Browsing: Sci-fi

Reviews dofp_2014_1

When a filmmaker’s stumbles—as inevitable as the seasons turning and spectacle-filled summers—he (it’s usually a he) will often return to the genre or franchise where he saw his greatest commercial and critical success. For Bryan Singer, two expensive and underwhelming…

Reviews x_men_days_of_future_past_banner-wide

I grew up enamored by the world of X-Men. While the comic die-hards will most likely fault me for this, the X-Men of my youth were not found on the page, but rather on the small screen. I tuned into FOX weekly for the latest installment of X-Men: The Animated Series. I lived in a world filled with purple Sentinels and muted violence …

Reviews godzilla-2014-movie-still-04-27

Godzilla turns 60 this November. The King of the Monsters had a great run between 1954 and 2004, when Japan celebrated his golden anniversary by having him squash the life out of almost every monster in his rogue’s gallery in Godzilla: Final Wars; including dishing out a veritable curb-stomping to the mutant iguana beast of Roland…

Reviews still-of-aaron-taylor-johnson-in-godzilla-2014-large-picture

This year marks Godzilla’s60th anniversary, and the giant lizard has spent most of that time as an out-and-out pop culture icon, the sort of pop art creation that can stand alongside Batman and James Bond as one of the twentieth century’s most lasting contributions. The monster hasn’t …

NP Approved 1920x1080

One of the most exciting marketing campaigns ever launched by a major movie studio comes to an end this weekend with the long-awaited release of Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla. From the moment the movie’s teaser leaked onto the internet, every new, promising glimpse at the summer blockbuster created more buzz for the movie.

Reviews the_machine_2013_2

The only imaginable obstacle to Hal-9000 passing the Turing Test, in which a human interviewer attempts to distinguish an artificial intelligence, is his chirpy honesty obliging him to inform his interlocutor. “I’m afraid,” he says as he’s disabled toward the end of Kubrick’s film, a line aped by the eponym of The Machine—an android AI named Ava—in the new movie’s closing act. That it is no 2001 is no surprise; that it can borrow its ideas and build upon them in its own, intriguing way is a nice one.

Reviews Transcendence-hallway-scene-movie-still

Cinematographer Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, Transcendence, is really a film that would have been better suited for Stanley Kubrick, given Kubrick’s career long theme of the dehumanization of man and the large roll technology plays in that dehumanization. Pfister doesn’t handle the material nearly as dexterously as Kubrick would have, but that’s like saying a person who’s never held a gun isn’t as good a shot as Annie Oakley.

The story is that of Will Caster (Johnny Depp), a computer scientist working on the first true artificial intelligence. With the promotion and help of his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend Max (Paul Bettany), he’s working toward the first fully realized AI. Then, a coordinated series of attacks on computer labs across the US occurs and an attempt is made on Will’s life by domestic terrorists determined to destroy any attempt at creating AI and seem to have a general disdain for technology, at least obliquely since they use computers and cell phones regularly. He survives, but the bullet was laced with something that gave him incurable radiation poisoning and five weeks to live.

NP Approved Under-The-Skin

Some of the best and most disturbing sci-fi films are set on earth itself. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959), Planet of the Apes (1968), District 9 (2009), are just a few of the unsettling narratives that use planet earth as their setting. Films like the original Star Wars trilogy used earth bound landscapes and made them seem other worldly, but director Jonathan Glazer uses these specific landscapes in a unique way for his impressively unique sci-fi. Glazer’s new feature is not shy of using the urban landscapes of Glasgow and rural back roads of the Scottish Highlands as the familiar setting for his modern sci-fi alien narrative. The desolate landscapes are mixed with busy cityscapes and the fact that these seem relatively familiar in terms of imagery use is the powerful impact.

Reviews captain_america_the_winter_soldier_2014_2

Whether with a shot that has Robert Redford re-enacting All the President’s Men or a set design that calls to mind The Parallax View, the most exciting action onscreen in the new Captain America movie are the numerous little nods incoming directors Joe and Anthony Russo make to the conspiracy thrillers of yesteryear from which this sequel takes obvious inspiration. If the success of Marvel’s multi-million dollar gamble that began back with Iron Man secured Hollywood’s spandex future, The Winter Soldier has the studio striving to show that needn’t be a bad thing. “Sameness and variety,” wrote Barry Langford in his book Film Genre, “is the linchpin of the generic contract”; here is Marvel’s bold new move toward asking us to renew.

Reviews Hollow_Man_1

The long-loved tale of the Invisible Man is turned on its head by Hollow Man, from director Paul Verhoeven. This specific incantation tells the story of Sebastian (Kevin Bacon) and Linda (Elisabeth Shue), two top scientists that are at the top of their fields who also have perfected the perfect serum for making living creates invisible. It works well on their test subjects, the subjects being gorillas, but they don’t have permission to test it on humans yet. That doesn’t stop Sebastian, as he convinces his easily persuaded team to let him be the guinea pig. It works, but now the problem is bringing Sebastian back. As countless tries to make him whole again fall short, he starts to lose what little sanity he had left, and becomes a perverse, wretched sort of monster. The team must stop him, at all costs…

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