You have been charged with roaming and exploring the endless vacuum of space. The only luxury you have been given is that you have the choice of any spacecraft to aid you on your journey. What will it be..?
Though there are countless, and I mean countless starships out there to make your selection from, many are very impractical. For instance, an Imperial Star Destroyer aka “Imperial cruiser”, at first glance may seem like a great idea. But the sheer size of this vessel measuring in at an whopping 5200ft makes the cruiser unbelievably unnecessary to travel alone through the universe. Even if you were to make a few friends in your voyage, you would never be able to maximize one of these ships. On the plus side, you would have a ton of firepower. But the emptiness of this massive vessel would leave you looney and somber.
Imperial Star Destroyer Imperial Cruiser – ‘Star Wars’
Now a very logical and practical choice would be to choose the ship that we all know is made to do just what we are trying to accomplish, and that of course is…
The Starship Enterprise – ‘Star Trek’
Once again, this seems like the perfect choice. Nowhere near as large as the Imperial Cruiser, The Enterprise has many pros. Boasting approximately 2000ft, The Enterprise comes equipped with photon torpedoes, a medical or sick bay, teleporter, shields and most importantly warp speed, which is used to send the Enterprise blazing around the cosmos at speeds, which can range from almost as fast as light, to faster than the speed of light.
The biggest downside to all of this is, it takes a very massive crew to operate all of these systems, and without a Starfleet crew, you are just a floating vessel. Not to mention all of these systems require recharging and maintenance , which might be difficult to do floating around in space alone.
Lets take a look at the smaller end of the spectrum. Only true fans of space movie star ships will even know what this next one is about.
The Gunstar – ‘The Last Starfighter’
That’s right, I went there. “The Gunstar” this beauty has joined us all the way from 1984. The Gunstar was one of the first ships I loved as a kid. Ahead of its time, the Gunstar boasts a relatively short 65ft in length. But is packing some 1984 advanced weaponry. Equipped with lasers, photon bolts and particle beams, the Gunstar is a formidable foe in battle. Thrusters help the ship to achieve rapid acceleration and an onboard computer is used for scanning an environment. Last but not least, the greatest weapon of all is the “Death Blossom”
Death Blossom – ‘The Last Starfighter’
Though the Death Blossom can eliminate almost all incoming enemies in glorious fashion, it leaves the ship powerless and defenseless for a period of time afterward. And no ones got time for that!
Which brings us to the ship of my choosing:
Heart of Gold – ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy’
“The HOG” as I like to call it, is approximately 492ft long. It was built as a secret government project on the planet Damogran. It is the first to use the Improbability Drive. What is the Improbability Drive you ask, well I will tell you. It is a faster than light drive. It means, if you learn to have full control of the drive, the ship can travel from place to place in space, without passing through the intervening space or hyperspace. According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the drive
“passes through every conceivable point in every conceivable universe almost simultaneously,”
meaning that whoever uses it is
“never sure where they’ll end up or even what species they’ll be when they get there” And “it’s therefore important to dress accordingly.”
The ship is also equipped with a new generation of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation robots and computers with genuine people personalities. Including Eddie the shipboard computer, and Marvin a depressed service robot.
Improbability Drive In Action- ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy’
All in all, you can travel instantly through the universe at the speed of infinity. You will even enjoy taking on the form of other beings and inanimate objects in the universe. With the help of a built-in computer and a robot who can be of assistance with anything you may need on the ship, this would be perfect for exploration. The only real negative is that you have no weaponry incase you run in to intergalactic trouble. But who really cares, with the push of a button, you can be on to the next adventure!
Improbability Drive Button – ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy’
What ship would you choose? Let me know in the comments
Film Review : A.I. Rising
I was always wondering whether I was able to create life.
It seems that I am.
Take any porn movie and you can be sure there’ll be some plumber who not only tries to repair the drain but also will examine the installation of the innocent housewife. A solid storyline with inventive twists and turns isn’t the most important thing in such films. That’s nothing new. And you can say the same thing about “A.I. Rising”. Only this movie is a kind of a soft-sex version where you see Stoya more naked than dressed. Not that there’s much to see because she isn’t exactly blessed with voluptuous curves. Apparently, she’s a porn actress herself so she didn’t have any problems with parading around naked and acting in steamy love scenes.
Porn is boring.
