Category Archives: Sci-Fi

After Yang (2022) Review

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After Yang

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Jake Fleming
Jodie Turner-Smith as Kyra Fleming
Justin H. Min as Yang Fleming
Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja as Mika Fleming
Haley Lu Richardson as Ada
Director: Kogonada

When his young daughter’s beloved companion, an android named Yang malfunctions, Jake searches for a way to repair him. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has been passing in front of him, reconnecting with his wife and daughter across a distance he didn’t know was there.

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After Yang was one of my most anticipated films of this year. A couple of years ago, I watched Columbus and was very surprised, it was incredible and lingered in the mind long after watching. Naturally I was interested in what director Kogonada would make next. Finally his next film is here, this time a sci-fi movie starring Colin Farrell. His sophomore feature is released about 5 years after his debut movie, but the wait was well worth it.

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After Yang is a very contemplative and meditative movie, and such it really takes its time, especially at the beginning. It might turn off some people who aren’t interested in a slow burn, but I was invested in everything that happened. Despite being set vaguely in the future, much of the setting is kept vague, and it is deliberately focused in telling an intimate story. It uses advancements like robots to help to serve the story, and not necessarily be the focus. Essentially, After Yang is a movie about coming to terms with a potential death in the family. There’s a lot that can be taken from this movie. Without providing the context in the plot I can say that a major part involves memory and losing time. With it involving robots, unsurprisingly it is a movie about what it means to be living the life of a human being and to be alive, but also what it means to be in a family. It even covers adoption and racial identity. After Yang is a very thought-provoking film, especially with the conversations between characters. Its very bittersweet, yet tender and heartfelt, and it sticks with you long after watching. There are some issues I had, even though I liked how it ended, it felt a little abrupt. There is also some corporate conspiracy subplot that was introduced during the movie, but it doesn’t amount to anything. It might’ve been intended as a bit of worldbuilding, but this surveillance part came up more than a couple of times that it distracted a little bit.

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The cast are all great, everyone gives such convincing performances. Colin Farrell is the main focus of the movie and is the standout. This is some of his best work, very subtle yet very powerful. The rest of the cast playing the family are really good, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandreawidjaja, and Justin H. Min as Yang the robot. Haley Lu Richardson is also great in her small but notable part.

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As I said earlier, the main reason I was interested in After Yang was its director Kogonada. His work on Columbus was fantastic, and once again he delivers here. Like with Columbus it has a very calming and dreamlike atmosphere, and the cinematography is outstanding and stunning, with some aesthetically pleasing visuals especially with the production design. It’s incredibly edited, especially in the way that they portray memories. Finally, the soundtrack from Aska Matsumiya is beautiful and entrancing, perfectly accompanying the relaxed and mediative vibe of the movie.

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After Yang is another fantastic movie from Kogonada. A mediative, intimate, existential yet beautiful reflection on life, loss and humanity. Its visually stunning, directed incredibly, and made even better with the powerful performances from the cast. I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already, it’s one of my favourites of this year thus far.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Review

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Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator
Nick Stahl as John Connor
Kristanna Loken as the T-X
Claire Danes as Katherine “Kate” Brewster
Director: Jonathan Mostow

A powerful cyborg from a post-apocalyptic future appears in search of a drifter. Soon, he must protect himself and his companion from a deadly robotic threat.

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The first two Terminator movies are widely regarded as action sci-fi classics. However, the following movies in the series has been receiving a rather mixed reception. That being said, I like them all, and that extends to Terminator 3. Made and released over a decade after the excellent Terminator 2, Rise of the Machines is enjoyable despite its many issues.

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The biggest problem of Terminator 3 is how similar it is to Terminator 2, to the point where it almost feels like a copy. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator goes back in time to protect John Connor from a more advanced Terminator, and there are plenty of one liners and action scenes. It doesn’t help that much of it feels like it is on autopilot. The plot is less interesting, the characters aren’t as strong, and there’s not nearly as much emotion or depth to it, despite some of the opportunities presented here. The attempts at comedy are increased, but come across as being more forced, and I think its goofier than it was intending to be; the scene in which the Terminator gets his clothes here is an example of this. While some one liners are memorable, they were more misses than hits. That being said, I was fairly entertained with the movie, helped by a tight pace. It is also elevated by a surprising third act, with the bleak ending being a standout. While I can see why people wouldn’t like it, it is at least admirable. It is a bold move for a franchise movie to end on such a nihilistic note. At the same time, you get the feeling that it could’ve been more impactful had it been handled better.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as another Terminator sent back in time, and is solid as usual even if he’s feeling a bit tired here. One thing working against him is that he just feels like a copy of his Terminator from Terminator 2, only he’s not as good, almost like an empty shell. His characterisation isn’t as strong and doesn’t feel as human. At the same time, there are plenty of human moments where he acts like his Terminator 2 counterpart, despite not having humanising moments like he did with young John Connor. The rest of the cast aren’t as good. Nick Stahl and Claire Danes are fine as John Connor and his future wife Kate, but are forgettable. Terminator 3 is a logical and accurate continuation of where John Connor would go after stopping Judgment Day, but they don’t do much beyond the first act. Danes is also fine with what she is given but is underdeveloped despite playing a major role in the movie. Then there’s the new villain Terminator, this time it’s the T-X as played by Kristanna Loken. While the idea had potential, the execution has much to be desired. It’s a female Terminator and that’s all that’s going for her. She wasn’t menacing, she was hard to take seriously and was a step back after the Terminator villains.

