WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
If I’m being totally honest, after AE: Apocalypse Earth, I was feeling a little fragile. My inner sci-fi geek can take a lot, but that movie gave me a fair beating. Nevertheless, I’m not one to turn down an epic mockbuster, and Atlantic Rim was just too great an opportunity to pass up. So, with Tropical Mary, Stygian Mole, The Occult Specialist, and our new friend Ms Misery in attendance, we sat down to watch this movie. My my my my my. I don’t know anything about Pacific Rim, so this movie had to sell me with only what it had to offer. What might that be, you ask? Well, it has the usual terrible CGI, atrocious acting and cheap sets that one would expect from an Asylum production, but it also has some of the most ADD-ridden editing I’ve ever seen in a film. I know it’s sci-fi, but good God not everything can teleport that quickly! Needless to say, though, this movie is a ton of fun, although I would recommend watching it on the tail-end of a movie night so you have the benefit of mild delirium to cover up some of its not-so-great moments.
Deep at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean lurks one of mankind’s greatest threats: giant amphibious dinosaurs with backwards knees! No seriously, how these things can walk is a marvel in itself. No one knows where they’ve come from or how they’ve managed to survive down there for so long without any of us noticing, but they’re about to start wreaking all kinds of havoc. The first sign of their existence that we experience is when one of them, with no provocation and unknown intent, leaps up from the sea floor to destroy an oil rig. Apart from a quick and somewhat greasy lunch we don’t know why they are suddenly deciding to attack now, and no one back on land knows what happened to the oil rig / ate its crew, so it’s up to the military to fall back on some half-baked, untested battle plan to solve this maritime mystery.
The plan? Send 3 gigantic robots worth $500 billion down to the ocean floor to see where the hell the oil rig went and what the hell may have dragged it down there. These robots will be piloted by the best pilots the program’s remaining $15 worth of budget could find. Decked out in what appear to be wetsuits held together by pieces of coloured duct tape, White Douche, Token Black Guy (aka TYREESE!) and Generic Blonde descend to the bottom of the Atlantic to check things out. The mission is plagued with problems – the control room in the bots becomes sweltering after descending more than 3 feet into the ocean, they’re controlled using what appears to be joysticks from old arcade machines, and they tend to shut down at random (this, for some reason, also sucks all of the available oxygen out of the robot’s interior), so it’s all rather slow going. Oh yeah, and there’s that giant monster floating in the background trying to eat them.
The violence quickly escalates from this point – the monster appears on land, we’re treated to half-a-dozen shots of the monster looped and mirrored maybe 20 times, and suddenly there are dead people everywhere. Why? We’re not really sure. Now, it becomes obvious that the American Government can’t just allow these beasts to run around Manhattan, but the team’s divided. Admiral Hadley, the head of some-or-other division, throws his full support behind the robots. The opposing faction, headed up by a man with an eye-patch whose speech patterns clearly indicate that he has recently recovered from a stroke, proposes nuking the monsters (although the word, when he says it, ranges anywhere from ‘puke the monsters’ to ‘fluke the monsters’). With these two factions at war, Generic Blonde and TYREESE! being innately useless, White Douche being super douchey, and the robots themselves leaving a bit to be desired, does mankind really stand a chance against these backward-kneed behemoths? Watch and be completely whelmed by the whole experience!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- It is possible for oil rigs to become dislodged from their bases, float around in the ocean, and crash into Iraq.
- You should always wear self-tan to a review board meeting.
- The best mankind-protecting-robot is one that’s commanded by someone with a lot of experience in Tae Bo.
- Every secret military base should be equipped with at least 100 horns.
- The more squint the monster, the greater the threat it poses to us all.
- No matter what the emergency, a woman’s eye-shadow should always be unfaltering.
- Nothing says ‘time for a drink’ more than blowing up $500 billion worth of military equipment.
ATLANTIC RIM TRAILER
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.
AE: APOCALYPSE EARTH TRAILER
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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.
ABSOLUTE ZERO TRAILER
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
When I’m alone and life is making me lonely I know I can always go – to the DVD cupboard and rake through it long enough until I find a movie by The Asylum. I’d had a rough day and I knew that only a movie with implausible disasters and highly questionable science would do the trick, and so far as those two things go Super Cyclone is a major winner. It’s so implausible and questionable, in fact, that I didn’t even believe the opening credits. Plus it has Dylan Vox in it, and wherever that man goes absolute cheese is sure to follow. I’m going to try and explain this bizarre series of events to you, but I recommend getting yourselves a copy and watching it yourselves – this one’s good for a few dozen laughs.
OK, so, the movie goes a little something like this. We start off on an oil rig where the men are out going about their day as usual. They’re about to tap into a rather large oil deposit which, given the current economic climate, is going to mean good business all round. During the survey of the area, however, nobody seemed to notice the GIANT magma pocket located just next to the oil, and the rig drills into it. This sudden release of pressure creates a super volcano that begins to erupt under the ocean, as well as taking out a series of small islands. Despite the fact that the rig is clearly floating, it also starts to leak into the structure but without causing any serious damage or threat to the people on board.
This erupting super volcano begins to cause a number of problems. First of all, it starts to make the ocean boil. No really – the ocean is bubbling like a kettle. This, in turn, creates a massive cyclone above the rig that’s roughly the size of the entire continent of North America, and it’s (very) gradually making its way towards land. Now this cyclone is particularly dangerous because it’s also creating freak lightning storms, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. The other problem comes in with the oil reserve – the oil begins to mix with the lava, gets sucked up into the cyclone and suddenly the whole storm (and subsequently the sky) are on fire.
