zondag 8 maart 2015

Today's News: Machines, martial arts and alien invasions

Ordinary week in terms of news, with nothing mindblowing to report. Just a few tidbits like these:

Nieuwe trailer Ex Machina

This film is growing on me in terms of anticipation, though I remain skeptical (just not as strongly as I was initially). The fact it was chosen as the opening film of the upcoming 31st Imagine Film Festival makes it score some points, since those folks don't just pick the first genre film that comes their way for that honour. This second trailer also indicates this is more than just a repeat of last year's The Machine, and that it may actually be a better film as well (hence this receiving a theatrical release in the Netherlands, while The Machine sadly did not). However, any bits of ingenuity seem to be found mostly in execution rather than innovation, since this trailer makes no mistake this is again a movie about a robot gone bad, which has been done countless time since the Fifties got that ball rolling. It's the way in which the artificial intelligence goes awry that makes it more distinct. This AI appears to get under your skin on an emotional and sexual level, rather than by its mental superiority (though the fact it utilizes such basic human instincts against its creators goes to tell something about its intellectual capabilities as well). Of course, that too is an age old theme (Metropolis, for example), just not applied as often. I wonder what this machine's ultimate goal will be. Surely it won't be something as grand as world domination, since we already have Avengers: Age of Ultron to remind us of some other reaons why we should never fully trust our technological innovations.

Nieuwe Trailer Avengers: Age of Ultron

Speak of the devil, that particular anti-robot film got a new trailer this week as well. Promises to be quite the superhero spectacle, but we already knew as much. The particular preview shines a bit more light on the motivations of the main antagonist. Save the world by killing the human race, it appears. That's one way to do it, sure. The easy way out, which makes for twodimensional baddies and clear-cut black versus white conflict. But hey, it worked on the first Avengers movie just fine. If you want an ingenious story, you know better than to look for it in this type of flick. This is all about fun characters and explosive action. First film showed both elements are in ample supply from this creative team and so it continues to work its merry magic for this second installment. There's plenty of Joss Whedon type humour to be found here, especially centred around the characters interacting. They just don't like each other all that much but they're sort of stuck with one another, and it makes for relatable scenes of humanity amidst all the superhero shenanigans. Just how the new characters relate to the old guard remains to be seen. It appears debutantes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are somehow involved with Ultron initially, which is not that surprising since they're supposed to start off as bad guys themselves. As for Vision, quickly thrown in at the end of the trailer (and probably the film proper, too), he's no doubt the anti-Ultron AI, reminding us that not all technology is evil. Considering all the technophobia recently running rampant in the movies, there's a positive message for a change. After all, if we're gonna save the world, we'll need some technology to make it happen.

Eerste casting Independence Day 2 onthuld

And if it isn't evil robots, we'll need to save our planet from extraterrestrials with sinister intentions, too. A bunch of all-American heroes did so nearly 20 years ago, and since Hollywood never forgot the financial benefits involved then, they'll have to do so once more. But will audiences pay to see them do just that once more? It's not like we know the story is gonna be anything but repetitive. Everybody knows there's gonna be more aliens out for our planet and some dudes have to get together and kick their asses, the American way. It would be a huge surprise to everybody if there was anything more to it than that, but that's not gonna happen for sure. The suits behind this film obviously want to play it safe, so they're going with the same characters as before, and if they can't get them because the actors don't feel like doing the exact same thing (good for them), they'll want the next best thing. So Jeff Goldblum is back (which I don't mind since I like him) and Bill Pullman likely is as well. Will Smith thought he could make better use of his time (doing After Earth 2 or stuff), so they cast somebody else to play his son, to literally follow in his father's footsteps. Are we glad they didn't opt for Jaden Smith, that would have been a huge turn-off for everybody that still hopes this will be any good. Jaden is probably too involved with the likes of After Earth 2 as well. In case Pullman passes on the project after all, they got Liam Hemsworth ready to go as his character's son-in-law. Apparently the point ID4 2 tries to make is that heroism specifically runs in the family, rather than running in everyone. As for making good movies, we'll find out sooner or later, whether we want to or not. Or we can try and ignore this project altogether and just get our anti-alien fix from watching the first film again.

Biopic Bruce Lee in de maak

I've honestly never seen a Bruce Lee picture. That doesn't mean I'm not interested in watching a picture about the man himself. But don't give me any of that 'only his relatives know what he was all about, so everybody else can't make a good biopic' crap. That's directly stating 'we're cashing in on the memory of our father' to my mind. It's not like there's no books written or documentaries made about the martial arts legend that involved thorough researching of all the documented facts, including earlier testimony from those same relatives. Of course the previous biopics got some facts wrong, that's a simple biopic staple. It's very likely a biopic made by his descendants is bound to turn some actual events around just as easily, if not more so. You think they'll address the negative aspects of the man's life (and there's bound to be some of those, especially taking his early demise into account) in any objective way? Yeah, that's gonna happen... I tend to be much more skeptical about biopics that do involve the direct family because a certain degree of subjectivity is unavoidable. And I figure the same thought applies to many people. I just don't think that many people will bother to concern themselves with the people behind the production of such biopics. To be quite honest: who really cares as long as the movie is good? If it isn't, at least we'll know who to blame for tarnishing Bruce Lee's memory.

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