Archive for the ‘Lisa Sinclair’ Category

Lucy review

Monday, December 1st, 2014 by gotheek

Spoilers be here. Enter at yer own risk mateys!

Director Luc Besson has done a few Science Fiction and Fantasy movies. The most obvious is The Fifth Element (1997), with Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich. Less well known is The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec (2010), based on the book of the same name. I saw this one recently and it translated to a movie which seemed less than the sum of its parts.

Lucy on the other hand, despite the inaccurate science, delivers on a number of fronts.

The first is presenting us with a strong female lead, in Scarlett Johansson whose filmography is seemingly now stuffed with strong female characters, including Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, the nameless alien in Under the Skin, and now Lucy.

The movie opens a’la 2001 with apes on the savannah and a montage of imagery bringing us to the present day. The entire movie hinges on a single conceit: that humans only use a small percentage of our brains.

Lucy is a normal young woman who’s fallen in love with a man who turns out to be a drug runner. It is the beginning of her troubles when he emotionally blackmails her into delivering a case into a hotel.

Scarlett plays the very vulnerable, naive young woman with as equal vigour as the woman she becomes. An experimental drug is introduced to her system thanks to a violent encounter with another man. The drug causes an extreme reaction, not just because it was sewn into Lucy’s body as a way to smuggle it into another country. But far from merely killing her, it begins to expand her consciousness and awareness of the world and universe around her. From here on, we get full screen status reports of how much of Lucy’s brain is now being accessed.

The chase movie begins at this point.

Lucy needs to find (a) the other drugs to complete her journey to become a god, and (b) someone who can help her. The first part is easy thanks to the help of law enforcement and Amr Waked, a Paris detective. The second is achieved with the help of Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman who is the pre-eminent brain scientist on the planet.

But there’s enemies afoot, namely Mr Jang (Min Sik Choi) the head honcho of the drug cartel that Lucy finds herself embroiled with. He’s got money riding on the delivery of the drugs and since Lucy has gone AWOL and massacred his drug runners, then had the audacity to go to the cops and round up the other drug mules, he’s rather hoping to teach her a lesson.

What happens next is really for you the viewer to find out. What I will say is that the movie is a well executed adventure with villains who might be regarded as cartoony in nature. However, Lucy is all about the ride, and Luc Besson doesn’t disappoint. We’re propelled through the movie at a rate of knots; as Lucy’s brain power expands, so too does the movie accelerate until, finally we’re delivered an answer, and a cliffhanger preceded by guns and explosions.

To be sure, Lucy is not the most scientifically accurate movie out there. However, I’d argue that of the science fiction movies that are continually churned out by Hollywood, it’s better staged, better scripted and better directed than just about anything else (bar, perhaps, the seminal Gravity). It delivers on its premise with a clever and engaging script and doesn’t drop the ball.

I’m giving this 4/5 with a point drop because we really don’t only use a small part of our brain.

Lucy is available on DVD on the 4th of December 2014.

The game’s afoot!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by gotheek

Last week HBO (Home Box Office) made an announcement which I think changes the goalposts for content.

HBO announces they’re offering online content from 2015

Joining NetflixBBC iPlayer and even local content providers, ABC iView and SBS on demand (among others), it’s beginning to look like the net is winning through.

Why is this important?

Give it to me!

Around the world, people want to watch content. It’s lack of availability in many countries (Australia especially) is a major problem, and arguably leads to pirating.

Google Australia: Piracy is an availability and pricing issue

Converting Pirates without Cannibalizing Purchasers

Communication minister Malcolm Turnbull’s anti-piracy forum: As it happened

A case in point: Game of Thrones

In 2013, Game of Thrones was available through Apple iTunes and a number of other channels. In 2014, Foxtel managed to negotiate exclusive rights to the show.

Despite people wanting to pay their hard earned money for the show locally, they could not. They were forced to purchase a bundle of channels from a cable company to see the show. Net effect: piracy.

