Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

ex machinaOn the surface, Ex Machina is a state of the art meditation on artificial intelligence with a sleek, somewhat sterile, post-modern sense of the brave new digital world that awaits when Google and Apple turn from making phones and watches to manufacturing brains. Pop the hood and take a look inside the film, however, and you’ll see that Ex Machina‘s circuitry dates back to post-World War II science fiction. Underneath its shiny, new skin, this very welcome oasis of calm, adult entertainment is a robot movie. And like all robot movies, the central question is: what does it mean to be human? (more…)

InterstellarThrough the first half of its 169-minute runtime, Interstellar soars. Christopher Nolan launches this massive undertaking with equal parts skill and guile, and while the early going may be more “aw, shucks” than awesome, the narrative captures the spirit of optimism and possibility that the NASA space program provided in the 1960’s. Every American boy growing up in that decade wanted to become an astronaut, and the laying out of the mission and the launching of the rocket in Interstellar refires those feelings. For one and a half hours, Nolan appears on the brink of completing an even more daunting task than identifying another planet suitable for human inhabitation – making a 21st century blockbuster from original material that qualifies as family entertainment without any of the usual pejorative undertones that accompany that phrase. (more…)

These Final HoursAs we await the reboot of the franchise with the May 2015 release of Mad Max: Fury Road, director/screenwriter Zak Hilditch offers a tantalizing glimpse at what a Mad Max prequel might look like in the early going of his feature, These Final Hours. It’s the end of the world, don’t you know it, but everyone is a hell of a long way from feeling fine. Suicide and homicide have become Australia’s twin national sports with rape, robbery, and pillaging hanging in there as sentimental favorites. Corpses dangle from lampposts, and machete-wielding maniacs carjack passing vehicles to drive them to their next act of retribution. What’s a young Aussie male to do, but run out on his pregnant girlfriend one last time and head for the true party to end all parties, where he can go out in a blaze of tequila, ecstasy, gunfire, and glory? Unfortunately, this promising start in nihilism, hyper-violence, and general bad-assedness is completely undone by the source of ruination of too many genre movies – children. (more…)

springSpring weaves together familiar cinematic strands to fashion a strangely beautiful and original tapestry. The sophomore effort by the filmmaking team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the duo responsible for the well received 2012 horror thriller Resolution, is a hybrid of genres, with elements of horror, science fiction, and romance in a near-perfect ratio. The film invites a mash-up movie pitch, i.e.; it’s (movie A) meets (movie B), as do the filmmakers – literally. During the Q&A session after a screening of the film at the London Film Festival, Benson and Moorhead encouraged the audience to come up with their own, like Spring is Say Anything meets Species or EuroTrip meets Lifeforce or An American Werewolf in London meets An American Werewolf in Paris. The game is almost as much as fun as the movie. (more…)

monstersMonsters: Dark Continent is a glorious failure, a spectacular technical achievement that is completely undone by the absence of a compelling narrative. The movie is the cinematic equivalent of a beautiful girl without a thought in her head – eventually you grow bored with just staring at her.

The original Monsters won a fair amount of critical acclaim for its nuanced and convincing look at aliens on earth that were more of an invasive species than hostile invaders. Done on the cheap, the film boasted modest special effects and small-scale ambitions that made for a pleasant diversion with an ending that suggested a universal language of love (and reproduction). (more…)

Time LapseLegend has it that Leonardo da Vinci slept only two hours per day, resting in periodic snippets of 10 to 30 minutes. This unusual sleep pattern is known as polyphasic sleep or “the sleep of genius.” Da Vinci put these extra waking hours to good use, pursuing his mastery of painting and sculpture, continuing his work as an engineer and inventor, and furthering the knowledge of man in disciplines such as anatomy and mathematics. A journalist once attempted to adopt this habit, and after several weeks was able to get by on less than four hours of sleep per day, but he soon found himself bored and wasted the extra time on television and junk food. The moral of the story is that you need a genius to make the most out of certain opportunities. (more…)

extraterrestrial1There are about 30 minutes of cinematic gold in the new science fiction-horror flick Extraterrestrial, scenes good enough to meet the expectations raised by the smart, sleek trailer for the film and give rise to the hope that The Vicious Brothers may have hit on the elusive formula to provide the Alien on Earth mash-up that has eluded this genre to date. Unfortunately, Extraterrestrial runs for a too-long 106 minutes, meaning that the 30 minutes of genius are subsumed completely by a sub-standard storyline that renders the overall product unfortunately unpalatable. (more…)