Fave Sci-Fi Films 1990–2004
Work in progress. Only a few entries so far.
|+||good but flawed|
|OK||interesting but not for everybody|
|−||very flawed, some redeeming features|
The Truman Show
++ cool paranoid
La cité des enfants perdus
++ beautifully surreal French
Being John Malkovich
Men in Black
The Iron Giant
+ v. good animated
+ paranoid action; regrettable ending
+ animated ultra-violence
OK Sci-Fi drama
OK for low-budget scary
OK action, paranoid
OK violent psycho Sci-Fi
David S. Goyer
|Rufus Sewell||John Murdoch|
|Keefer Sullivan||Dr. Daniel. P. Schreber|
|William Hurt||Inspector Frank Bumstead|
|Jennifer Connely||Emma Murdoch|
|Richard O'Brien||Mr. Hand|
|Ian Richardson||Mr. Book|
|Bruce Spence||Mr. Wall|
+ political paranoid whodunit thriller
The title reflects the mood and tone, as well as shade of the film. Fun cinematography and story.
Aliens—or whatever— strangers, bald guys in long black rubber coats that act real creepy and have glowy multilegged creatures in their skulls. They "tune" the city nightly as the people sleep; they are manufacturing the coming day. They can levitate, and sometimes transform objects— but much of the transformation is very hands-on: at assembly lines making props for the next day's show.
Strangers sometimes travel standing on scooters, but the main machine is the city itself. It has aspects of various American cities, with styles and artefacts of the '30s, '40s and '50s, but some gadgets are quite Edwardian. And every night it is "tuned": people are given new memories, re-dressed and placed in new surroundings, whole buildings twist into the sky.
Sullivan's character is breathlessly oddly paced—he must have taken lessons from William Hurt, who plays his on part relatively straight and personal.
Main complaints: a little more is explained than was really needed, and—modern superheroics bore me. You'd think somebody would invent something new.
Boy meets girl who isn't really his wife, gives everybody new memories, meets same girl.
What makes us human is in some other organ than our brain.
OK time-travel, psycho
The Fifth Element
Robert Mark Kamen
|Bruce Willis||Korben Dallas|
|Gary Oldman||Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg|
|Ian Holm||Father Vito Cornelius|
|Chris Tucker||DJ Ruby Rhod|
|Maïween Le Besco||Diva Plavalaguna|
++ Fantastic ideas, scenery, and acting mixed with imperfect plot and endless fight scenes
Mondoshawn spacecraft, very odd looking, seen landing in Egypt.
flying cars, flying Chinese take-in restaurant,
Zorg's personal spaceship,
Flohston Paradise resort ship
Mondoshawn—benevolent and philosophical and they really mean it. Seen only in very odd eerie ungainly space suits. These are among the stranger aliens I've ever seen.
Mangalore—Only warriors are shown, they have big fishlike mouths and sheeplike ears. Seem to have ability to appear as humans. Kinda cute in a brutal way.
Diva Plavalaguna—a singer of unnamed alien species, humanoid female in general shape but blue all over, with a bald cornucopia-shaped head, and with tubes coming out of her (?) head and body. Good singing voice.
Picasso—a pet mole-thing with elephant's trunk.
Willis prefers a conventional handgun.
But Zorg's ZF-1 beats all (but his sales pitch for it is at least as good as the weapon itself.)
Tissue-reconstruction table rebuilds body from small fragment.
The cast is just amazing, every major performance is a knockout. For visual style and color, for texture, no Sci-Fi film beats this one. Loaded with little visual jokes and nuances.
As transport into a strange futuristic world... this is the ticket.
"Time is not important. Only life is important."
—A Mondoshawn, just before he himself ran out of time and life.
It's imperfect. The plot goes flat about halfway through, devolving into endless fight and chase scenes. There are cute moments, but way too many less-cute ones. Really, most of it should have been edited out. The overall plot held several good ideas, and some things that just didn't work out. The worst is the super-evil entity that just isn't all that scary, and so its defeat just isn't that impressive. (Although the means of its defeat is very cute.) Again, a good editor would have proved useful.
These are all relative judgments though: the worst parts are better than the best parts of the average Sci-Fi film. There's so much wildness so much fun, and even the formulaic parts are superbly done.
|Nathan Fillion||Captain Malcolm Reynolds|
|Summer Glau||River Tam|
|Ron Glass |
Detective Harris in “Barney Miller”
|David Krumholtz||Mr. Universe|
|Chiwetel Ejiofor||The Operative|
Based on the short-run Fox TV series Firefly, aired in 2002. I saw several episodes, and loved them, but for a long time never met another person who had seen one.
More space ships than you can shake a blaster at.
This a space-action filem, but also a very beautiful portrayal of futuristic worlds. The characters are great, the character development is superb. The dialog is a blast—being done in a variety of dialects, from a Westernesque twang of the outer planets to a sophisticated silk of the inner planets. Then the special effects… We don’t often see space scenes so carefully crafted in such movies. The starkness of light and shadow (absent in Star Wars. e.g.).
I have one main plot complaint. The mystery girl “River” is a profound psychic: OK, that’s standard SF fare. But she’s also a super kung fu fighting machine who beats up whole battalions of heavily armed soldiers. Why not give her a whole whack more magical powers? This sort of fiction involves a suspension of disbelief—but with a character like this, it hangs until dead. Even the one power was unnecessary for the plot: the bad guys want her—primarily, it turns out, for a bit of knowledge she might have. The superpowers were just an appendix, glued on perhaps out of fear that the dull-witted might lose interest in all the other excitement. Oh well. Not my movie.