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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

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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Movies Reviews

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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Themes

For the months of April and May, we’re going to be reviewing science fiction films! We shall call it “The Spring of Science Fiction.” Okay, that’s the working title. We’ll try to make a better one. As for June and July, we’re going to review horror films! That will be called “The Heatwave of Horror.” Please join us as we discover and review these genres.

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250 Followers!

Yo, we did it. The milestones keep coming. Thanks for the 250 follows from social media and WordPress combined. We appreciate it!

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N1A Streams–Batman: Arkham City

Zack Snyder’s Justice League has inspired me to play Batman: Arkham City again. I’m going to start another new playthrough. I believe this is my first time streaming this. By the way, this year will be the 10th anniversary of this game. 10 years! Crazy. Stream starts at 9:10 p.m. at robertfrowniejr.

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Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) (Part Two)

We’re back with the second and the final part of our Zack Snyder’s Justice League review. The film is still a mess, but shaping up to be better than the original cut. It’s time to review the final two hours of this four-hour superhero saga. The film, obviously, is directed by Zack Snyder. It is written by Chris Terrio. The film stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman.

As I mentioned in the previous review, the Snyder cut does a tremendous job with the origins of Cyborg. Viewers get to see Victor Stone’s life before the horrific accident that almost killed him. The Mother Box, an alien device, is as connected to Cyborg as the Kryptonian spaceship is to Superman. If it wasn’t for the Mother Box, Cyborg wouldn’t exist. This inclusion into the film is a great addition by Snyder. However, a surprise addition follows.

After the scene where Cyborg explains the background of this particular Mother Box, we get a new sequence where Martha Kent is visiting Lois Lane in Metropolis. The pair chat with the surprise coming after the talk. Martha goes to the hallway after leaving and it’s unveiled that it’s actually the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix)! General Swanwick (Harry Lennix) from Man of Steel is secretly the Manhunter. He’s there to motivate a depressed Lois Lane to live again in the world. Why? His motivations are unclear.

In the original cut, there’s a scene where the Justice League resurrect Superman from the dead. The scene isn’t executed properly, as the tone is everywhere and the scene is confusing as to how Superman is resurrected. There wasn’t a thorough explanation. This time around, the movie explains better how the Mother Box can bring Superman to life. Also, the tone is better as the League are afraid of the resurrection and are somewhat at odds due to fear. Snyder introduces a new nightmare scene into this sequence. Cyborg gets a vision of what could possibly happen with Superman’s return. It seems that the future could be in peril with Superman’s return to the living.

Snyder shakes up the battle scene where Superman fights the Justice League. In the original version, Joss Whedon made the scene similar to an Avengers’ fight sequence. There’s drama injected with comical quips. Snyder’s version is all drama with peril as Superman is deadly in his return. The scene is smoother, cohesive, and it makes more sense.

The final battle sequence sees many creative changes. Unlike the original cut, the team actually loses briefly. Steppenwolf forms the Unity and the world explodes. For the first time, we get to see The Flash run into the past and rewind time. A huge, creative change that actually works flawlessly. It made the scene more impactful and that it takes the whole team to win. If Snyder gains enough success from this, we may get a sequel. It sets up a potential sequel where the league would fight Darkseid in a dark future.

Although the film’s odd at times, the Snyder cut is a deep improvement. Out of the three films he has directed, this is the best installment. Snyder had plans to do a five-film saga. Hopefully, this film generates enough buzz that Warner Brothers will let him complete his vision. If not, Snyder delivered a passionate project for the fans.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.

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Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) (Part One)

Directed by Zack Snyder. Written by Chris Terrio.

SPOILERS AHEAD! This is an in-depth review of the Snyder Cut for the Justice League film. Part one will review the first two hours of the movie as the film’s runtime is four hours long. Part two (the last two hours) will be reviewed at a later date. The film stars Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Ezra Miller as The Flash.

