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science fiction

Dune: Part Two – Dennis Villeneuve (2024)

I wonder how it comes that this film is so popular (hyped). I do not remember that part one played every hour in every cinema and that millions of people watched it in the first weekend. What is more, apparently Villeneuve takes it for granted that you just saw part 1 (of three years ago) when you watch “part two”.

Part Two just starts where the first movie left off. There is no ‘previously’ no flashbacks, no explanation. You are supposed to know who is who and what is what.

Paul Atreidis is living on the planet Arakis, but not yet the leader he is to become. With the “Fremen” (or actually: half of them) he tries to fight off the Harkonen who want their economically interesting planet back.

Just like the first part Part Two is extremely bombastic, dramatic and in many respects overdone. It is again a great looking film, but it really looks like one episode in a series. It just stops after about three hours. How many more parts is Villeneuve going to use to tell this tiny story in the “Dune” series of books?

For an overview of the story, it helps if you watch the (more interesting in my opinion David Lynch version of the film first.

Paradise – Boris Kunz (2023)

A German attempt at a critical science fiction.

In some future it is possible to sell years of your life. The poor can make an extra buck and the rich can buy extra years. It is not even ‘extra years’, you actually buy an age. When you sell 15 years, you get 15 years older within a few days. The years are not just sold, you can also use them as collateral for a loan.

So we follow Max who works at the company buying and selling life’s years and his wife Elena who -unknown to Max- pledged 40 years of her life for the couple to be able to buy a fancy apartment. Needless to say what the story is about.

The improbably red thread probably sounded like a great idea, but the creators of the film did not manage to turn it into a credible story. The story does bring the opportunity to put the magnifier on the difference between rich and poor and ethical questions surrounding this divide.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 – James Gunn (2017)

The new troupe of heroes from ‘vol. 1‘ have become a team. The talking tree Groot has been replaced by a baby tree, but for the rest, the group remained the same. Even the villains partly did.

The movie is more to the comedy side of the Marvel franchise with silly jokes and screwball humour. The adventure this time involves the father of Peter Quill who may not have such great plans for the universe.

So there is some humour, some drama, some action, a not-too-interesting story. A bit of a filler in the Marvel franchise perhaps. Not even an addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe it seems.

Not boring, but nothing that needs to be high up on your watch list.

Total Recall – Len Wiseman (2012)

A movie with the same title as the 1990 classic of Paul Verhoeven with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Would it be a remake, a sequel? Neither I guess.

Colin Farrell plays Douglas Quaid who lives in a dystopian future world in which only the area around London and a part of Australia are still habitable. Australia has become a ghetto, London the area of rich people. Both areas are connected with “the fall”, an elevator straight through the earth core.

Quaid lives the simple life of a working bee, but when he visits a company where you can buy memories, he turns into a superman-type character, perhaps a spy, perhaps not.

This “Total Recall” has elements of the Verhoeven movie, but basically it is a new movie. An alright sci-fi action.

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.