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science fiction

Children Of Dune (series 2003/4)

A while ago I wanted to rewatch David Lynch’s “Dune” (1984). In spite of my old review of the film, I quite like it, but I still find the story hard to follow. Shortly after I ran into “Children Of Dune”.

The mini series is announced as “Frank Herbert’s Children Of Dune”. It has three episodes of about an hour and a half, so basically it is three films.

The children of Dune are the twin kids of Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides, Leto and Ghanima. Muad’Dib walked into the desert at the end of the first book (the films of Lynch and Villeneuve). Apparently he planned to make the desert planet of Arrakis more habitable by watering it and growing forests. The planet is ruled by the Atreides, Paul’s sister Alia. Paul and Alia’s mother left the planet, but she is still of considerable influence. Alia is not the best of leaders and the people start to oppose her reign.

Like in the first book / film, there is a lot of politics, allegiances, family feuds, etc. again making a complex story. The mini series are not great, but enjoyable. Only now for this review did I check, but Children Of Dune indeed is a book of the same author as Dune and this Frank Herbert (1920-1986) wrote six “Dune” books and other authors have continued the “saga”, with currently a list of 22 novels and nine other books! Plenty of material for further movies.

Stowaway – Joe Penna (2021)

A Netflix science fiction in which a crew of three is on a two year mission to Mars.

Having just left earth, the crew discovers that a fourth person is accidentally on board. Other problems occur. A CO filter is broken which will eventually poison the crew. Different options are tried to work around the problem, but (of course) it comes to it that there is not enough air for the whole trip for the new size of the crew.

An unlikely attempt is made to get extra air, but this air-walk goes wrong, which brings extra tension to teh film.

“Stowaway” is an alright film with an odd, sudden end.

Guardians Of The Galaxy – James Gunn (2014)

The Marvel franchise needed a couple of new heroes, so in “Guardians Of The Galaxy” we follow a bunch of space criminals who have to work together. Initially to break out of prison, but then to save the universe.

The only link to the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” appears to be that the globe that everybody is after, contains one of the “infinity stones”. Needless to say that some bad guy wants that globe to destroy the universe and the group of new heroes thinks that is a bad idea.

We have a ‘normal man’, a green woman, a rodent with a walking tree and a hulk type brute. Strange characters reminding a bit of Star Wars fill the screen. There is of course action, but all very ‘spacey’. Nothing too great.

Æon Flux – Karyn Kusama (2005)

Recipe: take one pretty actress (Charlize Theron), design a sexy wardrobe and try to construct a fancy scifi story in which she can wave around her long legs.

Actually, the film is not that corny, but in spite effort, “Aeon Flux” is not really a high-flyer.

Mankind is all but extinguished, just five million survived in one single city. The city is ruled ‘despotically’ so there is a resistance group who try to alter the status quo.

Unsurprisingly Theron is the (anti-)heroine of the rebel group, but she has a past and a mind of her own. While on a mission to assassinate the main man of the enclave, Aeon Flux finds out that the situation is not quite how she was told and she diverts from the assignment. Needless to say that after that she is hunted by both the government and her former group.

So you get some long-legged, deep-cleavage action, a few shootouts, a bit of a story. All in all not boring, but the 5.4 out of 10 on IMdB is still somewhat friendly.

Lost In Space – Allen & Sazama & Sharpless (series) (2018-2021)

Mankind is forced to move to another planet. The best of the best are recruited as the first colonisers of Alpha Centauri. We follow the family Robinson who join the mission collectively. Each family member has its talents and tasks including the children.

The trip does not go as planned and the family gets stranded on another planet. They have to figure out a way to get to their actual destination. The son of the family befriends an enemy robot who also crashed on the planet. The relationship between Will and the Robot is the main red thread throughout the three seasons.

In every episode there is a problem that has to be overcome. This usually is a means for some extra drama which soon becomes tiring. Some idea succeeds, something else goes wrong. Who will die this episode, but miraculously gets saved at the end only for the next problem to appear? The same thing happens with the different seasons. The planet is left behind, new problems occur, so the story continues in another place. Meanwhile the other robots that have not changed to like men are chasing Will.

With pomp Star Wars like music, too much drama and fairly predictable story lines, but on the other side descent acting and just enough interesting events to not stop watching, the series manage to balance just enough for me to finish all three seasons.

