20 September 2012

Resident Evil Retribution (2012)



Disclaimer: I realize that I am taking this movie too seriously. It’s a movie about monsters and zombies, it doesn’t have to make sense, right? 

There will be spoilers, though you are probably not watching the movie for the story.

Resident Evil Retribution takes place immediately after the last one. Alice, Chris, and Claire are all on the super tanker Arcadia while Umbrella and evil-Jill are seen on various helicopters headed towards the ship.

Everything explodes, and we see Alice fall into the water.

Umbrella Mega-Evil Corporation, in an effort to sell biological weapons to opposing nations, had to create multiple-block-wide simulation cities in their super secret UNDERWATER RUSSIAN facility. They have created duplicates of downtown Moscow, New York, Tokyo, and Racoon City. Umbrella has filled these places with perfectly functioning vehicles, weapons, electronics, furniture, and everything.

Umbrella has also prepared fifty different models of clones which can be programmed with various directives to fulfill various testing purposes.  For example, the same clone model can be programmed as a mom, or a business executive, or a business executive mom. They’ve been inserting these clones inside these city-domes to test out their bio-weapons in a realistic scenario. At one point in the movie, we see a conveyor belt of thousands of clones. They're just being strung up by wires swinging aimlessly along the assembly line in the air. How is Umbrella able to create so many clones? If they had this kind of future technology (along with holo-projectors and future bombs and vehicles), why do they need to even develop bioweapons?

We see one of these tests play out with an Alice clone getting eaten while trying to protect her daughter in an initial outbreak scenario. We see cars collide, fires get started, zombies get shot, and furniture gets broken. How is Umbrella able to replace everything for each test? Do they have a staff of cloned janitors and mechanics to reset it every time? How are they able get new vehicle? How could they afford to spend what must be a trillion dollars to construct this facility, and expect to turn a profit? This is ridiculous. Did anybody think the movie through?

The ‘real’ Alice wakes up in an interrogation chamber when somebody releases her. She explores the various city environments (with zombies!) until she gets to the main control centre, where she finds Ada Wong. Apparently , Albert Wesker. CEO of Umbrella, (the same person who we kinda saw blew up in a helicopter last movie) has sent in a team to try and rescue Alice. The Red Queen artificial intelligence system has turned crazy, taken over all remaining Umbrella assets, and is now focused on exterminating humanity.  They have to fight through various test environments to get to the underwater elevator which will lead them to the surface. Wesker also sent in another team consisting of Barry, Leon, redshirts, and Luther West from the last movie. They’re to rendezvous at one of the test environments.

It’s actually a little strange that a trillion dollar facility wouldn’t have underwater emergency escape pods. I guess they're trying to cut cost after overspending on hallways made entirely of light panels, holographic projectors for the sky, and domes with weather control.

So Ada and Alice go through the New York environment, and fight some monsters. They go through the Raccoon City and find the clone-Alice’s daughter. She thinks Alice is her mommy. The Red Queen’s security forces featuring Michelle Rodriguez and evil Jill attempt to kill the girls. Alice escapes to the Moscow environment where she helps the ‘guy team’ fight against a bunch of gun-wielding monsters. The rest of movie is pretty by-the-numbers. They fight bigger monsters while members of the team die one by one. Alice's desire to protect/rescue her faux-daughter conflicts with saving the rest of the team. 

Four members are alive by the time they explode the facility and escape to the surface. Jill/Michelle Rodriguez crashes the party in their submarine. A boss fight occurs featuring exclusively melee weapons. Alice almost loses until she remembers to remove Jill’s mind-controlling beetle from Jill’s chest. Umbrella should have made a mind controlling hat or helmet or something, but  Paul WS Anderson thought that the heart was the gateway to controlling a person.  Jill becomes good again.
Michelle Rodriguez has a secret weapon. It’s a super parasite that grants super strength and regeneration when inserted into her body. Seconds later, she was able to heal through bullet wounds through her head. It’s so powerful that it’s almost like magic.

They defeat her anyway, and Wesker sends a helicopter to pick up the survivors. The chopper lands at the White House where Wesker had become the President of the World in the time between the two movies (about a week or so, I’d guess.)  He gives Alice super powers and tells her that she is the only hope for humanity to stop the RED QUEEN AI from killing off everyone. It’s like Terminator, but with zombies.

