Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Movie Critique: Fanboys

Fanboys was a funny and interesting idea for a movie, however it felt exactly like any other comedy out there. In a way it seemed like so many other movies out there, Wild Hogs, RV, Due Date, The Muppet Movie, Joe Dirt, are just a few. Granted it does take on the "science fiction" theme that some of the aforementioned films do not, it is still just like a young, fun, road trip to help their dying friend.
Some things to take away from this however is the fact that the budget was so large for a fan based film. Fandom really does create room for so many more stories like Fanboys that would originally not have been done. While this movie didn't do so hot in the box office, it goes to show that fans can be more than just a fan. Trekkies is very similar in this aspect. It shows that fans create a much larger experience than just watching the films or tv shows do.

Movie Critique: Another Earth

Another Earth is a excellent and original story that explores some similar concepts of science fiction. The story's core ideas deal with the perceptions of what it would be like actually meet yourself. Similar ideas come from movies like The 6th Day, Moon, Resident Evil, and many more.  All of these films have the common theme of meeting yourself as yourself.
What is interesting about Another Earth is that it keeps you in the dark about what might be on the other planet until later on in the movie. Rhoda, the young girl, soon understands that what she is doing to try and make up for causing the death of John's family is not the right thing to do, but to let him go to the other Earth and find his family.
Another interesting idea is the fact that these people do end up going to the other Earth, but what is the first they do? They go and find themselves once they are on the other planet. What is so interesting about meeting ourselves? We see ourselves every day, so what would the difference be if we were to actually see a clone of ourselves? Perhaps we would be judgement like some people are of others. Maybe it is to show how the small things we do in life can change dramatically. Rhoda's life did with a simple advertisement on a radio station. The moment Rhoda from the other planet appears you know that she was the successful one.
Something interesting to consider is what might actually happen if we were to actually meet ourselves. In Rhoda's situation there might be questions to ask back and forth about how their lives differed. But the real problem is what might happen after you meet yourself. Is it really a clone of you once you start interacting? Wouldn't we just become very similar people instead of clones? Perhaps the outside judgement of ourselves makes us take on a completely different character than we were before. That is an interesting idea to think about that we will, unfortunately, probably never get to experience.

Movie Critique: Trekkies

Fans are the ultimate cause for the succession of a movie or tv series. It is what creates the culture and the money for the industry. Without fans there would never be the large world of Star Wars or Star Trek. Fans are the ultimate customers that movie producers and story writers want.
 Trekkies shows just a small part of that universe. It is so deep and expansive that when fans start this following it only encourages more and more people to follow along. The most intriguing part of the culture start creating their own material; this is what truly make the movies or tv shows diverse among others. In Trekkies many of the expanded, fan written material is talked about by a lot of women. Women writing stories about Star Trek and making it their own gives them the power to expand off of what they see and make it as feminine as they want.
Trekkies essentially just shows how this fanbase has given women more power in their own universe of story writing. It also gives women something to live for outside of the tv show. It inspires young women to be in positions of power. When a little girl sees what a woman can do as a commander of a starship, finding something in our society doesn't seem that hard all of the sudden.
Trekkies shows what the core of fandom really is all about. It is very comparable to things like World of Warcraft; kids, adults, teenagers, everyone can be a part of the world they want and they don't have to have some special talent to do so. It may seem a little strange to some but our world is a strange place. It is very satisfying to see so many people feel at home with other people that they have never met. TV shows like Star Trek do that for so many people.

Movie Critique: Moon

Being alone in space is probably one of the most terrifying things to think about. With nobody to talk to and not much to do, it seems as though taking a job to be in space for 3 years would be a little crazy. But in this semi-realistic future Sam Bell takes this job. 
The film proceeds to show Sam discovering that he is indeed a clone and that there have been others before him. When the "original" Sam and the new cloned Sam find a whole store room full of clones it seems as though nothing is what they realized. Interestingly enough the film has a lot of influence from previous science fiction films. The artificial intelligent robot that assist Sam is very similar, which is also comparable to the helping robots in Silent Running. However, this time around he is much nicer than Hal was in 2001. The geometric hallways, the feeling of isolation and loneliness, artificial beings on the moon; all these are comparable to the themes of 2001. Implanted memories in the clones is also comparable to Total Recall. All of these ideas just seem smashed together to create this new and fascinating film.
Another factor that is comparable to other films is the corporations influence in this film. The clones are dying every 3 years. It brings the same common theme of questionable morality into play. The last Sam clone even reminds the A.I. robot Gerty in the end that they are people, not programs. Even though they are created and cloned how is it right for this company to kill them off every 3 years of service if they have the same feelings and memories as the last one.  Just like in Silent Running it seems to be more about a corporation making more money by being efficient than making the moral choice.  We see the pain it causes Sam when he sees that his wife left him and in the end how she actually had died and his daughter is 15 years old now. That emotion is what makes him a person. It is not about whether he is a clone or not that questions whether or not it is right, it's the fact that he is a person with memories and feelings.  That connection that builds throughout the film is very important. As a viewer, you start to feel the pain that you might feel if this had happened to you. 
The film overall seems to be a breakaway from a lot of common themes in science fiction films. It is emotional, futuristic, and immoral in many different ways. That is what makes a science fiction film and in the end the good guy wins, so that makes us all a little bit happier. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Inside War

