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Catching Up on SciFi Movies (Part 7)

As before, here are my quick takes on the genre-related films I’ve watched in the last several weeks…

  1. Avatar (2009) – Excellent visuals but it has lackluster story. It’s on par with the Star Wars prequels; great eye candy, but not much more beyond that.
  2. Brazil (1985) – I absolutely loved the atmosphere and look of Terry Gilliam’s weird and wonderful 1985 retro-futuristic Dystopia, which brilliantly spun bureaucracy into satirical social commentary.
  3. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) – Like Resident Evil, there’s nothing new and it does serve its aim of (in this case) zombie story set in a city, but I just couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of “more of same”.
  4. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) – Dumb, but nonetheless fun. Hank Azaria stole the show.
  5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Some corny dialogue and predictability mar this otherwise intriguing extension of the X-Men franchise.
About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

9 Comments on Catching Up on SciFi Movies (Part 7)

  1. There is a chance I’ve watched Brazil, but I just don’t remember it.  I need to get that and watch it sometime soon.

    Watched Moon over the weekend and loved it.

  2. In no way am I claiming Avatar’s storyline was great (or even good) but to compare it to the atrocity that was the Star Wars Prequels is like comparing the mild headache I have today to the way I felt for an entire night after eating two week old potato salad because I thought it was spicy tuna tarragon.

  3. Have to agree that you have judged Avatar a tad harsh and to compare it to the SW prequels is daft. Most of the time they were just a mess of cgi action thrown at the screen in the idea that more is better, whilst Avatar did have a sumptous amount of cgi, it was rarely overwhelming (even in 3d) and I can’t remember wishing that someone had halfed Cameron’s budget as I fervently wished someone had for Lucas.

  4. Mark Stephenson // February 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm //

    Moon was terrific!  A “little” movie with great production values and an engaging, if somewhat depressing, story.  I’ve heard some folks compare it favorably to an extended “Outer Limits” episode.  Works for me, given that good SF is good SF, however packaged.  Moon has a lot more production value, however, and delighted me in the same way I felt when I first saw other “small” SF movies like Silent Running, Dark Star or A Boy and His Dog.  Highly recommended.

    Also, I think a lot of the hits on Avatar are simply people creatively kicking the shins of the biggest, coolest guy in town simple because he is.  Yes, it has flaws.  Every movie has flaws.  Frankly, I think Cameron’s “Aliens” is a better film, but so what?  I had a great time at Avatar and so did everyone else in the theater, judging by the applause and cheers at the end.  But I guess if it’s popular the proper elitist conclusion is that it must be bad, which is why I have no delusions about Avatar winning anything but technical awards on that night of irrelevant putrefactive crap known as the Oscars.  Haven’t watched in 30 years and won’t start this year.  That’s my self-indulgence in reverse elitism.

  5. I totally agree with five stars for ‘Brazil.’ Gilliam’s a genius! I’m looking forward to ‘The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus.”

  6. Mark: Agree with you wholeheartedly on Moon.  Great film.

    Wanted to make sure you weren’t going to lump everyone who disliked Avatar into an “elitist” category.  I have no doubt that several people were predisposed to not like it because of their dislike of Cameron, and several more probably dislike it because suddenly it is a monster hit.  But just because something is popular doesn’t mean  you have to be an elitist to dislike it.  I fully understand people that do like it, in many ways it was a fun film.  But the story was very weak and I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie, and I am a fan of Cameron’s work, including, I’m not ashamed to admit it, Titanic. 

    And Avatar having a better story than the Star Wars prequels?  Come on people, really?!?!  I think the comparisons are pretty right on.  If anything I’d give the nod to the SW prequels because at least they come pre-packaged with the back story (or is it front story?) of the original trilogy, even if they didn’t do anything much to honor it.  Neither of the stories deserve any kind of kudos on the merits of the stories themselves though.  They are both pretty pictures with little substance.


  7. I enjoyed your reviews very much.  I believe your tastes align with mine, which means if you like a movie that I have not seen, I expect that I will like it.  Please post more reviews.

  8. I think I felt a little like you after seeing Avatar, but it sort of surprises you a week later when you start thinking about it again… and then a week after that.  I had to ask myself why I keep thinking about this film, and i think the only answer is that it’s actually pretty dang good.  I think that Cameron will actually pull something better and far more original out of the sequel, and that is maybe the biggest distinction between those Lucas films and Cameron’s creation.  Cameron will use it as a starting point for greater (and original) things.  His track rcord for sequels speaks for itself.

  9. Mark Stephenson // February 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm //

    In the sequel, how about a strike force of Colonial Marines, led by a Lt. Gorman, travels to Pandora to “get some!”   The squad leader would be a Sgt. Hudson, who cracks under the pressure:

    “They cut the power?  How could they cut the power, man?  They’re 10-foot Smurfs!  GAME OVER, MAN! GAME OVER!!”

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