Reviews written by Eric Monse
Had all the right elements but wasn't as much fun as it could have been
This movie has all the right elements to make it a great movie. The idea behind it is excellent. The story isn't bad. The visuals are great. The directing is great. And even the reveal at the end is really good. So what stopped me from liking this movie? I just didn't enjoy the main characters enough to care. While I was watching the movie, I wasn't excited to see what would happen to them. It wasn't that I disliked the kids, it was that I didn't really like them too much for anything. The lead wasn't a bad actor, but I wasn't convinced he wasn't just some snotty-nosed kid who wasn't getting his way.
This film is worth seeing to its conclusion. After it's over, you realize that it was a pretty cool story and an interesting idea. But they just didn't pull it off well in terms of characters. Except for Lawrence Fishburne. He did everything right.
Fun and Intense Action Sci-Fi
First, before anything else, DO NOT watch this movie in 3D. The 3D sucks. In general I'm not a fan of 3D but it has gotten better and studios have been more subtle about it. In this case, the 3D was added in post-production instead of filming in 3D. It looks like a muddled mess.
Overall this movie is fodder for sci-fi buffs. The story is fun. The plot is clear and doesn't feel too contrived. The acting is great. Tom Cruise is a pleasure to watch as usual. While the plot isn't original on a level of say, Inception, it is still pretty good. Most of all, this movie is *fun* to watch. You're rooting for the heros and it keeps you engaged. This is not the kind of sci-fi movie that will make you think of your universe in a different way, but it is about as much fun as you could hope for in a sci-fi action movie.
For a non-Hollywood blockbuster, this is sci-fi as good as it gets
Snowpiercer is the English-language debut of Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, who gave us another sci-fi classic, The Host. It has some surprisingly big-name actors like Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and others.
If you're into sci-fi, you won't want to miss this. The storyline is fantastic if slightly absurd. In the future, humanity tries to combat global warming by releasing a chemical into the atmosphere. This chemical goes too far and creates a global freeze, destroying all of humanity except for a group of people on a long, long train that circles the globe endlessly. At the start of the story, the train has been circling the globe for 17 years.
The visuals are great. There are also a lot of good action scenes. The film moves along at a nice pace with some solid sci-fi based drama. I highly recommend this post-apocalyptic sleeper.
A Pleasant Surprise
This movie is exactly what you hope for in a low budget sci-fi thriller. You're not watching it for the TV-level special effects. There's not a lot of "action" per se in the traditional sense of the word. But what I love about this movie is that it is geared toward people who actually think about space and the possibilities. How likely is it that there is alien life on one of Jupiter's moons? Why do we only focus on Mars which pretty likely does not harbor life? What could lurk beneath the icy frozen waters of Jupiter's Moon Europa? This is not a space opera but more of a short story intelligently pulled together into an intriguing movie.
A Science Fiction Masterpiece
Once in a while there comes along a movie so different in its story, execution and delivery that it sets a tone for future movies of that genre. This is one of those movies. If you are into science fiction at all, you must see this movie.
This is by far the most realistic-feeling space science fiction movie I have ever seen. If you know anything about the space shuttle, you know how rudimentary it actually is. It is not automatic sliding doors ala Star Trek, it is 1977 technology in outer space, the most challenging environment humans have ever entered. This film lays bare how difficult it actually is in outer space with our current technology and how fucked everyone up there would be if something seriously went wrong. With nonstop intensity, it keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat. You won't know what happens next.
This is science fiction in the truest sense of the word. The excitement and intrigue comes from actual science. The situations they are dealing with seem 100% entirely plausible. And practically everything in the film seems to work from a scientific perspective. Go see this for an experience unlike any other. It is certainly up there among the best science fiction ever.
Not quite the epic I was hoping for, but still well worth seeing
World War Z was a very good movie, verging on great. There were just a few things keeping it from being among the greats.
