Sci-Fi Roundup

This movie is not the Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence jail comedy. Its about a crew fighting a killer amoeba. Although the overall quality of films the last five or ten years has spiked downward, sci-fi has spiked upward in quality with some wonderful films that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. The current film “Life,” for example, is a very interesting “Alien” knockoff about what would happen if we discovered alien life on Mars. The answer: nothing good. We think we’re getting “E.T.” and instead we’re getting something worse than The Thing. This film has interesting characters, some believable science, and is a tremendously inspired production. The director uses long, painstakingly crafted sequences to draw us in and (hopefully) make us forget we’re watching a movie. The performances of Jake Gylllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds draw us in, and, although the film is similar to “Alien,” it scares us.

The new film “Phoenix Forgotten,” produced by Ridley Scott, is a found-footage film in the style of “The Blair Witch Project” about the Phoenix Lights UFO incident from 1997. A group of teens witness the event and decide to investigate further and film what they find. Bad idea. It turns out that the incident is much more sinister in nature than they thought. Will they survive? Maybe not, but their quest proves somewhat compelling as all of us are curious about UFO’s. The film is well-made, acted, and scored and delivers some terror on a low budget. It’s not great, but you could do worse.

Comin’ At Ya!

How do you feel about 3D? For me, it’s a decided “meh.” Some films, such as “Prometheus” and “Tron: Legacy,” benefit from the process, while others, like “Pete’s Dragon,” just use it as a gimmick. Forget about “Avatar,” which had great 3D effects but an uninvolving story. If you want to have real fun, go to one of the granddaddys of 3D films, 1981’s “Comin’ At Ya!”

The film, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray in 2D and 3D, is a Spanish take on the spaghetti western starring Tony Anthony, a very poor man’s Clint Eastwood, and Victoria Abril, who went on to star in several Almodovar films. The plot is simple: Anthony’s fiancĂ©e (Abril) is kidnapped by a no0good villain (Gene Quintano) on their wedding day. To get her back and get revenge our hero must spring into action. Although this is a thin plot, I find it superior to other 3D films that followed in the ’80’s like “Jaws 3D.” However, the excellent music score and the inventive action really make the film stand out.

Although I do not have access to the 3D version, I was charmed by all the objects thrown at the screen (often in slow motion) such as snakes, rats, bullets confetti, other weapons, explosions, etc. The acting is pretty decent too and the film delivers non-stop action. Is this a great film? No, but it’s better than a lot of Hollywood’s westerns like last year’s “The Magnificent Seven.” It’s not terribly expensive to buy, so I’m recommending a purchase. It’s a good film to sit back and watch with friends, beer, and weed. If you want to have a good time, check out “Comin’ At Ya!” It’s a unique experience! –CoolAC