Earthbound, Australiens, Movie Reviews

One of the joys of the ROKU is that it has channels with LOTS of movies. While many of them have the same tired copies of someone’s VHS Tape Library (as old movies exit copyright), others have more current professional moves (often for a fee). There there’s a few channels that have decent movies, with commercials typically, but sometimes from minor studios, foreign films, or other sources that don’t make it to the USA Big Screens or Networks.

It is that last group that has been most fun for me. The semi-professional movies, or the movies made for fun, not just profit. Sometimes it takes wading through some real junk to find the good ones. Sometimes you hit a streak of good ones. This week was a winning streak.

On the OvGuide channel, under the SciFi category, they have 500+ films. I sampled a few, and watched two that were pretty good. ( The Blackout is one you can skip… not bad, well, not too bad – the acting was pretty good. Just very formulaic. EMP takes out power globally, folks go crazy and good people do bad things, power comes back, oh don’t we feel bad…) The good ones were different, and with a particularly tongue in cheek humor to them.

First off, Earthbound. From Ireland. Supported by the Irish Film Board (or whatever the proper name of it might be…) per the credits. Along with lots of small and local supporters.

At first I expected it to be so-so. The basic plot (Alien stuck on Earth makes a go of it with the locals, but destiny requires them to save their planet) being a well used plot device. The reality was a plot well twisted such that you find yourself thinking “Oh, THAT old way out” and then you find out THAT was just another twist. In the end, the story is twisty enough to be new, and not so much as to be a bother.

The Irish accents are a delight. The special effects minimal, but good enough (most of the story is set in contemporary Earth, after all). Much of the meat of the show is in fact a love story. Folks finding each other, finding something special, then special problems, then overcoming them, then more problems. The characters well played.

From the IMDB (which is pretty slim):

Joe is an Alien on Earth. At least that is what his father told him before he died when Joe was eleven. He finds it difficult to adjust, and to find a compatible girl friend.

OTOH, to be more elaborate would be to write spoilers for the various twists and turns. Let’s just say there are other alien agencies involved and it is more than “Lonely Alien looking for love in all the wrong places”…

In the end, I found myself empathetic with the lead characters (in several different situations where their world view changes). They manage to catch that awkward sort of out of place we all feel sometimes, and overcome it. Yet without being stale about it, and with just enough humor included to avoid being maudlin or morose about it. Just when you are leaning toward down, they lift you up with some Alien Sit Com, then when lifted, bring back enough “issues” to feel the contrast.

Second, Australiens

As you might guess, lots of Australian accents and their quirky approach to things. It reminded me of Mars Attacks in some ways (and not just the green over the top aliens…). Not anywhere near as high budget. Minus the “name names”. Sometimes the actors don’t quite hold character as well as more experienced actors (or the director didn’t order a retake…); yet that adds to the charm of this movie. Like watching a stage play; that you know it isn’t real and isn’t “immersive” is part of the idea.

From the IMDB:

Storyline

At the age of 10, Australian-born Andi Gibson had what she describes as a close encounter with a flying saucer. Naturally, everyone assumed she was bonkers. That is until one notable evening, 17 years later, when an airborne extra-terrestrial armada launches a nation-wide assault on Andi’s home country and at the same time, for unspecified reasons, kidnaps her mother. To add to the debacle, it seems the other nations of the world are far too insulted by their exclusion from the attack to come to Australia’s aid. Now it is up to Andi, her hypochondriac brother Elliot, retired boxer cousin Keith and documentary filmmaker friend Cam to stop the attack and rescue Andi’s mum. Enlisting the help of Andi’s equal-parts mysterious and cringeworthy father, the gang must battle car-chasing spaceships, martial-arts aliens, giant killer robots and, perhaps most frighteningly, a deluge of family secrets in their fight to save Australia. Bloody hell, this is gonna be a long night. Written by Joe Bauer

Well written, it managed to surprise at the right times and maintain suspense via plot twists up to the end. Even at the end of the credits with an “Easter Egg” bit.

Andi has a delightful way about her with very expressive looks. The supporting actors and actresses all pull off credible performances ( I suspect the UK / Anglo heritage of theatre had influence here and that folks had prior stage work in front of audiences with a good idea what things ought to look like done well…) Even the running jokes managed to stay fresh through it all. (Though I do have to wonder what Australians have against Tasmania… “It isn’t really part of Australia…”)

Special effects were better than I expected. I presume due to computer costs having dropped dramatically since the first Star Wars film was made 40+ years ago. Flying saucers, space aliens, ray guns – all rendered well, if with a humorous homage to the old B&W B Movie SciFi of the 50s and 60s.

Will it win an Academy Award? Nope. Not that kind of movie. No political POV being shoved at you. No “message”. Just a good romp around Australia and laughing at things in the process. The right blend of Evil Villain, Heroic Resistance, and slapstick. It did get lots of other awards though.

In my opinion, well worth watching when you want some light humor and escapism from the negativity of life.

There’s just something special about films that have what looked like (at least to me) brewers or brewpubs in their credits as supporters and lists small shops that loaned them gear or services. When there is a community involved with the film, it is being made by friends for friends.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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8 Responses to Earthbound, Australiens, Movie Reviews

  1. Zeke says:

    “The semi-professional movies, or the movies made for fun, not just profit. Sometimes it takes wading through some real junk to find the good ones. Sometimes you hit a streak of good ones. This week was a winning streak.”

