Tag Archives: science fiction

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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.”


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

The Odd Blend in The World’s End

29 Aug

You probably already know The World’s End is a genre blending science fiction comedy but there are a few other odd things thrown into the mix that you might want to know before you buy your ticket. Since it is impossible to see or read or say anything about this movie without also mentioning the rest of the “Cornetto Trilogy” I’ll follow said format.

Shaun of the Dead was a well executed attempt to walk that thin line between the funny and the disturbing that is dark comedy. It was wonderfully British and clever while having all the requisite violence expected in a zombie movie. But toward the end I though it crossed the line a few times, like when the character David was ripped open, disemboweled, and eaten alive, that works in a horror movie but ruins the humorous tone of the film. Also since when is shooting your mom though the head funny? It got a little too graphic at the end and just didn’t fit. I was very disappointed with Hot Fuzz. I didn’t laugh, I didn’t connect, I didn’t care. The only enjoyable part of it was Timothy Dalton. Once again the end of the movie just seemed like it didn’t fit. It goes from being a satire of cop movies to being a gory slasher type movie involving a murderous cloak wearing cult. I will never see that movie ever again.

World's End

In the world of Trilogy final installments The World’s End is no Return of the King but it is no Godfather 3 either. Simon Pegg plays the party animal man-child burn out. He’s very confident and active, and physical. He has to jump over every fence, bush, wall etc. He wants to get the old gang together to relive the greatest night of his life by repeating an epic bar crawl in their small hometown. But after a short time and a couple pints they discover that the town is very different. Namely almost everyone has been replaced with robots.

Here’s what the movie gets right. There is a great group dynamic and a lot of comedy stems from how they all interact. Because the robots don’t consider themselves robots it leads to a slurred discussion on what to call them. There are a few geeky pop culture references and they unofficially decide to use the word “Blanks”. (But I’m going to call them robots because I am a rebel.) This movie is about drinking! Simon Pegg brags about how much he drank, is drinking, and will drink. Binge drinking is a goal in and of itself and despite the threat of aliens they’re going to finish that pub crawl. An inspiring message for all the kids out there, to never give up on your dreams and that sobriety is for quitters. It takes awhile but once the beers start flowing the movie really gets fun. As the characters and the audience piece together the mystery of what’s going on you can spot references to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Then the pacing picks up with lots of brawling, running, and paranoia about who is real. There’s one robot who has legs for arms and it looks so awkward, terrifying, and disturbing, it is awesome. The fight scene with that 4-legged fabrication is my favorite scene. Most sci-fi/comedies are comedies with sci-fi elements. But World’s End is a true sci-fi flick that has funny moments, the imagery is spot on and the robot alert system is reminiscent of Donald Sutherland’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

body snatchers
World's End robots

Here’s what the movie got wrong. Simon Pegg doesn’t fit into his character. He just isn’t an overgrown punk even with all the dialog and funny stuff, the character is forced and fake. Especially when next to Nick Frost who’s cast as the suit and tie serious teetotaler businessman, he’s even more not his character. Since Simon always plays the more serious friend and Nick always plays the immature guy I’m sure they thought swapping would give the audience something new and different. That’s great except you chose to lump these movies together as a ”trilogy” so there should be character continuity. Actually Nick feels more natural once he starts drinking, but Simon’s role is just wrong enough to verify they’re both better at playing their old character types. The beginning starts with a very long drawn out narrated information dump. After that it is a quite unentertaining setup that takes too long to get to happy hour. Then like the other movies in this trilogy the end seems like it is the end of a different movie entirely and The World’s End ending is a total rear end. After all the fast paced action the final confrontation with the alien menace is just Simon yelling at lights. Then it goes full-on apocalypse and is bleak, dark, and as funny as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road plus more long boring narration. Worst of all Simon is denied the last pint of his mission because of his best friend, and is last seen in the movie ordering water at a bar. What The Actual Fuck! In a drinking movie our drunken hero joins AA at the last minute? Bullshit!

This movie had it’s funny moments and the middle was excellent. But if you only see one comedy about Armageddon, Rapture-Palooza or This Is The End are better options.

