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Non-Review Review: Elysium

Elysium is good old-fashioned high-concept science-fiction. With production design alternately evoking the seventies (the upper class satellite that gives the movie its name) and eighties (the apocalyptic wasteland of future Los Angeles), Elysium feels like a conscious attempt to evoke classic genre films. Blomkamp builds in a healthy amount of social commentary, and there’s something quite satisfying in seeing a large-scale science-fiction film that isn’t afraid of big bold ideas.

However, the execution feels just a little bit muddled. The plotting is a little convoluted, and the third act becomes incredibly messy. The characters inhabiting the world never seem organic, with their motivations and behaviour prone to change rapidly to meet the rapidly-changing demands of a very messy script.

In a bit of a fix...

In a bit of a fix…

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Watch! Extended Elysium Trailer!

I really liked District 9, even if my love for the film wasn’t quite unreserved. Director Neil Blomkamp is one to watch, and the latest trailer for his upcoming science-fiction film, Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, has arrived. It’s out in the States on August 9th. The release date is – unfortunately – being staggered, so European audiences will have to wait two weeks to see the film. Hopefully it’s worth waiting for.

 

Non-Review Review: Looper

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, which was as much of a joy this year as it was last year. If not moreso.

Looper is a wonderful high-concept science-fiction film that makes a shrewd decision to avoid dwelling on temporal mechanics. A “time travel” movie, Looper is far more preoccupied with fascinating metaphysical questions about cycles of violence and cause-and-effect than it is with temporal paradoxes or the butterfly effect. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that it’s actually a lot easier to follow than director Rian Johnson’s earlier collaboration with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brick. It’s fast, it’s smart, and it’s very well put together. It’s a meticulously constructed and breathlessly engaging thriller, and one that never under-estimates its audience.

Little room for Levitt-y…

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Non-Review Review: Dark City (Director’s Cut)

We’re currently blogging as part of the “For the Love of Film Noir” blogathon (hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) to raise money to help restore the 1950’s film noir The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). It’s a good cause which’ll help preserve our rich cinematic heritage for the ages, and you can donate by clicking here. Over the course of the event, running from 14th through 21st February, I’m taking a look at the more modern films that have been inspired or shaped by noir. Today’s theme is “cyber noir” – the unlikely combination of sci-fi and film noir to make an oh-so-tasty film.

A man jolts awake in a bathtub in a strange motel, and seems somewhat surprised by his surroundings. As seems to be mandatory in all good sleazy establishments, the light bulb on the ceiling swings back and forth – teasing illumination around the otherwise dark tiled room, but never showing everything. Confused, the resident stumbles to his feet, and searches frantically for what must be his clothes. However, there’s an unpleasant surprising waiting for him inside the anonymous cheap room: a dead body of a beautiful woman, carved and cut up in a mysterious spiral pattern. Our protagonist recoils, horrified by the discovery, and leaves the seedy dive as soon as possible. He assures himself, repeatedly, that it isn’t what it looked like. He isn’t a killer, he’s a good man.

However, it would be much easier to make that argument if he could remember anything before waking up in the water. Even his own name.

One to watch...

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The Why of Sci-Fi…

“Science-fiction” is one of those genres which finds itself consistently boxed in by film fans. Mentioning that hyphenated word calls to mind images of “warp speed”, space ships, transporters, aliens, time travel and all manner of weird genre devices. It’s part of the reason why so many film viewers attempt to stay away from the genre – I have encountered more than a few people will dismiss a science-fiction film or television show off-hand because it must be camp or ridiculous. I remain convinced that this is the reason that Battlestar Galactica never got the attention it deserved (with advertisements on my local channels playing down the fact that it happens “in space”). However, what is science-fiction when you boil it all down?

Are viewers spaced out by sci-fi?

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