Tag Archives: sci-fi

A Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy

4 Aug

I’ve expressed before that I do have a bias against comic book movies. So when I heard about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie a few months back I immediately diagnosed it as another desperate attempt to milk a forgotten comic book franchise. On the surface it looks like an Avengers rip off just with more corny gags. As more trailers came out I decided it was probably one of those movies that’s bad, but still entertaining, if you turn off parts of your brain. When I received a coupon good for Guardians of the Galaxy in IMAX 3D for free I remembered a quote from Roger Ebert “It’s hard to explain the fun to be found in seeing the right kind of bad movie.” (especially if its free). Since two bad movies came out this week, both wildly popular I thought I’d compare them and show the differences between a movie that is so bad it’s good (Guardians of the Galaxy) and a movie that’s just plain awfully bad (Sharknado 2). But you know what? I actually really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy and not because it was entertainingly bad, it’s a legitimately fun movie. So fuck Sharknado and its race to the bottom. I’m not going to waste time and energy analyzing Syfy’s recent attempt to reach the stupidest place on TV. Let’s see why Guardians of the Galaxy is the perfect end to the summer blockbuster season.

GoG

Guardians of the Galaxy is a comic book movie but to me its way more science fiction. Not that hard science fiction but more in the tone of an edgy cartoon with space ships and Star Trek type aliens. Its also an adventure movie and a comedy. Most movies who try to blend this many genres fail but this time it works great. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t take itself too seriously so there’s no opening narration, drawn out origin stories, or long exposition scenes. It just kind of throws you in the deep end of this universe and takes off from there. This approach benefits the two types of audience members seeing this movie. If you’re someone who read the comic books you already know the setting and the cultures of the different characters and their backgrounds so you don’t need that information regurgitated again. If you are like me and have no idea what the deal is with Guardians of the Galaxy it forces you to pay attention to the characters and the action on the screen. This gets you more invested in the story than any information dump via voice over or flashbacks ever could.

Rocket the Raccoon

The ensemble cast creates a wacky comradery that’s very entertaining to watch. Chris Pratt whose known for being on Parks and Rec plays the main character Peter Quill codename Star Lord “It’s cool to have a codename, its not that weird”. I think that Peter Quill is so cocky and comfortable being inappropriate that you can’t play this character unless you’re naturally like that. Having never watched Parks and Rec I can still tell that Pratt is an authentic Quill, not counting the 60 pounds the filmmakers made him lose to get the role. Zoe Saldana is the go to girl if you’re making a sci-fi movie, this time playing the green skinned Gamora she’s right at home. The very strange walking, talking tree, Groot is voiced by Vin Diesel who I loathe, luckily all he ever says is “I am Groot”. Not since Matt Damon in Team America have I heard a better three syllable catch phrase. Rocket the Raccoon, the best one in the bunch is voiced by Bradley Cooper. The previews make the raccoon seem too over the top and silly but it works in the movie. It’s some of Bradley Cooper’s best work, I was really impressed, he should voice more animated characters. Then there’s Drax who doesn’t understand metaphors. These five round out the ragtag group of ne’re-do-wells that make up The Guardians of the Galaxy.

There’s two ways to approach the plot of this movie. The first is that there’s a big bad blue guy who I know is bad because he says so and we see him kill one person. He wants to destroy planet Nova for some reason and he’s working for an even bigger badder guy named Thanos. I know maybe four things about comics and one of them is that Thanos is bad. I don’t know why he’s bad or what he’s done or wants to do, this movie could’ve explained that but nope. Anyway it throws a bunch of comic book tropes at us about a collector, and a power crystal, and I wasn’t really paying attention. Because the second way to approach the plot is to appreciate how it is basically just setting up scenarios for our heroes to fight their way out of. This movie is about action, snappy dialog, and humor. Paying too much attention to the story reveals all the holes and you’ll miss the excitement.

Gog2

The real reason I loved this movie is because it’s chock full of delicious nutritious eye candy. Every shot is so richly detailed there’s; space ships, lasers, console displays, rocket thrusters, nebulae, tech, aliens, robots, shields, cybernetics and it keeps going. There’s also this retro style, like if science fiction of the 70’s and 80’s had better visual effects. Even the costumes, makeup, and hair is retro futuristic, you get to see Merle from Walking Dead as a gold toothed, aqua, space pirate and a quasi-futuristic Glenn Close (how’d they get her in this movie, oh right, gobs of money). The soundtrack of nostalgic pop songs you remember from the 80’s provides a wacky contrast to the spacey spectacle on the screen. It’s not perfect but this movie is so much fun and embraces the corny moments and Pratt falls (pun intended) knowing full well what it’s doing. See this movie for all the right reasons and be happy.

