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The Force Fed Sci-Fi Movie Podcast
54 minutes | 9 days ago
Godzilla vs Kong 2021
This time, we’re taking a bite sized look at the Monster Verse’s latest offering in Godzilla vs Kong and along the way we ask what was the point of Mecha Godzilla, why is Hollow Earth now so important to the plot and where does the Monster Verse go from here? Let’s dive in…. Cast & Crew • Directed by Adam Wingard: He had previously horror films such as You’re Next, Blair Witch and the Netflix adaptation of Death Note. He was announced as the director of this film in 2017 prior to the release of Godzila: King of the Monsters. While the director of that film, Michael Dougherty, did not direct this film, he did help to develop the story and even receives a credit for his work. • Starring Alexander Skarsgard as Dr. Nathan Lind: The eldest son of legendary actor Stellan Skarsgard, Alexander has managed to find himself in compelling yet entertaining films for the past decade beginning with Battleship and The Legend of Tarzan as well as shows like True Blood and The Stand o Rebecca Hall as Dr. Ilene Andrews: She rose to prominence following appearances in films like The Prestige, The Town and Iron Man 3 and really helps to round out the cast o Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes: Henry is approaching superstar status as he has appeared in films like Child’s Play, Widows, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Joker. He is set to star in the MCU’s latest ensemble film The Eternals as he’s slated to portray the first gay superhero in that film series • Also Starring: o Shun Oguri as Ren Serizawa o Eiza Gonzalez as Maia Simmons o Julian Dennison as Josh Valentine o Lance Reddick as Guillerman (Most of his scenes ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor) o Demian Bichir as Walter Simmons • Reprising their roles from King of the Monsters o Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell o Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell o Zhang Ziyi was also set to reprise her role but her role was cut out of the film during editing The Creation of the Monster Verse It seems that creating film universes is the newest trend and while it’s not advised to come at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Monster Verse has done a good job of holding their own in terms of the critical reception and box office returns. The Monster Verse wasn’t originally envisioned to become the franchise it eventually became, the reboot of Godzilla directed by Gareth Edwards in 2014 was released to major box office numbers as well as some of the most positive reception for a film that year. During that same year, Legendary Pictures had announced they had acquired the rights to the Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah characters as well as the film rights to King Kong. Following the success of Godzilla and the acquisitions of its adversaries, it seemed inevitable that we would eventually see the two Titans clash on screen. Kong did receive a sort of reboot for that franchise in 2017 as Kong: Skull Island was released to similar fanfare that accompanied Godzilla. Godzilla vs Kong was originally announced in October 2015 for a 2020 release which gave Legendary Pictures plenty of time to build their universe with the only other release being Godzilla: King of the Monsters during that time. Legendary also released Pacific Rim: Uprising but this film is not considered to be part of the Monster Verse. In addition to these films, an anime series was announced in January 2021 that would be set on Skull Island and tell stories of shipwrecked characters during their time on the island. The Existence of Hollow Earth While briefly mentioned during previous films in the Monster Verse, Hollow Earth plays a much more prominent role in Godzilla vs Kong as we see that it’s how Godzilla was able to navigate the globe quickly and explain the odd climate and creatures that live on Skull Island. The idea of Hollow Earth comes from the year 1692 as Edmond Halley theorized that the Earth is entirely hollow or contains a large space and if the name Halley sounds familiar, it’s because he Britain’s chief astronomer during his life and even has a comet named after him. We now know the Hollow Earth theory to be little more than pseudoscience thanks to the work of two separate scientists, Pierr Bouguer and Charles in Hutton during the 18th Century, Hollow Earth actually has roots in ancient folklore. Almost every ancient society like the Greeks or the Celts contain some reference to the Earth being hollow or containing some type of world that is inaccessible to normal humans. The concept of Hollow Earth has now mostly been relegated to fiction thanks in large part to Jules Verne’s classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. Thanks to the work of geologists and other scientists we now have some certainty to the contents of the Earth as it is made up of tectonic plates that occasionally move as well as the mantle, outer core and inner core. Trajectory of the Monster Verse As previously speculated Godzilla vs Kong was meant to be the culmination of the Monster Verse and following its success, it is unclear where the film series will go from this point. In recent weeks, it was announced that Adam Wingard would return to direct a future installment in the series but it is unknown what that installment would be titled or any plot details. It’s possible that his new film could be titled Son of Kong but at this point, that remains purely speculative. The previously mentioned anime adaptation of the adventures on Skull Island will be released at some point but it is unknown as to when that will be available for viewing. Also unknown if the actors from King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs Kong would return for future installments but it would be nice if the series actually made these actors more prominent in sequels as opposed to killing them off or limiting their roles. Our Rating On our unique scale for the podcast, hosts Sean and Chris were divided on their opinions for Godzilla vs Kong with Chris calling the film a WOULD WATCH and Sean calling it a WOULD OWN. Sean attributed his rating to his general love of the Monster Verse franchise as well as previous kaiju films and enjoying the film’s spectacle. While Chris declared the film to be all style but no substance with the inclusion of Mecha Godzilla feeling more like a “jump the shark” moment as opposed to a great action moment in the franchise. What did you think of Godzilla vs Kong? Do you agree with our rating? What did you think of Mecha Godzilla? Listen to the full episode to find out our choices of Lens Flares and Red Shirts as well as the latest edition in This Week in Toxic Fandom. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming soon as we’ll release our review on Mars Attacks soon. As always, please check out our social media pages and leave us a review in your favorite podcast player of choice!
12 minutes | 20 days ago
Sean's Weekly Check-in
This weekly check-in features Sean rambling about future episodes, Mortal Kombat, the Oscars and octopuses. What do you think about these topics? Email or comment on our posts!
57 minutes | 23 days ago
Zack Snyder’s Justice League Film Review
Zack Snyder’s Justice League This time, we’re taking a special look at Zach Snyder’s Justice League and along the way we ask, could Ben Affleck have been the best onscreen Batman, exactly how much of the film is in slow motion and is there a future for the DC Extended Universe? Let’s dive in… Cast & Crew Directed by Zack Snyder: After previously directed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Snyder took on the humongous task of putting his touch on the DC Extended Universe by directing Justice League. However, during production, Snyder’s daughter, Autumn, committed suicide and Snyder along with his wife and producer, Deborah, left the film and Joss Whedon was hired to take over the director duties. Whedon would ultimately wind up rewriting the majority of the film and reshooting close to 80% of the material Snyder had previously shot for the film. The cast from the Whedon Cut of Justice League remained unchanged but here’s a quick rundown: Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth J.K. Simmons as Commission Jim Gordon Joe Morton as Dr. Silas Stone There are also some newer additions in keeping with the continuity of the previous films: Willem Dafoe as Vulko Jared Leto as The Joker Harry Lennix as Calvin Swanwick/The Martian Manhunter Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor Joe Mangianello as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke These two actors had previously appeared in the original Justice League but their scene was completely reworked for the new edition Aftermath of the Justice League Following the release of Justice League in 2017; the film became a massive critical and commercial flop due to Whedon’s rewrites, reshoots and bloated budget of nearly 300 million. Estimates vary on the budget but Warner Brothers had projected that the film had to make over $675 million for the film to become profitable. However, due in part to the critical reception and the lack of major marketing (40% on Rotten Tomatoes and 45% on Metacritic), Justice League only managed to gross $658 million and ultimately cost Warner Brothers $60 million. Due to Justice League flopping, it put the future of the DC Extended Universe in jeopardy even with the success of films like Wonder Woman, Shazam, Aquaman and Joker bolstering the concept of the shared universe of DC heroes. Even actors in the film expressed disappointment such as Ciaran Hinds who publicly decried his character’s depiction in the film noting it was drastically different from what was originally imagined. Other actors like Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa also expressed their disappointment in Whedon’s decisions in his new cut. Almost immediately following the bomb of Justice League, a fan movement was born on social media and could summed up with a simple hashtag, #ReleasetheSnyderCut and took off from there. It can’t be stated enough just how the original Justice League threw off the trajectory of the entire series with directors Patty Jenkins and James Wan basing their films off of what Zack Snyder was working on with his cut of the film. Deborah Snyder, who was one of the main driving forces for the films, left the project along with her husband, ultimately crippling the series. Following the growing fan movement and building for over two and a half years, Warner Brothers announced in May 2020 that Zack Snyder would return to release his original vision for the film. He was given $70 million in additional funds to reshoot scenes with the original cast returning, update the visual effects and finish the film score from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. Major Changes from Joss to Zack After viewing the film in its four hour entirety, it’s easy to point several notable changes from the original: For starters, the humor is toned down or just removed in many scenes and in particular, the dialogue of Batman is altered to make him less jokey and more serious that his depiction from the original film. More backstory is granted to Cyborg and the Stone Family in general. The relationship between Victor and his scientist father is explored in greater detail and Cyborg is even given a better arc than what was previously written. In addition to the backstory, Barry Allen is greatly expanded as a character and instead of portraying him as a nervous teenager, his dialogue is punched up, he’s given a prologue showing him saving an unknown woman (who we later find out is Iris West) from a traffic collision and his character is just better overall.. The look of Steppenwolf is updated through visual effects to make him more menacing and his voice altered to even make sound more menacing. There’s also no weird opening sequence of Superman being interviewed by children and no creepy visual effects to remove Henry Cavill’s mustache (at the time, he was filming Mission Impossible: Fallout and contractually obligated to keep his mustache for any reshoots for that film). Superman is also given a black suit following his death and resurrection. Also, the inclusion of Martian Manhunter at the end of the Snyder Cut that would set up a potential sequel. As well as the “Knightmare Sequence” that included the Joker (which was shot in the fall of 2020) and Darkseid was finally included and portrayed in terrifying fashion. Reception to the New Cut Since the film’s plot remains unchanged from 2017, there’s not much of a reason to go into detail here but the reception to the new cut has been overwhelmingly positive. Over the first week of its release on HBO Max, over 2 million households had watched the film and HBO Max saw a 64% increase in downloads. Even Forbes has estimated that if all the new subscribers stayed on and kept their subscription, it would translate to a $266 million gain for Warner Brothers. Critics still remain divided on the new film to an extent but the film currently holds a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes and a slightly higher rating on Metacritic with a 54%. Some critics have called the film a massive improvement over the original with the majority of the criticism directed at the film’s runtime and the lack of new storylines. Once again, the fans have begun a new movement in the wake of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Following the release and success of the new cut, a new social media movement has been born titled #RestoretheSnyderVerse which asks for the new films in the DC Extended Universe to continue on in the same style and vision of the Snyder Films and even produce sequels for Justice League with the involvement of the Snyders. Zack has said that Warner Brothers will not produce a sequel given the full slate of films scheduled for release in the coming years but they could come around similar to how they came on board with Snyder coming back to make his version of Justice League but the future remains unclear on that front. Our Rating On our unique scale for the Force Fed Sci-Fi podcast, our hosts differed slightly with Chris calling the film a WOULD OWN citing the long runtime as a reason for not going higher. Sean came in higher by calling the film a WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY, while agreeing on the length but praising the film’s rich lore and epic feel. What did you think of Zack Snyder’s Justice League? Did you count the minutes of slow motion? Where did you build in the bathroom breaks and intermissions? Let us know your thoughts and comments and tune in soon as we will return to our regularly scheduled programming very soon. Please subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review in your podcast player of choice!
59 minutes | a month ago
Avengers: Age of Ultron Film Review
Avengers: Age of Ultron This time, we take a look at the techno God complex blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron and along the way we ask, was this the last true standalone film in the MCU, how could ten seconds on the Internet make you want to destroy the world and how does Tony Stark make artificial intelligence look so easy? Let’s dive in…. CAST & CREW Written and directed by Joss Whedon: Following the success of The Avengers in 2012, Disney and MCU architect Kevin Feige, immediately hired Whedon to write and direct the sequel for the series. Whedon drew inspiration from The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II when constructing the screenplay and character arcs The majority of the cast from the first film return to reprise their roles from the previous film including: Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America Chris Hemsworth as Thor Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury Paul Bettany as JARVIS/Vision Several familiar faces return to the MCU to reprise their roles from previous films as well as many newcomers: Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch James Spader as Ultron Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue Creating Age of Ultron and the Unused Ideas As Whedon was essentially given carte blanche to do with the plot as he saw fit, several ideas were concocted for the film but would wind up being unused. These ideas included: Introducing Captain Marvel but this was shot down by Kevin Feige after concluding that it would be too early to introduce the character. She was later given her introduction in 2019’s Captain Marvel Introducing the Maximoff twins caused speculation as to whether or not mutants would be introduced in the MCU but at the time of production, the X-Men and the rights to the characters in that series belonged to 20th Century Fox which had not yet been acquired by Disney. Given the studio’s acquisition of the now named 20th Century Films, it’s likely we will be seeing the mutants and their respective characters arrive in the MCU in the next several years. Recently, it has come out that Whedon and actor Paul Bettany wished to introduce Vision as being totally naked when he emerges from the Regeneration Cradle during the film’s third act. This was also shot down by Kevin Feige given Disney’s reputation as a family friendly studio It’s also worthy to note that Age of Ultron really foreshadowed several moments or scenes in future films of the MCU which included: The coming conflict between Captain America and Iron Man in Civil War as well as fueling the motivations for the main villain, Baron Zemo, in that film. Through Thor’s vision in the pool, the events of Ragnarok are teased and the eventual destruction of Asgard The introduction of Ulysses Klaue and the prominence of vibranium play a pivotal role in Black Panther The subsequent films in the Avengers series, Infinity War and Endgame, are alluded to with Tony experiencing a vision of his dead comrades as well as uttering the phrase “That’s the endgame” at one point in the film. Thanos also makes an appearance during the film’s mid-credits sequence as he picks up the Infinity Gauntlet saying “Fine, I’ll do it myself”. Sean and Chris make note that while the MCU has had some truly great films in the series, Age of Ultron has stood out as being one of the last truly standalone films in the series overall. It certainly builds upon the events of The Avengers but it doesn’t rely on the events of the Iron Man, Captain America or Thor films and makes an effort to be recognized as a standalone effort. The major plot point of the film is after Tony Stark and Bruce Banner create the artificial intelligence, Ultron, it’s uploaded to the Internet and after viewing images of war, unrest and the general state of the world, he decides that the world must end and the Avengers must be destroyed. Ultron isn’t wrong in his assessment that the Internet can be a dangerous place, he could’ve easily looked up photos of babies or videos of kittens and puppies. Our Rating Using our unique scale for the podcast, Sean and Chris differed slightly in their ratings with Sean calling the film a WOULD WATCH and Chris rating it a WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY. Sean cited the complex screenwriting, lack of Ultron while praising James Spader’s performance and a lack of a major spectacle climax seen in the previous film. Chris cited the film’s ability to stand alone from the major series and compelling action scenes as the reason for his rating. What did you think of Avengers: Age of Ultron? Do you agree that the film could have used more Ultron? Listen to our episode to find out our thoughts and more like our picks for Red or Yellow Shirts as well as Lens Flares and our newest edition of This Week in Toxic Fandom. Tune in next time as we review the giant monster rip-off Eight Legged Freaks and please rate and subscribe to the Force Fed Sci-Fi podcast in your podcast player of choice.
