Science Fiction: Films & TV

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Perhaps not really SF but it is an imagining of the Past and the domestication of wolves. The SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a novel, Shaman, on this very topic.

Alpha: This not just the story of a boy and his dog; it goes far beyond that, dealing with the lore and lives of Hunter-Gatherer Tribes in Ice Age Europe, 20,000 years ago. The boys are being tested, only those who can knap a proper spearhead blade are allowed to go on their first hunt. The men of the tribe and one huntress make their way to the hunting ground, meeting up with another band at the first trail marker. When they stampede the bison one bull turns and carries Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the Chief's son, over a cliff. The tribe presume he is dead and his grieving father returns home.

But Keda has survived, clashing with dire wolves he wounds one but then tends it's wounds. A modus vivendi develops between the boy and the wolf (who he mames Alpha) as they trek along the path to Keda's home. Keda is thinking of domestication at all times though and gradually Alpha and he hunt as a team and the proto-dog defends him from attack.

The Shaman performs ceremonies before the tribe sets off on their hunt, his staff and adornments are reproduced in great detail and is a testament to the research which went into the making of the film. A sabre-tooth tiger attacks their trail camp at night, straight through them carrying off a hunter, As they approach the bison they smear themselves with dung so that the animals won't scent. They move across steppe, through woods, marsh and over ice. The fauna of Upper Paleolithic Europe comes to life as we see mammoths and wooly rhinoceroses pass by.

Directed by Albert Hughes and written by Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt, from a story by Hughes, Alpha portrays a credible vision of the travails of an Ice Age Tribe and the early domestication of wolves. Exceptional acting by Kodia and by Chucky as Alpha. 8.5/10.
 
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GNC

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New Predator trailer:

Excuse me, new The Predator trailer (why not call him Mr The Predator and be done with it?). Anyway, looks actually not bad, kind of sassy, kind of badass... can it sustain that for a couple of hours? Maybe.
 

Mythopoeika

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New Predator trailer:

Excuse me, new The Predator trailer (why not call him Mr The Predator and be done with it?). Anyway, looks actually not bad, kind of sassy, kind of badass... can it sustain that for a couple of hours? Maybe.
Hmmm. They've made the Predator look a LOT larger than in the original film.
 

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Are there any sequels better than the original? Excluding things like Police Academy where 24 might be the best.
 

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El Mariachi, the first movie by Robert Rodriguez. Admittedly made for $10,000 or so.
 
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The Beyond: Faux documentary about cyborgs travelling through a wormhole. 2019, an anomaly (wormhole) appears above the Earth close to the ISS and an astronaut disappears. Travelling through a wormhole would be impossible for normal humans but (McGuffin) cyborgs might survive the journey. Such cyborgs become available when strange orbs appear in the skies around the world. The US Military reveal a secret cyborg programme.

The cyborgs are created by integrating a human brain into the robot body's electro-neuro system. Problems arise with the process and some of the early volunteers die but eventually the process is a success. A civilian cyborg and a military cyborg are launched into the wormhole in a specially design spaceship.

Looks and feels just like a real documentary, we meet the Director of the Space Agency, her family, her friend who becomes one of the cyborg volunteers (the process cannot be reversed), scientists who oppose the idea, military figures,. A vox-pop brings out mixed feelings, naturally conspiracy theories emerge. The military fear that the Orbs are Alien Combat artefacts. The sort of reactions you might get when there is possible First Contact which might also just be odd natural phenomena. Directorial debut and written by Hasraf Dulull who has specialised visual effects in dozens of films ans tv shows, naturally the special effects work well. Adequate acting all round. 7/10. On Netflix.
 
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Coal

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The Beyond: Faux documentary about cyborgs travelling through a wormhole. 2019, an anomaly (wormhole) appears above the Earth close to the ISS and an astronaut disappears. Travelling through a wormhole would be impossible for normal humans but (McGuffin) cyborgs might survive the journey. Such cyborgs become available when strange orbs appear in the skies around the world. The US Military reveal a secret cyborg programme.

The cyborgs are created by integrating a human brain into the robot body's electro-neuro system. Problems arise with the process and some of the early volunteers die but eventually the process is a success. A civilian cyborg and a military cyborg are launched into the wormhole in a specially design spaceship.

Looks and feels just like a real documentary, we meet the Director of the Space Agency, her family, her friend who becomes one of the cyborg volunteers (the process cannot nre reversed), scientists who oppose the idea, military figures,. A vox-pop brings out mixed feelings, naturally conspiracy theories emerge. The military fear that the Orbs are Alien Combat artefacts. The sort of reactions you might get when there is possible First Contact which might also just be odd natural phenomena. Directorial debut and written by Hasraf Dulull who has specialised visual effects in dozens of films ans tv shows, naturally the special effects work well. Adequate acting all round. 7/10. On Netflix.
I concur @ramonmercado, I liked it. I though it explored some interesting ideas, the acting and effects were competent and didn't detract from the story, and I didn't see the ending coming.
 

