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Archive for 'Gary Westfahl'

A Working Model for Superhero Films: A Review of Wonder Woman

Special to Locus Online


Without a doubt, Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman is the very best of the recent “DC Extended Universe” superhero films — yet the praise doesn’t mean as much as it should, inasmuch as its undistinguished precursors — Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad — set the bar very low, to put it mildly.

Contractual Obligations: A Review of Alien: Covenant

Special to Locus Online


Unquestionably, Alien: Covenant fulfills its contractual obligations: so, if you have been longing to watch scene after scene of lunging aliens latching on the faces of intended victims and gruesomely slaughtering every one of them, this film represents the answer to your prayers. The very open question is whether anyone without that fervent yearning will want to sit through two hours and three minutes of this otherwise lamentable movie.

Back to the Retrofuture, Version 2.0:
A Review of Ghost in the Shell

Special to Locus Online


Ghost in the Shell is most definitely a film worth seeing, and no one who buys a ticket will feel cheated afterwards; they may especially appreciate the film, as I did, as an unusually artful rendering of all the things that people used to worry about in the 1980s. Still, like me, they may also conclude that the film just wasn’t their cup of tea.

Mutiny of the Unknown Alien Slime: A Review of Life

Special to Locus Online


From one perspective, Life represents yet another example of a recent Hollywood trend that I find heartening — a renewed interest in realistic depictions of humanity’s probable future in space. … Regrettably, however, Life ultimately becomes a conventional, and sometimes silly, horror film.

Bungle in the Jungle: A Review of Kong: Skull Island

Special to Locus Online


Kong: Skull Island actually begins quite promisingly, as we are introduced to a diverse and generally appealing cast of characters, and they gather together to journey to the mysterious Skull Island and confront the enormous, and initially hostile, King Kong. … Unfortunately, the film devolves into an iterative, and increasingly unpleasant, series of variations on the two basic set pieces observed in all giant monster movies: humans vs. monster, and monster vs. monster.

The Boy Who Fell to Earth: A Review of The Space Between Us

Special to Locus Online


Like a NASA rocket slowly rising from the surface, The Space Between Us takes a long time to achieve escape velocity and soar through space; however, if you can endure one of the most boring opening sequences in any film I can recall, and about an hour of trite melodramatic sequences interspersed with inauthentic personal drama, its last thirty minutes are actually quite enjoyable, even moving.

Starshipboard Romance: A Review of Passengers

Special to Locus Online


There are several reasons to admire Passengers: it addresses a topic that is usually avoided in science fiction films — how humanity might colonize the galaxy without the magic of faster-than-light travel; its starship is filled with imaginative visual touches; and its story is genuinely unpredictable, consistently holding one’s interest despite a small cast and limited sets. And yet, there is also something strangely incongruous about the film, as its uneasy blend of disparate elements sometimes makes it seem like a film at war with itself.

“I Have a Bad Feeling About This”:
A Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Special to Locus Online


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story provides precisely what it promises — a professionally-rendered, authentic Star Wars story — and enthusiastic devotees of the Star Wars universe will probably be pleased by the results. However, filmgoers who are not diehard fans… may be bored and appalled by this latest installment of the venerable franchise.

Two Thousand Translations: A Speech Odyssey: A Review of Arrival

Special to Locus Online


Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is a film that will be properly praised as an unusually intelligent and sensitive science fiction film, derived from an unusually intelligent and sensitive science fiction story, Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life” (1998). In many respects, it is faithful to Chiang’s novella …. However, as invariably happens when Hollywood adapts even the finest science fiction literature available, certain aspects of the source material are, well, lost in translation.

Another Day, Another Dinosaur: A Review of Shin Godzilla (aka Godzilla Resurgence)

Special to Locus Online


I hoped to report that, after American producers had for the second time abused Godzilla in a disastrously awful film, Japan’s Toho Studios had triumphantly reclaimed its iconic character in a classic addition to a venerable franchise. Instead, however, they have merely produced what Japan has long been noted for, another mediocre Godzilla movie. Still … there is something to be said for films of mediocrity, as opposed to films that are atrocities.


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