Category Archives: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Movie Review

Caution: This review makes mention of two key plot points of Blade Runner 2049 that may be construed as “spoilers,” even though both are pieces of plot information that are introduced early on in the film. Either way, Denis Villeneuve reportedly asked critics not to reveal any plot points of the film, so I guess you’ve been warned.

It has been 35 years since Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, a dystopian urban image of a world in which people are hired to hunt down and “retire” artificial beings known as Replicants. Based on, if only in its philosophical quandaries, Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film questioned where the line between humanity and artificiality is.

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The script of Blade Runner 2049 from Hampton Fancher and Michael Green continues this existential exploration. The film, directed by Denis Villeneuve, whose cinematic visions have only grown in terms of visuals and heady ideas, follows a new Blade Runner code-named K (Ryan Gosling) as he stumbles upon Continue reading Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Movie Review

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Valley of Shadows (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)

Like Andrey Zvyaginstev’s Loveless, which also had a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen’s Valley of Shadows is a bleak-looking and picturesque look at a small boy lost in the woods. Both use imagery of isolated forests to setup its ominous, gloomy case. With Loveless, it is barren trees hanging dead over a creek.

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In the case of Valley of Shadows, it is a massive green forest flowing against the wind like waves waiting to crash down on the two kids who look on in curiosity over the Continue reading Valley of Shadows (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Movie Review

People come to the movie theater to see spectacle. To see what demands to be seen on the large screen. This is one ideology, at least.

Director Luc Besson enjoys his spectacle. With $200 million dollars at his disposable, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is what comes of this affection for the visually bombastic.

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The film stars Dane DeHaan as the titular Major Valerian, a government soldier at Alpha, the space station galaxy encompassing 1,000 different planets. Although he plays the title role, however, DeHaan is eclipsed in screentime by Cara Delevigne, who plays Continue reading Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Movie Review

Okja (2017) Movie Review

Okja is an elephant-sized genetically modified pig, raised for 10 years by Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) and her grandfather in the Korean mountains. To one, Okja is a giant teddy bear of a pet. To another, namely the head of the company that created him Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), it is a massive money-making food commodity.

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Okja is, once it gets going, a chase film involving three (eventually two) parties. This chase cuts through a narrative with tropes of coming of age and satire, neither of which reach their full potential.

If the indelible adorableness of Okja does not get to your heart, then this story may Continue reading Okja (2017) Movie Review

Black Mirror: The National Anthem (2011) Television Review

The Princess (Lydia Wilson) has been kidnapped. Held for ransom. For Prime Minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear), the only way to save her: have “full unsimulated sexual intercourse with a pig” on live television.

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Thus is our introduction to the callous, cruel universe of Black Mirror, the anthology drama series that takes aim at

Continue reading Black Mirror: The National Anthem (2011) Television Review

The Bad Batch (2017) Movie Review

Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut as a feature director came in the form of the genre-bending vampire romance film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The film, shot in supple black and white over a soundtrack of trance-inducing electronica and angsty punk, was a beautiful piece about maintaining relationships in an environment rife with isolation.

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On paper, Amirpour’s second film The Bad Batch exists in a similar world. Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is released from “Bad Batch” prison into the desert wilderness of the Texas-Mexico border.

A dystopian world in which cannibalism is a viable form of survivable (viable to the point of being morally questionable as opposed to morally intolerable), isolation is all Arlen has. Especially after she is captured by a family of cannibals and Continue reading The Bad Batch (2017) Movie Review

Colossal (2017) Movie Review

Colossal masquerades itself as a certain type of movie. It opens on the ominous, lingering image of a Kaiju-like monster. Then, sweeping shots of the New York skyline play out over a driving, Dark Knight trilogy-esque score. Then, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) enters, hungover and rambling thinly-veiled excuses to her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) about where she has been.

It doesn’t quite match the previously set tone, does it?

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When her boyfriend leaves her due to her drinking problem, Gloria moves back to her hometown, where she falls in with an old friend named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). An old friend who just so happens to own his father’s bar.

Remember that Kaiju that I mentioned earlier? Whelp…turns out it pantomimes the actions of Gloria when she sets foot on a playground she knew once as a child. It pantomimes everything, including Continue reading Colossal (2017) Movie Review