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:
After the joyous time I had watching Piranhaconda I decided that I wanted to indulge in some more Syfy Original goodness. Turns out I had quite a few lying around and, because it’s the height of winter right now, dived into bed, blasted the heater and turned on Alien Tornado. This one wasn’t as heavily advertised as some other Syfy movies, but it’s definitely a lot of fun. If there’s a little sci-fi nerd living deep inside you that doesn’t really care about wafer-thin plots so long as there are shiny things in the sky then you’ll absolutely love this. And if the shining lights fail to grab your attention, maybe you can be tempted by tornadoes that shoot out funnel hands and scoop people up (so that they can be probed, I assume).
No movie about marauding alien tornadoes could conceivably begin without a troubled father/daughter duo, so let me introduce you to Judd and Kelly Walker. They live on a farm in a little town in the middle of Who The Hell Cares, USA. The day started out perfectly normally for the two: Kelly continued to be a blonde genius from the sticks and Judd spent his morning grooming a horse. Things take a mysterious turn when, from out of nowhere, a very shiny and sparkly tornado appeared and started ripping up the farm in a remarkably coordinated attack for a mindless wind funnel. Father and daughter escape any serious kind of harm, but the farm’s been badly damaged. In the aftermath we also learn about Kelly’s dead mother and how Judd squandered his daughter’s college fund, setting us up with daddy issues that will see us all the way through to the end.
We’ll come back to Judd VS Judd in a moment but first we need to meet Gail Curtis, an amateur storm chaser who runs a blog. This blog has somehow gained her a level of notoriety, which for me raised a few questions. At the risk of it sounding like sour grapes, how exactly does one become famous from running a storm chasers blog? And do amateur storm chasing bloggers really have the enormous number of groupies that this movie suggests is possible? But I digress. Gail notices that, whilst there are a number people reporting these strange tornadoes, neither the news or weather stations have said a single thing about them. Being the bright and clever female storm chaser she is Gail also thinks that it’s a bit strange that these tornadoes only touch down and destroy major utility buildings or areas of military importance. Maybe, just maybe, these aren’t your regular run-of-the-mill tornadoes after all…
Gail’s suspicions are also raised when the FBI, apparently led by Beverley Leslie, arrive to investigate the tornadoes. Co-incidence brings Gail and Judd together, and Kelly just happens to be a huge fan of her blog. Kelly also managed to record a very strange sound that came on the radio when one of the tornadoes touched down, a sound that seems remarkably similar to a kind of code. By pissing the guys in the FBI off enough Judd and Gail manage to find out that the Earth is, in fact, being invaded by aliens that use the weather as their biggest weapon. Despite the FBI’s flamboyant best efforts the future of mankind (and Chicago) will lie in the hands of a blogger, a grizzly farm owner and a blonde high school student. What could possibly go wrong with that?
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Young women should be made to bale hay to earn their keep.
- Amateur storm chasers need to pass a master class in ‘oh my God, what is that?!?’ faces.
- There is no father daughter crisis so terrible that it can’t be turned into a so-so country song.
- Fat people aren’t reliable storm chasers.
- Farmers are ready to form a lynch mob whenever the words ‘the city’ are uttered.
- Abducting humans is the alien equivalent of grabbing a toy bear in a claw machine.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Just thinking about this movie again makes me giggle. It was either a very entertaining hour and a half or the worst thing I’ve ever seen, I can’t quite decide. The best way to imagine this movie, I feel, is that had it been made in the 1950s it would have probably been an incredible creature feature. That may be what gives it a little bit of its charm. It has absolutely everything you could want from a b-movie: Aliens with Predator-like cloaking abilities, reverse Avatars, special effects that are right up there with the likes of Birdemic and a very 80s Casio soundtrack. All these wonderful things, wrapped up in a cacoon of blue candyfloss. Definitely not for the inexperienced b-movie viewer, but I’d give it a recommend to the more seasoned amongst us; if nothing else it’s one hell of an experience. It’s also the only movie I’ve watched during End of the World Month to score anything on the Breast-O-Meter.
Earth is under siege! Unbeknownst to all of us our forests are slowly being invaded by an alien race known as the Scythe (that’s Scythe with a hard ‘c’). Thankfully a strange race of pink-haired blue people are flying around the universe doing their utmost best to protect all the other little species out there. Earth falls within Ava’s sphere of protection, but unfortunately the robot she tried to send down that usually takes care of the hard ‘c’ed Scythe has malfunctioned. The lesson in all this? Never send a robot in to do a knock off James Cameron extraterrestrial’s job. The reason the robots are sent in is because they are designed to see through the Scythe’s cloaking abilities rather than Ava having to fumble around with her arms out in front of her. What ever will she do now?
