Settlers: This recently released movie was one that Alison had made available. I had never heard of it. The only even somewhat known actor was Sofia Boutella, the Algerian actress who was best known to me for her role in Atomic Blonde as well as The Mummy. The story is a pretty simple one, focusing on a young family who is, without any real explanation, on a new planet in the middle of nowhere. We can somewhat assume that it is Mars, but truly it could be any number of places. The young couple have a daughter. They inexplicably walk around without masks or space suits of any kind. If you are a fan of The Martian all of this will be a surprise. The story is slow. The family seems to have human invaders among them that are a threat. The Dad is looking to protect his humble abode. The story continues. Time passes and things happen that impact the young girl most profoundly. The mystery of the lack of masks and suits is revealed. The reason why people shipped across the universe to inhabit another planet are given guns and weapons is a true mystery. Why the few people on a new planet would choose to engage with one another rather than cooperate and work together I cannot comprehend. The production design does not come near to The Martian where Ridley Scott excels with providing the look and feel of a different planet. This seems like it’s more like a back lot somewhere or in Arizona. But anyway, the story moves along slowly and the years pass. The young girl grows and she interacts with her primary roommate. There is somewhat of a resolution, but it isn’t very satisfying. Quite the opposite actually so I cannot recommend this. While it may not have sucked, it wasn’t compelling either. A large humanity event, not explained, is encapsulated in three people and their relationships. I wish that there was more.
Slap Shot: this 1977 cult classic starring Paul Newman is one of the more memorable sports film, and likely the best hockey film of all time. Sadly that doesn’t say much for the hockey genre, as opposed to the baseball genre for example. This past week we have the Field of Dreams MLB baseball game at the corn fields in Iowa where the Kevin Costner film was made. Hockey doesn’t have anything comparable. But this movie has some classic scenes, and if you have ever played hockey at any level, you will remember them. From the Hanson brothers, to the opening scene with the French Canadian goalie, Denis Lemieux, with a local reporter. Basically Newman is the playing coach for a hockey team in the minor leagues, in a minor league town called Charlestown. The Chiefs are not very good, and they are struggling with fans in a mining town that is about to have their mill close. The GM is looking for another job. No one seems to know who the owner of the team is. Newman wants to impress his ex-wife, but also keep working in hockey. The team in the late 70s channels the Stanley Cup winning Philadelphia Flyers from the time who played an intimidating brand of physical hockey. The Chiefs have success in doing exactly that. They go from losing sad sack, to a team on a winning streak. Their most skilled player, a College graduate, refuses to play the goon style game. He is played by Michael Ontkean, and he and his wife are not seeing eye to eye about playing hockey for a living. There are philosophies about violence in sport as opposed to playing it “clean”, as well as corporate ownership in sports and whether owners should look upon the players and the town as more than assets on a balance sheet. There is also the matter of players in a sport and their wives who don’t have a choice in many cases about their lot in life. This isn’t Bull Durham, again to borrow a comparable baseball film, but it is memorable and some fun lore. There are a few laugh out moments for me, even when I know that they are coming. Of course hockey is near and dear to my heart – but it makes me smile. If you have never seen it, it is on Netflix now.
Battleship: Has there ever been a good movie based upon a board game, or perhaps the better question is whether ANY movie should ever be made about a board game. In this instance, the answer is a resounding “No”. Even Liam Neeson himself, who I expect took this role as a US Admiral (being the good Irishman that he is) was for the pay cheque, couldn’t save this Rah Rah America CGI extravaganza. The second hint would be the addition of Rhianna (the singer) to the cast for no apparent reason. The story, based on the Hasbro board game, is aliens come down to the world, and pick a fight with the Navy. They are technologically and militarily superior. Think of this as another Independence Day reboot. Same basic story. Same small band of US military people making an impact to defeat the bad aliens. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense. There is a the use of an older retired US battleship, as well as various other ships. No explanation was given about why submarines were not helpful in this battle. The aliens are trying to call for back up using the existing satellites and dishes on the mountain tops. People are trying to ensure that this doesn’t happen. There is some tangential drama surrounding the admiral’s daughter and the rogue, upstart Lt Commander but it really doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of saving the world from annihilation. Not worth while, or worth your time.