Movie Review – 9

9-movie-poster

The movie 9 is an animated post-apocalyptic story about some reanimated dolls and their struggle to survive.

This moderately interesting movie garners a 6. Put the rating and the title together, and it might rate a higher level of entertainment.

The animation was very nice but not dramatically impressive. Don’t get me wrong; it was visually enjoyable on the big screen, just not groundbreaking.

The plot is the typical post-apocalyptic story – a good survivor finds others and struggles against the evil survivors. 9 is the protagonist – a burlap bag-skinned doll with a zipper to access his electric innards. He is pretty clueless as to what he is or what is going on and proceeds on a journey of discovery in the desolated remains of a nameless city. Various snippets of the past show us that a semi-fascist (very Germanic looking – is it intentional or coincidence?) society hijacks a scientist’s discovery of how to give robots artificial intelligence, creating military robots that eventually turn against mankind. Not at all like Terminator…

The story is a bit disjointed and quite improbable in places. The ending seems pointless and illogical but doesn’t make it impossible to enjoy. I have read that it becomes more clear and enjoyable after a second or third viewing. No thank you. I suppose a little bit of mind-altering chemicals would make this a lot more believable and fun. Try that and let me know what you think…

The voices are supplied by a notable group of actors: Elijah Wood as 9, Christopher Plummer as 1, Martin Landau as 2, John C. Reilly as 5, Jennifer Connelly as 7 and Crispin Glover as 6. The voices fit the characters very well. No complaints on this aspect.

 

~Elric the Damned

Movie Review – Surrogates

surrogates_mSurrogates is a thought provoking peek into the possible future of humanity.

This thoughtful action drama earned a solid 8. I saw this with five of my friends at the theater. Five of the six thought this was a very good movie, and the other one gave it a not-so-much.

As will become obvious by my lengthy review, this movie was very enjoyable and interesting while touching a personal chord. There are no significant plot spoilers in here as is typical of my respect for the surprise factor for those who have not seen the movie yet (people who ruin the surprise for others are evil and should be violently castrated!).

In the future, humans do not leave their homes. Instead they venture out via a surrogate robot to which they are connected by a super computer connection. A person is able to experience every sensation that the surrogate feels, sees and hears without any physical risk. Life is now “safe.” Humans go to work and recreation via their surrogates while lying on reclining tables with video masks and electrodes attached to their heads. The streets are full of robots that look very much like humans. How people maintain muscle mass and slender figures while spending all day as the ultimate couch potatoes is not explained.

Detective Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) is called in to investigate the bloody death of a human who has died while connected to his surrogate. Of course, this is impossible because the technology has been thoroughly tested and has run live for many years without an incident. Almost every human is tied into this system. If this problem were possible, it could be bad… It might even cause a panic.

As you would expect, there are groups of humans that refuse to use surrogates and live on reservations as outcasts and reactionaries. They are led by the charismatic and mysterious Prophet (Ving Rhames). Naturally, the creator of this technology, Dr. Canter (James Cromwell), now lives in seclusion and has a role to play. Greer’s wife, Maggie (Rosamund Pike) loves living her life through her surrogate and refuses to spend any human-to-human time with her husband in their apartment despite Greer’s requests for together time.

Greer is somewhat disenchanted with living his life through a surrogate and eventually must venture into the real world with his real body to solve the mysterious deaths that are beginning to pile up in what could be a catastrophe for humanity. It is not made any easier by the fact that he is quite capable of dying and none of the other “people” out there can be hurt. From the beginning, it is obviously not a simple software glitch.

The plot is very well done and has many complexities. This movie will make you think and perhaps feel a little uncomfortable if you think hard enough. But it is a good uncomfortable that we will need to address eventually as a society and as individuals. The Internet has already enabled many of us to live a large portion of our lives online instead of in human-to-human interactions. How much is too much and when do we begin to lose a sense of community or humanity? It is time to start thinking about this as we are on the way to having surrogates or living completely through our minds (The Matrix, etc.).

The cinematography was well done. It was almost startling to see the difference between the human Greer and his surrogate. The surrogate had a slightly more stiff (almost plastic) face and a full head of hair (not a very flattering cut by any stretch!) compared to the very human and weathered head of the human Greer (Willis). This difference was consistently maintained for all of the characters in the movie. The special effects/make up artists did a fantastic job with this. Kudos!

