Antiviral, Sick Mind, Sick Body

Antiviral

Have you ever loved a celebrity so dearly that you wanted to make them a part of you? Have you studied them, obsessed over them, perhaps even followed them in a way that skirts the borders of legality? If you had heard that your idol had been infected with a disease of some sort, would you want to make that very disease your own? If you’ve said yes to one or more of these questions, I highly recommend watching Antiviral after you finish therapy. Antiviral is a movie that portrays a world utterly infatuated with celebrities, and shows you the grimy inner workings of the well-oiled, beautiful media machine.

Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works for the Lucas Clinic, one of several organizations responsible for the distribution of celebrity illnesses amongst obsessed fans. The process is fairly straightforward: A celebrity falls ill, the Lucas Clinic (or one of its competitors) purchases a tainted blood sample from said celebrity, modifies the illness to remove any chance of infection, and then sells the final product to obsessed fans who desire a more profound connection with their idols. The modification process is performed via running the blood through a futuristic machine that simulates the “face” of the virus, and alters its fundamental nature to be more marketable. Marketable in this context meaning non-infectious and thus inaccessible to competing groups.

AntiviralThings aren’t so simple, however. Syd, having stolen one of the virus modifying machines from the Lucas Clinic, likes to make money on the side by smuggling viruses to piracy groups. After obtaining samples of sick celeb blood, he injects a little into himself for later at-home modification. Despite having to be sick all the time, he’s got a nice little side business cut out for himself. That is, until he “acquires” a lethal illness from Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon).

Lethal pathogens are illegal in this celebrity-run world, and with Hannah Geist facing her death, her popularity has skyrocketed. Underground demand for the deadly Hannah pathogen is greater than ever, and Syd finds himself pulled into one bad situation after another: Greedy smugglers, secret corporate wars, and of course, the increasing probability of his own death. What’s a poor sick guy to do?

Antiviral’s portrayal of celebrity obsession is disturbing in that it isn’t wholly unrealistic. Ours is a world of powerful media and shifting cultural trends; obsession with the flavor of the month is commonplace. Who is to say that, if the technology were made available, the world wouldn’t begin taking on celebrity diseases? If you can cover yourself in tattoos of your idol, cover the walls of your bedroom with their face, fill your life with their music or movies, why not fill your blood with their illness?

AntiviralThat’s really gross, though. You shouldn’t do that or want to do that. I don’t. I mean, Caleb is a pretty good-looking actor, but I wouldn’t want to dose myself with a noninfectious strain of whatever he’s got goin’ for him. Ah, but maybe I need to obsess a little more.

Annalee Newitz of io9 thought that the movie got a little preachy at points, and that Syd could have been a little more… present in the film. True, his character was very quiet, very calm, and didn’t show any real emotion until the very end of the movie, but maybe Cronenberg thought that a vibrant main character would get in the way of his film’s message? Leave a comment to let us know what you think, and check out the io9 review of Antiviral right through here.

The Machine is No Terminator… Or is it?

The Machine

The Machine skirts the dangerous boundary between philosophical sci-fi and artificial intelligence cliché Hell, as is common of creative works that try to humanize the inhuman: The weapon or person conflict, the discovery of love, the inevitable phasing out of humanity… Though these obnoxious, omnipresent A.I. tropes have a presence in the film, they don’t receive a lot of screentime. Perhaps the film just wasn’t long enough to encompass them in entirely? If so, be thankful; The Machine is quite enjoyable as a result.

The MachineVincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens) works for the British Ministry of Defense, developing advanced artificial intelligence to aid the war against China while simultaneously trying to cure his daughter Mary’s Rett syndrome with brain implants. While running a secret audition to recruit new programmers for the MoD, he meets Ava (Caity Lotz), an aspiring A.I. developer with a promising quantum computer. Not long after she and Vincent begin their true work on the new and improved quantum A.I., Vincent’s boss, Thomson (Denis Lawson), has Ava assassinated by a group of Chinese hitmen in order to secure her technology.

