Is it summer yet? It feels like it should be summer now, based just on the sweat content of my clothes. Does this have anything to do with sci-fi? Nope. I’m just hot. Enjoy the streaming choices this week. Johnny Five would want it that way.
The More Recent
The Purge (HBO Go)
With the upcoming sequel The Purge: Anarchy right around the corner and waiting to beat you over the head with a pipe or something, what better time to watch James DeMonaco’s original, The Purge? Well, there’s never really a good time to watch this flick, as it wastes a good concept with brick-stupid characters and sub-zero plotting. But it falls into that “so bad it’s ridiculous” category, and watching it is vaguely rewarding. Like the last round of Russian Roulette.
The Wil Wheaton Project (Hulu Plus)
With The Wil Wheaton Project, Syfy takes on The Soup‘s brand of clip-heavy entertainment reporting with child star-turned-geek hero Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Eureka). The genre-boosting series premiered last week, and Hulu will be hosting the rest of the episodes as they air. The first episode was the good kind of corny, with a Walking Dead spoof and a preview pointing how just how close to nudity WGN America’s Salem gets without ever showing anything. Plus, a cameo from Chris Hardwick never hurt anyone.
The Returned (Netflix Instant)
A film I haven’t had a chance to check out yet, Manuel Carballo’s thriller The Returned is part of the fairly recent sub-sub-genre of zombie movies where the zombies have been domesticated. In this case, it’s due to a “Return Protein,” a treatment which stops the more horrific side effects of being undead. After a short time of peace, it’s discovered the protein is running out, and the titular Returned are forced to live as monsters. Unless Kate, a doctor, or Alex, her undead musician boyfriend, can figure out what to do. It has been surprisingly well-received, as both a love story and an outlying zombie horror.
The Less Recent
Star Trek: The Animated Series (Hulu Plus)
There’s something so homey about 1970s animation, a testament to limited color schemes and use of stock footage, with occasional moments of brilliance. That, in a nutshell, is Star Trek: The Animated Series, the Filmation production that ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974, for a total of 22 episodes. Slightly campy and full of imagination, the series was a fine (and heavily re-aired) holdover for Trekkies until the film series began in 1979. Featuring most of the original series’ cast, Star Trek: The Animated Series wasn’t afraid to call back to the live-action show, even delivering the fan-favorite episode sequel “More Tribbles, More Troubles.”
Judge Dredd (Showtime Anytime)
Perhaps now best known for viral images of Sylvester Stallone’s crooked face, Danny Cannon’s violent 1995 sci-fi/actioner isn’t as bad as you remember, but it’s still a lot worse than Pete Travis’ 2012 flop Dredd. Adapted from the no-nonsense cult hero of the comic series 2000 A.D., Judge Dredd commits the unforgivable double sin of removing Dredd’s helmet for most of the movie, and having Rob Schneider serve as the worst comic relief known to man. Still though…HE IS THE LAW!
Short Circuit 2 (Netflix Instant)
The farther we get in life, the more regret I feel in knowing that Short Circuit‘s Johnny Five will probably never be the design for the first truly sentient A.I. robot. But I do take comfort in knowing that Steve Guttenberg probably won’t have anything to do with it either. Directed by V and Bionic Woman creator Kenneth Johnson, Short Circuit 2 was kind of a pointless sequel, and saw a gang of criminals (including Michael McKean) taking advantage of Johnny Five and making him help them. But still, Johnny’s cornball humor is a nice robotic piggyback ride down memory lane.
Click (Hulu Plus)
Our weekly meeting here at GFR always ends with a secret Internet handshake and the repetition of our mantra, “Robots, time travel, and space are our preferences. Please refrain from all Adam Sandler references.” Yet here he is, in Frank Coraci’s 2006 comedy Click in which Sandler plays a man whose universal remote works on things other than his TV. It’s one of those movies that I wish I was the main character in, so that I wouldn’t have to watch it. Crazy scientist Christopher Walken doesn’t get old though.
Omega Doom (Hulu Plus)
When the world has been taken over by robots, you’d do yourself a big favor to follow Rutger Hauer around as he plays the titular Omega Doom, a robot whose “evil” personality traits are destroyed by a gunshot to the head. He makes his way to a ruined city, where new robots are battling older models, and Omega Doom tries to bring peace to everyone. It’s sort of the most scientific movie that’s ever existed.
Night of the Creeps (Netflix Instant)
One of the most memorable schlock horrors of the 1980s, Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps has B-movie charm for days to spare. Main character Chris Romero — who, like most of the characters here, is named after a famed horror director — finds himself in the middle of a zombie attack that began decades earlier with an alien canister that sprouts slug-things that possess their hosts. It’s that kind of a plot, and it’s pretty spectacular at times. Particularly the effects, because ew.
At the Earth’s Core (Netflix Instant)
Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ 1914 fantasy novel of the same name, Kevin Connor’s At the Earth’s Core is similar in subject matter and costumed creatures to Connor’s successful 1975 adventure The Land That Time Forgot. It tells the story of a scientist (Peter Cushing) and his financier (Doug McClure) who drill into a mountain and discover an underground world filled with flying reptiles and cavemen. Mind reading ensues.
That’s about it for this week, though if you’re dead set on watching Keanu Reeves vacantly stare at things in Johnny Mnemonic, you can find it on Netflix Instant. If not, though, you’ll win my respect and a cookie. See you next time!