[GUEST POST] Zack Mandell on Prophets of Tech

Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast and owner of www.movieroomreviews.com and writer of movie reviews about movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.

I remember the days of the late 1990s.  I would return home from class so I could get to doing work straightaway on my behemoth desktop that sometimes would make more noise than a 747.  I would play my favorite music on the CD player that occupied its own little nest on my desk (Radiohead’s “OK Computer” was the music for a large part of those days).  The first song would play as I was connecting with my dialup internet, and the words “You’ve got mail” would typically be announced in concurrence with the beginning notes of “Paranoid Android.”  In 1998, the idea of having this music as a computer file akin to any of my WordPerfect documents was sheer lunacy.  The same goes for internet that didn’t require me listening to the placing of a call before I could see my AOL home page.  Now that high speed internet and Steve Jobs and his slew of convenient music devices have taken over the world, we take these technologies for granted, even though they were inconceivable some 15 years ago.  It’s hard to predict the future; some have gone to jail for it (I’m looking at you Miss Cleo).  Some film directors have tried their hand at it, and they’ve got actually gotten some things right.  Here is a look at five classic science-fiction films, and how well they predicted the years they were portraying.

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[GUEST POST] Michaele Jordan on Korean Horror, Part 3: Psycho Killers

Michaele Jordan‘s novel, Blade Light, is a charming traditional fantasy that was serialized in Jim Baen’s Universe and is now available as an ebook at Amazon or at iBooks. Her newest novel, Mirror Maze, is available now.

Korean Horror, Part 3: Psycho Killers

Horror movies generally play off three main themes: monsters, ghosts and psycho-killers. The makers of Korean horror movies know these rules, and try to stay within the general guidelines. But they are artists (really, they are!) and they frequently end up re-inventing the genre. In particular, they cast a whole new light on slasher flicks.

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The internet is abuzz with the possible news that J.J. Abrams will be directing the newly announced Star Wars Episode VII. Ever since the announcement that Disney had acquired LucasFilm Limited, a parade of potential contenders have surfaced among fansites: Matthew Vaughn, Steven Spielberg, Neill Blomkamp, Alfonso Cuarón, Darren Aronofsky, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, Joseph Kosinski, Colin Trevorrow, J. J. Abrams, Brad Bird and Rian Johnson. Out of that list, there are some who are better candidates than others – and Abrams is in the top tier, and appears to be the one.

Consider his resume: He’s managed several highly successful television shows: LOST, Alias, Fringe, and Felicity (the first two of which belonged to ABC, which is in turn owned by Disney), and a number of highly successful films: Mission Impossible III, Super 8, and Star Trek (with the second Star Trek: Into Darkness, coming out this year). His name is invariably attached to a huge list of other projects at any given time.

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Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast, writer of movie reviews, and owner of www.movieroomreviews.com, which has great information on movies, actors, and films like Looper. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites like Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.

2013 is going to be a big year for sci-fi movies set in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic Earth. Barring the odd few that aren’t projected to be blockbuster megahits, such as John Dies at the End,which will be coming out this January, or The World’s End, set to release in late October, here are the top five post-Earth sci-fi movies coming out in 2013.


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Michaele Jordan‘s novel, Blade Light, is a charming traditional fantasy that was serialized in Jim Baen’s Universe and is now available as an ebook at Amazon or at iBooks. Her newest novel, Mirror Maze, is available now.

Korean Horror, Part 2 – Ghost Stories

Worn out from the holidays? Round about the thirty-fifth rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, I started seeking a refuge. Fortunately I found a haven in K-horror. Korean horror has it all: monsters, ghosts, psycho-killers, you name it, but the ghost story is their favorite.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Men in Black III

REVIEW SUMMARY: Occasionally clever touches and a strong turn by Josh Brolin as a young Agent K cannot hide the listlessness of the third entry in a series that should have ended two pictures ago.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: When the alien Boris escapes from Lunar Max prison, he plots to travel back to 1969 to kill Agent K in order to allow his species to invade Earth, leaving Agent J to go back in time to protect his partner.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Clever background touches, as usual, including a visit to a photo shoot with Andy Warhol; slick direction by Barry Sonnenfeld; fun to watch Josh Brolin ape Tommy Lee Jones’s Agent K…
CONS: …but it gets tiring after a while; dull, routine script; the frantic pace doesn’t hide the lack of drive or energy.

The third movie of a film series poses problems.  Ostensibly meant to bring a sense of unity and closure, often threequel also marks the point where ideas lose their freshness, familiarity saps vigor, causing actors tire, and energy starts to drain.  Exceptions exist, yes, but for every Goldfinger and Toy Story 3 that achieves greatness, a hundred Matrixes threaten revolution, Indiana Jones considers one last crusade, and The Godfather, just as he thought he was out, is drawn back in.  There are countless others.
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In episode 121 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester asks a panel of guests and SF Signal Irregulars:

Q: Which movies are you looking forward to seeing this summer?

This week’s panel:

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In episode 107 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester asks the SF Signal Irregulars to chime in with their Favorite Characters from Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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In episode 103 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester asks the SF Signal Irregulars to chime in with their Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies and TV Shows from 2011.

This week’s panel includes:

© 2011 SFSignal.com
Featuring original music by John Anealio
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MOVIE REVIEW: Repo Men (2010)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Good ideas and a couple of interesting set pieces do not save moronic, by-the-number science fiction action movie.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A man who repossesses artificial organs must flee from the organization that employs him when he cannot pay for his own artificial heart.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Strong ideas, with one or two interesting action sequences and the occasional bit of cleverness.

CONS: Unconvincing worldbuilding, implausible characters and a surprising lack of guts. (No pun intended.)

Upon seeing Repo Men, I drove to a nearby Barnes and Noble and purchased a copy of The Repossession Mambo, the novel by Eric Garcia on which this futuristic thriller from director Miguel Sapochnik is based. My decision to buy the novel had nothing to do with the movie’s quality. Or, rather, it did, and that’s part of the problem. The movie presented ideas that were likely handled in the novel with exactly the finesse, skill and gallows wit that its adaptation lacked.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Dennis Lehane’s Gothic novel gets a solid, though by no means perfect, adaptation to film from director Martin Scorcese.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A federal marshal with a haunted past must track down an escaped patient on an island-bound mental hospital where nothing is as it seems.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Strong performances by a solid cast; interesting directorial choices by Scorcese and rich camerawork and music make hackneyed material into a genuinely scary viewing experience.

CONS: Fantasy sequences go on a little too long; the parts, when put together, don’t quite add up to a sensible whole; and even casual genre fans might see the ending pretty early.

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