ABC – Choice backs Australians who pirate Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones sets illegal download record, sparks piracy debate

See also, the Lego movie, available overseas but held back in Australia (despite it being produced here). Net effect: piracy. But apparently Village Roadshow won’t be making that mistake again.

Netflix is the future, HBO has just joined in

Take House of Cards, the Netflix remake of the classic BBC drama. The show was broadcast on terrestrial channels in Australia and other countries, but available immediately on Netflix in the U.S. in its entirety. No waiting for next week’s episode, no worrying about spoilers; pay your money and see it all.

With the advent of the DVD box set and binge watching, this is increasingly a way for content producers to make money, straight off the bat without the risk of excess piracy or negotiating with middlemen (TV channels) for a better deal. They can talk directly with their consumers.

Arguably, the iTunes store started this ball rolling, but big companies have been extremely slow on the uptake. Now the opportunities are clear: people want content and they’re not prepared to wait, especially if there’s an alternative source of what you want. It’s up to content providers to step-up their game and provide the content.

That’s great, but what about Australia?

At this point, Netflix isn’t available in Australia. That’s where the BBC has the advantage with their iPlayer system. You pay your money and can stream what you want, as often as you want for a whole year. No waiting for Doctor Who to arrive, no wondering when Channel X will show David Attenborough’s latest cavort with wildlife, simple, easy and effective.

Thankfully, at least for the moment, ABC Australia and SBS make their shows available on their players, albeit for a short time.

Netflix is technically available through a middleman company called “Getflix”. You pay them, then you pay Netflix, and you’re off.

iTunes suffers the same issues: the US store contains far more content than the local store; though is constrained by copyright holders refusal to budge on international availability of their shows and music.

Tv roundup: 7 October 2014

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 by gotheek

Here’s the first round up for October. These will be occasional articles which give a quick look at what’s happening in the world of sci-fi.

Star Wars Rebels

This premiered in the first week of October, but there were shorts before that in August and September.

The show, set 5 years after the events of Revenge of The Sith, episode III, follows the adventures of a ship full of renegades, The Ghost, all working around The Empire. Without actually seeing it, already I’m thinking of Firefly, but won’t make that judgement call because it would be unfair.

Freddie Prinze Jr. plays a Jedi who escaped Anakin’s massacre of episode III, and he’s joined by Taylor Grey as Ezra Bridger, a teenage pickpocket, Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren, a Maldorian gun toting graffiti artist and finally, veteran voice actors, Vanessa Marshall as and Steven Blum as, in turn, pilot Hera Syndulla and Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios (basically the Jayne Cobb of the crew).

They’re chased around the cosmos by Jason Isaacs as the Inquisitor and his henchman David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus.

Read more on Star Wars Rebels on the Disney website.

Person of Interest

Last we saw them, the Dynamic Quartet of John Reese (Jim Caviezel), Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi) and Root (Amy Acker) were utterly doomed. Samaritan, owned by the shady John Greer (John Nolan) of the Decima corporation, had usurped The Machine, the surveillance technology developed by Mr. Finch. The crew walked into the sunset only because of a clever hack, and new identities, without which they’d be pushing up the daisies.

Now in Season 4, the tables are turned. Shaw is a beautician, Root is floating around still listening to The Machine, Reese is a cop, accompanying other cast member Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) and Finch is a lecturer. The Machine seems to have abandoned them.

But it may be down, but it’s not out. The battle was lost, but the war continues.

In light of the Snowden revelations, and the recent ASIO bill passed through parliament with barely a whimper, Person of Interest is as relevant as ever.

Read more about Person of Interest on the CBS website.

Twin Peaks

25 years ago, Twin Peaks came to a close. In 2016 it’ll be back. There’s very limited information on this, other than to say that David Lynch will direct and write with Mark Frost, basically the two original showrunners. It’ll be on Showtime in America.

