Archive for SCI-FI

Dead Like Me

Posted in TV with tags , , , , , on August 7, 2010 by ldw

This show is fun and quirky and creative and funny.  It is everything you want in a show and has good acting!

It is about a girl name George – short for Georgia – who is a lazy slacker living in her parents’ house after high school graduation with no ambitions.  Her mom wakes her up one day and sends her out to get a job with a temp agency.  So she does and on her very first coffee break she is killed by a Soviet toilet seat that falls from a deorbiting space station.  Instead of dieing like normal people, George becomes a part of the undead community known as reapers.  There are reapers for all different types of death and it is there job to remove your soul from your body before you die so that you go into the afterlife unharmed and unmaimed.

George joins the reapers who collect people who die in accidents or murder – something outside themselves.  There are five of them – Rube, Mason, Roxy, Daisy, and George.  As reapers they get to enjoy all the things of life – food, bodies, money, etc.  They look different so that their families can’t recognize them and they have to get jobs and new names but other than that they simply live life – undead.  Each day they meet together and they are given their assignment for that day – post-it notes with a first initial, last name, time, and place.  It is their jobs to arrive, find, and remove the soul before the person is killed.  They are relieved of their reaping duties when they have reaped their quota – which they aren’t told before hand how many that is!

George struggles with the idea of removing someone’s soul and wonders – more than once – if she can keep the person from dieing by simply not doing her job.  She also tries to keep someone from dieing by intervening.  These just get her into trouble and cause for some funny and no-so-pleasant exchanges with the other reapers, the dead, and the living!

George is played by Ellen Muth who is brilliant in her ability to be angsty and funny all at once.  Her sarcastic way of presenting George to the world is light in its cynicism and deep in her ability to feel and penetrate even the toughest situations.

Other all-star actors include Mandy Patinkin (“My name is Indigo Montoya, you killed my father.  Prepare to die.”) as Rube the leader of the reapers, Cynthia Stevenson as George’s mother Joy, and Laura Harris as grim reaper Daisy.  The cast is rounded out with amazing performances by Callum Blue as Mason, Jasmine Guy as Roxy, and Brit McKillip as George’s younger sister Reggie.

I wish there was more of this show!  It’s sad that it was canceled just as things were getting stellar!

I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys great plots, deep character development, funny stories, and scripted dry humor (not physical comedy).

Rating: * * * * *


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Race to Witch Mountain

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by ldw

Dwayne Johnson plays an ex-con on the straight and narrow who is trying to turn his life around as a cab driver.  Unfortunately, his former boss isn’t ready to let him go because he is such a great driver.  During one such encounter with the mob boss’ henchmen (who seem to get beat up a lot in this movie) , Jack Bruno (Johnson) receives two very interesting passengers – who snuk into his cab.

They ask him to just drive in a general direction and it takes the three of them on a long drive into the desert.  As Jack drops the kids off he has a bad feeling about things and ends up following the brother and sister team into the abandoned house and into the crazy basement.  It is here that the kids find what they were looking for and the assassin finds them!

Sara (Anna Sophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) and Jack Bruno race out of the house just in time to miss being blown up by the Siphon (assassin).  They get back in their cab and don’t know where to go now.  They decide to go to see Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), the foremost scientific expert on UFOs.  The foursome’s time together is cut short so they seek help from a conspiracy theorist who helps them escape the federal agents after them.

Did I mention that Sara and Seth are aliens?  Sara can move objects with her mind and read the minds of those closest to her (including animals).  Seth can manipulate his molecular density to move through things or to take on great impacts (like being hit by a car).  They need whatever they found in the basement in order to stop the total destruction of earth by their home planet.

Now all they have to do is find their ship and get out of here!

The acting is much better than most kid-friendly movies.  I like Dwayne Johnson as and actor and I love Anna Sophia Robb!  I can’t wait to see what else she can do as she grows and matures as a person and an actor.

The CGI wasn’t bad either – it wasn’t perfect but it worked well.  The car chases are exciting but not too scary for kids.  The action is fun and adventurous.  And the story line is almost deep!

It’s funny and sad and hopeful and just plain old good!

Rating: * * * *

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Journey to the Center of the Earth

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by ldw

Brendan Fraser gets a bad rap … mostly because his movie choices are horrible, but this time was different.  I didn’t want to see this movie because of Fraser but I’m glad I did.  Fraser stars as Prof. Trevor Anderson who takes his nephew, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) on the adventure of a life time.  Sean’s dad beleived that Jules Verne’s book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was not solely a science fiction novel but a map to find the center of the earth.  He spent his entire career and life searching for proof.  Trevor took over the search when his brother never returned from a trip to find the center.

