Friday, 1 May 2015

Film Round-Up #8

Recent months here in RKS-Land have been somewhat frustrating from a blogging point of view. Well, from several points of view actually. Work has been very busy and my laptop hard drive spluttered to a halt which left my blogging in a similar state of inactivity. In order to address both of these issues, I've subsequently been watching quite a few films lately; enough, in fact, to start doing a few 'themed' Round-Ups starting with this one. Behold, therefore, a selection of five sci-fi films I've recently watched (or endured, in some cases):

Skyline (2010)

Though it may be bereft of big star names, the promotional stuff for this one still made it look at least promising. Glowy blue lights? Giant spaceships over cities vacuuming up humans? Huge grotesque aliens systematically 'harvesting' all life on earth? Only a colossal oaf could stuff up a premise like that, surely? Sadly, the team behind it managed just that, although I'm not really sure how. The small cast might not be household names but they aren't untalented, and the special effects are superb (which shouldn't be surprising given the directors, Colin and Greg Strause, are former special effects artists) but it's just not... very good. The story focuses on a small group of friends in one apartment block in LA who wake up after a party to find big spaceships everywhere and scary aliens taking out anyone stupid enough to be seen by them, but that's about it. There are no explanations, just 90-odd minutes of running around the building being scared. I suppose there's a mild curiosity to see how things pan out but the film doesn't even have the courtesy of having a proper ending. I guess that was to allow for the forthcoming sequel... 4/10

The Core (2003)

There was a spate of these rather grandiose-but-not-very-successful disaster/adventure films in the 90's and 00's and The Core always seemed like the least plausible of them all to me. It's set more or less in the present day but sadly the Earth is dying. Many weird and destructive happenings are causing havoc upon our beleaguered world which, for various science reasons, is because the planet's core has stopped spinning. The solution, as if it wasn't obvious, is to construct a super-strong manned drill, travel to the core, and blow it up to make it start working again. Yes, apparently this is not only possible but the 'save the world' plan is formulated and executed remarkably quickly too! Nonetheless, it sounds like a ridiculous concept, and some aspects of the film are indeed ridiculous, but it's actually not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank lead a likeable cast and the journey into our home planet's interior is more interesting than you might think. Numerous clichés do of course rear their heads right on cue (such as the depleting crew) but I quite enjoyed this one, against all the odds... 7/10

Supernova (2000)

These spacey films always grab my attention even though many are a bit ploppy so I watched this with hope but also caution. It's set in the 22nd century aboard a search and rescue ship, the Nightingale 229, which receives a distress call from 3000 light years away. The six strong crew led by A.J. Marley (Robert Forster) deploy their 'dimension drive' to investigate and find themselves in an unstable blue giant system with their ship critically damaged, but they still manage to pick up a young man they find at an abandoned mining site who brings with him a strange alien artefact. Of course, all is not as it initially seems, and strange behaviour is followed by missing crew members. It's not a very intriguing story, though, and fails to pull you in. Right from the start there's little in the way of exposition, and as events become more desperate there are no explanations offered either. This doesn't do much to raise interest levels and there's no real sense of tension throughout. To be honest, I was struggling to keep watching this one. The most captivating sight of its 90-minute running time was Robin Tunney's boobies... 3/10

The Colony (2013)

I suppose one of the films here had to be set in a post-apocalyptic world and sure enough, The Colony is that film. Apparently us idiotic humans built some giant weather machines in an attempt to combat global warming but they quickly malfunctioned and caused a global ice-age, wiping out much of our population in the process. The few survivors now live in underground bunkers called 'colonies'. In one of them, Colony 7, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) is concerned upon receiving a distress signal from the (relatively) nearby Colony 5, so he and a couple of friends head out in the treacherous conditions to investigate. Upon arrival, there is little sign of the occupants, but there is something lurking there. Eeeek! So basically, there's some tentative exploration followed by some panicking and lots of running, all of it in either cold metallic corridors or over even colder icy terrain, and it's all pretty by-the-numbers really. It's saved to some extent by some decent performances, though, including the ever-watchable Fishburne as Colony 7's inspirational leader, and I was reasonably intrigued to see how things played out... 6/10

I Am Number Four (2011)

Of the five films featured here, this was the one I was most worried about watching. It very much had the air of another blatant attempt to appeal to the 'YA' market that seems to be so popular in recent years, and so it proved to be. The story mentions something about nine alien children being sent to Earth to escape the marauding (and stupidly-named) Mogadorians who have of course followed them to our humble home to eradicate them for no known reason, and in number order no less. The children are now 'young adults' but one, two, and three have all been offed, so next up is Alex Pettyfer's Number Four who, along with his protector, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), has been hiding out in Florida and generally failing to keep a low-profile in mostly clichéd ways - fighting his school's resident bully, stealing his girlfriend, befriending the school's chief geek who finds out about Four's otherwordly nature, etc. Aside from the usual problems with this kind of film though (silly story, plot holes galore), this wasn't as bad as I'd feared thanks to a mostly strong cast. I'd at least watch the sequel if it ever appears... 6/10


  1. My friend and I saw Skyline on opening night, at his insistence. To make up for this poor choice, he later paid for my ticket for another of his "can't miss" movie choices a few years later. Unfortunately, that movie was Battleship.

    He no longer gets to pick movies for our group.

  2. Haha, nice! :P Battleship isn't great but its at least better than Skyline, surely? :)