SciFiMan's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas(2012)

(Spoilers Contained Within)

It would take a very long time to go into detail about all the different plot elements in this genre defying masterpiece - so I think that I will cut to the chase: You don't have to be particularly observant or intelligent or have your wits about you to understand anything that is going on in this movie. I think the only requirements are that you have a pulse and that you have some feeling. There are parallels drawn between the different threads spanning centuries and entertaining elements throughout each - it is enough to just pay attention to what is going on and not try to do a top down analysis that requires a PhD and 20 years of movie critiquing experience.

Cloud Atlas has segments of comedy. I have never laughed so hard in all my life and huge kudos go out to Jim Broadbent for his performance as Timothy Cavendish. I never thought a nursing home could be so hilarious! Cloud Atlas works as a compelling science fiction film with a very moving segment set in Neo Seoul Korea in the year 2144. The sets are immaculate and the visual effects are grand and jaw dropping. Cloud Atlas also has segments of thoughtful drama and tense nail biting action. The magical part is that all of these stories are connected - and one of the ways that this is illustrated is by the use and reuse of actors throughout the movie. Souls of individuals are transforming as time wears on and each scene in the movie offers insight into the moral standing of each of the characters involved. The characters themselves (and it would seem their souls) are also doing a bit of introspection and making evaluations of their own as the dynamics of each story thread unfold.

Doona Bae turns in an admirable performance as a slave worker who is a clone (named Somni 451) that is used to serve guests at a café in the Neo Seoul segment. Tom Hanks delivers an awesome performance with his Doctor in the 1849 segment - twisted and evil and poisoning a man to steal his gold. Jim Broadbent delivers an outstanding performance as Timothy Cavendish as I mentioned earlier. Halle Barry is also a gem in the roles she plays - the best of which I think is Luisa Rey - someone who is finding out about corruption at a nuclear power plant and is avoiding death and working to expose some dirty secrets.

I cannot say enough about this movie. If I were voting for academy awards I am pretty sure I would give a good number of them to this film. Best Picture. Best Actor: Hanks. Best Supporting Actress: Doona Bae. Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent. Best Director: The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. Best Makeup. Best Visual Effects. Best Editing. Best Costume Design. I say this a lot, and I might have some bias since I love sci-fi and I hope that one day sci-fi will get the recognition it deserves. After viewing this movie the first time and walking out of the theater I was certain this would be a contender and a new benchmark in the film industry.

But I have had the idea in my head that this movie has received mixed reviews from critics because it was privately funded. It has also received mixed reviews because I think there was some thought that you had to connect dots and get some crazy message from the film. More negativity came when the news articles came around discussing Larry Wachowski had become transgendered and renamed herself Lana Wachowski. I suppose that there are so many crazy variables coming together on this that there was a certain degree of failure to it. But what is good art and who makes good art? And is everyone in the world without some kind of adversity? Isn't imperfection inherent to the human condition? Are we free to make choices and do what we want with our lives and our bodies?

Had the world been open minded like I am I suppose we would be standing in line at the theater time and time again to see this awesome film - it is unfortunate that it has had to deal with the issues mentioned above. If you want my honest opinion, I STRONGLY URGE you to see this film. It is a beautiful work and may perhaps be the 2001: A Space Odyssey of the present day ---- or so we will realize after the dust settles (exactly like 2001).

Fire in the Sky

Very well done, very scary, falls short because it is not about much other than a UFO abduction, but the vision is good and works well to frighten the audience.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

(Spoilers contained within)

Kick-Ass is fantastic fable that aims to please and gives the watcher piece of mind on how the world works. Of the reviews I have read for this movie - many of them will say that it is half good and the half they point to as being good is Kick-Ass's reckless exploration of the "Superhero" occupation and what risk was involved with being a Superhero.

These people are idiots. I give this film 90% because I did not like Kick-Ass (played by Aaron Johnson) very much. He seemed to not have depth or wit - the kind that it would take to be a superhero. People that have superhero qualities strike me as the right types of people that would try to be superheroes.

Hit-Girl was, in a word, AMAZING. We will likely see Chloe Moretz in future roles in much the same way we will see Sharlto Copley in future roles. Hit-Girl was a dangerous and ferocious kid that would fire bullets through people's heads and stab them to pieces! I thought I was watching Kill Bill all over again! Hit-Girl was as good as "the Bride" and she even drops f-bombs and c-bombs to boot.

The critics that think Chloe did a bad job or those that think that the moral implications of making this actor play this role was abomination from hell should get hit by a meteorite and struck by lightning. Her job was to be the "CRAZYWOMAN" girl that deals with life adversity by battling her opponent. The culture that she is exposed to teaches her to drop f-bombs and steals her innocence. These things are perfectly plausible in today's world. Much (again) like the Monkeys and Typewriter in the infinite monkey theorem we could definitely have a viable existing human candidate for each of the characters that exist in this film. That being said, why limit a film to show us and employ actors to show us only what we all agree is morally and ethically ok? That is a DUMB idea!

Finally, let me point out that Christopher Mintz Plasse did a fabulous job with Red Mist. It was easy to see that he was on the fence with the morality and direction of his father's enterprise and he was debating whether or not Kick-Ass could be his friend - something that it was made VERY VERY clear he needed. He wanted to show defiance but was afraid of the serious nature of his father. In the end it is the antagonist of this movie, Frank D'Amico (played WELL by Mark Strong) that tells his son (Red Mist) to defend him from Hit-Girl. Hit-Girl had just (conveniently) killed all of his other bodyguards in a bloody and violent and terrifying way. Red Mist had protection until the end and then his father tried to feed him to Hit-Girl.

All I can say is, WOW! HELL YES!! When I grow up I want to be like Hit Girl. See this on the big screen before it is too late. Bring a date. Bring your wife/husband and hire a sitter. It's definitely worth it.

*** out of ****

Total Recall
Total Recall(2012)

I am fairly sure tha this movie was judged a bit harshly because its predacessor from Paul Verhoeven was so highly acclaimed. Here Len Wiseman dared to remake this great film (or should I say short story "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" by Philip K Dick) and Len elected to of course add some sci-fi bling bling to it that was fairly well done.

To be fair, I don't think it is fair to compare this work to that of Paul Verhoeven - who now in light of this and the coming Robocop will look prodigious compared to the people reimagining the works of Philip Dick. But, in hindsight, I would say that this film was remarkable in the special effects department and it was remarkable in the action department.

What is lacking? Story elements is my first answer. How did Melina quickly find Quaid on the highway after "looking everywhere" for him? How were the antagonists able to maintain pursuit after it seemed like Quaid had lost them?

And what was it again that Quaid remembered in the end that was a startling revelation that brought resolution to this picture about rememberance?

It would have been nice also to have seen a bit more intellectual material instead of wall to wall action....

I still give this a passing grade because in my perspective, had I seen this and it was not a remake I would not have judged it so harshly or had expectations.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)

I went in to Skyfall expecting to be wowed and amazed by violence and action and chase scenes and women. In a large way this movie succeeds and surpasses many of the previous Bond installments that I have seen.

I was slightly let down by 007s quartermaster Q - Ben Whishaw who was brilliant in his role - was limited to giving bond only 2 gadgets. I thought that it would have been a bit more awesome to see a few more awesome gizmos coming from Q.

Also I thought that the baton passing at the end was a bit sad (but definitely not something that detracts from the film - just be ready for a twist for future installments)

If you like good action flicks or if you are someone who enjoys 007 - this movie would be a good one to see!

Grandma's Boy

Sophies Tea - I think Grandma might have had a few too many and being a veteran video game tester I appreciate the plot more and the characters and their situations more.

This film is - in my opinion - underrated. It is fun and will offer lots of laughs.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)

(Spoilers contained within this review)


Bottom Line:

****/****
A


(Spoilers contained within this review)


Prometheus is a film about life and death. It is about harmonious coequals. Think about Yin and Yang. Think about positive and negative. Think about entropy and enthalpy. And here we get the full presentation - in the beginning we witness the formation of life. It starts when an alien (called an "Engineer") drinks from a vial of something that is essentially analogous to death. The engineer and potion of death mix (the engineer becomes very ill) and the result breaks apart the Engineer - splicing apart the smallest divisible pieces of him and then new systems of life flourish and evolve in his wake.

Later in the movie we see the engineers and the death fluid again. The starship that the engineers are on contains tons of the death fluid. We also witness how the death fluid affects humans - effectively it kills them and potentially spawns killing machine like monsters. The Engineers are a "Superior Race," per David the androids assessment and I speculate that perhaps they come from some infinite future or at least a longer timeline of natural progression than the Humans living on Earth.

After watching all this I realized that life cannot exist without death. These engineers must have perfected some forumla of death that when combined with themselves creates the perfect balance between life and death and thus allows the evolution of and creation of new life forms. Engineers = Yin and potion of death = Yang.


Evolution is a big theme here: cells are shown and they begin to divide and multiply. There are single celled organisms and then multi-cellular organisms. This is not to say that we are without divine intervention (as pointed out so eloquently by Shaw (who made the makers?)) Also there is a striking resemblance that the Engineers have with the humans. Many thematic elements were brought into contention regarding worldview. I, as the reviewer, think my role is to make sure I can stay objective in writing and not let my accepted belief of how the universe works change my perspective on the film. But, because this is a controversial topic it might be important to note that I am basically agnostic. And in my opinion, the ideas on the creation of humanity as presented here are perfectly plausible.

Seamlessly mixed in to all the speculation and debate is engrossing entertainment and I salivated through every minute of it. I loved how two-faced Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender's characters were. Of course these characters have their own agenda and rest assured there is more going on than what you can see from the get-go. Fassbender takes this film to the next level and delivers what I believe is an Oscar-worthy performance. He is very interested in perseverance - in keeping everyone alive and in staying interested in how everyone is doing. But he is also taking orders from Weyland himself and this eventually interferes with the care and attention he gives to everyone else. The audience is conflicted with the morality of David's actions when he infects Charlie Holloway with the fluid. We are again conflicted with the morality of his actions when he realizes Shaw has an alien embryo growing inside her but will not perform the surgery to remove it. He is following orders and had to put on hold his ethical subroutines. And he is programmed to follow orders. I liked David very much - even when he was being bad. He was a model of efficiency. There were other machines with what seemed to be moral and ethical (and possibly Weyland Company implemented) boundaries. When Shaw asks the medical pod to give her a cesarean it tells her no. When Shaw asks the medical pod for removal of a foreign object (I believe she said debris) her request is of course granted. We are told early on that the pod is calibrated for men and this also might be why Shaw's cesarean request is denied but I do, however, find it hard to believe that the pod would be completely oblivious to human female anatomy since it seems to know all that there is to know about male human anatomy.


