March 30, 2011
MRQE Rewind: Mind-Bending Thrillers for April Fool's Day!
This April Fool's we have Source Code, a new sci-fi thriller starring Jake Gyhllenhaal. Gyhllenhaal plays a soldier who wakes up in the body of a stranger and finds out that he has only eight minutes to stop a bomber from blowing up a train. Sounds exciting. A main character, caught up in a mind-bending caper, not knowing if someone is potentially pulling the prank on him! Here at MRQE, we decided to celebrate the prankster with a look back at some of the head-scratching sci-fi movies that have puzzled, tricked and entertained audiences over the years.
Time Bandits (1981) - MRQE Metric: 75
When it comes to disorienting the viewer, director Terry Gilliam is in a class of his own. With an oeuvre of strangely surreal films, everyone knows a Gilliam movie by style alone. Time Bandits is a sci-fi, fantasy epic that follows a young boy who inadvertently travels through time with six dwarves. He encounters everyone from the likes of Napolean to King Agamemnon, while confronting figures like the Supreme Being, and Evil itself! Heavy stuff, but Gilliam handles the puzzling material with whimsy. A few of his fellow Pythons add to this merry and occasionally disturbing experience. Kudos.
Minority Report (2002) - MRQE Metric: 80
Back to the Future: Part II (1989) - MRQE Metric: 76
It won't win any prizes for its time traveling logic (flux capacitor?), but it's fun to follow Marty along in his hi-tops and a tricked-out Delorean. The story is not too tricky on the viewer; it's lighthearted and easily enjoyable.
Total Recall (1990) - MRQE Metric: 71
Twelve Monkeys (1995) - MRQE Metric: 78
La Jetée , Twelve Monkeys actually stands well on its own as a deranged sci-fi thriller. And Brad Pitt plays a good loony in a supporting role.
Johnny Mnemonic (1995) - MRQE Metric: 39
The Matrix, and Speed (which is making a comeback on cable this month), but many have overlooked this clunker. Reeves plays a courier in a future metropolis who carries around massive amounts of data for companies due to a cybernetic brain implant. When he overloads on information, he faces a 24-hour deadline before his head explodes. And of course a deadly company that wants his data is pursuing him as well. Suffice it to say, it's not very good. However it has achieved something of a cult status over the years. And one can make a case that the future-Neo learned the error of his ways, going on to greater success in the mind-bending genre.