Movies Archives

MOVIE REVIEW: Transcendence (2014)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Director Wally Pfister’s first feature film tries to tackle themes of transhumanism and the singularity, but gets knocked aside by the inelegant thriller plot tacked onto them.

MY RATING:

SYNOPSIS: When artificial intelligence research Will Caster faces death at the hands of anti-technology extremists, his wife attempts to save his life by scanning his brain into a computer, which sends him on a journey to transcend to a new state of being.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: A breathtaking vision of an uploaded mind entering cyberspace; intriguing moral questions raised by the actions of a hive mind.
CONS: Mediocre thriller plot that drowns ideas; sluggish pace; clichéd plot and characters; uninspired direction.

It was only a matter of time. It only took 20 years for Hollywood to read Vernor Vinge’s essay “The Coming Technological Singularity,” and now, with Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, it seems to have…well, “getting its head around it” might imply that the great studio machine actually possesses something resembling consciousness or thought. Perhaps Hollywood realizes it can now read these daring if daft speculations as source code for contemporary blockbusters, allowing the estate of Philip K. Dick a reprieve from handwringing over the next ill-fated adaptation of his work. After all, how many times can you twist reality until you begin popping off the heads of audiences like a toddler with a grudge decapitating her older sister’s Ken doll?
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Her’s another crop of trailers for genre fans to get excited about. Or not.

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The good folks taken on Disney’s Frozen

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Here’s a trailer that manages to get me excited about the movie. It’s the latest trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past and though it uses some tired tropes of the genre (I can’t help but think about every 8th Star Trek episode), I can’t help but wanna see this.

How about you?

Here’s the description:

Bonded by war. United by hope. See the X-Men face their greatest challenge together in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from “X-Men: First Class,” in an epic battle that must change the past — to save our future.

…and the trailer:

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Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones will like this (spoilery) parody that leverages a musical number from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. What’s not to like?

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The folks over at VODO have assembled an eclectic mix of science fiction media in a single, pay-what-you-want bundle. The basic Otherworlds Bundle includes the following movies, games, comics, books and music:

  • Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now [[Book] – Graphic novel of six stories by Cory Doctorow.
  • Bientôt L’été [Game] – Heavily atmospheric game for two players. Existential!
  • 2145 [Audio] – Dark Ambient music from Sabled Sun
  • The Surrogates [Book] – Acclaimed five-part comic series. NY Times Bestseller.
  • Blink [Film] – 4 tightly-crafted visions of beyond in 1 short film.

But there’s more!
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Yeah, a few days late with this post…but last week at the Kirkus Review blog, I look at the latest round of speculative fiction books turning into movies.

Check out Read Them Now, Watch Them Later: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Adaptation Watch over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

Check it out!

At a convention last year, Jim Cummings — who does the voice for Winnie the Pooh — read a scene from Star Wars reading the voice of everybody’s favorite honey-loving bear for lines meant for Darth Vader. Also reading is another voice actor, Lauren Landa.

The result is hilarious.

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Jurassic Park Without CGI

Anyone who saw Jurassic Park in its original theatrical release will recall how groundbreaking the special effects were. I certainly recall being put off by the graphic nature of people being eaten.

Not so scary? This version of Jurassic Park that lacks cutting edge effects.

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SHORT FILM: R.U.R.: Genesis

Czech writer Karel Čapek’s 1919 Play R.U.R. — which is about a hostile worker robot rebellion in the future year 1969 that leads to the extinction of the human race — is known for both its introduction of the word “robot” (R.U.R. was translated into English as “Rossum’s Universal Robots”) and also as insightful commentary into social class structure. R.U.R. is often cited as the influence for many science fiction novels that include robots.

More directly, it inspired filmmaker James Kerwin to make the film R.U.R.: Genesis, set in Čapek’s alt-history 1969, complete with ’60s styles and go-go dancers. Groovy, man.

The following serves as both a standalone short film and as a teaser for the forthcoming fill-length feature film.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

REVIEW SYNOPSIS: Enjoyable if uninspired, Captain America’s second solo adventure proves a solid entry in the Marvel filmic universe despite an overlong running time and too few new ideas.

MY REVIEW:

SYNOPSIS: When S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury is attacked by a strike team, Captain America finds himself enmeshed in a conspiracy that could test his very loyalties.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: The cast, especially Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson; quieter, character-driven elements in the screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, efficient action sequences filmed by directors Anthony and Joe Russo; a couple of strong reveals.
CONS: Routine thriller script, including a bland conspiracy plot.
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Variety is reporting that Robert Silverberg’s short story “How It Was When the Past Went Away” has been optioned for film by Focus Features. The producers will be Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen of Temple Hill Entertainment, who also produced Twilight. The writers are brothers David and Alex Pastor.

The film is about what happens when the residents of city suffer as mass amnesia. In the story, a criminal drugs San Francisco’s water supply and people begin forgetting who they are and all the details of their lives. It follows multiple characters, each of whom is affected differently, through what reads like a disaster movie.

Short Film: Prospect

Via Paul Di Filippo comes the short film Prospect, the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl on a toxic alien planet. She and her father hunt for precious materials, aiming to strike it rich. When the father is attacked by a roving bandit, the daughter must take control.
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The Time Shifters is a 1999 science fiction movie featuring Casper Van Dien, Catherine Bell, Julian Richings and Martin Sheen. It’s about a reporter who, learning of time travelers visiting 20th century disasters, tries to change the history they know by averting upcoming disasters.
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Jupiter Ascending – Second Trailer

Jupter Ascending (starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, and Sean Bean) gets another trailer.

To refresh your memory on the plot…

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

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Summer film season is just around the corner and there’s lots of reasons to get excited. Here are some of them.

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Sunday Cinema: Elefante

Written & Directed by Pablo Larcuen, Elefante is a story about a man with a boring job and a family from which he is alienated…who becomes afflicted with a rare disease that transforms him into an elephant. An unbelievable element, yes, but one that perfectly portrays the themes of alienation and wanting to reclaim what is falling from your grasp.
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I, for one, welcome our Boov overlords…

In this animated short, Dreamwworks introduces the cute little aliens featured in Home, invading theaters on November 26th. It’s based on The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex.

I love the animation style here, and Steve Martin is long overdue for lending his voice to something since his 1998 spot on The Simpsons. Rounding out the cast is Jim Parsons, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez.

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Short Film: Ark

Directed by Grzegorz Jonkajtys, Ark takes place after an unknown virus has destroyed almost the entire human population. Oblivious to the true nature of the disease, the only remaining survivors escape to the sea. In great ships, they set off in search of uninhabited land. So begins the exodus, led by one man…

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Deadline is reporting that another film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic 1962 novel Something Wicked This Way Comes is in the works.

The literary classic, which combines elements of fantasy and horror, is about two 14-year-old boys who visit a traveling carnival that is more than it appears. The carnival is run by the evil “Mr. Dark”, a mysterious figure trades dreams for souls; Mr. Dark bears a tattoo for every person that has been lured to the park by the possibility of living out their secret fantasies, and who subsequently became bound to servicing the carnival.
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