Where It All Began… Intermediately

Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope

By now, I would assume that some of you would see that I love science fiction in pretty much any aspect. Like any other hardcore fanatic that came before me, this is one of the major reasons why I became one to begin with. Released in 1977, “Star Wars” (Episode IV) swept up everything else that came before its time and became from what I’ve seen, a worldwide pop culture sensation. Kind of weird how another new trilogy is set to be brought to all of us within the next year supposedly. I for one, am completely anticipating it, but like anyone else, I still have to face the curse of patience for Episode VII, but that’s another story…

*SPOILERS*

Back to what I was talking about, “A New Hope” starts off with a completely vast array of characters that play a certain role in not only this film, but in the film series as a whole. Obi-Wan represents the Jedi father figure of Luke Skywalker who is non other than our protagonist along with Han Solo and Princess Leia. So in a time of turmoil where the Galactic (Evil) Empire rules over the galaxy, our Rebel Alliance (the good guys), have managed to obtain a means of destroying the Empire’s most powerful weapon, the Death Star. Oh yeah and our main protagonist is none other than the now infamous Darth Vader.

Believe me, it is hard trying to explain this whole universe and plot without any visual elements so just try to bear with me. Fast-forward throughout the story and our damsel-in-distress plot involves Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and Obi-Wan on a quest to rescue Leia who has since been seized by Darth Vader.

After a lengthy journey during which Obi-Wan performs a useless sacrifice, no pun intended, the rest of our group manage to rescue the Princess and escape the confines of the Death Star. The climax of the film follows the Rebel Alliance as they now try to destroy the Death Star once and for all before it destroys their base. Through a lengthly dramatic struggle, they eventually succeed and thus we have a resolution… for the time being.

So in terms of a story it was pretty much like any other film that involves hero antics, a good vs evil situation, and the struggle of identification for each character. Luke for instance, faces the circumstances of suddenly being thrust into the war between the Empire and the rebels, while starting to discover who he secretly is through the tutelage of Obi-Wan. Han is a bit more cynical as he cares for nothing except his precious Millennium Falcon as well as his first mate co-pilot, the cute and lovable Chewbacca. As the film progresses he slowly begins to have a classic change of heart, which is explored more thoroughly in the sequel. As for Princess Leia, well she does all she possibly can to restore peace and justice to the galaxy, or more specifically, her home planet, even though it ends up being destroyed about halfway through the film by Darth Vader. It actually ends up being her fault. Irony…

As for the bad guys, you can’t help but love them. Darth Vader is the ultimate badass who everyone seems to be scared off for good reason, with the exception of Obi-Wan who knows a little secret about him. Throw in C-3PO and R2-D2 into the mix for comedic humor and you’ve got yourself a universe of amazing proportions. I even loved the fact that both of these droids are just as relevant to saving the universe as are our main heroes.

I won’t explain the reason for this because quite frankly, I’ve now realized, if you haven’t seen “Star Wars” yet, it’s pretty much the time to start already. You can enjoy the CGI or character aspects of the film or basically not enjoy it at all, but the point would be to give it a try. Believe me, I could continue with this post for days, going off about thousands of other aspects about the film series. It could be about the science fiction aspect but for arguments sake, let me just conclude this by saying that “Star Wars” IS the sh-t. Take that censoring 👊.

Let me just include a little scene here so hopefully someone gets persuaded to watch “Star Wars” thanks to me…

Advertisements

“Raccoons” Everywhere In the Underground

Resident Evil (2002)

Let me think about it. I was 7 years old when this came out. As a straightforward horror film, I always enjoyed this kind of entertainment but lately it’s kind of grown out on me. You look at 2002’s “Resident Evil” and you think what an amazing job it must have been to base the movie on elements of the video game series. I’ve played the games too when I was little and was creeped out enough to say the least.

*SPOILERS*

My title by the way, refers to the city itself which isn’t necessarily featured prominently until later in the film series. I loved the concept of being trapped underground in a top secret laboratory with a bunch of flesh-eating zombies. Throw in an array of advanced technology as a defense mechanism and you’ve got a terrifying isolated place as your main setting. Characterization is pretty limited which is something I didn’t always like that this film excluded. Everyone is just thrown into this horrific setting with barely any noted background or story.

There were some other things that I never truly enjoyed about this film. The first would have to be the acting. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Mila Jovovich as well as Michelle Rodriguez. It’s just that the amnesia-clueless Alice never really got me over, but I suppose it was meant to serve as an excuse so that the other characters could explain to all of us, the audience, what the situation is in the film. Jovovich did a solid job in that sense, but I just never looked at it in an Oscar-winning performance kind of way.

