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Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi’ Category

“Hasta la vista, baby.”

In commemoration of the recent 160 Greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger Quotes video that’s been circulating around, I figured this was a good time to take a quick look back at his best works. Some say that he’s just a real life cartoon character, and I agree with them. While his main rivals, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone, can only do action/comedy and badass/action effectively, respectively, Arnold can be badass, hilarious, overly macho, and is always over the top.

Obviously, you’ll have to watch the Terminators (all 3 of them) and Predator. I don’t think I need to tell you why.

Total Recall: 9/10

“MY NAME IS NOT QUAID.”

Easily one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, most notable for its complete mindfuck plot. It will hit you with twist after twist. Sure, the effects haven’t weathered the test of time that well, but that’s easily made up for by Arnold’s surprisingly good acting performance, and some of his best Arnisms. A must see, whether Arnold fan or not, unless you’re terminally allergic to sci-fi movies.

True Lies: 9/10

“Can you make it quick? Because my horse is getting tired.”

An action/comedy/romance/thriller directed by the renowned James Cameron (The Abyss, Terminator 1, 2, Aliens, Titanic, Avatar, can this guy even make a bad movie anymore?!), starring Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis. Already, you have to know this is going to be superb. Arnold plays a smooth and cool superspy akin to the likes of James Bond. However, his cool goes out the window when he suspects that his wife (Jamie) may be having an affair. He redirects his spy resources to spy on his wife instead in the middle of a mission tracking fanatical terrorists. It’s hilarious, fast paced, and of course, everything explodes. This is the macho guy movie that won’t put off the girlfriend. Another must-see for any movie goer.

Kindergarten Cop: 8/10

“THERE IS NO BATHROOM!”

A comedy/romance/crime movie involving drug dealers, prostitutes, kindergarteners, abusive fathers, birthday sex, and people getting shot. The first impression upon hearing the premise are almost always something along the lines of “only Uwe Boll could’ve thought of something so incredibly stupid.” And yet, somehow, the end result is fantastic. It was so surprisingly fantastic, I probably bumped up the score an entire point out of respect. Anyways, Arnold plays a detective obsessed with busting a certain drug dealer and ends up having to go undercover as a Kindergarten teacher, then hilarity ensues. It’s definitely not for kids, but it’s a great feel good movie for anyone over 13. It starts out like a typical dark Arnold action movie, but he softens up and the ending is just so satisfying. You have to see this for yourself. It also has some of the best Arnisms, which helps a lot.

Last Action Hero: 7.5/10

“Iced that guy, to cone a phrase.”

The best way to look at it is that it’s a toned down version of True Lies, without the romance. It’s an action/comedy where Arnold parodies himself. There’s no shortage of cameos (including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone, T1000, and MC Hammer), smoking hot women, and bad puns. Sadly, it’s held back by the terrible special effects. I know it was the director’s choice to make them purposely look bad, but it was a bad choice any way you slice it. The plot isn’t particularly interesting either. A kid gets a magic ticket which gets him trapped inside an Arnold movie and ends up having to help him stop the bad guys, who eventually escape into the real world and the chase continues from there. Easily one of his most underrated movies though. Make no mistake, it’s hilarious. But that’s all it is.

Jingle All The Way: 6.8/10

“Put that cookie down, NOW!!”

Yes, I know this comedy is retarded. It may be a Christmas movie, but I would not advise you show it to children, due to the risk of infectious retardation. This movie may be ridiculous, but it’s surprisingly funny. Arnold will fight kung fu Santas, get owned by Sinbad, turn into a superhero, and give some the best Arnisms in his career. You won’t come away with much, but just look at that screenshot quote. Definitely worth checking out for an Arnold fan.

Commando: 6.7/10

“Remember Sully when I promised to kill you last?…I LIED.”

Lastly, there’s the very best of his old no nonesense macho action movies. Bad guys kidnap his daughter, and he goes and kills them all. It’s over the top, ridiculous, and easily contains his best Arnisms ever. It’s braindead, and the action scenes mostly boil down to a lot of people randomly shooting around and magically all miss Arnold, so sadly, you’ll be watching purely for the Arnisms. Oh, and the scene where he rips a phone booth. Yeah, BOOTH.

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If that’s still not enough Arnold for you, here’s the runner ups, best first:
Eraser, The 6th Day, Red Heat, The Running Man

Actually, Eraser is a better movie than both Commando and Jingle All the Way. It’s just that there isn’t that many good Arnisms in it.

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Finally, I’m reviewing a movie that isn’t horror! Though, some people throw this in that category anyways since there are monsters, but whatever. Pandorum is a sci-fi/action movie by Paul W.S. Anderson (who also did Event Horizon, Mortal Kombat, AvP, and Resident Evil). From his resume, you can probably tell he does have a spot for video game movies. And that’s what this movie feels like. Overall though, the best way to describe this movie is with one word: sloppy.

