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Sci-Fi

Sci-Fi

Matrix: Revolutions

dir: The Wachowski Brothers
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Wow. I mean, honestly, wow. This is a perfect picture. Actually, it's a picture perfect example of how even when people have a guaranteed hit on their hands, all the money in the world, complete creative control and the freedom to do whatever they want, people, in this being case the Wachowski Brothers, can still find a way to fuck things up seven ways from Sunday. And not in that
good way that your girlfriends like so much.

Rating:

Solaris (2002)

dir: Steven Soderbergh
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It takes a fair-sized pair of brass balls to remake a sci-fi film “classic” considered a classic by people with beards who smoke pipes. Either that, or just plain hubris wrapped up in a blanket of arrogance with a side helping of laziness.

Sometimes it works out well, usually it’s just disastrous. The list of remakes gone wrong in ratio with the ones that succeed is tremendously large. It’s something akin to 100,000 to 7. Those remakes that worked out well were War of the Worlds, The Fly, The Thing and maybe Scarface with Pacino. And maybe one of the Deep Throat remakes. Almost every other remake has, to use the official cinema studies term, sucked dog’s balls.

It’s true. The Pope agrees. Remakes work out bad even when they’re okay, because the viewer still tells themselves “eh, even if it’s passable, why should I watch this instead of the original ever again?”

Often the remake is so wretched that it causes audiences to bay for the director’s blood. Gus Van Sant was roundly ridiculed for remaking Psycho, allegedly shot-for-shot (it’s nothing of the sort), and that recent Wicker Man has made the director, Neil LaButte, and not its invincible star Nicolas Cage, something of a laughingstock.

Rating:

Looper

Looper

They made one look uglier and one look prettier to make them look alike. Good job!

dir: Rian Johnson

An appreciation for time travel shenanigans is not a prerequisite for enjoying this odd but interesting film, but a lot of attention to what’s going on is mandatory for understanding it. Let your attention drift for a while, and you’ll be yelling “where did that purple elephant unicorn come from?” at the screen, much to the chagrin of the people around you.

Looper is set about 40 years in the future, in Kansas, of all places. We are told that at a time even more distant in the future, they’ve invented time travel. Not only that, but the best and only use for it they could think of was for crime lords sending back to the past people they want killed. So in 2070, they have time travel, but they can’t dispose of bodies because of the awesomeness of forensic technology. In 2044, they don’t have time travel, but they shoot these people who are sent into the past.

These killers, who wait in a designated spot with a gun called a blunderbuss, are the loopers from which the flick gets its title. The looper we’re concerned with is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who shoots these hooded people who appear out of nowhere, collects the silver strapped to their bodies, and then disposes of the corpses.

Rating:

Never Let Me Go

dir: Mark Romanek
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What a strange, sad film. Watching Never Let Me Go was a profoundly melancholy experience for me, despite the fact that not much overtly happens, and none of my tears flowed in programmed Pavlovian response to deftly deployed violins or postcard photography.

After all, I’m not some flouncy squats-to-piss girl’s blouse. Even if the ending of Toy Story 3 made me weep like a little girl with a skinned knee. No, no sooky la-la, I.

At its heart it’s a simple love story involving three people, but its setup is anything but simple. The flick, based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro, posits an alternate history timeline where certain medical breakthroughs in our history changed the course of humanity.

And not for the better, as far as the protagonists are concerned. The flick’s timeline covers three distinct time periods, being the 1970s, the 80s and the 90s. Though the setting and the environs don’t really change with the passage of time, our protagonists grow up, and change, and realise just how awful their predicament is.

Rating:

Box, The

dir: Richard Kelly
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This is not a good movie. It’s not even mediocre. It’s just incompetent.

It’s not as utterly godawful at his last awful foray into moviemaking, which was the truly dire Southland Tales, but whilst it’s not as asinine, it’s not much better. It’s staggeringly not much better.

Richard Kelly came to prominence with Donnie Darko, and since then has been squandering whatever goodwill the flick engendered with a much too forgiving audience. Honestly, these other films he’s been making are so eye-rottingly rotten that it makes me think Donnie Darko was a fluke, a goddamn fluke.

Maybe the elements that he was able to put together coherently the first time have never been able to coalesce since then. I know this is a review of his latest shitfest The Box, but bear with me for a second: I think you can see the seeds of his failure even back in Donnie Darko, by comparing the theatrical cut with his director’s cut.

