Shy, awkward programmer Caleb wins the company lottery; a week with his reclusive boss Nathan, the brilliant, billionaire founder of the world’s largest search engine, at Nathan’s isolated private estate in the wilds of Alaska.
On arriving, Caleb finds his prize is in fact to run the Turing Test on Nathan’s ground breaking artificial intelligence, to discover if it is truly a sentient being. Not an easy task; the AI is the alluring android-shaped Ava; former programming prodigy Nathan, the Mozart of the Internet, is a manipulative sociopath; and Caleb himself may not be quite the innocent he appears.
Screen writer Alex Garland’s directorial début is a chilly, tense, claustrophobic sci-fi drama of subtle performances concerning the moral and ethical questions of creation, conciousness and free-will. From the very first power-cut in Nathan’s total-surveillance bunker, you know that this is not going to end well… Continue Reading
Welcome to the futuristic San Fransokyo, where misfit robotics prodigy (aren’t they all) Hiro takes on his late brother’s project, a medical robot, Baymax. But soon Hiro and his band of misfit science geek friends (aren’t they all) are out to catch the evil genius (aren’t they all) who stole Hiro’s invention and caused his brother’s death.
Disney’s direct re-invention of How to Train Your Dragon is an manga-inspired mashup of The Incredibles and Wall-E; a comic-book romp that has eye-popping action and the now-obligatory flying sequence over a glorious San Fransokyo which steals the show. Drop me off in town to go exploring and pick me up when the super-heroics are over. I can guess the rest – it’s all about family, innit? Continue Reading
Everyone knows Stephen Hawking, the world’s most famous living physicist, author of a Brief History of Time, now so famous that he’s appeared on everything from The Simpsons to Star Trek. He is also the most famous motor neurone survivor.
From his bleak diagnosis in the 1960’s, The Theory of Everything follows the controversial physicist’s career from undergraduate to CBE, via walking sticks, wheelchairs and that world-recognised speech synthesiser. A lyrical, high-gloss movie in the tradition of understated British bio-pics, not afraid to take it’s time on lingering shots, but still managing to capture thirty years of Stephen and Jane Hawking’s lives together. Continue Reading
The question is, can master of style over substance Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) overcome the worst movie title this decade as well as make computer hacking gripping and exciting? The answer is – no. So instead he churns out a third-rate Bond movie in his his favourite cop-show format.
Redoubtable Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Thor) makes the least convincing hacker since Angelina Jolie (Hackers) and is acted off-screen by Chinese leading lady Tang Wei. Continue Reading
Madame de Barra is a curiosity – a widowed woman gardener in seventeenth century France with the drive to make her visions a reality. When the unhappy gardening genius le Notre engages her to create a cutting-edge new al fresco ballroom for the King, it’s fairly obvious how it will all end.
Directed by, co-written by and featuring Alan Rickman as the bored and pointless seventeenth century French King, trapped inside a suffocating cage and wanting only the one woman he can’t have, it’s a deceptively tranquil take on ageing, loss and love. Continue Reading
Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic, Fantastic Mr. Fox) hones American whimsy, if you can call it that, to a signature level in this manic, R-rated, comedia de l’arte.
Recalling the Euro-phile efforts of Blake Edwards’ slightly ramshackle 60’s and 70’s movies, you will have to make up your own mind as to whether this Oscar-nominated, rather old fashioned farce, is a deft comedy of surrealism or a collapsed soufflé of over-ambition. Continue Reading
Taken as read that linear movies of interactive video game shoot-em-ups are always going to miss their mark, then Hitman takes a decent shot at big-action espionage guff, with some decent actors spouting nonsense between stylish set-pieces.
Post-Bourne franchise, charismatic Timothy Olyphant (Die Hard 4.0, Justified) is the least covert assassin since Bond, with Bond-girl Olga Kurylenko (Quantum, Oblivion) lighting up the screen and Dougray Scott (Enigma, Mission Impossible) the tough but honest Interpol Agent.
The plot is cobbled together using post-it notes from the Segal/Statham/Jet Li/Luc Besson writers’ brainstorming session; we’ve seen it all before with Bourne, Bond and assorted Missions Improbable, and it apes their style with utter predictability. Continue Reading