The go-to source for comic book and superhero movie fans. It’s a film that, upon first viewing, feels almost unbearably harsh and claustrophobic, lingering on images of cruelty, decay and exploitation. It was only years later – abetted enormously by the film’s ‘Director’s Cut’ reissue, stripped of its clunky voiceover and crass happy ending – that we began to realize exactly what Blade Runner was offering alongside its spectacular visuals. This wasn’t just a grim dystopian action flick, but a meditation on the meaning of life, morality, memory, creation, procreation, nature, nurture – the whole shebang.
What qualifies it as sci-fi is the 2027 setting and global infertility crisis – no child has been born since 2009. Like the city, Clive Owen, a pen-pusher at the Ministry of Energy, is a shell of a man, talked by his ex, the leader of a terrorist guerrilla group, into aiding an African refugee. Oscar Isaac chills as Nathan, the psychopathic yet charismatic billionaire founder of the search engine company that protagonist Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson, works for. The camerawork, sound and setting all heighten the film’s intensity, as well as the intensity of the situation that Caleb finds himself in once he’s confronted with Ava, the humanoid robot that Nathan has created. It’s thrilling because the audience is never quite sure whose side to be on. Ava’s consciousness (or lack thereof?) is tricky to ascertain, while Nathan’s intentions are never truly clear.
This makes the moral and ethical questions that sci-fi raises the genre’s best and most thought-provoking weapon, and one Ex Machina uses expertly. Writer and director Alex Garland allows for the film’s biggers questions to inhabit the space that other genre movies might fill with action sequences, allowing for a slow sinking horror as the film unfolds. Satire in science fiction is nothing new – but creating a perfect balance of entertainment and politics requires a particular set of skills. But the results are often breathtaking and brilliantly unique.
But especially with the itunes version of the book, voice acted and sound produced, this thing lives deep DEEP in the uncanny valley. And then to top it all off, you have an app on all platforms for interactive augmented reality with the book… The exotic races of Arknomaly shop were no better than the main characters.
I can’t say enough just how beautiful it really is. But in the end when you’re done drooling over the pictures, the dialog leaves much to be desired and the story doesn’t really inspire. B) the pastiche of the “”interactivity”” wears thin after the first five or six times. Basically, you download a companion app for iPad, and when there certain symbols on a page, you load up the app and a 3D model of a figure on the page will appear. You can interact with it, using the finger swipe to spin the figure or tilt the image. And because there are so many of them–100+–unless you are a child, you get bored having to load up an app just to see something isolated from the story.
Alien was the film that turned the Star Warstemplate on its head, keeping the cutting-edge effects and sense of a used universe, but making it so much more real, gritty and, ironically, more human. The result is a grey, sombre affair filled with grotesque, uncomfortably Freudian imagery – phallic creatures, pulsating eggs, a computer named MUTHUR, that nightmarish birth scene… But it’s also a masterclass in cinematic tension. Artist HR Giger’s creature is a gothic nightmare of a foe, kept hidden for most of the film, leaving audiences to scour the corridors of the starship Nostromo themselves, constantly waiting for ol’ two-mouths to come leaping out. The movie’s technical innovations were seismic, from Ben Burtt’s imaginative sound design to the ingenious creatures and model effects. But chiefly, this was a film that launched a million toys – and, not insignificantly, a million dreams.