‘John Wick’ Trailer

Let’s be honest for a moment.  Keanu Reeves is a pretty mediocre actor.  In most movies he appears, he occupies physical space, yet at the same time barely registers, almost as most of him existed in some of parallel dimension and what we see on movie screens is only a shadow the real person.

Like Roger Zelazny’s Amber.

That being said, I kind of want to see John Wick.

And sure, the title seems inspired by John Carter or Jack Reacher.  And despite the fact that the movie seems vaguely similar to The Equalizer–though probably not as good–there’s something oddly engergizing about an engaged Keanu Reeves.

‘The Colony’ Review

The Colony movie poster

“Lawrence Fishburne Is The Best Thing In A Feature You Probably Already Seen In Other Movies.” 

I have been wanting to see The Colony every since I saw its trailer on YouTube four or five months ago, so naturally I was jazzed to learn that it’s on Netflix.  It takes place in an indeterminate future, where we have built huge machines to control the weather (it should go without saying that if it’s isn’t broke, don’t fix it).  Naturally (and somewhat obviously), this scheme goes awry, and the Earth is plunged into an seemingly unending Ice Age.

And if that weren’t bad enough, for some reason people are more susceptible to ailments like the flu, which Colony 7 lacked the medicines to treat.  What the movie doesn’t seem to understand is that the flu is viral, which means that antibiotics have no effect (which is typically why doctors recommend bed rest and lots of fluids).

That being said, in 1918 the Spanish flu literally killed somewhere in the ballpark of 50 million, which included a lot of young and otherwise healthy people.  What made it so unusual is that it caused a person’s immune system to go into overdrive, which mean that–ironically–the healthier you are, and the stronger your immune system, the greater the likelihood that it would kill you while, young children and older people, with weaker immune systems were more likely to recover.

Besides, it’s not unknown for viruses to mutate, so it’s certainly possible that a new variant of the flu could have arisen.

In any case, they’re short of food, personnel, and (with reason) virtually paranoid about illness, so when they receive an SOS from Colony 5,  a neighboring settlement–which isn’t to imply that it’s, geographically speaking, all that close– need aid, their leader, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) forms a three-man a team to investigate, despite the misgivings of Mason (Bill Paxton).

Which in hindsight wasn’t a good move because Mason makes it fairly obvious that he wants to take over.  His job was to “take care” of the people who were sick, which normally started with isolating them for a period of time.  If they got better, then all was good, though if they didn’t they would get the option of either leaving–almost certainly a death sentence–or a bullet–definitely a death sentence.

Mason streamlined the entire process:  If they’re coughing, he’s shooting.

There’s a subplot involving a distant colony that has gotten one of the weather control machines that dot the landscape like abstract art, working,  so they’re able to push back the ice and snow.

Though they don’t have any seeds, which makes the fact they can reach soil, but have nothing to plant, a bit of a catch-22.

But Colony 7 does, but can’t reach the soil because of the ice.  The movie dangles the possibility of locating this ice-free Roanoke, but does little with it (though there’s an implication that it’s not quite what it seems).

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Millenium Falcon Footage

Truth be told, I am neither a huge Star Wars fan (beyond the first film and its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back) nor too interested in J.J. Abrams as a director (way too many lens flares).  That being said when video of the Millennium Falcon is posted, you repost it.

Because “when you’re nose to nose with a trash compactor, you cool it.”

Practically Speaking

If you’re a big fan of movies, particularly horror and sci-fi, you’ve probably taken a position on whether or not movies should use CGI (computer-generated imagery) or practical effects (which include prosthetics, animatronics, models and miniatures).

Personally, I am a HUGE fans of practical effects.  That being said, I understand that there are things that you can’t do as well practically as you can do with CGI–for instance if you’ve seen Alex Proyas’ The Crow, there are numerous scenes where cars are moving through city streets that’s clearly part of a miniature cityscape which probably would have worked better with actual cars, unless Proyas deliberately wanted it to look like models–and when it’s done well,  CGI can add a dynamism to scenes that isn’t always possible practically.

