Category Archives: science fiction

Liu Lang Di Qiu – Frant Gwo (2019)

“The Wandering Earth” is an Eastern science fiction film in which a big story is built up to tell a fairly small one.

In the future the deteriorating earth is not the only problem, the sun is dying out. A plan is forged to not move humanity, but to move the entire earth to another solar system. Engines are set up on earth for the journey. Because the earth moves away from the sun, temperatures drop and mankind moves to cities below the surface.

Jupiter’s gravitation proves to be a problem and a big disaster has to be prevented. Thus we follow a few people who have to go to the surface and then have to see that all engines get back in line to get the earth back on its course.

The story is told in a very American manner with obligatory boring drama and all. It all is a bit unlikely, but in basis somewhat original. Overall the film is a decently made, but not all that convincing.

Elysium – Neill Blomkamp (2013)

Somehow I see a lot of Matt Damon films recently. Here he is with no hair again. This time more his usual genre though: action.

Actually this is more of a dystopian scifi. A century from now earth is an overpopulated mess. Rich people have moved to the space station Elysium which resembles earth in better days.

Damon plays a man with a troubled past. After an accident at work he needs to go to Elysium because there are ‘curing machines’ there. With a group of heavy criminals he forges a plan.

The film has a bit of a “Mad Max” atmosphere which is good. The parts with Jody Foster as ruthless minister at Elysium as less strong. There is some annoying drama too and the last 15 minutes are downright awful. A dreary ‘the people you are supposed to sympathize with’ against those you do not.

Not bad, too bad about the end.

Code 8 – Jeff Chan (2019)

In a near retro-futuristic past people with ‘special powers’ were helpful in the economy. When machines were invented that could do the same, these people became less essential and eventually criminalised. A bit of a sad basis for a story in my opinion.

Of course we follow one of these people with power. Connor lives with his (also super powered) sick mother and they have a hard time raising enough money to get around.

Connor is picked up for a job which proves to be criminal and the prospect of making money that way makes him side with a criminal group.

The story has no surprises. There are a few alright findings in the film, but overall the film is perhaps not boring, but not very interesting either.

Downsizing – Alexander Payne (2017)

I was curious about this film in spite of the 5.7 on IMDb. It seemed to be one of these comedies with an absurdist story like “Being John Malkovich” (1999) or “Dogtooth” (2009).

In order to solve the problem of overpopulation and therefore environmental problems, Norwegian scientists found a way to shrink people. Smaller communities, smaller necessities, less waste.

We quickly jump forward in time a few times until we get in the time in which most of the film plays. There are already a few cities for small people and commercial parties have taken up the downsizing of people. As everything in much cheaper when you are small, people chose to have themselves downsized in order to live in luxury.

The Safraneks will have themselves downsized after long deliberations. Then of course things are not as perfect or easy as the companies said.

After amusing and weird scenes in the beginning, the film gets a more serious tone when the ‘solution’ the environmental problems came too late and when the small communities are not perfect either.

“Downsizing” is a descent film. A nicely absurdist start with humour, but also a message.

Ready Player One – Steven Spielberg (2018)

A Spielberg with teens in the main parts. That cannot be much, right? Of course a director of the calibre of Spielberg can make exactly what he wants regarding story, visuals, etc. so as a film, this is indeed not bad at all.

In a dystopian near future the world is a mess. People flee into a massive virtual reality game in which they can lead the lives that they wish. The creator of the game has passed away, but he had built a quest in it.

So of course we have a couple of teen game heroes trying to fulfil the challenge getting competition from a big-money-adversary who is after the same goal, but for a different reason.

The story is descent. It is full of references to 1980’ies pop-culture so the contemporary teen can watch this with his/her parents. There is 1980’ies music, film and of course computer games. This is quite amusing.

Half of the film plays in the game with animated people which are never my cup of tea. The stages and games look great (of course) and also here everything is thrown together to a mix that mostly the older among us may get an idea of, but no doubt it will enjoy the younger too.