The original show ran for two seasons and concerned the murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), found wrapped in plastic. Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) was the FBI agent investigating the unsettling town of Twin Peaks with David Lynch regulars, Jack Nance, Grace Zabriskie and Everett McGill.

Read more about the return of Twin Peaks.

Predestination – spoiler review

Saturday, October 4th, 2014 by gotheek

I honestly thought this was John Travolta. Nearly didn’t see the movie because of that! >.<

Predestination is an interesting, cleverly scripted movie about a person’s life as a temporal agent, a time travelling police officer who goes back or forward to right wrongs before they happen. Ethan Hawke is the agent, who is horribly burned in the opening moments of the movie while trying to disarm a bomb. He wakes with a reconstructed face, and is given a last assignment by his boss Mr. Robertson (Noah Taylor, who’s popping up in everything these days!).

Based on All You Zombies, a short story by Robert A. Heinlein, Predestination is a movie you have to pay attention to, because it becomes cleverly convoluted, though not enough to lose the viewer.

Sarah Snook plays an unmarried mother, an orphan, who joins an agency dedicated to helping give Astronauts something female to play with. That the agency is headed by the mysterious Mr. Robertson is an interesting plot point. Despite being the best person for the job, she is kicked out after an altercation with another recruit. Then, as often happens, she meets a man, falls in love, and is left saddled with a lone pregnancy when he disappears on her.

Meanwhile, Ethan Hawke is working in a bar. And an odd young man walks in and tells him his story.

These disparate story lines don’t sound like anything to do with a time travel movie. Except, as time goes by (haha), oh yes they do.

It’s a credit to the writers and directors (the Spierig brothers) that they manage to pull off such a seemingly convoluted storyline so well. Everything ties up at the end, despite it being somewhat ambiguous. The idea that ones actions and choices are predestined and not our own is a core idea within the movie, and the story lines draw together like shoelaces on a familiar pair of boots. At the end one knows who everyone is, and why they’re doing what they do. The choices which once seemed strange, suddenly make sense.

For the eagle eyed among you, try to spot which Melbourne building some of the scenes were filmed in?

I’m giving this 4/5 (drops a point because one of the stories dragged a little for me).

ps. Did anyone else think, based on the poster, that the star was John Travolta, not Ethan Hawke?!

Doctor Who > Season 8 > Episode 4 > Listen

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 by gotheek

Listen

Is it just me, or is Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) becoming a little more like the Doctor? In episode one (Deep Breath) of the new series, she reasoned her way out of certain death at the stolen hands of a cyborg captain. In episode two, (Into the Dalek) she worked out how a Dalek could be good , then a way to reactivate its memories. Episode three (Robot of Sherwood) had her being picked as leader of the Merry Men, rather than her erstwhile betters, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Robin Hood (Tom Riley) who were arguing like two boozy boys trying to impress a woman at a pub.

In Listen, the rather creepy fourth episode of the new series, she is again taking a lead rather than the last of the time lords. When he is too socially challenged with a young Rupert Pink (Remy Gooding) she slaps him on the head and tells him to shut up. When he is left unconscious after meeting the last life at the end of the universe, she pilots the TARDIS away from danger.

Perhaps show runner Steven Moffatt is listening fannish outcry about female characters? Or perhaps he is doing what, in my opinion, he does best: write interesting and complex stories.

Honestly, I don’t subscribe to the opinions of the doubters, the haters nor the “past was better” brigade. Doctor Who has always had to move forwards, and I feel, despite some misses, the show under Moffatt’s stewardship has built on a great foundation from the past, not just the Russell T. Davies seasons, but the whole history of Doctor Who. There are those who doubt his ability to write emotional complex characters and who, rather interestingly blame him for every misstep, even in scripts he didn’t write.

It is to you I say this: you’re entitled to your opinion, as am I. And this little black duck has thoroughly enjoyed the Doctor’s adventures under the helm of The Grand Moff.

