The Time Machine (2002) There was no reason not to do a new version of HG Wells’ classic – underwhelming as it was, Spielberg’s War of the Worlds remake a few years later would bring in big bucks – but it absolutely needed to be better than this. To some degree, John Logan was correct to identify that the bare-bones plot needed embellishing if it was to stand out from the innumerable variations since, but he unfortunately went about it in a largely uninspired manner. And then, on top of that, we have Wells’ actual grandson (Simon) helming, making
The Time Machine (1960) Perhaps having a weekly time-travel TV show readily available was the root of finding The Time Machine merely so-so when I first saw it. I can’t say I was that blown away by the source novella either; in all honesty, Stephen Baxter’s officially-authorised centenary sequel The Time Ships was more impressive, probably because we’ve all been spoiled with increasingly intricate, multiversular explorations of the concept since 1895. HG Wells’ first temporal stirrings now seem rather quaint and rudimentary. Revisiting George Pal’s picture is rewarding in one sense, then, as it’s much more serviceable than I
“I am Ra.” And so it goes. The Law of One channellings, as the Ra Material is also known in its more approved & published form, counts as one of the foremost in the pantheon of wisdom delivered via such entranced means. A discourse from a sixth-density “social memory complex” ET intelligence (originating from Venus), the material’s baseline teaching revolves around said Law (“You are every thing, every being, every emotion, every event, every situation. You are unity. You are infinity. You are love/light, light/love. You are”). As explained by Ra, the Law of One “blinks neither at the light
Science, or science-fiction in many cases, as much of what we’re told is bunkum, even as those who tell it thumb a superior nose at the alt- or unproven (by their weights and measures) field, is perhaps the most fertile “authoritative” ground for the obfuscation of the truth. Well, that and official history. It sells us ideas as germs, whether or not they have any substance, in order to perforate an already prescribed paradigm – are we living in a simulation? Is the multiverse real? – while submerging us in inconceivable quantities of nonsense, both in terms of our physical
Kubrick Ranked Worst to Best Ah, Stanley. The man whose greatest directorial work – or at least, most paradigm-influencing – is yet to be granted formal recognition. But enough about the Moon landings. Kubrick has been analysed like no other, both for his unparalleled martialling of cinematic language and for the seemingly endless variations of esoteric nutrition his work conceals. What he was saying does not, necessarily, present a unified vision, however. Express (and hidden) intent, perhaps, but at some point – it seems during the decade following his Apollo 11 mission – he recanted the dark side and
Christopher Nolan Ranked Worst to Best The Nolan-verse is about as rarefied as one gets in the blockbuster realm: chilly, cerebral storytelling enlivened by more populist approaches to scale and subject matter. The results have, on occasion, scored a resounding bullseye, on others exposed the separate components in rather unforgiving fashion. What endures, however, is a director in demand, one who may have peaked with the public a decade ago but can be relied upon to avoid the easy route. Which means he may yet engender a burst of event-appeal glory again, and in so doing give the MCUs
The Fourth Protocol (1987) Sir Michael served well as a good, performative little cold warrior, even if his vehicles for the cause invariably met with a tepid response, post-60s. By the time The Fourth Protocol limped round, he was best known for picking movies based on the pricing of holiday homes, any aspirations to great reward (an Oscar) or cause being strictly incidental. Indeed, that a movie on East-West divisions should become a big hit a few years later (starring another stalwart of selling the Cold War during its ’60s heyday) – The Hunt for Red October – was
The current affairs aspect of the Q&A hasn’t been a primary focus, mostly because, once the primary signifier that the White Hats won has been checked off, much of the rest is gravy. And also because there is so much information, speculation and theory out there, most of us probably have at least a general gist of the terrain (royals = bad/ satanic/ possibly reptilian/dead, celebs = addicted to adrenochrome/ cloned/ dead/ inverted/ satanic), even if the specific details tend to leap about rather. Given the level of current scuttle, then, much of this is likely just confirming what you
99.386 percent of the population wouldn’t believe this conversation, and the rest are working for us.
Thirty-Minute Theatre: The News-Benders (1968) I’m late to the party for this one – 54 years, to be precise – as it’s had something of a rediscovery, riding on the crest of the plandemic wave. The News-Benders’ insights into the manufacture – the penning of the preordained script – of the news are all there in its densely packed 28 minutes.The only question arising would be whether it represents a quite shockingly blatant disclosure of method – as many understandably assume, given how accurately it reflects the current state of the conspirasphere – or simply trenchant satire. Such is the nature
Fat Man and Little Boy aka Shadow Makers (1989) The Manhattan Project is currently Hollywood currency once more, on account of a highly-prized – by bidding studios – Chris Nolan project that hopes it will be a goldmine simply based on the director’s past credits. Not, perhaps, an outrageous assumption, but studios would have been wise to look to Dunkirk’s performance and then halve it when agreeing to the budget. On the face of it, Oppenheimer’s a prestige Oscar-grab by Nolan, one that sees him once again scouting the terrain of perception and reality as he reinforces the dominant paradigm. If
The X-Files 5.1: Redux Looking back at season opener Redux now, it’s scarcely believable this was The X-Files at the peak of its popularity. The myth arc isn’t merely running on fumes, it’s being serviced in a manner that borders on (unintentional, alas) self-parody. The saddest part of this is that – although my response at the time was that they should just quit horsing around and cut to the chase – the series during this phase was coming closest to the smoke-and-mirrors truth of how the conspirasphere operates. At any rate, Redux is quite astonishing for the absurd degree to which Chris Carter employs
Moonfall (2022) For a while there, it looked as if Moonfall, the latest and least-welcomed – so it seems – piece of apocalyptic programming from Roland Emmerich, might be sending mixed messages. Fortunately, we need not have feared, as it turns out to be the same pedigree of disaster porn we’ve come to expect from the director, one of the Elite’s most dutiful mass-entertainment stooges, even if his lustre has rather dimmed since the glory days of 2012. Brian: The Moon must survive. Everything depends on it. We’re part of an intergalactic war that’s been going on for millions of years.
Don’t Look Up (2021) It’s testament to Don’t Look Up’s “quality” that critics who would normally lap up this kind of liberal-causes messaging couldn’t find it within themselves to grant it a free pass. Adam McKay has attempted to refashion himself as a satirist since jettisoning former collaborator Will Ferrell, but as a Hollywood player and an inevitably socio-politically partisan one, he simply falls in line with the most obvious, fatuous propagandising. Kate Dibiasky: You guys, the truth is way more disturbing. They’re not even smart enough to be as evil as you’re giving them credit for. Six years ago, McKay
The X-Files 3.16: Apocrypha The unsettling feeling washed over me – a little like black goo itself – during this two-parter that my recollection of the series’ central arc being pretty solid until at least Season Five may have been remiss. Did it all actually fall apart during Season Three? Together, Piper Maru and Apocrypha are easily the least compelling instalments of the arc plot thus far. They aren’t bad so much as desperately underwhelming and uninspired. Apocrypha finds a possessed Alex Krycek pursuing his oily home (a UFO in an abandoned missile silo in North Dakota); his spewing gloop from his (visible)
The Mouse on the Moon (1963) Amiable sequel to an amiably underpowered original. And that, despite the presence of frequent powerhouse Peter Sellers in three roles. This time, he’s conspicuously absent and replaced actually or effectively by Margaret Rutherford, Ron Moody and Bernard Cribbins. All of whom are absolutely funny, but the real pep that makes The Mouse on the Moon an improvement on The Mouse that Roared is a frequently sharp-ish Michael Pertwee screenplay and a more energetic approach from director Richard Lester (making his feature debut-ish, if you choose to discount jazz festival performer parade It’s Trad, Dad!) Bracewell: We are the joint
Crack in the World (1965) Inconceivably, Time Out’s review of Crack in the World attempted to convince the wayward viewer that it was “Infinitely better than the appalling The Day the Earth Caught Fire”. There can be no doubt David Pirie was smoking something potently bamboozling when he came up with that deranged view. Which is not to suggest that Crack in the World is bad per se – as a nipper it had me fretting like nobody’s business over its depicted eventuality – but that The Day the Earth Caught Fire is a bona fide, sweaty mood-piece masterpiece. There are undoubted conceptual similarities between the two
Reign of Fire (2002) There was good reason to believe Rob Bowman would make a successful transition from top-notch TV director to top-notch film one. He had, after all, attracted attention and plaudits for Star Trek: The Next Generation and become such an integral part of The X-Files that he was trusted with the 1998 leap to the big screen. That movie wasn’t the hit it might have been – I suspect because, such was Chris Carter’s inability to hone a coherent arc, it continued to hedge its bets – but Bowman showed he had the goods. And then came Reign of Fire.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Well Patty and Gal brought their undiluted vision for Wonder Woman to the screen… and suddenly the Snyderverse doesn’t look quite so bad after all. No, that’s an exaggeration, but the fact remains that Wonder Woman 1984 is every bit as flawed as anything arrested-development Zach has delivered to DC. Just considerably less grimdark. On the flip side, moments of curdling sentimentality in this sequel will have you longing for the balm of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s relentlessly portentous foreboding. There are quite a few things to enjoy in Wonder Woman 1984, but they’re almost all on display during
Never Say Never Again (1983) There are plenty of sub-par Bonds in the official (Eon) franchise, several of them even weaker than this opportunistic remake of Thunderball, but they do still feel like Bond movies. Never Say Never Again, despite – or possibly because he’s part of it – featuring the much-vaunted, title-referencing return of the Sean Connery to the lead role, only ever feels like a cheap imitation. And yet, reputedly, it cost more than the same year’s Rog outing Octopussy. I won’t rehearse all the rights issues involving Kevin McClory, who ran with a remake for an age before getting it into production
They’ve shifted the tilt of the Earth. The stupid, crazy, irresponsible bastards. They’ve finally done it.
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) One of the all-time-great science-fiction films. It isn’t so much the specifics of the end-of-the-world premise, the science of which is easy to tear apart, or the heightened dialogue – someone in the accompanying documentary on the Blu-ray release had the temerity to suggest it’s a bad thing – that make it sing. Rather, it’s the manner in which the unfolding events are treated as real and immediate, the way mundane life continues apace as a horror overtakes the everyday. The Day the Earth Caught Fire still packs a punch. Going by BBC Genome, I suspect
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) A Terminator 3 was as inevitable as Arnold’s waning career. He was never going to stick to his pledge not to do a third without James Cameron (who had already made one too many, even if the second cemented his bankability and gave him a lavish box of effects tricks to play with). The ’90s saw a steady downward career trend, not reversed by a second of the decade’s collaborations with Cameron and being sent to da coola in the debacle that was Batman and Robin. By the time Rise of the Machines arrived, Arnie was barely scraping
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) The best thing about the generally crappy G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra was the subplot involving the infiltration of the Whitehouse. It gave Jonathan Pryce, never one for underplaying, a chance to take centre stage. It was also one of the few parts of the movie that didn’t encourage Stephen Sommers to bounce off the walls like the ADD, taste-free scourge of cinema he is. So it’s welcome news that the sequel continues with that thread. And, with John M Chu at the helm, it’s certainly better assembled than the first movie. But it says