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!
#8 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol.2 #8
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.2 (2017)
Directed by James Gunn
Written by James Gunn (screenplay, based on the Marvel Comic by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning)
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, Hannah Gottesman, Hilty Bowen, Ben Browder, Alex Klein, Luke Cook, Evan Jones, Joe Fria, Terence Rosemore, Jimmy Urine, Stephen Blackehart, Steve Agee, Blondy Baruti, Rob Zombie, Seth Green, Michael Rosenbaum, Rhoda Griffis, Stan Lee, David Hasselhoff, Mac Wells, Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Gregg Henry, Miley Cyrus
Find out more about this film here, @guardiansofthegalaxy, and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Matt Adler
I come at this film from a different perspective than the majority of the audience, in that I was a hardcore Guardians of the Galaxy fan long before James Gunn ever heard of them, going back to the Jim Valentino days, and continuing into the Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning reinvention. So Gunn’s take can at times be a little difficult for me to swallow, given his decision to take the concept in a farcical direction, even more so with this film than the first.
But I have to acknowledge that taken on its own merits, Gunn has pulled off an amazing feat; taking a fringe property and making it accessible and engaging to mainstream audiences. To that end, there’s a lot to love in this second outing, from Rocket Raccoon’s existential angst, to the fleet of killer warships run like something out of a 1980s arcade.
Michael Rooker won me over with his performance as Yondu this time around, as he balances the grungy hillbilly biker persona with some surprising vulnerability. I though Kurt Russell was perfect as Ego, and the David Hasslehoff cameo was hilarious. And there is an amazing tribute to the original Guardians near the end; I so want more Ving Rhames as Charlie-27! As long as you can accept that this is Gunn’s vision and it isn’t necessarily going to adhere to the tone of the source material, you’ll appreciate and enjoy this franchise as so many others have.
ANTI MATTER (2016)
Directed by Keir Burrows
Written by Keir Burrows
Starring Yaiza Figueroa, Philippa Carson, Tom Barber-Duffy, Noah Maxwell Clarke, James Farrar, Yolanda Vazquez, Casey Lawler, Harrie Hayes, Holly Joyce, Julia Savill, Rachel Waring, Joseph Teague, Molly Bas, Dan Shelton
Reviewed by M. L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Don’t expect laser guns and spaceships in this sci fi flick, but ANTI MATTER is a ground level tale about cutting edge science gone wrong with strong characters and an engrossing story. Reminiscent of PI in that it tells an intelligent story about science that may not exist right now, but is just around the corner, making it much more scary and compelling than the leaps in science we usually see in sci fi.
Yaiza Figueroa plays Ana, a brilliant scientist working out of a dark basement in a university who believes she has stumbled upon the creation of the world’s first worm-hole. Enlisting two other student scientists, the three embark on this scientific breakthrough escalating from zapping marbles across the room to the teleportation of a human being. Drawing the shortest straw, Ana becomes her own test subject and goes through the process herself. But once through, things in her live begin to fall apart and nothing begins to make sense to Ana. As her paranoia grows, Ana’s becomes desperate to find out what exactly happened, but comes to regret the truths she finds out about that fateful night.
While you’re most likely not going to recognize the stars of ANTI MATTER and you aren’t going to be dazzled by the effects, ANTI MATTER is the type of sci fi I would love to see more of. It’s a film that doesn’t jet us into a fantastical future, but takes us to the very edge of today’s science and just a pinky toe beyond. The film doesn’t treat the viewer like he or she is an idiot by overexplaining what worm-holes are or the science behind it. It delves into the science simply, yet never gets overly complicated. And this method of simplifying the science, incorporating exposition seamlessly into the dialog and action, and never talking down to the viewer makes for a fascinating little fiction about science.
The acting is spot on and most likely Figueroa and her co-stars Philippa Carson and Tom Barber-Duffy will be bigger names soon in larger films. Figueroa carries the brunt of the emotional heft here as she is the one most affected because the work is originally hers and she must deal with the ramifications of an experiment gone sideways. She is able to play the emotionless and dedicated scientist one second and then a paranoid hysteric the next, both convincingly.
This is no-frills sci fi that I wish there were more of. I’ll take the tight story, understandable science, and strong cast of ANTI MATTER over any old overwrought galaxy far, far away any old day.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
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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