The final shot of the film is Alice staring out the balcony in disbelief as the camera pans out, revealing the white house is besieged by an unending swarm of zombies and other creatures.

That’s strange, because Alice should have seen them while the chopper is flying into the base.

And if the Red Queen wanted to kill all humans, she should send in a couple of nukes at the white house.

If they don’t have nukes, then use those magical self-destruct bombs (like the ones on the Tanker or in Japan.)

Terrible movie overall.

Plot Holes?
I’m not an expert at underwater engineering, or weapons. I don’t think it’s smart to give monsters access to guns, rockets, and grenades. Just from a safety perspective, it would seem like a dumb idea if they accidentally ruptured the dome. What if stray bullets damage the edges? I’m only bringing this up because Ada brings it up during the film, telling Alice to not shoot at something.

There’s also a huge Licker that wanders around the service corridors, demolishing everything it its way. We’ve seen that it’s capable of causing massive damage to buildings, cars, whatever. The Red Queen probably shouldn’t have let it loose. It’s funny though that Alice finally kills it by shooting a clip into it’s exposed brain. (The brain is always exposed, it’s not like she removed the skull or anything.)

It would have been nice to see some sort of quarantine procedure in this research facility. An ability to lock things down if bad things happened, possibly purge all life forms inside of an environment. That kind of technology should exist, right? Umbrella was testing various bio-weapons, if they can’t clean/wipe out contaminants, how could they test things properly?

This film heavily hinted that all the characters in the first film were clones, Alice included. I thought they were going to get in the ‘life is important, even clones’ territory, but everyone pretty much just glossed over the facts. At this point in the story, Humans are a near extinct species. I thought it might have made sense to convert this place into a sanctuary for humans. They’re able to manufacture clones as needed to fight zombies. There’s safe, (weather) controlled environment domes. The team kills tens of thousands of (near completed) clones without even thinking or feeling anything, even though Alice has adopted her clone’s daughter. Wesker is one dumb dude.

Big Butt Stick
“The previous films sucked, why would you expect this one to be any good?”

 I’ll be honest, I didn’t truly think this one would be any good. I enjoy making fun of movies.

“It’s just a zombie movie, stop expecting realism.”

That’s no excuse. There’s no reason why a film can’t have action and also a compelling story. See: Dark Knight, Inception, Source Code, The Thing (1982), Avengers, Matrix 1.
The RE universe is just incoherent. It’s about 5 years after the zombie apocalypse. Humans are vastly outnumbered by zombies and other creatures. How are Umbrella facilities still operational? Where is food/power coming from? By now, all canned/shelf food have long expired. Why would anyone still willingly work for an organization that’s doing this? No thought has been put into anything. It’d complicate things if the people that the heroes are fighting had actual depth.

What’s Umbrella’s endgame? With Wesker as CEO, he was probably using the company as a way to achieve ultimate power and to gain immortality through the T-Virus. That’s sounds ok. In the last movie it was shown that Wesker was laying a trap for Alice the entire time. He wanted to ‘eat’ Alice and to consume her DNA so that his mutation would stabilize. In light of this film, why wouldn’t he just go to the sweet Russian Umbrella Prime base?

Profit through bioweapons? They have cloning technology, and the ability to place directives into clones. It doesn’t take much thought to see how this technology is worth more than a million times the bioweapon. People can essentially achieve immortality Sixth Day style. Just download memories into a new, younger clone body. There’s unlimited organ replication. They can bring loved ones back from death (in a non zombie manner J ) They can sell clones to Governments, trained to kill with no moral qualms about following orders. They can replace Presidents with their clones. Possibilities are endless.

But yeah, let’s build a secret base with multiple city blocks to test out bioweapons.

Too many dumb things in the movie that are too trivial to mention.

The audience is hammered with the idea that Umbrella started doing this stuff because of money. It just doesn’t make sense because they could do so much more with what we’ve seen that they could do.

There’s a really simple fix for it too. Umbrella’s one and only goal was to take over the world, Bond-villain style. Why were they creating monsters. They want to shit up the planet, and then repopulate it with those Japanese Umbrella Execs and clones of Mila Jovovich. That’s an idea I can get behind.

