As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!
Believe it or not but every now and then a reader suggestion makes perfect sense: such is the case today because I thought it might be a good time to post a few new additions to January 31st and then highlight them on my MainPage, an area of the site which frankly I just don't give much attention. (Honestly, it's a time issue: if I had more of it, then I'd probably do more MainPage blogging and reviewing and whatnot.) So as I have a few extra minutes this morning, I'll just put this up here for posterity ...
The late Eddie Byrne (1911-1981) managed to squeeze in some time to squeeze Carrie Fisher with his work as 'General Willard' in the much beloved original Star Wars (1977) feature. In this day and age, shouldn't hugs still count? I think so, and I've added him to my listings.
I loved the BBC original Life On Mars, but I had trouble finding its follow-up, Ashes To Ashes (2008-2009) consistently on BBC America. The lovely Amelia Bullmore enjoyed a recurring spot on the program, and I've happily added her to my listings as well. Outside of that work and a spot in Jekyll & Hyde, it looks like she's avoided genre work.
Ah, Grant Morrison, Grant Morrison, Grant Morrison ... or is that "ugh, Grant Morrison, Grant Morrison, Grant Morrison"? He's a hard talent to truly love -- so far as I'm concerned -- as his prose has been all over the place. Some of it is honestly very, very good; but there's more that I haven't enjoyed nearly as much. He's done some fabulous work with Superman and Batman -- as the critics will tell you -- though I haven't been all that fond of what he's done with some characters. Kudos for a long and storied career in comics, my friend.
And last but not least to today's birthday additions is the particularly fetching Marta Nieto. (Love that name, too ... Nieto ... Ni-et-o ... lovely.) As many of her highlights on IMDB.com involved Spanish-language projects -- and as I'm uniquely unfamiliar with the language -- I can't tell you much about her save an appearance aboard The Ministry Of Time.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!
"Doctor X" Cures What Ails You With Death!
When is a Victorian-style thriller more than a Victorian-style thriller?
Well, that would be when it combines elements beyond the traditional Victorian-style thriller as is the welcome case with 1932’s occasionally impressive Doctor X. Directed by Michael Curtiz (the same who would go on to helm 1942’s Casablanca) and adapted for the silver screen from a play by Howard Warren Comstock and Allen C. Miller, the SciFi-lite feature takes a stab in the dark at crafting a pleasant enough whodunit by way of introducing the concept of ‘synthetic flesh.’
Intrigued? Perhaps you should be …
[Note: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …]
From the film’s IMDB.com citation:
“A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.”
Yes, I suppose it’s fair to label Doctor X essentially as a murder mystery, but I suspect audiences showing up to the motion picture when it was originally screened were more interested in the film’s Technicolor potential (I’ve read that the film was shot in a two-color format which sounds a bit more experimental for its time than anything else, though I’m no film historian) as well as the director’s promise to curl the audiences blood … with horror! (Let it be known that your grandfather and great-grandfather likely appreciated movie scares as much as you do.) Much of X’s second half takes place in a vast, palatial estate wherein the good doctor himself – Dr. Jerry Xavier (played by Lionel Atwill) – attempts to solve a baffling murder with the use of science. The genius has fashioned together what might be considered an early yet crude attempt of a lie detection – albeit one with the kind of bells and whistles found in Baron Von Frankenstein’s castle – and it requires the dramatic re-enactment of the killing itself to get the ball rolling.
But what I found most impressive about X was that fated second half, one that gives way to what’s an obviously contrived love story (a legitimate criticism of so many features from this era) and the use of science by both good and evil forces. It would seem that the pursuit of knowledge is no longer the province of the those seeking justice alone, and this idea truly gives the film its foundation. That and some impressive production detail lift this one a cut above other forgettable fare, making it definitely worth a single viewing.
