August 25, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Another Scarlett Johansson film, it must be a science fiction film. I went to see Lucy the other day.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

It is very much a Luc Besson film: slick fight choreography (Matrix/martial arts); crazy car sequences (Lucy drives the wrong way through Paris -at speed); rough unshaven cops; slick bad guys; and tight shots.

Johansson’s performance holds the film together and in many ways up. She plays Lucy – the ‘heroine’. The film starts in Taiwan and Lucy through a dodgy boyfriend ends up being offered a ‘can’t refuse deal’ from the Korean Mafia. Why Lucy is studying in Taiwan is never explained, and therefore that part of the back story unbelievable.

Lucy becomes a reluctant drug mule – this film can’t do good things for tourism in Asia. Her new business associates inexplicably detain her and beat her so badly the drug sachet inside her body ruptures and releases a massive does of some new tailored recreational drug into her system, and as it shows in the trailers, she starts accessing all of her brain – not just the 10% attributed to folklore. Lucy moves from party girl with interesting past issues to driven superior being.

Morgan Freeman plays the role of a neurologist – who is used to introduce some nice natural photography shots and explain brain pseudo-science to the films audience. Its quite a clever way to explain what purportedly happens if we used all of our brains.

Thats all really, there are some nice CGI of cell division, some kick-ass gun battles and there is a not too surprising end.


Under the Skin

August 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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It is New Zealand International Film Festival time again in Wellington, and after some confusion I saw my first film: Under the Skin.

Warning: Plot Elements disclosed.

Scarlett Johansson plays the part of a nameless women who picks up young men, with no family and friends, and disappears them. She makes it look easy; then she gets a lot of practice. Why is never answered.

There is nudity – but not really in a sexual way; more of a clinical approach. It is almost as if the mysterious young woman does not understand her own body – that she is following a script. What lies behind this is eventually revealed; and it is a bit of a shock – but it does explain the film’s title.

Johansson does a great job.

The film is set in Scotland, possible Glasgow, using a mix of rundown suburbs and stark countryside.

It reminded me of Liquid Sky and Repo Man.

Ender’s Game

December 31, 2013 at 7:41 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I have read the book (by Orson Scott Card) and most of the sequels and prequels, so it was with some trepidation that I went to see the film.

Warning: Plot spoilers.

The premise remains the same: aliens will destroy the Earth useless we find a brilliant commander; no stone is left unturned, and children are selected and trained from an early age – just like the Spartans, and it is no coincidence that the top commander has the title of Stratos. Ender Wiggin is one such child-military prodigy.

The film shows how rich the book is. Quite a bit of the book had to be cut to get everything into the book.

The book builds up tension by taking Ender through a series of simulated battles – each of increasing complexity and increasing force imbalance. In the book Ender is often hugely outnumbered and in a bad tactical situation. Most of these are missing from the film. Instead, Ender’s genius is explained to us by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford). Consequently, the ‘final’ trick on Ender, is not set-up properly.

Abigail Breslin makes an appearance as Valentine Wiggin – Ender’s sister. Though it was interesting to see how she is developing as an actor, post Nim’s Island and Little Miss Sunshine.

The film focusses on the human side. Ender, ably played by Asa Butterfield, is put through many emotional and psychological tests. Ender passes, but, his humanity is stripped away from him.

I was disappointed in the way Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) turned out. The richness and sadness in his character did not make it to the screen. The book created a love-hate relationship between Ender and Mazer – which set Ender up for his graduation simulated battle. Not much of this made it to the screen. Finally, Mazer ended up with a South Africa accent: his speech was too clipped, and lacked the slower deeper drawl more common to New Zealanders.

If you have read the books, and really like them, and Ender, then wait for the DVD, or free-to-air. Or if you are ‘brave’, then go see it on the big screen and enjoy the special effects. With Orson Scott Card as the other co-writer, it is not another ‘Starship Troopers’ – which completely inverted the philosophy set out in the book, and ruined the opening chapter.

If you haven’t, it is a reasonable science fiction movie.


October 14, 2012 at 9:17 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Time travel science fiction movie – with a better than usual plot.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play ‘Joe’ a hit-man with a difference: Gordon-Levitt is the young Joe who must kill his older self, played by Willis.

The premise is that in the future forensic science is so good that given a body the killer can be identified – so you send the person back in time and they are killed there.

The film is all about how Joe ends up not killing his older self, and avoid even worse excesses.

Jeff Daniels is an improbable mob king-pin.

World of Wearableart 2012

September 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Dance Review, Musical Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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WOW ! went to the 2012 World of Wearableart dress rehearsal last night – great, get a ticket if you can.

A mixture of surreal and fun would be how I would try to sum up this year’s show.

The Children’s Section has a little girl falling into her toy box at bed time and entering a dream world – there is even a rabbit in a car!