It’s been a few years and Sean is coming to see his uncle when something changes on one of the many readouts Trevor is working on.  The two quickly fly to the location of the change and find another scientist – Hannah Asgeirsson (Anita Briem).  Hannah’s father had been collegues with Trevor’s brother and had also gone missing on the expedition where Sean lost his father.  The three of them start out for the specific location of the temperature change and from there the real adventure begins!

They fall through a hole in the earth and after many miles … are still falling.  They finally come to a stop after riding a river roller coaster.  They find an entire world under the surface of our own!  There are plants and an ocean and animals and bugs and food and everything.  They find the house that the missing scientists built along with their journals and other belongings solidifying once and for all that the men were dead.

Well, after spending a few minutes in this surreal world, they decide to leave.  Oh, and it’s getting hotter by the minute – literally.  They can’t find a way out and are beginning to panic until they decide to sail across the ocean.  They make it but get seperated in the process.  Then there’s a dinosaur (A NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD – T-REX WASN’T THE KING OF THE DINOSAURS.  HE WAS PROBABLY A SAVENGING BEAST … THINK THE VULTURES OF THE DINO WORLD.  STOP MAKING HIM THE BIG BAD DINO!!!  IT’S JUST UNREALISTIC.).

I’ll leave it there – now you’ll only know if they get out by watching the movie! *evil laughter*

Fraser is great in this movie – he really should stop making Mummy remakes and stick to comedic family-friendly films.  He is believeable as the awkward uncle to work ubsessed to care who learns from his ways.  Josh Hutcherson is a great little actor.  I’m excited to see what else he may have to offer outside of the family movie genre.  Anita was even good as the overly beautiful but extremely smart scientist who “saves the boys” and “wins the hearts of all.”

I even enjoyed the crazy CGI.  I mean the Dino looks ridiculously fake but it’s fun.  Some of the CGI was excellent but it didn’t matter because they made it work and it made the story even better!  I love the imagination of Jules Verne as well as the computer geeks who brought it to the silver screen.

It was good clean fun and an enjoyable movie!

Rating: * * * 3/4

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City of Ember

Posted in Movie with tags , , , on May 16, 2009 by ldw

I read this book right before I saw the movie and unfortunately the book is better.  Most people would say that is always the case, but I would disagree.  Many times a book is better but there have been movies from books that the movie is the preferred choice – it may not be because they reenacted the book perfectly but because they held on to all the greatness of the book.  City of Ember did not do that.

Usually I can seperate myself from the book when I watch a movie but I could not do that this time!

There were so many times I caught myself thinking or saying “That didn’t really happen” or “What about xyz!”  It was frustrating because I thought the acting was decent and I was too distracted to really appreciate it.

Saoirse Ronan (Lina Mayfleet) was a perfect choice for this role.  She is our heroine and the benefactor of the people of Ember.   She is helped by Harry Treadaway (Doon Harlow), her old school mate.  Unfortunately the characters are not developed in a way that allows these child actors to really bring them out.  There were many times I felt I was watching Ronan play Briony from Atonement – it was hard to see her exclusively as Lina.

The City of Ember is an underground place where the people live in relative ignorance and darkness – figuratively and literally.  The city was created by the “Builders” many years ago to save the world.  The people in Ember were supposed to exit the city after 200 years but the instructions for leaving were lost along the way and now the city is running out of everything – food, electricity, light bulbs – and they have no way to get out.  In fact the citizens of Ember don’t even know they are supposed to leave!  Lina finds the missing instructions but only after her baby sister has chewed on them creating a puzzle.

Together Doon and Lina figure out the instructions and escape Ember for the real world.  They learn that Ember was created during WWII from fear of atomic bombs.  Now it is up to these two children to save the people of Ember!

It’s a great story for kids and younger teens – both the book and the movie!  It empowers them to pursue their dreams and fight for what they want in life.  No one should stop you from reaching your goal!

Overall, very cute movie – see it BEFORE reading the book.

Rating: * * * 1/2

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Blindness

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , on April 7, 2009 by ldw

In this movie, Julliane Moore and Mark Ruffalo expose how the world we all see as civilized may have turned out if anarchy ruled.

Ruffalo plays an optometrist who treats a patient who spontaneously goes blind and the next morning Ruffalo is blind as well. This spontaneous blindness starts running rampant in New York City until the government steps in and quarantines all those infected.

