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

Vanquish (2010) – 9/10 awesome third-person shooter game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Shinji Mikami
Producer: Atsushi Inaba
Art Director: Naoki Katakai
Conceptual Designer: Shinji Usui
Character Designer: Makoto Tsuchibayashi
Story Writer: Hiroki Kato

Vanquish (2010)

After wild over-population brings Earth to it’s knees, the US and Russia are at loggerheads. The tide is turned when a US Space Laser is hijacked by robot Russian forces and destroys San Francisco and war becomes the only option.

9/10

There is a case for this being the best third-person shooter ever made. Platinum Games and Shinji Mikami’s Vanquish is a constantly awesome third-person shooter that is widely regarded as a commercial disappointment despite selling about 1 million copies. The second-to-second gameplay is remarkably fun and rewarding. Some of this is down to wonderful enemies always responding when attacked. I know it seems odd that this is not always the case but even some celebrated big-budget games (such as Bioshock, if memory serves) see a blood spurt as an acceptable substitution for an action cancel (where your action, shooting them somewhere, cancels their action). Even better is that, especially on the larger regular enemies, shooting them in different places (arm, leg, back, head, gun, huge fuel tank) has different results and tactical outcomes. Weapon upgrades are juggled brilliantly; simple but with hidden depth. Special mention for some satisyfing trophies. Several are awarded for achieving some cool and / or challenging objectives during gameplay and individual trophies rewarding progress through the game on harder difficulties (instead of just one at the end). That said, even though it’s a difficult Platinum trophy, it’s not a difficult game, even on Hard.

This game contains sexual swear words, strong violence, unpleasant and extremely gory cut scenes

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

Links

World War Z (2013) – 7/10 action horror movie review

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Cast / crew
Director and Executive Producer: Marc Forster
Actor and Producer Gerry Lane: Brad Pitt
Mireille Enos: Karin Lane
Daniella Kertesz: Segen
James Badge Dale: Captain Speke
David Morse: Ex-CIA Agent
Producer: Dede Gardner
Producer: Jeremy Kleiner
Producer: Ian Bryce
Writer (Original Novel): Max Brooks
Screen Story and Screenplay Writer Based on the Novel by Max Brooks: Matthew Michael Carnahan
Screen Story Writer Based on the Novel by Max Brooks: J. Michael Straczynski
Screenplay Writer: Drew Goddard
Screenplay Writer: Damon Lindelof

World War Z (2013)

An outbreak of something causes people to turn into zombies. Former UN Investigator Gerry Lane is plucked to safety and reinstated to find patient zero but the ferocity of the situation is unprecedented.

7/10

Intense, eye-catching action horror movie which turns zombies into a genuine threat. World War Z‘s monsters are a remarkable achievement both in threat design (they are extremely fast and overwhelming) and in special visual effects. There is no thought crossing your mind of the technical achievements on screen, just that there is an extremely dangerous threat to Brad Pitt on screen and that is the magic tipping point for a visual effect. If it’s enough that you are in the moment of the story-telling and not, even subconsciously, dismissing it because it hasn’t convinced or engaged you, the technical achievement has been a resounding success. I hate even the concept of zombie movies (I don’t understand the popularity of raping, thieving, murdering pirates either) and the plot doesn’t make a lick of sense but I really enjoyed being swept along by this.

This movie contains strong, sometimes graphic, but not gratuitous (given the genre) violence, one extremely gory and unpleasant amputation scene and other gory and unpleasant scenes

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

Alan Wake (2006, 360-exclusive) – 9/10 action horror game review

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Cast / crew
Conceptual Designer, Original Concept and Writer: Sam Lake
Conceptual Designer and Lead Game Designer: Mikael Kasurinen
Art Director and Conceptual Designer: Saku Lehtinen
Conceptual Designer and Producer: Jyri “Jay” Ranki
Conceptual Designer and Lead Programmer: Olli Tervo
Conceptual Designer and Lead Technical Artist: Sami Vanhatalo
Conceptual Designer and Lead Level Design and Envrionments: Jarno Wallgren
Additional Game Designer and Original Concept: Petri Jarvilehto
Screenplay Writer: Mikko Rautalahti
Matthew Porretta: The Voice of Alan Wake
Fred Berman: Barry Wheeler

Alan Wake (2006)

Thriller writer Alan Wake and his wife Alice travel to Bright Falls for a vacation but some kind of dark force takes Alice to the bottom of Cauldron Lake. The darkness soon turns its sights on Alan but he has light on his side and it turns out that Bright Falls has a more serious problem than even he can imagine. No, actually, it has a problem exactly as serious as he can imagine.

