science fiction

Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. – Gordon Flemyng (1966)

I found this film a bit accidentally. I was looking for a short film on Netflix (this one is 1:26) and noticed a quirky scifi cover and decided to give it a try.

It soon dawned on me that this is a “Dr. Who” film and these “Daleks” are the funny robots with weird voices from which I know the “exterminate, annihilate, destroy” samples. So how I did I miss this in the first place?

Dr. Who has got a time machine and ends up in 2150 London where the Dalek robots have taken over. Together with a few rebels, Who and his companions try to do something back.

The result is a funny film in which the robots are almost human, communicating by talking, needing ‘hands’ to turn knobs, etc. constantly blaring with their funny voices. Also there are amusing stages, a great UFO (the Dalek ship) and very outdated future devices.

Highly amusing. Let me see if there are more such films.

Star Trek (original + next generations) (1979-2002)

After the “Terminator” and “Alien” movie series, we tried Star Trek. More about that here. We only saw a part of the Star Trek releases, the six “original series films” and the four “Next Generations” films. After this came three films with new (young) actors.

The first film is great. The other films of the “original series” are entertaining too, but not too interesting. Sometimes the crew travels back in time to our own time, making jokes about our 1980’ies.

In the first “generations” film we meet both captain Picard and Kirk and this is obviously a transition film. The remaining “generations” films are more contemporary science fiction with mildly interesting stories.

I think in the past I only knew the Picard films, even though Kirk looked familiar. For some reason I had the idea that Star Trek was a TV series. Perhaps I have seen glimpses of either the “Star Trek Phase II” series (1977) with William Shatner as Captain Kirk and/or “Star Trek The Next Generation” (1987-1994) with Patrick Steward as Captain Picard.

Be that as it may, the films are better than I remember the series, but other than the first film, they are not more than entertaining.

Dune (part 1) – Dennis Villeneuve (2021)

Only during the opening credits did I learn that Villeneuve spread the story over multiple films. Of course the film is based on the same novel as David Lynch’s 1984 classic. I see that my review is quite critical and we know that Lynch is not too positive about his version as he could not make it the way he wanted it, but I actually do like Lynch’s version. Maybe even more so than Villeneuve’s!

It takes a while before Villeneuve’s film starts to get elements that I recognise from Lynch’s film. With more length, Villeneuve can incorporate more elements of the book.

You may know the story. There is a desert planet called Arakis that used to be governed fiercely by the “house Harkonnen”. Then suddenly the Harkonnen are removed and government is given to “house Atreides”. We mostly follow the son of that family who – together with his family – travels to the “dune”.

The desert contains a “spice” that has several benefits, mostly economical, so a fierce battle unfolds in which the Harkonnen try to take back the planet from the Atreides while Paul proves to be some sort of Messiah for the local people.

“Dune” reminds me a bit too much of Villeneuve’s “Arrival“. A pomp scifi with bombastic music, overdone dramatics, American patriotism (but worked into the story) and drama-inducing imaginary. It is all quite overwhelming, but to my mind also quite overdone.

“Dune” remains an enjoyable movie if you can stand the ‘genre’. I have no idea when the second part is due and if I again want to see it on the big screen, but I am planning on seeing it when time comes.

Alien Quadrilogy (1979-1997)

After watching all of the “Terminator” films, I wanted to watch another series of classic films that I either or not saw decades ago. My girlfriend never saw “Alien”, so here we went.

The initial “Alien” (Ridley Scott, 1979) is still a great film. Stages look better than CGI in my opinion. A crew on a ship goes to “hypersleep” for longer journies. Waking up they find out that the ship picked up an emergency signal and went in that direction. Taking a look at the inhabitable planet, one of the crew members picks up an alien lifeform and brings it back to the ship. The alien develops and murders the entire crew, but a handful managed to get away and blow up the ship. This first film is certainly still watch worthy.

9 Years later James Cameron picks up where Ridley Scott left off (“Aliens” 1986). Together with Sigourney Weaver (the main character) as co-producer, we see the crew of the original film being picked up by a space station. There is a problem though. An alien managed to get on board of the fleeing vessel and this time finishes off the entire crew of the space station. Also “Aliens” is a descent movie.