That’s what it comes down to: Kelly doesn’t know how to edit his own flicks. Of course, the companies hire editors to actually edit the films, but the directors (and often producers) can end up sitting in at every stage to ensure their singular ‘vision’ gets carried through.

Rating:

Stalker

dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
[img_assist|nid=1225|title=That bloody dog|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=288]
1979

As a self-appointed film wanker, one who’s studied some elements of film history and criticism of the art form, but who hasn’t earned any formal qualifications or work experience in the field or any real credible basis for one’s pretentions, it’s often hard for me to justify my own status. Sure, I think I’ve got something relevant/amusing to say about films, mostly only because I love ‘em, and when you love something, whether it’s individual films or films in general, you might, like I do, feel like that gives you licence to inflict your opinions upon the rest of the world.

The hardest thing for me to justify is not my lack of knowledge of the kinds of things that send professional film critic and theory types into paroxysmic orgasms, but the fact that quite often I just can’t muster any appreciation of them.

In other words, yeah, so I’ve seen Citizen Kane a few times, but, honestly, put that Rosebud shit to bed, it’s had its day already.

Long intro: short point. I’ll acknowledge that I know who the Russian directorial ‘master’ Andrei Tarkovsky is, and what his films are, and that he was a master of crafting what he and many other film wankers consider some of the finest films known to man. But for the fucking life of me it doesn’t translate into my being able to enjoy watching most of his flicks.

Rating:

The Road

The Road

It was grim I tell you, grim as being awake at 5am.

dir: John Hillcoat

Oh gods is this film depressing. It’s not as completely hideous and bleak as the Cormac McCarthy novel from which it takes its name, since it leaves out some of the most horrifying bits. Even without some of that stuff, good goddamn is it depressing.

John Hillcoat has made some grim flicks, like Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead and The Proposition, but this out-grims them all. And as with The Proposition, adding to the bleak landscape and sombre atmosphere is a score created by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Of the soundtracks they’ve done together, well, this is of a piece, and whilst it’s not as powerful as the one they managed for that Jesse James flick whose title was almost longer than its running time, it’s still pretty devastating.

This film mostly has three characters. Sure there are others, but three characters are the majority that we look at and care about. There’s The Man (Viggo Mortensen), there’s The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and then there’s the dead world they walk upon.

This is a post-apocalyptic story with a difference. The difference is that there’s nothing cool or romantic about this devastated place where we spend two hours of our lives and the last days of humanity. Plenty of flicks have been set in some nebulous future setting where nuclear war, robots, a virus, melting icecaps, zombies, evolved monkeys or Michael Bay have been responsible for wiping out human civilisation as we knew it. In almost all of those stories, though, the world left behind might be seriously fucked up and rubble strewn, but there’s still life, of a sort, and as they say, where there’s life, there’s fucking. I mean, where there’s life there’s hope.

The Road posits a world where there will be no redemption, no Hand of God coming down from the heavens to save / kill us, no rebuilding, no preservation of a copy of A Canticle for Leibowitz for future generations, no hope. The world is cold and getting colder, ashen, dead, really dead, and it’s just waiting for its last species to violently expire in order for the whole planet to become as quiet as a global grave can be.

Rating:

Terminator: Salvation

Terminator: Salvation

I will destroy you, you puny filthy humans!

dir: McG

It’s a sad day when you acknowledge for your own benefit that the world no longer needs Terminator movies. New ones that is. The first two will always be classics of a sort, but it’s just a sad realisation to see that it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be able to approach them in quality, let alone match them.

The curious element was that the story we were always watching was never really the main story. The main story was always the reason for watching these various people and cyborgs run away and try to fight progressively more advanced robots, but it was never the overarching plots of these films. The battle between the remnants of humanity and the ruthless artificial intelligence called Skynet was always some nebulous threat in the future: our immediate concern was supposed to be the survival of some people in the present.

Salvation, being the first of the Terminator flicks that doesn’t have time travel as its main plot device, is set during the time when this apocalyptic conflict has already destroyed most of the world, or at least North America. Sure, the protagonists are all still trying to survive assault from fiendish and relentless machines, but it’s not for some way of safeguarding humanity in the future: it’s survival in the here and now.

