Monday, February 3, 2014

Sci-Fi Experience Wrap-up

The 2014 Sci-Fi Experience at Stainless Steel Droppings has come to a close. In January, as a part of my participation in that event, I read two science fiction novels.

These are the two novels I read, with links to my reviews:
Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (second novel in the Old Man's War series)
The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov (blend of science fiction and mystery)

In addition to reading science fiction, I also watched several sci-fi movies, which I have not yet reported on.


Dark City, directed by Alex Proyas and released in 1998, is a blend of noir and science fiction. It is very dark. Visually dark and dark in mood.

John Murdoch wakes up in a hotel  room that he doesn't remember at all. He is in the bathtub, with a dead woman in the next room. He does not know what is happening to him or around him, and the memories he does have don't make sense either.

The first time I watched this movie, I found it confusing. This time around, I was very impressed. I liked the look and the acting. I am not that familiar with Rufus Sewell but I thought he did a fine job as John Murdoch. Jennifer Connelly was good as the equally confused wife. William Hurt was superb as Bumstead, the policeman; Kiefer Sutherland was a very convincing mad doctor.

The rest of the sci fi movies I watched in December and January were 2013 releases. I saw them for the first time on Blu-ray.

Star Trek Into Darkness is the twelfth film in the Star Trek film franchise and the second movie since the reboot of the original series. On the one hand, I enjoyed the movie. On the other hand, it was disappointing, in comparison to Star Trek (2009), which I liked a lot. I like all the new actors in this reboot, and I enjoyed watching them. However, It felt like the action was too kinetic, too jumpy, that it went in too many directions. However, I certainly will be watching it again, and I may revise my opinion.

I found two articles on the web with two opposing viewpoints. Both include spoilers if you have not seen the movie yet.

At Wired, this article explores how Star Trek Into Darkness could have been a better movie.

Wil Wheaton loved the movie, and explains why in his review.

Oblivion is not the perfect movie, and has been accused of being derivative and too slow, but nevertheless I enjoyed it. It was visually stunning, and I thought the acting was good too.

All we start out knowing is that two people, a couple, are living on Earth, which has been damaged by an alien attack. The survivors have been moved to Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Jack (Tom Cruise) is a repairman who handles problems with drones that "care for" the planet. His partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), manages his work and communicates with their superiors. Both have had their memories wiped for security reasons, ostensibly, but Jack has persistent dreams and memories about something from his past.

I will admit that the movie might have been better if it had moved faster, but I was fine with it as it was, and I enjoyed the twists and turns. Morgan Freeman also had a significant role, and that is almost always a plus for a movie. This is another movie that I will be re-watching.

The World's End is the third of three movies directed by Eric Wright, written by Eric Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. All three films (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End) are different types but they all do have a lot of blood and gore. I liked all three movies but I am not a fan of blood and gore, so I cannot say I loved them. They are all funny, and well worth watching. 

The World's End starts with a pub crawl initiated by Gary King (Simon Pegg). He talks a group of former friends into reenacting a pub crawl that they attempted 20 years before but never completed. As they go from pub to pub they discover more about their relationships and secrets of the past, and also run into some really strange characters in their home town.

I am sure I will be watching this movie many more times and discovering new things each time. Next time I plan to pay more attention to the soundtrack, which includes many songs from the time of the characters' adolescence.

Those were my choices for the Sci-Fi Experience and I enjoyed all of them. Thanks to Carl for encouraging me to mix some science fiction reading into my normal fare.


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Well done TracyK - I ended up being disappointed by the second Trek film, mainly because I thought it didn;t really work well enough on its own terms and coasted too much on the coat-tails of the original series, though there was much to enjoy along the way. Not seen Oblivion yet though but shall seek it out!

Anonymous said...

Tracy - I'm impressed! I have to admit I"m a bit old-school and purist when it comes to the Star Trek franchise. I liked the original Star Trek films, and a couple of the 'Next Generation' films too. But the newest reboot? I'm sorry - I just haven't enjoyed them. Still, you've done an excellent job with this challenge.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I think I have seen the first STAR TREK film and remember liking it, though I haven't seen DARK CITY and OBLIVION but I'll be watching them as soon as I can. I like Kiefer Sutherland and feel he ought to have had a much better film career than he does now.

TracyK said...

I agree, Sergio, I would have preferred to see something new and creative in the 2nd Star Trek movie. I can just hope that a third movie is better. Hope you like Oblivion.

TracyK said...

Margot, I wasn't sure what to expect with the Star Trek reboot but I liked the way they handled it. Wish I could have read more science fiction...

TracyK said...

Prashant, I agree with you on Kiefer Sutherland. I first remember him in A Time to Kill, but he had done a lot of work before then. I think you would like Dark City and Oblivion. Both are visually very nice, aside from plot or acting.

Clothes In Books said...

No you still haven't persuaded me to scifi, films or books, but I like to read your reviews...

TracyK said...

Thanks, Moira. I wish I had the energy to do posts on more films, but I can barely keep up with books and reading other blogs. And finding more books to read.

Cath said...

You did well with the challenge! I too felt that way about the second new Star Trek film. I loved the first but for me the second was not character-based enough... too much action and explosions, though I did like BC as Khan. I haven't even bought the dvd yet and that's saying something.

TracyK said...

Cath, I will have to give Star Trek Into Darkness another chance or two. It is a fun type of movie for us to watch, but not great. I do really like Simon Pegg and Karl Urban, though.

col2910 said...

I do like Pegg and Frost together so I will keep an eye out for this if it appears on the box sometime soon. I can't say that any of the others appeal to me to be honest.

TracyK said...

Col, although The World's End is sci-fi, it is really like Shaun of the Dead with more depth. And a lot of fun.