Posts tagged “Spaceship

Gattaca / How a Washing Machine Can Start a Nuclear War


Gattaca  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  German ReleaseIn der nahen High-Tech-Zukunft entscheidet ein Gentest gleich nach der Geburt über das Schicksal der Kinder. Futuristische Biochemie macht es möglich, dass fast alle Eltern sportliche, hochintelligente Superbabies zur Welt bringen.  Vincent aber hat Pech gehabt.  Wegen seiner körperlichen Schwächen wird er nie zur Elite gehören.  Doch er träumt davon, als Gattaca-Pilot die Galaxis zu erforschen. Vincents Freund Jerome hat beste Gene, ein Unfall hat ihn allerdings an den Rollstuhl gefesselt.  Beide tauschen ihre Identität.  Ein äußerst riskanter Plan, denn die strengen Sicherheitskontrollen des perfekt organisierten Polizeistaates sind kaum zu umgehen. Bald hat Vincent die Geheimdienste auf den Fersen …  Ein spannender sci-fi thriller mit beängstigendem Zukunftsszenario.  Ethan Hawke (“Reality Bites”) und Uma Thurman (“Batman & Robin”, “Pulp Fiction”) in einem brandgefährlichen Spiel, das durchaus wahr werden könnte.  (It’s called German.  I’ve got a German copy of the film.)

1997  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
8.5 out of 10

My washing machine broke down on Christmas Eve.  Well more accurately, it still washes things but it won’t dry them.  Using my amazing engineering skills, I’ve worked out that it’s either a broken thermostat or something to do with the fan.  Unfortunately I can’t be sure, as my skills don’t extend to having the special sort of screwdriver that appears to be needed to open the case where the fan lives.  I think I can hear it spinning but I can’t see the end of the spindle turning, which is a bit confusing.  Few things piss me off more than technology breaking and companies producing things which require a special bit of information (that they make it very hard to find out), or a special tool to fix.  So as you might imagine, this little occurrence has made me incandescent with fury.  The fact it happened at the most inconvenient possible moment of the year has just made things worse.  Really, it’s just as well I’m not the one with ‘my finger on the button’.

In the near future, parents will be able to create a ‘designer baby’ for themselves.  These “Valids” will go on to get all the best jobs, whilst the rest of us do the crappy stuff.  I know this to be true, because even Ernest Borgnine could only get a job as an office cleaner in “Gattaca”, yet a few years ago he was one of the crew of “Airwolf”, the most advanced helicopter ever built.  (It had a good theme tune too.)  Our hero Vincent wants to go into space, but sadly he’s one of the “Invalids”, the rubbish people who got born the normal way.  So starts his quest to beat the system.  I’ve seen a lot of good films over the past month or so and this is yet another.  Within its ‘hard’ sci-fi setting and 1984 overtones, this is a thriller with a great “will he or won’t he make it” right up to the end.  With its murder-crime subplot and some entirely superfluous love interest provided by Uma Thurman, we get to watch Vincent and his mate collecting bottles of blood, hair and other bits of discarded body from the latter; (mainly skin and stuff, we’re not talking about anything too Frankenstein-like here).  It’s a while since I saw a film with so much urine in it too, although to be fair it’s generally all contained in bags or plastic beakers; they’re a bit obsessed with testing at Gattaca.  (It’s the name of the company that does the space launches.)  Things don’t quite go to plan, (even more so if you watch the deleted scenes), someone gets murdered, the police investigate.  It’s just the sort of shit you don’t want to have to put up with when you’re about to diddle your way onto the first manned flight to Titan.  The final scene is really quite powerful and it’s a “proper good film” as they might say up North.

With a great film should come great music and we’re not disappointed here.  A full orchestral score, it’s not used a lot, but when it is things get taken to an extra level.  As an interesting side point, there’s a scene where we see a 12 fingered pianist playing a bit of music that’s actually meant to be impossible for one person to play; (Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat Major, with some extra bits).  I find that strangely cool.

I’m not especially keen on this trailer.  It’s sort of okay, but it doesn’t really get across the feel of the film.

Recommended for astronauts, police detectives and the genetically pure.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the impossible to play piano performance.  As someone who can barely manage to play “English Country Garden” on the piano with two fingers, am I the only one who finds that whole idea strangely arousing?  Oh, right.  Okay then…  I think I’ve just discovered a new kind of porn.  (Well actually no, as Google gives nearly 52,000 results for “piano porn”.)  Now that really is very weird.