Rating:

Star Trek XI

Star Trek

Organised by rank, and by how much they probably got paid

dir: JJ Abrams

Excitement might have been high in some quarters; dread might have been higher in others. The prospect of a new Star Trek film might have seemed inevitable to some, and downright puzzling to most. After all, the Trek flicks, either the ones with the ancient crew or with the still quite old Next Generation crew never really made that much money (certainly not blockbuster numbers), and the last hurrah critically and financially was back in the 90s.

And yet they kept putting out films as if there was a burning need in the public to see these same weak characters age poorly and deliver groan-worthy jokes that seemed outdated even back in the era where the only form of mass entertainment were cave paintings and hitting each other over the head with clubs.

As with a whole bunch of other franchises, properties, brands recently, they decided to bring it all back and to undertake a reboot / reinvention in order to rekindle interest in a largely apathetic public. And they handed the responsibility for directing this, the eleventh, or XIth, if you want to get all Roman numeral and classy, entry in the franchise to J.J. Abrams, the guy who, amongst other crimes, created the television shows Felicity, Alias and Lost, and directed the third Mission: Impossible flick.

Rating:

Day The Earth Stood Still, The

dir: Scott Derrickson
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The Earth Didn’t So Much Stand Still on This or Any Other Day, it More Kind of Farted, Rolled Over and Went Back to Sleep.

Perhaps a bit long for a title, but it’s certainly more accurate. Of course if they didn’t use the original title reminding people this is a remake of the Cold War era classic, then no-one would be any the wiser, and no-one would have bothered to go and see it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being pointless, and 10 being pointed, this remake of a beloved alleged sci fi classic sits somewhere between pointless and pointlessly enjoyable. Ascribing a numerical value to that itself is pointless, but that’s probably not going to stop me from assigning a numerical rating at the end of the review. The Day The Earth Stood Still is not as entertaining or scolding as its predecessor, but it certainly looks prettier.

Rating:

Babylon A.D.

dir: Mathieu Kassovitz
[img_assist|nid=59|title=Let me just shoot my agent|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
What the fuck? Sorry, but there’s only one reaction I can have to having watched this alleged movie. But first, allow me to digress for about a thousand words…

I recently spent nearly three months of my life plowing through a book called Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide last year. Since he killed himself, which all the cool artists do, and since many people, book critics and regular humans alike, wanked on rhapsodically about what an amazing writer he was, I started reading it to see for my self.

Imagine my disgust when after suffering through a thousand pages penned more with bongwater than ink and fully more satisfied with itself than it ever deserved to be, I came to the end of the novel only to find that the novel had no ending. No resolution to any of the story it was telling. Nothing to justify the three months of my life where I could have been reading multiple better books during my lunch breaks and train trips to and from work.

Suffice to say, I was pretty fucking angry.

Rating:

Alien Versus Predator 2: Requiem

dir: The Brothers Strause
[img_assist|nid=112|title=Whoever wins, the audience loses|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=270|height=400]
I know, I know, whenever crossovers are attempted, it’s always faintly magnificent. Freddy Versus Jason, Superman versus Batman, Astronaut versus Caveman: It’s an idea so geeky that it sounds like it should stay where it originated from, being the comic book universe.

And what a rich and complicated universe it truly is. Who else gets to ask those questions of universal importance to the human species: who’d win in a fight between She-Hulk or Bat-Girl? What if Dr Octopus gained possession of Mighty Thor’s hammer, or what if Wolverine’s blades came out of his penis instead of his hands?

You know, the important questions. Well, a comic book by Dark Horse, and a computer game first posed the crucial question: how cool would it be to have the Predators from the Predator films, and the aliens from the Alien films, in the same room at the same time?

It would surely bring in fans of either or both franchises, and double the money, attractiveness and general powerfulness of all concerned with the production, yea verily. And no-one with any sense would doubt it.

Rating:

I Am Legend

dir: Francis Lawrence
[img_assist|nid=742|title=I Am... The Fresh Prince of Legend|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
You know, Will, you’re really not.

He may be the biggest box office star currently, he may be a good earner, he may be an occasionally decent actor, he may even be the Big Willy he claims to be in his music, but Will Smith is no Legend. At least not in this bloody movie.