Sadly, the first half requires a bit of patience to endure: big city reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) is racing against the odds to unravel the identity behind ‘The Moon Killer,’ even if it means putting himself in harm’s way. His undercover work at the city morgue – where the latest body has been brought in – pays off like he hadn’t imagined: police suspect Dr. Xavier and his colleagues are involved with the slayings due to the use of a uniquely rare surgical scalpel as the murder weapon. (Apparently, this blade is only known to have been used at his private institute.) Rather than submit to the time-consuming trappings of a full-blown investigation, Xavier convinces the detectives to grant him the chance to catch the perpetrator using his own preferred means, a set-up which gives way to the aforementioned second half.
Fay Wray – who one year later would become a household name with her work aboard King Kong (1933) – stars as Joanne Xavier, the doctor’s daughter, and she stumbles across the nosey reporter trying to gain access to her father’s private estate. The typical 30’s era wordplay ensues, and a budding (yet only possible in the movies) romance is born. Can these two witty young adults put their heads together quick enough to uncover just who the Moon Killer is and what his connection is to her father? Naturally, you’ll have to tune in to find out, but let’s just say this one doesn’t come up short with the promise of a happy ending.
When it’s doing what it does best, Doctor X mines the quality melodrama well enough to produce a modicum of suspense. Much of it is heavily photographed in darkness – especially the sequences involving the serial killer – in much the same way quality black-and-white features were exceptionally composed. While the science seems more than a bit contrived than legitimate, I found Curtiz staged his vignettes with enough visual appeal that even the sugary bits were easy to digest. Our antagonist’s attempt to conceal his identity with synthetic flesh quite probably gave audiences of the era something to think about, even though today’s viewers possibly conjured up memories of a weekend mud bath. Production details are very good, and the performances across the board are certainly in keeping with the aesthetic of the material.
I’ve a fondness for old features, and this one tickled my fancy more with its gothic imagery than anything else. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheekiness about it all, so consider yourself warned.
For those interested, a sequel – The Return Of Doctor X – was produced a curious seven years later; and – for what it’s worth – the follow-up heavily lacks the gruesome appeal of the original. In fact, the only thing of distinction about it so far as this reviewer is concerned is that it features one Humphrey Bogart in a role I never expect to see Bogey attempt. It’s worth a view perhaps for that reason alone but not much else.
"Attraction" Might Make You Believe In Love ... but Probably Not Aliens
Somehow, mankind always finds itself at odds with intelligent extraterrestrial life. If you believe the movies, then we’re doomed to never get along socially with whatever we inevitably find ‘out there.’
George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds (1953) showed Earthlings on-the-run from these Martian aggressors who eventually succumb to the smallest threat previously known to man in the finale. During the 1980’s, TV audiences were treated to a pair of miniseries and a spin-off series around V (aka Visitors), a Reptilian race intent upon seeing mankind used to fill the opening of their dietary requirements. Then, in 1996, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich re-invented the ‘alien invasion’ feature with their big screen Independence Day: aliens came to Earth and got their butts kicked in a rousing finale that brought all nations of the world together for the ultimate throwdown.
There have been other films – some big and some small – that have mined similar territory; but 2017’s Attraction has the unique advantage of exploring an alien encounter that doesn’t involve any other nation on Earth except the former Soviet Union. That alone was enough to pique my interest … but, sadly, what I found was much more spectacle than it was substance.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the promotional materials:
“Moscow finds itself on the brink of destruction after a mysterious spaceship crash-lands in the center of the city. While the government seeks to find out what the ship’s passengers want and how to protect the local population, the rest of the city residents break into conflicting factions. Some view the aliens as a threat that should be extinguished, while others hope that the visitors are peaceful and offer an opportunity to learn more about the world beyond. When a young woman finds herself torn between her seemingly normal life and the alluring promise offered by one of the all-too-human extraterrestrials, the fate of the entire world is left hanging in the balance …”
Attraction begins by hitting all the right marks.
