M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here! Sprouting from the success of the Best of the Best in Horror Countdown that ran all last month, I thought we would Countdown the Best of the Best in Sci Fi in 2017. Since my area of expertise is horror, I have enlisted my buddy Matt Adler to come up with the Top Ten Sci Fi films of 2017. Along with Matt’s picks for the top ten, I will be adding a pick of my own that is worth noting. Many of these films are available On Demand, digital download, or on DVD/BluRay and when I can, I’ll try to link to them at the top of the reviews.
As far as how the list was compiled? Well, Matt will explain in each of the review why he thinks this film is worthy of the countdown and why it is where it is in the list. For me, I am simply going to offer lesser known suggestions that may not be blockbusters, but they pack a big sci fi punch despite all of that. Any film released after November 1st, 2016 is game for the list. Look for new countdown entries every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through November.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let us know what you think of the films, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong we are, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
#9 VALERIAN & THE CITY OF 1000 PLANETS #9
VALERIAN & THE CITY OF 1000 PLANETS (2017)
Directed by Luc Besson
Written by Luc Besson (based on the comic book series “Valerian and Laureline” by Jean-Claude Mézières & Pierre Christin)
Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Sam Spruell, Alain Chabat, Rutger Hauer, Peter Hudson, Xavier Giannoli, Louis Leterrier, Eric Rochant, Benoît Jacquot, Olivier Megaton, Gérard Krawczyk, John Goodman
Find out more about this film here, @ValerianMovie , and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Matt Adler
Don’t listen to those spoilsports who complain that “the plot doesn’t make sense” or that “the acting isn’t very good”. None of that is the reason you go to see a Luc Besson film.
You’re here for the spectacle, and man-oh-Manischewitz does this film deliver. Besson is doing what he does best– building worlds, developing new forms of life, and taking you on the trippiest journey you can ever hope to plunk down your hard-earned money for. You were promised a city of 1,000 planets, and by God, that’s what you’re going to get. Great credit has to go both to the visual effects team, and to costume designer Olivier Bériot who goes to town here, bringing a multitude of amazing designs to life.
So really, who cares what Valerian’s mission is, or even whether he accomplishes it? The action is non-stop, there’s a new bizarre creature everywhere you turn, and you just aren’t going to have time to worry about things like story cohesion and narrative flow. Much like THE FIFTH ELEMENT, it’s best to just turn your brain off, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.
GALAXY OF HORRORS (2017)
Directed by Todd Cobery (“Eden”), Richard Karpala (“Iris”), Ethan Shaftel (“Flesh Computer”), Dennis Cabella, Marcello Ercole, Fabio Prati (“Pathos”), Antonio Padovan (“Eveless”), Javier Chillon (“They Will All Die In Space”), Andrew Desmond (“Entity”), Benni Diez, Marinko Spahic (“Kingz”), Justin McConnell (wraparound)
Written by Todd Cobery (“Eden”), Richard Karpala (“Iris”), Ethan Shaftel (“Flesh Computer”), Dennis Cabella, Marcello Ercole, Fabio Prati (“Pathos”), Antonio Padovan, Dolores Diaz (“Eveless”), Javier Chillon (“They Will All Die In Space”), Jean Philippe Ferré, Andrew Desmond (“Entity”), Benni Diez, Marinko Spahic (“Kingz”), Justin McConnell (wraparound)
Starring Charles Hubbell (“Eden”), Michelle Colao, Luke Sorge (“Iris”), Rob Kerkovich, Elle Gabriel (“Flesh Computer”), Fabio Prati (“Pathos”), Greg Engbrecht, Vin Kridakorn (“Eveless”), Francesc Garrido, Julio Perillán, Ben Temple (“They Will All Die In Space”), Alias Hilsum (“Entity”), Olli Banjo, Mathis Landwehr, Claire Oelkers (“Kingz”), Melissa Williams, Adam Buller (wraparound)
Find out more about this film @galaxyofhorrors, and on Facebook here
Reviewed by M. L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
While this is a collection of short films presented together in an anthology format, at least GALAXY OF HORRORS made an attempt to wrap them all together with a ninth story which makes this feel more like the anthologies of old. Either way, this is an extremely strong collection of little horrors with a sci fi slant.