 

Carl Wells

Edge of Tommorow, Reviewed Today

7 Jun

Edge of Tomorrow has an amazing trailer and lots of good press but it didn’t need those to convince me to see it. I’m not an avid Tom Cruise fan but I think he’s in his element doing sci-fi, maybe that’s because according to some people he’s actually an alien. I don’t believe he’s an alien but I do believe that if he’s in a sci-fi movie with Emily Blunt I’m seeing it. Edge of Tomorrow is based on a Japanese novel titled All You Need is Kill. Don’t worry I didn’t read the book so I won’t be griping about how the book was better. What I will say about All You Need Is Kill is that on a 1 to 10 scale measuring title awesomeness that’s an 11. Why didn’t they call the movie that? Any movie with the title “All You Need Is Kill” is automatically better.

Edge of Tomorrow

Due to how this movie was marketed everybody pretty much knows what to expect from The Edge of Tomorrow. Something the trailer leaves out made me go “Holy Cow, Bill Paxton is in this movie.” He was the best surprise in the movie, other than that, audiences already know the story. Basically Tom Cruise is a fish out of water who’s shoved into a military exoskeleton battle suit and dropped into an alien combat zone. The visuals start off great, it’s like the beginning of Saving Private Ryan where troops assault a beach while taking an onslaught of incoming fire. Its gritty, chaotic, loud, and brutal, only this time there’s slightly futuristic tech warfare involved. Witnessing crashing airships and soldiers twitch in malfunctioning battle armor we know Tom Cruise is a sitting duck. The movie is great at generating that feeling of being exposed, confused, and paranoid, just like Tom’s character. As for the aliens they’re called “Mimics” for reasons I can’t explain since they don’t mimic anything. They kind of look like mechanical cat o 9 tails with dreadlocks and just pop out of the ground randomly and kill you. They could be mimicking antlions I guess. Regardless we never learn what their intentions or motivations are, just that they’re here, they’re bad, get used to it.

It’s not long before a mimic sets its sights on Tom and pounces and they both exchange bodily fluids while dying in an explosion. Tom wakes up the day before he goes into battle remembering what happened / will happen and we get into the main concept of this movie “Live, Die, Repeat”. As Tom accumulates deaths he builds up skills, like outsmarting his commanding officer Bill Paxton who’s portrayal of a stubborn hard ass gets funnier and funnier with each iteration. Tom contacts Emily Blunt’s character Rita whose reputation “Full Metal Bitch” precedes her. She’s a highly decorated military hero who won a previous battle with the mimics inspiring hope for victory in the war. Emily Blunt was spot-on in the movie Looper so I know she can do sci-fi but in Edge of Tomorrow she’s even more impressive. She is a tough no nonsense soldier who kicks ass and never gives up. Emily Blunt makes it easy to sympathize with her character as someone who has lost so much because of this war she’s determined to win at all costs. She’s a merciless ally training Tom Cruise, every time he screws up she shoots him in the head to “reset”. That’s funny too, especially on repeat.

Mimick

This movie is getting compared to the comedy classic Groundhog Day. Okay. But I suggest that Groundhog day is more like Bill Murray living in a rerun of a TV show. While Edge of Tomorrow is Tom Cruise battling aliens until he dies then restarting, which makes it parallel a video game. This is what I find interesting, because I predict we’ll see a trend of video game type movies in the near future. Not movies based off specific video games but movies that use the aesthetics of video games as tools to tell their story. Tom starts with certain goals he has to achieve like learning how to turn off the gun’s safety then dies. Then he re-spawns turns the safety off and sets another goal to work for until he dies. Just like a video game there’s a specific pattern to be learned and once you learn it you repeat the same actions to get to a new situation or level. This replicates some of the fun of playing a video game while also allowing the movie to make fun of itself by having Tom Cruise in on the joke, he knows all the smart ass comments and beats everyone to the punchline. Another thing that makes this movie different from Groundhog Day and keeps it from being too much like a video game is that the ability to reset can be turned off if you’re not careful and can be subverted by the Mimics if they find out you have it. So the resets don’t get boring because this might be the last time it happens.

