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Tag Archive: post-apocalyptic science fiction


Review by C.J. Bunce

Using a meticulously designed new robot from Weta Workshop, the Australian science fiction movie I Am Mother has all the components of a good story steeped in the classic sci-fi of the 1950s.  It takes place on Earth after an apocalypse that could easily be interwoven into the Cyberdyne/Genisys destruction from the Terminator series, and has that futurism straight out of a Philip K. Dick short story.  What’s left are robots running everything, some on the surface, but one in particular inhabits what looks like a space station buried beneath the planet’s surface.  This robot is called Mother, voiced seamlessly by X-Men series co-star and Australian actor Rose Byrne.  She has preserved several of the last bits of humanity–embryos–in order to repopulate the species via rapid-growth technology.  The production, the design, the light-up props, and the pacing all create the right framework for a significant sci-fi film.  Unfortunately the story is single-threaded, building opportunities for subplots that get left ignored, much like January’s direct-to-Netflix sci-fi release Io.

The build-up is nicely rendered by first-time movie director and script writer Grant Sputore.  The common theme of this genre, as much sci-fi horror as merely sci-fi, is “things aren’t what they seem.”  Or maybe they are.  The audience sees Mother raise a single child from the bank of embryos stowed on the facility, a girl known simply as Daughter, played first by young Tahlia Sturzaker, then for the bulk of the movie by Clara Rugaard, both giving fine performances.  We believe the humans are long gone outside, until a woman arrives, played by two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Hilary Swank.  She’s been shot, and whether she was shot by humans or robots becomes a mystery for Daughter to solve.  Both Swank and Rugaard look so much alike, their likeness simply must be a plot point:  Are they related, and if so, how?  Sisters?  Clones?  Same hair color and length, eyes, bone structure.  Was Swank’s lost human a former captive in the underground bunker?  How many times has Mother created Daughters or Sons?  How many years from Armageddon is this story really happening?  It’s the answers–or lack thereof–to these questions, and the ultimate payoff Sputore delivers that doesn’t match the rest of the film.

Part of the legitimacy of the film as something more than mainstream popular sci-fi is the amazing body movement work of Luke Hawker acting inside the robot suit he helped design and build with the Weta team.  How rare is it that the designer of the tech is also the actor, who is featured in 90% of the scenes of the film?  The added surprise is this was not a CGI motion capture process, but a practical effect that had to be created with real-world materials.  There is some actual chemistry between Daughter and Mother, and Mother is a pretty great mother to see in action.  It’s like watching young Will Robinson interact with his Robot in Lost in Space.  Add to the believable robot the cold and lonely tenor of the film and you have something like New Zealand’s low budget 1985 sci-fi marvel The Quiet Earth.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The entire world stops, like something out of the 1980s sci-fi classic film The Quiet Earth, only this time all of the people are frozen in place, in an instant, wherever they stood or whatever they were doing.  But one computer technician was experiencing an electrical jolt as it happened, and he may be the only person on Earth who can unfreeze people back to normal.  That’s the set-up for the first issue of the new Image Comics/Top Cow series The Freeze.

This tale of an arriving apocalypse is not like the standard fare of the trope.  Those typical end of the world supernatural events you might find, fire and brimstone, nuclear devastation, zombie plagues, and the like, yield to a simple global event of unknown cause, a bit like the vanishing people at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.  Airplanes keep flying until they fall from the sky, cars smash into each other–it’s the opposite of The Day the Earth Stood Still, instead the day the people stood still.  The first issue introduces the main character, Ray, and those around him as he stumbles into one of them, and he learns his simple touch is enough to fully revive them one at a time.  Where can we go from there, since one man can’t literally touch everyone on the planet?

 

The Freeze is a creator-owned series from writer Dan Wickline (30 Days of Night) and artist Phillip Sevy (Tomb Raider).  The first issue provides a glimpse at the direction of the story, as Ray becomes the part of a squad that selectively is unfreezing individuals.  But for what purpose?