What about the Action Scenes? It's a good action movie, right? Stuff blows up?
There's nothing really memorable about any of the fights. It's just a bunch of named good guys shooting at named bad guys shooting at zombies. And they all miss. Nothing particularly unique or spectacular.

Though I didn't like the 2 minute slow motion reverse-shot at the start of the film, I thought it was visually interesting. That's about it.

Resident Evil Retribution feels like a 3/10 movie at the theatres. It's about 5/10 if you want to watch the film and mock it with a couple of friends. (but do it at home, and not at the theatres)




05 July 2012

Amazing Spiderman 2012



I think there’s a really anti-reboot/remake sentiment in the general public. It’s like having new revisions somehow diminishes the originals. I don’t mind remakes at all. It’s another chance at making a story great. If it ends up being bad, I could just ignore it.   I don’t remember much from the Sam Raimi Spiderman films. I’ve watched the first two movies maybe twice, and the third once in the theatre. They were decent films for sure. I just remember a generally good vibe from those movies. I think the third had some problems which could have been fixed.

By now, I’ve probably seen the origin story for Peter Parker half a dozen times. He’s a photographer/high schooler nerd who gets bit by a special (radioactive, sometimes genetically modified) spider. He abuses his powers at first, until through inaction, he caused the death of his Uncle Ben. He then figures out to use his powers responsibly to do some actual heroics.

I think this version of the retelling the best I’ve seen. It shows a version of Peter Parker who isn't above lying to various people to get what he wants.

My problem with the movie is that so much of it was unrealistic. I’m willing to allow the idea that a spider bite can give super powers, or that a man can inject reptile DNA and regrow his arm. That comes with the price of admission.

What I don’t find realistic is Oscorp. They supposedly have twenty (non summer) intern positions available for highschool students. That’s a bit strange, I suppose. I guess if they were students with a lot of potential, Oscorp would want to ‘lock’ them in. Fine. (I loved the idea that there’s a place in fiction with hundreds of bustling scientists in the background doing SCIENCE acitivies!) The problem is that Oscorp has worst security in the world. Peter was able to sneak into a place filled with GM spiders. It was just a single layer of door passcodes. I think most computer OS require you to type your password for every significant change. What they should have done to get Peter his power was to have the interns shown a new batch of genetically modified spiders. The spiders could have been demonstrating hostile behaviors forcing them all to be incinerated. Maybe one of them survived by hiding behind some extra durable webbing, and manages to bite Peter Parker.  

Later on in the movie, Gwen Stacy, another intern, was able to go up to a machine and just fabricate a serum that modifies genetic material. That’s insane, especially when you consider that the place has EVERYTHING NEEDED TO MAKE A BIOLOGICAL WEAPON in one of the world’s biggest cities. 

I think having Curt Connors as the villain could have worked. I remember that a big portion of what made him sympathetic in the show/comics was that he had a family, which was a driving motivation for injecting the serum.  From what we’ve seen in this movie, he’s put a potentially fatal serum inside himself JUST BECAUSE he wants another arm. I’m sure that Oscorp has a synthetic limb division that would like volunteers. If the movie Connors had a wife and son/daughter, and it was revealed that his amputated arm was the result of a genetic defect that was passed down, then he would have had a non-selfish reason for testing it on himself. Dr. Connors would have lived his entire life knowing that he was physically defective and inferior. The only non-broken thing was his intellect. He wants to find a cure so that his kids, and others like them, wouldn’t have to suffer like he did.

Nope. Connors did it because it was his last chance to grow an arm. What’s that? 80% fatality rate? Who cares. He always loved his right hand.

When the Lizard found out that Spiderman was Peter Parker, he wasn’t even shocked. I would have thought that a successful mutation that yields amazing agility and wall climbing abilities would be at least interesting for him. Lizard Smash. Wouldn’t it have been great if the Lizard didn’t magically turn into a creature 3 times his human size? They could have used the scale prosthetics shown in various scenes. You know, let the actor genuinely act, instead of putting a cgi mask on his face.

I was mostly disappointed that a potentially humanizing storyline with the Lizard was reduced to a conservation-of-mass-defying cgi green monster. 