Director Fedor Bondarchuk’s space saga introduces audiences to our heroine, Yulya Lebedeva (aka ‘Julia’ for English-dubbed track) (played by the fetching Irina Starshenbaum). With the loss of her mother, young Julia has lost faith in life, choosing to no longer believe in a higher order (God, aliens, etc.) when her prayers went unanswered. Left behind to her military father ‘the Colonel’ (Oleg Menshikov), she’s invested what interest she has left in school friends. But when the crashing alien ship takes away her closest confidante, Julia further rebels against dear old dad and slips deeper into the arms of an angry boyfriend, Artyom (Alexander Petrov). Eventually, she decides to take fate into her own hands, stealing daddy’s service pistol and joining Artyom and his angry followers intent on sneaking into the quarantined zone and dealing with these invading aliens themselves.
Not long after this narrative set-up, Attraction falls apart.
Screenwriters Oleg Malovichko and Andrey Zolotarev’s script relies heavily on implying story elements instead of presenting them visually much less logically. Apparently, contact is loosely established with the alien ship, though its not clearly depicted on screen. Martial law is declared in Moscow, and yet nothing appears to have disrupted the city’s normal routines. Even our heroine’s fated meeting with the young alien captain – Hijken (Rinal Mukhametov) – is strained as this newcomer to Earth seems to know an awful lot about us, our planet, and our customs though it’s never explained how. (Sure, they’ve been ‘watching,’ but how closely?) Why, our young lovers even manage to squeeze in a date to a rap concert taking place in the city that was apparently shut down by the crash of a giant alien sphere, one that reduced much of the city to rubble.
Still, there are other moments within Attraction which make no sense at all.
Worldwide news outlets repeatedly show grainy, security camera footage of the alien crash, but it’s sadly the exact same footage Bondarchuk composed for us, his audience. Early in the feature, Julia and Artyom’s lovemaking gets interrupted when the alien ship crashes into the skyscraper in which she lives: in dire jeopardy, the two young lovers are shown dangling with their bed through a vast hole in the side of the highrise … and, yet, minutes later, they’re running down the street looking for an ambulance for the injured Julia. Erm … how did they get down? We’re never told. Later in the story, Artyom is caught up when the military is called in to quell some local unrest; he’s eventually arrested and is clearly on his way to be tossed behind bars … only to be released from jail not long after. Erm … how did he get out? Did he have a lawyer? Again, it’s never made plain. Even later, Julia and Hijken infiltrate her father’s military headquarters (the alien needs to recover a piece of his technology in order to leave our world). While Julia serves to distract her father, Hijken sneaks deeper into the base, steals the stolen power source, and somehow manages to get all the way back to his young love without capture. Erm … how could this happen? Is the former Soviet military security seriously that inept?
As will inescapably happen in film surrounding teenagers players, love blossoms; Julia quickly loses interest in the increasingly-bizarre Artyom and succumbs to the unearthly if not bumbling charm of Hijken, the film’s ultimate ‘fish out of water.’ Theirs is a match made in the stars, though brought down to Earth, and the pairing is probably as palatable as can be in the land of fairy tale. Indeed, Hijken’s unanticipated fondness for the girl saves Attraction in the last reel: he’s faced with making a sacrifice he never thought possible, redeeming both his species, Bondarchuk’s work, and this film for those who still have hope that love – real or imagined – just might conquer all.
Now, some might dismiss these flaws as nitpicking, and to each his own. But I’ve always argued that the film has to stand on its own merits in order to be honestly appreciated. Good visuals and some fabulous special effects (the Moscow crash sequences are particularly compelling, and the design of the alien craft and battlesuits are impressive) can be used to establish the requisite ‘world-building’ that goes hand-in-hand with Science Fiction films of this nature; but storytellers have to walk that extra mile in grounding the Earth elements in reality. Fantasy must equal the sum of its parts. The extraordinary only works when the audiences accepts the ordinary, and – on that front – Bondarchuk’s film struggles to find solid ground. Its nice moments – and there are more than a few – are simply not strong enough to lift this ship back into orbit.
Think of this one as "Space Romeo And Juliet" and you'll probably have a pleasant enough time with it for its two-plus hours of run-time. But think of it as anything else and you're bound to be disappointed.
