100 Word Review – The Running Man (1987)

Arnie really is wonderful, isn’t he? If you were ever in doubt, watch this film.

Set in a dystopian future, Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and forced to participate in a public execution disguised as a brutal gameshow.

Based on the novel by Stephen King (The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining), it was adapted by Steven E. de Souza (Die Hard, Commando). Think an adult 1980s Hunger Games, but with more gore and less characterisation. There’s explosions, plenty of shouting, people in leotards and enough exploding heads to keep any Arnie fan happy.

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100 Word Review – Total Recall (1990) 

Based on Philip K Dick’s story, We Remember It For You Wholesale, this is Arnie at the very peak of his brilliance. 

Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) can’t afford to go to Mars, but he can afford to have an adventure implanted into his memory of being a spy on Mars. But is it really a false memory? Why are people trying to kill him. He must get to Mars!

Full of the paranoia typical of Dick, and the explosions and shouting you get in every Arnie flick, all tied together by the satirical vision of director Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers).

100 Word Review – Robot & Frank (2012)

This film is the perfect Sci Fi for people who don’t generally like the genre.

Set in the not-so-distant future, Frank (Frank Langella) is a retired jewel thief whose son (James Marsden) gives him a robot designed to look after him.

Susan Sarandon and Liv Tyler also star in this brilliantly made film which is simultaneously funny and tragic in parts. Although the film is set in the future, assisted-living robots are not as futuristic as they seem, making this ultimately a very moving story about the importance of family, the passing of time and the human need for companionship.

100 Word Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

You’ve seen the first one and the second one.

You are ready to follow Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) into District 13, the heart of the resistance. What will Snow (Donald Sutherland) do to punish her betrayal? Does she really have the moral high ground? Is she fit to be Mockingjay?

Heavily built on the sturdy foundations of the previous films, don’t start with this one. However, it takes a good hard look at the intricacies of rebellion and the power of propaganda which is covered so well in the book (Read. The. Books.).

It’s the things we love most that destroy us.

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100 Word Review – The Terminator (1984)

One of the few examples of the first in film franchise not being the best.

Don’t let this put you off. It is a brilliant movie and a corner-stone of 1980s action Sci Fi.

An indestructible cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is set back from the future to murder Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a waitress who’s unborn son will lead the humans in an war against the machines. Meanwhile a soldier from the future (Michael Biehn) is determined to protect her.

James Cameron’s casting is sublime. Arnie’s unsurprisingly realistic as the emotionless robot. Complete with stop-motion animation, this is an epic action.

100 Word Review – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Sequel to The Hunger Games (2012), Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has survived her first Hunger Games, but will she survive the scrutinising gaze of The Capitol and Panem’s terrifying leader, President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

With all the drama and almost as much of the politics as the books (read the books!), this opens up Panem in a way the first film couldn’t.

The cast is fantastic (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Jenna Malone) and the visuals are just as breath-taking. Prepare yourself for media spin, duplicity and rebellion.

Nobody ever wins the games. Period. There are survivors. There’s no winners.

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100 Word Review – The Hunger Games (2012)

Read the books.

But, also, watch the film. It’s not as good, but still brilliant.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers her life in place of her sister’s when she is chosen to participate in The Hunger Games, a barbaric event designed to keep the masses in line in this dystopian future.

Yes, there are similarities, but it is more than an Americanised Battle RoyaleChildren are killing children to survive, but for the sport of the Capital. Battle Royale may be gruesome, but this is emotionally brutal.

Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson are both stunning in their supporting roles. It’s magnificent.

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100 Word Review – Insurgent (2015)

So, I probably should have seen Divergent (2014) first, but this film definitely holds up as a stand alone film as well as part of a trilogy (albeit in four parts).

In a dystopian future, a community is split in to groups based on personality types. But Tris (Shailene Woodley) is different. Together with Four (Theo James) and co., they must fight against the tyranny of Jeanine’s (Kate Winslet) regime.

Although this does sound like every other teen Sci Fi, it stands out for its 3D characters, emotional gravitas (they have sex and it’s not a big deal!) and genuine suspense.

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