PLOT: 5

Easily the strongest point of the movie, and that really isn’t a good thing. Bower awakes from hypersleep with amnesia, which will serve as a convenient and not very interesting plot device for the rest of the movie. Shortly after, his commanding officer, Payton, also awakens with amnesia. Anyways, something’s gone wrong with the ship, and what they need to do is reset the reactor core to restore power, find out what their mission is, and figure out where they are.

After that, it progresses almost exactly like a video game, with Payton giving support over the radio while Bower climbs through the vents into the main part of the ship. He’ll meet some monsters, find NPCs that give him small tidbits of information before dying, and even pick up party members. Yes, party members. There’s this german ninja girl and kung fu Vietnamese guy (played by MMA embarrassment, Cung Le), which serve little to no purpose to the main plot and are pretty much there to give Bower a fighting chance during random encounters. There’s a black guy too, who’s this creepy jerk and only serves as another plot device to reveal some more backstory, advance the plot to the next stage, and give our heros some more trouble.

Really, the only characters in this movie are Bower and Gallo (for spoiler reasons I can’t elaborate on who he is). The ninja girl’s pretty much there for the sake of having some boobs in an otherwise male dominated cast. Cung Le’s sole purpose is to have a one on one fight with the alpha creature. The black guy is really just a plot device.

There’s a lot of subplots and twists, but none of them really lead anywhere. Mostly they just give some backstory. Almost all the twists are cliché and predictable at this point, unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past 10 years of cinema. The last one about the whereabouts of the ship is quite good, but not enough to save the established incoherent mess of a plot.

What it really boils down to is a lot of action sequences with some occasional breaks for plot revelations, just like a video game. Although in a way, the plot will keep you guessing. The results just aren’t very rewarding. Most of the plot sequences are rushed so they can throw you into the next action sequence.

Cung Le, MMA embarrassment, fighting the alpha monster boss, Seen-Too-Many-Predator-Films.

ACTING: 1.5

The lead is ok at acting scared, and complete garbage at everything else. I think the twist about his wife was supposed to upset him, probably put him into despair, except it just came out as him talking normally, but louder. The ninja girl is completely flat (her acting, not her chest). The kung fu guy is played by Cung Le, and to try to hide his absolute inability to act, they have him speak Vietnamese the whole movie. Unfortunately, this means you never have a single clue as to what the hell he’s trying to communicate. The black guy’s character is completely one-dimensional, and likewise, so is his acting, so I guess that’s not technically bad. Gallo, who you meet later, easily gives the most convincing performance, but likewise, he’s one-dimensional. That leaves me no choice but to conclude that Payton gave the most impressive performance, and quite honestly, I’ve seen better in made-for-TV movies.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 3.5

Typical of Paul’s films, the set design is absolutely top-notch. Sadly, that’s the only good thing I can say about the screenplay.

Let’s start with the action sequences. You have the hero with his gun, a ninja girl, and an MMA reject. With this combination, you’d probably expect quite a lot of fights. There are 2. And neither are very good. The first one pits our party against one generic monster, and the choreography is actually quite good. Sadly, this is counteracted by how the camera cuts to a new angle every second.

Then there’s the fight between Cung Le and the monster leader, who’s clearly watched too many Predator movies in his days. He fights with wristblades, a spear, and has a code of honor, ffs. None of that really matters, because the directors obviously noticed that Cung Le’s fighting skills are about as good as his acting at this point, and the camera now cuts every half a second, AND shakes spaztastically so you can’t ever really see what the hell is going on.

All the other action sequences are just a lot of running around, which are also ruined by the “special effect” they use on the creatures. What they did was play the creature footage in fast forward to make them look really fast. There’s a gazillion problems with that. First of all, anyone who’s watched an episode of Knight Rider before knows that fast forward footage just looks plain retarded. Second of all, they’re outrun by our heroes anyways. To make it look even worse, the camera cuts quite often in these sequences too. It’s as if this film was specifically targetted at audiences with ADD.

This is also evident in the pacing, which is lightning fast. Too fast perhaps. A lot of people cry plot holes after seeing it, even though there aren’t any. It just moves so fast that you’d probably miss it. I’m all for fast paced action movies, but the problem here is that most action movies are braindead, while this one sports a complicated and severely convoluted plot.

PLOT: 5
ACTING: 1.5
CINEMATOGRAPHY: 3.5

VERDICT: 4 (not an average)

It’s really a shame, because this movie sports so many good ideas. It has many elements that could’ve made the film incredible. Sadly, no effort has been made to make those elements work together to make a good movie. Just goes to show that you can’t throw a gazillion good ideas together and have the result turn out good, in the same way you don’t just randomly toss 5 star ingredients together and expect it to taste good. Although you probably won’t be bored watching this movie, it’s ultimately not very rewarding. You won’t miss out if you skip it unless you’re a seriously hardcore sci-fi fan.

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Hello and welcome to the first entry in my “Classic” series of reviews. If you have no idea what that is, check my mission statement page. But anyways, I was looking forward to the new Predators movie and couldn’t help but notice how incredibly fat Laurence Fishburne has become. This made me think back to the great old movies he’s been in before he went on a KFC 5 meals a day diet. He is, of course, best known for his role as Morpheus in the Matrix movies, which you’ve probably heard of. What probably haven’t heard of is this little gem he starred in called “Event Horizon”.

