#BingeWatch: WESTWORLD season 2 – An Appreciation

One of the positive things about being quarantined is you’ve got the luxury of time to catch up on some of my favorite shows. I LOVED the first season of WESTWORLD when it premiered in 2018. My hubby and I finally finished season 2 Thursday night and of course I’m still thinking about it. I’m surprised I didn’t have nightmares of Halores, ahah. If you’ve seen season 2 you know what that means!

It’s truly one of the most bizarre, inventive, meta, enthralling, and addictive shows I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. It’s perhaps the trippiest show, which is made all the more discombobulating given the non-linear timeline. In fact, one of the most fun things after binging shows like Westworld is consuming ALL of the articles, theories, explanations, etc. because truly, this is the kind of shows you want to pick apart and discuss endlessly with fellow fans.

Thanks to this Insider article, I can make some sense of the timeline of the show, I said some because everything is still trippy AF and you never really know which part is real. I also love how the show keeps us guessing who’s actually human and who’s a host, aka robot.

If you haven’t caught up with season 2 yet, here’s the trailer to wet your appetite… it took me waaay too long to finally catch up with it, but it’s so well worth the wait!!

There are SO many things to appreciate about this show… so consider this an appreciation post.

The Score & Opening Credits

I absolutely love is Ramin Djawadi‘s haunting score and this stunning opening credits! TV shows have really upped their game in creating truly beautiful and memorable opening credits, but I consider Westworld’s music and graphics one of the most innovative. It truly fits the tone and eerie, mystical vibe of the show itself.

 

Genre-crossing brilliance

We’ve seen countless human vs robots movies/shows but I think Westworld still sets itself apart because it can bridge multiple different genres – this season it shows there are other parts of the theme park explored, there’s the Raj as in the British Raj period in the Indian subcontinent, Ghost Nation with the Native American tribe and Shogünworld that’s modeled after Japan’s feudal Edo period.

I was just in Disney World in early March (yup, right before there was any COVID-19 cases reported in Florida!) and it’s eerie to imagine if a theme park like this exist… man, even just thinking about it gives me the chills!

The Production Values

This show has got to be a dream not just for the cast to work with, but the crew! The ultimate sci-fi western mixing gunslinging & futuristic, lifelike androids. In every episode I’m constantly in awe of the production design that sometimes it’s distracting! I love the juxtaposition between the desert landscape of the Old West and the super high-tech, space-age technologies with its cutting edge gadgetry, weaponry… and of course the ‘host’ aka robot-building mechanisms. After all, most of the technologies and concepts explored in the series are not only totally plausible in the near future (check out this Venturebeat article), some like 3D printing, intelligent machines, etc. are already here.

I love the BTS featurettes on how the filmmakers built the stunning world of Westworld, and these two on the sets and how they created those creepy-looking drone hosts (which are actually costumes that actors wear)… fascinating stuff!

Thought-provoking concept

The show-runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have really upped the ante and took this show to a whole different level from the 1973 movie version, directed by its own writer Michael Crichton. I haven’t seen the movie but I can’t imagine I’d enjoy it after seeing this phenomenal series. But the idea of a futuristic theme park where visitors can live out their wildest fantasies without any consequences is inherently intriguing… of course we all know everything comes with a price, and not all of it is monetary.

The running theme of ‘what is real’ and of course, ‘what it means to be human’ is at the core of every good science fiction… and that’s why I love this conversation between Dolores and Bernard, further blurring the lines between fantasy & reality, constantly flipping the roles between the creator and the creation… these scenarios that could potentially make one question one’s own existence!

What separates humans from robots is our mortality. Most of humans vs droids stories usually focus on the bots wanting to be like humans, to break free from the codes and human control as they’re often created to serve us. But what if there’s a twist? The series explores a grandiose concept that perhaps it’s the humans who want to be like the bots, to be able to live forever.

The Riddle of the Sphinx is an especially eerie one with plenty of philosophical speeches to ponder. Immortality is an often-told concept and seemingly a constant humans’ obsession with trying to cure death. I guess this is a ‘disease’ for the wealthy… I mean, no matter how much money one has, they still only have the same normal life span like the rest of us. Of course that doesn’t stop many companies in reversing the course of aging and offering us ways to ‘cheat death.’ We certainly don’t need any tv show, no matter how brilliant, to tell us it’s futile and playing God has dire consequences.

