Tag Archives: sci fi

HORRORATHON Film Review: Event Horizon (1997)

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Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson

Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill

Reviewed by: Freekz80 (Blake Mickatavage)

Sci-Fi Horror films are becoming increasingly rare these days, and if this is a genre you enjoy, then you can’t miss this film. Imagine if Alien and The Thing, two absolutely phenomenal and monumental horror films, had a love child together. That’s along the lines of what you’ll find in Event Horizon.

Sam Neil stars as Dr. William Weir, the mastermind behind a ship called the “Event Horizon”, which has gone dark near planet Neptune while testing an experimental gravity drive. He joins Captain Miller (Fishburne) and his crew on a mission to respond to a distress signal received from the starship. Of course, the situation doesn’t seem very promising; all signs indicate a massacre took place aboard the “Event Horizon”.

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Not the most reassuring captain’s log.

As expected, shit goes south pretty quickly. While aboard the ship, the experimental gravity drive activates on its own, sucking in Justin, one of the crew members. When they finally retrieve him shortly after, he’s completely unresponsive. He’s been changed. Dr. Weir, Miller, and company then attempt to figure out what exactly it is they are dealing with, unaware that all of them, not only Justin, have been exposed to the horrors that killed the last crew.

In my opinion, one of the best parts of this film is the plot. While not incredibly original at its roots (crew unleashes deadly power upon themselves, slowly being picked off), it is still a very refreshing take on the idea as we never actually SEE the bad guy (if you can call it that) on screen. It was quite intriguing for me to wonder and speculate as to what exactly the gravity drive led to. As the crew begins to fall apart and go completely mad, you can’t help but wonder “Why?”

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Just the beginning of what the Event Horizon will show you!

Sam Neil also gives us a great performance as Dr. Weir. Though to be honest, I was just glad to see him in a movie that wasn’t Jurassic Park. Laurence Fishburne also delivers a convincing Captain Miller, though perhaps a bit cliche as the stoic and unwavering leader character. The rest of the crew, however, was a bit bland. It is quite rare for supporting characters to ever stand out, but none of them really came close in this film. Just the typical fodder characters, heh.

In addition, while overall it was a pretty disturbing experience, I felt that a handful of the events were akin to your typical, corny horror movie occurrences. Predictable, and fairly disappointing (characters essentially deserving their deaths because of stupidity, etc.) but hey, I suppose it wouldn’t be a complete horror film without those!

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The doctor is in! 😉

 

Scares: 6/10 – Pretty disturbing overall, with some cheap jump scares. Nothing overwhelmingly frightening, though.

Gore: Galore. 9/10

Final Score: 7/10

While not my favorite Sci-Fi horror, this film is certainly worth watching, perhaps multiple times. It’s not quite on the scale of Alien or The Thing, but as I mentioned earlier, it is a refreshing spin on that sort of horror sub-genre. Certainly a collectible for any fan of horror!

Good

 

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Film Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

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Reviewed by: Freekz80 (Blake Mickatavage)

Disclaimer: I did not read the novel “All You Need Is Kill” prior to experiencing this film!

Do you enjoy brutal sci-fi action, alien invasions, and temporal mind-fuckery? How about Tom Cruise playing somebody other than Tom Cruise?! This just may be the summer film for you!

Continue reading Film Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Film Review: Godzilla (2014)

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After seeing Roland Emmerich’s magnum opus (read: terrible) remake of Godzilla, I have often wondered what it’d take to make a good remake of the franchise. Never have I thought that would be a movie with next to no Godzilla, yet here we are…

Continue reading Film Review: Godzilla (2014)

ADAPTATION APRIL: Movie Review: Divergent (2014)

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Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)

I meant to have this reviewed earlier, however it just perfectly started our next event, Adaption April! So Huzzah it worked out perfectly!

Oh young adult book to movies, how I usually loathe you. Looking at you Vampire Academy. There’s something about these films that make me squirm, from the cheesy dialogue, to the overly cliche romance stories that pander to the budding sexuality of our nations youth. Naturally, I was not very psyched for Divergent, but I wanted to review it because I like you people. I went in with rather low expectations, and two and a half hours later I came out rather surprised.

