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Entries Tagged 'Sci-Fi' ↓

Surrogates

There’s no other movie star out there that looks better all beat up than Bruce Willis.  I think every movie he’s ever been in, he’s beat to hell by the end of it and still looks great.  Unfortunately for this movie, that might be the highlight of the film.  (That and seeing how fat the guy (Devin Ratray) who played Buzz in “Home Alone” has gotten.  He plays a long, haired FBI surveillance guy in “Surrogates.”)  The story centers around humans using surrogate robots that go out in any form you want and live your life for you while you stay at home controlling them.  The problem with that is everyone uses absolutely gorgeous models for their robots, which means they needed a cast of absolutely gorgeous people, which also means you now have a cast of good looking people who can’t act.  Even the performances from such veterans as Ving Rhames (“Pulp Fiction,” “Dawn of the Dead”) and James Cromwell (“W,” “i-Robot”) were terrible.  But I’ve seen bad action movies before that had awful stories and cheesy dialogue that starred Bruce Willis, but the man always seemed to make it work.  But his apathetic meandering through this movie made it stink so bad, I’m pretty sure he only did it for the paycheck.  Even the special effects weren’t that great.  If you’re a sci-fi movie that deals with robots and action you gotta make sure you hit the nail on the head.  Some of the action sequences (which were few and far between) looked like they were made on a teenager’s iMac for a YouTube video.  The story was fine and was really the only saving grace, but the movie deserves none of that credit since it was based on a graphic novel.  The script was written by the team responsible for the last two Terminator movies and “Catwoman.”  Ugh!  Who keeps giving these guys jobs?  However I was shocked to learn that they also wrote the David Fincher classic “The Game,” so maybe that’s why.  Hollywood’s hoping for that level of genius again.  But this sure as hell wasn’t it.  There was zero character motivation and drama that was shoehorned in with embarrassing results.  Leading all the way to the climax of the film which is so visually hilarious that those people left in the theater (yes, people were walking out) were cracking up, which was really not the intention of the scene.  Sadly you’d think that someone working on the film would’ve understood the story and applied the message to the movie itself.  No matter how shiny, beautiful and well-packaged something is, it doesn’t mean there’s a soul or substance behind it.
Surrogates (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: D

District 9

Hey creators of “Transformers 2,” I hope you pay attention to this movie and learn a thing or two from it.  It was an independent film, produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy) for only $20 million and it’s absolutely superb!!!  It’s rare that I will beg people to go see a movie because I get the impression that that’s annoying.  The last movie that I begged people to go see was “The Dark Knight.”  “District 9” is just as good, if not better, and I’m BEGGING you to go see it.  If South African director Neill Blomkamp came to me years ago and said that he wanted to make a science fiction movie that was about aliens coming to Earth that was loaded with thrilling action, achingly-real emotion, comedy in the right places AND have it be a powerful and important statement about human rights and apartheid, I would’ve said it will never even be made, let alone be any good.  It just sounds too ambitious.  He pulled it off though…big time!  However, this movie is not for the squeamish.  The violence is stylized but it’s plentiful and graphic, yet creative.  See, the movie begins and ends as a mock-documentary as to set up the backstory.  Then it seamlessly changes into a regular movie without ever feeling like a separate film.  But added touches such as hand-held camera shots and blood splattered on the camera lens helps remind you that this could still be documentary footage and adds to the realism.  That’s crucial to get the point across that even though this is about aliens, humans are treated like this in refugee camps every day.  The special effects are amazingly lifelike considering the film’s modest budget.  My guess is that Blomkamp learned some tricks from the FX King, Jackson.  Also adding to the realism is that there are no Hollywood sets involved and the entire film was shot where the story takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa with all South African actors.  The star of those actors is a man named Sharlto Copley.  Learn that name because he’s gonna be a star.  The man seems to know how to make you laugh, cry, cheer and wince in under two hours.  I really don’t have one bad thing to say about this film.  I don’t think we’ll be seeing it up for any Oscars because the Academy can’t seem to bring itself to nominating a movie that has a CGI alien as a co-star.  But if enough people see it and start talking about it, it just might get the credit it deserves.  So please go see it…I’m begging you.
District 9 (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A+

Moon

The trailer for this movie was haunting, creepy, confusing and I loved it!  I wanted to see what it was about in the worst way.  However, seeing the trailer and going into this movie with a preconceived notion of what it was about made me like it a little less though.  Sam Rockwell is not only the lead in this movie, he’s the ONLY one in this movie.  There are some recorded images here and there from other actors and an eerie performance by Kevin Spacey as the voice of GERTY the robot.  If you have no idea what this movie is about, you’re better off.  But since I mentioned that it stars only one person and there’s a robot in it, I should say that it’s a Sci-Fi movie about one man living on the Moon for 3 years working for a company that harvests clean energy for Earth.  That’s covered in the first 30 seconds of the film and that’s all you get from me.  To explain this movie in any fashion is a disservice to anyone who hasn’t seen it.  What makes it so good is the unraveling of the story.  The other aspect of what makes the movie so good is Rockwell.  I’ve seen him in so many movies that range from utterly hilarious (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) to disturbing psycho horror (Joshua) to heartbreaking drama (Choke).  He’s truly an underrated renaissance man of the acting world.  So if you’re going to make a movie that only has one actor in it, he better be amazing…which is just another way of saying he better be Sam Rockwell.  I want to tell you why he’s so great in this but that would blow part of the story.  But what I can say is how new director Duncan Jones chose to make this film was part of why Rockwell looked so good.  Jones (who’s David Bowie’s son) gives us a dirty vision of a world that doesn’t need to sit in a certain year or placate to the lowest common denominator-of-viewers.  The movie echoes “2001” and other sci-fi movies that also try to make a statement.  It’s deep.  It’s complicated.  It’s confusing.  It’s creepy.  It’s everything that I hoped it would’ve been except for what it was about.  But I wasn’t disappointed by it at all.  It just took me to a different place than I thought I was going too, which (without saying too much) is a good way to sum this movie up.
Moon (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A-