Archive for category Science Fiction

Battleship

Rating: If you want to go space out for a couple of hours and see some awesome CGI, see it in theaters (because the explosions look cool on the big screen).  If you feel you are better than that, maybe catch it on TV sometime.                               

Let’s start by saying that I’m glad if an alien spaceship, that has a giant force field, and just demonstrated extremely superior firepower ever attacks us in the ocean, we have a first response plan which includes the following phases.  Phase 1: Drive Rhianna around in a dinghy and have her fire a rail gun at the ship.  Phase 2: When (not if) phase 1 fails, have a Naval Destroyer entice the enemy ship with a rousing game of chicken.  Phase 3: After the inevitable destruction resulting in the failure of phase 1 and 2 record the faces of several concerned children in slow motion.

Ok now that that is out of the way, let’s discuss the insanity that is Battleship.  This could get interesting so bear with me.  I’ve seen movies described as train wrecks where you can’t look away.  I’ve seen movies so accidentally bad that they can only be laughed at.  Battleship tries a new tactic.  It beats your intelligence into such a pulp that you can’t help but be entertained by the ridiculousness that is unfolding in front of you on screen.  In the art of film making, Battleship gets zero stars.  In the art of awesome summer blockbuster making, Battleship gets four stars.  That averages to a two star movie right?  I don’t know either but just go with it.  Was the movie fantastic? No.  Was the movie terrible? No.  It was just there, on screen, and it made damn sure you knew it.  Plus Rhianna was in it because why not?

With respect to the movies details, let’s start with the bad.  First off acting.  There wasn’t any.  Not much at least.  Taylor Kitsch did what he had to as the burn out turned Lieutenant Alex Hopper, but wasn’t anything amazing.  Rhianna did everything in her power to pretend she was Michelle Rodriguez (you’ve seen her as the bad a** chick in every recent movie that needed a bad a** chick).  I love Liam Neeson, but he was not needed here.  Basically the productions companies said, “Hey Liam, we need a big name attached to this movie, and will give you millions of dollars to be on set for one day.”  And, no big surprise, he said, “Sure”.  He’s in the movie for maybe fifteen minutes and his character is boring, but he’s there.  Most of the acting from other characters was pretty weak as well.  Also, Brooklyn Decker was attractive so there’s that.

The second bad part of the movie was the plot.  Again, there wasn’t any.  I suppose that’s not entirely fair to say; they started to set up a plot but then completely threw it out the window thirty minutes in.  The story stars with Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) as a burnout loner at the bar.  For about ten minutes bad things happen to him, none of which are clever or funny like they were intended to be.  Then he meets Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), and falls in love…literally in like 4 seconds there is a relationship formed on screen.  Anyway, his brother decides he is too much of a screw up and makes him join the NAVY with him.  Cut to several months later, he is still with Samantha, whose dad happens to be Liam Neeson and his Admiral.  Also, surprise, surprise Hopper wasn’t good at life as a civilian and he’s still not really good at life as a soldier.  Because of this Liam Neeson doesn’t like him and doesn’t like him being with his daughter.  Then alien spaceships land in the water and we must fight.  That all takes place in the first thirty minutes or so, and only one portion of this paragraph is revisited for the other hour and forty five minutes.  Guess which one.  I’ll give you a hint; It’s the alien part.

This movie cost over 200 million dollars to make and obviously not much money was spent on actors or writing.  So where was the money spent you ask?  Explosions!  The visual effects and action were clearly this movies saving grace.  They were so spectacular, entertaining, and fun that I wasn’t even mad about spending ten bucks on a plotless movie.  Everything from the alien spaceships, to the explosions, to the traveling missiles was done well.  If you paid attention to the movie’s trailer you have already seen a portion of my favorite CGI/action.  The reddish orange death spheres that the mother ship fires towards unsuspecting cities.  Their mechanics and destruction was very visually entertaining.  Throughout all of the chaos, the movies creators even managed to incorporate the namesake’s board game mechanics without being incredibly cheesy.