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Jonathan Mostow directs this, overall his work is just okay but unsurprisingly pales in comparison to James Cameron’s work on the previous movies. Much like the writing, a big part of the problem is that it just feels like a copy of Terminator 2, except not as good. It doesn’t have much of a style of its own. Its also feels on autopilot, not helped by the generic score from Marco Beltrami. That being said, the action scenes are quite entertaining. It can be a bit messy and sloppy at times, but at the very least goes all in with the bonkers action. An early chase scene involving a truck in the first act particularly shines. While there is clearly an overreliance on CGI and the effects haven’t aged well, there are still some good practical stunts.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a decent enough sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger is entertaining as usual, the action is fun, and there’s some aspects that are well done. The problem is that its just pretty much just a copy of Terminator 3, only not done as well. The only purpose of the movie seems to be the direction of its ending, and even that could’ve been handled better. Still, it’s okay if you manage expectations going into it.

The 6th Day (2000) Review

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The 6th Date

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Adam Gibson
Tony Goldwyn as Michael Drucker
Michael Rapaport as Hank Morgan
Michael Rooker as Robert Marshall
Sarah Wynter as Talia Elsworth
Robert Duvall as Dr. Griffin Weir
Director: Roger Spottiswoode

In the distant future, human cloning technology falls into the destructive, corrupt hands of a multinational corporation. But one man refuses to be a pawn in this deadly conspiracy.

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I have been meaning to check out The 6th Day for some time, I knew it as another Arnold Schwarzenegger action sci-fi movie. However from what I heard going into it, its not exactly one of his most beloved movies. It definitely has a lot of problems, but I liked it overall.

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The story of The 6th Day definitely has some holes and issues; it starts off intriguing but becomes less interesting as it progresses. I liked the slightly futuristic setting with the technological advancements, some of those predictions are even accurate to today. It also raises some interesting ethical questions, especially about cloning. However, the movie is not clever enough to do anything interesting with those ideas, like its in completely the wrong movie. As a result, it is all over the place tonally, it has dark and disturbing implications with the future but has plenty of silly moments. However there is a charm to the movie, ,and I think The 6th Day does work better as a silly Schwarzenegger film with sci-fi elements than a serious sci-fi movie about cloning. The movie definitely succeeds when it has fun with its premise, and it definitely has those moments. While the overall plot isn’t memorable, there are some individual sequences which are. It is also a funny movie and has some great one liners.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger leads The 6th Day, and this is definitely not one of his best movies or performances. However, he’s as enjoyable and charismatic as ever, handling the action and the one liners with ease. Robert Duvall has also done much better in other movies, but he’s decent in his screentime here. The villains aren’t anything special but work well enough for this plot, from Tony Goldwyn as the main antagonist, to Michael Rooker as one of his henchmen.

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Roger Spottiswoode directs The 6th Day, and his work here is fine. Some of the CGI is very early 2000s and is dated, but it can be enjoyably silly. There are some entertaining sequences, and I liked the futuristic setting shown in the movie, especially with the technology and weapons. The action isn’t fantastic but between the laser shootouts and car chases, its fun and well shot.

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The 6th Day is not a good movie, despite an intriguing premise and ideas, it really doesn’t utilise them to their fullest. Out of Arnold’s action movies, its not one of his best. That being said, I still had fun with it. The cast are decent, and the action was at least entertaining. It’s definitely no Total Recall, but if you’re a fan of Schwarzenegger, then The 6th Day has enough to make it worth checking out.

Nope (2022) Review

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Nope

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Kaluuya as Otis Jr. “OJ” Haywood
Keke Palmer as Emerald “Em” Haywood
Steven Yeun as Ricky “Jupe” Park
Brandon Perea as Angel Torres
Michael Wincott as Antlers Holst
Wrenn Schmidt as Amber Park
Keith David as Otis Haywood Sr.
Director: Jordan Peele

Residents in a lonely gulch of inland California bear witness to an uncanny, chilling discovery.

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Nope was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022, simply because it’s the newest film from Jordan Peele. I loved his past work with Get Out and Us, and while I didn’t know much about Nope except the cast and theories about what it might be about, I was very interested in it. I had to wait about an extra month before I could watch the movie, but I finally got the chance to watch Nope, and it did not disappoint.

