Exploring the Past – Jupiter Ascending (2015)

TL;DR – One of those films that are close but no cigar, but you have to admire that they go at 100km an hour from start to finish    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Jupiter Ascending. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Review

One of my true joys in life is watching and witnessing a new work of glorious Science Fiction for the first time. Like those moments when you watched Farscape for the first time or watched the flaming guitar in Mad Max Fury Road explode out into the desert sun. However, sometimes it can be just as interesting to watch a film/TV show that is close but just not quite there and today we take a look back at just such a film.

So to set the scene, we open in on Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who lives with her extended family in Chicago after her father Maximilian (James D’Arcy) was murdered back in Russia and her mother Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy) fled to the States. Jupiter spends her time cleaning rich peoples houses and dreaming of getting out of it all. Well one day she gets that wish after a genetic test shows that she is the perfect reincarnation of the old matriarch of House Abrasax, an ancient alien dynasty that seeded life on Earth all those years ago.  

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Exploring The Past – Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shinseiki Evangerion, 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン) (1995)

TL;DR – An ambitious series drawing inspiration from multiple religious and mystical frameworks that while pioneering in many respects, completely fails to stick the landing

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン, Shinseiki Evangerion). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Today I get to finally explore the third pillar of 1990s sci-fi anime with the massively influential Neon Genesis Evangelion. For me, this was almost a form of closure given how much I have watched the other two pillars Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell but I never got to see Evangelion. It was also interesting to see a show that has been massively influential to the genre but watching it with 20 years of extra context on top of it. Well if nothing else, the ending stinger to last year’s Desert Bus now makes sense. With that in mind, let’s dive in and explore Hideaki Anno’s work of gods, and angels, and science, and man.

So to set the scene, in the year 2000 a great calamity arouse across the world when the second impact occurred in Antarctica blasting the icy continent to ruin and melting all its ice causing extensive flooding across the world. The UN authority declared that the cause was a giant meteorite impact, hence common term of it being ‘the second impact’ (okay sort of, but also sort of not, it gets complicated). However, this is all a cover, because what really happened is that a creature of great power was discovered under the ice, this Angel was called Adam and something the researchers did trigger him destroying everything. 15 years later, Shinji Ikari (Megumi Ogata/ Spike Spencer/ Casey Mongillo) is running through deserted streets to a pick-up location. The whole area has gone into emergency lockdown for some unknown reason, and that reason turns out to be a second angel that everyone kind of expected was coming. Just before he is crushed, Shinji is rescued by Captain Misato Katsuragi (Kotono Mitsuishi/ Allison Keith/ Carrie Keranen) and taken to Tokyo-3 where a secretive organisation Nerv has their headquarters. The leader of Nerv is Shinji’s father Gendo Ikari (Fumihiko Tachiki/ Tristan MacAvery/ Ray Chase) who is at best distant, but a more fair description would be icy or even abusive. However, Shinji does not have time to process that because he is announced to be the Third Child, and one of only a few people that can pilot an Evangelion which he has to do like now.

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Exploring the Past – Into the Wild (2007)

TL;DR –.A really frustrating film that nevertheless sucks you in and leaves you heartbroken. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Into the Wild. Image Credit: Paramount.

Review

Well, last night I noticed Into the Wild had come onto Netflix. I had heard some good things about it a couple of years ago and I thought it would be a nice relaxing film to put on before going to bed. Oh wow, did I ever get that wrong.

So to set the scene, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) gets dropped off on an Alaskan trail and walks into the wilderness a lot less prepared than maybe he should have. Ignoring the concerns from the guy that dropped him off he begins the march into the wilds of the north until he finds an abandoned bus and uses that as a base of operation. When then jump two years into the past and see why it is Christopher set off on this journey.

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Movie Review – God’s Own Country (2017)

TL;DR – Much like the Yorkshire Moors that is filmed on, this is a film that is both harsh and yet filled with moments of beauty   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

God's Own Country. Image Credit: British Film Institute.