Great actor Peter Mullan as James Delos

Humans aren’t meant to live forever, let’s drink to that, shall we?

Speaking of living forever… reading this Vulture article where a futurist discuss the plausibility of AI developing consciousness in our world today is pretty eerie. Now, since we are all now living under a global pandemic and self-quarantining to save our lives, I thought about if something like Coronavirus were to happen in Westworld and spreading throughout the vast areas of the park… well, wouldn’t it be the end of humanity as we know it? I mean, as humans would start dropping like flies, the bots would live on as they’re obviously immune to organic viruses. It would be catastrophic not just for the park, but the world beyond.

Westworld Season 2 MVPs

I might do a separate blog just to talk about the cast. Man it’s really tough to pick just one as this show thrives on a talented, eclectic ensemble of phenomenal actors! It’d be too easy to pick

Ok for the sake of an argument, I’ll go with these two.

Thandie Newton – Maeve

It’s always clear from season one that Maeve Millay, a brothel madam in the local Mariposa Saloon, is much more than meets the eye. I knew she’s a special host, but just how special is she? Well, season 2 explores that brilliantly, boasting Thandie’s best performance yet. The kind of host never to trifle with and in the Akane No Mai episode in Shogünworld she proves just how mighty Maeve can be. I’m not going into details for spoiler sake, but when it happened I literally gasped! There’s also a scene where she finally get to humiliate one of her creators for constantly degrading her fellow robots, it’s one of the show’s funniest moments. Let’s just say he finally got his comeuppance.

Zahn McClarnon – Akecheta

While some sites have said the Kiksuya (which means “remember” in Lakota) is the best episode of season 2. That might be debatable, but I’d think it’s the most emotional one, which is quite a feat considering the episode consist almost entirely of expository flashback. Zahn McClarnon delivers an absolutely moving performance as Akecheta, delivering a monologue to a young child (in Lakota language no less), telling his story of his lost love and how he came to figure out just what kind of world he’s been living in. That whole bit of ‘take my heart when you go’ could’ve come out so mawkish and schmaltzy, but his performance holds it together and really made you care. It seems the show, just like the park’s creator Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins), is pro-host, and when you have character like Akecheta, it’s easy to see why.


Season 3 – beyond the park

Season 3 has started on HBO, and boy the trailer looks freaking amazing!! I’ve been waiting to see just what would happen if the hosts goes into the real, human world that they’ve been forbidden to enter. I’m salivating but I’d rather wait until all episodes are available as I prefer to binge on shows, I mean I find it torturous to have to wait a whole week to see what’s next!

Right now, I’m actually still reading all kinds of stuff about season 2! So if you have some great articles about it (NO SPOILERS for season 3 please!), please do share!

Have you seen WESTWORLD season 2? Let me know your thoughts!

FlixChatter Review – SOLO: A Star Wars story

Another year, another Star Wars movie. Now that Disney owns pretty much everything, it’s to be expected that they’re going to milk the lucrative SW and Marvel franchise for all its worth. Honestly I haven’t been following much about all the behind-the-scene dramas, apart from the fact that the original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired after several months of production. They still get producing credit but ultimately it’s Ron Howard who gets directing credit as he was brought in for reshoots and finish the movie.

As a casual SW fan, I have enjoyed the newer movies (The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi). So after seeing this one, my favorite is still The Last Jedi, but I really quite enjoyed SOLO. The movie opens with the traditional “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…..” line and we learn that the galaxy is in disarray, ruled by organized crime syndicates competing for the valuable hyperfuel known as Coaxium. On planet Cornellia, Young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) try to escape planet Cornellia for good and we’re treated a pretty thrilling chase scene. Soon we learn how our titular hero gets his name, in a scene that’s treated rather nonchalantly to make any real impact.

