Category Archives: science fiction

Tau – Federico D’Alessandro (2018)

IMDb.com

Again a Netflix original which is alright, but not really good.

After being kidnapped Julia finds herself in a cell which proves to be part of a high-tech house in which she is kept for testing. The Tau from the title is the AI system that runs the house for its master and simultaneously the system that needs to be improved by investigating the human brain.

In the beginning the film suggests becoming one of these torture horrors, but fortunately this is not the case. The director has some amusing findings, but also less so, regarding the high-tech house. Tau communicates with its master Alex, but only when Julia manages to communicate with it, a mildly interesting situation occurs in which Tau is a rather child-like AI system that likes music and poetry. Of course Julia is going to try to use that to get out of her situation.

Like I said, the film is alright, but not really good. The stages look good, the story is alright. I am going to have to find a way to find actually good films on Netflix…

I Am Mother – Grant Sputore (2019)

After mankind has made itself extinct, in a facility that was built for that exact purpose, a girl is grown from an embryo. The facility is to repopulate human kind.

The girl is raised by a robot that is too human-like for my logic. “Daughter” is taught morality / philosophy and many practical things. “Mother” tells her the next human will be grown when she has learned how to raise a human well enough.

Of course things turn out to be different from what “Mother” tells “Daughter”, so besides drama there is also room for a little bit of action / tension.

The story is alright and is told well enough. The acting and stages are good too. Overall I would say that the film is alright.

High Life – Claire Denis (2018)

IMDb.com

In this space drama we find a man and a child on a spaceship. In a very slow pace and with a droning soundtrack we learn how this came about.

A group of convicted criminals are put in a ship and sent to a black hole for the sake of science. The trip alone is an experiment, but on the ship further experiments are conducted, not in the last place around fertility.

The film opens nice and surrealistic and the idea in basis is not too bad, but the story contains too many illogical elements and questions to make it very good. Two rather sad erotic scenes do not really help either.

The film certainly is not awful, but neither is it good.

Westworld – Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (series season 1 2016)

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I got these series as birthday present. It was also on my wish list, but not too high. The first season is alright, but as with most series that I see, not good enough to make me want to see season 2 or the announced third series some time soon.

Westworld is a virtual Wild West, an amusement park where people can submerge themselves in adventure. They can even go around killing people and go to the brothel, for most visitors the main attractions. Most people in Westworld are androids, robots that are almost exactly human, called “hosts”. When a host gets shot, it is repaired and sent back to the park to pick up their parts in their “loops” (part of a “narrative”) again. When ‘upstairs’ the hosts are usually clothless, an easy way to incorporate nudity into the series for an unclear reason. A host cannot kill a visitor.

In order to make them more and more human, the creators frequently update the hosts, even giving them some sort of consciousness. Then some seem to start to develop consciousness themselves. This leads to lengthy philosophical monologues about what makes humans human and what makes reality real. Of course it is in the development of an own will of the hosts that the series get their story from.

“Westworld” is an alright series that raises a few interesting questions. The events jump back and forth in time and the story is well-written with subtle references and a few surprises. Anthony Hopkins is great as one of the creators of the park. In the first episodes the score is interesting too, as it is often classical versions of pop songs.

All in all, “Westworld” made a nice watch, but like I said, I not nice enough to put the following seasons high(er) up on my to see list.

Mortal Engines – Christian Rivers (2018)

IMDb.com

The film has a nicely weird story. On a scorched future earth cities have been made mobile. The travelling city of London drives around the globe to literally eat up smaller cities in order to use their resources. In this film London symbolises the West with its greed and destruction. The face of this is Thaddeus Valentine, well played by Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith in The Matrix).

There are also people who do not live in these mobile cities, but they are hunted by all kinds of rogue towns. One such person is Hester Shaw who  has plans for Valentine. Together with Tom she drops off London and falls into the hands of a rebel group who the two are going to help to prevent London (the West) to break through the wall guarding the East.

The weird cities themselves, but especially the weird machines bring memories of films such “Mad Max“. “Mad Max” is much rawer though. Especially the obligatory romance and jokes of “Mortal Engines” make it a too typical Hollywood film.

The only thing that is somewhat uncommon is that the West is bad and the East actually wins. Oops, I gave away the end.

“Mortal Engines” is an amusing dystopian sci-fi spectacle, but not a terribly good one.

Le Cinquième Élément – Luc Besson (1997)

So why had I not seen this film? A nice over-the-top sci-fi action comedy.

“The Fifth Element” begins as a somewhat corny mix between “Indiana Jones” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy“. Then we go fast forward to a weird future which could have come from the pen of Terry Gilliam. Well, the film is not as good as the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” or “Zero Theorem“, but it sure is entertaining.

Bruce Willis is amusing as taxi-driver Korben Dallas who literally catches a girl called Leeloo and then has to save her in order to save the world. Of course some bad guys are after her as well (Gary Oldman as Zorg) which results in space chases through weird cities and with odd characters.

95ers: Time Runners – Thomas Gomez Durham (2013)

The film looks older than it is. While watching I had the idea that I was watching an older sci-fi with an elaborate story, but the film is actually recent.

The story is fairly good. Told by Horatio (or rather: Horatio’s diary) we follow Sally who Horatio fell in love with. Jumping back and forth in time, we learn that Sally is an FBI-agent who candidly tries to investigate her husband’s death and the mysterious happenings afterwards. This is a bit of a Dana Skully (X-Files) type story.

There is more to Sally though: she is “a 95er” which I will leave the film to explain to you.

In some shoot-out Star Wars type future, people are looking for Sally. This is not entirely clear to me, but I think they try to prevent Sally from using her abilities.

All good and well, were it not that the acting is quite stiff and the CGI looks a bit cheap too. This makes the film look unconvincing. It seems that a bigger budget would have benefited the film.

The “95ers” in the title is not on the box, but it does suggest that some sort of film-series is (was) intended. IMDb.com has a “95ers Echoes” listed, but this title simply refers to the present film.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Ron Howard

Ah yes, a Star Wars spin-offs to keep the money flow going. As the title suggests, this film zooms in to the character of Han Solo. We learn how he got out of slavery, how he got his name, how he met Chewie and how he got his ship.

Of course that is but a hook to hang on a space adventure including a wonderful Woody Harrelson as space renegade and Emilia Clarke gets to show that she can play more parts than Daenerys Targaryen. The story is told without most of the known Star Wars characters or even being part of the ‘bigger story’.
Actually, the title may suggest that the viewer gets to know Han Solo, but some light is only shed on a small part of his life.

Still, the film is enjoyable. There is no need to watch it on the big screen, but I suppose people who like Star Wars will enjoy this little spin-off.

Looper – Rian Johnson (2012)

In this time-travel film a “looper” is a hired killer for criminals of the future who send back the people they want executed. Not too surprisingly one of those sent back has the plan to prevent being caught by killing the person responsible for his apprehension.

The film is alright. The story is not too original with all the time-travel films that have been released and there are no big surprises except for the obligatory one at the end.

Not a bad film, but it need not to be very high up your watch-list.

I, Robot – Alex Proyas (2004)

In 2035 mankind is supported by robots on many fields, from household to the design and development of products. Robots become more and more advanced and the driving force behind this development created three laws that, when they are lived up to, prevent robots from getting the upper hand over humans.

Then the professor dies and a troubled officer of the homicide department (played by Will Smith) sets out to investigate.

“I, Robot” is a hardly surprising, but decently made, film in which some main questions and dangers of robotisation and artificial intelligence are mentioned. Of course this mostly leads to an American moralistic action film, but that is hardly surprising too.