Avatar and Me (and Literally Everyone Else)

If you’ve been a longtime reader/listener here (the hidden part of this site stretches back nearly ten years), you may remember that the conceit of The Battle Beyond Planet X was a defense of the science-fiction genre as more valuable than however I perceived it being perceived. Of course, you look at the ten highest-grossing movies of every year, and more often than not, they’re science-fiction. Superheroes, dinosaurs, space war – science-fiction may just be the least marginalized of marginalized genres (still waiting on that Oscar). This is a perfect reflection of my relationship with the movie and soon-to-be-franchise Avatar, which just so happens to be sitting atop that list of highest-grossers. It is at once a universal experience and one very personal.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review

I’ve noticed that moviegoers like me have had a hard time defining exactly what it is we don’t like about the MCU. Yes, there’s the corporate filmmaking aspect. Yes, Hollywood is friendly with the military-industrial complex. Neither of these have proven satisfying to me, because I’d never cared about either factor with earlier blockbusters. I didn’t complain when it was Terminator sequels or Die Hard or whatever else, but now that it’s Marvel? I think what we never want to say – or admit – is that it’s now the big, popular thing. Nerds who grew up with these comics are watching their old bullies conjugate personalities around things they used as the basis for high school torment. We liked this band before they were popular, and no band has ever been more popular.

Too Many Sequel-itis: Hellraiser

An auspicious start to a new feature, but one I’ve nonetheless been thinking about since starting this blog. I love the idea of movie series that go on for too long, whose later installments seem compelled to introduce bizarreties and strangeness despite that their shrinking budgets can't contain them. Problem is, I’ve never seen one of these long series in their entirety. Off the top of my head, they’re all horror, like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Home Alone. This is the space where I want to talk about Jaws: The Revenge or when the slasher goes to space and Rocky wins the Cold War.

Splice (2010) Review

Splice is an odd duck. Contemporary reviews compared it to the works of David Cronenberg, and sensibly so; this is a Canadian film coming in during a genre lull for the master of body horror. A day for students of body horror. Watching Splice for the first time in 2022, however, my mental comparisons were influenced by prestige television, specifically anthologies. I had the same feeling with the relatively recent Upgrade, which felt like a long (and bad) episode of Black Mirror. It’s almost like Splice was ahead of its time, before movies like Ex Machina and Arrival proved that mainstream audiences still cared about ‘70’s-style thoughtful science-fiction in film. For reference, 2010 was around the time of Halo-adjacent allegory District 9 and the also sort of Halo-adjacent allegory Avatar. Splice features no space marines or shootouts and, thankfully, no allegory.

Man in Monster Suit: AVP vs. AVPR

AVP: Alien vs. Predator was, for me, a really big deal. It was gonna come out one day after my 11th birthday, and even though I had no experience with either Alien or Predator, after reading Aliens vs. Predator: Prey by Steve and S.D. Perry, I was all in. It was my first fandom. There was Godzilla before, but I didn’t know how to access Godzilla movies. With Aliens vs. Predator, there was a surprising amount of material, with games and comics and the books, which were my favorite. I fell in love with Machiko Noguchi, the human Predator. She is simply stunning, and the whole thing was so awesome – and then there are these two movies, and they’re really, really bad. But crucially, they are not equal.

Prey (2022) Review

I’m tempted to split this review into halves like “fan” and “moviegoer,” or at least acknowledge that I watched Prey with two sets of eyes. Praise for a film being made with “love” or “respect” for a franchise may suggest limitation, that whichever new installment only placated fanboys by doing exactly what we expected. I guarantee you The Rise of Skywalker was made with a lot of respect toward Star Wars, for example. Prey is the mathematically perfect punchline to the joke I was inadvertently making in writing my Prey Preview. Every movie I was asking for – the sequel to 10 Cloverfield Lane, an extended version of “A Red Girl’s Reasoning,” a realized version of Mohawk, a truly great Predator – that’s what Prey is. It blew me away. However, I’m aware it satisfied personal desires – and I can’t wait to tell you how – but does that mean it’ll work for everyone? I mean, aside from featuring one of the best good boys in film?

Prey Preview

The new Predator movie releases this Friday, August 5th, and it’s called Prey. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the most logical next step in our increasingly illogical series of titles. Perhaps 20th Century Fox, or whatever it may be, imagines that nobody thinks about any Predator movie except the last one – well, not this guy, Jack. I’d readily describe myself as a Predator fan, but it’s also true I haven’t seen the original two in almost 20 years. Since, I’ve felt that there is no truly great Predator film, with Predator 2 coming the closest because when you don’t have something traditionally “good,” you settle with “balls-out crazy.” Given a retrospective, have things changed? And what else can we look at to help us prepare for Amber Midthunder’s date with the yautja?