Tag: Sci-Fi

The Cloverfield Paradox

Here we are, the epitome of strange film franchises.

Cloverfield was brilliant with its advertising, although it did leave a lot of people pissed off at the final product. 10 Cloverfield Lane came out of nowhere, announced about a month before it was released, and then ended up being pretty stinking good, thanks to great acting performances.

And The Cloverfield Paradox, originally was supposed to come out in April, got pulled from the release schedule. It then got bought by Netflix. And as we all found out on Superbowl Sunday that yes, it had a release right after the game, with only rumors released earlier the same day that it might happen. And of course a 30 second advertisement letting the viewers note that its release date was very soon.

It was brilliant, but again, it was dropped from the calendar and sold to Netflix for a reason. I knew that going in, I knew that I shouldn´t expect much. And I also knew that the fourth film in this franchise is coming out sometime in October, so no matter how bad this one ended up, it wouldn´t kill the franchise.

Scream
No matter how many times these characters scream, no one will hear it in a theater.

Aboard the Cloverfield space station, we have a team of international scientists working together to try and save the Earth. From what? From a global energy crisis. They have a large particle accelerator up in that space station to hopefully figure out how to get some sort of permanent, renewable, energy source that can save the world.

And they do not have a lot of time. Countries are ready to go to war for the limited resources left, and they only have three shots left of fuel to get things right. We have scientists from all over ( ) working to just make this thing work.

But wait! It finally reaches the good levels before shutting itself off! Did they solve the crisis? Maybe. Something still went wrong, and when they look around they notice that the Earth is completely missing. Did they move to a different part of the galaxy? Did the Earth disappear due to their science? Their compass is broken too, so they find themselves lost in space, where strange events start to take place on their space ship. People appearing, items missing, and a lot more paranoia.

Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, and Roger Davies holding himself together on Earth.

Arm
You got to hand it to this scene, it really strong arms the point.

I want to say that The Cloverfield Paradox is a film with a good idea and bad execution, but in reality, maybe it was a bad idea as well.

It is very obvious that this film was never intended to be connected to Cloverfield. More so than the previous film. Basically, everything on the space station was a different movie, but we had a character they added on Earth to communicate occasionally with, which connected the film to the previous Cloverfield. That and the last 30 seconds or so. So for the most part, this is just a space ship thriller movie.

But it did not do a good job of really deciding what it wanted. Was it a thriller? A drama? A strange comedy (Which was mostly O´Dowd. And his jokes/puns got annoying quickly, unfortunately)?

It featured a scene very early on of a news report that felt like a flashing neon sign letting you know what the movie was about to do, a very weak plot device. It then had our characters running around, coming up with solutions to problems that are never really fully explained. The viewer can understand the main problem, but most of the problems that happen in the film are just plot devices and never feel natural.

This film spent most of its time trying to set up something and just failing to deliver over and over again.

It was pulled from theaters for a reason, and put on netflix with no warning for a reason. Everyone everywhere has now seen it (Which is why I did not rush the review out) and it is a clunky, lame mess. Not even the several high caliber actors could save it. Instead, this film is more likely to be remembered for its stunt, not for adding anything valuable to what is turning out to be a very stupid franchise idea.

1 out of 4.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

What a promising film franchise to fall from grace so quickly. I quite enjoyed the first Maze Runner film, and I was excited for where it was going. I was also excited because they said the final book would only be one film, not broken up like other bad franchises.

Except the sequel, The Scorch Trials, was awful and repetitive. I have been told it deviated far from the book, unlike film number one, and it shows given it seemed to lack any direction or reason for existing.

And on to the final film, The Death Cure! Which was supposed to come out last year, but the star got hurt early into filming. He was hurt in March, 2016, and from his injuries, recovery time, and other commitments, the filming didn’t continue until March, 2017. A whole year delay! And now we are given a January release, where you know they don’t really give a shit about what they are dropping.

Oh, young adult dystopian book gods. This is the final piece of the final film to finish, as the others along the way either ended with a whimper or ended before they could end. Or in The Fifth Wave’s case, it was dead on arrival.

No matter what, remember that after it, it will all be over for at least two years before something else tries to recreate the Twilight and Hunger Games crowd.

Gun
Before Newt can shoot, he turns into a Final Fantasy character.

This third and final film is set sometimes after the second, months even. The resistance arm has been destroyed for the most part by WKCD, with several people getting taken including Minho (Ki Hong Lee), thanks to Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) switching sides, again. But don’t worry, if the Right Arm wants to do anything, it wants to destroy WCKD, run away to safety, and save Minho. Just Minho. Literally who gives a shit about the rest, if they get saved and aren’t Minho then they are not done.

So Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Brenda (Rosa Salazar), Frypan (Dexter Darden), and even Vince (Barry Pepper) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) try to save Minho. They don’t, they save 40 other kids, whoops. But doing so they find out they are headed to the Last City, somehow protected from the Cranks and the infection, where WKCD has their headquarters. A final showdown, to save Minho? Sure, why not.

Of course, while in the city they find out that there are other resistance groups around, one led by a Lawrence (Walton Goggins) who is super close to turning into a Crank, but has a serum supply. And oh, hey look, there is Gally (Will Poultier)! Long time no see, dick buddy. Anyways, there new goal is to break into an unbreakable city, get their boy Minho back, then escape into the wind to be immune on a beach somewhere. Whether or not Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and Janson (Aidan Gillen) get dealt with would just be bonus.

CIty
Ah yes, those buildings are currently in tact, so I declare it a city!

For those who don’t want to be spoiled, let this paragraph be the last thing you read. Basically, this film is the bee’s anus. Some characters do actions with zero motivation or reason to these actions. The heroes literally care about only saving one person for the most part. The heroes are a bunch of jerks and are generally wrong. There are many sacrifices that are unnecessary. And it is so goddamn long and disappointing.

But while watching this movie, I knew I needed to be specific. I knew I needed to talk about certain things that pissed me off and they constitute spoilers. So here we go, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Let’s start with the baddest bad guy, Janson, who really wants to kill Thomas but is still charismatic and calm. Except for at the end when he decides to shoot and kill Ava Paige for no reason. Literally, they were still on the same side with the same goal, to get the cure from Thomas, and Janson kills her. She and him are friends. But he is sooooo bad that he kills her, only to make the ending more chaotic and stupid.

And really, in terms of bad guy actions, that is the only real super bad guy action. Because it turns out that WKCD was right all along. They wanted to get a cure from the immune people. They knew it could be done, they just needed the right people. In the second film they clearly went about it the wrong way, but Teresa, still a good guy (?) just wanted to make sure all the Cranks could be saved and everyone else. And guess what! She totally could make a real cure from Thomas’ blood, who had special blood because he was lucky, and he didn’t have to get tortured or anything for it to be made.

But who gives a shit about that. Nope, WKCD gets destroyed. Teresa dies sacrificing herself for Thomas, when there was no reason for her to sacrifice herself. And all for what? For Thomas and the good guys to run off to a beach and start their own community…while the rest of the world becomes Cranks and die off? Holy fuck. Thomas is a character who gives no fucks about saving the world, just himself, and the community act like this is a great thing that they did in the end. When the other option was to HELP THE WORLD they HELPED THEMSELVES instead.

Speaking of good bad guys and selfish heroes, the death count in this and the last film are pretty big, especially when a war is raged in the city. The city is the WKCD headquarters, but it is also a lot of other regular people just doing their own thing. So all of these people get fucked over in this giant fight, when only one place should be the real target. And none of it had to happen if Thomas just sort of realized and done the right thing.

On that note, if his blood really was special and had the cure, how the fuck did WKCD not know it before hand? He literally worked for them before he went into the maze, with Teresa. If they suspected immunity, they should have had him undergo tests, and the whole film series really doesn’t make sense at that point. They would have had the cure early enough to get it various places, save even more lives, and Thomas would have been glad to do it.

But no. Beach. Safe. Fuck the world. End of film. I am glad to know that the second film is very different from the book, because it means it must be true of the third film and third book as well. I want to read the series just to see how much worse these films ended up being in retrospect.

0 out of 4.

Downsizing

Alexander Payne has probably had one of the more interesting director careers out of anyone. Or at least anyone who isn’t an A-list always nominated amazing director.

I first saw one of his films, Citizen Ruth, when I was about 8 years old or so. It was NOT made for an 10 year old to watch, especially not on his own with no context, but I did it. Eventually I also saw Election, which I loved, and Sideways, and The Descendants, and Nebraska. At any of these points I never watched them knowing it was the director of these previous films I liked, because they are all so different and out there.

But for Downsizing, this is the first time I have gone in knowing the director, knowing his history and ready for something just bizarre.

Big
And the trailers and plot surely delivered on that front.

The world is falling apart, due to pollution, global warming, and too many goddamn babies. And scientists have been trying to find cures that the public would believe and trust and they may have finally done it! You see, Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen (Rolf Lassgård), the mad Norweigian that he is, has successfully shrunk some rats in a way with no side effects and no premature deaths. So he did it on himself, his wife, and dozens of volunteers.

