In the spirit of Buck Rogers, a pilot is propelled into the far future and learns everyone he knows is dead. This time it’s because of a cosmic radiation storm (enabled by nuclear weapon testing) which causes a plague of ‘mutation’ in humans. The last bastion of a dying civilization is run by an old man with deaf/mute daughter who can read minds. Most humans are deaf/mute – it’s the first stage of mutation – and also sterile, except the daughter. The boss’ plan is to mate his daughter with the pilot to repopulate the species (not sure that’s how biology works). There’s also three other ‘scapes’ who escaped the plague (who are not in the repopulation program for some reason) who have the ire of the security chief while they set the pilot up with their own plan to undo the apocalypse.
Despite the fact the film is a hodgepodge of established sci-fi tropes, it was moderately interesting. I can imagine the producers saying “if we make most of the characters mute, we can save on dialogue and acting costs!” Many elements (sound effects, architecture) are recognizable from Forbidden Planet, with the addition of spiffy triangular wipes. When the mutants escape their confinement the scene is surprisingly visceral (for a completely bloodless sequence). The whole affair would be shorter if they had cut out all the unnecessary walking and driving scenes.
Tropes: ladies are catty to each other; future women wear skirts and high heels; exposition with a blackboard; double & triple crossing, sexy lady goes for a swim.
The story starts ‘in media res’ as the traitorous splinter group led by the unscrupulous and power hungry Colonel Clay tries to outgun the democratic Alpha League. Sequence after sequence of explosion-laden gun fights are interrupted by a semi coherent narrative of a willful captive woman, and her husband trying to infiltrate her captors gang to free her. Meanwhile the spin-kicking mad max analogue has a montage training a peaceful mountain tribe to defend their mine of gunpowder from the bad guys.
Not much inspired content here. Overacting and video game level fight scenes that drag the film on much longer than need be. Old standby tropes are just as recycled as much of the battle footage is recycled from previous Santiago films.
Black leather vest with no shirt; spiky cars; sexual assault: sports gear armor; wasting bullets on downed victims; Thunder Dome like duel; Little people; guy laughs evilly after every line; man vs snake bar contest
A clearly older than teenage caveman is curious about what is across the river in the forbidden zone and returns with tales of dinosaurs and bountiful game. For breaking the ancient unquestioned law of the tribe is sentenced to be ignored by his tribe, but it doesn’t stick and he goes back into the forbidden zone to find the secrets of the God that kills with a touch, invoking the wrath of the law keeping authority figure
It’s weird to see a young Robert Vaughn. Reuses old footage of fighting reptiles with fins glued to them to look like dinosaurs. Only the older “wise men” have any hint of facial hair. As schlocky as the effects and dialogue is the film has heart and is blessedly short.
Toren’s rating: 4/10
TROPES: rites of manhood; perfect groomed hair in primitive jungle; twist ending: quicksand; naked woman bathing in pond; narration at end explains movie
Yes! Yes I do! And here they are. Keep in mind some of these were rated decades ago and my tastes change:
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Roman Holiday (1953) The Apartment (1960) Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Seppuku/Hara Kiri (1962) The Graduate (1967) Joi-uchi/Samurai Rebellion (1967) Harold and Maude (1971) The Four Musketeers (1974) Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) Life of Brian (1979) Castle of Cagliostro (1979) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) The Princess Bride (1987) My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Dead Poets Society (1989) Army of Darkness (1992) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Leon/The Professional (1994) Pulp Fiction (1994) Casino (1995) The Usual Suspects (1995) Fargo (1996) Schizopolis (1996) The Impostors (1998) The Big Kahuna (1999) Magnolia (1999) City of Lost Children (1999) Toy Story 2 (1999) The Sixth Sense (1999) American Beauty (1999) The Cider House Rules (1999) Spirited Away (2001) Amelie (2001) Monsters Inc (2001) Metropolis/Metoroporisu (2001) Noqoyqatsi (2002) Spellbound (2002) American Splendor (2003) Lost in Translation (2003) Stranger Than Fiction (2006) No Country for Old Men (2007) There Will Be Blood (2007) Moon (2009) Locke (2013) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Annihilation (2018) Toy Story 4 (2019) Soul (2020)
Casablanca (1942) 12 Angry Men (1957) Alien (1979) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) The Thing (1982) Ghostbusters (1984) Nausicaa (1984) Brazil (1985) Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Rushmore (1998) The Big Lebowski (1998) Miller’s Crossing (1990) the Iron Giant (1999) The Incredibles (2004) WALL-E (2008) Roma (2018)
Android butlers rise up against humankind. Nine months later a very pregnant Georgia and her screw-up boyfriend trek through the wilderness to Boston. There they hope to take themselves and their soon-to-be-born baby on a boat bound for Asia. On the way they deal with a military camp and a ‘no mans land’ filled with robots who are trying to find a way into the city to disable the EMP device that keeps them at bay, plus a mysterious stranger.
Fine performances by our heroine, and some (few and far between) genuinely compelling moments, but the plot doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. We’ve seen all this before in other films, and done better.
Tropes: bad guy monologues before delivering coup de grace; a Sophie’s choice; flesh ripped off robot metal skull; flashback prompted by photograph; robots have glowing eyes.