This movie had a fun concept, a great beginning, and a strong middle, where you learn about the characters and get to watch them grow and pursue different strategies for victory. This often involved lots of fighting between battle suits and aliens and guns and explosions and even a car chase scene. But toward the end of the movie I was very disappointed. Most of the movie looked fantastic except for some shaky-cam here and there. But the end of the movie is very dark so you already have a hard time seeing what’s happening, then it goes full out goddamn shaky-cam, just one long vertigo inducing motion blur. I can’t stand that shaky shit, its only purpose is causing headaches. But that’s what you get from the director of the Bourne movies. I can’t imagine how awful and painful it would’ve been to see the last 15 minutes of this movie in 3D, luckily I didn’t.

 

Carl Wells

Movie and TV Wishes For 2014

16 Jan

There’s new movies and TV shows coming in 2014 that are good enough to distract us from the important things in life. But there’s sure to be plenty more formulaic, meaningless, media produced which elicits sheer disappointment when viewed by me. Here’s one movie and one TV series that I wish I could look forward to in 2014. Since I’m still waiting for the movies I want from last year, this is just wishful thinking…for now.

RINGWORLD the series – Last year SYFY channel stated they’re going to make a 4 part series based on the Ringworld book(s). There’s been scant information about the project and it’s not the first time SYFY has announced they were going to do this series, similar announcements were made a decade ago, there’s also been a failed movie attempt. My hopes aren’t high that it’s going to ever happen, even if it does, it won’t be done right.

Allow me to briefly explain the premise of Ringworld. While reviewing long range scans of deep space a very strange object turns up in the data, a star with what looks like a blue green ribbon encircling it. It’s an artificial structure erected on a scale impossible to comprehend. The “ribbon” is a million miles wide and has a circumference similar to Earth’s orbit around the sun. It whirls around its star fast enough to generate centrifugal force along its interior similar to Earth’s gravity. A smaller ring of shadow squares spins closer in toward the star providing day and night cycles. All this creates an Earth-like habitat that’s 3 million times larger than the surface area of our planet. A small group of explorers is sent out to discover the secrets of this brogdingnagian object and some unexpected surprises await them.

Ringowrld

To say Ringworld sounds weird is an understatement and that’s what makes it good. It’s very imaginative with plenty of opportunity to create some epic visuals. This would pose a challenge with a smaller budget, but great CG is required to get the scope and majesty of the setting and the characters. One of the main characters “Nessus” would have to be totally CG to be portrayed right and not that crappy CG either. Nessus is an alien called a Pierson’s Puppeteer and they’re one of the coolest aliens in literature, imagine a 3 legged gazelle with 2 heads but the heads are also its hands, they deserve quality CG representation. But SYFY channel will probably cut that character out cause it’s simpler/cheaper that way. You see SYFY doesn’t do Sci-fi, they do miserably bad TV movies and “reality” shows about ghosts. The last thing I watched on SYFY was Sharknado, so I don’t see a good Ringworld coming from this channel.

JACKSON the movie – Did anyone think that Lincoln movie was as good as they thought it would be? I didn’t, it was long, boring, and missed an opportunity to show interesting facts about Lincoln’s life. Sure it had great costumes, sets and awesome facial hair but it was a movie about parliamentary procedure and not the biography I expected. So let’s see a real presidential biography and the Andrew Jackson movie needs to happen. He was an insane, violent man and would make a crazy entertaining movie. Some historical facts about Andrew Jackson. At age 13 he joined a militia in the Revolutionary War. The Red Coats held him as a P.O.W. where he nearly starved and contracted small pox. By 14 he was an Orphan, blaming the British for the deaths of his family thus beginning a lifelong loathing for the English. His nickname “Old Hickory” was a reference to his cane, that he often beat people senseless with. He also fought in the war of 1812, commanding a militia that wanted to mutiny he threatened “If you mutiny, I will kill all of you”. And they didn’t mutiny, because they knew he wasn’t bluffing. In addition to shooting people in military conflicts he also shot people in duels. There are at least 13 duels that Jackson participated in and that number may climb above 100. That’s 100 times that Jackson hated someone so much he decided one of them needed to die.