I remember The Omega Man with a certain degree of affection, or at least as much affection as you can have for a film with Charlton Heston in it. Both this flick, that flick and another called The Last Man on Earth all stem from the same novel, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Just because this flick, directed by the guy who brought us the cinematic adaptation of Constantine, uses the name of the source material for the first time, don’t go thinking it chooses to cleave closely to the actual story.

Oh no. Why would you want to, when instead you can have Will Smith talking to himself and talking to his dog Sam for 80 minutes and then killing evil puffy looking vampires for the other ten minutes?

Rating:

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

dir: Tim Story
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Are you fucking kidding me?

What mental incompetent approved such a script? Was the screenplay put together in any fashion other than having kindergarten kids stick cut-out bits of other scripts together in an amateurish collage fashion, which was then stuck in a blender and pureed until it achieved a truly shitty consistency?

Good goddamn, this makes other crappy comic book adaptations look positively Shakespearean by comparison. It makes Transformers look like something scripted by George Bernard Shaw.

A Barbie doll (Jessica Alba) who looks less convincing as a scientist than Denise Richards did in that terrible Bond film a few years ago, employs constant hissy fits to provoke her potential mate into entering into the holy contractual agreement of marriage. Her paramour, being Horatio Hornblower with the ability to become the consistency of pudding (Ioan Gruffud), is a work obsessed nerd who talks of love but could care less about the shrill blowup doll bitching about his workaholic ways.

Rating:

Transformers

dir: Michael Bay
[img_assist|nid=758|title=Smart Robots. Dumb Humans|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=459]
It is easy to hate Michael Bay, and especially to hate his movies. They are the apotheosis of mindless action raised to the status of pure content-free escapist claptrap that steals souls whilst it damages minds with its spastic imagery and brutal soundtracks. And Michael Bay himself is the grinning face of Death, seducing us with worm-filled decaying excrement dressed up in shiny chrome and flash. He is the painted whore of Hollywood, he is the handmaiden of horrible men like Jerry Bruckheimer; he is Bruckheimer in director’s form, and the world becomes a substantially worse place every time he disgorges or defecates a movie out onto our planet.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by Transformers. It’s still an incoherent, character-less mess, but it’s a vaguely entertaining incoherent, character-less mess.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the film did not make me want to gouge my own eyes out and perforate my own eardrums in self-defence or in protest.

Rating:

Sunshine

dir: Danny Boyle
[img_assist|nid=770|title=Sunshine|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=225]
Decent, actual science fiction movies are few and far between, so when word started spreading that Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later fame (and Life Less Ordinary and The Beach infamy) had made a serious sci fi flick, I was curious.

Most flicks use sci fi elements purely to propel a flick that’s mostly just an action/comedy/horror movie. It’s all fine and dandy to imagine what a society full of robots would be like in the future, but let’s not pretend the driving concept behind a flick where someone is fighting hundreds of robots makes it an existential exploration of the idea of artificial intelligence. Why would you bother with that when it’s far more fun to watch Will Smith get slapped around by a robot/alien/grandmother?

Sunshine has as its premise the inexplicable cooling of our solar system’s sun in about half a century’s time. In a desperate attempt to jump start the sun, and thus save all life on earth, an international team of scientists and astronauts sets off on a mission to the sun.

Rating:

Prestige, The

dir: Christopher Nolan
[img_assist|nid=867|title=What's lighting the pretty lights?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
Based on a novel by Christopher Priest, The Prestige is one of the most intriguing and entertaining films of the year. If you told me that a film about two rival magicians at the end of the 19th Century would be a winner, I'd have told you to pull something else apart from a rabbit out of a hat.

The first image of the film is a winter scene on a hill, with dozens of top hats reclining upon in it in various states of disarray: one of the magician's most cliché of tools and part of their uniform. A voice asks us "Are you watching closely?"

Of course we're watching, but the magician's skill and the filmmaker's desire is to trick us whilst we're watching ever so carefully.

A different voice-over soon also starts up, explaining the film's title to us. The magic trick, as performed on stage in that era, is comprised of three parts. The Pledge involves showing the audience the elements of the trick, to convince them of the normality of the stage and the lack of dodgy machines. Of course, the machinery and parts that make the trick work are in plain view, but they look normal.