I liked the tiaha wielding warriors in a video game: clever and it must be hard dancing with a projection.

The Open Section used Argentinian tango as the ‘back drop’ – some very nice dancing. This section also introduced a little meme for the show – unaccompanied male dancers. In this section, the ladies danced by themselves and it look more like flamenco, and the men partnered each other. It wasn’t exactly smoldering, but nevertheless had a degree of intensity.

The Visual Symphony Section was innovative and ‘big’ – grunge steam punk. The Gareth Farr composed and directed music partly utilised the garments themselves for musical notes. Some of the garments were very quite and this was dealt with through handheld microphones choreographed into the dancing. I liked the big disk / wobbleboard.

The Avante Garde Section was wonderfully surreal: opera, candles (lots of them), lyrical dancing, and really out-there art-on-a-person garments. I was a bit worried for the dancers and models because of all the naked flames.

The Bizzarre Bra finale was fantastic – literally out of this world. A wonderful mix of B-grade and classic science fiction moments. There were three actual spaceships!!! and a space monster.

Another brilliant show.

Cowboys and Aliens

August 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A cowboy movie and a science fiction movie rolled into one – how could I resist? So I went to see Cowboys and Aliens.

Daniel Craig is “the cowboy” – Jake Lonergan – “Jake”; and the aliens are extras. Jake wakes up without any memory, a picture of a young women, and a strange bracelet on his left wrist. We are shown a glimpse into Jake’s nature when three bounty hunters try to take him prisoner; Jake kills them all.

The other main characters are: Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and Ella (Olivia Wilde). For awhile, the film flirts with the audience: is Harrison Ford actually going to play a bad guy – wealthy cattle rancher who abuses his position? Ella, turns out to have a very mysterious past and is crucial to the final outcome – of course the aliens are vanquished.

The film uses the aliens in the traditional role played by indians – ruthless, brutal, and two dimensional. The film is then challenged to work the actual indians in; the film could have omitted them, but they seem to serve to develop Ford’s character.

It is a very busy film: Jake is an outlaw who had set himself on the straight and narrow, prior to him loosing his memory; the colonel actually cares, but because of his experiences in the civil can’t show it; there is new found respect between cowboys and indians; alien invasion; a boy becomes a man; another boy gets another chance; on and on.

Some very nice action sequences. I thought the film was based on a computer game, but it turns out to be adapted from a graphic novel (a comic).

District 9

September 18, 2009 at 1:43 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Warning: plot elements revealed.

September 13, 2009 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

It is set in a ‘near future’ Johannesberg, South Africa. Where an huge Alien spaceship has floated above the city for 20 years. Where for 20 years the million plus (and multiplying) crew/passengers have lived in District 9 – in one massive ghetto. The film holds up a mirror for South Africa and the world.

Yes, the Aliens are treated very badly; and are being cleared out of their shanties to a new place – District 10 – where they can be better looked after – or is that controlled? (and where they can make the sequel); “you don’t want to be there it is like a concentration camp” – as if District 9 isn’t one already.

Humans can’t work any of the Alien technology; because, the equipment is keyed to DNA/biology. Yet, there are big business interests who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the delay in exploiting the Alien technology.

Into all of this steps Wikus Van De Merwe (superbly played by Sharlto Copley) – a mild mannered civil servant. What happens to him and the events that unfold around him will change the status quo and forms the film.

I am glad that I have watched all of the Aliens, Mad Max and Starship Trooper movies, they prepared me nicely – inured me – for the splatter elements in this movie. It is a good movie – but very violent. Neill Blomkamp has done a good job with the directing.

There might be a sequel – District 10. Events are set up nicely for one, with Wikus missing, his manipulative father-in-law still on the scene, and promises made by the aliens.


Terminator Salvation

June 15, 2009 at 1:02 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I had a spare three hours so I went to see the latest Terminator movie. Warning: plot elements revealed.

June 12, 2009 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

I found Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles kind of interesting, so I thought “give it a go.”

Christian Bale gets to play the first adult potrayal of John Connor. I found the rest of the rest of the cast looked like the cast from The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Marcus (Sam Worthington) for Derek (Brian Austin Green); Blair (Moon Bloodgood) for Cameron (Summer Glau) and Kyle (Anton Yelchin) for John Connor (Thomas Dekker ). Nice to see Yelchin showing some versatility (vis-a-vis playing the part of Chekov in Star Trek.

It is an action movie. It is loud and violent, and maybe a little formula-ish. John has to save his future father without revealing too much to those around him. Still, it pays homage to the earlier Terminator movies in a number of places; there is even a ‘tip of the hat’ to Arnold Schwarzenegger

The film stay consistent with the previous Terminator movies. It fills in some of the missing pieces; and does not try to re-invent things.

I have two questions: (i) was that really Arnie in the final confrontation? (ii) John knows that Skynet will one day produce human tissue covered terminators, so why is he so surprised?


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