Jackson

After being inaugurated as the 7th U.S. President, Jackson threw a huge party and invited the public to celebrate, turning the white house into a frat house. White house guards were overpowered by the ensuing crowd and 20,000 drunks proceeded to trash the property. White house dishes were broken, artwork was ruined, furniture stained, this part of the movie could have Will Ferrell cameo “We’re going streaking!”. Jackson snuck out through a window and only after tubs of liquor were placed on The White House lawn to lure people outside was Jackson able to return inside and actually start being President. His presidency marks the first assassination attempt of a U.S. head of state. The assassin was clearly a lunatic and not because he thought he was the rightful king of England but because he thought he could kill Andrew Jackson. At point-blank range his pistol misfired, having planned for this he pulled out his backup pistol and defying mechanical sense it also misfired. Jackson proceeded to beat the man with his cane nearly to death. Then erected a statue of himself right where that happened. After serving 8 years as President Jackson said his only regret was that he didn’t shoot his vice president and hang the speaker of the house. Jackson also had a pet parrot that outlived him and attended his funeral, until it had to be removed from the ceremony because it wouldn’t stop cursing. I really want to see this movie. It should be directed by Quentin Tarantino and I want Andrew Jackson to be played by Samuel L. Jackson, and Jackson’s pet parrot should be voiced by Samuel Motherfucking Jackson.

Carl Wells

The Honorable Mention Movies of 2013

29 Dec

I’m pulling a list together for SOWP, but this isn’t a best or worst of list. I tried to a make a list of movies that were better than expected and deserved more attention than they got but not movies that were solely independent or underground films. I also tried to include a range of genres so there’s something for everybody. The term “Honorable Mention” seems to fit best, so in no particular order here’s my Honorable Mention movies of 2013.

The conjuring

The Conjuring – Mostly I think scary movies are junk, they never scare me and are just stupid, predictable, formulaic, and boring. But if you ignore the “true story” bullshit that The Conjuring wants us to believe it’s the best scary movie of the year. It builds suspenseful, genuine creepy moments without CGI or other big budget toys. The best of these moments simply involve clapping hands (shudder) I never want to hear clapping while my eyes are closed after that. Now toward the end it went over the top but I was surprised by how good The Conjuring was. The eerie moments during the build up to the third act,  along with Vera Formiga’s performance make it well worth viewing.

Oblivion – I’m not a big Tom Cruise fan but he’s at his best when he does Sci-fi and despite this movie using just about every sci-fi trope there is it doesn’t feel like a cliché but more like a highlight reel. It has everything you want from sci-fi; post-apocalyptic setting, lasers, robots, bubble-ships, gorgeous computer readouts, aliens, clones, and at the end I was like “Well hello there Hal”. Just accept that there’s always something stupid in sci-fi, it’s part of what makes the genre. Instead focus on the stark beauty of the Icelandic locations, the cool looking special effects, and the other cast members like Oscar winners Melissa Leo and freaking Morgan Freeman.

This Is The End – I was getting pretty tired of seeing Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill everywhere. When I heard this movie was just that whole crew of people playing themselves, I half expected self-indulgent ass kissing. But they were making fun of themselves a little in the previews, so hoping to see more insult based humor I watched it. It was really funny at attacking the celebrity culture and making fun of the World Ending scenario that’s so popular now. Highlights include Danny McBride being who I think he is in real life, a coked up Michael Cera, a dominated Channing Tatum, and the biggest dick joke ever. I do think it is weird that grown ass straight men equate The Backstreet Boys with heavenly paradise, but whatever.

Black Fish

BlackFish – This isn’t a Hippie-dippey save the Whales documentary. I actually learned some stuff about the Orca’s biology, social structure, and how smart they really are. I was also fascinated at how these traits are exploited to train these animals for aquatic parks. This story isn’t presented by extreme animal rights activists but rather by the former employees of Sea World and even the guy that captured the whales from the ocean in the first place. This documentary is important, but why people should watch it is that we all remember Sea World and Shamu when we were younger and have recently heard about the death of a Sea World employee caused by the Orca she’d trained. This is an in depth journalistic investigation of what you haven’t heard about that story.

