sci fi

Travelers (Netflix)

Many centuries into the future, the Earth's population has dwindled to almost nothing -- but the survivors have discovered the key to time travel. The last surviving humans discover they can send consciousness back in time to the 21st century. Inhabiting seemingly random people.  Desperate to save humanity, a group of "Travelers" enter the 21st century on a mission to avert disaster.

I have to start off by saying, 'Thank you Netflix" for another surprising interesting series.  So, my wife knows I love anything that has to do with time travel and dream interpretation.  With that said, she told me I have to watch this series but take your time and let it build on you.  I was like, eh,  we'll see.  Surprisingly, this is what I got.  This series opened up with multiple instances of people dying.  Theres an on screen count down of time of death and it looks like they die.  All of a sudden the time is reversed on a positive side.  Numbers going forward. We don't know what happened, but they seem to be different people now.  Its still a mystery what just occurred, but these characters go back to their life and begin communicating via the dark net (the internet but with cryptic code.  These communications are  picked up at the FBI believing they are terrorist communications.  We see one agent go from house to house trying to speak to these people with no real answers.  When he finally gets a good lead at where this group that has been communicating on the web are  meeting up.  The FBI finally catches up to these changed people and they let him know that he was going to be killed by a criminal and throw down an elevator shaft.  But before he can get some real answers,  his count down to his death starts and I'm like .... WTH??!!!  But now we understand that all of these people who have changed are inhabited by the consciousness of other people from the future.  Their former selves are gone with a hint of what they were but mostly gone.  What we know about these characters are they're  specialist from the future. The main characters are:

  • Eric McCormack as Grant MacLaren (Traveler 3468), the team's leader who assumes the life of an FBI special agent
  • MacKenzie Porter as Marcy Warton (Traveler 3569), the team's medic who assumes the life of an intellectually disabled woman.
  • Nesta Cooper as Carly Shannon (Traveler 3465), the team's tactician who assumes the life of a stay-at-home single mother.
  • Jared Abrahamson as Trevor Holden (Traveler 0115), the team's engineer who assumes the life of a high school athlete.
  • Reilly Dolman as Philip Pearson (Traveler 3326), the team's historian who assumes the life of a college-aged heroin addict.

As all of these characters come together for missions to save their future.  The team lets us know there is chaos that occurred in the future and we are not quit sure what went on but we know that because of a chatostophic event, it changed what the future becomes.   What we also find out is there's someone called the Director that gives out orders through random people he takes over by moving his consciousness  to them and speaks to the teams.  What you find is there are multiple travelers on different missions and their directives are not to interact with each other unless authorized. Our main characters seemed to be the rebels of all the travelers and they keep breaking protocol to do what they want to.  One traveler keeps her baby thats not hers, another helps others that are going to die thus creating new time lines.  And another is trying to not be in a relationship but can't help it.  Eric McCormack does a good job with his crew of unknown actors and they do a good job distinguishing who they are through out the series.  

The fact that these Travelers are constantly breaking protocol makes this series a lot more interesting than others.  Their moral compass strays them towards compassion and normalcy.  As opposed to the others that either want to just live in the past cleanly and happily or follow the directors request and do as they are told.  But this is where things take a turn. During an almost botched mission that suppose to change the future for the good.  The team finds they are still alive and their consciousness is still in the present.  But we don't know what happens in the future (which becomes something different since they changed time).  But we find their is a alternate black ops travelers group who is reeling against the directors orders.  The Traveler team now has to combat them as well as the FBI and wait on orders from the director to assign them a new mission.  The story comes up with some good secondary story lines with these travelers and we feel for them and the families that have no idea that these people aren't their loved ones and friends.  Be prepared it drags at times and redundant with digging too deep into the past of some of these Travelers but a pretty good show thats is slated for a second season.  

So once again Netflix, Thanks for getting me away from my satellite TV programming and possibly getting rid of it in a year or two.  


