Barsoom Revisited, or Forewarned, Four-Armed: A Review of John Carter

by Gary Westfahl

For Hollywood insiders, of course, John Carter is merely this week’s attempt to garner large profits with a big-budget, special-effects extravaganza, and their only concern will be tracking the box office receipts to see if they validate the enormous amounts of money the Walt Disney Company spent on this film and perhaps justify a sequel. But for science fiction readers, this film is a matter of greater ...Read More

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Claude Lalumière & Camille Alexa review Chronicle

Claude Lalumière: At first, Chronicle appears to be nothing special, yet another entry in the teen POV-cam subset of fantasy cinema, made especially popular with The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. The first act introduces the main characters: a nerdy boy (Andrew, played by Dane DeHaan) with an abusive, alcoholic father (played by Michael Kelly); his ordinary-Joe cousin (Matt, played by Alex Russell); and their uber-cool friend (Steve, ...Read More

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Howard Waldrop & Lawrence Person review Hugo

Both: Finally, to make up for the Skylines and Thors, Locus sent us to a great movie.

Lawrence Person: While reviewing The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, I jokingly suggested in passing that Terry Gilliam should make a serious crime drama and Martin Scorsese should make a Gilliamesque fantasy. Little did I suspect Scorsese would actually take me up on the offer…

Howard Waldrop: Hugo is ...Read More

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Eight Hours of Writing about Two Hours of Film: A Review of In Time

by Gary Westfahl

Science fiction readers will approach Andrew Niccol’s In Time with a particular question in mind: is this film, as Harlan Ellison’s lawsuit contends, in fact an unauthorized adaptation of his classic story “`Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (1965)? Unschooled in the finer points of copyright law, I cannot offer a definitive answer, but in the unlikely event that the case ever comes to court, I could only ...Read More

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Some Thing, In the Way, Whenever She Moves: A Review of The Thing

by Gary Westfahl

Certain sorts of films, it can be argued, resist all forms of critical analysis. Seemingly made for no purpose other than providing audiences with a series of thrills, they can be evaluated solely on the basis of whether they have been successful in achieving that goal. Thus, watching this third adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella “Who Goes There” (1938), I found myself recalling not any ...Read More

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The Right Stuff … and Some Wrong Stuff: A Review of Apollo 18

by Gary Westfahl

As one watches the assemblage of mismatched footage – sometimes sharp, sometimes out of focus, shaky, or inadequately lit – that makes up Apollo 18, and still becomes enthralled by its unfolding narrative, a message emerges that is entirely unrelated to its story, one also conveyed by the film that this one will inevitably be compared to, The Blair Witch Project (1999): people today are increasingly ...Read More

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Ready for Primate Time: A Review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes

by Gary Westfahl

Lest anyone suspect that I am a hopeless curmudgeon, ardently devoted to classic science fiction films and persistently disdainful of their contemporary equivalents, let me first acknowledge that Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes invites consideration as the very best of the Apes films, artfully conveying and updating the bitterly misanthropic message that reverberates through Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel and its big-screen and small-screen ...Read More

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Lantern Wilder: A Review of Green Lantern

by Gary Westfahl

The modern comic book character of Green Lantern, originally Hal Jordan, has lasted for over half a century. He was born from the ashes of a Golden Age superhero who combined awesome powers with a senseless origin story and a disheartening propensity for spending his time in the company of an idiot wielding a wrench. Created to protect his sector of the galaxy from cosmic menaces, he ...Read More

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Familiar Invaders: A Review of Super 8

by Gary Westfahl

In the beginning, some little-regarded filmmakers in the 1950s created the genre of science fiction film with a series of unpolished but evocative movies that to this day can impress viewers with their energy and originality. Then, in the 1970s, young filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made films that reflected and drew upon their childhood obsession with those films. Now, with the appearance of J. ...Read More

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Howard Waldrop & Lawrence Person review Battle: Los Angeles

Both: We had one hope going into Battle: Los Angeles: That it would be better than Skyline. Thankfully, it met this very, very low criteria for success. Beyond that, the question of whether you’ll it like boils down to this: How much originality do you require in your science fiction films? If the answer is “none,” you might well enjoy it, because Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t have ...Read More

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Earth Needs Martians: A Review of Mars Needs Moms

by Gary Westfahl

Almost fifty years after the Mariner 4 space probe first established beyond any doubt that the planet Mars was barren, and almost certainly lifeless, humanity still clings to its visions of an ancient, advanced, but decadent Martian civilization, a mythology persuasively crafted long ago by that masterful science fiction writer who called himself an astronomer, Percival Lowell. Grudgingly adjusting to the contemporary realities of science, films like ...Read More

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Philip K., Diminished: A Review of The Adjustment Bureau

by Gary Westfahl

The operatives of Hollywood’s Adjustment Bureau had gathered to map out strategies for their latest assignment: given this quirky little story by Philip K. Dick, “Adjustment Team” (1954), how could they “adjust” its plot to transform it into a crowd-pleasing blockbuster? A few problems were obvious, like the story’s protagonists, a working-class Joe named Ed Fletcher and his wife Ruth, living in suburbia. Sorry, Philip K., but ...Read More

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Lawrence Person’s Top Ten Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films of 2000-2010

Locus has asked Howard and me to offer up our respective Top Movies lists for science fiction, fantasy and horror films of 2000-2010 (i.e., The Noughties).