Grabbers – A small town in Ireland develops a slight problem with bloodsucking alien parasites, so logically the thing to do is poison your blood so they won’t attack you. Bottom’s up, turns out the aliens are less tolerant of low blood-alcohol levels than M.A.D.D. (I exaggerate M.A.D.D. is worse, and more frightening). Grabbers has a couple funny moments but really it is a throwback to those monster movies from the 70’s and 80’s. It is a little U.K. movie with Irish charm and a seriously designed horrifying monster. A perfect movie to drink to if you’re like me, because just like the characters in the movie, I have to drink to survive.

Rapture-Palooza – Another comedy about the apocalypse but the reason I liked this one is because it’s as if the movie about the end of the world went on a diet, it’s like “Apocalypse Lite”. The characters treat Armageddon like they’re stuck at a bad job “And now it is raining blood… gross.” Craig Robinson plays The Beast / Anti Christ as a man who knows he has power but doesn’t know what to do with it, he sings songs about how sexy he is and talks about going to the bathroom to seduce women. The best performance might be Tom Lennon as the only guy to fulfill the prophecy that says the dead shall rise again, he comes back from death to mow his lawn. I like how this movie is original and toned down, it almost makes the apocalypse cute.

Europa Report

Europa Report – I hate found footage movies but this one works because it all takes place in a confined disconnected setting, a space capsule bound for the Jupiter moon Europa. The astronauts cope with technical difficulties that get worse and worse but they’re determined to find evidence of microbial life on the surface despite the mysterious blue lights that flare up now and then. I think this movie suffered from it’s weird distribution; first it was only online for months, then pay per view, then a few theaters carried it for like 2 weeks. Anyway check it out if you like sci-fi horror movies.

Disconnect – Let’s face it we all spend a fair amount of time alone in a room staring at a computer screen ( I Bet you’re doing it right now) but you never see that portrayed in a movie. Disconnect explores how we’re using the internet to effect each other and what sort of consequences that may have. This movie is not anti-technology or anti-internet, it just shows how this new form of human interaction creates consequences that didn’t even exist a decade or 2 ago and how these characters are struggling to adapt to a wired world.

So long 2013 it was kind of a disappointing year for movies but that just means we have to look a little harder to find them.

Carl Wells

I Finally Saw Ender’s Game

10 Nov

Let’s get this out of the way. NO, seeing Ender’s Game will not give Orson Scott Card money, it’s official. My stupid opinion on why this shouldn’t influence any judgment of the movie itself is outlined here. Admittedly knowing that none of my money was going to OSC did make me feel better. This review starts out spoiler free then ends by bringing up some details that people who already saw the movie or read the book know. I’ll warn you when spoilers are coming.

The main character Ender, a boy named Andrew but everyone calls by his nickname Ender (The movie doesn’t make this obvious) is enrolled in a program to train children to become military leaders. A surprise alien invasion by the Formics 50 years ago has lead the military to try and prevent another attack at all cost. The creative, pliable, minds of children are crucial to its success and Ender is seen as the best candidate to defeat the Formics. If he can complete the strategic training in battle school while also surviving the harsh social landscape of adolescence.

Ender's Game Cast

Casting a movie like this is tricky, requiring many young actors to be convincing and authentic, which is not what you normally get with actors in this age group. The seamless embodiment of Ender is Asa Butterfield, he has a tough job, as Ender has to be confident, super-intelligent, and isolated but not be cocky, nerdy, or weak. His peers in battle school, highlighted by Hailee Steinfeld are all pretty convincing. But I think their characters were underused toward the end. The veteran cast of Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, and Harrison Ford is fool proof and they anchor the heavy points of the story.

The IMAX format is defiantly not wasted in this movie. Everything was very detailed, from little things like the dorms of the battle school having 3D printers in the background (because it’s the future) to the Formics’ sets and ships looking like they were constructed ever so delicately by resin secreting insects. The space battles are grandiose in scale involving hundreds of ships swarming around one another, with explosions! Because you got to have stuff blowing up, that’s just science. This movie’s zero-g battleroom sequences were highly anticipated but after seeing Gravity it is easy to spot the fake weightlessness when you first see it. Although as it progresses the zero-g is portrayed better in the film and you kind of get used to it, so it ends up looking pretty fun on the screen. The sound design is also great, I say this because I normally don’t especially notice good sound design, so the fact that I did deserves mentioning, together with the score this movie sounds tremendous.