That brings me to my next point. With zombies thrown into the mix, it’s obvious that these characters needed to have some fighting skills to defend themselves and in that theory I was correct. “Resident Evil” throws in a solid punch with non-stop martial arts and butt-kicking, mostly delivered from our lovely blond, Alice. That was a bit of a distraction when it came to following the story. A virus is let loose in the Hive and thus the Red Queen goes 187 on everyone’s ass, even once our commando team of characters decide to investigate the dilemma.

From there we even get a science fiction aspect. Lasers and lickers all around are enough to make much of a challenge for our team, which by the way begins to die off one by one as the film progresses. Well we really only get to see one licker and the effects kind of looked below average but I’m not going to bash against the production team for this. They did a better job with the lickers in “Apocalypse,” but that’s another story… I have to say though, I always loved Michelle Rodriguez in any role that she is in and I was never ok with the fact that they killed her off. Oh well at least she got a kick-ass dramatic death and we even got to see her as a zombie.

All jokes aside I’ve always remembered this installment of the horror series for two reasons. One is because of the beginning, where Alice awakens in her shower. Since then, it’s become a noteworthy scene that’s actually been replicated in the film series itself later on. The other reason is because of it’s cliffhanger ending. Since the majority of the film takes place in the Hive, we never really get to see what Raccoon City looks like in detail though it is mentioned throughout the film. Once we get to the ending however, the first shot we get, is that of a deserted apocalyptic-like city that’s basically been demolished by the undead while our main character had been isolated away by Umbrella. I’m not sure why, but that scene of the camera zooming out on Alice to showing what the city has become, has always been one of the creepiest scenes I’ve ever gazed upon.

You can see it for yourselves here if you want…

So bad, you may actually like it

Jason X

My title at the beginning of this post pretty much says it all. Released in 2002, this dead-end sequel only sees our poor franchise character go from one bad setting to another (I’m referring to “Jason Goes to Manhattan”). While a movie about Jason going to the future may seem original and interesting, the actual finished product is anything but far from fascinating.

*SPOILERS*

Looking at the decision to put Jason in space and turn him into a robot-like serial killer was a bad move to begin with. The concept of that would involve killing the uniqueness of Jason. He belongs in Camp Crystal Lake where teenagers go to die. He connects with his setting and when I watched him being “revived” with technology in the middle of space, it just didn’t feel right. His character only gets more staler with what is supposed to be an “upgrade” for Jason.

Back to the story, Jason goes to space, starts killing some students and they even decide to throw an android into all of this. That is where I have another point to make. The aspect of putting more distinctive characters in the movie kind of takes away the attention that was supposed to be put on Jason. If the film starts becoming more about the science fiction aspect, then the horror element begins to drain itself out.

I hope I’m not the only one who thinks this. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE other films that can make this work like “Alien,” but with the serial killer from a closed summer camp, that just doesn’t sound right at all. In the end that only brings me to the weirdest point about how I ultimately feel about the movie.

It’s soooo bad that I actually thought it could be considered good for that very reason. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I’ll try. It’s like shooting for the stars and you only end falling on your head after jumping a few feet. You end up laughing maybe because of how hard they tried to make an upgrade for Jason, but instead he only ends up getting demoted even further down the list of slasher serial killers. The sequels only end up getting progressively worse and make you think twice about the film’s tagline, “Evil gets an upgrade.” Irony. I guess if you enjoyed this film you’d have to be a real hardcore science fiction fan or a real fan of Jason.

Another Close Encounter

Paul (2011)

This is one alien that I actually wished existed. Released in 2011, “Paul” follows Graeme, Clive and the titular character on a cross-country adventure. While it’s foolish at times, it’s remarkable to laugh at and enjoy watching an alien with a nuanced sense of humor.

*SPOILERS*

First off, I loved the idea of having Seth Rogen voice the titular character. His character fit his personality perfectly and it gets caught up in a series of humorous conversations that everyone has with regards to Paul’s origins and his race. As for the plot of the film, I would have to say that it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but it makes up for it with its other series of conversations about science, religion and the unknown.

The production alone was handled really well in my book. You can tell by watching Paul’s appearance, that the production team tried to make him look more comedic and believable without being too horrific. Pretty much tho, Rogen is the only standout in this film. Everyone else’s performance was well-delivered, but not anything Oscar-worthy.

