Sunday, December 15, 2013

Science Fiction Double Feature!

I got the opening song of Rocky Horror Picture Show playing through my head as I write these reviews of 2 sci-fi films I saw. Not really a double feature as I saw them both on different days, but anyway.....
 
ANTIVIRAL
 
THE GOOD:
A very original story by Brandon Cronenberg (son of David) that brings to mind the some of the twisted science fiction films of his father, such as Videodrome, The Brood and Existenz. It takes place in the near future, where society's fixation with celebrity has reached such ridiculous levels that sick stars sell their disease to companies, who go and inject high paying customers with said disease so that the fans can feel more connected to the celebrity they worship. The lead character works for one of these companies, and he's secretly selling some of the infections he draws from celebrities on the side to shady people for profit. The film includes such insane concepts as a butcher shop that grows cells of certain celebrities and makes steaks out of them, to sell to customers who want to eat the reproduced cell meat of their favorite star. Things go bad when one of the most popular celebrities becomes infected with a serious virus that the lead character has also acquired, and suddenly he's thrust into a conspiracy of trying to find out where this man-made virus came from so that he can save the star and himself. All the actors are quite good and the concept is sick enough to be fascinating.
 
THE BAD:
The only thing I could think of is that this movie might not be everyone's cup of tea. It's a very original film that shows the viewer something different and does it quite well.
 
OVERALL SCORE:
I'd give it an 8½. Like I said, a very original, different science fiction film that's intelligently written, well acted and filled with very sick ideas.
 
 
 
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS
 
THE GOOD:
A crew on a 6 month mission on Mars are ready to pack up and leave towards Earth, when one of the crew members discovers living bacteria that puts the crew in jeopardy. The film shows some striking cinematography of the surface of Mars, including dust storms. It's fast paced enough to not drag or bore.
 
THE BAD:
It doesn't feature anything that you haven't seen before. It's basically Alien with zombies. It even features the usual clich├ęd characters you'd see in films of this type: the bitchy scientist who only cares about the discovery, the coward who can't be trusted and you know will turn on everyone, the logical female who keeps everyone calm, and characters reacting with emotion over logic when you would think that trained astronauts would have enough mental control to use their heads first. The lead character, played by Liev Schreiber, also has flashbacks to some situation while they were in space that causes him PTSD, but the scenes showing what happened don't explain enough to make it seem that serious, and Schreiber doesn't have the emotional range to make his panic attacks seem riveting enough to make you care. And some of the action sequences are done with such fast cuts and choppy editing that the viewer doesn't get the full rush that they should deliver.
 
OVERALL SCORE:
About a 6. Decent but not remarkable.

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