    Great find EM. Monopolies and mercantilism have taken their toll on movies. I am more than patient with smaller productions — I just think of it as a play production with stage sets, etc. as you said. I have this dread of the children and grandchildren of Hollywood being inflicted on us forever. Looking for amateurs and outsiders to breath life into things.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Zeke:

    Yeah, I’ve gotten tired of Corporate Formula Part 8… (What’s Star Wars up to now? 7? 9?) and the “Oh look, we’re going to be daring and push the envelope by having The Impossible Kiss! that’s been done a 100 times before. I really don’t care to have two guys or two girls kissing thrown into a movie to “make a statement” when it has nothing to do with the plot; and it isn’t particularly “edgy” to have a mixed race couple, nor to have a Black Romeo or Juliet.

    Just tell me a good yarn, have it well acted, and let me escape from Real Life ™ for a while.

    So I’ve been going out of my way to work through the ‘lesser films’ on small channels. After a couple of months, thought, “Hey, why don’t I let folks know when I found a good one?”…

    Along the way, some other fun, too. One was a German SciFi movie (Voyage? to Venus? or some such) dubbed in English from about the ’60s. Hokey as hell, and not a great print (some old VHS from somewhere, I suspect). But it was an amusing look back at what folks thought might have been on the other planets before anyone knew. Now that we know, you couldn’t make a film that had folks running around on the surface in thin pressure suits… Then there was The Creature From The Black Lagoon ( hope I got that right). Remembered seeing it in the 60s and being scared as a kid. Now just laughing at a guy in a rubber suit ;-) Strange having both feelings at once… one as a memory. I think I need to find The Blob next. I had nightmares for a week from it. In the 80s? saw it again and was NOT scared by the “attack of the close up of bubble gum”… ;-)

    Spouse is loving it for watching some old situation comedies and old movies too. I’ve not got her to branch out to try titles she doesn’t recognize. But in time…

    I think what I’ll start doing is just type a title into the IMDB search box and read about them before I pick one to watch. But then again, the reviews at IMDB often are exactly opposite of what I find I like.

    Oh, and I ran across “Blue Velvet”. I’d never seen it before.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090756/
    From 1986 and I was too busy for many movies then. I love the song of the same name, and that was used several times in the movie, but the movie is very different… a dark murder / blackmail / sexploitation theme. Not my kind of movie, really; but it is held up as some kind of special leap forward in movies. (Near as I can tell, mostly for having a good looking attractive lady naked in a few scenes, but in a sympathetic context) I’m glad I can say I’ve seen it, but mostly so I can comment “wisely” on it in conversations. It starts way too slow, and ends way too violently, with overly gratuitous sex and violence in the middle. Still, it is acted well and stars Name Names doing a good job (though Dean Stockwell as an ambiguously gay guy with lipstick and eye shadow was a surprise… he pulled it off and was convincing).

    But between Blue Veleet and Australiens, I’ll take Australiens… I’d rather laugh and feel good than cringe and squirm.

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    Re Tasmania; it is separated from the rest of Australia by the Bass Straight which used to be rather difficult to cross, and the influx of immigrants from Europe in the 50’s and 60’s tended to bypass them leading to claims about inbreeding**. Also the Greens started there, and were strong enough to form part of the State government for years and as a consequence the local economy tanked and they received a lot of subsidies from the mainland.
    Lately, thanks(?) to years of utterly incompetent management by the State Labor Government the subsidies and the resentment have been directed towards South Australia. (The Opposition MIGHT just win the election next year, which tells you all you need to know about them). Do not mention the subsidies to somebody from West Australia unless wearing protective clothing.

    ** Even the Prime Minister of the day in 1974 made a joke to accompanying reporters about that, but not repeatable on a clean living respectable blog like this.

  4. Zeke says:

    If you are going to have that conversation, here is something to get the ball rolling.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/10958728/Australian-judge-says-incest-may-no-longer-be-a-taboo.html

    But wouldn’t it be fun to talk about movies instead.

  5. Zeke says:

    “** Even the Prime Minister of the day in 1974 made a joke to accompanying reporters about that, but not repeatable on a clean living respectable blog like this.”

    Mates. This isn’t 1974 any more. So do try to keep current on the sexual revolution.

    Safe Schools, Australia’s abundantly funded K-12 education “anti-bullying” program:

    “Safe Schools Coalition Australia is a national coalition of organisations and schools working together to create safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families. It is funded by the Australian Government and, in Victoria, by the Victorian Government. The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) is the national convenor of Safe Schools Coalition Australia and has partnered with experienced organisations in every state and territory to directly support schools.”

    refs:
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/02/17/the-real-agenda-behind-the-safe-schools-coalition/
    & Cory Bernardi “Speech to the Senate on the Safe Schools Coalition program 160222”

  6. jim2 says:

    Here’s a good hokey movie. On Pluto (on Roku).

    Also, Mystery Science Theater is on Pluto, I believe it was.

  7. philjourdan says:

    Ok, 2 movies in my “to see” list. I do not watch Oscar movies. They are more preachy than entertaining.

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