Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi’ Category


It all balances out a heck of a lot better than I imagined it would going in to see Predators. Adrien Brody can act with greater subtlety and emotion than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold Schwarzenegger can use Adrien Brody as dental floss. On the whole though, Brody’s “Royce” and Schwarzennegger’s “Dutch” both do well to kick ass and entertain as they kick it. Neither film bogs down too far in preaching, delivering any slight messages in enough blood sugar coating to make them go down smooth.

In 1987, Schwarzenegger was the onscreen epitome of Reagan era gung ho American manliness. I do not say this like it’s a bad thing. In fact it is sorely lacking in Hollywood action heroes of this apologetic, contrite, “we did bad” time in which we live and watch movies. Supporting Schwarzenegger, Predator features a cast of badasses: Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham. This team of commandoes is the best of the best and is charged with rescuing hostages from rebels in their South American stronghold. In the course of this mission, they are at first duped by the CIA into wiping out an entire rebel group and then pursued for the balance of the picture by the titular Predator, an alien hunter who dispatches one and all until he meets his match in Dutch. It is a cast of basically good guys, marked for death on account of their own warrior prowess.

Enter Adrien Brody and today’s Predators. Chosen not for their strength or military abilities, this band of bad brothers is brought to the aliens’ hunting preserve because of their own predatory natures. They are masters of their domain on our home planet, each having developed a skill set that puts them at the top of the food chain. To be sure, there are soldiers among them but they are a disgraced former IDF sniper (Alice Braga) and a black souled mercenary (Brody). Other members of the “team” include Mexican cartel muscle, a Sierra Leone death squad member, a rapist, and an apparent serial killer. In short, they are today’s Hollywood moral equivalence, writ high concept. But producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal wisely choose plot over proselytizing, cranking nicely through Alex Litvak and Michael Finch’s script. In fact, at the points where the filmmaker slows down to develop character, we hit the major snag of the aforementioned prevalent policy of moral equivalence – and that is we don’t care too much when a certain character is killed and in fact look forward to the deaths of some long before they actually meet their fate. Walton Goggins’ Stans, I’m talking to you.

Predators tries to one-up the original by having the original Predator come out on the losing end of some species clan warfare to a bigger badder version of the race. It is a good excuse to make reference to the original film, with Braga’s IDF agent recalling a CIA briefing about an incident on Earth in 1987.

Overall, I prefer the cohesiveness of a band of warriors swaggering into combat spouting lines like Jesse Ventura’s “sexual tyrannosaurus,” to the sleazy shenanigans undertaken by an uneasy alliance of thugs and mercenaries who talk of “raping bitches and snorting cocaine,” but the reboot does still know how to bring the big scary violent alien fun, so the hunt is still worthy.

Predators will tide you over until The Expendables.


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So like everyone else I endured two plus hours of having those stupid plastic glasses sitting on the bridge of my nose in the IMAX theatre watching James Cameron’s newest epic – Avatar.

I have to say I liked it. After all, it was visually a treat with a serviceable, if hackneyed, plot.

What I enjoyed the most was James Cameron’s dedication to himself.  For Avatar, if nothing else, is a Frankenstein monster of all of his earlier films – an ebay-bound drawer of old stuff recycled to create something new.

Most young’uns probably haven’t paid much attention to Cameron’s earlier essays. They were, after all,mere  trifles, with little to no merit of their own. They were simply practice runs for the second coming known to man as “Avatar”.

Therefore, in order to prevent newly inducted Cameron fans from wasting their time with his earlier sophomoric films, we here at the Starblog offices have a list of ingredients drawn from them and used to better effect in Avatar. (more…)

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Expanded Universe: there are no two words that cause such controversy among Star Wars fans as these, with the exception, maybe of “Jar Jar”.  Some date the beginning of the Expanded Universe as far back as Del Rey’s “Splinter of  A Mind’s Eye” in 1978.  Other’s cite Brian Daley’s “Han Solo Trilogy” while others hold out for Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire”.  Whatever you consider the beginning of the EU, the fact is that it is exists and it’s here to stay.  There is also another unspoken fact about the EU:

Star Wars isn’t the only one that has it.


