Archive for the 'Sci-Fi' Category

14
Mar
10

Kick-Ass!!!!

Got to see this superb movie about two weeks back, and at last I can tell people about it.
My review on Den of Geek is here.

31
Jul
08

The Sarah Connor Chronicles DVD review

My review of The Sarah Connor Chronicles on DVD is on Den of Geek here
This is a great show, even if the DVD release doesn’t actually build much on that.

20
Jun
08

I, Robot on Blu-ray

At last some decent movies on Blu-ray. My review of I,Robot can be found here.

Yo! Robot person!

25
Apr
08

Early Ironman review

I didn’t get to write this, see the movie or attend the press briefing yesterday (damn it!), but one of our Geek brothers did. You can read about it here…

10
Apr
08

Buzzzzzzz….Blu-ray review of The Fly

Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid…it’s my review of the Blu-ray release of The Fly….here

18
Feb
08

Knight Rider…is back!

Read my review of the new show at Den of Geek here

Knight Rider

18
Feb
08

Death of the Effects Movie

I’ve been writing for Den of Geek again!
Go here to read about Effects Movies and how they’re not up to scratch!
I am, not very good at Effects, Legend

15
Sep
07

My Top 10 totally wasted film franchises

Counting down from the top, here are my 10 most disappointing attempts to convert some prior source material into new film franchise.

10. Catwomen (2004)

I’d read a few negative comments about this production before I saw it, but little prepared me for how utterly dreadful it is. What confused me entirely was that the title suggests a connection to the Bob Kane character, but what’s presented in it has as much to do with him as the carton series ‘Top Cat’. And, any delusions that winning an Oscar gives you some protection when you make a turkey soon evaporated for Halle Berry when this opened.

9. Van Helsing (2004)

This one is a bit weird, because it draws on the work of Bram Stoker, Mary Shelly and others, but curiously the Van Helsing in this movie isn’t the one that’s detailed in the Dracula book. The true source material is the 1930s Universal Studio monster movies, but whatever the origins it stunk. Much of the movie is entirely unwatchable as there is very little logic or connection between progressive scenes. Had Stephen Sommers given it the light and deft touch he’d used on the first Mummy movie it could have easily been a whole new outlet for High Jackman, but instead he used his mallet of sloppy film making to entirely trash it.

8. The Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

With Barry Levinson directing, assisted by Frank Marshal, Steven Speilberg, and Henry Winkler producing, and the entire wealth of Conan Doyle’s archetypal detective Holmes, how could it go wrong? Big time, I’d suggest. I can’t really blame the cast, most of whom seemed well suited to their character rolls, with Nicholas Rowe being very good as the young Holmes. But parts of this production play like a weird Victorian version of the Goonies. It was an interesting premise, actually contradicted by Doyle’s own work, but ultimately an attempt to start a franchise that failed miserably.

7. The Saint (1997)

There are parts of this movie I enjoy, but what’s it got to do with the Leslie Charteris character? Not much from what I can recall of the novels, 1940’s George Sanders movies and his later TV incarnations with Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy. The entire premise that the Saint was once a man who lived on the wrong side of the law, but is has chosen to fight crime seems entirely lost in this movie with Val Kilmer making the Roger Moore eyebrow acting seem positively expressive. The limp performance of this Saint at the global box-office means this franchise will need at least three miracles to be resurrected.

6. Lost in Space (1998)

It looked like converting this icon of 1960s TV for the big screen would be a challenge, but it turned out to be more of one than those assembled to make it could handle. Personally I love some of the design work in this production, but the performances of the actors and the script are not remotely up to the job. This was Matt LeBlanc’s only real stab at movie stardom, and it fell entirely flat, much like his career. Danger Will Robinson, this franchise is lost!

5. The Avengers (1998)

With what looked like interesting casting, and some amazing source material this could have been fantastic. But instead it was an utter fiasco, the likes of which I’m still coming to terms with. Sir Sean Connery should have kept the teddy bear outfit on for the whole dreadful proceedings and claimed he was never in it.

