Episode Title: “Choose Your Pain”
Air Date: October 16, 2017
Episode Title: “Choose Your Pain”
Air Date: October 16, 2017
After many apparent hesitations, director Luc Besson and his wife decided to write an English-language French science fiction action-adventure film titled Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It is based on the French comic series Valérian and Laureline. I am not familiar with the comics but in the past couple of months, I have admired the trailers from a visual standpoint. Then again, the movie did have a budget of 197 million Euros, so it should look mightily impressive. The movie has nowhere near matched the budget in the box office, and it is the most expensive European and independent film ever made. Ouch. I would hate to deliver that news to the board.
Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a space station. Wait, this will not work. Instead, clear your mind for a minute and imagine a space station in 2020. Then years later, leading countries of the world attach their station to this one. Then many years later, other species from different planets send their station to join in on the action. This continues to happen until the 28th century. We now have one large planet made of cities (named Alpha) with a multitude of peace agreements. Still with me? Good. Now, imagine a planet far away with pale looking, peace loving Avatars, who are living in harmony amongst powerful energy-containing pearls, in a tropical paradise. All of a sudden, huge ships crash into their planet and they are wiped out. Lead male character Valerian wakes up. He just had a dream about this decimated planet and he is about to embark on a mission with Laureline ordered by his commander to retrieve a converter. They are later told that Alpha is infected by an unknown force and they must investigate and protect the Commander, suspiciously performed by Clive Owen.
Can you see why I told you to close your eyes? This narrative has so many obstacles to jump around that, at times, it felt mentally challenging.
Weirdly enough, it’s absolutely nothing to do with 2006’s Prey, a topsy-turvy sci-fi shooter that, if memory serves, had an arsenal of weaponry comprised of living extraterrestrial organisms that would belch gelatinous projectiles at the player’s foes. It also had a wrench, which means that, as a matter of fact, 2006’s Prey does indeed have something in common with 2017’s Prey, and it’s newer, shinier wrench, as well as 2007’s Bioshock, with its underwater, objectivist wrench, and even 1999’s System Shock 2, which had a blocky, pixelated wrench, and is a game to which all of those listed above owe a rather significant mechanical and thematic debt.
It’s another first-person sci-fi quasi-horror wrench-swinging RPG, is what I’m saying.
I could, yes, but – let’s be frank – these creatively-bankrupt titling practices are really starting to get on my fucking nerves. The old Prey isn’t even that old. And it hardly cemented itself as an iconic brand; it doesn’t seem to me that there’s much sense in slapping the name across what is, for all intents and purposes, a perfectly serviceable new IP. That’s Bethesda for you though, isn’t it? Never a thought spared for the lowly consumers like me who write themselves in knots trying to review the thing. It’s not even enough to specify that it’s another – all together now – “spiritual successor” to System Shock 2, because so is Doom 3 and Dead Space and, if we’re being honest, every sci-fi horror game released in this millennium. You also have to clarify that’s its set on a spaceship and it’s about an alien invasion and there’s a wrench in it.
It’s the sixth Spider-Man movie since the dawn of the new millennium, the second live-action reboot of the character, and the sixteenth entry into the money-printing multimedia monopoly otherwise known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it’s mostly a teen-romance story, and a pleasantly cosmopolitan coming-of-age drama, just with some superhero shenanigans grafted on, like the sentient robotic arms of a mad scientist. (A reference that should clue you in to the fact that, since watching Spider-Man: Homecoming, I’ve been thinking a lot about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, and how much more like it I wish this movie was.)
I’ll stop you there, if you don’t mind. My love for Raimi’s second Spidey instalment notwithstanding, I don’t worship at the altar of those movies in the same way that a lot of my contemporaries do. The first, from 2002, is a functional origin story but little more than that, and the third, from 2007, is a violent crime against good taste and decency. Homecoming is superior to both of them, and, of course, to the two horrific Amazing Spider-Man travesties, although at this point that should go without saying. But if you expect me to not compare a new Spider-Man movie with the definitive Spider-Man movie, then, well… perhaps reviews aren’t for you.
This is Episode 36 of the Ready, Steady, Cut! Podcast. On this episode, we discuss, review and debate the timeless Alien – the classic sci-fi horror that is still widely discussed today, especially with the recent release of the prequels.
Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar should be viewed as one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time, and here I discuss why.
I am a deep thinker when it comes to the universe, and what this film manages to do is give the feeling of limitless space and the impossible task of demonstrating how difficult space exploration will be when it is our time to space travel. I say our time because it is inevitable, is it not? NASA is already putting the technical processes and the technology in place to get humans onto Mars by 2030. Interstellar goes deeper than NASA’s plan – this is deep space exploration, whereby going through a black hole looks and feels possible on the big screen. The film manages to make the audience feel like they are on the journey of traveling such incredible distances using impressive visuals and amazing cinematography.
The clue’s in the name: Guardians of the Galaxy. The galaxy’s a big place. The first of these movies, from 2014, concerned a magic orb that had fallen into the kind of wrong hands that might twist it open and obliterate the entire universe. But the movie was made of minor miracles. The plot dealt with galactic genocide; the characters dealt with each other. They were D-list antiheroes plucked from the furthest reaches of Marvel’s universe, and two of them came directly from a computer. One was a genetically-engineered raccoon played by Bradley Cooper’s American Hustle accent. The other was a tree.
His name is Groot. He’s a stalk of braided twigs played by Vin Diesel, and he reads his one line (“I am Groot”) with such oral elasticity that you can’t even comment on the irony of a wooden actor playing a wooden character. This second movie has reduced him to a boisterous, boogying sapling, but his personality has grown outwards. Everything else has, too. The first volume felt scaled down and lightened up in a way that so-called superhero movies usually don’t, but it also featured a planet that was a giant floating head. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 goes one better. It features a planet that’s also Kurt Russell.