WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
As of late, my inner sci-fi geek has been awakened with a vengeance since I started watching Syfy’s Defiance (if you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out). So, in the spirit of different worlds being invaded by extraterrestrials and technicalities that require physics PhDs in order to follow the plot, I decided I’d give The Asylum’s AE: After Earth a spin. The cover looked interesting, and for me that’s always a good start. Unfortunately, that’s also where all the good things that can be said about this movie come to a grinding halt. It’s a rare example in b-movie making: I thought I’d figured out the lame ending after watching about 15 minutes, only to be fooled later on by AN EVEN LAMER ending! Also, and this is the best part for me, they took soft science to an intergalactic extreme, which I always find tremendously amusing.
Earth is being invaded! Yeah, it’s only one tiny little spaceship with a few missiles attached to it, but we’re still being invaded. Since we’re thrown right into the action at the beginning of the movie we’re not really given any indication as to how long this nano-invasion has been going on for, but suffice to say that mankind has been on the losing end of the war. Somewhere in between the aliens’ arrival and us getting our asses thoroughly kicked, the world’s governments were able to build a series of ark ships to take a portion of humankind and send it off to the relative safety of some far-gone alien world. So, it the face of absolute danger, we do what we do best: we get the hell out of dodge. The arks are fully automated and contain stasis pods made entirely out of the insides of old Game Boys, so all the survivors have to do is lay back, sleep for a couple of decades, and wake up on their new home world.
Well, that was the plan at least, until the ark ships got blown out of the air and had to make an emergency crash landing on an alien world. Now of course you know it’s an alien world because it has a ring system! Clever people over at the Asylum… Anyway, if the crash didn’t sufficiently thin out the remaining number of humans left in the galaxy, the invisible and rather trigger happy natives will certainly take care of the rest. If it weren’t for Lt. Frank Baum the Good Lord only knows what would happen to the few remaining survivors. He manages to lead them all to the relative safety of a palm bush, before asking his robotic assistant TIM to try and figure out where they are and what exactly is going on.
Thankfully the invisible guys with guns aren’t the only creatures on the planet: our Lt also managed to find a green humanoid lady who switches between a completely alien accent to a thoroughly American one in a heart beat. She explains that the invisible things keep her people, and the crash-landed humans, as test subjects in zoos to be studied. Together, the survivors decide that this planet really isn’t for them, and they need to get back to Earth. Hell, it may have been invaded by malevolent beings from outer space, but it’s still home. It will involve a very un-daring mission of cowardly men, overly Hispanic women, the green lady, a midget Ricky Gervais, and an entire race of albino humanoids to ward off this planet’s strange lifeforms and the invisible hunting things if the group ever has a chance of making it to the spare ship just over the mountain and making a beeline back to Earth.
I don’t usually give away endings, but this one was just too stupid and left me far too enraged to not point it out. So, whilst we are told that it took 5 years for them to escape Earth and make it to this planet, when the group does eventually manage to get off the surface they can’t find out where in the galaxy they are. TIM the robot explains that the evacuation plan was EVEN DUMBER than I originally thought: rather than finding a planet that would be suitable for humans to settle on before they all took off, all of the arks were just sent off in random directions with everyone hoping for the best. 10 years into the flight TIM realised that the chances of finding a suitable planet were nanoscopic (again, shouldn’t we have thought about that BEFORE we left Earth?) and decided that the best option would be to return to Earth. Even if it had been invaded, at least it was habitable. So, the Arks make the 100-year return journey to Earth, but due to a glitch in the theory of relativity the 100-year flight actually equates to 325 000 years back on Earth. When the Arks crash and the survivors woke up, the invisible thingies were the descendants of the original invaders, whilst lady-in-green and the albino people are the descendants of the humans that didn’t form part of the evacuation fleet. The Earth is now green due to a runaway greenhouse effect, and its ring system is actually the remains of the Moon after the aliens blew it up. Take that NASA! That’s how you soft science the shit out of space travel!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- First rule of planetary evacuations: no weapons in the stasis pods.