Yadda yadda yadda, many years later, there are many communities around the world of little folk, people are doing it not to save the planet, but to live like kings. Because their money in the real average sized world is worth a lot more when you are tiny, and you can live in giant mansions, never working again! It is the life for some, and a good choice.

Paul (Matt Damon) and Audrey Safranek (Kristen Wiig) have been living very uneventful lives up to that point, never really going anywhere, gaining anything, or just really existing beyond a blip on the radar. Going small can make them happy. So why not, why not change their lives, try it out and take hold of their destiny.

And of course, of course, they will find out that being small isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Record scratch and everything. Also starring Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Ingjerd Egeberg, Udo Kier, Jason Sudeikis, and James Van Der Beek.

Flower
Flower Power becomes an actual usable form of energy!

The Downsizing trailer made me really excited for this film. A nice shrinking film from a different point of view, starring everyone’s favorite Damon!

And the film that actually exists is very different from the trailer. It is a little bit about global warming, but really it is just a film to talk about class imbalances in society. Not a bad topic for a film, and this type of story can be a good way to tell that story. Downsizing just told its story terribly.

Our main character is just a passive bitch who just really sucks. He doesn’t move much, he is boring, and it never really pays off. There are some exciting people around him, but they are side characters and don’t get the screen time. Chau gets a ton of screen time, but she seems like some perfect character that isn’t exciting for different reasons. And honestly, I cannot tell if it is offensive, or inspiring, or what.

The ending is a let down, although there is at least one twist I only sort of saw coming, so that was nice.

Downsizing is a little film with grand big ambitions. But the story just drags along and goes places that aren’t as interesting as they must have seemed on paper. And let’s just say, 2016/2017 were bad for Damon. Basically everything since The Martian, except one cameo role. Suburbicon, The Great Wall, and Jason Bourne have all failed to deliver, and maybe his career is just on the decline now.

1 out of 4.

Majorie Prime

With a title like Majorie Prime, it in two words somehow perfectly describes the different aesthetics of this film. Despite prime really just being a math term, it also can conjure up Sci-Fi feelings, which is one of the two aspects. The other word, Majorie, is an old as fuck lady name. It hasn’t been used in forever. Old people aren’t in Sci-Fi movies, they are in dramas.

So we got ourselves an old person drama Sci-Fi. That means it is a Sci-Fi film about death, probably.

And yeah, knowing all of this, I figured it was an indie movie, and a Sci-Fi film, so it had the potential to be really great, without actually knowing anything about it.

Old
“Let’s talk about our feelings and count this as a Sci-Fi!”

Learning to let go of loved ones can be a difficult thing. Thankfully, at this point in my life, I really don’t know that. In the near distant future, technology has grown enough along with artificial intelligence to make the transition feel a bit smoother.

You see, you can make a robot that looks and smells like you past loved one after their live. You will fill them with memories that you want them to know, and then you can just talk to them. You can tell them more stories, they will learn from you, adapt and grow with you. And better yet, they will be nostalgic with you to tell you stories that will make you feel better, ones that you originally told them, but from their point of view. It will feel real, it is kind of real. And best of all, you can get things off your chest for closure reasons if you never had a chance.

This is usually reserved for spouses. Like Majorie (Lois Smith), who is getting old and losing her memory. So her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) sets her up with one of these prime bots of Majorie’s husband, Walter (Jon Hamm) except she chooses a much younger version of him. It helps her a bit, but the memory loss is still there, so much that she even starts to forget her husband isn’t real.

But is it helpful for real? Does having a prime unit in your house actually help you? What about more than one, assuming you lose a lot of loved ones? Will it turn people into isolated recluses, will they feel better, or will it just lead to more issues in the future?

Also featuring Tim Robbins, Hannah Gross, and Stephanie Andujar.

Youth
Basically, it is a more dramatized (if that is possible) Blade Runner.

I love a good movie that is 95% dialogue, I really do. Locke was one of my favorite movies in whatever year Locke came out, thanks to the wonderful Tom Hardy. I knew that this film would be dialogue heavy, but I didn’t know the real reason behind it. This film was actually based on a play of the same name, so it took some effort to get pictures from the movie version.

Knowing it was a play makes so much more sense. Literally most of the film is usually two people just talking and recalling events, events we are really only sometimes aware of and can have a real context for.

