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Archive for 'Films'

An Un-Amazing Story: A Review of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Special to Locus Online

The makers of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials have taken a reasonably inventive and innovative novel and transformed it into a less inventive and less innovative film. They might profitably recall that science fiction novels often become popular precisely because they are offering their audiences something different. It is not a comment that one can make about this science fiction film.

The Fifty Years Later Affair: A Review of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Special to Locus Online

While it is entertaining enough, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not a film that anyone will want to watch a second time, and few people will leave the theatre yearning for another installment. Like attending a high school reunion, perhaps, revisiting the world of 1960s television is enjoyable as a rare diversion, but not as a regular activity.

Old Whiners in New Bodies: A Review of Self/less

Special to Locus Online

Self/less has several significant virtues: it is fast-paced and involving; it is unpredictable; it features excellent performances by an actor expected to provide them (Ben Kingsley) and an actor not expected to provide them (Ryan Reynolds); and its science-fictional premise, while not without questionable aspects, is developed with unusual care and consistency. However, director Tarsem Singh and screenwriters David Pastor and Alex Pastor were obliged to weaken their story by reducing a complex scenario to a simplistic morality tale and adding a modicum of gratuitous violence.

Our Dinosaurs, Ourselves: A Review of Jurassic World

Special to Locus Online

If you are wondering whether or not you should see Jurassic World, here is this reviewer’s advice: either pay the exorbitant price of admission to watch the film in a theatre, or never bother to watch it at all. When everything in the film is larger than life, none of its weaknesses matter, as you will consistently be enthralled and entertained by the amazing spectacle of realistic dinosaurs thundering across the screen and interacting with human characters.

Star-Crossed Horizon: A Review of Tomorrowland

Special to Locus Online

Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is a film that one yearns to love, but not a film one can actually love …. One wishes to argue that that this film needs to be cherished and celebrated because of its resoundingly optimistic message about the future, driven home by an uplifting and emotionally powerful conclusion that constitutes by far the film’s best sequence; but sadly, the more one thinks about that message, the less resonant it seems.

Mad Maxine and Her Marvelous Machines: A Review of Mad Max: Fury Road

Special to Locus Online

George Miller’s new installment of the Mad Max saga must stand entirely on its own, and for the most part it does so remarkably well …. And those seeking intellectual as well as physical stimulation will find that the film’s dystopian future society is interestingly in dialogue with a modern world that no longer shares the concerns that inspired the original series.

Methuselah’s Daughter: A Review of The Age of Adaline

Special to Locus Online

The Age of Adaline proves to be surprisingly attentive to the demands of science fiction, and amidst its emotional turmoil the film is also striving to thoughtfully explore the possible effects of human immortality. It thus qualifies as a worthwhile addition to a long tradition of science fiction stories about immortality.

Dead, and a Rival: A Review of The Lazarus Effect

Special to Locus Online

To epitomize the experience of watching The Lazarus Effect, then, imagine a new film adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith (1925) in which Dr. Martin Arrowsmith, after years of quiet, painstaking medical research, somehow makes a mistake and ends up creating the Incredible Hulk.

A Myriad of Texts, Reloaded, or, The Cliché-Hoarder’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Review of Jupiter Ascending

Special to Locus Online

Readers of this review, at this point, might feel that I am relentlessly berating the Wachowskis for displaying a lack of originality. Yet I am theorizing that the film might have originated when one of them said, “Hey, let’s remake The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but take out all of the jokes.” And that represents a genuinely original idea. More grievously, though, the Wachowskis also removed something else from The Hitchhiker’s Guide, and from every other film that they borrowed from, and that is their messages.

The Tolkienator, or, Thorin Hacks Again: A Review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Special to Locus Online

One might characterize this film as a charming 30-minute rendering of the last six chapters of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937) padded out with two hours of repetitive slashing, stabbing, bludgeoning, and beheading. Tolkien, one imagines, would not be pleased.

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