In A World, After Earth, Europa Report

In A World is an indie comedy about the voiceover industry, and to my surprise extensively referenced real people, in particular Don LaFontaine who actually came up with the (in)famous movie trailer line “In a world where…”. I enjoyed learning about the nuts-and-bolts of voiceovers and the politics of how people are picks and signature lines employed; the film also raises the issue of the dearth of female voiceovers for movie trailers, having characters argue various sides of the issue and an interesting resolution. Elements of the LA lifestyle were a bit eye-opening for me, but I like to see things as they are (assuming Lake Bell is presenting reality).

After Earth screamed “vanity project” and “attempt to make son a star” too loudly for me to enjoy it properly. At least it’s an improvement on my impression of it from a trailer I saw, which made it look like a movie for young kids. After Earth is an M Night Shyamalan movie – though that’s not how it’s been promoted given the steady decline of his career since his first movie – featuring Will Smith being perfect but not doing very much and Jayden Smith being annoying. The sci-fi setting is a transparent setup for the predictable coming-of-age story; while I enjoyed the journey and the encounters with the local wildlife, there’s no reason the movie is set on Earth, or why it’s called “After Earth”, or really any of the sci-fi elements. At best it’s disposable entertainment.

The Europa Report is a slow moving but atmospheric semi-realistic treatment of an expedition to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons and currently the closest and most likely place for us to find life. It’s framed as found footage, so you know bad stuff is going to happen, but the style emphasises low-key, slow-burn, realism/plausibility, which I enjoyed as a change from most fast-paced technology-serves-the-plot sci-fi action flicks. The part I found the most interesting was how the crew espoused the ideals of discovery and research beyond personal risk, which is a charming scientific ideal. If you enjoy more laid-back sci-fi, I recommend it.

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