Archive for the ‘A Grim Vision of the Future’ Category

Kaboom

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

kaboom_970x390

The Netflix synopsis for this movie promised a “lovelorn college student” who “spends his night lusting after his straight roommate.” That sounds titillating! I thought to myself. Well… it was. Smith (Dekker) and his friends at an unnamed liberal arts school (which is apparently UC San Diego) have lots of hawtt bisexual sex until of them turns out to be possessed or something. Oh and there’s a conspiracy theory, a mysterious cult, and one of them is the “chosen” one… and there are nuclear bombs. But most of this is only addressed in the final 15 minutes of the film. There’s just so much shagging to attend to first! Who has time for the apocalypse?

This movie was produced in 2010… yet I found myself wondering why all the music and the actors’ outfits seemed so… 1990s. The answer is: Gregg Araki, the visionary who gave us The Doom Generation and Nowhere, both masterpieces of the jaded, drug-fueled 90s. But, nihilism, shoegazer rock and 60s floral prints don’t scan anymore; Kids These Days are into banjo music, artisanal pickling and viral Vimeo videos of their engagement proposals. This film’s characters were so firmly rooted in the past, I half-expected them to show up in big pants, waving glowsticks around their heads and sucking on pacifiers.

Subtract the sex scenes (they are many, and they are indeed hot) and you’re left with a hastily-constructed apocalypse that climaxes prematurely.

Split

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Don’t let the lack of budget fool you– this movie is sort of deep. It’s a commentary on technology and the nature of humankind. well, sort of. It follows the trials of Starker, a guy on the run from two guys in  darkened office who follow his course around an unnamed city on their 80/88, which has remarkable graphics for it being 1989. I think the guys in the office are controlling humankind, and Starker has figured out a way to evade them. He has a drug, which he is going to put in the water supply, which will make people see what’s really going on. However, the freedom is making him paranoid and unstable, and causes him to do things like snort Sweet & Low in a diner, and change his clothes a lot.
There’s also a subplot about the Head Bad Guy, whose body is falling apart, and he must be kept hanging in this giant mechanical contraption. He needs to transplant his being (i.e, thoughts, personality, memories etc.) into a new body in order so he can go on living and expounding on the nature of live and reality in long speeches.
There are some cool details in the movie–for example, Instead of trenchcoat-clad Men In Black figures, the governing entity’s henchman are robotic guys with pompadours and pastel blazers who drive around in a 1960s convertible. There’s a funny, yet slightly creepy artist whom Starker discusses art with, who gets to have a weird dream sequence on a beach with nekkid chicks.
All in all, this movie has some interesting moments, but definitely ranks high in the cheese category.

Rant on Stuff by the Head Bad Guy

V for Vendetta

Monday, March 27th, 2006

vendetta.jpgStarring: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman

This movie, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, comes off as a weird hybrid of 1984 and Zorro: The Gay Blade. Set in a futuristic, post-capitalistic Britain, where the police are brainless thugs, the Anglican Church has turned into a weird pseudo-Nazi regime, and women have been relegated back to the roles of baby factory and housewife, V (Weaving) is a former convict and disfigured byproduct of hideous experiements in genetic engineering. Freed by a prison fire, he leads his life underground, plotting flamboyant acts of terrorism against the British government in the mold of classic British anti-hero Guy Fawkes. Evey (Portman) is his unlikely sidekick, at first rescued, and later abducted and tortured by V as part of his Jedi-like quest to transform her into the perfect terrorist. But, since the government in this case is totally corrupt and evil, it’s OK to be a terrorist, right? Or something.

Once again the Wachowski brothers (who wrote the screenplay) seem hell-bent on convincing us that they are, like, so freakin’ deep, man, but I’ll admit that I found the philosophical points in this movie less irritating and obvious than in The Matrix. Some well-directed, albeit incredibly violent action scenes keep the movie humming along. V’s philosophical ramblings are at best goofy, often boring, and Portman’s acting is wooden as ever. Great production design and costuming helps to keep this movie afloat. I just wish it hadn’t taken itself quite so seriously.

If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief to the Nth degree (how exactly does V afford to clothe the entire population of Great Britain in Guy Fawkes cotumes, let alone afford the FedEx fees?) or don’t care very much about feminism (why does Evie become so enamored of V after being heinously tortured?) this can be a fun little film. But, unless you’re a huge fan of the Wachowskis I wouldn’t hesitate to wait for this one on DVD.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

If you only see one Planet of the Apes movie this year, let it be this one. Captain Taylor, Cornelius, Zira, and all your hairy friends are back in a rip- rollicking romp across the surface of fortieth-century Earth. Everything is peachy until they discover– whoops!– a subterranean race of prehistoric humans who enshrine and worship the atomic bomb. Just wait till they sing their “bomb” hymn!