- Intergalactic space arks can easily be built with nothing more than a little wood and chicken wire.
- Yo mama jokes are a pan-galactic form of insult.
- If you don’t train your dragon from when it’s a baby, you’ll never teach it not to sleep on your spaceship.
- There is no intergalactic emergency so great that you can’t stop for a moment to bang one of the natives.
- There is no reason to think that English syntax differs in any meaningful way from that of innumerable alien languages.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
It’s a rare thing for me to be left utterly dumbfounded by a movie. Amused? Sometimes. Confused? Occasionally. Angry? Fairly often. But dumbfounded is a feeling only brought on by particular kinds of movies, and Airborne just happens to be one of those movies. It starts off as a simplistic post-911 action thriller, but somehow, through various twists and turns, lands up being a pseudo-mythological, demonic possession movie. It’s quite astounding, really. And then there’s the foreboding. This movie has more dramatic foreboding in it than the Twilight movies had stares. The only way it could have been less subtle is if they had a full orchestra go into full swing every time the camera settled on someone’s face. Don’t believe me? Then read on, dear reader, and for the truly brave, perhaps you can give it a watch.
It’s a frightfully stormy day in Merry Old England, and due to an approaching storm (which, by the looks of the radar images we’re shown from time to time, appears to be a hurricane larger than the British Isles) all flights out of Heathrow have been cancelled. All except one, of course. Onto this plane assembles the largest group of misfits you can imagine: soldiers fresh off a tour in Iraq and accused of using excessive force, an Godfather-type and his two cronies, a raging alcoholic, a doctor accused of malpractice, and a sudden replacement air steward that no one has ever met. Oh yeah, and that mysterious crate that gives off funny noises and occasionally jumps around that’s under the special protection of the British government. With all of this to consider, what could possibly go wrong?
The flight starts out nicely enough. The alcoholic awakens with a raging hangover, the Godfather behaves in a typically refined-yet-thuggish manner, and two randy love birds get it on in a tiny bathroom. It’s exactly the sort of thing you’d expect on such a midnight flight. But something is terribly amiss. You know this because the love birds land up being bludgeoned to death and the plane makes a mysterious and unreported change in flight path. Not that flight control back in Britain seems to be overly alarmed. Apparently it’s quite normal for planes to change direction and go to Florida instead of New York without checking in with anyone. Back on the plane, people are starting to disappear at an alarming rate, and even our motley crew of passengers knows that people do not simply disappear while you’re flying however-many-thousands of feet above the ground.
The foreboding is cranked into high gear when suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the most top secretist agents in all of Britain take over the flight control centre and threaten to have the Americans blow the plane out of the sky unless they can get someone to respond. Back on the plane, a hostage situation develops over the content of the crate, which turns out to be a Chinese vase worth over $ 10 million. But something isn’t adding up about this hostage situation: the two hostage takers cannot account for all the dead people, which means that something else has been killing off the passengers (and the pilots) while they weren’t looking. Hypothetically this third-party may or may not be the spirit of a Chinese deity that was imprisoned in the vase and is busy looking for a human host that he can possess. Once this has hypothetically happened and he has found the ideal host he will be able to take over the world and fulfill the Mayan 2012 Doomsday prophecy. Can our hapless group of hostages stand up to the might of an ancient Chinese deity and save the world from absolute destruction? Probably not: the foreboding’s gonna slow them down too much.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Britain’s just a breeding ground for conspicuous Godfather-types.
- Britain’s also home to several pockets of irritatingly chatty, global warming-obsessed geography teachers.
- Air stewards must be proficient in mixing drinks and performing sleeper holds.
- If a drunk irritates them enough, flight stewards can be made to break standard health and safety procedures.
- Complimentary drinks are usually all it takes to quell an uprising of plane passengers.
