This post is a follow up to the one yesterday about TV shows I’ve been watching recently, but this one is about recent movies. Actually, there’s a dessert dish I snuck in to make it a four-course meal — I haven’t seen Hardcore Henry in a while, but it’s so unique and tasty I had to include it.
I have two entrées today, one an Amazon Prime original modeled after the great (but as it turned out not inimitable) Groundhog Day. The other, which I also saw on Prime, is an interesting and wry murder mystery with a great cast and an interesting twist on the whodunnit murder mystery.
The side dish is a Netflix animated comedy about the robot apocalypse.
Last Saturday, on Netflix, I watched Stowaway (2021) an engaging and compelling hard science fiction film by a new filmmaker, Joe Penna. The story, which has only four characters, is reminiscent of Gravity (2013) or Apollo 13 (1995), not only in how it involves a disaster aboard a small spacecraft, but in how it tries to respect physics as much as possible. (Apollo 13, of course, was a real story which made it a lot easier.)
It is, on both counts, also similar to The Martian (2015), in which it bears a third similarity — a connection to Mars. They differ, however, in that The Martian is about a guy trying to get away from Mars whereas Stowaway is about three people trying to get to Mars.
The disaster for them is the fourth person, the stowaway.
Fans of Doctor Who, at least those without an unreasoning dislike of Jodie Whittaker, may get a kick out of seeing her in the 2011 British alien invasion film Attack the Block. It’s a small rather unregarded film with a box office return of only half its £8 million budget (about $11 million USD at 2021 rates). Since its release it has gotten well-deserved critical praise and won a few international accolades.
I should note that Whittaker is not the lead. At best, she’s a co-star, and perhaps almost more of a major supporting character (she is present for most of the film). The film stars John Boyega, who many will know as Finn from the final Star Wars trilogy.
I highly recommend it for all science fiction movie fans.
Last night I watched a fun little film, Colossal (2016), written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Unfortunately it was a financial flop with a box office of only $4.5 million against a $15 million budget. That’s unfortunate, because it makes it harder for such creative efforts to get made.
It stars Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, both of whom, from a playground in New England, turn out to have the power to manifest and control giant monsters that appear in, and terrorize, Seoul, Korea. (It’s not quite as random as it sounds.)
It’s a very inventive story that delighted me, and I recommend it as more than worth seeing for any fan of interesting movies.
If you know me, you know I’m not much a fan of official holidays, especially those that seem a bit on the artificial side (although National Waffle Day is something I would celebrate). That said, I’m not entirely untouched by a holiday that demands chocolates. Or roses, one of the very few flowers I do love. (Rose gardens are awesome.)
So I was delighted to see that, not only do Minnesotans have good sensibilities when it comes to voting politically, we also have good sensibilities when selecting our favorite Valentine’s Day candy.
See full map below. ION: Saw a cool new SF movie last night!
Well they finally made a good Terminator sequel! Granted, the first one is a modern classic and a very tough act to follow. There is also that sequels are almost always necessarily warmed up left-overs, but this franchise has been noted for being especially disappointing. (I know I saw #5, but it left absolutely no impression, and #4 was dismal and awful.)
I’m definitely more of a Terminator fan than a Star Wars fan. That’s even more true when it comes to Star Trek. I’m willing to at least see the Star Wars movies, but I gave up on Trek ever since J.J. Abrams took over (although it had already gotten moribund).
For my money, Terminator: Dark Fate is a nice return to form and a pretty good action movie in its own right.
One of the older notes on my board just reads: “Armageddon (1998) vs Deep Impact (1998)”. On weirdness points, the note could just as easily have read: “Antz (1998) vs A Bug’s Life (1998)”.
The coincidence that both coincidences take place in 1998 (ah, the good old days) does makes it a bit weirder, but weird coincidences aren’t the point of my note or this post. The point is how audiences reacted to the films.
For this Sci-Fi Saturday, I thought I’d ramble about some SF Yin-Yang pairs that have struck me over the years.
Well I have at long last finally seen Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) and Thor (2011) — two of the early films in the long-running Infinity Saga (the series has 23 films out so far; more are coming). The short version is I thought The Avengers had some good bits, but overall I found them both fairly underwhelming (but I’m so not the audience for these).
Unfortunately, I was also a little underwhelmed this week by Stargate: Universe, which I tried binge watching because John Scalzi (whose book Redshirts I really liked) was the creative consultant on the show. I quit after three episodes. It wasn’t that it was bad so much as it (as with these comic book movies) just seems like the same old stuff I’ve seen many, many times.
Ah well, you can’t win them all.
I’ve been reading Spacehounds of IPC (1947), by E.E. “Doc” Smith, and… it hasn’t aged well. For a long time I’ve been thinking it would be fun to read Smith’s Lensmen series again, but given that I’m having a hard time finishing Spacehounds, maybe that train left the station some time ago (especially with so much other stuff to read).
It’s a pity because I sure liked those books when I was (much) younger. Smith wrote action-filled space opera that was very imaginative and which also reeked of technology and science. I’ve never been that much into the space battles, but I’ve always been a sucker for hard SF. Fictionalized tech manuals work okay for me.
But these aren’t the gems mentioned in the post’s title.
For Sci-Fi Saturday I thought I’d mention how much I’ve enjoyed some recent Netflix original productions about robots (the very intelligent kind). As usual, I’m a little late to the party. For most people with Netflix, the post’s title probably immediately evoked either or both shows.
I’m speaking, of course, of Love, Death & Robots, an anthology of animated shorts, and of I Am Mother, a movie about a robot raising a child (humanity’s last best hope). I was delighted by the former immediately, but with the latter it wasn’t until I knew the entire story that my opinion changed from poor to good. Through most of the movie it seemed to be a rather flawed story I wasn’t sure I liked.
But the ending put all the plot holes in much better light!