The film begins by telling audiences that the movie was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio. They kept it this way as Zack Snyder wanted this ratio for the film if it was released in IMAX theaters. For those viewers that like the widescreen ratio, they may not appreciate this. The opening scene begins at the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman gets impaled by Doomsday, then lets out these epic screams. Screams that send out soundwaves that penetrate pivotal locations of the DC Universe. It’s haunting to see Superman’s scream echo throughout the world. In this same sequence, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is in a pool with no clear indication of what he’s doing. The scene is poorly executed as it’s clear that Eisenberg is in front of a green screen and perhaps the water around him is even digitally animated. It’s unclear if he’s trying to summon Steppenwolf or trying to activate the mother boxes that the Steppenwolf statue possesses.

Snyder introduces black title cards into the film now. He decided to break up the movie in parts. Around ten minutes into the film, the first black screen with a title is introduced. It reads, “Part 1: “Don’t Count On It, Batman.”” For a lengthy film, these title cards may be nifty to prepare viewers as to what’s to come next. It is reminiscent of how Quentin Tarantino introduces parts into his films.

Snyder injects the film with awkward song sequences and singing. It seems as if he’s going for a somber and emotional tone. In the scene where Bruce tries to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman to the league, Icelandic villagers sing as Aquaman goes underwater to swim as Bruce leaves the area. It comes off as creepy as one of the villagers sniffs Arthur’s discarded shirt while they sing. I believe the singing is why Bruce left.

Steppenwolf’s armor is more metal this time around. Steppenwolf has metal spikes on his armor that can pop outwards if he so pleases. It’s metal, but not an amazing look. Steppenwolf is sent to the earth to obtain the mother boxes. He seems formidable in his fight sequence with the Amazons. He seems to be trying to win the favor of his boss, Darkseid.

After this battle, we meet Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone. Now what’s interesting about this is that new scenes have been added that introduces a new character to the universe. Silas has a lab assistant by the name of Ryan Choi. Yes, the Ryan Choi that becomes Atom. I found this to be refreshing to see an Asian American superhero get introduced into the DC cinematic universe.

Snyder introduces DeSaad, who works for Darkseid too. DeSaad seems to be a loyal soldier to Darkseid that introduces viewers as to why Steppenwolf is doing this for Darkseid. Steppenwolf betrayed Darkseid’s commands, which led to a falling out. Steppenwolf is trying to regain the favor of his Lord. That’s why he’s trying to conquer the earth.

Snyder loves the slow motion sequences. He crafts an amazing one for when the film explores Barry Allen looking for a job in Central City. Allen walks into a doggie day care late for a job interview. He meets a beautiful female, whose name that we don’t get. While Allen talks to the manager, the female leaves and her car starts crashing into a truck driver who runs a red light. Allen runs so fast that time comes to a standstill. He saves the woman and steals a hot dog wiener that’s in the air from the crash. After Allen saves her, they share an awkward, yet romantic look until Barry gets nervous. He runs away–showing the woman his superspeed ability briefly. As the day care owner catches up in time, she sees Barry with the other dogs and feeding one a wiener. Out of all the slow motion scenes, this one is the most beautifully constructed. The others aren’t as creative or they’re for shots that don’t need it.

In the third part of the film, viewers get more insight into the life of Victor Stone/Cyborg. Cyborg didn’t have much character background in the theatrical cut of the film. The Stones are a fragmented family that Snyder does well conveying. Ray Fisher has incredible chemistry with Joe Morton (Silas Stone/Victor’s father) and Karen Bryson (Elinor Stone/Victor’s mother). The movies does a great job of describing Cyborg’s powers to the ones that are new to him. A thorough breakdown of the inner workings of the artificial intelligence system within Victor.

So, for the first two hours of the film, it’s still messy, but better than the theatrical cut. The tone seems to be more cohesive, though there are weird creative choices made by Snyder. Snyder added depth to areas that needed it and others that didn’t. The most impressive details added were for Cyborg. He got the character development that he needed.

Overall rating for part one: 3/5.