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Catching Up On SF Movies (JP Edition, Part Deux)

  1. Ink (2009) – Ink is the one of the best movies you’ve never seen, most likely because it never hit the theaters. Ink is an indie production that was shot for $250k. It’s amazing what a limited budget will do for your creativity. Ink is bascially a story about one battle in the war between Good and Evil, where the battlefield is our dreams. It touches on the themes of love, sacrifice and redemption wrapped up in a tidy non necessarily linear storyline with a nice twist at the end. The effects are certainly acceptable, especially given the budget, and the bad guys’ are creepy, unnerving and menacing. Their costumes are one of the highlights of this film. The acting, while not of award calibre, is more than adequate to tell the storywhile the soundtrack is outstanding. Another nicely imagined piece is the character called ‘Tracker’. He can literally sense the ‘beat’ (as in music) of the world and can alter it to make things happen as he wishes. The first 20 minutes or so are very slow, being setup, and confusing, but once the main story kicks in, time seems to fly by. Definitely recommended.
  2. Surrogates (2009) – Surrogates stars Bruce Willis, playing Bruce Willis, but with a twist. He also plays android ‘surrogate’ Bruce Willis, who has a really rad hair piece. In a nutshell, remote controlled androids, the ‘surrogates’, allow humans to see and experience just about anything their minds can dream up, all while nestled safely in their control couches at home. The big plus? No real human contact. It’s an intriguing idea and could have been used to explore how such a technology would affect society. Instead, in typical Hollywood fashion, we end up getting chase scenes and explosions. Read the book Kiln People by David Brin for a better take on this idea. Though for what it is, a vehicle for Bruce Willis, it’s not bad. Not great, but not bad.
  3. Sleep Dealer (2009) Sleep Dealer is another indie SF film with a south of the border point of view. Virtual reality has reached the point where workers can jack in at a central location and remotely control robots to do any number of jobs. This being Mexico, no one needs to cross the border to find work, they just sign up with a ‘Sleep Dealer’ and work jobs all over the world. Overall think Blade Runner-ish with a Mexican flair. The film is marred by a flat performance from the lead actor and everyone else seems to just be there for an acting job. One of the best bits, though, is a TV program called Drones. Think Cops crossed with the military’s UAV program. Hilariously and scarily probably, it’s satire at its finest.
  4. Moon (2009) – The best of this bunch, Moon pretty much lives up to they hype. A quiet, intense character study of a man caught on the moon, it never went were I was expecting and Sam Rockwell turns in a terrific performance as, well, Sam. Despite the unbelievability of the apparatus surrounding Sam, Moon is a thought provoking and moving look at a man who just wants to go home, even if that home isn’t what he thought it was. Defintely recommended.
  5. Mutant Chronicles (2009) – What’s not to like in a movie about mutant hordes, created by ancient crashed alien ship, menacing, and killing remorselessly, a future Earth’s populace in a WW I meets vaugely steampunk setting? For starters, just about everything. The acting is uniformly terrible, with Ron Perlman and John Malkovich apparently mailing this in for a paycheck. The story is a horrid, rushed mess that makes little sense while the look of the film is of a third-rate Sin City, in love with the color red to highlight the blood, which there is quite a bit of, or, if you prefer, of which there is quite a bit. And perhaps most tellingly, the movie is boring. Not good when your movie clocks in at almost two hours. I did like the aesthetics of the steampowered machines, the buried city where a lot of the action takes place is intriguing and the music is rather good. But when you’re relying on the music to pump up the movie, you’re in trouble. I’d skip this one.
About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

5 Comments on Catching Up On SF Movies (JP Edition, Part Deux)

  1. Moon for me didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it. I did find it an engaging little movie and admire what they managed to achieve using a limited budget.

    However once the reveal was done about the 2nd character the movie plodded along not asking a number of the obvious questions or taking any real indepth look at the situations the characters were in. They should either have trimmed out half an hour or so, or they should have asked a lot more searching questions of the characters and the plot.

    I thought Surrogates was a great movie, just unfortunatly it was released about 20 years to late. As a scifi thriller/action movie it held its end up well, but as a Scifi fan and viewer I felt that it lacked some of the depth and thought that scifi films started to engage with over the last 10-15 years.

  2. “Moon” was an absolute gem!  A nearly perfect, “small” SF film.  I could rave on, but I won’t.

  3. Matte Lozenge // March 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm //

    I agree that Moon was well crafted and enjoyable, but overrated. For me, the whole film stayed at an even level of quality throughout that was decent but never reached to a sense of wonder…not even very high level of originality or intelligence.

    Ink was about as good overall, but very different. In some ways better, with more originality, mystery and wonder. In some ways worse, with a lot of absurd oversentimentality, pointless obscurity, and Matrix-y intrusions. But still well worth watching.

  4. Luke Shea // March 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm //

    I adore Moon.  Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are two of the only SF films I can think of that gave me the same sense of wonder and thoughtful engagement as a good SF book.  And that Mansel soundrack!  Mmmm.

    I loved the premise of Sleep Dealer, but felt that it fell flat in a couple of ways.  SPOLER ALERT!!

    When dear ol’ dad got exploded by a corny aftereffects composition, I actually laughed.  I felt bad for laughing, but it was so over-the-top.  The plot got a little wobbly later on in the film.  All in all, I consider it an interesting failure, and I’ll take an interesting failure over a boring success any day.

    I’m sad to hear so many negative-to-Meh things about Surrogates.  I haven’t seen the film, but the comic it’s based on was quite good.  Part cop thriller, part Dollhouse, part Ghost in the Shell.  From the look of the trailer, they Hollywooded the story quite a bit.  I really wish they had made it an animated film and captured the kinetic feel of the art in the book.  But I wish that about everything.  I had hope, but oh well.

  5. @ Luke, just curious about your views on Moon, did you not find yourself getting rather frustrated after the 2nd character was introduced that the implications of his existance weren’t explored at all by either of them? I felt they rapidly became ‘an odd couple’ and completely ignored any deeper questions.

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