Category Archives: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Review: The Platform (El Hoyo) – Fantastic Fest 2019

Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform concerns not so much the platform as it does the pit, a pit descending hundreds of stories down through a concrete prison established by “The Administration.” Two people are housed on each level of this enclosure. Some are volunteers, others are criminals, but they are all prisoners. Each day, a platform descends housing a bounty of food and drink. The people at the top can eat as much as they want; those down below get what’s left, if anything. And every month the prisoners switch floors.

Goren (Ivan Massague) wakes on his floor—47, not too shabby all things considered—not knowing what Continue reading Review: The Platform (El Hoyo) – Fantastic Fest 2019

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Review: The Vast of Night – Fantastic Fest 2019

At the beginning of Andrew Patterson’ The Vast of Night, we are shown a vintage television set, on which we will watch the remainder of the film, the narrative of which is housed within the The Twilight Zone-inspired show Paradox Theater.

On tonight’s episode of Paradox Theater: 1950s, small town New Mexico. The Cayuga High School boys are gearing up for their big basketball game, and the night’s event has brought nearly the entire town to the school gymnasium. Amid this bustle of people is Continue reading Review: The Vast of Night – Fantastic Fest 2019

High Life (2019) Movie Review

Leave it to Claire Denis to make the most original science fiction film of the year. But, in doing so, Denis is sure to polarize in her pursuit of something that spits in the face of generic convention. The first thing we see in High Life is jarring, in that it is not what you would normally focus on in a sci-fi film. It is a baby crying in the sterile, metallic environment of a space ship. Over radio communication, her father Monte (Robert Pattinson) tries to soothe her softly while he works on a panel outside of the ship.

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“We were scum,” Monte later says, in voiceover. “Trash. Refuse that didn’t fit into the system, until someone had the bright idea of recycling us.” He goes on to tell the story of Continue reading High Life (2019) Movie Review

Men in Black: International (2019) Movie Review

Men in Black: International is the rare reboot picture that makes me question whether any film in the franchise was any good to begin with. It looks and feels like the preceding trilogy. The setting is a comic book world populated by covert aliens, some of which are hunted by or hunting equally-covert agents of the law donning black shades and slick suits. The appearance of energy comes in the form of quippy Men in Black, distinct alien character designs, and shiny silver weaponry that shoot beams of colored lights.

Perhaps the original Men in Black has more of a narrative backbone than this. But I don’t remember Continue reading Men in Black: International (2019) Movie Review

Dark Phoenix (2019) Movie Review

Dark Phoenix, instead of soaring into theaters with a fiery majesty, landed to roost with an unceremonious whimper. Battered by poor reviews and poorer box office returns on its inaugural weekend, this final (unless The New Mutants ends up finally getting a release) Fox X-Men release is limping its way to the finish line.

But Dark Phoenix is by no means the worst X-Men film of the franchise. In fact, it succeeds in crucial ways at which the previous film Continue reading Dark Phoenix (2019) Movie Review

Black Mirror – Season Five (2019) TV Review

Note: Spoilers for Black Mirror ahead.

With Black Mirror season five dropping on Netflix, the internet is adequately abuzz. Following the hit-or-miss experience of Bandersnatch, the new slate of Black Mirror episodes is understandably thin. With only three episodes to feast on, the binge-worthiness of season five is questionable.

But the real question is: how do these three episodes compare to the pantheon of Black Mirror episodes? Do they hold up as engaging, compelling mini-movies, or are they a disappointing lot?

 

Striking Vipers

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In college, Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) bonded over video games. After a night of drinking, they Continue reading Black Mirror – Season Five (2019) TV Review

The Wandering Earth (2019) Movie Review

There is a shot during what functions as the prologue chapter to The Wandering Earth whose awesome nature leads one to believe that this is more than merely some basic re-skinning of the sci-fi dystopian concept. Much of the film’s effects appear as the computer generated facades that they are, plasticky backdrops and accoutrements. So does this shot, but the gooey melting plastic of a planet in motion away from a star has a cosmic majesty to it, which director Frant Gwo captures superbly.

The planet in the shot is Earth itself, being propelled away from the sun of our solar system to avoid the Continue reading The Wandering Earth (2019) Movie Review