Tag Archives: scifi

Fantastic Voyage 3/5

Goofy “boys own” adventure involving miniaturized people in a cool submarine craft that looks like something from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, with some dated, though still cool, special effects, with a very A to B story.

Contains the magnificent Raquel Welch.

The Lawnmower Man 3/5

The Lawnmower Man

Cliff Notes: oh wow, haaahahaha

This is dumb fun. I haven’t watched it since it first came out…yes, I paid money and saw this at the cinema…

Jeff Fahey’s character has been hitting with the same dumbstick as Harry from Dumb and Dumber (they share brainpower, dress sense and hairstyle) and we get a sadistic priest who likes whipping shirtless grown men, a nympho widow next door, and a wife/child beater on the other side. We get Pierce Brosnan looking skinny with a gold earring, spouting absolute pseudoscientific gibberish… for example, at one point he announces that Fahey learned Latin in 2 hours, whilst he himself took a whole year to master the Latin Alphabet…. yeah, the Latin Alphabet is the English alphabet without a distinct J or W…

We get some really creaky looking CGI that has a retro charm, and I admit I found the dopey moment when Fahey equated himself to a cyberchrist was kind of cool.

I appreciated the energy of it, but it was a right mess. And absolutely nothing to do with Stephen King’s short story of the same name.

Oh and Goeffrey Lewis was in it – this adds half a point to any movie.

Stridulum aka The Visitor 3.5/5

Stridulum

Completely bananas movie with an impressive cast (John Huston! Shelley Winters! Glen Ford! Franco Nero as Jesus Christ!) and with a young Lance Henrikson, this is a nutty cross between The Omen and the theatrical cut of Highlander 2, with elements of The Boys From Brazil and The Exorcist 2 thrown in.

Enjoyable, but don’t expect any sense.

Invaders From Mars – Odd One Out 056

Invaders From Mars

A podcast about a nice little time capsule of 50s invasion paranoia, Invaders From Mars.

Riddick 3.5/5

Riddick

A stripped down Riddick, getting back to basics that works so well, as it did in Pitch Black and was sorely missing in The Chronicles of Riddick. The first half hour was pretty damn good and distinct, with very little dialogue, and a lot of fun watching Riddick surviving brutal conditions and get the measure of the planet he’s been stranded on. It was like watching a decent movie version of the videogame Borderlands.

Eventually two sets of mercenaries/bounty hunters turn up to get him, and we get into territory that’s part retread of Pitch Black, part retread of the first (good) part of Chronicles.

Enjoyable, mindless actioner.

Star Trek The Original Series Season 2 Episodes 11-20 – Odd One Out 054

The Trouble With Tribbles

Mark talks about Star Trek The Original Series, Season 2, Episodes 11-20

Damnation Alley 2/5

Damnation Alley

Wow, how can a movie that opens with world war 3, and then features giant scorpions, killer cockroaches, murderous, rapey irradiated hillbillies and a flood be this boring? And it has Jean Michael Vincent and George Peppard!

The only cool thing about it was their land cruiser, and some of the sky special effects.

I saw this movie maybe 30 years ago, and enjoyed it a lot better then. Maybe it’s better suited to young teens. In the 70s.

Barbarella – Odd One Out 053

Barbarella

The fun, possible influential, silly Barbarella with the beautiful Jane Fonda.

Barbarella 3/5

Barbarella

This is archetypally 60s goofy fun. There’s a LOT of things wrong with it, such as the constant padding of the story and the absolutely terrible special effects, but you know what? It’s fun, it’s extremely creative in its look, art design and so on, and Jane Fonda is absolutely getting it. It also helps that Fonda is achingly beautiful and sexy, and it’s pretty much her central charismatic performance that allows this movie to deliver at all.

Rather wonderful, inheriting its spirit and art from early Flash Gordon and Planet of the Vampires, and itself becoming the spiritual parent of Battle Beyond the Stars, Starcrash and the 1980 Flash Gordon.

Great theme song too. All together now…’Bar-bar-ella, psy-che-delaaaa’

Hunter Prey 3/5

Hunter Prey

Rather enjoyable, cheap but competently made that mixes elements of the Star Trek episode Arena, Battlefield Earth (and I mean the story, not the rank filmmaking), and Enemy Mine in a blender and comes up with a pretty satisfying product. Very enjoyable.

Oblivion – Odd One Out 051

3.5/5

Oblivion

A decent enough scifi actioner, but it does cram about 5 hours of story into 2 hours. It also suffers because it successfully conjures up other, better scifi movies. You can detect 2001, Moon, Wall-E, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Predator, and even the old TV series Terrahawks in there.