4. Æon Flux (2005)
If you’ve never seen the original animated version of this created by Korean American animator Peter Chung then you missed plenty, as it’s a curious blending of the stylised science fiction popularised by ‘Heavy Metal’ and hardcore animé. But the film version carries virtually none of these qualities with any success, and is a wholly abysmal celluloid experience despite having the stunning Charlize Theron in the lead roll. In most episodes Æon dies at the end, but this franchise was the fatality here.

3. Planet of the Apes (2001)

This is an almost unique scenario where an amazing film spawns a franchise that then is run into the ground. Then years later it’s relaunched and crashes a the first hurdle. Given the advances in effects since the 1968 original this could have been something special, but they appear to have started this movie without a script, and it ended before they’d rectified that. What didn’t help was people asking director Tim Burton what it was actually about and him replying ‘What do you think it’s about?’, while being interviewed to promote this drivel. Amazing potential, flushed down the toilet of film franchise.

2. Judge Dredd (1995)
While Arnhuld was the obvious choice for Dredd not too many people winced when they heard it had gone to Stallone, but they positively recoiled when they saw what had become of this British comic classic. In a film that swayed wildly between comic camp and a cop buddy actioner it managed to avoid hitting any of the potential target audience that enjoyed the comic, or science fiction for that matter. A mess of a movie where the events make little sense, and the characters would appreciate being one dimensional. I’d love to blame Rob Schneider, but he’s just gristle in the meat grinder that is Judge Dredd.

1. Thunderbirds (2004)
Given the richness of the source material this was a diabolical trashing of a franchise almost without precedent. Despite the potential to tap into an adult audience, like Transformers, Jonathon Frakes focused instead on the child friendly aspects, making the kids the leads. Too many kids, too many characters, not enough Thunderbirds action and Ben Kingsley playing Widow Twankie. The end result; a complete turkey. You might have directed the best Trek movie of recent times, but Please Mr Frakes, stay away from any other of my childhood memories.

21
Aug
07

Bioshock demo – yummy!

BIOSHOCK
I’ve just been playing PC demo of Bioshock, and jolly good it is. If you’re not a keen gamer, or a youngster, you might not remember the original SystemShock game, which where all set on a derelict spaceship. This isn’t. Instead the action takes place in a realy weird submerged city, a sort of pre-war styled Atlantis, called Rapture. At the start of the demo you arrive when you’re plane crashes near Rapture, and you take an underwater elevator deep beneath the ocean.
So what makes this FPS different from the standard crop? Two things strike you almost immediately, even within the limited confines of the demo. The first is the level of design work that’s gone into this game, which is astounding. The starting locations are lavish Art Deco, and filled with posters, tiles, signs and statues. It’s like being a movie when they’ve given the art director his head and a massive budget. Having a few locations like this in a game is impressive, but every room, even the toilet are works of digital art.
The second, and somewhat unexpected aspect to Bioshock is the AI of the enemies. While they’re still triggered by you to appear, what they do and how they react is entirely driven by their own individual logic. Once you understand the motivations of the various creatures that infest Rapture you can use that to make them allies or confuse them into helping you. You can also hack the defence systems to ignore you and attack your enemies. Which promises a much more cerebral experience that just running around shooting everything. I feel that approach won’t get you very far in BioShock, you need to be smarter than that.
Previously we’ve seen great demos that didn’t live up to their potential in the full game, but I’m confident that Bioshock will, and might be even better.
Can’t wait for the full game!

You can get the demo here

18
Aug
07

Jurassic Park IV – Dumb and Dumbersaurus

There’s a story running on Bloody Disgusting currently that actually blew my mind, entirely. It’s a report which suggests, get ready for this, that the plot of the next Jurassic Park (IV) will be ‘about the government who has trained dinosaurs to carry weapons and use them for battle purposes.’ Oh, that’s…err…incredible.
If this is true, and a dark side of my personality wants it to be because they don’t make make big budget movies based on such god awful ideas often, then I wish I’d been a fly on the wall when some script guru pitched this to Spielberg and Co…and they went ‘That’s a cool idea…give the Dino’s big guns!’
I’m sorry, either this isn’t the real idea, or those green-lighting this project where dipped in psycho-reactive slime!