Gattaca at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Gattaca at Wikipedia
Gattaca At Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Gattaca at YouTube


Alien / Immigration


Alien Anthology  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe massive space-tug Nostromo glides silently through space.  Back from the outer reaches of the galaxy, it’s taking its seven-member crew back to Earth.  But when the ship’s computer receives a distress signal from a nearby planetary system, it rouses the crew from their cryo-sleep.  It isn’t until after the Nostromo has landed on a barren planet named LV-426 and three crewmembers have gone out to investigate a huge derelict spacecraft that the signal is deciphered and found to be a warning.  But one crewmember has already experienced a shocking face-to-face encounter with an alien creature while inspecting an egg-shaped pod.  And so the horror begins – a horror which will end the lives of six crewmembers and alter the life of the seventh forever.

1979  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Contains strong language, moderate violence and horror
8.0 out of 10

So anyway, I sat through this entire film convinced I was watching a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party; one that had chosen to spotlight the Party’s views on immigration.  Why?  1.  Well, for a start it’s called “Alien”, a phrase which seems to sum up a large proportion of everyone the Daily Mail, (which is the propaganda wing of the Party), doesn’t like.  2.  It features a crew of people who are “working hard to get on in life”, before having things suddenly buggered up for them by a nasty alien.  This is obviously a reference to wholesome, law-abiding Middle England British families having to deal with the effects of uncontrolled immigration.  3.  It features a hideous, unstoppable creature that wants what we have and bleeds acid everywhere if you piss it off.  (Well, it’s 45 years since Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech, so I guess you have to up the ante these days.)  This is clearly an allusion to foreigners, especially the billions of people from Bulgaria and Romania who’re poised to ‘invade’ Britain (or more importantly the Tory heartland of the South East of England) on the 1st January 2014.  From what I’ve seen in some of the media recently, I doubt there’ll be anyone left in either of those two countries by the time everyone here goes back to work the following week.  Not that we’ll have jobs anymore, because they’ll all have been taken by them instead, whilst they’re simultaneously signing on the dole, having babies and not learning to speak English.  And Romanians in particular are all just gymnasts, orphans or vampires, so why should they be allowed into the country?  4.  Crewmember Ash turns out to be an android, in the pay of some nefarious organisation, ready to sacrifice everyone to make sure the alien gets back to Earth.  Ash just has to be Vince Cable, working for the Lib Dems.  His dark, evil plan?  To let some foreigners into Britain.  Traitor!  And what does the android turn out to be full of? Nasty, goo-spewing Cables.  Case proved I think.  5.  The movie features a lot of people desperately running and creeping about in dark corridors, with a weird device that uses technobabble to find aliens, until they finally manage to successfully track one down.  To me that sounds a lot like politicians quoting from random surveys and statistics, in an effort to concoct some evidence to support their views.  6.  When they stop worrying about the alien for a few moments, it suddenly explodes out of John Hurt’s chest.  I think that’s self explanatory; give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.  7.  When they actually manage to find the alien, they quickly throw together some sort of bizarre, home-made weapon to try and get rid of it, which is undoubtedly analogous to their hastily thrown together ideas about caps on immigration; badly thought out, probably illegal, unfair and unworkable.  8.  The alien kills everyone off one by one, which is exactly what all foreigners want to do to our way of life.  Indeed, that’s their only reason to exist.  (And let’s not forget that John Hurt was also Doctor Who).  9.  Most things in the film have an alternative,  sexual interpretation, which somehow just comes across as eww.  Ever seen British politicians trying to be cool, attractive, or in-touch?  It’s provides much the same feeling.  10.  The alien is killed, after  just about everything is destroyed, including the whole spaceship.  This is exactly what will happen to the country if the Tories deal with immigration in their way.  Babies and bathwater.  Apparently there’s a party political broadcast on behalf of UKIP somewhere too.  It’s called “Aliens”.

There can’t be much that hasn’t been said or written about this film.  So I’m just going to say it’s essential viewing for anyone interested in cinema.

Most of the music used was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, one of the best film composers ever.  It’s good.  Very good.

Isn’t this a rubbish trailer?  Slow, confusing, and sounding and looking horrible, it makes the film seems about as appealing as snogging a face hugger.

Recommended for aliens, foreigners, politicians and anyone that works on a spaceship.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Despite providing one of the most famous cat characters in all of film history, Jonsey doesn’t even get a mention in the credits.  It must suck sometimes being a cat.

Top badass moment?    Vince Cable giving the rest of the Government shit about its approach to immigration.  No, wait, I’m mixing this film up with a Conservative party political broadcast again.  Malevolent aliens?  Bulgarians?  Romanians?  It’s confusing.  Don’t worry, I’ll check the facts in tomorrow’s Daily Mail.  (Interesting, when I was 16 I’d have probably said the top badass moment heavily featured Sigourney Weaver’s panties.  I must be getting old.)