The film’s true protagonist emerges when Vincent creates the machine using Ava’s likeness; the product is a curious, childlike humanoid robot capable of killing a person with her pointer finger. I have dubbed her Avatron. The first major cliché crashes through the nearest wall when Thomson begins scheming to remove the humanity from Avatron, wanting her to function solely as a weapon of war. Of course, his arbitrary cruelty results in Avatron starting an anti-humanity revolution, resulting in major cliché number two.

The MachineThe third is tactfully hidden between the first two; in order to prove to Thomson that Avatron is human and deserves to be treated as such, Vincent unwittingly discovers that his creation loves him. It’s not nearly as bad as the first two, as Avatron sees Vincent as more of a father figure than a lover, but you’ll still probably get that reflexive eye-roll when she utters the humanoid A.I.-adored L word.

The Machine is a solid movie, but I found that I was most entertained when Vincent was performing the Turing test on pairs of A.I. to find viable candidates for the MoD. It was clever, amusing, and had lots of personality. More personality than the film’s vague, depressing conclusion, to be sure. While it did narrowly avoid being consumed by sci-fi cliché, it didn’t quite fill the void the clichés left behind. Worth seeing, but I can’t guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

Kim Newman of EmpireOnline enjoyed Caity Lotz’s portrayal of Avatron, and I think I’m going to have to disagree. A.I. are anthropomorphized enough as it is in modern and not-so-modern sci-fi; Avatron’s sweet and innocent demeanor turned robot revolutionary felt hokey, almost like a bait and switch. What is the machine, an adorable little learning robot, or the harbinger of the new world? Regardless, check out the EmpireOnline review right through here.

Automata, the Quest of the Sentient Robo-Hooker

Automata

Automata does what countless robot-centric movies wish they could do; take a big bumbling ball of clichés and turn them into something decent. I can’t say fantastic, owing to the severity of said clichés, but I can say that I enjoyed everything about this film except for the plot and its devices. Although… plot constitutes the largest portion of any movie, doesn’t it? Oh dear, perhaps “decent” is too generous. Regardless, the issue with Automata’s grand scheme lies in its predictability; once you discover that the docile and obedient robots are strictly programmed not to hurt humans or self-alter, the remainder of the movie is guaranteed to focus on the fact that one or both of these rules have been broken. On the bright side, with expectations that low, anything Automata cranks out will seem all the better.

AutomataSince you can’t shoehorn in less-than-subtle reminders of humanity’s reliance on technology without a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future, the state of the world in Automata is less than peachy. Set in 2044, the world has been scorched and irradiated by the sun, and humanity has been forced to rely upon the automatons – known as Pilgrims, or “clunkers” – produced by the ROC (Robotic Organic Century) robotics corporation. Originally intended to help humanity return to its former glory, the Pilgrims fell from grace promptly, earning them their less pleasant title. With Earth’s human populace reduced to 2.1 million, the best plan changed from rebuilding to preserving. Hidden behind walls meant to fend off the encroaching nuclear desert and overshadowed by artificial clouds that regularly spray rain acidic enough to warrant protective coats, the human race is all but cooked.

AutomataJacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas) is a ROC insurance agent, tasked with ensuring Pilgrim functionality and compliance with their two big rules: No hurting, no self-alteration. In no time at all, a ROC enforcer by the name of Sean Wallace (Dylan McDermott) encounters a Pilgrim repairing itself in a subway station and shoots it in the head. A little investigation into the matter reveals a plot to usher in a new generation of sentient machines, though ROC quickly assumes the villain’s mantle and tries to crush the robotic revolution. Gotta keep that bottom line strong, and you can’t do that if you can’t charge for repairs! I’d tell you that Jacq winds up in the crossfire, and that his pregnant wife Rachel (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) portrays a one-dimensional hostage, but the clichés are about as sentient as the Pilgrims at this point.

I found Antonio Banderas’s acting to be over the top, even creeping into awkward territory at points, though I can’t imagine it was easy to keep a straight face while having a dramatic conversation with a life-sized remote-controlled puppet. Especially one with funky plastic nipples who moans in ecstasy while dancing. I- I couldn’t make that up, but you’d definitely need to see it to believe it. No amount of cheesy acting could prepare one for the very cheesy feel-good ending, however, and don’t feel obligated to stick around when Vaucan has his final flashback of some kid playing on the seashore. Seriously, they don’t even explain that. Is that him? Did he lose a kid? What’s with the turtle…?