The story has no surprises. All obligatory elements are there and the end is what it is supposed to be. Yet, I found “Ready Player One” enjoyable enough.

Fortress – Stuart Gordon (1992)

An old scifi that I do not think I saw before. It is not bad though.

Christopher Lambert plays John Brennick who is sent to prison with his wife for trying to have a second child. In the dystopian future that the film plays in, there is a one child policy.

The fortress from the title is a massive underground prison in the middle of a desert. New techniques are used to keep the prisoners under control, making “Fortress” a bleak science fiction film.

Of course Brennick and his wife are going to try to escape. The story does not have big surprises. The stages and the atmosphere are good though, so I think this old film is worth a watch.

Gattaca – Andrew Niccol (1997)

The film is older than I thought. So old even that I may have seen it before. 20 Years is not that long ago though, so it is quite funny to see how old the opening credits for example look.

The film gets quite a rating on IMDb, which is probably one of the reasons that I picked it out. Personally I think “Gattaca” is entertaining, but 7.8 out of 10?

In a near future most people are born by picking the best match. Every now and then a ‘child of God’ is born in which everything is left to chance. These people are not as perfect as the rest and are thus regarded degenerate. There are many swift tests to see how perfect somebody is. This has become the norm for many things in life.

Vincent is one of these ‘degenerates’, but he has set his mind on going on one of the many space missions. In order to do so, he has to be one of the elites, so he finds a way to fake his identity. Then a murder occurs of which the degenerate is the natural suspect, so Vincent is being hunt down by the police.

A descent story, well shot, good acting of good actors, “Gattaca” is indeed a good film, but I did not find it great.

G.O.R.A. – Ömer Faruk Sorak (2004)

IMDb.com

My girlfriend wanted to watch a comedy on Christmas Eve and we came to this Turkish scifi persiflage.

Carpet salesman Arif Isik is kidnapped by aliens and is taken to the planet Gora. There he mingles with other abductees and tries to figure out a plan to escape. Naturally this also involves rescuing the daughter of the king.

The film has a lot of silly humour, sometimes funny, sometimes less so. There are quite some pranks that I think are probably funnier to Turkish people as they seem to refer to tiny elements of Turkish culture.

That said, “G.O.R.A.” is somewhat of a screwball comedy with references to many science fiction films from Star Wars to The Matrix. The stages look good, the characters are somewhat flat. Here and there it is amusing, but it does make me remember why I do not watch comedy a lot.

Altered Carbon – Laeta Kalogridis (series) (season 1) (2018)

This interesting-looking Netflix series is rated 8.1 on IMDb.com. So far I have had more luck with series on Netflix than with films. To me, “Altered Carbon” is by and far no 8.1 though.

The story is a bit thin. At some point humanity found a way to put a personality (or consciousness) on a disc (“stack”) that can be put in the neck of any body (“sleeve”).

Takeshi Kovacs is an “envoy”, a rebel soldier, who had been in “cryosleep” for 250 years (“put on ice”) after which he wakes up in a different body. As ‘the last envoy’ he draws attention. Then he is hired by an extremely wealthy man for a job in trade for his freedom. The case: the man has been killed, but fortunately he keeps a backup of his “stack” on a satelite, so he can just download himself and put himself in a new (newly cloned) “sleeve” when the old one perishes.

All good and well. Muscle-body Kovacs sets out to investigate. He is constantely followed by police-woman Kristin Ortega. Of course they run into all kinds of situations that make some action, romance or drama. The story gets less and less interesting as we go along. The series have some nice findings here and there, but overall, it is amusing at best. I doubt I will ever watch the second season.

Extinction – Ben Young (2018)

IMDb.com

Peter lives in a near future and has apocalyptic nightmares. As you can see on the cover and judge from the title, aliens come to make mankind extinct.

The film has a good tension when Peter and his family are hunted by strange creatures. During their attempt to escape, some obligatory drama is presented. Then comes a somewhat unexpected plot twist which is fairly interesting.

What is less interesting, is that the film becomes very explanatory in the second half all which is laid on a bit too thickly in the end making “Extinction” but an alright film.