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Much like Jordan Peele’s other movies, Nope is really worth going into blind, so I’ll try to keep details regarding the plot to a minimum. Nope has a considerably larger scale compared to his past movies, and I think the ambition paid off. This is definitely a genre picture and a love letter to sci-fi, there are even whimsical moments that are reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s movies. At the same time, it is thematically dense and layered with biting social commentary. I won’t go into too much depth with what the movie is about, but I can some of the prominent themes include, exploitation (particularly of animals), and how people can turn trauma, violence and tragedy into spectacle for the masses and profit; ironically, Nope is a spectacle about a spectacle. It explores the dark truth of what it means to create or capture an extravaganza, and asks whether it is worth it at all. There’s a lot here that can be unpacked and analysed, and it had me reflecting on some moments and choices hours after watching the film. As expected with it being a Jordan Peele movie, Nope has some comedy which fits surprisingly well and is entertaining. At the same time, it equally handle the horror well too. Between the three Peele movies, this is probably his least scary film thus far. Still, there is this a looming sense of dread throughout, with eerie tension and a terrifying atmosphere. It also has probably the scariest scene I’ve seen from his movies; its halfway through the movie and lasts for probably less than a minute, but it was one of the most unnerving scenes I’ve seen from a recent horror film. Nope is a long movie at 130 minutes and the slow pacing might turn some people off, especially early on when it’s setting up the story. However, it worked for me, and it culminated in a highly satisfying third act.

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The small but intimate cast give great, subtle and layered performances here. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer play the protagonists, and they are fantastic here. They are very believable and share a convincing on-screen sibling bond together. The rest of the cast including Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Keith David and more are really good too, each of them adding something to the movie.

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Jordan Peele once again delivers on his direction, this time helming his biggest movie yet. The cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema is absolutely stunning. It excellently captures the sky at different times of the day, and particularly shines with the scenes taking place at night. The scenes of tension are also very effective, even simple shots of clouds manage to feel unnerving. It’s perfectly edited, and the production and set designs are great. The sound design was also a highlight, amazing and immersive, it was really something to experience the film in the cinema. On that note, the music from Michael Abels is dynamic and fantastic.

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Nope was fantastic, it is already one of my favourite movies of the year: a tense, thematically dense and spectacular sci-fi horror movie. Jordan Peele’s writing and direction are incredible as usual, and the cast deliver excellent performances, especially Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. There’s a lot to unpack with this movie with its themes and what its saying; there’s a lot there and it is definitely one I need to rewatch. But for now, I can say that it is another great movie from Peele, and possibly his best yet.

Predator 2 (1990) Review

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Predator 2

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and sex scenes
Cast:
Danny Glover as Lieutenant Mike Harrigan
Gary Busey as Special Agent Peter Keyes
Ruben Blades as Detective Danny Archuleta
María Conchita Alonso as Detective Leona Cantrell
Bill Paxton as Detective Jerry Lambert
Robert Davi as Deputy Chief Phil Heinemann
Director: Stephen Hopkins

Lieutenant Mike Harrigan and his police force try to hunt down a vicious alien hunter killing drug gangs in Los Angeles despite the warnings of a mysterious government agent.

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I’ve been curious about checking out Predator 2 for quite a while. All I knew about it was that it was a sequel to Predator, only it isn’t as good as that first movie and stars Danny Glover instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger. So I went in fairly blind and I ended up liking it more than I expected to.

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Regardless of if you think it works or not, I think its admirable that Predator 2 is not just a lazy re-tread of the first movie. Instead of taking place in the jungle once again, it instead sets the Predator in the crime filled streets of L.A., I thought that it was refreshingly different when compared to the previous film. In some ways, Predator 2 is just a cop movie with an alien in it, but I thought its fun for that, like its combining completely separate genres. That being said, it can be messy with what it tries to be, and doesn’t quite works as well as the first movie. Plotwise it wasn’t the best, and it can be stop and start with the pacing. There are some other issues, despite the setting change it is in a way very similar to the first movie, and perhaps that works against it. Compared to Aliens where it builds upon the knowledge and events of the first Alien, Predator 2 has a new set of characters, so naturally they have learn about the Predators for the first time, even though the audience knows about it. Whenever the Predator is on screen and when it is facing off against Danny Glover however, it really shines. As such, the third act is particularly great. The movie is very over the top especially with it playing into the many aspects of the action crime movies of the 80s. It is very pulpy and cartoonish with the representations of LA gang wars and definitely falls into being cheesy (even more so than the first movie), but enjoyably so.

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There’s a cast of enjoyable characters here. Danny Glover is on top here in this movie, its like his character was taken straight from one of his cop roles like in Lethal Weapon, cranked up and angry, particularly shining when he goes up against the Predator. There needed to be more from the supporting cast but there are some standouts, including Gary Busey, and a charismatic and fun Bill Paxton.

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Stephen Hopkins’s direction is decent enough, it is well shot and really leans into the gritty city setting. There are some good set pieces, especially one in a subway and the third act. There are some good special effects for 1990, the sound effects are good, and so is the score from Alan Silvestri. It is particularly violent, perhaps even more so than the first movie. The kills by the Predator are gnarly and the movie definitely leans into the absurdity.

