would come up with a new name for the experience to differentiate it, but I would strap in for a Star Wars movie about X-Wing pilots zipping about.  Or car chase movies.  Or running around Tokyo whilst Godzilla strolls around.  But I don't think they'll work like a normal movie, and we just don't know what that would be, yet.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Sci-Fi Watch: "The Expanse" ReWatch - Season 4




Season over season, The Expanse manages to use genre changes to better expand its world and fill in the ideas the novels were trying to communicate - I assume.  I mean, this is what the show does, and the show follows the basic beats of the novels.

Season 4 is essentially broken into 4 separate storylines, with two of those storylines having sub storylines.  

In the wake of the Ring Gates opening at the end of Season 3, humanity is ready to see what else is out there as the gates seem to be opening onto mostly human habitable worlds.  Ships full of eager settlers have begun heading towards the ring in our solar system, hoping to make claims on the 1300-ish other worlds out there.  

While Earth, Mars and the Belt ponder how to manage the almost magical occurrence and ponder the inherent dangers of worlds that have never known human kind, there's also the vast wealth that seems just on the other side for the bold willing to risk it all.

Desperate Belters are rushing blockades in hopes of staking a claim before official channels screw them out of opportunity.  Meanwhile, Avasarala has been made Secretary General of the UN and is now sort of President of Earth - and with her experience has no interest in moving too fast.  She's already barely avoided a cataclysm with the Eros incident, and who knows what's on the other side? 

And after generations of Mars trying to terraform and do this the hard way, Martians see 1300 perfectly livable planets suddenly available.  And the dream of Mars suddenly seems... not worth it?

The four stories follow

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Sci-Fi Watch: "The Expanse" Rewatch, Season 3




One of the curious things that the showrunners of The Expanse did was break things up somewhat by books, but not exactly.  Season 3, however, contains the back half of the second book and the events of the third (a quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that quite a bit was changed from the novels).  

Our crew has escaped Ganymede, and the Protomolecule hybrid.  But Chrisjen is still in space aboard Mao's ship.  Errinwright thinks he's free of Chrisjen, and is able to maneuver the UN Secretary General into war, but the Secretary General brings in an old colleague, Methodist Minister Anna Volovodov to help him write his speech for declaration of war.  

The third season includes events on Io, the Mars/ Earth near all-out-war, as well as the evolution of the crashed Eros station on Venus as scientists try to sort it out - and the eventual escape of the structure built by the protomolecule, forming the ring on the edge of the solar system.  They've also brought along a scientist from Ganymede, Prax, seeking his daughter who seems to have been kidnapped by her doctor.

The evidence of Errinwright's machinations makes it's way to the UN, ending the war.  

With the Mars/ Earth war completed, and with peace a fragile thing, six months in, a convoy of Martian, Earth and Belter ships all head to The Ring - Earth sending civilians.  

Of the many, many things The Expanse does well, it's very aware that not everyone in the future will be a rocket scientist, and we're going to still have our candidates for FailArmy out there (sorry, Star Trek) - a rocket-racing Belter deciding to be the first to race through The Ring on the promise of sex.  And absolutely pancaking against an invisible wall of force.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Adventure Watch: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)





Watched:  04/22/2024
Format:  Fox Movies
Viewing:  First
Director:  Henry Levin

I've not read the original novel of Journey to the Center of the Earth, and until viewing this movie, I'd never felt particularly guilty about that or questioned it, but it's kind of kooky that I had not read it.  I'm a fan of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and have been since I was a small kid - whether you mean the Disney film, the book, or what my mother reports was likely a kid's adaptation she read me when I was 5 or 6 that she even recently was relating to me how enthused I was about the book.

When it came to the novel of Journey, I had the basic gist down from a lifetime of absorbing pop culture.  Science folk find a hole, wander about, figure out there's all sorts of crazy stuff under the surface, like an ocean and dinosaurs.  Which should sound real familiar-like to fans of Legendary's Monsterverse franchise/ the latest Kong and Godzilla team-up film.  So, yeah, hope you're enjoying a fresh, new 160 year old concept.  

