Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Gene Generation


   The Gene Generation is quite a mixed bag. On one hand, it's a trashy and stylish cyberpunk thriller with cool technology and cracking action scenes. On the other hand... it's meandering pace, weak story, and a few bad apples when it comes to acting ability, drag the movie down fairly badly. Having said all that, I did enjoy the movie. Bai Ling was fantastic and her acting skills surprised me. I thought this would be a movie where she was only cast to be a pretty face who can kick ass, and while that might very well be true, she certainly transcended the material. On the flip side, the movie focuses as much on her character's brother, Jackie, as it does on her. He was annoying and sucked a lot of the life out of the movie. It's doubly unfortunate then, that the plot revolves very heavily around him. Ugh.

Tank Girl


   Zany, ridiculous, and energetic- only the most rigid and anti-fun people could find Tank Girl devoid of a good time. Granted, it could've used more of an edge- been more explicit, more violent, but it's only not- because of studio interference. What more can I say really? Tank Girl is a movie that exists in a world where the good guys never get shot, despite zipping by in plain sight of dozens of enemy troops. It's not a movie you're meant to take seriously, so why are so many people being anal about it? Well, half of the anal crowd I can perfectly understand. See, Tank Girl is based on a comic book with a hell of a following, and the movie didn't do the comic justice properly.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nirvana


   This is more my kind of Cyberpunk, and boy... how the hell have I not seen this before? Nirvana is a slick and stylish treat, full of stunning visuals and an engaging story. It's biggest shortcoming is not having a better American release. I recommend this movie right out of the gate, but that leaves you- the potential viewer, with a problem. See, Miramax released Nirvana in America, and they butchered it. A horrible dub and they also chopped up the movie itself, for reasons I can't even fathom. Unfortunately, you're screwed on both fronts. The original Italian copy with English subtitles fetches somewhere around $90 on eBay and might be region locked- leaving you completely unable to play it on your DVD/Blu Ray player. It gets worse, ever so slightly. The only version on Netflix... is the Miramax release.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

√ 964 Pinocchio


   My impromptu exploration of the cyberpunk genre has brought me here. A movie I've wanted to see for as long as I've also been avoiding it. Far from the stylized techo-lingo and futuristic urban landscapes of William Gibson novels and movies like Blade Runner√ 964 Pinocchio belongs to it's own brand of cyberpunk. Namely, Japanese cyberpunk. Without the budget to create sprawling epic visuals, Japanese cyberpunk relied on intense and frenetic camerawork, rapid-fire editing, and readily available sets, displaying urban-industrial decay- such as boiler rooms, abandoned buildings, warehouses, and the like. This gives Japanese cyberpunk a unique and unsettling flavor. As such, calling √ 964 Pinocchio unique and unsettling would be a massive understatement...

The Paperboy


   Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, and John Cusack in a lurid pulpy mystery flick? Yes please! Oh and, this most importantly stars Zac Efron. Hot damn can this guy act. If he ever wanted to leave his Disney roots in the past, this is definitely the kind of role to take. What's even better is that he's damn good at it too. The Paperboy is a fairly unfocused movie, and my even telling you what it's about won't do you much good. It's better to talk about this movie by it's content, and it's mood. The story, in my opinion, was very much secondary to the characters in it. It was very engaging, watching these characters do their thing, but after a point, the story ultimately gets lost in the hustle of the movie.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Spectre


  Nothing can get me to stop a 'kick' (in this case, a cyberpunk/sci-fi kick) faster than the prospect of watching a James Bond movie. I'm always in the mood for a bit of fashionable spy business, and fashionable spy business is exactly what Spectre is. The latest installment in the immortal 007 franchise is quite good. I mean, that's what matters at the end of the day. It's not perfect, and it's no Skyfall or Casino Royale, but I let out a long sigh of relief at the end because it's also definitely not a Quantum of Solace. Spectre has it's fair share of missteps, and a few unsavory plot elements, but for every time it stumbles... it picks itself back up, dusts itself off, and proceeds to kick ass- just like Bond himself.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Avalon


   I'd actually had this movie on my radar for a good long while. Avalon has been one I've been meaning to watch for ages, and I guess my new cyberpunk/sci-fi kick was all the push I needed to finally sit down and give it a look. I'd also been poking around on message boards, as I do, seeing what people thought of the movie. This is almost always simultaneously a good and bad idea, but the general consensus was that this was an underrated movie that people seemed to really like. On one hand I completely get it, but as impressive as Avalon is... there was something about it that was just off, for me at least. Not unlike the director's more famous work, Ghost in the Shell. Mamoru Oshii is clearly a man of artistic vision, but I'm not sure why he has a penchant for expressionless protagonists.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Webmaster

 
   I've come to realize that Webmaster, like so many other direct-to-video movies, is not necessarily underrated... but underestimated. It's crafted with care and detail, milking it's modest budget for every penny, creating atmospheric sets and vibrant digital landscapes. Yet, for years I'd dismissed this movie based on nothing more than poor looking cover art, a crappy title, and a complete lack of word of mouth. You don't hear about movies like this, they kinda just take up space in bargain bins and they used to be video store shelf filler. It's a shame because this movie is really creative and fascinating. It's a bit dated, but manages to be the noir-ish cyberpunk flick that Johnny Mnemonic wished it was, and it holds up considerably better.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Looker


     "Look at them. They're fascinated..."

