Sunday, February 19, 2012

Soldier - Kurt Russell

Having an HDD/DVD recorder, numerous free view channels and ease of recording through a contents list is a wonderful thing. I’ve been picking up on some excellent documentaries repeated on BBC4 and elsewhere (particularly like Versailles recently, and some repeats of Horizon) and a few films I missed out on or wouldn’t have bothered recording if I’d needed to go through the whole set-up rigmarole. Also enjoyable on free view are repeats of QI on Dave, and the historical stuff on Yesterday.

I recently watched Hell Rider, which was dreck, but I also recorded one called Soldier – an SF film I’d never heard of and recorded only on the strength of it having Kurt Russell in it. I’m glad I did.

The film started out with scenes of children being raised as soldiers, much of their training, followed by battle scenes that caused a sinking sensation in my gut. I thought I was going to be watching another load of dreck like Hell Rider. As the film progressed I realized that this could have been a really crappy film. However, the acting carried it. Kurt Russell as the brain-washed dehumanized soldier, rediscovering his humanity, was superb. It was interesting too to discover that a co-writer of Blade Runner – David Peoples – wrote this as a ‘spiritual successor’ to that film. It was, and not just because one of the battles happened to be called Tanhauser Gate.

This is well worth watching, in my opinion. Screw the negative reviews. 


Bob Lock said...

There are some good old SF films out there Neal. Two I'd recommend are Silent Running:
Dark Star:

Neal Asher said...

I enjoyed both of those, Bob, and they're a perfect demonstration of how drones/droids and AI have been knocking around for a long time.

Xanares said...

Totally agreed; one of my favourite SF movies. A lot of that movie has stuck, and I remember it better than e.g. Alien, I think.

According to it had a prod. cost of $60M and a total box office gross in US of $15M, so it clearly was one of the "we'll never touch sci-fi again"-movies for the publishers. Sadly.

It's weird, but people in general have a much higher degree of disconnect with movies like this than for example Avatar. I guess it's because it's bleak, realistic in a sense and a rough ride vs a fairy-tale unicorn-flying romantic tale.

Garroldy said...

I watched Soldier again at the weekend. I love that movie. It holds it's center really well, Russells character softens only slightly over the movie. More through gaining respect for the lost colonists. But he doesn't have a soppy hollywood epihany. He stays true to his soldier training and conditioning and always refers to the possible love interest as 'sir'. It feels like a movie with a strong vision and no rewrites.

Oxford Water Rat said...

Also a favourite of mine and the music is wonderful. Loreena Mckennit is a top artist. Russell has a way of making the most unlikely roles work well; he's quite underrated to my way of thinking. I'd like to see more of him.

Roger Schweingruber said...

I like it big time. Russel (has to) plays wooden but that is required. I also like the ideo of him getting sraped like an old toy when the new and advanced soldiers "come out". Hmm.... aren't the soldiers not kind of Sparkind ;-) ?

Roger Schweingruber said...

Neal, I'm running a best of List on IMDB

maybe you find some inspiration there... ordered by my personal preference

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

my problem was the (cue swelling music) ending where humanity in general is embraced (basically).

why the hell should he care about these people? if it was revealed that he was part of a (homosexual or rapeslave?) Pol Pot --kill all-- type unit, i thought it would have been a more solid movie. bleaker. realistic. nasty as fuk. great film up to the ending then it got all Disney. why the hell would he CARE about these people? he's a tool for war, like a USA tax fund. the whole front end of the movie built up to that ugly fact.

there is so much SF dreck out there it makes me sick. (cue swelling music & vomit loop)
CHILDREN OF MEN is pretty decent though!
right before SOLDIER Kurt did BREAKDOWN which is really an underrated movie. imagine HELL RIDER...& THE HITCHER maybe... but really good.

Neal Asher said...

Xanares, shame it didn't make more money. At least it had its own story rather than 'Dances with Smurfs'.

