REVIEW: Dune (2021)

Josh Brolin, left, as Gurney Halleck and Timothée Chalamet, right, as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) — Screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth.

When science-fiction neophytes first lay their eyes on the marketing material for Denis Villeneuve’s latest science-fiction film, Dune, they should be forgiven, if they immediately remark that it looks like an imitation of Star Wars — or other similar films. Obviously, they would be under a false impression, but, after all, it is a little bit strange that one of Star Wars‘ most obvious sources of inspiration — Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune — has not previously generated a widely known or appreciated adaptation.

In fact, the Dune property is perhaps especially renowned for being difficult to adapt. Famously, Alejandro Jodorowsky tried but failed to get an adaptation off the ground, while David Lynch’s adaptation from 1984 was critically panned. Those ‘failed’ attempts are, in fact, more widely known than the Sci-Fi Channel mini-series that the franchise also spawned. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have now entrusted auteur Denis Villeneuve with the job of adapting Frank Herbert’s rich, influential, and dense source material, and I think that was a very smart decision.

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REVIEW: Chaos Walking (2021)

Daisy Ridley as Viola and Tom Holland as Todd Hewitt in Doug Liman’s CHAOS WALKING — Photo: Lionsgate.

Directed by Doug Liman — Screenplay by Patrick Ness & Christopher Ford.

On paper, this should be a huge hit. It’s a science-fiction action film starring Tom Holland of Spider-Man fame and Daisy Ridley of Star Wars fame, they are surrounded by a more than capable cast including the incredible Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round), and the film was directed by Edge of Tomorrow‘s Doug Liman. And yet this is a film that has been through quite a lot of behind-the-scenes work. It has gone through several rounds of rewrites and expensive reshoots, and it, reportedly, was the victim of poor reception at test screenings. After having had its release delayed several times, Chaos Walking is now here, but while it has all the ingredients of a film made for me, it just doesn’t work as a complete package.

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REVIEW: Stowaway (2021)

Daniel Dae Kim in Joe Penna’s STOWAWAY — Photo: Netflix.

Directed by Joe Penna (Arctic) – Screenplay by Joe Penna & Ryan Morrison.

Back in 2019, Joe Penna released his feature-length directorial debut, the Mads Mikkelsen-vehicle Arctic, which was a gripping story of survival in the face of a hopeless and cold wilderness. I was extremely impressed by Penna’s debut film, as it felt real, as it had a lot of heart, and since it rarely felt Hollywood-ized. It also helped that Mads Mikkelsen delivered one of his best performances in Penna’s underseen debut.

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REVIEW: The Midnight Sky (2020)

The Midnight Sky, Still Image
‘The Midnight Sky,’ Still Image — Photo: Philippe Antonello / Netflix.

Directed by George Clooney — Screenplay by Mark L. Smith.

I don’t think I have a favorite genre, per se, but, it is true that I usually am a sucker for science-fiction. It is probably the genre that I find the most interesting, and, whenever a new film is on its way, I do get excited about what new ambitious story is about to be told. George Clooney is no stranger to science-fiction and space films since he has appeared in films such as Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris, Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, and, possibly most memorably, Alfonso Cuarón’s incredible Gravity. Due to Clooney’s own experience with the genre, I was very interested in seeing what kind of story he had planned to tell with The Midnight Sky, which he both starred in and directed. Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a disappointment, for me. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Midnight Sky (2020)”

Best of the 2010s: Top Ten Sci-Fi Films

Mad Max: Fury Road — Warner Bros.

As has been announced previously, now that the 2010s have come to an end, I want to highlight, recognize, and, in a sense, reward the best films not just of a year but also of the last decade. Previously, I’ve written Best of the 2010s-lists on Comedy, Directorial Debuts, Biopics, and Horror films. The next genre-specific top ten list for the 2010s is all about one of my very favorite genres: Science-Fiction. However, before I list the best science-fiction films of the decade, let me describe my criteria for putting the list together. Continue reading “Best of the 2010s: Top Ten Sci-Fi Films”

REVIEW: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

Release Poster — Netflix

The following is a review of In the Shadow of the Moon — Directed by Jim Mickle.

Not to be confused with the David Sington documentary of the same name, Jim Mickle’s In the Shadow of the Moon is a science-fiction crime film that follows police officer Thomas Lockhart (played by Boyd Holbrook), a father in waiting, as he tries to catch a criminal whose actions have caused several civilians to display suspicious wounds and then violently die as they bleed from their heads’ orifices. The suspected murderer is a young African-American woman (played by Cleopatra Coleman), and Lockhart eventually catches up to her on the night of the murderers.

His night ends violently as he makes her fall onto subway train tracks where she is swiftly run over by an oncoming train. When the suspected murderer returns back to life nine years after she died, Lockhart starts to entertain the thought that she was literally carried away by a moonlight shadow, to quote a 1980s hit song, to a different place, or time, entirely, which was suggested to him by an elusive scientist on the night of her first appearance. Continue reading “REVIEW: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)”

REVIEW: Ad Astra (2019)

Theatrical IMAX-Release Poster – 20th Century Fox

The following is a review of Ad Astra — Directed by James Gray.

As we are getting closer and closer to the end of a decade, we naturally get the urge to take a look backward and reflect on the films that have shaped a decade in film history. One genre that has thrived in the 2010s is science-fiction. It almost feels like every year of this decade has had at least one science-fiction or space-set film that appealed to an adult audience and included challenging themes or stories. Just like 2013 and 2014 had Gravity and Interstellar respectively, 2019 has James Gray’s Ad Astra — an intimate, meditative, and introspective science-fiction film about a son following in the footsteps of his father to complete a mission. Just like both of the two aforementioned films, Ad Astra is ambitious and exceptional. Continue reading “REVIEW: Ad Astra (2019)”

REVIEW: The One I Love (2014)

Release Poster – RADiUS-TWC

The following is a quick review of The One I Love – The feature film debut for director Charlie McDowell

The One I Love follows Ethan (played by Mark Duplass) and Sophie (played by Elisabeth Moss), a married couple going through a rough patch, who have been advised by their therapist (played by Ted Danson) to go on a weekend retreat to a secluded estate. But once they get there, they realize that their partner is only fun to be around in the guest house. Continue reading “REVIEW: The One I Love (2014)”

REVIEW: Westworld – “The Bicameral Mind”

westworld-review

The following is a spoiler review of the tenth episode of Westworld – Developed by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy

In the final episode of the first season of Westworld, Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) presents his new story to the Delos board, we finally find out who Wyatt is, Teddy (played by James Marsden) finds Dolores (played by Evan Rachel Wood), and Charlotte (played by Tessa Thompson) tries to force Ford to retire. Continue reading “REVIEW: Westworld – “The Bicameral Mind””

REVIEW: Westworld – “The Well-Tempered Clavier”

westworld-review

The following is a spoiler recap/review of the ninth episode of Westworld – Developed by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy

In the ninth episode of Westworld, Ashley Stubbs (played by Luke Hemsworth) tries to find Elsie Hughes (played by Shannon Woodward), Bernard’s (played by Jeffrey Wright) earliest memory is revealed, and two central characters reach the city once swallowed by sand. Continue reading “REVIEW: Westworld – “The Well-Tempered Clavier””