And although the ending had a really cool moment, and this film featured at times some intense acting, it didn’t feel like the time was worth the payoff. I ended up describing the entirety of the film to my wife, only because the ending moment was interesting, but I knew that her time was more valuable than taking the 90 minutes to get to that point.

It deal with a few good concepts, about aging and what it means to be human. But it never feels like it goes hard enough. Oh well, when the end of the world comes due to the AI take over, we will know now that the robots will have old people names, like Walter and Majorie.

2 out of 4.

Thor: Ragnarok

Okay, Thor: The Dark World was sort of bad. I was caught up in Marvel hype at the time, but I still stand by my original Thor rating.

I love the god of Thunder, and I want Chris Hemsworth to be in many more movies, so I just ooze out happiness towards him, hoping everything is great and falling in love. Except for Blackhat. And The Huntsman: Winter’s War. And Ghostbusters. Okay, so lately Thor is all he has going for him outside of Rush (is it the four letter word theme?!).

But that is not why I am excited about Thor: Ragnarok. I am floor to the wall excited thanks to Taika Waititi.

Who? The indie film New Zealand director who gave us What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople (one of my top films last year). This man is so good at his craft, bringing natural humor and an adventure out of little. The fact that he was given a Marvel film to helm, to put his own spin on things, blows my minds, and honestly, I just could not fucking wait.

lightning
Basically, Thor is now full on Rayden.

Ragnarok takes place sometimes after the events of other movies. Thor (Hemsworth) is roaming the stars, leaving Midgard (Earth) behind for a bit in their squabbles, as he makes sure life around the Realms is swell. He is having nightmares about Asgard falling in flames, and he would rather not have that happen to his home.

After dealing with threats, he returns to Asgard and finds it complacent in the suffering of the realm. Heimdall (Idris Elba) is missing. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is clearly Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise, not actually dead like everyone assumed. But that is only the beginning of the issues.

It turns out that Thor has an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who has been imprisoned by Odin for some time. She is set to return, to return Asgard to a machine of death and destruction to conquer the cosmos. The Asgard of the past was a scary place, everyone would prefer peace time now, but it is hard for that to occur when she shows up on their doorstep, stronger than the other Asgardians and willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

Thor and Odin are expelled from their realm, with mixed results. Odin would like to survive and run, while Thor would prefer to get out of his new reality, defeat his sister and finally claim the throne he has denied in the past. I mean, he has to, or else everyone will die or something.

We get a few new characters into the story, including the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldbloom), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Skurge (Karl Urban).

Also featuring the Warriors Three (sort of) (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano), the voice of Clancy Brown, Rachel House, Taika Waititi (he is in his own movie, yes), Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a few cameos to keep on your toes.

War
This is probably what I would wear if I got into LARPing.

Thor is such an odd character to make films about. The goal is to make sure the films have their own unique feel to them and are not a generic action superhero film. This means that Thor gets to go to other planets and realms, but not like the Guardians of the Galaxy, as his is more solo based and war based. GotG is more bad dudes all around.

Years ago this was being noted of being a sort of Road Trip Marvel film, which is not a very apt description. We get to see different areas, different people, at various amounts, while Thor deals with his friends and family tearing itself apart. Unfortunately like a lot of those films, some areas spend too much time, seemingly drag on, when the viewer might just wish it to move its ass along eventually. Namely, the trash planet with the gladiators. Sure, some cool stuff happens there. Some sweet characters. But damn it, get going, get out, let´s get this plot going!

And there is a lot of cool stuff in this film! Thor at the end of the movie is a complete badass, finally rocking out in such an epic way that it feels like a Thor makeover, and I don´t just mean his hair. Hulk is given a decent amount of screen time and gets to show off. Loki is around, which is okay. Hela likes to throw spikes or whatever, and I guess she is strong doing that. Heimdall finally has a purpose in these movies, but still not a lot of purpose. And cameos!

Then there are questions like: Where is Lady Sif? She is a major part of the Thor crew, but she is basically replaced with Valkyrie and we are supposed to be cool with it? (She could not make the filming time, and they just ignored her existence. The Warriors Three at least had parts though).

The questions brought up at the end of The Dark World with Odin/Loki were really quickly dealt with as well. TDW had a very ominous ending and I have been waiting many years for this to come about and it was a disappointment.

Again, the film has tons of fun moments. It does a lot of things right, and it is quite hilarious and badass at various points. It is just a bit too long, rushes through the better things, drags at others, and ignores characters without a good reason.

