Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Unrequited infatuation, friendzoning, and romantic conflict permeates, giving the film an undertone of futility; a metaphor for the dystopic world of the Hunger Games series. Yes, the film has its Twilight moments. But redemption comes in the form of the smouldering uprising against the oppression of The Capitol alluded to in the film’s title. Overall, it’s impressive, however I left feeling like it wants so badly to make a commentary on the shallowness of present day media and society in general; but doesn’t quite make it. Like The Capitol is so ridiculous it’s almost satire. Maybe thats the point. ★★★★

Movie Review: After Earth

After Earth

I started watching AFTER EARTH as if it were an 80s b-grade sci-fi movie in the hope that I wouldn’t be disappointed. The first 20 minutes of the film reminded me strongly of JOHN CARTER, so hope of this being a workable strategy was fading fast. Nevertheless, I pressed on.

After watching this film, I feel *so* sorry for Jaden Smith. Not only does the poor kid have to live his real life in his father Will Smith’s shadow, he has to star in a movie where the entire plot is about… a kid living in his father’s shadow. No wonder Jaden’s only expression throughout the film is that of a sullen teenager.

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Our search for a paradoxical existance

A post along these lines has been floating around in drafts for a couple of years, but my thoughts on the subject were dredged up recently while watching a couple of films, namely AI: Artificial Intelligence, then literally laid out on the autopsy table in Prometheus. As an atheist, I’m specifically interested in the phenomenon that many humans, especially those of a religious persuasion, cling to the creationist ideal–that we humans were created by the will of some higher being, and this is what gives our lives meaning.

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Review: The Road

The trailer was totally misleading. If you were expecting some epic apocalyptica, then don’t bother with this snore fest. The Road has way too much “interpersonal drama” for my impatient Gen Y taste. It’s less about the apocalypse and more about Viggo Mortensen’s character longing for his former life and wife, the latter of which just wandered off into the darkness to die alone because she couldn’t watch Sex and the City anymore.

The apocalyptic event is obviously not the focus of the film’s plot, and it shows. Boy does it show.

No animals survived? BULLSHIT.

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What Stargate Universe could have been

I’ve already watched Cube. It’s a pretty decent movie. If I want to watch it again, I’ll go get out the DVD. Disappointingly, Stargate Universe (SGU) has been created around the same basic plot: a crew of military and scientific personnell are stranded on an Ancient spaceship travelling to some unknown destination millions of light years from Earth.

It’s the classic “stalled elevator device” which is often used in film and TV dramas: trap your characters in a confined space to force character development. Simple. If you’re pressed for time, throw in a real annoying bastard (such as Robert Carlyle’s character) for some added tension to speed things up. However, after three episodes, SGU hasn’t moved past this basic device. If Wright and Cooper plan on stretching this to multiple seasons, no amount of pit stops on random, cliched planets, or dodging close calls with the Sun will make this format sustainable.

The next logical progression of the Stargate franchise became obvious to me after watching True Blood. Here’s a series in which vampires are “out of the coffin” as they put it, meaning the existence of vamp-kind is a fact, and also public knowledge. The series is thus speckled with parallels to historic struggles for minority equality. This results in a portrayal of the “vampires are real” world which is actually convincing, and believable.

The Stargate franchise needs to burn those NDA’s and just go public already! A few episodes in SG-1 touched on the idea, mostly via trips to planets whose Stargate program has already gone public. The challenge would be to develop this idea beyond “Stargates are glorified airports” while minimising the amount of political drama. District 9 showed us that seemingly far-fetched science fiction concepts can be handled with effective realism by drawing parallels with historical events (e.g. refugees).

At this early stage, I’m ready to applaud the creators for daring to diverge from the classic Stargate format: a power struggle between humans and an oppressive alien force. Defeat one, and another one comes along to replace it, and keep the series going. In SG-1, we had the Go’Ald, the Replicators, and finally the Ori. In Atlantis, it was the Wraith. If SGU reverts back to the power struggle format, I’ll stop watching.

Another potential direction, which would likely be more interesting, could be a prequel of sorts following the “Ancients”, their culture, technology (and the creation of the Stargates), and ultimately their path to ascension. If the series was different enough to its predecessors, it could work. It could explore themes such as “with powerful technology, comes great responsibility”, something we know defines the Ancients, who are always held up as the perfect race. With their superior genetics and technology, ultimate wisdom, and curious intervention restraint, they are an example of something we humans should aspire to become. So let’s see it, already! The ascension story arc could also deal with more “spiritual” themes, which would be something refreshing for the franchise.