Ridley Scott didn’t create it, but his 1976 Alien kick-started a creature-feature sub-genre, in which otherwise intelligent people split up in dark, deserted places to get picked off by the local wildlife. Bouncing back from 2013’s daft and muddled Prometheus, Alien Covenant remixes the ’76 original, in which otherwise intelligent people split up in dark, deserted places to get picked off by the local wildlife. It’s a sci-fi horror crossover that fetishises big teeth, claws and terror. Meh. Continue Reading
Called in to a genetic research lab, risk consultant Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) has to determine if genetically engineered lifeform Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is safe to continue development. While the science team is emotionally committed to the chilly, detached teenage girl, chilly, detached Weathers has to make a judgement on termination.
In a high-concept drama on genetic engineering, artificifial intelligence and Franken-science, Morgan spends the first two acts playing Ex-machina and I, Robot, before going full-on Species in the action-packed third act; the ‘twist’ of which you saw coming in the first five minutes. Continue Reading
Rian Johnson helms the difficult middle episode of the new trilogy to re-mix a crowd-pleasing Star Wars Greatest Hits Volume 8 into something just different enough that we haven’t seen all of it before. Expect dog-fights, chases, cute furry things, comedy robot side-kicks and a lot of existential moodling about the Dark Side of The Force. Die-hard fans won’t praise Johnson’s handling of all the material and there are good actors desperately scouring the script for clues. And then there’s some bloke called Luke Skywalker. And Yoda – the puppet is back! Continue Reading
Favourite French film bloke Luc Besson (Lucy) aims to rival his own commercial and cult classic Fifth Element with a grand space opera and love letter to the comic books of his youth. Visually exuberant, whimsical and packed, as always, with more ideas than will fit on screen, Besson fans will love it whilst still seeing the flaws that kept multiplex audiences away. Continue Reading
Since the two Guardian‘s movies made a pile of cash, every Marvel movie now has to look and sound like Guardians; hence the third instalment of Thor is a gargantuan smash-bash-and-crash sci-fi comedy that ditches the mythic sweep of Dark World in favour of waspish one-liners a la Big Bang Theory in an early franchise reboot. Droll Kiwi actor-director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, ‘Wilderpeople, Moana) is a fine choice if this flavour of comic-book action floats your spaceship. Hip, flip and glib, The Dark Knight this ain’t. Continue Reading
After a thirty-year wait, Denis Villenueve’s careful, intelligent follow up to the 80’s sci-fi classic delivers the reverential sequel the fans have been waiting for. Stepping into Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream universe, this lush, grim, weighty and literally soul-searching tale mines all the timeless themes that true science fiction has at it’s core. Continue Reading
Denis Villeneuve gets the award for most intelligent film of 2016 with this thoughtful, understated sci-fi of first contact with an alien race. Uncompromising, alienating and alienated, Arrival is the antidote to all those crash-bang-zap alien invasion movies of the last decade.
In a script that Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov or Philip K. Dick would admire, Villeneuve’s unreliable narrative plays with time; what’s a flashback and what’s present – or indeed future?
Oh, and Amy Adams again proves she’s one of the best actresses of her generation. Continue Reading