3 out of 4.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

I hate Luc Bessson. I probably have said that at least a thousand times in my life at to this point. I have also already said that he hasn’t made anything good since The Fifth Element, which was of course 20 years ago, and relevant to the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Because I went into Valerian and I expected to hate it. I expected it to be somehow a Eurotrash movie, but in Space. I didn’t have any fond reasons to love the leads at all, and was just ready to be scathing. But then I didn’t hate it. I didn’t dislike it either. At the lowest I knew it would be an average rating, but not sure if it could land higher.

I did know that I had to go and rewatch The Fifth Element before I wrote this review. Because in all honesty, I hadn’t seen it since it came out when I was a kid, and I remembered nothing except for the intro scenes. And after going back and watching it, I sort of shrugged me shoulders and sighed, remembering it to be better than that.

Two takeaways from this intro: I guess I only really really like Leon, The Professional from Besson, and I don’t hate Valerian.

Boob Armor
But I did hate how stupid looking they decided to make her armor.

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are team of space soldier ranger things. They work for some intergalactic agency and have to do missions. In space! Pretty standard police stuff. We get to see them doing some space mission after Valerian wakes up from a space dream where a planet of blue things get wrecked super hard.

From this mission, Valerian and Laureline, gain a sweet pearl of extreme energetic power, and a cool little lizard who makes copies of anything it eats. I think you all can put two and two together to see why this is an intense combination. And this is the cause of all of their problems. Because when they return back to Alpha (aka the City of a Thousand Planets. A floating, giant space station that has inhabitants from all over to create one massive entity in unity), shit starts hitting the fan. A wiped out race of aliens appear and steal the lizard, but they use non lethal means. The main captain is taken and people who have no idea what is going on are in charge.

But don’t worry. We have Valerian and Laureline, who will take turns saving each other, to get to the bottom of this mess.

Also featuring Alain Chabat, Clive Owen, Elizabeth Debicki, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, John Goodman, Kris Wu, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rihanna, Rutger Hauer, and Sam Spruell.

Aliens
Stare deeply into the eyes of the Blue Dhalsim.

I have put off writing this review for over a week. I have reviews that come out next week that I have already written before this one, it is just so hard.

The thoughts I had when I left the theater: Well, I don’t hate it. But do I love it? Is it average?

It is so damn hard to tell. There is quite a lot for someone to like in this film, and almost an equal number to dislike. So…Here…we…go!

Dislikes:

  • DeHaan is not a bad actor, but he is not great in this film. Far too much of his dialogue is spent trying to badly woo Delevingne and it just drags on. His voice is way too gruff for his boyish face, like he is trying to play Batman. He worked for A Cure For Wellness, but it is hard to like him here.
  • Delevingne, for the most part, is a bad actress. She isn’t great here either, but they don’t give her a lot to work with. Her character is weakly written, despite being an integral part of the team. Her name should be part of the movie, not just focused on the boy hero. But also, it is like her role is one entire eye roll.
  • Goodman was wasted in this film, his voice was great for the character, but they implied he would have a bigger impact on the movie and then he…never came back.
  • The Alpha station got really annoying. All of these special biomes and places to live, so of course we have a couple parts of the plot where our characters can rush through EVERY SINGLE ONE MENTIONED. Doing the “look at all the stuff in here!” and making sure it all matters instead of just keeping it small scale and letting stuff happen in the future. I had a similar issue with Zootopia, all these biomes, MAKE SURE WE HIT THEM ALL.
  • Related to points 1 and 2, Delevingne and DeHaan had terrible chemistry.

Likes:

  • What a goddamn introduction to he film. A nice, beach and ocean planet. A tribe of native aliens. In my screener there was a mess up with the intro, where we couldn’t see their dialogue and subtitles, and guess what, IT WASN’T NECESSARY. A story was told, it was awe inspiring, it was great, quality, film.
  • The CGI for the most part was always on par as well. A ton of visual effects and they helped the universe, they didn’t hurt it. A lot of unique elements too, maybe from the comic, maybe not, but it was pleasing to look at.
  • The plot wasn’t terrible. It had quite a few good elements and a lot of random twists in the middle. No one would guess where this film is going, even if you could guess where it ends.
  • This hurts to say this, which makes it more true. Rihanna was in this film, and her character was fun. It was fun and Rihanna was completely fine in it. She didn’t take away from the movie, although how she exited the movie seemed unnecessary.

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about this movie. What I am left with is realizing this is a step in the right direction for Besson. Another of these films with a more focused story and planet or planets could be amazing. And I wouldn’t even care if he replaced the leads, I swear. It is not terrible, despite pretty bad elements. It is just totally okay.