Inside War is an action filled drama that takes you deep into the mind of Captain Morgan Lavallee. Previously special forces in the Navy she has taken an honorable discharge after her husbands death to live a simpler life as a police officer in the small town of Great Barrington, MA. After a terrible accident she is left in a coma fighting for her life, literally. Morgan enters her mind in the dream world and is reliving every fight that she has gone through; each one brings her closer to her survival in the real world.  These battles however are not just the same as before, in her dreams the nightmares of her past interfere with each and every task that she attempts to make it through. 
Morgan Lavallee is a single mom that has gone through a lot in her life. She is a tough, yet fragile woman. She fights with the struggle every day of her previous life as a Navy Seal and the actions that she has taken during that time; all while trying to raise her 10 year old daughter.  Her struggles haunt her dreams and her performance as a police officer. She shows a tough character but deep down inside she is hurting far beyond what anybody sees.
Jason Lavallee is Morgan’s passed husband that now plays a part in her dream world. He was previously a Navy Seal as well but was killed in action during one of their missions together. He is seen in her dreams and often causes her to remember the terrible past that has occurred. Often being more of a curse than help, Jason is just a memory that causes more pain now than anything.
Kennedy Tomas chief of police in Great Barrington.  He is a middle aged, hardened war veteran, who is internally sympathetic toward Morgan yet pushes her to be a better police officer. He does not reveal much of his past but simply focuses on the present.
Erika Lavallee is Morgan’s daughter. She is a bright and lively young girl that often tries to care for her mother when she is struggling with life. She knows that her mother hurts and feels as though it is her duty each and every day to try her best to put a smile on her mothers face.
The year is 2035. Morgan and her daughter live in a small town. Morgan is a police officer that only chose that job because she was qualified and she enjoys helping people. Plus, in a small town like Great Barrington, there is not much action that goes on. It is a rather quiet and simple life as she now prefers.
Act 1 – The Attack:
The life of Great Barrington is a slow one. There is rarely much trouble to take care of; everyone is generally very courteous to one another.  Morgan is out on a standard patrol making her rounds like any other day. Suddenly she gets a call in that a robbery is in progress at the local bank North Island Credit Union. Turning on her lights she rushes to the scene and is the first one there.  It is odd that this would happen in such a small town, nonetheless it is happening and she has to put her distracted thoughts aside and focus on what is going on inside the bank. After arriving she finds herself overwhelmed by what is happening. Cars are on fire and smoking. Windows have been shattered and glass has showered the streets. She hears gunshots being fired inside the bank. Normally she would wait for backup but she knows that in this situation there is no time, she draws her weapon and progresses toward the bank. Her previous training kicks in and she is in kill mode. The assailants are inside with semi automatic rifles shooting and playing like it’s a game. Morgan enters the bank and opens fire. With perfect accuracy and speed she hits 3 of them with two quick shots to the chest.  They return fire and Morgan takes cover. One of them takes hides the other opens fire but is wounded in the leg from a stray bullet. Now overwhelmed by the attackers opening fire on her she attempts to take them out. She is unable to hit the last two until finally she is shot in the head by one of the men with rifles.
Act 2 – The Dream:
Morgan awakes in what appears to be a foggy abyss. She doesn’t know where she is. She checks herself to see if she has been wounded, but she is completely fine. As she walks through this foggy abyss she suddenly spots a figure. She soon discovers as she walks toward it that it is Jason, her long lost husband. Reuniting with him she suddenly realizes again that he is indeed dead. Jason explains to her that she is in a dream. Morgan has entered a coma and is now living inside her own dream.  But how does she get out? Jason explains to her that there are missions that she must complete and that each one is vital to her survival. If she survives the mission she will soon find her way out of the coma and back to her daughter.
Meanwhile Kennedy and Morgan’s daughter Erika sit by her bedside caring for her and hoping that she makes it through this.  Erika and Kennedy spend a lot of time together during this time. Kennedy soon realizes the hurt that Erika has been going through to see her mother in such a torn way. Erika explains that she has taken it on herself to protect and care for her mother since no one else is there to do it. She feels as though it is her responsibility that she has inherited as her only child.  
As Morgan spends time with Jason talking about how she misses him and what she is making of her life, the fog begins to slowly clear. As she looks around she sees that she is in a warzone, from a previous mission during her time in the Navy. Jason is gone. She is now in full military gear and her squad is behind her awaiting her commands.
Act 3 – The War:
Morgan begins fighting through the missions but then soon realizes that things have changed and she is in her dream. She can’t just do the same things she has done before. Enemies know what she is going to do and say. Its as if they have been here before and she hasn’t. She soon realizes that she is getting her squad killed and has to let go of what she remembers and take a new path, think differently, act differently.

