Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

springSpring weaves together familiar cinematic strands to fashion a strangely beautiful and original tapestry. The sophomore effort by the filmmaking team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the duo responsible for the well received 2012 horror thriller Resolution, is a hybrid of genres, with elements of horror, science fiction, and romance in a near-perfect ratio. The film invites a mash-up movie pitch, i.e.; it’s (movie A) meets (movie B), as do the filmmakers – literally. During the Q&A session after a screening of the film at the London Film Festival, Benson and Moorhead encouraged the audience to come up with their own, like Spring is Say Anything meets Species or EuroTrip meets Lifeforce or An American Werewolf in London meets An American Werewolf in Paris. The game is almost as much as fun as the movie. (more…)

monstersMonsters: Dark Continent is a glorious failure, a spectacular technical achievement that is completely undone by the absence of a compelling narrative. The movie is the cinematic equivalent of a beautiful girl without a thought in her head – eventually you grow bored with just staring at her.

The original Monsters won a fair amount of critical acclaim for its nuanced and convincing look at aliens on earth that were more of an invasive species than hostile invaders. Done on the cheap, the film boasted modest special effects and small-scale ambitions that made for a pleasant diversion with an ending that suggested a universal language of love (and reproduction). (more…)

Time LapseLegend has it that Leonardo da Vinci slept only two hours per day, resting in periodic snippets of 10 to 30 minutes. This unusual sleep pattern is known as polyphasic sleep or “the sleep of genius.” Da Vinci put these extra waking hours to good use, pursuing his mastery of painting and sculpture, continuing his work as an engineer and inventor, and furthering the knowledge of man in disciplines such as anatomy and mathematics. A journalist once attempted to adopt this habit, and after several weeks was able to get by on less than four hours of sleep per day, but he soon found himself bored and wasted the extra time on television and junk food. The moral of the story is that you need a genius to make the most out of certain opportunities. (more…)

extraterrestrial1There are about 30 minutes of cinematic gold in the new science fiction-horror flick Extraterrestrial, scenes good enough to meet the expectations raised by the smart, sleek trailer for the film and give rise to the hope that The Vicious Brothers may have hit on the elusive formula to provide the Alien on Earth mash-up that has eluded this genre to date. Unfortunately, Extraterrestrial runs for a too-long 106 minutes, meaning that the 30 minutes of genius are subsumed completely by a sub-standard storyline that renders the overall product unfortunately unpalatable. (more…)

R100Do you remember the old Bugs Bunny cartoons where it looked like Bugs was trapped, but he would pull out a can of paint and a brush, paint a door, and then escape through it? Hitoshi Matsumoto employs a similar device each time his movie, R100, is in danger of running into a dead end. Matsumoto simply changes the rules, not to mention the genre, and his madcap characters crash through the newly drawn door and veer off in another direction. For viewers willing to sit back and enjoy the ride without giving a whit about the destination, R100 is a blast of originality and a poke in the eye of the, at times, too staid Japanese film industry. (more…)

Coherence-02Coherence is a vigorous affirmation that a great script trumps special effects in crafting a superior science fiction movie. James Ward Byrkit’s screenplay is the real star of this rock solid, thinking man’s flick. The film has a theatrical sense to it with a relatively small cast of eight spending most of the 90-minute runtime in a dining room as a typical suburban dinner party turns into a cosmic event, but what the movie might lack in explosions and spaceships, it makes up in tension and intellectual provocation.

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HoneymoonImagine the body as a vessel, an exterior shell that holds the essence of the individual. The body plus the psyche equals the being. Now, imagine an external force either filling the vessel or emptying it.

Two thought-provoking films with this concept at the center have been released this year. The first was Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, in which Scarlett Johansson plays a predatory alien who first acquires a body and then a sense of humanity in order to attract her prey. The second is Honeymoon with Rose Leslie as a newlywed who is seemingly having the humanness drained from her. Under the Skin became something of a darling for the Art House crowd, due to Johansson’s superior, naked-in-more-ways-than-one performance and a moody, broody atmosphere that bordered on pretentiousness, but never quite crossed over. Director Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon is less ambitious and more conventional than Glazer’s work, but remains a worthy companion piece to that film.

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COD3Crawl or Die has two things going for it, the first being the title. The exhortation with threatening consequences invokes a warm, familiar feeling for fans of the exploitation genre. And yet, how great would it have been if the movie had been released with its original title, Crawl Bitch Crawl? That name alone would have guaranteed the movie’s admission into a score of film festivals, while simultaneously generating invaluable attention and publicity from the professionally outraged and easily offended among us. Director/writer/editor/cinematographer/producer/set designer Oklahoma Ward promises a sequel at the end of this one, and the film’s official web site is http://www.crawlordietrilogy.com, so there’s still a chance for this Hall of Fame-level title to find its way into the record books.

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web_oxvFor two-thirds of its 105-minute running time, Frequencies hums along, generating a pleasant buzz as a quirky romantic comedy, deserving of its self-comparison to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Inexplicably, the movie then abandons the central conceit of the story in a discordant third act that leaves it as less than the sum of its parts.

It’s a brave new world we find at the beginning of the film, where young schoolchildren don blindfolds to take a test that will determine their future. “Knowledge Determines Destiny” reads the placard on the school’s front door, but, in fact, it is one’s frequency that is the most important factor. (more…)

1ehsFXpDialogue is wielded like a weapon in Parts Per Billion, a new film that follows three couples as they deal with the outbreak of a biological contagion that may mean The End of The World (the Apocalypse being one of those cinematic events that always merits capitalization). The weapon is not revealed by staccato machine gun bursts like the exchanges in David Mamet’s works. Nor do we find the stiletto switchblade conversations offered up by Quentin Tarantino in his series of Art House exploitation flicks. And certainly, no one will mistake what they hear in Parts Per Billion for the rapier duel of words that characterizes Noel Coward’s writing.

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