On the other side, when you’re dealing with practical effects the actors and actresses are performing against an actual thing, as opposed to (in some instances) a tennis ball.

This means that you’re not only likelier to get a better performance out of them, the scene that they appear in looks more real.

One of my favorite filmmakers, producer Gerry Anderson, was a huge advocate of miniature effects (which probably has a lot to do with him coming from a background of making shows that revolved around puppetry, like Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons, The Thunderbirds, and The Terrahawks) which he incorporated into live action in movies like Doppleganger (also known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun) and television shows like Space: 1999, UFO and Space Precinct.

In the video clip below Tom Woodruff, Jr and Alec Gillis, of StudioADI, discuss why it is that studios sometimes choose CGI effects over practical ones.  And as usual, nothing is as simple as movie fans would like it to be.

The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: ‘The Stuff’

Let’s be clear:  Larry Cohen‘s The Stuff isn’t anyone would call a good movie, but it is a damn interesting one.  What it has going for it is a timely premise (the idea of consumerism run rampant combined with corporate and government malfeasance) and some very interesting special effects.

The movie plays like a twisted version of Dan Siegel’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (speaking of which, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is one of the few films that has benefitted from multiple remakes; The Invasion, notwithstanding) but with a more culinary bent in that a white substance is found bubbling from the earth, that happens to be edible.  This mysterious foodstuff, marketed as The Stuff, takes the country by storm, making some people very rich.

But there’s a problem.  The company selling it has co-opted the some scientists in the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration), so that no one quite knows what’s in The Stuff, which is a very bad thing because The Stuff is alive.  It’s similar to yogurt, except with a will, and a drive all its own.

In other words, when you eat it, it eats you.

The Stuff Pic

Are you eating The Stuff, or is it eating you?

A possible angle for a reboot could take would make the stuff called ‘The Stuff’ a genetically modified organism (GMO), as opposed to a naturally-occuring one, giving new meaning to the phrase “smart food.”

What needs to remain is the practical nature of the special effects.  There’s something significantly creepy about the mouth of a animatronic head opening wider than humanly possible, as opposed the way such things are typically done with CGI, which more often than not look like a video game (See: I Am Legend).

Since the movie falls apart somewhere around the midway point,  when Paul Sorvino turns up as a disgraced military commander–curiously similar to quite a few Right wing radio hosts–I would chuck that entire subplot and instead concentrate on how futile it it would first seem for people who haven’t been co-opted.

That way, the entire film would focus on the efforts of a disgraced FBI agent working against the odds to unmask the horror of The Stuff.

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1′ Trailer

For those of us that aren’t divergent enough, or aren’t into maze running, there’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (and speaking of Part 1, I get the feeling that if Lionsgate could have stretched the last book in the series out into three or more movies they would have done so) where it looks like Panem is falling into revolution and Pitta has crossed over to the Dark Side–or has he?

So here’re the trailers for the upcoming Hunger Games sequel, as well as The Maze Runner and Divergent (The Maze Runner appears to be performing strongly overseas, better than Divergent in fact) because I am about nothing if not added value.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

The Maze Runner

Divergent

‘The Purgation’ Trailer

I like introducing artists to people who may not be aware that they’re out there, so here’s the trailer for The Purgation, a movie by Elaine Chu that revolves around a woman named Iris, who attempts the exorcise some figurative ghosts and, if the trailer is any indicator, ends up encountering some very literal ones.

Then again, when Iris visited an asylum from her past I could have told her that there would be problems.  That being said, what kind of horror movie would you have if someone didn’t go into the darkened basement or if the call you received on a late and stormy night didn’t come from in the house?

Elaine is joining some pretty august company.  Off the top of my head, I can recall relatively few Asian or Asian-American horror directors, like Ronny Yu, Takashi Miike, Su-chang Kong, James Wan and Justin Lin.

Elaine is funding her film via Indiegogo, which ended earlier this year.  She also appears to be also accepting funds on her web site, so if you’re able to lend a hand, she’d appreciate it.