Replicas [2018]

“What if something horrible goes wrong?”

“Something already has…”

There aren’t many actors where I would watch anything they do regardless of what the negative reviews say of one of their films… but Keanu Reeves is one of them for me. The ratings on this film were startlingly bad but I decided to push through, because Keanu…

This is an age old story. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Start a family. Boy creates technology that can transfer memories onto an android…. You know, classic… Well it is classic in science fiction! It’s that question that sci-fi often asks: Could humans live forever? If brain activity is just electricity firing in our brains, can we transfer that? Store it on a data chip? Synthesise neurotransmitters and the like? Or would we lose something in the process? Our soul perhaps? What even is a soul? This film’s existence poses those questions, but not in a very thorough way.

Really it’s a stereotypical ‘crazy scientist’ gets in over his own head bit. Keanu’s human experiments have all failed, but when tragedy befalls him he decides to try one more time, because he’s GOT A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THIS ONE. Unsurprisingly, the subjects who are the guinea pigs in this attempt are not consenting and have verbally opposed his tinkering prior, so what he ends up doing is extremely unethical, and then it becomes a fight to survive…

There’s a lot in this film that doesn’t make sense. SPOILERS! Firstly, his life’s work is based around human to android transfer, but following the tragedy he decides to grow human clones in tanks of fluid and transfer their memories that way. Why would they have bothered using cadavers and building complex androids in all experiments prior rather than just growing humans in the first place if that were possible the whole time? Wait a second? Whatttt?

There’s one part where someone who disappeared early in the film, and is mourned for having done so, turns up and you’re like HOW IS THIS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE. It’s not. Keanu made sure of that. So why the 180 degree shift? There are loads of these WHO WHAT HOW questions, with plot holes that make no sense.

There was a nice little easter egg in the form of a sneaky Kurios picture in the background of one of the scenes. Kurios was a scientist (called The Seeker) who believed there was an “invisible world in his larger-than-life cabinet full of crazy ideas and grand dreams”. Sounds a lot like Keanu’s character in this film, eh.

All in all, I think that this was an experiment better left alone. Decent CGI but the massive plot holes and a confused storyline really left this film in the mud. Even Keanu couldn’t pull this film into life. Would not recommend..

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Gemini Man [2019]

“You know when I’m happy, Pop? When I’m flat on my belly, about to squeeze a trigger. It’s the only time I’m happy.”

Gemini Man is a film about Will Smith as a hot-shot assassin who decides he wants to retire, but they JUST. WON’T. LET. HIM. GOOOOOOOO!

Without giving too much away, it’s also about science/technology and a mysterious operative who seems to know his every move. Will Smith’s character in it seems totally oblivious to the plot/what is happening though, even though he is supposed to be this hot-shot agent with an eye that could shoot a man on a moving train from like 20 miles away but he literally cannot see what is right in front of his face even when it is spelled out to him by his sidekick, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead…

So as you can tell, the film didn’t quite work for me.

I didn’t believe either of the main characters, that they were who they were portraying or that they were capable of being them. This is all down to the script because I’ve watched Will Smith in tonnes of movies and I believe him in other films where he has been some sort of agent but for some reason the dialogue in this was just real bad and had that unfortunate effect.

The flow of the film felt very top heavy. The end section should have been this epic crescendo and build up but it felt like the last fight(s) just poofed and was over.

Lastly, and major spoilers here, the CGI was just off. We’ve all seen Will Smith as a twenty something in Fresh Prince of Belair, so seeing the CGI’d clone version of him and he looked odd… too shiny, his face was out of proportion to how he actually looks.. maybe even shorter somehow… I dunno, it really threw me and took away from my enjoyment of the film. The fight scenes between Will and Will looked like someone had put two Will dolls into a washing machine and filmed the ensuing battle from behind the door. There was very little definition so it took away from the fights.

Perhaps if it was just one thing that was off, then I would have accepted and enjoyed the movie, but because everything was not quite right, and the script was not strong enough to hold the film together, it was a no-go for me. I don’t think any other actor could have done it better justice. It really was all about the script and CGI for me.

So all in all, this isn’t a film I would recommend as a must-watch. It could have been amazing but it didn’t hit the target. PEW PEW. But as always have a watch and make your own mind up 🙂

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Zombieland: Double Tap [2019]

“Welcome to Zombieland. Back for seconds? After all this time? Well, what can I say, but thank you. You have a lot of choices when it comes to zombie entertainment, and we appreciate you picking us.”

