Jul. 9th, 2014

starlady: Mako's face in the jaeger, in profile (mako mori is awesome)
Snowpiercer (2013)
I've been wanting to see this movie for more than a year, and it did not disappoint. It stars Chris Evans as the de facto leader of a ragtag band of revolutionaries on a postapocalyptic perpetual train struggling to make their way to the front of the train, and it's really, really good. It was made outside the Hollywood system by Korean director Bong Joon Ho, and it's consequently refreshingly unlike most Hollywood movies, and most Hollywood SF in particular. It features a fairly diverse cast and a fairly realistic postapocalypse, I think, and equally importantly, Chris Evans is amazing. I knew he could act before, of course, but he can really, really act, and the rest of the cast is equally good, particularly Song Kang Ho as the train's renegade locksmith, and of course Tilda Swinton, whose role was genderflipped for her. I also really appreciated the way that the film used the affordances of what movies can do to its advantage; there are indeed a lot of chinks in the worldbuilding, but you're so transported by the movie (har) that those only occur to you after you've left the theater. And while it is violent (most revolutions are), the movie focuses not on the violence itself, as do Hollywood movies, but on its psychological impact, and cost. I also really appreciated the film's willingness to delve into other moods along the way, including more than a touch of the surreal. Really, really good. 

I've seen a lot of criticism of the film's critique of capitalism and the class system; it's certainly true that Snowpiercer is not an accurate representation of how either is created or maintained. But on the other hand, it's 2014, and I don't need a movie about a postapocalyptic perpetual train to tell me that capitalism is bad. We've punched that ticket already, methinks. But I will say that I liked the movie's ending particularly for what it said about how to deal with oppressive systems. 

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
I've heard good things about this movie on Twitter, and all in all it did not disappoint. Equally importantly, it's actually based on a Japanese light novel, All You Need Is Kill, and I wanted to support the continuing adaptation of Japanese SF to Hollywood, too. It stars Tom Cruise as a hapless U.S. army media relations officer conscripted into the final invasion of Europe, humanity's last hope against an insidious alien invasion. Along the way he acquires the aliens' own powers, and Emily Blunt is the battle "Angel of Verdun" who has the plan to use it to end the war. You can see its Japanese origins in the fact that about 75% of the movie is a training sequence of one form or another, although I agreed with people who said that it needed more Emily Blunt and less Tom Cruise. (But then, when do you not need more Emily Blunt? Never, that's when.) It would make a good Club Vivid vid, although it totally trivializes violence in the Hollywood way that I scorned above, but all in all it was a clever and enjoyable movie, I thought.

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