The rest of the movie was pretty predictable. I think I’m more disappointed with this movie because it was so close to being great. Instead, it’s just good.
7/10

26 June 2012

Brave 2012

As with a lot of other Pixar movies, there’s a short animation movie right before the main feature. For Brave, it was La Luna. It’s about three generations of people who are supposed to care for and clean up the moon. You see, the phases of the moon only show up because these guardians have been maintaining it. The grandpa and dad are bringing the son for his first maintenance work. The two adults both want the boy to do things their way, from the way he wears his hat to the tools that he’ll use. On the moon, they come across a problem that they couldn’t solve. The boy came into his own, deciding to wear his hat sideways, and use a bit of ingenuity to solve their problem. Once they’re done, they climb back to their boat on Earth and admire the crescent shape of the moon.
When the credits for La Luna came, I jokingly said that the best part of the film had come and we could leave. I wish we did.
 
There’s something wrong when the best part of a movie happens in the first 5 minutes.
I’m not sure what the appeal is for Brave.

The film tells the story of a (Scottish?) princess who doesn’t want to be married through a contest. She wants to choose her own fate and to marry for love instead. The Queen mother doesn’t agree. The two have a fight and the princess runs away. In an effort to use magic to change the queen’s mind, she accidentally inflicts a curse on her mother. The two of them spend the rest of the film trying to undo the curse, while learning the point of view of the other.


That’s essentially the entire story. I kept waiting for something interesting or memorable to happen, but it never happens.

Brave doesn’t have anything that’s inherently offensive or terrible. It just doesn’t do anything other than tell a generic fairy tale. There are only three locations in the entire film: Spooky Forest, Castle, and Castle Ruins. There’s supposed to be a lesson in Brave, but it’s something like ‘the power to change your own fate is within yourself’. I think the real moral should be ‘talk with your parents/child, and then you wouldn’t have to go to a woods witch to try to poison your mother.” 
There’s no real point in the story where we see why the Queen has changed her mind. Did she see something unique in her daughter while cursed that she couldn’t before? Not really.

What went wrong with Brave?

Toy Story had toys were sentient. They experience emotions just like us.
Monsters Inc. had creatures whose job was to scare children because they believe children are dangerous invaders.
Finding Nemo had a talking fish trying to find his son.
Wall-E had robots gaining sentience in a post-human world, and going through vast distances for love.
Up had a curmudgeonly old man trying to fulfill his dream after a lifetime of setbacks.
Brave is about a princess who wants her mother to be less controlling.

Usually, I think bad films can be salvaged with some minor changes. I don’t think that this film could really be salvaged at all. The problem, I think, is that it has a bad premise. Any of the other Pixar movies above has a more interesting premise. There are more stories that are available from the start. Brave did something worse than Transformers 3, or Harold and Kumar Christmas. It was boring from start to finish. It didn't push any envelope. There's no interesting ideas. There's no cute or funny animal. It was just a waste of time.
3/10


01 January 2012

Doing a Triple. Sherlock Holmes 2, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, Tin Tin.


Sherlock Holmes 2. Game of Shadows.

I'm not really a fan of old timey period pieces. I actually fell asleep in the theatre briefly during the first Sherlock Holmes.

The film works as an action movie, but there's not really a lot of meat to the story. I'm not sure if it's entirely unreasonable to expect a Sherlock Holmes property to have a great mystery that needs to be solved. The movie begins with Professor Moriarty, who is Holmes' intellectual equal, orchestrating various bombings in Europe… at least that's what Holmes suspects. It turns out that Moriarty has been orchestrating events which were meant to destabilize Europe so that there would be rising tensions for a new, modernized World War. Good thing Holmes is there to stop him, right?

There's no real mystery in this movie, and that's probably its biggest flaw. Holmes and Watson gallivants from place to place exploding things and running from explosions in slow motion.

 

The movie isn't great, but there are no significant flaws. I just wish that it ended on a different note. I would not have minded if Moriarty did not lose at the end. It would have been refreshing to see the villain win in a movie for once. I would have enjoyed it more if Sherlock Holmes was not explicitly shown at the end of the film as well. A little bit more ambiguity would have been appreciated.

 

Note: Some of the action sequences were visually annoying. Mixing slow motion with 'fast motion' in the same scene is really distracting. It's absolutely terrible during the Forest scene. If you've seen this you'll know what I mean.

 

PS: I am really tired of seeing Robert Downey Junior playing his smart douchebag role.

 

Mission Impossible: Ghost Complex.