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Star Trek 2009

Star Trek 2009

Ba-Bang! Last one.

There was a lot going on in the world in 2001.  As for Star Trek, 2001 was also a big year. Voyager was coming to an end and, unlike other “trying to get home” series like Battlestar Galactica and Space: 1999, this good ship would actually make it.   In its seven year journey, Star Trek: Voyager had become more like the original Star Trek than either TNG or DS9.


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It’s fall of 1994 and on my television set is a preview for the next Star Trek: The Next Generation adventure. There is one crucial difference between this adventure and the usual episode: it can only be seen at a theater near you.

Star Trek Generations

On November 18, 1994, Star Trek Generations premiered in movie theaters.  It was the first Trek series not to be canceled. It had been decided to move these characters from small screen to silver screen. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was in its third season.  The word on the street was that come the new year, a third spin-off (the fourth Star Trek series) called Star Trek: Voyager would be premiering.

For the first time in history, there was a LOT of Star Trek.


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As I write this, summer is coming to a close.  Outside there is the slightest crisp of autumn in the air. JJ Abram’s Star Trek is out of theatres and we can only wait for the DVD release this fall. Holy Frak — It’s September and I haven’t updated my series retrospective on Star Trek!!

Let’s delay no longer. When we last left our intrepid heroes, the original crew of Star Trek had moved on to a series of movies and signed off with The Undiscovered Country in 1991.

But let’s step back about four years to 1987.  Before making peace with the Klingons, Kirk and crew, in a commandeered Bird-of-Prey had just left the 20th century and saved the Earth from a mysterious probe  by bringing back Humpback Whales from extinction.  It was a high time for Star Trek.  Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home turned out to be the most mainstream success of all the Star Trek movies.  (more…)

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Entering District 9

Every once in a while, a film comes along which belongs in the annals of SciFi.  The last time this happened was in 2006 with Alfonso Cuarón‘s Children of Men. The Day the Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, Forbidden Planet, Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters, Star Wars, E.T., Blade Runner are among the titles which represent the best traditions of Science Fiction. Are they all my favorite? No.  But to not be familiar with these entries, is to not be familiar with SciFi.  District 9, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, is one of those films.  Made for under $30 million and starring a brilliant unknown actor Sharlto Copley, District 9 represent what’s best in SciFi.  It is allegorical, it has memorable characters, it has aliens, spaceships, cool guns, baaaad villains, and lots of action.

I want this to be spoiler-free, so I won’t go into the details of the film.  Suffice it to say, go see this movie. Just go see it.  The films draws from familiar elements of previous sci-fi installments such as V, Alien Nation, and Men in Black, but it does so in a way that you have never seen before.  Setting it in Johannesburg was a stroke of genius.  Yes, it’s a little heavy handed, being the notorious site of apartheid, but the authenticity it lends is priceless.  As a New Yorker and an American, there’s a part of me that goes along for the ride in movies which take place in New York and in the U.S. in general, but there’s always a part of me that knows it’s just not happening, because I live here.  But to set it in far away South Africa, gives it a CNN realism that I really enjoyed.  Yeah, I still know it’s not happening, but I don’t know a lot of what happens in South Africa right now, and it just added to the suspension of disbelief.

The aliens are terrific.  I, frankly,  forgot that they were all CGI and I became as attached to them as I was the humans.  Speaking of humans, Sharlto Copley is genius.  A cross between Inspector Clouseau and David Brent, he manages to make you root for a schmuck of a character.  The villains (yes there are villains) are the kind that you can’t wait to get what they deserve.  They are familiar enough to a 21st century audience that we know they have motives for their evil ways, but we don’t care.

The worst thing that could be done to District 9 is to make Distract 10.  This is a stand-alone film in the best sci-fi tradition that comes in, tells a story, and discretely leaves.   Thank you again, Peter Jackson and Company.

Article by Matt Rashid

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