Just wanted to get that out of my system. Right, back to the review.

Listen begins with an interesting idea, straight out of Steven Moffatt’s playbook, the same one which spawned The Weeping Angels, The Silence, The Vashta Nerada and of course the crack in Amy’s wall. Moffatt has a knack for noticing things that are mundane and normal and then turning them into things of dread and fear.

Here we have a new baddie… or do we? A life form that has evolved to be perfect at hiding.

The Doctor and Clara go in search of the creature under the bed, by way of Clara’s memories of a nightmare. That she was picked up by The Doctor after a failed date with Danny Pink is what leads them both to an orphanage on a dark and stormy night with a child woken by the same creepy crawly.

Sometimes though, weird things can be explained in mundane ways; take for example the cup of coffee which The Doctor discusses with the caretaker and which then disappears. That’s because The Doctor has swiped it for himself.

The creepy something under Rupert Pink’s bed though, that’s another matter. Is it one of the other kids in the home playing a joke, or something else entirely?

Listen works on a number of different levels, it’s a creepy tale of hidden creatures, it’s the romance of two people who may be falling in love, and it’s a tale perhaps of their future. It’s also about The Doctor’s past and a rather nice way that writer Steven Moffatt has made the story self-contained.

Nothing is really truly answered. There is someone under the bed, but maybe it’s not always a monster.

But is anyone else wondering about the two references to Clara’s death, the first in Deep Breath, and the second here? I wonder if The Doctor is going to have to save her from Missy (Michelle Gomez) and The Promised Land in a future episode?

Only Time Lords will tell.

The offering: Short film

Friday, September 12th, 2014 by gotheek

The Offering from Ryan Patch on Vimeo.

Housebound trailer

Friday, September 12th, 2014 by gotheek

NZ horror strikes again!

Watching Lucy thanks to universal :)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by gotheek

Review will be coming soon 🙂

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Review: Snowpiercer (spoilers)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 by gotheek

Don’t read any further if you’re intending to see Snowpiercer. Spoilers Ahoy!

In a world where scientists are stupid, the only way to survive is to have a spot on an endlessly travelling train.

Snowpiercer is based on the graphic novel Le Transperceneige by writer Jacques Lob, and artist Jean Marc Rochette. The script is by Joon Ho Bong and Kelly Masterson.

The action takes place on an endlessly travelling train in which the remainder of humanity lives in decreasing levels of comfort, protected from the freezing temperatures outside. A prequel animation gives the back story:

See what I mean? Bad scientists! Bad!

Snowpiercer has taken a very Euro Cinema vibe from its graphic novel origins, and it contains scenes which remind me of Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen and the aforementioned Terry Gilliam (most specifically Brazil and 12 Monkeys). Director Kang Ho Song (who appears as locksmith Nangoong Minsoo) has directed the action and quieter moments with equal aplomb, but the pacing seems off somewhat. In honesty, I can see why producer Harvey Weinstein wanted to cut it down a little. The original cut was rumoured to be 3 hours plus, while the one I saw at The Nova Cinema was a little over two hours. It’s a story of a class struggle in a literal microcosm, painted in broad brushstrokes. The people at the back of the train live in squalor and darkness, while those at the front seem not to have learned the lessons of the French Revolution (though here it’s “Let them eat blue gelatine” rather than cake).

So we start in the rear of the train with hero protagonist Curtis (Chris Evans) who is about to lead a full-scale revolt against the people who live in the front of the train. It’s dirty, dank and lacking in any human comforts here, and the grubby unwashed masses are sick to death of being treated like, well, grubby unwashed masses.

There’s hope though in the form of a special message delivered by someone in the front who wants to help. Cryptic messages are delivered via the gelatine sustenance the people back here get to eat.

There follows the kidnapping of two children, the unjust punishment of a shoe thrower by Mason (Tilda Swinton) and her jackbooted forces, and finally the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the kicking of arses.