3% (Netflix)

3% is a Brazilian, dystopian thriller series created by Pedro Aguilera, starring Bianca Comparato and João Miguel. The show is set in a future wherein people are given a chance to go to the "better side" of a world divided between progress and affluence in the Offshore, and devastation and poverty in the Inland, but only 3% of the candidates succeed. Developed from a 2009 independent pilot episode, it is Netflix's first original Brazilian production and the second produced in Latin America, after Club de Cuervos.

I came to this series by way of two recommendations.  Netflix and a friend.  Since I watch a lot of foreign language films,  they both thought I would enjoy this series (Netflix is pretty smart).  As you read the summary above, you might think its a bit interesting or similar to so many other movies or shows of earths segregation after some sort of disaster (mostly zombies but not this one thank goodness).  So I took the time to look at the episodes one by one.  First, a couple of take aways i got from the series. This was a very diverse cast.  Brazil consist of so many different cultures and races that it really represented the true people of the country.  This I believe gave this story a very broad appeal if you wanted to relate to the characters.  Then, it was the conscience approach to show how the separation of the 3% isn't based on color, race or religion.  But intelligence and the ability to contribute to the greater cause offshore. This was what the 3% of the choosen had to accomplish so they could move to the sacred offshore island.  That my friend kept me interested with where this was going.

To give you a reference point.  This was similar to the Hunger games or Divergent.  A battle to be the choosen or be the elite but in a mysteries way that wasn't clearly defined.  Biggest difference is not having to kill each other and not having a main character with some special appeal or power.  Th only thing you had to have was cleverness and intelligence.  It made it a worth while series to watch.  Even though people were being killed during the process, it didn't focus on that.  It had you thinking what was next for the qualifying teams and what had to be done to become the top 3%. One aspect of technology that was crucial to the story line was, In order for the 3% facility people to know who was selected and who the candidates were. Each person had a identification chip implanted behind their ears that had their complete information about them and you could tell when the individuals were scanned.  This is important because one of the story lines we find out is, like most other forced segregated societies,  their are rebels that are against the 3% process.  We see rebels trying to infiltrate the 3% process to destroy it and how the offshore militia are sent on shore to combat them.  Buuuut theres' also another plan that slowly comes to fruition as you watch the series. We find that their are some covert rebel operatives applying for the 3%. We find these characters struggling to maintain their cover throughout the testing period and try to get to the end to execute the ultimate plan.    And to make things a bit more interesting, within the 3% society, they're people within the Offshore government that wants to take over the 3% facility to make it a better functional place.  You begin to realize you are watching the internal as well as external battle within the offshore organization and at the same time you are watching the onshore people trying to become the chosen 3%.

Here is the great part i was totally into.  There are tests the candidates have to take that are mostly mental and requires them to work at times as individuals and other times as teams.  Depending on the situation, the teams have to rely on the weakest physical person or the strongest minded person.  They create an interesting mental game that kind of pulls you in and wonder what you would do.  There is violence but mostly mental fatigue and ethical dilemmas that has you wondering who will get through.  There is a real interesting character they placed within the mix of the challenge.  We are presented with a young man in a wheel chair that qualified to be part of the 3% enrollment.  You automatically think this can't work, he can not physically get through this.  Well, you see what he and the team goes through and realize what actually happens. This was a very good way of adding physically challenged people to an alleged physical challenge.

Overall this is a very good series worth seeing as well as experiencing.  Netflix gave the show a one-season order with an 8-episode first season. César Charlone, an Academy Award nominated cinematographer known for City of God and Blindness, served as director alongside Daina Giannecchini, Dani Libardi, and Jotagá Crema. The second season is confirmed.  I'm a big foreign language movie guy so I went with the subtitles.  Their is a dubbed english version  but it reminds me of the old Japanese Kung Fu movies.  The cadence and flow of the show doesn't even feel right with the dubbed version.  But I have to say, worth seeing. 

O A (Netflix)

A young girl goes missing for 7 years and suddenly shows up in a hospital  with vague memories and mysterious scars on her back.  She is very reluctant to reveal what happened to her as well as where she has been.  But the mystery lies with why is she able to see now when 7 years ago she could not.

