Arrival (2016)

While many science fictions films in the past have confronted the idea of communication with alien species, as well as building a language with said species, no film like “Arrival” has accomplished the examination of the inherent importance of language with other species as a means of keeping peace and preventing disaster. Films like “Prometheus” have tried and failed to tackle the concept of galactic travel to learn about ideas. “Close Encounters” which is typically celebrated for being a film about communication never quite rises to the idea that interplay between species could hinge on peace and total war. When we meet the alien species we can never really be sure what their intent is. When the time comes to meet them face to face, “Arrival” is a world that side steps military interference in exchange for linguistic help.

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Scavengers (2017)

Director Joseph Bennett and Charles Huettner’s short “Scavengers” originally premiered on cable television and is admittedly at home in the Adult Swim studio library. The studio that thrives on creating different entertainment, “Scavengers” is an ambitious and thought provoking animated film with no dialogue, but incredible sound design. The experience of “Scavengers” hinges on every sound we hear in this new environment, and we’re thrust in to a new world without having characters over explain and hold our hands through what we’re watching.

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Max Steel (2016)

I wish Mattel would stop forcing Max Steel on the unsuspecting American public. After many years, the company insists on introducing this action figure line in its new forms, and it’s exhausting to say the least. Back in 2000, Mattel re-introduced Max Steel in a very entertaining CGI cartoon with the main character as a cybernetic spy–because CGI and spies were big in the early aughts. When trends shifted, Mattel re-re-introduced the character in 2013 in to a younger character and in the mold of a pseudo-Iron Man since Iron Man has changed how movie studios approach science fiction now. After that failed, Mattel has given us Max Steel once again, and turned him in to a cybernetic superhero with an enigmatic past. This Max Steel is an amalgam of Guyver, Iron Man, and Star Kid, and is an infinitely grating, and ugly kids film.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Warning: Spoilery and long review by a self-admitted Star Wars fan (with Stormtrooper tattoo to prove it).

A small group of rebels sets off to go retrieve the plans to the Death Star after receiving a communication that seems to indicate that they will be the downfall of the Empire in this sequel/prequel/side story to the Star Wars prequels/original trilogy.  Touted as the first standalone Star Wars, Rogue One is heavily entrenched in the Star Wars lore and fills in gaps and what could have been considered plot holes in the past.  The story here is easily to follow for people who may have never seen a Star Wars film, but it feels like a story built for the fans of the franchise.  The story feels like a Star Wars one and the characters feel like they belong in the universe with many cameos and full presences by some very familiar faces and names.  This leads the story to feel familiar and yet the changes, the connections that could have been or the additions or who knows make it feel like something is missing to the story.  Rogue One is a hard one for this review to fully embrace while wanting to, which is an odd place to find one’s fan brain in.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

While I wasn’t keen on Disney and Lucasfilm approaching the prequel so quick in to the rebooting of the series, “Rogue One” really serves us one of the most important chapters in the fall of the Empire beautifully. While “Rogue One” certainly isn’t a perfect film, it sure is a fantastic action adventure that attempts to break the mold. Gareth Edwards transforms his tale of the stealing of the plans of the Death Star in to a last stand mission in the vein of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Inglorious Basterds.” Though director Edwards offers up the usual nods to “Episode IV: A New Hope,” thankfully “Rogue One” also manages to stand firmly on its own. It’s a compelling tale of the rebellion, and pure evil trying to maintain its strangle hold on the galaxy.

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Curse of the Man Who Sees UFOs (2016)

Christo Roppolo is a former filmmaker who now sees UFOs.  Through interviews with him and people around him and videos he took of what he claims to be UFOs, this documentary explores his history of UFO sightings, how it has affected his life, how he almost preaches about them, and how he is seen as he basically obsesses over these sightings and what they may mean. Roppolo reached out to director Justin Gear by sending him hours and hours of video from his sightings and investigations of them.  Gear takes this footage and mixes it with interviews of Roppolo and his neighbors, friends, and people of his town to show what he sees or claims to see with experiences from others and feelings directly from the source.

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The 5 Best Segments of the “V/H/S” Trilogy

After the 2012 horror anthology “V/H/S” fan reactions were mixed, but the opening segment “Amateur Night” garnered quite a following and even made a celebrity out of its star Hannah Fierman. After four years, Chiller Films decides to adapt the very popular horror segment and realize it in to a feature length film. Now on VOD, DVD, and limited release, “Siren” is a larger version of the original story with the gorgeous Hannah Fierman reprising her role. In honor of “Siren,” here are five of the best segments of the “V/H/S” horror trilogy. What are your personal favorite segments from the acclaimed found footage horror series?

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Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

id4-resOne thing you can always count on with aliens, that no matter how advanced or sentient they are, their primary form of security is always two huge closing doors that slide together and seal as gradually as possible. You assume in their world they’d have laser doors that seal up in a matter of milliseconds, but no. It’s always very slow closing doors that never quite close fast to stop our heroes. But of course they always murder the alien pilots because–they’re obviously not trained to zip through the doors I assume. “Independence Day: Resurgence” is a sequel with such an obvious mission to launch an “ID4” cinematic universe that it’s almost not really worth watching “Resurgence” at all, when you get down to it.

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