Category Archives: Movies

Mitchells Machines

The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a 2021 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film. It was directed by Mike Rianda (in his feature directorial debut), co-directed by Jeff Rowe, and written by Rianda and Rowe, with Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Kurt Albrecht serving as producers.

It follows a dysfunctional family that winds up having to save Earth from a robot uprising while on a road trip.

It stars the voices of Danny McBride, Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph (The Good Place), Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Blake Griffin and Conan O’Brien.

Everyone loves it :

Kermodian Review

Problems with ‘reality’

 

 

Stowaway

“The Cold Equations” is a science fiction short story by American writer Tom Godwin, first published in Astounding Magazine in August 1954. In 1970, the Science Fiction Writers of America selected it as one of the best science-fiction short stories published before 1965, The story has been widely anthologized and dramatized.

Film and television

Australian Toni Collette stars in this adaption, with Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim and Shamier Anderson
I have not read or seen any previous adaptions. This looks great, although probably made for peanuts on a Netflix budget. The film mostly follows realistic physics of space travel. The space ship is on its way to Mars to deliver crew. The additional body pushes the carbon dioxide scrubber past it’s limit. They can’t all get there on what they have. Someone will die, or they all will.

The film has some lessons for future space-craft designers:

  •  Always pack more oxygen than you think you need (at least 2x).
  • Install more than one CO2 scrubber.
  • Pack a 3D printer so you can make parts.
  • If you do have a 400m structure someone may need to travel during a spaceflight, design an motorised method of traversing it.
  • Always secure your oxygen cylinder.

Battle Stars

Battle Beyond the Stars is a 1980 American space film produced by Roger Corman, directed by Jimmy T. Murakami.

The story is based on ‘The Magnificent Seven’, which is based on ‘The Seven Samurai”. There are bits from ‘Star Wars’ thrown in for good measure.

They should have consulted someone who knew a smidgeon about space. Someone who could tell them that nowhere in the universe is ‘beyond the stars’.

It stars Richard Thomas (The Waltons) as a Luke Skywalker stand-in. Looking very earnest and innocent.

Robert Vaughn is Gelt, an assassin wanted on every planet. He has a permanent scowl, presumably to make him look serious.

George Peppard is Cowboy, trying to look as cool as Han Solo and failing. He looks permanently bored throughout the film.

However John Saxon as Sador, leader of the Malmori raiders, knows his genre fiction and hams it up to the max, providing the role of the villian.

Then there is the ship with breasts – that’s right, was this designed by a teenage boy ?

The only good thing about the film is Sybil Danning. Well, not her but the ridiculous costumes she wears as a Valkyrie warrior. This one comes out of a fantasy comic…

And this, has no explanation, structurally or practically….

So is it bad, yes it is. It’s not funny, goofy or exciting. What a waste of second rate talent.

The only thing of note is that James Cameron did the special effects.

 

 

 

On Sex

On the Basis of Sex is a 2018 American biographical legal drama film based on the life and early cases of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1993 to her death in 2020.

Directed by Mimi Leder and written by Daniel Stiepleman, it stars Felicity Jones as Ginsburg, with Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Sam Waterston, and Kathy Bates in supporting roles.

Despite the historical nature of the story, this plays out as an old fashioned legal drama. You know the outcome, getting there is the intriguing part. And you get a cameo from the lady herself.

Overboard

 

Overboard is a 2018 American romantic comedy film directed by Rob Greenberg. The screenplay was written by Greenberg, Bob Fisher, and Leslie Dixon. The film stars Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria, John Hannah, and Swoosie Kurtz. The film is a remake of the 1987 film of the same name, with the genders of the lead character roles reversed: Here, a struggling, working-class single mother convinces a rich playboy with amnesia that they are married.

Here’s the thing; critics are miserable buggers. If it’s dark and depressing they think ‘Oh, the humanity, how insightful into the soul’, give it an award. They hate comedies.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 24%. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 42 out of 100. But audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A–” on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 83% overall positive score.

The film grossed $50.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $40.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $91.2 million, against a production budget of $12 million.

Just shows what critics know! It was a success.