The rest of the movie takes place three years later on another planet. Han (sans Qi’ra) encounters a gang of thieves led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrleson) and his cohorts Val (Thandie Newton) and a four-armed alien Rio (Jon Favreau). Soon we learn how Han first meet his hairy BFF Chewbacca. Not quite a meet cute but a hilarious and fun intro to the most famous bromance in the galaxy. I have to say the relationship between Han and Chewy lends to a lot of favorite parts of the movie. There’s such a rush of nostalgia the first time Han and Chewy are on the cockpit together.

Everyone pretty much already loves Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian even from the trailer and he delivers! Glover is an effortlessly charismatic actor, but he also didn’t overshadow Alden and the movie is still about Han’s journey. I do enjoy the banters and rivalry between the two, especially involving their most prized possession the Millennium Falcon. Lando’s droid ‘friend’ L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is quite the scene stealer. A feminist, sarcastic robot with a mind of her own, she’s definitely light years away from the cute and submissive droids we’ve seen in the galaxy. There is one particularly hilarious moment between her and Qi’ra that got the whole theater laughing.

Now, how about Alden as Han? There are reports an acting coach had to be brought in to help his performance. Well, I don’t know if swagger is something you can teach, but I certainly think Alden’s got enough charisma and that devil-may-care smugness you expect from the role. I know he’s got comedic chops from what I’ve seen in Hail, Caesar! but I think he’s versatile enough to be an action star. I think it’s unfair to expect him to behave exactly like Harrison Ford as he’s not yet the Han we saw in A New Hope. There is a moment in the movie where I’m like, ‘yeah I can see how he becomes the sexy scoundrel we know and love.’ I’m glad Alden made the role his own instead of just an imitating Ford verbatim. I also like the fact that the movie gives just enough background story on Han without overwhelming us with details.

The supporting cast are pretty good too. Harrelson is always a fun actor to watch and he’s got that unpredictability the role requires. I haven’t seen Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones, but I can see why she’s cast here. She may seem like a sweet, demure girl at first but there’s also whole darker side of her. Unfortunately the romance between her and Han isn’t particularly memorable here, I mean it’s serviceable at best, not even half as interesting as Han’s relationship with Chewy or Lando. Paul Bettany is suddenly everywhere (like Josh Brolin!) as he was also in Avengers Infinity War, here he plays crime lord Dryden Vos (some cape action going on here as well) who has a history with Beckett. I quite like Rio too, and I wish he had more screen time in the movie.

Overall I had a blast with this movie. It’s a proper space adventure, you can even call it a space heist flick. I enjoyed the high-octane action scenes, specifically the chase scene in Falcon. It’s fun and nostalgic. Howard may not be Hollywood’s go-to action director but I remember enjoying the car scenes in Rush, and I think he did a great job here balancing the action and humor. The story might be on the light side and lacking the profound emotional moments like in The Last Jedi, but I think it fits well in the SW universe.


Well, what do you think of SOLO: A Star Wars Story?

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Christmas Weekend Recap: Scrooged + binging on Westworld

Happy last Tuesday of the year folks! Hope you had a lovely Christmas break. Mine is relatively mellow on Christmas day, though we did go up North to Duluth Friday and spent the night there to see the Bentleyville Tour of Lights (I’ve shared the pics here).

We came back in time for Christmas Eve church service, which was wonderful. For the next couple of days, we pretty much hibernated indoors as the weather is quite frightful outside. But hey, it gave us a chance to finally watch a Christmas classic we’ve missed all these years…

SCROOGED

scrooged

Thanks to Courtney’s post on her favorite things about Scrooged, I thought it’s about time I checked it out. My hubby and I loved Bill Murray and the movie is directed by Richard Donner, who I’ll love forever for giving us Superman: The Movie. Well, the updated Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has become a Christmas staple and it’s easy to see why. Murray is perfect as a selfish, heartless TV exec, he’s just effortlessly funny and the slapstick stuff was hysterical. Nice to see Karen Allen here too though she’s barely given anything to do. The movie itself isn’t exactly perfect but still it was a lot of fun and has that rousing ending with great music. Glad I finally saw this movie, a Christmas must-see movie I can now cross off my list.

WESTWORLD

westworld

If you were to ask me to sum up what I did on Christmas weekend… it’d be bingeing on Westworld! My hubby and I couldn’t wait to finally have time to devote to this series, and I much prefer to binge on tv shows these days, and having a free subscription to HBO on the first month certainly helps! It took us two days to get through halfway of the first season, with just five more episodes to go.