What? Third sci-fi film in one weekend? It must be christmas! Well, it’s not. It’s… well it’s October. But it’s a damn good weekend!

So this film is the second Zombieland instalment, the first having come out in 2009, and it was WORTH THE WAIT. For those who don’t know, this is a dystopian “post-apocalyptic zombie comedy film” following four equally unlikable yet endearing people who have lost everything after zombies happened, but they found each other. Awwwwww.

This sequel steps back into their lives now that everything is in their stride as far as survival goes but like a lot of us do when things are going too perfectly, self-sabotage begins to take hold and they each seek excitement, wanderlust or a sense of home. With predictable but hilarious consequences!

Though I didn’t think this was quite as excellent or amusing as the first Zombieland, you can’t really go wrong watching it. I found it entertaining, I loved the cameos from some special stars. Because it’s a comedy, it doesn’t allow you to get too dark like a lot of zombie films tend to do, i.e. where the storyline kills off a major character who you love. It never really challenges you, it’s never going to win any serious awards but it is a fun edition to the chain!

Really enjoyed it.

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Anon [2018]

“We have to believe our eyes, or the system doesn’t work.”

What struck me about this film very early on was how film noir it was (or at least, neo noir). It has all the major tropes of a noir film… the stylish monochrome, oppressive city landscapes, offcentre camera placements and angles/shadows, the misanthrope detective, a murder investigation, suspense, femme fetale, smoky cigarettes, revolvers and this intentional feeling of alienation for the main character as his story unfolds.

Everything has this bleak feeling in the film, which is quite fitting given the subject matter, i.e. a question that the film poses about technology, privacy and intrusiveness. They ask this question a number of times in a number of ways: “They say it’s for our safety… Why don’t I feel safe?” This hopelessness is a reflection of today’s feelings towards our own technology. It’s making our life easier, but at what cost? Are we actually happier for it? Is it worth it? (let me work it, I put my thing down flip it and reverse it….)

I really enjoyed the subject matter. Shows like Black Mirror ask the same sorts of questions about technology so it’s on everyone’s minds at the moment.

What I feel missed the mark is that a lot of (neo) noir films have their misanthrope hint to a troubled past to literally add to the mystery. If it’s subtle it preserves the mysteriousness of the character. However, in this film all the cards were laid bare regarding his past. Perhaps this was because of the surveillance element of the film, but it needn’t have been so. I didn’t need to see through his mind’s eye to know he was troubled. Just like some interactions didn’t need to develop the way they did to create tension and drama. It felt like if a little bit had been preserved, it would have given the film a lot more.

All in all, entertaining but quite a listless film that missed the mark a little for me and was just a little too predictable but in all the wrong sort of ways.

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Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse [2018]

So good, this film gets THREE quotes:

“Wherever I go, the wind follows. And the wind smells like rain”.

“I’m taking this cube thing with me. I don’t know what it is, but I will do.”

“You got a problem with cartoons?!”

I don’t usually love a film at first sight, but within one minute I was truly in love. Into the Spider-Verse became one of my favourite films of all time in a flash! I open-mouth laughed. I cried. I was moved to heck. And I deeply loved this film and thought it was phenomenal. That’s how excellent a film it is.

So that ^ was the short version, but for the long version…

The soundscape is so excellently paired with the pacing of the action and it’s weird to say this but the levels were perfect. I watched the film with my partner and she usually reacts negatively where films get very loud for the action parts and then become quickly quiet which happens with most films, but there was no reaching for the remote. She didn’t need to because it was just really well done. I know, weird praise but it was just so good.

The film has a really great comic-style visual feel to it, with that classic comic lettering style prompting you throughout the story and showing the main character, Miles’, inner thoughts and feelings. The graphics are UN.FREAKING.BELIEVABLE. At times the colours are so vivid that it just blew my mind. Look closely and you’ll see the shading on the faces, which is a classic comic-move that make the characters come alive and feel like you’re reading a comic, except if a comic was in 5D… The fifth dimension is emotionsssss. Or it could be sleepiness. I’m not sure.