Attraction (2017) is produced by Art Pictures Studio and Vodorod. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled via Dark Sky Films. As for the technical specifications? On that level, Attraction is impressive, and its production quality easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with any U.S. big budget release: special effects are consistently impressive, and sound engineering is top notch. If you’re looking for special features, then prepare to be disappointed: there are a small handful of production-style featurettes, but they serve more as promotional to the film and/or director than they shed light on how difficult it was to bring this particular tale of galactic threat to the silver screen … and I found them disappointing.
Attraction isn’t bad science fiction, per se, but it certainly isn’t smart SciFi on any level. Sadly, it wastes a handful of interesting ideas (sociological response to aliens, misguided nationalism, etc.) on what ends up being an unconvincing and bloated teenage love affair, burying any depiction of real relationships under billions and billions of spiffy-looking special effects sequences and plot inconsistencies. I always felt like the flick wanted to be something more than what it was, and -- while waiting for that to happen -- I was disappointed that the transition never took place. Still, if bubble gum entertainment is what you’re looking for, it’s easily a mildly diverting spectacle with more in common with the Transformers franchise than it does with Independence Day.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Sky Films provided me with a Blu-ray of Attraction by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
"Beyond The Sky" Doesn't Go Far Enough
Since I was a young’un, I’ve always had an interest in whether or not there was intelligent life “out there.” Arguably, that’s one of the quintessential questions of every age: are we alone in this vast, vast universe, or is every possible corner of the galaxy teeming with life, whatever form it may take? For if we’re not alone, why does it seem otherwise? Why have they not revealed themselves to us, and why have they not welcomed us into, perhaps, the greater union of intelligent beasts?
When I grew older, I’d heard about alien abduction, and I thought perhaps this was a phenomenon that answered some of those fateful questions. Were these abductors the vanguard of a higher species attempting to establish contact with mankind? If so, why did they shroud themselves in secrecy? What could they hope to accomplish by temporarily kidnapping individuals and subjecting them to scientific study? Were these kidnappings for our benefit or for theirs? What purpose were they serving in private, and what could it all mean for our planet?
Circumstantially, Beyond The Sky tinkers with some of the curiosities of my youth, but it stops short of passing any significant judgment on such events, leaving the audience with the responsibility of choosing what to believe and whether or not to accept such aliens know what’s best for us in the final estimation.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of person who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging:
“Chris Norton has been hearing about alien abductions his entire life but, in his gut, he knows they are not real. Setting out to disprove the alien abduction phenomenon once and for all, he attends a UFO convention to meet alleged abductees and reveal the truth behind their experiences. It is only when he meets Emily, who claims to have been abducted every seven years on her birthday, that Chris realizes there may be more to these claims than meets the eye …”
Structurally, Beyond The Sky strives to tell its story a few different ways, and perhaps therein lies the film’s central problem: it’s bitten off entirely more than it can chew in a single 90-minute feature. Writer/director Fulvio Sestito attempts to balance some faux documentary-style footage within his fictional account of Chris and Emily’s experiences – even having faux-cameraman Brent a character within the flick – and it unfortunately ends up feeling a bit jumbled. There’s nothing wrong with some of the film-within-a-film segments, but the trickery should’ve been used with greater restraint as this viewer found it more distracting when it should’ve helped advance the story on a different level.
That aside, Sky does offer up a few worthwhile characters: Ryan Carnes plays Chris – a budding filmmaker seeking to discredit UFO contactees for entirely personal reasons – and he deftly balances his skepticism about aliens on Earth up until the point wherein his experience can no longer be denied. Jordan Hinson (as Emily) is his centerpiece: her repeat abductions serves as the real catalyst here, for if he can win her over with his logical refutation of the entire phenomenon, then perhaps he’ll have his victory even at the expense of the girl’s sanity. Begrudgingly, she welcomes his assistance as her 28th birthday approaches, meaning she’s destined for another encounter.
Structured much like The X-Files where Special Agent Fox Mulder ‘believed’ while his counterpart Dana Scully ‘debunked,’ Beyond The Sky is in good company for audiences willing to suspend some disbelief in order to get to the bottom of such supernatural events. Think of it as a ‘road trip to the land of the paranormal,’ and you’re well on the way to understanding the film.