We’ll get to that in a minute, because before the Earth can be invaded and we as the audience can take it all seriously there needs to be a group of people in danger that Ava has to save. Enter our team of stereotypes: Jock, Jock’s Friend with Benefits, Rebel Girl, Nerdy Virgin Guy, Nerdy Asian Girl and Slut. This lot’ve been friends since they were knee-high to a grasshopper and are heading out to a camping spot that they’ve been going to since high school. OK, nobody’s really friends with Slut, but Jock’s hoping that she can pop Nerdy Virgin Guy’s cherry. It’s understandable why nobody really likes her: while not only a bitch she is entirely impractical and thinks that wearing a pair of hooker heals is perfectly alright for taking a hike through the woods. With the Scythe nearby and looking for blood, of course, poor choice in footwear will soon be the least of the group’s problems.
So, with a malfunctioning robot and an alien on the loose, Ava must come down to Earth and save us all from the horror. Being an alien and unable to breathe in Earth’s atmosphere Ava will actually stay in her ship and send down a human avatar imbued with her life force to do the job. When she meets up with the group of hikers they’re a little bit wary of the leather-clad female with Ke$ha-like autotune for a voice but after a little story and nearly killing one of them they’re all ready to jump on board and do their bit to save the world. They need to find where the Robotar’s (the robot that’s going to protect the world) pod landed so that they can go and fix it. Trust will become an issue since the Scythe can shape shift into anyone whose DNA it has come into contact with and there’s the small issue of humanity being a hopelessly technologically backwards species. Can the group come together to power up the machine and save the world or is Earth doomed to becoming a plastic alien’s new breeding ground?
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Giant explosions and fire balls in the sky are no cause for alarm.
- Women hike up to cabins just so they can complain that they want to go home.
- Some girls will sleep with a homeless guy just to make him feel better.
- Stilettos make less than desirable hiking boots.
- Sluts make superb bear hunters.
- Just because everyone else goes off to save someone doesn’t mean you can’t scarf down breakfast.
- Earthlings are highly insulted when they’re told that English is one of the simplest languages in the universe.
- It’s mankind’s fault that the Earth and the solar system only have one sun.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Nephilim: a great buzz word for many end of the world movies. Despite the presence of such an awesome buzz word, however, this movie turned out to be a load of pants. It would have been a highly amusing load of pants had it not quickly descended into confusing chaos overloaded with more scenes of people vomiting and having bouts of diarrhoea than would ever be necessary. In amongst all of that is the usual supply of poor acting and laughable special effects. Of course were Alien Armageddon not a complete pile of rubbish it wouldn’t form part of my 2012 End of the World Month survival guide, so you pick your battles 🙂
As often happens on days when people are out going about their daily lives an alien army invades Earth and promptly begins blowing all our major cities to hell and back. Given that they’ve come over in relatively sizeable spaceships how nobody saw them coming is anyone’s guess. After a day or so of general carnage and mayhem the (white) US president surrenders the whole of Earth to the invading Nephilim. They were nice enough to explain to him that the reason they blew everything up is because they want to rebuild society from scratch and give us all a much better life devoid of the problems humanity tends to inflict on itself. Again, how one man can surrender the entire planet to an alien force I don’t know but I guess it’s all a part of the movie’s greater plan. Having secured Earth’s surrender the Nephilim begin constructing permanent bases of operation for themselves in the major city centres to begin processing the humans living there.
At some point just after the occupation the Nephilim constructed an enormous wall right the way around Los Angeles (where most of the movie takes place). This wall serves to keep the people of Los Angeles from escaping and to stop anyone from the human resistance army from breaking in and getting up to any mischief. The resistance movement is a fragmented and ill prepared group of predominantly red-headed females but, for us, the most important is Jodie, a fierce red-head trying to reclaim Earth for humanity and find her missing daughter. The whole Nephilim ‘peace and love’ story soon falls apart for Jodie after she is captured and imprisoned in one of their laboratories. So far as prisons go this one isn’t really the worst; Jodie and her cell mates are fed and watered at regular intervals but the food seems to be making anyone who eats it incredibly ill. Outside their little cell there are also a few scientists doing a lot of DNA research for the Nephilim. Could there be a connection?
Of course there’s a perfectly sane and rational reason for all these things that are going on. In a move that may shock you to the core of your belief system the Nephilim did not, in fact, come in peace. They came because they were hungry. The Nephilim are actually native to Mars (again, how did we not see them?) and are running out of food (they’re cannibals). To that end they’ve come to Earth in search of a new food supply: us. The problem is that the Nephilim can only eat their own species so the scientists have been slipping drugs into the prisoners’ food that restructures their DNA to be like the Nephilim’s, thus making humans edible. See? Makes perfect sense. Jodie must now fight her way through force fields, never-ending gun fights and surprised looking aliens to try and rescue her daughter and avoid becoming lunch. Will she make it? After 20 minutes of this movie, you won’t really care.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- The word ‘princess’ is an insult to Jewish people.
