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Sci-Fi Review: Geostorm (2017)

Directed by Dean Devlin. Written by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot. Starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, and Ed Harris.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #8

Geostorm is a disaster film that tries to be epic in its scale. Unfortunately, it falls flat. Gerard Butler stars as Jake Lawson, who’s a scientist that has crafted a satellite system that can control the weather on a global scale. The system, called “Dutch Boy,” was developed after the world was hit by several deadly storms that terrorized the planet. The weather system begins to go rogue and satellites start attacking the earth via the weather. Lawson has to figure out who caused the system to go haywire and why they caused the system to do so in order to save the world.

The writing is poorly done in Geostorm as the characters are uninteresting and one-dimensional. The performances by the actors lack any emotional depth. I couldn’t connect with Jake Lawson or any of the supporting cast. The filmmakers tried to craft a sibling rivalry between Jake Lawson and Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess). It’s a sibling rivalry that fails to catch any attention as Butler and Sturgess have no chemistry with one another. Since the film fails at connecting the audience to Jake Lawson, it makes it hard to care about the character saving the day or not. The film also struggles with its final act’s countdown sequence. It keeps showing a timer that lets the audience know when the geostorm will hit. The geostorm is literally happening when the timer is ticking down. It hits and destroys several cities during the timing sequence. The timer is utterly useless.

Another flaw of the film is the special effects. They’re poorly generated and crafted. There’s one sequence where the effects are horrendous, but it did manage to make me laugh. It’s when the geostorm is starting to take shape across the world. The film shows hail, the size of icebergs, hitting the earth. I laughed at the absolute absurdity of how it looked on-screen. It was like Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat having a reign of terror on the human population.

The film’s not a mystery like it aspires to be. It’s not hard to determine who is the cause of the problem. I took a guess at who it was in the beginning of the film and I was right by the end. The antagonist’s reason for triggering these storms is stupid and unnecessary. It’s the typical selfish reason of wanting to control the world.

Geostorm is a lazy attempt at making a sci-fi epic. It clearly draws inspiration from previous disaster flicks. There’s never a sense of true urgency in this film. When we can’t connect with the characters, we’re not gonna care. I wish a tornado would’ve blown my ass away while watching this.

Overall rating: 1.5/5.

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Sci-Fi Movie Release of the Week: Voyagers

Voyagers hits theaters today, April the 9th. The film focuses on a crew of women and men who go on a space expedition to colonize a planet. On the journey, these women and men give in to their primal urges. This causes the trip to spiral into a frightening mess. Some critics are calling this a sexual, space version of Lord of the Flies. It sounds intriguing.

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Movies Reviews

Retro Sci-Fi Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Directed by Robert Wise. Written by Harry Bates and Edmund H. North. Starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, and Hugh Marlowe. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #5

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a sci-fi classic by 20th Century Fox. The film is about the arrival of an alien in human form, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), who lands in Washington, D.C. with a dire warning. Klaatu comes to the earth as a messenger for all alien life throughout the galaxy. Klaatu speaks to the audience with his towering robot (Gort) by his side. Klaatu’s message to the earth is to be more peaceful or life on earth will cease to exist. The humans of earth learn the meaning of peace in order to save their world.

The film highlights the height of paranoia and fear that our country was suffering from during the 1950s. People were afraid of other races and afraid of people from other countries. The 1950s was the dawn of the civil rights movement and the Cold War. Our country would be divided over these issues. Humans on earth automatically assume that Klaatu is a dangerous threat because he’s from outer space. Klaatu comes with the impression of peace, but is quite aware of how violent the earth is. The film takes place during the post-WWII era. Klaatu tells the world that the aliens are okay with them feuding. The alien race doesn’t want atomic weaponry reaching space as one country is planning to send a spaceship with atomic weaponry into orbit. That’s the problem the aliens have with the earth.

Gort (left) and Klaatu (right).

The film does a fantastic job of creating horror in the film without being violent. The camera shots of Gort are expertly structured to make the robot seem menacing. The score/music that accompanies Gort has ominous and bold tones. The beam that comes forth from its eyes is able to penetrate objects and make them disappear into thin air. During the 1950s, radio was a very prominent media source in the delivery of news. The filmmakers use this to their advantage to create a source of tension. In one scene in the beginning of the film, Klaatu wonders the streets of Washington, D.C. at night while the audience can hear broadcasts on the radio of Klaatu’s arrival to earth. It’s creepy and it’s meta in a way. Meta as the broadcasts are about Klaatu and we’re watching Klaatu before us.

Special effects in this film are top notch. The sequence where Klaatu’s spaceship arrives on the earth in Washington, D.C. runs smoothly. The effects aren’t fancy like they are today, but they work for its time period. I mentioned Gort’s eyebeams above. The scenes were Gort uses the beams is effective due to the camera’s close shot onto the face of the robot. It creates the idea that this beam could potentially make the earth disappear.

Although this film is science fiction, it does contain elements of the noir genre. The movie is shot in black and white. The film’s mystery is why this spaceman is on earth. The lighting of the film makes Washington, D.C. an intimate, yet frightening city at night. The sequence where Klaatu leaves his apartment to sneak back to his ship at night is well shot. We have the beauty of the street lamps illuminating while the shadows perfectly cover Klaatu from being seen. It makes sense for the filmmakers to blend these two genres together since the genres were at their height during this time.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a classic that all sci-fi fans need to see at least once. It’s a sci-fi film that encapsulates the events in politics from the 1940s to the early 1950s. It’s a film that teaches peace over violence. The Day the Earth Stood Still reminds us of the choice that we have every day whether to be peaceful or violent towards others. This film’s message is still effective for even today.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.

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Movies Reviews

Wild Sci-Fi Review: The VelociPastor (2019)

Directed by Brendan Steere. Written by Brendan Steere. Starring Greg Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, and Daniel Steere.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #4.

In this life, we’re going to come across a film title that’s going to catch our attention. I stumbled upon this movie while scrolling through my feed on Reddit. I laughed immediately with intrigue in the back of my mind. Before I watched this movie to review, I looked up articles about the movie. The film’s director, Brendan Steere, did an interview with Forbes about the movie. He states that he drew inspiration for the film when he tried to type “velociraptor” into Google, but it auto corrected to “veloci pastor.” The goof inspired him to create this bonkers B-movie with only a budget of $35,000. I was excited for what’s to come.

VelociPastor focuses on Pastor Doug Jones (Greg Cohan), whose parents were killed in front of him by a car explosion. Instead of a shot of the burning car, we get a gag with a title card that says, “VFX: Car on fire.” The film immediately is letting the audience know to not take this film seriously. After the death of his parents, Doug heads to China where he earns the ability to turn into a dinosaur. He decides to use his newfound power to fight crime…and ninjas.

Dinosaur versus ninjas.

The film is going for the outlandish to induce great, effective comedy. VelociPastor has fantastic quotes and dumb, memorable scenes that will stay with audiences after the movie’s over. Two scenes come to my mind as examples. Early in the film, audiences meet a supporting character by the name of Frankie Mermaid. Frankie Mermaid is a pimp, who asks one of his prostitutes why do they call him by that name. She responds, “because you’re swimming in bitches.” I was dead. I completely lost it. I had to pause the movie and let the laughter out. The next scene that was comical was a Vietnam flashback scene. It’s a flashback sequence where supporting character, Father Stewart (Daniel Steere), remembers his time at war. In the sequence, his lovely girlfriend randomly shows up out of nowhere on the battlefield and gets blown up by a mine. Father Stewart stands there in shock, while his war buddies talk about the mine casually. Such good shit, dudes.

Greg Cohan needs to be commended for putting forth the effort in this whacky movie. He goes all out with the dinosaur transformation scenes. The dinosaur is a giant, rubbery-looking suit that they made. It’s not Jurassic Park quality. It’s Walmart/Dollar General quality. They make the most of the dinosaur with it decapitating people and gouging people’s eyes. As for the fight scenes, they’re hilarious watching someone running around in a dinosaur outfit, who’s knocking over people dressed as ninjas. This movie deserves a shot of getting airtime on Syfy or another network.

If you enjoy absurdity, this film is for you. If you don’t like comedy, you will find this movie to be stupid and not worth your time. I recommend it for lovers of B-movies.

Overall rating: 4/5.

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Movies Reviews

Retro Sci-Fi Review: Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001)

Directed by Jim Stenstrum. Written by Mark Turosz.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #2

I remember my friends talking about this movie while I was growing up. This film released twenty years ago and it doesn’t feel like it has been that long. Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase is an animated movie that’s a part of what I call the Scooby-Doo animated movie universe. There are over thirty films that are animated starring Scooby and the gang. An animated universe that spans from the 1980’s to today in the 2020’s. Impressive. Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase stars Frank Welker as Fred, B.J. Ward as Velma, Scott Innes as Shaggy & Scooby, and Grey DeLisle as Daphne.