In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris (Shailene Woodley) learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four (Theo James) must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late.

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What Worked:

The cast was pretty good in this one, they worked well together, had good chemistry and delivered their sometimes goofy lines with professional spirit. Tris and Four, played by Shailene Woodley and Theo James, felt real and emoted appropriately and carried the main emotional weight of the film surprisingly well. Miles Teller (Project X, That Awkward Moment) Maggie Q (Priest) Ashley Judd (Olympus Has Fallen, Double Jeopardy) and Kate Winslet (Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind) round out this cast.

The story is put together well, mind you I have not read the books or probably plan to, but the movie made sense and flowed nicely. It gets pretty intense, which is a major plus, as the subject matter of being different means you’re dead, shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s handled quite maturely.

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The score and soundtrack are very nice, including songs from Ellie Goulding, and aid the film instead of detracting from it, and that’s pretty good for a young adult film.

What Doesn’t Work:

The story is pretty predictable, I called every death and plot twist, well before they played out on screen. Keep in mind, I’ve never read the books, so that did detract from the movie for me, nothing was a surprise. Also, bits and pieces of dialogue are pretty silly and hard to take seriously at times.

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The movie is also way too damn long, I kept checking the time many times during the film as it seemed to drag during the training bits of the film, especially the tests where fears must be faced, those got kind of old.

Also, the visual effects work was pretty shoddy where it should have been a strong point, especially the train scenes, rather disappointing when you can tell what parts are CG and what parts are set extensions, takes me out of the movie when I notice that stuff.

Final Score:

Good

I was pretty surprised by this one, although I went in with very low expectations, the real question is, am I in for two more of these? And yes, I’m in. 7 out of 10.

 

Film Review: Happy Accidents (2000)

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Looking for a good date night movie, but still want a tinge of good ol’ science fiction? Tired of the same old romantic film where the couple faces one problem that they could easily handle, but act like it’s a Montague/Capulet affair? Wish you could see something with at least semi-realistic characters and writing? Then I think I’ve found a movie for you.

Marisa Tomei plays Ruby Weaver, a woman plagued by relationships with crazy guy after crazy guy.  Right as she’s about to give up the game entirely, she meets Sam Deed, played by Vincent D’onofrio, at a park.  At first, they’re a bit awkward together, but eventually she warms up to him, and they start a relationship. At first, she thoroughly appreciates being with him, but then she starts noticing some of his quirks, and he drops a huge bombshell on her: he claims he’s a backwards time-traveller. Without spoiling anything, the rest of the film is about them dealing with this information and whether or not it is true, and Sam’s perspective on reality. It may sound really heavy, but trust me, this film is worth the (not so) long haul.

Ruby instantly regretted telling him he was a superhero in the sack…

What Worked:

Tomei and D’onofrio are fantastic in their roles. They fight, love, have hopes and dreams, and all in all, act like both real people and a real couple. Major props to the screenwriter for that. It’s really common for rom-com’s to get that wrong. The discussions of time travel are pretty engaging, and often come close to real current theories in regards to it, making the possibility of Sam actually telling the truth even harder to figure out. The music really helps set a nice tone for the film, and makes certain dramatic scenes a lot less heavy. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker and lesser actors, certain scenes would be rather difficult to stomach.

Also, for fans of Bob’s Burgers and/or Archer, there’s a cameo of H. Jon Benjamin in the art gallery scene!

What Didn’t:

If there’s one major issue I could come up with in regards to this film, it’d be the tone. Some scenes get way too emotionally heavy for what is, in the remainder, a fairly light scifi/mystery/romcom. As I mentioned earlier, this is just barely saved by the film’s score, which is often whimsical and inspires happiness, so the darker elements are often downplayed.

On a related note, the film delves and resubmerges into Sam’s cloudy and debatable past over and over and over again. Though this film was largely good, there were occasionally times I just wished the couple could just have one extended period of happiness without this mystery adding excess drama to their lives.