- Most air stewardesses know which two wires to cross to make a plane just drop out of the sky.
- The Chinese gods and Mayan priests were in cahoots when it came to the 2012 prophecy.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
So there I was, minding my own business, when I was suddenly struck by a terrible case of the shakes. I broke out into a cold sweat, my mouth was bone dry, and I was starting to see double. I had gone into soft science withdrawal. It’s a terrible thing when it happens, and you need to have a sci-fi b-movie ready for when these symptoms strike. Thankfully, I’d saved Absolute Zero for just such an emergency. The movie manages a number of feats: it’s a b-grade disaster movie that wasn’t made by either the Asylum or the Syfy Channel, it’s mind-numbingly painful to watch, and the science is so soft that it would make a marshmallow roasting over Satan’s arse seem like titanium. Prepare to witness the movie that dares to ask the question: how soft is your science?
Meet Dr David Kotzman, a brilliant man working for Inter Sci. Dr Dave specialises in looking at the effects that temperatures plummeting to absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius, or -460 degrees Fahrenheit for my American readers) would have on life on Earth. They’d be fairly devastating, to put in mildly. But Dr Dave has a theory, you see: he’s convinced that the last ice age didn’t occur over a period of hundreds or thousands of years as modern science would have us believe. No, he believes that the ice ages are brought on when parts of the world suddenly plummet to absolute zero for a few seconds, freezing absolutely everything in sight. For all we know this theory could have been brought on by a night at an opium den, because the movie really isn’t going to explain how we got there. Then again, the theory could have been inspired by the constant thumping porno beats that play when he’s doing his research. Suffice to say Dr Dave is going to get an opportunity to test out his theory soon enough.
You see, there’s been some very strange weather going on across the globe lately: thunder storms over Antarctica (which are apparently very normal), ice bergs floating through the harbours of Florida, tropical weather in New York, and the list just goes on. How are we ever going to find out what’s going on before it’s too late? With cave paintings, that’s how! Dr Dave meets up with an Inter Sci research team already out in Antarctica (presumably building the emergency opium den) and, with a little help from global warming, manage to find a cave full of fully frozen people. Using a tiny microscope and a few spare grad students that just happened to be lying around, Dr Dave concludes that the world’s magnetic poles are about to shift themselves. This will have devastating consequences across the globe, as everything along the equator suddenly finds itself fighting off the onset of absolute zero (dun dun dun!).
Can we stop all these terrible things from happening? With this much soft science? You must be joking! Unable to save the world from succumbing to this frozen nightmare, Dr Dave has to at least try and save his grad students and his ex-girlfriend who he’s never forgotten and conveniently met up with just before the disaster struck. Luckily she’s a specialist in ancient cave drawings, and using the ones from Antarctica she arrives at the same conclusion as Dr Dave: the world is about to be thrown (rather haphazardly) into the next ice age. It’s a race against time as temperatures continue to plummet, funnels of freezing air strike at random, 10-year-old girls speak monotonously into walkie talkies, and lifeguards take over half an hour to evacuate a paddling pool. The world will never be the same again after it succumbs to… ABSOLUTE ZERO (dun dun dun!)
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Global warming means grad students can now spend a semester out in Antarctica.
- Even the president doesn’t have the authority to pull university students out of Antarctica.
- You can just book commercial flights to Antarctica these days.
- When light freezes, it’s time to get the winter jerseys out.
- Even with a doctorate degree in the field, it’s very easy to confuse archaeology for anthropology.
- Antarctica once held a small, but thriving, colony of ancient Egyptians.
- We can date 10 000-year-old cave paintings to the exact day they were drawn.
- Only in America can big corporations think that they can stop the weather from happening.
- The Earth’s axis of rotation has absolutely nothing to do with the seasons.
- There’s nothing quite as ineffective as an optional evacuation.
- Strip clubs provide excellent landmarks in times of crisis.
- Absolute zero is really dangerous, but people can still survive quite comfortably at -158 degrees Celsius.