   Looker is a pitch perfect commentary on consumerism and modern media, and despite being over three decades old it's still completely relevant, if not even more so. Our protagonist is a plastic surgeon who ends up entangled in a strange murder mystery as a very specific few of his patients have died weird deaths. What follows is a web of science fiction intrigue and conspiracy thrills. There's some incredibly suspenseful scenes in the movie, as well as some of the most imaginative action scenes I've ever seen in a movie of this kind. A good deal of the story revolves around a light-gun that can immediately render anyone it's fired at, momentarily catatonic. Imagine a shootout with those guns... during a high speed car chase. It's scary ain't it?

Circuitry Man


  It took me quite a while to get my hands on this one after reading about it on a list of forgotten and underrated sci-fi films. The wait was worth it because as much as it's forgotten, Circuitry Man is also criminally underrated. It's not your conventional post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick as it's focus really isn't on action scenes or anything. It's more of a crime thriller/road trip movie set against a vividly science fiction backdrop. There's parts that remind me of an old school on-the-run noir flick where the protagonists are trying to escape with a bunch of diamonds or something and the mob is after them. Well, same thing here pretty much except instead of diamonds... we have computer chips.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Arrival


  This was another sci-fi flick I snagged earlier today on my continuing quest to watch a ton of good science fiction. Little did I know that like the previous movie I watched, Timescape, this too was written and directed by David Twohy. Once I found out, considering that Timescape was really good, and I'm also a fan of Twohy's Riddick movies, my expectations were set moderately high for The Arrival. It's basically a fairly off-beat alien invasion movie starring Charlie Sheen as a manic and paranoid astronomer who stumbles across a signal from outer space. Okay, so far- interesting. I was eager to see where the movie took me, and when all was said and done I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Timescape


   After the horrible taste The Thirteenth Hour left in my mouth, I decided to scour the internet a little harder for good sci-fi movies I haven't seen before. I got my hands on a bunch, some look... fun, some probably suck, but when there's honestly not much you haven't seen or heard about, it's slim pickings as far as quality goes. Nevertheless, I stumbled across this movie, Timescape. I didn't read much about it, but between the catchy title, being directed by David Twohy (Pitch Black) and starring Jeff Daniels, it was first on my list to watch. It starts off kinda slow, yet... then again, I wasn't sure what to expect- but by the end I was incredibly impressed. Like, really impressed. And, shocked! How had I not heard of this movie? It's really damn good.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Thirteenth Floor


   The Thirteenth Floor? More like The Thirteenth Bore. I was digging around iMDB lists for good sci-fi movies I might've missed from the past and I found mainly a lot of stuff I've already seen. Then I stumbled across this title and clicked on it. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because I remember seeing the DVD in like every bargain bin ever when I was younger. Oh well. But, anyways, I clicked on it and started reading it's iMDB page. It has a solid 7.0 rating on there and the featured user review was very positive, on top of that, the topic titles for the message boards were all saying how underrated it was and... get this, how it's even better than The Matrix. Yeah. They went there. Them's fighting words.

The Guest


  I'd heard a lot of buzz about this flick from critics and some of my own friends personally. I was hearing things like "Badass!", "Stellar 80's vibe!" and such thrown around. Yet I couldn't reconcile that with the boring poster and the blandly uninformative Netflix description. Nevertheless, I knew I was gonna watch it sooner or later, so I kept it within reach, and thanks to an ill timed fit of insomnia last night, I had the perfect opportunity to watch it. Or rather, I'd just ran out of excuses not to. I can safely say I regret taking this long to watch it. It really is buzz-worthy and probably the best thing director Adam Wingard has done to date.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Harlock: Space Pirate


  Digging around through Netflix, I stumbled across this. It looked cool, and I'm fond of director Shinji Aramaki's work. So I figured, what the hell- and gave it a shot. I'll throw this out there right now, I know nothing about the anime this is based on. I've seen a lot of anime, but not this one. So I'm not judging this movie as a fan of the source material, I'm just judging it on basic movie-watching criteria. It looks gorgeous. The settings and environments are simply stunning. The makers of this movie put a lot of work into making this truly eye catching. It's also very entertaining. I liked the action scenes and the story, and the characters were fun as well.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Aliens


  I debated heavily about whether or not to actually write about Aliens. I've written about it so many times, and I watch it on my birthday (January the 5th) every year, so what more could I possibly say about it? Well, in most of my reviews I try to remain unbiased, objective, and provide a fair critical analysis of the movie. Yet, I've already done that for Aliens, so why not indulge in the opposite? Let me talk about how amazing this movie is, what it means to me, and how it's been a massive part of my life ever since I saw it for the first time when I was 9 years old.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Beyond the Black Rainbow


  For my first review of 2016, I fully intended to do a write-up on Aliens, my favorite movie of (pretty much) all time. Yet, I've written about that movie already, several times. No matter what I had to say about it, it would be nothing I haven't said before. Thus, I decided to review a different movie altogether; Beyond the Black Rainbow. Now, I have seen this movie once or twice back in 2011. I was immediately drawn to it's early 80's visual aesthetic and it's strange sci-fi content. Yet I was also put off by it's lack of story, it's glacial pace, and a very empty feeling overall. In retrospect, I don't think those are flaws. I think they contribute to an eerie atmosphere that makes Beyond the Black Rainbow a very interesting watch.