Jonathan Holland of the HollywoodReporter believes Automata to be appropriately titled in that it proceeds mechanically. That’s to be expected when the most creative aspect of the film is the little air-breathing pill bug that constitutes the revolutionary “next-gen” Pilgrim line, and when your antagonistic force consists of a bunch of nameless corporate goons. As I said before, predictability is what made this film fall short of its ambition. Read more of the Hollywood Reporter take here, if you’re interested.

The Fourth Kind Probed Itself Wrong

The Fourth Kind

The Fourth Kind is a horror movie that wants its audience to believe that its content is true. We’re not talking about a murder with a vaguely supernatural nature, by the way. We’re talking about aliens. Hold the cream and sugar please, I take my aliens straight. This flick is so adamant about being real that it plays “actual” recorded footage side by side with the actual feature. And you used to scoff when movies said “inspired by true events” and left it at that. What an utter delight that is by comparison. On top of that, it has a pair of opening and closing segments in which its actors speak out of character about how very REAL the footage is. To paraphrase, “I’m not saying the events of this movie are real, but they are and we have video evidence to prove it.” Effort only a mother- excuse me, paranoid alien conspiracy theorist could admire.

The Fourth Kind

The idea driving The Fourth Kind isn’t bad on its own; several of a psychiatrist’s patients begin sharing the same dream and having panic attacks when hypnotized. The psychiatrist takes note of their behavior, and upon studying all the facts, suddenly concludes that aliens are responsible. After she hits that point, the movie says “yeah definitely aliens” and throws in some large ovular UFOs, a mandatory quasi-nude probing scene, and makes sure to not actually show any aliens by having every camera suffer a stroke at every potentially revealing moment. I’m not referring to the probing thing, but you don’t get to see anything anyway.

The Fourth KindYou see, The Fourth Kind goes about inspiring fear and awe with all the subtlety and tact of a surgeon with a chainsaw who happened to forget his subtlety and tact medication. Borrowing elements from the possession subgenre of horror, victims of alien attacks apparently float, hear voices speaking in Sumerian, and start breaking things while hypnotized. After that, they go crazy and murder their families because they don’t want to remember being abducted. They even have a skeptical cop who goes out of his way to be a complete prick to the protagonists, because he doesn’t believe in aliens and only assholes don’t believe in aliens. Have you not seen all the proof? LOOK AT ALL THE PROOF ALIENS ARE REAL SHUN THE NON-BELIEV-

*cough*

The Fourth KindPoor Milla Jovovich. Even as sci-fi actress royalty, this was not one of her finer roles. Not because of her acting, mind you, but because of the content. If only aliens would come down and extract the memory of her ever having participated in the filming of this movie, eh? Tee hee.

Oh, yeah, and one last thing. If you have seen or are going to see The Fourth Kind, replace the aliens with demons and tell me the transition isn’t unusually smooth.

Annalee Newitz of io9.com claims outright in her review that The Fourth Kind is a hoax. That’s kind of tongue in cheek, because you’d have to be pretty oblivious not to be able to tell. You can sell a movie by the nature and quality of its content, but when your selling point hinges on your audience believing your work of fiction to be truth… you better do a damn good job making it seem real. And The Fourth Kind didn’t. Here’s the alt review link: http://io9.com/5397359/the-fourth-kind-is-a-hoax

Serenity and Psychic Secrets

Serenity

Serenity feels like it’s an episode of a sci-fi something that I wouldn’t mind watching regularly. Then again, I’m an absolute sucker for space mercenaries; the merc charm just gets me. On the flipside, I’m not really a fan of political themes, but sci-fi tends to harbor them all but reliably. Serenity is a ship full of Alliance dissenters, Alliance being the powerful and controlling organization that’s trying to swallow up the known universe. Of course, they’ve got some deep dark secrets that a member of Serenity’s crew might just know, so they engage covert operation “murder the shit out of that person really fast.”

