It’s not often one sees the theatrical release of a 700-year-old poem, and just as rarely is there a modern adaptation of an Arthurian myth that does not involve either the Sword in the Stone or the Holy Grail. The Green Knight (or, as it calls itself onscreen, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Anonymous) is about Arthur’s (Sean Harris) nephew Gawain (Dev Patel), who embarks on a ...Read MoreRead more
Two blockbuster-scope films dropped within a week of each other, with similar budgets and big-name casts. They could have been the summer’s perfect popcorn movies, yet were overall disappointments — so we’ll just do brief discussions of both in one review.
Josh: All right. So, what are we going to talk about first? Let’s do Black Widow first, because you hated it so much.
Arley: Yeah, I mean, I think ...Read MoreRead more
Arley: I don’t know if it was a callback, or if it’s just one of those images that’s becoming a copy-paste in these kinds of movies, but there was a shot that was right out of The Exorcist.
Josh: That was a direct reference, for sure. The clothes, the streetlamp, the dramatic pause. The filmmakers are trying really hard to tie the Conjuring series to that lineage. The fonts,
Five hundred years before the start of Raya and the Last Dragon, the vibrant land of Kumandra is attacked by the Druun, monsters that turn their victims into stone. Kumandra’s guardian dragons band together to defeat the Druun, but in doing so are petrified, leaving behind only a magic gem infused with their power.
In the struggle for control of the dragons’ power, Kumandra splits into five tribes — ...Read MoreRead more
In our review of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, we said, “The weakness of this movie was the humans and the strengths were the monsters, and there were not enough monster moments.” Well. The movie studios listened. Godzilla vs. Kong centers the monsters more than ever, not only offering several fight scenes of decent length and in varying locales, but even developing a story arc for Kong: this monster ...Read MoreRead more
Down on their luck and drowning in debt, the crew of the spaceship Victory — Captain Jang (Kim Tae-ri), Tae-ho (Song Joong-Ki), Tiger Park (Jin Seon-kyu), and a robot, Bubs (Yoo Hae-Jin / Kim Hyang-gi) — work as “space sweepers,” salvaging broken satellites and other orbital garbage. Society has stratified so much that the poor live on a near-uninhabitable Earth while the rich live in luxurious orbital habitats. The richest ...Read MoreRead more
As rough as the year has been for the country, it’s been a great time for reading. As if in response to the year itself, a slew of powerful books came out, expanding the scope of genre and engaging in conversations long overdue.
Tochi Onyebuchi’s Riot Baby kicked things off in January, on the heels of his excellent late-2019 release War Girls. The story follows Ella as her powers ...Read MoreRead more
Disney/Pixar returns to the afterlife in Soul, the story of middle school teacher and jazz musician Joe Gardner (voiced by Jaime Foxx) who winds up in a coma after his body and spirit are separated in an accident. While trying to avoid going into the Great Beyond, Spirit-Joe escapes into the Great Before, where newly created souls are prepared for corporeal existence.
There he teams up with 22 (Tina ...Read MoreRead more
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume One, Paula Guran, ed. (Pyr 978-1645060253, $19.95, 440pp, tp) October 2020.
Paula Guran started her The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror series in 2010 with Prime Books. After working as a senior editor for Prime for seven years, Guran parted ways with the company and published the final installment in that series in 2019. Guran returns in 2020 with no ...Read MoreRead more
Some 70 years or so after the events of Wonder Woman, 1984 finds the titular hero (Gal Gadot) whiling away her time curating artifacts and impressing mortals with her beauty and charm. She seems to be keeping a low profile, at least until struggling entrepreneur Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) acquires an ancient magical device and threatens to destroy the world in his quest for ultimate power. Wonder Woman must ...Read MoreRead more
Four friends living together and working to develop an app discover a hidden room in their house and, in it, a magic mirror that can portal them to different, but nearly indistinguishable, parallel universes. Eager to capitalize on the nearly unlimited resources of the multiverse, Leena (Georgia King), Noel (Martin Wallström), Devin (Aml Ameen), and Josh (Mark O’Brien) soon devise a number of get-rich-quick schemes, mostly at the expense of ...Read MoreRead more
After a high-stakes operation at an opera house in Ukraine, a CIA agent (John David Washington) is recruited into a mysterious organization, given the codeword “Tenet” as a key to establishing contact with other members. Their objective is to stop an international criminal named Sator (Kenneth Branagh) who uses “time inversion”: a technology which reverses the effects of entropy and essentially causes objects to move backwards in time. The organization ...Read MoreRead more
In this installment, Locus will be taking a look at two indie films that found their way into our inbox: full-length LX 2048 and short film The Speed of Time, both available on streaming services, and both offering up a slightly different selection than what we’re used to seeing in theatrical releases.