Rating:

A Scanner Darkly

dir: Richard Linklater
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It’s hard to make the case for why I enjoyed this flick so much, but I did. It wasn’t because of the quality of the animation, I can tell you that much. It wasn’t necessarily that I’m a fan of the source material, which I am, being a big fan of Philip K. Dick and all his Dickian works.

I think Linklater and the actors, and the animators managed to get the tone right. It even has Keanu Reeves in it, for Jeebus’s sake, and it still manages to work.

Not only Neo-Dude-Kanooie, but also former drug addict and occasional actor Robert Downey Jnr, occasional drug addict and occasional actor Woody Harrelson and rare addict and even rarer actress these days Winona Ryder.

From such humble materials comes a modest yet successfully shambolic story about a group of paranoid drug addicts and an undercover operative whose job is to monitor them, who becomes a drug addict himself.

Even thought the original novel was set in a somewhat futuristic time, the book mostly comprised an elaboration on PKD’s own experiences in the drug scene in the early 70s, and his subsequent mental illness. The story also elaborates on his ideas on the War on Drugs in its earlier form.

Rating:

Serenity

dir: Joss Whedon
[img_assist|nid=898|title=Boys and their guns. Touching co-dependence|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=400]
There’s something immensely satisfying about being able to review this film. Not the fact that I got to watch it, I mean just the very fact that it got made.

Firefly was a series that deserved to live and breath for at least a few seasons. Many found the premise somewhat outlandish, and I admit watching those first few episodes on DVD I thought “Jeez, I can see why this got shitcanned”. But the show grew on me, the actors grew into their roles, and the writing stopped trying so damn hard and started to set up some interesting plot lines and character dynamics for future shows that were never to be.

A tv show set in space is nothing new, and a sci-fi film is hardly anything novel in itself. Firefly, and therefore Serenity, had as their novelty factor a premise set on a ship in the future which looks awfully like frontier times in the Wild West. People wear those hats and dusters, and shoot bullets from shiny guns, and speak a mishmash of old slang, new slang, Mandarin insults and that hyper-aware, pop culture speak that Whedon is either renowned or loathed for, dependent on your tastes.

I can’t really see people who hated the show or never watched it giving a good god damn about the film, or really getting it, or caring about this review.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

dir: George Lucas
[img_assist|nid=907|title=The main reason I turned evil? Cataracts.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=430|height=292]
It's finally over. The waiting, that is. I don't believe for a second that this is going to be the last Star Wars film. It's just way too lucrative. Capitalism demands that more films get made. Nerds demand that more films get made. Normal people and unborn generations insist as well. I don't care what Lucas himself says, this isn't the end.

The wait has been worth it. Revenge of the Sith isn't only the best of the three prequels, it's a pretty good film in and of itself. Lucas, being Lucas, makes the kind of elementary errors a first year film school student would know to avoid. But he gets a lot of stuff right as well.

He still can't write dialogue, or direct humans, but he makes do with amazing special effects, lots of lightsaber battles and a cracking story. Although, you know, I think there could have been a few more. I don't think sixteen lightsaber fights were enough.

Rating:

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

dir: Garth Jennings
[img_assist|nid=942|title=How does something so funny getting transformed into something so unfunny? Oh, yeah, Hollywood.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=430|height=274]
So I liked the “So long and thanks for all the fish” song used in the intro, in fact I found it thrilling, transporting and charming. Unfortunately it’s about the only thing I liked about the film.

It’s funny, or maybe not that funny that they (“they” being the people responsible for regurgitating this film forth, which includes Douglas Adams) could take a book beloved by so many legions of nerds for its humour and yet succeed in draining most of the humour out of it.

I’ll admit that I’m not really that much of a fan of the book in the first place. I would still like to think that they could have done a better job had a better director or producers had a bash at it. Imagine Charlie Kaufman having a go at the screenplay, and Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry directing it. If you don’t think that Americans or a French guy could do justice to it, then how about if they’d used an innovative bunch of people like Danny Boyle and his production crew, or Edgar White and Simon Pegg, the guys behind Shaun of the Dead.

Hell, maybe they should have gotten your mum to direct it. Or even my mum. Though she is busy sitting in a store window in Amsterdam’s red light district. That reminds me, need to send her those antibiotics for Mother’s Day.