SerenityDr. Simon Tam, with the help of Serenity’s crew, counter-kidnaps his sister River from an Alliance training facility, where she was being mentally programmed for nefarious purposes. The Alliance is not pleased with this loss, especially considering River is a high-grade psychic who happened to peek into the minds of everyone around her during her training, which includes politicians. Politicians who held highly classified secrets that would critically drop the public opinion of the Alliance if they were to be released, at that. The Operative is hired to kill everyone who came in contact with River after her escape, and ensure her safe return before the Alliance’s dirty laundry is put out to dry.

Initially, the crew of Serenity has no idea why they’re being hunted down by government assassins, or why River suddenly flips her shit and starts killing everyone after seeing a cheerful octopus themed commercial. Simon puts her to sleep with a code word, which raises all kinds of questions, eventually shuffling them to Mr. Universe for answers. Mr. Universe is an infamous hacker who hides in a nebula-encased outer planet and broadcasts pirate signals. He decodes the commercial and reveals it to be a subliminal message meant to activate River’s programmed combat training.

SerenityAfter that, it’s a battle against time, the government, and battle-hungry insane cannibalistic rapey Reavers to figure out the Alliance secret and make it public before the crew of Serenity is collectively subjugated and/or wiped out. Hint: The secret has something to do with the Reavers. But I’m not telling you anything else! It’s a great watch, so you’ll enjoy the ride. Plenty of emotional ups and downs, and a conclusion worthy of a top-notch sci-fi thriller!

So, it turns out Serenity is the movie of a failed TV series that didn’t make it past its first season. Coulda fooled me! Olly Richards of EmpireOnline says that whether you’re genre savvy or just looking for some fighty space-action, Serenity is the movie for you. Though it relies on worn but beloved character archetypes, it has a feel all its own. Here’s the alt review! Not that you need to read it: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=10125

Devil’s Pass, Ignore the Box Art

Devil's Pass

There are no naked brunettes buried waist-deep in snow. You should know better than to think that.

Devil’s Pass was one of those few shockumentaries that I was was better. It had a good premise and an excellent buildup, but fumbled the big reveal. It’s one of the few movies of its kind that is neither horrendous nor outright amazing, which is an achievement all in itself. I imagine it would have been on-par with the Blair Witch Project if it hadn’t been so eager to explain the supernatural goings-on within. I lost interest at the halfway point, when the team discovers a mysterious something in the snow and eventually decides to investigate it. I’m sur eyou’ll agree with me when I say that the ambiguous unknown is a greater spook factor in horror movies than being chased around by some creature. That in mind, let’s begin.

Devil's PassDevil’s Pass follows a group of students who are researching the disappearance of nine Russian skiers who vanished mysteriously in the Dyatlov Mountain Pass of Russia in 1959. Some initial news reports and illegally acquired video footage suggest that the students vanished just as the skiers had, which isn’t much of a spoiler, because we all know how horror movies like to repeat past tragedies. Introductory spookfest noted, I feel the real tension begins to build when the crew first has drinks at the base of the Ural mountain range. They tell the bartender about their project, and he offers them the very same drinks the Russians had on their way up. Blatant foreshadowing, perhaps? Oh yes. On top of that, the hints at a government conspiracy certainly amplify the viewer’s sense of “just what the crap went on up there?”

Once they’re up in the mountains, eerie things start happening, and their technology begins to malfunction. Can’t have a good sense of isolation with all these communicating gadgets and gizmos in the way! It’s moments like these that make me ask myself if I really want an explanation. After receiving one, my immediate response was no, but that’s the trouble with magic tricks. Once you know how they’re done, the wonder is gone. Anyway, one of the greater lines is dropped during a nighttime camping sequence, not minutes before the discovery of the mysterious thing in the snow. That was the highest point for me.

Devil's PassNow, despite the fact that the big reveal was disappointing, I’d rather avoid spoiling it. If you end up watching the movie, please leave a comment and tell me what you thought of the buildup and the latter half. I’m aware of the fact that I compare absolutely every found footage movie to the Blair Witch, but that sets a high bar, damnit. Part of the charm was that the characters and plot were so down-to-earth you could imagine yourself there with them, shivering in a tent, afraid of the fucking baby out there. With Devil’s Pass? Not so much. I can’t envision myself running away from Russian soldiers or being haunted by a yeti.