The film begins with a man waking up in a cryotube and finding himself trapped. To help pass the time, the space ship’s computer decides to play entertainment for the screaming passenger (Adam Buller). The entertainment genre the computer has chosen is sci fi/horror and thus, the film begins.
Segment one is called “Eden,” a short that feels like it definitely be extended into a feature film as immediately it thrusts you into a world only slightly skewed from our own where America has undergone a second Civil War and a toxin has been released into the air to make all of the air unbreathable. As the President of the United States prepares to address the nation from his bunker, a group of rebels make their way though a tunnel system, past armed guards, and experimental zombie abominations in an attempt to assassinate him. It’s a pretty ballsy look into a scary future, filled with atmosphere and quite a few fun segments of terror in the strobe lit hallways. It’s social commentary, but it’s also scary and a powerful way to begin this anthology.
Next is “Iris,” a BLACK MIRROR-esque short about the next generation of Siri which not only responds to every questions, but listens and records everything you do, forming a stronger relationship with the user. When a man is paid to kill someone and do away with her body, he begins to have difficulties getting his Iris to work for him as she thinks it’s not the right thing to do. Like most sci fi, this one has a message about just how much power we are giving these little machines we carry around in our pockets and a little about our flawed human condition as well. This is a short and sweet one with some gruesome effects and a truly unnerving watching eyeball called Iris.
Up next is the Cronenbergian “Flesh Computer” where a man constructs exactly what the title suggests, a machine made of mounds of moist human flesh and technology. Though it is unclear what the computer does exactly at first, when the life of its owner is threatened by a pair of thugs, it begin to function in a defensive manner. This is a grimy and somewhat gross short that will definitely make you squirm. The machine itself is almost obscene looking and really is a surreal work of art in itself. This was one of the more disturbingly awesome shorts of the anthology simply because it has the balls to go into some disgusting territory.
“Pathos” reminded me a lot of BRAZIL and CITY OF LOST CHILDREN where people sign their lives away to be plugged into a utopian realm where they are inundated with positive thoughts and feelings. When the machine has a glitch, a man wakes up with the top of his noggin plugged into a large wire from the ceiling in the middle of a barren room. As the system tries to reboot, the man gets more and more freaked out. This is a claustrophobic little number with some surreal imagery. Filmed through a drab and filthy lens, this is a futuristic nightmare no one would want to be found in and exemplifies the fears one would experience there extremely well.
We wouldn’t survive long on a world without women and that’s what the super short film “Eveless” explores. Two scientists explore alternative options for humankind’s survival. The less revealed about this shortie the better as it is a grueling and wonderful little punch line of a short that is fantastic and suggesting an excruciatingly horrible ordeal these scientists go through. While this is one of the shorter films, it’s definitely is going to be one of the ones you’ll be talking about afterwards.
“They Will All Die In Space” is a fantastic little thriller. Filmed in black and white, it follows a pair of crewmen experiencing difficulties with the ship, so they wake up one of the scientists from cryosleep in order to fix it. As the scientist begins fixing things, he suspects something a little more devious going on with these two crewmen. I’ll leave it at that, but this is a great mystery with some fantastic moments of action and suspense. The black and white filming adds a lot of depth and darkness to this already bleak tale of outer space horror.
While there definitely is a GRAVITY feel to “Entity,” this short goes more into 2001 territory as an astronaut (Alias Hilsum) is hurtled out into open space when her ship explodes. Destined to run out of oxygen and drift forever, the astronaut finds herself in a realm beyond her imagination. This is a fantastic short done mostly in CG, but still shows that when it is used smartly, heavy CG can deliver an imaginative and compelling story.
The last segment is called “Kingz.” While it feels like it is occurring in the here and now, when a pair of hoods deliver a coke shipment to a seedy club to a menacing drug lord, they find out alien forces are at work. While not everything is explained, the alien effects are amazing and the tech and weaponry used are great too. There are also a few nicely choreographed fight scenes between the aliens and these hoods, who of course, know kung fu. This is a nice ballistic way to end up the anthology.
As a whole, GALAXY OF HORRORS is a fantastic example of horrific and amazing things coming in small packages. Give GALAXY OF HORRORS a chance. The future of horror and sci fi is within.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#10 – GHOST IN THE SHELL
#9 – VALERIAN & THE CITY OF ONE THOUSAND PLANETS
M.L. Miller goes by many names—Ambush Bug, Mark L. Miller, hey you jerk over there! He’s an original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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