Alien at IMDB (8.5 / 10)  –  43rd best film ever
Alien at Wikipedia
Alien at Roger Ebert (4.5 / 5)
Alien at YouTube


Star Trek: The Motion Picture / Being Related to Someone Famous


Star Trek: The Motion Picture  -  FrontBlu-ray Cover (UK Box Set Release)For the first time on Blu-ray, see the original theatrical version of the film as it was initially released in theatres.  A massive alien presence of enormous power enters Federation space destroying three powerful Klingon cruisers and neutralising everything in its path.  As it heads towards Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk returns to the helm of an updated U.S.S. Enterprise and sets course to meet the aggressor head-on.

1979  –  Certificate U  –  USA
7 out of 10

At work I often feel like Kirk does in this film.  Like him, I’ve been promoted to such an enormously high level that I too haven’t logged a single star-hour in over two and a half years; (or at least our equivalent of them).  Also like him, if I went out and tried to do a real day’s work like I used to, I’d not have a clue what I was doing.  And I too, have needed to surround myself with people who do actually know how to do things properly, so I can make myself look good and benefit from their abilities.  And, of course, like Kirk, I save the Earth on a regular basis.  Actually, now I’ve thought about it in a bit more detail, pretty well the only way to tell us apart, other than the fact that he will live 300 years in the future and I’m here right now, is the fact that he did everything with the support of an effectively endless supply of resources; whereas I do the same with almost no resources whatsoever.  I guess we’re probably cousins.

It’s hard to imagine there’s anything that hasn’t been said about this film 1,000s of times before.  Yes it’s slow.  Yes it’s overlong.  Yes it’s not really like any other Star Trek movie or TV show.  Yes it’s full of plot holes.  One the other hand, it is Star Trek.  It was the first new bit of Star Trek for years, (especially if you ignore the animated episodes) and we didn’t know then what we know now about the Star Trek Universe.  It was a genuine attempt to turn Star Trek into proper, hard science-fiction; (not like that ‘other’ famous sci-fi film from the late 70’s that was clearly made for children).   It’s got Klingons in it, (although not nearly enough of them).  Both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy give great performances; and Persis Khambatta had great legs and was a very attractive skinhead.  It’s also a reminder that three of its stars have now been taken from us.  :-(  It’s far from the best bit of Star Trek ever made, but it’s had a bad press over the years and I think the passage of time has helped it.  I watched it on Blu-ray.  At points it looked great, but at others it’s pretty dodgy; some of the special effects are certainly showing their age, although to be fair many of them still look very cool.  But it’s far from being a great, high-definition presentation.  Another odd thing is that I don’t think any of it was filmed outside; it’s all studio shot, which is quite unusual for a major feature film.  The trailer is terrible though; it’s like it’s for a low-budget, 50s, B-movie, sci-fi horror.

Jerry Goldsmith’s sound track is one of the high points of the film.  From the Star Trek Theme through to the great scene where Kirk (and us) first see the new Enterprise, great stuff.  The latter bit of music always reminds me of Jurassic Park for some reason.  I wish I was talented enough to write music like that.

No cats, decapitation or chainsaws.  There’re some photon torpedoes though; much cooler.

Recommended for people who seek out new life and new civilisations; even when they’re just down the road shopping.

Top badass moment?  WTF?  It’s the return of the Enterprise!  Nothing could be more badass than that.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture at IMDB (6.3/10)


Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 3.5 Stars


Close Encounters of the Third Kind  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Steven Spielberg’s classic film is back now on this never-before-released Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Disc, which includes all three versions of the sci-fi blockbuster.  Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind – witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky.  After this life-changing event, the inexplicable vision of a strange, mountain-like formation haunts him. He becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, much to the dismay of his wife and family.  Meanwhile, bizarre occurrences are happening around the world.  Government agents have close encounters of the second kind – discovering physical evidence of extraterrestrial visitors in the form of a lost fighter aircraft from World War II and a stranded military ship that disappeared decades earlier only to suddenly reappear in unusual places.  Roy continues to chase his vision to a remote area where he and the agents follow the clues that have drawn them to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind – contact.