A few more years down the road and Weaver found David Fincher for “Alien 3” (1992). The planet that Weaver left in “Aliens” is now inhabited by humans, but there is no contact, so a crew is sent to see what is up. Of course Ripley (Weaver) is part of the crew. They arrive at the base to find out that there is nobody there. Nobody of course, but a bunch of aliens starting to kill crew members. This third part is more of an action film than the previous, but still with the obvious horror and thriller elements.

The last part of the “quadrilogy” is from 1997 and is called “Alien Resurrection”. This is the most sci-fi of the four. Ridley is cloned including an alien and of course things do not go as the scientists had planned, so the cloned aliens kill off the crew. The last film is in some regards more ‘modern’ than the previous three. This film is directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet. For a Jeunet the film is pretty ‘normal’, but it is great to see some of his ‘go-to’ actors such as Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon.

All in all I must say that I enjoyed (re)watching the four alien films. The first two are classics, the third is good enough and the ‘closer off’ by Jeunet made a nice surprice.

Terminator movie series 1984-2019

In 2015 I saw “Genisys” on the big screen. I liked it a lot. Some weeks ago I finally got to watch “Dark Fate” and I liked it even better. I decided to watch all Terminator films in chronological order, as the two latest films refer back a lot to the early movies, so I wondered if there would be some sort of storyline.

Yes and no. Most movies refer to events in the other ones, but as time-travel remains the main part of the stories, films do not have to fit story-wise. In one film Skynet is killed, before it is born, in alternative future there still was a Skynet to send back machines in time. Or Sarah Conner is dead in one film and is not in another. Most films are in chronological time-lines too, but this is not always the casae.

So, in 1984 we had the original “The Terminator” (James Cameron). It is still a fun watch. The special effects are a bit dated (sometimes reminding on Cronenberg body horror though). Schwarzenegger is sent back in time to kill the mother (Sarah Connor) who would later give birth to the leader of the resistance against the machines. It is Connor himself who sends back Kyle Reese who is incidentally also his father. The film has a great 1980’ies feel with 1980’ies music.

In 1991 the same director made the epic “Terminator 2: Judgement Day. This time it becomes clear that again a terminator and a protector are sent back in time and Schwarzenegger is the protector. Of the young John Connor himself this time. A great movie unfolds with a still impressive liquid terminator.

Jonathan Mostow took over in 2003 with “Rise Of The Machines”. Here we have a sexy terminator and Schwarzegger again as protector of John Connor. Just as the previous two films, this film contains brutal violence. The film is pretty much over-the-top and even though amusing, it does not reach the level of the second film.

Again a new director in 2009 “MvG”. “Salvation” is by and far the least interesting film of the series. It plays only in the dystopian future in which the AI that humans developed has calculated that it is better for itself to terminate humanity. After throwing some nuclear bombs, killer machines (terminators) roam the earth to finish off the last living people. A resistance has grown which is led by John Connor. The resistance is after the destruction of the main system. What does not help, is that Schwarzenegger did not join the cast. He is only shown a few minutes in CGI.

Then we have “Genisys” (2015) Alan Taylor and “Dark Fate” (2019 Tim Miller), which are both reviewed. “Dark Fate” is most interesting movie-wise. The whole cast is present, including Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Story-wise this one is … alright. A ‘new’ Sarah Connor (Dani Ramos played by Natalie Reyes) is under threat as she is going to give birth to the father of John Connor. It takes a while before Schwarzegger returns, but he is at his best.
“Genisys” has an interesting twist to the John Connor story. Story-wise this one is good, movie-wise I prefer “Dark Fate”.

5 Out of 6 Terminator films are very enjoyable, in spite of the different directors. The cross-references are well done, the brutal violence is still brutal, the humour is usually good. The newer films have a bit too much of the obligatory drama, perhaps the older do too. They are big budget, big audience Hollywood productions of course. Be that as it may, I enjoyed watching all film a lot. It seems there are is a spin-off series about Sarah and John Connor. Perhaps I am going to see if I can get my hands on that one too.

Arq – Tony Elliott (2016)

It may be better not to know, but all information about the film gives it away anyway, but the story of “ARQ” is somewhat similar to that of “Edge Of Tomorrow“.

In some future the air is polluted and energy scarce. Renton used to work for a big and influential company and built a machine which charges itself, so it is a perpetual energy source. He left his job, but his former employer wants (the blueprints) of his machine. Other groups do too.

The “Edge Of Tomorrow” story is worked out nicely. More and more people involved in the events start to realize what is going on and act accordingly. Of course the story has some twists and turns and a bit of humor.

An alright Netflix film.

Terminator: Dark Fate – Tim Miller (2019)

“Dark Fate” was as much fun as “Genisys“. As you can see on the cover, two characters of the original films return. The film opens with a scene from decades past in which Sarah Connor (still played by Linda Hamilton) predicts doomsday. Well actually, the doomsday that Connor predicted never happened, as Conner and her son prevented it.

That did not help prevent developing a future that still has problems with the past, so in a familiar story, both a terminator and a protector are sent back in time to terminate and protect the mother of a rebel-to-be.

So we find Dani in the same place as Grace Connor in the old days, protected by a half-woman and hunted by an extremely advanced terminator. That terminator is quite like the one in “Judgement Day” (1991), made of liquid metal that just folds back when you shoot it. A new element is that this terminator can connect to computer networks, which makes it easier for him to find his target.

We have the usual spectacular chasing scenes with shootings and explosions, shape-shifting robots and indestructible machines fighting indestructible machines. It takes a while before Schwarzenegger joins the scene. As in “Genisys” he is older, but he is as cool as he ever was and he makes the best joke I have seen in a film for quite some time claiming that he is extremely funny.

Connor and T-800 reluctantly team up trying to protect Dani while Rev-9 demolishes everything and everyone he encounters in his chase.

The many references back to the old films make “Dark Fate” an extra fun watch. There is action, a gloomy atmosphere, everybody is cool and everything looks good.

Sure a fun watch. Just as “Genisys”. Now I really feel like watching the 2003 and 2009 films as well.

Seungriho – Sung-hee Jo (2021)

IMDb.com has “Space Sweepers” as an “action, adventure, drama”, but in my opinion, it is a science-fiction comedy.

Mankind pretty much killed the earth in 2092. A rich man with a powerful company has made artificial planets where only the rich and fortunate can live. Those who stayed behind on earth are workers at the rich men’s home if they are lucky.

Besides pollution on earth, also space is heavily polluted. A group of renegades makes money by catching space trash and selling it to factories who can recycle the material. One such group finds a young girl on their ship. It seems that this girl is not just a girl, but a very strong bomb.

The humour in the film is quite ‘screwball’ here and there down to ‘poo and pee level’, but most of the time bearable. The sci-fi looks quite good and the story is not so bad either.

Not a high-flyer, but an amusing sci-fi comedy.

Possessor – Brandon Cronenberg (2020)

Because of his excellent “Antiviral” (2012) I was pretty excited when I heard about Cronenberg junior’s latest film. It took a while before the release though and when I write this, there still seems to be no European release or even a date. So my copy came from the USA which apparently takes a month in shipping.

“Possessor” and by far not as good as “Antiviral”. It starts as a nice, moody movie, but the story is much less interesting as Cronenberg’s previous film and there is more focus on (horror) gore. Not the “body horror” of his old man and which could also be found in “Antiviral”, but bloody violence.

In some future everybody seems to have a brain implant. Some company uses these implants for contract killings. An agent is ‘transported’ to a victim who will commit the crime and die.

We mostly follow one such agent, Tasya, who has done this work for a while and who appears to have increasing problems with the work. Of course things do not go as planned in the last job and the victim is not entirely taken over.

“Possessor” is not your average film. It is dark, weird, the story is strange. You have to enjoy the weirder kind of film for “Possessor”. I think Cronenberg’s previous is a good compare even though this new film is (of course) much different. Like I said, it is also less good in my opinion. Since we do not often get films of this type, I still recommend “Possessor” if you also like the darker and weirder stuff.

Ad Astra – James Gray (2019)

A not too convincing sci-fi drama with Brad Pitt as almost sole actor.

In near future mankind has a base on the moon which they use to fly to other planets. Problems coming from Neptune appear to be caused by a mission to that area of many years ago. That mission was led by the father of Pitt’s character and star astronaute Pitt is sent there to see if he can fix the problem.

The film is slow and moody, but the story contains a couple of very illogical elements which take down the film a lot. Even the basic storyline is not too strong.

We mostly follow Roy McBride (Pitt). We hear his thoughts / doubts, follow him on his way to the moon, to Mars, to Neptune. Of course there is some tension and some drama.

The film is not boring, but it certainly is not great either.