Its from here that we see the rest of the train, and like the heroes journey, we have some hard times ahead.

Other reviewers have given this movie glowing reviews, and in certain respects I agree. It’s got action, it’s got struggle, it’s clever in places (the oil drum battering ram was inspired) and it’s got an ending which is less than happy. And yet, there are implausibilities here too. I’ll admit however that they’re nowhere near as bad as my touchstone from this year, The Amazing Spiderman 2, but I will mention them for the sake of completeness.

The first issue is the fact there are any unwashed masses at all? They don’t appear to be employed elsewhere on the train, and they’re taking up space and reproducing, thus taxing the train systems. The only reason I can think for their presence is to extend the gene pool somewhat to prevent in-breeding. A friend wondered if they were the Snowpiercer equivalent of Soylent Green, but again, no such luck there: we see what the rest of the train eat: meat cuts, fish once a year and other related items.

The next issue is the hundred or so bloodthirsty killers. Our heroes run into these balaclava’d murderers fairly early in their adventures. Simply put, how would you keep these nutters controlled? Why would they work for the rest of the train (which we soon discover are pretty much elderly or young kids having a dance)? And how would you keep them occupied other than with killing one another with the axes they seem to wield so well?

Then you’ve got the psychopaths in their midst. I’m not talking about the jackboot soldiers from the beginning; these guys are just deep over their heads and scared about the chance of being killed by those at the back of the train or those at the front. No, I’m talking about people like Franco the Elder (Vlad Ivanov) who leads the forces against Curtis’s insurgency, the unexpectedly gun toting teacher (Alison Pill) who incidentally steals the show with the almost Gilliamesque train song, and finally Egg Head (Thomas LeMarquis) who leads a massacre on the remaining unwashed masses.

Like all implausibility, these jolted me out of the cinematic experience, and I was left wondering if scenes supporting their presence might have ended on the cutting room floor. Maybe I’m being picky? Maybe the trains creator, the all powerful Wilford (Ed Harris) isn’t so bad after all? Maybe it’s just the graphic novel storyline bleeding through?

As with all good stories, the hero prevails in the end despite his losses. It is only he and two others that make it to the engine, the rest of his compatriots murdered in one form or another in earlier carriages.

But what he finds is anything but a happy ending. The train designer and driver, Wilford has been in cahoots with Curtis’s mentor Gilliam (John Hurt) the whole time. He is also the source of the messages. He makes Curtis an offer he can’t refuse: to take over the train, to replace him as driver, to live in comfort the rest of his days and give the orders, such as that to remove 2/3 of the unwashed because the train — like the fish tank shown earlier — is a closed, balanced system. Too many mouths to feed can mean disaster.

Like the flagging of the drug of choice “Kronol” as an explosive, this too seemed a little poorly handled. There wasn’t the sense of tragedy or doom that I’d have expected would accompany the announcement that friends and family are just numbers at the top of the “Kill” heap. Wilford’s announcement seemed anticlimactic, and coupled (see what I did there?!) with the already mentioned inconsistencies, felt for this reviewer to be unsatisfying.

The actors did the best they could with the material to be sure; Chris Evans looked suitably devastated by the revelations and at times vulnerable in a way he’s not usually seen, while Harris acted the kindly, semi-guilt-stricken leader. And they were joined with some exceptional people in Tilda Swinton and John Hurt (last seen together in the excellent Only Lovers Left Alive), Jamie Bell and Octavia Spenser (who is incidentally the only person of colour with any dialogue) as friends from the back of the train. Kang Ho Song and Ah-sung Ko are similarly skilled in their portrayals of Minsoo and daughter, released from coffin-like lock-up and who act as the only way for Curtis et. al., to get through.

If I could summarise: it’s almost like the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

I’m giving this 3/5 stars

Alternative Universe > 50 years of Doctor Who

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 by gotheek

Watch, enjoy.

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