Anyway, that guilt about my poor reading habits seeped in about five minutes after starting the film of Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), and I got a taste of the ol' adventure-spirit that could fill a splashy all-ages sci-fi movie in 1959.  But I also remembered how much I enjoyed the book of Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and, anyway.  I'll give it time and then read the book.

First:  This thing looks insanely expensive for 1959.  Massive sets, period setting, maybe 1/3rd of the movie on the surface before we see any caves, and lots of matte and other visual FX.  Plus, James Mason as the lead, Pat Boone(!) as the young scientist/ admirer of Mason's daughter, and Ms. Arlene Dahl playing about ten years older than she was at the time of shooting.  Some scenes have boat-loads of extras. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

70's Sci-FI Watch: Rollerball (1975)

the image that looked back at you from every video rental shop in America in the 1980's



Watched:  04/20/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Norman Jewison
Selection:  Me

I very much recall the 1980's and wandering the sci-fi aisles of video rental stores where we never, ever rented Rollerball (1975).  When you'd bring up the movie with someone of age to have seen it in theaters, mostly they hadn't.  So all we had to go on was a box which was Jimmy Caan with a spiked glove.  And if we wanted movies about sci-fi athletes, which we really didn't, we'd watch Solarbabies.  It was a different and stupid time.

But, yeah, we just never picked it up, even when the film was remade in 2002 by John McTiernan (from my reading, the remake is more or less a completely different movie that happens to include the same sport).  

Parts of the movie are exactly what I'd expect.  It's sort of The Kansas City Bomber, but they added a whole bunch of kooky stuff to Roller Derby to make it violent.  Motorcycles, a big metal ball, spiked gloves... stuff like that.  The game is played in a future world where the corporations have taken over, completely.  Cities now exist to serve specific corporate interests.  

Example:  the team we're following is Houston, which is an Energy town, and, man, is that uncomfortably close to the truth.

It's not dissimilar to plenty of other sci-fi set-ups, where a wealthy elite sit at the top pulling the strings, and everyone else is happy with the world they're in, but our hero stumbles onto the plan/ evil machinations of the elite.  The problem with Rollerderby is that, actually, aside from our lead character's life, everyone else seems fine?  I mean, I don't love the world they present, and people are dying playing this goofy game, but...  literally everyone else in this movie is playing along.  There's no Fahrenheit 451 group of folks quietly or loudly resisting.  There's no masses starving and miserable like Soylent Green.  I don't like the idea of a corporation providing me with a new girlfriend every six months, but no one seems pretty bent out of shape with it, no matter how weird or dehumanizing.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

TV Re-Watch: The Expanse, Seasons 1-2




Like a lot of people, I tried to watch The Expanse twice before a third attempt got me hooked. 

I believe it was just before the 6th and final season of The Expanse debuted that I gave it that third shot, and I think through the power of subtitles and being told I needed to power through a few episodes, I'd be richly rewarded, I made it to the fourth episode and was all-in.

To that end, I have notes for any new show-runner on what is a turn-off on a very good show and why they should not do the things that the pilot for The Expanse did, even if I know perfectly well why it did those things in retrospect.  

Based on a series of novels by two writers working under the shared pen-name of James A. Corey, the show follows the events surrounding the introduction of a new technology to an all-too-buyable vision of the future in which humanity has not yet left our solar system, but has made it to the edge of the solar system, driven by the needs of humanity and the joys of commerce.  

Essentially, three populations are of concern 
  • the Earth of about 300 years in the future
  • Mars - a now semi-self-sufficient entity, highly militarized and suspicious of Earth
  • and the Belt - now hundreds of years old, a series of huge space stations, small stations and colonies clinging to asteroids and mining the asteroid belt for the materials needed by Earth and Mars to advance and survive
This year I did try to start reading the novels, but all it made me want to do was re-watch the series.  Well, Jamie's brother and dad had been watching the show, and my brother's family named their dog after one of the characters (Drummer) and Jamie was finally of a mind that she'd wade through those first episodes and see what the noise was about.