Remember to concentrate.

Galaxy of Terror 2.5/5

Galaxy of Terror

Well, it’s really cheap, but nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, basically ripping off Alien and throwing in a good dose of Solaris as the driver for the mayhem. And some yucky alien-worm rape. However, to break it down:

The Good – some of the set design and ideas. Robert Englund!

The Bad – Not scary at all, blatant, poorly executed rip of Alien.

The Odd -Joanie from Happy Days acting all grown-up actress/nutty. Nutty ending. Alien worm/tentacle rape. It tries to get all existential at the end, which doesn’t fit the cheap and cheerful vibe.

Battle Beyond the Stars 3.5/5

Battle Beyond The Stars

Very fun scifi version of Seven Samurai from Roger Corman, with solid music, a decent script with witty touches (and a few laughs), and some thought and imagination showing through in the ship designs, different kinds of creatures that make up the seven, the android base, and so on.

It’s less coherent when it gets to the space battles, the effects are reasonable, but the choreography of the fighting is basic and gets a little tiresome.

Very enjoyable.

It Conquered the World 2.5/5

It Conquered The World

Passable scifi with a solid cast and one of the worst monsters I’ve ever seen. Lee Van Cleef in an early major role is solid, as is Peter Graves, and the acting quality is fine, and it was reasonably entertaining except for (a) a ridiculous monster, and (b) one of the worst closing monologues I’ve ever heard.

It was redeemed somewhat by the graphic, exploitation death of the monster though. I also liked the flying bat/skin-pizza monsters the alien sent out to control people – that reminded me of similar beasties in original series Star Trek.

Star Trek The Original Series Season 2 Episodes 01-10 – Odd One Out 049

Amok Time

Mark talks about Star Trek The Original Series, Season 2, Episodes 1-10

Return of the Jedi 4/5

Return of the Jedi

Fun to watch, and better than I remember it. I guess how much you enjoy this one may hinge on how much the ewoks grate on you. I like them. I find them charming, I like the tribal shennanegins and their primitive tech used to take down the empire forces (let’s ignore the hang-gliders though).

This really is a great movie, with the opening rescue taking the first act as a self-contained episode, setting up the finale as the main meat of the movie. But it’s a great first act.

The rest of the movie is in turns moving (Yoda’s finale scene as the ancient Jedi in his little hut), exciting (wow the speeder bike chase is great) and then splits into three threads of action that cuts together really well, though I think the emperor/luke/vader thread is the most enthralling one.

I do miss the old end music (why change it?), I thought Hamill in particular really delivered a great performance in this.

Revenge of the Sith 3.5/5

Revenge of the Sith

Rather enjoyable conclusion to the prequel trilogy, with some gaping flaws (Annakin turns to the dark side on some really dodgy-sounding arguments from Palpatine – I think the rationales used are fine, but the dialogue is weak), but some rather great bits too. The entire last two acts contain some great action and fight sequences, and is extremely dark (and the darkness of Annakin’s actions seem way too extreme a change for the weak-ish arguments used to change him to the dark side).

The last act does feel like a headlong rush to tick all the boxes of known Star Wars lore (Vader’s disfigruments caused by burning up in lava? Check. Obi Wan watching Luke from afar? check. etc etc), but it still works well – any slower would have been frustrating to watch.

I think I still enjoy Attack of the Clones more, but this was fun.

Star Wars: Clone Wars 4/5

Clone Wars

This is a review of both parts of the Star:Wars Clone Wars 2-D animated series.

This is fun, exciting and fresh, and the best Star Wars since the original trilogy.

Originally broadcast in 4 or 5 minute segments, this still works wonderfully as a single cut-together entity, almost entirely due to the canny filmmakers who wisely used cliffhanger devices between segments, thus providing the dramatic glue to allow the cut-together version to work well.

The animation is simple but very effective, the action is well choreographed and exciting (in Volume 1, there’s a battle between Mace Windu and, well, a droid army, that’s just fantastic), and it never flags. We get some important insight into Annakin’s journey, Yoda’s powers, and how General Grievous got where he got.

Thoroughly recommended, the crowning achievement to date of Star Wars, since Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars 2: Attack of the Clones 3.5/5

Attack of the Clones

Well, I think whenever Annakin is on screen in dramatic parts, it feels quite poor and drags by his mopey teenager persona, but there were two dramatic scenes I thought were decent. The first, the death-scene of Shmi Skywalker, was actually very good, and the second, where Annakin reveals what he did to the Sand People to Padme, was reasonable. The action parts are mostly fine as long as Annakin isn’t speaking.