I read many reviews from critics that were having a hard time with the content in this movie - saying that a lot of things go unexplained and a lot of things are left "open ended." In my opinion, if all things were completely provable and explicable - things like religion would lose their value and meaning not to mention the universe would be without its mysticism and its "greater unknown." Such questions parallel asking a religious person, "How does God work in terms of miracles he performs and when he elects to perform them?" In parallel to other films, "Why is the Rain Main a high functioning autistic savant?" "Why does Hal from 2001 feel threatened by being deactivated? Is he indeed sentient?" The greater unknown is what makes sci-fi as well as other genres great; it is what makes exploration an adventure and it is what encourages us to excel at finding truth in a universe full of the unknown.

I read several reviews that were baffled that Millburn and Fifield got lost when trying to go back to the ship. My wife was even upset with that (in our first screening together) and thought that no geologist could ever get lost. But I have several things to say in response to this. First, they were afraid. I do think that there was a certain degree of fear that these characters were feeling and it even seemed that there was a greater degree of fear with Fifield than with Millburn. I think that this may have caused some issues with their ability to make judgments. It was also an expedition that occured right after they had landed and I think these guys were lacking a certain degree of preparation. I think these two reasons alone could easily explain how they got lost, and while knowing nothing about how their computers or equipment works I have come to the conclusion that it might require some work on their part in order to find the correct way to go. The other thing I read too is that aparrently the people in this movie all make glaring mistakes and this is somehow part of the plot - so Fifield and Millburn getting lost, Weyland wanting to meet his maker and getting murdered in the process and even the crew - not paying attention to the situation at all times (thinking of the Captain Janek/Vickers interaction here) led to disasterous consequences. The Engineers never seem to make any mistakes and the lone survivor of the mission never seemed to make any mistakes either...

I read more reviews that seemed to indicate that there was an issue with the people that were brought on this journey. I guess something to keep in mind is that the scientists that were brought are traditionally terraforming planets and not doing explorative research like they potentially could have been doing here. But I don't think that the intention of the mission was to do much in the way of research anyway since Weyland is paying for it and his goal is to meet the maker of mankind - something that he knew was possible after getting Shaw and Charlies take on why they should come out to this place to begin with. The other thing too - I think several of the crew members had hidden agendas that we really don't find out about until Weyland is brought out of his stasis much later in the film. I think the usefulness quotient of the crew members can be measured by their level of utility to the guy that brought them there in the first place - Weyland himself.

I read somewhere that the scientific method was not properly employed in anything that any of the scientists had done. First of all let me tell you all what the scientific method is: It is a process by which you ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments. More specifically:

Ask a Question
Do Background Research
Construct a Hypothesis
Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
Communicate Your Results


And nowhere in this movie did I see a scientist that was out of line in doing any of this. Why was Millburn being so playful with the alien snake that stuck its head out of the organic fluid? Because he was conducting a test! Does this life form react to physical stimulus? Let's test. His arm got broken and he was killed but in that process he did not violate the scientific method. Some of the best scientists in the world are willing to do the craziest things in order to progress their theories. This could have been an example of that. Also, unlike us (the audience) perhaps he was not very afraid as he thought his suit would protect him from a seemingly gentle creature (or so he may have thought in his head)

People had a problem with the notion of "Let's take our helmets off." I know that on the outside it seemed stupid but the air had been examined by Ford and she found that there were no contaminants (which she verbally said to EVERYONE) and further David said it was ok (atmospherically). The movie still acknowledges that this is a dumb idea (which I agree that it is) and Shaw clearly objects to it. But Charlie Holloway, being the cavalier ass that he is, insists on trying it and we find that it is indeed breathable. He had a hunch. So now we have to examine the character Charlie Holloway and determine why he has these random hunches and why he has to be a bit of a wild individual. Not enough information is provided to do such analysis, but I know for sure that there are scientists out there today that are absolutely insane and also extremely brilliant.

Also I think something should be said to the effect that the economics of the future could be somewhat different. It is clear that economics play a role for each of these characters and add to this the fact that these people work for a company that sends them out on terraforming assignments but does not tell them where they are going before-hand or why. When we hear Fifield say that he is there to get a paycheck I think it is safe to assume that he has a financial reason for doing what he is doing - and his abilities as a geologist might be better suited for terraforming projects. Also Weyland who owns this gigantic company that financed this mission should naturally be the man in charge of all the machines (David included) and they should all serve his interests and no one else's.

This movie does not try to be a crowd pleaser. Instead it engages your mind and makes you think - much in the same way 2001 presented various scenes and ideas that were not understood right away. The same can be said for Blade Runner. People needed to collaborate and share ideas in order to understand Prometheus - and in understanding many films (such as 2001) the understanding is more theoretical in nature. In my opinion this is a huge plus for the film.

I suppose this can also be a con, there is a lot to think about and mull over in your head. Some might be bored... The subject matter is complicated and for most of the questions raised - while not always answered (and for VERY good reason) - they are a means to a greater end story-wise.

Prometheus is an absolutely BRILLIANT motion picture, and while I have not put enough thought on where it goes in my all time favorites list I can definitely say that it will be on there after a bit more time goes by (and I can see this a few more times) I do think for sure this movie is better than 1979's Alien - for me there is no doubt on that.

This review has been based on four Prometheus 2D screenings and multiple views of all of the viral and trailer campaign materials.

**** out of ****

RoboCop
RoboCop(1987)

(Spoilers contained within)

I think very highly of Robocop. The only drawback to this film is that it is a little gory but the story it tells is compelling and the characters all do excellent jobs in their roles. Like many other good science fiction films Robocop asks some important questions about the meaning of life, what it means to be human and how much of you can be replaced by machinery before you stop being human. There isn't a clear answer to this question though the remaining flesh that hangs from the bowels of Robocop's robotic construct seems to keep human sensibility and psychological wherewithal intact.

I love how much I hate Boddicker after watching his gruesome murder of Officer Alex Murphy. The scene is effective in establishing the meaning of the film and why we hate the bad guy and also why the bad guy is bad. This has never been more clearly established in any film ever. The bad guys in this movie do a very good job in general I think - they seem driven to destroy society and instantiate lawlessness so that they can do the things that they want to do.

Watching Robocop repair himself, seeing his face as he chases down the bad guys, realizing that he was once a little more human AND watching him fight crime while encountering distorted memories from the person he once was --- all of this brings good character development to the table and strong resolve. There are several scenes where we see a flash from the past - the scene where officer Murphy dies or scenes where he is with his wife and child. For Robocop, realizing that he was once human and encountering these distorted memories of his past are not as much for him as they are for the audience itself. It is moving and emotionally complex. Robocop expresses anger and hatred and disgust. Seeing the abilities that Robocop has - his indestructible nature -- gives the audience a huge boost - we realize that Robocop means business. This is absolutely THRILLING!!!!

Robocop knows right from wrong and good from bad and he displays attributes that make us think of him as wholly human. Toward the end of the movie Robocop tells Officer Anne Lewis (regarding his family) "I can feel them but I don't remember them," and this is one of my favorite lines in all of cinema -- it is thought provoking to interpret this lines meaning. It seems that his human emotions are intact and yet he is missing information about what his former life was like - he still feels emotion about certain things but does not remember the things he feels the emotions about OR vice-versa.

I guess the bottom line is that kudos are in order for Peter Weller and also Paul Verhoeven. Kudos to Robocop! This is a fantastic film with a broad appeal and definitely has made a place for itself in the sci-fi genre. If Terminator put James Cameron on the map, Robocop definitely put Paul Verhoeven on the map. When watching this movie, please take a step back and think about how real everything feels. Much like Terminator, there was no holding back in this film and we saw everything in brutal detail.

**** out of ****

Gattaca
Gattaca(1997)

Last night I saw Gattaca again and I have to say - what an eye opening experience.

I am tempted very very much to give this film a 4 star rating just based on the fact that Uma Thurman is in it and I think she is my new Rotten Tomatoes Squeeze (aka Celebrity Crush).

In this movie we have a world where the perfection of the human genome has gotten to such a degree that genetic diseases and human biological imperfections have been eradicated. People that are born via the old fashion way (sex) are inferior to the "engineered" humans. Children born the "natural" way have a predetermined status that inevitably leads them to clean toilets and/or serve in simple service capacity. A lower class has been created by virtue of greater technological advancement in genetics.

This is an awesome and crazy IDEA~!

In this film the "perfected genome" is pitted against the "earth child" in a swimming contest several times. It is captivating and thought provoking. The competitors are brothers and one is played by Ethan Hawk (Vincent) and the other by Loren Dean (Anton).

Whether or not Vincent or Anton wins the swim contest seems irrelevant in face of the fact that both brothers would come to rescue one another or see one another in a way that is contrary to the views of society. Anton has a more personal relationship with Vincent and this causes him to be introspective and light hearted with his brother - contrary to the opinions of authority and society. He must square him up first and understand his character and the driving forces behind his actions.

Jude Law plays "Jerome Eugene Morrow," a man that is crippled and elects to sell his identity to Vincent so that Vincent can get into Gattaca and chase his dreams while Jerome can enjoy the benefits of Vincent's paycheck. He does an excellent job and surprisingly - as a paraplegic - he has some good scenes of action that are fun to watch! (SPOILER: Including the ENDING)

As much as this film is sci-fi this film is also feels like a drama. The drama is about what you need to do to survive in the world if you are someone who lives with an entirely different person's identity. Vincent has to constantly scrub his body down and brush his hair and clip his nails and then he has to meticulously plant traces of the real Jerome in the place that he would have left his own trace materials.

If you have not seen this movie you should probably see it - it is a fascinating tale that has a huge payoff in terms of story, dialog, directing, acting, screenplay and writing.

The other big PLUS is that (again) Uma Thurman is awesome. And now she is my new "Celebrity Crush" !!!!!!!

Marvel's The Avengers

Outstanding filmmaking meets comic genious. This film was definitely a crowd pleaser and brightened my day a bit after I had seen it.

I loved how the characters all had their unique abilities and I loved how each had his own opinion on everything and outlook on life. When the "Avengers" could not get along, peril would rear its ugly head and bring them back together.

The Hulk steals the show in one of the final scenes - the audience was laughing for about 5 solid minutes...

The story is solid and the characters are solid and the mythology is solid - I really cannot find anything wrong with this movie other than its lack of seriousness in some parts...

8/10

Inception
Inception(2010)
½

Inception was a bit of interesting handiwork from Christopher Nolan. The story was well thought out and things flowed seamlessly from beginning to end. I very much enjoyed seeing what could be done in these "dream" worlds that they were creating and thought that some of the ideas were fascinating. The sky really was the limit.