Like the best sci-fi, the world-building the of the series is so well done, it feels intuitive.  This is a deeply used future, and mankind is still mankind.  This is no Star Trek future where there's a bunch of reasonable species being reasonable.  And while not technically dystopian, there's a certain... inevitability to the future imagined.  Clearly the novelists understood what capitalism tends to do, what governments definitely do, and what it means to be born into systems that seem fundamentally fucked, and you have more or less no say in it.  Which, despite what the kids on social media think, is more or less the operating model for humanity.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Oscar Watch: Poor Things (2023)





Watched:  03/08/2024
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Director:  Yorgos Lanthimos
Selection:  Me


I remember seeing the trailer for Poor Things (2023) and immediately saying "well, I would like to see that".  

It is true: one of my favorite films is Bride of Frankenstein.  Not "favorite horror film" or "favorite 1930's movie".  Bride of Frankenstein just lands every note correctly - storywise, visually, casting, etc...  It's simply a favorite.  And it wasn't hard to see echoes of that film in the trailer.

When learning about 1930's horror films, I delved a bit into the German Expressionism that informed the aesthetic.  And this movie, from the trailers again, seemed to be saying "hey, nerds, we play with some of that stuff".  

The look, the lens selection, the occasional use of a keyhole POV into the world, and certainly the artificiality of the sets and astounding set design seem to call back to what you might find in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, or some early Fritz Lang (I won't pretend I have a wider base of knowledge in this arena than I do).  It's certainly not a 1:1, and Lanthimos and his design team go above and beyond, creating a world unique to this film, entirely built upon sets and where the artificiality and surreal environs are the point.

I would expect some of the detail in early horror also informed Lanthimos' inclusion of details like the Pig-Chicken and other oddities seen in the film (not that Bride of Frankenstein doesn't delve into it's own pockets of weirdness).  

There's also a tiny dash of Wizard of Oz in there, but what movie worth it's salt doesn't nod a bit toward that film?

Sunday, February 25, 2024

SF Science-Fiction Watch: It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)




Watched:  02/24/2024
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  First
Director:  Robert Gordon
Selection:  me

I was watching something recently - no idea what - and they showed clips from It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), one of the 1950's staple sci-fi atomic-age monster horror movies I'd always meant to get around to, but it just never happened.  In the clips, I saw the giant, stop-motion squid at the center of the movie tearing up San Francisco-based landmarks so I thought "hey, let's watch that with Dug."

So, we did.

Quick note:  the version we watched on Amazon was colorized, and done pretty well, I believe by Amazon.  But it's not what I was intending to watch.  Beware which version you're clicking on when you agree to rent the film.

At the time, this movie was very successful, but seems to have been somewhat forgotten by Gen-X and subsequent generations.  Jamie stated out loud what I was wondering:  did someone read a synopsis of Gojira (1954) and decide to try to make something similar here?  Maybe, but also:  by 1955, we were into the second wave of monster films as studios realized the popularity of Dracula and Co. had not really diminished, but - also - wasn't it fun to have giant, radioactive ants (Them! - 1954) or just big old sea beasts (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms - 1953).  

Unlike Gojira, the military here is shown as successful, eventually, against the beast.  But, if you like movies about meetings and some awkward romance (and if you have an interest in getting into Godzilla, I hope you like both), this is the movie for you.  

Look, Harryhausen is a master, but he can only make so much movie so fast.  And make it look as good as it does in this film.  So there's not a lot of time in the movie where we actually see the giant octopus.  When we do, it looks fantastic.  The FX and stop-motion are top of their game for the era, if nothing else, just skip around the timeline of the film to watch that.  It's extremely cool.

