TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favourite Science Fiction & Fantasy Films

Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. This week’s topic is in honour of the Booktube SFF Awards and instead of focusing on books, we’re talking about our favourite science fiction and fantasy in other media, whether that’s TV or Film. Me being me, has gone for film and here are some of my favourites.

If you’ve not watched Moon you really should. It’s a small-scale sci-fi film that sometimes feels claustrophobic, but that just adds to the underlying tension running throughout the film. Moon is eerie and gripping and Sam Rockwell is fantastic. It’s a film that’s lodged itself in my brain from the first time I saw it.


While I do feel this franchise has gone on far too long and has generally gotten worse, I do love the first Transformers film. It’s one of my “comfort” films, if I feel down for some reason I’ll put it on and the over the top characters and action cheer me up. The battle in Qatar’s desert between the US military and a Decepticon is one of my favourite action sequences ever.



REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

My original review of Guardians of the Galaxy, written and posted in August 2014 can be found here.

When intergalactic terrorist Ronan (Lee Pace) threatens the galaxy, an unlikely group of heroes – all criminals of some kind – are forced to work together to stop him.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the first proper foray into space and beyond for the MCU. Each world our dubious heroes visit is its own unique place. The design of each of these worlds and their cities have so much personality and all look like real-lived in places. The special effects make space look beautiful and the whole film is full of colourful worlds, costumes and characters.

The so-called Guardians of the Galaxy are formed of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) a man who was kidnapped from Earth when he was a child and has grown up to be a thief, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) an assassin, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who takes everything literally, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a genetically engineered racoon and Groot (Vin Diesel) a large talking tree. They are an odd mix of characters who certainly don’t get along all the time, but their dynamics are often both compelling and hilarious.

I can’t not mention the soundtrack. Music makes up a huge part of Guardians of the Galaxy and all the songs add something to the action on screen, whether it adds to the humour or to the emotion these characters are feeling. The soundtrack is just as fun as the film is.

The only thing that really lets down Guardians of the Galaxy is its villain. Ronan is your typical bad guy and forgettable one really. It’s other antagonistic characters like Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) who are more convincing adversaries as they both have history with our heroes. Also the plot itself is quite cliché but the way its executed makes it more unusual and entertaining.

Guardians of the Galaxy is so much fun. It’s really a near-perfect mix of humour, action and larger than life characters who each get their moment to shine and who forge a surprising connection. 4/5.

REVIEW: Treasure Planet (2002)

When Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) discovers a map to a legendary pirate’s treasure, he embarks on a journey with a crew led by Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) to find it. But danger is close with John Silver (Brian Murray) on board.

Everything about this film is wonderful!

Treasure Planet is an adaptation of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and it’s a story that works surprisingly well in space with it’s larger than life characters and the action and intrigue. Jim is a great character as his experiences shape him, he grows from being a young rebel dreaming of adventure to someone who puts his life on the line for others.

Jim’s relationship with John Silver is brilliant too. The film does a great job of showing how Silver isn’t a one-dimensional villain and while he may be desperate for treasure, he may also start to care about Jim as well.

The animation style is great as it’s a mixture of traditional hand-drawn and computer animation. The human characters are hand-drawn while more mechanical characters are made from CGI, these two styles along with the gorgeous colours of space makes everything on screen look beautiful.

The two songs featured in Treasure Planet by John Rzeznik from the Goo Goo Dolls are fantastic and I’ve been listening to them almost non-stop since I watched the film. I’m Still Here is like a gut-punch when you hear it during the film as you really see and feel what Jim is yearning for. The score is also great and it’s suitably epic and beautiful.

I missed Treasure Planet when it was first released over 15 years ago. I didn’t watch a lot of early 2000’s Disney films – I think I thought I was too old for them – and I’m annoyed at my younger-self as I was missing out on a thrilling adventure with great characters and stunning worlds and technology. Treasure Planet is now one of my favourite Disney films, it’s up there with The Lion King and The Beauty & the Beast for me. Treasure Planet is a great adventure and I loved every second. 5/5.

REVIEW: Waterworld (1995)

In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted, and the Earth appears to be entirely submerged underwater, a mariner (Kevin Costner) struggles to survive and fight off outlaws as he reluctantly agrees to help a woman (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and girl (Tina Majorino) try and find dry land.

The world of Waterworld is fascinating and that is mainly because of the amazing sets and practical effects. This is a film that was clearly filmed on the open ocean, and the boats various characters have all feel lived in and an extension of the characters themselves. Especially the mariners boat, it’s an interesting ship and is clearly something he has adapted and maintained over many years. It’s made up from a motely assortment of materials and the stuff inside it is a mixture of stuff from the old world and equipment he’s made.

Because of how the ships and characters clothes are all patched up, Waterworld almost feels timeless. The action set pieces still look good and that’s due to the practical effects, there’s fire and explosions everywhere and you believe the characters are right in the thick of it. The action is entertaining and it’s easy to follow, with there being so many wide shots so you can see jet skis jumping over walls, or the mariner dashing around his boat, to take out the bad guys.

While the sets, costumes and the production design are all very good and help set this dystopian scene, the story and characters aren’t so great. The acting isn’t particularly good, Costner says so many of his lines in a monotone, that while the mariner is supposed to be a reclusive character, there’s not much to him that makes him compelling. Dennis Hopper plays Deacon, the villain of the piece and he spends most of his time shouting and is more like a pantomime villain than a real threat.

