Sci-Fi

The Martian Review

The Martian is an epic sci-fi adventure by the legend that is director Ridley Scott.  He tries to not only show the capabilities of human kind, how far we can go, our instinct for survival but also the capabilities of science and what it allows us to achieve.

The film revolves around a single character, Mark Watney, portrayed by Matt Damon and just like any other movie revolving around an individual, its success is very much built on the actor’s performance.  Luckily it’s an incredible performance by Damon, probably not one for the Oscar, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fantastic way he embodied a NASA scientist on Mars. Even though the focus is on Damon’s character, there is still another part of the movie, which has a great supporting cast adding even more charisma to the storytelling.

The Martian tries to stay away from the dramatic side of things, for the most part.  There is less focus on how Watney reacts and more on how other people react with his efforts and struggles.   Should the movie have shown a bit more on the dramatic side of things it might have been an instant classic and Damon would have a shot at an Oscar but that is not what the movie is about.  Borrowing something that Neil  deGrasse Tyson said about the movie “Science, not human emotion drives the plot’s humor, interpersonal relations, tension and suspense”.

One of the most important aspects of the film, is its jaw dropping cinematography, simply amazing work to capture the essence of the story and the backdrop that is set on.  Ridley Scott is back to his best, with this incredible adventure which ticks all the boxes.  It’s funny, intense and most importantly inspiring.  It might not bring anything new to the movie world, but in terms of influencing people with some great storytelling it definitely will.

8/10

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X-Men: Days of Future Past-The Rogue Cut Review

First off, the original cut by itself, is amazing, the best x-men movie to date, it has everything, from drama, to hilarious moments and exciting action sequences that leave the viewer in awe.

We are used to Hugh Jackman being the lead in the X-men movies, and that is again the case, as he leads the gang in the quest of survival and of course delivers as he only can.  Furthermore it was really great to see the original cast and the First Class cast together, a humongous ensemble in a humongous blockbuster.

The presence of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, even for a limited amount of time, takes the movie to a different level, both because we are used to seeing them in their roles as Professor Xavier and Magneto respectively but also because they are respected legends of the business.  Moreover it was great to see the contrast between the older aforementioned characters next to their younger selves portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, something that is enhanced by the Rogue Cut (there is a sequence when the movie interchanges setting).

Bryan Singer really takes the franchise to a different standard with this installment.  There isn’t a moment that is dull or uninteresting.  With truly engaging storytelling, impeccable performances required by the complex and dynamic characters, stunning visual and sound effects that bring everything to life.

The “rogue cut”, is probably what they had in mind to release in the first place, however due to the movie being too long, they decided to cut the sequence involving Rogue and probably rightly so.  It’s not that it feels out of place or anything, but it just doesn’t add anything new to the story other than Rogue and a few more action scenes.

8/10

Tomorrowland-Review

Tomorrowland is more than just the name of the movie, it’s an idea, that epitomizes Disney and which a few people set out to pass on to the world through the medium of film-making.  Director Brad Bird (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Incredibles, Ratatouille), is at the forefront of this project and once again manages to leave the audience gasping for air by taking us on a magical ride, beautifully filmed and visually stunning throughout.  However the music score is a bit of let-down, it’s not by any means awful but it’s reminiscence of animated films or kids’ movies rather than that of a movie of epic proportions.

George Clooney and Britt Robertson have a very good chemistry on screen and their energetic and dynamic performances are infectious.  Nevertheless it is young Raffey Cassidy who steals the show with her charming portrayal of a peculiar character, called Athena.

Tomorrowland is first and foremost innovative, it’s a story filled with humor and excitement.  It’s something we haven’t experienced 10 times already, and the ideas that it brings to the table hold up very strong, well at least until the last 30 minutes of the movie when that plot gets derailed.  The ending is a bit forced and doesn’t suit the rest of the film.  The people at the helm get so caught up in delivering one message to the world loud and clear, that they throw everything that was good, out the window, and leave it exposed to gaping plot holes and unanswered questions.

Disney delivers another grand journey and even though the destination is mediocre, it’s an enjoyable ride.

7/10

Ex Machina – Review

Alex Garland in his directorial debut, does a wonderful job in bringing the story that he wrote to life. With a minimalistic implementation of his ideas and keeping the exterior as simple as possible he manages to craft an edgy and tense Sci-Fi thriller.

Oscar Isaac is probably the shining light in this movie and once again captivates the viewer with his performance. He takes the form of the character he portrays and remarkably encapsulates his enigmatic and dynamic personality.

