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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ex Machina


'Ex Machina' Teaser Trailer from J.D. Funari on Vimeo.



"Isn't it strange, to create something that hates you?"

         The title Ex Machina[pronounced with a hard 'C'] is a spinoff from it’s latin parent “Deus Ex Machina” meaning ‘god from the machine’.  The phrase usually refers to a person/thing that presents itself when the main character has his/her back against the wall or is in a “no win”  situation, then defuses that situation.  Director Alex Garland’s directorial debut wasn't short of innuendos and contrasts between God and creation; humans and artificial Intelligence.  Blatant character Mise en scene: Ava= Eve, Nathan= wise prophet to King David, and Caleb= spy sent by Moses to scout the new land.... quotes and scriptures from all manners of books, philosophers, artists...

        EM was deep, not too deep where the story loses you. Just to the point where you feel like you picked up valuable ideas and material for debatable topics later.  This is one of the slower paced movies, which is a good thing for movie buffs that can sit there and absorb.  Maybe a bad thing for action junkies. Think The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons or even HER. Two very good films that you’ll probably only view once.  Having said all of that, EM’s rewatchability supersedes the latter two because of the incredible visual effects.  The post production work and CGI is just amazing to watch. The cinematography of the terra that facilitates the home/facility is candy for the eye even for the brief amount of time that we see it.

    I am giving it a very strong “B” grade.  I am highly recommending it for SCI-FI fans alike.  The tagline reads: “To erase the line between man and machine is to obscure the line between men and gods.”  I know what they meant but I prefer the phrase: To erase the line between man and machine is to obscure the line.[period]  This film is the best I’ve seen at blurring that line.

   Lasty, of course this film is worth watching. It could become a cult classic, even a masterpiece as time goes on and we rewatch and discover things that we’ve missed before. EM has that much potential.

letter grade: B+

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Furious 7



"You can't tell someone they love you."

    Whew!!! I’ve spoken here about “swallowing”[abandoning] reality so that you don't miss the cinematic fun. I went into it at depth reviewing movies like the “Source Code” here in this blog.  Being able to do that is a struggle for someone like me but it is not impossible.  You will have to most definitely let the laws of Physics, Anatomy and plausibility go in order to have the required “fun” that this franchise is celebrated for…. I know it is a tall order but it’s sooooo worth it!  

   If you haven’t seen any of these Fast & Furious movies or perhaps just the first one, Furious 7 is probably not your cup of motor oil. I wrote the first paragraph exclusively for you though.  This isn’t one of those movie franchises that you will want to rent the prior 6 on netflix the night before.  Just go in there with no prep and just digest all the Furiousness because it is so worth it…. Even if you unfeasibly sleep through all the action,  the dedication to the deceased Paul Walker right before the title card “for Paul” is worth the theater money spent alone.  
    At 2 hours and 17 mins, this makes the longest Fast and Furious movie ever.  Honestly, I did not feel it.  I was so caught up in what could possibly happen next that I actually felt like it should have been longer.
    7 movies in one awesome ride.  That is no small feet.  I can’t think off-hand what other movie franchise went seven deep and finished as strongly as this one did.  With Star Wars due out later this year Fast & Furious has some pretty strong competition. Obviously just being mentioned in the same paragraph with Star Wars is incredible by itself!
  Definitely worth watching.  Go in with a party attitude not high plausibility expectations (why would you anyways, you saw the trailer) or you will be left high
and dry and no parachute….Cars can’t fly.

 letter grade:   B-

Fast Five


Friday, April 3, 2015




"The problem with artificial intelligence is it's way too unpredictable."

"Chappie: Why did you build me to die maker?
Deon: I didn't. I built you to live."

    Seeing the trailer for Chappie I initially became mildly interested.  No doubt it looked great visually but I had zero confidence in the director Neill Blomkamp [District 9] . Well, maybe I shouldn’t say zero because all offences were made up with Elysium… errr, made even.  So there is this great unknown when it comes to his work.  Will there be this over-the-top ending or will the conclusion complement the story?   

  Artificial Intelligence films seem to always have the same conflict.  A.I becomes evil because that Intelligence is so much better, so much more efficient than that of humans.  Naturally we [humans] become “in the way”.  Therefore the higher intelligence must eradicate the obstacles in the way of ‘superior’ intelligence.  That or A.I robot is outcast and needs help adjusting to real world adaption and it becomes an adventure.  Then there is the Man vs. Machine conflict that doesn't necessarily have to include AI.  All though Chappie may have a few of those characteristics in the story, it doesn’t seem or feel like the same type of AI flick.

   Remember the movie D.A.R.Y.L. (one of my all-time faves) or Short Circuit, or even the movie A.I before it got controversially weird at the end?  Well, just like Chappie we become extremely endeared and  involved with the main character.  Not very original material but the execution of the story and the script was just amazing to watch.  Even more surprising is that the main characters are really a South African rap group with no acting experience at all.  Their attempt at “gangsta” mannerisms were comedy to me at first but now that I know who the actor and actress are I can see now see that it was the cultural quirks and oddities that felt a little odd.

   For Sci- Fi aficionados Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics held true.  I had some serious questions about Chappie’s “learning process” and other computer code commands that were used but now I admit that it was the cynic in me.  Forensically analyzing the little bit I know about computers to what was going on on-screen.  

    All-in-all I am very impressed with Chappie. So glad I saw this film in the theater.  I would most definitely recommend spending theater cash and concession stand money as well.

Worth Watching.

letter grade: B+

Get Hard



"Sad Dog. I think that's a strategy that could work, don't sexually harass me I'm already sad..."

       I thought that I may have unfairly compared Get Hard to other comedies that had a good buzz and delivered. Reality is… I didn’t. This was just a bad movie.  This movie gave me three grins and they were spaced out evenly through the duration of the film.  
   I won’t waste time with a lengthy review.  Honestly it was a waste of great comedic talent.  It felt as if they were making it up as they went along.
   I can take crude humor but the “bathroom” scene took it way too far.  I actually had to look away from the screen. Enough! Let me wrap this up.
   Not Worth Watching.  I can not even recommend renting this.  Such a shame too, so much untapped potential.

letter grade: D+