But it has inspired me to think up the Ten worst ideas for a franchise sequel.

10. The Bourne mediocrity – Jason Bourne discovers the best way to remain hidden is to master the art of being average, but makes too good a job of it.
9. The Fantastic 4: Baby Boom – The Fantastic 4 become parents, spawning super-powered kids with hilarious consequences. Stan Lee cameos as their paediatrician.
8. Legal Weapon 23: back in a diapers – Yes, they really are too old for this shit
7. Terminator 4: Total Recall – Our heroes must travel into the distant future, create a manufacturing fault in the Skynet factory, and get all the Terminators warranty recalled!
6. Bewitched: Witch and Bewitched – Exactly the same plot as the original, but with someone different playing Darren.
5. Ace-less Ventura – An Ace Ventura Movie without the named character or Jim Carrey(oops..sorry they’re doing that one!)
4. Out for a Quarter Past Under Siege – Seagal…need I say more?
3. Unnamed Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez project
2. Ghostbusters: the Musical
1. Jason vs. Pee Wee Herman – Pee Wee dresses up as a notorious serial killer, with hilarious consequences.

14
Aug
07

Geeking out on Iron Man

Iron ManThis is possibly the last big Marvel character franchise that hasn’t made it to the big screen, but I’m getting all geek about this project already. Yes, I know, I’m going to have to chill because the movie is a 2008 release. But images like the one they’ve just posted on Comingsoon.net aren’t helping. The casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is great, and dovetales perfectly with the persona, as does Sam Jackson as Nick Fury. So until they are proven to have made an entire mess of the execution here, I’m remaining positive. Actually with Jon Favreau at the helm I’m more than optimistic, as I loved both Elf and Zathura which he also directed.
I presume we’ll get a teaser/trailer before Christmas, to feed my addiction.

29
Jul
07

Jekyll Episode 6 – revelations

JekyllGosh, what a twisted mind Steven Moffat has! And, I say that in the nicest possible way. The ultimate episode of Jekyll aired just 11 hours ago, and I’m still trying to digest everything he managed to pack into an explosive 60 minutes.

So many unexpected outcomes, developments and plot pirouettes, where to begin? First I’d like to say that despite my misgivings about Episode 4, overall this was a taught exercise that griped the viewer with it’s clever conundrums and sleek performances. Top of the acting accolades must go to James Nesbitt, who moves transformation unhindered between Dr. Jackman and Mr. Hyde with consummate ease. On a least a half dozen occasions, he had a least one leg in ‘Jekyll the Panto’, but managed to stop himself sliding into utterly wild farce. I can’t wait for any Hyde out-takes, I bet they’re hilarious. The other solid performance came from Gina Belman, who’s character obviously revelled in the idea of no-consequence adultery as a side order to the mayhem. Denis Lawson did a sterling job as the duplicitous Syme’s, especially where prior to his demise he tried to justify his actions to Jackman/Hyde.