Scott Foundas of Variety wound up getting the same mediocre-positive impression; they could have done MORE with the film. More in this case means less, because explaining everything isn’t a very good idea when you’re trying to scare people. Unless the explanation is scary. But it wasn’t. Bit of an image-spoiler in the coming link, but it doesn’t give anything critical away! http://variety.com/2013/film/reviews/devils-pass-review-1200586363/

The Butterfly Effect, A Temporal Tragedy

The Butterfly Effect

When I saw Ashton Kutcher on the cover of The Butterfly Effect, I had several serious doubts regarding the content of the movie, specifically the quality of the acting and the overall tone. I was wrong on both counts, and surprised to find that the ending was the most depressing thing ever. More depressing than the fact that this movie has so many spoilers that I’m going to have to divide an entire section off just to review it normally. That in itself is worth positive mention.

This first part is not spoilers. Evan Treborn (Kutcher) suffers from sporadic blackouts in which he is not aware of what he is doing, nor does he remember once they end. As a child, he was friends with a shy girl named Kayleigh, a quiet boy named Lenny, and an asshole named Tommy. Unlike every Stephen King movie you’ve ever seen, these kids are more than fluttery, brainless balls of cheer and ignorance. Their activities definitely affect their future selves, causing them to carry forward severe psychological scars.

The Butterfly EffectYou see Evan keeping journals of his daily activities, particularly the bits in which he blacks out. They play a huge role in the film, but I can’t tell you why until you hit the spoiler section. Oh, wait, there it is-

SPOILERS BEGIN NOW. In his college years, Evan discovers that by reading his old journals, he can temporarily jump back in time and change his actions. The blackouts were caused by his future self taking over. Time travel, eh? Now the title of the review makes sense. With this power, Evan tries to forge a perfect future by meddling with the past. Every time he changes something major, he wakes up in a new timeline, and is assaulted by years of new memories rushing into his brain, causing cerebral damage and nosebleeds. A little crazier with every jump!

In most jumps, all he does is make things worse. He changes from sexually abused to amputee to prisoner (not necessarily in that order) to… well, I can’t spoil the final jump. Everyone connected to his life suffers in some way, making each timeline imperfect, thus unacceptable. The end is bittersweet, but sad enough to leave a lingering gloom while the credits roll. All I’ll say is that he finally finds a way to make everyone happy.

No more spoilers! The most prominent theme in The Butterfly Effect is causality; action, consequence. The title would suggest as much, but the movie delivers an unorthodox interpretation of the matter.
The Butterfly EffectSpeaking of unorthodox, Ashton portrays Evan’s psychological changes very well, managing to translate the kid Evan’s personality over consistently, and vice versa. It’s interesting to see a goofy actor take on a serious role, and it tends to incite… unfulfilled expectations. You won’t laugh that much, but you’ll feel connected and curious.

It’s an excellent watch, but certain points get a little difficult to bear, what with all the drama pouring out everywhere. I’d recommend this movie to people who like being on the edge of their seats, because there are many climactic moments and twists to throw you off the predicted path.

Scott Chitwood of ComingSoon liked The Butterfly Effect, citing the only negative aspects to be Ashton’s thematically abnormal role and the excess nudity. I agree with the first, but I think the second part plays second fiddle to the conclusion. If you were a kid, you wouldn’t want to understand the final message. Hell, I’m not sure I’m able to come to terms with it. Shame I can’t spoil it. Here’s the link, be sure to watch the movie: http://www.comingsoon.net/news/reviewsnews.php?id=3122

Elysium, Rich and White Edition

Elysium

I’ve seen less subtle political statements, but I can’t think of any at the moment. I mean, I’m not a very political person at my core, but I know the ideology to an extent. Immigration, health care, the 1% of Americans sitting on the 99% of the wealth, all that. Elysium’s got it all, and then some. It’s a story about a tattered Earth filled with poor, sick citizens, and an orbital station full of rich snobs with machines that can cure any disease. The lone hero must somehow find a way to save the day and give equal rights to everybody! Hurrah for equality! Niell Blomkamp did this one. You may remember his other film, District 9, with the nitty gritty realistic 3D CG. Well, he brings back all the charm from that alien infested little number, minus the aliens, plus some cyborgs. Also Sharlto Copley, the guy who played Wikus Van De Merwe. Neat!

