Buzz Mill Coffee
"...The panel “Alternate Realities: Sci-Fi in 2018” revolved around one amusing but disturbing question: Why bother? Specifically, why do we need sci-fi or fantasy or any kind of fiction in a world that serves up absurd and horrific headlines? (An example of the former was the 8-year-old Swedish girl named Saga who pulled an ancient Viking sword from a lake.)..."
"...The appeal of this 1975 low-budget, low-rent, sci-fi musical about a bawdy transsexual from another planet (Tim Curry) who builds his own Frankenstein, seduces both members of a white-bread couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick), and kills schlock-balladeer Meat Loaf in barely more than 90 minutes eludes me. That it hasn't been pulled from theatres in more than 30 years and still inspires lunatics around the world to waste their Saturday nights dressing up in costume and re-enacting speaks for itself, as does its soundtrack..."
"...Sci-Fi ClassicsThe Wasp Woman, The Brain that Wouldn't Die, The Killer Shrews, First Spaceship on Venus, The Giant Gila Monster..."
"...There's a much more mature take on the perils of romance in a sci-fi setting with another release this week. You should read Marjorie Baumgarten's review of The One I Love, the feature debut from director Charlie (son of Malcolm) McDowell, which puts Sophie (Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men) and Ethan (UT grad Mark Duplass, Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home) as a couple very much on the rocks..."
"...It's Sci-Fi Week at the Paramount Theatre! See "Special Screenings," or www.paramountsummerfilms.com for more info...."
"...Copping their handle from the humanoid alien protagonist in 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still (a Keanu Reeves remake is due this December), Toronto sci-fi prog rock outfit Klaatu had a brief brush with stateside fame in 1977, after a journalist insinuated they were the Beatles in disguise. Klaatu refused to perform live or reveal their identities, which only fanned the rumor..."
"...I saw Forbidden Zone on Night Flight as a kid, and it deeply fucked with my Catholic-schooled head. A sci-fi musical? Animated art porn? Frog people? Only years later did I come to appreciate its low-budget genius and black humor, but it was the score to the film's savage Sixth Dimension, where Hervé Villechaize's the king and Susan Tyrrell his dirty-dealing queen, that turned the black-and-white film neon..."
"...And, seeing how it houses a future so dystopian that the simple discovery of a musical instrument threatens to destroy world order, there better be a Syrinx on the world map in the next 10 years and huge temples going up shortly thereafter. So maybe it's just half a sci-fi concept record, since 1976's 2112 suite only encompasses what was once side one of the record..."
"...A science-fiction radio serial, let's not forget. For SVT, whose work up to then had been all rock & roll and ragged edges, wasn't the pressed pants and pocket-protector geekiness of sci-fi a little out of character? Not according to company co-founder and Artistic Director Jason Neulander: "Those of us who were there at the beginning of SVT shared both a punk rock ethos – raw emotion, do-it-yourself, jagged edges – and a love for Star Wars and Raiders..."
"...Their mission, such as it is, is to find and rescue a group of civilians trapped inside a police station behind alien lines before a wing of B-52s obliterates all of Santa Monica. Viewed purely from a sci-fi angle, Battle: Los Angeles is even less remarkable..."
"...Starring: Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Thandie Newton, Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Alexa Davalos, Linus Roache and Keith David. The Chronicles of Riddick, David Twohy’s sequel to his surprise sci-fi sleeper hit of 2000 – Pitch Black – is the opening salvo in what the director and Universal Studios are betting will be the jump gate to a new sci-fi franchise..."
"...Worse, the enemy has taken to using the good citizenry of earth as human time bombs, capable of infiltrating the highest levels of government and committing shocking acts of terrorism. Director Gary Fleder (Don't Say a Word) has turned to legendary sci-fi writer Philip K..."
"...Starring: Eric McCormack, Jenni Baird, Robert Patrick, Dan Lauria, Jody Thompson, Aaron Brooks, Sarah Smyth and Andrew Dunbar. Taking its cues from several classic 1950s sci-fi films – the superlative, eerie It Came From Outer Space chief among them – Alien Trespass is a deeply affectionate homage to the halcyon Red Scare era, when every kid on the block knew what "Klaatu borada nikto" meant and Saturday afternoons were made for flying-saucer matinees and Ray Bradbury's red planet, Mars..."
