Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Dark is a German netflix original. It’s riding on the hyped wave of Stranger Things. It has some similarities. Events take place in a small town, surrounded by a forest, close to a well-secured nuclear energy plant. Kids get missing, locals all seem to know each other and a large part of the story takes you back to the eighties. But that’s about it. The atmosphere of the series feels more like Twin Peaks. It’s darker, more mysterious, more dramatic, more philosophical and messier.

The story takes place in 2019, 1986 and 1953. This is important information, because that’s not really clear in the first two episodes, which take place in the present and feel messy. As of episode 3 you feel this series may be worth the watch. Several characters that are introduced in that episode are younger versions of the characters that you already familiarized with. It’s intriguing. A kid gets missing in 2019 and somehow ends up in 1986. But this is no Back To The Future. There is zero humor. Zero romance. Just a lot of dark negativity.

The kid who gets missing in 2019 starts a new life in 1986. So, by 2019 the kid has lived a lie for 33 years! This is pretty unsettling. But intriguing. A lot of questions arise. But only few get answered. The series keeps on introducing subplots and new characters, but never focuses on the main question: how on earth did a guy live for so long next to a younger version of himself? It’s not a plot spoiler. It’s a key element to attract viewers to the show.

By the end of the series pseudo-philosophical and neo-scientific theories are uttered and explained concerning time and space. That’s all intriguing, but it doesn’t really help you explain the plot. The writers must have had fun preparing the script. The preparation desk with all the written-out biographies of each character must be tremendous. All these characters are all intertwined. Some are even related to each other. It’s fun.

BUT… the story doesn’t make sense. Yes, it’s about time travel and yes, it’s (science) fiction. But in the end, it should still feel logical. Which is far from the case here.

But the atmosphere is excellent. The long shots are great. The sun never shines. It rains a lot and it’s always ‘dark’. The soundtrack is creepy. The acting is fine. The concept is brilliant. Time travel isn’t a new theme in cinema. But this time they focus more on the thought: if you could change the past, would you? and what would it mean for the present and the future?

For you to binge-watch and get disturbing nightmares…

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5753856

 

Advertisements

The Oscar for Best Motion Picture is a fantasy fairytale set in the cold war era about the love between a mute cleaning lady and an amphibious ‘asset’ that is kept from the outside world in a government facility.

It’s a unique movie experience. It’s not all that original as it’s a homage to the monster movies from the late fifties and early sixties, but it’s shot with the utmost care for details. It has a bit of an Amelie Poulain feel to it. Everything just looks really good and there’s off beat humor and weird charm.

If people get offended by the age gap between the two main male characters in Call Me By Your Name, then maybe they also won’t like the romance between a woman and an animal. It’s awkward as well to imagine a human having sex with a human like amphibious water animal. But hey, it’s a fantasy movie. It’s fictional!

This is an entertaining movie. Never boring. Great to look at. And with a good soundtrack. But again, the story just isn’t all that original or intriguing.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5580390

No theatrical release in Europe for Annihilation. It’s still playing in the US though. But with little success. So in comes Netflix, who’s distributing it all over the world via their streaming service. Great!

This is an entertaining science fiction adventure drama about a biologist who joins a team of women on a mission to discover what exactly is hidden in the Shimmer, a weird extraterrestrial phenomena covering a natural park and spreading fast. The biologist is determined to find out what damaged her husband, who joined a previous mission and is now put in quarantine.

Nathalie Portman is excellent as the biologist. She’s a great asset to this production. But you really want to watch the movie for the atmosphere it evokes. The directing is great. The build up as well. The haunting soundtrack helps as well. It’s more accessible than you’d think. The horror and suspense aren’t scary, but present nevertheless. The story makes more sense than the one in Arrival. It’s all (science) fiction, but at least the dialogue and actions feel real. It’s good to see five women go on an adventure (strangely enough quite unique) and it’s great to see a movie where the editing doesn’t make you naucious.

It’s not an instant cult classic, but it could become one. For now it’s just good entertainment.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2798920/

Everything works in this sequel. All the great elements of the first season are still very present. The budget was better, so this leads to better special effects, better acting (more takes) and an even cooler soundtrack! 1984 is the year and the eighties references are legit (if that’s a word they already used back then). They even got original Goonie Sean Austin to play a new character, Winona Ryder’s love interest! Excellent. There are more new characters and they all are a great addition to the already amazing cast. It’s brilliant how the story writers were able to still have the diverse bunch of people from the first season work together again. And even though it’s a science fiction fantasy trip, you believe everything these characters do and say. Yep. The first season as just an introduction. This is perfection.

