Potterfest in Canberra

Calling all House Elves, Hinkypunks and Hogwarts alumni, the Palace Cinema is holding a Potterfest movie marathon over the October long weekend. If you feel like watching all the Harry Potter movies in 20+ hours then this is the event for you.

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Replicants and RUSes and flying elephants

As a part of their Cult Classics movie series, Dendy is screening two very different ’80s classic movies.

9 May will be the day for “The Princess Bride” and rodents of unusual size and on 15 May “Blade Runner” will be screening.

While on the other side of town, Limelight is screening classic Disney animated fantasy movies starting with “Dumbo”.

Back to the Future Arrival

Today’s date, 21 October 2015, is the future date the characters travelled to in ‘Back to the Future 2’.

Did they get anything right about the future? Is there anything you wanted that they predicted?

I’m glad we don’t have flying cars … all those rooftop accidents.

The BBC website has a detailed article analysing the future shown in the movie, and which predictions came close to our real 21 October 2015.
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34569759

Man of Steel movie review

Superman returns to the cinema in yet another reboot in the movie Man of Steel.

This movie tells a visually stunning account of the last days of Krypton, a detailed story of young Clark Kent’s childhood, and the dramatic battles both physical and mental when Clark’s past catches up with him. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way all humour disappeared from Krypton and Earth leaving us with a rather dry story.

Man of Steel is visually clever and is much better acted and scripted than the last couple of Superman movies before it. But I found it unengaging and some of the characters, in particular Lois Lane, less interesting than I’d hoped. Apparently everyone in Metropolis is always deadly serious about everything.

Recommended for Superman fans and anyone who enjoys clever visual effects.

Reviewed by Katrina

Pacific Rim movie review

When aliens invade it’s not from space but from a trans-dimensional rift in the Pacific Ocean. Creatures the size of Godzilla appear out of the rift and attack cities. In an effort to stop the creatures the Jaeger war machine program (giant robots) is created.

This is the opening premise of Pacific Rim, an action movie directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Pacific Rim is an amusing romp with a story very strongly inspired by Japanese anime (animated tv shows) especially Neon Evangelion, Robotech, and Full Metal Panic. The story follows the fortunes and battles of the Jaeger war machines and one pilot in particular.

Pacific Rim is not deep and meaningful drama. But if you enjoy anime, Transformers, slightly camp science fiction action, or del Toro’s movie Hellboy then this is a Saturday matinee movie for you.

For Australian fans, there are even a couple of ocker Jaeger pilots who would be at home in the rougher parts of the crowd at a V8 Supercars race or Summernats; I was disappointed that they didn’t have fluffy dice and Holden or Ford stickers in their giant robot.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys giant robots fighting or wants to watch some slightly silly SF action.

Reviewed by Katrina

Movie Review – Oblivion (2013)

The year is 2077.

Sixty years ago, aliens came, fought a war with us humans and lost. Five years ago, Jack Harper volunteered to have his memory erased and go to Earth to help finish the preparations for the final evacuation to Titan. Now, Jack lives in an isolated tower with Vicky, where his part of  the job is to maintain and defend from the “scavs” the giant machines converting the Earth’s oceans into energy for use on Titan. Two weeks into the future, Jack will fly up to the Tet, the mother ship, and join everyone else on Titan.

What follows is 2 hours of excitement, betrayals, robots, spaceships, a shattered moon, a ruined post-apocalypse Earth and enough plot to grab you and not let go.

As I was watching, there were things appearing that didn’t make sense. Such as, if the Earth was so devastated, how did they build the Tet? That is less believable than building a Death Star above some backwaters forest moon. Early on, one character asks ‘if we won the war, then why is it that we are the ones leaving Earth?’ By the end, most, but not all, of these questions are answered.

The film is based on an unpublished graphic novel and the quality,  breadth and detail of the vision shows. Examples include the architecture of Jack’s home, the look of the pit Jack falls into, and Earth’s devastated landscape. It also freely borrows from other sources, such as the attack flight along the trench of Star Wars’ Death Star and the Planet of the Apes’ Statue of Liberty. For some reason, all flying machines use the glowing blue light method of propulsion, including the guard robots, which are the most evil looking white balls I’ve ever seen, especially when you’re on the receiving end of their gunfire.

Overall, Oblivion is a satisfying, good looking, old fashioned SF movie.

Reviewed by Ken M

Iron Man 3 review

I love it when a movie about an established character gets everything So Right.

