The American Astronaut [2001]

“It is here where the story began.. the story of how I became a father…”


This 2001 film, directed by and starring Cory McAbee, is a really fun film and I’m so thankful that it was part of SciFi London 2020 festival’s feature films because I’ve been wanting to watch it for a long time.

The film follows Samuel Curtis, a merchant who deals in the procurement of odd and exotic items. He’s been tasked with bringing Monkeypuss the Cat from earth to a saloon on an asteroid to his old dancing partner and friend, the Blueberry Pirate. His friend pays him for the cat with a cloning device which can make a ‘Real Life Girl’ and tells him that he should take it to Jupiter and swap it for ‘The Boy who actually saw a woman’s breast’. You see, this planet seems to be full of working class, possibly miner men and there are no women there. The boy is brought out to them from time to time to sing and dance and describe the boob he saw as a way of motivating them to work. The Blueberry Pirate suggests Curtis take The Boy to Venus, which is inhabited by women and a ‘stud’ who they use to impregnate themselves. Apparently the stud has died and his family (on earth) want his remains so they can bury him. Curtis agrees to this plan.

Meanwhile he is being pursued by The Professor who also acts somewhat of a narrator for the film. Apparently he is pissed because it’s his birthday and he wants Curtis to sing Happy Birthday to him. He seems quite psychotic.

Curtis gets the boy and exchanges the case for him to the person running the joint who grossly says he will grow this girl and then marry her when she is 15, after which he will describe what the sex is like to the masses. But his plan is cut short because The Professor kills him and steals the case, still in Curtis’ pursuit. I’m actually really glad he did tbh…

Curtis comes across a space station where he is asked by miners to take another kid with him, who appears to be wearing some kind of gimp suit(?) and he agrees. Eventually they make it to Venus to make the swap and The Professor is there, but does he make the exchange? Does he have to sing Happy Birthday to the prof? Check it out to find outttttt.

This is such a fun, quirky film and having seen Cory the director talk, you can see it’s his own quirkiness come alive! He’s such a bubbly, nice person.

I really liked the music in the film. Most of the music was rock. Sounds like some Bruce Springsteen sort of influence at times, but also alternative or indie rock in there. It feels like a music video, and it could very easily be turned into a musical of some sort because there are lots of scenes where characters are singing and dancing. I wasn’t anticipating this but it was so joyful to watch. The lyrics are really weird and endearing (just my kind of lyrics) e.g. “how can you keep on smiling while you see yourself in the mirror smiling” or “the girl with the vagina made of glass”. It’s the sort of film I imagine would be played a lot at this place called Prince Charles cinema in London, where they have a lot of quirky film sing-a-longs.

It’s filmed in black and white and has a old feel to it. Even the way people talk in the film comes off like it was shot in the 50s, which I enjoyed. Even their speech has the same timbre and spacing as a 50s film. It also has an old ‘Spaghetti Western’ feel to it for me particularly with the opening being in an old timey bar (though I know some people also think it’s more like Film Noir). It has that same grimey, dirty, gun-slinging, rough and ready feel that I remember from the Westerns I used to watch as a kid. Having seen the Q&A with the director, though, this was not intentional and it was actually inspired by his family who works/worked as car mechanics. He wanted to get that grimey, grease-monkey feel into the film.

What I especially like about this film – if you take out the singing and the dancing – it kind of feels like normal, working class people just getting on with living in space. Curtis flying about seems as ordinary as someone driving a car or a bus, like they’re all just normal people; some of them go to bars, they work, they listen to music, they have phasers that turn people into sand… you know, like normal stuff!

So all in all, I really enjoyed this movie. It was just a joy to watch. There’s not much too it. It’s not some complicated plot, but I loved how down to earth and quirky this space movie is and I can tell I will love it again and again and again in the future. I can see getting better with repeated watching. Definitely check it out.

Oh, and you should check out some of the other projects that Cory McAbee is working on. Stingray Sam is another of his past project’s. I haven’t seen it yet but apparently the series is really worth watching. He’s also working on this totally radical project related to terraforming Mars. The suggestion is to send your dearly departed’s corpses to Mars, to help terraform the planet. Isn’t that amazing?! Anyway, there’s more to read here.

Lastly, you can check out American Astronaut here. It’s available to watch for free!

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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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