Tag Archives: Science Fiction movies

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

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