Monday, November 30, 2015

This Island Earth (1955)

Hollywood seems to be remaking everything these days. Everything else than movies actually deserving remake. Studios choose movies which were masterpieces or at least great first time when they should choose ones which didn't live up to their potential first time. This Island Earth is one of those movies.

I have seen it twice now. I didn't remember almost anything from the first time because ending was so rushed. This Island Earth has two parts. First one happens on Earth and second on space and alien planet. Earth part works but as soon as movie leaves Earth everything feels rushed and events happen conveniently fast and correct order. Alien planet part feels like they run from one scene to another without stopping once.

Alien world felt interesting but it nor the politics which lead the current situation were explained. There was something interesting there which could be studied in remake. In this movie everything came so quickly and characters didn't have time to be anything but one dimensional caricatures.

It was nice to see macho scientist hero. In modern movies scientist are weird, nerds or both. In This Island Earth scientist flies on his own jet and looks and acts like manly man. I think we need similar role models for scientists nowadays too.

This Island Earth looks good for the 1950's science fiction. You can see matte paintings but they look good for their purpose. Story is interesting only problem is rushing at the end. One reason could be last half had most of special effects and director didn't want to spend too much time on alien planet.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

I have reviewed many science fiction movies from time before Star Wars lately. This is from time after Star Wars. Worst thing Star Wars brought was all the copy cats which replaced more thoughtful science fiction movie. Battle Beyond the Stars is good example of those movie. It is not the worst but you can't call it good either.

It is Roger Corman movie. Roger Corman is famous for making movies with low budget and making money with them. Roger Corman has made taking all out of low budget into art. You probably don't think low budget too much during the movie but after the movie you might realize how low budget changed the story.

Evil space tyrant gives peaceful planet ultimatum. Peaceful planet sends one man to find warriors to fight the tyrant. He returns with random group of warriors who have different reasons to fight. Movie takes story from Seven Samurai (1954) or its western remake The Magnificent Seven (1960) and takes it to space. Instead of samurais or cowboys it has aliens which look more like from Star Trek than from Star Wars.

Low budget shows in final battle. To be honest it shows throughout the movie but it becomes problem in final battle. Each warrior attacks one by one. They have different powers and with combining them they could be more effective but everyone attacks alone. When they die or run out of powers next one attacks alone. This start to feel strange after few times but it continues until there is only one left and he attacks alone.

Battle Beyond the Stars exists to cash on Star Wars mania which it did. It has enough similarities to Star Wars to keep the audience happy. It concentrates more on similarities than the story. It is only good for Star Wars fix when you could not buy Star Wars to watch it on your home or cinematic studies how to use your budget efficiently.

Monday, November 23, 2015

When Worlds Collide (1951)

2012(2009) was not officially remake of When Worlds Collide but it took so much from that movie it could have been. Like War of the Worlds (2005) it changed focus point from scientists to real people living in the events of the story. When Worlds Collide tells about the people who build the space ships. 2012 told about the race to the space ships.

When Worlds Collide has much less last second escapes than 2012. It also has different reason for Earth's destruction. This time reason is rogue star and planet orbiting it coming too close to Earth. In 2012 space ships came back to Earth. In this they go to planet orbiting the rogue star.

When Worlds Collide is serious science fiction movie but if you know your science you will see some problems. 2012 had own problems with science but not with number of survivors cause genetic bottle neck which probably would kill the species if they would survive on alien planet without supplies.

When Worlds Collide follows attempt to build space ship to save mankind. Building is race against time and effects of approaching rogue star. Not everyone can be in ship. Some get selected and others will have lottery for the rest of the seats.

Movie misses opportunity here by having only male lead to thinking about seats and is he worth the seat. We will know he will be there because he is the male lead. Minor character having same thoughts would have worked better because we would have not been sure.

When Worlds Collide brings The War of the Worlds (1953) to mind. Both have same producer George Pal. This might be reason why movies have so much same themes and feel so similar. When Worlds Collide feel like first attempt and The War of the World the final product. When Worlds Collide is not a bad movie. It just is not as good as The War of the Worlds and feel bit too similar.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Why I had not heard about The Day the Earth Caught Fire before this? It is one of the best science fiction movies from 60's and I had not seen the name anywhere before this. Is it because it is not American movie but a British one?