The film stars Kenneth Tobey as our submarine commander hero and sexual harasser, Faith Domergue as the brilliant lady scientist who eventually takes Tobey down a peg even as she's clearly ready to bed him, and Donald Curtis, whom I have seen in multiple other movies but never in such a prominent role.  They're all fine.  Tobey I have an affection for as the guy from the original The Thing From Another World and a whole bunch of Joe Dante films (plus Airplane!).  Domergue just isn't one of my favorites.  She's very...  there in the movie, but she always feels a little flat to me.  And Curtis isn't bad as the third wheel.  

The sexual politics of the movie are squarely 1955 for most of the film:  he-man Tobey makes his intentions known, Domergue is sorta having it as Tobey literally corners her and all but waggles his eyebrows.  But the curious bit is the speech delivered by Curtis, informing Tobey (who presumably has been at sea since WWII) "hey, women have their own minds, and they're entering the workforce as equals, so step the fuck off" to which Tobey seems amenable-ish.  It arrives way too late, and has been ignored coming from the mouth of Domergue, but it does arrive, and for that alone I was shocked.

The movie is a tight 80-something minutes, so it's not exactly going to kill your day to watch the movie.  Just don't come in expecting deep character studies or anything.  Come in looking for SF to get blowed up by a squid and you're good.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

MST3K/ Cattrall Watch: City Limits (1984)




Watched:  09/29/2023
Format:  MST3K on YouTube (keep circulating the tapes?)
Viewing:  First
Director:  Someone, I'm sure

In my quest to catch the entirety of the Kim Cattrall filmography without it becoming a thing, I finally got around to the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (S5:E3) in which Joel and the Bots watch the 1984 sci-fi opus City Limits.  

You will guess from the fact it is not just an episode of MST3K, but from observing that a 1984 movie made its way to MST3K in 8 years that maybe this was not a movie that was in high demand, perhaps due to the fact it's a low-budget mess of a movie.

Weirdly, the movie features a number of known humans, begging the question:  what was happening in 1984 for each of these people?

The movie features:
  • James Earl Jones
  • Rae Dawn Chong (on the poster above)
  • John Stockwell (the guy from Christine and Top Gun)
  • Dean Devlin for some reason
  • John Diehl (many things, including Miami Vice)
  • and, of course, Kim Cattrall
  • And Robby Benson who was in stuff I've never actually seen
It feels like the movie happened to be a way station for actors on their way up or down.  I won't guess further as to whom was heading up or down, but you can do the math.  It's mostly weird to watch yet another 1980's no-budget post-apocalyptic movie but you actually recognize half the cast.

Anyway - I won't even really get into what it is or is about.  Because Jamie and I had to piece together what was happening in a pause-the-movie moment about 2/3rds of the way through.

This movie is now famous mostly for spawning the Kim Cattrall bit on MST3K as someone on staff (I assume Trace Beauliue) was clearly a fellow appreciator of the actor.  




It does help if you've seen Mannequin.  I mean, not just to appreciate the sketch, but in life in general.


Monday, August 28, 2023

Riff Watch: Time Chasers (1994)




Watched:  08/27/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's

Sooooooooooo.....

Jamie started scrolling through options and decided we were watching *something* by the RiffTrax or MST3K guys.  She settled on something called Time Chasers, which had been covered by MST3K at some point, but RiffTrax had covered it again during a live show a few years back, and that's what we watched.

Look, if this movie was good, it *probably* wouldn't be a RiffTrax selection.  

Edit: hours after watching this, a making-of YouTube video showed up in my algorithm, and I watched the first part.  It turns out, the movie was written and directed by a 19-year-old.  So, I am impressed in some ways.  I assume no real film school, and a lot of moxie.  And yet...

It's a movie that both really takes the concept of time travel seriously and works through the implications, but also has a plot that requires the characters be utter morons who have *not* thought out the implications - such as, hey, maybe selling your time travel device to a corporation could have consequences.  