I thought this movie delivered a better story than most YA movies and had enough sci-fi stuff to satiate sci-fi fans like myself. But it skipped some crucial points in the story, like what the rules were in battle school, or what made the Formic invasion 50 years ago so devastating. All they said was it “nearly destroyed us”, how so? The movie also missed the mark on a few emotional moments like toward the end when there’s supposed to be this big, shocking, heart-sinking reveal, instead the mood is flat and quickly moves on. The movie needed to take more time showing the characters reacting to and processing their feelings. That doesn’t make it a bad movie, it was surprisingly better than expected. I liked it a lot and think it is entertaining if you’re up for a sci-fi adventure flick.

Ender's Game

Here’s the massive spoiler part for people who already know the story. The movie tries to be very faithful to the book concerning what they left in, the first 30 minutes of the movie is exactly like the book. It is quick to get to battle school and stays there for most of the movie, that’s fine. But I think they could’ve reinforced that Ender’s fantasy game was being used as an attempt by the Formics to establish contact. Not be obvious with it but build it up just enough so that at the end you don’t need the flashback sequence with voiceovers to spell it out. I thought that after battle school the movie rushed toward the ending too fast. Harrison Ford kind of just said here’s a new M.D. weapon and an ansible link now let’s get you guys in the simulation. Doesn’t Ender (and the audience) need more explanation on what those are? The most fascinating parts of the book for me were learning about The Formics/Buggers, in fact they’re what got me to read 3 sequels and I never saw the word “Formic” appear in any of them. Nevertheless as Kingsley describes his victory he should’ve went into detail about what he learned of the Formic organizational structure, other than say “they’re like ants obeying their queen”. I loved the design of the Formic Queen at the end but they could have elaborated on the telepathic exchange between her and Ender. Use the voice of Valentine to represent the Queen like the video game did, turning the Queen into a character instead of just an image.

Summing up there is still a lot to enjoy about this movie and I know there will be various reactions to it, please feel free to share yours.

Carl Wells

Another Stupid Opinion About Gravity

4 Nov

People with stupid opinions love Gravity. They love photoshopping pictures of it and they love arguing about it in the comment section. I think we should just rename this blog “101 Opinions about Gravity.” So, with that I figured I’d bring my normal late to the party attitude to the table.

SOWP_gravity_4

Gravity was a great movie. A technical masterpiece that shows the future of movies, and not just on the technical level. This movie is the future of films on a philosophical level.

Consumption of media is at a universal high. People are watching more movies in the privacy of their own home. The main talking points of pop culture are increasingly focused on television serials or . . . well, that’s it really. Talking about a show or talking about waiting for a show to start back up are the only two conversations people have about pop culture anymore. And with this studios are making movies like television series now. Prime example: The Marvel-verse.  Movies have changed. And Gravity is the perfect example of a perfect movie for the future dominated by television.

For the majority of the history of film, filmmakers have assumed that cinema was the best for adapting novels. Hell, they still do, but with the success of Game of Thrones, television is becoming a more viable option of adapting long form stories. Which is better than dramatically cutting the richness of the novel to fit inside of a 120 minute film marketed toward people who didn’t read the book. Films, like Gravity, in the future will be compared more to a good short stories. A short, one off story with a simple plot and engaging characters. I’m paraphrasing a quote from someone smarter than me when they said “A good story is about two things; the first thing and then the other thing.” And the more that the first thing reflects and intertwines with the other makes the story more compelling. In Gravity, we have our first thing, astronauts trapped in space, and our other thing, a woman living an isolated lonely life. There is nothing lonelier and scarier than space. Thematically speaking, the film is practically flawless at 90 minutes. The perfect movie length to become immersed in the world, but not tire of the gimmick of IMAX 3D.

And that is the other thing with the film. It won’t become a franchise. Even if it grossed another 300 million the sequel conversation wouldn’t happen. It stands alone. Which would terrify studio executives at Disney, but it has something better than franchise potential. Built in word of mouth to see this movie in the theaters. As Derek, Carl and a million others have said, this movie was made to be seen in the theaters, in IMAX, this-gawddamn-weekend-before-Thor-comes-and-forces-it-to-the-small-theater-where-the-screen-is-only-double-the-height-of-your-bedroom! GO!YOU!FOOLS!!

This movie was probably the closest a movie has come to being a must see in the theaters. It’s like seeing the Stones or a Beatle while you still can. Cause watching this on your iphone won’t quite have the same effect.