The infinite stair case (that in reality would be impossible to create) or the complexities of the relationship the lead character (Cobb) had with his wife created plot devices and adversity that you don't see coming. Dreams appear to become reality and there is no boundry on what might happen next.

There were also a few flaws in this movie. First, I think that all the action from beginning to end is a bit tiring. While Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio turn in admirable performances that felt genuine, we also see them in a constant state of mind and frame of reference. They adapt but they don't change. I also don't feel very invested emotionally in several of the characters - and I am not sure why this is - perhaps they always act the same way and behave in repetitive patterns. I think a lot could have been done to improve my emotional investment in Marion Cotillard's character and make me feel a greater degree of sympathy about her ultimate outcome. I also feel like I could have liked some of the characters more - had I gotten to know them just a bit better. The pace is a bit fast.

7/10

The Hunger Games
½

This was a fun film to see. The story was solid and the emotions in the film were raw. Katniss Everdeen was an absolute delight to watch. Her struggles seemed real and she was compassionate and easy to like. Jennifer Lawrence did an excellent job with her character.

I was expecting more violence and more conflict and maybe even a greater outcome. I was not sold on this dystopian society that had formed - I hardly think it is plausible for humanity to stoop so low that it forces two citizens from each of its districts to participate in a death match every year.

I also think it would have been VERY beneficial to see more of what the society and life for these people was like. I might have had an easier time accepting the status quo had there been a bit more political narrative.

70/100

The Hurt Locker

First of all, I would like to say that I think it is a crime that the "Rotten Tomatoes" web based application does not allow the end user to rate a film at 85%. This is failure on RT's part and I have to point it out. To further explain how much I am disgruntled by this, imagine me sitting in my first grade class and being told by my teacher that the hands on the clock only sit on the numbers and move in increments of five to tell the time of day. My first grade teacher snorted at me when I asked about what time it was when the minute hand was pointing between the numbers...

This film is a 85%. This movie is very well done and very convincing.

I think that saying this film was "cliche" is definitely not an out of line statement - having seen Patton, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket and hell -- even Forrest Gump (among others) -- this type of film has been done before and only the subject matter is different.

My Complaints:

1. Why show a bunch of mangy/sickly cats in the beginning of the film instead of showing mangy/sickly people that have been impacted by war - this might have had greater impact on the audience. I don't think that the symbolism is necessarily wrong but I do think that there is more to be gained from using mangy/sickly humans to speak to what I think Bigelow was trying to get at.

2. The movie seemed to drag on in places and there was not enough eye candy. Occasionally I hear the helicopters flying overhead or the jets/bombers/what have you -- but I needed to see them to feel more like I was in this environment. The sky - just as much as the ground and the broken glass and the bombs and the people - is part of what we should see too. Atmosphere speaks volumes in movies like this and we (the audience) might think more about the world that these people live in/work in if we had more to look at.

3. It seemed farfetched that Special Sergeant William James only loves a couple of different things in life and one of these things is disarming bombs. I guess I would have to hear it from him -- but having love for life, family, belief system.... Maybe my argument here is that we never knew what exactly was on his mind - this list of things that he loved - and knowing this might have made the film much more poignant. It seems obvious -- but is it?

4. My final argument of flaw is of a more personal nature. Being a hardworking professional workforce member in our great American society (that this trio and many others like them are VALIENTLY DEFENDING) I find myself a little sickened by war - after having endured losses in terms of friends and family of friends to this conflict, after having seen seemingly millions of news broadcasts and read numerous posts and stories I feel like telling a story about Iraq and war is akin to beating a dead horse. I want to see resolution brought to this horrible conflict and resolve on the table. This film had no resolve to offer me.

Good resolve might have been that there is improvement in Iraq and that there is a general consensus on value systems between 'us' and 'them' and that a better future is on the horizon. Seeing people working toward good is one thing, but not seeing change in a much more grand way (which I am sure has happened and will continue to happen in Iraq) leaves an empty feeling in my heart.

I have to admit that this movie had high points but at the same time I have to acknowledge that things could have been a lot better.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)

Avatar was entertaining and was fleshed out well. There were great ideas here. My biggest gripe with this film is that it is long. Really long.

I do think that there might be an issue with having to wear the 3D glasses - as I did in my IMAX and 3D screenings - having to wear these for the duration of the film might be annoying. I will say, however, that the visual style is STUNNING and this film will face no challengers for any award having anything to do with visual effects or sound. Also it might be useful for you to know that these glasses are only an extension of what can be seen in this film and they are not required.

There are some things that I thought were debatable. For example, who has the greater technological ability? The humans using computers, cryogenic tubes and helicopters -OR- the inhabitants of Pandora - who all seem interconnected and capable of 'plugging in' to everything (and everyone) to share control and create single unified automata?

Something else that I thought might be debatable was whether or not I should even be comparing the plights of human history (that we know about) to what was going on in this film. The closest parallel I can think of is the US waging war in the Persian Gulf so that oil can be extracted and sold - this hazily mirrors what is going on in this movie. "Unobtanium" must be critically important and therefore the need for it instantiates this type of conflict. The concept is nothing new---but something that I have learned about being human is that if we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. History also sometimes seems to repeat itself anyway.

I suppose that the story presented in this movie also hazily mirrors "Dances with Wolves" in that we have a character that originally is an antagonist of the native group feels compassion for the group and joins their ranks to fight against his former allies. Sully learns their ways and learns to appreciate them and becomes their friend and ally. He gets "married" and commits to the Na'vis as well as his own perseverance.

This film is amazing for many reasons. I liked the characters, I was drawn in and I cared about the ultimate outcome of each. They had their quirks but the characters were well acted and seemed to fit with what was going on. I wasn't expecting Cameron to pull the anime card and blow me away with a power struggle involving dragons and an ill-tempered military general and his minions... I also wasn't expecting to see humans as bad - but here again, like in District 9, the good guys are the Na'vi and the bad guys are human. This film is less violent than District 9 and by virtue of this has a rating that accepts larger audiences. In my 3D/IMAX screenings of this film I did feel like I was in another world and my eyes whirled with excitement at things popping out of the screen. The experience was surreal and mind blowing and brought tears to my eyes.

I marvel at this films visual brilliance; I marvel at how emotionally wrenched I was watching these characters resolve who they were going to fight and how; I marvel at the courage of Jake Sully to overcome his disability; I marvel at how the Na'vi came to entrust Jake and how he progressed toward becoming one of them (which parallels District 9); Finally I marvel at James Cameron for again giving us a film that has its shit together.

Star Trek III - The Search for Spock

I have little time to write this review: THE QUICK VERSION.

James Kirk is a badass. Stealing the Enterprise and screwing over that Excelsior captain guy was awesome.

Christopher Lloyd plays an AWESOME Klignon that trys to take advantage of everyone and push his pawns around to get the genesis device.

The orchestral sounds and music in this movie are awesome. Seeing Bones in the bar was awesome too. "How can you be deaf with ears like that?" GENESIS!!!!!

Kudos to cast and crew this is a great film that is fun to watch and it is shot in serial matinee style.

Go see it if you like Trek movies or sci-fi in general!

Uhura: "This isn't reality, this is fantasy!!!"

Aliens
Aliens(1986)

(Spoilers contained within)

Aliens is among the greatest if it is not the greatest science fiction film of all time. This film is a great example of epic noir -- here we find grim realism and fantasy chaos. Everyone dies. People have hidden agendas. There is lots of fear and despair during the course of the film for all of the characters and personally I was afraid of what the outcome might be after seeing the hopelessness of the situation as it developed. After examining the characters in the beginning it is hard to know who to trust and who will survive; this makes the movie great and adds suspense and keeps the watcher guessing until the end.

This movie encapsulates all that makes any movie great: there is a great cast of characters and terrific performances; the sets are awesome and spooky and futuristic; there is humor and action and drama and all of it is well done. The writing is terrific and fluid and the scope is grand and epic. Aliens was nominated for 7 academy awards: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (won) Best Effects, Visual Effects (won) Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Score, Best Sound.

Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) is perhaps the best female lead I have ever seen on the silver screen. The fact that she did not win Best Actress for her role in this film bothers me -- many things about the Academy Awards bother me in general I think, but here she was snubbed. Ripley connects with Newt -- a last surviving member of the LV-426 colony. Ripley re-kindles her maternal instinct with Newt which is a triumph after we see Ripley upset that her real daughter is dead from old age. In the end Ripley straps a machine gun/grenade launcher to a flamethrower and marches into the alien nest to save Newt. Nowhere in cinema - ever - not from Darth Vader or Hal the Computer or E.T. or Luke Skywalker himself will you see a resolve like hers in her determination to save Newt. She means business and she will kick some serious ass.

The Aliens themselves were genius. The aliens are a relentless weapon whose origin is uncertain and they conquer living things and transform living things they capture into more aliens. They are intelligent and know how to attack from all sides, make strategic moves like cutting power and destroying the marine's only ride home. There is an odd efficiency and finesse with how the aliens operate and they are violent and spooky and thought provoking. When the aliens draw near you know that -- as we saw in Airplane (1980) THE SHIT IS ABOUT THE HIT THE FAN...

I can only marvel at James Cameron (again) for giving us a solid science fiction film that ranks near the top in the genre. I will end this review with many of the most memorable quotes from this movie:

"Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?" ... "No, have you?"

"GET AWAY FROM HER YOU BITCH!!!"

"When somebody said aliens Vasquez thought they said illegal aliens signed up!!!"

"DRAKEEEE!!!! WE ARE LEAVING!!!!!"

"We're some real pretty shit now man!!"

"Not bad for a human"

"Welcome to the Express Elevator to HELL, going down!"

"I like to keep this handy -- for close encounters"

"What are we supposed to use man? Harsh language?"

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit -- it's the only way to be sure"

"Your attention please, all personnel must evacuate immediately. You now have 2 minutes to reach minimum safe distance..."

**** out of ****

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

(Spoilers contained within)

I want to skip to the bottom line on this one:

Terry Gilliam - you sir are an absolute nut case. And I like that A LOT.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is wild and inventive like previous Gilliam flicks though I would agree with other critics that his work here is weaker than in Brazil or 12 Monkeys.

For me, the best part was watching a sequence in the opening where it shows Doctor Parnassus as the head of this group of monks telling a story. Apparently the story is what drives the universe forward and provides the means of perseverance for all creation. This view is exciting - VERY EXCITING - and if Gilliam had explored further the subject of creationism without application of any specific worldview - with these people telling a story while they sit on their flying carpets we could have had a grand slam of a movie that blows Star Wars out of the water.