Well, first impression is… we LOVE it!! It’s definitely the kind of sci-fi shows we like… bold, visually-stunning, thought-provoking, well-written and well-acted… it pretty much ticks all the boxes of what a binge-worthy show should be. It reminds us a bit of another sci-fi we used to binge-watch, Battlestar Galactica, an ensemble-cast series which also deals with the interactions of humans and robots but I think Westworld is even bolder and sharper in scope. I love that the show is not melodramatic or bogged down by unnecessary romantic plots, but man does it give you a ton of stuff to think about. It’s what people call a mindf*ck in the best possible way! The cast are simply astounding and most of them bring their A-game to the series. If I had to list my four favorite characters, it’d have to be these:


Anthony Hopkins effortlessly adds gravitas as the park creator, whilst Ed Harris is wonderfully menacing and cool as hell as Man in Black. He’s such a terrific actor, and he adds SO much to his role. I can see why Margaret goes ga ga over him now 😉 I haven’t seen Evan Rachel Wood in hardly anything, but she’s no doubt the heart of the show and her acting is phenomenal!! I sure hope this show will give a boost to her career as she’s clearly very talented. As for Thandie Newton, this is perhaps the strongest performance I’ve seen her in, though she was memorable in Crash and Rocknrolla.


I’m also impressed with James Marsden who I think is an underrated actor who people might not take seriously because of his good looks. Well he’s still a sight to behold here as the cowboy Teddy, but at least he gets to show his acting chops too. I’m most intrigued by Jeffrey Wright‘s Bernard, as he seems to have a hidden agenda that’s been hinted out since episode 1. But please guys, NO SPOILERS in the comment as I’ve only got to episode 5. My hubby and I couldn’t help watching fan theories on youtube after each episode, there’s really SO MUCH to ponder and analyze, that’s why we’re limiting ourselves to a couple of episodes a day even though we can’t get enough!

The Nolans sure have the brains for storytelling. Jonathan Nolan‘s written a ton of my fave films with his brother Christopher (esp. The Dark Knight). Here he teamed up with his wife Lisa Joy who’s a talented TV writer in her own right. Executive producer JJ Abrams sure has a midas touch too, is there anything that guy can’t do?? I might also check out Michael Crichton‘s 1973 film Westworld in which the series’s concept is based on. I had no idea Crichton was also a film director on top of being a best-selling author.

Well, I’ll do another summary post again once I’m done w/ the season. So far I think Westworld does live up to the hype!


So what did you watch this Christmas weekend? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Westworld too!

Everybody’s Chattin + TV News Update: HBO’s Westworld & George RR Martin’s Wild Cards

EverybodysChattinAug

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are y’all watching the Olympics? I missed the opening ceremony so I only caught up w/ some clips on Flipboard. I did watch the Men’s 100m backstroke as Minnesotan David Plummer, a swim coach who’s perhaps one of the oldest at 30, won Bronze.  Woo hoo!

Well I’m super excited to see Anthropoid tomorrow. I’ve posted the trailer here and yesterday I read this awesome NY Mag article that the film shows how women helped defeat the Nazis.

Ok how about those links!

A couple of Suicide Squad-related posts: Margaret lamented on the lack of Jared Leto’s Joker’s scenes, among others, whilst Jordan actually had some praises for the movie.

Jia posted a Blindspot review on one of my favorite modern noir thrillers, L.A. Confidential

Jay reviewed a movie I missed at the theaters, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I can’t wait to rent as soon as it’s available.

I hadn’t reviewed Spielberg’s The BFG yet, but it seems Mark liked the movie more than I did, whilst Zöe pretty much agreed with me in regards to Jason Bourne.

I enjoy reading ranking lists! Keith just ranked the Marvel movies from worst to first ( I LOVE his #1 pick!)

This is a movie which trailer intrigued me… Dan reviewed Indignation

Last but not least, Cindy shared some great book recommendations.


Ok, we’ve still got a couple of months to wait yet for this upcoming series, but man, everything about this upcoming series looks really good!

WestworldHBO

A series inspired by the 1973 film of the same title written by Michael Crichton about a futuristic theme park populated by artificial beings.