"...I'm not sure why, but sci-fi, supernatural, and fantasy series seem to go with summer like paletas and a swelteringly hot day. I'm not talking series with the apocalyptic seriousness of Fringe or Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – which I love – but lighter, slightly quirkier fare such as Eureka and Warehouse 13 (both on the newly rechristened SyFy channel) and NBC's Merlin, with the marvelous Anthony Head (aka Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame)..."
"...Starring: Patrick Kilpatrick, Neal McDonough, Samantha Morton, Lois Smith, Kathryn Morris, Colin Farrell, Steve Harris, Max Von Sydow and Tom Cruise. Vastly superior to Spielberg's last sci-fi outing, the woefully pedantic A.I., this adaptation of Philip K..."
"...That was the fate of Simon Wells, though, who ceded the reins to Gore Verbinski (The Mexican) after being diagnosed with “extreme exhaustion.” What's more, the “exhausted” director (who here makes his live-action debut after a career in feature animation) is no less than H.G. Wells' great-grandson, which in hindsight may be why this version of great-granddad's landmark sci-fi/futurist novel The Time Machine seems to have arrived onscreen with precious little of the elder Wells' stunning imagery and Swiftian proclivities intact..."
"...Austin’s Rooster Teeth Productions, best known as the creators of the long-running Red vs. Blue series, which repurposes the first-person shooter Halo video game as a uniquely weird, comic space opera, enters the feature-film realm with this sci-fi action movie, semi-satire..."
"...Starring: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Danny Denzongpa, Karunas, Santhanam and Delhi Kumar. Endhiran is an absolutely crackers Indian/Tamil sci-fi/action import..."
"...Bring your best (or, lucky you, first) gal/guy, settle back into your crimson leather seat-belt-less backseat, put the top down, pull her/his top down, and get some. Badass retro sci-fi cinema, that is..."
"...It’s science fiction week here at the Chronicle, which means, musically, we’ve digested enough Theremin, Moog, and Bowie to last us the rest of the year. You expect to find a decent dose of sci-fi musing in electronica, prog, and, odd as it may seem at first listen, hip-hop, but country and folk music are surely planted in a bit more solid ground..."
"...Bay's big-budget adaptation of the eternal battle between good (the Autobots, led by big-cheese Optimus Prime) and evil (the Decepticons, fronted by the towering, glowering Megatron, who, frankly, have nothing on indie-pop darlings Le Tigre's righteously catchy tune) is vastly more entertaining than you might suspect. It's a stripped-down, chopped, locked, and loaded Bay-gasm – a sensory overload of action/sci-fi clichés that works, mostly, thanks to some ingenious CGI work courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic and the full-bore, whining, grinding, whirring, and screeching sound design of Erik Aadahl, which transforms what could have been just another chunk of overlong, overloud summer crud into a fully immersive action mindblower..."
"...When Jack gets pulled out of retirement, his job is to train four fledgling superheroes (Breslin, Cassidy, Mara, and Newman) for an impending attack by former good guy turned bad (Zegers). If you're expecting something on par with the genuine hilarity of Allen's previous sci-fi farce, Galaxy Quest, think again..."
"...Starring: Patrick Warburton, Tony Shalhoub, Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rip Torn, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. It's tempting to view this sequel to the 1997 sci-fi comedy -- which then as now featured Messrs..."
"...In the 21st century, scientists have found the perfect solution to dealing with elderly invalids: the Z-001, a high-tech “Superbed” that mechanically cares for the physical and emotional needs of the aged, and thus removes that bothersome responsibility from selfish friends, family, and doctors. But what happens to these people as they become increasingly shut off from all human contact and grow closer and closer to the machine with which they are forced to share their every moment? These are a few of the intriguing, thoughtful ideas behind Roujin-Z, an almost seamless combination of cynical humor and slick sci-fi action that proves to be both enlightening and entertaining..."
"...Arrival is a thoughtfully realistic depiction of how such an event might play out, and with Adams in the lead, it’s also a deeply soulful film, shot through with loss, regret, and hope. Like almost all great sci-fi films it’s less about the alien unknown than it is about the human condition..."
