Tag Archives: sci-fi

The World’s End

TheWorldsEnd

Director: Edgar Wright; Main Cast: Simon PeggNick Frost, Martin FreemanPaddy ConsidineRosamund PikeEddie Marsan;

The Big Chill meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers seasoned with British humour. It sounds good on paper, I know, especially considering that it’s written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (and directed by the latter), who already gave us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Unfortunately, this film was not at the same level: the true funny moments are too few and far apart.  Gary (Pegg), a recovering addict, wants to recapture the magic of the glory days when he was young and free, only seventeen. In order to do that he needs to give another try to the epic pub crawl (12 pints in 12 pubs!) that he and his old gang never finished. Unlike Gary,  Andy (Frost), Oliver (Freeman), Steven (Considine) and Peter (Marsan) have managed to grow up and not just grow taller. They all have jobs and quite fulfilled lives but Gary convinces, coerces and outright lies to his friends to get them back to their hometown (in a very Jack-and-Elwood way).  So the boys are back in town, not really enthusiastic about it but going through the motion to appease the unstoppable Gary. The first surprise is a mundane although pleasant one: Oliver’s sister, Sam (Pike), is also there, just a token love interest or a way to prove even more that Gary is a jerk? Not clear. Anyway, after this, our heroes begin to notice something strange is going on in their beloved town… the people around them are not exactly people! Gary, Andy and the rest realise that their evening out is much more they bargained for. They have to fight for their life and reach the last pub: The World’s End (foreshadowing ?). Unfortunately this mad race is not as fun to watch as it probably was to shoot for the actors. I did like Billy Nighy’s cameo though! Disappointing . — 5.5/10

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Almost Human (season 1)

Main Cast: Karl UrbanMichael EalyMinka KellyMackenzie CrookLili Taylor

almost-human

A procedural cop show meets Caves of Steel, with some blatant allusions to Blade Runner and more subtle innuendos to Star Wars to tantalise the highbrow sci-fi geeks and attract the uninitiated. In 2048 human policemen are paired off with androids to face criminals armed with cutting-edge technology. Our hero is John Kennex (Urban), a maverick cop with a tragic past (of course!). He, naturally, doesn’t like following rules and conforming to departmental regulations so, in her infinite wisdom, Captain Maldonado (Taylor, and, seriously, who came up with the name?!) pairs him with Dorian (Ealy), a DRN i.e. a robot with a “synthetic” soul, layman explanation for a nifty bit of coding that replicates human emotional response (yep, the Nexus-6 model was a bust in comparison, no Voight-Kampff test necessary for this one). We have also Rudy (Crook), a geek for all seasons, who is not only tech-expert extraordinaire but also pathologist, chemist and, well, the go-to guy for everything that is related to science. Good job at saving money on personnel, “Unidentified City” Police Department! Last but not least the token eye-candy and possible love interest, agent Valerie Stahl (Kelly), utterly uninteresting and probably added by the creators just to pass the Bechdel test* for at least half of the episodes. The show doesn’t have a clear direction, it opens up too many story-lines but it rarely follows through. The only thing that works really well is the dynamic between Kennex and Dorian, mostly due to the fact that the actors have good on-screen chemistry and they are good at their craft. So even with neat special effects and technological ideas, this show can go only so far without a well-thought plan for a cohesive story. It is a pity because some of the topics brought up in a few episodes could have been innovative and unusual TV. So if it’s a rainy Sunday and Law & Order or CSI re-runs are not enough, you might think of giving it a shot. Unfulfilling  —5.5/10

*i.e. if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man

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Oldies but goldies: Alien (1979, director’s cut)

Director: Ridley Scott, Main Cast:  Sigourney WeaverTom SkerrittJohn HurtIan Holm;

alien

This film is a classic for both sci-fi and horror genres and it stands the test of time splendidly! The director’s cut includes additional footage that gives more insights about some characters and the creature. The lighting, the claustrophobic yet desolate shots, the futuristic design that now seems almost quaint, the little details: from the cigarette’s smoke to eating cereals to workers’ rights, we know it all and saw it a million times but it all appears in this film for the first time and made it a classic. On its way back from a routine trip a freight spaceship intercepts a distress signal from an unknown planet, the crew is awakened and sent to investigate: they will find something unexpected and terribly dangerous that will pick them off one by one! The motion detector is as efficient as John Williams’ two notes in Jaws in being anxiogenic and panic-inducing. One lesson learned from this movie: if there’s a big, human-eating monster up and about don’t go looking for the cat, he will be fine,  it’s your safety you should worry about! Amazing —9/10

 

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Elysium

Director: Neill Blomkamp, Main Cast: Matt DamonJodie FosterAlice BragaSharlto CopleyDiego Luna

So glad I didn’t waste my money on a cinema ticket for this! Imagine Earth a little bit more than a century from now when everything’s gone south: climate change, overpopulation, the GOP gets its way about public health care and cuts welfare to the bone, the gap between the wealthy and the poor is unbelievably  wide…and the 1%ers are living the life on a space station called Elysium (not so subtle reference). Our hero is born in the gutter but he can see the stars, so to speak, he wants to be rich and live in a macmansion on Elysium….the American dream in a nutshell. Again probably in other hands the story of this dystopian future might have been interesting, instead we get an awful mash-up of sci-fi classics references (Aliens, 1997 Escape from New York, Robocop, Johnny Mnemonic) and some from the more recent past (Repo Men, Equilibrium) and very boring, cookie cutter characters. Really not worth your time. –4/10

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Source Code

Director: Duncan Jones, Main cast: Jake GyllenhaalMichelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga

If at first you don’t succeed…pretty nifty idea for a sci-fi movie that plays around with America’s latest nightmare: a terrorist’s attack on public transports. Technology may go even beyond its creator’s expectations or, maybe, there are just as many parallel universes as choices. Our hero (Jake Gyllenhall) overcomes the bad guy and his demons  and guess what? gets the girl. But, luckily, there’s also a little surprise. Interesting — 7/10

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