Tag Archive | Science fiction

Movie Review: Frankenweenie

This past Friday I went to see the children’s movie “Frankenweenie.” “Frankenweenie” is the latest cinematic effort by Tim Burton and is kind of a mix of science fiction and fantasy. As such, it comes complete with the dark, somber ambience Burton has developed a reputation for, though, not so horribly dark and terrifying that it would frighten children. It’s a well-developed film with an engaging storyline and fun characters. Perfect for a Halloween outing.

At the center of the story is the young Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist-in-training attending Junior High or so (I guess that makes him about 13 years old). He’s something of an introvert whose only true friend is his pet dog, Sparky. His parents, however, want him to be more sociable and get him involved in a baseball team. This, however, leads to tragedy: At one of Victor’s games there is a horrible accident and Sparky is killed. Victor is depressed for a long time until he gets the idea—inspired by his science class at school—to try to bring his dog back to life. He succeeds, but is unable to keep that success a secret, and the resulting chaos that breaks loose is enough to make your head spin. But it is great fun to watch, as a whole bevy of monster pets break loose and wreak havoc on the small town Victor Frankenstein calls home.

Overall, I found this movie entertaining and worth watching. It is typical Tim Burton: dark and gloomy, but like I said, not so much it’ll scar children. At least, I don’t think so. I do, however, have several complaints about the movie. The first is so minor I’m not even sure I want to complain about it. Basically, a certain young girl in the film performs divination via cat poo. If her cat poos out the first letter in your name in his litter box that means something “big” is going to happen to you. I just wonder if the only way to entertain children is to act childish ourselves. I mean, really? Cat poo? Must we? My next complaint concerns the wrap up of the film at the end (Spoiler Alert). The once-dead dog, Sparky, is killed again at the end of the movie and, with the blessings of the parents, Victor Frankenstein brings the animal back to life yet again. I know kid’s movies are supposed to have “happy endings,” but I’m not sure it is a good idea to implant in them the notion that bringing their pet back to life is the way to go. They (the film-makers) had an opportunity to let the animal go and let him rest in peace, but they brought him back again. Not sure that was a good idea. My final complaint concerns some of the kid’s science experiments in the film and this is, by far, my most significant complaint. There was a lot of manipulating of electricity throughout the film, an unsuccessful attempt to fly off a housetop, and other experiments of questionable safety being performed by young teen-agers for the movie’s audience of children. Maybe I’m being over-protective, but I don’t think that was very wise to include in the movie. Do we really want someone’s kid to think it’s a good idea to fly a kite during a lightning storm? Anyway, you can see where I’m going. I don’t know how Tim Burton could have made the movie without these things, but I’ve noticed in a lot of the children’s movies of recent years that the writers tend to forget who their primary audience is.

Still, it was a good movie and I enjoyed it. I’ll give it four stars.

Old Movie Review: Iron Man (2008)

Drasmyr Blog TourI’m going to be out of town and away from my computer for a couple days, so I’m giving you my Thursday post today (Wednesday). I should be back to my regular posting schedule next week.

“Iron Man” was released several years ago now (2008). It was one of the prequels to the more recent “Avengers” movie (2012). It starred Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire playboy Tony Stark. Stark is the head of Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturing company. In the beginning of the movie, Stark is portrayed as a carefree playboy unconcerned by the real human costs that come with developing more efficient weapons of death. Things, however, quickly take a turn for the worse for Tony. He is captured by a terrorist group in the mountains of Afghanistan where the head guy wants him to build a Jericho missile for the terrorists. Note to self: if you ever kidnap a multi-billionaire genius to make you a rocket, don’t lock him up in a cave with all his toys! Stark uses his time to build the prototype for his Iron Man suit instead. Basically, it consists of robotic body armor with a slew of weapons that help him to escape from the terrorists’ clutches.

From that point, Stark has something of an epiphany and realizes that he doesn’t want his legacy to simply be the production of weapons. He wants something more. When he returns to the states, he announces a change in direction for the company he controls. But this, of course, draws him into conflict with his ruthless right hand man, Obadiah Stane. It is this conflict which drives the rest of the movie and leads up to a final climactic battle at the end.