It kills me that motion pictures seemingly fail to take a step back and look at the universe on the same grand scale that Gilliam looks at it briefly here and disappointment comes when Doctor Parnassus changes the subject of this grand view and talks about something else. And while Tom Waits does a great job as the Devil-like adversary "Mr. Nick," seeing him versus seeing bigger and brighter sets and "big picture" elements was a bit of a letdown.

I am sad that Heath Ledger died during production and I appreciate the actors that stepped in to finish the job - Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell - my hat goes off to you guys. My hat goes off to Terry Gilliam too for completing this work in the midst of this tragedy and although the end result is not as remarkable as we might have liked it was fitting and respectable.

The performances are admirable but the story seems jumbled at points too - I had a hard time feeling bad for Dr Parnassus, I had a hard time seeing and understanding the hardship that these characters were facing. That comes with the territory with Gilliam movies.

Lily Cole, the woman who plays Valentina was HOT! While I won't make her my celeb crush, she was definitely admirable and the scene where she seems to be wearing nothing (but is still somehow covered up) had me drooling on my carpet.

Thanks Lily!

**1/2 out of ****

Heat
Heat(1995)

(Spoilers contained within)

I am still in disbelief that Heat was not even nominated for ANY Academy Awards. This film is an epic masterpiece and it has a cult following; Heat has tons of great scenes that show us criminal efficiency; Heat has characters that are very well developed and that the watcher can easily relate to and connect with; Heat gives us a ride that is unparalleled and distinct with action and emotion and imagery.

It is clear that TONS of time was spent creating the sets and scenes and characters. The actors poured their hearts and souls into what we got on the screen. When I watch this I feel like I am in another world completely and all awareness of reality as I know it has been stripped from my consciousness.

I want to watch Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) shoot and kill Waingro (Kevin Gage) and blow his brains onto a hotel curtain; I want to see the frustration of Lauren Gustafson (Natalie Portman) dealing with the painful divorce of her parents and feelings of abandonment; I want to see Ashley Judd ride the line between good and bad as she trys to communicate to her husband Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer) that he is going to have to move on from the life they once knew; I want to marvel at Donald Breedan (Dennis Haysbert) for trying to renew his life in crime only to be killed when he was only finding a way out of living a life bound by the rules of modern society.

I want to watch Eady (Amy Brenneman) flirt with Neil at the restaurant and I want to see them connect again at her house with a view of the lights of Los Angeles. Atmosphere was abundant here and the feelings and emotions of the characters brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. I want to watch Eady fight to free herself from Neil while flowers of wheat blow in the rising sun.

I want to watch Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore) make the dangerous choice of running the Bank Heist Score and I want to see the reactions of all the involved characters at its conclusion.

I want to see Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) chase down Neil at the Hotel/Airport and I want to watch them hold hands again as Neil lets out a last dying breath:

"I told you I'm never going back" (and here I might start crying or even thinking about the world and the big picture)

Elliot Goldenthal gets an A+ for providing an elegant and atmospheric soundtrack AND Michael Mann gets an A+ for making a movie that transcends many of the top films that exist today!

**** out of ****

(yeah, that's right!! It's not sci-fi but it is definitely an awesome movie worth watching - a movie that respected actors have poured their hearts and souls into and a movie RIPE with imagery and atmosphere!!!!!)

The Fly
The Fly(1986)
½

(Spoilers contained within)

"The Fly" was an emotional rollercoaster; "The Fly" was a visually stunning and affecting work and offered horrific and thought provoking outcomes for each of the characters involved. I have tremendous respect for David Cronenberg, Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis as well as the rest of the production cast and crew for their efforts in this film. This movie was outstanding! And while "The Fly" was emotionally complex it also offered a variety of visual spectacles that demand attention and raise eyebrows and blood pressure and keep watchers on the edges of their seats!

I think that this was perhaps more of a horror movie than it was a sci-fi film. As Seth progressively transforms into a fly we see a cabinet where he stores his old "human" body parts that have fallen off. We observe how Seth eats -- he vomits up mucus that dissolves and digests whatever it lands on and then he sucks it back up into his mouth. We see him become "The Fly" and while the title character (as the title character) has precious little screen time we learn about what being "The Fly" is like before we get to that stage. We also see his invention -- the teleportation device -- but this I think is small potatoes compared to the bigger picture -- what happens to Seth by virtue of using his invention (with a fly in the teleportation device with him) is what is driving this movie forward.

While Jeff Goldblum is giving us perhaps the best performance of his career we also see Geena Davis (as Veronica) -- being loving and affectionate and very attractive and giving a spectacular character. Her relationship with Seth toward the beginning seems to flourish and I was even convinced that their characters made an outstanding match! Her reaction to the bloody reality of what is happening to Seth made me think of how real it all felt and how horrible it must have felt for her character. Geena Davis seems to be a master at using facial expression and body language to communicate feelings in this film.

My only complaint is that John Getz was not as good as I would have liked -- seeing him in the end get his arm digested by "The Fly" is powerful and moving but it would have been more effective if I had liked his character more. John Getz plays "Stathis Borans" who was a prior love interest for Veronica and even though their 'thing' is over he is still in love with her and still holds a key to her apartment which of course she does not like. I was also slightly perplexed on why Seth and Veronica never thought that just being able to teleport inanimate objects had viable commercial applications (which clearly it does after having seen countless Star Trek episodes)

The bottom line is that this movie rocks. If you want to see something that will shock you and scare you, this is a great movie to see. A lot of other reviewers have said it, and I agree, so I will say it too: "The Fly" is possibly the best reason on why David Cronenberg is the man!

***1/2 out of ****

The Terminator

(Spoilers contained within)

The Terminator is now my number one favorite film of all time. Terminator offers grim realism coupled with fantasy adversity -- and -- as the tabloids and other reviews likely told you, "it does not let up for a minute!!" One of my favorite parts is the opening sequence of the film where you see the letters moving across the screen and you hear the Terminator song for the first time -- "dun dun dun, Dun... dun... dun..." This movie put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the map and also James Cameron -- James would go on to direct the sci-fi epic "Aliens"

I think my most important task is to first establish why I think this movie is superior to Terminator 2 -- a movie that is held high by many including myself. In Terminator we see the progression of the antagonist toward systematically eliminating his target and dealing with troubles that arise. The Terminator cuts out his own eyeball in a gruesome scene where we see him repairing himself. This is part of the "grim realism."

The Terminator brutally murders people. We see the surgical precision of this cybernetic organism -- moving from target to target and then relentlessly chasing Sarah Connor. We see efficiency -- the Terminator can use the voices of others, he is stronger than anyone, he never sleeps and he is impervious to bullets. Nothing stands in his way. Again, these are more examples of the "grim realism" and also the general "film noir" feel that this movie has.

Terminator 2 did not offer the same quality of grim reality and fantasy drama that this film had -- instead of one scene in the future HERE we get several, instead of having an antagonist that only moves against the enemy we have an adversary that is tough and is still beyond the weaponry of everyone and then offers us some insight into the flaws and perilous profile of "The Terminator," where it is from and also how it operates (strategically as well as electronically/mechanically)

Michael Biehn does a fantastic job as Kyle Reese, the man sent back through time to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from the Terminator. His flaw is that he is human and has come with nothing to help Sarah Connor with the Terminator -- nothing other than himself. His survival technique and his inferiority to the Terminator drive him to rescue Sarah and explain to her what is going on and establish credibility with her enough that she can trust him. The scenes with Kyle and Sarah offer great drama! It is very clear that they are both very afraid as their survival is constantly threatened. At number 1 on my all time sci-fi list I really have to say - this is an incredible ride that does not disappoint!!

For James Cameron: I think Aliens was a great attempt to reproduce the grim realism that Terminator had, but after this when you went to a less grim and violent and real construct for your epic fantasy/sci-fi films, your films in general were not as good... I don't know what this means but I guess it is important to say that I hope when you do Battle Angel it is as grim and real and crazy as this film was. I know you can do it James as you don't have a bad film on your entire resume (except for the first one which you could do nothing about) I also think that you should not do future installments of Avatar unless you plan to produce something along the lines of Irvin Kershner's "Empire Strikes Back"

..That's not a tall order..

**** out of ****

The Living Daylights

Before I head to bed this evening I wanted to share a few thoughts about a movie that I have loved for a long time. The Living Daylights (1987) is a James Bond film that came out in the 80's - it features Timothy Dalton and has a fantastic story and humor. I won't say it is perfect and perhaps this movie is less of a good film than Casino Royale or Moonraker but a few things still hold true:

1. The sounds and music in this film are outstanding. A-ha's opening theme "Living Daylights" is my favorite and I love the Pretenders songs throughout this movie. The scene towards the end where we see the Mujahideen rebels ride their horses to trade Opium for Diamonds is a visual candy store and offers a memorable melody.

2. There are lots of gadgets and gizmos to keep the watcher interested - and Q (played by Desmond Llewelyn RIP) does a fantastic job of playing off of 007 and his childish ways. Also, watch out for Bond's car!!! As always, Bond gets an awesome car with "optional extras"

3. The scenes were ripe with good imagery and the actors all do admirable jobs. Timothy Dalton plays Bond nicely in his first installment and does a better job than a couple of other bonds I have seen. Also, John Rhys-Davies does a great job of giving us a high ranking soviet general that is bewildered by what is going on. Honorable mention also goes out to Joe Don Baker.

If you want a good popcorn flick that will be fun to watch then please - please see this movie! I think you will be happy that you saw it!

Moon
Moon(2009)

Adding this to my list of top 2009 films - a year that has seen so much in terms of GREAT sci-fi flicks - almost brings a tear to my eye! So much was right in this movie! From the ruthlessness of the operation on the moon to thinking about and understanding both sides of the conflict - is this morally and ethically acceptable for someone to be wasting 3 years doing vs. having a cloned human doing it under false pretenses? I was shaken and I was moved. Everything was well done - from beginning to end.

I did have issues but they were minor. My first issue with this movie was that it was not spooky enough. I feel like more could have been done with the showing of ruthless carnage and perhaps we could have had some murders or perhaps a more complicated and adversarial robot (like Hal from 2001) or even a struggle to figure out who gets to leave and go home and see earth before each clones limited lifetime expires... I also had an issue with the fact that there was really only a few different sets that we see in this movie.

This movie was still very well done. This is a great debut for Duncan Jones and it was also good to hear Kevin Spacey's voice - he did some good voice work I thought. Sam's struggles with himself are fun to watch and the path to discovery that Sam is on is gripping and entertaining. Kudos go out to the sci-fi movies that came out in 2009 and kudos definitely go out to Moon!!!