Take a look at this excerpt from Image/Top Cow:

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Creek Stewart balances the appeal, insight, intelligence, and demonstration skills of outdoorsmen like Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin in his Weather Channel series, SOS: How to Survive.  Much more than the typical reality show, Stewart takes viewers on a real outdoor how-to adventure in each hour of the series.  It’s like scouting for adults (and kids, too).  Eagle Scout, survival instructor, and author of more than six non-fiction survival guides, Stewart brings science into the survival discussion, often demonstrating in the simplest terms how anyone can get out of tough trials.  SOS: How to Survive is now in its second season on the Weather Channel with new episodes airing Sundays at 7 p.m. Central.

And it’s not just about life-saving measures.  Some of what you learn on the show may just help you get your car out of the mud in town, or get the fire going at your vacation spot when someone forgot to bring the matches.  For those fans of post-apocalypse science fiction, you’ll have more knowledge after watching a few episodes of the series to challenge the next plot of your favorite TV show.  Focusing on a real-life, true story tragedy including interviews with the survivors, Stewart demonstrates what was a success about the survival and what the victims could have done along the way that they didn’t think of to improve their circumstances.

Stewart has published more than a few survival guides, including pocket field guides to Survival Trees, Survival Knots, Survival Tarp Shelters, Mastering the Bow Drill, Wilderness Survival Drinks, Survival Food, and How to Survive Being Stranded in Your Vehicle Plus he’s created a book on Survival Hacks, 365 Essential Survival Skills, a how-to Survival Kit, and he even wrote The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.

Here is a preview of his series:

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Think fast, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon players–where can you find the lead actors of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica all in one film?

He is one of the top ten filmmakers of all time–Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, known for Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and much more, but Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is considered by many to be his masterwork.  It is a grand work that the film medium could not yet hope to transform into live action—a devastated world destroyed by atmospheric poisons, and barraged by gigantic insect beasts, sweeping cinematography, and a post-apocalyptic world layers and layers deep.  And from this arises a young woman named Nausicaä, princess of the Valley of the Wind.  Innocent and driven, can she piece back together what divides man and nature?

It’s a story of dangers and sacrifices, of epic scope, feuds between warring clans, a dying planet, and the forging of a new heroine.  A sci-fi adventure fantasy first released in Japan in 1984, Nausicaä’s story of protecting nature is a timeless tale.  Miyazaki adapted his own 1982 manga story for the screen, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year with so many other great science fiction works internationally.  The film stars the voice talents of Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Yoji Matsuda, Yoshiko Sakakibara, and Iemasa Kayumi in this month’s subtitled screenings, with English voice actors including Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Mark Hamill, Edward James Olmos, Shia LaBeouf, and Chris Sarandon in the dubbed screenings.

Frequently ranked as one of the greatest animated films of all time, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is being presented by Fathom Events in the States as part of Studio Ghibli Fest 2017.  Tickets are available now here at the Fathom Events website.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Old Man Logan is a 2017 theatrical release we previewed here at borg.com earlier this Fall.  Bryan Singer treated us to a sneak peek at this version of Logan aka Wolverine in this year’s hit superhero flick X-Men: Apocalypse.  If all you know about Logan is the nine films in which Hugh Jackman portrayed the on again/off again X-Men leader, then now is a great time to get caught up on the monthly comic book title that inspired the movie.

Old Man Logan is the second series to follow the exploits of Logan in a post-apocalypse setting–the first was written in the eight-issue Wolverine: Old Man Logan story arc collected here, and the second was published in 2015, collected here.  The current series, now on Issue #14, is available in three trade editions, with Issue #15 due out in comic book stores by year end.