ElysiumMatt Damon is Max, a felon gone straight who works in a robot construction facility on Earth. He used to be a criminal mastermind (maybe), but has since decided to make a living doing “honest” work for the guy who built the Elysium satellite. He’s got a nurse friend named Frey who has known him since he was a kid, and she’s got a kid with leukemia. Remember those all-healing machines? I smell a setup.

One day, Maxie-boy gets trapped in a robot-cooking room and is exposed to radiation. His apathetic robot doctor gives him some pills that will allow him to function normally for the five days he has left. Then he dies. Well, not yet, but he’s gonna. Unwilling to accept this, Max checks up with his old criminal contact Spider, the head of a gang that tries to transport people to Elysium to use their magic healy machines. After some negotiation, he has Max agree to have a robot suit surgically integrated into his body, and to kidnap the head of the robot construction corporation. This fat cat has special codes in his brain-box that are capable of rebooting Elysium and making every last Earthling a citizen of the satellite, which means unrestricted access to the cure-all.

ElysiumJodie Foster- excuse me, Delacourt will have none of this. She’s the head of defense up in the giant aristocratic ring, and she sends a crew of hitmen to protect the reboot codes. She wants to be president, by the by, and the codes will let her do just that. So, guess who runs the hitman show…? WRONG, it’s Sharlto Copley. Remember how in District 9 he played the guy that gets victimized by military assholes? Well, he’s the military asshole this time around, and he comes off as a bit of a freak. Kruger’s the name, murder’s his game! You’ll see a lot of violence whenever this guy rears his head, so be ready. He also gets his face blown off. Cool!

You get all the fancy tech you’d expect from a Blomkamp movie, plus sassy antagonists with their own hidden agendas. Freya winds up filling the damsel in distress role a little too perfectly, which caused my overall opinion of the film to drop just enough that my concluding rating changed from “grawesome” to “sure why not.” It’s a must-see if you liked District 9, and worth a shot if you’ve not.

ElysiumRobinson O’Brien-Bours of PolicyMic isn’t fond of Jodie Foster’s French, and you shouldn’t be either. I failed to mention just how obnoxious the political commentary was, but Mr. PolicyMic did not. As such, you should give this gent’s take on Blomkamp’s latest sci-fi action film a read, and learn a thing or two about why it’s better to be subtle when you preach. Here’s the portal: http://www.policymic.com/articles/59309/elysium-movie-review-weird-immigration-sub-plot-kill-this-movie


Jurassic Park, Hypothetical Hell

Jurassic Park

I call it hypothetical hell because it uses worst-case scenario situations to move things along. Meaning if we were to clone dinosaurs, hypothetically, we wouldn’t be as dumb as some of the characters in this movie.

The only reason I like Jurassic Park is because it has velociraptors, a tyrannosaurus rex, and Jeff Goldblum. If you don’t like any of those three things, then this probably isn’t the movie for you. Yes, it’s a dinosaur classic, but when you give it a close look… It just falls to pieces. And Wayne Knight just manages to make everything slightly more annoying. As do the children. And the main couple. The lead geneticist is okay. Maybe I should actually explain something…
Jurassic ParkOkay, so this one’s a kiddie classic. Came out 1993, had some ballsy dino-tastic 3D effects, and touched on the sci-fi yet modern issue of genetic modification. John Hammond, the billionaire genius, found a mosquito preserved in amber, and managed to extract fresh dinosaur blood. From that, he cloned several dinosaurs and made Jurassic Park! You see a lot of close-ups of people being astonished. Dinosaurs! Whoa.

Dennis Nedry is shown to be a spy and saboteur from the start. He has a contact outside the amusement park that wants to obtain some dinosaur embryos from Hammond’s personal collection. In order to do that, Dennis has to shut down the park’s electricity so he can jack the embryos and escape to the docks before he’s discovered.

