Tremors 5: Bloodlines

There are very few film franchises that can go for 25 years, spanning 5 movies and a tv series, all while remaining fresh. Tremors is one of the few that has accomplished this. Their secret formula = Burt Gummer.

If you don't know who Burt Gummer is, he is the incarnation of what the rest of the world thinks Americans are. Gun toting, survivalist, right wing, nut jobs. But somehow, it's impossible not to love Burt. Just in case you're new to the franchise, I have included essential viewing from the first Tremors film to illustrate this point.

It seems like more and more movies are losing their sense of humor and are beginning to take themselves too seriously. That is what makes Tremors 5 a breath of fresh air. It is balls to the wall, tongue in cheek fun... just like the original. This film doesn't try to recreate the original film, it just takes the absurd backdrop and tells a slightly different story. There's even something for us a film nerds in the form of allusions to films like Jurassic Park, Die Hard and Alien 3. If we boil it down to one idea, this is what action films in 80's would have been if they had CGI from 2015.

This is a super short Friday Night Action Movie Book Club, but the part that I want to dive deeper into would be a spoiler, and I don't want to do that. So I'll leave it there. You can find this movie on netflix, and I highly recommend it if you've watched and enjoyed any previous tremors films. I should also note that other than the film Scream, this is my favorite Jamie Kennedy role. 

The Martian

Ladies and Gentleman. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh mai gawd! If you have been hiding under a rock and don't know what The Martian is, let me tell you. It is a movie (and a book) about an astronaut that gets left behind on mars, who has to survive until he can find a way to get rescued. Unlucky for Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon), this planet is dangerous, and one wrong step can kill him.

Matt Damon really shines in this film. He perfectly embodies the Mark Watney we know and love from the book. He is a funny, sarcastic, and scared Botanist that is put in a horrible situation. However, at no point does the deadpan of Watney take you out of the story; you realize that his constant joking is his way of fighting off the crippling realization that "i'll probably die here". The remainder of the large cast did an amazing job as well, but my personal favorite was Donald Glover's portrayal of Rich Purnell. 

When I wasn't laughing at Watney, I forgot that I was even in a movie theater. That is because the cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. There have been plenty of films set on Mars but none have made you feel like you're there; until now. 

The real story of this film is not on Mars, it's on Earth. We see the entire world forget about it's wars, and hatred for one another. We see Humans all across this planet converge and work together on a single problem (in this case, save Mark Watney's ass). It shows what we could accomplish as a species if we all had a common goal. I think that's what we should take away from this film. 

Overall, this film was a great achievement that I would recommend to anyone. It's also a very refreshing take on sci-fi where there aren't anti-matter Rays, dark matter drives, or alpha centaurians invading. There is still the subtextual social commentary for those pretentious viewers like me. 

Now go watch The Martian, and/or Buy the Book: Buy it on Amazon

The Net

Today is Friday, and that means Friday Night Action Movie Book Club. I want to talk about 1995 classic THE NET. I know that the majority of you are probably thinking that this film will suck, but you're wrong. This movie is great.

Before we discuss it at the pretentious level, allow me to sell you based solely on one persons involvement. The producer/director of The Net is Irwin Winkler. This guy also produced Rocky, Raging Bull, The Right Stuff, Good Fellas, The Mechanic, Wolf of Wallstreet...Basically, this guy knows what he's doing. Now that I've sold you on the film, let's do this.

The Net tells the story of "a computer programmer who stumbles upon a conspiracy, putting her life and the lives of those around her in great danger" (imdb.com). Surprisingly, I think that this movie holds up rather well 20 years after it's release. That's because this isn't a story about what the internet was capable of in 1995, it focusses on much larger ideas. So let's go ahead and break it down into three overarching Ideas that I believe the film really focusses on. 

First. The Net plays off the fear that we will slowly lose our privacy as our information is transferred to a digital space. Sure, this film downplays the complexities of hacking and accessing peoples encrypted files. But the technical aspect of hacking is not what the film is trying to bring to light. It's showing that people don't think that there is any problem with the digitization of sensitive information. Society is lured into a false sense of security by a companies promise, when all it takes to gain access to your information is a single person or group exploiting a single flaw in security. 

Second. Around this time in the 90's, Americans trust of the government was at the lowest point since 1958 (people-press.org). This led to an increased interest in conspiracy theories. The overarching story of this film is that of a conspiracy theory regarding infiltration and manipulation of the government by a large corporation. Over the last 5 years, the trust of the US government has reached points very similar to those during 1995. This could be another reason that I think this film holds up...we still don't trust our government and we feel like there are corporate puppets pulling their strings.

Lastly, I think that the majority of this film is an analogy for Alzheimers. This may seem like a stretch, but let me explain. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Sandra Bullock's mother who has Alzheimers. When we see Sandra's first visit, her mother does not recognize who Sandy B is. Later in the film, Sandra Bullock is put in a very similar situation where she is completely disconnected from the world around her. She is unable to tell if what is happening is real, or if she has had a mental break. The comparison between what Sandra Bullock is going through and what her mother is going through with Alzheimers is uncanny, and it illustrates the frustration that someone with Alzheimers might feel...trapped in a situation that is out of your control, constantly being told you're someone else, unable to understand what is happening...it must be truly horrifying.

I know what you're thinking; you've over analyzed the movie. Well maybe you're right, and to remove that judgement from your mind, here's a gem for you: when you're watching this film, wait for the ADR scream around 1:48:00. You're welcome. I do recommend watching this movie if you haven't seen it yet. Just remember to have fun while watching it and also remember that it was made 20 years ago.

Buy it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PzWsg8