The Handmaid’s Tale

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
This is what will happen if you vote for Pat Robertson!
Starring: Natasha Richardson, Aidan Quinn, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall

Natasha Richardson stars in this Futuristic Dystopia about the US being taken over by a group of Right-Wing Fundamentalists. In the “recent future,” (?) industrial pollution in the environment has rendered 99% of the female population sterile. The United States, now called The Republic of Gilead, is a religious Oligarchy controlled by a handful of powerful military “Commanders” and their Tipper Gore-esque “Wives.” Since the wives are all infertile, the few remaining women who can still procreate are herded up by the government and forced into slavery as surrogate mothers, in a bizarre reenactment of an Old Testament story.

Kate is one of these “Handmaids” who was captured by the police while trying to cross the border (into Canada? I want to claim political asylum in CANADA!) with her husband and little girl. She’s sent to live with Fred and Serena Joy, and renamed “Offred” (kind of like Off-White, I guess…) Unfortunately, however, Offred fails to become full with the seed of Fred, which probably means that he’s infertile, too. Desperate for a baby, (to eat, probably) Serena Joy sets Offred up with Nick, Fred’s Chauffeur. She gets preggers and has to fight for her unborn baby’s freedom, yadda yadda yadda… I won’t spoil the dramatic climax of this movie!

I never read the Margaret Atwood book that The Handmaid’s Tale is based upon, and it’s probably a good read. However, the movie itself is a schlockfest of Lifetime Television Networks proportion! You can’t help but stare dumbfounded at things like cattle vans full of screaming women, waving frantically through the bars of their cage, as you ask yourself the question, “am I really supposed to take this seriously?” And as much as this movie is supposed to make a deep feminist statement, it pretty much drives home the idea that women are all just helpless martyrs at the hands of men. For instance, Offred doesn’t particularly want to do the nasty with Fred; she’s just trying to stay alive. But when Serena sets her up with Nick, she jumps happily into the sack with him, even though he spent the first half of the movie leering at her nastily and making dirty remarks. So I guess men really can say whatever they like to women, as long as they’re young and hunky.

But you can’t help but cherish moments like a crowd of frenzied Handmaids ripping off the head of an accused murderer, or references to “Baptist Guerillas” and greetings like “Blessed be the Seed!” All in all, this movie was a nice Grim Vision of the Future mixed with a little Religious satire. I just wish the filmmakers had sprung for a box of 100-watt light bulbs! It’s impossible to see what’s going on throughout half of the movie! I like a Dark Portrayal of Things to Come as much as the next guy, but this was taking it a little too far!

The Spring

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Was the Great Depression really THAT depressing?!
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Alison Eastwood, Aaron Pearl

OK, OK– this movie isn’t set in the future, but I’m still calling it “Futuristic.” So sue me! It didn’t really fit into any of the other categories so well.

This is the story of a small town in the mountains called “Springville.” The people there get all their water from the same spring– a spring with magical healing properties. Sick people who swim in the spring are instantly healed. People who drink the spring’s water can live indefinitely, in a perpetual state of youth and beauty. However, nothing lasts forever, not even in a made-for-TV movie. Long ago, the residents of Springville signed a “covenant” that promised no resident would live to be more than 100 years old. Each citizen, on the morning of his 100th birthday, must “cross the stream,” i.e. drown himself in the fountain, with the aid of his closest friend. They even throw an all-night party and everything! It’s very cute.

Enter Dennis Conway (MacLaughlan) and his son Nick. They were driving through the mountains when they encountered a strange couple in a vintage car, stuck in the ditch. While towing them out, they couldn’t help but notice that their trunk was full of bottled water. After the strange couple takes off, Nick discovers one of their bags still in the ditch. So, they decide to be good Samaritans and return it.

When they reach Springville everyone treats them very strangely. Josh, the mean cop (Pearl,) follows their every move and interrogates them. There’s no motel in town. The mysterious couple aren’t home, and the cops are surveying their house. Dennis gives the backpack to the cops and decides to head out in the morning.

Unfortunately, over breakfast the next morning, a truck carrying tree trunks dumps its load all over his son, Nick– and Sophie, the pretty lady at the diner (Eastwood) turns out to be a doctor. Nick is rushed to the Springville Hospital, where, big surprise, his father and the doctor fall in love. OK, but why is there a hospital with doctors in Springville? Why not just truck all the sickies directly to the Spring?

Meanwhile, Josh is tailing the mysterious couple. When he finally catches up with them at a motel, their skin has taken on the texture of fried chicken, due to lack of Springville water. Josh sneers “Happy Birthday!” before suffocating them with pillows.