- Always remember to keep your emergency power supply dangerously far away from the bunker that’ll save your life.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
“When a colossal tectonic shift causes the sea level to start rising, a microbiologist gathers the DNA of as many species as she can, while the military creates an “ark” in a desperate attempt to preserve life on Earth.”
The Asylum and I have really got to stop meeting like this. Seriously, how many of the movies in my collection have their sneaky little paws behind it? Now, I was in the mood for a decent cheesy disaster flick, but this was too much. Above is the blurb for this movie taken directly from the Asylum’s website, which I feel needs to be addressed. Firstly, there was no tectonic shift, not on any of the 40 days this movie purportedly spans. Secondly, sea levels did not rise; at best we had a few isolated inland tidal waves. Thirdly, there is no way on God’s green Earth that that woman was a microbiologist. Fourthly, surely samples of 3 bees and a few moths doesn’t count as ‘DNA of as many species as she can’? Fifthly, no country has a military made up of 7 people. Sixthly, that wasn’t an ark, it was a strange train that floated. Seventhly, the DNA of 3 bees cannot preserve life on earth if you didn’t take any life with you onto the ark. So yeah, that about sums up how I felt about this movie, but I’m gonna do my usual review now to drive home just how daft it really was.
Jon and Tessa are such a lovely couple – you’ve never seen a 50-year-old man and a 19-year-old girl so madly in love. They’ve got a pretty good life too – they work for the super-secretive black-ops illuminati division of the US military, which means they’re very clever, very wealthy, and very well looked after. All that and as many rooftop picnics as they could ever dream of! What could possibly go wrong for a couple as spritely as this? Oh right, the world’s about to come to an end. How’s the world going to come to an end? Be damned if I know; all I saw were four drunken kids driving around the Sahara desert when a few thunder clouds appeared over head. Next thing they (and I) knew, there’s an enormous tsunami coming over the mountains and the whole desert’s submerged by an ocean of CGI water.
In what turns out to be the Asylum’s answer to 2012, a massive super storm is developing over Africa, and within the next few days it will cover THE ENTIRE PLANET. How this super storm started to develop we’re never going to know, but said super-secretive black-ops illuminati division of the US military has to come up with some way of saving at least a nominal portion of the American public (mainly the smart ones though). To do this they’ve decided to build an ark. The ark will be the world’s first live-saving sea vessel shaped like a dildo, and despite the fact they have to cram in 3 years work into a week to get the thing built, everyone’s fairly convinced that it can be done with relatively few screw ups. Oh, how they underestimated Mr Murphy on that one…
Turns out there are a few hiccoughs to overcome before the ark can sail. Firstly, it’s powered by turbines built on completely theoretical technology that, despite being the size of a small cat, will harness the power of the waves and wind to generate enough electricity to keep it sailing for as long as they need. Surprisingly, there are a few problems getting these turbines working. Now, that’s Jon’s job. Tessa’s job is to collect DNA samples so that they can rebuild nature once the flood waters recede. Unfortunately a rock slide took out the train carrying all her samples, and now she has to go out into the wild to collect more before everything’s under water. And this is only the beginning of their troubles: once the ark sets out, who knows how long they’ll all be at sea? Who knows if the ark will be able to hold its own against the power of nature gone utterly berserk? In the end, none of it will really matter, since you’ll have been bored to tears long before the flood waters even cover your baby toe.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- If it means a quickie on a roof, saving humanity can just wait 15 minutes.
- If it means a quick tussle under the sheets, then escaping the rising Biblical flood will also just have to wait.
- There’s a lot more rain and wind in the eye of a super storm.
- You can safely transport DNA samples in an empty Evian bottle.
- The secret of human evolution, life, and all philosophical pursuits, ultimately lies with the humble moth.
- Most ships can be rendered utterly useless with a simple power drill.
- It’s easier to pistol whip someone than to answer a stupid question.
