Category Archives: science fiction

Synchronicity

Synchronicity_RGB 3D DVD OCardWritten and directed by Jacob Gentry and earning the L’Écran Fantastique Award at the 2015 Fantasia Film Festival, Synchronicity is considered a stunning science fiction adventure. The movie stars Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis, and Michael Ironside.

It is a fascinating thriller that blends time travel and romance with corporate espionage. The musical score takes you even farther than the story itself. Compose Ben Lovett’s music is spellbinding.

The story follows physicist Jim Beale, played by McKnight, who invents the world’s first ever time machine. He quickly finds himself fighting to prevent a takeover from his largest benefactor, Klaus Meisner, played by Ironside. In order to keep the rights to his invention, he must journey back in time himself to prove that it works. On his travels, he soon meets a beautiful, yet dark and mysterious woman named Abby, played by Davis.  He believes she may be working with Klaus to gain control of his life’s work. What he discovers in the past brings the story to full fruition.

Gentry starts the story while it is already underway, which offers a voyeur perspective of what is happening to Beale.  At first, I felt like I was intruding, then I felt comfortable and understood what was happening in the movie.

The movie, in its own way, hooked me because I wanted to know what would happen next.

Sicario & Ender’s Game in 4K UHD Blu-Ray

Sicario 4K Ultra-Blu-raySomething new has arrived for home theater connoisseurs. The newest format in watching movies called 4K UHD Blu-rays. The public introduction is calling it “ultra-high definition”.

Because I am interested in this new phase of viewing movies at home, I was sent both Sicario and Ender’s Game in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.  Before I commence with my opinion of the new format, the two different genres are the best way to review this system.  Movies like Ender’s Game prove more enjoyable with the screening quality while Sicario special effects were minimal.

The new format is totally about the technical enhancements that make the viewing of the movies far better. Is it important enough to purchase the 4K TV screen, player, and movie?

For some, I am sure it is a status thing while others thrive on a better viewing pleasure.  “Hey, come on over to my house. I have the new 4K player and TV Screen. Ender’s Game looks awesome on the new format!”

With that, here is my take on the new format. Sicario‘s HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p transfer in 2.40:1 clearly shows upgrades in detail, contrast and particularly when it comes to color gradation levels.  Like I said earlier, Sicario does not have eye-popping grandeur like Ender’s Game, there are some really vivid differences, though, in the 4K version.

I noticed at the beginning of the movie where facial features in the first SWAT scene are far better in texture. Surprisingly so, after Kate, played by Emily Blunt, is almost shot. Her face is bathed in red, but the fine detail comes through. I could almost feel the textures on each element such as curtains in Kate’s apartment. Before, I wouldn’t even have thought of noticing her curtains, but is that an important part of the movie?

The difference really shines with the dark scenes. The long scene with Kate in the bar where the contrast and tones are so much more improved. Everything looks so much more vibrant and alive.  However, I had to mention this but it has come up with other sources. The 4K has recurring rapid shaking in some of the scenes. I noticed it particularly with the pan shots. It is quite noticeable in the tracking across the landscape as the SWAT team drops in on the cartel house.

ender's game 4KFor Ender’s Game, the new format shows more splendor and richness of the colors. Literally, each color stands out. Particularly, the different shades of blues of spaceship and uniforms. They pop out at you from the screen.  The spherical zero-gravity battle room scenes are more fun to watch now with the ultra-high-definition.

I sound like I am repeating myself, but it is true. The new format is all about the colors. Looking at the plants in the background is extraordinary with deep light blues, greens, and browns. Every element is so detailed with textures that I didn’t even notice in the other formats. I have to mention the tattoos on Ben Kingsley’s face. They are so rich and alive, like 3D.

I didn’t notice any shaking on the pan shots compared to Sicario, which is interesting. The panning shots of the rocky terrain are gorgeous.  I could go on and on, but you need to see and experience 4K for yourself.  All in all, the 4K UHD Blu-ray is an exciting presentation.  You just have to spend more money in order to experience.

The Last Witch Hunter

the last witch huntVin Diesel movies make money and entertain in a simple but direct way. The Last Witch Hunter is a little different and not such a simple movie. Directed decently by USC alumni Breck Eisner, the movie is both largescale and commendable. Eisner crafts a distinct urban fantasy-horror universe, which looks different from other movies of the same genre.

The story begins in the past with a group of silver-haired warriors on an important journey to slay the evil Witch Queen, played by Julie Engelbrecht, responsible for placing a curse on whole the countryside. The warriors fight bravely with suspense and terror as if they are fighting a monster, not a witch. All in all, this part of the movie is very good.