Virus AKA Fukkatsu no hi AKA Day of Resurrection. Both an apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic film, a genetically engineered virus is unleashed accidentally on the world. The 855 men and 8 women in Antarctica are spared the deadly human extinction thanks to the cold. An isolated nuclear submarine and crew join and they begin repopulating the species. Years later the automated nuclear response system in Washington is in danger of being triggered by an earthquake predicted by one of the scientists, so a suicide mission is begun to dismantle it.
A large and international cast, but a box office failure in the Japan homeland. The 93 minute USA TV cut removed much of the Japanese characters’ plotline, which is a shame but at the same time the Japanese segments were the most melodramatic. In this film, mobs riot, demanding an effective vaccine, rather than gathering to protest lockdowns like in the real world pandemic. The movie is quite dark from beginning to end.
Tropes: Dead pets foreshadow human fate; manly men fighting eachother to see who will sacrifice himself; insane trigger-happy military general; love interest was pregnant when she died; food and fuel scarcity is not acknowledged
Toren’s Rating: 7/10
More about the film: https://bandsaboutmovies.com/2021/04/10/virus-1980/
900 years after nuclear war, the stone age tribe(s) of man are enslaved by matriarchal factions, until an escapee (Korvis) educates himself with a book of ABCs that teaches him about men and women. While the matriarchs are weakened by a political upheaval, Korvis falls into a secret bunker, learns how the world was destroyed, finds a cache of advanced weaponry, and takes on the mantle of “Prezeedent” which kinda sorta fulfils a prophecy. After a pitched battle between the groups, they learn how to hug and kiss again.
Also there’s a sasquatch-like mutant called Aargh the Awful.
The film leans into its own ‘ so bad it’s good’ness that gives it a lot of fun moments and an enjoyable tone. The acting isn’t going to win anyone over but characterizations are complete and the cinematography is competent. They had a good time making this movie and there’s a lot of inventiveness in terms of props and sets. The fight choreography gets a lot of mileage given the budget. Kudos!
Tropes: Narration by main character; future lingo; women living in dirt are heavily made-up and hair-sprayed; bitter enemies become lovers; forbidden zone; mute character and character who only speaks in grunts;
I saw Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I liked most of it, but as a critic and as a Ghostbusters fan there was some stuff that rubbed me the wrong way, and so I’ve come to the internet to write it down.
You want spoilers? Cuz I got spoilers!
A lot of things in this film are both a strength and a weakness. Almost every relationship in the film seems surface level. Nobody connects in any real way except the young girl Phoebe and Egon’s ghost, which they do without any words. The mother is physically there, but not emotionally. She is both disinterested and uninteresting. She is blasé, takes no interest in her kids, and takes every opportunity to tell them (and everyone else) what a terrible parent Egon was. Which is weird for fans of the Ghostbusters and also seems like bad parenting maybe?
The ghost plot is a rehash of the first film, so not much original here and an overabundance of member-berries for old nerds like me. So if that is something you’re looking for, they got you covered – everything from Slimer 2.0 to Stay Puft 2.0 to “who you gonna call” and “are you a god?” I did like the Evo Shandor stuff and mossssst of it worked. I really liked that J.K. Simmons only got one line but the Evo in a box thing was a bit confusing, and I don’t understand why the terror dogs were just sitting around on the sidelines while Gozer was getting smoked by particle throwers.
The sudden deus ex machina of the original Ghostbusters was another strength and weakness. I mean, we all want to see those characters again and what they are up to, but showing up so suddenly to take agency away from the other characters legitimately took me out of the story. It kind of ruined the movie to be perfectly honest? That said, I thought their characters were on point and well-scripted. And I still have mixed feelings about CG-resurrection of Harold Ramis, which I thought they milked about 40% too much in the final scenes. But there were tears, so yeah, they got me.
Also, why, OH WHY did Egon lead Phoebe to release Vinz Clortho from the ghost trap? Didn’t that put them all in terribly deadly danger? I guess maybe it was part of his master plan but jeez, if you can move chess pieces and lamps, how about a pencil on a piece of paper?
The Elmer Bernstein music cues, identical to the original, brought back many memories, what with the original Ghostbusters being one of my most-watched films of all time, and I liked the design of Slimer, er, I mean MUNCHER and how well the animators pulled off its facial features.
Perhaps the thing Ghostbusters: Afterlife was most successful at was getting me to want to watch the original again, as well as The Real Ghostbusters cartoon…especially the “Egon’s Ghost” episode, which is excellent.
What other Real Ghostbusters episodes are excellent, since I have you here? Sounds like a great time to make a top 6 list!
Collect Call of Cathulhu, not just because they fight Cthulhu, but a well-crafted story by Michael Reaves.
Mr. Sandman, Dream Me A Dream One of the entities that causes people to fall asleep and dream goes rogue and tries to put the whole world to sleep so there will be no more wars or conflict. Dreams come to life and IT’S WHACKED!
Ragnarok and Roll – a jilted lover tries to bring about the end of the world, written by J. Michael Straczynski
When Hallowe-en Was Forever: Samhain, the spirit of Hallowe’en, stops the clocks so that Hallowe’en will last forever. Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Slimer, is That You? Egon and Slimer have their brains swapped, with hilarious results.
and of course Egon’s Ghost, in which an accident ends up sending Egon to the netherworld. The guys have to go in and rescue him. Includes a terror dog!
Honorable mentions: Knock Knock; The Boogieman Cometh; Night Game; The Thing in Mrs. Faversham’s Attic; Citizen Ghost; and Take Two – the crew is called to California to help make the Ghostbusters Movie