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I had to see this again. I am a diehard Trek crazyman and I enjoy the innovation and ideas that come from this franchise. I am keeping the disc Netflix sent me and they cannot have it back!

I own a Starfleet uniform and I have a comm badge along with a tricorder and phaser. No, they don't work, they are ornamental ... And I am "MENTAL" according to many of the people I love for my respect and interest in Star Trek... Sometimes I show up at work wearing my outfit and whenever I do it seems to instantly change the mood in the office to a "tequila Friday" ....

A TON of the respect that I have for the Star Trek franchise came from this movie. Ricardo Montalban does an OUTSTANDING job as the antagonist Khan and the Enterprise crew all have pivotal memorable roles in battling Khan. We see Kirk - a prodigal admiral in Starfleet taking on and outwitting a cunning (and genetically enhanced) enemy! We see Kirks sly technique and we also get a chilling slap in the face from the ending!

Compared to any other Trek film I think that this is the superior movie - and this is saying a lot for a series of films that has 11 different movies in total - most of which are fresh picks from the vine!

This movie ranks high on my all time list. This movie is - in my opinion - really damn good!

Go see this!

KHAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Supernova
Supernova(2000)

This is a horrible film. Don't waste your time watching this!!!

Wing Commander

This is a bad bad bad movie. Watching this one again - for me - would be like sitting in a dentist's chair and getting a root canal without Novocain. .....

Battlefield Earth

Let's just say I am bold: Battlefield Earth is, without a doubt, the worst science fiction film of all time!

Children of Men

This is an outstanding film. The harsh reality from the breakdown of humanity meets a miracle of hope and a battle of wit and perseverance and it does not let up until the end! This is a fantastic tale with outstanding performances and brilliant direction. This move is a very lurid experience for the characters and it can be moving (as well as depressing) for the audience.

This movie is about a 100% infertility rate and the aging and dying human race. No humans have been born for years and everyone in the film seems convinced that this is the end of humanity. The world is being dragged down by fear and for many people moral sensibility has gone out the window. It looks like humanity has taken a step backward here in terms of evolution.

The most brilliant part (spoiler) is when Theo (played by Clive Owen) helps Kee (played by Clare-Hope Ashitey) emerge from a building that is besieged by soldiers and tanks. There is exchange of fire between the people in the building and the soldiers and it all stops as Kee and Theo walk out of the building together (with a baby in hand). Everyone looks at them and as they leave the scene the battle resumes...

This movie is both comical and thought provoking. This movie is intellectual and challenging and ultimately very entertaining. I highly recommend this film!

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Empire is perhaps the greatest sci-fi film of all time and it is number 2 on my top 7 all time sci-fi list. Empire topped the original, "A New Hope," in my opinion because more time was spent on a few important things. The vision was also grand and the ideas were awesome!

Characters were extremely well developed. We had a blossoming romance between Solo and Leia; we had a glimpse of Vaders (and the Empires) spooky command chain and how they operate based on interest (the force); we had Yoda beautifully and masterfully training Luke and helping him learn the force; we had Lando Calrissian playing a part where he is on the fence - he was very convincing and the people that worked around him - his aids - were well done. We had the bounty hunter and his quest for bringing Han back to Jabba.

The sets were absolutely beautiful. Everything that I saw in this movie looked futuristic and looked real. From the alien world of Degobah to the beautifully constructed and rendered Cloud City of Bespin (I don't know how they did this, animation/rendering/models?) New lines were drawn with what could be done with special effects in a movie and new plateaus were reached in the amount of imagination a filmmaker could bring to the screen. The set inside the Millennium Falcon was outstanding and the set on the ice world of Hoth is convincing and well done. Watching Han Solo drive the Millennium Falcon through the astroid field was ABSOULTELY FREAKING AWESOME and listening to John Williams score while watching the Star Destroyers move about ... Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

The acting and directing are on par with perfection. Every line in this movie - now - is music to my ears. People have memorized all of it. People have married each other wearing costumes from the characters in this movie!

The feeling of suspense and the fierceness of the light saber duel between Darth and Luke was educational and introspective for the characters and also a visual candy store for us - the limit to how crazy Vader can be was revealed in this film (flying wall posts anyone?!) and the truth Vader tells is a huge game changer for Luke as well! Right after Empire was released there was a lot of debate and speculation about whether or not what Vader had said was true.

With the inner workings of the Cloud City of Bespin in the background and the gripping revelation at the end you would be an idiot to never have watched this movie and you would be insane to not want to see how it all ended. And that, my friends, is probably EXACTLY what the producer wanted..... (Lucas, the producer, wanted everyone to come back at see Return of the Jedi) Irvin Kershner did what Lucas could not have done with direction, character development and dialog. I liked Kershners work a lot and I can only imagine how cool the rest of the series would have been had he directed them all! At least he gave us the best film in the entire series!

Repo Men
Repo Men(2010)

And now it is time to throw another rotten tomato!

I went to see this and although I knew it was rotten I still wanted to see one of my favorite actors - Jude Law - in a sci-fi performance. Gattaca was something he was in prior and I just had to see how well he performed.

The bad:

1. They are using a modern day VW Toureg I think as the vehicle these people drive and a very POOR effort was made to make the world these people were in look futuristic at all (in terms of automobiles or places these people go and things they do) (-1000%)

2. There is a moral dilemma with the idea that you can sell someone a new heart or eye or knee and then take it away when they cannot pay... Having been a type 1 diabetic for most of my life I can tell you that there would be stricter regulations on healthcare and on the financing of it and on the moral practice of it. (-1000%)

3. The twist ending begs the question of the moral standing of Forest Whitaker's character - by the end we see he is there to help his friend but towards the middle we hear him tell us over and over that he is "doing a job" (-1000%)

I think the world of Jude Law and I feel like his performance in Gattaca will keep him forever on my list of all time favorite actors. I know that Forest Whitaker makes that same list for other people too. These actors were wasted on this film when together this duo had the potential to give us a jaw dropping flooring film and reliable artistic production in the genre of sci-fi. What a shame. At a negative three-thousand tomatometer on this I must recommend that you only see this if you are crazy. If you like Jude Law or Forest Whitaker or sci-fi and you want to be a completist about it then by all means see this.

Westworld
Westworld(1973)
½

Westworld amazed me with its vision of the ideal vacation -- much in the same way the movie Total Recall did. In this movie I saw a great vision and a great idea culminate into a breathtaking climax as well as a thought provoking character drama.

Excitement. Education. Understanding. Coherence. These are the words that describe many of the themes in this film -- and let me tell you - when this film came out it ranked up with the sci-fi extravaganza that was 2001: A Space Odyssey or perhaps the distant echo of Metropolis. The acting and writing and directing and effects were ALL good in this movie and I was impressed with what I saw.

This film goes down in the pantheon of favorite sci-fi films of all time for many and I must agree -- this is very well done and very fun. First of all Michael Crichton is a sci-fi Zen master Director and Writer -- hats off to him -- he does an outstanding job here!!!!!!! The beginning of this movie and the first half really made me feel free and happy and I felt like I too was on vacation and living in this fantasy world of the wild west America of a century or two ago. Even though the material is dated the effects are still fairly futuristic. There are lots of loose women running around! There are gunbattles and bank robberies and general crazyness that anyone would expect in a recreation of the old wild west. The laws of the vacation world are safe for everyone involved that is human but some excitement is created by virtue of the fact that the "androids" can do anything and they can die! The androids professions range from war hero to prostitute and they serve all the functions of the vacation world that these people are in.

Yul Brynner plays the Android that changes in role from tourist attraction to Terminator like killer. Yul Brynner is a badass. Yul had already won Best Actor in a leading role for The King and I (1956) and here he came back in a thought provoking and powerful role. Hats off to this guy!!! He did an outstanding job as a relentless killer and portrayed his role as an android in "Westworld" very very very well. Majel Barrett also appears in this film - and may I please remind everyone - she is the queen goddess of Star Trek (and wife of Gene Roddenberry) in having appeared or done voice work in almost all movies and series of the Star Trek franchise and films - INCLUDING Star Trek (2009). All of the actors do great work in this movie.

If Paul Verhoeven or Oliver Stone or Ridley Scott directed this we might have seen a little more in terms of how stark and crazy the world could have been and it may have even felt different for the audience. The direction is still very very good and I am impressed. At only 1 hour and 30 minutes (roughly) this film feels a little short!

This movie is definitely a classic! I would reccommend it to anyone who wants to see something fun and that won't mind that it is from an older generation of film. Also I feel as though this is a core film to the sci-fi genre. A lot of good ideas and good things came from this movie!

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
½

This movie has boldness to it - a craziness that in a way reminds me of Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" - though in the end I was hoping Paul Verhoeven had directed this film instead of George Miller. I thought perhaps the scenes where there is ruthless carnage were not as well done as I would have liked and I also wondered why the drivers of the marauders vehicles were not shooting at the helicopter when it was flying nearby in the chase of this tanker... It seemed like an easy target in some of the camera shots.

I love this movie. Some movies I fall asleep before I get to act 2 but here my attention was kept and my desire for an intriguing tale that is well told was fully satisfied. The world is believable and the characters do outstanding jobs and the direction was great. Gibson was good at fighting tooth and nail with everyone else and I was impressed by his character.

I was also impressed by this movies visual style. Each scene looks and feels like a desolate world broken down by the previous world war. The characters do excellent jobs at showing us that they face serious issues in the struggle for survival. Survival and belonging were very prominent themes in this movie. I very much enjoyed also the feeling of alienation that everyone feels towards strangers or outsiders. Seeing people build trust toward others was awesome.

If you want to kill 2 hours sometime and come out at the end of it thinking about kicking some serious ass and surviving to the next level then please see this movie. This is a 90% and that means GOOD.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is an absolutely fantastic film. From Part 1 to Part 4 I was astounded and wondering about the ultimate outcome the whole way. I have gathered over the years since I first saw this film that it is difficult to interpret and the meaning of everything is difficult to see let alone come to consensus on with others.

Even after seeing the movie I had to peruse the web to find out what others thought and what others had interpreted the meaning to be. I also read about what others thought about the age of this film and its interpretation of the future and how that compares not only to other films but to today as well. Let me be frank -- this film has a very good image of what the future would be like and historically speaking -- if it were a picture of today as opposed to 2001 it might be more historically accurate. We still are not as adept at space travel as we apparently should have been in this movie and my only negative thought about this movie is that why do film makers have to put a date on when the film takes place? Blade Runner made the same mistake but the quality of the film is still very good and has very acceptable perspective of the future. The view Kubrick takes of what he thinks the future will be like is in many ways astonishing and thought provoking.

This film has four separate parts. In part one you see a tribe composed of Australopithecus Africanus. These are people - in an early stage of supposed evolutionary progression toward Homo sapiens. The Africanus tribe finds a black monolith in their encampment one day and shortly thereafter we see the Africanus tribe using tools. In part two we are in what appears to be the ultimate future outcome for humanity. There is harmony and buzz and synchronicity between humans and their "tools" and the humans' dependency on tools is clearly established. Astronauts find another black monolith on the moon and a group of governmental bigwigs gets involved, silences the spread of information about the monolith and explores its meaning and significance. The monolith is transmitting a signal toward Jupiter and we discover that this is where we must investigate next. In part three we are aboard a ship travelling toward Jupiter. The humans' dependency on his tools becomes the conflict of part 3 and we see Hal the computer kill 4 crewmembers and one of the pilots in a very eerie way. In Part 4 we see the final monolith and we witness the birth of a "Starchild" that is (maybe) supposedly the next stage in evolution for humanity.

This film has musical genius as the melodies that are parts of some of the more "artistic" scenes will be something that you probably recognize. This film seems to be as much about the sounds and visions of what the future might be like in addition to what happens to us humans in terms of evolution and what our progression means to us as well as the rest of the universe. In short, if you have a pulse, you will probably want to see this film just to see the magic of the visual style as well as the popular sounds it possesses.

I won't call this film the best Sci-Fi flick of all time. But it definitely is in what I will now call my top 8. When I first saw this film I was too naive to understand its importance. While 2001 is spooky and while it is visionary it seems determined to weigh in on worldviews and is obsessed with evolution versus creationism. Destiny we certainly have but can we collectively say, "Is our construct and our collective progression a function of a higher power or is it part of some unknown variable?"

I don't know how predictable or answerable this subject is but I very much love and respect Kubrick's take on it.

Airplane!
Airplane!(1980)

After having seen this again for the billionth time last night I thought I would dignify this film with a review - a review from a man that generally loves sci-fi.

This is one of the greatest films of all time. District 9, Gone With The Wind, Blade Runner, Lawrence of Arabia, Empire and Shawshank Redemption - LOOK OUT!!!!

From scene to scene you will find magic and insightful comedy that has aged well and found a place in the hearts of moviegoers everywhere. From Leslie Nielsen's dramatic response to the question - "A hospital, what is it?" ... "It's a big building with patients but that's not important right now" to the Begees "Staying Alive" --- a song that is a masterpiece in and of itself --- to seeing Elaine (Julie Hagerty) give the emergency co-pilot some inflation....

This film has rhythm and it has pure stupidity and it makes fun of seemingly everyone and everything. It grabs your attention and makes you aware of its universal comic genius.

I always refer back to this movie when I need something that will make me laugh - and this happens a lot. Everyone - I say it is time to take a step back from everything, don't review what you were thinking of reviewing (or watching or doing) AND grab this movie and let the healing begin. Everyone should see this film. And then everyone should see it again. Everyone.


Ted Striker:
"What a pisser"

Star Trek - Nemesis

Time to throw a rotten tomato. Star Trek has been something that I have loved all of my life and of course this meant that I had to watch this particular film. I especially love Star Trek the Next Generation; I have tremendous respect for Patrick Stewart and Johnathan Frakes and Brent Spiner.

While the special effects are pretty cool (+10%)(as they always are in Trek films) there were problems in this movie with character development, dryness of dialogue and (spoiler) failure on the part of the director to create something that could bring back Data from his seemingly stupid demise (like a follow up movie in the same spirit as Kill Bill vol. 2) ... I miss Data and I think B4 will be forever dumb just like this movie was ... dumb.

The other redeeming 10%(spoiler): Captain Picard has guts and was able to bash the Romulan Ship with the hull of the Enterprise. Patrick Stewart has long been my favorite among Enterprise captains and at least he had personality, wit, charm and GUTS.

I wish there could be more films with the characters from "The Next Generation" series but sadly I don't think it will happen. I feel like the director was a let down here and I also feel like the story was a bit of a letdown as well. I think this crew could have done a much better job and made some serious names for themselves had this brand of trek movies been more epic in nature. (Just think of "Encounter at Far Point Station" and "All good things..." and "Star Trek: First Contact")

What the hell happened?!?!?!?

Robots
Robots(2005)

This movie is a lot of fun. The characters are fun to watch and easy to understand and the message this movie sends should strike a chord with families and casual movie-goers everywhere.

The voice work is great and the movie moves at a great pace. There are several humerous moments and many interesting ideas espoused about a world of robots. One of these that I liked the most visually was the transportation networks.

I would definitely reccommend this to anyone who wants to watch something heartfelt and simple. After the show you might even be happy and/or uplifted with the outcome!

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)
½

This is a great movie. It is one of my favorites in my personal sci-fi collection and definitely ranks high among the rest of the sci-fi genre. This movie is about figuring out exactly how the world was infected by a virus that kills 5 Billion people - this movie is an adventure in finding who is responsible for this disaster and also how it might possibly be prevented.

First and foremost I think it is important to say that this movie seems like a period film now - it feels like the 1990s and it looks like the 1990s and the technology seems to reflect that it was made in the 1990s. This is true even in the scenes that are out of the future but I don't consider this a fault since the virus outbreak that happened may have caused a slowdown in terms of human technological evolution. Who can predict outcomes? Everything that I saw in this movie - in terms of the science fiction seems very plausible. From the deadly virus outbreak to the horrid nature at which the people of the future have to walk on the surface of the earth AND ALSO to seeing someone's past become his future -- all of this is VERY well done.

There were many brilliant moments in this movie. Brad Pitt's character, Jeffrey Goines, was a convincing lunatic psychopath type with intelligence and clairvoyance about the world to boot - he had me convinced that he was absolutely crazy and yet somehow magically involved with the entire plot of the movie. This is one of Pitt's most brilliant performances that I have seen and definitely think that you could see this film just for Pitt alone.


I love it when Bruce Willis's character James Cole tells the Doctors:

"I am insane and you are my insanity!"

It is clear that he is tumbling through the "rabbit-hole" he keeps getting inserted into and he is trying very very hard to survive and make sense of it all. His mission is to bring back information to the Doctors about the past. After each visit to the past Cole has a different experience but there are key players in this saga that keep coming back.

The script is well written and there are lots of surprises. Watching Kathryn Railly (played by Stowe) figure out exactly how this guy appears and disappears and learning the truth about his existence is fun to see. She questions her own judgment but ultimately sees the other side of all of the visions (and time travel mishaps) that James Cole has.

There is a scene toward the end of the movie that I adore: a bum/hustler guy invades the hotel room James and Kathryn were in and this guy has a sexual agenda in mind and attacks them. In the end he is overcome by Cole and later Cole cuts out a few teeth of his own in front of him. A while after that the police find him:

"I'm an innocent victim in here!!! I was attacked by a coked up whore and a fucking crazy dentist!!!"

I could not stop laughing the first time I saw/heard that. As much as it is gross I cannot imagine how traumatic it must have been for the bum/hustler. Seeing someone cut out a few of his own teeth in the manner that it happened here would make me crap my pants.

The one bad thing I can think of:

1. They could have spent more money on visual effects and making things look more appealing - I like that the humans appear to be in bad shape in the future but I don't get to see very much in terms of how they live or survive. This could have added a LOT to the movie.

Innerspace
Innerspace(1987)
½

I had a chance to watch this movie again and I still have to say - it looks amazing, it feels amazing and it IS amazing. The movie is about a military run experiment to miniaturize a pod and put it into the body of a laboratory rabbit. During the miniaturization experiment the miniaturized pod and the syringe it is in is nearly stolen by a group of "tech thieves" ? but one of the scientists escapes with it. The ?tech thieves? are organized criminals who require this syringe and the pod in it to complete their version of the miniaturization experiment and then sell it.

For me, while watching this movie, fun ensues as I am immersed into the world of the human body - the peril of what lay inside it as well as what is going on outside of it. The movie has lots of comic ammunition and a good deal of adrenaline pumping excitement. The human stories are believable and Quaid does a decent job with comic dialogue as well as the scenes of peril. This is one of the best Martin Short films in my opinion ? he has some really funny moments here. He plays his roll well, makes us laugh and gives us insight on how you might behave if someone played with your internal chemistry.

In the end the movie loses points because it runs a little long and the plot raises some questionability in regards to "Public Authority" - which is seemingly absent until the end of the film. Meg Ryan definitely gives us a character to put our eyes on but she does not have many funny lines as her role plays into the more serious nature of it all. I think a better comic showing from her and more VCR tapes flying through glass and out of windows could have put this
movie at a higher score.

Also, this film is listed as comedy but I would definitely say that it has a sci-fi twist to it --- thus my admiration for it.

Anyway, go see it! It is fun! Watch out for the VCR tape -AND- I love the Wang Chung track of "Hypnotize Me" in the nightclub scene. This film gets points from me for that.

Enemy Mine
Enemy Mine(1985)

Enemy Mine is a film set in the far reaches of space where Humans are pitted in a conflict with a race of humanoids known as the Dracs. Growing up I loved watching this movie because I thought that the opening sequence was fun and watching the Drac fighters engage the Human fighters was awesome. This film has many good ideas but in some ways falls short of true Sci-Fi/Film greatness:

1. Jeriba Shigan learns English quickly and seems more human than alien.

2. The film wasn't grand enough or convincing enough to me - I did not think that it would be that easy for Jeriba and Willis to become friends and trust one another and I also was in disbelief of how Willis was picked up again by the BTA - how could it happen this late in the film and not earlier on?

3. How did Willis Davidge get promoted back to what seems to be combat flight officer level so quickly after being picked up and revived by the BTA?

4. What happens on the giant BTA ship/station does not seem to be long enough and articulate enough to draw a coherent storyline for what happens in the movie. I think this movie could have done a LOT better had it gone into more depth in these sets and done more things.

This is still a good entry in my sci-fi archive and I think that if you want to see a good popcorn flick this might be what you need to see. I still think that the battle in the beginning is cool - even though the ships are making sounds in the vacuum of space - and I also like the feeling and emotion that comes out of the relationship between Willis and Jeriba.

Dark City
Dark City(1998)
½

This is another film that should have gotten more recognition and had greater success than what it initially received. The directors edition of this film ranks up near "The Empire Strikes Back" and "District 9" in my book of greatest sci-fi movies of all time and I will always have a tremendous amount of respect for this film.

William Hurt. Jennifer Connelly. Keifer Sutherland. Rufus Sewell. I know these names and I know them because of this film.

This film starts with John Murdoch questioning reality. Why? He has no memory of his life and he does not remember how he got to where he is. He does not remember anything. He finds that he can function - he can put on clothes and he can see and identify himself. But he does not know who he is! He starts to question reality and he finds that reality is an illusion. "How do you get to Shell Beach?" is the question that he ultimately asks.