Ending the year out, I wondered what was new on the streaming sites (HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) that I could binge watch during my relaxing time during the holidays.  I was emailed this new series from Netflix that had some pretty good recommendations.  I never heard of the writer/directors even though they had some movies out previously.  But the story line seemed bland and the trailer sparked an interest.  But with the comparison to the other Netflix series "Stranger Things",  I said why not.

Basic premise was a lost blind teenager disappears for 7 years and suddenly finds her way back.  The big differences in her life besides being gone for 7 years was, she could see, she has some weird ass scars on her back and she is trying to get back to where she was being held.  You first think, hmmm Stockholm syndrome?  But we hear her life story from her memories as told to her band of misfits from her town.  O, I forgot. Who is her?  Well she is a Russian Barons daughter that changed her name twice, then to her adopted name Prairie then her new name OA.  I know, I know freakin weird right?  So lets talk about this in short form. OA is totally confused in the town she returns to and doesn't want to tell anyone anything until she runs into the town psycho bully (I still don't know what she did to the dog).  She bonds with him and tells him she'll help him with his problem of being sent away to a deservingly reform school if she get five people to come together to help her get back to where she was at.  WTF?  Yup she basically told him that she would keep his psycho ass out of teenage prison. But while she was hoping he would find people, she put out a you tube video to recruit on her own.  Of the million + mentally disturbed people who access the internet,  She got her 5.  Including the bully.  This is where we start seeing the life of OA.  

She tells her new founded team, in her previous life.  She was a barons daughter until she died in a school bus accident with  other children of the Russian Oligarchy.   When she died she had a choice to came back without the ability to see or stay within the mysterious realm she was in without suffering.  She returned and her father sent her away to a blind boarding school with her aunt because of the danger of her father's enemies.  OA stays with her aunt until her father presumably disappears and now her aunt gets no more money to protect her and keep her with the very expensive boarding school.  OA becomes the blind servant of her aunt at this house of ill repute.  Not longer after her arrival, an older couple adopts her and the little blind girl is brought  into a better life than living in a whore house with baby producing prostitutes.  Luckily we don't get into these details of her life and the going ons with the house.  Not really relevant to the story.  But while OA's life is being changed, from one household to another.   She has these night terrors and dreams of her past life and premonitions.  She wakes up with these random nose bleeds and in her mind.  These dreams are telling her that she needs to get back to her father.  When she gets older she dreams of meeting her father in this mysterious place while she is playing her violin.  She takes these visions and leaves her home and believes she is to meet up with her father in New york.  He doesn't show up and she feels if she plays her music in the subway.  Her father will return to her.  But there is a man that finds her.  A doctor that has been studying exceptional people who has had experienced with near death experiences.  He seduces her and this mad doctor captures her and brings her to an isolated place where she is with other people who had near death experiences (NDE) like her.  The story shifts to showing the relationships of these 4 but eventual 5 people in these glass cages and how they are being tested to figure out the secret to life after death.  It gets weird and we find that this maniac doctor is killing them over and over to see their reactions to gain insight to the experience.  The one thing OA does show us is,  she has an interaction with someone when she is dead which causes her to make a decision to go back to the world or stay with her and not suffer again.  With all of this being said.  She is telling this to her 5 band of misfits so they can learn the 5 movements to transition to another dimension where she believes her friends she was held as a prisoner are still being held.

Whew, that was a mouth full.  Not quite like stranger things, a little of Christopher Nolan's "The prestige and a touch of (my opinion) "12 monkeys" series.  Its not a wow you series that keeps you totally engaged or so mysterious it works your left and right brain.  Its interesting and very unique.  Lots of plot holes and vague interpretations of things that occurred but I will say a very interesting series.  Their is a lot more that went on that will get you to disengage or become more engaged.  Thats up to you.  I thought it was pretty good but not sure if season 2 will have something for me to continue watching it.  i will say, the 5 misfit characters had some interesting story lines as well.  They didn't touch them too much besides the psycho bully but good enough to see them more than just extras.  Worth seeing? I think it is, especially with the shows out now trying to be clones of each other.  sad, thoughtful and above all interesting.  