Rating:

Primer

dir: Shane Carruth
[img_assist|nid=982|title=Primer|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=400]
For a contemporary sci-fi film, this is going to strike some people as downright false advertising.

There are no explosions, car chases, gigantic metropolises, shiny robots, Will Smiths or Spielbergs to be seen for miles around. So most regular muggles aren’t going to think it’s “real” sci-fi anyway.

For “real” sci-fi fans, that should be enough to pique their curiousity. Of course, when I mention time travel playing the central role in the story, they’re going to switch off and go back to masturbating over Japanese cartoon porn. God knows you’re not a real nerd ‘til you’ve done that.

Time travel has been used and abused by so many and for so long that it makes most of us role our eyes heavenward in disgust. Even nerds.

When it’s used well, as with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the details of the how and the why of the time travel are insignificant compared to what it adds to the story. Seeing Abraham Lincoln, Socrates, Sigmund Freud and Genghis Khan striding around the San Dimas mall and interacting with late 80s Californians is worth all the silliness and Keanu Reeveses involved.

Rating:

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

dir: Kerry Conran
[img_assist|nid=981|title=There is no tomorrow for you guys|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=305|height=450]
Kerry Conran had a vision, God love him. This is a man who had a genuine ambition. Ambition is not unknown in Hollywood, to be sure. But this isn’t a case of a guy whose ambition is only to make a film, or to get wealthy, or to fuck high class prostitutes. He had a bunch of ideas for making a very particular film, and he’s been striving for over ten years to get it done. Finally, in the form of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, he’s achieved his goal. There may have been pitfalls and compromises along the way, but in the end he brought his unique vision to the screen, goddamnit. And for that he deserves to be commended.

It’s not a particularly unique or original vision; in a way he’s doing little more than what George Lucas did decades ago when he used his memories of Saturday matinee serials and Amazing Stories-type books and comics to come up with the Indiana Jones and the Star Wars stuff, to the ecstasy of nerds the world over. And sure, more recently many of the same visual and thematic influences turned up, incredibly enough in the recent Pixar treasure The Incredibles.

It is, on the other hand, resolutely his own take on all those elements, which he uses to come up with something he can call his own, even if the origins aren’t that obscure or even remotely forgotten.

Rating:

I, Robot

dir: Alex Proyas
[img_assist|nid=953|title=I can't wait for these robots to take over. I'm sure they'll be gentle masters|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=399|height=314]
Well before I get immersed in the arthouse stink of the Melbourne Film Festival, I thought I'd immunise myself with a hearty dose of mainstream blockbustery cheese.

Saying that this film has anything to do with the collection of Asimov short stories collected in a book of the same title is like saying
Michael Jackson is based on the template for a human being: in both cases the end product has little if anything to do with the source
material. The title, and the use of the concept of Asimov's Laws of Robotics are all that come from the writing of Asimov as far as the
plot is concerned. It doesn't really matter to me that much, because it's not like Asimov's going to care (he died several years ago), and
it's not as if anyone actually ever turns in their graves. Or at least I certainly hope not.

Rating:

Minority Report

dir: Steven Spielberg
[img_assist|nid=1065|title=The eyes have it|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=304|height=450]
Even with access to my hefty imagination I didn't think this would work. See, Spielbergo gypped me last year with AI, and it left me thinking that the man had traveled so far up his own anus that getting an intelligent and enjoyable film out of him was an exercise in wishful thinking.

Sometimes I am happy to be proved wrong. This film more than makes up for the lacklustre, uninspired kiddies' film AI. Even though he appears to be working in the same genre, this film, based on a Philip K Dick short story of the same name, towers over pretty much all of the recent sci-fi films that you've bothered to shell out your hard earned money for. Attack of the Clones looks like the work of a very technically minded retard in comparison.

Rating:

Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones

dir: George Lucas
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See, I had misgivings when I heard the title last year. Scratch that, I had misgivings when I heard Lucas was going to direct prequels to his smash hit merchandising empire in the first place. You'd think the man could just stay home and throw some money around with the kids, set fire to massive Cuban cigars with $5000 bills, race homeless people on a deadly indoor obstacle course, purchase small third world countries where for his amusement he can watch or physically take part as people's arses are branded with the Lucasfilm logo, or make them build pyramids in his honour. In that case, surely it is Georgie Porgie's love of creating quality films to be remembered throughout the ages that keeps him coming back to the trough for more. Surely.