PLOT: 7

The basic premise from this movie is that Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and his crew has been called to answer a distress signal from the Event Horizon, a deep space research vessel that disappeared without a trace 7 years prior. Joining them for the trip is Dr. Weir (Sam Neill), the man who built it. He explains the special gravity drive he built for it, which allows the ship to travel at faster than light speeds by folding two locations into a singularity. This will become easier to understand when you actually watch the movie and Weir demonstrates with a piece of attractive paper.

PROTIP: Do not board or salvage ships made by a man who pokes holes in other people’s pin-up posters.

As a side note, Roger Ebert didn’t like this movie, and one of the reasons was that the crew “apparently know less about quantum theory than the readers of this review.” Well Roger, good job, because none of it has anything to do with quantum anything, and it’s all Einstein theory. He clearly stops paying attention at this point about 10 minutes in. So if you were gonna get a second opinion from him, don’t. His has no credibility in this case.

Anyways, they find the ship and the bio-scanner picks up traces of life throughout the entire ship, forcing the crew to board and search for survivors the hard way. They enter the dank, dark, and cold main corridor of the Event Horizon and soon finds out that, predictably, everyone’s been brutally killed, and all they’ve been left with is a cryptic distress message and a disturbing final ship’s log. Circumstances forces the crew to stay on and examine the ship, trying to figure out what happened to it. They’re about to find out, the hard way.

The main premise is all nice and swell, but what really earns the points here are the individual side plots for each of the important characters. Their past and inner fears play into the horrors they encounter on the ship, and in my opinion, this is the best type of horror: the one that comes from within. It’s how Silent Hill does it, and that’s easily the best horror video game series ever made.

However, they don’t spend much time delving into the past of even the main characters, and over half of them don’t get their past explored at all. I would’ve liked them to have taken this side plot angle a little bit further, especially since they don’t leave anything interesting open to speculation like how unexplained portions of Silent Hill are anyways. This stops the plot from being unforgetable, but it’s still very interesting.

ACTING: 6.5

Laurence Fishburne before he went on a KFC 5 meals a day diet.

Fishburne clearly steals the show here. That isn’t really a good sign, though he is a pretty damn good actor. A few of the crew members are pretty bland and forgetable, and Neill switches between on or off depending on the scene. All the important scenes are well done, however, so it really isn’t anything to be bothered about. Just don’t expect any oscar winning performances.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 7.7

This is easily the strongest point of the movie, and the most important for a horror movie. It’s actually pretty hit or miss for this one.

This cheesy opening is about as well written as The Running Man’s.

It starts off on a bad note with some bad writing to get you up to speed on what’s going on. Don’t let that stop you from watching though, because this immediately followed up by high budget special effects in-space shots of an orbital station, Miller’s ship, Neptune, and the Event Horizon. Of course, being from 1997, these effects will look pretty B-grade to us now. But then the movie changes gear and uses a completely different cinematographic style.

Once they step aboard the Event Horizon is when the horror, and the movie, really starts. The special effects still look shoddy to us, but that’s ok because it no longer heavily relies on them. The menacing set design and good use of camera angles, zoom, lighting, and panning are just superbly done to create a tense atmosphere for most of the movie.

Unlike most American horror movies (which are absolute crap), it’s not reliant on cheap sudden shocks either. The horror isn’t done with sudden loud noises, but with atmosphere and foreboding. It plays upon our natural fears of the unknown and the inexplicable, and at the same time spurs on our curiosity to find out what’s happening with the ship. It draws you closer to the edge of your seat and deeper into the terror for the next hour.

A beautiful shot of the main corridor.

Sadly, this is where it starts to fall short again. By the final 20 minutes, the plot has revealed too much and alleviates our fears, yet at the same time, doesn’t completely fulfill our curiosity. What makes the last bit even worse is that they apparently ran out of budget at some point, and the direction and dialogue takes a very noticable and sharp nosedive. You’ll know when you’ve come to the part when you start hearing cartoon sound effects. While that sequence does kill off quite a bit of the great momentum the film has built up, they did manage to muster up a satisfying, somewhat open, ending sequence.

PLOT: 7
ACTING: 6.5
CINEMATOGRAPHY: 7.7

VERDICT: 7.5/10 (not an average)

Although Event Horizon falls short in several areas, well over an hour of it is tense and suspenseful, and is easily one of the best sci-fi horror movies I’ve ever seen. Sure, it won’t give you nightmares like The Ring, nor does it enjoy the pedigree of the Alien franchise, but it’s an American horror movie that delivers on the horror. In a genre flooded up to our eyeballs in PG13 garbage like Final Destination, Drag Me To Hell, and Paranormal Activity, any decent American horror film is worth watching for us fear junkies who just can’t get enough of that feeling, and the Event Horizon is just so far beyond decent.

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