On the other hand, I very much enjoyed the scenes where McGregor was present and not encumbered by the presence of Annie, as well as any scenes with Yoda, Mace Windu and Count Dooku. Particularly enjoyable parts were the fight between Obi-Wan and Django Fett, and the whole last act in fact (especially the fantastic fight between Dooku and Yoda).

Also good was Jar Jar was in this one much less than I remembered, thankfully.

I think, and I need to rewatch Revenge of the Sith to be sure, this is my favourite among the main prequel movies.

The Empire Strikes Back 5/5

The Empire Strikes Back

A magnificent, driving narrative, with solid dialogue, great lighting, editing, framing, visuals, acting, music, tone, mix of drama and comedy, spectacular special effects for 95% of the time, and adding a depth to the space-fantasy genre in movies that was entirely absent before it.

Contains great-must see moments, at a rate of, I dunno, 1 every 8 minutes it feels like.

Ridiculously good.

Star Wars IV: A New Hope 4.5/5

Star Wars IV: A New Hope

A real thrilling spectacle. It’s been 10 years or more since I last watched this, and I have to admit, I was excited about rewatching it. And yes, it easily lived up to the expectation and excitement. My favourite part is one of the quieter moments, where Vader declares ‘I find your lack of faith…disturbing.’ But there are a dozen of more really great moments, and the 2 hours whizzes by.

I enjoy Alec Guinness the most in this, I think, but Harrison Ford comes a close second.

Still thrills, all these years later.

Logan’s Run 3/5

Logan's Run

There was a slew of interesting, thought-provoking scifi made in the lull between 2001:A Space Odyssey and the juggernaut of movie scifi that was Star Wars, that for many years made movie sci-fi==movie sci-fantasy. Stuff like THX 1138, Omega Man, Soylent Green, The Last Warrior, Silent Running, Dark Star. Logan’s Run comes near the bottom of the pile. It’s got a wonky script and the actors are not directed well, but even coming near the bottom, it’s still worth a watch. The beautiful Jennifer Agutter disrobes a lot (and is easy on the eye when clothed too), and Peter Ustinov’s turn as a cranky old guy spouting T.S.Eliot is fun, as is a mad robot obsessed with freezing people.

The world-building is also quite interesting (if a little star trekky), and I think this one would be a good candidate for a remake.

They Live and top 5 Coolest Movie Characters Episode 016

In this episode, the guys discuss John Carpenter’s They Live, the coolest characters in the movies, the videogame Assassin’s Creed, and various movies including Attack The Block, The Magnificent Seven, and Crimson Tide.

Movie: Attack the Block – A fresh fun B-movie – hoodies vs aliens 7/10

Attack The Block

Attack the Block concerns itself with a group of South London street-kids who bring the wrath of an alien swarm on themselves when they kill the first one they meet.

It’s a fun, short, punchy movie, permeated throughout with South London lingo, scared but brave kids born and bred in the London ghetto, trying to survive. 
It starts with the gang who become our main characters mugging a lone woman (who becomes part of the group trying to escape/fight off the aliens), and they seem like a gang of scumbags.  As it develops, we see a more human side to them, and get a sense of a tough life (though not as much of a sense as could have been explored – but hey, this is pure B-Movie, so that’s fine). As one of the characters says after someone says they don’t like going through corridors waiting to be picked off, “sounds like another day to me.”  It’s fresh, and lively, and keeps up a good pace, showing both the courage and the fear of the protagonists, and it does a reasonable job using the young cast (who I think are non-actors in the main) to best effect.  It was also very well directed by the debut director, Joe Cornish.
A lot of fun.

Overall: 7/10
Rewatchability: Yearly, suitable for older teens up (lots of strong language)

 

 

The Thing and Favourite Stop-Motion Animation Movies Episode 014

In this one, Sam and Mark discuss John Carpenter’s The Thing and their favourite movies containing stop-motion animation, as well as a few other movies such as 13 Assassins and The Perfect Host

TV Review: Battlestar Galactica miniseries and Season 1: Fantastic, gritty, funny, surprising space opera that really delivers here 9/10

The 3 hour miniseries set the scene very nicely. This was total war, and total losing, the cylons won this one outright. 3 very clear and outright awesome characters were established in this series: Commander Adama, Starbuck and Roslin. There’s also a ton of potential in the ambiguous character and situation of Baltar, with the promise of him getting up to the same level as the others, and some possibility that Tigh may reach the same heights.

