Category Archives: science fiction

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.

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)

IMDb.com

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.