The story itself is predictable but the scope of Waterworld has to be admired. 3/5.

REVIEW: The 5th Wave (2016)

The world is being invaded by aliens causing increasingly deadly attacks and those left alive don’t know who to trust. When Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is separated from her little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur), she’ll do anything to get him back.

The 5th Wave is the big screen adaptation of the YA book of the same name by Rick Yancey. I read the book a few years ago and really enjoyed it, though I wasn’t a fan of the sequel and I have yet to get around to reading the final book in the trilogy, so I was interested in seeing this adaptation.

Chloë Grace Moretz is brilliant at Cassie. She has to carry pretty much the majority of the film and she does a great job, especially the scenes with Zackary Arthur, they really sell their sibling relationship. Cassie is an interesting character because she’s had to grow up a lot but she’s still a teenager whose whole world has completely changed. When she meets Evan (Alex Roe) she’s in need of help but that doesn’t mean she wants to accept it.

There is naturally a romance angle in The 5th Wave, it’s not terrible but there’s not exactly sparkling chemistry between Cassie and her love interest.

The film is a bit disjointed when it stops solely following Cassie and then introduces Ben (Nick Robinson) as a main character. Ben’s brought into the army led by Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) and there he, along with hundreds of other kids, is trained to kill the aliens, or as they call them the Others. His side of the story is interesting though a little predictable, even if you haven’t read the book.

The 5th Wave is a decent adaptation while still being an interesting and sometimes exciting sci-fi film. It does drag at times and is a little cheesy, but the fights and shootouts are generally quite good. 3/5.

REVIEW: Artemis by Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is the best smuggler in Artemis – the first and only city on the moon. Life’s tough if you’re not a rich tourist or a billionaire, so smuggling in the occasional bit of harmless contraband helps cover her debts and pay the rent. Then Jazz gets the chance on commit the perfect crime, with the pay-out being too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible heist is just the start of her problems, as things go wrong and her life becomes endangered. Soon Jazz discovers a conspiracy in Artemis, and her only chance at survival lies in a scheme even riskier than the first.

I was so excited about Artemis when I first heard about it. It’s about a heist (I love heist stories) on the moon (it’s always cool having stories set in space) by the guy who wrote The Martian (one of my favourite books I read over the past few years). Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

I found it difficult to get into Artemis, mainly because I couldn’t get used to Jazz’s narrative voice. It’s very conversational as if she’s talking to someone else. It is quite similar to Mark Watney in The Martian – but there was a reason his voice was like that, he was recording himself. With Jazz it felt forced, the humour didn’t land a lot of the time and the way she talked about herself and her body was weird and in my experience, not how women generally talk about themselves.

Naturally there’s technical and science jargon but the way it’s explained makes it pretty accessible and easy to understand. However, there is a lot of it and it can bog down the action and I found myself skim-reading it more often than not. The heist itself was pretty good and I didn’t see many of the twists and turns coming as things naturally went wrong for Jazz and her plans.

Artemis is just a bit meh. The whole idea of a city on the moon is really cool and the way the city is described makes it vivid and exciting but the story itself is just OK. Jazz is more grating than a sarcastic hero the book tries to make her out to be and I couldn’t connect to her or any of the characters really. Artemis was an alright book, but it was a disappointing one for me. 3/5.

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

While Rey (Daisy Ridley) attempts to learn the way of the Force with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), General Leia (Carrie Fisher) leads the Resistance as the First Order threatens them all.

All the characters we met before in The Force Awakens (2015) have returned, plus some new ones. Two of the key new characters are Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who befriends Finn (John Boyega), and Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) who hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) clashes with.

A lot of the film focusses on Rey’s training as she learns more about the Force and what made Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) turn to the Dark Side. Rey and Kylo are often portrayed as equals or two sides of the same coin and their interactions are often tense and fascinating. These two are the main focus of the film, which then means characters like Finn are side-lined which is unfortunate. To be honest, the Finn and Rose’s whole plot could’ve been much more condensed so they get back to the main group of heroes sooner. That being said, all of the cast give excellent performances and Hamill and Fisher add so much more to their iconic characters.

The Last Jedi is an action-packed sequel with a lot of humour, some of which doesn’t always hit the mark. There’s a lot going on in this film with characters splitting off and going on their own missions, but at the same time, all of this stuff doesn’t do much in terms of progressing the overarching plot. This film seems to focus more of character development, which is not a bad thing at all, though it is sometimes heavy handed and by focusing on this there doesn’t seem to be any form of resolution in the battle of good vs evil. Naturally this is the second film in a trilogy, so there’s time for things to be resolved in a satisfactory way.

The action is well shot, and the blend of CGI and practical affect is once again to the highest quality. The Last Jedi is also a good-looking film, with some stunning locations and interesting new worlds and creatures to meet.

The Last Jedi combines the family fun with dark themes, to varied affect. Sometimes these opposites are too extreme while in other cases it allows for a moments rest before these characters we know and love are in peril once more. There’s a lot of twists and turns in The Last Jedi, taking the franchise to places it may not have gone to before and it’s an unsettling thing. This makes The Last Jedi a fun ride but it’s not a flawless one. 3/5.

*Side note* I will be seeing this film again next week so I’m interested to see what I make of it after I’ve had time to think about it – will the flaws be more noticeable, or will I find more things I like? Who knows?