- Hand guns can fire as rapidly as a machine gun.
- At the slightest sign of an invasion the American president will just surrender the planet.
- Aliens can be easily distracted with the words ‘hey sexy’.
- Alien food makes humans throw up shaving cream.
- Some of the strongest friendships are those forged between women who are part of an alien breeding programme.
- Humans are an excellent alien delicacy, provided you reconfigure their DNA just right.
- Jesus was known to personally visit aliens on Mars.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
What’s not to love about a good movie made for the SyFy Channel? They’re guaranteed to be b-grade, they’re guaranteed to be made on a low-budget and they’re guaranteed to be a good laugh. The Hive is no different; based around an island under attack by a swarm of man-eating ants the audience is subjected to an hour and a half’s worth of so-so acting, horrible CGI and a plot that’s so far-fetched I recommend it for nothing else other than the ‘No, they didn’t just do that!’ factor. Read on, dear reader, if you would like to know just how far the animal kingdom can be pushed by a company out to make a tremendously b-grade sci-fi / horror combo!
Something’s very wrong on a little island in the middle of the Pacific. One night, high up in the sky, a strange light was seen descending and disappearing behind a hill, and ever since then the ant population of the island has been going a little awry. It would appear that they are no longer content to simply invade the locals’ picnics and make off with whatever scraps are available to them – they’ve now got their sights on a much bigger prize. It all begins simply enough: one night, in the middle of the jungle, a woman is busy tidying her house while her baby gently rocks itself in a little hammock. Outside, the ants are preparing for their first attack. Hundreds of thousands of them descend on the house, making intricate structures on the roof by bunching together. Having gathered into formation they begin falling from the roof and, in a matter of seconds, devour the woman and her child and leave nothing but piles of bones and clothes. Soon most of the island’s population is on the run as the ants begin to spread out and attack entire communities, leaving nothing but death and destruction in their wake.
With the island on the brink of collapse it’s up to Team Thorax (I shit you not), a group of highly trained insect killers, to try and sort out the problem. They’ve come fully loaded: suits to stop the ants getting to them, high-powered ant-killing laser guns and a state-of-the-art communications centre to keep in touch with those brave souls out on patrol. All of these things are necessary since the ants are displaying incredibly aggressive behaviour, are swarming in never-before-seen numbers and have developed the ability to run at about 90 km/h. Where the ants plan on striking next is also proving to be very difficult to track and the combined forces of Team Thorax and the island’s military are being stretched rather thin trying to contain the outbreak. Oddly enough though nobody seems to think that millions of ants swarming together and eating people alive is particularly strange behaviour. Obviously Team Thorax has seen its fair share of ant-related atrocities in its time and this is really just another day at work for them.
Since eating every human in sight doesn’t seem to be impressing Team Thorax overly much the ants decide to go all-out and display even more bizarre behaviour in a desperate bid to get some attention. Firstly the humans discover, when they take a sample from the ants’ frontline, that the swarm is made up of a number of different species of ants, something very strange since ants usually attack ants of a different kind (racism is still very much an issue in the ant community). Nobody seems to think much of this, so the ants then start to mass together and form floating tentacles with all the ants at the front staring forward so that they can investigate their surroundings. The tentacles are also good at breaking things when the ants get angry. This doesn’t seem to impress Team Thorax either, so the ants decide to take the leader and his scientist girlfriend into their lair. Here we find that the ants have turned themselves into a computer (again, I shit you not) capable of controlling the swarm and assigning tasks to the various different ant species to ensure the optimum killing power of the swarm as a unit. The ants then begin to communicate with the humans, telling them what it is they want and why they’re doing what they’re doing. The humans must then decide if they’re going to give the ants what they want or declare all-out war.
See? Watch it for nothing other than the sheer ridiculousness of its plot. Even by SyFy standards this one was rather far-fetched.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- A great way to seduce a woman is to insult her field of expertise on national television.
- There’s an entire industry dedicated to making enormous weapons for killing ants.
- Speculating about mass intelligence in insect swarms is hardly mainstream science.
- Women hate it when you grossly overstate the purpose of their PhD thesis.
- Ants are incredibly eager hosts and want to show off the home they’ve created.
- Ants are open to entering into territorial negotiations.
- Ants are very knowledgeable on the workings of the human brain.
- Ants are very good at using humans as ventriloquist dummies.
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