 

I’m finally contemplating getting Netflix. BUT it will ruin my life. Binge watching will lead to gaining dozens of extra pounds and sleepless nights. However, there’s stuff on Netflix that you can’t find anywhere else. Stranger Things for instance, which hasn’t been released on dvd (yet) in Europe. A series that everyone raves about and recommends.

Well. A visit to a friend with Netflix solved the problem. It led to a night of binge watching the eight episodes of this science fiction drama, focussing on the mysterious events taking place in a small midwestern town and affecting several high school kids. However, it’s not aimed at kids, but at those adults who were high school kids in the eighties and who grew up with Spielberg produced or directed movies and tv shows.

Sure, the eighties vibe is cool. But it’s just a gimmick which is consistent throughout the series. That alone wouldn’t make it a great series. But the story, acting and atmosphere do. Winona Ryder is back! And she’s really good as the mother of a missing kid, who disappeared without a trace, but somehow communicates via the electricity. His best friends (a bunch of nerdy kids who get bullied in school, but are quite adventurous) decide to go look for him. In the mean time the troubled police officer of the town is leading the investigation as well. And all clues lead to an electricity company nearby, which operates as a secret governmental research center (lead by Matthew Modine!). There are other subplots of course. But you don’t need to know about them. Let yourself emerge in the story. The first six episodes are great. There’s humor. There’s tension. There’s a bit of horror. There’s a bit of drama. The balance is perfect. The last two episodes feel different though. As if the production team ran out of money and the story needed to be told fast within two episodes with as little expenses as possible.

The second season is available on Netflix. So maybe I’ll just have to go subscribe.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4574334

This sequel to the eighties cult classic feels like a Radiohead concert from their recent festival tour. It’s very long. Some moments are awesome. Others are confusing. A few are obsolete. But the end result feels good. It’s a trip. You either get into it, or you don’t.

Don’t worry about the story. It may be science fiction, but it kind of makes sense. It’s not that difficult either. The setting is described in a few sentences during the opening credits. You don’t really need to know what it’s about. You don’t need to have watched the original movie. Just be prepared for a trip. A beautifully filmed trip. With brilliant sound effects (Oscar guaranteed) and a lead actor who carries the movie all the way through. Ryan Gosling is excellent. The movie would not have been the same without him. Imagine Jared Leto playing the main character! The movie would have totally sucked. That said, Leto is good in the five minutes he’s on-screen. And then there’s Harrison Ford of course, reprising his role. It takes a LONG time before you get to see him, but it’s worth it.

It’s too long and slow to watch it again. Too bad. It feels like an extended director’s cut. Maybe a cut version would make it better.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101

The six episodes of season one didn’t quite do it for me. Not sure what all the fuzz is about. It starts off like 28 Days Later, with a guy waking up from a coma in a post apocalypse world where zombies are roaming the streets and where survivors are trying to fight back and secure themselves from the zombies and other survivors. It also makes you think of the canceled BBC show Survivors and plenty of other shows that feature a very diverse group of people needing to live together by force.

The story isn’t really captivating. Nor realistic at all. The metropolitan area of Atlanta has about 6 million inhabitants. You get to see maybe 150 zombies and some 500 dead corpses. Plus a few dozen of survivors. The main character can ride on a horse into the city and not see ANY zombies or dead corpses, but then he gets to Midtown and suddenly he is surrounded by not all that many really. That just doesn’t make sense. Then he reunites with his wife and son after two episodes! Sure it adds to the drama because the wife has started an affair with his best friend in the mean time, who helped her escape. But seriously, after 2 episodes? Then of course you have the horror cliché of always wanting to go back to the horror scene. Also, what is this urge for people to keep living and fight back? Why would you choose to continue living under a constant treat of being killed and eaten by the undead?

You’d think the zombies would be scary, but they are not. They are silly. So the series doesn’t work as a horror show either. And the characters? Well, you have the racist one. The clumsy, chubby African-American one. The wife-beating redneck one. The nagging, cheating wife. The cheating on his best friend aggressive one. The geeky Asian one. Etc… Not really an interesting bunch.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1520211