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    1. Star Wars: Project 4K80 (Empire) Beta is out!

      The last part of the original trilogy has been completed! For those unaware, the 4K## project from Team Negative 1 is a full remastering of the original trilogy from 35mm negatives. Around...

      The last part of the original trilogy has been completed! For those unaware, the 4K## project from Team Negative 1 is a full remastering of the original trilogy from 35mm negatives. Around September of 2018 4K77 (A New Hope) was released. Under a year later, 4K83 (Return of the Jedi) was released.

      A few years later and the first release of 4K80 (The Empire Strikes Back) is out! Its pretty grainy and does need some work, but this is definitely a project worth keeping an eye on if you're into the OT.

      If you want a copy, you can join the forum and use Resilio Sync to get them. 77 and 83 are available on most file sharing platforms, too.

      Once 4K80 is a few versions deep, it'll completely unseat the Despecialized version as the purest OT experience, at least in my opinion :)

      18 votes
    2. The Matrix Resurrections: A review

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      Just finished watching it, and while I’m sure I need to process and reflect a little more on it, I can at least give my initial impression: meh.

      I came in not expecting much because, to be honest, the trilogy didn’t end as good as it started. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t end up a kaleidoscope of colors either, since the promotional material seemed to insinuate it might take after some of the other Wachowski’s works.

      The first hour felt like a rehash of the first Matrix. While the callbacks were good fan service, it felt uninspired and something I would expect from a Disney franchise. The second half seemed to lose the thread and the plot got rambled through to the point that you forget what the whole point of the movie was supposed to be. It basically ends as a…love story? The deeper philosophical elements of the trilogy were eschewed for predictable tropes and artificial suspense.

      The characters lacked depth, and I was particularly disappointed in the new incarnations of Agent Smith and Morpheus. The younger actors lacked the gravitas that the original duo brought to the screen. The bated, deliberate delivery that provided weight to the characters was replaced by trite, pithy lines that don’t do the original characters any justice. Neil Patrick Harris is also better suited for a comedic role rather than a dramatic one, and his character failed at both in this movie.

      The movie had a decent environment and art direction, but it got ruined by overuse of CGI and green screen. The action scenes either had stilted fights with aging actors, or had so much action that they lacked any real sense of danger (there were scenes with throngs of people attacking the main characters with bullets never seeming to hit anyone important).

      I had hoped that after 20 years there would be some real contribution to the canon, but this movie answered enough questions to explain why Neo is alive, without contributing any further philosophy into the series. It ends with a clear open ending for future installments, which would only serve as cash grabs.

      The movie started off with many meta-references to itself, making a joke about sequels being unoriginal. I had hoped this self-awareness would have translated to either a new level of meta-discussion or at least an attempt to not fall into the folly of most half-assed sequels. Apparently that line was solely a joke, and it cheapens the movie because of it.

      Was it a good movie? Not really. Was it a bad movie? Not necessarily. It was entertaining in the same way a Michael Bay explosion is entertaining, but those looking for intellectual stimulation will be left empty-handed.

      20 votes
    3. My thoughts on Denis Villeneuve's Dune

      OK, well. Dune then. Sort of a live review, as I watch. Some more in-depth thoughts at the end. Mildly spoilery, but not if you know the story already. Fair warning, I will not be judging this...

      OK, well. Dune then. Sort of a live review, as I watch. Some more in-depth thoughts at the end. Mildly spoilery, but not if you know the story already.

      Fair warning, I will not be judging this film on purely it's own merits. It exists in the world and also in the world are Lynch's film (for reference I consider the spicediver fanedit, Alternative Edition Redux, to be the canonical version of that), the Sci-Fi channel miniseries and obviously the books. Yes, even the prequels - the first of which is one of the worst books I've ever read and I've read The Davinci Code. Anyway, on to actually watching it...

      Well, it's pretty. One problem is that no matter how good the design is - and the design is VERY good - it's just not as good as Tony Masters and David Lynch building on material from Mobius and HR Giger. This film is obviously heavily influenced by them though.

      In my head Caladan is a lush, fertile, welcoming world. It's been colour graded to grey and desaturated. Feels wrong.

      He's lifting both shots and dialogue from Lynch's film. That's good. My brain is filling in the missing bits of internal monologing.

      Nice implementation of Chakobsa. I like that.

      Hans Zimmer can just fuck off with that big stupid honking sound he shoehorns into everything. So annoying.

      This film is missing Roger Deakins. I mean you can say that about a lot of films but this one especially. It is beautifully shot but Deakins would have taken it to another level.

      Why are people whispering at each other over like ten metre distances? I hate that. Speak up, you're outside, it's windy and you're far apart! It's not moody if you obviously can't even hear each other. Yes, small thing, but things like that which upset your suspension of disbelief are jarring.

      You can't put a crysknife away without it tasting blood. Pffft. That's just ignoring lore for the sake of it. Five seconds would be all it took to do that bit. We could have had one fewer lingering shots on the knife itself instead. As an aside, the Shadout Mapes as a means to explain bits of Arrakeen and Fremen lore to the Atredies (and us!) is horrendously under-used.

      The ornithopters in this movie are badass. There is an in-universe reason for them that I can't remember.

      I wonder how much of this works if you haven't seen Lynch's version (which has much more internal thoughts of characters) or read the books?

      Stellan Skarsgard is channelling Apocalypse Now era Brando pretty hard and that is in no way a bad thing. His Baron is absolutely superb, probably the best part of the whole film. Piter de Vries is nowhere near weird/creepy/insane enough. Leaving out Feyd-Rautha is a mistake, he's the anti-Paul and even though Sting did a relatively terrible job in Lynch's film, that doesn't mean he's not important.