Overall, the movie was excellent. It was good enough that I purchased it for my own collection. If there is a flaw, it is probably the inconsistency of Stark’s epiphany. He doesn’t want to make weapons anymore, so he builds a super-weapon… his suit. But we can overlook that, I suppose, because without his suit there wouldn’t be a movie, unless you wanted to turn it into a sappy drama about the evolving sentimentality of a billionaire. Not about a rough and tumble billionaire who can kick butt when he puts on his technological masterpiece. Anyway, the action was great. The comedic moments were also great. And Robert Downey Jr. put in a stellar performance. I can’t think of any major flaws beyond the picayune one I mentioned above. So…

I’ll give the movie 4 1/2 out of five stars. And it might even be worth a 5, but I’ve seen it so many times, it’s lost some of its luster.

Movie Review: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus

Okay, so this is more Sci-Fi than it is fantasy, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want with it. J Anyway, “Prometheus” is intended as the prequel to the “Alien/Aliens” series of movies from the 80’s and 90’s, you know, the ones with Ripley, her cat, and the nasties that crawled out of people’s chests and stomachs?

 

The story begins with a tiny bit of backstory: a pair of archeologists/anthropologists find a cave painting with a specific configuration of stars on the wall associated with seemingly gigantic beings. They note that it is the same configuration they’ve found in the ancient artwork of several other human civilizations separated by thousands of years and untold miles. That’s the hook. It could have been developed more, but from there the movie goes straight to the voyage of the space vessel Prometheus, a human space ship containing the two archeologists/anthropologists, a crew of other scientists, and, of course, an android. The Prometheus is en route to a planet from the system depicted by the artwork. It arrives, the android wakes every one up from cryo-sleep, and the fun begins.

 

The ship lands on the planet and the crew begins to investigate some ruins. Soon enough, however, various members of the crew are killed by… various things/events/methods. Then, it becomes apparent that all life on Earth is threatened by what these scientists have discovered and they must act quickly before their lovely home world is doomed.

 

That’s the brief summary.

 

Overall, I thought the movie was pretty good, but not fantastic. The first half of the movie was really good, although, like I said, I wish they had taken more time to develop the backstory some more. In fact, I almost kind of wish someone would make a movie, a good movie, but not a horror movie, with that kind of plot… Ancient Aliens visited us in our past, and we now undertake a mission to meet them. Anyway, with respect to “Prometheus” I jumped—I admit it—several times during the movie, which is good for a horror movie. The suspense throughout was good. But about halfway through the movie things just stopped being as appealing for me. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but maybe I’ve just seen too many of these stupid things to really get full enjoyment from them.

 

In the final analysis, I’ll give it three and a half out of five stars.

Movie Review: John Carter

I had no idea what to expect  going in to see this movie: John Carter. I just wanted to kill some time and relax; I wasn’t looking for a perception-altering life event, just a few hours of entertainment—something I might review for my blog, if I felt the inspiration. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised; I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was more Science Fiction than Fantasy, but regardless, it was worth seeing.

 

The movie tells the story of John Carter, a U.S. cavalryman around the late 1800’s. He is through with military life, and just looking for a pay day so he can retire in comfort. But fate has something else in store for him. Before he knows it, he’s whisked away to Mars and finds himself embroiled in a civil war that threatens the entire planet. He meets a beautiful princess, leads a massive uprising of the “Tharks?” (not sure of spelling) to come to the aid of the princess and her armies. It is a classic tale of good versus evil.

 

The movie was in 3-D. I have to say, I don’t really care so much for 3-D. When I’m engrossed in the movie, I don’t even notice most of the special effects, particularly if there is a good storyline… which this movie had. It would have been fine seeing this movie in 2-D. Anyway, the plot was good and there were only one or two predictable parts that I saw coming. The bad guys were bad, the good guys were good, and there were one or two sprinkles of good humor here and there.

 

I’ll give John Carter four out of five stars. And I heartily recommend it for science fiction buffs, and even fantasy buffs—they usually enjoy science fiction, too.

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