So back to Episode 6, was it the finale we’d wanted? To a degree yes, but it slightly took it’s foot off the accelerator in the final stretch. The opening was a masterpiece of genre manipulation, where we go back a year in time and see the organisation that pursued Jekyll finding the toughest mercenary they can find, and installing him and his highly tuned troops in their top secret location. He’s built up as a complete psychopath, killing his own men in training. We then flip forward to the main time line to see Hyde dispatch him like he’s nothing, 4 minute intro – 2 second death. At this point I was already chuckling, Hyde like, at what other film conventions Moffat potentially might mutilate.
It wasn’t a long wait. I don’t think Moffat likes child actors, perhaps he finds creating their dialogue tiresome, or something. Cue two matching miniature metal caskets, like the one they placed Jackman in, and that’s them and their sticky fingers sorted for the majority of the proceedings. Mrs Jackman wasn’t too happy about this, as you might imagine, and reminded anyone who’d listed then her husband was coming, and he wouldn’t be happy either. No shit, Mrs Jackman!
Normally in these dramas unless it serves the plot the revelations are held for the penultimate, or final scenes, but their where so many in this piece they soon came thick and fast. The nice grey haired old lady re-appeared and helped Mrs Jackman escape, guiding her to the secret 7th basement floor, where bad things have been happening. Here she see the failed genetic attempts to make Hyde, using DNA they’ll collected years before. So was Jackman another successful clone? Err…amazingly no. He was an throwback, a direct descendent of Jekyll, from a line fathered by Hyde. But, and this was really the unexpected bit, they’d realised early on that the Hyde effect was something of a binary weapon. It required Jekyll’s DNA, and Mrs Jackman’s presence to work. So realising they had a ‘Jekyll’ they got hold of poor housemaid Alice’s DNA, and made themselves a clone catalyst – Mrs Jackman.
That tied up so many loose ends in one fell swoop, and less than 30 minutes in, it then let you wondering what Mr Moffat was holding back, and it was a doozie.
But by now I was missing Hyde, and his return wasn’t far away. His first manifestation is to invade the minds of everyone in the building, sending them an unusually polite message inviting them to run away, or die. Unsurprisingly really, some did run.
Syme’s is the first to die, and in a somewhat fitting manner, leaving only the horrible American women, the cancer riddled head of security and a handful of mercenaries to dispatch. They all meet on the 7th floor for a final confrontation. Before this we’ve given one crucial piece of the puzzle about Hyde and Jackman, where it’s explained that it’s possible for one of them to be injured, which the other doesn’t experience, conveniently. I’d of been more comfortable with this information had it been revealed earlier in the series, rather than jack-in-the-box’d on us now.
Unexpectedly only one other then person dies, and it’s Hyde perforated with machine gun bullets, everyone else lives, including Jackman bizarrely!
Again expectations where built up, paraded, and then slaughtered in entirely unexpected ways. This tangent had me more than slightly suspicious, that Moffat’s original intention was to have a much darker and disturbing ending. But that senior BBC production, having seen the completed episodes held out the carrot of a second series, if he could keep Jackman alive. This may, or may not be the case, but enough hints where packed into the last ten minutes to suggest it’s at least a possibility, if not an absolute certainty.
Anyway, Moffat has one last flourish in his magic hat to pull out, which involves the old lady and the American women, which I won’t spoil. But it ends the series on more of a cliffhanger than a resolution, encouraging me further to think Jekyll 2 is on the cards.
Overall, not as weird and twisted as Episode 5, but jolly entertaining all the same. Somehow I doubt this is the last we’ll see of Jackman, Hyde or Nesbitt. But I must stop writing now, their seems to be something wrong with the electrics today, the lights just flickered…

22
Jul
07

Den of Geek is here!

This is a new online publication I contribute to, please have a look!

Den of Geek

22
Jul
07

Jekyll Episode 5 – crazy stuff!!!!

JekyllAfter the unnatural dip that episode 4 represented, Jekyll returned this week with a real attention grabber, the full impact of which I’m still coming to terms with. I’m tempted to work through this one blow by blow, but don’t want to bore anyone. So I’ll take the plot main points and flesh a few out scenes. In retrospect, this entire episode is a homage, with minor and major nods to a few classic films along the way. What it does is emulate the Taranatino flip in From Dusk Till Dawn, building the tension in dramatic fashion before flourishing into high camp and comedy.

In the first two thirds is built about a whole new revelation about the origins of Hyde, when the cask is opened to reveal him and not the good Dr. Not that this was a surprise, as we’re told his incarceration would ‘fix’ him in one personality.

Hyde emerges and then undergoes a series of visions, presented almost as VR, where he can experience Jackman’s life in small but rewindable chunks. ‘We’ve got Sky+ in here!’, he announces and later,’I’ve found the Adult Channel’, when he discovers an intimate moment from the Jackman’s past. The explanation for this I found massively unsatisfactory, the resident science geek explains that now that Jackman’s personality is ‘dead’, Hyde is now reclaiming the brain real-estate occupied by those memories. It’s a common modern analogy, but the brain isn’t a hard drive waiting to be wiped and reclaimed, as suggested. Perhaps ‘Click’ advised on this part.