4 minutes | a month ago
Upcoming Force Fed Sci Fi News!!!
It’s one of your co-host Sean Michael checking in to let you guys know that we are adding 2 new “bite-sized” episodes (as Chris likes to say). So, in the next few weeks look forward to us reviewing 2021’s Justice League and Godzilla Vs Kong. Stay tuned and please write and subscribe to our channel, we really appreciate all the fan support. If you have a sci-fi film you want us to review please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write us a comment! Have a great rest of the day and a good 2021! Thank you, Sean Michael C.
62 minutes | a month ago
This time, we take a look at the body horror isolationist classic The Thing and along the way we ask what’s the deal with Kurt Russell’s hat, what kind of research happened at Outpost 31 and was this movie spoiled right from the beginning? Let’s dive in…. Cast & Crew Directed by John Carpenter: Prior to directing The Thing, he had directed Halloween, The Fog and Escape from New York and had previously passed on the chance to direct this film but the opportunity came back around after directors Tobe Hooper and John Landis passed on the project. Starring Kurt Russell as MacReady: Russell and Carpenter previously collaborated on a television film Elvis as well as Carpenter’s action cult classic Escape from New York. Russell was about 10 years into restarting his film career after an injury derailed his burgeoning baseball career Keith David as Childs: This was one of David’s first major film roles after having become a prominent stage actor. He’s since gone to have starred in other films like They Live, Platoon and and Mrs. Smith as well as several voiceover roles in video games like Halo and the Mass Effect series Wilford Brimley as Blair K. Carter as Nauls David Clennon as Palmer Also Starring Richard Dysart as Dr. Copper Charles Hallahan as Norris Peter Maloney as Bennings Richard Masur as Clark Donald Moffat as Garry Joel Polis as Fuchs Thomas Waites as Windows Before these actors were cast, many other actors were considered for these roles including Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte, Sam Shepard, Brian Dennehy, Kris Kristofferson, Ed Harris, Tom Berenger, Scott Glen, Fred Ward, Peter Coyote, Powers Boothe, Lee Van Cleef, Jerry Orbach, Isaac Hayes and Ernie Hudson Rob Bottin’s Legendary Creature Effects Universal had originally set the budget for The Thing at $10 million but this was increased following Carpenter’s suggestion as well as storyboards for the visual and creature effects that were to be created by artist Rob Bottin. Carpenter took to Bottin’s designs so well that he was able to influence the story as well as the actor’s rehearsals. His suggestion that the Thing would retain a little piece of what it had previously assimilated and would be seen in future creatures. He also contributed the idea that whoever was taken over would not be aware that they are the Thing until it would start to reveal itself in a large group setting. Bottin worked so much on the film that he ended having to be hospitalized at different points in production for exhaustion, double pneumonia and bleeding ulcers. He also never took a day off for over a year and lived on the Universal backlot. Bottin was only 21 years old at the time and had previously worked on a horror film titled The Howling and due to his hospitalizations, special effects legend Stan Winston was brought on to assist in production specifically for the Norris Thing scene. Winston even refused to take a credit for his work and instead received a “thank you” in the final credits. What is the Message of The Thing? Carpenter is a fan of incorporating an overall message in his films. His later films are more overt with this messaging and early films hide this in some subtle ways. He has repeatedly mentioned that Halloween is meant to address the notion that the suburbs are safe. The majority of his films have this message in some way but Carpenter is also outspokenly liberal in his political views and this was apparent in the cult classic They Live about disguised aliens that have hidden among the population and have placed subliminal messages to unsuspecting people to “Purchase” and “Reproduce”. While The Thing lacks any sort of major political message, Carpenter addresses themes of nihilism, isolation and the fact that danger can be lurking even in the most remote part of the world. Mystery has continued to surround the themes of the film most specifically around the ending and whether or not the two survivors, MacReady and Childs, were assimilated by the Thing. Even Carpenter himself has weighed on this speculation and has asserted that Childs, who was mysteriously absent for the majority of the climax, was taken over by the Thing and is now waiting to accomplish its mission at a later time. Carpenter has inferred that someone was the Thing at the end of the film and it must be noted that because Childs’ breath is not visible in the frigid weather while MacReady’s is visible, which, could be an indicator that Childs was assimilated. However, these theories have been disputed by actors Kurt Russell and Keith David. There are other mysteries that remain unsolved for the film including what the Norwegians were saying at the beginning but if you speak Norwegian you already know that, who exactly sabotaged the blood test and when certain characters were assimilated. These mysteries both solved and unsolved are what have helped to make The Thing an enduring classic even if it wasn’t well received at the time of release. A Classic 20 Years in the Making When The Thing was released in 1982, it came out to terrible reviews with some calling the film “instant junk”, “boring” and “despairing”. It probably didn’t help that E.T.: The Extraterrestrial came out earlier in the year and the film Blade Runner was released on the same weekend. Along with those films, other major releases included Poltergeist, Conan the Barbarian, Mad Max 2, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan and Tron made the year pretty crowded at the box office. While The Thing managed to recoup its budget at the box office, it wasn’t enough to save John Carpenter’s career at Universal. The disappointing returns for The Thing caused the studio to buy out the remainder of his contract and he lost the opportunity to direct 1984’s Firestarter. Carpenter would eventually go on to direct films like They Live, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China and Vampires, his films in the 21st Century like Ghosts of Mars and The Ward were met with little fanfare. He has found recent success as a producer for the remake of Halloween in 2018. The Thing has managed to live on as sort of a cult/cinematic classic hybrid with contemporary reviews coming around to the message and tone of the film. It’s found its way onto many “Best Of” lists and its impact can be felt across many different forms of media including shows like The X-Files and Stranger Things, video games like Resident Evil 4 and Among Us as well as other films like The Faculty and Slither. It even received a video game adaptation that was released 2002 to critical acclaim. A miniseries sequel was even planned for the Sci-Fi Channel in 2005 that was to be developed by Frank Darabont but these plans never materialized. A prequel was released in 2011 detailing what happened at the Norwegian camp before the events of Carpenter’s film but this was a critical and box office disappointment. However, in 2020, Universal and Blumhouse announced plans to develop a remake of the film with the involvement of Carpenter possibly in a similar capacity to his role for 2018’s Halloween. Our Rating On our unique scale for the podcast both Sean and Chris were in agreement for their rating of The Thing in calling it a WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY. Both hosts cited the creature effects as well as the different messages and relevancy of those themes bolstered by the performances of the actors. What did you think of The Thing? Listen to the full episode to hear our thoughts as well as our choices of Lens Flares and Red Shirts and please leave a 5 star review wherever you listen to podcasts. Tune in next time as we dive back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and review 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron!
75 minutes | a month ago
This time, we take a look at the future noir crime thriller Minority Report and along the way we ask just how far is the government willing to go to stop crime, does Tom Cruise not run enough in this movie and why 2054 will hopefully be just alright? Let’s dive in… Minority Report Movie Cast and Crew Directed by Steven Spielberg: At this point, Spielberg had established himself as the director in Hollywood. He had made hit after hit for over 20 years by the time Minority Report was released and this was his first time pairing with actor Tom Cruise. Starring Tom Cruise as John Anderton: Cruise has had staying power in the film business since he came onto the scene in the early 80’s and has now become one of the top actors in Hollywood and is able to sell a film based on his attachment alone. Colin Farrell as Danny Witwer: In the early 2000’s, there was no actor hotter than Farrell after appearing in the films Tigerland, American Outlaws, Hart’s War, Phone Booth and S.W.A.T. Max von Sydow as Lamar Burgess: Sydow enjoyed a nearly seven decade long film career including several Oscar nominations and worked up until his death in 2020. Also Starring: o Neal McDonough as Gordon Fletcher o Steve Harris as Jad Watson o Kathryn Morris as Lara Anderton o Samantha Morton as Agatha o Tim Blake Nelson as Gideon o Peter Stormare as Dr. Eddie FROM THE MIND OF PHILIP K. DICK One of the most prolific science fiction writers of the 20th Century also gave us some of the most memorable films of the genre; Philip K. Dick wrote stories that would later be adapted into films like Blade Runner, Total Recall and Paycheck. He also wrote the story for Minority Report and for the most part, the film is faithful to the original plot. There are some differences but that’s almost become the norm with a Philip K. Dick story. The rights to produce a film based on Minority Report were optioned back in 1992 and was originally envisioned as a sequel to the 1990 film Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and it’s likely this version of Minority Report would’ve starred him as well but the film labored in developmental hell for so long that the film went through several different versions before the filmmakers settled on the version that released in 2002. Development originally began in 1997 and many actors were either offered roles or were cast including Matt Damon, Meryl Streep, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Jenna Elfman and Javier Bardem. Production was delayed twice; once so Cruise could complete Mission Impossible II and another time so Spielberg could direct A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and these delays caused the original cast to be shuffled around. PRESCIENCE OF TECHNOLOGY In the years since Minority Report was released, it has been cited as being particularly prescient for its display of future technology. One of the main points of the film is every citizen being scanned via their retinas literally everywhere they go throughout Washington, D.C. and this forces Anderton to undergo illegal surgery to swap out his eyeballs. Retina scans or other forms of biometric security are becoming more and more prevalent among technology firms as well as financial institutions in order to better safeguard sensitive equipment. The use of these retinal scanners are then used to create personalized advertisements when people walk into a particular store. These advertisements are tied to an individual’s shopping history and in a precursor to today’s tracking cookies, make recommendations based on that history. The idea of using technology to stop or prevent crime has also made its way to the real world via IBM and the University of Memphis. Working together, they developed the Criminal Reduction Utilizing Statistical History (CRUSH) program to be used by the University of Memphis to help the Memphis Police Department predict and help stop crimes. It was credited for helping reduce crime in Memphis by 31% and violent crime by 15%. It was so effective that a similar program titled the Crash Reduction Analyzing Statistical History (CRASH) was developed to analyze traffic patterns and to help predict traffic collisions. Drones are also widely used in the film to help the police officers scan and identify suspects. Drones both manned and unmanned are being utilized by law enforcement for a variety including surveillance and helping to locate missing persons and the applications are limitless as the technology will continue to evolve in the coming years. WHAT’S THE MORALITY OF A CRIME NOT COMMITTED As Sean and Chris discuss, how does one go about arresting or prosecuting someone for a crime they haven’t committed? From a legal standpoint, cases like those from Precrime would almost immediately be thrown out given that no actual law had been broken and no murder committed either. There’s also the issue of almost unlimited government surveillance just to catch a few criminals. It raises the question of how many freedoms are people willing to give up just to feel safe. As our hosts also discuss, the system of “Precrime” is fundamentally broken as it is possible to manipulate the Precogs and commit murder if you know how to do it. This comes to a head as Anderton confronts Lamar on the verge of Precrime going into effect on a massive scale. Lamar had killed an innocent woman just to protect his creation and ultimately brings down the system and exonerates the people who were arrested for a pre-crime. LEGACY Minority Report was both a critical and commercial success having grossed over $350 million and maintains a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s continued to enjoy success on home media releases but the accompanying media hasn’t enjoyed the same success. A tie-in video game adaptation titled Minority Run: Everybody Runs was released to mediocre reviews as well as a television sequel that premiered in 2015 which focused on one of the male precogs wanting to us his abilities to help stop crime but this show was ultimately cancelled after one season. Cruise and Spielberg would later collaborate again on War of the Worlds in 2005 and enjoyed similar success with that film. OUR RATING On our unique scale for the Force Fed Sci-Fi podcast, both Sean and Chris were in agreement for their rating for Minority Report calling the film a WOULD OWN praising the performances the cast as well as the interesting debate surrounding ethics, technology and crime but the dated visual effects and the complex mechanics of Lamar’s ruse on the Precrime system make for a complicated and odd experience. What are your thoughts on Minority Report? Is the film more noir instead of a techno thriller? Listen to our full episode to find out our picks for Red Shirts and Lens Flare and tune in next time as we discuss the 1982 cult classic John Carpenter’s The Thing