2 out of 4.

Life

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

Look, I am a big fan of all of these classic board games being turned into movies. Clue is the golden standard, and that was over thirty years ago. So why not a movie about the board game Life?

The good news about Life is that it is so expansive of a game, you can basically make it about anything, as along as it involves growing up, getting a job and family, a career, and eventually retiring. Anything could happen to you in between that. You could win a Nobel Prize! You could play the stock market. You could just not at all do anything worth while.

As long as you don’t set it in a fantasy realm, or in outer space, or anything like that, it could count as a movie about the board game.

Calvin
What the fuck is this? Is this in Millionaire Estates?

Aboard the ISS, we got a lovely crew of people, crewing around, doing science, being astronauts. They grab a probe returning from Mars, hoping to analyze some soil and maybe see if they can find life. And guess what! They do! A tiny tiny microorganism, but it is life not from Earth. Hooray science!

Everyone is stoked, the world is stoked, some kid wins a contest and names it Calvin, big celebration, we are not alone! But maybe w should be alone?

Things start to go wrong on the space station. Calvin starts to grow, Calvin starts to show intelligence, and Calvin needs to eat to survive whatever he can on the ship. And you know who that means.

It means these people! Hiroyuki Sanada, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds.

Finaltwo
The poor ISS gets destroyed and fucked up in so many different movies.

Obviously this has nothing to do with the board game, that is just a joke, but this film still has a shitty title. Life is too vague, has certainly been a title before, and isn’t as ominous as they had hoped.

I first avoided this film because it came out on my birthday, and everyone knew that Power Rangers was the bigger story there. Also despite having actors I knew in it, I thought there was not way it would be a good film.

And guess what? I actually did enjoy it. Sure, on the surface, it is basically just the movie Alien, but with a different Alien and not in deep space. Actually, it is extremely similar to Alien, including having people ignoring quarantine rules in order to doom everyone. However, we don’t get a badass female protagonist, we just get people continually sacrificing themselves for the greater good of humanity.

Despite its lack of originality, I still enjoyed it. The ending had me very tense and on the edge of my seat. The acting from Gyllenhaal and Ferguson was decent enough, and Sanada’s character made me feel incredibly sad.

I would say objectively it is not a bad thriller/horror film at all. It does get a bit messy at points, a little bit confusing not being familiar with the layout or everything they are talking about. There are plenty of worse films out there that won’t scare you, so might as well give Life a shot.

3 out of 4.

War For The Planet of the Apes

The “of the Planet of the Apes” films have been met with some pretty critical acclaim in the last few years, especially after the rebooted Planet of the Apes film was so dismal.

And hey, for Rise? I totally agree. An amazing film, great acting and a plot that made me cheer for Apes instead of just humans. Just a silly romance subplot stopped it from being a great film.

Unfortunately, Dawn just didn’t really do much for me. It was an okay film, but I believe it received more praise for being a pretty standard plot, but with Apes instead of tribal humans. Some cool moments sure, but it was also forgettable.

I had no idea what to expect for War, but I would hope with a long run time, it would put an end to humans once and for all, so the Ape society can begin to grow into what we already know is the end goal.

Ride
Which is horses and apes riding horses in the future, right?

War is set only a few years after Dawn, where the apes have mostly gone into hiding in the woods. Koba (Toby Kebbell) is the one who started the fighting with the humans, and Caesar (Andy Serkis) ended it. A few apes are still pissed off and left to rabble rouse, but the rest of the apes just want to live alone. However, humans don’t give a fuck, blood was spilled, and they want revenge. So they keep venturing into the woods, hoping to take out Caesar and the rest of the apes will scatter.

Thanks to a scouting mission, a few apes found a desert on the other side of the mountain where the apes would be able to flourish. Humans are super dying out so they are likely to leave them alone.

But leave them along they don’t. A small raid enters their compound hoping to get Caesar, but get some other apes instead. Boo, hiss. Caesar mad. Caesar wants revenge on the soldier in charge of the humans in the area (Woody Harrelson). So he takes his very small band of soldiers on a potential suicide mission.

Starring Gabriel Chavarria as a human soldier, Amiah Miller as a human deaf girl, and a whole lot of people as apes. Like Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Aleks Paunovic, Devyn Dalton, and Karin Konoval.

Gun
“Well, are you feeling lucky…Ape?”

Trilogies usually go one of three ways. There is the the rare but incredible trilogy that is amazing with every iteration. There is the more common trilogy where the sequel surpasses the first and the last film is a let down. Or there is a trilogy where it starts off good, and each iteration loses a bit of its soul, giving us a worse and worse film.

