sci-fi

Avatar (2009) – Movie Review

Avatar 2009Originally when it came out Avatar was 2 hours long, and for this review I watched the extended version that is almost 3 hours long. Another thing to bear in mind is that I never liked trailers for Avatar and I wasn’t excited for this movie, even though I liked it first time around. What bothers me the most about this movie is that it steals from World of Warcraft and Halo; which are both well-known video game properties; and that’s something I noticed just from the original trailer alone. This is something that bothers me a lot about Avatar, even if James Cameron says that he’s been developing Avatar since 91, and even if no one else noticed the similarities between all the properties mentioned. Anyway, that’s my beef with it even if no one else notices it and even if no one else agrees with. Now on to the movie review.

What I like about Avatar is the huge exploration premise of going into space and finding planets that can help humanity in one way or another; and that’s pretty much all I knew about the movie before seeing it first time around. And now watching the extended version, I was hoping for a better experience.

One of the first things you’ll notice are cliches, mainly portrayal of the future and few of the characters. However, Avatar does a pretty good job of adding cliches – even the few within dialogue – and mixing it with unknown possibilities that are about to transpire.

When it comes to the weakness of the plot, there’s more to the story that’s being told between the lines because Avatar is much deeper than it appears on the surface. Just think about it – humans are aliens in this movie. The future is bleak and it’s basically Independence Day in reverse. Yes, plot and characters are generic, but when you look beyond that, you’ll see the greed of humans which is fueled by the need to survive next to making a profit. You will also notice the struggle of the natives to survive under the oppression of the aliens, who are in this case humans. Cameron takes us to a completely different world where we learn the ways and the culture of the natives; and then we become one of them – or at the very least learn to identify with them because we can connect with them in different ways. When you combine that with amazing visual and sound effects – we get a great movie.

Despite my beef with Avatar, I can’t help but answer for myself the hard questions Cameron presents so well. Not only that, but what Cameron does is show us the darker side of humanity as well as its beautiful side and conflicts them in most raw way possible. It is the type of movie that will tug at your heartstrings and make you want to change the world as well as enjoy every second of the amazing trip we take. I give Avatar 7.5/10.

Logan’s Run (1976) – Movie Review

Logan's Run (1976)Few months ago I heard about a possible remake being in the work for this movie. I’ve never heard about Logan’s Run until few days ago. It took me a while before I sat down to watch it simply because I wasn’t sure what I was going into. I read a synopsis online and it seemed interesting. So, without further ado, my thoughts on the movie.

Logan, played by Michael York – I love Michael York, but I haven’t seen all his movies just yet, but will watch him any time I see him on TV – is a sandman (a law enforcement officer) in a closed city that was built after a catastrophe that destroyed almost every living being on the planet many years ago. Those who survived came up with a system which dictates when a batch of babies is born, they don’t belong to their parents anymore and those who are 30 years old must die in a ceremony called carousel. The only way to avoid carousel is to try to escape outside of the city while being chased by sandmen, which isn’t a popular nor encouraged thing to do even if sandmen enjoy when “a run” occurs.

Well, Logan is given a mission by the computer that runs the city to find the sanctuary because many of the runners are unaccounted for and rumor has it this is the place they go to once they escape the city. Computer doesn’t want anyone escaping and living outside of the city. Logan is sworn to secrecy and the system that is in place – a light bulb on the palm of left hand that shines different lights in different stages of life – starts blinking red, which means it’s time for termination…I mean carousel. That’s what sandmen do call it and it’s simply being described as a holy ritual that takes a person from this place to the next. Death is a concept that doesn’t exist in this world and many words have had their meanings changed or forgotten, and aren’t used anymore.

Well, Logan’s best friend and fellow sandman doesn’t know about Logan’s secret mission, so he thinks that Logan is making a run for it, so he chases him.

The best way to describe this movie to modern audience is to compare it to The Giver with Jeff Bridges that came out last year…certainly there are many similarities because both movies are based on books by different authors, and movies definitely have similar premise. I can’t talk about the books because I didn’t read them.

The movie abounds in practical effects as well as CGI. The movie will seem dated due to technology used for Logan’s Run, but everything in it is very futuristic – there’s even “internet” dating. None of this makes movie campy as one might assume. It’s very watchable, and I enjoyed it tremendously.
One complaint I have is loud sound effects that simulate beeping sounds and what’s supposed to be electronic music, which add another element of how old the movie is, but won’t be a huge distraction, though it will be annoying.

Having said all that, I really think this movie deserves a remake, which will be easier to make and most of the things are easily not just duplicated, but upgraded because the technology already exists for a lot of things shown in the movie.
There is also room for a cameo role – in my opinion – for Michael York in the character of old man who appears near the end of the movie.
The movie is 2 hours long and once you reach half-way point, you will ask yourself why the movie isn’t finished yet. There is a reason, and it’s magnificent, and is slightly hinted at in the trailer. You will not be disappointed. I score Logan’s Run at 9/10.

Flash Gordon (1980) – Movie Review

Flash Gordon (1980)Don’t mistake Flash Gordon for The Flash. They’re not the same character and their similarities stop at blond hair and their athleticism.
At first glance Flash Gordon looks a lot different than your usual sci-fi movie with the strange world it explores and with your usual band of regular characters, as far as movie characters go. The costumes are different and unique for each race and type of characters and there’s a lot of versatility between the factions in that regard.

The movie starts off with someone sending natural disasters to Earth, upon which we get to meet main characters who are quickly segwayed into a great and unknown space, at least on the first glance. However, we are quickly introduced to harsh reality that seems like a crazy dream one can’t wake up from, but it’s still wonderful and full of its charms one wants to explore in spite of cruelness and tyranny that is ruling it.
So, our three earthly heroes are cast smack down in the middle of it all in the royal hall of the great emperor who does whatever he wants, and nobody can stop him, nor do they dare because his power is so great. So after puny humans create a mess as is expected of them from us viewers – though cheesy, it was still impressive – things turn ugly, and adventure takes turn you’d think it will, but there are surprises along the way because you’ll see things you never saw before. And that is something that makes this movie a great classic.

Flash Gordon doesn’t have great characters by any means, though they are well developed. It is a fun movie to watch, and it won’t leave you hanging. As mentioned before, costumes add a great deal of versatility to characters and this is only enhanced by practical, and when needed CGI effects.

Last but certainly not least is the amazing score by Queen and orchestral themes by Howard Blake. Though plot is somewhat predictable and the movie dated, one can’t help but fall in love with this universe. Not only that but the way the movie ends, it leaves room for sequel. So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard this movie is getting a remake. Not that I’m particularly fond of the idea though, but I’m not opposed to it if Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, X-Men: First Class, Kick Ass, Kingsman the Secret Service) is directing it as the rumor is currently flowing through the interwebz. It remains to be seen what happens to the project though. Until then, enjoy this timeless classic – yes, it is timeless even if it is dated and cheesy. I give it a solid 7.5/10.