The Day the Earth Caught Fire starts with news reporter walking in post apocalyptic city. He is going to office to write what had happened. Flashbacks tell us what has happened previous days and what happened to Earth. 50's science fiction movies told stories from scientists point of view and from the center of the story.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire follows news reporter who was given task to write about sun spots and how they cause strange weather they are having. He tries to contact scientists but they throw him out. That is last moment we see scientists in this movie. Scientists don't want truth to be told because it is too horrible.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire never goes to center of the story where scientist try to figure out what has happened and how to fix it. Movie  follows normal people like the news reporter who live like nothing major has happened and later figure what is really going on. It follows normal people living their life in world turning into waste land.

I am not going to spoil the ending. It is quite powerful and made movie much better. There is no flip of a switch which makes everything better. We don't actually see what will happen next. Neither does the characters. This makes movie's message more powerful.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire is not only one of the best science fiction movies from 60's. It is also one of the all time best science fiction movies. It is shame it is not better known and people don't see it because of that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hype is Strong with Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Random BS with Kvesti

My take on Star Wars: The Force awakens hype. My YouTube channel has not died even when I don't post so much from there to here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Thaw aka Arctic Outbreak (2009)

The Thaw is science fiction horror movie with environmental message. Somehow it makes people who care about environment and climate change look bad. Melting ice releases ancient deadly parasite. Scientific expedition contacts parasite just before few students join them. Instead of putting themselves into quarantine they let students to come to the base camp.

No one is at base camp when they land. No one but carcass of dead polar bear and parasites. This is where movie starts to go wrong way. Instead of keeping us guessing who is infected and who is not movie clearly shows us who is infected. For some reason infection works differently for each person depending on what story requires at that point.

I am not kidding. For every single person has different symptoms and rate of spread. There was two symptoms which two characters had but everything else was different for these two too. There was change to make movie about paranoia this situation causes but only paranoid character was one of the infected.

Script is movie's biggest problem. There is "big twist" but you saw that coming if you paid attention to the movie. It is a shame they didn't put more effort into script because everything else works. Cinematography, effects and acting feel almost too good for straight to dvd movie. Not great but suitable for better movie. What problems characters have are from script not from actors.

I liked idea of horror movie where the threat is realistic and message which may change people act better. However that is not enough. The Thaw wastes potential by doing poor choices. It is not a bad movie. Just average.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun aka Doppelgänger (1969)

Another science fiction movie from time before Star Wars ruined it all for serious science fiction movies. Original Star Wars trilogy was good but it changed what people expected from science fiction movies. Before Star Wars the idea was important. After Star Wars visual effects and action took more important role. Science Fiction movies with interesting ideas were still made but market was floated with Star Wars influenced movies.

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is good example of old science fiction movies where the idea is most important. Satellite finds new planet another side of the sun. Mission is send to study the planet. Ship crashes to planet. When surviving astronaut wakes up he is told he is back on Earth after three weeks when mission should have taken six weeks.

Astronaut is sure they didn't turn back and he is sure they crashed to new planet. After a while he realizes everything is mirror image of what he remembers from Earth. This leads to twist which is spoiled in original name. Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is better name and describes movie better.

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun stays serious science fiction through out the movie. It doesn't become action movie. It is closer to horror than action. It felt little like Twilight Zone episode at times but only a little. Twilight Zone would have told the story differently but it could have told the same story.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Battle Beyong the Sun (1959)

Battle Beyond the Sun is American re-edit of Soviet movie Nebo Zovyot. Battle Beyond the Sun is thirteen minutes shorter but it has monsters. Monsters were only issue in otherwise good hard science fiction movie. They felt like from another movie. After watching the movie I learned it was edited from Soviet movie. Which explained why it felt different and why Americans were shown in bad light.

Battle Beyond the Sun happens in near future of 1997 after world has been divided into two fractions, North Hemis and South Hemis. South Hemis take things seriously while North Hemis is reckless and dangers themselves to show the South Hemis. North Hemis felt like evil Americans even before I knew this was originally Soviet movie.

South Hemis is about to send mission to Mars when North Hemis ship lands to their space station. On dinner they South Hemis scientists tell about the mission. North Hemis has also planned similar mission but they are not ready yet. They are willing to try to make it to Mars to beat the South Hemis. South Hemis ship could get to Mars but they save North Hemis ship. South Hemis ship has to land on asteroid without enough fuel to get back to earth.

Like other science fiction movies from behind the Iron Curtain Battle Beyond the Sun is refreshing view from different kind of society. These movies are more thoughtful and collaboration is more important. Original movie had someone dying because he flew unprotected ship. In this version he was killed by monsters. At least that is what Wikipedia says. I have not seen the original movie.