However, director Sestito’s story – crafted also with contributions from Rebecca Berrih, Warren Thomas, and Marc Porterfield – just works too hard to achieve what meager returns it delivers. Not content to be merely a film-within-a-film, Sestito layers on an abduction-within-an-abduction in order to ramp up the suspense in the last act, revealing the military/industrial complex’s participation in some ongoing affair yet providing absolutely zero reason behind it. (Was that lost on the cutting room floor? Or were local businessmen simply angry of what Chris’s efforts were doing to their cottage industry?)
The aforementioned X-Files had already staked up such territory in one of their best hours – “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” – and, at times, Sky feels like it’s little more than an attempt to one-up that 40-minute episode of television. If that’s the case, the film fails, as all it takes is a pair of hands locked together (young love?) to make the aliens look elsewhere in the galaxy for suitable test subjects. (Watch the film, and you’ll get my meaning.)
Additionally, the script seeks to establish several additional connections – Native Americans familiarity with the aliens, New Age participants who mystically connect with higher intelligences, the ‘missing time’ phenomenon, etc. – that don’t work as organically here to advance the plot as they should. Instead, they feel like asides wrapped up in the narrative more likely to get the feature to as close to 90-minutes as they can: a more seasoned script might’ve explored the what’s, how’s, and why’s of such connections, but perhaps that’s lost on the production team here.
Still, performances are solid. Carnes does good work, and Hinson appears credible when trying to account for her experiences with the unknown. Screen veterans Peter Stormare, Dee Wallace, and Don Stark are along for the ride in small roles, lending their gravitas to a script that certainly could’ve used a bit more of them. And the last reel is what audiences to this kind of motion picture are waiting for: on that front, Sestito’s film delivers the goods … I just wish it had all been wrapped in better packaging.
It isn’t a dud by any measure. It’s just wildly uneven … perhaps like so many accountings of those who come back from alien abduction.
Beyond The Sky (2018) is produced by Elysian Fields Entertainment. DVD distribution for this release is being handled by RLJ Entertainment. As for the technical specifications? The film is well put together, and the sights and sounds are mostly great quality experiences (some of the ‘documentary snippets’ are understandably herky-jerky). Lastly, if you’re looking for special features, there’s a pair of interviews – one of well-known UFO abductee Travis Walton as well as a Navajo artist – but I found them both a bit short for my tastes.
Clearly, I think it’s safe to conclude that Beyond The Sky’s target audience is most likely those who find themselves interested in the ongoing controversies surrounding alien abduction; sadly – in that respect – the film doesn’t really offer anything new on the subject matter, nor does it really explain (or try to explain) why such things as these abductions happen in the first place. Thankfully, the flick avoids casting any judgment on the abductees, as I’ve seen many others features that poke hurtful fun at the phenomenon; Sky treats it mostly with legitimacy, giving elements of the production more of that documentary feel its lead characters deserve.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at RLJ Entertainment provided me with a DVD of Beyond The Sky by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
"Molly" Fights Like A Supergirl
By all accounts, I honestly love a good Apocalypse.
Thematically, it’s hard to mess one up, especially given that the motion pictures exploring what’s left after ‘the Big Bang’ is a world itself that has already been messed up beyond belief. There’s no life, no liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or whatever prospect for happiness remains) is the thread which ties the feature’s characters together. Though there’s nothing left, we’re all still chasing something, be it food, gas, or simple survival. Unlike other genres, Apocalypse-laden films strip society bare of all it’s relied on for so long – technology, convenience, humanity, etc. – and put mankind back to the Stone Age where the fight for tomorrow might be as simple as racing against time for something as commonplace as one’s daily bread.
“Molly” does that, but where I think it fails is writer/director Thijs Meuwese’s persistent attempts to do ‘something more’ when ‘something less’ seemed to work well enough on its own.