GNC

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We don't have a Purge thread that I could see, but just to say the Purge TV series started this week, free to watch on Amazon Prime. Just watched the first episode, pretty much setting it all up (how much setting up does there have to be if you know the premise?), but I did like the cult who want to "rapture" by getting murdered by the purgers. I enjoy the movies, and the same people are involved in this, so call it promising so far.
 
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Upgrade: An A.I. gone mad, Cyborgs, Near Future Dystopia, the ideas in Upgrade are not new but it is the variations on these themes which produce a fresh enjoyable synthesis. The near future, Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) refurbishes old sports cars for clients, his partner Aisha (Melanie Vallejo) works for a Tech company, she accompanies Grey when he delivers a car to client Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson), an IT billionaire. On the way home her autopilot car is hacked and crashes they are then attacked by a gang (who turn out to be cyborgs), Aisha is killed and Grey ends up quadriplegic.

Keen offers Grey a new implant chip, Stem (voiced by Simon Maiden), which has AI capabilities and will provide an interface between his brain and the rest of central nervous system allowing him the use of his limbs again. The AI however speaks to Grey and has opinions of it's own. When Grey allows it to take over it turns him into a killing machine, moving fast and enabling perfect use of his reflexes. Using online resources and old style detective work, Grey with the aid of Stem and a non-binary hacker (Kai Bradley) starts to track down the gang who killed his wife and the first one meets a grisly death. A detective (Betty Gabriel) who has been investigating the original attack gets suspicious about Grey as does Keen.

Here we have Robocop meets Hal meets Blade Runner meets Terminator meets Frankenstein with even touches of Ex-Machina and Minority Report. But these influences blend into a whole which is very much it's own film. Logan portrays Grey as a credible character and it is easy to develop empathy with him. The Blade Runner style future is well imagined, police use drones, no flying cars but most are automated making Grey's skill with manual cars crucial. In an underworld bar clients have adopted many body modifications some which might be necessary to survive in this future society. The fights between Grey and the Cyborgs are gruesome but well choreographed.

Directed and written by Leigh Whannell, Upgrade is a superior Science Fiction/Horror film. Some disturbing scenes, not for the squeamish. 8.5/10.
 
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skinny

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Perhaps not really SF but it is an imagining of the Past and the domestication of wolves. The SF writer wrote a novel, Shaman, on this very topic.

Alpha: This not just the story of a boy and his dog; it goes far beyond that, dealing with the lore and lives of Hunter-Gatherer Tribes in Ice Age Europe, 20,000 years ago. The boys are being tested, only those who can knap a proper spearhead blade are allowed to go on their first hunt. The men of the tribe and one huntress make their way to the hunting ground, meeting up with another band at the first trail marker. When they stampede the bison one bull turns and carries Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the Chief's son, over a cliff. The tribe presume he is dead and his grieving father returns home.

But Keda has survived, clashing with dire wolves he wounds one but then tends it's wounds. A modus vivendi develops between the boy and the wolf (who he mames Alpha) as they trek along the path to Keda's home. Keda is thinking of domestication at all times though and gradually Alpha and he hunt as a team and the proto-dog defends him from attack.

The Shaman performs ceremonies before the tribe sets off on their hunt, his staff and adornments are reproduced in great detail and is a testament to the research which went into the making of the film. A sabre-tooth tiger attacks their trail camp at night, straight through them carrying off a hunter, As they approach the bison they smear themselves with dung so that the animals won't scent. They move across steppe, through woods, marsh and over ice. The fauna of Upper Paleolithic Europe comes to life as we see mammoths and wooly rhinoceroses pass by.

Directed by Albert Hughes and written by Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt, from a story by Hughes, Alpha portrays a credible vision of the travails of an Ice Age Tribe and the early domestication of wolves. Exceptional acting by Kodia and by Chucky as Alpha. 8.5/10.
This is one for me. Will check it out before week's end.
 

GNC

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New SF blockbuster (they hope) from the Rise of the Planet of the Apes director:

Looks like The Purge crossed with Independence Day so far.
 
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Hmmm. They've made the Predator look a LOT larger than in the original film.
Well, there are two types of Predator in the film.

The Predator: In a homage to the original the film opens with a Special Forces Sniper team in a Mexican jungle targeting drug cartel gangsters. Their mission is rudely interrupted by a crashing Predator Starship which has impacted with a satellite. The Predator kills two of the the team but Captain Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) acquires some of it's equipment and disables it. Then the Men In Black (MIB) appear (though their tactical uniforms are dark blue) and McKenna makes off, posting a Predator helmet and armlet to to a PO box. Back in the US attempts are made to portray Quinn as being insane and he is put in a bus with five other military personal suffering from PTSD.

Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is a biologist who is called in to examine the captured Predator and Quinn's bus is diverted to a MIB base for interrogation. Meanwhile a large Predator Craft arrives and attacks the MIB base. In the confusion the Predator escapes. We see how ruthless the MIB are and Casey joins up with Quinn and the five loopers (self-described) to hunt down the Predator. Things are complicated as the helmet and armlet were delivered to Quinn's home and his Autistic hyper-intelligent son (Jacob Tremlay) has made them operational, they can now be tracked by both aliens.

