Category Archives: science fiction

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.

Immortel – Enki Bilal (2004)

Just like Frank Miller would a year later with “Sin City“, Enki Bilal put his own comic to film. Besides this fact, the two films have little in common.

In a fantasyfull future with magnificent 1950’ies looking flying cars virtually everybody had him- or herself manipulated. Lungs that look better, parts of the skull that have been replaced, etc. Also virtually nobody is ‘pure human’ since extraterrestrials have mixed with humans. The people in this film look pretty weird. So weird, that many characters seem to come from a computer. For a while I even wondered if I was watching an animation or a film. I do not like plastic looking characters on screen. Judging the list of actors and a couple of characters that do look (probably: are) real, “Immortel (Ad Vitam)” (as the full title goes) is ‘just’ a film with a lot of CGI. Then again, there is also an actor listed for “Horus”. I must add that the surroundings look amazing, so I do not but complain about the CGI, but people from a computer still are not my thing so to say.

So we have one alien-human-hybrid who is special: Jill. Another story is about a flying pyramid that actually houses three Egyptian Gods: Horus, Anubis and Bastet. Horus apparently needs a human body as host to conceive new offspring every now and there for he chooses Nikopol, a drop-out of the system. Very amusingly, Nikopol can talk to his inhabiting spirit, they can split from each other and rejoin and Nikopol can ‘use’ Horus’ abilities to fly for example.

All this does not really lead to surprising plot twists. Of course Nikopol and Jill meet. Jill is investigated by scientists, but this does not go as everybody hoped and she becomes a bit of a hero ‘in spite of it all’.

Story-wise “Immortal” (the international title) is an entertaining film. Visually it is wonderful too (safe the plastic people). It got some nice findings and humour. Not bad at all!

Red Planet – Antony Hoffman (2000)

Human kind has tried to create an atmosphere on Mars by shooting rockets with algae to the red planet. This worked initially, but when air levels drop, a crew is sent to investigate the matter.

In a story somewhat akin to “The Martian” a part of the crew gets stuck on the planet, trying to survive and ultimately: trying to get off again.

The box says that this is “the best science fiction since The Matrix”, but other than the presence of Carrie-Anne Moss there are not a whole lot of similarities. “The Matrix” is a futuristic spectacle, “Red Planet” is more of a possibly science based stories that are quite popular nowadays.

The film is quite alright too.

Blade Runner 2049 – Dennis Villeneuve (2017)

Either I do not remember much from the 1982 original of this film or Villeneuve made his own take with this revamp. I expected a hip, Hollywood, scifi spectacle, but “2049” has little to do with that.

We find ourselves in a dystopian future in which K (Ryan Gosling) is some sort of policeman and in which most (all?) of earth’s inhabitants appear to be robots of some sort. In the first scenes K kills a man, but this action proves to unearth some mysteries that need to be investigated and done away with.

Gosling finds himself in a mix between “Drive” and “Mad Max“, a very slow, dark, minimalistic and gloomy science fiction film. The dark and rumbling soundtrack is a bit overdone here and there, but usually very moody. The story is not very complex, but enough to add some interesting notions on.

Indeed, this is actually a wonderfully dark film.

Life – Daniel Espinosa (2017)

The crew of the International Space Station picks up a delivery with samples from Mars and during their investigation of the contents, find a one-celled life-form.

The life-form proves to be able to grow and in a story with little surprises (except in the last seconds of the film) we follow the ‘Martian’ growing out of control.

“Life” is descently made and clearly shows the dangers of testing with unknown material, but in basis it is a scifi like many have been made.

Arrival – Dennis Villeneuve (2016)

Villeneuve took at a stab at the sci-fi genre and wonderfully too! “Arrival” is an ‘alien encounter’ film rather than a ‘people in space’ one.

Twelve UFOs ‘land’ at twelve places at the earth. People are actually allowed on board to try to communicate with the aliens. Every country that ‘has’ a UFO tries to decipher the aliens’ language. Of course we follow the American encounter.

The story is well-written and at the end actually proves to be very complex as well. The film itself is very well-written too. The first time the viewer gets on the UFO together with scholars, scientists and military people is great. An interesting puzzle unfolds. The only thing I liked less is the drama at the end.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Rian Johnson (2017)

The Christmas film of this year is another episode in the sage of the battle between good and evil.

As I got used to by now, the story is not as elaborate as is usually suggested. The rebellion is fought by the First Order who got new methods to make life difficult for the rebels. Some space battles are shown and things get hard, but end relatively well.

As for the ‘bigger story’, Luke Skywalker decided to end the Jedi order, but of course not everybody agrees. In the previous film we had a new Vader and that story is worked towards a situation in which good vs evil is not as black and white as it can be.

Even though this is Johnson’s first Star Wars the whole film looks typically Star Wars with no surprises in characters or props. Even some actors have remained the same since the beginning.

An entertaining film with no surprises.

Independence Day: Resurgence – Roland Emmerich (2016)

I am sure that I saw the 1996 original, but do not remember much of it. The follow up has so many references back, though, that things have come back.

20 Years after the original film, the world still celebrates the victory over the alien invaders of 1996. A new attack follows on that very day though and some people from the previous victory are brought back to fight the new danger.

“ID: Resurgence” has all elements of a corny Hollywood spectacle. The action is overwhelming, there are bad jokes in scenes with high tension, obligatory romance, good-looking heroes and of course a big dose of American nationalism. The story is thin and I do not find the CGI really groundbreaking.

So, this second ID film is a typical Hollywood production. Not badly done but in not a single way surprising. A typical film for a night with brainless action.

Cowboys & Aliens – Jon Favreau (2011)

Seldom does the title of a film refer so clearly to the genre, or in this case genres. Indeed, this film is a mix between Western and scifi.

There is not too much of a story, but in a Western town with much hostility among its inhabitants, spacecrafts arrive to terrorize the town. A number of townsmen and -women are kidnapped and a party sets out to find them.

A fairly typical Hollywood film unfolds with Daniel Graig and Harrison Ford as stars, the only not-so-Hollywood element is the unlikely mix of genres. This is not presented all that surprisingly though and actually they go together fairly well.

Not a great film, but entertaining.

Contact – Robert Zemeckis (1997)

This film looks older than it is. Perhaps that is because I connect Jodie Foster to older films? Perhaps I thought it to be older, for a scifi with a ‘big story’ it still is an early one.

“Contact” is based on a big ‘what if?’, but keeps pushing the original idea. What if we would receive messages from a civilization of another planet? What if this message contains a means to travel to them? And what if the technique is way different from what we are used to?

Eleanor Arroway (Foster) is a promising student in the field of space exploration, but her determination to find alien life forms makes her career difficult. Of course, after a while she succeeds against all odds, but the film does not stop there. A good story unfolds with many considerations of the discovery, scientific, religious, the reaction of the general public, etc.

The film contains some way too thick drama and Hollywood moralizing, but when you can set yourself over these elements, “Contact” is a good film about an interesting subject.