Staying on the topic of the movie’s visuals, I really liked the way the aliens looked.  They were humanoid but different enough from a human to clearly from another planet.  Staying with what seems to be the theme of the movie, the aliens looked cool, but they could have done so much more with their story.  We didn’t really know much about them, or why they were here, and I wish we did.  Despite this, I thought the aliens were done fairly well.

One of my other favorite parts of this movie is that it didn’t take itself too seriously.  I think a lot of people would argue that it does, and they are wrong.  I laughed a lot at the insanity during the second half of the movie, and was worried I wasn’t supposed to be.  Then my favorite scene occurred.  A scene so awesomely ridiculous that I realized the creators couldn’t possibly be taking themselves seriously.  I don’t want to ruin it but lets just say it involves some eighty-something year old war vets, a seventy year old, decommissioned battleship, and ACDC’s Thunderstruck.  It was awesome.

Overall the movie was not great, but it wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard some people say.  You have to know what you are getting yourself into and if you like action movies it is worth seeing.  If you are not that big into action movies to begin with, I would recommend skipping it.  I was entertained, though, and hopefully you can get some entertainment out of it as well.

-Gish

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rating – Rent it some time (This one has me on the fence)

I just saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes last night.  This being (I’m pretty sure) the 5th movie to hold “Planet of the Apes” in its title.  That being said, this is only the second one that I have seen.  I saw the Mark Walberg remake of the original when it came out in 2001, but do not remember much about it.  If you couldn’t figure it out from the title, this movie is an origin story, or prequel, to the first story, which has already been put to the big screen twice.  I’m 95% sure the commas in the previous sentence are all in the right place.  Even though this movie is the prequel to a story that has already been put to the big screen twice, and was originally a novel,  I think the plan is to reboot the series…again.

Basically all of that knowledge came from IMDB.  I actually do not know much about the Planet of the Apes saga, and have never really been overly interested in it.  It is probably because of this that when I first saw a preview I thought, “Meh.”  To my surprise the reviews for the movie were very good, so off to the theater I went.

The movie starts with James Franco, as Dr. Will Rodman, working on a new drug that he claims is the cure to Alzheimer’s disease.  Thus far the drug has only been tested on chimps and seems to be working wonders.  More on the chimps shortly.  Dr. Rodman’s father (John Lithgow) is suffering from Alzheimer’s himself, making the cure more personal to the Dr.  Both Lithgow and Franco do a good job playing characters that are mostly uninteresting.  Freida Pinto (from Slumdog Millionaire fame) later becomes Franco’s love interest, and Tom Felton (formerly Draco Malfoy) and the always entertaining Brian Cox round out the main human cast.  All of the actors did a good job, but their characters and storyline, in my opinion, were dull.   This may have been done purposefully by the film’s makers, to give way for the true stars…the apes.   In fact whenever the people were on screen I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah, who cares, give me more of the apes.”

First off, with regard to the apes, the CGI was terrific in this film.  There were maybe one or two instances, when there were multiple apes on screen, that I was reminded these animals were computer generated, but for the most part they looked fantastic.  To make the main chimp, Caesar, more realistic, the film makers used the same technique that was used for Gollum from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and King Kong from, well…King Kong.  The affect is created by using motion capture technology on a real actor and overlaying the creature with the help of computers.  Andy Serkis was the actor they used for both Gollum, and King Kong, so they figured who better to use here.  He must have done a fantastic job because Caesars expressions make you forget that he doesn’t have dialogue throughout the movie.  You truly feel for him, and I found myself rooting for him, rather than the humans for the entirety of the film.  The battle scenes were also action packed and entertaining.

Overall this movie was good, but I found myself kind of bored during the scenes that didn’t include the apes.  I didn’t really care much for the humans, or their story lines.  I would say it was definitely better than I thought it would be after seeing the original previews, but not as good as many of the reviews I have read.

-Gish

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