Oblivion (2013) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

There is so much I liked about Tom Cruise’s sci-fi adventure film Oblivion that I’m tempted to recommend it. The film’s first hour is full of beautiful images, sweeping music and shots of Cruise doing his steely eyed determination thing. If the movie had only been these parts it would have been short on plot but big on spectacle, alas the second hour renders the story less interesting as it goes along.
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Death Squad (2015) – Review

1/2 Star

My fellow film critic Trevor Anderson often complains about sci-fi films getting bogged down in their own mythology. Complex backstories meant to add richness to the world on-screen is frequently just confused exposition that overly complicates matters. So it may be refreshing that Death Squad doesn’t rely on these elements for its simple tale, but then the movie is also incomprehensible on a narrative level, visually boring, and features a cast of runaway scenery chewers.
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Tomorrowland (2015) – Review

2 Stars

Just recently I was re-visiting the long forgotten Steven Spielberg produced 1980s television show Amazing Stories. If you are a child of the Lucas/Spielberg era then you will most likely remember the series that ran for a few years back when summer blockbusters were instant classics. As a wanna-be ‘event’ film Tomorrowland is lacking…something, but it would have fit in nicely as an entry into the Amazing Stories show. Those episodes ran an hour and in some cases 90 minutes, unfortunately Tomorrowland runs a lengthy two plus hours and loses its momentum, audience interest and sense of awe somewhere along the way.
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Mega Shark vs. Kolossus (2015) – Review

3 Stars

This is the fourth entry into the unlikely Mega Shark semi franchise for Aslyum pictures. Even though it may not be a direct mock buster, Kolossus bears a striking similarity to a certain, um, Terminator-which just happens to be arriving in theaters a few weeks after this is debuting on television. That is part of the innocuous appeal of the flick that features one-time staunch indie film supporter Illeana Douglas. A filmmaker so anti commercial that she infamously called out Jon Favreau for his escape into studio filmmaking, who now appears in a genre b-movie…go figure.
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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

George Miller’s return voyage into the imaginative nightmare world of Mad Max Rockatansky is one of the year’s most ingeniously constructed films. With virtually no plot and a minimum of dialogue, Miller and his fellow craftsmen have designed a picture of visceral excitement that brims with innovation and spectacular moments. This is a movie that contains not only the year’s most bizarre looking characters but also, machinery that looks otherworldly, and some heartfelt acting from it’s well cast actors and actresses.
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Starship Troopers (1997) – Review

4 Stars

Starship Troopers’ middling performance at the box-office in the winter of 1997, is one of the more puzzling failures in the modern era of sci-fi blockbusters. This is a film made with intelligence, wit, a sardonic sense of humor, laced with homage and satire, and equipped with astounding special effects. That is to say there is something for everyone in this extremely engaging futuristic war tale. Rebounding from the debacle of Showgirls, director Paul Verhoeven delivers another classic to the genre, which would also serve as the last good film in a career of varying degrees of success.
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Chappie (2015) – Review

2 Stars

Chappie is South African director Neill Blomkamp’s third film. It is the most technically impressive work of his young career, but the story, which blatantly borrows from classics of the genre, fails him and renders the movie into a series of redundant scenes and predictable outcomes. By the mid-way point, I was ready for Chappie and his outcast cohorts to go away.
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Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse (2015) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

A dragon pairs up with a disgraced solider, and a band of outlaws to recover his stolen eggs from an evil sorcerer in Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse. The second sequel to the original is a busy little adventure film with about twice as much plot than is necessary, which is a good thing since it only makes sense half of the time anyway. This is one of the goofiest movies I’ve seen so far this year.
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Airplane vs Volcano (2014) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

In the same year that gave us Asteroid vs. Earth, the Asylum, producers of mash-up disaster films of all manner, now births Airplane vs. Volcano. This isn’t an entirely apt tittle since the volcanos are hardly seen and the real villain is a jittery, sweaty fellow passenger on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Since the film only uses the volcanos as a reason to keep the plane in the air it loses the ‘camp’ factor right off the bat, and the lack of an antagonist with reasonable motivation makes it a useless exercise in redundant recycling of footage from their stock library. Plus, any movie that saddles its hero, Dean Cain in this case, with the unenviable and visually unappealing task of simply pushing/pulling the control sticks from a preset auto-pilot is wasting talent.
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The Island (2005) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Michael Bay’s overlooked 2005 sci-fi actioneer is an enormously entertaining spectacle, that weaves in fantastical elements dealing with human cloning alongside an exemplary chase picture. Bay and his craftsmen have created a stunning action picture that resonates because of its imaginative story and the arresting visual beauty of nearly every frame.
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Interstellar (2014) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Christopher Nolan’s ambitious sci-fi project is a visually beautiful experience. The often stunning effects work and set designs are among the most striking committed to screen. Obviously inspired by 2001, Solaris, and a host of other ‘high-minded’ space parables, Interstellar is at its most appealing before its main character launches into orbit on a mission to save humanity. The thespian pyrotechnics are laid on thick as each of the film’s three major stars is given numerous close-ups while shedding tears. The hoped for emotional impact on audience members is virtually non-existent, the final scene in Armageddon pulled more tears, although this is admittedly Nolan’s most heartfelt work to date.
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The Book of Eli (2010) – Review

4 Stars

The Book of Eli is the best apocalyptic, futuristic western throwback that I’ve ever seen. Who would have thought Denzel Washington, an Oscar winner and star of ‘important’ movies could conquer the wasteland wander role, too? Directed with loving homage to a variety of films, by one of our countries’ most underrated talents’,Allen & Albert Hughes. The visual aesthetic takes it’s cue’s from George Miller’s Road Warrior mixed with the airy vistas of Eastwood’s Unforgiven. For further proof look for the scene in which Deborah’s theme from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in America is whistled.
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Star Trek: First Contact (1996) – Review

4 Stars

The eighth film in the Star Trek series, the second to feature the TNG crew, is a smashing space adventure that exhibits all the finest qualities from the venerable franchise. Slickly produced, tightly directed, and written with maximum efficiency, First Contact is superior to all other Trek movies that have come before. Setting the Enterprise crew as the last line of defense between the Borg-a half-organic, half machine collective, and the Federation.
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