Now, I’ve never seen the original series with Yul Brynner, but the idea of a western sci-fi instantly intrigues me. Ok now it doesn’t always work, as in the case of Cowboys & Aliens, but we’ve got quite a pedigree in terms of its creator.

I love that it’s a husband/wife team behind this series remake: Jonathan Nolan and fellow screenwriter Lisa Joy Nolan. Oh, and JJ Abrams also serves as executive producer along with the Nolans. Check out the trailer:

Here’s just a sampling of the impressive ensemble cast:

  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Ed Harris
  • Evan Rachel Wood
  • James Marsden
  • Thandie Newton
  • Jeffrey Wright
  • Tessa Thompson
  • Shannon Woodward
  • Ben Barnes

The 10-episode season 1 will premiere on HBO on Sunday, October 2 at 9 p.m. I can hardly wait!
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As Game of Thrones‘ fans are waiting for season 7 with bated breath, its author George R.R. Martin has long set his sights elsewhere. He just may have another sprawling fantasy world on television, according to Variety.

GeorgeRRMartin_WildCards

Universal Cable (same studio behind Mr. Robot that I’m currently watching) has purchased the rights for Martin’s work. The first volume in the book series was published in 1986, with 22 volumes released to date.

Here’s the premise:

“…the shared world of the Wild Cards diverged from our own on September 15, 1946 when an alien virus was released in the skies over Manhattan, and spread across an unsuspecting Earth. Of those infected, 90% died horribly, drawing the black queen, 9% were twisted and deformed into jokers, while a lucky 1% became blessed with extraordinary and unpredictable powers and became aces. The world was never the same.”

I quite like the sound of this, so I’ll keep an eye on this project. Surely plenty of actors are salivating to be cast in this.

 


What are your thoughts about these TV projects?

Hollywood Movie Draft Pitch III: Untitled Sci-Fi by Duncan Jones

As part Anomalous Material’s Hollywood Fantasy Draft blog event, I posted my dream cast last week. Now check out the movie pitch below… tentatively titled …

The Renovaré Project

(Renovaré is Latin for “to renew” or “to restore”)

Photo by thmc | deviantart.com

LOGLINE:

In the year of 3020, a fraction of the earth population are now living temporarily in a distant planet. A young military protégé on a mission back to earth discovers that everything he knows about the apocalyptic event is not what they seem.

BACKGROUND:

This untitled sci-fi drama is a mix of NBC’s The Event and the ‘V’ miniseries with elements of Equilibrium thrown in. It’s a story of overcoming unspeakable deception and the courage to fight against insurmountable odds in the name of humanity and love. Because of the nature of the storyline, the film will have more of an open-ended conclusion. I envision this to be a two-part or trilogy series.

It’s a post-apocalyptic setting… most of the world as we know it has been destroyed by a catastrophic meteor shower two years prior. Humanity is facing extinction on earth as only a select few of surviving humans are now living temporarily in a distant planet called Bhumi, a dystopian society that are far more structured and sterile-looking environment where diseases are rare and conflicts are minimized as the citizens have been “programmed” to obey and please authorities without question nor protest.

The Bhumi authorities are in fact an alien colony called the Luciens who are responsible for the meteor attacks. They are a highly-intelligent and technologically-advanced creatures who have shape-shifting abilities. They live off of minerals similar to what exists at the earth core, and their government is totalitarian in nature. They’re a slow-breeding race, so their population only numbering in the hundred of thousands. On top of that, the shrinking mineral resources on their planet slow down their reproduction ability even more.

A new leader in their society, who goes by the name Damien, wants to solve that problem, as well as create a perfect world of hybrid race of Luciens-humans who’d submit to him. The Luciens can’t simply invade earth because the high air pollution in the earth atmosphere endanger their health in much bigger impact than they do humans. Therefore, instead of a full-on invasion, the Luciens think it’s more effective to do it strategically and in phases. They’d obliterate most of the earth population (using their own bombs that are made to look like meteor attacks), sparing only those they deem intelligent enough to match their kind. These men and women are the chosen ones who were ‘rescued’ and trained months before the catastrophe happened, as they possess the skill set needed for the Renovaré project. The purpose of that is two-fold: One, to help rebuild earth once the effect of the meteor shower have subsided; and two, to be mated with their own kind to start the ‘perfect’ breed. The Luciens’ shape-shifting power enable them to blend in with humans and they use their supreme intelligence to gradually brainwash various earth leaders into believing meteor attacks are imminent and the only way to save what’s left of humanity is to create a temporary living quarter in a different planet.

