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science fiction

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.

Doomsday – Neil Marshall (2008)

This dystopian action scifi reminds a bit of the old Mad Max movies. Mankind managed to almost wipe itself out. It partly hides behind a wall that keeps the virus infected Scotland from saved England. Then it proves that on the other side of the wall, people still live.

There in Scotland a survival of the fittest took place resulting in punk-like gangs not unlike the wild bunch in Mad Max. Of course a person with ties to both camps has to go to the enemy camp to get something and she is tossed between both sides.

“Doomsday” is perhaps not a great, but a pretty amusing film for when you feel like scifi dystopia.

Black Panther – Ryan Coogler (2018)

The follow-up was a preview before “Woman King“, which made me somewhat curious about the film. “Black Panther” holds the middle between adventure, science-fiction and superhero action.

The imaginary African state of Wakanda is built on a vibranium mine. Vibranium is an odd substance that came with a comet and allows the inhabitents of Wakanda extremely high-tech sollutions; hence the sci-fi elements. The Wandians have super-cars, super-suits and super-weapons which gives the film the superhero elements. The movie is indeed based on a comic.

A piece of vibranium that was kept in a museum outside Wakandu was stolen and the Wakandians set out to retrieve it and to prevent the powers of vibranium falling in the wrong hands.

“Black Panther” is a bit of a ‘blacksploitation’ with mostly black actors (the white ones are the villains). Besides all the sci-fi and spectacle, there are also ‘African elements’ which bring the ‘adventure’ elements that are somewhat out of place. This is exactly what makes the film somewhat atypical which is not a bad thing.

All in all not a masterpiece, but an enjoyable sci-fi, superhero action.

Crimes Of The Future – David Cronenberg (2022)

Many decades ago Cronenberg saw the line “crimes of the future” used as an unwritten poem in a movie and thought ‘that is a movie I am going to make’. He did so in 1970. It is said that also “Existenz” (2009) originally also has this as the working title. In 2022 Cronenberg (who is almost 80 years old) made his second (or third) “Crimes Of The Future”.

It is quite a classic Cronenberg. More of the “body horror” kind than “Maps To The Stars” (2014) and “Cosmopolis” (2012). It actually reminds somewhat of “Exitenz” even though Cronenberg says the two or three “Crimes Of The Future” have nothing to do with each other.

We find ourselves again in a dystopian future. The human body appears to be rather devolving than evolving. People no longer experience pain and some people even grow new and useless (and fatal?) organs. Then there are those who have turned the public removal of these new organs into “body art”. So we find ourselves following Saul Tenser and his sensual assistent Caprice.

Cronenberg would not have been Cronenberg did he not explicitly portray deformed bodies, surgery, weird organ-like machines and of course, sex. This time “surgery is the new sex”.

You get it: dark, weird, disturbing, uneasy. In short: Cronenberg.

“Crimes Of The Future” may not be his best, but if you like the dark side of this director, do not miss out on his latest.

The Adam Project – Shawn Levy (2022)

Despite being a Netflix original. Despite being somewhat ‘kiddy’. Besides being a comedy of sorts, “The Adam Project” was actually somewhat amusing. Or was it because I had not seen a film in a few weeks?

Adam from the title escapes from the 2050’ies to 2022. His aim was actually four years earlier. In 2022 he runs into his younger self and the two Adams are going to try to prevent time-travelling from being invented. Of course the future Adam has some adversaries that try to stop his efforts.

The film has a few original elements to the often filmed time travelling concept. The obligatory jokes are sometimes funny, sometimes less so, but overall not too annoying. There is some action and special effects making a film that is probably aimed at adolescents. Perhaps even a bit younger.

As said, the film is not that bad.

Big Bug – Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2022)

Jeunet made another weird and wonderful film, this time for Netflix. As more often with Jeunet, “Big Bug” plays in the future. Not a dark and bleak future, but a bright and colourful future this time.

Contrary to most of his previous films, there are but a few of his go-to actors in this Jeunet. Dominque Pinon is only on screen a split second and François Levantal has a big part, but he only appears in one other Jeunet.

In a not too far future, mankind makes greater use of technology as it does today. Jeunet came up with some amusing concepts. Some sort of little drone that can locate things that have been misplaced, a flying Citroen DS, a talking vacuum cleaner and a robot housemaid. Of course all if very secure.

For different reasons, a group of people are in the villa of the sensual Alice when the robots apparently decided to take over. They cripple mankind by creating a massive traffic jam and then local systems lock people inside their houses because the level of danger is too high outside.

In Alice’s house are some ‘vintage’ robots not connected to the main Yonyx system so not robots are immediately hostile. They are of not much help either, since they do have protocols to follow. The robots have meetings to try to find a way for the people to like them better, so they start to read books, download humour and compassion. You get it, Jeunet has stuffed his film with hilarious situations and odd findings. Laughing robots, a vacuum cleaner trying to seduce his mistress. All things you can safely to Jeunet.

The result is very amusing. “Big Bug” may not be Jeunet’s best, but it certainly is a great watch and much better than most (any?) Netflix-original that I saw so far.