Dennis can’t help but wondering about the mysterious couple he pulled out of the ditch, and about why no one in Springville will tell him about them. Soon he’s looking for clues everywhere. He rifles Sophie’s desk and discovers all her snapshots. Like a good little girl, she has little framed pictures on her desk representing all the major decades of the 20th century– Sophie in front of a WWII bomber jet, Sophie at a 50’s cocktail party, Sophie in bellbottoms… Dennis is indignant. “I just want to ask you something! What were the Roaring Twenties like?! And the Great Depression– was it really that depressing?!?!”

Now that Dennis knows the Springville secret, he wants to stay there and live with Sophie. But will the residents of Springville allow him to stay? And what about Gus, the mechanic with whom Dennis is forming a close, homoerotic friendship– will Dennis be able to help him “cross the stream?” And what is Sophie’s dark secret? You’ll just have to stay up late at night watching cable and eating Cracker Jax to find out!

Cube

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Nicole deBoer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Maurice Dean Wint

Our story opens with a guy waking up in a strange room… He opens a hatch and goes into another room just like the one he was in… then he gets sliced up like a hard-boiled egg in one of those wire egg slicers, and in a fit of bad computer graphics turns into a bunch of little chunks. I had a hard time deciding what category to put this film in. It defies category. Or, rather, it’s so vague it can fit into just about any category.

It starts out with your basic disaster film formula. A motley crew of Canadians are dumped without rhyme or reason into a large structure that looks like it could have been built by Rubik after he was assimilated by the Borg. It is a collection of rooms, identical except for they are different colors. I think the main reason the rooms are different colors is so that it looks like the filmmakers didn’t have to built just one set.

Anyway, we have the basic disaster film characters: the whiny girl who panics a lot, the guy who takes charge, the silent cynical one, the pessimistic guy who spreads panic, and the good doctor. Later on we learn, through minimal plot development, that one Canadian is a policeman, another, an escape artist (but he gets his face eaten off by acid early on), one is a mathematician, and another designed the outer shell of the cube. Later on they are joined by whom everyone thinks is your average retard, but he turns out to be an idiot savant who saves the day. Unfortunately, there’s no real disaster to put this movie on the level with, say, The Towering Inferno.

Some of the rooms are booby-trapped, but Math Girl discovers that the rooms are numbered in a certain way. Only the rooms that are labeled with prime numbers are booby trapped. Sounds like a math nightmare, right? It gets worse. The math starts out sounding relatively plausible, but then goes off into concepts my 500-on- the-math-portion-of-the-SAT- achieving brain can’t comprehend. However, I do know that a number that ends in 5 can never be prime (except for 5), a fact that takes Math Girl several seconds of hardcore brain-wracking to figure out.

I was tempted to label this film a futuristic dystopia, but one of the main points is that it’s taking place today. Yes, even today mild-mannered Canadians can be snatched from their beds and dumped into a big cubical math camp. Of course many bumper stickers have reminded me that The Future Is Now, so maybe this could be futuristic dystopia after all.

Cube is not really a ‘monsters- human and otherwise’ film , because there are no real tangible monsters. I gathered that Cube was supposed to be a psychological thriller, owing to the fact that no enemy is visible. The threat is perceived, and the Canadians turn on each other. The scary part of this movie is supposed to be that there is no real threat.. Who built the cube? “Like Scaramanga- from The Man With the Golden Gun, some rich psycho” is one suggestion. Doctor Lady says “Only the government could have built something this ugly…”

But the scary thing is there is no big conspiracy going on. Whoever built this made a big mistake- each part was designed by a different person who didn’t know what anyone else was doing. The result was a big accident, or rather, “It’s a headless blunder operating under the illusion of a master plan.” So why kidnap innocent people and dump them into the big accident in nothing but underwear and army jackets with their names stenciled on the pockets? “Because they had to do something with it.” Was the answer. I didn’t buy it. Whatever.

One of the most annoying things about this movie is that the characters are constantly chewing on the buttons from their jackets. They do this to stimulate their salivary glands so they don’t dehydrate. As a result, they are always chewing, and the buttons make little clicking sounds against their teeth when they talk. This is really distracting. The buttons come in handy, however, when Math Girl has to figure math problems,. She scratches them out with the button against the metal wall. These must be no ordinary plastic buttons! They can scratch metal as if they were as sharp as nails!

This film has plenty of speeches on morality, pep speeches, as well as other speeches (another convincing argument to place it firmly within the Disaster category). However, the dialogue is totally cheesy, the characters undergo rapid personality transplants, and the plot has many little holes in it, thus meriting it many a Swiss cheese. Did I mention the irritating music? It was a loop of a woman whispering over ethereally synthesized music with what sounded like teeth chattering in the background. Basically, stick Enya in a freezer with a Casio and you’ll come out with this soundtrack. But all in all, this was a very nice cheesy low budget flick!

The Matrix

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne

Cube. The Matrix. Yes, Technology is the new threat. Everyone’s making films these days about people being menaced, or otherwise swallowed by technology. Maybe it’s because of the incredible popularity of Internet porn these days. Or maybe it’s just because of AOL.