We get not just your usual Predator but also a eleven foot tall specimen who has the alien equivalent of bloodhounds. He is in competition with the other Predator to track down not just the helmet but other artifacts and a crashed Starship in Georgia. Plenty of humans are torn to pieces, decapitated and have their throats ripped out by the aliens. Quinn and his group also have to engage in savage battles with the MIB led by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) who will kill anyone to keep the existence of Predators secret. Naturally they also want the artifacts.

A tale of Alien hunters in conflict with each other counterposed by the two sets of humans in a four-way battle. A cross between Catch-22, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and the original two Predator films. Directed and co-written by Shane Black this is an effective Science Fiction/Horror film which continues the Predator legacy and is leavened by a dark vein of humour. 8/10.
 
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Rocking a new Mortal Engines trailer:
Mortal Engines: Doesn't quite deliver on the promise of an epic Post-Apocalypse adventure. London is a giant motile city with thousands of inhabitants, it preys on smaller cities, a case in point being a small Bavarian mining town. Some interesting chases, the smaller town being literally gobbled up, broken down and fed into furnaces to keep London going. All very Steampunk, you do wonder though. how these massive engines were built after the fall of civilisation. Great flying ships which appear to be jet propelled in some cases and airships or hybrids in others.

Most interesting aspect though was the Shrike, the only survivor of a battalion of cyborg soldiers, a sort of Terminator/Six Million Dollar Man fusion. Reminded me more of Brassman from the Neal Asher Polity novels though.

Just about worth watching. 5.5/10.
 
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About an hour and a half after you posted that, I was in a pub quiz, all on 2018, and the question came up, "What is the post-apocalyptic adventure movie, released in December, starring Hugo Weaving, featuring entire mobile cites warring with one another, and based on a novel by Philip Reeve?" None of us on the team had any idea, and the when the quizmaster gave out that as the title, we'd still never heard of it. We usually win that quiz, but this time I think we were fifth, possibly because we get on better with rounds on history, sport, geography, tv & movies, etc, rather than "Jan - Mar", and so forth.
 

GNC

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Anyone seen Upgrade? Like Monkeyshines crossed with Robocop. An Australian film, but everyone speaks with an American accent. Anyway, loads of fun, the fight scenes are nuts, and it's smart, too. Best thing Leigh Whannell has done in ages.
 
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sherbetbizarre

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China's First Big-Budget Sci-Fi Movie 'The Wandering Earth' to Get U.S. Release
The Wandering Earth, considered China's first major science fiction movie...

Perhaps most notable for international sci-fi fans, the movie is an adaptation of a short story by author Liu Cixin, whose novel The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo Award in 2015 — China's first win of science fiction's highest honor.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/h...-movie-wandering-earth-get-us-release-1181473
 
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Some promising stuff coming up including Foundation, Catch-22, Doom Patrol, Hanna, Lovecraft Country, NOS4A2, The Dark Tower.

43 new US fantasy, sci-fi and horror TV shows for 2019 and beyond
Original fantasy and sci-fi anthologies, new takes on old classics, comic, novel and game adaptations, here's what's coming to US geek TV...

https://www.denofgeek.com/uk/tv/new...letter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter
 
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Alita: Battle Angel: Although Alita is directed by Robert Rodriguez it very much shows the influence of James Cameron who wrote the screenplay and produced the film. The faintly animation style overlay especially on Alita (Rosa Salazar) certainly exudes Cameron. Rodriguez certainly comes into his own with the fight, battle and Motorball sequences. Motorball is a sport which closely resembles Rollerball in the 1975 film but only Cyborgs compete.

Alita's head (containing her brain )and core is found on a scrap heap by Dr Ido (Christoph Waltz) a Cyber-Surgeon who tends to impoverished citizens of Metal City. This city is below the sky city of Zalem, the last of it's kind, all of the others were destroyed in The Fall, an interplanetary war which raged 300 years before. Zalem is the home of the wealthy, only those born there may live there apart from the annual Motorball champion. Ido gives Alita a new body but is very protective of her and he has his own secrets.

There are also gangs of organ leggers about who murder people for their body parts, even Cyborgs aren't safe, being stripped of detachable limbs by thieves. Whilst battling these gangs Alita starts to recover her memories, realising that she was a warrior who participated on the war 300 years in the past, she also recaptures her martial art skills. The romance in the film, she falls for the grifter (with a gold heart) Hugo (Keenan Johnson and hangs out with his posse, this gives things a bit too much of a teenagery feel.

Great Cyborg assassins and bounty hunters, the best being the Cockney Punk (complete with Mohawk) Zapan (Ed Skrein), closely followed by the gargantuan Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley). Jennifer Connolly plays Ido's estranged wife Chiren who has Motorball connections. There is also a dark conspiracy which links Motorball, the organ leggers and access to Zalem which involves Chiren's lover Vector (Mahershala Ali).

A film which has the feel of Blade Runner and the Mobius comic strips with Zalem and The Fall being reminiscent of Larry Niven's Ringworld. A good Sf/Adventure film. 8/10.
 
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