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!
#7 PASSENGERS #7
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Written by Jon Spaihts
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Julee Cerda
Find out more about this film here, @PassengersMovie, and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Matt Adler
Man, this is a thought-provoking and sometimes creepy film. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence explore the nature of human relationships in a science-fiction setting, and although the genre isn’t always used that way, I believe it is particularly suited to that kind of exploration.
At its heart, science fiction allows a storyteller to create situations that would be difficult if not impossible to create in a story bound by the conventions of reality. Passengers does exactly that, by posing a classic moral conundrum; “If something horrible happens to you, is it right to place that burden that on someone else in order to alleviate your suffering?” In other words, misery may love company, but does that give license to create that company?
Personally, I think what Pratt’s character Jim does is simultaneously horrific, and yet understandable. We’d all like to think we’d behave nobly, but faced with desperation and crushing loneliness, some otherwise good people can do terrible things. Likewise, the choices Lawrence’s character Aurora makes may be viewed as questionable, but the bonds of human interaction can sometimes lead us down paths that may be against our better interests. Ultimately, you’ll have to make your own judgments on these questions when you see the film, which I definitely recommend.
Worth noting: DAVE MADE A MAZE!
You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon here. Also available on BluRay/DVD from the film’s website here!
DAVE MADE A MAZE (2017)
Directed by Bill Watterson
Written by Steven Sears & Bill Watterson
Starring Nick Thune, Kirsten Vangsness, James Urbaniak, Stephanie Allynne, Adam Busch, Scott Krinsky, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Timothy Nordwind, Scott Narver, Frank Caeti, Rick Overton, John Hennigan as the Minotaur!
Find out more about this film here, @DaveMadeAFanPage, and on Facebook here
Reviewed by M. L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
DAVE MADE A MAZE might not necessarily be a horror movie, but that doesn’t stop it from being a damn fine little film with an enormous beating heart and an even bigger sense of creativity. The imagery behind this film is awe-inspiring in a homemade arts and crafty sort of way, but backing that up is talented acting, fun dialog, and a story that’ll make you root for the little guy.
Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) comes home to find her unemployed boyfriend Dave (Nick Thune) has build himself a cardboard fort in the middle of their living room. Concerned, Annie asks him to come out and talk with her, but Dave attests that the fort is much bigger on the inside and that he simply can’t find his way out. Annie calls Nick’s friends to help him out, thinking he is having a mental breakdown, but once she enters the fort, she realizes that Dave is right. Dave has constructed himself a tesseract labyrinth in the middle of his living room out of cardboard—traps and a pissed off minotaur included. Now Annie and Dave’s friends must find Dave, which they do pretty quickly, but also find their way safely out of the maze.
This film has such a simple concept. A man loses his job and is now stuck at an impasse with no idea where to go next. Instead of making a decision, he builds this maze and gets trapped in it. The metaphorical beauty abounds here as Dave literally constructs a hurdle to keep him from making decisions and pressing on with his life after a failure.
And while the understructure of this film is firm and strong, it is fortified with rock solid acting from the gorgeous and talented Kumbhani and the witty Adam Scott-esque Thune. Their emotional story is amazing here as Annie is supportive but concerned about Dave who is becoming an increasingly heavy burden on her, but she still loves him. Dave’s plight is equally well intentioned as his unwillingness to move on weighs heavy on his as well. Seeing this couple struggle through this difficult time is the backbone of the film.
But enough about the emotional and thematic stuff, I haven’t seen a film with so much creativity in ages. An entire cardboard and crafty world created in DAVE MADE A MAZE is absolutely breathtaking. In some ways, the whimsy of Burton’s earlier stuff seems to be the inspiration for the film, but only if Burton could decorate his film with stuff he bought from an arts and craft store. The amount of creativity put into DAVE MADE A MAZE is infectiously likable with ribbons and yarn representing real bloody horrors and warped cardboard making up the terrifying minotaur’s horns. The entire film is a creative masterpiece in every way and while there are little scares and a surprisingly lack of any real resolution, the imaginative journey is one that’ll will put a smile on the faces of even the most stoic of viewers. DAVE MADE A MAZE comes highly recommended from me if you’re burnt out on angst and horror and just looking for a feel good, but never lame or schmaltzy time.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#10 – GHOST IN THE SHELL
#9 – VALERIAN & THE CITY OF ONE THOUSAND PLANETS
#8 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol.2
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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