Iron Man 3 is the latest movie in the ever growing collection of movies based on the Marvel Comics characters known collectively as The Avengers. When I sat down in the cinema I was expecting to see a movie that was, hopefully, as good as Iron Man or Thor and better than The Hulk and Iron Man 2. Over the next two hours I was treated to a movie that is undoubtedly one of the best of the recent Marvel Comics movies.

The story opens with Tony Stark being more dysfunctional than ever following on from the events of The Avengers. Unable to sleep, Tony is making everyone’s life hell. Then, along come The Mandarin, a terror wielding villain who does make everyone’s life hell. What follows is Tony’s battle with himself and with others.

The script is full of witty one line jokes littered amongst dramatic action scenes and a plot full of twists and turns. Enough is explained that there is no need to have seen the previous Marvel movies before seeing Iron Man 3.

This movie is an adventurous romp with some serious messages embedded within it. And one of the best scene stealing moments I’ve seen in years from Ben Kingsley. Be sure to stay for the scene at the end of the credits.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys the Marvel movies or enjoys excellent action movies with science fiction flair.

Reviewed by Katrina d.

Movie Review – Cloud Atlas (2012)

Over the course of almost 3 hours, Cloud Atlas tells 6 stories of strangely interconnected lives.

Set in 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144, and 2321 (a ship traversing the Pacific Ocean, a house in a Scottish city, around a nuclear power plant in San Francisco, contemporary England and Scotland, a futuristic place called New Seoul, and Hawaii after the collapse)  the stories connect at least 7 souls (each played by one actor, living as male or female, of a variety of races) as they move through time.

At the end, I felt that I had watched such a remarkable, complex achievement that I almost wanted to go straight back in again to see how all the pieces of the stories fitted together.

Be warned, however, the first half hour or so was frustratingly choppy and difficult to follow.

Sit through it and the stories will get much more engaging, especially as links between the 6 stories appear .

Pay attention to a strange birthmark and the different characters the same actors play in each different time.

One other thing to note is that the Wachowski siblings, of The Matrix fame, were heavily involved in the development of the film, so expect some mind bending philosophical themes.

See this film at a cinema for the gloriously realised vision of a future New Seoul or to try to keep track of the different actors under their many layers of make-up and prosthetics.

Otherwise, buy a copy of the DVD and watch it on a good video monitor, and watch it again to catch the clues.

Do not see this film if you want an easy to watch, just go along for the ride experience – the flow is too complicated for that.

Reviewed by Ken M

SF Movies at Canberra International Film Festival

The 2012 Canberra International Film Festival  is to be held from October 31 to November 11 2012. The festival is being held across 4 venues (National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra Theatre, Dendy, and National Gallery of Australia).

The science fiction and semi-science fiction movies being screened are:

ARC Theatre, National Film and Sound Archive

  • Grabbers. 2012 SF comedy. UK. A remote Irish fishing village is invaded by aliens that can’t kill you if you’ve been drinking alcohol.  Thurs 1 Nov 6.15 pm, and Fri 9 Nov 8.15 pm
  • Crawlspace. 2012 Australian SF thriller. A taut, futuristic thriller that follows a group of soldiers sent into an underground military research facility, where they meet more than their minds can deal with. Sat 3 Nov, 2.15 pm.
  • Errors of the Human Body. 2012 Sci-fi thriller – Australian, German, USA co-production. A taut psychological thriller, set in the mysterious world of genetic engineering, sees one man on a dangerous world of discovery and redemption. Thurs 8 Nov 8.15 pm, Fri 9 Nov 4.15 pm
  • Hundra. 1983 USA sword and sorcery, B-grade movie. A female version of Conan the Barbarian. Sat 3 Nov, 4.14 pm
  • The Stuff. USA 1985 Sci-fi horror. Introduced by the writer-director Larry Cohen, this is a B-grade sci-fi horror spoof about a mysterious white substance that comes out of the ground and is made into ice cream. But ‘are you eating it – or is it eating you’? Fri 2 Nov, 8.15 pm

Outdoor screenings. National Film and Sound Archives.

  • Q The Winged Serpent. 1980’s SF horror. USA. A giant flying lizard is brought back to life to terrorise New York in this highly original, classic 1980’s monster movie. Sat 3 Nov, 8.15 pm
  • Robot Monster. 1953 USA Sci-Fi c-grade movie. Dress for the end of the world and come and see one of the worst sci-fi monster films ever made. Sat 10 Nov, 8.15 pm

National Gallery of Australia

  • Keyhole. Canada 2011 thriller. A gang leader takes refuge in a house full of 1940’s ghosts, molls and tough guys. Sat 3 Nov, 2pm