This is a movie about computers evolving into a life form which ultimately takes over and enslaves humanity. If you think I’m “spoiling” the movie by telling you this, think again. It’s all spelled out for you within the first half-hour of the film. Then the movie becomes one long action scene, with many un-dramatic plot twists.

Our hero is Keanu Reeves (his name in the film is “Neo,” but let’s just call him Virtual Ted.) Virtual Ted is spending all of his free time in front of his ergonimically designed keyboard, searching for an Entity online known only as “Morphius.” (Larry Fishburne.) Morphius is also searching for Virtual Ted, so it doesn’t take very long for the plot to develop in that respect. VT encounters a variety of action-adventure scenes in which he’s abducted by weird governmental dudes, and a cybernetic jumbo shrimp is implanted in his belly. This part of the film was actually pretty cool, since I had no idea what was going on, and I was still under the impression that I’d have to work hard in order to understand what the film was about.

Unfortunately, not so. Once Virtual Ted hooks up with Morphius, we learn that the entire world is just one big computer simulation, invented by computers to keep us occupied while they use our physical bodies as electrovoltaic cells. You see, there was this big war, and the computers won… now they farm us as a natural resource. We find this out way too soon. You see, the computers need us for power, since we nuked the sky to keep them from getting solar energy. There’s a cute little computer animated shot of a dead urban skyline with black nuked-out clouds roiling over it. It’s all very twee.

Anyway, I started to get irritated with this film, and then I liked it again. Why? Because it became obvious to me that it’s a total cheesefest. When Neo (OK, I got tired of typing “Virtual Ted” all the time) and his friends download themselves into the computer simulated New York, they want to be as inconspicuous as possible. So they dress like pimps and hoes. My favorite character was Trinity, who wears a black vinyl dominatrix outfit replete with tube-top. Neo also gets martial arts downloaded into his brain so that he can fight the evil computer cops. There’s a great scene involving him and Laurence Fishburne in a virtual dojo. I’m actually giving the filmmakers credit here, since I assume they were trying to be campy.

ANYWAY… the other thing about this film is how much it borrows from other futuristic dystopia films. I think just about every film that I like was ripped off by the Matrix. A few of the early scenes are straight out of Brazil, and the entire storyline is completely Twelve Monkeys in effect… (which movie was seriously scary and thought-provoking) there’s also a visual reference to THX 1138… basically, you name it, and The Matrix rips it off. I could go on and on, but you’d better just see the movie yourself to completely understand.

All in all, I had fun at this movie, once I stopped taking it seriously. It wasn’t the seriously scary cyberpunk epic that I thought it would be. If you can deal with watching Keanu Reeves for two hours at a time, and you like action-adventure flix with lots people getting shot, then you’ll probably get a kick out of this one.

The Thirteenth Floor

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Craig Bierko, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D’Onofrio, Gretchen Moll

When I was in the video store, I overheard someone say “This makes The Matrix looks like child’s play!” Of course, I thought to myself, “Elmo in Grouchland makes The Matrix looks like child’s play,” but that’s another story. The Thirteenth Floor is another one of those films that takes the old bumper sticker command “Question Reality” way too seriously. However, because of this, much cheese in involved!

The film starts out with Hannon Fuller, a rich old guy (Armin Mueller-Stahl) getting killed. We don’t know who did it, but we’re certain that it’s not our protagonist, Douglas (Craig Bierko,) Hannon’s right-hand man. As things unfold as we learn that the company for which the two men work is developing a virtual reality type game where you can travel back into the Depression era and have sex with hookers (at least that’s what the old guy was up to.) So why was he killed? Did it have something to do with his virtual experiences? Why does Doug keep blacking out for 3 hours at a time? Did he really kill Hannon and not realize it?

Eventually, Doug jumps into the Depression era himself to find out what’s going on. He discovers that one of the characters in his virtual reality has discovered that he’s not really ‘real.’ This brings up an ethical, philosophical and moral dilemma that has been the plot of so many Star Trek the Next Generation episodes. What is real? do we have the right to go around creating humans only to destroy them? I figure Commander Riker already solved this problem for us years ago, let’s move on, OK? Warning: if you don’t want to discover the “surprise” plot twist, stop reading right here. Go make yourself a sandwich and read the paper.

So why does Doug keep blacking out? If it isn’t totally obvious to you now, you need something stronger than a sandwich! It’s because…dum dum! He’s in a virtual world as well! People from the outside word jump into the characters in the virtual world, and someone’s been doing it to him! His body is actually a murderer, although his personality is not! How confusing is that?