 

I have not watched any Mission Impossible movies before this. I don't think I've really missed a beat on the story though.

 

Does the story really matter for this type of movie? It's about Tom Cruise and his team pulling off near impossible missions in dangerous circumstances. It's barely relevant. The story here is that there's a crazy highly intelligent man who believes that the world should be bathed in the glow of nuclear light… that the world and humanity will come out of it stronger. He's actually probably got a point. Whatever can survive a mass extinction will probably be the best of the best… I mean just look at the Walking Dead. Those survivors show the best parts of humanity.

 

Regarding the action, it's fairly well done. I imagine it looks great on IMAX 3D. There's a problem with the Dubai scenes though. When the team is halfway set up with the infiltration, they realize that an unexpected factor has arisen (which is used to raise the tension) , and that the characters have to trade real data to the terrorists. At this point, they decide to continue the ruse. It would actually have made a lot more sense if they decided to not stick with the plan. I don't get it.

My main gripe with the film is that for a super intelligent villain, he's actually pretty darn stupid.

 

Tin Tin

Tin Tin is a boy-detective-reporter who goes on crazy adventures solving mysteries with his adorable dog. I am not really familiar with the series at all. I've seen some characters before but I don't really know their names. At first, I thought the dog was named Tin Tin, and the movie was about its crazy adventure.

The first part of the movie is slow, but it crescendos nicely by the end of the film. Scenes are lively, but not distracting. There's just enough going on in each scene to be visually appealing without being bombarded by weird antics. What's really surprising for me is that, while marketed for a younger audience, the film features the main character owning and using his gun, and the side-character captain is an alcoholic. It seems like something that would have had a lot of discussion behind the scenes. I'm just glad it ended up the way it did.

The setup for the story is pretty sloppy. Tin Tin is at the local market when he spots an awesome model ship. Just after he buys it, two mysterious persons try to purchase it from him on the spot. Turns out  the model ship contains a clue to the adventure.  A bit too convenient.

 

I would have liked to see more consequence to the character's actions. A lot of property is damaged during the movie, and people don't really seem to react to that appropriately. They're really minor criticism. Is it hypocritical for me to judge this film more lightly on the basis that it's a cartoon? I thought the end product was good, and that the characters (especially the dog) to be endearing. Turns out that people are able to put up with more garbage with things that they enjoy.

 

 Sherlock Holmes 2 - 5/10

Mission Impossible - 6/10

Tin Tin - 7/10

06 November 2011

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas Explosion 3D.



I could rant about the commercialization of Christmas, and how commercials seem to start the second after Halloween, but that’s not really important. It’s just weird to have a Christmas movie in the first week of November. Am I the only one who thinks it’s insane to essentially spend 1/6th of the year celebrating Christmas?

I went to a two dimensional showing despite the fact 3D is in the title. Whenever there’s a ‘3D’ moment, I am reminded of how terrible this whole 3D fad really is. Gratuitous 3D is the worst. There are scenes with stuff flying towards the camera, hitting the camera, and cracking it. Do people actually like that kind of stuff? Things that bring you out of a movie? They should have a 2D cut for the 2D version without tall the crap flying towards the screen.  “This (fake) 3D penis is really awesome. Just wish I saw it in 3D so it’s right up against my face. Thanks, James Cameron, you Avatard. “  
It’s been years since Harold and Kumar are roommates, and they’ve grown apart. That’s not unusual because statistically people lose half their friends every 6 years. Harold’s become a successful banker-man with a large house and a beautiful wife. Kumar’s been kicked out of the medical practice because he’s failed his drug test. He’s been living in squalor with his life focused on chasing the next marijuana high.

The day before Christmas, a magical package containing a magical joint is delivered to Kumar’s apartment addressed to Harold. When Kumar delivers it to Harold’s new address, the magical joint starts the magical adventure by burning down the Christmas tree, which was a gift from his wife’s violent Mexican cartel-ish dad. So the adventure begins with them trying to find and replace the McGuffin tree.

I guess I just had too high of an expectation for this film and franchise. I thought Go to White Castle was a genuinely good film. Escape from Guantanamo Bay was an alright film. It’s been a while since I’ve watched those movies. From what I could remember, they started off pretty reasonably, and were steady slides into more and more absurd situations. They culminate at an absolutely insane point where everything sort of flows together. 