It's your usual no-budget, big-dreams, let's use all the things we can borrow from friends, sci-fi indie feature that was a staple of MST3K programming and shoot-your-shot movie-making of the era.  Cast with people who were the best to audition, usually with regional accents, and the actress who looked closest to what a Hollywood actress might look like.  

Like a community theater production of a play that you realize isn't quite working, you still want to cheer everyone on.  Until you realize, no one has told anyone involved that this script needed some work, and you're allowed to leave things on the cutting room floor.  

Anyway, you get the picture.  

The Riff is a lot of fun, and I recommend.  

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Predator Rewatch: Prey (2022)



Watched:  08/25/2023
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Dan Trachtenberg

With the recent announcement that the direct-to-Hulu film, Prey (2022), was coming soon to BluRay and 4K, I wanted to re-evaluate how much I liked the movie, which I had a fondness for on a first viewing.  

On a second viewing, I liked it even more.  There's nothing in the film I thought didn't work.  Lovely stuff.  You can't have this movie without prior Predator films, but it exists as maybe as an exercise in merging more filmic elements with the action film and one enhances the other.  As an 80's-kid, Predator stands tall in my mind alongside Aliens as the merging of sci-fi and high-octane action.  

I'd refer to my first post on the film for a lot of the nuts and bolts of what I thought about the movie.  I won't say that changed much since (checks link) last August.  After a year away, and not watching a movie just to follow it, I want to add additional respect for the cinematography in this movie, the overall acting of the cast, and the soundtrack - which is quite good.  

But, really, it's insane that Amber Midthunder is not slated for a million more things immediately.  She's so fucking good in this, acting more than half the movie against a dog or by herself, and delivering the character in understandable, definitive terms.  When she is with other actors, every bit of it works - and that's a testament to director Dan Trachtenberg and the mostly unknown cast pulled together for the movie.  Anyway, I'm now officially a fan.

There's plenty to say about the story and structure of the film that makes it inherently more interesting than a lot of similar films, from the movie's underdog of a hero to the multitude of threats present in the movie.  But I am sure you can fill in those blanks yourseld.

Anyway - I can currently see the film any time I want on Hulu, so the purchase of a disc may not be in my immediate future, but I'll also be keeping my eye open to see what bonus features get included.  I don't think I did a 2022 movie wrap-up, but it was certainly one of my favorites from last year, and a review tells me that opinion has only doubled-down.








Wednesday, July 19, 2023

PodCast 249: "Repo Man" (1984) - a punk rock podcast w/ Matty & Ryan


Watched:  07/15/2023
Format:  BluRay - Criterion
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Alex Cox




Old pal but new co-contributor Matty brings us one of the staples of 1980's punk rock culture and cinema. It's one of the most quotable, most memorable films of an era! We get some drinks and go do some crimes.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Repo Man - Iggy Pop 
Institutionalized - Suicidal Tendencies 

Matt's copy of the soundtrack on original vinyl




Sci-Fi

Monday, June 5, 2023

80's Watch: Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)




Watched:  06/02/2023
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  George Miller

In memory of the great Tina Turner, this week we put on Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) for our group watch party.  This is also the last one for the summer (or longer).  Life is resuming, and while I enjoy the experience, my own life and those of the folks who participated, has changed once again.  

Anyway, this was a movie I saw at age 10 and in the theater.  Subsequently, it played interminably on HBO, I believe, during one of the periods where my parents would pay for premium cable, and I'd seen it a lot during a crucial window in my life.  I'm well aware that it's not a patch on The Road Warrior, and in its way, not as fresh as the first Mad Max.  And, it's just not as good as Fury Road, which feels like the real distillation of the concepts and final word on the idea of Mad Max - until George Miller does it again.

But it's still a watchable movie and has more ideas per minute than a season of most sci-fi TV.  And like all sci-fi that works, it feels plausible and comments back to us about who we are.  

This Mad Max film sees Max wander into a town where capitalism has met with the apocalypse and you can't enter unless you have something to trade.  Having recently been relieved of his camels(!) and car, Max is recruited to kill the muscle of a brains/ muscle combo by the person who founded Bartertown but has lost control of it to an engineer who is turning pig shit into methane.  

