Movie Review – Shanghai Fortress (Shànghǎi Bǎolěi, 上海堡垒)

TL;DR – There is an interesting concept here, but the film goes out of its way to make its characters come off as bland and one-note     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Shanghai Fortress (Shànghǎi Bǎolěi, 上海堡垒). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

It has been an interesting couple of years for the Alien Invasion genre after being almost abandoned in the years since September 11. Long gone were the triumphant speeches and bold proclamations and in were gritty scenes of dirt and muck. However, then there was a resurgence with different countries taking a look with Attack the Block in the UK and Occupation in Australia to name just two. Well, today we get to see China’s take on the global destruction masterpiece. But will it soar or will fall, only time will tell.    

So to set the scene, in the not too distant future the first manned Chinese space ship brought back a new energy source Xianteng that revolutionised the world. Everything was great but the energy source was like a beacon drawing the aliens to Earth. Starting with Rio de Janeiro the mothership moved across the planet, destroying city after city. In a last-ditch effort, the United Nations and what was left of the world’s government set up base in the last major centre Shanghai. Here they hope to make a last stand and maybe just maybe fight back and take back the planet before more cities like Los Angeles and New Delhi are turned to ash.

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TV Review – Another Life: Full Season

TL;DR – A campy schlocky mess at times, but also kind of endearing when it hits its groove

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Another Life. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

We have been living through an interesting time for Science Fiction on TV, with the rise of streaming services we have seen a plethora of new shows and ideas that both look to the future and reinterpret the past. Today we are getting a Sci-fi show that kind of does both, building upon very real concerns in the world but framing it in a style of Sci-Fi that we have not seen in a long time. With that in mind let’s jump in and explore the full first season.

So to set the scene, we open with a normal day on Earth in the not too distant future after the world has been devastated by a second great depression and the great flood. Things are starting to return to some sort of normalcy when an alien ship smashes through the atmosphere flies across the USA and crashes into a field transforming itself into a huge crystalline lattice. Months later, they are still no closer to finding out what the artefact is or wants, but they have picked up a transmission to the Pi Canis Majoris solar system. To work out what to do they send the USIC Salvare under the command of Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff) out to investigate. Niko had to leave her daughter Jana (Lina Renna) and her husband Erik (Justin Chatwin) behind as Erik is leading the scientific mission at the crash site. But before too long things start going wrong, and we still don’t know if the aliens are friends or foe.  Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Rim of the World

TL;DR –  This is fun adventure flick in the tradition of saving the world being thrust upon young people. A fun cast, a good set up, and a good use of world building.   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Rim of the World. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

If you have read this site before you will know I am a fan of the alien invasion genre, indeed Independence Day is one of my top ten films of all time. So I am always interested to see different takes on the genre, to see where they can take the formula. Today we are looking at the newest Netflix film based around this very scenario, but also more than many films I have seen this year, Rim of the World both knows what it is and what it wants to do, and at all times it succeeds in these core drives.

So to set the scene, we open on the first day of summer camp as kids from around Los Angeles and further come together to have a fun time away. Alex (Jack Gore) is a space enthusiast who likes to live in his world of screens, but there is a reason for his isolation. Zhen Zhen (Miya Cech) has secretly flown across the Pacific to attend the camp in an attempt to overcome her disappointed father. Dariush (Benjamin Flores Jr.) is full of bluster, the rich kid that has it all, and cares more about his sneakers than other humans, but then it is all a shield. There is also Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto) who no one quite knows why he is here. Rim of the World adventure camp is full of zip lines, canoe rides, and camp counsellors that may have needed more of a background check before starting work, so your usual summer camp. However, while all that is happening the International Space Station is being destroyed because entering high orbit is an alien mothership and as people will find out as the sky explodes, they are not here to make new friends.

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Movie Review – Bird Box

TL;DR – There are moments of real suspense, and Sandra Bullock is amazing, but the structure of the story holds it back by revealing its hand too soon.      

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

Bird Box. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

2018 has been a good year for the suspense thriller/ horror films, we have built on the strengths of 2017, a produced such amazing films as A Quiet Place (see review) and Cargo (see review). I bring A Quiet Place up because after the first few minutes you can tell that this is the film Bird Box is going to be compared to the most, and that is not entirely unfair. As they are both suspense post-apocalyptic films where you have to cover one of your senses to survive i.e. sound, or in this case sight. However, this was less the case of copying a more the case of producers seeing that suspense films are back (also they never left but that is an issue for another day) and optioning different books at around the same time. However, while it is a bit unfair to compare the two while watching you can’t help but do so, especially when the differences between the two are probably the reasons why I liked one more than the other.

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TV Review – Doctor Who: The Woman Who Fell to Earth

TL;DR – We barrel into the 11th season with an opening episode that will hit you in the feels, make you go ew, and have you sitting in wonder, so basically everything that makes Doctor Who work.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Doctor Who: The Woman Who Fell to Earth. Image Credit: BBC

 

Review

Doctor Who is a show that is one that I have an interesting relationship with. There are times that it rockets to the top of my must-see list, and times where I feel like I am watching more out of obligation than anything else. However, unlike any other franchise, other than maybe James Bond, Doctor Who is always reinventing itself both metaphorical and literally, and today we see the next step in that evolution with The Woman Who Fell to Earth. With that in mind today we are going to have a look at the debut episode of the shows 11th season (well 37th if you want to get technical) and answer the question: can they reinvent The Doctor again.

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Movie Review – The Predator (2018)

TL;DR – There is a lot of great production here, and strong acting, but it has clearly been hacked apart in the edit leaving a disjointed mess.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

The Predator. Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review

The first Predator film was maybe the pinnacle of the 1980s macho-action film genre, I can remember watching it for the first time, probably far younger than I should. It was Arnie at his best hunting down an alien hunting people for sport and while there were sequels nothing ever captured the intensity of the first film. When I heard they were bring it back and giving it to Shane Black I had high hopes that at the very least it would be an interesting film … and then the last week happened and I can’t believe how disappointed I could be at such a promising director. Now the film is here and well, you can see the vision, but you can also see where the studio has taken a hatchet to it.

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Movie Review – Extinction

TL;DR – This is a film with a lot of promise and an interesting hook, but it’s missing that final level of polish needed for a film like this and the ending did feel like a cop-out.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

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

Extinction. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

It has been a good year for Science Fiction TV on Netflix, I mean it is only halfway through the year and we have already had such gems as Altered Carbon (see review), Lost in Space (see review), Star Trek Discovery (see review) & The Rain (see review). However, when it comes to Science Fiction films it is a bit more of a mixed bag, ranging from the excellent Annihilation (see review) to the quite disappointing TAU (see review). Today we look at the next film that Netflix has saved after having its theatrical release pulled Extinction, which has some good ideas going on but didn’t quite get there with the execution.

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