Review Grab Bag (1-5-15)

Grab Bag 1 5 15

Happy New Year, folks.  It’s 2015 and after an 18 month hiatus, the Review Grab Bag is back.   If you don’t remember, or didn’t realize in the first place, the RGB is where I throw up a paragraph or two about stuff that I have something to say about, but not much of a something.  This time around we take a look at 3 Sci-Fi movies that have very little in common, and an Atari 2600 cult classic.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Big Hero 6 was the fall of 2014’s Big Hero Offering from Big Hero Studio, Disney.  It’s a story of how a group of young inventors end up becoming super heroes, because Science!  At times, it’s fun-filled and action-packed and various other hyphenated-clichés that apply to animated kids movies.  At other points it’s pretty heavy and character driven.  Pacing and subject matter might make it a bit too much for very young kids, but it’s probably a big win for most school aged ones.

The movie has a very interesting visual style.  The movie mixes American and Japanese flavoured styles together with great success.  The characters are very cartoony, but the objects and settings in the movie look and feel more detailed and realistic than they do animated.  The story and characters are interesting, but nothing really new.  Younger viewers with less “story experience” might be blown away by the twists the story takes, and the revelations the characters have, but older viewers will likely see where the movie is headed from the get-go.

Oddly, fans of the years dead superhero MMORPG City of Heroes might find themselves missing Paragon City just a little bit more after watching this one.  More than once these characters and settings reminded me of the game.

 

Plaque Attack (Atari 2600)

Plaque Attack (Atari 2600)

Marketed as an educational game aimed toward developing good dental hygiene, Activision’s Plaque Attack lets the player control a tube of toothpaste. It hovers around inside a mouth shooting toothpaste at floating food bent on rotting all the teeth out of, presumably, some poor kid’s head.    It’s hard to imagine that this isn’t a Japanese game, but it isn’t.  It’s just one of the many batshit fucking crazy video games to come out of the early 80s.

Out of the many, many, many games to be shoveled out to consumers during the big boom of the early 80s, this game was always one of my favourites.  The premise is just so goddamn ridiculous.  It makes me laugh every time I think of it.  But for a 2600 shooter, the gameplay and controls are actually really tight.  It’s a bit tricky to control your toothpaste tube at first.  Once you get the hang of your toothpaste tube, though, the major difficulty becomes timing your reflexes to the increasingly erratic patterns the floating foodstuffs follow.  Add to that the arguably good graphics (the sprites are actually recognizable as food, not just triangles or pixel-blotches) and you might understand why I consider this title to be among the few 2600 titles that have held up the best.

 

Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer (2013)

Set on some kind of futuristic super-train after the world has initiated a new man-made ice age in an attempt to stall global warming, Snowpiercer tells the story of the last of humanity, and what happens when the rabble tries to rise above its station.  I was really surprised by this one.  It’s cold and claustrophobic, but filled with a certain hope and wonder as well.  It’s well acted and beautifully shot.  The set design is amazing.

Snowpiercer is just a beautifully crafted piece of Science Fiction.  It takes today’s issues and explores them through ridiculous extremes,  but still manages to entertain.  It suffers a bit from pacing problems but, really, most great sci-fi does.

 

The Zero Theorem (2013)

The Zero Theorem (2013)

I must have had too high an expectation of this movie. Terry Gilliam and Christoph Waltz?  Surely this can’t fail.  The Zero Theorem is a gorgeous, highly stylized mess.  I guess when you’re trying to tell a deep, visual story about a disconnected society that’s desperately trying to connect with someone or something through the exact medium that’s keeping society disconnected it helps to have a main character to which a viewer can connect.  Don’t understand that sentence?  Good.  Neither do I.  I don’t care.

Nothing outside of this movie’s visuals engaged me.  I didn’t care about anything that was happening.  I think that might’ve been the point.  That doesn’t mean it makes for a good movie, though.

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