The story moves forward to the present, we meet Kaulder, played by Diesel, who is an immortal hero with a very complex or angst personality. If you are familiar with Diesel’s characters, you know he is still sarcastic and badass as ever, making his dedicated fans over-the-top, hand slapping happy.  He teams up with Axe and Cross, a group of priests. Dolan played brilliantly by Michael Caine, works closely with Kaulder, but retires and unexpectedly dies. Kaulder suspects his death is caused by “dark magic beyond evil,” meaning the Witch Queen.

Eisner adds a lot of action scenes with some awesome scary scenes, a strong supporting cast, and plenty of really useful computer effects with vibrant monsters and crazy spells. However, the story has no surprises only clichés, yet it’s a Diesel movie, so no complaints either.

Elijah Wood is excellent as Kaulder’s sidekick, a geeky priest in New York City. He adds a lot to the story and production. I like seeing him with Diesel because they are so different in real life.

All in all, it is a pretty good movie and worth seeing if you are a Diesel fan.

Ascension

ascensionOriginally introduced as a miniseries for the SyFy Channel, Ascension is now available on DVD.  The movie is set against stimulating and enormous elements on which the story plays more with the human approach to drama.

The story is looks great for a miniseries, offering a spacecraft built in the 60s. The attention to detail is extraordinary, and draws the viewers into the experience.  The direction allows the actors to do stellar work with such notable talent as Tricia Helfer, Gil Bellows, Brian Van Holt, Andrea Roth, Brandon P. Bell, and Brad Carter. They all work together and keep the plot moving forward with memorable performances.

The CGI is well done with a few amateurish looks to scenes when viewing the exterior shots of the spacecraft.  Keeping in mind that the SyFy Channel produced the movie, the special effects comparably are not that bad.

The storyline is what wins the movie for me. In 1963, in the gripes of the cold war, we guard against our future survival by launching a huge interstellar ship call the U.S.S. Ascension. With 600 or more people aboard to guarantee our survival, the ship is little over 50 years out on a 100 year mission. Threatening the crew is an unprecedented domestic murder.

The movie is promoted as “Mad Men in Space” and I agree it is the best way to describe it. The twists and turns in the story is a little too much like a soap opera, but it keeps you on your toes with the plot moving along nicely.

All in all, I was surprised how good Ascension actually is for a low grade cable show. I really recommend it.  There is a lot of entertainment value for sure.

Ancient Aliens

ancientalienbluThis is a great series, and I look forward to each new set when they are released. This particular set, I am inclined to tell you that some of the episodes were really farfetched in their theories.

Yet, if you are a true believer in what the producers bring to bear, then there are so many other things they bring up that just cannot be proved wrong.  I am talking about the historical and physical evidence. It is really quite amazing.

The series brings up questions that are hard to answer, though  You have contemplate the ancients were more technologically advanced than we are today, or they had help.  Unless we know where the technology they used is located because we don’t have it today.  These points are hard to determine, and are some of the questions that come up.  That is way the show is out of the ordinary.

You get a chance to explore the fascinating chance that ancient aliens formed our history. According to the series, humans have told stories about beings with super-human strength since the man could pain on walls.

The series introduces ideas like tales about Zeus, Thor and Hanuman and even contemporary subjects like Superman and Batman and more helped form the world we live in today. Did these tales originated from oral legends about extraterrestrials? Whether you believe it or not, it is fun to speculate.

Moreover, ancient myths from around the globe, gods are often found intervening in human affairs, from Sumerian myth to the story of Moses. Were these supernatural visitations really the work of aliens using advanced technology to shape our civilization? We’ll also consider whether the reptilian alien, a fixture of science fiction, is reflected in the serpent gods of ancient myth. Could they have been living beings? Find out, and much more.

Another good aspect about the set is the special features like English subtitles for the hearing impaired, 3 discs, 12 episodes and no extras.

Black Box

blackboxWritten and directed by Matthew Schilling, the Black Box stars Brad Dourif, who is known for his acting talents in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Jason London, Ray Park and Kevin Sorbo also star in this sci-fi thriller.

You would think since Schilling both wrote and directed the movie the story would be pretty good. Like Woody Allen, Nicole Holofcener, James Cameron and Wes Anderson to name a few typically create a vision that is solid and good. Unfortunately, Schilling didn’t pull this off.

Most reviews for Black Box have not been good unless the reviewer was a sci-fi fan. The level of suspense is good with good acting, but the story is a little hard to follow and makes very little sense. I will give it my best shot to try to explain the movie. The black box contains secrets to one’s desires. Vastly different people meet by chance and as it changes hands, which happens every so often, the new owner is willing to do anything for what the box holds inside. The thing inside is the one thing the person covets the most. So much so, it makes them desire it at a dangerous cost.

A mysterious cowboy, played by Kevin Sorbo without much dialogue, delivers the payback in the form of an immortal assassin. The ending is not the best part of the movie. It ends abruptly with a one liner. If Schilling had wrapped the ending up in a proper way, the movie would have been better and more enjoyable to watch.