Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

The Last Days on Mars
The Last Days on Mars breaks no new ground whatsoever. We’ve seen this kind of plot in movies such as John Carpenter’s The Thing and Alien, and both of those movies do it way better. However, in spite of covering some very familiar – cliche, even – material, The Last Days on Mars still has some fun to offer. The production design is great, with all the equipment and vehicles looking futuristic, but grounded in reality. Liev Schreiber and Olivia Williams in particular are quite good in their roles, with Elias Koteas putting in a solid performance as team captain. As far as monsters go, space zombies are pretty cool, but unfortunately the film completely fails to make them scary. There’s not even an attempt at any jump scare moments, which I consider to be the cheapest of cheap horror movie tricks. The fact that the monster threat feels weak is probably the greatest weakness of The Last Days on Mars, but overall, this isn’t terrible science fiction. It just lacked a little atmosphere. See what I did there?
2.75 out of 5

Thor: The Dark World
As a fan of 1980’s fantasy and sci-fi movies, I was thrilled by Thor: The Dark World. After his adventures in the first Thor film and The Avengers, the god of thunder finds himself facing an army of evil elves who intend to unite all the dimensions in the universe (or something like that) and plunge them into darkness. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a film that combines sci-fi and fantasy elements the way Thor 2 does, and even the first Thor film hinted at more than it showed, with the bulk of the action taking place on earth. Not since the original Star Wars trilogy and camp classics like Krull have we seen armoured warriors fighting with broadswords and rayguns, and I was delighted to see this revival of one of my favourite childhood sub-genres. Chris Hemsworth is still perfectly cast as Thor, and he has chemistry with Natalie Portman, even if it’s never clear why she loves him as much as she does. But the real standout of the cast is Tom Hiddleston, of course, once again stealing every scene he is in as Loki. The supporting cast isn’t remarkable, but they’re not bad either. Anthony Hopkins seems a bit bored, Christopher Eccelston’s character could have been played by anybody in that makeup, and Kat Dennings once again serves no useful purpose. The action is plentiful, the plot extends the Marvel universe while standing on its own, and best of all, none of it is taken overly seriously. Thor: The Dark World knows it’s silly fun and revels in it. It’s easily one of my favourite Marvel movies…so far.
4 out of 5

Ender’s Game
The film adaption of Ender’s Game has been in the works for over a decade, and even though I’ve never read the novel and don’t support Orson Scott Card’s politics in any way, I was curious to see how the movie would turn out. After all, the last science fiction project I watched that was based on a beloved property that also took many years to come to fruition was John Carter, which I actually quite enjoyed. Unfortunately, X-Men Origins: Wolverine director Gavin Hood only delivers a mediocre movie in Ender’s Game, one that is emotionless and feels void of any kind of stakes for its characters. The production design and set up for Ender’s Game is interesting enough, and the cast is quite good across the board, but many of them are wasted (such as True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld), and the second act devotes far too much time to training sequences that have no consequences to speak of. By the time the third act rolled around, I was bored. In the spectrum of book adaptations geared towards a younger crowd, Ender’s Game succeeds in presenting more interesting moral quandaries than most, but there just isn’t much to get invested in.
3 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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