Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens: Resistance Writ Large and Small

“I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength.” That quote is spoken by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in The Force Awakens, the long-awaited seventh instalment in the Star Wars franchise, but those words could easily have been put into the mouth of almost every prominent character in the…

Ex Machina (2015)

Alex Garland’s work as a novelist (The Beach, Coma) and screenwriter (28 Days Later, Sunshine) is, at its best, defined by a careful command of tone balanced with obvious intelligence. It should not come as a surprise that Ex Machina, Garland’s first time behind the director’s chair, demonstrates these qualities in abundance. This sparse sci-fi…

Chappie (2015)

The toxic critical reaction to Neil Blomkamp’s latest sci-fi flick, Chappie, is understandable coming from those expecting the film to offer up a coherent social allegory, a coherent narrative or coherent action. It doesn’t deliver on those expectations. But once you recognise that the sharp satire of District 9’s opening half is an outlier rather…

Jupiter Ascending (2015)

You don’t have to be an aficionado of science fiction to recognise that the Wachowski’s latest production, Jupiter Ascending, draws inspiration from countless sci-fi forebears. Oh, sure, it’s an “original” property, but as with the Wachowskis’ output from The Matrix and beyond, it’s an unabashed pastiche. Jupiter Ascending’s setting is classic space opera, galaxies ruled…

The Infinite Man (2014)

Aussie time-travel rom com The Infinite Man sits somewhere the middle of the triangle formed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Primer and, uh, Triangle. That’s a promising combination, and given my fondness for time-travel films, I had high expectations. They were not met. The film’s main problem is a lack of emotional authenticity.…

Scarlett Johansson in Lucy (2014)

Lucy (2014)

Lucy is a deliriously unhinged future cult-classic, a joyously overstuffed treatise on the Meaning Of Life scrawled in Comic Sans and rendered in a vivid mélange of gunfights, car chases and stock footage. Its frankly ridiculous concept – Local Woman Uses More Than 10% Of Her Brain – could have easily produced an enjoyably daft…

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

It’s possibly unfair to complain about the predictability of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Is it the filmmaker’s fault that the trailer prominently includes the climactic showdown between revolutionary, super-intelligent apes and police? Probably not. But when the predictability of the narrative is informed by a familiarity with Planet of the Apes or,…

Under the Skin (2014)

Under the Skin (2014)

Under the Skin is a challenging viewing experience. Those attending entirely off the back of “I heard Scarlett Johansson gets naked in this” will find themselves faced with a film more in tune with Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey than Species. From its opening screen of black inexplicably infiltrated by white lights and rings that…

Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall in TRANSCENDENCE (2014)

Transcendence (2014)

As we were dutifully informed before the preview screening of Transcendence, Wally Pfister not only shot this movie on film, but he also developed the film photochemically rather than digitally. This isn’t surprising for Pfister, acolyte of fervent film fetishist Christopher Nolan, but it is reflective of this cinematographer-turned-director’s old-fashioned approach to the material. Old-fashioned…

Seconds (1966)

The opening titles of John Frankenheimer’s Seconds, created by the inimitable Saul Bass, turn normality into grotesquery. Extreme close-ups of the human face warp and distort, taking the ordinary – a human mouth, a human eye – and rendering it horrifyingly unfamiliar. The mutability of human appearance is at the core of the science-fiction conceit…