So, in closing, the future of movies will be either be serial-esque franchises marketed at teenage boys or man-boys stuck in arrested development or short simple one-off stories where technique, theme, and plot all blend seamlessly together for the better of all mankind. Oh, who am I kidding, that is the stupidest opinion yet. The future will only be comic book movies and sequels to the first ten Pixar movies. Hoverboards and Jaws 14 can’t get here soon enough.

-C. Charles

 

Gravity Isn’t Just a Good Idea, It’s The Law.

5 Oct

Here’s my no spoiler review of Gravity. I had to go see Gravity the first day it came out because all the previews made it look so different and gorgeous and suspenseful and I didn’t want to hear what anybody else thought about it before I saw it. I also had to see it in IMAX 3D because I am a sucker for the 3D gimmick but also because the director Alfonso Cuarón said he specifically designed this movie to be viewed that way. Of course that’s what all the movie people say in order to get customers to shell out the extra cash for IMAX 3D tickets, but I trust that when Alfonso Cuarón says something he means it. I decided to go to a matinee show at the only IMAX 3D screen nearby that also serves beer. Because I also felt this movie had been specifically designed to be enjoyed with a beer. So as to slightly mimic the light headed, disoriented feelings the characters experienced in space, even if the director hadn’t bothered to mention that part. (I should point out that I feel like 98% of movies are meant to be enjoyed with beer, at least that’s my excuse.) Anyway getting back to Gravity, in short; it is out of this world! Pun intended. Did you know that “Pun intended” is itself a pun on “unintended”? pretty dorky huh? Don’t worry no more puns in this post because as it was said on the Simpsons “Don’t use puns, that’s just lazy writing.”

Gravity

I loved Gravity and you should go see it, here are some of the reasons why. It is eyeball-burstingly beautiful, every frame is so crisp and clean and detailed. The background of the Earth and sky is dramatic I could just watch them by themselves. The Earth is HUGE and ever-changing; with hurricanes, cities at night speckling the surface, and Aurora borealis all drifting below. It continuously provides a dynamic backdrop for the character’s story. Another thing I like is that the movie takes it’s time to let you soak in all the visuals with very long static shots of the characters just floating by. In fact every shot in this movie is long, there were maybe less than a 100 cuts in the whole movie (most movies have well over 1,000). In Gravity the point of view is always tilting, panning, and smoothly moving in and around the action, it is a great story telling tool. By keeping cuts to a minimum you can really relate to the freedom and isolation of space and it also keeps it easy for the viewer to position where orbiting objects are in relation to each other. If it was just cut, cut, cut, it would be easy to lose the placement of everything. I hate that style of just cutting to add action, it is a relief to see a movie where suspense is built up in one continuous shot. The special effects it took to create these camera moves are unlink anything I’ve seen. You know that the Space shuttle and Space stations are a lot of computer graphics and stuff but everything looks so real. Technically speaking this film is magical.

But what about the story? The story is kept very basic and simple, which I like, and is mostly a survival story. The whole movie takes place in space and is told almost in real time. I can tell you that while the previews looked like they showed the best parts of the movie let me assure you they don’t. The collision sequences in space gave me goose bumps because they are utterly horrifying with surprises the previews left out. There are some equally troubling scenes that take place inside a spacecraft too, which just illustrates that you’re never out of danger in space. I’ve heard people criticize the preview’s  portrayal of Sandra Bullock’s character as the typical damsel in distress who can’t hold her shit together. While that may apply to the previews, Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie is her own hero and pulls her shit together in a big way. I’m as surprised as anyone I just complimented Sandra Bullock’s job in a movie, but she’s good in this. While it’s her story, George Clooney provides some great contrast as the veteran astronaut who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s the only other character, so there’s a lot he has to do; provide exposition, humor, encouragement (not romance, thank god) and I can’t think of anyone else who would’ve been better cast.

Gravity 2

Summing up, you don’t have to have gone to space camp as a kid, like I did, to enjoy Gravity. It is a very relatable human story that takes place in space but isn’t so much about space as about the will to live. But in case you did go to Space Camp and/or just want to geek out, almost everything in this movie is accurate if you don’t nit-pick details. It is far out and intense, but if you want a beer check to see when the theater starts serving. I went to a Noon show and they wouldn’t serve beer until 3pm. What is this Nazi Germany? Shame on you for not taking more of my money. Proving even if you’re sober the movie is still great.

Carl Wells