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Creates a sense of dread
This movie creates a building sense of dread, which is interesting because there are no typical space battles, or on-screen violence. There is some off-screen violence, but that's hinted at, rather than actually shown. There are some fantastical technological wonders on the alien ships, like their artificial gravity, and the aliens' smoke-based writing system. The aliens in the movie, called the Heptapods, were created based on biological influences on Earth, they look familiar and alien at the same time. They look kind of like octopuses or even the human hand.
In some ways, this movie is familiar, it's similar to Close Encounters of Third Kind, or Childhood's End. It's even slightly similar to Independence Day, but several levels smarter. Another interesting feature of this movie is that it was told non-linearly, which we don't find out about till the end, that a lot of the stuff that we saw happening actually didn't happen till the future.
Overall a very intelligent movie, but if you're going in to see a typical space shoot-em-up, this isn't the movie for you. Also very interesting that they built up the entire mystery of the aliens within just a two-hour movie, the pacing was just right, you were never bored. These days intelligent thought-provoking shows are usually found on HBO or Netflix TV mini-series, rather than in movies.
Gods of Egypt (2016)
Very entertaining, don't know why critics didn't like it
It's a mythological movie, always liked mythological movies, and this one was no exception. I went into the movie not having read any of the critics reviews, and when I came home afterwards, I was surprised to see so many critics have bashed the movie. The only problem that they can cite is that this movie had too many white actors in it! This was never a problem in the past, The Clash of the Titans and the Immortals were similar mythological movies from just a few years ago, also with a mainly white cast and it was never even mentioned for them. Since this movie came out so soon after the 2016 Oscar awards ceremony, which was criticized heavily for not having any black actors or black-based films nominated, maybe this movie got unfairly caught up in the fad of the times?
Anyways, there's a lot to love about this film. Watch the depiction of the flat Earth, with a Sun being dragged around by Ra's chariot. They could've gone with a modern scientific depiction of the round Earth and the Sun, but this is mythology, they wanted to stay true to the mythological depiction, and so they did depict it like mythology has it. But their depiction is a lot of fun, it is sort of a retro-modern depiction.
I never felt the movie dragged at any point.
Surprisingly competent action thriller
We watched this movie without expecting too much, but it was a surprisingly good movie actually. Even my wife liked it, and she hates action movies. It felt like a video game, and a lot of the scenes seemed to be filmed from a first person shooter perspective. I loved the way we see action scenes from the point of view of the gun as it's shooting people. Much like a video game, the acting was low-intensity stuff, but at least not too stupid. The editing was tight in most cases, there weren't too many scenes that felt like they were dragging (just a very few).
We don't see why the little girl and the anti-hero feel a bond with each other, it really makes no sense. The girl is a super-genius and she has learnt to be super-cautious around the people she works with, yet she doesn't try to run away from him, and intuitively trusts him.
There is lots of violence, but it's stylized violence, and there isn't too much blood and gore. Perhaps why even action-flick hating spouses could like it.
A very competent sci-fi horror flick, surprisingly
I'd never even heard of this movie until they played it on our sci-fi channel here in Canada, Space. The story is somehow reminiscent of Alien, and Planet of The Apes, in some cases. There is an interesting twist in the end. The special effects are hot, but they could have done with far less of it, and it would have still been an amazing story.
I like the concepts they came up with, such as the temporary amnesia one has after waking from hyper-sleep. This not only helps setup a voyage of discovery of oneself, but also shrouds in mystery a lot stuff that has happened to them, that they should have remembered but can't. Wish this movie had done a bit better in the box office, then there might have been a sequel to show their lives after these events.
The Almighty Johnsons (2011)
This show just started here in Canada on the sci-fi Space channel. I've watched maybe the first 5 episodes of it only, I understand it's already on its second season in NZ, but already my wife and I like it. Compared to crud like Heroes, and No Ordinary Family, this is a much more believable storyline. There's no great super crime fighting going on here, it's more about a bunch of ordinary people living ordinary lives, except that they also happen to be gods. And not all-powerful gods either, just weak gods with greatly diminished powers, however they are going on a quest to recover all of their powers so that they can become all-powerful again. And the quest is not to recover some magical stone or anything, but simply for one of the brothers, Axl/Odin, to find his opposite goddess, Frigg. These are two of the most important gods in Norse mythology as they are the parents of all of the other gods.
They aren't going around beating up bad guys, they are just living life in the suburbs, running businesses, and trying to survive daily lives, find ways to earn money, etc. Some of them are using their godly powers for their own advantage, and some are not. Their godly powers are actually not all that impressive actually, which again makes the show much more accessible. In superhero TV shows, you usually see a guy with such amazing powers that you often wonder how bad guys even stand a chance against them? This is kind of how Heroes started in its first season, until they totally screwed it up in later seasons.