In this movie, Scooby and the gang get transported into a video game where they have to stop the Phantom Virus and defeat all levels of the game in order to escape. The gang is transported into the game via a laser that left me intrigued. The laser can make objects into reality and absorb objects into virtual reality. This is an idea that Warner Brothers should’ve used again in a sequel. The concept is fantastic. A new villain could steal it to take care of their nefarious plans.

Speaking of villains, it’s not normally hard to figure out who the baddie is in a Scooby Doo show or movie. The plot gives clear clues as to who the villain is in different levels of the video game. The mystery of who the villain is would’ve been better if they left the clues out. The film introduces several potential people who could be the villain. If the movie didn’t introduce the clues, the eventual villain reveal at the end would have had a bigger payoff. The clues are still fun though. It does reveal the villain early in the movie, but that’s if you’re paying attention closely.

The overall plot is fun and creative. Yes, it’s filled with the classic antics of the show, but it does introduce new ways for the gang to solve mysteries. The real gang working with their cyberspace counterparts is a blast to watch. Also, we get to see the gang in various environments that we haven’t seen before. The gang goes to the Roman Coliseum and a prehistoric jungle with dinosaurs. It’s always entertaining to see the gang get away from their hometown on occasion. The film’s animation holds up well for a twenty-year-old movie. Everything operates smoothly with the gang having a fresh and classic look all at once.

In the end, Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase is an exciting movie with a classic formula. The film puts the gang in a new danger, while making sure that it stays light in spirit. A great film to watch to unwind for the day. Why did Shaggy put whipped cream on that hot dog though?

Overall rating: 3.5/5.

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Sci-Fi Movie Release of the Week: Godzilla vs. Kong

This isn’t a review. It’s just a mention of a notable sci-fi movie that releases this week. This week’s is Godzilla vs. Kong. The two legendary behemoths fight on the big screen in theaters and the small screen thanks to HBO Max. The film is a sequel to Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Who will win? Tune in to find out.

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Review: Replicas (2019)

Starring Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, and John Ortiz. Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Written by Chad St. John. Rated PG-13.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #1

Ah, Keanu Reeves. A man that we adore. A man that also isn’t afraid to participate as a lead actor in horrible films. This is one of those times. Reeves plays William Foster, who’s a neuroscientist that loses his family in a tragic car accident. After their deaths, William Foster works on a crazy scheme to clone his family’s bodies and create replicas of them. Reeves seems to be bored himself with this role.

Replicas is a dead movie. There’s no energy emanating from this film. None of the actors have any energy in their performances, except for Thomas Middleditch. Middleditch does well playing the reluctant scientist who doesn’t want to help William Foster in his bizarre plan to resurrect his family. Reeves has more passion in his performances for the John Wick films that were being released around this same time. The John Wick films are action-packed, so no wonder he is bland for this mediocre film.

The movie is a patchwork of other science fiction films with a clear influence from Frankenstein. There’s no in-depth explanation of how the characters can pull off this scientific experiment. The film wants the audience to automatically assume that this is plausible. Another mess of this script is that it tries to be funny in spurts. The jokes fall flat as it doesn’t work within the film’s tone. The tone? Why am I mentioning tone when it’s everywhere in this film? It tries to be funny, serious, and scary at the wrong times.

Replicas tries to portray William Foster as this hero. He comes off as a creep with psychological issues. While working on resurrecting his family, he tries to maintain the appearance that his family is still alive. He does this to the extent that he starts acting like his middle-age daughter. He texts her friends acting like her and even engages with a young boy that likes her. Utterly creepy. The protagonist and the film’s script doesn’t care about grief. Foster’s family dies and he immediately tries to bring them back without thinking about the consequences. That is what we like to call “cowboy shit.” Why would someone want a copy of their deceased family member? Nobody wants a copy. They would want the real person back. I’d rather grieve over the loss than try to bring someone back in a process that could have dire consequences.

This movie is a bad trip and a questionable role decision by Keanu Reeves. I say that this is one of his worst performances. His worst still being the film, Siberia. My HBO Max stopped twice while watching Replicas. I guess that was a hint to watch something else.

Overall rating: 1/5.

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