Episode 194: The Edge of Groundhog Day

July 9, 2014


Tom Cruise is back to join the Starship Troopers and help Incept Groundhog Day against Aliens in Edge of Tomorrow.

Okay, the above snarky, reductive synopsis makes Edge of Tomorrow sound like a crappy knock-off, it’s best bits cannibalized from of a handful of better films. Though you could argue that is technically accurate, it’s a description which doesn’t do the film justice—a film which is probably the last, best original science fiction film we’re going to get for a decade.

I do say “original” because though it borrows elements from other films, such as the rag-tag band of marines from Aliens, remember that the rag-tag band of marines from Aliens were an homage to classic war films like The Dirty Dozen. The seemingly unbeatable alien invaders in Starship Troopers weren’t a new concept when the book was written and absolutely old hat when the film was made. If there was an element of deja vu in Groundhog Day it was partially that the gimmick of time-loops was already an old standbyIf there are any wholly original concepts left in sci-fi, they haven’t cropped up in the past four or five decades so we shouldn’t criticize a film too harshly for not offering one up now.

And I say Edge of Tomorrow is the “last, best” sci-fi film we’ll see because, judging by the dismal box-office reports of Edge of Tomorrow‘s opening weekend, audiences have guaranteed we’ll only see reboots and superhero movies until people stop going to see those too. Eventually it will probably find a word-of-mouth audience on Netflix (which I imagine is of little interest to the studios) and in time will become a sort of sci-fi action classic alongside AliensThe Matrix, District 9 and Inception—but without making the studios the kind of bank those films did. For now it’s being painted as the biggest genre bomb since Waterworld.

Which is too bad since it’s the antithesis of Waterworld—a true turkey which bombed because it was an actively, aggressively, unapologetically terrible film. Something audiences don’t seem to care about as long as the words “Star Trek” or “Marvel” or “DC” are attached to the title.

So when I call it the last, best original science fiction film, it’s being measured by a bar set dishearteningly low.

Netflix Reflux

May 15, 2013


After writing the additional reviews for our Netflix Follies episode shownotes, I realized I forgot to review my favourite film from the bunch, Lock Out. And, of course, we’ve watched a few more shows since. So here’s a few more reviews— aindicates a partial viewing of the film.


Lock Out: This film excels were The Expendables fails. Sly Stallone seemed to think people fondly remember ’80s action flicks because of a lot of overblown brawn and even more overblown explosions. Yeah, sure, that’s part of it. But in Lock Out we see Guy Pierce (and the writers) nail what Sly forgot (or never really understood): ’80s action heroes were quick-witted, wise-cracking, every-man smart-asses as well as buff superhuman brutes. Pierce’s character Snow is basically Bogart‘s Sam Spade mixed with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (minus the claws). You almost wonder if they had Pierce bulk-up just because Jackman turned down the part. Anyway, the film is basically just Escape From New York in orbit with a bit of a noir mystery à la Total Recall tossed in. For what it is, Lockout really works. Thanks pretty much entirely to Pierce’s performance (as well as the not-terrible writing).

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Episode 85 – Actor Hurdles

October 15, 2010

Mandi can’t tell Al DeNiro apart from Robert Pacino.

We all have them. Our “deal-breaker” actors who keep us from giving a film a chance. There’s the classic universally vilified actors (the post-scandal Hugh Grants and Mel Gibsons) and the more personal choices (Seth Rogan). This week we try to round-up a list of our most hated thespians.

Top Deal-Breaker Actors:

1: Tom Hanks. His smarmy mug ruins any chance of us ever watching another one of his films. That and the fact he keeps making Dan Brown films.

2: Kevin Kostner. Terrible acting, self-righteous arrogance and really tight jeans are a killer combination.

3: Mel Gibson. Batshit crazy misogynist and racist statements aside, he took a turn for the Costnerian school of acting at some point. Somewhere in the middle of the Lethal Weapon series, I think. When he grew the mullet.

4: DeNiro/Pacino. Seriously. Have either of these guys really put in a good performance (not just playing a caricature of their early roles) since the ’80s? If you said “yes”, remember that lying is a sin. Even if you’re only lying to yourself, you’re going to burn in Hell. But you’ll have company. Pacino and DeNiro are going to be right beside you for their  sin of sloth. Michael Caine and Jack Nicholson will be there too. It’ll be like a party of old, lazy, living cartoons.

5: Will Smith. Not mentioned on the show but a classic example of an actor hurdle. Whereas the other people on this list are “unhurdleable” in most cases, Smith’s performances (like Tom Cruise’s or Bruce Willis’) are usually genuinely enjoyable if we actually force ourselves to watch the films. Which is a very rare occurence.

Episode 76 – Hack Job (Computer hackers)

August 6, 2010

Pouting is an essential part of being a hacker.

Hackers. People sure do love hackers in movies. Oddly, in real life, they just get ridiculed. Probably because they don’t actually look like Angelina Jolie or Keanu Reeves and aren’t as cool as Kevin Flynn.

Also everyone’s afraid some pimply kid in a Nine Inch Nails shirt is going to drain their bank account. Somehow. No one really knows how computers work so it seems like a perfectly valid fear. Just like vampires were in the middle ages.

But is the hacker, as seen in movies, real or just a sort of urban myth? The problem is, a census can’t be taken since real hackers would never reveal their identity. And would a real life hacker actually choose a name like Zerœ_Bürn or Acid Re:FLUX?

The first and best hacker movie ever? War Games.

Somehow I doubt it. The real computer wizards I’ve met never had any kind of edginess to them whatsoever. They’re quiet, unassuming and more likely to listen to Matchbox 20 than Front 242. Not a single set of tight leather pants in their wardrobe. I don’t know if those guys are the real hackers of the world, but I imagine the real hackers are closer to David Lightman than Kate Libby.

Internet comedian Community Channel’s awesome take on hackers in movies:

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