And a lot of you would assume this might be the second trilogy because people loved Dawn, but to me, this is the third type of trilogy. Dawn was okay, War was kind of shit.

At almost 140 minutes with War in the title, you would expect a giant battle to, most likely, bring about the end of mankind to start this whole Planet of the Apes thing. Maybe. Well, the Caesar journey with his band takes awhile to follow the humans. On the way, they have another Ape who can talk who joins them, and a deaf girl. This part drags, and even when they make it to the human encampment it drags. I found myself falling asleep, despite being an early screening and having finished an energy drink before it.

The ending is about the apes being enslaved and needing to get to get broken out of a prison system where they are slaves, and the humans are fighting with each other. There is also a new iteration of the Simian Flu, that causes humans to lose their voice and potentially become aggressive, reverting them back into a more primitive form.

The ending break out is not a brilliant plan. It involves the humans being incredibly incompetent. When plot necessary, apparently no one is standing guard at the military compound, so a little girl can walk in and have a long conversation. When necessary apparently a guard will behave like someone who has no military training, and no one else will be on guard duty. When necessary, the fighting between humans will stop enough so that the humans can fire on some apes that none of them were able to notice even escaped. This scene includes a soldier that is so upset with these apes, that he cannot stop firing despite a looming other human threat, that he cannot turn around to get his own grenade launcher. When necessary, an ape looking for redemption will use a weapon to take out a single human, instead of just doing the more obvious move to complete the task that Caesar was trying to complete. When necessary, a giant deus ex machine straight out of Mulan will save the day, but this time no daisies are involved.

The ending is a mess, the middle is a bore, and the beginning is predictable. I didn’t even get into the ridiculousness of the Simian Flu change, and deciding to have a girl who was deaf for real, not deaf for flu reasons. War for the Planet of the Apes is a waste of a film that tried to go a deeper, personal route, and just left feeling a bit superficial.

1 out of 4.

The Space Between Us

When did The Space Between Us come out? Shit, I don’t remember. This year maybe, or last year and I am super far behind. [Editor’s Note: It was this year! First week in February, I am not super far behind!]

I think I received an invite to this one, but a better looking movie was at the same time. I didn’t know anything about this film either, based on a book, some sci-fi romance plot, and that is it.

Poor Asa Butterfield, he is getting typecasted into a lot of weird roles. And if he had kept his mouth shut, he’d be Spider-Man probably (which is also, technically, weird). It’s good to be able to follow your passions when you are this young, I guess.

Motorbike
Riding on a motorcycle without a helmet is not a good passion to follow.

At long last, humanity is going to reach a new level! We are going to Mars. Not as visitors, but as new tenants, to terraform parts of the area. To live, and study and make a viable new home for mankind. It has long been the dream of Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) since he was a child, and now he is at NASA leading the expedition from home. A team of astronauts, led by Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery), are willing to dedicate their lives to getting there and staying there, for science and shit.

Except Sarah had a secret, even from herself. She was newly pregnant. So on Mars she gave birth to a boy, Gardner (Asa Butterfield), and died during childbirth. The first human born not on Earth, amazing. But also a PR disaster, so NASA agreed to keep the boy a secret. Being born in a weaker gravity would mean that the bones would develop also more brittle, and he likely would never be able to come to Earth. Keeping him a secret was the best way to save their mission and the boy.

Well, a decade and a half later, Gardner is weird and lonely, the only child still on Mars. He has the internet and communicate with people of Earth, but he knows the severity of keeping his secret. One girl he talks to, Tulsa (Britt Robertson), seems like his dream girl, but long distant relationships are terrible. And with enough begging and pleading, they finally decide to bring him back. He has a lot of surgery to add stuff to his bones, but this is the future so whatever. He flies back to earth, and has some issues.

BUT HE DIDN’T COME BACK TO EARTH TO BE TESTED. He came back for love. To find Tulsa. Also to figure out who his daddy is, that too matters. And he won’t let anything get in his way, gravity, nothing.

Also featuring BD Wong, Carla Gugino, and Scott Takeda.

Float
And he won’t let a lack of gravity keep him from getting dat kiss.

Where’s that Hercules disappointed gif when you need it? This could have been an incredibly amazing movie. One that brought all viewers to tears, with its beautiful actual star crossed lovers story. But it was driven down in mediocrity.