But before I get into the meat of my list, I want to make clear what I am (and am not) covering. First off, I’m going to limit my recommended list to feature films that had an actual theatrical release, which rules out Direct-to-DVD ...Read More

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The Ten Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Films of the Twenty-First Century … As of December 31, 2010 … And A Prediction about Ten Best Lists to Come

by Gary Westfahl

By one theory, a work of art should be judged primarily by how well it accomplishes its own goals. Thus, anyone would concede that a Three Stooges short does not offer viewers eloquent dialogue, beautifully framed shots, or thoughtful commentary on the human condition, suggesting that it completely lacks merit, yet such films never intended to offer any rewards of that kind; instead, they were designed to ...Read More

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Citizen Flynn: A Review of Tron: Legacy

by Gary Westfahl

Whatever else one might say about Tron: Legacy, it must first be recognized as a superb example of film considered as an amusement park ride, and most audiences will readily succumb to the sheer, exhilarating thrill of its first hour, as protagonist Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is drawn into a well-realized computer world, based upon that of the original Tron (1982) but technically superior, and finds ...Read More

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Howard Waldrop & Lawrence Person review Skyline

Both: Wouldn’t it be swell if there was a first-rate alien invasion movie in theaters for you to watch?

Fortunately, there is. It’s called Monsters. You should go see it if it’s playing at a theater near you.

Unfortunately, we’re here to talk about Skyline, which isn’t. We have a slightly split opinion. Howard only thinks it sucks a little. Lawrence thinks it sucks a whole lot ...Read More

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Howard Waldrop & Lawrence Person review Monsters

Both: At last, Locus has sent us to see a swell movie. Advanced word was that this was this year’s District 9. But Monsters kicks District 9‘s ass. The setup is just as intriguing, the characters are a lot more interesting, and the script is easily ten times smarter.

Lawrence Person: Monsters is an extended exercise in low-key realism that works astonishingly well. This is probably ...Read More

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‘A Life That’s All About Death’: A Review of Hereafter

by Gary Westfahl

Young filmgoers, accustomed to seeing big-budget science fiction, fantasy, or horror movies opening almost every week, may struggle to believe that there was a time, not so long ago, when major studios and stars almost entirely shunned fantastic films in favor of realistic stories set in the past or present. Indeed, only two sorts of contrafactual dramas were considered acceptable mainstream fare: what are now termed technothrillers, ...Read More

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Two Maps of Hell: A Review of Never Let Me Go

by Gary Westfahl

[ Note — this review contains spoilers! ]

In crafting their adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel about young clones, Never Let Me Go (2006), screenwriter Alex Garland and director Mark Romanek have, perhaps appropriately, more or less replicated the original work, retaining almost all of Ishiguro’s story and even much of his evocative language; and they have produced what is in many respects an admirable film. Still, ...Read More

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Nolan’s Labyrinth: A Review of Inception

by Gary Westfahl

Like the architects of dreams in his film Inception, writer-director Christopher Nolan has constructed a world in the form of an intricate labyrinth and challenges his viewers to make their way through its many corridors and dead ends to finally escape, having solved all its mysteries. With only twenty-four hours of real time to explore and ponder this convoluted creation, I cannot say that I have ...Read More

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Howard Waldrop & Lawrence Person review Jonah Hex

Howard Waldrop: Well, it could have been a lot worse.

Lawrence Person: Have you ever worked in an office building late at night? And you’re there late enough that your stomach starts rumbling, but you don’t have time to go out for dinner, so you go down to the vending area and there, between the Coke and candy machines, is the “food” vending machine, with canned soup, cheese ...Read More

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Tomorrow Numbly Dies: A Final Look at FlashForward

by Gary Westfahl

In an intensely complicated television series, grand visions may be inferred from the tiniest of details. During the frenetic final episodes of FlashForward’s first, and only, season, it is briefly noted that, according to the folks who have employed the technology of FlashForwards to repeatedly glimpse the future, no one has ever seen anything beyond a specific date sometime in 2016, provocatively suggesting that it might ...Read More

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Howard Waldrop & Lawrence Person review Iron Man 2

Both: Howard thought this was better than the original Iron Man, while Lawrence merely thought it as good. Either way, if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.

Lawrence Person: The good thing about Iron Man 2 is that it isn’t any dumber than the original, which was, let’s face it, pretty dumb if you stopped to think about it. But if you’re watching a film about a ...Read More

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