Carl Wells

Optimistic Autumn Movie Predictions

25 Aug

A very brief list of Fantasy and Sci-fi movies that won’t totally suck this fall.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – When Peter Jackson portrays Middle-earth he is basking in his element and in my stupid opinion he has done no wrong in that realm. Despite the flaws in all these films they’re all better than the books. There isn’t a lot of material in Middle Earth left to film; Lord of the Rings is done, The Hobbit is just one book geared more toward children, and The Silmarillion will be forever utterly unfilmable. So The Desolation of Smaug is the second to last movie that will ever be set in PJ’s Middle-earth, so enjoy it while you can. Things to look forward to include more giant spiders, giant wolves, shockingly beautiful New Zealand landscapes, and of course the dragon (finally). So far the best looking dragon I’ve ever seen was in the last Harry Potter movie but I’m sure Smaug will put it to shame, plus he’ll speak, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. I really hate that actor, he is just terrible, at least his character dies (and by proxy him) in this movie, I like that. Things not to look forward to, this movie will probably suffer the most from inserted material just to fill time. Also we’ve probably seen the last of Gollum unless they force that character in somehow. I plan on being there for the whole high frame rate, 3D, saturated experience.

hungar games

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Been looking forward to this but am preparing for disappointment. This was actually my favorite book in the series, where basically this year’s Hunger Games has an all star reunion cast. My criticisms with the first movie were that the characters outside Katniss’s immediate circle were hokey, flat, and underdeveloped, except Donald Sutherland who’s always awesome. The movie’s pacing seemed very rushed even though it was 142 minutes long. By trying to get so much of the book in they didn’t give each moment enough time for it to do its job. Finally, more Woody Harrelson, always more Woody Harrelson especially when he’s playing a drunken has-been. I’m afraid that changing directors for the sequel under a tight deadline will only make these problems worse. My hope is that they actually leave more of the book out like shitty animal mutations in order to give what’s left time to build meaning. Include more drunken Haymitch. Please get the fire as fashion to not look like something Elton John would wear. There will be a lot of dumb crap, that comes with any Y.A. science fiction. Just be happy it isn’t another soul numbing Twilight.

Ender’s Game – I already like that this movie is not a sequel and doesn’t feel like it has to be in 3D. That tells me that they’re confident in their visual effects and story that they don’t need gimmicky 3D. But judging from the trailers they’ve already changed one huge point in the book. Not giving anything away, in the book the story is told from a child’s point of view. The adults in charge put children into a situation they are unaware of and the kids only discover the consequences of their actions when it is far too late to change. The reader discovers the cold truth of what’s happened when the child does. I think the movie is taking this moment away. In the trailer adults are discussing “Should we tell him the truth.” If the movie spills the beans to the audience before the kids suspect anything it’s lost the element of surprise. On the other hand it is possible to build suspense that way. Alfred Hitchcock said that if a hidden bomb just explodes in a room of people you get the shock value but it’s a fleeting moment. To build suspense you show the audience the bomb will go off in 5 minutes. That way everything those characters say and do in 5 minutes has an increased importance that builds suspense and holds it. I hope Ender’s Game uses that strategy.

Gravity – I know hardly anything about this movie and am already sure it will be awesome. The trailer I saw a while ago in theaters was like Apollo 13 x WTF! George Clooney has played an astronaut before so he’ll feel right at home. Before I go any further I have to express my feelings on Sandra Bullock. Remember that movie she did (purposely not looking up the title) where she had to marry Ryan Reynolds or she’d be deported? I feel like we should kind of do that to her in real life. Let’s just as a society make Sandra Bullock gently go away. But I am willing to put that aside if Sandra isn’t a romantic interest. Because Gravity looks chilling, lonely, and visually larger-than-life. Best of all it might be the most realistic portrayal of space travel in the last 10 to 15 years. Notice how as the shuttle is obliterated you hear only radio transmissions? That’s what I’m talking about, any other movie would have “Crorsh” sounds. A Sci-fi movie that mainly uses accurate science is damn impossible to find in the 21st century so Gravity can shut up and take my money.

Well that’s some of what I look forward to in theaters this fall. There will be a poorly written companion to this of what to avoid this fall coming soon.

