Monday, February 25, 2019

Nightflyers (2018)

There is a small obscure tv series called Game of Thrones. You probably haven't heard about it. It is based on Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series by George R.R. Martin. When that got attention of few people it made sense to make tv adaptions of Martin's other work. This is based on Martin's Nightflyers novella.

Series is almost ruined in the beginning. It show scene from later where ship has had incident, one crew member has gone mad and other one kills herself. I watched this unspoiled expecting first contact with aliens science fiction. Beginning set this to be different type of series. Biggest problem was it showed where two characters will end up. After that you wonder how they end up where they end up. That start to happen on later half. Before that showing scene near the end ruined characters arcs. It was shame because one character had interesting backstory and not knowing her fate would have made the series better. Other character isn't as interesting but would have worked better if we weren't shown him going mad at the beginning.

Next problem comes soon after. Ship leaves Earth's orbit but that doesn't go smoothly since someone has sabotaged the ship. One crew member is injured but nothing comes from this. It felt odd for them continuing the mission without doing any check ups when they were still close to Earth. I don't remember there being any urgency. They just left with sabotaged ship. Injuring crew member showed us individual crew members were expendable. This doesn't change later even when someone we know better dies. But that doesn't happen until later. Game of Thrones is famous for killing important characters at any time. This doesn't do that. Important characters die but their deaths lack impact and and the deaths are often foreshadowed earlier. It gives feeling of everyone being expendable.

Series started to work around third episode. By then we know enough of characters and everything stops constantly malfunctioning. Series would have benefited from slower start. Usually this kind of movies and series start introducing characters and then going into the story. This started with story before we knew the characters. This almost made me stop watching. But I continued because I wanted to see what George R.R. Martin's science fiction looks like.

What I can say about that? I watched this in two sessions divided by over night sleep. I found series mostly interesting or I wanted to see where this ends up. I am not sure which and I didn't like the ending which is open ended if not a cliffhanger. There are few issues and cheap story telling devices but mostly I liked the series. Overall this left same feeling is Gene Roddenberry's other series. Creator is better know for other work but this is still interesting without reaching the level of better known work. That said I will probably forget Nightflyers in few days.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Duck, You Sucker! / A Fistful of Dynamite / Giù la testa, lit (1971)

I know this movie better with name A Fistful of Dynamite which is better suitable name than Duck, You Sucker. But it seems that Duck is the better known name. It makes you expect some sort of comedy which this is not when it gets to revolution. Before that and early parts of revolution there is some humor but it gets really serious and dark on second half.

Movie is story of Mexican bandit and Irish explosion expert during Mexican revolution. Movie starts as western comedy. It is the part which doesn't work that well. Later it makes its best to get biggest body count any western has seen. People are executed all the time and at times it gets to industrial levels. Executions are part of the sets. You know which locations are controlled by army when you see executions. Big battle scenes add to the body count. This is surprisingly bloody for movie which starts as comedy.

Duck, You Sucker doesn't reach the level of Dollars Trilogy or Once Upon a Time in West. It has what didn't work so well in those movies without highlights which made the other movies great. It is still entertaining and has few moments worth watching the movie but it is not as much as previous movies.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Godzilla 3: The Planet Eater (2018)

The Planet Eater is third movie in anime Godzilla movie series. After seeing the end credit scene I am not sure if this was trilogy or will there be more movies. Third movie didn't left too much for fourth movie but there was tease for next movie and we saw one monster who hasn't fought Godzilla in this series yet. I will get more into spoiler territory than usually so be warned.

Movie starts where last one ended. There is nothing to get you up to speed. You just have to remember what happened. Like previous movie was memorable enough to justify this. If last movie was about technology this is about suicidal religious cult. Turns out the other alien race travelling with humans worship world devouring monster. Movie tries to make sense of their philosophy. Which is basically world will end one day so we have to summon our world devouring god to finish it quicker.

They don't share this philosophy until they have summoned their god. They get followers promising their god beating Godzilla if humans offer themselves as sacrifices or telling their god have master plan for humans. It wasn't completely clear at which point sacrificing themselves was told to followers. Main story is cult trying to convince Haruo to do something. It is not clear what or what it would do. They could summon their god without Haruo.

Monster fight is three snakes biting Godzilla and Godzilla can't touch them and Haruo dreaming with cult leader trying to convince him to do something. It is hard to make that interesting. It would require cult to have convincing arguments but their argument is give up because life is suffering. I liked dialog more than action scenes in previous movies. I have no problem with idea of the final battle mainly happening in characters dream sequences where someone try to convince him to do something. Cult's weak arguments are the problem. They probably have weakest arguments of anyone in this series and they get most time to express their arguments.

When monster fight ends there is still 15 minutes left. Which is where we get to the message of the trilogy. I call it here trilogy because it ends most of the story arcs. Message of this trilogy is technology is bad because monsters rise when society becomes technologically advanced enough. So best option is to live without technology. I think this was hinted earlier movies. This movie says that is the case. This is science fiction series and its message is technology brings literal monsters which evolve more than we can advance.

I know Godzilla's original message was science can cause something unintended. This time it is not nuclear bomb causing monsters. It is society advancing technologically. Not something specific. Just advancing technologically. I wonder where they got the interesting science fiction concepts when something this stupid is at the core of series.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Once Upon a Time in the West / C'era una volta il West (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West is what you get when you take all the humor from Dollars trilogy. It has really good scenes but beginning where three men wait for a train for ten minutes is bit too much. At least nowadays when tempo of movies have changed faster. But then again it shows how boring waiting can be and it tells something all the time. It can be argued if that something is worth of ten minutes.

Movie lacks Clint Eastwood's charisma. Charles Bronson is not bad but he is bit too one dimensional. Other main characters do better job. Jason Robards is actually really good as Cheyenne. Bronson's character's motivations are bit hard to grasp. Revenge is understandable but every thing else feels it is there to get cool and interesting scenes. Others feel more like real people.

I can understand why some people rate this as best western or even best movie ever made. I would agree with first part if Bronson's character didn't have so many problems. It is like his character is in wrong movie. Rest of the movie tells how railroads change lawless frontier and you have this ultra cool character who leaves himself to be killed knowing he won't be killed because this is his story. I wouldn't have noticed that in lesser movie. But in this almost everything is thought of and everything characters do have meaning.

Now that I have seen four Sergio Leone's biggest westerns there is a question which I liked most. More I think about it I have to say Once Upon a Tine in the West is the best one. I can't find as big issues from Dollar's Trilogy but everything else is so much better in Once Upon a Time in the West that it is my favorite. If some wanted to know my favorite western before this I might have said The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. There might be better ones but I am not that into westerns so Once Upon a Time in the West is my favorite western at the moment. These were the westerns I can name from top of my head.