At the beginning of the film, there was potential. Sure the whole thing looked incredibly cheesy. Like a hallmark send off to Mars instead of how it might actually look. The interview with the crew before where Sarah awkwardly answered questions and no one else spoke was uncomfortable, but still, the story was a really great one.

And then he got to Earth. And then it wasn’t just awkward it was just a let down. They were on the run from the NASA security trying to get him back, because of course, his body was failing him due to disease, gravity, whatever. But it just failed to reach any deep or meaningful level.

And damn it, it was so close to an amazing story. Well, the idea was close to an amazing story. What was delivered was just trash. This might actually be an average movie, but I left with a worst taste in my mouth just because of how badly it presented a good idea.

The day after watching it, I could hardly recall anything of note. It just is not a film that will stay with you based on how incredibly underwhelming the whole thing ends up being.

1 out of 4.

Alien: Covenant

I have never been one of those geeks super into the Alien franchise. After all, that shit is scary, and I didn’t watch horror for the longest time.

I can understand the appeal, but after Alien and Aliens, the only other film in that series I have seen was Prometheus, so there is that. Allusions and references will mean nothing to me.

So I am not excited to go into this film, but I am a bit excited it isn’t just “Prometheus 2” or anything. Because I want my scientists to be smart and not watch the opposite of that. I do want nice scares as well. But mostly, I want a shit ton of Danny McBride.

Monster
I hope this isn’t Danny McBride.

Alien: Covenant is set about ten years after the events of Prometheus, aboard the ship named Covenant. It is a colony ship, with a ship ton of bodies on board while asleep. There are also hundreds of embryos frozen and about 15 or so crew members to run the thing if problems arise or when they get close to the new planet. Lastly, they have a lovely robot helper to run their ship while they sleep in Walter (Michael Fassbender), who is totally different than David from Prometheus!

Sure enough, some bad stuff happens, their voyage gets stopped, they have to make repairs, and their captain dies! Oh no! Now Oram (Billy Crudup) is in charge, and he wants them to get back on schedule asap before more bad stuff happens. Daniels (Katherine Waterston) is the new second in command, and she was also in a relationship with the captain so she is pretty upset. Tennessee (Danny McBride) is their pilot/tech guy or something and Lope (Demián Bichir) is some sort of head of security, maybe.

While doing repairs, they received a faded distress beacon from a place not too far away, and according to scanners it is ALSO a perfect planet for them to live at. They decide it is their duty to check it out, saving them 7 years on a different awesome planet would be sweet. Once they get there though, spores, aliens, a lot of problems. But hey, they also meet David, so we get to find out what happened after Prometheus. Ain’t that swell?

And here is a bunch of the crew actors! Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby, Uli Latukefu, Tess Haubrich, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, and Nathaniel Dean. With maybe, MAYBE, about 2 minutes of screen time for James Franco.

Birth
Front chest bursting is so 30 years ago.

Alien: Covenant is a film that wants to explore some pretty deep questions in a hypothetical setting. It wants to talk about Rogue AI. It wants to talk about where we came from (like Prometheus before it). It wants to talk about the next stages of evolution for beings. It wants to talk about what it means to be a creator of life, a mother, without necessarily giving birth in the traditional sense. It wants to play on human emotions at the loss of a loved one (because straight up every crew member is apparently in a relationship with another crew member). A lot of good discussions and themes can arise from this film, some of which is subtle and some of which is blasted across the screen into your faceholes.

But you know what Alien: Covenant does not feel like? An Alien movie. Oh, we get a least one Xenomorph in this film, but it kind of sucks. It is defeated easily, with the smaller aliens seemingly posing a bigger challenge. And this movie isn’t scary. We got some gross scenes? Yeah, a bit, but I have seen a lot worse. We have some people flipping their shit of course. And we have a lot of crew members make terrible decisions over and over again, a big problem with Prometheus. But I never really felt scared. I never really felt the tension.

The best elements from Covenant would fall under the Drama Genre, which would be fine if that was the goal of this film, to make it a drama. This is a franchise known for changing its genre between films, and it could have really fucking worked (although, admittedly, people would probably still be disappointed). But it still tries to hype up its action and horror moments which for the most part just fall flat.

The best part of the movie is Fassbender and Fassbender, including the best scenes where he has to act with himself. I probably said something similar in the last movie about the “best parts”. But the twists feel obvious, McBride isn’t even used as a comic relief, it is setting up for a future movie (which I will note I have no idea where it really wants go with), and above all, just not as good as most people would have hoped.

But hey, Ridley Scott wants to make like, six more of these, and he is super old, so I guess that is what will happen.

2 out of 4.