Martian Time-Slip” (1964) is set on the frontier of Mars, so naturally – this being a Philip K. Dick novel – it’s about … the nature of schizophrenia. Granted, the setting isn’t totally random, but it’s interesting that PKD goes to Mars and a 1994 future where Earth has become overpopulated in order to tell a timeless story about the subjective natures of time and perspective. Sometimes you have to go crazy before you can be sane, repairman Jack Bohlen learns, and the wild sci-fi ideas are in service of his search for simplicity and sanity.
Ifeel a little sorry for the “Fantastic Four” franchise. The 2005 and 2007 entries are competent children’s movies that failed to catch fire at a time when adult superhero movies were taking off. For the 2015 “Fantastic Four” – which I’ll call “Fant4stic,” based on the logo — director/co-writer Josh Trank (“Chronicle”) and co-writers Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg craft an adult superhero film, going for a brooding tone that would make Zack Snyder proud, complemented by dimly lit cinematography by Matthew Jensen. Unfortunately, this was a time when people were digging the comedic side of the trend-setting Marvel Cinematic Universe. This property can’t get the timing right.
The Matrix” (1999) is one of those sci-fi films that rewards people paying close attention; to understand the specifics of the world is to feel like we’ve become a smarter person. It’s a challenging task, but doable. “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003), on the other hand, calls out for one of those “Movie Explained” YouTube videos that are so ubiquitous nowadays.
Because the five volumes of “The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick” have been reprinted many times under many different names, I’m referring to them here by their volume number, which is what they are known by in their original 1987 publication by Underwood-Miller.
Working from a screenplay by returning writer David S. Goyer, Guillermo del Toro probably didn’t know it at the time, but he directs “Blade II” (2002) as a trial run for “The Strain,” his 2014-17 TV series. The creature effects are strikingly similar across both projects, namely the next strain of vampires. In “Blade II,” their human mouths open “Predator”-style, and in “The Strain,” they reveal tubes that can strike from a distance — “Alien”-style, to the extreme.
Counter-Clock World” (1967) starts with a healthy dose of vintage Philip K. Dick absurdism, as an old woman pleads to be freed from her coffin in a cemetery. In this future of 1998, aging (and some other things) go in reverse. And indeed, the sometimes delightful, sometimes over-the-top insanity of this world defines much of the novel.
The “Fantastic Four” franchise steps it up a notch for “Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007), which many superhero genre observers point to as 1) the best “Fantastic Four” movie and 2) evidence that the “Fantastic Four” franchise is pretty darn weak, if this is the best entry. The titular Oscar-statuette-looking demigod, performed by genre regular Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne, has pathos: He must create craters in the Earth to destroy it, because it’s what he was made to do by his planet-eating creator, Galactus. But he doesn’t like doing it.
Mistakenly, I had it my head that Max and Liz – aside from a few brief stretches where they are apart — are a couple throughout the three-season run of “Roswell.” On this rewatch, I was surprised to realize they are split up through the entire 21-episode run of Season 2 (2000-01, WB). Yet this season illustrates why I had the mistaken impression, and why “Roswell” is a special show.
Of all the movies not yet released on 4K with Atmos, “Twister” (1996) is perhaps the most shameful oversight. It’s wall-to-wall action and tension and delightfully drawn storm chasers, and the special effects totally hold up two decades later. Co-produced by Steven Spielberg and co-written by Michael Crichton, “Twister” is from the era when the word “blockbuster” had some cachet, when people would keep such movies on their radar throughout the summer, enjoying them on a packed opening weekend or in the dollar theater months later.
The aspect I most remembered from my first read of “Ubik” (1969) is the inventive, chilling and comforting notion that people exist in a “half-life” for several years after they die, so we can continue to talk to and say goodbye our loved ones at our leisure. But on this re-read I realized that covers like 10 percent of the fascinating ideas in this Philip K. Dick book that made me think of “The Matrix,” “The Langoliers” and various “Which of these two realities is real?” stories, including the “Buffy” episode “Normal Again” (Season 6, episode 17).