73 minutes | 2 months ago
This time, we review and take a look at the forgotten dystopian classic Logan’s Run and along the way ask why do dystopian films want to take the fun out of reproduction, why only keep humans alive until 30, and how did this film get lost in the shuffle? Let’s dive in… Logan’s Run Movie Cast and Crew Directed by Michael Anderson: The English director had previously made the original film adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 and his film, Around the World in 80 Days, had won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Starring Michael York as Logan 5: He is more popularly known as Basil in the Austin Powers film franchise, but had appeared in the adaptation of the popular musical Cabaret. Richard Jordan as Francis 7: Logan’s Run was one of Jordan’s first roles, but would appear in Dune and The Hunt for Red October prior to his death in 1993. Jenny Agutter as Jessica 6: This was an early film role for her as well, but has since appeared in An American Werewolf in London and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Farrah Fawcett-Majors as Holly 13: She was on TV during at this time in The Six Million Dollar Man as well as Charlie’s Angels and thus, received prominent billing due to her rising stardom at the time. Peter Ustinov as The Old Man: The legendary actor has won two Academy Awards for his roles in Spartacus and Topkapi. Roscoe Lee Browne as Box: While not exactly appearing on-screen in Logan’s Run, Browne would later become a very accomplished voice actor; The Real Ghostbusters, Batman: The Animated Series and Spider-Man. From the Page to the Screen Logan’s Run is based on a novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson which released in 1967. Almost immediately after the novel’s release, it was optioned for a future film adaptation, but it labored in developmental hell for years. The producer who had originally acquired the film rights, George Pal, had differing opinions with his screenwriters in regards as to the tone of the film. The writers originally wanted to incorporate relevant themes at the time of the late 1960’s, but Pal wanted a more fun sci-fi romp. These rewrites caused production to be delayed as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey had revived the science fiction genre among audiences. Pal would later leave the project and fellow producer Saul David stepped in with a new writing team who made significant changes from the novel to the film. For starters, the original age limit was raised from 21 to 30 to allow for a wider range of actors and extras to be involved in the project. The biggest spectacle of the film, the Carrousel, was created specifically for the film and is not a part of the original novel. It was simply a means to create a ceremony of sorts while the original novel simply had people “go to sleep.” The backstory of the Cubs is also explained in greater detail and even giving Jessica a friend who is part of the juvenile gang. One of the biggest changes is the idea of Sanctuary. In the film, Sanctuary is not real while in the novel, Sanctuary does exist, but it is located on Mars and requires a rocket ship to reach it. While audiences always expect to see some changes from a film’s source material, Logan’s Run does a decent job of retaining the major elements of the film, but making it more watchable for a 1970’s movie going audience. The Relevancy of Logan’s Run At first glance, the film seems like a campy sci-fi romp with cheesy special effects and you’d be sort of correct, but it’s also interesting to note several major parallels to today’s world. The major element being the reliance of technology in both the film and our world. There’s smart homes, magnetic rail cars and a gigantic computer that seems to control every aspect of the mega city. Nearly every home today has some type of smart technology from a refrigerator to a thermostat or even an Amazon Alexa to remind you of a doctor’s appointment. Everything and everyone is interconnected in a way that was only dreamt of at the time of Logan’s Run release. On the podcast episode, Sean and Chris also noted the parallel of the role of police officers in in today’s world. Since the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, police departments across the United States have been trying to find new ways to eliminate the need for an armed response and instead, utilizing mental health professionals to respond to situations that may not require an armed officer to arrive on scene. While in Logan’s Run, Logan 5 is sent an odd mission to find Sanctuary at the whim of a giant computer that possibly misinterpreted a necklace. It’s almost symbolic of how police departments and elected officials focus on a problem that doesn’t exist while ignoring the plight of its citizens. As Chris points out, while Sanctuary doesn’t exactly exist, there is an underground movement in the mega city that is trying to fight the system and bring an end to the dystopian society. Why Isn’t Logan’s Run More Popular? It’s interesting to note that while the film is considered to be one of the seminal sci-fi films of the 1970’s, it’s not as widely remembered as one would think. The main reason for this is Star Wars. While Logan’s Run released in June 1976, Star Wars would release in May 1977 and since movie audiences have a short memory, Star Wars captivated people for months to come. In addition to Star Wars, special effects were becoming more and more advanced with each subsequent year. By the time the original Star Wars trilogy had concluded in 1983, the effects of Logan’s Run looked outdated. It also doesn’t help the case for Logan’s Run that the film overall looks incredibly outdated by today’s standards thanks to the bright and garish costumes, relatively unknown actors who didn’t go on to bigger and better things, and the saccharine ending with Logan and Jessica embracing each other as their dystopian society explodes all around them. While the film was a critical and financial success (it’s credited for helping MGM get out of debt), it’s not as revered as some of its counterparts when it was released. For years, there have been persistent rumors of a potential remake and there was even a television series that appeared on CBS in 1977. However, this show was cancelled before the first season concluded and plans for a film sequel were scrapped as Saul David focused his efforts on the television show. There were strong indications a remake would go ahead in 2000 with an idea to produce a more faithful adaptation of the original source material, but this didn’t materialize. Christopher Nolan even added fuel to the rumor mill as a script was being written by Alex Garland, but there have been no updates on this project as of 2018. Chris and Sean noted that while a film remake would also leave out several key details from the original novel. A miniseries in the same vein as HBO’s West World or Watchmen could be successful and bring the story to a new generation. All they ask is a producer’s credit if it does get off the ground. Force Fed Sci-Fi’s own Logan’s Run Film Review and Rating On our unique scale for the Force Fed Sci-Fi, both Sean and Chris were in agreement that Logan’s Run would be a WOULD OWN. Both cited the film being anti-climatic and the ending being disappointing and almost too similar to The Graduate. In addition, the special effects were great for its time, but they have become outdated by today’s standards. While our hosts had high marks for the film, they did note that it could be difficult to convince a casual sci-fi fan to watch it. What did you think of Logan’s Run? Do you agree with our choices for Lens Flares and Red Shirts? Did Logan using that machine remind you of Tinder or Bumble? Should Box have been a bigger villain? Do you think there’s potential for a remake? Leave your answers, thoughts, and comments below! An be sure to listen to our full episode on your favorite podcast app and leave us a 5 star review. Tune in next time as Sean and Chris review the Steven Spielberg prescient crime thriller, Minority Report!
59 minutes | 2 months ago
Sunshine (2007 film)
This time, we’re taking a look at the space travel/horror film, Sunshine, and along the way we find out if the cast and crew of the Icarus 2 has the “right stuff,” we’ll look at how a sudden turn can totally derail a film, and is a remake of this film possible? Let’s dive into our Sunshine movie review and commentary… Sunshine (2007 Film) Movie Cast and Crew Directed by Danny Boyle: After gaining international prominence following his directorial efforts in Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, Boyle decided to wade into the science fiction genre and was tagged to direct Sunshine. He would later direct the award winning films Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Written by Alex Garland: Garland and Boyle had previously teamed up together to make 28 Days Later and was asked to collaborate again for the making Sunshine. Cillian Murphy as Robert Capa: He had also worked with Boyle after starring in 28 Days Later, but had gained prominence after appearing in Batman Begins. Chris Evans as James Mace: Before being cast as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he had previously starred in the Fantastic Four films as well as the parody film Not Another Teen Movie Rose Byrne as Cassie: After appearing in the epic film Troy, she was handpicked by Boyle to appear in this film Rose Byrne provided the voice of Mother in Netflix’s I Am Mother, check out our review Michelle Yeoh as Corazon: Following appearances in Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha, Boyle gave her carte blanche to pick whatever role she wanted even saying a character could and would be rewritten to fit her gender. Also Starring: Cliff Curtis as Searle, Hiroyuki Sanada as Kaneda, Troy Garity as Harvey, Benedict Wong as Troy, and Mark Strong as Pinbacker “The Right Stuff” for Sunshine As Chris and Sean outline in the podcast episode, Boyle had the actors go through an extensive to-do list in order to prepare for their roles. This list included: Forced to live together as the crew of the Icarus 2 would’ve been living together for 16 months at the beginning of the film Enrolled in space training/SCUBA classes Watched The Right Stuff Toured a nuclear submarine to provide a sense of claustrophobia Rode on a KC-135 “Vomit Comet” as well as a Boeing 747 simulator Read Moondust which is a collection of stories from astronauts who have walked on the Moon As this list was meant to prepare non-astronauts for a space, real NASA astronauts go through an extensive training program which includes: Space shuttle/space craft basics in case repairs are necessary Medical procedures to care for injured crewmates Survival training in case they are required to live in space without aid They also take language courses in Russian in case they need to communicate with the Russian Space Agency One of the holes pointed out in our podcast is that on a typical space mission, the astronauts are cross trained to perform one another’s tasks in case something catastrophic were to happen with one of the other crewmates. This is an aspect not typically discussed in other space movies. When one crew member is incapacitated or killed, it doesn’t immediately sink the mission, but rather those duties of that crew member are then dispersed among the remaining crew. Astronaut crews are millions of miles away from Earth and any sort of aid so they are on their own and must be able to function smoothly with any type of unexpected incident. Horror in Space! Roughly halfway through the film’s second act, the crew of the Icarus 2 discovers the derelict spacecraft of the Icarus 1 crew. They go aboard to search for supplies hopefully to maybe find out why the crew went missing and their mission failed. Sometime during this excursion, the former captain of the Icarus 1, Pinbacker, sneaks aboard the Icarus 2 and begins to sabotage the mission and kill the remaining crewmembers. His initial action directly leads to the deaths of 2 crewmembers. During his sneaking around, he kills Corazon and it’s implied he killed Troy; although, this is not confirmed during the final act. This intrusion derails the trajectory of the entire film. Up until this point, it had been a thrilling space travel adventure with the perils of the mission emphasized every time the crew has to go on a repair mission or fix some problem onboard their craft. During the final act, Pinbacker is on his murderous rampage. He is shown with different lens techniques that leave him out of focus and obscures just how sun damaged he truly is. He stalks around the Icarus 2, looking like a low rent Freddy Kruger, spouting religious quotes and wants to destroy the ship and the world as he believes it is God’s will. Legacy or Future Remake? At the time of its release, Sunshine was a critical success having gained a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well as a rating of 64 on Metacritic. However, the film was not a commercial success. Against a sizeable budget of $40 million, it only grossed $32 million. It opened the same weekend as the films Hairspray and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. The film has also been noted for its lack of scientific accuracy, specifically the lack of artificial gravity aboard the Icarus 2. In addition, the nature of the stellar bomb used to “restart” the Sun in addition to the premise of the Sun “dying” and requiring a “restart.” Given that enough time has passed to identify what specifically is wrong with the film, Sean and Chris pondered if a remake could be possible. The film was largely overlooked during its time, but with a major cast, some retooling of the original story, and maintaining the great level of visual effects and production design, a remake may be in the cards. However, we don’t work in Hollywood so if any producer or screenwriter is reading this, give us a producer credit. Force Fed Sci-Fi’s Movie Review and Rating On our unique scale for our podcast both Sean and Chris were in agreement in their rating by calling Sunshine a WOULD WATCH citing that the film does start off well, isn’t unwatchable for the majority of it, and is bolstered by decent characters. However, this is quickly forgotten thanks to baffling plot holes and a sudden turn towards the horror genre and forcing Pinbacker to play the villain. What did you think of Sunshine? Did the turn towards horror bother you? What did you think of those space suits? Leave your thoughts below and listen to our full episode for more on your favorite podcast player and please leave us a 5 star review. Tune in next time when we review the overlooked classic from 1976, Logan’s Run!