Certainly not a must-see, not a complete waste of time either. The story that is stretched over three seasons is not all that bad, but all these boring subplots and problems make that perhaps the story was more fit for a film so all unnecessary additions could have been skipped.

Oat Studios (series 2017)

Yes I too noticed the face of Sigourney Weaver on the Netflix poster and was curious enough to start watching. She is only in the first episode though.

“Oat Studies” is a series with episodes that have nothing to do with each other. It seems like the director(s) are just testing out some crazy ideas. You go from dystopian science fiction to a cooking TV-show gone wrong, a US president parody or experimental weaponry. One episode appears to be filmed, another is animated.

You get it, a wild range of 10 very different short films of four to 26 minutes. Some episodes are (somewhat) amusing, others are a bit dull to me.

Another ‘filler up’ series.

Love, Death & Robots – Tim Miller (series 3 seasons 2019-)

It took me a long time to get through the three series that are currently available on Netflix. The series are an animation series in which every episode is basically a short film, usually between 10 and 20 minutes.

Some episodes are amusing. A bit too many are not really my liking. The positive thing about the subject is that there is no need to keep watching, since the episodes have nothing to do with each other anyway. The length makes it convenient to just watch an episode when you have 15 minutes to spare.

Most (all?) episodes are set in some (bleak) future. Often, machines have taken over humanity. In some episodes these robots amusingly reflect on the stupidity of mankind, but there are also episodes with a more horror-type story.

Not bad, not great, just something to put in your watch list and watch an episode of every once in a while.

Everything Everywhere All At Once – Kwan & Scheinert (2022)

I was somewhat surprised that an action comedy would win an Oscar, let alone seven, so out of curiosity I watched the now famous film.

Sometimes said to be an action comedy, but adventure and science-fiction are also descriptions. Indeed, the film has a bit of all of that. We follow Evelyn, a Chinese immigrant running a laundry with her husband. Extremely busy, but mostly in her head, she tries to be a beacon in a chaotic life. Then her husband from a parellel universe presents himself and a story unfolds that reminds a bit too much of “The Matrix”.

While different versions of the “multiverse” present themselves to Evelyn and she slowly learns how to go from one to another (introducing a very silly element), the film gets more and more chaotic.

The story seems to be patched together from other films and the jokes are usually only mildly funny. Overall the film is somewhat amusing, but I still wonder why the film got to many Oscars. There is one scene in which the title is shown in a surrealistic caleidoscoop which I find the best scene in the in movie, but taken as a whole, “Everything…” is mostly more of a ‘could watch sometimes’ Netflix film than an Oscar winner. Of course, opinions are there to differ.

After Yang – Kogonada (2021)

The second film I saw last weekend with Colin Farrell. This is more of his usual sad face, slow movies. “After Yang” is a pretty science fiction, a bit of an arthouse movie. Slow, minimalist, a bit of an odd story that is created to make you think.

Yang from the title is a robot who acts as a brother of a Chinese adoptive girl in the near future. Yang is ‘refurbished’ but when he stops, there is not really a guarantee plan. Mika is inconsolable for she lost her brother who she has known all her life (but knows well that he was a robot). Mother and father think that is time to spend more time with the family instead of having a robot raise their kid. Still, the father sets out to try to find a fix for Yang, only to find out that Yang was a serious privacy issue, which raises other dilemmas.

“After Yang” is a nicely shot film about a subject I think the viewer can relate to to a certain extend. It raises some questions and then just stops.

Indeed, “arthouse”. A nice one.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Ryan Coogler (2022)

The second “Black Panther” brings another highly entertaining mix between African culture and science-fiction. Characters in traditional African apparel (at least, in some situations) are picked up by flying saucers, the vibranium that they mine gives them extremely high technology going from advanced AI to impenetrable suits, superhuman power and what not.

The imaginary African state of Wakanda has earned a place in the international community, but actually everybody is only after their vibranium. Then there appears to be another state that is as advanced as Wakanda. This could be an ally or a foe.

Naturally, when another such nation with similar technology is an enemy, this allows for over-the-top scifi action and so it is. African traditions and languages can in this story be supplemented with South American ancient culture. The technology is very imaginative. The action is a bit too much here and there perhaps and the drama is a bit too ‘thick’ for my liking two, but overal this second “Black Panther” makes a very interesting and watch-worthy Marvel spectactle.