I've had the opportunity to watch the film twice over the last couple of weeks, and I have to say that the second viewing was significantly less enjoyable than the first. Such a detail certainly indicates to me at least that the film's quality is no where near as high as several relieved reviewers would have you believe.

If I'd written the review after the first viewing, I possibly might have had more positive things to say. As it is, the film's flaws were magnified with a subsequent viewing, for which the rest of you who loved it are now going to have to suffer.

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Star Trek: Nemesis

dir: Stuart Baird
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There is a law in economics referred to as the law of diminishing returns, or alternately known as the law of variable proportions. Essentially it states that if one factor of production is increased while the others remain constant, the overall returns will relatively decrease passed a certain point.

Accept for a moment that the number of Trek fans and other obese obsessives is relatively constant, if not decreasing over time. Establish that the amount of merchandising and truly quality television shows pumped out continues over time, with more and more money being poured into this formerly profitable venture. The law of diminishing returns states that past a certain point you cannot get back what you put in.

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Signs

dir: M. Night Shyamalan
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It's an interesting film, I'll give it that much. And it's a credit to M. Night Shyamalan that he manages to get the best performance out of Mel Gibson that I've seen in nearly a decade. As for how successful the film is overall, well, that's hardly a question for the ages.

Box office-wise, Signs has managed to dispel the fear that arose of "one hit wonderness" after the lackluster receipts that the far more ambitious Unbreakable was responsible for. He's managing to incorporate the quite difficult aspects of credible film making and ticket sale success, and then some. He is undoubtedly a populist director, making stories that are on the surface fairly straight-forward that manage to tap in to either the collective unconscious or issues of pop cultural currency without being either pretentious or lowest common denominator shit-stupid.

His level of subtlety is not what I would call delicate, but this film at the very least stands as a testament to his willingness to tackle commonplace ideas with his own individual take, willing to not always give audiences what they want initially with the view of giving them something completely different at film's end. It's a conceited bait-and-switch, I know, but as someone who's seen literally thousands of films over the years, it's something I can appreciate.

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Planet of the Apes

dir: Tim Burton
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Even though it's been out for only two weeks, already the topic of this film is straining to raise even the mildest level of interest anywhere. We get gangbanged by the hype regarding new films leading up to their release, they're released, then everyone collectively reaches over and hits the snooze button. Being ever timely in my responses, now that any interest has pretty much waned, I have seen fit to post a review of Tim Burton's latest coke fueled extravaganza.

Tim Burton's only real mistake was in remaking what is usually referred to as a "classic". He should have remade a different classic, that being Planet of the Gapes, originally directed by Tom Byron, starring himself, Allysin Chaines, Alisha Klass, Sabrina Johnson and a host of other starlets and studs. I have not the courage or the mortal fortitude to tell you readers what a "gape" is, suffice to say it is one of at least a hundred things I wish I'd never seen, and curse the internet each day for inflicting it upon me.

Regardless, the mere concept of doing a remake of Planet of the Apes is enough to raise people's hackles, and as appealing to long time fans as it would be to announce to Christians that you're planning on re-writing the Bible, replacing all references to "God" and "Jesus" with "My Cock". They'd love that.

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AI: Artificial Intelligence

dir: Steven Spielberg's Mexican non-union equivalent
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Oh beautiful people, what with the planes falling out of the skies and the burning of empires, and thousands of souls going to meet their makers, is it even appropriate to talk about something as unimportant as a film? A movie, in fact? Yes it is...

Let me create a hypothetical situation for you: You work as a job placement demon, as they all are at those particular agencies. You have two positions to fill. Job 1 requires a qualified person to take the reins at a child care centre. Job 2 requires a highly qualified and experienced person to take control of a whorehouse. Yes, a whorehouse. There's no other adequate PC term that can be used in its place. Brothel always sounds kinda dirty to me. Which is appropriate, me guesses.

You have only two people on your books in terms of wanting jobs. They are both hungry, hungry for the acclaim that comes only from working in a prestigious position. Unfortunately for your Key Performance Indicators, those two people are Steven Spielberg and a very dead and overrated / underappreciated Stanley Kubrick. Let's say that you're in the added unfortunate position whereby they get to decide which jobs they get to go for. Hilarity ensues.

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