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Predator 2 isn’t to Predator what Aliens was to Alien, but I thought it was pretty good for what it was. While the story wasn’t the best, it benefits from being refreshingly different from the original film, and having some solid action sequences and performances. Its an underrated, and if you liked the first Predator movie, I think its worth checking out.

Total Recall (2012) Review

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Total Recall (2012)

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence, offensive language & nudity
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid
Kate Beckinsale as Agent Lori
Jessica Biel as Melina
Bryan Cranston as Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen
Bokeem Woodbine as Agent Harry
Bill Nighy as Matthias
John Cho as McClane
Director: Len Wiseman

Douglas is frustrated with his frequent dreams where he is a secret agent. He visits Rekall to get a fake memory implanted into his brain, but the procedure goes haywire.

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When it comes to remakes of classics, 2012’s Total Recall seems to be one of the most disliked, at least from the past decade. I remember liking it when I saw it for the first time, but that was quite a while ago. After rewatching the original Total Recall after many years (and loving it even more), I decided to check out the remake again the same night. Perhaps not the best option, as I immediately noticed everything great and good about the original that the remake did not have. That being said, taking the remake aspect out of it, Total Recall (2012) is otherwise a serviceable enough standalone sci-fi film.

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I wouldn’t say the script of Total Recall (2012) is bad, it is competent and functional enough but it really isn’t strong. It does start off pretty well, with a good pace and an intriguing mystery at the centre of the movie. Throughout the movie, there’s some pretty good world building as well. I wasn’t super engaged with the plot partly because I knew what general direction it would be moving towards, and partly because it wasn’t the most interesting. Still, the plot at least had me willing to follow what was happening. After a while though, the plot becomes very generic and by the time it reaches the third act, it almost just gives up. It just concludes in a dragged out, dull and bland action climax. By that point the plot has gotten really convoluted, and I didn’t have enough enthusiasm for the movie to try to regain the thread of what was happening. For what its worth, I watched the Extended Director’s Cut and I heard the theatrical version removes the complexity from the plot. So if you were planning on watching it, I highly recommend checking out the longer version. That was me talking about the remake without comparing it to the original, that ends here. Side by side, the remake really does take away so much of what made the original film so special. Mars doesn’t play a part, there aren’t any mutants, and it takes itself incredibly seriously. Plotwise it’s not exactly similar to the Paul Verhoeven film which I honestly respect. I admire the decision to be a little different to the classic Arnold flick, even if it means having to drop some beloved and iconic aspects. That being said, the movie is still left less memorable and interesting and really lacks a personality. It is worth noting is that there are some out of place callbacks to the original throughout, which are baffling considering the remake’s intention to be somewhat different. There are lines of dialogue which are straight up taken from the 1990 film. There’s even a reference to the three breasted woman from the original film, which will only make sense to people to watched that movie and understands this moment, while the rest of the audience are left confused.

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Total Recall does at the very least have a solid cast going for it. Colin Farrell plays the role of lead role Douglas Quaid, not one of his all-time best performances, but he’s quite good. Arnold Schwarzenegger did admittedly seem out of place for the story of Total Recall (especially when he’s playing a role that is meant to be an everyman), but he fitted the energy of that film appropriately, and his presence really added to the film. With a more conventional and straight-faced Total Recall however, Farrell does a good job in the part. He’s convincing at the action scenes and at conveying his character’s need to know what is going on. Most of the other actors like Bill Nighy do a good job. Meanwhile Jessica Biel is very unconvincing as the love interest. Bryan Cranston plays Cohaagen, the main villain of Total Recall, played in the original by Ronny Cox. With a talent like Cranston as the antagonist, there’s a lot of potential. While he’s decent enough in his scenes, the movie doesn’t utilise him the best. He’s just generically evil, doesn’t leave much of an impression, and isn’t even in the movie a lot. Thankfully, Kate Beckinsale picks up the slack as Quaid’s wife Lori and the secondary villain of the movie. Essentially she plays a combination of Sharon Stone’s Lori and Michael Ironside’s Richter from the original Total Recall, as she relentlessly pursues Quaid throughout the film. Beckinsale’s turn as a villain is very fun to watch, she’s unstoppable and ruthless, and is definitely one of the strongest parts of the movie.

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Len Wiseman is a decent director and overall, his work here is okay. At the very least, the cinematography is stunning with some impressive visual effects. Wiseman has many sweeping shots of the big cities, and he is great at visualising a futuristic world. Although it looks very similar to locations in other sci-fi/futuristic movies, Wiseman clearly has an eye for detail and scale. The action is entertaining and well shot, even if it isn’t always coherent (especially towards the end). There is a ton of CGI and everything from the visuals to the action can seem very video gamey, which is a criticism that I’ve seen a lot from people. That being said, given that the point of Rekall was to give a false reality with the memory implants, it does play into that aspect well, unintentionally or otherwise.