The Luciens’ grand vision of the new earth

All the human survivors now living in Bhumi have been brainwashed to think that Renovaré‘s main mission is to reset the world as we know it to improve or make it better. The film’s protagonist, Joshua Prescott, has been made leader of one of the ELITE team of the Renovaré Project because of his intelligence and military prowess. The team created by Bhumi’s new government to clean up and rebuild a new, better environment on earth. Bhumi is a relatively-small planet that will not big enough to accommodate Bhumi’s targeted population of the hybrid race, but they have to make sure the climate is ready for them to move in. It’s whilst on a mission back to earth that Joshua slowly learns the truth about what he’s been conditioned to believe…  and suddenly he’s faced with a darker reality that is even more bleak than he’s ever thought or imagined.

DIRECTOR:

Duncan Jones
The 40-year-old British director may be a relative unknown to most moviegoers, but in just the past 2 years, he’s directed two critically-acclaimed movies. His directing debut Moon won Best British Independent Film in 2009. I feel that he’s got the chops to create an emotionally-engaging sci-fi flick that is heavy on the plot and character-development and less about the bombastic action sequences. I also think he can handle the romantic aspect of the story, based on what I’ve seen in Source Code.

CAST OF CHARACTERS:


Chris Hemsworth is Joshua Prescott, the film’s 31-year-old protagonist. Prescott is an aerospace engineer who’s also a pilot, tall and handsome in a grizzled kind of way, and a charismatic leader. He had just proposed to his long-time girlfriend Lena Bouvier when he’s recruited by the Luciens for the Renovaré project.


Viggo Mortensen is Bhumi’s Commander in Chief Damien and the film’s main villain. He’s the leader of the alien beings who are highly-intelligent and has shape-shifting abilities. Damien has the appearance of a man in his late 40s, charismatic with a quiet grace but is relentlessly ambitious to create a perfect ‘breed’ between his own kind and the ‘best’ of the human race.


Emily Blunt is Lena Bouvier, Joshua’s fiancée who survives the meteor strike and is a member of the remaining resistance group who knows about the Luciens and that they are behind the meteor attack. She is a nurse who’s in the middle of a night shift when the attack happens, but fortunately her father gets to her in the nick of time to bring her to safety.


Hugo Weaving plays Lena’s father, Léon Bouvier, a scientist who has been skeptical about the real cause of the meteor attack. Deeply distrustful of the government that grows increasingly strange in the months leading to the catastrophe, he builds a secretive underground scientific chamber for his research as well as hiding place. When Lena’s mother is killed in the attack, he grows even more vigorous in his quest to uncover the truth.


Romola Garai plays Saffron, the Lucien girl chosen by Damien as Joshua’s mate in Bhumi. She is one of the few female members of Damien’s ultra-secretive science program and is fiercely loyal to him and his cause. She’s been instrumental in the brainwashing process of Joshua and his team.


James Purefoy is Seth Jones, the leader of the earth’s resistance group in Europe. He lives in the same Scottish castle ruin where Lena and the remaining earth survivors dwell in. He’s a British air-force pilot whose family is killed during the meteor attack and shares Léon’s conspiracy theory of what happens on earth. He has feelings for Lena and after two years being heartbroken about Joshua, she finally opens up to him… that is until Joshua suddenly reappears.


Idris Elba plays Andrew Cudjoe, a former executive of a Global Natural Resources Corporation based in London. Because of the company’s main focus in mining, processing, and energy operations, the Luciens have surveyed his company for information even a year before the meteor attack. Andrew is Vivien’s husband, but they were separated when she got recruited by the Luciens. He’s now become Seth’s right hand man in the resistance.


