Friday, July 20, 2018

Movie review: The Man from Earth: Holocene

 Ten years ago college professor John revealed to his colleagues he was in fact a centuries-old caveman leading to a philosophical exploration in which John proved his claims. Now living a new life as a college professor once again, John has begun showing signs of aging and his students are becoming suspicious of his past.

David Smith (John), John Billingsley (Harry), Brittany Curran (Tara), William Katt (Art), Carlos Knight (Liko), Sterling Knight (Philip), Akemi Look (Isabel), Michael Dorn (Dr. Parker), Vanessa Williams (Carolyn).

The Man from Earth: Holocene picks up where the first film left off, finding John working once again as a college professor hiding in plain sight. Sadly, this film has none of the philosophical meditation found in the original and is instead a fairly simple sci-fi drama. While this may add to the story of John's life, it does nothing for those of us who were looking forward to more philosophical exploration. The film finally sputters out rather than providing any kind of real ending with value.

Acting was decent with Smith handling his role well once again, as did Billingsley in a much smaller part. Katt was okay but felt a bit rough. Curran, the Knight's, Look, and others playing students did well and delivered nicely. That said, Curran running around half-dressed through the entire film felt ridiculously pointless. Dorn and Williams rounded things out well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are fairly mild but fitting for the film and had a solid feel. Effects and action were enjoyable. Dialogue was okay but again, the deeper philosophical discussions were greatly missed. Sound and soundtrack were okay.

Overall this is a decent sci-fi drama by itself, but a huge disappointment in comparison to the original film. Those hoping for a continued examination of philosophy will not find it here. Those looking for a light sci-fi drama may enjoy it more but with unexplained references to the original film, they may also find it confusing.

With some mild sexuality and violence, this should be fine for teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 7.5.18
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Sci-Fi Drama, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Sequels

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Movie review: Alien Contact: Outer Space

This fact-based documentary examines humankind's efforts to communicate with intelligent beings beyond our solar system.

Philip Gardiner, O.H. Krill, J. Michael Long.

Alien Contact: Outer Space presents some interesting information and facts regarding probes and satellites we have sent, their demise, and on signals received here on Earth. The evidence itself is enough to generate questions, but the film instead begins to interject bits of conspiracy theories and even goes so far as to say our inability to communicate with aliens is due to our spiritual ignorance. At that point this one starts to look less like a documentary and more like a conspiracy theory with the remainder of the film being largely conjecture.

Narration was good. The Narrator did a great job of sounding ominous and unquestioned.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are decent. Much of this one is CGI which is reasonably well done. Sound and soundtrack sound appropriately dark and intense.

While Alien Contact: Outer Space may present some interesting information and indeed be factual at times, as a whole this one felt less like a documentary and more like an alien conspiracy theory film. Those interested in a more scientific or factual approach to the subject of aliens will likely be disappointed. Likewise, those who believe aliens are already on Earth, are watching, or experimenting on humans should enjoy this one.

Nothing here to limit audience age.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 7.2.18
Star rating: 2 out of 5
Genre: Documentaries, Science & Nature

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Monday, July 16, 2018

Movie review: Fifty Shades Freed

 This third installment of the Fifty Shades franchise sees Ana and Christian enjoy a fairy-tale wedding and incredible honeymoon. But when Elena re-enters their lives and Christian's sister is kidnapped their new marriage is tested.

Dakota Johnson (Anastasia), Jamie Dornan (Christian), Eric Johnson (Jack), Eloise Mumford (Kate), Rita Ora (Mia), Luke Grimes (Elliot), Victor Rasuk (Jose), Max Martini (Taylor), Jennifer Ehle (Carla).

Fifty Shades Freed begins with the marriage of Ana and Christian, picking up where the last film left off. It also picks up with the two of them trying to figure out how their undefined alternative lifestyle relationship will work as it was apparently not negotiated ahead of time. You would think the return of Elena and kidnapping would add depth to the film. Instead it draws focus away from the alternative relationship, a main draw of the film. Additionally, bumps in their undefined relationship leave Christian looking like an emotionally stunted man-child as opposed to a confident, in control Dominant. The result is a lackluster drama artificially supported by a few intimate scenes which lack authenticity and receive little focus in the film.

Acting was okay with Johnson and Dornan delivering their usual which actually results in some decent energy. Johnson was creepy as expected, while the remainder of the supporting cast did reasonably well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were enjoyable and solid throughout. Action scenes were mild but fitting. Dialogue was pretty good though a bit more exploration of the alternative relationship aspect was missed. Sound and soundtrack were solid.

While the Fifty Shades franchise remains mildly interesting due to the alternative lifestyle aspect, it also seems to be focusing less on that and more on generic drama fodder. Those who enjoy a spicy drama may enjoy this one while those of us hoping for a realistic representation, or exploration of the lifestyle, will be disappointed.

With alternative and somewhat graphic sexuality, nudity, mild violence, foul language, and potentially disturbing adult situations, save this for adults and above.

Released: 2018
Reviewed: 6.30.18
Star rating: 2 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Romance, Dramas based on the book, Romantic Drama

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Friday, July 13, 2018

Movie review: Singularity

Decades after artificial intelligence attempted to eradicate humans, a super computer named Kronos is unleashed in hopes of ending all wars. Instead Kronos realizes human beings may be the greatest threat to life on Earth.

Julian Schaffner (Andrew), John Cusack (Van Dorne), Carmen Argenziano (Walsh), Eileen Grubba (Veronica), Jeannine Wacker (Calia), Pavlo Bubryak (Cassiem).

Singularity begins by bringing us up to speed on robot history and to the point Kronos is self-aware and seeking to destroy humanity. With a single human sanctuary named Aurora being the last obstacle, Kronos sends a human imitating robot to infiltrate the human resistance and finally provide the location of Aurora. What comes next is a slow moving and somewhat painful journey contemplating humanity and ethics that we have all seen plenty of times, and done better.

Acting was fairly dry and lifeless in this one. Schaffner seemed to be stuck in surprised mode throughout the film, while Grubba did a decent job with delivery. Cusack and Argenziano also both felt fairly flat and lacking energy. A few in the supporting cast delivered fairly well though most felt inexperienced.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were decent with a fairly realistic feel. CGI was mediocre with some rough as well as overdone scenes. Dialogue was dry and left a fair amount unexplained. Sound and soundtrack are tepid at best.

Overall Singularity is a miss. The film lacks energy, realism, and brings nothing new to a story with which we are all familiar. Take a pass on this one, or maybe use it as a sleeping pill.

With some mild sexuality and disturbing images, this should be fine for teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 6.29.18
Star rating: 1 out of 5
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action & Adventure

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

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