It is an intriguing story which sets up things in the most fascinating way, seemingly taking a different approach in working around the AI theme than of those we’ve seen before, but in the it ends up being within the the mold of AI thrillers that we have experienced multiple times. It’s missing in depth exploration of the characters; it unravels too fast and that proves to be its demise. The worst aspect of it is its predictable unpredictability, we might not know exactly how the narrative will unfold, however there are only a few viable options which are crystal clear.

Overall it is rather well made, but what starts off very brightly, doesn’t leave up to what it was building up to be. Maybe due to time constraints but in the end, it leaves a bitter taste and a feeling of what could have been if we had been given the opportunity of a more in depth look rather than just scratching the surface.

7/10

Movie Review-Avengers: Age of Ultron

The movie is an example of how a good narrative and a good script can make a huge difference, instead of using the most stupid of excuses and weak story to build a movie on (See: The Avengers 2012).  It’s not just a big budget mess, it’s a well thought out film.

It is the first time that the incredible actors that portray these superheroes have been utilised.  They are given a handful of real, serious, meaningful and emotionally filled scenes that have allowed them to show what kind of performance they are capable of producing and also allow the Avengers to manifest some character, a personality that has been missing all this time.  After all that is what separates this movie from what has preceded it (the last Avengers movie and the standalone ones).

Furthermore the movie is funnier than most comedies.  I would go as far as to say that it is probably the funniest of all the marvel movies, with most if not all the funny witticisms that the characters attempt, to be successful.  The visual along with the sound effects were simply stunning, surely an Oscar nod is in order.  That CGI…so much better than the first instalment.

One thing that was quite annoying though, was the continuous use of the fake Russian/Dracula accent, which I know is common in many movies.  However it becomes very irritating, especially when these characters speak between them, but still choose to speak English instead of their mother language.  It would have been much better if they just did the latter and we were shown subtitles.  And don’t get me started on Andy Serkis doing a British-fake Russian combo accent.

In a nutshell, It’s up to par with the best marvel movie to date (X-men: Days of Future Past) and it’s by far the best set in the Avengers universe.

7.5/10

Movie Review-Blade Runner

I don’t usually write reviews about older movies, but in the light of the re-release in the cinema of the Final Cut version and me taking the opportunity to visit the theater and watch it again, I thought I would give my thoughts on this timeless classic.

The story introduces us to a futuristic world, with new technologies expertly depicted on screen, considering it originally came out 33 years ago. It’s visually stunning and it never ceases to amaze me, how Ridley Scott and his crew managed to capture the essence of a dystopian society so well, that the thought of it becoming reality accomplishes to agitate the viewer.

Credit has to be given to Harrison Ford, cast after the success he had portraying Han Solo and Indiana Jones, both similar to his character Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, personified by their sarcastic wit, cool-guy attitude and being attracted to the opposite sex. He shows his charm in being the lead and his ability to never stop entertaining, by embodying his character’s main aspects as mentioned before.

Very important to the believable retro-future dystopia is the music composed by Vangelis, mostly with the use of synthesizers, he manages to complement the neo-noir and dramatic elements of the movie masterfully and provides the film as envisioned by Ridley Scott a more dark and ominous tone.

A Science Fiction masterpiece, a must watch and worth revisiting for any movie fan.

9/10

Movie Review-Interstellar

This is more of a praise rather than a review, it was that good. I have watched it three times and its epic scope is best grasped in IMAX and the reason for that was that it was shot in anamoprhic 35mm and IMAX 70mm photography to fully immerse the audience in this space adventure. The story by Jonathan and Christopher was breathtaking, Nolan’s great directing complemented the film, the visual effects which were simply breathtaking, with mostly use of practical effects without no green screens and minor use of CGI, and wonderful sound mixing & editing. All that accompanied by amazing score by the always reliable and remarkable Hans Zimmer.

It is almost as if it’s two separate movies squeezed in one, both with the same central principle but so different in setting and I loved both equally as much.  It might be an epic adventure, with black holes, space exploration, extra dimensions, but at its core it’s so , so intimate.  And maybe I am too romantic but that is what the movie is about, love and affection.

I am not an expert but the apparent scientific inaccuracies do not take anything away from the film. Some people might argue that they spoil the movie, however anyone who slates it because of those scenes that bend the rules of physics are being hypocritical or they do not like 99% of the movies that come out every year.  There was only one point that I can make that was inferior to the rest of the movie and that is Anne Hathaway’s acting.  It was probably her worst performance I have ever seen and I cannot figure out why, it just felt as if she didn’t manage to capture the essence of her character (credit to her though, she brings her A-game in the most important scene).

If you haven’t watched it already, then do so as soon as possible.  If you do not love it you will at least enjoy it. 

9.5/10