Ex Machina (2015) – 6/10 science fiction movie review

Ex Machina (2015)

Hot-shot programmer Caleb is taken to super genius Nathan’s subterranean glacier hideaway to see if Nathan has managed to produce an artificial intelligence-driven robot that can be considered indistinguishable from a human.

6/10

I can see why this received an enthusiastic critical reception as it is a slow burn science fiction movie that takes a big idea (can an AI perform in a manner indistinguishable from a human) and packages it for a mass audience. The problem, for me, is that it overlooks making any character whom you want to watch. Domhnall Gleeson speaks in movie sound bites, Oscar Isaac is an uncharismatic and repulsive genius with a silly beard and Alicia Vikander is, impressively, unreadable and manipulative as the plot demands. (It also forgets it’s own plot point at the end whereby all the doors unlock when the power goes out.) However, the Oscar-winning visual effects work is flawless and I suspect it is going to be quietly memorable.

Content Summary

This movie contains sexual swear words, strong adult dialogue, full female nudity, graphic violence

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Cast / crew

Domhnall Gleeson: Caleb
Alicia Vikander: Ava
Sonoya Mizuno: Kyoko
Oscar Isaac: Nathan
Director and Writer: Alex Garland
Producer: Andrew MacDonald
Producer: Allon Reich

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Police Story 2013 | Police Story: Lockdown (2013,2015) – 6/10 Jackie Chan hostage crime thriller movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Jerry Ye
Producer: Lu Zheng
Director, Editor and Screenplay Writer: Ding Sheng
Jackie Chan: Zhong Wen
Liu Ye: Wu Jiang
Jing Tian: Miao Miao
Liu Hai Long: Pi Song
Zhou Xiao Ou: Wei Xiao Fu
Yu Rong Guang: Captain Wu
Wu Yue: A Yue
Liu Pei Qi: Chief Zhang

Police Story 2013 | Police Story: Lockdown (2013)

Policeman Zhong Wen is invited by his estranged daughter, Miao Miao, to meet at a nightclub as she wants to tell him something important but a hostage situation unexpectedly explodes and Wen will be required to go above and beyond his professional duty.

6/10

There’s enough of dramatic interest to make some stretches of Police Story 2013 tense, interesting and quite good. Sadly, the area where the film falls down is in the action. Poor compositing replaces what would have been done with stuntmen for real in Chan’s heyday (arguably New Police Story (2004) is the last great Jackie Chan action movie though The Myth (2005) contains the last great Jackie Chan action scene – rat glue factory); watching an old man, Jackie Chan, get beaten up is in no way fun and it’s also almost distressing to see his fight scenes have fully degenerated into Hollywood-style editing blurs to disguise the lack of any actual technique or speed.

This movie contains strong violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

Mirror Mirror (2012) – 7/10 fantasy action comedy movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Screenplay Writer: Marc Klein
Screenplay Writer: Jason Keller
Screen Story Writer: Melisa Wallack
Producer: Bernie Goldmann
Producer: Ryan Kavanaugh
Producer: Brett Ratner
Julia Roberts: The Queen
Snow White: Lily Collins
Armie Hammer: Prince Alcott
Nathan Lane: Brighton
Mare Winningham: Baker Margaret
Michael Lerner: Baron
Sean Bean: King

Mirror Mirror (2012)

A wicked Queen has usurped the throne in the absence of the King and nothing stands in her way, except a lack of cash. However, when a handsome prince pays a visit to her kingdom, the Queen senses an opportunity but there’s just one slight problem: he’s fallen in love with her stepdaughter, the beautiful Snow White.

7/10

In the end, I really enjoyed this full throttle burst of inverted fairy tale but for a while it looked like it wasn’t, and perhaps doesn’t, fulfil the fun promise of some of the early moments. For me, it finally settled down and became consistently fun once Snow White and the seven dwarves teamed up (with a gleefully unexpected training montage). The dwarves are great; I might not remember their names (Wolf, Grimm, Half Pint?, er) but they were lively and charismatic and engaging in the movie. Lily Collins looks adorable, especially during the costume try-outs in the training montage, but doesn’t always nail her character’s growing confidence. Julia Roberts is okay as the wicked queen but the flash of her famous smile on her way to her wedding is a reminder of how legendary and irresistible she is as an on-screen good girl; therefore, I don’t think the casting worked out. The most unexpected moment is, unquestionably, the closing credits and I loved it. A perfect, energetic, light-hearted, fun climax for a really fun, light-hearted movie.