- The lesser-spotted cave bee is a key player in upholding the planet’s various ecosystems.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
As someone with siblings, I know how important it is that all children should be dealt with fairly and equally. Because of that, I knew I couldn’t watch 12/12/12 and just ignore its slightly older sibling, hence me suffering through 11/11/11. I will say that this movie isn’t as ludicrously put together as 12/12/12, but oddly enough that isn’t actually a saving grace for this film. Whilst 12/12/12 was so bad that I was reduced to laughing like a crazy person, 11/11/11 is nothing more than an hour-and-a-half of tedium that makes you want to bash your head against the wall. As the Asylum’s answer to 11-11-11 (see how clever they were in making sure the name of the movie was different), this movie combines elements of The Shining, The Omen, Misery, and any number of possessed children films, but sadly does not have the budget or the people with the technical know-how to pull any of it off. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who may be prone to throwing things at TV sets when a movie becomes frustrating.
The Vales are just the most wonderfully dull family you’ve ever met. Jack, the dad, is a professor of something and is moving his family to a new town to take up a job at the local university. Melissa, the mom, is decidedly bland and doesn’t really contribute much to the film outside of her ability to run to things, look shocked, and then run back. Nat, their son, is (partially) mute and doesn’t do an awful lot of talking. Why? I don’t know, but apparently it adds to the suspense and the DOOM! that’s about to rain down on all of us. What the name of the town they’ve moved to is I don’t know either, but as a general warning just don’t go there. Everyone’s a Stepford Paedophile and, somehow, Nat’s the only kid in town, so you can imagine how they’re all flocking to see him…
After the family’s moved in it quickly becomes apparent that they have a little problem: along with the Stepford Paedophiles, they also have a run-of-the-mill Crazy Cat Lady living next door who seems more than a little interested in the fact that Nat will be 11 on the 11th of November 2011. She also seems to be quite free in handing out poisoned lemonade. Then there’s Nat’s Nanny, the poor man’s Megan Fox, who seems to be quite comfortable showing Nat the best way to set a butterfly on fire and how to do malicious damage to private property. Not that Jack notices any of this: he’s too busy hiring nurses to look after his pregnant with pre-eclampsia wife and working at the town’s one-room university. And then there’s all the townsfolk who keep staring through the windows and getting together in the back of the minivan…
So what has all of this got to do with the price of eggs? The Lord alone knows, but therein seems to lie the problem. It would appear that the entire town’s population of 7 are Satanists, and due to his birth date and some bizarre prophecy I wasn’t paying attention to back in 2011 Nat is going to be Satan’s ticket into our world. Whilst the towns people represent the forces of evil, the Crazy Cat Lady represents the forces of good: if she manages to kill Nat before his birthday, the apparently not so omnipotent Devil can’t take over the world, but if she fails to kill him its all going to get a bit hairy for us down here. It’s all up to Jack to try and save the world and his son, which to be quite frank means that we’re probably all boned. Melissa will contribute to this battle by moaning a lot and occasionally slapping her nurse, but ultimately it all comes down to Nat. Can an 11-year-old partially mute kid with clear anger issues ward off the Devil himself? Which and be underwhelmed to find out!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Families bond best when they run down an opossum/cat hybrid.
- Little orange tabby cats can freely change their sex at will.
- Demon spawn are far more accurate than any pregnancy test on the market.
- Painting gutters is always easier when you use a hammer.
- It’s quite common for doctors to drug a woman in early pregnancy up to the eye balls.
- In their attempts to get new jobs, prospective nannies are more than willing to kill off the competition.
- Butterflies are highly flammable creatures.
- Apocalyptic prophecies are now being distributed as children’s books – because it’s never too early to know when the world’s gonna end.
- Giving a child cereal is a decent punishment for walking around the house with a butcher’s knife.
- Small-town cults usually hold their meetings in mini vans.
- Nothing is more powerful than a mother’s drug-addled, demented frenzy.
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