The acting was also superb. For some reason, I really enjoy Bruce Willis in science fiction movies (The Fifth Element, Planet Terror, Sin City, and the non-sci fi Die Hard flicks). There is just something about his solid presence that fits the cop/detective/officer stereotypical role that he always seems to get. He is a stud, a man’s man, a lone wolf and looks really cool with his head shaved. The other actors held up their end of the movie, too.

Please see this excellent piece of cinematography and possible vision of our future.

~Elric the Damned

Movie Review – Zombieland

zombielandZombieland is comedy/drama (dramady?) about survivors of the zombie apocalypse.

This hilarious romp gets an 8 with half a nod toward 9.

Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is a hard-edged survivor. He believes that by avoiding real names (use your hometown), one can protect themselves from becoming to emotionally involved with their fellow travelers. The main character, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), is clearly modeled after Bleeker from Juno. He is delightful, vulnerable and witty. His list of survival tips for Zombieland are priceless. Rule #2 – Tap them twice. You’ll see… The acting was quite charming and fit the story well. The other actors performed their characters well, too. I will not go into any further detail so as not to give away the story development.

There is a huge cameo later in the movie. It was hilarious and well done. You’ll see!

As you have seen from the trailers, Zombieland is the name given to the US by Columbus after a virus turns everyone into flesh-eating zombies. He meets up with Tallahassee and have zombie-filled adventures as they cross the country. As shown in the commercials, they do end up at an amusement park and have a good ol’ time…

This was a hilarious, moderately gory romp through Zombieland. Two thumbs up!

Brains…

Movie Review – Pandorum

pandorum_poster7Pandorum is a sci-fi adventure aboard a space craft 150 years in the future.

This interesting concept earns a 7.

Around 2150 Earth’s population has passed 24 billion and the competition for scarce water and food resources has pushed the planet to the brink of Armageddon. Scientists have discovered an earth-like planet and launch a colony ship with 60,000 people. The journey will take over 100 years requiring the passengers be put into sleep/stasis chambers except for the flight crew, which will be awake in different shifts.

This movie reminds me of another book. “Non-stop” by Brian Aldiss from the 1950s. It has a similar story but several differences. I would recommend Non-Stop for those sci-fi people out there.

Dennis Quaid is the lieutenant from Flight Crew 5. They (2 of them) wake up remembering very little and are trapped in the stasis compartment. Quaid does a nice job in his role and really makes you have to pay attention. The corporal (well-played by Ben Foster) gets into the other part of the ship via the air ducts (so typical…) to discover what has happened to the bridge and rest of the crew. Things develop and the plot moves on from there. I cannot really say more without giving things away, so I will stop here. Some good stuff though.

The plot was curious and then unplanned and then a bit of hmmmm. The more I think about it now, the more I like it. It seems to mix several different types of sci-fi movies together. It was clever and cinematographically enjoyable.

It is unlikely to be in the theaters for much longer, but that is where you should see it if given the chance.

~Elric the Damned

Movie Review – District 9

district_9_movie_posterDistrict 9 is set in a refugee camp for aliens in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This fascinating drama smartly earns an 8.

An alien ship full of starving refugees arrived above Johannesburg 20 years ago.  The South African government set up a temporary camp, which quickly became a militarized zone as the aliens and humans had some unfortunate interactions.

The movie is centered around Wikus van de Merwe, who has been selected to lead the eviction of the aliens to a new camp located a safer distance from the urban population of Johannesburg.  Van de Merwe is nicely played by Sharlto Copley, who has a passing resemblance in feature and personality to Michael from The Office.  He was a delight to watch.  The other actors played their parts well and made for a fun romp.

Needless to say, the eviction runs into complications and many twists and turns ensue.  I shall have to leave it at that so as not to give away the many surprises and delights in store for you at the theater.  However, what I may tell you is that this is a very entertaining and thought provoking film.  I felt that it approached the story from an unconventional point of view and kept my interest.  The movie is shot as a documentary being put together by the Multi-National United company, which has been contracted to run the refugee camp called District 9.  The documentary aspect was done very well and is quite griping.

They did a great job with the aliens, derisively called “prawns” because they look like those little sea creatures we eat.  The detail and movement of the aliens is very realistic.  It makes one wonder whether they were real.  Good fun!

What is striking about this interesting movie is that excluding the alien technology, this could have been about any group of human refugees.  The same discrimination and exploitation can be seen in any refugee camp in the world today.  Hmmm.

~Elric the Damned