Review

My family originally came from Yorkshire, so when I spot a film set in the region I always give it a watch to try and connect with my past. Well, I am not sure what I expected when I loaded up God’s Own Country, but what I got was a film that was both frank and also a little optimistic in a world of bleakness.

So to set the scene, Johnny lives and works on a farm with his father Martin (Ian Hart), and his grandmother Deirdre (Gemma Jones). He spends all day grafting on the farm and all night in the local town drinking. Wake up, chuck out the contents of his stomach and repeat. Most of his friends have gone off to university, however, because his dad had a stroke and can’t work the farm like he used to, Johnny has to step up and take all that pressure. Given some issues, Martin calls in some help, as they are about to go into calving season, and Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) a Romanian farmhand takes the job. There is instant tension between the two because Johnny sees Gheorghe has a manifestation of his failure but he needs the help.

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Movie Review – Dredd (2012)

TL;DR – A film that combines great action, compelling characters, visual storytelling, and creative worldbuilding making it a must watch   

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Dredd. Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Review

There are some films out there that just don’t find their audience the first time around, yet over the years they build upon and continue to find their voice as a slow burn. These are films that are often referred to as Cult Classics. Today I want to take a look at a film that is both of these things. It is an action film, both beautiful and violent, it is a look at society, and also is the home for some of the best one-liners in cinema.

So to set the scene, in the far future the world has been ravaged by war with people crowding into mega cities where violence and murder are commonplace. Long gone are democratic governance and due process, replaced with the Judges. These are judge, jury, and indeed sometimes (a lot of the time) executioners. They have the power to hand out justice as they see fit, only answering to their other judges. One such Judge is Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) who is tasked by the Chief Judge (Rakie Ayola) to give a new recruit Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) an evaluation. She had marginally failed the final test but she is the best psychic the Judges had ever seen so this is her sink or swim moment. They can pick anything to respond to so they choose Peach Trees a mega block with 75,000 residents where ‘Ma Ma’ (Lena Headey) had just killed three men and made an example of them. Judges rarely come to Peach Trees, but when they capture one of her key lieutenants Kay (Wood Harris) alive and take him away to be interrogated, Ma-Ma locks down the entire block forcing the Judges to fight their way out.   

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Exploring the Past – The Great Buddha+ (Dà fó pǔ lā sī, 大佛普拉斯) (2017)

TL;DR – This is a film of dissonant halves, both funny, yet confronting, sad but also hopeful, engaging but also infuriating

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene but it does not offer any answers

The Great Buddha+. Image Credit: MandarinVision

Review

Today I get to review a film thanks to the Brisbane International Film Festival that I would not have normally been able to see. I have been trying to increase the films that I have seen from Asia, and while this has included films from Hong Kong and China, today is my first dive into Taiwanese filmmaking with Huang Hsin-yao’s odd The Great Budda+. This is an interesting film but also a frustrating one at times, so to properly review it we will first give a general overview before we enter into spoiler territory as we dissect its ending, and what an ending it is.

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Countdown – My Personal Top 10 Films of All Time List

TL;DR – Today we countdown my Top 10 films of all time; from towns where there are a lot of ‘accidents’, to all forms of Sci-Fi, to do you know the man with six fingers on his right hand, and everything in between.

Countdown

Recently I watched the CineFix crew countdown their Top 10 films, and it had me thinking what are mine? Now it was at this point where I of course naturally spiralled as how can you reduce thousands of films that you have seen into only a Top 10. Just before I threw my hands up in resignation and chucked in the towel I happened to catch an episode of Movies with Mikey on how he determined the best sequel. With this in mind I wondered if there was a set of criteria that I could use to categorise the films into a list that I would be happy with, and after some work, I came up with the following criteria that work for me.

  • Films that are beautifully constructed
  • Films that mean something to me
  • Films that are always re-watchable
  • Films that have added to my love of the craft of cinema

With this criterion in mind I went through all the likely candidates and with a bit of a struggle I think I have been able to come to a final list, well at least until I change my mind next week, which is always a chance.

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