Thandie Newton plays a sculpture artist Vivien, whose beauty catches Damien’s eye. She has been Damien’s lover in the past two years though like Joshua, she too has been haunted by dreams of a man she doesn’t remember. She has become attached to Damien but somehow can’t shake the feeling that there is something strange about life in Bhumi and that Damien might be keeping something from her.


Sir Sean Connery plays an ailing Protestant pastor Charles Wilby, whose son is also recruited by the Luciens. Even though he’s injured in the meteor attack, he’s been ministering the group of people to remain hopeful of a better reality despite the circumstances. He dies shortly after Joshua tells him that he’s met his son who’s one of the engineer in Bhumi’s central station.


ADDITIONAL CAST:
Jamie Bamber – Michael, Charles Wilby’s only son
Sean Bean – A Lucien general, Damien’s right hand man
David Bowie – Cameo as a Lucien cleric


SYNOPSIS:

Two years after the meteor strike, a dozen group consisting of about 24 people are sent to survey various areas of earth. They’re tasked to make sure earth is ‘ready’ to be rebuilt and report back to Bhumi’s authorities. All the human survivors now living in Bhumi have been brainwashed to think that Renovaré’s main mission is to ‘reset’ the world as we know it to improve or make it better.

Joshua Prescott is the leader of Faction 316 consisting of eight men to survey the area of formerly the UK, and set up their station in a Scottish moor. In their sixth day, they come across a group of survivors living in the basement of a castle ruin. They survive on canned foods and water they’ve managed to collect just before the meteor strike. Prescott and his team have orders from the Renovaré general to execute survivors because of threat of meteoric ‘poison’ that will potentially contaminate the area and endanger the lives of the survivors who’d later occupy the space. Prescott normally have no problem obeying orders, as he believes that sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. But when he meets Lena, a beautiful woman who’s rumpled and scrawny given the circumstances, it’s as if he’s seeing the woman in his dreams, so he’s unable to kill her and her friends. He orders his team not to harm the group.

Apocalyptic depiction of a future London by German artist Marco Bauriedel

It turns out there are imperfections in the Luciens’ memory erase program. On some individuals, the procedure has ‘leaks’ in that the subject will recall bits and pieces of their past in the form of dreams. In the last few months leading up to the mission, Joshua has been dreaming more frequently of Lena, but he has no idea who she is. The fact is, Joshua and Lena had gotten engaged just months before he’s recruited by the Luciens and had his memory wiped out. In Bhumi, Joshua has been involved with another woman, Saffron, a Lucien chosen by Damien specifically for him, yet he can’t help feeling drawn to Lena. Joshua doesn’t remember Léon even though he was pretty close with Lena’s father prior to being recruited. This convinces Léon even more that something has been done to these human recruits that causes them to lose their memory.

Seth sees Joshua as a personal rival as well as a threat to his group. The next day, he and a few of his loyal men launch an attack against Joshua, which results in several of Seth’s group getting killed in the process. Léon begs Seth for cease fire and tells him that that he believes Joshua is the key to knowing the truth about what really happened. Joshua is the only one who can provide proof of the Luciens’ existence, besides, the resistance is no match to the much more well-equipped Renovaré team. Seth reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, Joshua’s dreams of Lena are getting more intense ever since he came back to earth, to the point that he would wake up weeping uncontrollably. Frantically, he goes back to see Lena and Léon and find them in the middle of a praying session with Charles, whose condition is getting worsened because of the injury he sustained during the meteor attack. Yet his eyes are still full of hope as he reaches for Joshua’s hands to calm him down. He tells him about his son Michael who’s about the same age as Joshua and proceeds to show him a torn picture of him that Charles carries with him at all times. Joshua recognizes Michael as one of the engineers working at Bhumi’s central station and when he informs Charles this, the ailing 75-year-old makes Joshua promise that he’d make things right and help the survivors find the truth. The next day, Charles dies.

One of the Renovare’s team’s earth-bound stations

Joshua now feels torn between his allegiance to Damien and a life he’s grown accustomed to in Bhumi, and his strong feelings and deep empathy for Lena and the resistance group. Despite what he’s learned on earth, he still can’t fathom that Bhumi is ruled by an alien race as they look and behave just like humans. A week later, right before he makes a quick trip to Bhumi to report to Damien, Andrew finds Joshua behind Seth’s back and tells him about a strange visit he encountered in his office just weeks before the meteor attack and how his guests were very interested about the iron ore-grade commercial mining operations in various parts of the world. He doesn’t know what it all means, but figures that it might provide a clue to the origins of the Luciens. Joshua notices a tattoo of a woman’s face on Andrew’s arm, she is the splitting image Damien’s lover but he refrains from saying anything.

