Friday, October 31, 2008

Zombie Apocypleses (apocyplsi?)

You can't have Halloween without subversive social commentary... and zombies!

I'm not sure how I managed not to see the original Dawn of the Dead before now, but I thought it was pretty great. Sure the acting is a bit cheesy and the special effects aren't great, but its a movie about a zombie plague overtaking the world. The social commentary on consumerism and greed are probably more relevant now than when the film was made. I've seen some of the later sequels and Night of the Living Dead is available through but I think I'm going to have to check out some other George Remero.

Oh and 28 Days Later is now available for free via hulu. I think you need to sign in to see it because its rated R, but its worth checking out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"I haven't slept since tomorrow."

I had an extremely busy week of midterms and presentations so I got some sci-fi movies from the library to watch over the weekend. Heres what I've watched so far.

I've seen Primer before, but even on the second viewing I'm not sure I've got it all worked out. Ostensibly, the movie is about two friends who accidentally invent a time machine in their garage. However, it quickly becomes about the paradoxes that erupt as the men attempt to use the machine to alter their own lives and the breakdown of trust that occurs as they try to interfere with each other's actions.

The story is very engaging, but it is really difficult to follow exactly whats going on as the film proceeds. As I said, this was my second time through and I still had a hard time putting everything together. While the plot is radically different, Primer is a lot like The Fountain in that the exact plot is really open to interpretation. As the film proceeds it is clear that everything is not what it appears, but exactly how much this effects what we see on the screen doesn't become clear until repeat viewings.

I really liked "Primer" and its creation with a measly $7,000 budget is certainly not apparent on the screen, but its not for everyone. Certainly one of the most cerebral movies I've seen in a while... not much in the way of action scenes of funny dialogue here. If your looking for a fun adventure flick, don't look at "Primer" but if your idea of good sci-fi is more 2001 a Space Odyssey and less Transformers: The Movie, I recommend Primer.

Sunshine, directed by Danny Boyle is a bit more traditional. It involves astronauts on a mission to reignite the sun with the world's largest nuclear payload. However, things are played as straight as possible given the ludicrousness of the plot. The characters react realistically to the situation, and the the mission is dealt with with appropriate gravitas. Throughout the film the characters discuss the importance of completing the mission at all costs. The debate about a slight course alteration to investigate a distress signal from an earlier mission becomes a huge plot point. This is basically the anti-Armageddon as preventing the end of the world is not heralded by flashy camera movements and Aerosmith riffs, but with deep psychological stress and extreme action.

Although I thought the third act was a bit weak compared to the rest of the film, I really enjoyed Sunshine. The visuals and the score were both really well done and the cast was made up of a number of good, if underrated, actors. Seriously, why Cillian Murphy and Michelle Yeoh don't get more mainstream work, I'll never know. Sunshine isn't exactly light comedy as there is some really heavy moments, but if you don't mind some suble science vs. religion allegory (ok so its not subtle in the least especially by the end), I'd definately reccomend it. Also if you haven't seen it yet, check out 28 Days Later. Its about how people react when society completely breaks down... due to a zombie plague. Its also directed by Danny Boyle and its also really well done.

Next up...