63 minutes | 4 months ago
Starship Troopers (1997)
This time, we review the fascistic satire war film Starship Troopers and along the way we wonder if it’s right to poach 18-year-olds for your military, is it really a Paul Verhoeven movie if there’s no nudity, and how did this movie spawn an entire direct-to-video franchise? Let’s dive in… Starship Troopers (1997) Cast and Crew Directed by Paul Verhoeven: As Chris remarks during the episode, this may have been the point of Verhoeven’s career where he was fully actualized having directed Robocop (which we’ve previously covered with special guest Brian McLeod), Basic Instinct, Total Recall and Show Girls. While his career hasn’t enjoyed the same popularity in recent years, he became known for hyper stylized violence, subversive yet relevant content and of course, nudity. Written by Edward Neumeier: He had previously collaborated with Verhoeven on Robocop Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico: Van Dien had developed quite a reputation working on television prior to being cast in this film having appeared on shows like Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, Beverly Hills 90210, and Married with Children Denise Richards as Carmen Ibanez: This is considered by many to be Richards’ breakthrough role as she starred in Drop Dead Gorgeous, The World is Not Enough and Wild Things after starring in Starship Troopers Dina Meyer as Dizzy Flores: Meyer was also cast following a run on Beverly Hills 90210 as well as a memorable run on FRIENDS as a romantic partner of Joey Neil Patrick Harris as Carl: Harris was slowly working on rebranding himself as a serious actor after he was primarily known as a child star on the show Doogie Howser, M.D. Jake Busey as Ace: The son of legendarily crazy person Gary Busey, Jake has become more a bit actor, but is willing to accept roles with little prestige especially in recent years as he appeared in the third season of Stranger Things and several episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also Starring: Michael Ironside as Rasczak Patrick Muldoon as Zander Clancy Brown as Zim Dean Norris as Commanding Officer Seth Gilliam as Sugar Earth in the Future While it’s not explicitly mentioned when this film takes place, it’s set sometime in the 23rd century when interstellar travel is now possible and militaries are more advanced than ever before. The government is also controlled by a group of veterans or military officers having overthrown a prior regime that was run by intellectuals and bureaucrats. This is the briefest of world building we receive in the course of the film which seems odd given Verhoeven’s attention to detail in films like Robocop and Total Recall. In this world, citizenship is not guaranteed and can only be obtained through a term of military service, but while citizenship is guaranteed, safety is not. Throughout the first act of the film, we see veterans who have given part of themselves in service of their society. Rico’s teacher, Rasczak, is missing his arm but is given a prosthetic when he joins up again. Even the recruiting officer is missing an arm and both legs. While Rico is initially shocked to see this, it doesn’t deter him from joining and he’s naïve to think that something like that won’t happen to him until he arrives at the initial invasion. Naivety is common among the recruits in Rico’s class as they all have their reasons for joining including getting money for school, career military aspirations, reproductive rights, political careers, and in Rico’s case, a woman. Although prior to Rico enlisting, he’s easily led by Rasczak into joining and by letting him think it’s his own decision to join and risk his life. These opportunities are not available to individuals who do not enlist and even the simple act of creating a life is prohibited to them unless they join and serve. Subversion Through Satire In interviews after Starship Troopers was released, director Paul Verhoeven has stated numerous times that this film is mean to be viewed as a satire of a fully realized fascist society. Having grown up in Nazi occupied Europe during World War II, he is uniquely qualified to speak on such matters and in this case, to subvert it. Verhoeven manages to hit the nail on the head when taking on this satire by showcasing a fully developed military, but no other major scientific developments unless they are in service to furthering a military’s agenda. We also see that the army is primarily filled with young people with some exceptions given to senior leadership. Their motivations are also unclear as to why humanity is attacking the Bugs. There is a vague reason of the Bug’s being able to send targeted asteroids across billions of miles of vast, empty space towards Earth to destroy cities, but after witnessing them in battle, this seems implausible. As dark as it can be at times, Starship Troopers is meant to be viewed as a propaganda film and even the opening prologue of the film is a shot-for-shot remake of a scene from an infamous Nazi film, Triumph of the Will. The link between Nazism and propaganda films is complicated. The short version is that prior to World War II, the largest cinema audience outside of the United States was Germany. In an effort to make sure Hollywood didn’t alienate the world’s second largest audience, they made films that accidentally became beloved by the Nazis. The Nazis then used these films for their propaganda and to propagate their hateful rhetoric. Comedy legend Mel Brooks has a brilliant quote on using satire to combat rhetoric, “Rhetoric does not get you anywhere, because Hitler and Mussolini are just as good at rhetoric. But if you can bring these people down with comedy, they stand no chance.” Starship Trooper’s Complicated Legacy At the time, this film had a decent budget ($105 million); yet, it was not a success at the box office having only grossed just over $121 million. While the reviews at the time were favorable, it was not enough to save the film or give it a boost financial wise. It did manage to spawn 4 additional sequels, but these have not been well-received and have all been released via direct-to-video with the most recent one in 2017 starring Casper Van Dien. It also inspired a CGI television show in the early 2000’s, but was cancelled after 8 episodes and the series ended on a cliffhanger. Several video game adaptations have also been released, but these have also been critically panned. In 2011, plans were announced to release a remake of the original film, but as of 2016, there have been no updates on this project and it is unlikely to happen. Force Fed Sci-Fi’s own Starship Troopers Review and Rating On our unique scale for the Force Fed Sci-Fi Podcast, our hosts differed slightly in their rating for Starship Troopers with Sean calling the film a WOULD OWN and Chris calling it a WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY. Sean cited the dated visual effects and the fact that it shouldn’t take years for people to figure out the true nature of a film. Chris cited the satire as his primary reason and the battle scenes being entertaining. What did you think of Starship Troopers? Is the representation of female characters bothersome? How do you explain Rico’s meteoric rise through the ranks? Leave your thoughts and comments below! Also, listen to the full episode to hear our hosts answer these questions as well as their choices for Lens Flares and Red Shirts and tune in next time when they review the Danny Boyle film from 2007, Sunshine!
48 minutes | 5 months ago
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
This time, we look at a modern cult classic with our Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow film review and along the way ask, why is Angelina Jolie so prominent in the film’s marketing? How influential was the “digital backlot?” And, was resurrecting Laurence Olivier a smart move? Let’s dive in… Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Cast and Crew Directed by Kerry Conran: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was Conran’s directorial debut and remains his only credit as a director. Conran has remained relatively quiet since Sky Captain’s release having only directed a commercial for Coca-Cola and a short film that premiered in 2012. Jude Law as Sky Captain/Joseph Sullivan: By 2004, Law had become an international movie star and in that year alone, he had starred in I Heart Huckabees, Alfie, Closer, The Aviator and A Series of Unfortunate Events. His casting as the titular ‘Sky Captain’ was seen by many as his foray into adventure films. Gwyneth Paltrow as Polly Perkins: At the time, her career had begun to wane following her Oscar win for Shakespeare in Love. Following that performance, she starred in Bounce, Shallow Hal and View From the Top. Her casting was announced at San Diego Comic Con in order to drum up interest for the film. Giovanni Ribisi as Dex: Ribisi has a knack for finding quirky yet entertaining films and he actually signed on for this film without reading a script. He was shown a teaser trailer created by Conran and one of his producers in order to nail Ribisi. Angelina Jolie as Frank Cook: Due to her commitments filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, she could only be on set for three days. She helped to add credibility to the film following the casting of Law and Paltrow. Also starring: Michael Gambon as Editor Paley and Bai Ling as The Mysterious Woman The Rise of the Digital Backlot If you’ve watched Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, you probably noticed the film has an odd color palate and design. This is due to Conran utilizing what became known as a “digital backlot.” Conran is a fan of cinema of the 1930’s and 40’s as well as animation techniques. Following his apprenticeship in a Disney animator program, he thought many of the techniques he learned could be applied to a live-action film, but upon realizing that many studios would not be willing to take a chance on a first-time director with a brand new concept of filming, he decided to make the film himself. He spent many years in the 90’s working on a Macintosh computer and even produced a crude teaser trailer with homemade bluescreens. This trailer was then shown to a friend of Conran who in turn showed it to an additional friend and agreed to produce the film. This producer and Conran would spend the next ten years working together in an attempt to get their film onto the big screen. Prior to shooting with a full cast, Conran shot the film himself and then created moving storyboards in order for his actors to understand how scenes would unfold and how to move during these scenes. In an effort to save costs, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was shot in a total of 26 days utilizing entirely blue or green screens and incredibly minimal set design. The short production time allowed for the crew to work on the complex visual effects which mostly included overlaying the live action footage with the previously rendered animation from Conran’s prior shoot without his principal actors. Conran noted he would end up working 18 – 20 hour days in order to help create the 2,000+ visual effects shots seen in the film. In addition to this new style of filming, Conran also wanted to digitally resurrect a deceased actor for the role of Dr. Totenkopf, Laurence Olivier. This was a challenge due to the fact that Olivier had been dead for 13 years at the time of filming and the fact that this had never been attempted before in a major motion picture. Conran and his team mostly used footage and audio from Olivier’s younger days and this technology and performance would later be used in films like Superman Returns and later in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. A New Raiders of the Lost Ark One of the main criticisms Sean and Chris noted on our podcast episode was that Sky Captain’s overall similarity to Raiders of the Lost Ark. This seems to be intentional on the part of the filmmakers given the film is modeled after the action serials of the 1930’s and how Sky Captain is eerily similar to Indiana Jones. There’s also a diminished role of women with Polly Perkins and The Mysterious Woman, the latter of which we later find out is a robot designed by Totenkopf and robbing her of any sort of autonomy she may have had. Polly Perkins is also not a major help during the film as she’s continuously on a quest to find a perfect photo during this adventure only to have it thwarted at the end of the film because she had the cap covering the lens of her camera. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow also features a sort of alternate history of the buildup to World War II. Nazis aren’t explicitly mentioned neither is Hitler’s Third Reich, but we see a technological leap forward as the film opens with a zeppelin docking at the Empire State Building and huge robots wreaking havoc all over the world until ‘Sky Captain’ swoops in and saves the day. Raiders followed a similar plot pattern as Dr. Jones sought to stop the Nazis obtaining the Ark of the Covenant. The Nazis were actually seeking out these ancient artifacts in the hopes of giving them an edge in battle as well as legitimizing Hitler’s outrageous claims. The destructive machines of Totenkopf are similar to several prototype weapon designs created by the Nazis, but ultimately did not go into production. The Legacy of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow In spite of the massive marketing campaign and hype leading up to the release, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was not a major success. The film’s massive budget ($70 million) and lack of understanding in regards to the plot contributed to the financial failure as it only managed to gross $58 million. It was well received by critics at the time and the film still holds a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the film 4 stars and Entertainment Weekly gave it an “A-“ in their review. Kerry Conran has disputed the budget many times in subsequent interviews remarking that the film would not have cost as much to make if he were given permission to cast lesser known actors. Sky Captain has come to be known as a pioneer in the “digital backlot” type of filmmaking as it led to films like Sin City, 300, Speed Racer, The Spirit and Avatar. It’s impact is far-reaching among film genres, but it’s often forgotten as the pioneer of utilizing the digital backlot. Force Fed Sci-Fi’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Film Review and Rating On our unique scale for Force Fed Sci-Fi, both Sean and Chris rated Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow as WOULD NOT WATCH citing the film’s convoluted plot, poor chemistry between Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, bad writing, and dated visual effects as the main reasons for the rating. What did you think of Sky Captain? Did you make sense of the plot? Do you think Jude Law could’ve made a decent James Bond instead of Daniel Craig? Listen to the full episode to find our thoughts on these questions as well as our choices for Lens Flares, Red Shirts and the newest entry in This Week in Toxic Fandom. Please listen, rate and subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player and please leave us a five star review. Tune in next time as Sean and Chris will dissect the 1997 satire film Starship Troopers!
62 minutes | 6 months ago
This time, we we look at the 2013 sleeper hit with our Pacific Rim film review, and along the way we ask if the giant Jaegers are actually possible? Does Ron Perlman play the best character in the film? Finally, we examine Pacific Rim’s complicated legacy. Let’s dive in… Pacific Rim Movie Cast and Crew Written and Directed by Guillermo del Toro: Del Toro came into the project almost by accident as he was pitching a different movie, an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story At the Mountain of Madness, but when this didn’t materialize, he read the story treatment for Pacific Rim developed by Travis Beacham and immediately signed on to direct the film. Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket: At the time, Hunnam had achieved popularity after starring as the lead character on the FX series Sons of Anarchy. He had previously been considered for a role in a past del Toro film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori: Kikuchi had risen to international fame following her Oscar nominated performance in Babel and has remained a star in Asian cinema in the years since Pacific Rim. Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost: Elba has had a varied and impressive career over the past 20 years. From roles on shows like The Wire, Luther and The Office as well as films like Thor, The Jungle Book (2016) and Beasts of No Nation. The role of Pentecost was originally offered to Tom Cruise who declined due to conflicts in his shooting schedule. Also Starring: Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau Robert Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen Max Martini as Hercules Hansen Clifton Collins, Jr as Tendo Choi The Odd Journey to Pacific Rim The production of Pacific Rim actually began in 2006 when screenwriter Travis Beacham conceived of a film where giant robots battled giant monsters. While basic, the concept evolved over the next several years until he had a 25 page treatment. Then, in 2010, Guillermo del Toro was announced to be directing the aforementioned H.P. Lovecraft film, but this project was ultimately cancelled after del Toro was unwilling to compromise on the film’s budget as well as the eventual “R” rating for that film. Following that cancellation, del Toro partnered with Beacham to continue working on the script for the next year. Finally, in 2012, del Toro and his team were able to begin shooting and the schedule was hectic to say the least. Del Toro is notorious for the control he exerts over his productions. He often does not employ a second unit to shoot scenes that do not include principal actors or prominent scenes, but due to a condensed shooting schedule, he had no choice but to utilize a creative scheme to get his movie completed. He decided to use what he called a “splinter unit” that would arrive on set prior to the main schedule that included several actors and crew members and they would work on off days in the production. Del Toro also worked eighteen hours per day as well as encouraged improvisation and looser movements. In addition to the crazy production cycle, the post-production cycle was also tumultuous with a last minute decision to convert the film to 3D which added 9 months to the post-production schedule. When Can We Get a Jaeger? Obviously, the literal big technology on display in Pacific Rim is that of the Jaegers, the gigantic twin piloted robots that have been built to battle the monstrous Kaiju that are emerging from the Pacific Ocean. Is the technology currently available to develop these giant robots? In short, no and there are very compelling reasons why it’s not. For starters, the sheer size of the Jaegers. Just because something is bigger, doesn’t mean that it’s better. The amount of energy needed to move these robots would be staggering and would actually be weaker than say a robot of regular human proportions. In addition, there aren’t any materials that are strong enough to create the ultra-tough Jaegers. Some potential building materials could be titanic or carbon reinforced plastic or even beryllium, but the metal is toxic to humans and there’s also the weight of these materials to consider. As mentioned earlier, the energy required to power these Jaegers simply doesn’t exist right now. Conventional gasoline could work to power the Jaegers, but would only help them move about 50 feet before running out and requiring more fuel. There’s also the matter of programming these robots. Even though they’re piloted by humans, the robot would still require the programming for how to move their arms and legs. Humans don’t require this sort of complex programming thanks to the nervous system. No one consciously thinks about moving their arms or legs when they have to run, it just happens, but this wouldn’t naturally occur in a robot. As cool as the Jaegers appear on screen, they are still a long way off from even being remotely possible in our world. Pacific Rim’s Complicated Legacy In spite of the positive critical reception, it didn’t translate to box office success. Against the film’s huge budget of nearly $200 million, Pacific Rim only managed to gross $411 million at the worldwide box office. What’s interesting to note about that $411 million is that over $300 million of it was achieved at international theaters and just over $100 million came from the North American box office. It faced stiff competition during its release from other films and it probably didn’t help that this film was mistaken for another Transformers film. Even though the film had a stellar cast, they haven’t been up to much these days. Sons of Anarchy ended its run in 2014. Charlie Day is still going strong on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Idris Elba decided to have a disastrous run at the musical Cats. Finally, Rinko Kikuchi had a poorly received film in 47 Ronin. Guillermo del Toro has managed to find additional success following his releases Crimson Peak and The Shape of Water. It’s difficult to say whether or not Pacific Rim contributed to the downturn in these actors’ respective careers, but it’s something that is hard to ignore. What doesn’t help the original film’s legacy is the horrendous sequel that released in 2018 to critical ratings and a poor box office. That film labored in developmental hell for several years before proceeding, but went ahead without the involvement of Guillermo del Toro and the majority of the principal cast from the original film. There was also a video game adaptation that cemented its place in terrible film to video game adaptations. There were plans for an anime series to premiere on Netflix, but there have been no updates on this series as of 2018. Pacific Rim has also found a unique place when it comes to evaluating films in the form of the Mako Mori Test. The Test itself is a variation of the Bechdel Test which measures the representation of females across fiction while the Mako Mori Test specifically looks at female representation in film. The test composes the elements of: There being at least one female character The female character has her own narrative arc The arc is independent to that of a male character While Pacific Rim passes the Bechdel Test in terms of having female representation, it fails its own test in terms of how those female characters are presented to its audience. What did you think of Pacific Rim? Listen to our full episode to find out our choices of Red Shirts, Lens Flares and our rating. Let us know if you’ve developed your own test for evaluating representation in film and tune in next time when we discuss Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Please listen, rate and subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app!
