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Mini Movie Reviews: Worlds of Tomorrow

Today's theme is tales of the future featuring films by Gareth Edwards, George Lucas, Christian Rivers, Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Hymas, John Carpenter, and George Miller.

Mortal Engines (2018)
Philip Reeve's YA book series has a ludicrous, but irresistible premise; a dystopian world where major cities are mobile and hunt each other for resources. Peter Jackson was originally set to direct this adaptation, but got tied up with The Hobbit films so passed it over to Christian Rivers, who had worked on Jackson's previous films as a storyboarder and visual effects supervisor. The final film is an overall limp affair that desperately tries to be Star Wars in the final act and has no faith in the audience to become invested in a main character who isn't conventionally attractive. In the books, Hester Shaw is described as having one eye, most of her nose gone, and her mouth cut into a sneer. The film's Hester just has a typical Hollywood sexy scar on her left cheek that everyone in the film treats like this horrible deformity.

Rating: ⭐⭐
The Creator (2023)
In 2055, America is waging an uneven and pointless war against AI in South East Asia, a Vietnam allegory so on the nose you almost expect a narration by an actor named Sheen. John David Washington is former undercover operative recruited to locate and destroy a superweapon the AIs are developing, but when it turns out to be a cute kid his loyalties are unsurprisingly divided. This is an exceptionally well made movie, but that doesn't completely make up for a predictable narrative that relies way too much on worn out cliches and archetypes instead of fully fleshed out characters.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Alphaville (1965)
A French New Wave science fiction noir. An American secret agent, posing as a journalist, travels to the city of Alphaville on another planet in his Ford Galaxie, with orders to capture or kill the city's leader and destroy Alpha 60, the logical supercomputer oppressively controlling the entire city. Godard had a free wheeling, improvisational style and that is on full display here. Whole thing really does feel like they were just making it all up as they went along. Despite being set in a future city on another planet, Godard shot the whole film in Paris with contemporary locations and props. It's a testament to his skill that Alphaville still manages to feel strange and otherworldly despite just looking like a typical noir.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Escape from New York (1981)
In the distant future of... 1997, the crime rate in America is so high that the island of Manhattan has turn into one gigantic prison, a dumping ground for the nation's worst criminals (which isn't nearly as dystopian as the current state of America's prison system). When terrorists hijack Air Force One, the President is left stranded in the Big Apple and career criminal Snake Plissken (huh, I heard he was dead) is sent in to rescue him. Incredibly dated in many ways, but remains an absolute banger of a film. Just avoid the sequel/lazy rehash at all cost.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)
A young Furiosa is taken from her home by the minions of the warlord Dementus. Lost in the wastelands, and surrounded by enemies, Furiosa does everything she can to survive and eventually find her way home. George Miller wisely doesn't try to outdo Fury Road with this prequel. There are still some thrillingly demented chases across desert landscapes, but they're not what this film is about. This is a brutal post-apocalyptic Nordic saga, a decades-spanning myth fuelled by blood and petrol.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
THX 1138 (1971)
George Lucas' directorial debut, based on his own student film, stars Robert Duvall as THX 1138, a lonely factory worker in a dystopian future where everyone has prefixes instead of names, and emotions and sexual desire are kept chemically suppressed. Has some memorable visuals, and many of the ideas and themes feel more relevant now than in 1971, but I just didn't really click with it. Did make me wish, though, that we got more films from the young and hungry Lucas before Star Wars left him burnt out, but also so rich he could take a twenty year hiatus from directing. Also wish I'd watched the original version instead of the 2004 director's cut, which includes a lot of CGI enchantments that stick out like early 2000s CGI in an low budget 1970s sci-fi film.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
2010: The Year We Made Contact (1984)
Like Escape from New York, this film is now set in the past, although it isn't a past that resembles our own since space exploration is still a thing here and didn't die in 1970s. Despite mounting tensions between the two nations, Russian and American astronauts work together to recover the Discovery at Jupiter and find out what really happened to its crew. A sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, based on Arthur C. Clarke's 1982 novel, the biggest problem with this film is that it's just fine and nothing more. It probably would've fared better if it had just been its own thing, rather than a follow up to one of the great science fiction films ever made. Peter Hymas (Capricorn One, Outland) is a decent enough director, but he's just no Kubrick. The thing that really sticks out is that, despite 16 years years worth of advances in special effects, the whole thing just looks so cheap and unimaginative compared to the original. Most of the film looks like they broke into Ridley Scott's home and stole some leftover concept designs from Alien.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. In contrast to some of your other reviews, I've actually seen a fair number of the films in this list!

    I had no desire to see Mortal Engines at the time, as it seemed completely ridiculous. I'm glad to see my opinion validated.

    I liked The Creator, though I confess I don't remember much about it. It seemed well done and interesting at the time.

    I saw THX 1138 in its original form many years ago, and enjoyed it. It was grey dystopia, and, despite a low budget, was well done. Robert Duvall is always worth watching. George Lucas clearly has always had a problem keeping his hands off stuff he's already done — which wouldn't be so bad except that he's generally awful at it.

    Escape from New York is simply a stone cold classic. Absolutely brilliant. Even Adrienne Barbeau was fine! Lee Van Cleef and Isaac Hayes are icing on the cake. And Donald Pleasence is exactly the president America has always needed.

    I'll catch Furiosa on streaming. I'm curious about Alphaville, and will add it to my list.

    Finally, words do not suffice to express my contempt and hatred for 2010: The Year We Made Contact. It is a shoddy, awful, despicable film, poorly made, poorly written, poorly acted, utterly disappointing and dispiriting in every frame. Arthur C Clarke has a cameo, sitting on a park bench as Roy Scheider (horribly miscast as Heywood Floyd) and James McEachin discuss whatever it is they're discussing. Clarke is turned away, and looks utterly forlorn, as though he simply cannot believe what happened to his work. I simply can't say enough bad things about this film. I hate it with the fire of a dozen Lucifers. Gah.


    Love these collections; looking forward to the next. Cheers.

  2. As a big fan of 2001, I suppress the very existence of 2010. It's not necessarily all that bad; it's just so dull.

    I remember very much liking Escape from New York, although it's been a few years since I've seen it.

    Another interesting read, Mark. You have a genuinely fascinating taste in movies. :)

  3. Only seen Escape from new York on this list, and it was good stuff!


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