Carl Wells

Elysium Delivers

10 Aug

Summer is almost over and of all the movies to enjoy in air-conditioned theaters there was an awful lot of trash and a tiny bit of treasure. Elysium is the last of the big, hyped summer films and hovers above the garbage of comic book and sequel movies that overpopulated summer 2013. Here’s my spoiler free, poorly written, stupid review.

Elysium 2

First off I should say that I had mixed feelings about Director Neill Blomkamp’s last movie District 9. I thought that movie was too clunky. It started out with the format of a social documentary, then changed to become an action movie that escalated to ridiculous levels making it more of a video game, only to once again jump to end in the documentary fashion. District 9 looked great and was original and shined a satiric light on political and social topics you don’t see in many movies. And I appreciated all that but the method in which these truncated styles were forced together made the movie to inconsistent for me.

But I am a sucker for giant floating things in space and the impressive visuals of Elysium got me excited. I had to see this one in IMAX. Once I’d walked past the box office and seen that this particular theater had started selling 32 ounce beers since the last time I was here, I knew it was a good day. Elysium wasn’t a perfect movie but if you just want a basic action movie set in a world with great looking robots, spaceships, and an orbiting ringworld habitat to boot, this movie is good entertainment. Matt Damon is an average underdog type who winds up being repeatedly shit on to the extent that he has no choice but to attempt one impossible goal in a short period of time. The plot is pretty simple and details don’t really hold up to logical scrutiny but it is still better than most man vs. the world action stories. The flaws don’t stand out while you’re watching it because it’s a fast flowing ride that doesn’t waste time to let you think. There isn’t too much explanation about why things are, this movie isn’t there to tell you why, it shows you visually. It shows things like Matt Damon kicking ass, shooting crazy guns, crashing space ships, and fighting robots in space. It’s pretty awesome.

The cast is a mixed bag. Jodie Foster is in charge of security for the geostationary gated community. But she is doing some weird Bavarian/British accent that is very unnecessary. It sounds like the character was a waitress at Oktoberfest then got hired as Elysium’s security chief and is trying to make people think she’s Margaret Thatcher. William Fitchtner played the blind guy in Contact and once again his character teams up with Jodie Foster on Elysium. He is great at playing that slime ball you just hate right off the bat. He’s in his element, when he tells his subordinate not to breathe on him you just want to kick him in the mouth, while wearing golf shoes. District 9’s “Wikus” actor is back, this time as “Krugar” who is Jodie Foster’s henchman. He is barking mad with bat shit insane on top. It’s very fun watching his wacky super villain performance plus he has a force field. But really (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) Matt Damon makes this whole movie work. When he’s cracking wise with robots it’s funny and when those robots drop his ass to the ground you pity him. The outlandish situations you have to believe he endures are actually grounded by Damon’s conviction.


But the thing that got me to watch this movie were the visuals. They’re spectacular, not in their audacity but in how naturally they seem to exist. The robot enforcers are hard and threatening. The space ships are practical and varied. The views of Earth are gritty like detailed garbage slums while Elysium glistens above. This movie shines in the space porn moments, there’s a shot of Elysium from space over the Earth’s horizon and the special effects people knew to put a distorting effect as the station shows through the earth’s atmosphere. When a missile hits a ship in zero G it doesn’t just explode and disappear like in most movies, all the tiny pieces fly forward and fan out slowly tumbling and twinkling along. The sprawling curvature of Elysium fills the screen with details of homes, lakes, lights, and you just go “Wow”.

One important thing in the movie is that there are these beds that heal anything and everything, they’re only on Elysium. Discussing the movie afterward someone made the point that it didn’t make sense that not even one of these beds was on Earth (I’ve since read this criticism on the internet a lot). I said it made perfect sense “The Aristocracy in space want to go back to Earth but only after most of the poor have died. So they don’t want any of those beds slowing down the die off.” That was never expressly said in the movie but I saw a lot of evidence for it. My point is all sci-fi movies have some nonsense in them, it is part of the genre. So just go along for the ride and you’ll enjoy this one and if the theater serves beer it’ll help.

Carl Wells