Although many “Blade Runner” fans are probably familiar with the references to Tannhäuser Gate in “Soldier” (1998), I think this film – likewise written by David Webb Peoples — should be more embraced as part of the “BR” universe than it is. At three points in the film – once on a monitor showing Todd’s (Kurt Russell) military campaigns, once as a tattoo on Todd’s arm, and once verbally by Mace (Sean Pertwee) – the battle of Tannhauser Gate is referenced. And The Shoulder of Orion is also in Todd’s files.
The last time we saw Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder), in 1993’s “Jason Goes to Hell,” he is dead and buried at the end of a story centered on the notion of killing him for good, using the requisite magical dagger. So when he’s alive and in government custody in the 2008 of “Jason X” (2002), one might assume an explanation is forthcoming. It isn’t, and that will understandably take many people out of this movie from the get-go.
As Philip K. Dick continues his police state/drug war thematic trilogy with the second leg, “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” (written in 1970, published in 1974), he gets away from the dark humor and space aliens of “Our Friends from Frolix 8” (1970) and digs into this society’s impact on individuals. Dick would mix despair and grim humor in “A Scanner Darkly” (1977), but in “Tears” he gives a straight-on portrayal of what this world is like for a citizen (Jason Taverner) and a police officer (Felix Buckman).
The Fall TV season gets off to both an early and an inauspicious start with “Raised by Wolves” (HBO Max), which at first blush has the traits director Ridley Scott also brought to his recent films such as “Prometheus” and “The Martian” – more polished than his early work, but still with verve. But the first episode doesn’t build in intrigue or surprises; it stays pat, offering little to admire beyond how it looks. There’s not enough story or character here from the pen of Aaron Guzikowski, who is also the series’ creator. “Raised by Wolves” did not hook me at all.
The “Alien” franchise didn’t have a new movie in the chamber to mark its 40th anniversary in 2019, but it did gift fans with several short films; all are on YouTube. They are part of a trend – which perhaps has its roots in George Lucas’ support of “Star Wars” fan films about 20 years ago – wherein major franchises allow up-and-coming artists to play in their sandbox.
Total Recall 2070” (1999, Showtime) is two degrees removed from Philip K. Dick — a 22-episode reimagining of the 1990 movie adapted from Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” But actually, while it’s further from the story of “Wholesale” than the film is, it takes a step closer to an overall Dickian feel. The series sits at the aesthetic crossroads of “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall,” albeit on a tighter budget than those blockbuster films, and at the narrative intersection of “The X-Files” and “Star Trek.” It’s not unfair to call it just another one-season wonder from the ’90s SF boom, but PKD fans might find it to be a fascinating curiosity.
Leviathan” (1989) is hurt by direct comparisons to “The Abyss” – which came out later that year – but it holds up as an entertaining “Alien” knockoff. Fans of this year’s “Underwater” might enjoy it as a historical precursor, as it features walks on the deep ocean floor, bulky diving suits and crumpling habitat modules. While the cast is filled with good character actors, the creature steals the show – but I wish director George P. Cosmatos (“Rambo: First Blood Part II”) would’ve given us clearer shots of it.
The Abyss” (1989) rarely tops rankings of James Cameron’s films, but that’s because the guy also helmed “Aliens,” “Titanic” and the first two “Terminators.” It’s no fault of “The Abyss” itself, which is a more intense, and equally beautiful, version of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but set underwater.
Our Friends from Frolix 8” (written in 1969, published in 1970) kicks off Philip K. Dick’s thematic police state/drug war trilogy, and although “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” and “A Scanner Darkly” won more awards, this one is nearly as great. PKD satirizes and/or paints the likely progression of an all-seeing state, but for the first time the author finds an answer to why the masses don’t openly rebel.
Writer-director John Carpenter’s “They Live” (1988) is technically about aliens infiltrating Earth and posing as humans, but the metaphor is so thinly veiled it’s hardly a metaphor at all. Drifter John Nada (Roddy Piper) recognizes these people are aliens by putting on magic sunglasses that reveal their zombie-faced nature. The aliens are stand-ins for the “haves” who thrive in 1988 America. Actual humans are stand-ins for the “have nots.”