But after 40 minutes, I started to wonder if something was going to happen. Because there’s no real variety. First a bit of psychological talking between Milutin (Sebastian Cavazza) and the android Nimani 1345 (Stoya). Then intense and titillating images of their love games. And then Stoya has to recharge her batteries by standing in a niche naked (of course). And this cycle repeats itself several times. To me, Stoya was a sort of humanized dildo. Charge it regularly and then use it to satisfy your indomitable desires. But just like porn, it’s monotonous and annoying after a while.
What’s this trip about anyway?
The ultimate goal of the trip to Alpha Centauri isn’t entirely clear. Milutin apparently has to install “Juche” there. A kind of ideology for experts. It seems to me it’s something abstract. However, it’s becoming clear during Milutin’s conversation with a social engineer from Elderlezi Corporation, that it’s going to be a miserably long trip. That is why Nimani is involved. An android with customizable moods and with advanced artificial intelligence. In the first instance, her function is to be a companion to make the long journey more bearable (and pleasant of course). After a while, however, it seems more likely that she’s there to dampen Milutin’s animal drive and instincts.
She’s in control.
Her main task, however, is to keep everything under control (both the spaceship and the commander) so that the mission is brought to a successful conclusion. Now, if you look at the design and layout of the spaceship, it’s a good thing she went along as a playtoy. I fear that Milutin would otherwise be bored to death. The spaceship certainly doesn’t look like the Enterprise. It is more like a steel colossus without a luxurious interior. The rusty looking steel walls do not look particularly cozy. The austere design is fairly depressing. It looks like a factory. Even the entire cockpit is limited to two solitary driver’s seats and a bunch of futuristic looking monitors. There’s no holodeck, bar or leisure space. The only physical effort and entertainment there is for Milutin, takes place in the bedroom.
It’s not only about seks.
But if you break through the erotic aspect, you will see that this Serbian SF also wants to address a more profound subject. The interaction between a person and an artificial creation. Not that they tread new ground here because this same subject was also the basis of films such as “Ex Machina“, “Uncanny“, “The Machine“, “Zoe” and to a lesser extent “Her“. Also, the phenomenon of a non-human creation gaining awareness is dealt with. But the central theme (and perhaps the most fascinating one) is the emotional relationship between man and machine. At first sight, Milutin appears to be an emotionless, anti-pathetic person, who in the first instance doesn’t want any female company. However, as soon as he realizes the benefits, his obsessive and manipulative behavior begins and he uses (even abuses) the android. To his surprise, however, the lust turns into passion, which leads to anxiety, sadness, and even self-sacrifice.
A not so fascinating SciFi.
However, in the end, this SF isn’t really fascinating. It’s repetitive. Boring and long-winded. And the erotic scenes are too stretched and after a while downright annoying. And then the moment you think the story will develop further, Stoya appears naked again. Too exaggerated for my taste. But I have to admit that Stoya’s acting was far from bad. She managed to show a human side while being an android. The image that will stay with me is the moment she demonstrates an android-like dance to Milutin. So tempting and at the same time so robotic. I would fall for her too at that point. Sebastian Cavazza was excellent at times but overall I found his character incredible. But apart from those few positive notes, this film was disappointing. Despite the sometimes beautiful space images, the emphasis was a little too much on the sexual aspect. Not something that I actually expect in an SF.
My rating 4/10
Top 10 Best Action Scenes of 2017
2017 has been a bit of a transitional year when it comes to the action genre. As expected the summer was full of the kind of big, tent pole films audiences have come to expect during the middle of the year. Interestingly some of the bigger franchises such as The Mummy and Transformers weren’t the surefire hits most were expecting. Meanwhile original fare such as Atomic Blonde and Baby Driver did better than expected. Even most exciting is the increasing number of female-led action franchises. Long-gestating projects like Wonder Woman and Kong: Skull Island being hits upon release. Even male-led movies like Logan and Thor: Ragnarok saw star-making performances from their female supporting cast.
With the year a bit transitional in nature it has led to a variety in not only stories and roles but in the types of action. In any given month you could get everything from Spider-Man soaring through New York City to a World War II battle orchestrated by Christopher Nolan. Even less critically acclaimed movies like Ghost in the Shell had some killer action scenes. So, before we look at the best action movies of the year here are some of the best individual action scenes of the year.
10. ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’- Crashing the Party
After years hiding out Xander Cage is found by the C.I.A. Initially unwilling to work for them he returns when he discovers that his mentor Gibbons has been killed by a mysterious group of assassins led by Xian. Realizing Xian’s group are after the mysterious Pandora’s Box, Cage forms a crew of his own to take down these rogue members of the xXx program.