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Total Recall (2012) is not a good remake, it definitely lacks a lot of what made the first movie great in the first place. I appreciate the efforts to be different and not just a copy of the beloved classic, but the method for doing so seemed to be copying plenty of other sci-fi movies. The end result is a bit generic and despite a promising start, ended up losing me by the end. But I wouldn’t say it’s bad, as a standard sci-fi thriller, it’s okay enough. The visuals are nice to watch, the action is entertaining, and generally the cast are good, especially Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale. Not a must see but it’s passable and not a bad watch, preferably if you haven’t watched the original first of course.

Total Recall (1990) Review

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Total Recall (1990)

Time: 156 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid
Rachel Ticotin as Melina
Sharon Stone as Lori
Ronny Cox as Vilos Cohaagen
Michael Ironside as Richter
Director: Paul Verhoeven

Douglas Quaid tries to find the reason behind his recurring dream about Mars. He soon learns that a false memory has been planted into his brain and the people responsible for this want him dead.

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I remembered watching the original Total Recall for the first time ago many years ago when I was younger. I remember enjoying it with all the action, over the top violence, and one liners. More recently I decided to revisit it. Watching it again when I’m much older, it’s even better than I was remembered it to be.

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Based on a Phillip K. Dick novel called We Remember It For You Wholesale, Total Recall is well put together and fun to watch. It moves at a fast pace, there’s a decent amount of comedy and has plenty of quotable lines, in fact some of the best from an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. There’s plenty of parts that are silly and over the top, but there is a real self-awareness to the ridiculousness, so it makes it all the more better. I also was consistently entertained by a story which takes its twists and turns and does its world building in such an effective way.  There’s even a psychological aspect with lead character Quaid not knowing what’s real or not, or who he can trust. As a sci-fi action flick it’s really good, but its even more than that. Director Paul Verhoeven brings his trademark satirical approach to this story, like how he did with Robocop. The satire is loud, in your face and quite fitting. As to be expected especially given this is the 80s/90s, the movie takes jabs at capitalism and corporate greed, but also colonialism.

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The cast are also quite good all round. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the main character of Douglas Quaid in one of his best performances. As usual he is good in the action scenes and the cheesy one liners, but also does a good job at being genuine, and this is one of the few times he isn’t playing the typical hardcore action hero. Some have found him to be out of place in the movie and while I can see that especially given that he’s meant to be playing the everyman, I just can’t imagine the movie without him. He somehow just fits in with the tone and vibe that Verhoeven is going for. Other supporting actors like Sharon Stone and Rachael Ticotin are good, and Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox make for enjoyable scene chewing villains.

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Total Recall is directed by Paul Verhoeven, and he brings a lot of his style and energy to this movie. I really like the cinematography and look of the film, I loved the environments and the production design is great. The amount of practical effects on display are amazing, and most of it holds up today. There are even parts that venture into body horror. The special effects can be cheesy in a late 80s and early 90s way, but I feel like that fitted the overall tone of the movie that Verhoeven is going for. I really like the portrayal of the future, some of the technology can be clunky but even that is endearing. The action sequences are energetic, exciting and imaginative. Verhoeven’s trademark over the top and gory violence is on display and it is glorious to watch. Adding on top of all of that is the amazing score by Jerry Goldsmith.

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Total Recall is a wonderfully entertaining and over the top 90s action sci-fi thriller. The cast are good, the writing is fun, satirical and self-aware, and Paul Verhoeven’s direction and style are amazing. It’s even a strong contender for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movie yet, up there with the first two Terminator films at the very least. If you are a fan of action and/or sci-fi, I highly recommend checking it out.

Crimes of the Future (2022) Review

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Crimes of the Future (2022)

Time: 107 Minutes
Cast:
Viggo Mortensen as Saul Tenser
Léa Seydoux as Caprice
Kristen Stewart as Timlin
Director: David Cronenberg

As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. Accompanied by his partner, celebrity performance artist Saul Tenser showcases the metamorphosis of his organs. Meanwhile, a mysterious group tries to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution.

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I was interested in Crimes of the Future. It looked quite intriguing, had a good cast which included Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart, but most of all, it would be David Cronenberg’s first movie in many years. Not only that but it would be a body horror movie, and the last one he made was in the late 90s. I’m glad to say that I quite liked this movie.

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Something worth noting is that David Cronenberg had previously made a movie called Crimes of the Future back in the 70s, although it seems that this new film has nothing to do with that. This newer film tells an intriguing and bizarre story that I was pulled into. It is certainly a weird movie with a strange potential future. Viggo Mortensen is essentially a man who can generate new internal organs and collaborates with Lea Seydoux as performance artists, with Seydoux removing said regenerated organs in front of live audiences. In Crimes of the Future, humans have adapted to live in a synthetic environment, with their bodies undergoing numerous transformations and mutations; most humans don’t even feel pain anymore. In this futuristic society, surgery has become performance art (which Mortensen and Seydoux takes part in). Cronenberg does some great worldbuilding, and it is an interesting setting to watch. It was a very unique vision of the future of human evolution, and I was interested in learning about this new world. Admittedly it can be full on, in the first hour alone it thrusts you into this world with so much jargon, and requiring you to keep up with the information provided so you can grasp what is happening.