9/10

While I’m not quite clear on why Wake succeeds at the end and Zane didn’t, the story certainly dares you to make sense of it. There’s a spectacular coming together of gameplay with everything else – lighting, technology, graphics (running at PS Vita resolution, remarkably, but not looking like it at all), sound, story and ambition – to create a unified sense of atmosphere and engrossing fun. The combat is outstanding: interesting, thrilling, challenging and thoroughly satisfying. It requires you to use light to destroy a shield around every Dark One before you can eliminate them permanently with a gun. Brilliantly, combat is not even always necessary as you can try and run away. Especially on higher difficulty levels and with a lack of ammo, this proves to be a wise but challenging tactic. This is a great game and, arguably, Xbox 360’s best exclusive.

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

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) -1/10 action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: John Moore
John McClane: Bruce Willis
Jai Courtney: Jack McClane
Sebastian Koch: Komarov
Yulia Snigir: Irina
Rasha Bukvic: Alik
Cole Hauser: Collins
Executive Producer and Writer Certain Original Characters by Roderick Thorp: Skip Woods
Producer: Alex Young
Producer: Wyck Godfrey
Certain Original Characters Creator: Roderick Thorp

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

John McClane travels to Russia where his son, Jack, has wound up in prison but when they meet up it turns out that Jack is an undercover CIA agent and this was all part of his plan. Plans aren’t really John’s thing, though, so he sets about messing that up right away.

1/10

Worthless, incoherent nonsense featuring a disdainful performance from a sleepwalking Bruce Willis who essentially goes around shouting at stupid foreigners then shooting at stupid foreigners; a racist with an armoury annoyed that they might not understand his embarrassingly weak one-liners. While it certainly keeps it’s foot firmly on the gas and is over before you know it, it is at the expense of logical, flowing, imaginative, working action sequences (despite some spectacular vehicular stunt work). There’s no ambition here beyond making a film with the words "Die Hard" in the title.

This movie contains sexual swear words, graphic violence

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

Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012) – 6/10 drama movie review

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Cast / crew
Producer: Eric Altmayer
Producer: Nicolas Altmayer
Fabrice Luchini: Germain
Kristin Scott Thomas: Jeanne
Emmanuelle Seigner: Esther
Denis Ménochet: Rapha pere
Ernst Umhauer: Claude
Bastien Ughetto: Rpha fils
Jean-François Balmer: Le proviseur
Writer (Original Play) El Chico de la Ultimate Fila: Juan Mayorga
Adaptor and Director Adapted from the play “El Chico de la Ultimate Fila” by Juan Mayorga: François Ozon

Dans la Maison aka In The House (2012)

A French teacher sees a spark of talent in one of his students, Claude, when an essay about what Claude did at the weekend hooks his interest. (to be continued…)

6/10

This is an interesting movie in that it gives you something to think about but it rather takes its time and, while never boring, feels longer than it is. As is consistently the case with François Ozon, the performances are sublime. Ernst Umhauer is all kinds of unsettling as the ‘boy in the last row’ (the title of the play which this is adapted from) whose installments of prose regarding a perfect family he has insinuated himself into form the thrust of the narrative. Eventually, it is impossible to tell which parts of the film are meant to be written and which real; there’s probably a very good case to be made that the whole thing is an invention, an exercise, by Claude to give a back story to the homeless dude sitting on the park bench at the end. I suspect that if you had a friend smarter and more observant than me, you could have a most rewarding evening discussing this movie after you’ve watched it. As a final note, the opening cast and title credits are particularly well done.

This movie contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, violence, nudity, sex scene, unpleasant scene

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

Haywire (2011) – 6/10 action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director, Director of Photography and Editor: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
1st Assistant Director and Producer: Gregory Jacobs
Gina Carano: Mallory
Michael Fassbender: Paul
Ewan McGregor: Kenneth
Bill Paxton: Mr. Kane
Channing Tatum: Aaron
Mathieu Kassovitz: Studer
Michael Angarano: Scott
Antonio Banderas: Rodrigo
Michael Douglas: Coblenz

Haywire (2011)

Private sector security professional Mallory Kane finds herself double-crossed after a job in Barcelona that goes completely according to plan. While confused and in the dark, she knows that if she keeps following the trail back up the chain of command and hits everything on the way, there should be answers and freedom at the end of it.

6/10

The name Steven Soderbergh gets snobby critics all a-quiver and so they found themselves a little disappointed when he appeared to just deliver a shallow action movie. What he really delivered was a shallow action movie with a completely convincing female action lead; it may turn out to be unique. Though her facial expression never seems to change, Gina Carano’s acting is enough and she certainly has a bit of charisma. Her action scenes, though, are consistently excellent; convincing and engaging. There’s an ebb and flow to them as upper hands are taken and tables are turned by each combatant with the final victory always being hard won through diligent appliance of their skill-set. The main thing that stops it from being a better action movie is a complete lack of triumph or cool but that’s not Carano’s fault, it’s Soderbergh’s.

This movie contains sexual swear words, strong violence, gory and unpleasant scenes

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