The xXx series has always been the Mission: Impossible to the Fast & Furious‘s James Bond. The Fast series may be bigger but xXx was always more focused on having fun action set pieces. And even though The Return of Xander Cage is full of them the most enjoyable happens near the beginning. Tracking the terrorists to an uncharted island Russian soldiers invade looking for the film’s McGuffin, the Pandora’s box. What follows is Ruby Rose sniping the soldiers, international superstar Tony Jaa teaming up with UFC fighter Michael Bisping and concludes with Vin Diesel chasing Donnie Yen on motorbikes that turn into jet skis. It’s as ludicrous as it sounds which is exactly why it comes in at #10.
9. ‘Ghost in the Shell’- First Mission
In a futuristic Japan where most humans have technological augmentations the Major (Scarlett Johansson) leads an elite counter terrorism unit. Saved from a horrific crash the cybernetic Major is the perfect person to stop the increasing amount of technology based terrorism. In pursuit of the mysterious Kuze, Major learns something that will shatter her perception of what’s real and what’s not. Based on the ground-breaking anime the American remake tries to maintain the original’s themes of identity and self.
When it comes to the long-gestating Ghost in the Shell most press was negative for this anime adaption. From the awkward pacing to the white washing controversy the movie seemed to be taking it from every angle. The one positive thing everyone could agree on is that the film is gorgeous. Directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) critics praised the film’s aesthetic. A pitch perfect adaption of its source material it looks like the cyberpunk anime brought to life. There’s no better proof of this than the opening action scene. As a deal for illegal cyber enhancements is going down both parties are attacked by enhanced soldiers and their spider-like robots. A feast visually it’s one of the coolest looking scenes in this uneven production.
8. ‘The Great Wall’- Protecting The Wall
Attacked in the dead of night European mercenaries William and Pero seek gun powder and refuge behind China’s Great Wall. Initially thought of as hostiles the two are taken as prisoners before witnessing wave after wave of monsters attack the architectural wonder.
Another film mired in Asian-representation controversy was the Matt Damon vehicle The Great Wall. Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) it has been accused of whitewashing and using the white savior narrative. And while there’s certainly room for debate the one thing that can’t be denied it that it has some fun action scenes. Perhaps the most exciting being our first good look at the monsters attacking the Great Wall. With a simple concept Yimou crafts a beautiful scene that mixes bright, solid color with acrobatic action. Mixing Zhang Yimou’s usual visual flair with US production values, this scene is a perfect example of how great The Great Wall could have been.
7. ‘Logan’- Berserker Rage
It’s 2029 and it has been years since mutants have made themselves known. No longer the next step in human evolution mutants have nearly gone extinct and at the center of this is Logan, the former Wolverine. Living in exile as a driver for hire where he takes care of fellow mutants Caliban and Professor X. His quiet life is interrupted when a mysterious woman approaches him with an important task, protect a quiet girl named Laura. Pursued by the evil Transigen corporation this makeshift family are forced to go on the run.
There have been plenty of cool Wolverine fight scenes over the years. Whether it’s on a speeding bullet train in The Wolverine or protecting the X-Mansion in X2, Wolverine tends to have a show stealing action set piece in the X-Men movies. And while the X2 scene has been considered the gold standard the Berserker Rage segment in Logan has topped it. When Logan overdoses on a serum that enhances his abilities unleashes a fury we have never seen. Pumped full adrenaline Logan lets loose like never before when he rips and tears his way through soldiers. Even cooler is seeing him teaming up with his clone/daughter Laura with the two working in perfect harmony. Logan may get acclaim for the acting and the finality it displays but we shouldn’t forget the stellar action it has on display.
6. ‘Kong: Skull Island’- Attack of the Skull Crawlers
As the Vietnam War comes to an end scientists Bill Randa and Houston Brooks from the Monarch organization make a startling discovery. Beyond a never-ending storm is an undiscovered island. With tracker James Conrad, photographer Mason Weaver and a group of soldiers led by Colonel Preston Packard what they think is a scientific expedition becomes a fight for survival. And Kong, the giant ape, is the least of their worries.
Who would have thought that the best scene in the latest Kong film wouldn’t involve the big guy? As our heroes look for the lost soldier Chapman they find themselves in a mass grave. Trekking across the valley they are attacked by the monstrous Skull Crushers. What proceeds is some top-notch monster carnage. While the soldiers try everything in their arsenal the reptilian skull crushers tear through them like they’re wet paper. They retreat only after the use of poisonous gas (in a beautiful slow-motion shot) and luck.