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One of the most advertised aspects of Crimes of the Future was the body horror, not unexpected of course (especially with Cronenberg returning to this subgenre). So the trailers and images focussing on the gore and grotesque (including to by not limited to a man with ears all on his body) is somewhat understandable. That being said, its not quite the disturbing and graphic body horror that it was advertised as. It felt more like a dystopian sci-fi futuristic thriller with some body horror aspects and a good amount of neo-noir mystery elements. As for the body horror itself, it works to serve its concept and story and never feels like its there to provoke a reaction in the audience. That being said, if you don’t like body horror at all or can’t deal with gore, then you still won’t be on board with this movie. As you can expect, there is a lot happening thematically. There’s a clear fascination with the human body and how it evolves over time, and poses interesting and thought provoking questions. There are even little moments of humour throughout which accompany the bizarre nature of the movie wonderfully. The pacing is definitely slow, but I thought it worked; I wouldn’t want it to be rushed at all. Crimes of the Future was an hour and 50 minutes long, and honestly I wished that it was a little longer. It felt a little abrupt, to a degree I was hoping for more. I liked the note it ended on, but the story did feel incomplete. It left me wanting a sequel to see what would happen next, and I can’t tell whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

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There is a good cast involved. Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux are great as the lead characters, while Kristen Stewart is a scene stealer in a very meek yet creepy and twitchy performance as a voyeuristic bureaucrat. She left an impression, but I just wish she was in the movie more. Other actors like Scott Speedman also play their parts wonderfully too.

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David Cronenberg’s direction is on point as ever. The cinematography is outstanding and beautiful. That and the production design helped to convey the vision of the future excellently, and it feels very lived in. The practical effects, especially those involving the body, are fantastic. There are definitely moments of gore, but they are used sparingly and when appropriate. If you’ve seen some of Cronenberg’s other movies, Crimes of the Future doesn’t push boundaries on that front, in fact it feels comparatively tame. Howard Shore composes the score and its one of my favourites of this year as well as one of his best yet, and that’s saying a lot.

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Crimes of the Future is a welcome return to form for David Cronenberg. It’s a bizarre, fascinating, intriguing and thought provoking film, which is directed excellently and has some great performances from the cast. There are parts where I wanted more and it was a little incomplete, but I liked what we got. If you really don’t like body horror, then this won’t be one for you. With that said, don’t go in expecting a gore fest, it’s a lot more than just that. So far, Crimes of the Future is one of my favourite movies of 2022.

Men (2022) Review

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Men

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language, suicide themes, nudity & content that may disturb
Cast:
Jessie Buckley as Harper Marlowe
Rory Kinnear as Geoffrey
Director: Alex Garland

In the aftermath of a personal tragedy, Harper retreats alone to the beautiful English countryside, hoping to find a place to heal. However, someone or something from the surrounding woods appears to be stalking her. What begins as simmering dread soon becomes a fully formed nightmare, inhabited by her darkest memories and fears.

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Men was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I like Alex Garland as a writer and a director, and I particularly liked his directing work with Annihilation and Ex Machina. His next film would be a full-on horror movie and would have the excellent talent of Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear. Unfortunately, I had to wait an extra month before I got the chance to see it here, but in that time, I heard the very mixed reception from people who watched it. Men finally released here and I’m glad to say that I liked the movie, even if I didn’t like it as much as I hoped I would.

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Men starts off well at the very least. The first hour is very intriguing as we follow main character Harper (Jessie Buckley) as things about her traumas are revealed to us, and tensions rise as she encounters unsettling things in her new environment. There’s an uneasy atmosphere and seemed to start out as a mystical folk horror, which I thought was effective. Much of the movie can be a bit vague and leans more into atmosphere and vibes over the story, and while not everyone will like that, I thought it worked. I was intrigued to see what would happen next. The tone was interesting; some moments were a bit funny, but I couldn’t tell whether they were intentional or not. This is especially with the ‘horror’ moments. Intentional or not, they result in an off-kilter tone which I actually enjoyed. The third act of is one of the aspects of Men that will linger in the minds of most people who watch it. Some may call it “craziest movie ever”, its really not that crazy or insane for the most part, but the ending certainly is. I can certainly see the metaphor that this gory and grotesque climax is going for, so I won’t reveal too much about what happened, nor the message it was trying to convey. But it just can’t shake the feeling that its only here to be disturbing and memorable. The worst part may be that despite its efforts to be shocking, it generated more laughs than scares with how over the top and goofy it is. This combined with Jessie Buckley’s underwhelmed reactions made me wonder whether it was another intentionally funny moment from Garland. Shock and gore aside, it just doesn’t work as a satisfying conclusion in any way. The ending is so abrupt with no sense of closure, and doesn’t even work as a horror movie ending. Men is a tight film at just over an hour and a half long but it felt like it needed more, the narrative was a little underdeveloped by the end. I think it would’ve been better if it was made as a short film, or if it was longer and fleshed out more of its ideas.

