Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

District 9

Surprising in its originality and utterly fascinating, District 9 is a must see for any fan of intelligent science fiction.  The story is told as a documentary chronicling the arrival of an extraterrestrial race on earth forced to live in slum-like conditions near the city of Johannesburg, South Africa.  The story transitions into a new subject, that of Wikus van der Merwe.  Wikus is the head of operations for Multi-National United (MNU), the corporation hired by the government to relocate the aliens after complaints from local citizens.  While trying to kick start the relocation process, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and the “documentary” focuses on what happens to him and how his relationship progresses with the “Prawns” (the derogatory name for the aliens).  This film could have become clichéd and preachy, but was instead a fascinating commentary on modern day society and how little we have truly learned from our past mistakes.  Created by a team of virtual unknowns from South Africa, the film is a gritty and refreshing bit of cinema and worth watching for Sharlto Copley’s performance alone.  5 out of 5 monkeys


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When I was in the seventh grade, my older brother had a group of his friends over for a viewing of the new Terminator movie, Terminator 2:  Judgment Day .  I remember sneaking into the room and sitting on the hard floor in the back, excited about the prospect of seeing these amazing machines I had heard about, but also afraid of what I might see.  Based on this experience, years later I was excited to see the new installment, Terminator Salvation, especially after the puzzlement that was Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (I still don’t understand the ending).  Anyway, there were aspects of this new film that I greatly enjoyed, but the ending fell extremely flat for me.  SPOILER ALERT:  In the next section I am going to talk about key points in the plot to way the pros and cons of the film.

I thought the opening was stellar, starting out in the near present-day 2003 with a convict on death row (Marcus Wright played by Sam Worthington). It set up a whole new way of looking at mortality and eventually second chances for this franchise. The first few scenes with Christian Bale as John Connor were stellar, especially when he crashes in the helicopter (excellent camera work) and I like that we learn right away that is not a hero to everyone, but instead a nut-ball.  Surprisingly, many of the best parts of the film revolved around the Marcus Wright character – SPOILER ALERT – a new breed of terminator, who thinks he’s still human with a human heart and brain.  A brilliant concept that I wish they could have taken on into the franchise should they choose to continue with it.  Marcus is given a second chance in many ways, although we never find out why he was a criminal in the first place (this is something that I think would have been interesting to know).  Connor’s conflict with the character of Marcus is evident, especially once he realizes what he is.  This fits well with past themes, harkening back to his feelings towards the terminator in the second film as a boy.  I would have liked to see them explore that territory a bit more.

I loved that they had the teenaged Kyle Reese spouting lines from the original (made me think of the awesome lines spoken by Bones in the new Star Trek film).  It was nice seeing this character on screen again, since he is such a pivotal character to the series, who we haven’t seen much of since the first film.  Unfortunately,  once the film entered the Skynet headquarters, the film started to go down hill fast.  First off, the Schwarzenegger re-creation was ridiculous, it looked fake and didn’t excite me as a fan.  Next in the ridiculous realm was John’s scheme to blow up the Skynet headquarters with the nuclear terminator devices, according to my sources, the way he did it is impossible.  The whole ending sequence just felt weird and rushed.  But what REALLY disappointed me was the end with the heart transplant.  I totally called it, which made it even lamer.  What was the point?  Marcus was such an interesting character, why kill him off in such a clichéd way?  This is why I can only give this film 3 out of 5 monkeys.  It could have been a 4 and I really wanted it to be, really I did.

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serenity_lA sci-fi western in space, Serenity is a fun ride, with twists and turns at every corner.  A follow up to the series Firefly, Serenity tells the story of our band of misfits led by Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds as they unwillingly protect a 17 year old girl (River Tam played by Summer Glau) and her brother Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) from the alliance.  The alliance is government entity that is trying to “better” mankind through any means necessary and as the crew begins to realize, that means includes River and her many abilities.

Serenity has all of the action that one looks for in a science fiction film such as this, but it also has numerous humorous moments, as well as some heart.  The acting is a bit cheesy at times, but the surprises make it well worth the ride.  They jump right into the plot and there is null a dull moment.  Again a fun ride, well worth seeing if you are a fan of this genre of film.  And even if you are not, cause they are some shirtless dudes.  4 out of 5 monkeys,

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gattaca_still_ethan_hawkeI saw this movie back in 1997 when it came out, but due to my new found interest in science fiction, I decided to watch it again last night.  Many of the themes in Gattaca (which is a near-future science fiction story) pertain to our society today and for that reason alone, I believe it is worth watching.  What if we were strategically judged by our genetic traits?  What if having to wear glasses prevented you from getting a job?  What if job interviews consisted of urine sample testing and nothing else?  What if YOU had a choice to genetically engineer your child, to give them only your best traits, would you do it?

Like any great protagonist, Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) will stop at nothing to get what he wants – a chance to travel in space.  He has drive, which some will argue can overcome any obstacle (I hate to reference a football movie, but it makes me think of Rudy).  The character of Jerome Eugene Marrow (Jude Law) is a great asset to the film because he represents the person who was given every advantage genetically, but who was never able to achieve anything better than second place.  This character makes me think of those kids who grow up with their parents telling them that they have to be number one, that number two is nothing.  Frightening.  This story is a great premise for a science fiction film, wish I had thought of it.  4 out of 5 monkeys

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star-trek-2009-sample-003The right amount of action, camp, struggles with human emotions, green ladies to seduce and unexpected romance and you have a great reinvention of the Star Trek franchise.  I was on board to watch the film, if a bit skeptical (as my husband put it, “it’s the Dawson’s Creek cast of Stark Trek” – i.e. too pretty), but the actors overcame my prejudice.  I can’t tell you how many times I raised my fist in the air declaring “yes!”, when I heard a character quote one of their famous lines from the original series (Dammit Jim!).  Yet, believe or not, they didn’t go overboard.  The peppering of cheesy one-liners and Trek lore was perfect.  Granted, I have been a fan of Star Trek since my youth, but my allegiance rests more with the next generation than the original series (I love you Patrick Stewart).  No matter what your generation though, you have to give credit to the original series and the characters that started it all.

Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Commander Spock were back in all their glory, but this time we get to see them in their youth. I loved seeing Spock struggle as a young child with his emotions, something that I believe most humans can relate too (how many of use wanted to beat the crap out of the school bully the way that Spock did?).  And although the scene where a young Kirk steals a car was a bit over the top, couldn’t you just see him doing that with flare?  The man went on to seduce countless alien and non-alien beings of the female persuasion, which takes some guts, so that was bound to start at a young age.  And who didn’t love the introduction of our beloved secondary characters, especially Scotty?  I can’t tell you how many times I heard my father quoting his famous line while growing up!

As a side note, have you ever noticed that the extra character on the away team always dies (you know the one that we don’t recognize, the one without a name)?  Well, during one said episode of next generation, that extra character was  given the name of Higgins.  As in many episodes, this character was killed on the mission and sadness ensued. But this time, several character cried out “oh poor Higgins!” or “No, not Higgins!”, etc.  So, now whenever one of my family members is watching a film and there is a character that is introduced that you know is going to die, we always refer to him or her as a Higgins.  Try it sometime, it’s fun!  5 out of 5 monkeys.

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