Movie Marathons #1: Sci-Fi

31/01/2017

Flip the Script started life as just a one-off game played in-between movies during a themed marathon weekend. With this in mind, this is the first of a series of blog posts that will explore the different themed marathons we've done, what movies we chose, and my opinion of the movies in question.

As my friends and I are all Star Wars mad, the first marathon we did was a May 4th Star Wars marathon. It's pretty obvious what was included so instead this week I focus on the one that followed: Sci-Fi.

 

While debate can rage on about what films would qualify for a definitive Sci-Fi themed marathon, we were constrained by what we actually had in our collections, or could get hold of for free. The movies we ended up watching were (for anyone who hasn't read the tags of this post yet) Blade Runner, Iron Sky, Source Code, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Serenity.

 

Source Code

This was my personal contribution. I knew that my friends wouldn't have seen it and was keen to share it.  The film gets a lot of flack for the ending breaking it's own rules and making a previously watertight premise now full of holes; a sentiment that I would echo. But until that final 10 minutes, what you get before that is a movie that is clever, tense, and expertly crafted. I love films that drip feed the viewer with information, forcing you to feel as confused as the protagonist and Duncan Jones' 2nd feature length film does this as well as any other. Revelations about Jake Gyllenhaal's Colter Stevens do not come readily and when they are delivered, do so with impact. Gyllenhaal's performance is superb, as are the performances of Michelle Monaghan and Jeffrey Wright - a particular favourite actor of mine. For anyone who hasn't seen it, it is definitely worth watching at least once.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Chances are you're already well aware of this films merits and I do not need to convince you of it's inclusion, which says a lot considering where it came from. It would not be a stretch to describe Guardians as being Marvel's greatest cinematic accomplishment to date. I still remember reading a half page article in Empire magazine that detailed Marvel's plans to make a film based on a more obscure part of its comic catalogue. Little was known of the project at the time but there were illustrations of the main team.

I distinctly remember looking at these illustrations that included a sentient tree, and a talking racoon and thinking "This looks awful. Studios will make anything to jump on this superhero bandwagon now". I suspect I was not in the minority doing so. There must have been some tough conversations when explaining to their shareholders, why $232m was being spent on a film about some superheroes that hardly anyone had even heard of before. And yet now, Guardians of the Galaxy is considered by many to be the best superhero film since the Dark Knight and a breath of fresh air in an era where all other films were feeling like all the others.

 

Iron Sky

The B-movie genre is an odd one. Any other movie would be torn down for the lack of quality that these types of films but these films thrive on it. With a very knowing humour, Iron Sky takes a ridiculous concept and runs with it so far that you can't help but admire them a little. The premise, for those who haven't seen it is that in 1945 Nazis successfully colonised the dark side of the moon, and now they are coming back. If you can not take your film viewing too seriously it's worth watching once.

 

Serenity

To say that Joss Whedon's tv series Firefly is a cult classic would be something of an understatement. Such is the love for it that even 14 years later fans still mourn its cutting after just 1 season. Before this marathon I had not seen Firefly, but was told that it wouldn't be necessary for this. Whilst it is true that Serenity could be viewed as a stand-alone piece, it is at its best viewed as a final episode of the series, tying up the loose ends that further series could not and resolving sub-plots. There is one moment near the end that will be very poignant for anyone watching, but for fans of the series will have you screaming "Why, Joss, Why?!"

Given the love that exists for the series, and this film it is strange that the unique blend of sci-fi and western has not been tried more. Apart from the lacklustre Cowboys & Aliens it is pretty much untouched.

 

Blade Runner

If someone wanted to write a movie that was just for me it would be a film noir, set in a dystopian future, with Han Solo. Thankfully, Ridley Scott made that movie. With visuals and a soundtrack that still influence people's image of the future to this day Blade Runner is without question one of the all-time greats of cinema.

 

There have been so many cuts of the film that I couldn't tell you which version of the film was viewed. As with any adaptation from a Philip K Dick story, Blade Runner has a very interesting idea at its heart but also poses the viewer the question of what makes us human? Harrison Ford is at the top of his game and all we can hope now is that the upcoming sequel this year will not tarnish the memory of an all time classic.

 

What are your opinions on these films? And what would you choose for a sci-fi marathon?

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