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Old Man Logan may be the best work yet from well-known writer Jeff Lemire, artist Andrea Sorrentino, and color artist Marcelo Maiolo.  Lemire is known for his work on books from Animal Man to Green Arrow, and currently he also pens All-New Hawkeye, Extraordinary X-Men, and Moon Knight.  Lemire tells a tale of a distant future, one overrun by villains and a world without Wolverine to protect it, Logan is a farmer with a wife and kids, whose life is destroyed when the Hulk Gang kills his family.  But the twist is Logan finds himself back in future’s past, able to change the timeline and destroy all of those who one day will ruin his life.  This Logan is an Old West wanderer and drifter, who makes Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name pale in comparisonThis is Marvel’s answer to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns at last, a series gritty and dark and full of the kind of what-ifs readers are clamoring for.

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Barrens cosplay cover

Project-Nerd Publishing’s new series Barrens spread like wildfire last weekend at its debut at Kansas City’s Planet Comicon.  The regular first issue of the series is still available at the publisher’s website (and we hope they get it into your local comic book store soon) but the variant cosplay cover featuring series lead character Esme Ford has already sold out.  So order your copy of the regular edition here before it sells out, too.

We previewed Barrens here at borg.com last year.  The creative team of writer CW Cooke (Solitary) and Bryan Timmins (The Monster King) knocked the first chapter of the series out of the park.  If you liked the Mad Max series, Steve Niles and Kevin Mellon’s American Muscle, Tank Girl, The Postman, or A Boy and his Dog, you’ll want to get in at the beginning of the series.

Barrens panel

Somewhere in post-apocalyptic America there’s a job needing carried out.  And when you have a job in the Barrens requiring some leverage you hire Esme Ford and her ragtag gang who probably has been working together too long.  Ford has a past she’s not sharing, and when she encounters another gang who is just a bit tougher, will they let her keep going on her mission?  And who hired her anyway?

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Colony USA Network

A new TV series is coming to USA Network this Fall that looks very similar to the claustrophobic, post-apocalypse Wayward Pines, but without all the Pacific Northwest charm.  Colony, previewed last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con is a look at a family trying to escape from Los Angeles when the future of America goes bad.

Call it dystopian, call it post-apocalyptic, it also looks to pull from past science fiction themes found in Alien Nation, Haven, Red Dawn, Wicker Man, and Under the Dome.  Oh, yeah, and Lost.  And speaking of Lost, the draw for many will be star Josh Holloway, known for his role as Sawyer on Lost and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Colony clip

Another actor co-starring in Colony is The Lost Room and House, M.D.’s Peter Jacobson, who looks particularly good as the apparent puppetmaster of the show.

Here is the trailer released at Comic-Con for USA Network’s Colony:

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WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

I just finished my third book written by Cormac McCarthy.  The first was Blood Meridian, the second was No Country for Old Men, and the third was The Road.  Reading McCarthy is unlike any other literary journey I’ve taken.  What will I remember from reading The Road?  Bleakness.  Emptiness.  How man can become a monster.  Not that different from the others I suppose, but it led me to a question – where does hope come from?

In all fantasy, science fiction and apocalyptic tales generally a hero emerges.  A man or a being similar to man steps to the fore and as a reader I can pin my hopes upon him (or rarely her as even coming up with female sidekicks was a chore in the series that popped off the top of my mind.  Amy Pond.  Leia.  Gamora.  Uhura.)  Superman.  Wonder Woman.  The Doctor.  Sheriff Rick Grimes.  Tasslehoff Burrfoot (or the more heroic but less fun Tanis Half-Elven.)  Frodo Baggins.  Luke Skywalker.  Rick Deckard.  Groot.  Mr. Spock.

Through these characters and many more like them we can find the possibility of averting crises.  We can see a proverbial light at the end of the darkening and constricting tunnel.  Survival, though bleak, has a chance.

Movie clip The Road

I think McCarthy likes to explore the world where there are no heroes.  There is only survival and to survive, horrendous choices must be made because after the apocalypse, scarcity rules.  A person cannot go back in time.  A person cannot till the earth by himself, trying to bring non-irradiated soil to the surface.  A ring, a starship, a building or an artifact cannot be destroyed through the hero’s quest.  There is only the earth.  There are only Homo sapiens.  If something happens, powerful heroes won’t emerge, instead it will just be the basest urges within us all that come forth.

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