sci-fi

Divergent

April 12, 2014
Shailene Woodley in 'Divergent' (2014)

After spending a couple of hours at The Grand Budapest Hotel any other movie might seem humdrum. Neil Burger’s Divergent has the bigger problem of standing directly in the shadow of The Hunger Games, already an established franchise in the lucrative Young Adult market. I’m beginning to feel I’ve been wasting my life writing film … More


RoboCop

February 22, 2014
Joel Kinnaman in 'RoboCop' 2014

RoboCop redux generates seriously diminished expectations. How could one expect anything but a travesty of Paul Verhoeven’s original RoboCop of 1987? The big budget remake of Verhoeven’s Total Recall was possibly the most execrable Hollywood production of 2012, so one could only brace for the worst. It is with relief and surprise that I can … More


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

November 23, 2013
Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games: Catching fire' 2013

Panem et Circenses was the Roman formula for keeping the population happy. In Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games novels, Panem (bread) is the name of the dystopian society in which the story is set. The circuses are the Games themselves, in which a boy and a girl from each district are chosen by lottery to partake … More


What Maisie Knew & Elysium (+ film festivals)

August 24, 2013
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When Henry James published What Maisie Knew in 1897, the straight-laced mores of the Victorian era were already beginning to unravel. The Edwardian period would be more permissive, more prepared to confront social and sexual issues that had previously been taboo. James had a talent for describing scenes of great moral complexity without condoning deviations … More


The World’s End & Greetings From Tim Buckley

August 3, 2013
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There could hardly be a better setting for a movie called The World’s End, than a provincial English town. Regardless of the picturesque, ‘ye olde’ touches, many of those who spent their childhood in these soulless hamlets have fled like refugees from a scene of social disaster. It may not be entirely coincidental that director, … More


We Steal Secrets, A Gun in Each Hand, Pacific Rim

July 13, 2013
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If ever you had a sneaking feeling that Julian Assange was not the ultimate hero and martyr of our time, Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets will turn suspicion into certainty. The portrait of the WikiLeaks founder that emerges from this documentary reveals a man whose quest for truth has become an exercise in personal propaganda. … More


Man of Steel & Everybody Has a Plan

July 6, 2013
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When comic book heroes are turned into sensitive brooding souls, there is something twisted in our culture. We’ve seen a tortured Batman and now an angst-ridden Superman filled with anxiety about his true identity and how people might react to his superpowers. To complete the psychological profile the new Superman has a difficult childhood. He … More


After Earth & The Internship

June 22, 2013
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According to British market analyst, Nick Meaney, an incontrovertible algorithm reveals that any film starring Will Smith is guaranteed to make money. No sooner had we imbibed this piece of scientific wisdom than Smith appeared in After Earth, a movie of incontrovertible mediocrity that suggests the algorithm is a dud. No one ever claimed a … More