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captain-ronWhen Evan and I rap about the ins and outs of a film, over a cup and saucer, we usually end our discussion on the message of the film.  I think we concur, the movies we like most tend to have a great message and are not just pure entertainment.  But does a movie have to have a great message?  The answer…  yes and no.  Personally, the movie just has to add up.  I enjoy ‘Role Models’ because the comedy is not forced, the ending is satisfying, and I don’t expect to learn anything about being a role model and, thankfully, they never go there.  ‘Sunshine’, the final film of the Sci-fi fest, on the other hand came up short for me because it did not deliver  a message that I wanted.  I thought Boyle was going to say that man is not God and should not play with re-igniting the Sun therefore they simply and physically can not complete their mission.  I wanted to see an original idea but instead the crew is murdered one by one by a maniac and as stated in our reviews, yawn, we have seen this before and now there is no point to the movie besides entertainment.  But the film does not add up.  It strays from the tone set early on and gives an easy out and although it is stunning visually I ultimately feel I wasted my time.  On the other hand a movie like ‘IF…’ has a great message about rebelling against conformity, but was not the most entertaining to watch.  There are moments but mainly a lot of confusion.  It probably played well in 1960’s Britain.  Evan and I are mixed on this movie.  The more we talk about ‘IF…’  and the statement being made I like it and the more he despises it.  Perhaps rightfully so, as the film shows a lot of random shit that most say is daring film making but I say confuses the message.  Watch it.  Ulitmately, I desire a balance of message and entertainment for most movies because it gives them a greater purpose than just a movie.  I’d like to hear your thoughts on what a movie should be?  Leave comments.

Rik

I must admit, hearing Cillian Murphy say, “Eight astronauts strapped to the back of a bomb. My bomb. Welcome to the Icarus Two” had me hooked immediately, and I was eagerly anticipating whatever came next.  For once, this film used the narrative intro correctly… telling us what we needed to know, without wasting any of our time or the movie’s time. Unfortunately, as Rik said, this film just fell into the same old Sci-Fi trappings.

  I enjoyed the rational arguments at the beginning of this film, and I too hoped this film would stand on its own and go against a tired storyline but it quickly became a movie we’ve seen time and time again.  The crew strayed from the mission, mechanical failures ensued, a mysterious figure began killing the crew one by one… and so on, and so on.  If Boyle had made a creative decision to make this film go against all others, perhaps it would have gone from good to great.

         There were some positives to this film of course. The effects and cinematography did a fantastic job of showing the vast beauty of space.   The feeling of claustrophobia we feel on the ship, and in the suits really helps to pull the viewer into the dangers of this mission.  As one might gather from the title, the sun plays its own part as a character in the story… the crew has an obsession, bordering on fetishism with the sun, and its beauty adds to their desire to reach it. 

         As Rik has said, this movie is worth seeing for some its fantastic production qualities…but it simply does not stand up to the other films of our sci-fi fest.

halfOur sun is dying.  The world is cold.  There are no more movie reviews…  Alright, alright that is my attempt at an opening narration that sets up this review for Sunshine.  I shouldn’t poke fun because the narration does work here because they don’t repeat it through dialogue in the film unlike Dark City.  The plot is original with the sun dying and a ship carrying a huge bomb will be dropped into the sun to reignite it.  That’s a great start but my main problem with the film is what happens in Sunshine has been done before.  I have seen people go crazy in space.  I have seen the ship’s computer work against crew.  I have seen the crew deviate from the mission and brings them to their demise.  I really thought Boyle and company had a chance to do something different in the sci fi genre.  The first part of the movie is great and then they come to a point where the crew discovers Icarus 1, the first ship.  They now have a choice.  Investigate the ship or continue on with their mission.  One of the characters even says we should stay on course.  And here is the missed opportunity.  If they stay on course and all die because man is not supposed to mess with the sun then I buy that.  But they always investigate the ship!  The movie is now predictable.  Their Ship malfunctions, characters, who we don’t really get to know, die off one by one, and the hero is able to overcome all odds to deliver the payload on time saving Earth.

I am giving this movie a half cup because it produced, shot and edited wonderfully and it is entertaining to watch but it is not a full cup because Boyle did not make this movie his own but rather a homage to sci fi.

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TheoLooking at the films in our future-fest, to this point, there are many similarities.  Set in the future, male lead character embarks on a dangerous journey of discovery and enlightenment.  So far Children of Men is the only one that puts it all together correctly.  This is hard to write because I really like Dark City.  But Theo and Clive Owen are leading my race for best character and actor.  Children of Men could have easily been an updated version of Soylent Green.  Both films take place in similar, realistic, not over techy versions of the future, where the Government and the affluent are secluded from the chaos.  But what Soylent Green lacks is the depth of the main character.  This what Children of Men has over those films, a compelling protagonist.