Garroldy, I think there was a bit of an epiphany at the end, but perhaps the problem at the end was it not being soppy enough.

Oxford Water Rat, agreed about Kurt Russell. I must try out Escape from New York and see if it still stands up.

Roger, interesting list there with a few I haven't seen. I've got Inception here still in its wrapping, but may well be taking it off to Crete to watch.

Not sure I agree, Vaude. The whole point there was him being shifted out of his set environment and coming to terms with people who actually showed him kindness.

Phillip J. Johns said...

I always thought Dances with Smurfs was more Pocahontas in Space.

Graeme Finch said...

I thought the baddies were a bit wooden and it went too fast for what was an interesting story, so was a bit jerky.

To whit... man made super soldier superseded... bin him on a shit hole world and leave him to die.

I watched it for Kurt Russell as well, and like Brad Pit in Troy he was the best bit of it. Not the best but by no means the worst.

As for Dark Star and Silent Running, two of my fave cult SciFi movies ever. They are to SF fans what an Alfa Romeo is to a petrol head.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

"The whole point there was him being shifted out of his set environment and coming to terms with people who actually showed him kindness."

that sorta stuff doesn't work with US soldiers often, also NYPD. these guys have disconnect of us and them. would've been more bleak, less expected cliche ending, if he would've just got back on board with back patting lovebuds and given the 'Collateral Murder' speech about bringing a kid into battle. ouch.

i feel like so many of these SF movies (original release of BLADE RUNNER incl.) drop the ball for the safe ending. i was almost sold on STARGATE, for example, but they had to stick the 'we all pulled together to make a big hug Hallmark card!' the studios probably at the last moment go; "what?! audiences want a nice fuzzy slipper to get into after the ride! what the fuk are you doing asshole SFuker?" maybe writers are sappy dinks for these big budget flops. great thing about SILENT R. & DARK STAR is death. you don't really expect it. it wasn't too safe. BRAZIL was like that also. your screwed. get the hell out of here and deal with this ride.

so having said that rant, have to part with this enemy making opinion (if i haven't lost you already): THE MATRIX he flies off...not fuking cool at all. obnoxious pandering stupid inane ending. sure it makes sense since he took the xanex, but goddamit..rrr.

Bob Lock said...

It's heartening to find other fans of Dark Star and Silent Running as they are very rarely shown which is a pity I think.

Other old SF films I'd suggest worth taking a look at are:

Outland with Sean Connery (a bit like High Noon in space)
Soylent Green
Logan's Run

Neal Asher said...

It was, Philip.

Graeme, admittedly the baddies were your typical uncomplicated arsehole soldier stereotype. And the colonists (whatever) were a bit stereotypical too. Nice to see Chiklis there though.

I'm not heavily into unrealistic soppy endings, Vaude, but perhaps I'm getting soft in my old age. Whichever way you cut it you have to consider what people are looking for in their entertainment. Generally it's an escape from reality, not to have their noses ground into it.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

"but perhaps I'm getting soft in my old age."

V I A G R A !

had to..

the selling pt of BLADE RUNNER, eventually anyways, was the bleakness. realize that many of these soppy slops became floppy crops in the ticket dept. i know, they deserve that end result right? we who appreciate SF don't tho'. we deserve...the best!
like uh..Moorcock's FINAL PROGRAMME (?)

Eric Hayden reads a lot of A. C. Clarke type SF (and animates crummy movies). he's a positive guy that did all this in a corner of the warehouse at his job, watt the hell..Lance Henriksen is in this one so I guess i have to see it. claustrophobic? you might want to think twice about it:

sorta looks like SUNSHINE vs. 2011 but he started working on it before MOON.

Graeme Finch said...

Seem em all Graeme. Soylent Green only once but it left a mark and couldn't be forgotten.

Logans Run was on just a few weeks ago, late afternoon on 5 I think. It could do with a faithful remake but still stands up. Outland was well underated as I remember it, but then that seems to happen to smaller SF films.