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Third act and tonal issues aside, the problems stack up most of all when you look at the film on a thematic level. Unfortunately, you can’t really watch the movie and understand it without looking at it metaphorically in some way. It doesn’t work when you watch as a simple horror movie, it won’t make sense on any level. Some viewers have labelled Men as pretentious. I try to refrain from calling movies pretentious, not only because it’s a rather blanket statement, but its also very easy and there’s usually a better way at highlighting the specific problem. It is certainly a movie that wants to say something, from some of the conversations and all the symbolism and imagery especially with religion. Despite that, it doesn’t end up having much to say. The themes in Men are blatant which isn’t inherently bad; my problem is that they are a bit too easy and simple, yet the film lingers on them for so long. Men is yet another horror movie about trauma. There seems to be a lot of those especially nowadays, and if you are getting tired of these kinds of horror movies (especially with it being another one from A24), the film might irk you because it practically ticks all the boxes. I will say that it is a decent portrayal of trauma, but it is not an exploration of it by any means. It’s definitely a present aspect throughout the film, but it doesn’t go into depth any depth, and is overall a very basic take on grief. This is probably because even though we spend time with Harper in pretty much every scene, we don’t learn much about her as a character. The other main theme which you can probably guess from the title is about men, masculinity, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, etc. As far as I understood, the theme of Men boils down to “men are all the same, and men are all bad”. Perhaps Alex Garland has a lot more to say, but whatever that is, it doesn’t come across here. Now that theme isn’t necessarily bad, but it doesn’t really lend itself to much interpretation or analysis. It really doesn’t help that its not as propound as the movie seems to think it is. Looking at the plotting and the themes, Men’s script feels like it is very close to being really good, but could’ve done with more drafts in order to nail it. As it is, it felt like it just missed the mark.

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The performances are some of the best parts of the film. Jessie Buckley as usual delivers another outstanding and powerful performance here. You follow along with her as Harper, and while the film really doesn’t give the character much, Buckley sells it so well. She feels like a believable person and makes it all work whether it be conveying the trauma and grief, or the reaction to the present horror events at her new location. I would say that Buckley’s performance alone makes the movie worth watching. The overall cast of the film is quite small, Rory Kinnear makes up most of the supporting cast. He plays almost all the men in the film, separate characters with their own personalities but with the same face. It is an interesting and intriguing gimmick. However outside of a metaphor about men being all the same, the movie really doesn’t do much with that concept. There isn’t even a moment where Harper reacts to this, even when she’s in a room with 4 Rory Kinnears. Nonetheless, he is great here, and his performances are ambitious to say the least. He effectively jumps between different levels of sinister and conveys the differences between of the characters. Kinnear is generally a supporting actor who is in the background in most movies he’s in, but he really gets to shine in Men.

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I think that Alex Garland’s work is once again great here, for all its faults, it is strong on a technical level at least. Rob Hardy’s cinematography is amazing, the visuals are stunning and really take advantage of the beautiful locations, with nice shots of the English countryside and the great production design is put on display well. Without spoiling what happens, the effects for the third act are strong and effectively gory. One of the first things I noticed in the movie was the sound design and sound mixing, which are excellent and were integral to some intense scenes working as well as they did. The soundtrack by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow is really good at setting the right tone for the film and helps to make you feel uneasy. There are a couple of hiccups on a technical level, there is a boy who has the face of Rory Kinnear CGI’d onto him. It looks very weird and uncanny, but I guess it works to make him look unsettling. As previously mentioned, the film didn’t succeed at scares despite its attempts, and came across as being funny than anything.

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Men is a very flawed movie and I think it is definitely the worst of Alex Garland’s directing work so far. I do understand why some people really don’t like the movie. It could’ve used a lot more fleshing out for many of its ideas. While there are clear themes on display, the movie doesn’t seem to have much interest in exploring them despite fixating on them so much. Even outside the themes it does suffer from other issues, including some failed attempts at horror and a third act which might be trying just a little too hard to provoke a reaction. With that said, I still like the movie. I enjoyed the atmosphere and off kilter tone, Alex Garland’s direction is pretty strong with some outstanding visuals (which were amazing to see on the big screen), and the performances from Rory Kinnear and especially Jessie Buckley were fantastic. Men is a divisive movie and its hard to tell who the movie would be for, but I do think it has some great aspects that make it worth checking out if you’re into horror.