It's neither intelligent nor well-written
I know when we watch a work of fiction, that we have to suspend our disbelief, but they are just asking way too much of it here from us. There are so many plot holes in this thing. I have watched the first 6 episodes of 12 so far, and I don't think it's going to get much better. The CIA agents must be buffoons here, making such basic mistakes that would've gotten a mall security guard fired.
I watched the story mainly to see Maurena Baccarin, and Damian Lewis. Claire Danes is of secondary interest to me. I've been a fan of Damian Lewis since his series, Life. I've been a fan of Maurena Baccarin, since her days on Firefly & SG-1 (not so much on V, however).
I do enjoy the acting, just don't like the writing.
A worthy prequel to the original 1968 movie
This is easily one of the better blockbusters of the summer of 2011. Of all of the mindless summer blockbusters, this one is the least mindless. There is a large cast of well-known and accomplished actors in this movie, but for the most part, you could say that they are doing cameo roles, as the focus is squarely on the apes.
We went and reviewed the original movie after seeing this movie. I say that this is a worthy prequel to the original 1968 movie, because throughout the movie they pay homage to and try to explain how events led up to the original movie. Obviously they explain how apes became intelligent. But there are other quick little touches too, such as explaining how the apes can ride horses. They showed the manned space mission that gets lost in space which is obviously the mission that Charlton Heston was on in the original movie, the ship even looks like the original. They paid homage to Heston by showing one of his western movies in a TV screen in the background briefly. They showed that an engineered virus was responsible for giving the apes intelligence, but was also the same virus that killed humans. They showed how this virus was spread throughout the world by a pilot who happened to be a neighbour of the doctor (James Franco) who developed the virus and was the owner of Caesar the chimp.
Throughout this movie there's a lot to like. Much better than the 2001 Tim Burton/Mark Wahlberg remake. There are some interesting connections between these three movies and Harry Potter, despite the 4 decades in between them. In the 1968 movie, the astronauts initially thought they've landed on a planet orbiting the star Bellatrix. Bellatrix was a character played by Helena Bonham Carter in the Harry Potter movies. Helena Bonham Carter was also in the Tim Burton 2001 Planet of the Apes remake. Tom Felton who plays Dodge Landon in this movie, also played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.
Suspense factor is way off the chart!
I saw this movie at the theatre when it was first released, and then watched it again at home in BluRay a couple of years later. Even though I knew what the movie was all about from the first time, I did not feel any less suspense the second time watching it. This movie reminded me entirely of the 1997 Godzilla movie, same city being destroyed New York, except this one seemed like it was done right. Monsters are much scarier if you don't see them constantly, and they just pop into view briefly and unexpectedly.
I thought the whole idea of starting the movie off like a love story, and then totally changing the type of movie after a quarter of the way through was an extremely clever plot device. It's what kept the movie completely unexpected for me.
Some people complained about feeling nauseous from the hand-held camera movement effects. I'd say that's overblown, if just watching people at an angle on a screen makes you feel nauseous then you're probably too fragile to even tilt your head.
It really grows on you
There was a major improvement of this show starting with the 2nd episode, but I think maybe some damage was done to it by its pilot episode. The pilot had some characters which we never see again, which actually made the series more tight and focused. I think that one problem that arc-based stories in general make is that they try too hard to keep the deep dark secret a secret. They may even try to keep it a secret right through the whole season, and people just don't have the patience to wait for the secret to be revealed. They should just reveal it in the first episode, and hook the people. If you hook them in the pilot, then the series has a chance of survival. Unfortunately, they didn't do this early enough in this series, and as a result its viewership has suffered.
However, for those viewers who had the patience to wait for the secret to get revealed, they were treated to some amazingly gripping stories. I just wish science fiction writers wouldn't try to be so clever about guarding the secret. You have to entertain right from the first episode to the last. If the first episode feels boring, then the whole series will fall off the cliff. Watching this series on DVD might be the best way to watch it though.
God of War Lite
Although I'm calling it God of War Lite, that's not an insult really. A lot of stuff in the God of War series are frustratingly annoying button-mashing sequences, or pointless puzzles meant just to increase the gameplay time. Those are thankfully not present in this game. Final blow sequences are all just one button press rather than a randomized sequence of them.
There has been a lot of comparison to other games like Portal, Zelda, and God of War. I think God of War is the most relevant comparison, as GoW has a similar plot to this one. I finished playing the three God of War episodes, and then I picked this one up once I was done with GoW3. The ending of this one is lifted from GoW3, or at least very similar. But I was able to go through this game quicker than any of the GoW's as the time-wasting puzzles and button-mashing sequences were not present.