Like I say: lots of ideas.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Watch Party Watch: Zardoz (1974)




Watched:  01/20/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Boorman

So, my college pal, Robb, was a big fan of this movie, which really set the bar for me.  He's the same guy who would pitch a Saturday as "let's watch Stalker and then Bullit".   Circa 1999 or so, my brother, Steanso, and myself decided to give Zardoz (1974) a whirl, and I think we made it twenty minutes in before giving up and watching Xena or Cleopatra 2525.  

I will not say I hated or even disliked Zardoz, while acknowledging - this is not a movie for everyone.  The film contains a million concepts and ideas all crammed into one movie.  I don't think it really succeeds (for me) as story, commentary or entertainment, but it is absolutely a thing to watch for its tremendous ambition, low-budget-swing-for-the-fences approach, and unique visuals.  It's trying to do some Very Important Stuff via sci-fi, and I can't say it fails, exactly.  The ideas are interesting enough.  It's just not a movie that is amazingly fun to watch (sober).

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

PodCast 228: "Terminator 3" (2003) - A Movies of Doom/ ArnieFest/ SimonUK Cinema Selection w/ Ryan




Watched:  01/08/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Jonathan Mostow




Si and Ryan are doomed to a fate they can't escape, It's time for more robots from the future. Kind of dumb robots, but robots nonetheless. It's the first post-Cameron sequel and maybe it cooked too long or something. But it has its good spots! But. Anyway.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Terminator 3 Theme - Marco Beltrami

Terminator Posts and PodCasts:




Simon UK Cinema Series




Arnie Fest Playlist

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Halloween Watch: The Blob (1958)




Watched:  10/30/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  second?  third?
Director:  Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. / Russell S. Doughten Jr.

I am 95% certain Simon and I are podcasting the 1950's and 1980's version of this film next Halloween.  But here's some early thoughts.

  • Pictures for teens may actually provide a more realistic portrayal of cops than 95% of movies (ie: they walk in with a thousand assumptions, ignore all evidence in front of them, and there's a non-zero chance they're going to arrest the very people who were asking for help)
  • There are numerous lengthy and pointless scenes in this movie
  • Apparently just anyone can get to an air-raid siren
  • The instinct to shoot at a gelatinous monster is prevalent and wild
  • This movie is terrifying
  • The FX are absolutely insane.  I need to read up on how they did all of this.
  • That poor nurse.
  • In some ways, this is a movie about a little dog no one can keep track of.
  • In other ways, this is a movie about the world's shittiest first date.
  • The job of a teen girl in this movie is to silently stand there and be forgotten but absolutely be in scenes standing  there hoping Steve McQueen can do something.
  • Everyone in this town shows up for midnight movies.  Young, old, rich, poor.
  • Weird flex to predict global warming, movie
Anyway, love The Blob.  So good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Everything Watch: Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)




Watched:  09/24/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Directors:  Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Look, one would really need to watch this movie 2-3 times and plan on several thousand words to really talk about Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022).  Suffice to say, this movie was very, very much in the wheelhouse for a lot of us, and if it was nominated for - and then won - awards, I might have respect for the awarding industry and begin to believe that it actually recognizes what cinema can do.

I am painfully and tragically aware that some will watch the movie and say "oh, they were trying too hard" or "that was just weird for weird's sake".  And, if that is your takeaway, I wish you well on your journey through life.  Sadly, you and I are going to view this rock we live on, and our time here, with wildly different eyes.

Everything Everywhere All at Once will be one of the films that I'm going to hold close, because we don't get them very often.  Whether you think the movie is saying something new - and, arguably, it is not - it is saying it beautifully, artfully, and humanely.  And maybe when we need it most.  

