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science fiction

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.

Star Wars (series) (1977-2020)

So my girlfriend likes the old “Star Wars” films and she owned a few of the later ones. A couple of recent ones we even saw on the big screen. So around the holidays season, she bought the remaining films and we watched them all in the order of the story.

I never really gave it much thought, but the films that Georges Lucas himself made, drop in somewhere half of a story that appears to have been (rudimentary) present already. Later, the films were named “episodes” and the first film from 1977 was suddenly episode IV.

So here is the list:

Read More »Star Wars (series) (1977-2020)

Advantageous – Jennifer Phang (2015)

Gwen works for a plastic surgery company. She is the face of the company that is in development. Not only are they working on new techniques, but also on reaching a younger audience and Gwen is getting older. She is side-tracked and ready to be sacked.

Life is not easy and Gwen has problems getting by financially. The risk of becoming unemployed is especially burdensome because she wants her high IQ daughter to get a flying start in life.

Initially Gwen starts looking for other jobs, but when that fails, she volunteers to be one of the first test subjects of a radical new treatment.

“Advantageous” is a melancholic and intimate drama that plays in the (near) future.

Órbita 9 – Hatem Khraiche (2017)

A sci-fi drama from Spain, not too bad.

Helena was born on a spaceship that her parents abandoned. For most of her life, she has been alone on the ship. Then there is a problem and a young man comes to fix it, Helena grabs her change.

The viewer then learns that the story is not entirely what it seems and Álex cannot get it over his heart to not let Helena in on the information, but he chooses a fairly rough way to do so.

“Órbita 9” starts as a bit as an “I am Mother” type science fiction drama, turns into more of a romantic type of film but there are also thriller and action elements.

Liu Lang Di Qiu – Frant Gwo (2019)

“The Wandering Earth” is an Eastern science fiction film in which a big story is built up to tell a fairly small one.

In the future the deteriorating earth is not the only problem, the sun is dying out. A plan is forged to not move humanity, but to move the entire earth to another solar system. Engines are set up on earth for the journey. Because the earth moves away from the sun, temperatures drop and mankind moves to cities below the surface.

Jupiter’s gravitation proves to be a problem and a big disaster has to be prevented. Thus we follow a few people who have to go to the surface and then have to see that all engines get back in line to get the earth back on its course.

The story is told in a very American manner with obligatory boring drama and all. It all is a bit unlikely, but in basis somewhat original. Overall the film is a decently made, but not all that convincing.

Elysium – Neill Blomkamp (2013)

Somehow I see a lot of Matt Damon films recently. Here he is with no hair again. This time more his usual genre though: action.

Actually this is more of a dystopian scifi. A century from now earth is an overpopulated mess. Rich people have moved to the space station Elysium which resembles earth in better days.

Damon plays a man with a troubled past. After an accident at work he needs to go to Elysium because there are ‘curing machines’ there. With a group of heavy criminals he forges a plan.

The film has a bit of a “Mad Max” atmosphere which is good. The parts with Jody Foster as ruthless minister at Elysium as less strong. There is some annoying drama too and the last 15 minutes are downright awful. A dreary ‘the people you are supposed to sympathize with’ against those you do not.

Not bad, too bad about the end.

Code 8 – Jeff Chan (2019)

In a near retro-futuristic past people with ‘special powers’ were helpful in the economy. When machines were invented that could do the same, these people became less essential and eventually criminalised. A bit of a sad basis for a story in my opinion.

Of course we follow one of these people with power. Connor lives with his (also super powered) sick mother and they have a hard time raising enough money to get around.

Connor is picked up for a job which proves to be criminal and the prospect of making money that way makes him side with a criminal group.

The story has no surprises. There are a few alright findings in the film, but overall the film is perhaps not boring, but not very interesting either.

Downsizing – Alexander Payne (2017)

I was curious about this film in spite of the 5.7 on IMDb. It seemed to be one of these comedies with an absurdist story like “Being John Malkovich” (1999) or “Dogtooth” (2009).

In order to solve the problem of overpopulation and therefore environmental problems, Norwegian scientists found a way to shrink people. Smaller communities, smaller necessities, less waste.

We quickly jump forward in time a few times until we get in the time in which most of the film plays. There are already a few cities for small people and commercial parties have taken up the downsizing of people. As everything in much cheaper when you are small, people chose to have themselves downsized in order to live in luxury.

The Safraneks will have themselves downsized after long deliberations. Then of course things are not as perfect or easy as the companies said.

After amusing and weird scenes in the beginning, the film gets a more serious tone when the ‘solution’ the environmental problems came too late and when the small communities are not perfect either.

“Downsizing” is a descent film. A nicely absurdist start with humour, but also a message.

Ready Player One – Steven Spielberg (2018)

A Spielberg with teens in the main parts. That cannot be much, right? Of course a director of the calibre of Spielberg can make exactly what he wants regarding story, visuals, etc. so as a film, this is indeed not bad at all.

In a dystopian near future the world is a mess. People flee into a massive virtual reality game in which they can lead the lives that they wish. The creator of the game has passed away, but he had built a quest in it.

So of course we have a couple of teen game heroes trying to fulfil the challenge getting competition from a big-money-adversary who is after the same goal, but for a different reason.

The story is descent. It is full of references to 1980’ies pop-culture so the contemporary teen can watch this with his/her parents. There is 1980’ies music, film and of course computer games. This is quite amusing.

Half of the film plays in the game with animated people which are never my cup of tea. The stages and games look great (of course) and also here everything is thrown together to a mix that mostly the older among us may get an idea of, but no doubt it will enjoy the younger too.

The story has no surprises. All obligatory elements are there and the end is what it is supposed to be. Yet, I found “Ready Player One” enjoyable enough.

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.