REVIEW: Terminator Genisys [2015]

“If there was another way I would have taken it” Much of the success attributed to “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” stems from it using its time travel-centric mythology to erase the franchise’s failures—mainly Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. You’d think Terminator Salvation would have followed suit, but for whatever reason it held onto that sub-par entry if only through the character of Kate Brewster, otherwise known as Mr. Savior of Humanity John Connor’s wife. The real issue, however, was that it also retained a desire for big theatrics…

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REVIEW: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines [2003]

“Anger is more useful than despair” There’s one great moment in Jonathan Mostow‘s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: its end. I’m not being snarky in some jokey “because it was finally over” kind of way either. It is legitimately good. Half twist, half bittersweet salvation in the face of apocalyptic nightmare where a hero is finally born. The series has been working towards this revelation for two decades by this point; reaching the moment when the future we’ve seen of a world covered in skulls and metal is about…

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REVIEW: Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991]

“You’re really real” Oh what seven years can accomplish through cinematic technological achievement. While The Terminator still looks good today, Terminator 2: Judgment Day looks amazing. Director James Cameron acknowledges his evolutionary leap by opening the follow-up with a near-replica 2029 Los Angeles prologue as the first to showcase exactly how far forward. These new sentient machines are carbon copies of the old moving with marginal hitching to physically belong next to their human adversaries. Besides the sequences inside cars with flat projections whooshing by (Hollywood still hasn’t perfected this…

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REVIEW: The Terminator [1984]

“It’s just him and me” Sometimes the road to success hinges on a series of happenstances and whom you know. Just ask James Cameron: on-set special effects director for Piranha II: The Spawning (former boss Roger Corman produced the first) before it became his directorial debut due to creative differences between his predecessor and producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (who subsequently took it away from Cameron after shooting wrapped). Hardly a glowing experience to warrant handing the not-yet thirty-year old six-million dollars to bring an original script to life, but Orion…

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REVIEW: Ex Machina [2015]

“The history of man? That’s the history of Gods.” Artificial intelligence isn’t new. It’s in video games, toys, software platforms—most computer systems we interact with daily possess it in some capacity. The idea that one day someone will code a manufactured consciousness capable of becoming sentient, however, is still in the realm of science fiction. Already a well-worn trope, its implementation has seen resurgence of late. Not only is a new installment of Skynet’s war-torn future coming with Terminator Genisys, but “Person of Interest” has been ruling the cyber-thriller forum…

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FANTASIA14 REVIEW: The Infinite Man [2014]

“Sexual congress in five” There are some great science fiction films that deal with time travel in a way blockbusters like The Terminator simply cannot due to scale and want for mass appeal. To fans of that series a movie like Primer may be too technically oppressive and intellectual while Timecrimes too dark and finite. Well, Australian Hugh Sullivan looks to change these preconceptions by combining Shane Carruth‘s impeccable plotting and Nacho Vigalondo‘s expert visual repetition in a genre the casual moviegoer can embrace: romantic comedy. In fact the clichéd…

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REVIEW: Factory Farmed [2008]

“I am required to carry out this task until completion: your orders do not override anything.” It’s always impressive to see what artists can do with limited resources and sparse time. The format provided by popular 48-Hour series occurring internationally as an exercise and a forum for up-and-coming auteurs looking to showcase their talent allows us just such a venue. In 2008, UK’s Sci-Fi channel sponsored a competition in London that bowed a short film from a group calling themselves Rebel Alliance. Led by Gareth Edwards, (who wrote, directed, edited,…

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REVIEW: Transcendence [2014]

“They say there’s power in Boston” With a trailer digitizing Johnny Depp and electronic machinery created out of thin air, it’s an understatement to say I was surprised the beginning of Transcendence introduced a world without power. I thought the film was about new technology and the advancement of artificial intelligence harboring a potential for hubristic power grabs and the genocide of organic thinking/emotional response. Instead I saw broken screens on the street and a shop owner wedging a chewed-up keyboard into the gap between his door and the ground…

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REVIEW: RoboCop [1987]

“The future has a silver lining” It started with a passing thought by screenwriter Edward Neumeier as he walked by a poster for Blade Runner—a movie his friend explained was about a “cop hunting robots”. What if he combined those two nouns to make a robot cop? A machine with the computational power to judge right from wrong tinted gray due to a latent morality combined with the extra strength and invincibility being constructed out of metal could provide? Yes, please. Partnered with Michael Miner, however, their dystopian script was…

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REVIEW: Computer Chess [2013]

“War is death. Hell is pain. Chess is Victory.” Writer/director Andrew Bujalaski‘s lo-fi Computer Chess is an intriguing period piece curio depicting a programming convention of brilliant minds engaging in a five-round competition that pits their artificial intelligences against each other’s at the titular, strategic board game. Although we see tournament organizer Pat Henderson (Gerald Peary) has hired a filmographer (Kevin Bewersdorf) for the proceedings, our vantage point is outside that camera as a fly on the wall within their hotel. Shifting room to room spying on students, tech geeks,…

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