As she fights her way though her missions she finally finds herself at the place she has most dreaded being. This is the place of her husband’s death. It wasn't because of the mission however that caused her husbands death; she was the cause of his death. She misfired her weapon and killed her husband during this mission. Clouded with the overwhelming fear that she may have to relive that experience she realizes that the area around is completely empty… she is now left standing in a void with nothing but her sidearm. Until behind her she hears a voice call her name. Jason stands there awaiting her to finish the fight. Her one last task is to kill her husband.  She would rather die and stay her in dream with him than shoot him. But Jason talks to her, starts to make her think of their daughter and what her life would be like without her mother. Jason tells her that its time to let go and finish it. Morgan aims the gun at her husband, tears rolling down her face.  She awakes from her coma in the hospital bed, her daughter sitting by her side as doctors’ rush in to examine her.

Movie Critique: Primer

Time travel has always been an exciting and interesting subject studied.  What would actually happen when travelling back and forth in time is a whole different question altogether.  Science fiction leaves that part to the imagination. Primer is a perfect example of a realistic representation of time travel in the simplest fashion. 
Primer takes on the possibility of what might happen if one were to discover a way to travel back in time. Would we really see ourselves performing past actions? The creators of Primer think so. But with such a power what do they decide to do? They decide to become rich. It is a very greedy attitude to take on when something so amazing has been discovered. Perhaps it is best that no one does discover technology like this because of those reasons. Our society is so self-centered that on the discovery of a fantastic new technology, one would use it for personal gain. This film is truly realistic in the worst ways. 
Another aspect that I appreciated seeing this film is the presence of realism. The directors did not dumb down the ideas presented of how exactly time travel works. This provides a great, intellectual experience that really seems to hit the core of what science fiction should be. It seems as though many science fiction films have brought down the level of intelligence in their films just to relate to a larger audience.  Which is unfortunate because it takes away from the authenticity of what science fiction was founded upon.  Additionally it kept true to how science works today. Time travel was discovered by accident. Which in today’s scientific world, many of our greatest discoveries have been by accident. 
Finally, the moral ethics that ultimately cause the conflict in the film seem to be a very common in science fiction and in all movies for that matter. Perhaps it is the innate ideologies that we are born with or perhaps it is what makes a good movie. Maybe people just want to see other people do good in the world. There does seem to be an uneasy feeling that some people might get when watching a movie where the bad guys win. Ultimately good beating evil is what does make a good story. Or so we think. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Movie Critique: The Hunger Games

Women in science fiction have always been minimal. The Hunger Games breaks all cliches of gender roles in not just science fiction but in the film industry in general. Katniss has become the role model of what a woman is supposed to be like in our modern society.
In the 90's little girls had Barbies which represented an unrealistic physical role model to idealize the way in which they should be. This representation shows the fit and skinny woman that dresses up nice and pretty... and that's it. There is no other purpose but to look good. The Hunger Games take that same role model and do a complete 180 degree turn with it. Katniss wins and is forced into a luxurious life of limitless pleasures and material possessions, yet, she regards them as worthless. They mean nothing to her and she rejects that lifestyle completely. For a woman to be so strong in her position and make that kind of statement in the society we live in today, says something about how obsessed we have become with material possessions. Rather, perhaps it is focused more on trying to break away from the cliche woman of the past and bring about a strong new woman role model for little girls to grow up to.
Having a woman in a place of such great power does not seem normal when comparing to previous movies in the past. But it works in its own way. Women have always been pushing for a more prominent place in society and this film does exactly that. It replaces the white man with a woman, puts a big strong white male in the women's place, completely rejects the glamorous lifestyle, and embraces morality over all of that. While the idea of being a moral person has always been presented in most science fiction, the bigger part is the gender swap.
Overall the movie is fantastic, especially with a woman leading the role. It might not have even been as interesting if Peta was the main character. It would have just played like any other science fiction movie. I believe that the more we see movies like this the more gender roles will start evening out. These movies provide inspiration for our younger generation to build on. It is only a matter of time before it becomes a reality.