Monday, September 24, 2018

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Independence Day (1996) was big deal when it was released and some people still defend it. It was one of Roland Emmerich's disaster movies where most important things are destruction and barely escaping the destruction all the time. I have seen it couple times but remember almost nothing of it. Independence Day: Resurgence is sequel it.

I start from positive. I liked how Earth had turned into futuristic science fiction world. It made sense since twenty years have passed since first movie. Second positive thing was lot of visual effects artists got work. They spent lot of money on special effect but there was too much of them. Screen was full of everything in special effect shots. It was too chaotic. They couldn't have been able to fly with that much of everything flying in the air.

Action scenes weren't exciting because they were too much over the top. There weren't any stakes. I think only seven people with dialog died. All of them were set to die. This is so based in formulas you know what happen to each character almost as soon as you seen them. Only thing I didn't expect was friendly alien. Well before the movie I didn't expect there to be friendly alien. It was easy to guess it was friendly when Jeff Goldblum suggested they don't shoot it.

I had hard time watching this because it has so little to offer. Everything was so much by the numbers. No interesting ideas. Just lot of cgi and action. It would be easy to say characters didn't have any personality because there was one character whose personality was she was Chinese pilot. She got to hang with three new main characters because movies like this make lot of money in China. Those main characters didn't have much more personality.

Thor's brother was most developed new character. He was reckless but really good pilot who had almost killed Will Smith's son. He has problems with authorities. Will Smith's son was angry to Thor's brother. Thor's brother's buddy was looking for girlfriend and liked Chinese pilot. When I add Thor's brother's girlfriend is first movie's president's daughter I have said everything I can say about four new main characters without saying what they do in the movie. You can pretty much guess where these characters go based on what I just said.

There are no conflicts between characters after aliens show up. Only conflicts are between Thor's brother and Will Smith's son, Thor's brother and his Chinese boss and Jeff Goldblum and politicians but these conflict cease to exist when aliens come. Conflict between Jeff Goldblum and politicians is solved by Thor's brother stealing a ship and getting Jeff Goldblum to investigate wreckage of shot down alien ship. Thor's brother doesn't get any consequences of this.

Heroes can do what ever they like without anyone stopping them. African Warlord can go anywhere he likes because he was with Jeff Goldblum. People who are clearly controlled by aliens are trusted with important tasks in beating aliens. Brent Spinner has been in coma for two decades and write alien language to walls after he wakes when aliens show up. We should let him study friendly alien ship.

Independence Day: Resurgence is big mess. Emphasis on word big. Everything is big. Action scenes are big with lot of stuff flying everywhere. Cast is big. Too big to give individual characters personalities or interesting character arcs. Budget was so big they didn't dare to take changes. Movie is full of events which should give audience reaction. There is little to make you think. Everything is there to get reaction out of you.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Beyond Skyline (2017)

I will spoil Skyline (2010) and Beyond Skyline (2017) more than I usually spoil movies I review. If you want to see them unspoiled you should watch them before reading this.

Skyline was zombie movie where zombies where replaced by aliens until the sequel bait ending. It had all characters dying or getting captured by alien and aliens winning all over the world. Then movie goes inside alien ship where we see male and female lead alive. Male lead's brains are put to alien body but he didn't become mindless slave like others. He fight other aliens and save female lead. Movie ends them still being inside alien ship. I liked movie before alien ship part. It didn't feel like it should have been in the movie.

Beyond Skyline shows why it was in the movie. It was main part of this movie's story arc. Movie starts showing group of other people during events of Skyline. Survivors end up in same space ship as first movie's male and female lead. Then aliens leave. David Zayas' plan was correct in first movie. If they stayed hidden they would have survived. Beyond Skyline goes down when they enter space ship. Just like in Skyline except this time it happens on first third of the movie.

Beyond Skyline doesn't bring much what wasn't introduced in Skyline. Beyond Skyline explains what we saw in Skyline. That is the problem. Aliens worked better as mysterious unstoppable force. Beyond Skyline explains them as ancient astronauts who created mankind. I am always lost when movie does this. Ancient aliens and intelligent design takes away science fiction credibility in my eyes. Beyond Skyline uses both of them.

Aliens created us to be harvested every two thousand years or something like that. That explains why aliens light make humans zombie like and why human brains fit to alien bodies. Problem is that aliens don't act like we are harvested every two thousand years. They try to catch everyone. It would create evolutionary bottle necks around the world when almost everyone is gone from different areas. There might not be anyone to be harvested next time. Before you say mankind have survived things like plagues, you have to realize plagues haven't killed over 95% of population like aliens do in Skyline movies.