I watched it only because I know of Anna Faris from her sitcom ‘Mom’. The success is mainly due to the  assured hand of director Rob Greenberg, who’s credits include ‘Scrubs’ and ‘How I met your Mother’. He gets the most out of the able cast, but it’s Derbez who does most of the work.

There are a number of laugh out loud moments. But ultimately you know it will end in a cute romantic ending (and it does).

 

 

Space Sweepers

Space Sweepers is a 2021 South Korean space Western film. Regarded as the first Korean space blockbuster, it was released on Netflix on February 5, 2021.

The Formula: Take
The Wandering Earth
Armageddon

Mix together, add about $20m USD and a second rate script.
Now you have proof that not just the Americans can do big, dumb movies.

For the price there is a lot of eye candy on show. At first there is so much it’s difficult to know who is who and what’s going on. However once the child turns up, the plot can begin. Then it’s on to the usual save the world script. Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit) turns up playing a one dimensional baddie.

Then it’s on to fights, gunfights and explosions and a suitably uplifting ending.

New Scientist Review

 

 

Onward

Onward is a 2020 American film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Disney. The film is directed by Dan Scanlon, produced by Kori Rae and written by Scanlon, Jason Headley, and Keith Bunin. It stars Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer.

Set in a suburban fantasy world, the film follows two elf brothers who set out on a quest to find an artifact that will temporarily bring back their dead father.

This viewing was prompted by Cinema Therapy. It’s the male version of Frozen. Where Frozen was about sisters, this is about brothers. It’s a very heart-warming story, which pushes all the emotional buttons, as this video explains.

 

 

Endgame

Avengers: Endgame is a 2019 film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team. It is the direct sequel to Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the film features an ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Josh Brolin.

In the film, the surviving members of the Avengers and their allies attempt to reverse the damage caused by Thanos in Infinity War.


This is a long film at just under 3 hours (excluding the credits). The first third drags along as all the team members get their own story until 5 years after the Thanos culling of half the population.

The team (OK the writers) work out the only way to fix this is to go back in time. This is proposed by Ant-man as he finds that 5 years in the world has been reduced to a few hours in his ‘Quantum Realm’. OK – I can accept that time dilation could be a thing, as this happens with objects close to the speed of light. But to make the leap that this means you can go back in time is crazy, but obviously the only theory the writers could come up with.

So, magic happens. Along comes Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). Of all the superheroes she must be the most powerful. Able to punch the lights out of any being, survive in space and throw very big things. So when we get to the big battle at the end and she is shown punching a hole through a kilometre long spaceship, why can’s she kill Thanos ?

Everyone has to have their go at him, usually by hitting him (never works) in a spectacular end battle. It’s all a bit over the top and bloated. But at least they killed off a few of the superheroes.

 

Outside In

Inside Out

This 2015 comedy was produced by Pixar and released by Disney. Directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen, with a screenplay written by Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley.

It stars the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan.

The film is set in the mind of a young girl named Riley, where five personified emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust—try to lead her through life as she and her parents adjust to their new surroundings after moving from Minnesota to San Francisco.

This is an old favourite, having seen the film on cinema in it’s original release. Then obtaining it on DVD and watching it again, and again following ‘Soul’.

While it follows similar territory as Soul, it’s a much simpler plot. And all the better, and still it draws you into Riley and her situation. So when things begin to emotionally change for her, you begin to wonder – who floated all the dust in the room.

So a very effective film. This lead me to ‘Cinema Therapy’, a youtube channel:

 

Soul

Soul is a 2020 film produced by Pixar and released by Disney Pictures. Directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, the film stars the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, (Kiwi) Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad  and Angela Bassett.

The story follows a middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner, who seeks to reunite his soul and his body after they are accidentally separated, just before his big break as a jazz musician.

This is just a great film. One of Pixar’s best. And it covers very mature themes, like what is a soul (or personality) and where does it come from.

There is plenty of humour, but it doesn’t come from slapstick, but the interaction of characters. As usual the animation and visuals are beautiful. And about 3/4 of the way through there is a sequence that reminded me of UP.

Given the themes focusing on what happens in a human head, the obvious comparison is to Inside Out……