1977  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details:  Mild language and scary scenes

In a departure from my normal viewing habits, I decided to take a look at some promotional films this week.  Quite randomly, I thought I’d start with this rather overlong ‘advert’ for the Devils Tower National Monument.  Looming more than 1,200’ above Wyoming’s eastern plains and the Belle Fourche River, it’s a one-of-a-kind natural wonder.  Northern Plains tribes have worshipped near this remarkable, geological formation for thousands of years.  Fur trappers, explorers and settlers alike were awed by the tower’s majesty.  In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower as America’s first National Monument.  Certainly it’s an amazing feature; I’d love to visit it one day.  However, what really gobsmacked me what that this was the site of Earth’s very first contact with aliens.  How the Hell did I miss that?  Possibly the most important thing to happen in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it!  This promo, which to be honest is more of a documentary than anything else, describes the actual meeting and there’s even film of the aliens in it too, as well as a load of scientists and other people.  Apparently some French guy called Steven Spielberg, who worked for an electricity company and used to be a shark fisherman, first made contact with them when his young son ran away one night.  In fact he was nearly run over by a flying saucer.  What’s especially interesting is that the aliens’ culture appears to be almost entirely based on the music of the Electric Light Orchestra; even the design of its flying saucers is based on the cover of ELO’s most successful album, “Out of the Blue”; a strangely apt title under the circumstances.  Incredible!  What isn’t made clear is what the aliens actually came here for, other than to give us a load of stuff they nicked during the Second World War; maybe an alien child took it and his/her/its mother send him/her/it back to return it, I’m not sure.  The only thing they seemed to introduce us to is the concept of ‘sonic branding’, something that Intel has been using ever since.  I have to admit I’m still having difficulty coming to terms with all this.  I’ve tried Googling “aliens”, but there’re 133 million pages of stuff about them.  Totally mind-blowing.

Unfortunately, despite the game-changing news it contains, this promo/documentary itself isn’t that great.  A lot of things aren’t explained very well.  I wanted to know about the aliens, not the personal relationships of the people involved.  The film of the spaceships does look excellent on Blu-ray, although their grasp of music, based as it is on ELO, isn’t exactly going to set the charts alight, or burn-up any dance-floors anytime soon.  Their song really could do with a good remix.  The same goes for this film.  I imagine if they’d got someone in who knew what they were doing, it would have been a lot shorter, more to the point and made it far clearer what the aliens wanted.  I guess it was just put together by some local film company; a tourist board would hardly be in a position to hire a top Hollywood director.  Come to think of it, as a fan of cinema I’m surprised no one has tried to make a movie about this event.  It would make an awesome film.

Recommended for idiots like me that missed this bit of news back in 1977.  I guess I was too busy with punk to notice.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Though I imagine there were a load of ray guns and stuff on the spaceship and who knows, maybe some aliens pets too.

Top badass moment?  Aliens landing on Earth for real?  What do you think?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind at IMDB (7.8/10)


Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars: 3.0 Stars


Tom and Jerry: Blast Off  To Mars  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Once content to duel it out here on Earth, the eternally scrappy Tom and Jerry now boldly go where no cat and mouse have gone before, when they get trapped on a spaceship bound for Mars.  After their mistaken mission goes hilariously out of control, the tables are turned on Tom when, thinking him a giant outer space monster, the Martians attack!  But what really bristles the cat’s whiskers is Jerry being hailed as the Martians’ long-long supreme leader!  Will the duelling duo put their differences aside long enough to save Earth from invasion?  They may need all of Tom’s nine lives to succeed in this extraterrestrially funny adventure.

2005  –  Certificate: U  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild violence

In the first four and a half minutes, (which includes all the opening credits too), Tom has an ironing board smash down on his head, has his head ironed, sets fire to his feet, falls into a food mixer, falls into a liquidiser, gets his head jammed in a toaster and toasted, gets trapped in a dish washer and its associated plumbing, smashes his head into a sink, gets sucked through an aircraft’s jet engine and falls 1,000s of feet though the air onto the ground.  I guess that’s the “mild violence” I was warned about.  Lucky it’s not a real cat.

I like Tom and Jerry.  In fact they’re my favourite cartoon characters of all time.  The first part of this film is great, as Tom’s attempts to catch Jerry totally trash a house.  Sadly, when we meet a few folk (and aliens) and they start to speak, it all slows down and loses it a bit.  I don’t know, but people really shouldn’t talk in Tom and Jerry cartoons; in fact we should hardly see them at all.  A few screams and such like are okay, but when they start to have conversations then that’s just wrong.  Then again, I’m probably not the demographic that this film is aimed at.  If you’re eight years old you probably don’t care about the mythology of Tom and Jerry, you just want to see ‘funny stuff’.  Having said that, the big reference to “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the fact that the President looks and sound an awful lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger, are likely to appeal to the more ‘mature’ viewer.  The bad guy’s use of a vacuum cleaner as its weapon of choice is somewhat surreal too.  What was the originator of that idea on?  It’s far from classic Tom and Jerry, but it’s still quite entertaining.  The sound is surprisingly good, if a little unsubtle at times and the music excellent.  At its best, this film could almost have been made in the 40s, but all too often it falls into more stereotypical Saturday morning cartoon land and dilutes its best down.  And how come Tom and Jerry didn’t need spacesuits on Mars, but the astronauts from Earth did?  (Okay, maybe I’m overanalysing things a bit now.)