Back in Bhumi, Joshua and Saffron are invited to dinner by Damien at his compound. Damien is very fond of Joshua and tells him of his grand vision for earth. Joshua does his best to pretend everything is ok, but every time he looks at Vivien, he can’t help wondering her connection with Andrew. He also feels incredibly uneasy to share a room with Saffron because of his feelings for Lena, and refuses to sleep with her. In the middle of the night, he leaves his room to get some air in a secluded lake. He finds Vivien there and Joshua uses the opportunity to ask her about Andrew. Sure enough, Joshua’s description of Andrew fits the picture of the man in her dreams. Joshua tells Vivien what he learns from earth and Vivien breaks down in tears and Joshua consoles her in his embrace, telling her to make sure to keep this a secret for now. At this point, Saffron sees the two of them and thinks they’re having an affair.

The next day, Saffron confronts Joshua and threatens to tell Damien about the affair. Joshua denies it but Saffron refuses to believe him, and in a moment of panic, he lunges at her and accidentally knocks her unconscious. That night, he drugs Saffron and takes her to earth to be examined by Léon. Indeed he finds an alien DNA in Saffron, thus proving his theory. Joshua goes berserk realizing he’s been utterly betrayed and lied for the past three years, and immediately wants to return to Bhumi to kill Damien. But Lena stops him, telling him that being brash about this might actually cost them dearly. Damien is so powerful that he not only would kill Joshua but could also wipe out the surviving earth population. Right now, the human population controlled by the Luciens in Bhumi outnumbered the survivors, so the only way to fight against the alien colony is by setting the humans free of the Luciens’ ‘spell.’

Joshua realizes there is not a lot of time before Damien finds out about Saffron and his team members to grow suspicious of his activities on earth. It turns out there is a mole on his team who saw Joshua sneaks Saffron to earth. He alerts Damien immediately unbeknownst to Joshua who’s on the way back to Bhumi. Damien is furious and in his wrath, he trashes Joshua’s compound. Vivien tries to provide an alibi for Joshua but Damien accuses her for conspiring against him and in his rage, he chokes her to death.

City Chase by Tiger 1313

Damien orders his subordinates to capture Joshua who’s still en route to Bhumi. Joshua notices there are three military planes trailing him, and an intense air chase ensues. Joshua’s plane is hit but he manages to land about twenty miles from his earthbound station right in the middle of a thunderstorm. But by now he can’t go back there because members of his Faction are loyal to Damien. He has no way of contacting Léon to run away, so he must kill his former team mates because they know the location to the resistance group’s hiding place. He gets into a shootout with members of his Faction, which leads into a chase across the hilly Scottish moor. Joshua is the best-trained shooters in Bhumi, so he manages to kill them all but he does get shot in the left shoulder. Seth ends up finding him unconscious just a mile outside of the compound and brings him inside. When Joshua wakes up the next day, Lena has treated his wound and tells him Seth rescued him. She tells Joshua she was terrified of losing him again. Though he still doesn’t remember her, he falls for her all over again and they share a kiss.

Léon is ecstatic that his future son-in-law has returned and he tells the group a new hope has arrived. The resistance group welcomes Joshua with open arms, and even Andrew who’s been Seth’s best friend, proclaims that he could be the group’s new leader. Joshua suddenly realizes Seth isn’t amongst the crowd. Joshua searches for Seth to thank him for saving his life, but finds neither he nor Saffron are in the compound.

EPILOGUE

Joshua and Lena marry in a small ceremony. There is a new hope for the resistance group now that Joshua is on their side. But it’s no time for celebration as they have to move to a different hiding place in case the Luciens find out their current whereabouts. There’s also a whole new uncertainties concerning Seth and Saffron.

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What do you think, folks? Would you be interested to see a sci-fi movie like this one? If you have any ideas/suggestions about the plot or title, please let me know.