Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Last Days on Mars (2013)

The Last Days on Mars is a mid-size action sci-fi film in the typical niche of such fare, a niche which this critic is no stranger to. We used to call them “summer movies”. Now they’re called historical artifacts.

Zombies are once again on Mars. Terraforming hasn’t happened yet, and the space suits actually look like they work. Space zombies presented as hard science may be a hard sell for some people, but if you want to see the details of the space zombie fungus, the Mars habitats, and all the other cool space visuals, this movie was made for you.

2013 was a strange year for film.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Ghosts of Mars is a heavy metal lullaby from the mind of an oldschool filmmaker. This was John Carpenter’s hardest thrust at the sci-fi genre.

There are some big names in it, notably Jason Statham, Ice Cube, and B-movie queen Pam Grier. John Carpenter has excellent taste in talent, but his taste in sci-fi is questionable. This talent either belongs in an oldschool exploitation movie or a more straightforward, linear, brightly-lit sci-fi flick. Trying to meet in the middle with a Halloween-in-space premise is a recipe for disappointment.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Solaris (1972)

This 2-hour 40-minute Soviet sci-fi art film is one of the slowest movies ever made. I know people say that about 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) but Solaris really takes the cake.

Is it better than the George Clooney version? Yes. Is it a fun watch for a modern audience? Well… It’s not until the second act that we go to space, we learn that the protagonist is a psychologist, and the camera starts moving a bit. The first 45 minutes or so are a waste of time, and it never really ramps up. So is it a fun watch? No.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (2014)

The title is terrible, and the source material is about as niche as it gets. I won’t deny that I am a fan of the source material, nor will I deny that I volunteered on the film’s massive VFX team. I found that environment overly formal and pretentious, like we were supposed to be making a real movie. I won’t assign blame to the VFX supervisor, who was only doing what he felt was best for his own career and the visual professionalism of the film.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? AVGN was never Hollywood. It was a postmodernist gross-out series that made juvenile jabs at old video games, and that’s what everybody loved. Try to dress that up in a fresh coat of paint and you get something false.

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Saturday, May 2, 2020

Eragon (2006)

I try to avoid talking about over-hyped films, not because I hate those films but because the conversation there is overcrowded. A couple of masterpieces came out last year that I won’t talk about for that reason. For other reasons, I don’t have much to talk about with the films of this year. I can talk about the politics of the situation, but not the films because I haven’t seen any.

So let’s go back a few years to a film that I inevitably must tear into sooner or later. I have genuine difficulty saying negative things about films due to my appreciation of the medium, and I only really hate the ones that are both terrible and profitable. Eragon was fraud on a grand scale.

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