Jane, Hannon’s daughter/the girl who works in the supermarket after whom Doug has been lusting is actually the woman who runs his virtual reality show. And to make matters worse, she’s in love with him as well. Ugh. It turns out that “Doug” was a character based on her husband. Jane’s husband used to be a kind and good man, but now, since he’s gotten a taste of the virtual world, he’s become a homicidal maniac, and retreats into his virtual world to slaughter people at random (note: maybe you should take the Doom and Tomb Raider game CD ROMs away from the males in your household.) Since Doug is how Jane’s husband used to be, Jane becomes teary and sentimental, as she spends time with the Man She Fell In Love With (only better.) It causes all sorts of sappy touching scenes as Doug and Jane say stuff like “I feel like I’ve known you for years!” and other things that many people dismiss as cheesy pickup lines. So remember, the next time you’re in a bar and someone says “I feel like we’ve met before!” it might not be just a line to get into your underwear… it could be the voice of your virtual spouse!

Anyway, this movie has a nice cheesy happy ending. It also tries to make you question reality. Am I really living in a virtual world? What is real? But then you think… if someone would go to all the trouble to invent a virtual reality, I’m sure they would have created a more interesting job for me.

Strange Days

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis

I actually watched this movie twice. The second time I saw it, I hadn’t realized that I’d already seen it a couple of years before until about half-way through. Even then, I finished watching it again simply because I couldn’t remember any of it. So here I am, trying to write a review. The thing that stands out most in my mind is the fact that a bunch of guys in kilts played “the Kesh Jig” on highland bagpipes in one scene. After I saw Strange Days the second time, I remembered that from the first time as well. But what else happened in the movie? I must have blocked it out due to the presence of Juliette Lewis.

These strange days take place around December 31st, 1999. The fact that they do so is fairly inconsequential to the plot, if I remember correctly. I think the big plot climax had to take place during a big crowd scene, so why not make it in Times Square on New year’s Eve, 1999? Ralph Fiennes plays Lenny Nero, an ex-cop who now makes a living dealing in “playback”– virtual reality discs that allow you to experience other peoples’ sensations as they do things you normally don’t do, like rob restaurants and have sex. You hook a network of electrodes called a “squid” to your head, which allows you to see, feel, taste (and presumably smell) everything the people on the discs are experiencing. Naturally, this form of entertainment is illegal. Naturally, it also eventually fries your brain.

Lenny comes across a disc of a hooker being raped and killed. He is repulsed by it, yet also fascinated. It gives this movie a plot, which I think is really complicated. I don’t remember anything more, until the bagpiping scene near the end. I think I figured out what the problem is here– Ralph Fiennes is one of my favorite actors. Yet, Juliette Lewis causes me to run screaming for cover. I think the combination of the two in this movie neutralizes it, and makes it completely leak out of my brain. But it is 1999, and virtual reality technology has come along amazingly since the dark ages of 1995. Maybe I’ve just been doing too much “playback.”

Death Race 2000

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone

This is my new favorite movie. I mean it! This film has everything! It’s the year 2000, and the United Provinces of America are gearing up to watch the most popular event of the year- a cross-country road race. The racers get bonus points for hitting pedestrians.

How could you not love a movie where old folks are set out in the middle of the road on “Euthanasia Day” for the racers to splatter? The racers themselves are the best part, though. David Carradine plays Frankenstein, our protagonist- a racer with so many race- related deformities and injuries he has to wear a leather body suit. There is also Myra, the Nazi who yells “Blitzkrieg!” as she runs over her opponent’s navigator, and her co-pilot Buzzbomb, played by Fred Grandy (remember Gopher from “Love Boat”?) Even Sylvester Stallone is in this film!

Death Race 2000 was banned in Sweden, maybe you should see it for just that reason! I cannot say enough good things about this film. I am not worthy. This movie changed my life.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Ricardo Montalban

Haven’t you always wanted to know what happens when superevolved Chimps from the 40th century fall through a time warp to the seventies? No? Well, they eat lots of oranges. The point of this movie seems to be to drive home the point that apes eat oranges. Apes eat oranges. In almost every scene, apes are consuming oranges. Another thing about apes is that they get drunk and pass out after about three sips of champagne.

This movie had every Hollywood convention: pop culture references, an evil bad guy with a German accent, a long, drawn-out chase scene, a baby, and a quadruple death scene, yet it was strangely boring. Perhaps if they had used more than three sets or written some actual dialogue. The apes don’t even speak for the first half hour, and as soon as Dr Milo delivers about four lines, he expires. Even the inexplicable presence of Ricardo Montalban wasn’t enough to save this one.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
BEE DEE BEE DEE BEE DEE… HOLY CRAP!
Starring: Gil Gerard, Erin Gray

Holy cow! If our CGI scripts allowed, I would gladly give this movie 600 swiss cheeses for ridiculousness. Every detail of this movie is inconceivably schmaltzy. I’m lactose intolerant, and I think I was actually having a bad reaction to this movie! I cannot express in words how corny this movie was. The English language does not do it justice.

