I, Robot (2004) Film Review

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It’s the future and robots are all over the place helping folks out. Del Spooner (Will Smith) is a cop haunted by his past. He was in a car accident where two cars ended up in a river. He was saved by a robot, but watched a young girl in the other car drown. But he is deeply suspicious of robots, and so when scientist friend Dr Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) is found dead, apparent suicide, he investigates further. Helped by Lanning’s assistant Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) who believes in the science and the power of the rules of robots that protect humans, he investigates as the robots revolt.

I loved the styling of this film – a hint of the big sci-fi films of the eighties, such as Total Recall, and the robot with a human face was creepy enough to be… well, creepy. It’s not a new concept, but it was an interesting take on the whole ‘robot revolution’ thing. Plus, Will Smith is a great action hero.

I, Robot was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

 

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The World According to Garp (1982) Film Review

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Based on a novel by John Irving, the film follows the story of TS Garp (played, as an adult, by Robin Williams), a writer with an unusual beginning. He was conceived when his mother, Jenny Fields (Glenn Close), has sex with a dying soldier when she was a nurse in the war. As a child, she rarely panders him, and often embarrasses and dominates him. When he decides, as a young man, to head to New York to pursue a career as a writer, she follows, writes her story and inadvertently becomes a hero to the feminist cause, often overshadowing and partially defining his life.

I read this book many years ago and found it compelling, and remember thinking that the film captured the themes of the book – identity, the place of women in 1970s American culture, when it is to be a man – really well. Funny that, because watching it this time made me wonder why they hated women so much. By ‘they’, I mean many of the male characters in the film, the filmmakers, and even John Irving. Things that can be forgiven of a man have horrifying results for the women, and the women in the film are so extremely aggressively hateful of the men as well. While the individual main characters seem to truly care for each other, everyone else is a caricature, from the hooker with a heart of gold, to the militant feminists disfiguring themselves in a misguided way of supporting a rape victim, even to the horny male student insisting on forcing a sexual act from his lover.

Perhaps it is just that there is far too much story for one film, and in trying to cram it all in, too much of the important detail and nuance is lost. Or perhaps John Irving really did have that much hate.

The World According to Garp was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Lithgow) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Glenn Close)

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The Lion King (1994) Film Review

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Often touted as an animated retelling of Hamlet, The Lion King sees King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) killed by his brother Scar (Jeremy Irons), and the son Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas and then Matthew Broderick) exiled, believing himself to be responsible. He is kept company by Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), but eventually is forced to face his own fears and return to take his rightful place as king.

Yawn. I did not grow up with Disney animations, and perhaps that is why I find them cheesy and schmaltzy and I really don’t like them very much at all. I understand that this film will be a favourite of many, something they grew up with and will always love. You guys have it. I’m not into it at all.

The Lion King won Oscars for Best Music, Original Song (Can You Feel The Love Tonight) and Best Music, Original Score and was nominated for Best Music, Original Song (Circle of Life) and Best Music, Original Song (Hakuna Matata)

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Snowpiercer (2013) Film Review

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In a bid to combat global warming, a chemical was released into the air. It worked too well, killing all life on the planet except the people and animals who were on the Snowpiercer, a very long train with an eternal engine that moves non-stop. The lower class of the rear carriages are sick of being fed protein jelly, and start a revolt against the upper classes in a bid for survival.

I was very surprised to like this film as much as I did. It is extremely violent, a very ugly violence, but it is just a bit more than an action film set on a train. Perhaps it is because it is a South Korean production, or based on a French graphic novel. Some of the performances were quite good, but many were pretty average. I think if you are after a slightly depressing film with stunning shots and graphic violence, this could be the film for you. Oh, and did I mention Tilda Swinton? No? Wow. What a magnificently horrid character.

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Clash of the Titans (2010) Film Review

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People have rejected the gods, burning the temples and the like. Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) want to do some stuff about it. Then there is Perseus (Sam Worthington), who does not realise he is a demi-god, being the son of Zeus with a human woman. They need to beat the Kraken, but to do so, much chop the head off Medusa.

Oh, it is so much fun. I saw Wrath of the Titans and was less than impressed, but because it me and I like to feel I have completed things, I decided to watch this, the prequel. It’s a lot better – better story, better performances, just better. Though I have recently had my attention drawn to Clash of the Titans from the early eighties, and I am going to need to track that one down. Apparently it is magnificent.

 

 

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Jumper (2008) Film Review

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At fifteen, David Rice (played by Max Thieriot as a young boy, Hayden Christensen for the rest of the film) discovered that he could teleport. As a young adult, he has found a way to live this life, going where he wants, doing what he wants. Until he is tracked down by Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), a man who follows “jumpers” like him and kill them. Why? Religion.

David is a really annoying character – arrogant, smarmy and generally quite crap and annoying. I found I couldn’t care less about him – in fact, I was quite keen for Roland to knock him off sooner rather than later. Made it difficult to care about the film at all. Overall, this feeling didn’t change. But there is an extra in one scene who keeps looking at the camera – it’s quite weird, really – quite funny, and totally made the film for me.

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Never Been Kissed (1999) Film Review

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Josie Gellar (Drew Barrymore) works at a newspaper as a fact checker-type person, but dreams of being a journalist. She is sent into a school by her boss Gus (John C. Reilly) to compile an investigative report into kids of today, however, she gets caught up in life and trying to be cool. She’s helped by her idiot brother Rob (David Arquette) who uses this as a chance to relive his cool past. And then there is the dreamy teacher, Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan).

And here’s where I have a real issue. I just have a problem with teacher/student love affairs. Regardless of who starts it or how successful that relationship may go on to be, it still starts with an older person in position of trust who, in today’s society and with today’s values, needs to be better. So, the fact that Sam in this case did not actually act on his feelings, he believed her to be a minor and he overstepped the line a few times. And no-one found this a bit creepy?

I really wanted to like this film, I just couldn’t get past the creep factor. And there was a bit too much suspension of belief for me.

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