Kingpin is a mountain. He’s a goliath of a man. I felt intimidated by him just watching him and my hands got real clammy… I mean just imagine you’re a kid and you’re approached by a massive tank-man who is extremely dangerous and unhinged. That’s part of the reason why I loved Miles so much. When you first meet him, he’s much like every version of Peter Parker/Spiderman you’ve ever met in previous origin stories. He’s a kid. But he goes through this transformation while he’s trying to work out who he is in the world, he’s learning from mistakes and soon you see he is amazing, strong, fricking selfless and brave af. He does not hesitate to go toe to toe with anyone if it means securing someone’s safety. And that’s really what sets Kingpin and Miles apart. Kingpin is so selfish and is destined to repeat the same mistakes he has made in his life into perpetuity because he hasn’t accepted that he cannot control things, does not accept his part in his own downfall and will not learn. Kingpin’s vulnerability is his family, but then so is Miles’. The difference is that threats to Miles’ friends and family just make him stronger, not weaker like it does for Kingpin.

Anyway, my takeaway and life hack from that would be: Be more Miles.

There are lots of references to different styles of animation later in the film (like funny little ACME bits). It’s just so endearing and those fond little touches show you how much the makers love comics and animation. I know you would expect them to, but there are loads of animations that just feel like someone has banged out another film. Into the Spider-Verse feels like it was a little sprout that was fed and grew and fortified into greatness. Also the different styles worked seamlessly together.

The final boss fight scene begins literally like a platform game fight, and it was just one of many things that made me LOSE MY GODDAMN MIND watching the film.

I could go on and on.

The only ONLY criticism I have is that I wish the film was called INTO THE SPIDEY-VERSE. I’m just gonna call it that and you can’t stop me. You’re not my real daddy.

So all in all… it was alright…. said nobody because they all said it was AMAZING. Really excellent film. If I was to give stars, I would likely give it five stars out of five. But I would say just go see it. Even my partner – who is not a science fiction or animation fan – thought it was amazing which is not common. So it gets the TOUGH CROWD thumbs up!

Easily one of my top twenty films of all time. Maybe even top ten. Go watch it now. It’s on NOW TV. Hey you. Go, stop what you’re doing. That’s unimportant. Put that down. Okay you over there, finish what you’re doing in the bathroom and then bloody go do it now. In fact, I want to go watch it again too…

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Quick update! Today I launched two new monthly events on the site/fb/insta starting November. Check them out below:

First off is THE WATCHERS, a monthly science fiction watch party which will be hosted on TeleParty. It’ll happen on the second Wednesday of every month @ 8pm (UTC+1, aka London time) and details about the film will be shared on the post and the link sent to attendee just prior to the event. You just need TeleParty to join!

The second is THE READERS, a monthly science fiction book review club which will be hosted on Zoom. It’ll happen on the last Sunday of every month @ 13:00 (UTC+1, aka London time) and details about the first book will be shared via the post and the link to discuss sent to attendees just prior to the event. You just need Zoom to join!

Check out the EVENTS LISTINGS page on this site to be taken through to the Facebook event page. Please register your interest if you intend to attend! All links will be sent privately for your security and so we can create a safe space free from internet jocks.

See you there!

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Star Trek Discovery S1 [TV series, 2017/18]

Emperor Georgiou: “What’s wrong? Are you scared, Number One? Where I’m from, there’s a saying,’Scared Kelpian makes for tough Kelpian.’ Have you gotten tough since we served together on the Shenzhou, Mr. Saru?”

Saru: “Affirmative, Captain. Very tough. So much so that many find me simply unpalatable.”

You’ll probably notice a pattern. If I really love a particular series, it usually takes me a long time to really finish it; I guess I like to savour things. Star Trek Discovery is no exception. I watched half the season on Netflix when it initially came out. The second half, I put off until now until I could re-watch it in one go. I said to myself I wasn’t going to write a long review, but I love Star Trek too much not to, so here goes…

Firstly, before I delve into the series itself, I just want to note that whoever thought of the name of the show and the eventual acronym it would become known for… I mean, Star Trek Discovery… Could you not have thought of literally any other word instead of Discovery? Some ideas: Star Trek Encounter / Star Trek Explore / Star Trek Vision / Star Trek Sporedrive… etc etc? STD is such an unfortunate acronym to be known as… I know that officially it is DSC, but Star Trek fans all laugh about the STD-ness of it all.

