January 7, 2010

2009: The Year My Geeky Heart Goes Galloping

 2009 has definitely brought sexy back to sci-fi. Topping the year off was the much talked about James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Although I watched it way into 2010, the movie itself was released a day after Xmas so it was appropriate. As for me, I was slow. Truthfully confessing, I was giving too much of time to my anti-social self. Movie-snobby speaking, I waited till the excitement died down so I could watch the movie without preconceived ideas that will totally destroy the whole enjoyment. Just watched the Imax3D version yesterday, and you don’t have to try LSD to say that it was ‘Trippy!' Too fucking bad that the 3D version showed in XXI involved too much cuts, say about 5 – 10 minutes. Okay, deleting the sex scene was understandable since here everything that includes ‘animation’ or ‘superhero’ and recently ‘3D glasses’ are considered ‘kid stuffs’.  But what I didn’t understand why the hell they have to cut all the glorious visuals of the Pandoran landscape, gahhhh!!! Was that really necessary?! You didn’t delete both in the ‘normal’ version (on which the ever nagging tots and tweens are very much around as well due to the long lines of the 3D)
Of all blissful amount of sci-fi films released last year these are my favorites, in random order:
I officially am building an altar of Avatarism in my heart, in fact I will no longer called the color of my room as turquoise but as Na’vi Blue thus renamed it to Pandoran Peacock Room (the colors of the animals! The colors!). As a ‘Titanic’ hater it was only natural for me to be skeptic (but yes Aliens and Abyss are awesome). But it went way over my expectation, even if this movie seems like a pastiche of Pocahontas + National Geographic + Jurassic Park + Environmentalism 101/ Revenge of Gaia, it goes way beyond “ big budget flashiness”. Avatar gave an overwhelming sense of newness, discovery, and adventure that others have promised yet failed to deliver (that includes you Phantom Menace). Looked this lovely, CGI never was. Before, however painstakingly detailed the creatures are it always felt as a much-later-paste-over. It just didn’t quite catch the light right enough, but most of all it seemed ‘weightless’. Despite its exotic colors the life forms of Pandora were very ‘in the scene’. Even my Dad who never really liked sci-fi enjoyed it very much, to him it was like watching a very special episode of Animal Kingdom.
Despite the very clichéd characterization and lame dialogues, the main casts managed to give power-plays that really made you care. I sappily sobbed as the home tree fell. (Jim-Cam could sure pull memorable tearjerker scenes).
Thumbs up to Sigourney Weaver (as Dr Grace Augustine who remind me a lot of my love-jungle-more-than-people-Cambridge-PhD-ex-boss) and to Sam Worthington who gave so much layers in his American Joe/lovable-badass-jock character. And ‘the geek’ gets to kick some ass, ‘the scoundrel’ is a woman, ‘the villainous GI’ turned out to be Russian, well, he must be since he’s awfully  hard to kill : ).
Thumbs down for easy way outs, I know not many people are keen on tech-talk but you could definitely do something better than Unobtanium for instance, plus the Omaticayas bear too much resemblance with the Maasai warriors. And the ‘Titanic Meets Lion King’ soundtrack was just plain awful.

District 9
district 9
Dealing with heavy ass issues of xenophobia, ‘segregation’, and over controlling power of multinational moneymakers, this movie is definitely one helluva consciousness-kicker.  The movie was heavily influenced by Neill Blomkamp’s childhood life at South Africa’s apartheid era . The title itself were inspired on actual events that happened in District Six, Cape Town during that time. Partly mockumentary, the movie felt very real, and waaayyyyy better than “Cloverfield”. Further googling confirmed that the realness also came from the use of actual encampment shack down to the mutilated carcasses and local weaponries. This movie support my suspicion on why we never received any greeting gestures from outerspace sentients? Because we are to goddamn hostile.