Like I said in beginning of this review monsters were only issue I had with this movie and they were added later. I would like to see the original which is longer and don't have monsters.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Spectre (2015) more spoilers and ranting

First review got quite long and I had to drop some things out. I kept spoilers mild. This time I have big spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

I didn't mention Batista in first review. He was completely wasted in this movie. I could not understand his character. He was there when movie needed something intimidating. I don't remember him saying anything. He was some kind of anti-bond. First time we see him in Spectre meeting when he kills someone in front of everyone. He chases Bond when Bond escapes the meeting.

Next time we see him when he kidnaps movie's female lead. Third and last time is when he attacks Bond in train. Bond and female lead are on they way to Blofeld's place. Blofeld is waiting them. It made no sense for Blofeld to send Batista to kill Bond. Movie probably needed action scene at that point.

So Blofeld's father adopted Bond and Bond and Blofeld were brothers until Blofeld killed his father because of this. That is even more stupid than what Austin Powers and Dr. Evil had. I don't remember this from previous movies or books. It wasn't enough villain was master mind of global crime syndicate. He had to be hero's brother too and responsible of death of all women in Bond's life. I thought M's death was ex-agent's revenge but no, it was because of Blofeld. Everything evil is because of Blofeld.

I think Bond found his right one. Madeleine Swann couldn't have sex before killing someone minutes before like Bond did. They are clearly meant for each others. If they continue like this they will be villains of next movie when other agents hunt serial killer couple.

I don't know if this was theater's or movie's fault but movie looked like someone skipped at least one step in color grading process. Everything looked light low contrast brown. Just like they forgot to put colors and contrast back to movie.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Spectre (2015)

Last time I saw Bond movie in theater he was played by Timothy Dalton. I wasn't sure if I should check this in theater or not. I decided to do it because of this blog an my Finnish video reviews. Trailer didn't feel interesting but early reviews told this was good. I have to spoil movie little bit to explain why it is so bad. I leave major spoilers out of this review. There will be post with major spoilers next Thursday.

Bond is sick and twisted serial killer. Bond can't have sex unless he has killed someone few minutes before and I am not sure if that is enough. Bond has sex twice. Both times he had killed someone few minutes before. He killed first woman's husband earlier. He gave gun to second woman's father and watched him kill himself.

Third woman wanted Bond but he had to go for quick kill before they could have sex. When things got complicated they didn't have sex. I am not kidding. All this happened. Our hero is serial killer who can't have sex if he has not killed anyone only moments before. Good role model for kids and that is not all.

Bond don't care if he lives or dies. In first action scene he fights against helicopter pilot in helicopter. Helicopter almost crashes few times but Bond doesn't care. He just tries to kill the pilot not caring if helicopter crashes or not. Pilot cares little bit. There are no stakes if your hero doesn't show he could die. We have seen good action scenes in moving vehicles where guys fight and steer vehicle when it is about to crash. Fighting continues when it is safer to fight. There is nothing like that in this scene.

Spectre tries to be realistic. It doesn't work when nothing hurts your hero. There is even a scene which explains how Bond is hurt but few seconds later he doesn't look or act like he is hurt. Older Bond movies didn't try to be realistic. That made them fun.

Spectre makes effort to be least fun it can possible be. Fast & Furious 7 (2015) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) are much better Bond movies because they are fun. Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) told same story much better. I even waited for someone to say "Hail Hydra" because this was so close to Winter Soldier, only much worse.

Blofeld was given history with Bond and revealed to be behind everything bad in Bond's life because why not. Having your villain to be master mind behind global criminal organization is not enough. He has to be connected with your hero. I didn't believe where they went with this because it was so stupid and went even more stupid as more was revealed- Another twist is so obvious you can see it as soon as you see the character. You just wait for twist to come.

Spectre is probably Daniel Craig's last Bond movie. He had some harsh word to say about the franchise during promo tour. Craig's era started strong with Casino Royale and was down hill from that point on. Second movie didn't feel like complete movie. It felt more like first part of two part movie. Skyfall (2012) and Spectre feel like Bond movies by people who hate Bond movies. Both suffer from the fact they are Bond movies.

Spectre is fitting ending for Craig's era. It concludes everything and sends Bond away. If this continues next movie won't have agents stuff. It is time for a change and new guy.