Sci-Fi and fantasy always are at their best when they are  allegories which may reflect, shift or challenge our views.  And whether we're considering response to a technological change and vast societal ripples or deeply personal stories, the closer we hew to recognizable reality, the greater the impact.  There's a reason we well up as Spock makes a sacrifice for the crew - it's a statement on the logic of serving the greater good, not on the problems of a made-up warp-core technology.  But it's a lesson forgotten again and again in comic books, television and movies, which become about the concepts and less about what it says to the audience about the world or themselves.  

SPOILERS

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Watch Party Watch: They Live (1987)




Watched:  09/02/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John Carpenter

I saw They Live (1987) twice in the theater.  I still think it's a pretty keen movie, and would now make for an interesting TV series or something.  

But, yeah, when I was twelve, there was some sci-fi coming out (see: RoboCop, Running Man, arguably even Spaceballs) that was kind of tricking studios into making movies that were some curious cultural commentary dressed up in action-adventure guise.  Which, you know, is what good sci-fi should be, anyway.

They Live mostly went under the radar, and I recall straight through college being The Only Guy In The Room Who Had Seen It, but as I kidded/ not kidded - it's not like I wasn't getting what these movies were on about.  But I do think in the past 30-something years, people have eventually seen They Live, and it's not everyone's cup of tea.  I can still bathe in the nostalgia I have for the movie and remember what it was like getting served up the movie's messaging as a novelty (there's always a 12-year-old out there getting these ideas for the first time).  But, I mean, as a 47-year-old, it is, as someone at the watch party said, a bit like something written by a college freshman.

It's got some strange pacing and budgetary constraints that keep the hard sci-fi stuff crammed into just the last few minutes.  The pacing is super odd, from the kind of draggy first twenty minutes of set-up to the five and a half minute fight in the middle of the film.  We clearly needed more Meg Foster, but that's always true.  And I think it's 100% intentional that the aliens look ridiculous.  Because they're grotesque and laughable at the same time, and that's just good stuff.  Make it weird, man!

Anyway, it was a kick to watch it with people who hadn't seen it.  

Meg Foster will come with her own special FX, thank you


Monday, August 8, 2022

Aliens Watch: Prey (2022)




Watched:  08/07/2022
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Dan Trachtenberg

I had not heard one word about Prey (2022) before my social media lit up when it dropped on Friday (two days ago).  Frankly, I ignored the chatter for half a day when I saw mention it was a Predator movie, which is not in the year 2022 that is something that gets me terribly excited.  I love Predator, but everything after in the franchise sort of exists on a sliding scale, and attempts to merge it with Aliens somehow devalued both.  

Suffice to say, I have not seen every Alien, Predator or Aliens and Predator movie over the past 35 years.  

Thus, I was inclined to ignore the movie til I heard the basic set-up and that some trusted sources generally liked it.  Some quite a bit.  

I finally watched the film this morning, and... yeah.  This is the best Predator related thing I've seen since watching Bill Duke dry-shave in a jungle.  They kept the scale manageable, they remembered we know the Predator set-up, and that the thing to do now is to make the movie have personal stakes for the lead.  They will be changed in some way by the experience, and not just because they experienced pants-eradicating terror facing an alien invasion.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Amazon Watch Party Watch: War of the Worlds (1953)




Watched:  07/29/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Byron Haskin

It's tough to beat this sci-fi classic.  And I write about it pretty often.  So I'll be brief.

Here.  Here.  Here.  and Here.  And part of why we even have a "mars" category here at The Signal Watch.  

I own a model of the Martian craft and of a Martian.  This movie is absolutely my jam.

Anyway, you can read prior posts about that, but it was indeed a lot of fun to watch the movie with other people, some of whom had seen it, and some not.  It's a high water mark of science fiction film for a reason, and I expect that won't diminish for some time.  

Even Spielberg seemed to only bounce up against this version with his 2005 version of the story.  But I think there's room for all the interpretations.  And all the movies (see:  Independence Day) that riff on it or rip it off.  

Anyway, it disappears from Amazon Prime Monday, so you have like a day or two to watch it for "free".