56 minutes | 8 months ago
This time, we go over our Waterworld Movie Review, a massively overbudgeted epic of a film. Along the way we ask, how shameless is this film a rip-off of Mad Max, is this a pro-environmental film, and is Dennis Hooper a convincing villain? Let’s dive in… Waterworld Movie Cast and Crew Directed by Kevin Reynolds: Reynolds has establish a solid working relationship with Kevin Costner after directing films like Fandango, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Rapa Nui that all featured Costner. Therefore, it seemed natural for Reynolds to direct this Costner-led sci-fi adventure film. Kevin Costner as the Mariner: In the mid-90’s, Costner was Hollywood’s leading man starring Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves, JFK, and The Bodyguard. Think how popular Dwayne Johnson or Tom Cruise is now and you have an idea of how much of a box office draw Costner was during the late 80’s into the 90’s. Dennis Hopper as The Deacon: While the legendary actor has had a stellar career, his star had faded as the 80’s rolled into the 90’s and really began when he accepted a role in the now infamous adaptation of Super Mario Bros. He returned to prominence again after his villainous performance in Speed, but never returned to the renown he enjoyed during the 60’s and 70’s. Jeanne Triplehorn as Helen: She was just beginning her career as she starred in films such as Basic Instinct and The Firm. Since then, she’s been a mainstay on television after long runs on the shows Big Love and Criminal Minds. Tina Majorino as Enola: If the name doesn’t sound familiar, viewers may remember her the young clothing and hair accessory vendor in the cult classic Napolean Dynamite. She has also appeared in television shows such as Veronica Mars, True Blood, and Big Love. Also starring: Michael Jeter as Old Gregor Kim Coates as Drifter R.D. Call as Atoll Enforcer Gerard Murphy as The Nord Jack Black as Smoker Plane Pilot (this is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameo) An Underwater Production Initially, Waterworld was already approved for a budget of $100 million. Now that was in the early 90’s, and was a massive budget. Adjusted for inflation, that would be equivalent to $174 million today and this had the makings of a success for any studio. It had a decent science fiction premise and Hollywood’s most prominent actor at the time, but the budget slowly began to creep up. A storm had destroyed many of the massive sets that were built for the film forcing the production to shut down to allow for the sets to be rebuilt. This added $35 million to the budget and by the time filming had wrapped, the production budget came out to be $175 million. With promoting and marking costs added, Waterworld‘s final budget came out to $235 million. Many aspects of the film would be just as troubled. The film’s original composer, Mark Isham, was fired after completing about a quarter of the music and was replaced by James Newton Howard. Costner remarked that Isham’s firing was due to his core sounding “too bleak and ethnic” for the tone of the film. In addition, Kevin Reynolds left the production citing frequent clashes with Kevin Costner. Prior to the film, Costner had won an Oscar for directing Dances With Wolves and maybe thought his input would be welcome given his past success. However, according to Reynolds, Costner became a “backseat director” and forced Reynolds to leave the film entirely. The relationship was strained so much that the two would not work together until Costner was cast in the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. It Could Happen … Sort Of The premise of Waterworld is that Earth has become completed submerged following the melting of the polar ice caps and has forced the remaining humans to live on the water. This premise isn’t entirely from fiction, as there has been recent geological findings that had led researchers to theorize that Earth was entirely covered in water roughly 3 billion years ago. However, with the current trends in climate change data and monitoring of the polar ice caps, there is data to support that ocean levels are rising, but they will not rise to the levels seen in the film. Even if the ice caps were to melt, ocean levels would rise about 200 feed and would submerge many areas of the world. At the heart of the bleak future portrayed in Waterwold, there is actually a pro-environmental message. It’s implied throughout the film that humanity caused the ice caps to melt, but it’s never explicitly stated. The film does take place in the year 2500; so, it’s safe to assume that some things are lost to history and humanity’s role in its demise is now the stuff of legend. But, in the film, we see the Mariner subsisting on a diet mainly on fruits and vegetables and is very protective of the plants in his care. This is taken from history as sailors in the 18th and 19th centuries would carry stores of fruits for consumption in order to avoid diseases like scurvy. The main villain, The Deacon, has made his lair on an old oil tanker which we later learn is the infamous Exxon Valdez, which was responsible for a massive oil spill in 1989. The Deacon repeatedly makes references to “redeeming” the legacy of the ship and its captain, Joseph Hazelwood, who was ultimately blamed for the disaster on the grounds of drunkenness and incompetence. even the connotation of the term “Smokers” is negative as the world was beginning to understand the effects of smoking as well as the effects of secondhand smoke. Waterworld asks its viewers to accept a lot of information that doesn’t make sense. For starters, even though the film is set 500 years in the future, we are expected to believe that there would be scores of working vehicles such as boats, jet skis, oil tankers and even planes, let alone that there would still be people who would be be able to learn how to pilot them. There is also a wide array of weapons that are still able to shoot projectiles rather than rust to pieces decades ago. There is also the issue of the Mariner being able to adapt to an ocean existence mere centuries after the ice caps melt. These adaptations come in the form of gills and webbed feet, which label him as a “Mute-O” to the humans he encounters at the Atoll. These type of adaptations develop over hundreds of thousands of years and wouldn’t appear in humanity for a long time before we’re shown in Waterworld. Is This a Cult Classic? As mentioned earlier, Waterworld was weighed down by a massive production and marketing budget and made it impossible for the film to make money at the box office. When it was all said and done, the film only grossed $264 million. It still finished as the ninth highest grossing film of 1995, but a film of Waterworld’s budget needs to gross in the neighborhood of $400 million for it to break even and earn a profit. However, in the quarter century since its release, the film has enjoyed an odd post-release success. Waterworld eventually became profitable thanks to home media sales and selling the television rights. The film also received several video game adaptations which were not received well since when does any video game movie tie-in ever do well? However, the film’s novelization, written by Max Allan Collins, was successful and managed to expand the world the film is set. In addition to the novelization, a limited comic book series was released that revealed more of the Mariner’s backstory. It’s also become a popular stunt show attraction at Universal Studios at its locations in Hollywood, Japan and Singapore. A 20 minute YouTube video can be viewed that details a showing from the Hollywood location. As Sean and Chris discuss in the podcast episode, there have also been rumors of a longer cut than what is currently available for viewing. The film’s run time is about 2 hours and 15 minutes, but there is supposedly a three hour cut version that would provide clarity to some of the character’s motivations and actions. However, given that no one is really asking for this like they are for Zac Snyder’s cut of Justice League, it’s unlikely viewers will be “treated” to a three hour cut of one of the most infamous films of all time and it’s equally unlikely that we’ll ever see a sequel. Imagine our relief… Waterworld Movie Review and Rating On our unique scale for the podcast, our hosts were in agreement yet again and called Waterworld a WOULD NOT WATCH. Sean cited the film’s runtime, awkward pacing and incomplete characterization as his reasons for his rating. Chris cited the blatant rip-off of the Mad Max franchise as his primary reason for his rating. Both agreed that the film is more known for its tumultuous production rather than the film itself as the main attractor for people to view it. While the film is slightly more watchable than Kevin Costner’s later attempt in sci-fi, The Postman, it’s not much better.
61 minutes | 9 months ago
A Quiet Place
This time, we review the family survival drama film A Quiet Place and ask how did John Krasinski go from office prankster to survivalist farmer, is this a film with social commentary, and why have a baby during the apocalypse? Let’s dive in… A Quiet Place (2018) Cast and Crew Written, directed and starring John Krasinski as Lee Abbott: Krasinski rose to prominence following his starring role as loveable goofball Jim Halpert on the US version of The Office where he gained a reputation as a comedic actor. Then he slowly began to turn around that perception by appearing in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and the Amazon Prime series Jack Ryan. A Quiet Place also helped him separate him from his Jim Halper role even further. His appearance in A Quiet Place not only cemented a new perception of Krasinski as an actor, but also as a director as this was only the third time he sat in the director’s chair and his first time as a director for a major studio. He also shares screenwriting credits with fellow writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott: In real life, Blunt and Krasinski are married, but had not starred together in a film before A Quiet Place. When Krasinski signed on to direct, Blunt was initially hesitant to appear in the film until she read his script and asked him to be cast in the role of Evelyn. For a more in-depth review of Blunt’s early career, check out our past episode on Live. Die. Repeat: The Edge of Tomorrow. Millicent Simmonds as Regan Abbott: Simmonds is deaf in real life and even coached her fellow actors in the use of American Sign Language (ASL). Her casting was intentional as Krasinski wanted a young deaf actress to play his daughter in the film. She also suggested two of the more poignant moments in the film when Regan stops her father from putting in a new hearing implant and at the end of the film when Lee signs to his daughter “I have always loved you.” Noah Jupe as Marcus Abbott: In spite of his young age, Jupe has already appeared in several big-time productions like The Night Manager, Suburbicon and more recently Ford v Ferrari and along with his young co-star, they are able to contribute to the film in ways that many actors their age wouldn’t be able to do. Politicizing Parenthoood After watching the film and reading interviews of John Krasinski, it is easy to interpret the film’s theme as that of parenthood. Not only parenthood, but also how to prepare one’s children for the future in addition to how to deal with guilt following a family tragedy. However, since we live in a society that refuses to accept a simple explanation, critics have been analyzing this film for any sort of deeper political or social commentary. Krasinski did mention that he watched horror films with a social commentary like Jaws and Get Out for inspiration, but did not intentionally make this film with an eye on direct commentary. New Yorker writer Richard Brody called the film “the antithesis of Get Out” with a conservative and pro-gun message. It’s difficult to determine how Brody came to this conclusion, but he seems to fixate on the inclusion of guns in the film. Krasinski has directly rebuked this critique in subsequent interviews saying that while he can understand how someone could come to that conclusion, really his sole intention with the film was to make the theme about parenthood. In contrast to Brody’s review, Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Barron noted heavy religious themes with a pro-life message in the film citing the family’s agrarian life and Evelyn’s decision to have her baby in spite of the apocalyptic circumstances. Krasinski isn’t going to respond to every critique and any self-respecting director will defend their work in spite of the criticism. Even though the film has only been out for a couple of years at the time of this writing, there have been wildly different themes and interpretations other than what is onscreen. Within the theme of parenthood, we see Evelyn and Lee try to move forward after their youngest child is brutally killed by one of the invading creatures in the opening few minutes of the film. At some point, every member of the family questions their role in the child’s death and asks if there was anything more they could have done to save him. It’s here we get some of the best moments of the film where Marcus reminds his father that he needs to talk with his daughter and remind her that her brother’s death was not her fault. We also see Regan deal with her own guilt as she was the one who let Beau have the toy with the batteries, ultimately attracting the creature that kills Beau. Finally, we see a tender moment between Lee and Evelyn after their child is born when she asks him to protect their children no matter what. Shhhhh! With a film titled A Quiet Place, it’s obvious from the beginning that sound is going to be the most important element. In the first scene where we meet the Abbott family and witness the tragedy of young Beau being killed, we do not hear that many sounds. There’s the pitter patter of tiny feet and an object slipping from a shelf, but we don’t hear a true loud sound until Beau turns on the toy and it attracts the creature. As an audience we see that sound is something to be feared during this experience. While the loud sounds are not used often, they are used very effectively. This is especially true when Marcus and Regan are playing until he accidentally breaks a lantern. This would normally be an innocuous sound, but their life shown onscreen is idyllic in spite of the silence that we forget that sound is to be avoided. In addition to the sound design, composer Marco Beltrami utilized a more traditional horror film score to heighten the tension in various scenes especially during the scene where Evelyn’s water breaks and is forced to hide from the creatures who have infiltrated her home. It’s one of the more tense scenes in any film and belongs in the pantheon of great horror movie scenes. Beltrami also assisted the sound crew in helping to create a more melodic flow to the film and in many ways, having a traditional score of sorts helps to normalize the film and not make it seem like an experimental film. Sounds are used to heighten the tension and the combination of the film score is incredibly effective during the final scene. In that scene, a creature has cornered Evelyn and her children until Regan utilizes her implant to hurt the creature. This causes it to open its armor and allow for Evelyn to kill it and end the film on a moment of determination as she cocks the shotgun and prepares for a new fight. A Quiet Place Box Office and Award Nominations The film was made on a relatively small budget of $17 million (there have also been estimates of $20 million) and the film was a major success at the box office with a worldwide gross of almost $341 million and was a success among the critics with a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It received several nominations at the Saturn Awards as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing, but would lose this to Bohemian Rhapsody. With the film’s major success at the box office and among critics, a sequel was immediately green lit and was originally set to premiere in March 2020, but was delayed to September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. John Krasinski will return to direct the film as well as the original cast along with Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou joining the principal cast. A Quiet Place Review and Rating For A Quiet Place, our hosts were in agreement as both Sean and Chris rated the film as WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY citing the fantastic performances of the cast, the sound design, and genre bending as the elements to enjoy. What did you think of A Quiet Place? Did you enjoy the sound design? Would you be capable of surviving in this world? Listen to the full episode to find out our choices for Lens Flare as well as the return of our Yellow Shirts. Please listen, rate and subscribe to Force Fed Sci-Fi in your podcast player of choice, leave us a 5 star review and tune in next time when we review the 1995 film Waterworld starring Kevin Costner!