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

The Bourne Legacy (2012) – 6/10 action thriller movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Writer: Tony Gilroy
Screenplay Writer: Dan Gilroy
Producer: Frank Marshall
Producer: Patrick Crowley
Producer: Jeffrey M. Weiner
Producer: Ben Smith
Creator The Bourne Series: Robert Ludlum
Jeremy Renner: Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz: Dr. Marta Shearing
Edward Norton: Col. Eric Byer, USAF, Ret.
Stacy Keach: Adm. Mark Turos, USN, Ret.
Dennis Boutsikaris: Terrence Ward
Oscar Isaac: Outcome #3
Joan Allen: Pamela Landy
Albert Finney: Dr. Albert Hirsch
David Strathairn: Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn: Ezra Kramer

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

The ramifications of Jason Bourne’s action are rippling through sister super-soldier programs, the most closely linked of which are being shut down so as to avoid exposure. Shut down meaning killing everyone involved in a way that involves all the police, all the fire service, all the ambulances and all the media in all of the USA. Super-soldier Aaron Cross survives but has run out of his medication and sets about using his skills to procure some more.

6/10

Competent thriller that keeps your attention and provides reasonable, if mechanical, excitement but suffers from Jeremy Renner lacking charisma. He is perfunctory, convincing even, and performs fine but you’re just not invested in his story. Not even when he hilariously appears in a kitchen cupboard (which he must have been hiding in for ages and are apparently man-sized in America). While Rachel Weisz does have charisma, she isn’t the focus of the film and doesn’t have a character or story; she could just as easily be a key. Or a flower; she’s so lovely.

This movie contains graphic violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Travelers: Dimension Police | Toraberâzu: Jigen keisatsu (2012) – 6/10 science fiction action movie review

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Cast / crew
Nao Nagasawa: Ai Osaka
Ayumi Kinoshita: Yui Momose
Yuko Takayama: Haruka Saegusa
Director: Koichi Sakamoto

Travelers: Dimension Police | Toraberâzu: Jigen keisatsu (2012)

Dimension Police officer Ai Osaka is sent to Retro World to catch a serial killer who preys on young girls but runs into former partner Yui Momose who now works for the criminal organisation Doubt.

6/10

With special effects that are a lot worse than expected and action scenes that, for quite a while, are rather better than expected, this energetic movie proves quite entertaining, especially if you are a boy. The mildly provocatively dressed Nao Nagasawa looks fantastic, does fine in the martial arts action scenes and engages the audience in between. She is the reason I watched this and I wasn’t disappointed. Ayumi Kinoshita looks like she’s had a stroke or something and the cute Yuko Takayama wears a maid outfit for no discernible reason. Given the low budget, this is probably as good as this movie could have turned out. Critically, I liked this movie and, once more, I particularly liked Nao Nagasawa.

This movie contains mild sensuality, extreme and gory violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

The Eagle (2011) – 6/10 Roman period action adventure movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Duncan Kenworthy
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Screenplay Writer: Jeremy Brock
Novel Writer: Rosemary Sutcliff
Channing Tatum: Marcus
Jamie Bell: Esca
Donald Sutherland: Uncle Aquila
Mark Strong: Guern
Tahar Rahim: Seal Prince
Denis O’Hare: Lutorius
Dakin Matthews: Claudius
Douglas Henshall: Cradoc

The Eagle (2011)

Years after his father – Centurion of the Ninth Legion of the Roman Army – all 5,000 men and the company standard, an eagle, go missing in Northern Britain, Marcus Aquila is rising above the shame of his family name. When he is injured and honourably discharged, he resolves to spend his newfound free time crossing Hadrian’s Wall to retrieve the lost standard and restore his family’s honor.

6/10

This is a shallow movie that starts well but gets weaker as it goes on. The biggest problems are the poor action sequences which are blighted by the typical contemporary inability to photograph and edit them with shape, character, and story. So there’s deliberately bad camera work, incoherent editing, a complete absence of tactics and, in the final fight, I’m sure the number of Roman protagonists suddenly doubled just so the sequence could have a bit of length. Kevin MacDonald directs the remainder competently but there’s not the sense of adventure, peril or camararderie this story needed. Nice to see the sound designer get a principle credit; I have no idea why they normally don’t.

This movie contains graphic violence, adult dialogue

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982) – 6/10 comedy action movie review

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982) – 6/10 comedy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Eric Tsang
Writer: Bak-Ming Wong
Sam Hui: King Kong
Karl Maka: Albert Au
Sylvia Chang: Supt. Nancy Ho

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (1982)

Expert jewel thief King Kong is forced to join forces with an American detective Albert "Baldy" Au to thwart a diamond heist being orchestrated by White Glove.

6/10

Lively action comedy with lots to like including an athletic lead (reminiscent of Jackie Chan thanks to the haircut and tone of the film), some good action moments and an infectious sense of fun. While Chinese comedy frequently doesn’t travel, Aces Go Places is successful more often than not with most jokes not stretched past breaking point. Special mention for a mighty elevator gag: "Doesn’t this lift seem a bit small?" (the three walls of the elevator are three guys holding massive mirrors; brilliantly unexpected).

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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