The 2013 Boston Science-Fiction Marathon, Part II


BUT FIRST! Read Part I. There’s 24 hours of sci-fi overall!

Alright, back from dinner, everybody’s feeling ok, I’m still on a bit of a musical high from The Ghastly Love of Johnny X but I am definitely (always) ready to settle in for more science fiction goodness. One of the coolest things about this year’s Thon is that we were treated to an episode of The Twilight Zone, wholly appropriate since one of the films being shown was written by TZ stalwart Richard Matheson. It was the episode “Time Enough At Last”, which I have often seen referenced and parodied but had never actually watched, so it was great to see the original version. Poor Henry Bemis! He just wants to READ! An interesting short, “Death of a Shadow“, was also shown, which I really liked. It’s beautifully shot and has a fascinating premise concerning a dead soldier caught in limbo, trying to win back his life by collecting other people’s deaths. And I just found out it was nominated for an Oscar this year, so that’s rad! Anyway here are the next four features I watched, from about 8PM to 4AM, to ensure you’re consistently impressed with how much I totally stayed awake.

5 Battle Royale (2000)
It’s no secret I am in love with this movie, and I don’t think there’d ever be a bad time to watch it. The premise may only be lightly sci-fi because of the supposed future setting and a few technological bits, but who cares? THIS MOVIE RULES. While packed with awesome gore and intense action, it also has such a knack for succinctly and lovingly describing its characters, so that you can’t help but feel deeply for everyone. It manages to balance over-the-top situations and a bit of cheese with a believable emotional core, and I think that’s part of the reason I love it. The title links to my original review. And here’s a poster I made for it ages ago.

6 Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
I saw this when it was in theaters last summer but it was nice to revisit it, especially since as far as I could tell a lot of the audience hadn’t seen it (it got a big round of applause at the end). I love Aubrey Plaza here and I think the central story is so sweet and interesting, and I initially came out really enjoying the film overall. I had sort of blocked out how the b-plot of Jake Johnson trying to sleep with an old girlfriend was pretty stupid and sleazy. The title links to my original review.

7 The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
Ok so as far as I can tell the theme of this year’s Thon was HUNKS because here is yet another example of a total babe in the lead. And not only is he shirtless a few times, he also shows off those GAMS, and I’m now fanning myself. Anyway. This movie is actually completely great, it’s not at all what you’d expect from the title. Matheson’s script is gradually paced and introspective, ultimately setting itself up for a metaphorical view of man’s entire existence as the protagonist Scott Carey experiences a mysterious shrinking disease that gives him a shockingly new perspective on life. The performances are great, there’s a bit of action thrown in what with giant spiders and cats, and I was really impressed with the effects. The only thing that bothered me was how at one point a regular-sized actress was used to portray a little person, and it was distracting and I didn’t understand why they couldn’t have just cast an actual little person. It was pointed out to me later that maybe the optical trickery wouldn’t have worked otherwise, since she and Scott are shown side by side as the same size. So I guess that makes sense. Otherwise I was just generally taken in by this film, it’s thought-provoking without being preachy, and it’s exciting without being sensationalist.

8 Phase IV (1974)
This is one of the films I was most excited for, since I knew it was the only feature from legendary graphic designer Saul Bass as a director. I’d read about it on Nuts4r2’s blog ages ago and had been meaning to see it ever since. When large groups of different varieties of ants in the Arizona desert begin forming a collective hive mind, two scientists set up an observation station to observe their developments and determine if they’re a threat. The ants manage to wipe out most of the animals (and some of the humans) in the area and prove smart enough to consistently outwit the scientists, so it soon becomes a standoff between man and ant. And honestly I had no idea who was going to win. What’s great is the movie feels utterly realistic, there isn’t much that’s out there, the main anomaly is that these ants are all working together with a common cause. They don’t have super powers or anything, they’re just really smart and quick to adapt to new situations. I liked the more intellectual, low-key approach to storytelling, but I must say I kind of expected (and wanted) more trippy visuals. I mean, it’s Saul Bass! But still a smart, compelling film, with excellent ant photography from Ken Middleham (who also did The Hellstrom Chronicle) and a kickass finale.

Ok I had to brush my teeth and catch up on my tea-drinking, but otherwise I am doing good! The audience definitely starts to thin out a little, but there’s only 4 more movies left to go, I can do this!

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