DragonCon is a festival of all things geeky. Every year during the first weekend of September there are four days of Sci-Fi, comic book, anime, and video game mayhem. Last night there was the world premiere for a new independent film featuring Doug Jones, Felicia Day, and Andrew Bowen.
“Rock Jocks” (2012) is about a group of geniuses who work for a secret government agency that shoots down astroids. Faced with budget cuts and the threat of elimination, they have to work together save their jobs and the world. “Rock Jocks” has a solid story and great script that felt like what you would get if “Clerks” (1994) and “Repo Man” (1984) had a love child who became an astronaut. That being said this is definitely not a family film, with a great amount of adult humor and swearing including security guards contemplating the various ways that expletives can be used.
Following the premiere of the movie was a short panel session with the writer/director Paul Seetachitt, Andrew Bowen, and Robert Picardo. They were all very excited to share the final product and stories about making the film. It was shot on a small cannon and you can definitely tell in the image quality. But the story and characters are so much fun, you soon forget and just enjoy. Overall, I enjoyed myself and would definitely love to see it again.
If you’re interested in seeing this film, check out their website
If you haven’t figured it our by now, my tastes tend to be a little on the quirky side. So it should come as little surprise that while most people were breathlessly awaiting the new Batman movie, I was standing in line to buy tickets for a little period piece with far too little fanfare.
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (2012) is the film adaptation of a book by Seth Grahame-Smith, a little known author with big impact. “Abraham Lincoln,” like Smith’s first book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” takes a story that everyone knows well and gives it a twist. You see, the history of one of America’s favorite presidents has a secret: he’s really a master vampire hunter.
Adaptations of books is a tricky thing for the movie business. Its impossible to present a direct translation, but when the author is also the screenwriter, you know you’ll get close. Smith and director Timur Bekmambetov give the subject gravity and excitement without getting too campy. The cast of primarily unknown actors is entirely believable and well case. The great Rufus Sewell is the one name actor in the case, giving primary vampire Adam an ease and intensity that meshes well with the subject matter.
With a book adaptation and story mash-up such as this its way too easy to go overboard, stepping on toes and become ridiculously cheesey. This thankfully, stays perfectly serious, creating an enjoyably fun film full of Vampire slaying goodness. This one will be soon be added to my collection.
There are a lot of movies that come and go. Some are block-buster smashes, some are forgotten. “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” was in the theaters 8 years ago, but it’s barely remembered.
Set in a 1939 alternate universe, “Sky Captain” is a mixture of Buck Rogers, Captain America, and the Rocketeer. Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow are the heroes who can’t seem to quite sort out their feelings. Nice surprises in the casting include Michael Gambon, Angelina Jolie, and even an archival footage appearance by the great Laurence Olivier. It feels like a classic Warner Brothers war film in dialogue and art direction, but never quite gets the formula right. There are too many clichés and close calls to really be enjoyable.
The muted color saturation is beautiful and seems to fit the portrayed time period well. The over abundance of computer generated graphics give the film a comic book feel that reminds me in a way of “Sin City” (2005). They’re not entirely off-putting, you will just be aware the entire time that this is completely a fantasy world. There’s enough about this film that should ensure its syndication on cable TV, and I would very happily turn it on as small diversion to my everyday activities.
I’m a fan of the original “TRON” (1982). The story followed familiar themes of love, friendship, and greed, but placed them in a unique environment. The idea of another universe existing inside of the computer was one that fascinated me. The thought that a technology could be developed that had the ability to integrate the two was classic science fiction. These two ideas have influenced the way we interface with technology (Second Life, virtual reality) as well as inspired other films like “The Thirteenth Floor” and “The Matrix.”
“TRON: Legacy” (2010) continues the ideas of a computer universe and human integration with technology in a different way. While “TRON” proposed that this universe would view a human “user” as a god, “Legacy” proposes that a “user” would be seen as an oppressor. The shift reflects our modern advances in technology and fears of it outgrowing our control.
The story line in “Legacy” follows the path of the hero’s journey, with the definite “Return of the Jedi” theme of the son saving that father. There’s also an Arthurian feel, with program Clu behaving as Mordred betraying his “father” Kevin Flynn.
The computer effects are stylized, but realistic enough that you are still drawn to the story. The acting is decent, but Jeff Bridges brings a little bit too much of “The Big Lebowski” to Kevin Flynn for me. All in all, the familiarity in the themes were enough to leave me satisfied. I won’t rush out to buy the blu-ray, but if I happened to catch it on television, I’d watch it again.
edit: I completely forgot to mention one of my favorite things about the film – the score! Daft Punk’s electronica inspired soundtrack fit seamlessly, which could also be because unlike most feature films, the footage was cut to the score. This is not the first time Daft Punk was involved in a movie, but I feel that this effort is their most cinematically successful. The added bonus was their cameo appearance that made my fan girl heart giggle with happiness .