Recommended for the Tom and Jerry hardcore; and little kids.

1 cat (Tom of course), no chainsaws or decapitations.  However, a number of heads (mostly Tom’s) do get flattered, burnt, crushed or ‘deflated’.

Top badass moment?  I’m told following your dreams in life is important, regardless of the consequences.  So I guess Tom smashing up what looked like a really nice house, with a lot of unusual African artefacts it, in an attempt to catch Jerry, is badass then.  Jerry’s such a tease and you just know he’s not the one who’s going to get blamed for the mess either; there’re words for individuals like that and they’re not nice words.

Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars at IMDB (5.4/10)


Betty Blue: 3.5 Stars


Betty Blue  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Listen up, this is important.  I believe the Earth is about to be invaded and taken over by an evil alien, whose sole purpose is to enslave the entire human race and laugh in a really, really annoying way at our suffering.  Proof?  For a start, this film.  The main male character in it is called Zorg.  Is Zorg a common name in France?  I doubt it.  This film is clearly a message from the future sent back into the past, to warn us of the impending doom to come.  No one really calls their son Zorg, do they?  I hope not, because it’s the sort of name only megalomaniacs in 50’s pulp sci-fi and B-movies should have.  Emperor Zorg; Zorg the Mighty; Lord Zorg, Ruler of the Flatulent Empire and 10,000 Worlds; that sort of thing.  We never get to meet Zorg’s parents in this film, but honestly, what were they thinking?  They must have been smoking something when they came up with that name.  Then this evening I had my shopping delivered by someone called Zoltan.  Again, another clear example of a Flash Gordon era baddie, who was obviously casing the joint and looking for weaknesses in the Earth’s defences.  You shouldn’t allow the fact that he came not in a gigantic spaceship, but in the “cabbage van” (so the text from Ocado said), to deflect your attention.  He even had a bit of an accent, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t of this Earth.  These aliens, clever people, that’s why they’re ‘here’ and we’re not ‘there’.

1986  –  Certificate: 18  –  France
Rating Details:  Strong scenes of sex and nudity and some strong violence

Clocking in at almost three hours (it was the Director’s Cut), this is a loooong, French, romantic movie that takes us on a trip with young couple Zorg and Betty.  From painting beach houses, through to working in a pizza restaurant, writing books and selling pianos, it chronicles their relationship and the effect Betty’s (undefined) mental illness has on it.  Having a friend with the latter, I found it intensely saddening at times.  But I also enjoyed it in a rather Thomas Hardyish way, in the sense that I knew the relationship was probably doomed from the start and I was just waiting for it to crash and burn.  Now having just compared it to a quintessentially English author, it’s actually a very French film.  There’re plenty of examples of tasteful love-making (because the French are supposed to be good at that), as well as lots of ‘unconcerned nudity’ in it, most of it of the male variety it has to be said.  It also had several somewhat bizarre and funny scenes of what you might consider to be almost slapstick comedy too.  The ending is somewhat inexplicable as well, which seems to happen a lot in French films.  Ultimately though, it’s a downer of a movie and after spending three hours with the characters, sharing virtually every aspect of their relationship with them, it’s hard not to be affected.  I really felt sorry for them both.  It’s a nice looking film too (and I’m not just talking about the main characters) and the mono soundtrack is actually pretty decent.

Recommended for those who are willing to invest an evening in lusting after Betty or Zorg.

1 cat, no decapitations or chainsaws. The cat, a lovely white one, appears in three scenes and has a pivotal role right at the end, including a bit of (dubbed) dialogue.

Top badass moment?  Betty throwing a bucket of pink paint all over Zorg’s boss’s car.  He was a serious asshole and quite frankly a load of paint on his car was the least he deserved. When you’re boyfriend’s being a wimp and not sticking up for himself, someone has to be badass about it.  And let’s face it, who hasn’t thought of doing something like that to a crappy manager at one time or another?

Betty Blue at IMDB (7.2/10)