Julliane is quarantined but she is not infected. It is the question throughout the movie – why didn’t she get it? The cab driver of the first infected man got it, but not the wife of the optometrist! Huh.

Throughout the ordeal of quarantine, Julliane helps create a better environment. She helps people stay relatively clean and healthy. She helps speak with the guards and “leaders” of the different floors. She works hard to make this place work. But her efforts are almost completely in vain. They are overrun with people, there is little food, and the floor leaders are tyrannical!

Eventually a fire is started in the quarantined building and all the blind flee to the courtyard just to find out that no one is guarding them after all. They “escape” to find that even after all their efforts, everyone in NYC is infected. The streets are practically deserted and there is a scarcity of food, clothing, and shelter.

Julliane leads a small group of the original infected folks back to her and Ruffalo’s home where they stay together while Julliane cares for them. They speak one night and Danny Glover makes a profound statement – the blindness is the best thing that happened to him because he met these people and found a place to belong.

I won’t tell you how it ends! See it!

There is a rape “scene” – more like a portion – that is extreme and there are lots of naked butts and some boobs (they’re blind what do they care if other blind people are around).

This movie is filmed in such a way that everything is simplistic and white. Not hospital-room-sterile-white but blurry-hazy-shadowy-white. Julliane looks sad throughout the movie but in a way that makes her real and beautiful and strong in her frailty.

The movie is about dreams and hopes and new beginnings – even in the face of terror and pain and discomfort. In one scene (the best in my opinion) the blind group with Julliane runs out and dances in the rain. They dance for joy in the midst of the most horrible situation they could imagine. But they found hope in the rain! Beautiful!

Julliane is perfect, believable, and strong.

Rating: * * * *

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Twilight

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , , on April 3, 2009 by ldw

This was a good movie but it should have been great!

It is based on the cult hit book by Stephanie Meyer with the same title. Bella Swan moves from Phoenix, AZ to Forks, WA to live with her dad – Police Chief Swan – because her mother is remarried to a wannabe professional baseball player. Bella hasn’t been to Forks for many years because she dislikes everything about the small town her mother left soon after she was born.

But this time is different because Bella meets Edward Cullen. Edward and his family of “foster kids” are different from the other kids at school because they are vampires but no one knows. And in about a week Bella figures it out because Edward saves her life by stopping a speeding van from hitting her.

Vampires are super strong, super good looking, super … everything really. Edward can read minds – except Bella’s – and he loves her as much as she loves him. The Cullens are different from other vampires because they are “vegetarians” – they don’t drink human blood. While playing a game of baseball, a trio of “normal” vampires comes around. The leader wants to drink Bella’s blood.

This starts a fight to the death that leads from Forks to Phoenix and Bella almost dies!

Like most books to movies, the book is better.

Kristen Stewart may not be a stupendous actor but she is perfect for Bella. The annoying character was Edward – played by Robert Pattinson. He pauses at awkward places in his sentences and doesn’t “do” Edward like the book. Book Edward is torn between wanting to be human and being so much more but Movie Edward seems happy to be a vampire and excited to show off his abilities. He is also very boring to watch – no facial expressions or movement of any kind.

This movie was filmed beautifully and on a very small budget! I am very impressed with Catherine Hardwicke’s ability to bring to life many great moments from the books without tarnishing our imaginations’ view of those moments. I wish she was directing New Moon!

Rating: * * * *

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Eagle Eye

Posted in Movie with tags , , , on April 3, 2009 by ldw

In this movie Shia LaBouf and Michelle Monaghan star as two people who are being guided by cell phone calls to “stop” an act of terrorism on the United States – they just don’t know that’s what’s happening. Jerry Shaw (LaBouf) gets a phone call that tells him he’s been “activated” and that he must do exactly what the lady on the phone tells him. He meets up with Rachel Holloman (Monaghan) and they realize they are both getting these mysterious phone calls – except if Rachel doesn’t do what she’s told her son will die. They comply as best they can but eventually find out that the lady on the other side of the phone is actually a machine. They also figure out that the terrorist attack is being perpetrated by this machine against the President and all his cabinet members. So they decide to stop the machine and the bomb! In the end they succeed and end up together. Aw … love!

It was a good movie kind of The Net + iRobot. It wasn’t new but it wasn’t overly predictable either. The action was good and kept me involved with the movie. I also actually cared about the characters and what was going to happen to them. The cinematography was a little sketchy. Some of the action scenes were hard to follow because they weren’t extremely detailed. A lot of it was blurry. The actors were perfectly chosen for the characters. The directing was well done and over all the entire movie was good. I enjoyed it!

Rating: * * * *

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