Final Score:

Great

A very good indie sci-fi rom com with a few solid flaws but still greatly enjoyable if you like either genre. As of today, the film is still on Netflix instant, so if you’ve got the time and interest, I’d thoroughly recommend checking it out!

8.5 possible time travellers out of 10.

Movie Review: Alien (1979) Horrorathon

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Reviewed by: Freekz80 (Blake Mickatavage)

So you’ve undoubtedly heard of Ripley Scott’s sci-fi horror film that spawned an incredibly popular franchise with films and games still in production today, right? But have you ever sat down and experienced just WHY Alien has been praised so much over the years? Let me give you some advice; if you haven’t, you better change that!

Alien begins with an introduction quite similar to that of Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) in that the audience is shown a large ship, using sneaky cinematography to give you a sense of its’ immensity. It is the Nostromo, a commercial towing ship on a journey back to Earth after mining millions of tons of mineral ore. The crew, seven total, are suddenly awakened out of cyrostasis by the ship’s artificial intelligence “Mother” when a transmission is intercepted from a nearby planetoid. The origin of the transmission is unknown, so the crew approaches to check it out. Upon landing, Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) stays aboard the Nostromo with Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), the Engineer, Ash (Ian Holm), the Science Officer, and Parker (Yaphet Kotto). The rest of the crew, including Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), and Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) suit up and hit the planet’s surface to find the source of the transmission. The search party encounters some pretty strange things out there, including alien architecture, an unidentified corpse with a gaping hole in its’ chest, and most importantly, eggs like none of them have ever seen. When Kane begins to observe one of the eggs, it opens to reveal a scorpion-like monstrosity that immediately clings to his face, incapacitating him. When Kane is brought back to the ship, Ripley refuses to let the party on board due to quarantine procedures. We soon discover that the crew members certainly have their differences, and the lives of each one of them could rest on the decision of whether or not to let Kane on board.

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Step a little closer to the Alien.. uh… ballsack. See what happens.

What works:

Alien probably isn’t the most traditional horror film. The spaceships and extraterrestrials would remind one more of Star Wars than The Thing. That being said, it does a lot of things really well, and shows that a geeky subculture of sci-fi can be blended with horror aspects for a great mix. For one, I’d like to compliment Sigourney Weaver’s performance as Warrant Officer Ripley. This was her first lead role in a film, and not only did she wear the big hairdo pretty well, but she was by far the most believable (and seemingly the only remotely level headed) of the characters. Tom Skerritt also played Captain Dallas pretty well, and I admired the stoic, honorable nature of his character. Branching away from specific performances, the ambiance in the film is incredibly well done. I loved the environments inside and outside the Nostromo, especially the nooks and crannies in the ship that unintentionally gave the Xenomorph great places to ambush the crew and terrify the audience. The subtle musical cues that bad shit is about to go down may sound a bit cliche, but nonetheless worked very well in Alien.

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Surprise, motha fucka!

What doesn’t:

There are a few problems I have with Alien. For starters, as I mentioned above, Weaver’s character seems to be the only rational mind on board the Nostromo . The rest of the crew just likes to bicker and accomplish just about jack shit. For a small crew on a pretty expensive/important mining mission, you’d expect that they could at the very least have the cooperation skills to agree on something other than the fact that their space food tastes like ass. Captain Dallas also seems to contradict himself in that he obeys corporate orders by having the crew investigate an unknown transmission, but completely disregards them when insisting Ripley disobey quarantine procedures. To add to this, there were a couple of plot holes I noticed: First, what the hell happened to the laser pistols?! Considering the threat the crew was dealing with and that there weren’t enough flamethrowers to equip each crew member, you’d expect the unarmed to at least get some damn laser pistols! We see the search party carry them off the ship, but they suddenly disappear when they come back on board. What gives!? Next, sometime during the beginning of the film it is mentioned by the crew that the ship is roughly 10 months from Earth (we aren’t given a rate at which the Nostromo travels) but near the end of the film, Weaver mentions that her shuttle is only 6 weeks away. The disparity between spacecraft speeds can’t be THAT much! Finally, my last problem with Alien is Jones. That god damn cat. I’m really not sure what his purpose was except getting people killed. I don’t think I’d ever expect even a pseudo-professional mining crew to not only bring a cat on board, but allow it to run around and do whatever the hell it wants. I don’t recall ever seeing the thing in cryostasis either, so it probably should have been dead by the time the Nostromo completed its’ mining tasks. 

This may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that it probably won’t kill the experience for you (I’m just being a bit observant) and despite these few discrepancies, Alien is still quite the intense and horrifying experience.

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“Here lies Brett. While chasing pussy, his fate he met.”

Final Verdict:

Good

Alien is a classic sci-fi horror that any enthusiast should add to their collection. A bit cheesy at times and not without its’ fair share of inconsistencies, it still remains a chilling film that is loads of fun to watch. In my book, Alien deserves a solid 7/10.

 

Movie Review: The Fourth Kind (2009) Horrorathon

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Reviewed by: Freekz80 (Blake Mickatavage)

Interested in aliens? Enjoy speculation on the unknown? Have you found yourself asking  if extraterrestrial life exists, and if so, has it interacted with us? Well, it is no galaxy far far away, but The Fourth Kind may be right up your alley. Some of you may question the categorization of this movie as “horror”, but I personally feel (at least after my first viewing of the film) that this film has the potential to shake even the most speculative to the core.

Dr. Abigail Tyler (Milla Jovovich in the dramatization, Charlotte Millard in the “real” footage ) is a psychologist that tells the story of her studies and personal experiences in Nome, Alaska during an interview with Chapman University. Mysterious disappearances and deaths (including that of Tyler’s husband) have been occurring in Nome. With the supervision of Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas), a fellow psychologist from Anchorage, Tyler visits with several victims of sleep disturbances that she feels are related to the strange happenings in Nome. However, while working to unravel the mystery, Tyler is forced to cope with her own inner demons when she realizes that she may be dealing with powers beyond her understanding.

What works:

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I have had it with these mother fuckin’ owls in my mother fuckin’ window!

Similar to films like The Blair Witch Project (1999), The Fourth Kind uses “actual” footage and recordings to help better portray certain characters and occurrences. It also has an immersing effect on the audience and assists in convincing viewers that the events are true. I think this is extremely effective, especially because it is done in moderation (most of the film is a dramatization, the “real” footage only makes up a partial amount). I found myself actively considering the occurrences in the film much more than I would have had the entire movie been a dramatization. Also, the actors play very believable characters. Jovivich does an incredible job portraying Dr. Tyler as she transforms from a collected scientist into a madness ridden husk of her former self. In combination, the film has clear progression and the viewer isn’t ever left confused or wanting more.

What doesn’t work:

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You mean I’M the insane one!? …Never!

I did mention above that the inclusion of “actual” footage is a big plus for the film. That being said, there are a few sequences where multiple clips are simultaneously played next to multiple dramatizations. These scenes were a bit overwhelming as it feels like there is too much to focus on. I also mentioned that they assisted in convincing the audience. While it is effective overall during the viewing experience, the footage can be quite disturbing and intense to the point that it becomes almost ridiculous. Naturally, after the film I did a bit of research. It doesn’t take much effort to discover that the footage claimed to be actual documentation of events is in fact staged, and actors are used to portray the “real” characters. Aliases galore are also a huge red flag indicating that many of the “real” people are indeed fictitious. The result of all this is a huge detraction from the film’s initial scary factor. Suffice it to say, a large disappointment.

Final Score:

Okay
While this sci-fi horror surely is frightening and thought provoking, I personally feel that the misleading claims are a massive flaw. Rest assured, Jovovich and her supporting actors play excellent roles and I would recommend you watch The Fourth Kind once (any more and it really loses appeal) if you are a fan of anything related to close encounters or unexplained events. I wish I could give it a higher score, but unfortunately this film deserves the 6/10 I have given it.