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022) Review

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Jurassic World Dominion

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
DeWanda Wise as Kayla Watts
Mamoudou Athie as Ramsay Cole
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Campbell Scott as Dr. Lewis Dodgson
BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Omar Sy as Barry Sembène
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
Director: Colin Trevorrow

Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

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I was going into Jurassic World: Dominion only mildly interested. I’m not the biggest fan of the Jurassic Park franchise. The first movie is known as a classic and was highly influential for cinema, I liked it but wasn’t in love with it like many other people are. At the same time, I like all the movies in the series. The sequels are definitely flawed and aren’t as good as the first or even second movies, but I found some enjoyment in them. So I went into Dominion fairly open minded and expecting to like it, and I did.

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I had fun watching Jurassic World: Dominion but I had some issues with it, mainly the writing. You can tell that it really pitches itself as this grand and epic conclusion of the Jurassic Era, by that I don’t mean that it feels epic, but rather that it is trying to feel epic. Despite all that, Dominion doesn’t seem like a conclusion to the Jurassic World trilogy let along the whole Jurassic “Saga”, and it doesn’t feel like much has happened by the end. It is also very long at around 2 hours and 30 minutes, and by the end it just felt dragged out, messy and bloated. I think it does have a very weird plot for a Jurassic Park movie, even more so than Fallen Kingdom which had one half about saving dinosaurs from an erupting volcano and the second half a suspenseful mansion sequence with a killer raptor. Instead of it being isolated to one location full of dinosaurs, Dominion has a globetrotting and at times convoluted plot with so many subplots and too many moving parts. The characters don’t go through much development, it is just them moving from one place to another. The movie itself didn’t get off to a great start with its opening 30 minutes. 4 years had passed since the events of Fallen Kingdom and in its first scene it attempts to recap what happened since then. Whether it be with the returning Jurassic World characters, the original Jurassic Park characters, and the overall world, it just feels rushed and messy. The recap of what happened with the world is worst of all with a montage and a narration flat out telling you, the worst part is that they made it in the form of a NowThis video. The movie is pretty bad at exposition dumps, even if nothing is as bad as that opening monologue. Exposition aside, the dialogue is awkward much like the previous Jurassic World movies. The worst cases are with some of the dialogue between Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) because its them having to say really bad lines. I really could’ve done without Laura Dern having to deliver the line “he slid into my DMs”.

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Dominion takes a lot from the previous Jurassic movies and can be repetitive, not really covering new ground. The main theme once again is about how humanity shouldn’t meddle with nature, there’s yet another story of an amoral billionaire using science to profit (and going full Umbrella Corporation). Without getting into too much depth, the movie even ends up having its own ‘park’ despite the world now being established as having dinosaurs roaming free. Instead of taking advantage of the end of Fallen Kingdom, it introduces this random plot about locusts which ends up being a central part of the plot. One plotline that is continued into Dominion however is the one focussing on the character of Maisie and her being a clone. It’s still weird and crazy considering that it is in a Jurassic Park movie, but I liked it more than I expected. At the very least there was more going on with her compared to some of the other characters (especially Owen and Claire). Dominion does lean into some absurdity thankfully, especially with a sequence in Malta. It really picks up in the second half and it is nonstop action in the third act. Of the Jurassic World trilogy, Dominion tries the hardest for nostalgia, which you could probably expect considering that they brought back the main trio of Jurassic Park characters into the plot here. I don’t think it earns the nostalgia, but I don’t dislike their inclusions.

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The returning Jurassic World characters aren’t that great, mainly Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, despite some decent enough performances from both. The highlight of the whole movie for me were the returning Jurassic Park trio: Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill as Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm. It’s definitely a play for the nostalgia crowd but I can’t deny, it is so great to see them back. A lot of the time they’re not really given great material to work with, but their presence added a lot to the film and I would’ve liked the film a lot less without them. There are some new characters, DeWanda Wise is my favourite performer of the movie outside of the aforementioned Jurassic trio, and I really liked her. The villainous characters are quite generic and over the top but not nearly as silly as the ones from Fallen Kingdom. The central antagonist is the main corporate billionaire played by Campbell Scott who seems like he’s basically playing Tim Cook. Scott is clearly enjoying playing a goofy biotech mogul and it’s a fun performance at least, making the cliched character more enjoyable to watch.

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Colin Trevorrow’s direction isn’t great but I do think its an improvement over his work in Jurassic World. The visuals are fairly nice, the dinosaurs look great and fun to watch too. It seems that they finally found the right balance of practical and special effects. There are some enjoyable action sequences too, from the sequence in Malta involving a motorcycle chase with raptors, to the thoroughly enjoyable third act. I actually think the moments of horror are really well done, there are some good scenes of suspense.

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I would say Jurassic World: Dominion is probably one of the worst movies in the series, but it’s at least better than Jurassic Park III. It has some entertaining moments and aspects I really liked. Still, I think a lot of the other films achieved what they were setting out to do a lot better. The plot is very bloated and strange and there’s fun to be had with that, but for a film aiming to be an epic conclusion, it was underwhelming. I can’t tell who’ll like the movie, but if you disliked the previous Jurassic World movies, I’m pretty sure you won’t like Dominion. As someone who generally likes all the films in the series however, I enjoyed it.