Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Korean Monster Movie Kicks Butt

I watched The Host last night, a Korean monster movie (original title "Gwoemul") that was released to packed houses a couple of years ago - in Korea. The most popular movie there, ever, by some accounts. In the USA it was released only on DVD, as far as I can tell.

According to trivia on IMdb its opening events are based on a true story, complete with governmental high-handedness and incompetence. The premise is fairly commonplace for a monster movie: chemicals dumped into the Han river produce a tentacled monster that eats people. Our heroes must try and kill it to rescue a brave little girl. It's even got a St George vs the Dragon scene in it.

The English language release that I saw was well dubbed, which was a bit of a relief. The monster was, of course, entirely CGI (no rubber suits or animatronics), with some real-world tricks (a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit) to lend realism to the scenes. The actors knew how to do their jobs, as well as ham it up when the frequently campy scenes required it.

All in all an enjoyable experience. Put it in your Netflix queue.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Keanu Reeves, Darkly

I'm catching up on some SF cinema that I've missed in the past few decades. A Scanner Darkly is the latest one I got from Netflix. Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. among the cast. Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney also associated with the production. Directed by Richard Linklater. This is not a collection of names I expect to see associated with an sf project.

Whatever expectations, the movie is actually quite good, and a reasonably faithful adaptation of PKD's piece of paranoid druggy nightmare. I was a bit taken aback when I first realized that the entire movie had been animated by rotoscoping the original footage. Shades of Ralph Bakshi stirred uneasily in the recesses of buried memory, if you know what I mean. But, in fact, the technique worked out splendidly, giving the entire movie a visual surreality that reflected the equal surreality of the story itself.

So two thumbs up, one from each of my cerebral hemispheres.