Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg, 2002

I think Minority Report may just be the most interesting science fiction film Steven Spielberg has ever made. I know that's a bold statement to make about someone whose career includes Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, but there's one thing I think Minority Report has going for it that the other three lack: futurism. That trio may be better films as a whole, but as science fiction, MR goes beyond the call of duty to create a pervasive and plausible future world to counteract its incredible premise of psychics who predict when murders are going to happen.

The tech Spielberg and his team of futurists came up with back in 2002 is, for the most part, all on the horizon. E-ink displays, retinal scans, targeted ads, and interactive, gesture-based displays are all brilliantly integrated into the world of 2054. The jetpacks and fully-automated, vertical highways may be a little far fetched at this point, but they're certainly concepts that corporations and R&D think tanks are currently trying to crack. As for the movie beyond the futurism...I'm still a big fan. I think it's got a great premise and it's one of Tom Cruise's more interesting roles from that stage in his career. The narrative is a little slow in some spots, but at least there's always something to look at.

Superman Returns, directed by Bryan Singer, 2006

I think I'm in an increasingly small group of people who actually love Superman Returns (I once had a brief chat with one of the film's writers, who responded to my praise for the movie by saying, "at least one of us likes it."). I understand people's complaints about it (it's too long, it's too reminiscent of the previous films), but the only one that I begin to agree with are the complaints about Lex Luthor. Kevin Spacey is great in the role, no doubt, but the role itself is kind of a boring one. Luthor isn't very menacing and his world-changing terrorist plot is all kinds of stupid. Yet even though I'd rather have seen some kind of other villain for Superman to fight, Luthor isn't bad enough to make me dislike the film.

I think it's a great looking movie, I think the acting and casting all around is top notch, and all of the major action scenes are incredibly memorable. Plus, it's just a classy film from beginning to end. I know that 'classy' is a somewhat indefinable term, but that's really the best way I can describe it.

Dragonball Evolution
, directed by James Wong, 2009

James Wong needs to stay out of the directing business. The projects he writes and/or produces are all fine, but the man hasn't directed a solid film since The Final Destination. Yes, I'm a little older than the target demographic of a Dragonball movie, but even if I were a 13 year old boy again, I'd still be able to tell you that every single take of Justin Chatwin screams "I wish I hadn't signed up for this movie." I'm not a particularly big fan of Chatwin's to begin with, but either he is a worse actor than I previously thought or he just wants to be done with the movie as soon as possible.

Even actors I do like are just going through the motions here. James Marsters and Chow Yun-Fat are asked to play everything over-the-top instead of really making their roles their own. Surprisingly the only one in the cast who looks like they're enjoying what they're doing in this CGI-laden eye roller is Emmy Rossum. If you've got plenty of libations on hand, Dragonball Evolution makes for a fine, funny afternoon with friends. But considering I doubt the drinking game crowd is who this movie was designed for, I'm not exactly inclined to consider that a compliment.
categories Features, Reviews, Sci-Fi