Josh: Let’s cover LX 2048 first. I think when I initially emailed you about it, I said ...Read MoreRead more
A fresh batch of young mutants has arrived, but don’t call them X-Men just yet, and don’t call them superheroes, either. After surviving a freak storm that kills every person on her reservation, including both of her parents, Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt) finds herself in a nearly abandoned hospital occupied by four other teenagers — Rahne (Maisie Williams), Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), Roberto (Henry Zaga), and Sam (Charlie Heaton) — and ...Read MoreRead more
Originally pitched as “a Russian Alien,” this low-budget SF horror film opens on a promising scene: it’s 1983, and two cosmonauts orbit the Earth in a Soyuz capsule. Their spacesuits are exactingly replicated from the real deal, and the Soyuz interior is also Cold War authentic, down to the fonts on the control panel. A wooden doll floats gently around the two men, serving as a zero gravity indicator. ...Read MoreRead more
In the tradition of classics Dirty Harry and Death Wish, Jaime Foxx is Art, an ex-soldier tracking down the people who kidnapped his daughter, using extreme force along the way. The kidnappers are also pushing a drug that grants superhero-like powers for five minutes, and things get complicated when Art runs into Robin (Dominique Fishback), a charismatic but shy teen with big dreams who sells the drug just to ...Read MoreRead more
Avid science fiction reader and down-low nerd Atticus Freeman AKA “Tic” (Jonathan Majors) returns to Chicago from the Korean War and a stint in Florida to find that his father has gone missing. The only clue left behind is a strange letter talking about a secret legacy, enticing Tic to journey to Ardham MA, deep within the borders of Lovecraft Country. Courtney B. Vance plays Uncle George Freeman, author and ...Read MoreRead more
What’s this? Locus reviews a rom-com? Well, how does an infinite time loop and random dinosaurs grab you?
One November day in Palm Springs, wedding guest Nyles (Andy Samberg) falls through a mysterious portal in a cave and then, Groundhog Day-style, finds himself repeating the entire wedding day all over again. He’s trapped in a time loop that resets whenever he goes through the portal, falls asleep, or dies. ...Read MoreRead more
Charlize Theron, as Andy, anchors a squad of immortal mercenaries in The Old Guard, a movie based on Greg Rucka’s graphic novels of the same name. Joining her are Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) as fellow immortals who have fought by Andy’s side for hundreds of years. Also sharing these powers are Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) — a Marine who is quite surprised to ...Read MoreRead more
Deathless Divide, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-257063-5, $18.99, 560pp, hc) February 2020.
The sequel to 2018’s Dread Nation, Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide begins with clever, quick recaps, and is lined throughout with enough unobtrusive explanation that one could easily read it as a standalone. That said, the first book is excellent and shouldn’t be passed up. Anyone who plans to read the first book should not ...Read MoreRead more
Theaters remain closed. A few movies have been released on streaming services, but many have been scheduled for later release dates in anticipation of the reopening of theaters on a national level. So film reviewers Josh Pearce & Arley Sorg continue their coverage of select science fiction and fantasy series available on streaming services.
Several shows have put out new seasons, such as 12 Monkeys on Hulu and Kingdom on ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: Well, theaters are still closed, and most of the movies we were scheduled to review have been pushed back to the end of the year or 2021. So instead we’ll talk about the many science fiction and fantasy shows available on streaming services!