"...Sometimes The Answer to your problems is right under your nose. After years of struggling to get movies made, writer/director Iqbal Ahmed quit trying to pitch projects and just made his sci-fi thriller in his own..."
"...South Africa-born director Neill Blomkamp’s debut film in 2009, District 9, is one of the best – and most socially conscious – sci-fi movies in at least the past 20 years. Utilizing a mix of flawless, gritty CGI and heart-on-sleeve social commentary, District 9 riffs on everything from apartheid to global xenophobia, and mixes those meaty subtexts with a main storyline that pits a believably mad military-industrial complex against actor Sharlto Copley’s lone everyman..."
"...Starring: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber, Carice van Houten and RZA. Where has all the fun science-fiction filmmaking gone? I mean the kind Ray Bradbury dreamed up, the sort of thing with zippy flying cars and the cool bebop bounce and throb of post-millennial jazz? Instead of "what if?" cinematic sci-fi has morphed into "WTF?" and now all of our futures, most of them already closely enough wound, are dystopian hellholes on par with Sarajevo, circa 1992..."
"...That in itself is not always a bad thing, of course. Tim McCanlies' marvelous The Iron Giant flawlessly manages to incorporate the hoary (but no less relevant) tropes of genre masterpieces, such as It Came From Outer Space and Invaders From Mars, into one of the best sci-fi-oriented animated kids films of all time..."
"...In a Philip K. Dickian twist on Ram Dass' "Be here now" slogan and thanks to robotic surrogates and fancy tanning-bed/Barcalounger virtual reality units, the characters in this sublimely silly scrap of sci-fi filmmaking can be somewhere else now..."
"...To avoid the carbon-dating pitfall, some of the most famous sci-fi soundtracks approached the challenge from the flip side. In making music of the future, they turned to a timeless style using instruments that have been around for hundreds of years: classical music and the symphony orchestra..."
"...Starring: Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valery Zolotukhin, Maria Poroshina, Galina Tunina, Yuri Kutsenko, Aleksei Chadov and Zhanna Friske. AFS@Dobie The most illuminating thing about the Russian sci-fi import Night Watch may be its demonstration that the divide between American and Russian youth cultures is growing ever slimmer and more irrelevant..."
"...The film is Primer, the debut effort from writer/director/co-star and Dallas native Shane Carruth, who snagged the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2004 with this utterly unique slice of sci-fi cinema vérité: It's as densely layered with resonant ideas about the nature of time, friendship, and the process of invention as it is with the minutiae of the engineering field its characters inhabit...."
"...Starring: Larry Blamire, Fay Masterson, Brian Howe, Andrew Parks, Susan McConnell and Jennifer Blaire. A knowing and affectionate parody of 1950s sci-fi movies, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra works just fine for the first half hour or so, but quickly devolves into a case of too much affection and not enough affliction..."
"...Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Elden Henson, Eric Stoltz and Melora Walters. Taking the meteorological/chaos-theory tenet that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the globe will incite vast, unforeseeable consequences in another part to its sci-fi extreme is a ripping good premise for a classic time-travel film..."
"...Starring: Simon Baker, Benjamin Bratt, Terence Stamp, Tom Sizemore, Carrie-Anne Moss and Val Kilmer. If names like Blish, Simak, and Asimov mean more to you in a science fiction context than that of Keanu Reeves, this unabashedly retro, hard sci-fi adventure may be just your speed..."
"...Simply put, Battlefield Earth is the worst film I've seen in over 10 years, and believe me, that's saying a lot. It's a hideous masterwork of style over substance, formula over form, and Travolta's fanatical devotion to the teachings of Scientologist/sci-fi author L..."
"...Rarely have so many startlingly original images been thrown into a single storyline, many of them featuring a new process called “bullet-time photography,” which utilizes “dynamic camera movement around slow-motion events approaching 12,000 frames per second.” Enough of the tech stuff, though. Really, the only thing you need to know is that The Matrix doesn't just raise the bar on sci-fi and action films, it rips that sucker off and sends it spiraling into the sun..."
"...If we don't know who we are, can we ever truly be contrite for the crimes we may have committed? And if we are no longer ourselves, do our sins still really belong to us? Those are the key questions at the heart of sci-fi thriller Doe, screening this week...."