(NOTE: the following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging:
“In a barren landscape ravished by war, Molly, a super-powered young woman, roams the violent post-apocalyptic landscape, armed only with a bow and arrow. When a sadistic ringmaster who runs an underground fight club hears of her supernatural abilities, he sends his sociopathic marauders to capture her and make her a star attraction in his cage rights to the death.”
Having grown up in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I had the good fortune of not only being exposed to more than my fair share of B-Movies but also falling in love with so many of them. The names of these films aren’t important – heck, some of them aren’t even available on home video these days as catalogues have morphed from videotapes to DVDs – because its always ‘the experience’ which matters more than does the storytelling logic. (FYI: many of these films made little narrative sense, but they were captured with as much spectacle as their filmmakers could muster.) It’s safe to say that most B-Movies took a central idea and then exploited it every way probable, searing images into the minds of audiences with gore, splatter, and other practical camera trickery.
In short, these were more ‘spectacle’ than ‘specifics,’ and you had to absorb it all with a few grains of salt.
“Molly” is a throwback to those earlier days of phantasmagoric storytelling. It’s “Evil Dead” without the Dead. It’s “Mad Max” without the cars. It’s “Sharknado” without so much a single pixel of CGI.
For better or for worse, Thijs Meuwese’s script (he shares directing duties with Colinda Bongers) borrows heavily from perhaps every other Apocalypse ever filmed, never quite defining the why and how the end came of civilization but instead reducing it to two establishing shots at the outset: a lovely day in the sun transitions sharply to the same scene, only now those once making merry have been reduced to bodies. Into the frame runs Molly (played by the impressive Julia Batelaan): she’s being chased by a pair of marauders, and their lives and hers will never be the same after this brief confrontation.
From there, “Molly” becomes the unlikely road picture, with our young heroine taking us on a journey into this dark tomorrow, one with mutants and zombies and superpowers and slings and arrows and bloody fisticuffs. Meuwese’s storytelling could occasionally use a bit of spit, polish, and restraint – there isn’t a completely convincing fight sequence all of its 91 minutes, nor is there any exposition which explains how and why bullets have become the future’s currency when it would seem so few guns are in ample supply (until the big climax, that is) – but I suspect the finer points don’t much matter if you’re enamored with the trickery captured on the screen. (The film’s latter half consists of an impressively staged, nearly nonstop fight sequence, but don’t look too closely for it to make perfect sense.) “Molly” occasionally looks better than its B-Movie foundation – much of which is owed more to Batelaan’s solid work than anything else in here – and I suspect it’ll likely emerge with a respectable cult following as the years wear on.
Still, I found it hard to reconcile “Molly” throughout Meuwese’s attempts to do more with the material than your average ‘End Times’ feature. A band of scientists enhanced Molly with these never-quite-explained powers, and we’re provided fundamentally no explanation for what they were trying to do or if they accomplished what they set out to; this has the cumulative effect of reducing our heroine’s seemingly magical abilities to the flick’s McGuffin. When you give a character what amounts to essentially superhuman power, why let her use them so sparingly? Granted, everyone alive seems to know of Molly’s reputation, so it’s clear she’s used them before; yet the audience is never told just why or where that myth comes from, and this cheapens the tale.
If you want to be a superhero picture, then be a superhero picture. If you want to be an Apocalypse film, then be an Apocalypse film. Why combine the two, especially when the pieces don’t quite go together in a way that makes this story any more palatable? This unevenness is never reconciled to my satisfaction, leaving unnecessary plot holes in an already porous landscape.
Mind you: “Molly” is not going to be for everyone. Despite what you might think or read elsewhere, this is pure B-Movie territory, and – as such – it comes with all of the good, bad, and ugly of B-Movie making. While I’ll admit to being a huge, unabashed fan of B-Movies, there were parts of this film I struggled with, mostly its utter lack of world-building efficiencies. How did we get here? Where do Molly’s abilities come from? And why are her powers so unevenly used, especially when she needs them most? The final scenes give promise of a follow-up, but I suspect casual viewers will have forgotten all about this film if and when that second installment ever arrives … well, everyone accept those who worship at the alter of B-Movies, that is.
