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Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar (2014)

In a future world, where the sand never stops blowing, where the crops are failing, the people coughing, and humanity is stuck in a rut - no longer living in an era of technological innovation and surplus, but just trying to survive, Murph finds a ghost in her room. Her dad, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), doesn't believe her at first, but during a sandstorm one day she forgets to close the window, and a pattern waits on the floor. It's binary. The ghost is gravity. It leads them to an off-limit government facility where with utmost secrecy a space station is being built that will allow humanity to finally evacuate the planet.

But before this can be done, they must find a new home, and Cooper leaves Murph and all those he loves to travel off into space and find this place. It's a voyage unlike others, with plenty of silent time and solitude, but always captivating. They ride on the edge of a black hole and lose years of their life. They visit a planet covered in water, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Matt Damon appear out of nowhere as professor Mann (I thought Mann would be Asian... for some reason).

The actors are great, the visuals are great, the script is great, the plot goes full circle, everything makes sense, and there were points so emotional I'm getting emotional just typing up this review. Strange since I didn't partake very actively in those emotional moments the first time I watched it... but this really was: a masterful movie. It seems to have jumped straight up to spot #26 in IMDB's Top 250 too. Much deserved.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

Project Almanac (2014)

Project Almanac (2014)

There's just something about time travel that makes any movie about time travel so... awesome! Plot inconsistencies are never inconsistent in a time travel movie are they. Or maybe: the potential inconsistencies with time travel force the script writers to really revise their script and get rid of all potential flaws. The movie? I loved it.

It's different from most time travel movies in how it's filmed in close-up, mostly third-person but sometimes first-person view, the person behind the camera usually our main character's sister, also an involved persona in the plot. The main character, David (convincingly acted by Jonny Weston), finds the prototype of a time machine in his dead dad's basement, shortly after finding a video camera in the attic where, in footage of his 7th birthday party (right before his dad left) he sees himself, his current self, in the mirror... in the video.

Together with a select few friends, he tries to get the machine to work, accompanied by his sister Christie, who does a great job at documenting the whole thing. I start wondering if she actually was holding in the camera most of the time... which goes to show it really feels convincing. I usually don't like shaky cam, but this is one exception to the rule, where the Blair Which-style filming actually makes me immerse myself in the movie, and seems to stay still just often enough that I get to enjoy the most exciting moments without them getting all shook up and grainy. Overall the filming's creative and very effectual...

...and the plot: it's great. The feedback loops were genuinely scary. The swirling items, the whole surrounding impact of each moment of time travel was surreal. The actors were all convincing, their characters intimate and unique. The story is intense, and though it starts off somewhat normal (I started watching without very high expectations), it quickly spirals away from the norm, deforming, going in unwanted directions as most of these time travel movies do. But, time travel plot twist: it's all about a girl.

I feel like I need to see this movie again in a while and make sure I'm not rating it unnecessarily high, but my first impressions are off the charts. It was a refreshing take on the time travel idea, intense, creative, fast-paced and full of feeling.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

Supergirl (1984)

Supergirl (1984)

If you liked the original Superman movies, you might like this. It's a suitably cheesy, somewhat romantic, Superman-similar story about his cousin Kara (played by Helen Slater), who after losing a powerful orb that's needed to power the place she lives in, has to venture to Earth and bring it back. Of course it's fallen into the wrong hands, and she has some difficulties trying to obtain it: a bit too much too considering she does have such superpowers on Eartth that trivial obstacles such as the ones presented in the movie should be of no burden to her. There's a lot of flashy lights, and smoke, and slow narrative threats with unstable background music for suspense, and as a peak in the performance: a wobbling floor with red lighting underneath and a bulldozer running rampant without a driver.

There's also some entertaining moments where she's trying to figure out Earthly things and adapting to the new planet, though I feel they could've added plenty more of that. And why does she enroll in a school in the first place? So that she may gain friends that she'll later need to save? One more, somewhat larger inconsistency, is that of Superman. I don't know that much about the Marvel universe, but I was pretty sure Superman escaped his home planet right before it burst into a ball of flame, though it seems Kara knows all about her cousin Clark Kent and his stay on Earth... they really should meet sometime to get those inconsistencies explained and out of the way!