46 minutes | 10 months ago
Space Force (Netflix TV Series)
This time, the Force Fed Sci-Fi team binged so we could bring you our own Netflix's Space Force review and rating. While watching the latest Netflix comedy Space Force we asked ourselves how is Mark Naird different from Michael Scott, is John Malkovich the new everyman of Hollywood and did Netflix somehow defeat the US Government? Let’s dive in…. Space Force Cast -Steve Carell as General Mark Naird: Carell has made his career in comedy after a long stint as lead character Michael Scott on the US version of The Office and in roles in films like Anchorman, The Forty Year Old Virgin, Get Smart and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Carell is also credited as a creator and executive producer on Space Force along with co-creator Greg Daniels, who also created the US version of The Office. There are noted similarities between the former show and Space Force, especially the use of a single camera, the deadpan comedy and various workplace hijinks. As Chris and Sean note during our podcast episode, Carell’s performance as Naird is more believable than Michael Scott as a General Naird-like individual that can be found in just about every workplace imaginable. -John Malkovich as Dr. Adrian Mallory: Malkovich’s film career extends back to the late 1970’s and has appeared in films like Empire of the Sun, Of Mice and Men, Being John Malkovich, Burn After Reading, Secretariat and RED. In recent years, he’s developed a reputation of portraying manic characters like in RED where he plays a paranoid, ex-CIA assassin who’s convinced of a major conspiracy to eliminate him and his former colleagues. In spite of his stellar resume, he has yet to receive an Academy Award for his efforts, but hopefully that may change in the next several years. He’s truly able to show off his range with the character of Dr. Mallory in Space Force as we see him and Naird have a lot of friction due to Mallory being a true scientist and Naird being military. However, in the end, they have truly tender moments among being colleagues / friends. -Also Starring: Ben Schwartz as F. Tony Scarapiducci Diana Silvers as Erin Naird Tawny Newsome as Captain Angela Ali Lisa Kudrow as Maggie Naird Fred Willard as Fred Naird (His last credited role prior to his death in May 2020) Is Space Force Real? While the Space Force as we know it gained traction in late 2019, its actual history extends back to 1982 when it was known as the Air Force Space Command and its mission didn't exactly have war-like objectives. They were primarily responsible for launching satellites, ensuring the friendly use of space, weather forecasting, missile warning and navigation. This was originally a division within the United States Air Force and not its own separate branch as we now know it to be. The Air Force Space Command was dissolved on December 20, 2019 with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 and was formed into its own branch that became simply known as Space Force. The mission of the new Space Force is wildly different from that of its predecessor. Its primary missions include space superiority, domain awareness, control of space, missile warning and defense and nuclear command. In essence, this branch is responsible for the militarization of space in spite of the International Space Treaty that discourages nations from utilizing space for these purposes. While its first mission was successful in March 2020, it remains unclear what the future of the Space Force will look like and how they could shape future battlefields. Space Force Satire Obviously, Netflix's Space Force is inspired by the real world decision to create a new branch of the military along with the sometimes farcical quality of the Presidential administration. There are many allusions to POTUS, but he is never directly named along with POTUS’ propensity to tweet about anything and everything. Even the First Lady is not safe as her fashion sensibility is dragged in one e...
53 minutes | 10 months ago
This time, we discuss yet another Ethan Hawke film with a Daybreakers film review and along the way we ask, how can the Spierig Brothers have major issues with big pharma, why does this film disregard literal centuries of vampire lore, and is Ethan Hawke really half-assing his job as an actor? Let’s dig in…. Daybreakers Movie Cast and Crew Written & Directed by the Spierig Brothers: The Brothers have firmly placed themselves as working exclusively in the horror genre including this film as well as Predestination (also with Ethan Hawke), Jigsaw and Winchester. Starring Ethan Hawke as Edward Dalton: We’ve previously discussed the early career of Hawke in our past episode reviewing Gattaca. He had a great career following the release of that film and had major clout heading into Daybreakers. It’s rare for him to take on a genre film of this type, but he’s also starred in the remake of Assault on Precinct 13. Willem Dafoe as Lionel “Elvis” Cormac: As our podcast hosts observe, many people of their generation became aware of Dafoe following his performance as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, but Daybreakers isn’t a film for him to lean on in terms of strength of his acting career. He’s done a good job of redeeming his career following Oscar nominated performances in The Florida Project and Eternity’s Gate as well as turning in an acclaimed performance in The Lighthouse. Sam Neill as Charles Bromley: While many would argue Neill’s peak was in Jurassic Park, he’s managed to turn in solid performances since that release. There was a great opportunity for Neill to be a great villain in this film and is instead reduced to Bond villain type tropes. Also Starring: Isabel Lucas, Michael Dorman, and Claudia Karvan Daybreakers Movie Summary: A Reflection of Our World? As we discuss in the podcast episode, living during a pandemic certainly helps to change one’s perspective of this film. No one in 2009 could’ve imagined a global pandemic that would affect everyone and force us to confront a new reality. In Daybreakers, a global pandemic has changed the majority of the world’s population into vampires and the population was quick to accept the new normal and discard the old ways of humanity. However, even though this world is dominated by vampires, we still see some reflections of our world including freak outs in coffee bars as well as a critique on big pharma and the healthcare for profit system. Right away, we see the effects of addiction when a homeless, starving vampire is dragged away to an unknown fate as well as the introduction of the subsiders which, are vampires who have become so desperate for blood that they have started drinking their own blood. We also see the rich, corporate elite controlling the research and ultimately use the medicine that would only enrich themselves as opposed for the greater good. In the end, Edward’s colleague has a breakthrough regarding the blood substitute he was working on earlier in the film, but at the same time, Edward has developed a cure that will turn the vampire population back into humans. However, his colleague wants to prevent him from releasing the cure as it would give him wealth and power in this world. On the flip side, due to the nature of the cure Edward developed, he’s able to give it away for free just through the act of other vampires biting him and drinking his blood. We also see the futility of humanity and their struggle in the second half of the film. The vampire army which isn’t exactly an army, but instead it’s more of a hunting party as their sole purpose is to track humans and imprison them for eventual feeding and killing. We also debate the need for an “army” in this film as the only resource worth fighting over now is blood and the “army” is just used to capture humans. Edward is brought to a group of human survivors who have attempted to turn to politics to help mediate the divide between the surviving human population and the ruling vampire class. Although, this is for naught as Edward, Elvis and Audrey find their politician friend and their remaining human friends slaughtered in a remote cabin. Throw Out the Baby with the Blood Water While Daybreakers is obviously a vampire film, it manages to disregard centuries of lore that came before it and tries very hard to establish its own lore and history. Bram Stoker’s Dracula has remained the gold standard of the vampire subgenre and remains the quintessential story every vampire story aspires to be. Dracula has also managed to evolve over the years including a recent miniseries on Netflix that released in early 2020 as well as many remakes and tributes since the release of the original film starring Bela Lugosi. However, horror films in the late 2000’s were not on the same level as horror films in the 2020’s and vampire films can be partially blamed for the decline of the genre. In the mid 2000’s, there was a book series that was immensely popular in the young adult genre and these were the Twlight books. As many are familiar with (even if you haven’t read or seen the films), these books featured a vampire who’s permanently stuck in his teenage years falling in love with a beautiful human woman and they struggle to coexist in each other’s world. Film adaptations soon followed the success of the books. While these films found box office success, they were not well received by critics and many will point to these books and their subsequent adaptations as leaving the horror genre in a bad state. The Walking Dead would later premiere in 2010 and The Conjuring films would begin in 2013 to major critical and commercial success. As a result, horror films are at the forefront of cinema once again. However, hopes were high in Daybreakers in 2009 at the time of its release, but this would not prove to be the savior of the genre. Unimpressive Characters and Acting It’s hard to imagine actors like Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe as overacting or even under acting, but it unfortunately happens with this film. Willem Dafoe’s character carries the nickname of Elvis and at one point begins to sing as Elvis to explain the nature of his second moniker as if no one is familiar with Elvis or his contribution to history. On the podcast episode, Sean and Chris agreed that this was the major Lens Flare of the film – to no one’s surprise. In addition, Ethan Hawke doesn’t do much to stand out and it’s strange to see an actor of his caliber be so lackadaisical and not give his performance much to desire. Even Sam Neill had potential to stand out in this film, but he becomes a blood swilling villain at the end of the film as he reveals his grand evil plan to Edward. Film Issues and Missing Scenes? Many of the plot points seems to go unanswered or they were simply underdeveloped. There are hints of an implied romance with Audrey and Edward as well as an additional romance or at least a close friendship between Audrey and the vampire politician they’ve enlisted to help them. The film also opens with a hyper stylized scene showing a young vampire exposing herself to a sunrise as a form of suicide in lieu of title cards to set up this complex world in the ten years following the vampire pandemic. The subsiders were under-utilized as well as we’re treated to one scene in the entire film of Edward and his brother dispatching one after it has broken into Ed’s home. These multiple issues led us to speculate that maybe a director’s cut has yet to be released or there’s a multitude of scenes that were not included in the theatrical cut. However, given that it’s been over 10 years since the home media release of the film without any additional releases, it seems unlikely that we’ll get a cut that explains the lack of cohesiveness in the film’s plot. Daybreakers Film Review and Rating Our hosts differed slightly in their ratings with Chris rating the film as a WOULD NOT WATCH and Sean rating the film as a WOULD WATCH. For Chris, the grossly underdeveloped story and confusing subplots were detractors for a film that had an interesting premise, but tries way too hard to establish its own lore. For Sean, he enjoyed Ethan Hawke’s performance as well as the over-top-gore, especially during the film’s climax, but the film didn’t mesh overall for him. Maybe do yourself a favor and save this one for a Netflix or Hulu watch when you can’t find anything else to watch. What did you think of Daybreakers? Did you like any of the acting? Was the gore too much for you? Listen to the full episode to find out Sean and Chris’ choices for Red Shirts and tune in next time as they break down the new Netflix series Space Force starring Steve Carell and John Malkovich! Please listen, rate and subscribe to the podcast in your podcast app of choice and join us next time!