Back to the show itself. I was brought up on Star Trek TOS, TNG and VOY. I’ve not seen much of DS9, Enterprise or the more recent Picard series (I know… SHAME!) so I can’t really speak to the way their shows were shot or the character portrayal. That said, what I have loved about STD.. ahem I mean DSC, is that other offerings of the Star Trek universe I have watched generally follow a captain, the deck and some notable exceptions (being the medical doctor, transporter people and very occasionally a kickass and extremely knowledgeable bartender). Ultimately though, the focal point is the captain. In fact, when I talk about Star Trek to other fans, often we do away with referencing the actual name of the series and refer only to them through the name of the captain. Oh I loved Picard era Star Trek etc etc. With DSC, the focal point is actually on Michael Burnham who starts out as the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou and then events take quite a turn. She’s extremely complicated as a protagonist and exists in her a great moral ambiguity and sometimes unlikability – as you learn more about her, you just love her though (I do). So that was quite unusual to me, and I really loved the fresh sort of change in this direction.

There were a couple great ‘what the fuck’ moments in the series – without giving anything away – that I wasn’t expecting where I was totally surprised and I thought generally the first season offering was really well written.

The character progression also allowed us to see and be opened up to this warm tenderness, particularly through its LGBTQ characters. In fact, this is the first season of Star Trek that saw openly gay characters feature through Paul and Hugh (fun fact: Paul, played by Anthony Rapp was the original Mark from the musical RENT, which happens to be my absolute favourite musical of all time and I listen to the soundtrack ALL. THE. TIME… and he also has this really quirky single/music video called ‘Out Out Damn Spot’ which is one of my go-to songs when I want to dance about. Go check it out. You’re welcome). HALLELUJAH! It’s really about time. Like what? You can imagine a species of peoples that look like wood? You can imagine a room people can use to pretend they are Sherlock Holmes and then Moriarty accidentally gets out and somehow is self aware even though he is just a computer programme? You can imagine an android finally getting his emotion chip and losing his damn mind? You can imagine Sulu going crazy and trying to fence people to death while maniacally laughing? You can imagine a Captain and a Borg being Best Friends Forever? You can imagine Captain Kirk sleeping with all manner of lady-alien? But you can’t imagine gay characters until two thousand fricking seventeen?! I know I don’t sound grateful… I’m REALLY grateful, and even more grateful that I know season two introduces trans and non-binary characters, but good grief Star Trek writers! Buffy the Vampire Slayer was literally writing about LGBTQ characters in the 90s, and that was a children’s TV show… I feel like we all deserve better but I guess at least Star Trek are representing a real spectrum of characters, which is more than a lot of other shows are doing. I just hope that other shows will take note! So yay? And thankyou? And about time? And please don’t take this away from us? But please normalise this? We need this? Also please represent more prominent characters with disabilities? Indigenous characters liken to our own?!

Last thing to mention is that it felt like the season was very top heavy, in that there was a lot happening along a couple story arks and the final cherry felt rushed with regards to mentions/resolution of a Klingon war and seemed a little unlikely and tacked on but the outcome of that ending led the season to be in a nice place for season two so…

Anyways, I loved it. Great characters, yay LGBTQ, really cinematic and epic visuals. I would really have loved to have watched the season in a cinema. I bet it would be GLORIOUS. Story was great. There are some fricking kickass women in this season, curveballs and concepts in space travel that haven’t been explored before, Michael Burnham is a literal joy to watch. All in all, really enjoyable. Would watch again. I’m watching season two now which is even better. More on that soon.

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UPLOAD [TV series, 2020]

“This is the first day of the rest of your afterlife.”

For some reason, I wasn’t keen to watch this series initially but I’m glad I did because it proved that sometimes you can be surprised.

The series follows the trials and tribulations of Nathan (played by Robbie Amell) who I completely thought must be of the Hemsworth line, with his squinting good looks and his charming ways.

It’s straight out of a ‘Black Mirror’ episode, exploring the concept of prolonging life beyond death and VR in a hilarious tongue-in-cheek sort of way, with lots of twists and turns. It has everything you could need from a great series. It’s the creation of Greg Daniels, of Parks and Rec/The Office/King of the Hill/The Simpsons so is really funny as you would expect. A great script, great characters, amazing and beautiful visuals, diversity, science and romance. Honestly it was such a surprise to me that it deserves a massive KUDOS.

Very enjoyable and the science bits are smart enough that I imagine hardcore sci fi nerds would give it a good thumbs up. I do, anyway! Find it on Amazon Prime and go watch it. Watch it now!

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