I was a big fan of the Buck Rogers TV show when I was about five years old. I have distinct memories of being scared shitless by the exploits of Buck and his friends. However, nothing will compare to the shock of seeing this movie as an adult. Now that I’ve seen Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, I’m not sure if I can go on reviewing bad movies. That’s it. Now I may die.

OK, here’s the plot in a nutshell. Buck Rogers is sent on an exploratory mission in an experimental spacecraft during the year 1987. In deep space, his life support malfunctions, flash-freezing Buck into a freeze-dried hunk of burnin’ love. Yes, that’s right. During Buck’s 500-year slumber “fantasy and reality become a limitless dream– ” a limitless wet dream! Most of Buck’s dreams involve scantily clad women crawling around on huge letters that spell out his own name. A little bit egotistical maybe? I can’t even begin to describe the theme music!

Eventually, 504 years later, Buck’s ship orbits back into the vicinity of Earth, and he becomes embroiled in a war between the evil Draconian Empire, represented by the saucy Princess Ardala & her leather queen bodyguard Tigerman, and newly rational planet Earth, ruled by a high council of gay computers.

Yes, in the future, computers are gay. You’ll just have to get used to it. If you harbor any homophobic thoughts in your heart now, you’ll just have to get rid of them. How do we know that the computers are gay? Let’s just say… we can tell. Check this out: when Buck eventually is returned to Earth, they’re not sure if he’s a spy or not. So they assign Dr. Theopolis to check him out. Dr. Theopolis looks kind of like a round, glowing cake pan. Since Earthlings destroyed Earth’s environment with nuclear bombs, the computers are trying to repair the environment. Dr Theopolis says, “I’m thinking of introducing a pale shade of mauve into the sunset tonight.” Then he looks at Buck and says, “What an attractive man you are, Buck Rogers!” Even Buck knows that something is up.

Dr. Theopolis is super-intelligent, yet not smart enough to invent limbs for himself. Actually, he and his cake pan friends are called “Quads.” I puzzled over this for a long time until I realized that “Quad” must be short for “quadriplegic!” So in the future, even computers can be disabled. Anyway, he has to get carried around by Twiki, everybody’s favorite penis-shaped robot. Twiki himself is pretty irritating! My annoyance threshold must have been much higher when I was five! Twiki has the physique of a three year old boy and the mind of a 40 year old cigar smoking plumber. He stomps around saying things like BEE DEE BEE DEE BEE DEE WATTA BODY! And BEE DEE BEE DEE BEE DEE I’M FREEZING MY BALL-BEARINGS OFF! It’s all so cute.

Watch Buck bravely endure things like standing trial for treason in front of an entire council of glowing, beeping Quads, getting hit on by space princesses with huge pointy hairdos, being chased by an army of outcast mutants from the ruins of Chicago, and futuristic disco dancing. In future, people dance around waving big silvery orb things. I can’t describe it! You’ll just have to see the movie to understand!

In the end, Buck saves the Earth by flirting with the evil princess and blowing things up, thereby showing the wimpy, white jumpsuit clad men of the future how a real man gets things done. Watch this the next time you feel like kicking some futuristic ass!

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Insert your own catch phrase here.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong

“Is this the one where he says ‘I’ll be back?'” “No, it’s the one where he says ‘hasta la vista, baby.'” That’s what I remember this film by, anyway. That and the fact that the plot gave me a headache. Wait– if the kid is all grown-up in the future, and sends a guy back in time to protect his mother, and the guy impregnated her, and she got pregnant with him, how could he have gotten there in the first place? I think this type of reasoning is supposed to be trippy or something. Personally, I couldn’t decide if it was supposed to make you think, or if the screenwriters were just on crack.

One of the most fun things about this movie was counting the product placements. In fact, the very first scene is of a Dunkin Donuts cup rolling across a parking lot. Aside from the product placements and the fact that 12 year olds were saying “hasta la vista, baby” ad nauseum after the film’s release, is the fact that it caused everybody to try to pronounce the name “Arnold” with the proper Austrian accent. Ah-nood. Aw-nud, Ah-nud. Everyone is suddenly a linguistics expert.

But this has nothing to do with the plot. basically, lots of stuff blows up. Catch phrases are tossed about as freely as bullets, and more stuff blows up. Occasionally, there’s an attempt at tenderness and humor, but it was just an excuse to not spend the entire film blowing stuff up. There’s really nothing else I can say!

Total Recall

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Am I out of my mind? Or were the screenwriters when they wrote this?
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin

What if you could wake up and discover that you weren’t really who you thought you were, and that your whole life was really an implanted false memory? Personally, I’d be overjoyed. However, when Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger) accidentally discovers that he’s really not your average jackhammer operator married to a lithe, blonde sex fiend (Sharon Stone), he gets a little upset. His journey of literal self discovery takes him to Mars, where he hangs out in fragile domed cities.