I guess that if you are going to see this film you had better get the director's cut - this film was heavily influenced by commercial interests that are oblivious to what Proyas had in mind for this film. In fact, now I don't think you can buy the non-directors cut but I could be wrong.

The uncertainty displayed by John Murdoch is unforgettable and knowing why he does what he does is unforgettable. If you had no memories of your past then shock, despair, ---- hell ---- adrenalin would kick in and you would be on your toes trying to figure the universe out.

This is an exemplary example of a sci-fi movie that uses imagery and imagination to show us and teach us important lessons about ourselves. Watching the city change during the "tuning" is fascinating - the buildings rise up, people change in appearance and role and the Dark City becomes different. John Murdoch is an observer in all of this - and as things are changing he has questions -AND- we (the audience) have questions:

1. Is the behavior of humans the derivative of memories from the past?

2. What is the "Soul" and how do you find it? (and I guess - maybe more importantly in this film, what are it's compositional elements?)

3. What are the limitations of reality and how can we experience more?!?!

This is a damn good film. I highly recommend that you see it. I highly recommend you own it. I highly recommend that you share this movie with your family and friends. It makes you think. I was on the edge of my seat through each viewing in awe of the whole spectacle. When you first see it you wonder about when the big picture will be clear to the characters and then you wonder how they will react to it.

(spoiler)

Where is shell beach? It is only an illusion of our imaginations until we find Anna there at the end of the movie. And with a gorgeous woman like Jennifer Connelly standing there, who wouldn't want to be there?

Minority Report
½

Minority Report is a great sci-fi movie that has a vivid and unique coherence to it that flows at great pace and is VERY entertaining. There is a lot of eye candy in the scenery and the characters all do convincing jobs. I was not bored while watching this movie and a lot has clearly been invested in this movie with keeping your attention and helping you understand what is going on.

My only grief is that it seems convenient (especially in the beginning) that John Anderton shows up immediately when the cogs seem to be having their pre-visions. The crimes of passion happen such that the pre-crime guys have little warning and time to get the perpetrator and save the victim. I guess this isn't a big deal but more could have maybe been done with showing how it works when Anderton is not on the clock.

Samantha Morton does an absolutely fantastic job here. Her performance adds to the mystery and suspense of everything that goes on - from beginning to end. Each time Agatha told John what to do as they were going through the mall held me on the edge of my seat. Each time Agatha did something in this movie I was on the edge of my seat. The idea of being able to see what others are thinking lends a lot to what we see visually in this movie and also how the characters understand the conflict and what is going on. Also I thought that Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow and Colin Farrell gave us some pretty terrific characters.

I definitely recommend you see this movie! This is another outstanding feather in the cap of Steven Spielberg!

The Last Starfighter
½

This movie is fun. I think that it might be directed more towards a younger audience which isn't a bad thing and there is a message to it about dreams coming true.

It is warm and heartfelt and definitely has some pretty fun to watch battle sequences. I also enjoyed Robert Prestons Centauri character and thought (when I was younger) that his car was just as cool as the Delorean in Back to the Future.

Inglourious Basterds

Brad Pitt is back - and the role he has in this movie is better than any role I think I have seen him in. I love how violent he and his "Inglorious Basterds" are. The thrill of seeing them do the things that they do makes me feel justice was served - in the sense that had WW2 not ended in the way it did we might have a different perspective of everything AND everyone involved.

My complaints:

1: The beginning of the film seemed a little slow

2: There did not seem to be enough scenes done that showcased the "Inglorious Basterds" doing the things that gave them their name. I think more scenes like this might have better developed the characters and given more quality entertainment (and also make this more of a "classical" Tarantino feel)

3: I am not convinced that the iron fist of Hans Landa would decide to betray Germany and help to kill the important German folk - perhaps a better job could have been done showing some emotion for Hans having to do horrible things...

What I liked/What I thought was Interesting:

1: Seeing Mike Myers in a serious role that wasn't comical was very strange for me - having seen him do Dr. Evil and Austin Powers this was kind of a trip...

2: I love how serious the "Inglorious Basterds" were in killing the enemy, scaring them, threatening them and forcing information out of them.

3: I marvel at the relationships between the German Military folk and French/foreign women in this film - understanding the complications of it all and seeing them swallow their pride (and possibly their vomit) to stomach the immoral ways of the German guys was definitely well played and well done.

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)
½

The first time I saw this movie I was thrilled by the non-stop action and excitement. I marvel at the idea of worlds within worlds - and much like in Dark City - a reality that is an illusion.

There are not many movies out there that give us action sequences that are unrestricted by the laws of nature. The backflips, jumping between buildings and over streets, throwing 1000 punches per second and flying into people creates a sort of spectacular fantasy land and a ride that never lets up for a minute.

Also I would like to point out that the dialogue between the characters did seem to be a little off and perhaps dry at points, but this film definitely kept my attention.

This is a great popcorn flick!

Jerry Maguire

I give this film 100% for a few reasons:

Cuba Gooding Jr stole the show in each scene he was in and I marvel at his wit and advice and resolve.

Dicky Fox was absolutely EYE-POPPINGLY OUTSTANDING. Dicky is likely one of my favorite if not favorite character in all of cinema. His advice is great and works for all of us. Kudos to Dicky Fox.

Cameron Crowe did an outstanding job bringing Cruise down and then bringing him back up in a way that expressed moral consciousness and zest for life and perseverance.

Rain Man
Rain Man(1988)

This is a great film.

Sunshine
Sunshine(2007)
½

This film was a good approximation of what I think we could do TODAY in terms of exploration of our solar system. However, I don't think we could replicate the technology that would allow us to build the shield that the ship used to get close to the sun.

I must admit that the captain of the other ship living for 7 years seemed a bit farfetched. Sometimes I don't like the idea of there being an antagonist character or creature that causes trouble. I think that in this film could have done well without this 'fiery' character.

The effects were first rate and watching all the little balls of light line up in the end and do their thing was nothing short of spectacular.

Sabotage did not seem farfetched as there are many things that would motivate this. Dealing with that alone would have made for a good movie. Instead of overcoming sabotage the crew faced off versus the captain of the other ship - which had been sabotaged - and somehow this character had been transformed.

Excellent effort on the part of Cillian Murphy - I like him more and more for each different role that I see him in.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
½

James Cameron is awesome, and this movie is pretty cool too. I wanted to explain briefly why I gave it a 90% rating as opposed to a 100%. The reasons:

1. Edward Furlong seems more whiney and annoying than a damsel in distress

2. The urgent nature of keeping John safe seems to come in second to the suave and coolness this movie tries so hard to express

3. The Narrative given by Linda Hamilton describing the nuclear fire and the war is boring after you have seen it a few times - I thought the dialog of Hamilton was off and her character was not as well done as I would have liked...

4. I think that a better job could have been done with the ruthless nature of how the T1000 operates, I was expecting more nail biting I guess - having seen my fair share of James Cameron films I have grown accustomed to nail biting....

It almost seems like the abilities of the t1000 might have been downplayed a bit to glorify the t101. The t1000 could have likely done some pretty spectacular things outside the boundaries of what I saw in this movie.

The Good:

I think T2 was an outstanding movie - the fight in the office building VS the swat team was very memorable and well done. The recreations of the future were well done and the action sequences alone make it one of the best action films of all time. This film is well known and highly regarded.

Originally I had posted a 70% score but I think the message that I was trying to send was a bit off. My main contention was to say that T1 is a superior movie. I think T1 is better because it has a great storyline that is in the original infancy stage and it blows the world away with this relentless pursuit.... Watching the governator rip out his eyeballs with a knife and seeing the true nature of this adversarial beast was THRILLING.

The bottom line is that Terminator 2 ranks up near the top because of it's efficiency and solid story line and use of special effects.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. The Extraterrestrial is a fantastic film. For me, in this particular review I need to make a an important character developing (for myself) distinction: this movie is a four star film, hands down and because this movie is aptly targeted at a younger audience it is made less entertaining for myself because of the lack of nail biting violence and oratory.

The kids all do charming jobs - Henry Thomas's character is the personification of humanities greatest compassion, benevolence, sympathy and charm. It can be a tear jerker for the sensitive and it can be an eye opener for those who maybe don't have a complete (or mature) picture of what bad things we humans are capable of. Drew Barrymore plays a great younger sibling that at times seems to have a better handle on the gravity of the situation these kids are in.

The wonder created by observing the things that E.T. can do is exciting and inspirational. E.T. can make plants come alive and grow and become seemingly instantly healthy again. He knows how to make things fly and has a telekinesis that he uses to move objects around. E.T. seems to finally figure out that he can use what he has in parts from the garage of this family to send a message back to his people and get home.

And while the plot twists and inspires you with perspective of the relationship between a child and a friendly alien from another world it amazes you with its charm and wit and creative genius.

Make sure you see this one with your family.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
½

I guess I should start by saying that the Star Wars franchise did a lot for the sci-fi genre. This movie was huge. Hearing people I know talk about their experience in seeing this is fascinating - people waited in lines that wrapped around city blocks and would wait in line to see it again.

Star Wars was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture and won 6 of these awards - Art/Set Decoration, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Original Score and Sound. The cult following that surrounds this film and its epic tale is evidence enough that this movie is an all time great. If all films are adjusted for inflation on their gross profit this film ranks #2 behind Gone With the Wind!

From the Cavalier Han Solo to the Evil Darth Vader to the Cunning Luke Skywalker to the Death Star and the "Force" this is perhaps the greatest and most respected entry in the sci-fi genre. The franchise that was created did, in my opinion, produce a sequel that topped the original but I think - and I am sure you will agree - the original is a masterpiece.

If you have not seen this yet - shame on you!!!!!

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

Blade Runner is an epic film and The Directors Cut of this film is among the best if it is not THE best science fiction film of all time. I love this film. This film raises philosophical questions about the identity of mankind and what makes humans distinct. This film is also about the dreams, survival and emotions of "replicants." Replicants are android humans that are used for various purposes in the off-world colonies: prostitution, fighting wars, strategizing and finding function in general in the place of a human.

The movie takes place entirely in Los Angeles in what seems to be the distant future. A "Blade Runner" named Deckard is tasked with hunting down a group of replicants and killing them. These replicants are charged with hijacking a ship, killing its crew and passengers and taking it to Earth. The film also explains that it is illegal for replicants to even be on Earth because of a bloody mutiny on an off-world colony.

