Netflix’s Extinction is one of the better alien invasion thrillers that’s come down the pike in quite awhile, mainly because the ‘invasion’ is actually the least important aspect of the story.
It’s more a commentary on what it means to be human, and what we’ll do to protect what we believe to be ours.
Michael Peña plays Peter, our proxy in this strange, new world (that looks a lot like our own).
He acquits himself well, which is important because if we don’t buy his performance the whole movie may not fall apart, but it would certainly be less stable.
Extinction continues a trend began in Tau–though on a significantly larger scale–about the effect of AI (artificial intelligence) on humanity.
The trailer for Robert Rodriguez’s Battle Angel Alita opens with: ‘You told me a story of the way, when the ground shook and the sky burned.’
Which is an interesting choice of words because combined with the visuals it fits pretty well within the Terminator universe which was–disputably–created by James Cameron, who also produced Battle Angel Alita and wrote the screenplay with Laeta Kalogridis).
If I can be honest for a moment: While the idea of a channel dedicated to science fiction is a great idea, SyFy is shockingly lame.
For a start, what does ‘SyFy’ even mean (other than a uber-pretentious and dumb way of spelling ‘SciFi.’ that is)?
But let’s for a moment look beyond the general suckiness of SyFy and instead consider an upcoming series on the network, Nightflyers, based on a novella by George R.R. Martin.
It spawned a movie in 1987–I was on a serious George R.R. Martin kick and was devouring all of his work I could find after reading the excellent Fevre Dream so I made sure to see the movie, which wasn’t terribly memorable.
But let’s move on to the present and look at the trailer for the new version, where someone connected to the production says: “Nightflyers” is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”
Sure, if you haven’t seen The Black Hole. Or Event Horizon. Or Galaxy of Terror. Or Supernova. Or numerous other movies that revolve around space being full of horrors.
Though as I mentioned earlier, the most problematic thing about Nightflyers is that it’s coming from Syfy (a network that somehow manages to keep renewing the barely watchable ZNation–when they’re not regaling us with Sharknado sequels while cancelling the excellent Dark Matter).
Growing up, Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 was a seminal novel for me–less for the book itself than for the concept, namely a world where everyone is so afraid of differing points of view and knowledge in general that they resorted to destroying it as close to the wellspring as possible.
And that wellspring are books. Destroy them, you destroy links to our past, and potentially control the future.
Luckily we don’t live in a society where scientifically-verifiable truths are demonized and people are sedated into complacency by thousands of channels of television, right?
Bread and circuses, indeed
Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn’t a great movie, though it is an entertaining one that seems to grasp it’s characters well.
Though it’s not without its problems, some of which I go into in the following video.
Just in case anyone out there thinks Screenphiles has become a member of the Guillermo Del Toro Fan Club (not that there’s such a thing as far as I know), let me assure you in no way is that the case.
Though speaking of Del Toro, did you know a Red Band trailer from The Shape of Water recently dropped?
This is interesting for numerous reasons though the first that comes to mind is that–based on the trailers released thus far–is if there is even anything at all ‘Red band’ (which typically designates violence, sexual content or lots of really bad words–and I’m not kidding about that last one) about the movie.
Having watched the so-called Red band trailer the worse I saw were two letters of a pretty common expletive (there was an earlier scene that was a bit questionable, though I need to watch it again), though what we have seen this far has been pretty tame and by no means warrants a ‘Red band’ designation.
The latest trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049–a pretty terrible title, by the way–a few hours ago and so far reminds me less of Ridley Scott’s original and more than Peter Hyams’ 2010 in that it appears to take the most important elements of the original (Harrison Ford, replicants, a neon-bright skyscraper, a whiff of conspiracy) and makes them more palatable for general audiences.
That was what 2010 did as well, namely taking Stanley Kubrick’s cold and analytical 2001: A Space Odyssey and preserving its themes and ideas, while recasting them in a way that–while still challenging–was more narratively traditional and just easier to like.