Unfortunately, whenever anyone fires a gun (which is often), everyone gets sucked out into the arid vacuum. In a couple of occasions, we see people die of asphyxiation, which causes their eyes to bug out in a graphic manner. I liked that part the best! It turns out that the fragilely glassed in cities are all the work of the Bad Guy, who is also the reason that most of the lower classes on mars are mutants. The Mutants are in the midst of rebelling against the bad corporation’s evil oppression, and Douglas learns that he was once a key player in the resistance. Or was he? Was this all orchestrated by the corporation?

Douglas meets his ex-girlfriend, Mars’s hottest hooker, and they team up to fight crime with the help of the Token Black Guy mutant cab driver. As is the fate of the Token Black Guy in movies, he meets an untimely demise, his last words being “I’m gonna drill you, sucka!” as he attempts to grind them to death with a futuristic rock drilling machine.

It turns out that the bad guy is keeping an ancient nuclear device a secret. This device could provide plentiful air for all of the inhabitants of Mars by drilling the planet’s ice core, and releasing the oxygen from it. This seems like a seriously bad idea to me– talk about non-renewable resource! It seems like a planet’s core would come in handy, but I’m not physicist, maybe it’s plausible.

Anyway, this film is full of fight sequences, and the basic Ah-nood style one-liners. A definite must for fans of large Austrian men.

Animal Farm

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
“Babe” meets “Lord of the Flies”
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian Holm, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Pete Postlethwaite, Kelsey Grammar

I guess this isn’t technically a “futuristic” Dystopia, since it takes place in the past, but it contains all of the elements of that genre. Since there’s no “antiquated Dystopia” category, just deal with the inaccuracy!

The most sinister thing about this film is how they changed the ending. Sure, it wasn’t true to the book, but it actually managed to completely negate the entire book in the process. It was kind of creepy how the ending basically said “captivity and domesticity is best.” Hello? What’s the point of even making a movie out of the book, whose only point seemed to be to make a political statement, if you don’t make the political statement? Why not just make Babe III: Pig On Jones’s Farm?

They added other things in as well– hmmm, I don’t remember Farmer Jones gettin’ it on with the neighbor’s lecherous wife in the book. What was the point? Because I guess cute animals and violence aren’t enough to make a film anymore– even with lots of both, you still need a little boo-tay to round things off. Gee, I sound like one of those Christian network movie reviewers! But it’s true!

The animals themselves were pretty good in this, despite the sometimes cheesy computer graphics. How could Captain Picard not add an air of dignity to the voice of a pig–even a fascist pig? The addition of newsreels to the propaganda arsenal of the pigs is sort of cheesy as well. It’s sort of funny, though, when the pigs show a Nazi-like training film showing geese who are goose-stepping and singing a patriotic song.

All in all, the book was completely obvious in the message it delivered. Still, when you see it acted out on screen, the obvious message hitting home is, well, too obvious. I think they could have made the connection between farm animals and Soviet Communism a little more subtle, but whatever. The non-subtle nature made it grade-A cheese!

Logan’s Run

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Michael York, Jenny Agutter

box cover This is just such a fantastic movie in so many ways. Imagine a subterranean paradise whose inhabitants enjoy good food, uninhibited sex and free plastic surgery. Then, at the age of 30, they spontaneously combust, in a ritual the City dwellers call “Carousel.” That is, except for those individuals who decide to make a “run” for the surface.

Logan is a bounty hunter who’s sent on a secret mission to infiltrate the runners’ “underground railroad.” Logan’s bosses set his “Life Clock” (the tiny crystal embedded in his palm) blinking, so that it looks as if he’s about to turn 30. He falls in with Jessica, a runner, and she shows him the back way out of the city. Pretty soon the cops catch up with them, and Logan’s supposed to turn her in. But as Logan finds himself being chased by the very people he works for, his feelings begin to change. So he and Jessica set off for adventure, encountering along the way a giant murderous robot who looks like Mrs. Butterworth and a poorly-acted old man who somehow manages to tie the plot together.

Logan’s Run is a prime example of the classic moralistic sci-fi movie. Each scene is packed full of oh-so-subtle commentary on the state of modern living, right down to the plastic surgery boutique. And like so many sci-fi films of its decade, the scenery bears a suspicious resemblance to an enormous shopping mall…

It’s really hard to say what is the best part of this movie. It could be the futuristic set complete with giant rotating hand. Or it could be the sight of so many cloaked 30-year-olds rising to their fiery deaths in a giant popcorn popper. This is definitely one for the time capsule.