But when the techno-geek in me was about to blast writer Steve Moffat, he made me forget this mumbo jumbo by doing something totally unexpected. Hyde encounters a memory from the original Jackman, or rather the original Jekyll in the Victorian era. What? How does that work? In it we see him meet Robert Louis Stevenson, author of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, to discuss the publication and it’s yet to be defined ending. Stevenson is ably played by Moffat pal and also another Dr. Who writer, Matt Gatiss, who presumably walked off his Dr. Who production onto this one.

In this scene Stevenson pushes Jekyll on the exact nature of the potion that transforms him, writing down its parts on a note so that they can be confirmed.
The note is burned…but Hyde has VR memory, rewinds observes the plot twist, and what a twist it is! Stevenson’s premise is that there is no ‘potion’, and the true source of the transformation is ‘the girl’, which as you’ve already guessed is the previous version of Mrs Jackman. At this point I was having a significant WTF moment, because as strong a reaction I’ve had to sexy women, I yet to experience extreme personality modifications and psychopathic tendencies. Perhaps I’m just not meeting the right types.

The problem is that this doesn’t actually explain why Jackman and Jekyll look the same, or Jekyll’s housemaid Alice and Mrs Jackman, other than for the audience to follow what’s going on, which frankly might be a push at this point. We go on then to see the Victorian Hyde killing ‘Alice’, who he sees as his only real threat. This is a complete setup for the flip sequence, where we’re lead to believe modern Hyde will kill Claire Jackman, and her kids are brought into the lab for good jeopardy measure.

At this point the tension had been cranked up, although it was slightly blown by a the preceding sequence which referenced the sorts of horror movies that rely on supposedly intelligent people being in a room with something they know that’s dangerous, but decide to totally ignore.

And then…the flip…Suddenly Hyde’s a nice reasonable person who wants to escape and help the Jackman’s to do so too. Claire doesn’t buy this, and I’m with her. It also requires that the TV monitoring is intentionally turned off by the organisation holding them in a Dr. Evil, ‘No no no, I’m going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I’m just gonna assume it all went to plan’, moment.

Then the proceeds descend into high farce with a very obvious nod to Terminator 2, where Claire lays down the ‘no killing’ rules to Hyde, who then follows them in his own inimitable way. It’s quite funny, but all the tension that Moffat created earlier on is vented into space, and it’s never entirely reclaimed. I’m not even going to mention what happens to the now superfluous-to-the-plot women held in the basement, because it’s downright silly. But the Claire and kids are ultimately separated from Hyde, and he is left shouting ‘Why am I not Superman’ on the roof of the building in frustration, as they’re whisked away by the power dressing American in a helicopter.

This was the point where I came back onside, as the idea that without Jackman the Hyde character isn’t the real deal was great. As was the return of Jackman’s personality, “Daddy’s Back’, and the merging of the egos into one superhuman but rational being. It could have been me, but it looked at this time like one of his eye’s was normal while the other was ‘Hyde’.

Having had the episode redeemed at the end, Moffat then had all his hard worked trashed by the BBC, who blipverted at least four big plot points from the final chapter in their trailer. Twits.

Overall, the episode was massively uneven if plenty of fun, possibly the most entertaining so far, if totally unbelievable in places. It got so camp at one point I thought it was degenerating into a pilot for a 1970s American TV show, where superhuman Hyde uses his powers for good, fighting crime for a well funded but secret foundation. It never quite got there, but it was on that greasy slope on a few occasions.

Can’t wait for episode 6 though, even if the idiots at BBC promotions tried to spoil it so effectively for us.

15
Jul
07

Jekyll Episode 4 dissapointment

Jekyll

I was *really* disappointed in the fourth episode of Jekyll screened last night on the BBC. For starters there wasn’t much Hyde, which didn’t help, but it was the insertion of back-story information at this stage seemed to be entirely pointless. The plot I’d enjoyed for the first three was effectively stalled, and with the exception of one revelation, the undetermined origin of Jekyll, it contributed nothing.
I presume this is a six part series, so they’ve two more to get things back on track. But this was the low point for me, and was reminiscent of those end of season episodes American shows have when they’ve run out of money and make one almost entirely of flash-backs.




a