Tag Archives: time travel

Kung Fury (2015 Short Film)

7 Dec

In December 2013 a little home-made trailer hit the internet. It was part of a Kickstarter campaign for Kung Fury, a 80’s themed passion project of director David Sandberg that promised action, ultra-violence, dinosaurs, time travel, nazis, renegade cops, and of course, lots of synthesizer music. The internet went crazy and donated three times the amount Sandberg was asking his fans for.

I’m not sure if the world was ready for it, but Kung Fury was released into the world wide web earlier this year and short films haven’t been the same since.

Story-wise, Sandberg delivered his promise of a renegade cop (also played by Sandberg) who goes back in time to stop Adolf Hitler, aka “Kung Fuhrer” (Jorma Taccone) from mastering the art of kung fu and taking over the world. Along the way our protagonist gets help from some friends named Triceracop (Erik Hornqvist), Barbarianna (Eleni Young), Hackerman (Leopold Nilsson), and David Hasselhoff.  It’s a borderline insane story premise, but Sandberg’s passion for the ridiculously campy and fun 80’s aesthetic ensures Kung Fury excels in it’s execution.

Kung Fury is all about the excitable, sheer joy one gets while immersed into the action-packed films of the 80’s. By milking each campy moment to the max, Sandberg creates a fast-paced hilarity-fuelled spectacle that’s packed to the brim with nostalgic, unpredictable surprises. Sadly, the story gets thrown out during a hectic and rushed third act, leaving fans with just enough of a tease to demand the possibility of a full-length feature.  In short, all things are possible with Kung Fury. 

Bottom Line: This crowd-funded short delivers campy, self-aware fun, and a kick-ass attitude, well-deserving of its dedicated cult following. 

Rating: 9/10 

Film Recipe: Drive + Turbo Kid  

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Predestination (2014)

16 Jan

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? It’s a question that has plagued philosophers for centuries, but never been presented quite so vividly as in the Australian thriller Predestination.

Directed by the Spierig brothers and starring Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor and newcomer Sarah Snook, the film takes place at an unknown time in the future where time travel is illegal but certain men called loopers travel to the past in order to take care of crimes before they have been committed.  OK – wait, that’s a different movie – but the setup is the same. Ethan Hawke plays the unnamed time traveler who travels back to take care of one last job before retiring. A terrorist known only as the Fizzle Bomber has killed hundreds and it’s up to our nameless hero to travel back in time and kill him before he can strike again…  thus resolving a terrorist act before its even committed.

Despite its high-minded ambition and “R” rating, Predestination has the look and feel of a major studio blockbuster aimed at young adults. The film’s first act is set up through an unnecessary framing device which acts as an audience conduit for the tricky time travel puzzles that await the last half. It’s a cool concept (something Christopher Nolan would be proud of) that grips the audience’s attention in the moment, but it’s only when thinking about the film afterwards when one realizes how preposterous it all is.

There are some half-hearted attempts to introduce some deeper material here, particularly with themes involving personal identity and gender roles, but they get washed out in the great semi-cerebral time/puzzle stuff. Your characters mostly exist for Inception-esc exposition; Noah Taylor’s character seems to pop up at just the right times to answer the audience’s questions and reassure everyone that what we are seeing does make logical sense afterall. Films like this always have their own set of rules and logic to follow and Predestination is no exception, and as with all time travel films, a great suspension of disbelief is required. It’s a fun trip overall, but there is some really interesting character material that should have been fleshed out more in the film’s third act. Despite it being mostly a surface level puzzle film that gains it’s awe from a cheap reveal (The Usual Suspects anyone?), Predestination is still a notable and ambitious film that showcases the talent of a new face (Sarah Snooke). It’s a good time travel film thats just teetering on the edge of being a great one – if only it wouldn’t pride itself more in its concept than execution.

Rating – 6/10 

Similar to: Looper (2012), Timecrimes (2007), Minority Report (2002) 

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

3 Jun

 

I’m sure we all have experienced that sense of cinematic deja vu when we watch a movie and think to ourselves “I have seen this all before”.  Edge of Tomorrow, the filmic adaptation of the popular manga All You Need Is Killis based around this very premise. A man, stuck in a time loop, repeats the last 24 hours to himself everytime he dies. He sees the same people, fights the same battles, and dies the same deaths over and over. Our lead in the film, General Cage (Tom Cruise) is a military media specialist who gets cast in the front line of battle after an unfortunate mix up.  The earth is at war with a mysterious alien species, who through some unexplained phenomena, have the ability to rewind the clocks. When this ability is transferred to Cage, he inherits the potential to learn – via trial and error – how to essentially be the best super-soldier and kick some serious alien butt with a new cyberkinetic military suit. Of course part of this learning experience means he must team up with another super-soldier named Rita (Emily Blunt in her most bad-ass role to date) who has her own mysterious past and motivations.

Edge of Tomorrow then essentially becomes a visual videogame. Our characters are placed in the futuristic battlefield and are only allowed to progress up to a certain point before the plug is pulled and everyone starts over on square one again. The film has so much fun with this time-looping concept it becomes impossible not to get sucked in.  Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Jumper) controls the action so fluidly and the visuals are top-notch. In a film like this, it is nearly impossible not to advance the plot through expository dialogue, but the script by Christopher McQuarry (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) and Jez Butterworth (Fair Game) feels lively and energetic enough that you barely notice the majority of the plot is being explained directly to audience through Cruise’s character (to give him a break, he has seen this all before).

Things do get a little messy in the final act, and the climax feels a bit rushed and comes on too soon. However, Edge of Tomorrow really shows off what Cruise does best: shooting up stuff with style (watching him go from PR boy to mad killing machine is an absolute blast) and Blunt is impressively cool throughout. Overall, the movie is a fresh and fun edition to the summer blockbuster with guts, action, and intellect.

Rating: 7/10 

Similar to: Source Code (2011),  Pacific Rim (2013),  Avatar (2009), 
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Looper (2012)

28 Sep

Looper is the best Nolan-esc movie that Christopher Nolan didn’t direct.

In case you are unfamiliar with its premise let me fill you in:  the year is 2044.  Time travel enables criminal organizations to send people back into the past for a hit-man- a looper – to take care of.  The film revolves around one particular looper named Joe who is unexpectedly faced with an older version of himself.  The older Joe avoids being killed by the younger version and begins his own plan of manipulating the past in order to create a better outcome for the future.

Looper is great; the two leads in this film (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis), are at the top of their game.  A lot of people have been complaining about the make-up used to portray Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a younger Bruce Willis, but I thought the artists did a spectacular job.

Supporting actors Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, and Paul Dano each do a wonderful job and contribute to the plot significantly in their own separate ways.

This film is an entertaining ride from start finish with one of the most original plots I have seen recently.    It opens up with an assassination scene and never slows down from there. While it does rely on some typical action-movie cliches, Looper never allows the action to get in the way of its storytelling, and remains an unpredictable joy throughout.

Looper even has a dash or two of good humor. The film’s greatest strength is that it always is unpredictable, but never unrealistic or over-the-top like your typical action blockbuster (that is, if you can accept the idea of time-travel and multiple universes as realistic).  Of course with a film like this, you are inevitably going to have your nit-picking science geeks who will try and tear down the film’s ending with logic.  The film does slow down a bit during it’s second half, and goes from focusing on it’s logic to it’s morals, but this never stops Looper from being an interesting, and at times, puzzling movie.

My only regret with this movie is that it left me wishing for a time machine of my own.  That way I could travel back 24 hours in time and enjoy this introspective mind-bender all over again.

rating 8/10