Rogue One

Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing down when the evil Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire's lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a vengeful Jyn joins forces with a spy and other resistance fighters to steal the space station's plans for the Rebel Alliance

I went to this new Star Wars flick with high expectations.  J.J Abrams previous addition to the Star Wars anthology was a good first effort for a come back.  But this was supposed to be a true jump off to the franchise with new directors and not the same old George Lucas, Steven Spielberg happy go lucky cutesy story line.  I'm a Star Wars fan but not a fanatic.  I got to see every addition to the franchise and 80% of the movies at the IMAX theater (not the first trilogy).  I was part of the group yelling about the prequels to be directed by someone else but still supported the franchise.  It was difficult to hope that Lucas would all of sudden change his direction with how the franchise would go but it never happen. We all cheered when he relinquished his control to Disney and they put it into the hands of J.J Abrams.  We began to submit our wish list of directors and people and story lines we wanted to see.  From the animated versions to the Star War books.  So when we heard that we were going to see a stand alone version of the franchise i was like O boy, what's going to happen now.  The story line? - rebels try to get the blueprints to the Death Star to give to rebel resistance.  So who could director a movie that could be suspenseful, stay within the Sci Fi genre and respect the fans to say thank you.  In comes Gareth Edwards!!

  I first came into contact with Gareth when I was given the recommendation for his movie he wrote and directed called Monsters .  Which made me watch his second epic which was Godzilla.  I know most of you are like Godzilla?  Really?  Yup Godzilla.  The way he presented the movie and the character was pretty amazing and modern.  One of the things he was able to show brilliantly was not focusing on the details of the special effects, but made you focus on the scene and the why.  His great feat was keeping you interested from within the shadows.  His movies are dark with great  altering back and forward to light atmospheres and dark.  So watching these two movies gave me a good image of what was in store for Rogue One.

The story tells us about a family that has history with the empire but made a decision to walk away.  But like every other Star Wars flick.  No one walks away from the empire.  They come for the father who is a scientist and they need him back for their Grand project.  The Death Star.  But his daughter Jyn gets away and joins a rebel group led by the brilliantly played Forest Whitaker.  We don't see her involvement with the rebels but we see her skills she picked up while she survives on her own.  We are introduced to a few other rebels that are ruthless and know they have to do things that aren't really kosher.   This is a definite change from the other Star War series.  We see the desperation and on top of all of that.  The strong power of the Empire.  You knew the empire was in control in the other movies but this movie you see the cruelness and cold destruction caused by the empire.  I actually felt more angry at their Nazi cold actions than before.  Jyn is picked up by the Rebel alliance and sent on a mission tells her we know who your father is and we need information.  The superficial mission was to capture him.  The real mission was to kill his ass. We see these rebel hunters as real hunters and anarchist.  They are hardened and loyal to the cause.  Not in a light hearted hero way but in a desperation to live and their people to live.  This movie if you haven't all ready heard it is a war movie.  Fighting and killing to survive or stay in charge.   Beach front battles and air to air combat.  No silly Ewoks to spoil the mood either.  You did see Gareth throw a bone to the Star War fans with some cameos and little easter eggs from previous movies.  I believe he did that to connect those back to the overall story instead of just creating a whole new one.  As the modern era of Star wars movies hit the screen.  This I feel is one of the best.  Light a times but forward and steady of what supposed to be accomplished at any means necessary.  Once again as the new series arise.  The movie had great diversity with its characters from lead to supportive.    Great fight scenes, good characters and great supporting story to the franchise.  This is a movie worth seeing and explaining the movie doesn't give the movie its just due.  The scope of the movie really was amazing in IMAX, but I don't think it really needed the 3D.  JS.  This will become a classic and like one critic already mentioned (Rogue One’s Gareth Edwards Shouldn’t Direct Another Star Wars Movie) He has done such a great job that they would place to high of an expectation to top this one.  I think he gets it but don't want his talent to be trapped in this never ending Star War series.  He has already dropped off the new Godzilla movie so hopefully he'll move to other things.    Worth the peso's and Euro's.