Also wonder why they chose girl instead of woman for her name. Because she's young? Because Womderwoman was already in use? Because they moviemakers were sexist bastards?

Well, though pretty much everything about this movie breathes cheesiness, and the effects are ancient and thus not as effectual as could be, it kept me entertained. Now that I've seen the classic, I'm prepared for the remake coming out later this year! Better save the new and probably improved version for last.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Black Eagle (1988)

Black Eagle (1988)

So this was that one movie where Jean-Claude Van Damme gets chopped up by a propeller! I mean: where his movie counterpart does. Also starring the easily best known actor/martial artist during the 1980s ninja cinema craze of Asia: Shô Kosugi. I've seen it before, and... it wasn't all that memorable this time around either.

There are some chases, some fights, Van Damme is in impressively good shape - doing splits and bouncing back up like it's nothing - and we get one pretty intense martial arts fight with all kids, but in the end... it's one of those movies where a lot of things happen but not much really happens. You know. Old 007 movies type movies. Much intrigue. Much moving around. Much dialog. Not much and not all that credible action.

It was however an inspiring glimpse of oldskool Malta! The sceneries are great, and the part which I'm sure I'll remember the best. The filming felt clean and professional too. Maybe the script lacked depth. Or maybe, I've just been so dulled with the fast pace in modern movies that it's difficult to fully appreciate a slow roll. Also, first thought on the title was that 'Black Eagle' should definitely feature a black man as main character. Someone like Michael Jai White. Or an Eagle. Times were different back then...

 rated 3/5: not bad

San Andreas Quake (2015)

San Andreas Quake (2015)

Apart from some pretty crappy special effects (why did they throw in that hippo?!), and occasionally crappy acting... this movie wasn't really that bad. The plot's basic: an earthquake. A big one. There's a step-mom, a daughter, a boyfriend the step mom doesn't know about, an old couple, a dad, a good guy you're not really sure about, a split, a get together, you know the dreal (new word: drill and deal combined).

All CGI wasn't bad, but if only... it had all been good it wouldn't have been all that bad. The actors show potential, the script (albeit basic) keeps the red line visible, and the suspense keeps you seated. It was definitely a B-movie, but an entertaining one nevertheless.

 rated 2/5: decent

Airline Disaster (2010)

Airline Disaster (2010)

There's a kidnapping, there's an airplane hijacked by an Aryan Brotherhood, a female president that looks a bit like Hillary and a pilot on said plane who just so happens to be her brother. Well no, as it just so happens it doesn't just so happen: it's all one carefully planned heist.

On that same plane there's also Secret Service agent Gina (Lindsey McKeon), who manages to hide away in the lower luggage compartment floor of the plane and slowly undermines the threat of the criminal organization, keeping in touch with the president as she does, and ground forces search for the pilots kidnapped family. Since Gina is taking so long to get the plane under control however, the government starts attempting to have the plane taken down. With missiles, lasers, even by hijacking the planes computer (none of which works according to plan, of course - and the further these attempts go the sillier they seem).

There's some creative Bollywood-like cuts at the start of the movie, where they speed up the action in short bursts - like when characters sit down. There's a surprisingly professionally choreographed car chase too, and a final shoot-out. In retrospect, the action choreography is all surprisingly good.

The CGI however, is crap, and the cockpit just looks like one big room. Those moments when towers or engine parts barrage the ground and the plane just barely misses a large building look distractingly artificial, but on the bright side there's surprisingly little scenery of the outside seen from inside the plane. When they show the pilots they always do so from slightly up front so you don't get any unrealistic window footage. Appreciate that!

The actors aren't bad, nor is the script, and although it is at times overly predictable, there are moments where it surprises simply because you expected it wouldn't. Conclusively: good action, mostly good actors, unfortunately very downgrading CGI.

 rated 3/5: not bad

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