Thankfully Dr Jenna Sparks is on the case. She’s Asian and uses phrases like “We may be able to use my nanotechnology research to stop the storm!”, so you know she’s gonna be able to save us all. Of course, before she can save us all she has to get herself to a safe location, which is tricky in amongst the general looting, angry black hillbillies with guns, and minor catastrophic flooding. Her first plan to save mankind involves taking one tiny plane with a suicidal pilot, flying it into the eye of the cyclone and seeding it. This will stop the storm and, through some mysteries of science, also plug the volcano. When that fails she’ll have to resort to a more daring plan of that involves a navy destroyer, some good sailing, and a tanker of liquid nitrogen. Then, and only then, will she be able to call herself Earth’s saviour and begin dating one of the daring young men that assisted her in this endeavour.
Note to self: when you win the lottery, donate an actual helicopter to The Asylum so they don’t need to keep CGing them in. It just looks silly when people are meant to look like they’re being blown by the wind from the propellers and the helicopter hasn’t been edited in anywhere near them.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation cures people with serious burn wounds.
- ‘Hold it together’ literally means grabbing onto a plank of wood and trying to stop an oil rig from falling apart.
- Warm water and moist air are the real Devil’s playground.
- Every movie needs a crew member to act as the designated hay thrower.
- Performing minor surgery in a ship’s kitchen in no way compromises minimum hygiene standards.
- Clean shirts are the signature look of a man with a college education.
- The oceans in the tropics are known to boil from time to time.
- Modern ships and cars are designed to withstand being picked up and dropped by enormous tornadoes.
- After being adrift in near-boiling water for 5 hours what you really want is to be covered with a blanket.
SUPER CYCLONE TRAILER
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
So, it had been a while since I last watched a good, old-fashioned end of the world movie. Since I promised the people at Syfy that I’d watch one of their movies to thank them for the upcoming Aladdin and the Death Lamp and Pegasus VS Chimera (a Tweet to which I got no response 😦 ), I decided to take a shot on Collision Earth. The result? WOW! Just WOW! I love me some questionable science in a disaster movie, but this little baby took it to hitherto unknown levels. I will try my best to demonstrate the lunacy that was this movie throughout my review, but should you ever feel the need to watch the most horrifying attempts at astronomy in a movie at some point in the future, make sure you have a copy of this on stand by for when the moment takes you.
The year is 2011 and mankind is about to take its first steps on the planet Mercury. Why Mercury of all planets remained a mystery to me since it’s not really anything other than a hot Moon, but I decided to run with it and see where the movie wanted to take me. Onboard the spaceship are three people: Veronica, a jack-of-all-space-trades and master of the universe, and two people who don’t matter cause they die relatively early on. These three will never have the honour of being the first humans on Mercury because, just as they arrive at the planet, the Sun sends out a giant solar flare that blasts the ship and the smallest planet in the solar system. This blast leaves the Asian contingent of the space mission dead and the ship in a bit of a bruised state, but that’s gonna be the least of their worries in a minute.
You see, it wasn’t actually a solar flare. For a very brief second the Sun transformed from a normal star into a magnetar. The flare was actually a burst of magnetic radiation that not only knocked Mercury out of its orbit, but also magnetised the entire planet. Since Earth has a strong magnetic field, it begins to draw Mercury towards it, setting us up for a series of catastrophic and preposterous events. Now, to digress for a moment, I would like to address the moment when people realise that Mercury is on the move. Rogue astronomer James, upon noticing that Mercury isn’t where it was a few hours ago, shouts out “A planet doesn’t just move”.
Upon hearing this I actually paused the movie to fight with the TV. Why? Because planets do move, and they move in a number of different ways. They’re rotating on their own axes all the time. While they’re doing that they’re rotating around the sun. The gods were merciful by not placing us in a binary star system, because I don’t think I’d have the energy to school the movie on how that works as well. I never thought I’d live to see the day where I heard dialogue like that, but here we are. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, as you can well imagine, the government is in no way capable of protecting us from Mercury’s collision, and it will fall to James to find a way to save us all. He will be aided by two college students with a pirate radio capable of sending messages to Mercury, an agoraphobic and socially awkward scientist side-kick, his wife, who is busy flying around Mercury, and a weaponised asteroid built for just such an occassion. Interspersed amongst all of these characters will be even more scientific fallacies, some jaw-dropping CG and some recycled footage from Ice Twisters. Enjoy!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Judging from the controls, flying a spaceship isn’t overly different to playing an Xbox.
- Spaceships are so fast they can outrun solar flares.
- Despite it being a complete vacuum, fires regularly occur in space.
- Only YOU can help save the Earth from a meteor collision.
- The sun is fully capable of changing the kind of star it is and then switching right back again.
- A car can protect you from a high-speed, interstellar meteor shower.
- Astronomers are utterly astonished when planets move in space.
- Astronauts are trained to sling shot space ships around magnetised planets, just in case the situation ever calls for it.
- Power surges make the same sound as old dial-up modems.
- Our solar system is just crammed to capacity with weaponised asteroids.
- They don’t teach you how to tie people up in astronomy school.
- No security convoy can match the strength of an Asian woman with a tyre iron.