Two scenes in particular stood out for me, and defined the spirit of the show: Roslin, who we’ve seen as very human and compassionate being forced to make a snap-decision about leaving a lot of ships behind vs staying and risking all of civilian humanity to the cylons, and she makes it without histrionics or any show of weakness. And near the end, when Tigh is trying to make amends with Starbuck, and Starbuck flat refuses to compromise.

We know we’re not in glossy, emotionally-vacuous territory here.

 
Episode 1 of Season 1, “33”, was just excellent. Opening right in the middle of it, we don’t get time to familiarise or warm to the characters, but instead feel their disorientation, confusion, and sense of being completely strung out. I still don’t know if 33 was a cylon ploy, like an extended water torture, or it was their time to recalc the jump. They set the bar very high with this.

Episode 2, “Water” opened really well, again in disorientation and confusion, this time with the character of Sharon being absolutely soaked and obviously not knowing where she was and how she got there. It did settle into something more ordinary after that though. I too didn’t feel the Chief acted properly or realistically. Hell, they are fighting for survival, he’s in a absolutely key position, he cannot hide stuff like that, even though it’s his girlfriend. That peeved me some. I really like the Baltar/6 interactions though, and the building relationship of Adama and Roslin.

 
Episode 3 – Bastille Day: I think Richard Hatch was just excellent as Zarek, with authority, power and still confidence conveyed in all scenes except the last one. Lee was also much better as a character. This was a great return for Hatch, not some cheesy cameo that often happens in these old->new handovers. It all worked pretty well imo, except there was a couple of slips. Making Starbuck head of a anti-terrorist squad was really stupid jump from reality (I don’t care if she’s an awesome shot), and the relenting of her character on Tigh (which he rejected, thankfully).
 
Episode 4 – Act of Contrition: Yeah not bad, but too unfocussed for me for the first half. Sharpened up well when Starbuck finally revealed to Adama she passed his son even though he wasn’t ready. What fury was shown without moving a muscle! I also liked Starbuck training the nuggets, and wish there was less of the flashback stuff and more of that. I did dig Starbuck going back to face-off 8 cyclons though – very exciting prospect, and I wish we saw more of that, and her in real peril. I really liked the character of Hotdog a lot.
 
Episode 5 – You Can’t Go Home Again: Okay, lots of plot contrivances, and I just didn’t buy that Adama would so jettison his responsibilities because of, admittedly serious, unresolved issues, but the last 5 minutes made up for it. Roslin giving the guys a serious talking-to to remind them of how they need to be, the relief at finding Starbuck, and the final scene between Adama and Starbuck. It moved me greatly, that final scene, and made the reservations about the rest of the episode vaporise.

An okay episode with some really great final few scenes.

 
 
The remaining episodes were more patchy, but overall it lead to a terrific conclusion – particularly the final 2-parter episodes, and raised a number of question marks about what the hell was going on.
 
Thoroughly recommended.

Movie Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still – classic 50s scifi 8/10

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Made in the 50s and remade recently starring Keanu Reeves (and everything I’ve heard about it makes is sound like a worthless remake), this is a solid, if a little plodding, scifi story.  An alien comes to earth to warn humans against their violent ways, warning them they face destruction if they can’t change.

There’s been a lot made of this being a Jesus allegory (the alien, Klaatu, calls himself ‘Mr Carpenter’ – get it?) which is somewhat true, but honestly, it is just as entertaining if viewed more superficially as a simple adventure story. Also, if you want a wackier version of the same basic premise, you’ll find it in Plan 9 from Outer Space. And of course Jesus didn’t fly off in a spaceship after the Resurrection (as far as we know).

The most fun in this movie apart from looking for Jesus motifs, is the robot Gort, an intergalactic policeman who can reduce planets to a cinder (and does some fun things against the US military).  He’s quite a presence.

The actual photography, camerawork and editing are quite effective.  The individual scenes are reasonably sophisticated (a lot more sophisticated than, say, Invaders from Mars, or War of the Worlds from the same period), and the black and white imagery is quite striking.

Overall, thoroughly recommended, suitable for all ages.

8/10

Paul and Favourite Movie Aliens Episode 010

In this episode, Mark and Sam talk about Paul starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Sam tells about the videogame Alice, and the guys compare their favourite top 5 movie aliens

Doctor Who Dalek Episode Commentary Episode 009

In this episode, Sam and Mark and Max give a commentary on the classic Doctor Who Episode called Dalek with the ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston. This marked the first time Daleks appear in the modern versions of Doctor Who.

Spaceballs and Top 5 Animated Movies Episode 006

In this episiode, Mark and Sam take a look at Spaceballs by Mel Brooks, choose their top 5 2D animated movies, and skim over The Ghost of Frankenstein, From Hell and The Punisher.