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Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:41

Brothers in arms – ‘Kin’

It’s always interesting to watch a feature debut. Seeing first-time directors and/or writers take their initial bow in the world of mainstream cinema … it’s bearing witness to the realization of what is almost certainly a lifelong dream. Maybe it’s an effort that promises future excellence. Maybe it’s even a fully-formed masterpiece. But really, it’s likely to be flawed and uneven, alternating quality with rookie mistakes.

The new film “Kin” definitely falls into that last category.

The movie – directed by twin brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker and based on their own 2014 short film “Bag Man” – is an ambitious effort, an attempt to bring family drama and science fiction together. Unfortunately, while there are shining examples from both ends of the spectrum, the combination never really meshes the way it needs to, despite its surprisingly robust cast and intriguing concept.

Published in Movies

In the realm of speculative fiction, the line between “inspired by” and “derivative of” is gossamer thin. It can be wonderful to read works that wear their influences proudly, but if influences are all the reader sees, the story ultimately falls short.

But sometimes you read a book that pulls from the stories that have come before while also generating something with heft and impact, something that feels timely and thoughtful, something that is reminiscent of what has come before without ever feeling like a facsimile.

Siobhan Adcock’s “The Completionist” (Simon & Schuster, $26) is just such a book, a vivid rendering of a bleak near future where water shortages have led to scientific solutions with unintended consequences – consequences that have put the future of mankind into question.

Published in Buzz

There are some movies that are clearly designed for sequels. They are structured specifically to allow for a continuation of the story going forward – sometimes to the detriment of the tale being told in the moment. They’re built to be built again.

And then you have a film like 2013’s “Pacific Rim.” Guillermo del Toro’s big-budget love letter to the giant monster movies of the past felt for all the world like a one-off; a stylish two-hour whirlwind of enormous robots fighting enormous monsters. It seemed to have told the story it meant to tell.

Enter “Pacific Rim Uprising,” a decent-enough sequel that nevertheless feels unnecessary and almost cursory. Without del Toro as the driving creative force – though he is credited as a producer – this new film simply fails to reach the heights of the first, lacking spirit to match the spectacle of the too-familiar action beats.

Published in Movies

There are certain literary works that, for one reason or another, are deemed unfilmable. Whether it’s a question of scale or story or power or perspective, these books seemingly defy any effort to effectively translate them to the big screen.

A lot of people hung that label on Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, a collection of genre-bending books telling a surreal, dreamlike and very weird story about an unknown presence encroaching on the southern United States and the agencies tasked with dealing with it. VanderMeer isn’t what you’d call a conventional storyteller – the three books (“Annihilation,” “Authority” and “Acceptance”) are well-written, well-regarded and compelling as hell, but stylistically, they’d seem to warrant the unfilmable tag.

But Alex Garland cares not for your labels.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 13:54

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ far from least

There are few films as difficult to review as a “Star Wars” movie. There’s such a fine line that needs to be walked with regards to the narrative; no one wants to be responsible for spoiling any aspect of such an eagerly-anticipated cinematic experience. However, you also want to be able to convey your feelings about the movie in a manner that is both engaging and accurate.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 12:20

Fly me to the moon – ‘Artemis’

Few debut novelists achieve the kind of success that Andy Weir did. “The Martian” was one of those books that captures the collective imagination. From Weir’s self-publishing of the novel in 2011 to Crown Publishing’s purchase and re-release of the book in 2014 to the commercially and critically triumphant 2015 film adaptation, “The Martian” has been wildly successful in every way.

But then the question becomes: What next?

Published in Buzz

There’s a lot of risk that goes into revisiting an idea long after the fact. Adding to a cinematic universe that has been both unchanged and largely beloved for decades is a demanding prospect. To be able to do justice to the original and satisfy its acolytes while also telling a story that feels both new and necessary, well … that’s a real challenge.

For example: Ridley Scott’s 1982 film “Blade Runner” is one of the most cherished sci-fi films in movie history. If you’re going to make a sequel to THAT film – one that in many ways essentially served as the model for the genre for 30-plus years – you better be damn sure you get it right.

“Blade Runner 2049” gets it right.

Published in Movies

One of the challenges inherent to working in the realm of speculative fiction is finding new ways to explore standard genre tropes. After decades upon decades of sci-fi storytelling, it can be difficult to find interesting takes on ideas that appear to be more or less creatively exhausted.

Published in Buzz

Latest from Luc Besson a surreal, scattered space opera

Published in Movies

Second installment of sci-fi series a strong sequel

Published in Buzz
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