Archive for the ‘Science Fiction and Space Shit’ Category


Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

tn_outlanderMan, here’s a solid little movie with a clever genre-mixing premise, nicely acted and directed, a fun time, but owned by the Weinsteins. So of course it was barely released or advertised. These pricks got a quiet, sad drama based on a Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, they’re gonna pretend it’s some sci-fi action movie. Meanwhile they got this one that actually is a sci-fi action movie, but they forgot they even had it. “Oh shit, did we release that viking thing? I can’t remember. Just send some DVDs to Blockbuster and tell them not to mention it to anybody.”

Oh well, at least it snuck out. The cover art is pretty cool too, and it uses one of those critic quotes that isn’t really a compliment but just a description: “PREDATOR meets BEOWULF.” And that’s accurate. A space ship crash lands in Norway, 709 A.D. A survivor climbs out wearing a space suit that looks alot like a suit of armor (surprisingly that doesn’t come up again later). He’s Jim Caviezel, and I wasn’t sure at first if I was gonna accept aliens that look just like humans, but when he looked up Earth on his computer it said we were an “abandoned seed colony,” so I guess we all come from the same place. Brothers from a different mother. (read the rest of this shit…)

Turkey Shoot

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

tn_railsbackTime to get back to my ongoing study of the works of Brian Trenchard-Smith. This one will also be part 1 in a Steve Railsback double feature.

TURKEY SHOOT is one of the Brian Trenchard-Smith pictures I had heard of before I started going through his filmography, although I knew it under the American title ESCAPE 2000 (which is what it’s called on the Anchor Bay DVD). It takes place in a dystopian future where “deviants” have been locked up in camps to be brainwashed and abused. Not sure if this happens at all of them but at this particular one, Camp 42 I believe, they also let the inmates run around in some wilderness to be hunted by rich people. Hence the title “TURKEY SHOOT.” It’s kind of like in the U.S. a couple years ago what we would’ve called “DICK CHENEY PHEASANT HUNT.” Means the same thing.

Our heroes are naive Olivia Hussey, sexy Lynda Stoner, and defiant Steve Railsback. Railsback gets a pretty badass setup because the headmaster, Thatcher, lists all the different camps he’s escaped from, and you know he’ll be adding Camp 42 to the list soon. I love Railsback from ED GEIN, LIFEFORCE, etc. but to be honest he doesn’t have that great of a character in this one. He mostly just runs around. Not that he’s not good at running around, it’s just not that memorable a part. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Running Man

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

tn_runningman1Arnold Schwarzenegger is… THE RUNNING MAN. That’s actually what it says on the credits, which makes me feel good, makes me proud to be an American. In fact, I’m gonna make a new tag for this review called “is…” If you can think of some other movies where the star “is…” the title, let me know. But only if it’s in the actual opening credits, not just the trailer or the poster, at least for now. We’ll see how many we can find.

THE RUNNING MAN was a book Stephen King wrote in 1982 when he was on the lam and hiding out under the alias Richard Bachman. I read it back in the ’80s so I don’t remember it in much detail, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the same kind of goofy cartoon shit as the movie. It was about a brutal game show of the future where contestants tried to get across the country without being killed. I think there were bounty hunters after them, but also they’d become famous through the show and regular people would try to kill them to collect a reward. It’s like American Idol except instead of participating by calling in you do it by shooting at the guy. The main character was kind of like Kowalski in VANISHING POINT, he ended up capturing the hearts of everybody at home and they started rooting for him to get away. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern reviews S.DARKO direct to video…

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

To H. Knowles, M. Beaks, Q. Vespe and A. It Cool News:

Hey everybody,

Vern here. I have been known to review a DTV sequel or two, so somebody requested I report on the quality of S. DARKO: A DONNIE DARKO TALE, available on the DVD as of today. So don’t ever say I didn’t give back to the community.

It’s been a while, but if I remember my DONNIE DARKO right, a bunch of weird shit was going down with a bunny man and hallucinations and mysteries and what not, so there was time travel and apocalyptical type shit, turned out the bunny was a dude in a Halloween costume that got hit by a car, Donnie was killed by a plane engine landing on his house, trippiness, etc. (read the rest of this shit…)

Star Trek (2009)

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

tn_startrekNever thought they’d be able to pull a trick like this, but somehow they made STAR TREK cool. I’m not even sure if I can say cool again. I guess when the first couple movies came out it passed as cool. Anyway, this is some top grade movie magic here because it takes this pop culture phenomenon that has for generations been the #1 cliche nerd obsession and makes it into something that we, as a society, can share peacefully and enjoy together.

Going on opening night of course I saw it in a sold out crowd that must’ve contained some hardcore Trekkos (that’s what they prefer to be called – the word “Trekkies” was made up for the classic documentary and to true Trekkos is considered ten times worse than the n-word) but I never even felt a twinge of that nerdophobic uncomfortableness I felt when I went to see SERENITY. Midnight show in Imax might’ve been a different story, I don’t know, but my point is this thing is reaching far outside of the nerd audience. They said we weren’t ready for a black president, and they were wrong. They never said we weren’t ready for a cool STAR TREK, because nobody was even gonna argue that one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dead End Drive-In

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Most Americans, when they think of Australia they think of kangaroos and koalas and shit. Me, I think of high speed car chases and vicious (but wise) giant crocodiles. And I guess maybe occasionally I think of 6’5″ Seattle Storm center Lauren Jackson. But usually it’s the cars and crocodiles, because as you maybe noticed I’ve been watching the Australian films this last year or so – ROGUE, DARK AGE, ROAD GAMES, RAZORBACK, etc. I’ve never been there, but something about that place really appeals to me, and so do their movies, I’m not sure why. They seem to have an untapped (by me) reservoir of really good filmatists there who work in a style that appeals to me. Energetic but not frantic, stylish but still raw, serious but not pretentious, lots of car flips.