5. ‘Headshot’- Police Station Massacre
Waking up on the shore of the beach a mysterious man is taken to a nearby hospital. Due to a serious head wound he has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Nursed to health by his nurse, Ailin, who names the stranger Ishmael. Unfortunately, the two soon learn not only who attacked Ishmael but his dangerous past with the mobster Lee.
Taken in by Interpol agents, Ishmael is handcuffed to a table when Lee’s killers attack the police station looking for him. With all of the police officers killed Ishmael has to face several deadly assassins at once. What ensues is some of the most impressive displays of martial arts of the year. Incorporating firearms, we see Ishmael take on attacker after attacker before going hand-to-hand with a former friend. Brutal and gritty this is one fight scene you won’t soon forget.
4. ‘Thor: Ragnarok’- Contest of Champions
Since the battle of Sokovia, Thor has been exploring the cosmos searching for the Infinity Stones. When he returns to Asgard he learns that not only has Loki taken over but that Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death, has returned. Immediately outmatched Mjonir is destroyed and Thor is exiled to the planet Sakaar. Forced to fight to the death the God of Thunder has to figure out how to return to Asgard before it’s destroyed.
Leading up to Thor: Ragnarok one of the big selling points was a gladiatorial battle between Thor and The Incredible Hulk. Thankfully I can report that it lives up to all fanboy expectations. Similar to the jabs thrown in the first Avengers movie, Hulk and Thor’s fight is a perfect blend of giant, over-the-top brawling and jokes. For time The Hulk tosses Thor across the stadium we get a bit of the God of Thunder trying to calm The Hulk down ala Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron. A perfect encapsulation what makes Ragnarok so fun it’s far and away the best Marvel Studios action scene of the year.
3. ‘Atomic Blonde’- Going Down
As the Berlin Wall is set to come down an MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton, is sent deep into Cold War Germany. She is sent into the war-torn nation to take down a dangerous espionage ring that has killed another agent. Working with Berlin station chief David Percival the two search for a microfilm with the name of every British spy. KGB agents hot on her trail Broughton is in a race against time with the Western intelligence community on the line.
When it comes to action movies one of the most impressive things a fan can see is a tracking shot. Filmed to look like one continuous shot it is not only entertaining but one of the most technically impressive things an audience can see. The only major film to feature this was Atomic Blonde and it was one of the best. Starting outside of an elevator it features Charlize Theron’s spy fighting a seemingly endless horde of henchmen. What follows is nearly 10 minutes of brutal, bone crunching action. An explosive mix of firearms and hand-to-hand combat it’s the closest America has gotten to matching action from overseas in years.
2. ‘The Villainess’- The Motorcycle Chase
Trained since birth, assassin Sook-hee is one of the deadliest women in all of Asia. When her lover is murdered she begins a new life working for a South Korean intelligence agency. Promised a normal life after 10 years, Sook-hee is put through rigorous training before being sent out on missions. Things seem to be going well for Sook-hee before revelations about her past comes back to haunt her.
While China may be the biggest name in Asian action cinema, South Korea has quietly emerged as one of the continent’s most exciting countries. And while movies like Oldboy and Snowpiercer are classics when it comes to pure action The Villainess is the best in years. Mixing Kill Bill with the reckless abandon of Asian action it has some of the most hard-hitting action of the year. The most notable being the film’s big motorcycle chase. With a hyperkinetic filming style Sook-hee is in a chase that mixed high octane motorcycle stunts with sword fighting. One of the most exhilarating and original scenes of the year it’s a must see for any fans of action movies.
1. ‘Wonder Woman’- No Man’s Land
Diana, the princes of the Amazons, has been raised to be compassionate and a warrior since birth. Her world is changed when pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on the island of Themyscira. When Steve alerts the secluded paradise of World War I Diana volunteers to escort Trevor back to England. Lured into the heart of The Great War, Diana is determined to battle Ares, the god of war.
While a film effecting people emotionally isn’t unheard of it isn’t common either. For the most part movies, particularly summer fare, are seen as more of a way to get away. There was something different about Wonder Woman though. Whether it was the movie’s more lighthearted tone or Wonder Woman being the first huge female superhero movie it connected with audiences in a way rarely seen and it all culminates with the No Man’s Land scene. Defying the wishes of Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman crosses No Man’s Land alone and liberates the small town of Veld. From a technical standpoint it is flawless. A perfect melding of typical fighting with over-the-top super heroics. It would have been great in any other movie. But what made it truly great was the reaction. Audiences across the nation raved about the scene. Social media was flooded with stories of cheering and crying in the theater. And when an action scene can elicit so much emotion it has to be ranked as the best of the year.