The replicants themselves are unique because of how human they really feel to us (the audience) and how well they replicate the behaviors of humans. They have high intellectual ability and they experience emotions. The replicants have memories of things that happen and they have instinct for survival. They fear their mortality and this alone drives them through this movie - this film is a quest for them - a quest to live longer and experience more and be alive. As I was watching the movie I was beginning to wonder if the answer was yes to the question - "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

I was convinced that these replicants had souls of their own and dreams of their own. They look as real and act as real as anyone else. They evoke an emotional response from us that is the impetus for us to think of them as real. When you think about the question, "What does it mean to be alive?" and then watch the replicants move from scene to scene doing the things that they do - you will think to yourself that they are indeed alive.

More questions are raised when watching this film: Should we give replicants that behave a certain way and don't act in ways contrary to the laws of society - do we treat these replicants the same as the way we treat each other? What status does something that we create and that acts and imitates us have? Should such a thing as this have status or be treated/regarded according to a standard?

The special effects of this movie are still fairly good - though I will say that some of the ideas that this film has of the future seem outdated or imprecise. To give an example, the film is supposed to take place in the year 2019. Now I will be brutally honest: for humans, I don't see us being able to travel to other stars for quite some time - from perhaps 200 to 1000 years. It seems like a long way off since we still have not quite gotten flying cars yet and it is already 2010. Also, the special effects are good but it does seem like the general consensus among everyone of what the "vision of the future" looks like has changed a little since this film was released. We don't use CRTs anymore and we have software that looks a lot more advanced than what they had to offer as far as graphical and functional ability are concerned. I suppose that since I am technologically inclined (in terms of my profession) I have a knack for noticing this kind of thing but I will nevertheless concede that this film still looks pretty darn good.

This film is based on the work, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K Dick. If you were wondering, Philip K Dick has written several short stories and books that have been the inspiration for much of the best sci-fi work that we have in cinema today. Minority Report, Total Recall and Blade Runner are among his best written work-to-screen adaptations and I think very very highly of these movies. This film is excellent and the work it is based on is thought provoking and thoroughly engrossing.

Spoiler:

In the end, the audience asks a few different questions - one of which is "Is Deckard a replicant?" It seems possible that he is and although it isn't clear if he is or not we do know that he seems to be in love with a replicant - a replicant that he does not want to hurt and that he wants to protect.

The scene where we see the unicorn seems to indicate that robots do indeed dream of electric sheep, unicorns or whatever else you might be able to imagine - and having heard the revelation that Roy Batty gives us in the end about things he has seen ---- I just find myself wishing I had seen what he has and also I wish he had more time to tell us more about the things that he has seen and done!

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die."

See this movie! This is science fiction magic at its best!

Total Recall
Total Recall(1990)
½

When I first saw this I was inspired by the idea of not knowing if you are dreaming or not. "Total Recall" explores issues related to what it is that people remember and how to interface with those memories. Also the compelling question is asked, "is your person and your behavior a derivative of your memories?" I love how two faced everyone becomes after Quaid leaves Rekall and when reflecting on the reality of it all I can never be sure if this movie is a dream or is real. Paul Verhoeven says in the interview that there was always a preference for reality but the question remains unanswered.

In this movie, Douglas Quaid (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) goes to a place called "Rekall" that sells fake memories of ideal vacations. In thinking about this you might wonder about other things that companies like this could sell and what ultimately could be done to a person by technology of this kind.

My number one complaint of this movie is that we are never perfectly clear on why it is that the "memory creation" technology can be sold to others and yet it is not controlled or standardized by a government authority. Maybe it shouldn't be --- but it seems like this technology could be used for malicious purposes. (As it is in this film)

The action in this film is great. Seeing Quaid being pursued by the Mars police, hearing the music (which I liked very very much and think is very well done) and thinking about the uncertainty of Quaids situation --- all of this definitely strikes a chord with me and keeps my mind engaged. I love the visual spectacles that this film has to offer. Watching the train roll over the tracks on Mars or looking out Cohagens window or seeing the landscape in the flyovers that they have - I can tell the studio worked very hard to make this movie look real and feel real to the audience. They did a good job. Even though the effects were constructed in mundane ways compared to today's effects, they still look really really good.

It is difficult to imagine the big picture about what could happen to us if we could manipulate our own memories and learn and gain knowledge from sitting in a chair letting a machine interface with our brains. I love how this film explores that issue and even goes further and asks this same "what if" in regards to other beings being able to interface with our minds and read our memories and then recite them back to us. Show business has moved on and done other films that parallel this idea - for example, the Matrix - but I think the birth of the "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" cinematic movement was here in this film.

Good job from Sharon Stone - I think of this as an important coming out role for her - also for Arnold - who once again proves he is king of the action/sci-fi jungle.

Starship Troopers

There is a lot of misunderstanding going around regarding this film. It is important to realize here that this film is (in a lot of ways) a comedic satire about war and about the similarities between the "bugs" and "us." It is also a very realistic and well done science fiction action/adventure and it is fun to watch.

Let's talk about what is good.

This film has fluidity. The co-ed showers are exciting! The firing of nukes down bug holes is exciting! Seeing a genuine futuristic environment, something that I feel carries over to all of the sets, is very admirable and makes the movie-going experience that much better. Every scene in this movie makes you feel like you are in the future - and the chemistry of the characters seems right for the futuristic setting that they are in. This is very well done and I have HUGE kudos for Verhoeven because of this. He has been one of the best directors when it comes to visualizing the future.

The "bugs" are great at being capable of multiple tasks in terms of interstellar combat (which is thought provoking) and the enemy is mysterious and methodical - much in the same way the "citizens" and the humans in general are and can be. The fights between the soldiers and the bugs are intense and fun to watch. People get chopped to pieces and tossed around, bugs get blown up and squashed and even disected!!! The bugs are good fighters and make violent and scary opponents. (kind-of reminds me of Aliens)

The TV-like commercials that appear throughout the film seem like an adaptation of what you might see if you were watching a media outlet in the distant future. This is Paul Verhoeven's propeganda machine, something that we have seen in Robocop and in Total Recall. The characters seem genuine and I have a great deal of respect for Michael Ironside - he is a great contributor to the effectiveness of this film. He means business but he is also a trusted teacher and friend for many of the students in the early portion of the movie. He gives us a character that has solid reason and understanding.

In the end, points are subtracted because of a few different things. Weak stomachs are one of these - this movie is violent in the spirit of all Verhoeven films though this is something I like because it adds to the reality of the movie. Also this movie loses a few points because the ending isn't as satisfying as it could have been and the watcher is not as invested in some of these characters as he/she probably should be.

I like this movie quite a bit personally and I definitely think this is a movie that is worth watching - for the tension release and for the sequences of occasional inspiration that come from Verhoevens creative arsenal.

District 9
District 9(2009)

(Spoliers contained within)

Let's just say I am bold: District 9 is the greatest science fiction film of all time. In the pantheon of greatest films of all time, this film ranks near the top if it is not at the top. The first obvious argument of dismissal for this film (that sadly I have been hearing a lot) is: it was unfortunate that the Nigerians had to be slaughtered. To this I say: DON'T BE AN IDIOT

The subject matter that composes science fiction and that sci-fi is allowed to show us is vast. The Nigerians as well as EVERYONE else in this movie gets the axe and dies horribly (or has something horrible happen to them) and I think that this movie is sending a message to us in showing us all this violence and death. People die for different reasons. People come together for different reasons. Demographic behavior based on biological/physiological/technological circumstances cause an infinite range of possible behaviors and systems that drive the universe. The monkeys at the typewriters that are trying over and over -- to use random letter/character generators to type up Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet -- maybe this same random principle occurs in situations where starships from other worlds could be stranded at our doorstep and maybe this random principle applies to groups of people getting together to control a situation for their own gain. Take this further and say that things are like this because of a history of adversity due to rules of government bodies and the way gangs form is not as much a part of this "Apartheid" segregation that occurred but also something we have found repeatedly in human nature.

And this complicated subject gets more complicated. This film then asks, 'How do we treat these aliens?' What are the components of their social architecture and how does this compare to our own? How can these guys be integrated with us and what responsibility do we gain by helping outsiders survive in our world? How does their technology work? What is the expanse of their knowledge and what can they tell us about the universe that we don't already know?

I was VERY impressed with the special effects in this movie and thought that the aliens were remarkable and the ships were remarkable and characters were remarkable and I swear that this film hits a home run and not only ranks above Blade Runner but has my seal of approval for greatest film of all time. How bold are these questions in this film? What comparisons are drawn and distinctions are made about the social hierarchy of the aliens versus the humans? How do we answer them? How do they reveal things about us that we could not have thought of prior to this movie coming out?

Part of this is a film that is about the integration of a race of aliens into human society. An alien starship has been damaged or has suffered some kind of technical failure that leaves it stranded over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. The conflict in this film extends beyond the debate of rights, equality, freedom and discrimination and encapsulates the essence of human nature. We fear that which we do not understand, we want to help these beings live(compassion) but also there is this need to understand their technology and use it to fulfill the needs and wants of human interests (greed, survival). Take this further and ask: How do the Nigerians compare to the MNU in terms of their attempts to get the weapons and figure out how they work and gain something from this process?

This was an outstanding film. The performance given by Sharlto Copley was outstanding. It was interesting to finally see a film that gave us believable aliens that we can sympathize with. I love how the transformations of Copley's character led to different stages of engagement with the aliens - with one in particular. When the film starts, he is an antagonist. During his transformation he befriends the Prawns and develops a more personal interest and trust for them. Their status quo becomes his and their way of life becomes his.

My only complaint is that this film was a bit violent. I must admit, however, that the most violent sequences were very satisfying to watch. I think it will be interesting to see if the Academy Awards finally gives a meaningful award to a sci-fi film. I think a best actor nod goes to Sharlto - if he won it would be a first - best actor in a Sci-Fi lead role. I think a best picture nod should be coming too and a best director nod. Hell, maybe Blomkamp should show up to the Academy Awards with a gym bag. If you have seen this movie please weigh in and leave a comment on what you thought of the performance given by Copley. I do think that this film ranks among the top in the sci-fi genre and this film is gut-wrenching and technically brilliant.


Interesting things I remember seeing:


1. The universe selection page that Christopher Johnson was using when he was trying to launch the giant ship away from the earth caught my eye. I marvel at the concept of how worldly these aliens must be in terms of galaxies that they have seen and places they have been. This concept is so huge - by comparison in Star Trek we never make it out of a single galaxy!


2. The ship that is hovering above Johannesburg is a spectacle. When I look at this ship I can only admire it. It carries over 1,000,000 passengers and has traveled to many different galaxies - how I wonder about the entire civilization of this species - not to mention their knowledge of the universe in terms of things humans don't yet know about.