Like District 9, this is another ‘short film to major screen’ released in 2009, they even have the same number in its titles. Coincidence?. I am so glad I have “9” on my list just so that I could announce my recent interest in Timur Bekmambetov. “Wanted” was, uhm cute (? and very “Minority Report” ending), but I will gladly join the cult of the Night Watch trilogy (Russian! sci-fi! Awesomeness! Got the Russian-craze after fervent marathons of Space Race ), funny thing on how here it was only “Day Watch”, the second part of the trilogy, is available. I bet the Night Watch is even more awesome since it is widely known that most sequels (except Aliens, Godfather II, and Empire Strikes Back) are considerably faultier than their predecessors.
9 portrays a post apocalyptic world resulted from the war of humans versus machines. The machines won, and all that’s left to resemble humanity was this number-named rag-doll-like creatures (fans call them stitchpunks). 9, the main character (voiced by Elijah Wood) is the last to be woken up in this Double Tim Dystopia. It haven’t hit the theatres here yet, but the bootleg DVDs are already available. In the children section. Of Course.

And no that's not a boob-jobbed Steve Tyler
Number four is superstitiously avoided by the Chinese and the Japanese because it has the same pronounciation as ‘death’, so let’ give it up to the horror/ thriller sci-fi “Pandorum”. When I found out that Ben ‘Creepy Guy’ Foster plays the hero  gut tells me it’s going to be interesting. And the opening scene was pure brilliance! The movie was going on for only minutes and it gimme goosebumps already. Jaded with slasher flicks, villainous hitchhikers, Japan adaptation, another zombie/vampire movies, this is the movie I’ve been waiting for (although best horror of 2009 definitely goes to Paranormal Activity, I was scared shitless I have to instantly google it down to make sure it was just a movie).

Okay back on track, ‘space madness’ movie is not new admittedly, but Pandorum give just the right amount of shocks between the dreadful silences, European Goth-look and feel, and pretty good plot development, the kind that Alien:Resurrection failed to achieve. And after too easy monsters (splotch of blood here, ripped clothes there, now do the crazy face), the mutants in Pandorum were quite refreshing (though its images were very hard to find on the net, it’s like a Giger-esque version of Moria goblins). So I am happy!

Star Trek
startrek 2009
The original Trek series was not for me. I am the “Next Generation” kinda gal. Always more of a Staroid anyway than a Trekkie, oh sorry Trekker (and yes one could like both). My liking towards J.J. Abrams goes up and down, but still he’s always amusing to watch. I was web-stalking J.J. since the controversy started (my interest-o-meter goes up) . Well that and I’ve been crazy over Fringe, and J.J. kinda throw a daisy-cutter of a surprise on the last episodes of Season 1 (YOU! AHHH! FRAK!). So going to the theatre to see “Star Trek” is a must. And I did. Thrice. You see this Trek film is very Star-Warsy to me. And the casts! Oh my! Chris Pine give Kirk a more ‘now’ badass-ness, Quinto give Spock some serious ‘mean streak’ , ypou definitely don’t wanna mess with the new Spock. Anton Yelchin is pretty convincing as the weird-russian-whiz-kid ( well, Walter Koenig’s Chekov never really look young to me), and yes you’ll remember his “Wiktor, Wiktor” for the rest of your life. But John Cho? Again? Bring more Asians to Hollywood, please….
And the best thing about the film, in my opinion, is the ‘Narada’ . Oh my lord, it’s Cthulhu, crossed my mind as the Romulan mining vessel crossed the screen. The Romulans themselves looked like bald Vulcans with bad tattoo, and the creature thing is a small red Cloverfield.
All in all though, I’ll always say, “Now, That’s Entertainment!” to that movie. Everytime.
If you're asking where's Wall-E, or Terminator: Salvation? Well umm, I am more spaceships, sentients,  and monsters, and  not into robots that much. I didn't even bother to check the trailer of the first Transformers on YouTube, so why should I be interested in one wimpy looking bot? But I will certainly do Salvation since anything that included Christian Bale deserves a chance.
On a lighter note, meet the "Fanboys" . Well, Fuck You Roger Ebert! Fuck You Steve Brill! This movie understands. Don't make me whip your ass with my lightsaber.

more fun for the fans here

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