The production history of Mute, a new sci-fi thriller now debuting on Netflix, dates almost as far back as director Duncan Jones’ film career does. Mentioned around the time of his outstanding first feature Moon, Jones would instead deliver the terrific Source Code as a follow-up, and then spend years working on the Warcraft movie. Though there were some flashes of visual invention, Warcraft was ultimately left looking like a big-budget misstep on Jones’s CV upon its summer 2016 release, but events seemed to be headed in a positive direction when he quickly bounced back into finally getting Mute made the following year. Now, after a minor blip that saw it bypass theatres, we can all see if this is a pleasing return to form (and the world of Moon) for Duncan Jones? Alas no, it most definitely is not. Continue reading
As much as I was excited to see this new Alien movie, as I sat in the theatre waiting for the lights to go down, I found myself wondering what exactly I actually wanted from an Alien movie in 2017. Would I prefer it to just be essentially another of the numerous Alien clones that have continued to appear in the decades since its inception, but with a proper Xenomorph? Or do I want someone to try and tell a completely new story in within the Alien universe? While my instinct goes straight for the latter option, the last few times that was attempted the results were, at best, highly divisive. Continue reading
I’ve made it no secret that I struggle with a lot of anime, even the classic, universally acclaimed titles of the genre. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s cultural differences, but I often find myself having difficulty understanding films that, on paper at least, sound like I’d really enjoy. Case in point; 1995’s Ghost in the Shell, noted as a key influence on The Matrix no less, when I first watched it, I found it more or less incomprehensible. I saw it again a few years later with similar results, finding the material surprisingly inaccessible for such a landmark, beloved movie. Anyway, I think I’m more of an outlier here, so maybe I shouldn’t be taken too seriously when I say that one of the few positive things about this American, live-action Ghost in the Shell remake is that I didn’t find it especially confusing at all. Continue reading
It’s an odd fate that seems to have befallen 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, the film opened to positive reviews (it’s still sitting at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes) and decent audience response, but very quickly, pretty much by the end of that year, the negative opinion initially voiced only by more hard-core Trek fans seemed to be the common consensus. It now appears to be thought of as a bad movie with dubious political undertones, a poorly handled “twist”, and a shameless recreation of one of the series’ most famous moments leading to a cop-out ending. What was at first a fresh and exciting new take on the classic Star Trek now seemed in need of course correction by film number three. Continue reading
We’ve seen a slightly different trend appear in the in franchise-dominant 21st century blockbuster market recently; that of the sequel to a long-gestating property that essentially acts a reboot but also stays within the same timeline. I’ve heard a few terms for these including “rebootquel” and “requel” but the one I like best is “legacyquel”. We got several of these last year, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, and even Star Wars: The Force Awakens fit the bill. Independence Day: Resurgence is clearly another example of a legacyquel, but it’s coming at it from a different perspective to every other one I can think of. Continue reading
Only a scant few directors have taken on the challenge of adapting the iconoclastic work of sci-fi (is it even apt to call him that?) author J.G. Ballard. Most famously Steven Spielberg with the mostly (unfairly) forgotten Empire of the Sun, and perhaps his most obvious cinematic counterpart David Cronenberg with 1996’s controversial Crash. Now, British director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) adds his name to the mix with a take on Ballard’s 1975 novel High-Rise, an adaptation of which has been in the pipeline for decades now. Continue reading
I know I’ve paid to see plenty of bad movies in my time, but I recall being particularly reluctant to shell out for Cloverfield upon its release back in 2008. I was put off by the drawn-out marketing campaign that leaned so far on being mysterious that I just found it irritating. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate promos withholding plot details but I completely failed to comprehend what could have been gained by not even revealing the title of the movie. Then on top of that it was found-footage? Of course, I was ultimately persuaded, and it was quite fun, but not something I’ve ever revisited or given much thought to since. The point being, similarly to it’s found-footage forbearer The Blair Witch Project, I’d associate Cloverfield far more with its marketing campaign than the actual movie itself.