The film begins with an apathetic Theo, unaffected by the death of Baby Diego, grabbing a cup of coffee, walking out of the coffee shop which is then blown up.  Although we see this future is not bright and that humankind will come to an end if we cannot procreate, what I see is a guy who doesn’t give a shit because his world died along time ago with the death of his son.  And just when he begins to see some light, with his estranged wife returning and requiring his help, she is killed.  But not all is lost for Theo because he has taken on the task of protecting the only pregnant woman.  Hope for humanity and Theo resides in her belly, perhaps a gift from his wife.  But Theo’s torment is not over in that these new chain of events have threatened the lives of those he holds dear.  His long time friend Jasper spares his life so that Theo and the girl can escape.  I honestly didn’t think Theo would continue but he sees what he must do.  I think his continuation goes beyond not wanting to fail his wife, Jasper, or the girl for that matter who he has now bonded with.  The death of his son destroyed him but maybe he needed to be completely obliterated before he re-invested in this world.  And I think he does, especially with the birth of the baby whose innocence he must protect.  Maybe Theo felt he failed his son who he could not protect from the flu but he wasn’t going to fail this woman or baby.  Bullets would not stop him until he completed his task.

Children of Men is great for all the reasons Evan stated.  Many films don’t allow the characters to breath and just exist in the world of the story.  The new Star Trek movie is an example, tying in to the Sci-fi theme.  You never see the Federation or other aspects of the Star trek cosmos to know enough and to see what is really at stake when the universe is threatened.  Too much concern with moving from one sequence to the next.  Children of Men allows you to develop an emotional attachment to the characters and true concern for the survival of humanity.

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full5  The composition and appearance of “Children of Men” is immediately noticed and not soon forgotten… from its gritty realism, to its mind-blowing long takes with their flawless precision. “Children of Men” has a gritty and subtle tone that just plain WORKS.  The film starts with a BANG and never lets up.  The director, Alfonso Cuarón has found a way to tell a great story with a wonderful formula. Characters of all kinds are put on display, from zealous Christians, and mindless workers…to art lovers, and pot smoking rebels.  All kinds of characters are introduced and we the viewers are allowed to connect with whomever we choose.

         This movie doesn’t waste its time with a narrated intro or in-depth text explaining what has happened to this world and why its inhabitants are living in such squalor.  Instead, it throws you right into the society and makes you one of its inhabitants.  We watch the story unfold from the same down-to-earth realism as Theo.  We are just as scared, unsure, and surprised by all of the occurrences as the characters in the movie…in fact, our ears even ring along with Theo for many scenes.  This is one of the best parts of “Children of Men”, its ability to make us feel as if we are a part of this broken world.  The back-story is not spoon-fed to us. Instead, it is slowly uncovered by subtle hints from characters, newspaper clippings, and even jokes.  The hints are subtle… but they are there.  Because of this, the movie can be enjoyed on many levels…whether the viewer takes time to examine the history and politics of the society, or simply for its visually stunning appearance.

         The long shots in this movie are stunning to say the least, and deserve numerous viewings. The long shots are not merely used to gain attention by film buffs… they add a sense of the unrehearsed spontaneity of real life.  They add tension and suspense to the movie… while never giving the audience a chance to catch our breaths.  Even Theo hardly has an opportunity to relax and reflect… he is only given a few fleeting seconds now and again to accept what is happening, then quickly has to dive right back into the action.

            Theo is doing all of these because he realizes the power he has to change history…  Theo needs the money, but it quickly becomes much much more than that.  This adventure takes everything he has… and gives back nothing. Once Theo has lost everything and everyone, he finally breaks and asks “Tell me the reasoning now…”  This is when reality hits Theo, he may be destroyed by this quest, but he needs to do all he can to save the future of mankind. In his talk with Nigel the art collector, Theo asks, “A hundred years from now, there won’t be one sad fuck to look at any of this… What keeps you going?”  To which, Nigel responds,  “You know what it is… I just don’t think about it.”  Thankfully for humanity, Theo doesn’t share the same view.

         Even under all the pressure,  Theo quickly realizes the story isn’t about him… it has always been about this young child who will hold the world in her hands.  As soon as the child makes her way into the world, people take notice.  The landscape becomes quiet, soldiers and rebels hold their fire, the wounded and scared reach to touch the child, and crowds part to let Theo and Kee pass.  This is the hope the world has been waiting for.  We are left with what everyone else in the world is left with…hope. The last sounds of the movie answer all the questions and doubts we had… listen hard, the world has been saved.

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            As mentioned, this was the “dark-sheep” of the film-fest.  A lesser-known film, with a smaller following and without a star-studded cast.  So I too was reluctant and doubtful of how it would stand up to the rest.  Little did I know, a movie called “Dark City” would outshine many of the others in this series.

            We  awake just as confused as our hero John… We are lost, inquisitive, and distrusting. We have just as many questions as he does…”Why am I here?” “What have I done”, “Who am I?”  When a movie does this, it takes its chances by confusing its audience, and taking its time to answer our questions.

             This film has made sure to avoid all the trappings that so often ruin movies in the genre… it doesn’t rely on cheesy effects, it keeps its focus on the story, it answers most all of the questions we have, and it keeps the message universal and relevant. This story reminds us that we as individuals have our own rights and personalities even though some may try to deny us this freedom.  If we find ourselves, and fight for what we believe… we can triumph over any and all oppression.

            I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem…and I am sure many others will be as well.  Everything from the acting, to the effects, to the overall message have stood the test of time.  Be sure to check this one out…”Dark City” is not to be missed.

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