Johnny Mnemonic

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Keanu Reeves

Just watching Keanu Reeves “act” is cheesy enough for my book. He made a brilliant Bill, in the demi-eponymous Excellent Adventure, but I just can’t take him seriously as anything else! Reeves stars as Johnny (no last name), an information smuggler of the year 2021. He has deleted the childhood portion of his brain’s memory in order to install a device that will allow him to upload information into his brain and store it in order to transfer it to another location. Now he’s carrying the cure to the disease known as “the Black Shakes” which is running rampant in the 2020’s. Of course, since the world is run by Big Corporations, a giant pharmaceutical company doesn’t want the information to get out, so Johnny has to get into a lot of shoot-outs and car chases. There’s even a crazy religious freak who goes around crucifying people with steak knives. He has a crucifix that’s a dagger on the end…gee, I’ve never seen this plot device before!

It Takes Henry Rollins, Ice T and a cyberimplanted blonde bodyguard to get Johnny out of this one! And the Deus ex machina factor is provided by a super-hacker who hacks into satellites and broadcasts messages for the people. This hacker was used by the navy to scramble enemy submarine radar. This hacker also happens to be a dolphin. In the final scene, Johnny, with the dolphin’s help, must ‘hack his own brain’ in order to get the information out and broadcast it to the world. The result is a Tron-esque computerscape as the cyberJohnny must do battle with the viruses put as booby traps inside his head to prevent him from accessing the information

This is a nice cheesy romp through cyberspace. If you like dismal visions of the future, this one is sure to please! In 2021, computers no longer have such antiquated devices as keyboards and mice. They are controlled by wearing leather fingerless gloves, which set up a virtual reality type control. The user must then make movements like he’s in a Devo video with his hands as he navigates through the Internet of 2021, which looks like a Super Nintendo game gone haywire. Very cheesy!

Miracle Mile

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, Mykel T. Williamson

Was Denise Crosby born with two-tone hair? I ask because I don’t think I’ve ever seen her with a monotone hairdo before. Anyway, this film is about the end of the world. It’s a delightfully cheesy romp into what might happened in L.A. if everyone had an hour left to live.

Harry (ER’s Edwards), learns from a wrong number on a payphone that for some unexplained reason, the Big One is heading for L.A. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Harry is determined to save himself and his new girlfriend Julie (Winningham). Yes, after having been unlucky at love for a while now, Harry bumped into the girl of his dreams at a visit to the aquarium. He stood her up inadvertently after, through a series of humorous events, he unknowingly causes the electricity in his apartment building to go off. This causes his alarm clock to not wake him up.

Now how is he going to explain to the girl of his dreams that he didn’t mean to stand her up, and now they have to get to the airport aboard an airplane bound for Antarctica because the world is about to blow up? What a bad day! Harry races against time, ‘accidentally’ being there for the death of two policemen, teaming up with Mykelti Williamson (then known as Mykel T. Willimson) and running into all sorts of odd characters. Will LA overcome the mass panic?

This movie is full of plot devices, and a spectacularly irritating score by Tangerine Dream. Other than that, it has some interesting things about it. I especially like the ending where they all die.

Futuresport

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Vanessa Williams, Dean Cain

I was really psyched when I saw this, because it predicts that we’ll have anti-gravitational skateboards in 27 years. Oh, and Chelsea Clinton will be president. Anti-gravitational skateboards will be fun! Of course, that’s a lot of technological advancing to do in a couple of decades, so scientists had better get hopping! I mean, think about it, how far has technology come in the past 27 years? We went from Pong to Sega- hardly a transition of antigravitational proportions. Anyway, it’s still cool.

In the future of 2026, there is a game called Futuresport. It was invented by Fixx (Wesley snipes), a Rasta-sage like dude (people with island accents are always wise sages. See my commentary on Meet Joe Black and Rear Window), in order to solve gang warfare in the “Down Zone” (ie ghetto). Now if you were going to invent a new sport, wouldn’t you call it “electroball” or “skateball” or something? I mean, Futuresport is a bit vague.

Futuresport involves people throwing an electrified ball around a cement rink. If you look closely at some of the shots, you can actually see that the players are wearing rollerblades, and that the filmmakers have forgotten to digitally add antigravitaional skateboards. It’s kind of funny, but confusing at first.

Things have gone wrong, however, for the world of Futuresport. Because of some vague incident involving Vanessa Williams, Futuresport is now a multibillion dollar professional enterprise, rather than a ghetto bonding event. This disgusts The Fixx, who meant it to be a constructive way of acting out territorial aggressions.

Enter the Bad guys. The HLO (Hawaiian Liberation Organization) has resorted to terrorism in order to gain independence from the North American States. It’s run by Hilo ( ), a Hawaiian villain of comic-book proportions who has Maori-like tatoos all over his face. You know he’s Bad because of this.

Anyway, there’s some vague plot line, and our hero ( ) decides that he’s going to solve the problem by challenging the HLO to a big game of futuresport. There’s a big showdown scene- can you guess who wins?

This is a delightfully cheesy look at the future. The bad special effects, corny dialogue and cheesy vision of the future make it especially effortless to pick on.