      Zimmer teasing elements of Eno's original theme is a nice touch as well.

      You know what's cool? What's cool is that at certain key moments I get lines from the book appearing in my head, from whichever scene is happening. That's a really good sign. I haven't read Dune for years.

      So OK, overall, it's not as bad as I was expecting. It's pretty. It's stylish. It's annoyingly colour graded but what isn't these days? But this film doesn't add much to the telling of Dune over the Lynch's film or even, really, the Sci-Fi miniseries. Villeneuve is obviously a fan of both books and Lynch's movie and what he has made is good. A lot of what he's made is basically just a remake of what Lynch did, and I don't just mean because both films are based on the same book - there are multiple direct lifts straight from Lynch's film, and that is perfectly OK. But it's not about what is here, it's about what isn't.

      Because it leaves a lot out - it's shallow where it should be deep, it's straightforward where it should be mystical, simple where it should be weird. It's 8-10 characters when it should be twice that and worst of all a lot of it seems to rely on viewers knowing the lore rather than having time to explain it: and all that is because film is the wrong medium for this story.

      It misses out on exploring much about any of the characters simply because nobody has enough screentime to go into their motivations, which are generally multifaceted and complex - I do appreciate Villeneuve not wanting to have characters stand around expositioning at each other (MCU, looking at you), or doing a voiceover of character's thoughts like Lynch did, but that means you really need to spend time with them so they can show us what they're thinking, not tell us. "Show don't tell" is good filmmaking but it takes time.

      For example, Paul and Jessica get most of the screen time but we don't really learn much about them. Because you need a lot of lore to contextualise their motivations - Jessica's actions and desires need to be placed in the wider context of her relationship to Leto and the Bene Gesserit and their plans and while Villeneueve does try to do that a bit, it's one or two lines with Leto and one rushed (literally, they're doing a walk-and-talk) conversation in which Helen Moahim mentions the Kwisatz Haderach and little more.

      The Guild are barely even mentioned. You see some lower level navigators but you don't know who they are if you don't already know who they are. The Guild's influence is so important to so much of what happens in Dune but if you didn't know they existed already I'm not sure you'd leave this film knowing there was a spacing guild at all. Same goes for the Emperor and the Landsraad, they hardly come up at all. The thing about Dune is that it's not just about Paul. Paul is important but he's really just the pointy end of a lot of long-game players and systems and their interactions. That doesn't really come over in Villeneuve's film. Also it's not really a structural issue but I'd have loved to have seen more of the Heighliners. A Navigation sequence would have been fun too.

      The thing is, Dune deserves a TV series. A high budget one like Game of Thrones. I want an hour on Caladan, learning about the Atredies. I want an hour on Kaitain learning about the Padishah Emperors and the Bene Gesserit. Same with the Harkkonens. I want to be 3 or 4 episodes in before I even see Arrakis. Movies are great for telling short stories, maybe novellas at best. But big, long, complicated books need to be on TV where they can spread out, take their time, develop characters and fill in backstory and motivations.

      Overall, 7/10 and I really hope the second movie gets funded because stopping here would be even worse. It's worth watching but don't expect a great deal underpinning what is still a very beautiful film. I could have written that same sentence about Bladerunner 2049, thinking about it.

      27 votes
    4. Science fiction movie recommendations

      I just signed back up for the Netflix dvd subscription and am looking for some sci-fi movie recommendations. I tend to not like the horror themes but am open to just about anything else (even...

      I just signed back up for the Netflix dvd subscription and am looking for some sci-fi movie recommendations. I tend to not like the horror themes but am open to just about anything else (even "bad" movies that are so bad they are good). Looking for movies that have come out in the last decade or so. May also be open to television series that can be had on dvd that were not on Netflix streaming.

      27 votes
    5. Our Popcorn Movie Dystopia

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      Our Popcorn Movie Dystopia is a movie put out by Some More News.

      It's certainly an interesting ride. A 135 minute blend of sci-fi B movie, documentary-grade movie analysis of dystopian films over the last 30+ years, and a heavy dose of political commentary (as would be expected from Cody)...complete with some minor celebrity cameos. I've not watched anything quite like this before.

      There are some hefty movie spoilers throughout...makes sense given the topic, but I think the only recent one is the new Bill and Ted movie.

      7 votes
    6. A couple of thoughts about Annihilation (2018)

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      Just finished Annihilation. Decided to share some random thoughts:

      The film looks absolutely stunning. Perfect blend of beautiful and horrifying. But the characters… ugh. They are your classical horror film bunch of idiots. And, as per tradition with the modern sci-fi horror, they're supposed to be “scientists”. Bah.

      It seems like both the screenplay and the visuals were heavily inspired by Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers, and possibly Andrei Tarkovsky's film adaptation, Stalker (1979), as well as a bit of his other sci-fi work, Solaris (1972), here and there. Honestly, if you like the idea of “alien shit twisting stuff around it”, and you like reading, you're way better off just reading Roadside Picnic.

      Why didn't most trees change? The flowers, the moss, and the animals get all kinds of wild twisted colours and mutations, but the trees remain just green? That really bothered me. They also don't mention all this mutated flora and fauna going outside “the zone”, which, I assume, would be a giant issue.

      That lighthouse would be so destroyed if it was really hit by an object of that diameter.

      I found it ironic that the psychologist of the team was the one who was severely depressed. Here in Russia we call that a “barefoot cobbler” situation. But the way the film shows severe depression is pretty accurate.

      Overall, I reluctantly enjoyed the film, but I couldn't stop thinking that all those visual effects and designs would be much more amazing in a Strugatsky bros. adaptation film.

      15 votes