Arley: Some shows I’ve been watching, and enjoying, are The Expanse, Westworld, and Watchmen.
Josh: Nice. I like The Boys, Tales from ...Read MoreRead more
Arley: If I were grading Onward, it would get “meets expectations.” Disney/Pixar has some outstanding movies, but for me, this one doesn’t stand as their absolute best. It wasn’t outstanding or incredible, but it was solid on every front, and had emotional impact, which is basically what I expect from them. Their baseline is better than a lot of other production houses. This wasn’t as powerful as Up, ...Read MoreRead more
War Girls, Tochi Onyebuchi (Razorbill 978-0-451-48167-2, $18.99, 464pp, hc) October 2019.
War Girls is a meditation on culture and conflict. It’s action-driven but complex, brutal but brilliant.
A strong opening in a stark, discomfiting setting introduces Onyii, a girl who has known war for most of her life. A handful of lines establish her dissonance with her own body, her social group, and her situation as a “war girl” ...Read MoreRead more
Based on the Valiant comic book series of the same name, Bloodshot is about a US Marine, Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel), who is brought back from the dead through the application of nanotechnology, which endows him with superhuman abilities.
The film initially follows all the standard sci-fi action fare as Garrison pieces together what has happened to him, and what he can do now, and it’s exactly as terrible as ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: This is “Gaslight: The Movie”.
Arley: The first thing he does when he’s invisible is turn up the gas on the stove. Metaphor?!
H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel, and the 1933 Universal movie based on it, get a modern treatment in the latest The Invisible Man, starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the abusive, controlling Adrian Griffin (the world’s leading expert in optics) and Elisabeth Moss as his girlfriend, Cecilia Kass ...Read MoreRead more
Infamous DC Comics character Harley Quinn (née Harleen Frances Quinzel) changes out of her manic pixie dream girl role for Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. This latest film in the DC Universe begins immediately after the Joker dumps Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). The end of their relationship marks the end of her protected status in the criminal underworld. Her singular goal — to ...Read MoreRead more
This adaptation of the 1927 H.P. Lovecraft short story stars Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner, who lives in a secluded area of New England with his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson), daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), and sons Benny and Jack (Brendan Meyer and Julian Hilliard). All Gardner wants to do is raise alpacas and enjoy some fine bourbon, but when a meteorite crashes onto his land one night, his plans go ...Read MoreRead more
Arley: THEY KILLED THE BLACK GUY!
(We’ve put all the deep dark secrets below a spoiler line at the bottom of the review.)
In Underwater, six people at the bottom of the Mariana Trench—Norah (Kristen Stewart), Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie), Emily (Jessica Henwick), Paul (T.J. Miller), Smith (John Gallagher Jr.), and Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel)—try to reach safety after something destroys their deep sea habitat.
Arley: Okay. Overall I thought ...Read MoreRead more
Tim Pratt, via Twitter: Two things they got a lot of in Star Wars is droids and shit that don’t make no sense.
Josh: I liked it more than The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Arley: Me too!
Josh: Good! I recognize that The Last Jedi was trying to do a lot more, storywise. But when I rewatched it I was bored by a lot of parts, like ...Read MoreRead more
Best New Horror #29, Stephen Jones, ed. (PS Publishing/Drugstore Indian Press 978-178636-392-3, £14.99, 579pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Howard Nostrand.
In 1990 Constable & Robinson published the first Best New Horror, edited by Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell, featuring horror short fiction from 1989. That volume won a British Fantasy Award, a World Fantasy Award, and began a legacy. Jones became sole editor with 1995’s The Best ...Read MoreRead more
This review doesn’t need to lead with much of a recap, because you’ve seen it all before: evil AI sends a killer robot back in time to assassinate the future savior of humankind. Plucky human resistance sends a protector back in time to stop the killer robot (from the future!). Carnage. Mayhem. Explosions.
The difference this time is that the evil AI is called “Legion” instead of “Skynet,” the target ...Read MoreRead more