“Molly” (Unrated) is produced by Get Off The Road. DVD distribution for this release has been handled via the reliable and ever-interesting Artsploitation Films. As for the sights and sounds, the film has been deftly assembled by all-involved, incorporated an impressive array of camera trickery (even more so given the fact that this was quite probably produced on a modest budget) that shows audiences and budding filmmakers what can be accomplished when everyone involved – cast, crew, and extras – seriously love what it is they’re doing. Lastly, if you’re interested in special features? The disc offers up a kinda/sorta interesting ‘making-of’ short, theatrical trailer, and a directors’ commentary: a nice bit of fluff for those who appreciate such things.
The beauty of the classic B-Movie is that they take a premise – a supernaturally-gifted young woman fighting for survival against the Apocalypse – and stick with it, logic be damned. At times, “Molly” may not make much sense, and some laughably choreographed fight sequences might have you questioning your sanity. Still, as our superwoman perseveres, so does her motion picture, and that alone might make all of this just heroic enough for a single viewing.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Artsploitation Films provided me with a Blu-ray of “Molly” for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
Can't Get Enough Modern Era Doctor Who?
Forgive me a bit of grumpiness, but I've really grown tired with the BBC's never-ending promotion of the new "girl-powered" Doctor Who. Now, don't get me wrong: I may not be all-in on the whole idea involving the legendary Doctor regenerating as a female of the species, but I'm willing to approach the new stories with some cautious optimism. Rather, my essential gripe is "let's get on with it already, and where are the new episodes?!" We've been talking about it forever it would seem, and I'm at the point that I just want the new adventures here so that I can watch them and make up my own mind on the whole affair.
That said, I did read that in order to build up even more interest for this impending new season that BBC America is doing a massive 13-day TV marathon that will include the airing of all modern era Doctor Who episodes. It's all schedule to kick-off on the Boob Tube September 25th, and those interested in knowing a bit more can read the piece up on Mental Floss right here.
So pop some corn, and pick up some sodas. Looks like the modern male era is going out in style, Whoovians!
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!
Just How Important Is Science Fiction?
I've always argued just how important Science Fiction is to the world of entertainment as well as the greater world at large.
For starters, SciFi's definition is so broad that it encompasses all kinds of stories with fantastic crossover potential to all other genres. As an example, it's hard to take the traditional Western and cross it over with other types of stories, but Science Fiction can do it, albeit with varying effectiveness: one man's Timerider: The Adventure Of Lyle Swann (1982) is another man's Cowboys & Aliens (2011). Both of those films take place in the Old West; both have elements tried and true to the original Western formula; and both inject their tales with equal parts Science Fiction (to a degree) in order to spin yarn for respective audiences.
Beyond that simple idea, Science Fiction -- unlike other genres -- has the greatest potential to be used in teaching others the various rights and wrongs of civilization. Ex Machina (2014) showed the up-close-and-personal risks the individual might encounter when confronting Artificial Intelligence, and every single incarnation of Gene Roddenberry's TV juggernaut Star Trek has cleverly veiled the problems of the modern age with layers of prosthetics in order to make the message a bit more palatable for viewers.
So, yes, THAT'S how important Science Fiction is to mankind.
But don't take my word for it: Wired Magazine had a terrific piece that touched on these sentiments and more. Those interested can check it out right here.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!
Remembering Jeb Rosebrook
Granted, the screen writings of Jeb Rosebrook might not cause so much as a ripple in most corners of the World Wide Web, but SciFiHistory.Net is hardly any regular corner. In truth, I grew up with the SciFi films of the 1970's and 1980's, and that makes Jeb's The Black Hole one of the fond memories of my cinema youth. It was a simple space-based adventure yarn -- far more Fantasy than legitimate Science Fiction -- but it certainly introduced a generation to the ideas of 'black holes' and other cosmic questions about what awaited mankind in the Final Frontier.
Rosebrook passed away this past August 31st, and I wanted to minimally mark his passing with a notice here for likeminded folks to offer up well wishes to a man whose work might inspire us all to keep reaching for the stars.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!
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