It is interesting premise is based on intelligent design but evolution is main plot point. Mankind has evolved so that some of us can keep our personality when our brains are put into alien body. Skyline's male lead was one of those people. One character in this movie is another. Skyline's male and female leads' daughter is kind of chose one of this movie series. Yes, she was established in first movie even though it wasn't used much there. Daughter's blood can free human brains in alien bodies from slavery. If first movie is more like zombie movie this one was action movie where they escape aliens with daughter.

Beyond Skyline being action movie causes problems. It means characters can kill aliens easier than in first movie. Characters can do this because aliens forget to use their light several times when it would have been best option. Humans even go out doors to fight against aliens who can fly and harvest people from air using zombifying lights. Lucky for our heroes aliens didn't use light and fought hand to hand using human sized aliens. They used earlier much bigger aliens. Aliens aren't similar threat here. They are obstacles to overcome.

I am disappointed. Skyline made me care about boring and unlikable characters. Beyond Skyline starts with interesting characters and turn them into hero mode. If there is conflict between characters it is solved in next scene never to be returned. Conflict may not have any build up. It is brought up in scene and solved in next. I expected this to be better version of Skyline but got movie where worst of Skyline was boosted. To underline they don't know what they were doing movie ends with bloopers. They ended serious movie, where aliens harvested most of the human race, with bloopers. I guess both movies had to end disappointing way.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Skyline (2010)

When I said Extinction (2018) was practically Skyline with interesting twist I didn't remember much about Skyline. I thought I had reviewed it. I only remembered there was sequel bait at the end but didn't remember what it was. I was going to watch the ending before watching sequel Beyond Skyline since both were available for streaming. But because I had not reviewed it yet I decided to watch it and review it.

Skyline is zombie movie where zombies are replaced by alien attack. Zombie movies are not about zombies. They are about people trying to survive zombie apocalypse. The point is apocalypse. It doesn't have to be zombies. Alien attack will do fine. When I saw this first time I didn't realize how many beats Skyline took from Zombie movies. Aliens hypnotize humans to be easy prey. This could danger other people but hypnotized people don't attack other humans. That and ending are almost all the differences to zombie movies.

I won't spoil the ending. It is sort of sequel bait but not really. It should have been left to cutting room floor. It was tonally different from the rest of the movie and made no sense. Movie started bad but won me over when it took more beats from zombie movies. But this ending which came out of nowhere ruined the movie. It made me forgot how good the movie was just moments before.

Extinction and Skyline are about people surviving alien attack but there is one more thing in common. Both have one character which is on screen when movie is good and is away when it is not that good. In Skyline the character is David Zayas' character. His character doesn't get any build up but he is more interesting than any of the main characters we have followed from the beginning. Like he was only one knowing what kind of movie he was in or only one who could make script work.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Extinction (2018)

I am starting to feel Netflix pays people in social media for promotion of their movies. I have seen several movies get praise they don't quite deserve. Movies aren't bad but not worth the praise they get. Extinction is one of those movies. It is also one of Netflix movies which would have worked better as episode of anthology series.

I don't get into more spoilers than the trailer but if you haven't seen the trailer and want to watch this movie unspoiled I suggest you do it before reading further.

Extinction is pretty much Skyline (2010) with interesting twist. It is movie about how normal people would survive alien attack. Most of them wouldn't. This takes first hour of one and half hour movie. First twenty minutes are about man seeing visions of alien attack and introducing his family. Next forty minutes are said family trying to survive alien attack. Then there is a twist which makes this good science fiction movie for twenty minutes. Last fifteen minutes are credits and getting back to surviving alien attack.

I am not sure if that twenty minutes is worth watching one and half hour movie. It is weird everything good happens inside twenty minutes. Even weirder that it is almost the same time we see one character's face. Movie is good only when this one character shows his face. It is not because actor is so good. It is because everything interesting is revealed after the character showed his face and before he leaves the movie. Fact that they could tell everything interesting in twenty minutes tells this should have been under an hour episode of anthology series.

If you want to optimize your time usage and see that twenty minutes of good science fiction you can watch the trailer and start the movie from forty seven minutes. It is up to you if you want to stop around hour and twenty minutes mark. Talking about trailer. I think it revealed bit too much. It revealed alien attack was real. It ruined first twenty minutes little when you knew aliens would attack. Trailers have to show the movie but in this case visions would have been enough.

Extinction had good idea but they made wrong movie. If not the wrong movie time was allocated wrongly. Too much time was given to alien attack because there was actually more than just regular alien attack. Movie has more bad than good but bad is not really that bad and when it is good it is good.