61 minutes | a year ago
This time, we’re taking a look at the cult film Dredd (2012 movie) and along the way we ask, how does this film compare to the original film from 1995, how can a character thrive with little to no emotional development and just how badass is Ma-Ma? Let’s dive in…. Dredd (2012) Cast and Crew Directed by Pete Travis: Travis’ primary credit before Dredd was the 2008 assassination drama Vantage Point and has not done too much since this film wrapped up with the exception being a History Channel miniseries Project Blue Book. Written and Produced by Alex Garland: Garland has become a new voice in the sci-fi genre having previously written films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Never Let Me Go as well as directing Ex Machina and Annihilation as well as the recent F/X series Devs. There were reports in post-production that Garland took over the editing process from Travis with Travis supposedly being alright with this arrangement. This may suggest that Garland was more hands on during filming than previously believed, with star Karl Urban even suggesting in 2018 that Dredd should be considered Garland’s directorial debut and not Ex Machina. Starring Karl Urban as Judge Dredd: It’s hard to imagine Karl Urban being a lead actor in a solo film, but that’s only because he’s been in so many great ensemble films like Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings and Red. He’s also appeared in films like Doom, The Bourne Supremacy and The Chronicles of Riddick, as well as an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while appearing as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok. Olivia Thirlby as Anderson: Thirlby’s breakthrough came in 2007 after appearing in the off-beat comedy Juno, but has since gone on to appear in No Strings Attached and Chappaquiddick; although, she doesn’t have many widely known credits to her name. Lena Heady as Ma-Ma: Heady has been a mainstay in cinema and television for almost 30 years now, but is best known for her appearances in films like 300, The Purge and Fighting with My Family as well as being part of the main cast of Game of Thrones for nearly the entirety of the show – if you’ve watched it, you’ll understand that’s quite an achievement. Wood Harris as Kay: Harris got his start in the beloved Disney/Sports film Remember the Titans, but has also displayed his range in projects like The Wire, Ant-Man, Creed and Blade Runner 2049. In Dredd, we get to see him play off of the character of Anderson for most of the film. Domhnall Gleeson as Techie: Gleeson’s character doesn’t have a name in the film, but it’s clear that he’s been suffering at the hands of Ma-Ma for years prior to the events shown. Gleeson himself has come up other times in our podcast (listen to our episodes on the Star Wars sequel trilogy as we touch on him playing General Hux) and has proven in recent years that he’s an incredibly talented actor History of Judge Dredd: Comic Character to Big Screen The character of Judge Dredd has a pretty unique history after beginning life as a comic character. The character was created as part of British sci-fi comic, 2000 A.D., that debuted in March 1977. While the character hasn’t evolved too much over the past 40 years, Dredd has found himself in unique storylines such as Dredd coming back as a zombie to judge criminals as well as venturing beyond the wall to combat gangs of mutant nomads. Judge Dredd has remained 2000 A.D.’s most popular character and even received a film adaptation in 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone. Before continuing, this original film needs to be discussed. For starters, one of the original characteristics of Dredd is that he NEVER removed his helmet, no matter what. However, since the original film starred Sylvester Stallone and he still looked good at one point in his career, he consistently removed his helmet throughout the film much to the chagrin to the fans of the original comic character. Another issue is the film’s rating of PG-13 in spite of the comic’s reputation as being breathtakingly violent and bloody. While the original intention of the film was to obtain a R rating and was even edited several times to appease the MPAA, Stallone pressured the studio to edit it even more to obtain that PG-13 rating. The final issue was the film’s budget. In 1995, the film was budgeted for $95 million which was and is, an insane of amount of money for a film. For context, $95 million in 1995 is about the same as $157 million in today’s currency value. This large budget in the mid 90’s made it next to impossible for the film to be profitable as it only made $113 million during its theatrical run. In contemporary interviews, Stallone has stated that the direction of the film wasn’t immediately clear to him despite his self-proclaimed love of the original source material. However, there are also numerous reports of Stallone working with the studio to make the film more of an action/comedy instead of the dark and violent version of the comic. Judge Dredd has been consistently rated as one of the worst films ever made and remains the biggest flop of Stallone’s career. Needless to say, the lack of success with this film made Hollywood hesitant to produce a new film for almost 15 years until Alex Garland and Pete Travis entered the picture and began developing the film that would release in 2012. Dredd (2012) Character Discussion The film Dredd is filled with characters who play off of each other in various interesting ways. However, Judge Dredd is really not one of them. While he does interact with all of the other characters at one point in the film, he doesn’t undergo any sort of major arc or change by the time the film has ended. The majority of the development is transferred to Anderson as it’s revealed she has developed telepathic abilities after growing up near the irradiated zone beyond the wall. She’s able to see people’s true motives as she makes arrests and struggles with the morality to carry out sentences on those criminals. The best interactions in the film are those between Ma-Ma’s henchman Kay and Anderson, as she continues to look into his mind and is spooked by what she sees. Anderson’s ability also enables her to have empathy with those criminals she is busting with Dredd. In Dredd’s world, everything is black and white; you’re either a criminal or a complete innocent with no middle ground. By the end of the film, she’s able to impart some of the empathy to Dredd as he grants her a passing grade and allows her to become a Judge. In the middle of all of this, is the conflict between Dredd and Ma-Ma. From the beginning of the film, we see that Judge Dredd will do whatever he can to accomplish his mission and punish the criminals. On the other side, we see Ma-Ma being ruthless and throwing people off balconies and coldly calculating her next move to try and eliminate the Judges. It’s almost like watching Batman and Joker go at each other and in one particular scene, Ma-Ma lines up three heavy machine guns to try and kill Dredd, but fails to do so only to see Dredd emerge through the smoke and toss one of her henchmen down the massive shaft of the slum skyscrapers. In addition, Ma-Ma uses a Hail Mary and brings in a group of corrupt Judges who have taken a bribe to try and kill Dredd and Anderson. In one the best scenes in the film, Dredd faces down against two of the corrupt Judges as we think that these corrupted individuals have gained the upper hand on Dredd until Anderson arrives and saves him from certain death. At the end, Dredd goes back to work and resumes his daily task of cleaning up Mega City 1. Film’s Setting: The Cursed Earth of Dredd The setting of Dredd is the massive city appropriately titled Mega City 1, which has emerged from some sort of nuclear fallout that has wiped out the United States. It’s not clear if the nuclear fallout was caused by an accident of nuclear war, but the former United States has been condensed into these massive mega cities. The roles of police officers, prosecutors and judges have been consolidated into one and they dispense justice at a moment’s notice. Normally in post-apocalyptic films, we see a complete breakdown at society and meager attempts to reorganize, but not only do we see a rebuilt society, we see a complete reorganization of it that has become desensitized to violence and death as automated robots come out to clean up dead bodies for recycling. These Mega Cities are not great places to live as we hear that unemployment is at the unfathomable rate of 96% as well as obvious rampant crime that the Judges are powerless to completely eradicate. Dredd even remarks that one in every five rookie Judges are killed on their first day, which leads us to wonder what the death rate is like for Judges overall. The nuclear fallout has also led to mutations in the population like we see in Anderson, but in the comic there are also mutants that have grown additional limbs or constantly live with decaying flesh. Dredd and Anderson also have to contend with a drug that’s growing in popularity, Slo-Mo, a drug that slows down time for the user. While the visual effects are great to look at on-screen as they’re not overused, they also lend to a distracting element of enhancing certain violence. Dredd Sequel? Despite the positive reviews from critics and fans, Dredd has not received a sequel and it’s more and more unlikely that one will be made. We found this perplexing as they found through their research that most of the film’s budget was made up in distribution deals as well as earning an additional $20 million in home media releases. A lot of factors went into the film’s lack of success, such as the fact that 2012 was a loaded year for films such as The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall. So it’s possible that audiences simply suffered from blockbuster fatigue, or the more likely explanation is that audiences simply didn’t know about it as many of those involved in the film, including Karl Urban, have noted that the studio didn’t devote resources into marketing and promoting the film. Since Dredd’s release in 2012, there have been rumors since of a series that could be developed for a streaming service with Karl Urban repeating numerous times that he would be onboard for a series, but the latest was in 2017 with Amazon developing a series. However, there has been no news since then and Urban subsequently moving on to other projects. We mentioned on our podcast episode that the premise of Dredd could lend itself to a video game that places players in the shoes of Dredd or another Judge as they combat crime in Mega City 1, would you play that video game? Force Fed Sci-Fi’s Own Dredd (2012) Movie Review and Rating On our unique scale for Force Fed Sci-Fi, our podcast hosts were once again in agreement with their rating by calling Dredd a WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY with both Sean and Chris citing the interesting characters, over the top action and rich world as the main standouts to the film. Now we’ll just see who shows up to that party in full Judge Dredd cosplay. What did you think of Dredd? Do you agree with our rating? Listen to our full episode to find out our choices of Red Shirts and Lens Flares as well as our thoughts as to whether Dredd or Anderson has the better post Judge life? Please listen and subscribe to the podcast and please leave us a five star on your podcast player of choice as it helps other listeners find the show. Tune in next time as we continue reviewing Ethan Hawke films as we review Daybreakers!
61 minutes | a year ago
The Cell (movie)
This time, we review the Silence of the Lambs rip off The Cell (movie) and along the way we ask just how obvious can the religious symbolism get, did this movie contribute to society’s morbid obsession with serial killers and why is J-Lo’s butt front and center in the frame? Let’s dig in…. The Cell Movie Cast and Crew Directed by Tarsem Singh: Prior to directing The Cell, Singh had built a career in the early 1990’s directing several popular music videos including R.E.M’s “Losing My Religion” and Lou Reed’s “What’s Good.” While The Cell serves as Singh’s directorial debut, he’s since gone to direct heavily stylized films like Immortals and Mirror Mirror. Written by Mark Protosevich: While Protosevich doesn’t have many credits to his name, he is just as famous for the films he didn’t get to work on. Prior to the Batman film series being rebooted in 2005, he was approached to write a sequel for Batman & Robin. He had even finished a draft and helped cast several roles before Batman & Robin flopped and any plans for a sequel were immediately scrapped. He was also contacted by Steven Spielberg for story ideas for a planned fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise before a soft reboot occurred in 2015 with Jurassic World. Jennifer Lopez as Catherine Dean: Lopez’s musical career was just beginning in 1999 & 2000, but she had built a successful career as an actress having appeared in films like Jack, Selena, Out of Sight and Anaconda. Following her appearance in The Cell, she transitioned to romantic comedies to avoid being typecast as well as focusing on a music career that has garnered international fame. Vince Vaughn as Peter Novak: Vaughn’s career direction was still unclear at this time after appearing in the highly acclaimed Swingers as well as the maligned sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park and the unnecessary remake of Psycho. Vaughn’s portrayal of the dogged FBI agent even had to be toned down in the editing process in order to soften his character. Vincent D’Onofrio as Carl Stargher: We’ve covered D’Onofrio on our previous episode reviewing Men in Black but his career has been long and impressive which includes long runs on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Netflix’s Daredevil as well as film appearances in Jurassic World and the recent Magnificent Seven remake. Also Starring: Dean Norris as Agent Cole, Jake Weber as Agent Ramsey, Dylan Baker as Henry West, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Dr. Kent The Cell vs the Losing My Religion music video As our podcast show hosts point out during the episode, the symbolism of The Cell is obvious at times and this can be traced back to Singh’s beginning career as a director of music videos. The film has not transitioned well in the digital age as the film appears grainy at times as well as it having issues in sound design. In addition, films released during this same time have made the successful transition to a digital format, The Cell has not achieved that as of yet. The graininess of the film gives it a sort of music video quality which would have been fine if The Cell was a shorter film. Having to sit through a nearly two hour long R.E.M video is exhausting. Singh even managed to recycle several of the sets he used for R.E.M’s now legendary music video for the song Losing My Religion. There are some aspects of the film that are beautifully framed such as the opening dream sequence in the desert and the final battle sequence between the angelic Deane and the lizard demon version of Stargher. However, several of Singh’s artistic influences are incredibly obvious upon further research and include references to 20th Century artists like H.R. Giger, who created the design of the creatures in the film Alien, and Odd Nedrum who infamously created a painting of a woman defecating in the forest. If he utilized imagery from Salvador Dali, that may have been pushing it. Though, one strong aspect of the film is the incredible costume design. They are elaborate and suit the characters in these exaggerated versions while they are exploring Stargher’s mind. Society’s Obsession Over Serial Killers Over the past several decades, society has developed a morbid curiosity with serial killers. Beginning with the nationally televised criminal trial of Ted Bundy, we’ve become obsessed with learning more and more about these infamous mass murderers and this fascination has made its way into Hollywood. Following the success of Silence of the Lambs in the early 90’s, we’ve gone deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of madness. Jeffrey Dahmer was caught merely a year before the release of SOTL and was later killed in prison in 1994 and in the same year, John Wayne Gacy (aka “The Killer Clown”) was executed in prison. In the following year, famed FBI agent John E. Douglas, released his book titled Mindhunter about the early days of developing the science of criminal profiling. This book would later serve as the inspiration behind the acclaimed Netflix series of the same name. Many podcast listeners have likely subscribed to a podcast that discusses the mystery of the Zodiac Killer. If not, you’re going home to binge a season of Criminal Minds or reading a new book about Jack the Ripper. Serial killers and their crimes have been the subject of numerous films, television shows, documentaries, video games and podcasts for years and will likely continue to remain a part of our entertainment culture. It’s not hard to imagine that screenwriter Mark Protosevich was reading Mindhunter and thought about a way to literally go into the mind of a serial killer and put that into his script for The Cell, either that or he watched Silence of the Lambs and thought what drives Hannibal Lecter and made his own film. The Cell Box Office (and its success?) Despite the mixed critical reception, The Cell was a box office success having grossed over $100 million and Roger Ebert even named it as one of his favorite films of the decade. We have to question what Ebert was seeing that we weren’t, but we have to disagree with the legendary critic on that one. Most of the praise went to the costume design as well as the performance of the cast, but noted that its attempt to replicate the aforementioned Silence of the Lambs fell short. It even received a direct-to-video sequel in 2009 but this eliminated the science fiction aspect and instead focused on a psychic investigator who is tracking a serial killer cult. To the surprise of no one, this film is not on our list for future review. Force Fed Sci-Fi’s Own The Cell Movie Review and Rating On our unique scale on Force Fed Sci-Fi, our hosts were in agreement as both Sean and Chris labeled this film a WOULD NOT WATCH for similar reasons. The technical issues didn’t help while watching, the odd choice of aesthetics throughout the film are off putting at times, and the incomplete character arcs all add up to a film that misses the mark while trying too hard to live up to the films that influenced it. So what did you think of The Cell? Listen to our episode to find our choice of Lens Flares and maybe the return of a Yellow Shirt and more! As always, please listen, rate and subscribe to The Force Fed Sci-Fi Movie Podcast on your favorite podcast app of choice and tune in next time as we review the Karl Urban post-apocalyptic buddy cop film Dredd!
