Browse Category: Space

RECAP: Aliens

Aliens (1986): James Cameron

Aliens picks up where Alien left off, at least for Ellen Ripley, who wakes up 57 years later. Aside from the main character and the location, about everything else differs between the two movies.

First off, the director. For some reason or another (scheduling, conflicting ideas, offended spouses?), producers chose not to bring Ridley Scott back to the franchise. They went with hot director of The Terminator James Cameron.

From Scott to Cameron, from horror to action, from small cast to large, from ship setting to terrestrial setting, Aliens is about as different from its predecessor as a sequel gets. Does it work?

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Ellen Ripley returns to fight the aliens that nearly killed her on a distant world called LV 426, this time with plenty of firepower and a host of marines.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending (2015): The Wachowskis

What happens when two acclaimed directors get a little too much leeway? You get a spectacle like Jupiter Ascending. The Wachowski siblings, creators of The Matrix, got free reign to make this movie, and the result is a confused mess. It has its high points, and its low ones.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Born on a container ship, Jupiter Jones ascends to the throne of the most powerful family in universe, the owners of Earth.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Star Trek

Star Trek (2009): J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams finished his landmark TV show Lost and took the reigns of another legendary sci-fi TV show called Star Trek. The 2009 version was a reboot, as well as the eleventh film in the series.

Up until about two weekends after opening, the highest gross in the franchise came from 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which made about $110 million. Turns out having a hero director attached can add to your box office. Add a lot. The Abrams vision passed a quarter-billion domestic just before it petered out of theaters. That’s the movie discussed here.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A crew on a space battleship fights a threatening enemy…from the future. Continue Reading

RECAP: Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017): Rian Johnson

If it’s December it must be Star Wars season. When we last left our heroes, they were fleeing the First Order, having blown up an entire planet, because if they didn’t the First Order would blow up planets. Rey fled to find Luke Skywalker and her lineage. Leia’s doing leadership. Poe is being a pissy jerk.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Rey trains with the last Jedi, while her friends, all that remains of the Resistance, flee the First Order and its Supreme Leader.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017): Luc Besson

On a distant planet called Mül lives a species of tall, lithe blue people. Known to the outside world as Pearls, they live in seashell houses, harvest pearls (the oyster kind we understand) from the calm seas, and own cute scaly pets called converters.

One day, as the film begins, the perfect blue sky is breached by dozens of spaceships in flames. Crashing to the ground, the ships incinerate the sky and the sand.

Several Pearls, sensing imminent death, flee to an already crashed ship and seal themselves inside. An enormous spaceship careens toward the planet, crashes, and sends outward a fiery dust wave. One Pearl, caught outside the ship door, is consumed by fire. But before she dies, she sends her soul into the universe in the form of a blue wave, a wave that finds a new home in a young man named Valerian.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Valerian and Laureline, two skilled government agents of the cultural melting pot that is the space station Alpha, track an unknown species that has kidnapped their commanding officer.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999): George Lucas

We should have known how The Phantom Menace would turn out when the opening crawl came on, and in the first line was the phrase “taxation of trade routes.” If you want your space blockbusters to discuss senate procedure when it could be having a space fight, take a seat!

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Trade Federations, Senate squabbling, the Republic, and other bureaucratic entities bog down rights protections across the galaxy, but also there’s Jedi and light sabers and the Force and stuff.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): James Gunn

2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit for Marvel. Released in August, the film finished third in that year’s box office.

A team partly comprised of a raccoon and a tree, the Guardians could have flopped out of theaters in a week and been forgotten.

Marvel never let them have that chance. A sequel was already in the works before the first movie came out. Arriving a year before all the Marvel characters assemble to battle Thanos, the Guardians have two important pieces: two of Thanos’s daughters.

These daughters take their relationship to another level. Peter Quill, the leader of the Guardians, sorts out his own daddy issues, and Rocket Raccoon raises a young, reconstituted Groot.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The Guardians sort out some family drama while a god tries to kill all life in the galaxy. Continue Reading

RECAP: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): James Gunn

Marvel took a chance in sending a team of total unknowns into theaters in August 2014. Chris Pratt was a bit player on a NBC sitcom, and the other actors were voices or covered in strange paint colors.

Producers injected humor and a great soundtrack to attract audiences likely tired of overly dramatic hero slogs. The Awesome Mix, Peter’s collection of his mother’s favorite pop songs, became the first soundtrack devoid of new songs to top the Billboard charts.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A band of galactic misfits protects a planet that doesn’t want them from a warlord who wants to kill everyone with a purple Infinity Stone. Continue Reading

RECAP: Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond (2016): Justin Lin

Beyond what? Beyond the galaxy? Beyond the coherence of normal storytelling? Beyond Chris Pine’s hair part?

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The crew of the USS Enterprise fly into uncharted space to aid a distressed team of scientists when they are attacked by a terrible new enemy.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Rogue One

Rogue One (2016): Gareth Edwards

The first of eight Star Wars films without a title crawl, Rogue One changed the series in other ways. Gone are long Jedi fights and light saber duels. Missing is interfamilial drama.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A band of rebels breaks into an Imperial planet to steal plans to a gray orb the Empire is calling the Death Star.  Continue Reading

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