I was kind of embarrassed though when I found out there was a documentary going around called NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD that lumps these movies together under the silly name “Ozploitation.” It was real popular down there in Austin where my Ain’t It Cool colleagues are and Tarantino’s interviewed in it and everything so it got them all interested. I swear it’s a coincidence, I had no idea this was a big thing right now. If anything, the documentary probaly copied the idea from me. (read the rest of this shit…)


Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

After seeing Paul Not Thomas Anderson’s remake of DEATH RACE 2000 and finding it surprisingly enjoyable, I decided to finally go back and see that Kurt Russell movie he made more than ten years ago that I wanted to see but didn’t because everyone said was garbage. And maybe the lowered expectations helped, but I thought SOLDIER was a good one.

The movie begins in the ’90s with a group of babies being taken out of a hospital into military custody (wonder if the parents noticed?) where they will be raised to be super soldiers. The opening is a montage of these soldiers from infancy to their 40s, being indoctrinated, training and participating in various intergalactic conflicts. I was impressed that I could immediately tell which kid was supposed to be Kurt Russell. I thought they did an amazing job of finding a kid who looked like him, but then I found out they just cast his son, which is kind of cheating. Anyway this character’s name is Todd, but don’t worry, if you forget that it’s tattooed on his face, they all have their names and numbers tattooed on their faces. (I honestly think it would be cool if the movie was called TODD.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Race

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

In these trying times it’s hard to have any faith in a lowbrow movie delivering on a good high concept or even a classic standby. There’s just too many ways to fuck it up. You see all the wonderful explosions in the trailer for THE MARINE and you know it’s a pro-wrestler playing a soldier saving his fiancee or somebody from kidnappers, that seems like it should be easy to pull off. And then they fill the movie with lame comic relief and have the wrestler spend most of the movie walking around a field trying to track the bad guys before his brief stints of PG-13 revenge. It’s just boring.

Or more often they go in the other direction, they force in way too much. Like CRANK – I should be able to totally get behind a movie where Jason Statham has been pumped full of a drug that will cause his heart to explode if he does not keep his pulse rate constantly up, and therefore he has to get into all kinds of action and craziness. I know some people like that one but I guess I’m picky, I just can’t stand when they take an exciting premise like that and then seem to worry that unless they throw in ten thousand random quick cuts and split screens and CGI zooms and switches to black and white and video and shit that maybe somebody will get bored. Similar deal with DOOMSDAY which has just about everything you could want in a derivative sci-fi action yarn and then ruins every single one of them with terrible camerawork and editing. For me all that hyperactive shit and lack of thought put into visuals just ruins these movies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Babylon A.D.

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

7% on Rotten Tomatoes… that’s bad, right? I was kind of interested in this idea of Vin Diesel returning in a big sci-fi movie directed by the guy who did LA HAINE (you know, Kassovitz. Amelie’s boyfriend, later in MUNICH). But then there were all these stories about the studio cutting it to shreds, and then the reviews were CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST brutal, and even Kassovitz called it “pure violence and stupidity” before it was even released, pretty much signaling that he was so disappointed in the movie that he was willing to throw away any future chance at directing in Hollywood. I mean those are some pretty bad omens there in my opinion so I couldn’t work up the courage to pay money to see it in a theater. I remember even talking a buddy out of going to see it by describing how bad the buzz was. It was so bad it wasn’t even buzz, it was more of a whistle.

So I’m surprised to be sitting here telling you this, but this movie is actually kind of good. I mean, unlike Vin Diesel’s character, who does a flip on a snowmobile in one scene, the movie doesn’t stick the landing. The conclusion borders on silly, the storytelling becomes pretty muddled (possibly due in part to those studio cuts, I’m not sure) and I was not sure I really understood the point of how it ended up. But as a whole it’s so much better than I had been led to believe. Aside from some corny Riddick-style opening and closing narration Diesel is a cool action movie character inhabiting a fleshed out, believable world of chaos not too far in the future. (read the rest of this shit…)

The DoubleHeader You’ve All Been Waiting For! Vern Reviews STARSHIP TROOPERS 3 And ROGUE!!

Monday, August 4th, 2008

I’ve been sort of looking forward to this new STARSHIP TROOPERS, and if you got a problem with that too bad because I’ve gotten enough “are you gonna review Starship Troopers 3?” emails to know that we can take you. Ed Neumeier takes over as director this time, which means the satirical tone remains since this is the guy who wrote all three STARSHIP TROOPERS as well as ROBOCOP. And, uh, ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID. I didn’t know that, I just found that out on IMDB. Hmmm. I had not considered watching that one. This changes everything. This could be the big one.

If you saw STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: HERO OF THE FEDERATION you may or may not remember that it was pretty different from the first one. They scaled it down for DTV, making it into mostly a one-location siege kind of story and incorporating smaller bugs that implant themselves in people’s brains or something. The good part is it was directed by the effects legend Phil Tippett so it ended up having the best effects I’ve seen in a DTV movie. (read the rest of this shit…)