BRIGHTBURN (2019)

What if Superman hadn’t been sent to Earth as a refugee but rather as a kind of sleeper agent to a race of cruel alien warmongers?

Alternatively: Superboy the movie but he’s creepy and psychotic and it’s vaguely a methaphor for puberty.

A further case for the notion that the origin story is the least interesting part of a hero/villain fable, particularly when the morality of the protagonist is implied to have been decided for him by his host planet’s programming and no amount of nurture from his adoptive family will sway him back to “good”.

Kinda predictable despite being mostly well executed with some disgustingly visceral horror stuff in there too. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t quite live up to the potential of the premise in any way that something like CHRONICLE hadn’t already managed.

TERMINATOR: Dark Fate (2019)

Yeah, it’s fine.

Much more promising at the start with good characters old and new, some absolutely belting fight sequences and a legitimately great evolution of the Terminators into the new REV-9 model.

Gabriel Luna is pitch perfect as a faster, meaner twin machine, and the physicality of the role makes for some awesome battles with Mackenzie Davis’ augmented protector that feel right out of a kids’ imaginary action figure showdown.

Honestly, the main problem is that it goes so big so fast and then doesn’t really have anywhere to go — the stakes have been so protracted and epic action fatigue sets in. There was at least two points where I thought we were at the end only to keep on rolling on again into something more huge and bombastic but the stakes hadn’t upped to reflect it.

For example: Did we really need the whole crashing plane bit? It really desensitised me to the ACTUAL peak of the film some 30min later. Like, I get that everyone played UNCHARTED 3 and that part of the game was fantastic, but I think we’ve done all we can with planes falling out of the sky as a dramatic setpiece now.

Overall, chop out at least one action sequence or condense their more creative parts into one of the other scenes, remove flashbacks so you’re 25+ min shorter and you’d have a much more satisfying ride.

Still, FX are great, it’s an interesting parallel (alternate?) timeline and it’s better than about half of the other TERMINATOR films.

Worth a watch, even if it does drag a bit in the back half.

PROSPECT (2018)

A post-goldrush story on a micro budget that makes use of every dollar — the spacesuits and tech are charmingly analogue and cumbersome, medical treatment is harsh, the people are cruel and brutal and happy to kill for the possibility of a fortune.

Held aloft by the boundless charisma of a morally ambiguous Pedro Pascal and finding a resourceful lead in Sophie Thatcher, this is a frontier tale with a minimalist scifi angle.

Enjoyed it, worth a watch.

THOM’S TEENIES TV TOP 10

One of the things I struggled with most when compiling my top film picks for 2010-2019 was that the decade saw such a dramatic shift to a gilded era of television, much of which matched and even surpassed their cinematic bretheren.

There’s so much that is now possible in the episodic format that was unthinkable even a decade ago, and truly these last ten years represent a new high water mark.

As such, I’ve given my favourites their own list, in no particular order, here:

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WATCHMEN s01 (2019)

Mostly lives up to the impossible task of following on from a legendary piece of graphic fiction.

Takes up in the modern day, following the trajectory of the world that was created after Ozymandias teleported an engineered giant dimensional squid into New York to unite humanity against a perceived common extraterrestrial threat.

Yep, this is a continuation of the comics, not the Zack Snyder film adaptation – because while that is a tonally faithful translation of the incredibly precise graphic novel, there are key mechanical differences that are relevant here that land in spoiler territory.

But even in doing an excellent and clever job of expanding the world, it ultimately only manages to be something of a paler imitation of a superior story that was designed to intentionally be complete in and of itself.

Still, plenty to enjoy. A great modernised take on a classic, well executed social commentary and some good turns. Recommended.

LIVING WITH YOURSELF s01 (2019)

What if MULTIPLICITY but Paul Rudd?

Feels like a drawn out BLACK MIRROR episode erring on this side of existential terror. It’s good, but didn’t delve into the scifi/identity crisis aspects as deeply as I’d have liked in any ways that haven’t been explored with more complexity elsewhere.

Still, worth a watch with potential for developments in seasons going forward.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON (2019)

Promises a complex mythos of a time-travelling serial killer early on and then just sort of shoves it over the line in the end — having someone explain the pretense to you in two mintues will probably stimulate the same amount of intruigue as the whole two hour runtime.

For a time travel movie it’s incredibly linear, and too shallow in its rules and consequences. Figured out the plot about 20min in and none of the other stuff was really fascinating in its own right.

It’s fine, but PREDESTINATION is still the gold standard for this sort of movie and you should watch that instead.

HIGH LIFE (2018)

Uncomfortable and confronting, full of surrealism, body horror, disturbing psychosexual imagery and violence.

Some fantastic visuals and good design wrapping around a minimal, slow tone and dark, weird story choices.

More SOLARIS than INTERSTELLAR, definitely not for everyone.

Don’t know if I liked it, but it was certainly interesting.

Don’t Panic: “ENDYMION”/”THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY”

Twenty-two books down on audiobook alone since October last year! Hot damn, that seems like a lot…

I was intending to write up Dan Simmons’ ENDYMION last night as I finished around halfway through the work shift, but alas I managed to be under a wall of boxes when it came down and took a solid thump to the head so spent the rest of the night in a mild, headachey daze, and really didn’t have the brain function to cobble a sentence together. Tonight, my phone mysteriously erased the sequel, RISE OF ENDYMION, from my library so instead I had to look into my backup supply of audiobooks and managed to get through the entirety of the first HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY in its place, so now it’s a double-up!

Continue reading “Don’t Panic: “ENDYMION”/”THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY””