The Poli-Sci of Sci-Fi

A genre of film that has been dismissed for decades by parents as silly futuristic nonsense is science fiction.  Many artists know a simple way to discuss taboo subjects of any nature is to weave them into a fictional story.  It is said that the Grimm Fairy Tales were used to help unify Austria.  How you might ask?  By telling the same stories to the same generation of children helped create a basis for a familiar culture, which that group could identify with.  George Orwell witnessed the rise of Communism after WWII.  His book 1984 paints a dark (yet sadly accurate) future of government control and violence forcing both physical and mental submission of the individual.  The 1950’s was awash with cold war era fears and artists used science fiction as a vehicle to exploit the public’s’ anxieties, with movies such as The Day The Earth Stood Still, Fail Safe, The Thing From Another Planet, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

After the turmoil of the 1960’s audiences looked to the hero’s journey in space with the infamous Star Wars franchise.  A long space opera weaving the rise and fall of the German National Socialist Party (A.K.A. Nazis Party) into its backdrop.  In fact the final scene of Star Wars was a shot for shot remake of a famous Nazis propaganda film Triumph of The Will. You can read more on this here http://www.swifteconomics.com/2010/11/11/star-wars-fascism/

Through the 1980’s to the present sci-fi fans have been over saturated with anti-capitalist, anti-corporation, pro Marxist themes.  It started with smaller subversive suggestions and has evolved to blatant implementation of political theory.  The landmark sci-fi film Alien portrays a blue collar group of minors who encounter a vicious alien.  Once the corporation that employs said miners realizes the possible value of the alien specimen they are quick to sacrifice their employees in order to obtain the alien.  The “evil” corporation theme is constant through the entire Alien franchise, portraying any capitalist as bloodthirsty and willing sacrifice anyone in order to make a buck.  The Robocop franchise attempts to tie in “evil” corporations with National Socialist politics, using Nazis Party imagery and having the poor being forced out of Detroit.  A city which has been bankrupted not by capitalists, but by socialist/Marxist ideology in real life.  Nevertheless filmmakers paint the capitalist as the antagonist.  In recent years this anti-corporate/anti-capitalist theme intensified with the Resident Evil franchise and Avatar.

Today Sci-fi has pushed beyond simple underlying themes to the realm of political propaganda.  The political theory of Vladimir Lenin is this “the belief in the necessity of a violent overthrow of capitalism through communist revolution, to be followed by a dictatorship of the proletariat (working class) as the first stage of moving towards communism, and the need for a vanguard party to lead the proletariat in this effort—developed into Marxism–Leninism, a highly influential ideology.”  That being said what are the major concepts of Elysium, In TIme, Snowpiercer, The Day After Tomorrow, Contagion, even The Matrix trilogy?  For Elysium, Snowpiercer, and In Time it is almost verbatim to Lenin’s political theory. Violent overthrow of the upper class in order to establish a communist system.  Sounds pretty sexy?  That is until you read about the actual history of communism and the amount of death that followed.  A fact that hollywood will never portray is that communism is responsible for more human carnage throughout history than any war or revolution, more than the crusades, more than the holocaust.  People will respond well it is a good movie, or I just wanna see the effects which is anyone’s right to do so.  I endorse the free market of ideas and all ideas are always welcome, no matter how great or terrible people think they are.  I do however fear the overwhelming tide of marxist ideology being washed over audiences in recent years and as Mr. Orwell foretold.  I too fear the future.  I close with this quote from one of the greatest propagandists of the twentieth century.  “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” – Joseph Goebbels

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Movie Picks to Celebrate American Independence

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You cannot celebrate the 4th without films portraying the American Revolutionary War.  One of our longest wars in American History.  Mel Gibson’s The Patriot is a great starting place for the war.  The battles are epic and the desperation of fighting a guerrilla war in the southern colonies is captured very well.  Two mini-series that encompass the entire era HBO’s John Adams and CBS’s 1980’s mini-series George Washington (which is no longer in print, but you can buy DVD rips of the VHS tapes) which covers Washington’s entire life and is considered to be one of the best portrayals of him on-screen.  My Netflix pick is about the first skirmish of the war titled April Morning.  These films will help you get a taste of what the founders of this country accomplished.

Films that embody America and have inspired generations are great for remembering our founding and our Heroes who have sacrificed so much to preserve liberty across the globe.  The iconic Patton played by George C. Scott is a cinematic masterpiece giving one of the greatest speeches in film history.  The epic battle of San Juan Hill in John Millius’s Rough Riders has the greatest portrayal of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.  Performed by Tom Berenger.  Since I mentioned John Milius let us not forget Red Dawn (both original and remake) is a great reminder for America’s youth.  Last but never least is the one man who will forever be identified with America and that is the one and only “The Duke”  John Wayne.  You could probably just pick any of his films but to hand-pick a few Sands of Iwo Jima, The Green Berets, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and a family favorite McClintock.

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If violence and battlefields bore you and you want something more for the homefront.  Have  no fear I have a few titles for you.  The Best Years Of Our Lives about three WWII veterans coming home after the war.  This is a must see for any military family.  A Hallmark film called An American Story which is based on actual events.  This film is about veterans who come home from the war find that their town has been corrupted by crooked politicians and war profiteers.  Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is the all inspiring tale of good man comes to corrupted government.  Second Hand Lions is a great family film about teaching a young boy about becoming a man.  Finally a true story that can only happen in America is Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness is a wonderful reminder of what America is famous for, the place where anyone achieve greatness no matter their race, religion, or status.

There are many more films out there, but I hope this helps you understand why we celebrate Independence Day. “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

― John Adams

Let The Season Begin

 

Sorry for the long delay, but with the summer blockbuster season upon us, it is time to catch up.  Let’s start with the Oscars.  Argo and Ben Affleck were given well deserved accolades for best picture.  Daniel-Day Lewis earned another Oscar for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Speilberg’s Lincoln.  The severely over rated Django Unchained won four Oscars including best supporting actor.  Christopher Waltz gave a good performance in one of Quentin Tarantino’s lesser films.  Two movies that were shut out in this year’s Oscars were Moonrise Kingdom and Zero Dark Thirty.  Both films giving great performances spanning two vastly different genres of storytelling were not given the credit they were due.  Zero Dark Thirty displays the hard-hitting and factual story of the CIA’s manhunt of Osama Bin Laden.  The female lead and final raid by Seal Team Six were tremendous and worth the price of admission to see.  Unfortunately, due to the political climate in Hollywood Zero Dark Thirty would not receive the laurels it has rightfully earned.

From the realism to the search for true love in the early 1960’s in Moonrise Kingdom,  Wes Anderson’s  creative story telling and long still shots makes this independent film very Oscar worthy.  The big name ensemble cast of Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Harvey Keitel are reason enough to see this hidden gem.

In Theaters:

Since the Oscars a few movies have peaked my interest and were a pleasure to see in the theaters.  First was the very long anticipated re-make of Sam Rami’s Evil Dead.  For those Bruce Campbell fans and fans of the Evil Dead Trilogy (Evil Dead, Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, and Army of Darkness) will find that Campbell and Rami choice of a fresh new director truly paid off.  Keeping what made the original work so well and putting a new twist on it all will please everyone.  Very little computer effects were used in this re-make giving this gore fest a truly realistic experience, so for all you horror fans out there Evil Dead is worth it.

A movie that was sort of brushed off as “Die Hard in the Whitehouse” yet was a pleasant surprise was Gerald Butler in Olympus Has Fallen.  Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur, Tears of the Sun, Shooter) directed this action packed film about North Korean terrorist attack on the White House.  Butler, a secret service agent runs to the aid of the president (Bill Pullman).  In a genre that is over saturated with mind numbing action scenes and little character development, this film brings  it back to its roots of a  Olympus Has Fallen provides realistic action with strong character development and desperation portrayed by Butler.

On Netflix:

A great political thriller that is a Netflix Original is House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey.  The first season of House of Cards portrays a disenfranchised democrat senator played by Spacey and his schemes of revenge against the democrat hierarchy that pushed him aside.  House of Cards realistic view of party politics in D.C. makes for great television.

Another movie on Netflix that is worth seeing is For the Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada.  Based on real events in Mexico, For The Greater Glory is the story of the Mexican government forcing out the Catholic Church and the freedom fighters who resisted the violent oppression over a century ago.  Andy Garcia’s portrayal of General Enrique Gorostieta and his transformation of faith gives this film a very inspirational story to a greater audience and is very worthy of being placed on your instant que.

 

Worthy DVD/Blu- Rays:

Alex Cross

Critically panned James Patterson’s Alex Cross  comes to the big screen with Tyler Perry facing off against vicious hitman (Mathew Fox).  This movie is another example of why critics should be ignored, because I found it to be suspenseful, intense and engaging thriller.

The Possession

Loosely based on actual events, The Possession is about a Jewish box that contains a demon that possesses and feeds on the souls of children.  Possession/ Supernatural films have become rather popular in recent years and this one is at the top of the list.  The storyline of a broken family dealing with an evil presence is captured in a unique way and will scare even the biggest horror fans.

The Name is Reacher

Seems like every Christmas Season in recent years offers long fantasy epics such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, mixed with a typical family Disney animation of some sort. Well for movie fans seeking something different with a great character story, Jack Reacher brings it in spades. Jack Reacher is based on the book One Shot about a former Army military police officer played by Tom Cruise who is in pursuit of a sniper responsible for a mass shooting in Pittsburgh, PA. This film was produced by Cruise and shot on location in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, which makes for a visually rich environment for this film noir.

Critics including Leonard Mauldin are giving Jack Reacher two stars or less which is disappointing for the critics. This is film is a great character piece for Tom Cruise whose on-screen presence is much more in-depth than the Mission Impossible or Bourne Identity movies. Robert Duvall’s character is beyond criticism with his supporting role as a rifle range owner. That being said, the Sandy Hook shooting occurred just two weeks prior to opening weekend for Jack Reacher, keeping many soccer moms away from the box office. This has had a real impact on the money it is taking in, which unfortunately means that there will be little to any chance of a sequel to this movie. The constant complaint from film critics and the public is that there are not enough new and inventive stories in Hollywood anymore, so Tom Cruise helps produce one and it gets crucified for their efforts. This film is rated PG-13 for the action content with a small amount of language to it which makes this a perfect movie for both teen and adult audiences. Critics say that Cabin in the Woods was 2012’s big movie that was missed and being a horror film enthusiast it was a good movie. Unfortunately, in all honesty it’s getting more praise simply because the Avengers director’s name Joss Whedon is tied to it. Jack Reacher is a film that will have a longer shelf life.

I fear this has become the normalcy in Hollywood where even great films such as Jack Reacher, Boondock Saints, even Cabin in the Woods get buried. Not because of their content or the performances, but because someone in corporate doesn’t think it fill their product mold. Granted this is nothing new coming from Hollywood, but many of their mass-produced movies did not do well this year. Most of the movies that are considered to be Oscar contenders are not great movies. That being said ignore critics and box office take and go see Jack Reacher. It was well worth the 10$ ticket.

A New Red Dawn

“We are the government and we are here to help.”  Truly one of the most horrifying concepts within the last two centuries has come to the silver screen as a modern take of John Milius’s Red Dawn.  Milius’s film about a Soviet and Latin invasion/occupation of the United States during the Cold War has been both inspirational and controversial for generations of moviegoers.  Rugged individuals fighting a guerilla war against overwhelming forces in your hometown is a universal theme.  Every zombie film uses the same premise.  What made Red Dawn and its remake different are their patriotic and historical overtones. For example; in the original film the character “Jeb” is named after a famous mountain man who hunted, trapped, and fought Indians off when America was still expanding west. Milius loves to write about when men lived by their own means without laws or government, just by their own word and the gun by their side.  The remake of Red Dawn brings the audience back to this rugged scenario with a combat veteran teaching survivors how live in this new world without the comforts of civil society.

Original Trailer

Conservatives, libertarians, historians, and veterans love movies that promote these ideals and give audiences a glimpse at why we resist things in this world that are forced upon us.  This is why criticisms of both the original Red Dawn and the remake are very scathing.  The majority of American film critics are very liberal both socially and politically.  The art they review is created by an industry that is very liberal.  This is more than just conjecture on my part, because there are just too many polls out there that state otherwise.  The original was criticized as being right-wing paranoia, as well as being called; Fascism and pro-gun nationalism insulting the Soviets.  The new version suffered the same fate from critics some saying the acting was terrible, which is a legitimate argument until you watch the actual film.  The remake of Red Dawn has some great veteran actors and actresses in it portraying the situation with great realism showing the immaturity of youth, desperation, coping with loss, and warrior’s spirit.  Other criticisms were made by rather pro-communist, pro North Korea reviewers stating how terrible the portrayal of the North Korean military occupation is in the film.  This should not be a surprise to anyone out there. When dealing with progressive communism, people only see government for the free stuff they get and forget about the trail of bodies their theories leave behind.  My example comes from Anthony Herbert’s book Soldier about his time fighting the Korean War.  He details in his book finding friends he came across on patrol that were nailed to doorways and their entrails leading out into the ice and snow. That is what progressivism offers us.

Remake Trailer

Regardless of the bad reviews the original Red Dawn became a staple for generations of American youth giving them a fictional glimpse of what real freedom fighters had to endure all over the world and throughout history.  Milius is a true torch-bearer preserving America’s individualism and self-reliance for future generations in hopes that they will never forget their birthright. The original Red Dawn is available on Blu-Ray and on Netflix.  The remake even though it lacks some of the desperation of the original film has some intense plot scenes of betrayal and loss which makes for a great version, with an ending that is truly motivating.  A great movie quote that sums up both films comes from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Quintus, “A people should know when they are conquered.”  Maximus, “Would you, Quintus? Would I? “

From My Cold Dead Hands!


After enjoying all of the Halloween treats that the season has to offer, it is time to take stock in one of my favorite genres of film, the zombie/apocalypse.  Zombies, alien invasions, breakdown of society films all have a few things in common.  Each story is essentially a survival story where survivors have beaten the odds of disease, famine, occupation, genocide, nuclear annihilation and are trying to establish a new world in the ashes of the old.
This concept of building a new world out of the proverbial wilderness is something entirely unique to Americans.  Since the United States is a rather new to the world stage, it took over a century and a half for us to settle and establish American society.  It is due to our unique history and culture that we have created the modern zombie film.  Everyone knows that George A. Romero and John A. Russo created Night of the Living Dead propelling tales of a mysterious disease that animates the recently deceased back to life and craving human flesh, which in turn caused society and communication to break down.  That is until men and women pick up their weapons and band together fighting creatures and others who might transgress upon them.  This theme of guerrilla resistance saturates Romero’s blockbuster sequel Dawn of the Dead.  Another reason why this type of film is so popular and definitively American is that the United States of America is the only nation in the world that has written down in the Bill of Rights that the civilian population has a right to own military arms.  It is in our nation’s DNA to be the ”armed to the teeth” underdog, and our zombie films reflect that.  From Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series to Robert Kirkman’s very popular The Walking Dead the everyday use of firearms harkens back to pioneer days with musket, knife, and tomahawk strapped on every able-bodied person.


A great comparison is the remake of Dawn of the Dead and the British 28 Days Later.  In Dawn of the Dead a band of survivors shoot their way to a fortified position (the mall).  While in 28 Days Later, survivors barely make it to a military checkpoint in which they are subject to their abuse because in the real world the people with guns make the rules.
American survival not only permeates the horror genre, but sci-fi and action too.

TV shows such as Falling Skies and Revolution show America in two different circumstances.  One has us in a resistance against an alien occupation, Falling Skies, and the other tells the story of an America without electricity, which causes a breakdown in government.  Both shows display America’s will for armed resistance.  Even shows such as Jericho, Red DawnThe Terminator franchise, and Last Resort all display our romantic notion of defiance and our love for the rugged individual. Even with overwhelming odds and when all hope is lost there will always be that American who will cowboy up and give your enemies a little John Wayne.  To quote another apocalyptic movie Reign of Fire, “Envy the country that has heroes, I say pity the country that needs them.”

Falling to Pieces

Well summer has set and the cool breeze of fall has transformed our lush green landscape to beautiful red and orange colors of October.  This is my favorite season of the year, where everyone becomes a fan of the horror genre.  Fortunately, I am happy to report that the horror genre is alive and well all year round.  Instead of just having your basic monster movie marathon for Halloween night, the genre has spread through all mediums for different audiences and different sub-genres.  All genres of tv and film expand and contract through the decades.  For those of us who are children of the 1980’s, we grew up during the tidal wave of “slasher film” movies.  Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre are all heavy weight franchises that hit their stride in the 80’s.  Even with bad reviews and very thin plot mechanisms rubber latex and fake blood ruled the silver screen making these one man teenager garbage disposals into the new “Universal Monsters” for the next generation.

By the late 80’s into the early 90’s the slasher film died a slow painful death making way for more psychological/supernatural thrillers such as The Silence of the Lambs, Hideaway, The Prophecy, Hellraiser, Candyman, Seven, Village of the Damned, Interview with a Vampire, Lord of Illusions, and The Sixth Sense.  These films all had rather large production budgets, solid plot structures, and veteran actors.  Yet, with all the money spent on the pseudo horror genre films of the 90’s, horror was on the decline.  Until Wes Craven’s Scream was released which jump started the horror into the new millennium.  Throughout the 2000’s horror came roaring back with major studio slasher remakes Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween.  Horror sub-genres were brought front and center breaking box office records and is bringing flocks of people to the theaters.  All genres of horror are represented.  You have gory films like the Saw franchise.  Supernatural thrillers such as Paranormal Activity, The Skeleton Key, Exorcism of Emily Rose, Lost Souls, and Dead Silence.  Monster based horror using every creature possible; vampires, werewolves, zombies, and ghouls all earning major praise and box office credits.

Today we are still surfing the high tide of the horror genre, not only the big screen but with the invention of streaming media online via Netflix finding older genre films that are now getting a rebirth of interest from old fans and a younger new audience watching them for the first time.  Horror has also taken its popularity and transformed it to television with shows like Dexter, True Blood, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Grimm, and Being Human to name a few.  Horror genre has even made a home in reality TV as well, making searching for the real sightings of the supernatural.  Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State are shows that try to give the viewer proof of an afterlife.

The question now is where does horror go from here?  Will this over saturation of the entire genre lead to a major decline?  Will audiences get tired of the same old clichéd archetypes?  My answer is yes there will come a time when horror  rescinds its bloody hands.  Even now with movie companies simply just remaking every genre film they can think of just to make a dollar is clearly killing audiences off.  At the same time new ideas are being cultivated sparking interest in more independent films bringing something fresh and new to the table.  Just as the summer descends into fall and into the depths of winter, so will horror.  And just when you think it’s over the seeds for a new spring will sprout bringing life back into the genre.  So to all you horror fans out there enjoy your day in the sun for it will soon turn into fall.