53 minutes | a year ago
This time, we’re taking a look at the influential cult classic Brazil (movie) and along the way we ask if George Orwell’s 1984 really played a part in developing the script, asking how influential is this film and is anyone safe from the ire of Terry Gilliam? Let’s dig in…. Brazil (1985) Cast & Crew Directed by Terry Gilliam: We’ve previously covered Gilliam and his “style” in our previous episode about the movie 12 Monkeys but this film was an early example of his talents much earlier in his directorial career. Prior to this he had directed films like Time Bandits and Jabberwocky and had gained the distinction of being the only American born member of the Monty Python comedy group. He also wrote for many of their sketches and films and brings a certain quirky quality to his dialogue and scenes. He had a hand in writing Brazil, but there is some controversy as to who helped him compose the first draft. For over 20 years, he had contended that his friend, Charles Alverson, did not help him write the screenplay. Now, Alverson was paid for his work and was ultimately not credited in the final product. However, when the first draft was published that contained Alverson’s original notes, Gilliam had to own up and admit he had been throwing Alverson under the bus for over two decades. Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry: Pryce wasn’t just beginning his great career in the mid 1980’s, but he had developed a solid reputation while performing on the London theater scene and had even earned a Tony Award. Brazil is considered his breakthrough performance and has since gone to act in projects like Tomorrow Never Dies, Game of Thrones and was nominated for his first Academy Award for The Two Popes. Kim Greist as Jill Layton: Not much is to be said about Greist in this role. She really just occupies the screen and doesn’t offer much compared to the other actors in the film. Other actresses considered for this role were Jamie Lee Curtis, Madonna and Rosanna Arquette. Tom Cruise was also considered to play Sam Lowry so we have to wonder what a version of Brazil would look like with Madonna and Cruise in the main roles. Robert De Niro as Harry Tuttle: In spite of his prominent billing, De Niro is only on-screen for a limited time. De Niro originally sought the role of Jack Lint. but that was given to Michael Palin as his status as a family man would offer a unique juxtaposition to Lint’s role as a state sponsored torture artist. De Niro still wanted a part in the film so Gilliam offered him the smaller role of Tuttle. Also starring: Jim Broadbent as Dr. Jaffe Ian Holm as Mr. Kurtzmann Bob Hoskins as Spoor Katherine Helmond as Ida Lowry Michael Palin as Jack Lint 1984 ½? For those unfamiliar with George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, it follows the lives of two government employees who fall in love with each other and begin an illicit affair. Their affair is discovered and they are forced into a reprogramming regimen and become brainwashed drones of their society. It sounds eerily similar to Brazil after watching the film. In fact, the film was developed under the name of 1984 ½ due to the similarities of the plot and characters. There have already been several adaptations of Orwell’s book including one as recent as 1984, the year prior to the release of Brazil. But, if you are thinking that Terry Gilliam would be fan a of the original novel to develop an entire sequel film to the novel, well you’d be surprised to learn that Gilliam has admitted to never having read 1984. That’s like asking someone to replicate the Sistine Chapel when they’ve never even left the country. Gilliam has stated that while the novel 1984 is a jumping off point, he sort of took his own version of the book and wrote a film from a contemporary perspective rather than looking far into the future as Orwell when writing his original novel. An adaption of Orwell’s book by Gilliam might be interesting to see, but given how selective the man is about what projects he takes on, we will probably never see that. Universal Studios At It Again Now, we’ve talked about studio interference before on the show and there are frequent offenders in this category and Universal Studios is often the biggest offender. We’ve mentioned before in our episode on Back to the Future how the studio continued to offer suggestions that didn’t make sense or just plain comical. For that film, it wasn’t until Steven Spielberg sent a sarcastic memo that the obnoxious notes finally stopped. For Brazil, it was the will of a hard headed director that ultimately defeated the powerful studio heads. Terry Gilliam was not given final cut privilege and a battle ensued between him and Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal Studios at the time. As Universal was handling the US distribution, they had final say as to how the film should end and they wanted Gilliam to change it from its original dark ending with Sam slipping into madness while being tortured by his former colleagues. These proceedings were so contentious that Universal even enlisted an additional editing team that were working without Gilliam’s knowledge. This sort of tactic is nothing new, but has since not been used Hollywood. The most infamous example of multiple edits is the film Blade Runner and debate even rages today over which cut is the definitive one to watch. It looked like all hope was lost and the film would never see the light of day. Gilliam even took out a full page ad in the trade magazine Variety. Sheinberg and Gilliam continued to publicly exchange barbs in the newspapers while no one could figure out what to do with the film. That is, until Gilliam decided to hold private screenings for critics without the studio’s knowledge. This of course, was and still is a big no-no in Hollywood, given the age of the Internet and leaks. During 1985, Universal was heavily promoting its romantic drama film Out of Africa while leaving Brazil to labor with little promotion. On the same evening as Out of Africa’s premiere, Brazil was awarded the Los Angeles Film Critics Association prize for Best Picture which finally caused the studio to release the film in its intended version. While Out of Africa would go on to win 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Brazil has lived as a prominent cult film and has a wide influence into other films and television shows. Force Fed Sci-Fi’s Brazil Film Review and Rating On our unique scale for Force Fed Sci-Fi, our hosts were in agreement for Brazil with both Sean and Chris rating it as WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY. There’s a lot to take away from this film and repeat viewings would help anyone develop a deep appreciation for it. The production design is amazing and the depth of the world building is incredible. While the acting doesn’t feature any standout performances, everyone is able to pull their weight in this otherwise stacked film. What did you think of Brazil? Was Bob Hoskins really killed by poop? Listen to our episode to find out our choice of Lens Flares and whether or not Sam Lowry is a reluctant or accidental hero. Please listen, rate and subscribe to the podcast. Tune in next time when we discuss the horror/thriller/sci-fi genre bender, The Cell!
54 minutes | a year ago
This time, we’re ascending a borrowed ladder after watching Gattaca and along the way we wonder if this is really the future, why everyone is dressed like they’re on Mad Men, are genetics the next wave of discrimination, and what’s it like living in a post-sex world? Let’s dig in… Gattaca Movie Cast and Crew Directed by Andrew Niccol: Prior to taking on Gattaca, Niccol had built a career directing television ads and took on the film industry in 1997 in his directorial debut while also writing the screenplay. He’s since gone on to write The Truman Show and direct films like Simone, Lord of War, In Time and Anon. Danny DeVito served as a producer for the film. He has had great success in this avenue of his career as he’s produced films like Pulp Fiction, Reality Bites and Erin Brockovich Ethan Hawke as Vincent: Hawke has enjoyed a steady career since the mid 80’s and his performance in Gattaca has certainly aided in that. He had previously starred in films like Dead Poet’s Society and Reality Bites and really enjoyed a breakthrough following Gattaca. He has since starred in films like Training Day, The Purge, Boyhood and First Reformed. Uma Thurman as Irene: Thurman also enjoyed sustain success in Hollywood while serving as Quentin Tarantino’s muse after her breakthrough Oscar nominated performance in Pulp Fiction. While some of her film choices are questionable, no one has questioned her acting ability. Jude Law as Jerome: Gattaca was Law’s real breakthrough performance and has continued to star in great projects in the twenty years since its release like The Talented Mr. Ripley, Enemy at the Gates, Road to Perdition, Sherlock Holmes and entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain Marvel. He gets a great opportunity to show off his acting skills here as an engineered man who is struggling with the “perfection” he was given. A Brief History on Eugenics The primary “science” shown in the film is that of eugenics, or the practice of selective breeding to eliminate certain “undesirable” traits. Those words are in quotes for a reason and we’ll get to that. The concept itself has roots in ancient times when Spartan elders would inspect every newborn boy to determine if it was suitable for the warrior lifestyle. The actually word “eugenics” emerged from an unlikely source; Charles Darwin. Not the man himself, but from his half-cousin named Francis Galton who sought to apply Darwin’s theory of evolution to humans. Beginning in the early 20th Century, eugenics was gaining traction at universities and societies were formed to encourage eugenics as a form of parental responsibility. The British formed a society in 1907 with America following in 1921. International conferences were held that even enlisted religious figures to support the idea of eugenics with many countries adopting sterilization procedures for mental patients in the 20’s and 30’s. It seemed that everyone was taken in by this “science” with Winston Churchill among one of the more vocal supporters in the United Kingdom. However, attitudes began to shift against eugenics when the Nazis took power in Germany. Ernst Rüdin, a Nazi who helped form the scientific basis for the racist policies of the Third Reich, was never prosecuted for the propagation of these ideas. The horrors of the Holocaust do not need to be discussed here. but let’s just say that it is truly one of the most horrible things ever documented in history. Many ethnic groups and “undesirables” that were deemed by the Nazis were targeted for eugenics, forced into camps and were either killed or became part of horrific experiments. Needless to say, people came around to just how awful the idea of “eugenics” could be and has now been dubbed to be a pseudoscience. As discussed in the podcast show, our hosts debate whether or not eugenics could be a good thing (i.e. in the way of eliminating certain diseases or weaknesses), but inevitability, something that is developed for good can be twisted to become a tool of hate and oppression, and it’s usually done with the help of pseudoscience. Bloodletting, conversion therapy, homeopathy, phrenology and trepanning were all utilized at one point throughout history because we thought they would help people. Eventually we realized that making someone bleed more doesn’t work, conversion therapy is truly awful, homeopathy is usually just poison, bumps on someone’s head don’t determine criminality, and drilling a hole in your head to cure headaches is an overreaction. Vincent’s Struggles Gattaca could have easily been called A Day in the Life on a Borrowed Ladder as we watch Vincent impersonate Jerome for the entirety of the film, but he has had a rough life. In this world, babies are not made the old fashioned way, but are instead engineered a la eugenics. Vincent is a love child (made the old-fashioned way) and is disadvantaged from birth, having already been diagnosed with a heart condition. We can see this painful moment on his father when he is reluctant. He “doesn’t want to put his name on anything defective” and Vincent will have to play second fiddle to his younger brother (conceived with the help of genetic manipulation) for the rest of his adolescent life. Vincent is intelligent and determined to make his way in the world, but is immediately shot down due to his “defect” and resorts to using a “borrowed ladder” as it’s coined in the film. The barrowed latter refers to him occupying the life of Jerome Morrow, an engineered man who was crippled in an accident and can no longer function in society. Hawke and Law occupy a sort of Odd Couple relationship as Jerome supplies Vincent with packets of blood, bags of urine, and strands of hair to keep up the charade. Vincent also plays his part when he wakes up every morning and vigorously scrubs his body to remove any sort of errant cells to avoid being caught. It’s unclear if this practice is illegal, but it sounds common enough since the authorities have a special phrase for it. Following a murder at Vincent’s workplace, a misplaced eyelash causes the police to hone in on Vincent as a suspect while ignoring the other physical evidence that could be present at the actual murder scene. It’s easy to connect this investigation of Vincent to how certain population groups are treated by the police today, but all Vincent wants is to be treated as the intelligent person he really is; however, all anyone sees is a defect. Ultimately, Vincent is rewarded for his hard work and is given the opportunity to become a space traveler and is hopefully going to a world without discrimination. Gattaca Box Office and Awards While Gattaca has enjoyed a cult like success since release, it was not a major success at the time. The film only grossed $36 million against a $12.5 million budget, but was nominated for several Saturn Awards including Best Costumes and Best Music. In addition, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. It lives on in minor infamy as it’s shown to geneticists as a warning about how the public perceives their profession. Our podcast show’s host Chris recounted a story during the podcast about how a genetics teacher showed the film to his class during high school. It was reported in 2009 that a television series was in development and would be a police procedural drama, but nothing came from that and there has been no news regarding a sequel or a remake for Gattaca. It’s unlikely we will see one given the lack of box office success of the original film, as well as the fact the main stars of the film have moved on to other projects. Force Fed Sci-Fi’s own Gattaca Film Review Rating Using our unique scale for Force Fed Sci-Fi, our podcast show’s hosts were in agreement for Gattaca calling the film a WOULD WATCH. It’s the rare film where Sean and Chris both agreed that the opening flashback/prologue of Vincent’s backstory is the best part of the film, but the overall story is clunky that’s bolstered by great performances of the cast. So what did you think of Gattaca? Why is sex so demonized in the film? Does Vincent display OCD tendencies? Tune in to our episode to listen to these discussions and more and please listen, rate and subscribe to the podcast and join us next time as we review the Terry Gilliam cult classic Brazil!
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