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items tagged with science fiction movies

Radioactive Blast: "The Hills Have Eyes," "The Libertine," "Failure to Launch," and "Ultraviolet"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2006-03-15 00:00:00

The Hills Have EyesTHE HILLS HAVE EYES

The setup for The Hills Have Eyes – Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 horror classic, with Craven himself on board as a producer – couldn’t be simpler. A vacationing family, headed for California, stops for gas at a filling station near an abandoned nuclear-testing site in New Mexico. The station’s gnarled and suspiciously friendly attendant guides them to a shortcut. The shortcut is a trap, set by the attendant and a family of horribly mutated, not-entirely-inhuman cannibals. And from there on, the plot boils down to three words: Us Against Them.


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What the "Flux"?: "Aeon Flux," "Bee Season," "The Ice Harvest," and "Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3-D"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-12-07 00:00:00

Charlize Theron in Aeon FluxAEON FLUX

By all rights, Aeon Flux should be godawful. (Certainly, Paramount is treating it like it is, as the studio opted against pre-release screenings for fear of lousy advance notices.) Set some 400 years in the future, director Karyn Kusama’s film – a big-screen vehicle for MTV’s Liquid Television character – takes place after 99% of the earth has been eliminated by a virus, the most humorless 1%, apparently, having been left to roam the earth. Charlize Theron’s Aeon leads a Spandex-clad revolt against the government, and the movie is, for the most part, a joke; the effects are particularly shoddy, and as they recite their clunky dialogue, you feel badly for several performers – when they were being feted as Oscar nominees, did Theron, Frances McDormand (in a red fright wig), Sophie Okenedo and Pete Postlethwaite ever think it would come to this? (The film’s one impressive performance comes from Marton Csokas, who’s like a more rugged version of Kevin Spacey.)


Read More About What The "Flux"?: "Aeon Flux," "Bee Season," "The Ice Harvest," And "Magnificent Desolation: Walking On The Moon 3-D"...


Pulp Friction: "A History of Violence," "Oliver Twist," and "Serenity"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-10-05 00:00:00

Viggo Mortensen in A History of ViolenceA HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

I was completely rapt by the austerity and dread of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence – for the first five minutes. In the film’s beautifully sustained opening sequence, we watch as two men – one middle-aged, in a black suit, and another, younger and sporting a T-shirt and jeans – exit their motel room. They load up their car, and the older gentleman drops off the room key while the other – slowly, slowly – pulls the car up to meet him. Moments later, the older man returns, having had, he says, “a little trouble with the maid.” But before they leave, they need water. The younger man enters the motel office to replenish their supply, and as he does, we finally see the image that Cronenberg has thus far denied us, and that we in the audience have properly anticipated – the motel manager and maid lying dead in pools of blood. A frightened little girl, gently stroking the hair of her doll, enters the scene and makes eye contact with the younger killer. And the man, smiling gently, tells her not to be afraid, slowly aims his revolver at the girl’s head, and fires.


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Bay’s Latest a Personal Best – and an OK Movie: "The Island," "Hustle & Flow," "Wedding Crashers," and "March of the Penguins"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-07-27 00:00:00

Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor in The IslandTHE ISLAND

If we absolutely must endure movies by Michael Bay, we could do a lot worse – we have done a lot worse – than The Island. As usual, there isn’t a plot point or turn of character here that Bay doesn’t make wincingly obvious, and, apparently, there’s no getting rid of either his tiresome sentimental streak or his sniggering, insulting stabs at “humor.” (When Bay attempts to be serious I giggle, and when he tries to make jokes, I go numb.) But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being reasonably entertained by The Island. Bay has hold of an intriguing story idea, and even if the movie eventually turns into routine action-thriller nonsense, at least that nonsense is delivered with speed, a few memorable images, and even something resembling humanity. Like all Michael Bay movies, The Island runs a good bit over two hours. Unlike the others, I barely noticed.


Read More About Bay’S Latest A Personal Best – And An OK Movie: "The Island," "Hustle & Flow," "Wedding Crashers," And "March Of The Penguins"...


When the Spielberg Touch Goes Deeply Wrong: "War of the Worlds"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-07-06 00:00:00

Tim Robbins, Tom Cruise, and Dakota Fanning in War of the WorldsWAR OF THE WORLDS

My first thought after seeing Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds was: Thank God for the aliens, because although the creatures themselves aren’t particularly memorable – a gooey blend of the director’s beatific Close Encounters visitors and H. R. Giger’s 1979 Alien design – their spacecrafts certainly are. The ships’ enormous tripod legs, crushing everything in their paths, exude a wriggling, snakelike suggestiveness, and they have vicious talents besides; these tentacles have the ability to either incinerate their victims instantly – making the human race resemble ants at the mercy of a magnifying glass – or toss them into the spaceships’ grotesque “mouths,” producing more grisly, prolonged executions. (A couple of killings are reminiscent of Steve Buscemi’s demise in Fargo.) To the War of the Worlds aliens, humans are a combination of entertainment, nuisance, and snack, and whenever Spielberg gives us evidence of just how queasily horrifying an attack of this nature might be, his movie is gripping and evocative.

My second thought was: Steven Spielberg has lost his mind.


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