It can be a little cliched from time to time, but it’s wildly entertaining. The bromance, the setting, the characters, they’re all well crafted and bring us a hilarious story. If there ever was an E.T. movie version for adults, this would definitely have to be it. As brash and over-the-top as Paul may be, you can’t help but love the guy.

The “Scientific” Romance

Her 2013

So I’ve been trying to find the right movie to blog about as my first post in terms of the romance genre. Keep in mind that I am a guy. Thus I rarely like any romance film or even find one interesting or original enough to call it a “good” film. That’s another reason why I rarely talk about the romance genre in general. But with “Her” I actually have to beg to differ. Released in 2013, this is one that actually makes us examine ourselves and what our lives would probably be like in the not-so-distant future. Even then it also has some very comedic moments in-between.

*SPOILERS*

Technology is advancing and to have a story with a man falling in love with his computer seems like a joke right? But I think Spike Jonze applied this plot a little more intelligently. If he was going to give an operating system a personality, he would do so with a cleverly voice-over performance by Scarlett Johansson for Samantha. Joaquin Phoenix is there with a great performance as well to provide human response towards her.

“Her” also kind of puts us on the spot when it comes to dealing with emotional trauma. Since this story follows Theodore falling in love with Samantha, it shows us how certain people can sometimes cope with negative emotions in the most unhealthy ways. The rarest part of the movie that I think we get as the most incentive, was Samantha’s revelation to Theodore. If you say you are in love with 641 others at the same time, you’d have to be some kind of cuckoo, but in a way it is interesting when you think about how technology is advancing.

That brings me to another aspect that I really liked about “Her.” Since it is also a science fiction movie, it isn’t afraid to cross the boundary where it raises questions about how humans or technology would coexist in the future, especially if it would involve some kind of romantic connection in-between. Everything else from the cinematography to the soundtrack was just what it needed to be to make “Her” believable enough.

I know most people will probably think of this as boring or corny just from reading my post, etc but to me it really is an interesting film, that actually has some originality. It’s definitely way better than “The Notebook” which I know a lot of girls are surely more familiar with and will probably scathe me for saying all this.

Groundbreaking “Effect(s)”

Avatar (2009)

From the Na’vi themselves to the dozens of species that exist on Pandora as well as the geography of the entire landmass, “Avatar” can almost immediately be summed up as a groundbreaking film in terms of special effects. Released in 2009, this one looked like James Cameron hit a home run on certain levels.

*SPOILERS*

To me, the story of “Avatar” seemed pretty cliched. A main character (Sully) thrust into the wild by the majority; he/she encounters the unknown or less-advanced population (Na’vi), forms an unlikely alliance and together, they take on the stronger majority, and thus a “new hero” is born out of it. Even so it’s still an emotional investment that can keep you wanting to know what follows after every sequence. Apart from that, the acting is decent enough, but not the main aspect of the film.

What really was the stand-out aspect, and I’m sure almost everyone will agree with me, is the utilization of special effects. I’m not always a fan of CGI sometimes because it can divert the audience’s attention from the plot, but in this case, James Cameron really made it work. Since this film takes place on the fictional Pandora setting, it’s pretty obvious that visual effects would come into play and I really enjoyed it, and I’m sure most of you did too.

With all that said, “Avatar” to me really is that special film that seems ahead of its time. Definitely not the best film ever made, but a groundbreaking one for sure. If you still haven’t seen it, I most certainly encourage you too. It’s long, but it’s visually stunning as a big payoff.

How to disappear… Like a boss

Hollow Man (2000)

For some odd reason I’ve always really liked this film. With Kevin Bacon as the titular “Hollow Man” the aspects of this film are really remarkable to me. The story of an invisible man and how it affects his physique sounds pretty cool, but as a kid I always enjoyed this film because of its effects.

*SPOILERS*

There’s a few scenes that I like about this film when it comes to those effects. The first would be when Bacon’s character begins to disappear in his lab from skin to tissue to muscle to body parts to bones. Another notable part was the whole mask-creating scene for Bacon’s character as well as his invisible body being shown through water, whether it was the pool scene or the sprinkler scene.

Story-wise I thought this film and its plot were relatively good enough. Scientist turns invisible, scientist becomes disturbed, scientist becomes obsessed with his own “power”, and scientist finally becomes a killer. I could maybe look at it kind of like a slasher towards the end, but overall, “Hollow Man” is decent enough if you want to see a film with REAL good effects. That’s just my take on it.