Shutting down the electricity is possibly the stupidest thing anyone could ever do in a park full of dinosaurs. So is using the DNA of sex-changing frogs to fill the gaps in the dino DNA. “Oh yeah, we make sure all the dinos are female so none of them can breed.” Uh, whoops. So they’ve been breeding, AND the electric fences are down? Meaning dinosaurs everywhere? Uh oh. Oh nooo. Cue several chase scenes and close encounters. “Clever girls…” The guy who said that was promptly eaten. By velociraptors.

Jurassic ParkSamuel L. Jackson is  also eaten by a velociraptor, but John Hammond’s lawyer gets eaten by a T-rex. The little boy gets blasted by an electrified gate and survives, damn it all. The little girl manages to “hack” the entire facility’s security system and auto-lock the doors to trap the velociraptors. Hah. Hahaha- what? Methinks that’s cheating.

So let’s sum it up. The acting is cheesy, the plot has some holes, and the CG is fantastic. Want to know a secret? The main couple and the kids escape. It’s a horror movie for kids. Of course they’re gonna escape! Don’t get mad at me and cry “spoiler alert needed!” You already knew what you were getting into! Roarrr!

Ahem. It’s obvious that I don’t care too much for this particular piece, but that’s why I engage in the habitual attachment of alternate reviews to my reviews. Because sometimes, I can be a nit-picky jerk with impunity because I offer a balance of opinions!

Samuel Walters of DauntlessMedia portrays the film through the Spielburg filter, which is probably a good idea. This movie was meant to be watched by the dinosaur loving kiddies of the 90s, am I right? So I was being a little harsh in taking a “grown up” perspective while reviewing this Jurassic wonder-filled thingamabopper. You should probably read this review. It’s much nicer: http://dauntlessmedia.net/film/jurassic-park-film-review.html

Spaceballs to the Walls

Spaceballs

Ah, Spaceballs, a Mel Brooks classic. What’s not to like about it? The sci-fi satire, the silly characters, and the whimsical effects just make you want to buy the sequel, don’t they? In this fine little slice of cinema, you’ll see a lone wolf bounty hunter save an entire planet from the clutches of en evil empire, using a mysterious power called the Schwartz that he learns from a little green midget named Yogurt. If that doesn’t cover the tone of the movie, I don’t know what will.

SpaceballsThe Spaceballs are a race of humanoids living on a planet with dwindling air. Their President Skroob (Mel Brooks) orders Lord Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) to fly the Spaceball 1 over to the planet Druidia, kidnap their princess, and ransom her for the planet’s air. After running from her wedding and right into the clutches of the evil Dark Helmet, the princess calls her father in a bother. King Roland (Dick Van Patten) offers Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) one million “space bucks” if he can rescue Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga). He needs the money to pay off their debt to the notorious Pizza the Hut, so he and his half-man half-dog buddy Barf (John Candy) set off to save the princess. That was a lot of names.

On his journey to return the princess to Druidia, Lone Starr and the lot wind up stranded on a desert planet, wandering from dune to dune with dwindling hope. Once everyone has passed out, a group of singing dinkers rescues them and brings them to the lair of Yogurt the Wise, the master of the Schwartz. He inspects the mysterious pendant Lone Starr has held onto since his days as an orphan raised by silent monks in the Ford Galaxy, and gives him a fortune cookie and a fancy Schwartz ring. What mysteries could Yogurt reveal? And why is he breaking the fourth wall by talking about merchandising and Spaceballs 2: The Quest for More Money? You’ll only find an answer to the former.

SpaceballsA lot of the humor is spur of the moment, having nothing to do with the continuity of the movie, but you’re really not meant to care about Lone Starr’s secret past, or the fate of planet Druidia. Rather, you’re meant to have a laugh when Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurz rent Spaceballs and fast forward to see where Lone Starr and the princess are. Or when the Spaceball 1 goes past light speed and goes plaid as they enter… Ludicrous Speed! Mel Brooks: success. An excellent, silly movie.

Sandy Maynard of CinemaBlend is right when she says it’s hard to rate. Whether you like it or not depends on your sense of humor. If you’re bothered by cheaps sets and lame effects, then you probably have a stick up your bum and should look somewhere else, because Spaceballs is hilarious. Stunt actors captured instead of the main characters? Genius. Take a peek at her review here: http://www.cinemablend.com/dvds/Spaceballs-Collector-s-Edition-970.html

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