3D is easily the worst of the trilogy. From the start, the relationship between Harold and Kumar were strained. They don’t really like each other anymore, and it gives off a weird vibe. By the end though, they learn to become BFFs and everything works out.  That’s kinda cool, I guess. This film starts with a pretty insane premise and never really attempts to bring it back to reality. In this movie, it is clear that all the characters in this world are larger-than-life. They have a car accident and a car is ruined. Of course they won’t call the police or their insurance company. They were mistaken as extras in a musical while hanging out at a back alley. Despite their protests, the lady was apparently able to get them in full costumes and into the rehearsal. Movie logic :/ 

 In the original, the world is shown to be fairly normal with unusual freaks that the two characters meet. Harold and Kumar are still grounded to reality.  In this movie, it is clear that all the characters in this world are larger-than-life and does things just to move to the next sketch. It feels less organic.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some genuinely funny scenes in the movie. They’re just too few and far in-between. The same baby joke is rehashed throughout the film. Two characters get locked in the same place for half the film. The best parts of the film are the short vignettes when we’re taken away from the characters.  I think the film would probably be better if the characters were high the entire time, that it wasn’t clear if everything is really happening as we see it. 

As is, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas didn’t work for me. I had a terrible experience during and after the film. I would sit in silence as people around me were laughing. I understood the jokes, but they felt completely flat. Honestly, I think the combination of “THREE DEE” and “CHRISTMAS MOVIE” has turned me completely off to the film. 

I wish I hadn’t paid money to watch this. I’m sure all the funny bits would end up on youtube anyway. 3/10


16 October 2011

The Thing 2011 Review.

It's a good imitation of the 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name, but it isn't the real thing.

If you aren't familiar with what The Thing is, then you need to go and watch the 1982 version right the heck now. It's better than this movie.

Don't bother reading the rest of this.

 

 

Now that you've presumably watched the 1982 Thing, this prequel basically follows the same structure. You already know what happens in this film as it links directly to the 1982 Thing.

 2011 Thing tells the story of the Norwegian Camp. They discovered an alien spacecraft by following an ancient energy signal. They discovered a body encased in ice outside of the spacecraft so they fly in Kate, an American paleontologist who has experience with thawing creatures, to the Norwegian Base. Eventually, the Thing breaks free from the ice and starts killing or assimilating people.  Hilarious things ensue and people die.

One of the great aspects to Carpenter's version is that all of the creature shots are practical effects. As a result, the creature looks and feels real and the characters respond to it in a realistic manner. In Carpenter's version, the Thing is shown to be an intelligent creature. It only attacks when cornered, and prefers to assess the situation in order to sow distrust.

With the prequel, they've opted to use both CGI and practical effects. I found a couple of cgi shots which bordered on being completely unbelievable and absurd. It didn't feel possible or helpful or realistic for the creature to 'thing out' by splitting in half down the centre and to grow some teeth. Humans are shown to be ultra fragile in that one touch from the thing can cause skin merging and subdue the prey. It makes no sense for the thing to even need to transform out of humanoid shell.

Thanks to modern computer technology, the Thing is now able to move around thing out in gruesome detail. So we get scenes where a ridiculous monster trapezes down hallways knocking everything apart. I guess that's cool.  The creature in this film doesn't feel very smart. It feels like an unrealistic, dumb monster.

 

There's a lot of room for improvement for 2011 Thing. The characters in this film don't feel distinct in either their looks or their behavior. There are really only three or four characters that stood out. I think the main problem is that many of the characters have the same beard. Was this intended to throw off the trail of who ends up on the helicopter at the end? Like some kind of Beard-Plot-Shield? We know that at least two bearded men survive in the helicopter at the start of the 1982 Carpenter film. Most of the characters are merely thing-fodder. Contrast this with 1982 Thing where each character felt real and unique, despite how little screen time they got.

It feels to me like Kate was acting not smart for a lot of the film. Imagine you found living alien cells that imitate other cells under the microscope. What would you do in a facility full of scientists? Kate decides not to tell anyone. Remember, this was before the shower/helicopter scene so she didn't really have any reason to mistrust anybody. When she's telling everyone about the imitation the next day, the dialogue felt like it was ripped straight out of Kurt Russell's mouth. Same with her speech outside in the snow. I was seriously contemplating leaving the theatre when she says she has a test for the thing. If it turned out to be a fire-blood test, I would have left.