First the good: Running, swarming zombies. Amongst my friends who are zombie aficionados (i.e. we like zombie movies), there is agreement about which zombies are the good kind. We’re all bored with walking zombies. If you’ve watched the TV series The Walking Dead, you know that walking zombies aren’t that scary anymore. In fact, they’re little more than a nuisance. An argument could be made that an epidemic of walking zombies could easily be contained and wouldn’t cause any type of apocalypse. How hard is it to get away from a walking zombie? But running zombies… those mofos are scary! Take a look at Zack Snyder’s Day of the Dead (highly recommended) or 28 Days/Months Later (pretty good too) or the unheralded BBC Zombie minisieries “Dead Set” (totally worth seeing). When zombies can run, we’re in for a treat. They’re way scarier because they’re just as fast as you.
World War Z takes running zombies to a whole different level. Not only do they run, but they swarm. They turn into a pack of animals racing like bees through a field. They encounter an impasse and they start crawling on top of each other until they get over it. They’re not stronger than humans per se, but they’ve got “crazy person” strength and speed. This makes for a fun, scary and unpredictable zombie experience. And when the zombies aren’t running, they’re great also. They have weird, tortured movements. The makeup looks awesome. All the special effects are top notch and creative. Given that this was a Brad Pitt movie, we knew that no expense would be spared in production, and it looks great.
The bad. I felt like this movie dragged a little bit. Just a little. The storytelling was very linear. There was one main character (Brad) and he was on a mission to solve the zombie problem. There were no other side stories or even any other real major characters. The other characters in the film really just propped up Brad’s character. Brad seemed a bit too suave and handsome for the role of the main character. His motivation was a bit cliché—he was doing it to save his family. Okay, yeah, that’s the easiest possible character motivation one could come up with. I guess they didn’t really want to take chances on making Brad a bit more nuanced. We should be grateful he at least didn’t have to take his family with him on the expedition like the main character in the Walking Dead. It would have sucked if he were dragging his kids around with him for the whole movie.
Other than that, there were some great surprises and some good dramatic moments. I had read the book and so I was hoping for something a bit more epic, but who knows, it could have gotten boring had it dragged on too long.
Another interesting note about this movie is that there is relatively little gore. There is some, but you don’t see zombies getting their heads split open or people eaten alive by zombies, etc. They probably edited that out to get the PG13 rating. So that may make an unrated version worth watching. Overall the movie is definitely worth seeing. It’s scary as hell and it’s pretty rare for me to be truly scared during a film. So they did a lot of good things here.
Ambitious, but Falters at Key Moments
First the good. I got what I expected from a Zack Snyder movie: amazing visuals. The movie leaves nothing to be desired in that department. Superb fight scenes in the middle of Metropolis (yeah, pretty much New York City). The entire movie based on the alien planet of Krypton was incredible. If you like Sci-fi like I do (and obviously you do on this website) you will be very pleased the way Superman's alien past is played out. This movie was extremely ambitious, almost too a fault.
Now, the bad. The storyline is a little bit too complex. The fun of watching a superhero battle it out against supervillians is that you understand the RULES. Who has superpowers when? What could cause one to win over the other? This movie gets very complex but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of answering key questions. I'm no Superman/Comic Book buff, so perhaps it when over my head. Did the supervillians have superpowers only because they had suits and technology? If so, why couldn't Superman destroy them?
And the climax of the movie--the end--was a bit problematic. I won't give away any spoilers here, but it was a bit confusing how Superman was able to do what he did, when he previously could not do it and nothing seemingly had changed. That was probably the most annoying part of the movie for me. Stick to the rules. They tried to explain the rules and why things were happening, but perhaps the story was just too complex.
And then there was the acting. Ugh. The only word I could use to describe it was ham-fisted. I could feel myself groaning at certain parts. Sure, it was forgivable because that's not exactly what you go to see a Superhero movie for. But plenty of other superhero movies had good acting. The acting in this movie felt a little out of place, almost like Superman didn't know how to be who he was. It was like he had two emotions: concerned and not concerned. The actor who played Zod is actually a really good actor and did a better job although most of the time he was preoccupied with just looking angry.
This movie is certainly worth seeing, just for the special effects alone. There are some dramatic moments which do not come together at all, but others that are fairly decent. Enjoy the ride but don't expect an air-tight plot from start to finish.