As the film progresses, the Norwegian camp looks more and more like the one we see in the 1982 film. We see why weird monster remains are where they are. We see holes get put in buildings, and axes in walls.

 

It's largely faithful to 1982 Thing and has dialogue which could be lifted directly from that film. No real big plot hole (Norwegians were shown to be using dynamite to uncover the alien ship in 1982!), and everything mostly fits. There's no sense of real paranoia, and they could have used the language barrier better. I think the tension would have been much better if certain lines were not subtitled. Thing 2011 is an entertaining film which adds interesting things to the franchise. It just won't be as well regarded as The Thing 1982.

7/10

 

Discussion (spoilers)

The 1982 movie didn't leave things very clear. We didn't know if either of the characters we see at the end was human or Thing. There's not really that kind of ambiguity to this film.

So when the Thing escaped from the ice-block, it inflected a dog, which was unseen for the rest of the film until the end credits. It can be used to infect explain any of the characters… including the woman character, and the helicopter doctor guy.  It brings up the question… why didn't the dog try and infect Lars during the night? Why didn't the dog thing the suicide scientist?

Why did the doctor guy thing out in the helicopter? There's not really any reason for it to Thing out at that time. It wasn't cornered. For all it knew, they were landing again because they forgot something… but it decided to thing out and cause the helicopter to crash.

There are two possible times for him to be assimilated… after the crash and inside the spaceship. If two humans could survive the crash, then the thing probably could have too. It could assimilate Carter if he's unconscious or something. The problem is that his black co-pilot was with him the entire time and he was human the entire movie (as demonstrated in the breakroom scene.) Would the thing infect one while leaving the other human? It seems like a really weird stratagem. This means that both were human when they attacked Lars and stole his flamethrower.

So he must have been turned while in the alien spaceship. As he's calling out for Kate, the thing tracked him down. So why wouldn't Carter-thing try and convert Kate right then and there in the spaceship. He had the weapons and she's not really suspecting anything. In a one-on-one encounter, it doesn't really make sense for the thing to not engage.

When he's pleading with her to not burn him, I thought it would have been interesting if Carter actually breaks out of character and speaks as the thing. Maybe throw lines like "I don't even care about your world. I just want to go home." Or something.

Now, what if Carter was human right at the end of the film? That he removed his earrings because it's god damn cold and the metal saps heat away. Or that he sometimes wears his earring on either side of his face. Other people say that they heard him scream like a thing as he's burning. I was paying attention to see if he things out with tentacles, which he never did. I think it would be poignant to see Kate burn the only other human due to mistrust.

28 September 2011

Terra Nova Review: Time Travelling Dinosaurs.



The show starts off with text on the screen sstating the premise of the show.

AT THE DAWN OF THE 22ND CENTURY. THE WORLD IS ON THE VERGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL COLLAPSE. MANKIND’S ONLY SURVIVAL LIES 85 MILLION YEARS IN THE PAST.

We are shown a futuristic apartment in a smog-filled city. It might have been Beijing or Shanghai or something. There’s a character walking inside the hallways wearing a futuristic air filter. Oh no. The air is so toxic that you can’t just breathe the air outside!
The first 5 minutes of the show just keeps hitting the viewer on the head about how terrible the future really will be. Consumerism and High-Tech gadgets are pretty much gone, except for the occasional super thin ID cards. The dad goes inside his apartment and shows his family the wonder of an orange. Apparently they’re so rare that it’s been years since some of them have seen one. The mom name-drops that respiratory diseases have risen recently, probably due to the poor air quality.
So, the police come in and say they have to search the house. In the future, one person can only have one offspring. They have three. The police finds the third child (named Zoe.) and the dad is put in jail.
For twelve more minutes, we see the dad try to solid snake his way out of prison and to the Stargate facility. In the end, he makes a mad dash towards the portal.

FLASH FORWARD 2 YEARS
In the two years, the mom found a way to get the family into Terra Nova and travel into the past because she’s a doctor.  Even though she can have a good life, she doesn’t want her kids to stay in a dying world! The bad thing is that the dad(Jim) has to stay in prison, and Zoe can’t go.
The first sixteen minutes of the show has been entirely superfluous. Honestly, if they excised it, the pilot would probably be better. I don’t think they had enough budget, time, or imagination to create the world of 214X well enough. Everyone is living in squalor… in a dying world. They don’t outright say what caused the environmental collapse. I hope it isn’t just pollution or ‘global warming’. Anyway, there’s enough dialogue after the jump in time to describe the future. There’d be more mystery and would have probably been better.
Jurassic Park.
So the Terra Novan colony has existed for 7 years now. They quickly explain that this is an entirely new timeline so they can kill dinosaurs or whatever they want without causing any causality problems.
Characters make the comparison about the lush environment compared to the dark/gloomy/perpetually cloudy environment. I can understand things like “The air is so fresh!”, but things like “I’ve forgotten what the moon looks like”, or  “the sky is so blue I’ve never seen.” is bizarre. Are there no television programmers in the future about what the past is like? Minor complaint.
When the family and the rest of the expedition arrive at Terra Nova, the dad is assigned to agriculture duty.
The youngest daughter Zoe finds some brontosaurus which was right on the other side of the fence. Nice job keeping dinosaurs away, security. It was one of those Jurassic park moments, and I guess it was absolutely necessary. Doesn’t mean it makes sense in-universe.
The main conflict of this episode revolves around Josh (the son) hanging around female love interest (Sky) and engaging is some incredibly dumb shenanigans. They decide to go into a restricted zone to jump off a waterfall. They also decide to go make alcohol in an area with dangerous dinosaurs. On their way back to the camp, they were ambushed by dinosaurs. That’s such an unforeseeable plot twist!  Oh, Sky shows Josh some strange cave markings, and then makes him promise not to tell anyone about the cave markings. Yeah, like that won’t be a plot point in the future.
The other plot point involves the doctor wife healing a man who was supposed to be a thief. Turns out that the guy is a “Sixer”, which is a group of people from the sixth pilgrimage who have since left the main group and found their own colony. The thief breaks out of the hospital laughably easily, and then proceeds to try and assassinate Taylor, the leader of Terra Nova. Why nobody at the hospital decided to inform security (to warn Taylor or anyone), I don’t know. Probably just bad writing or something.
Jim stops the plot and becomes a new cop. They go for a ride outside the gate and spots the Sixers riding towards the camp. They’re here to exchange some ‘meteoric iron’ for  the prisoner and some supplies.

The Sixers have a hidden agenda and are led in part by Taylor’s son. Apparently Taylor’s son is the one making the cave markings which will be the key to controlling the future.
The retarded teenagers and the sixers storyline intersects when the sixers were murdered on their way back to the their camp. The teenagers find their vehicle and hides inside it when dinosaurs come. They are rescued by the end of the episode.


This show has excellent dialogue/interaction such as
“GET AWAY FROM ME”
“Hey I know you, you are Drake, right? It’s me, Sky.”
“SKY? ALRIGHT GET IN”
Right as they’re getting away from a dinosaur.


Two guards chilling at a tower.

Security perimeter is so poor that people can just crawl outside the gate. If jurassic park taught me anything, is that there are small killer velociraptor everywhere.

No guards at all. I guess that's why the little girl was able to feed the brontosaurus some leaves.








One guard on tower.


What I don’t like about the show, which probably won’t improve as it goes on, is that the military/security of Terra Nova is so absurdly terrible. We have areas where there are absolutely no guards while dinosaurs roam nearby. We have guards that don’t know to fire a weapon until ordered by the main characters. We have (farm) areas which are not within the perimeter of the colony. Terrible planning, guys.

Also, I refuse to believe that 130 years from now, humans won’t have weapons that would simply shred dinosaurs apart. Even in an environmentally collapsed Earth, you just know that hoards of money will be spent developing even more effective weapons of war.



5/10

It’s a pilot episode. It’s not very good at all. I have a feeling this show is going to be a lot like Falling Skies… except that Falling Skies doesn’t have as dense of characters as here. The teenager plot reminds me a lot of Tyler from V.
Is this show worth watching? I wouldn't say so. There's not really anything here that's done particularly well. There's better things to do with your time. Go watch Breaking Bad, or Fringe, or Supernatural. Go back and watch SGU or Alphas.

I am curious to see what kind of storyline they can do to sustain a full season.