Film Review: The Man from Earth

Before Star Wars made the dominant setting of pop culture Science Fiction in-space there were other stories that proposed the big “What if?” to a scientific reality and explored the repercussions of changing it. Older films didn’t have the ability to make billions of polygons dance on screen so they had to use plot and intrigue to grip an audiences attention, the ones that did survive in general knowledge to this day.

The film starts with a tenure professor’s going away party, the intention being to make final farewells to his friends of the last ten years. The last remnants of his packing that are on show and spark questions that lead to the idea that he proposes to the group: “What if a man, from the Upper Palaeolithic survived until the present day?” The academics and guests proceed to follow the hypothesis through conversation and enquiry.

Despite only the briefest of movements on the porch the stage is the hosts lounge with the story progressing purely through the parties discussions. The dialogue grips your attention so much that you easily imagine entire realms of possibilities about when and what the ‘caveman’ experienced.

One idea presented is of the “all knowing immortal”; a 14,000 year old would only be able to learn upto the edge of published knowledge on a particular subject, the noosphere grows too fast for anyone able to keep up. As such his current preoccupation’s information would be current but the Literature Doctorate from a century ago would be mostly redundant.

Same goes for experiences, a singular viewpoint of his nearest 100 metres doesn’t allow for a great perspective of what the world was doing at any one moment. You might be able to relay key events if you’re part of them but anything important enough to be of note indirectly puts attention on you, something that could result in your secrets discovery. Such a lapse could have dire consequences since as an ageless prisoner you would be trapped in your own body with escape as your only hope whereas a mortals death or escape could be their release.

This is one of those rare films (and by proxy the book ) that deserves to be remembered for its examination of long life, something that although has been done before it is done in a way and to a greater extent that the Highlander cinema never did. A rarity with great plot writing has becoming so scarce in the mainstream.

If you enjoyed what they could squeeze into this 108 minute film then I suggest checking out the book by Jerome Bixby of the same name.

Rating: 92%

Film Review: Transformers

My toys when I had a single digit age were Transformers, I saw the amazing animated movie at the cinema and even dressed up as Optimus Prime for a Halloween. As such in my teenage years I daydreamed what a live action film would be like, drawing on conclusions from what I’d seen in the cinema that week, be it The Matrix, or Episode 1. As years passed I grew more and more doubtful anyone from my generation would write a screenplay to get it directed and produced. Now its 2007 and my extremely high expectations have just about been reached.

Whilst I didn’t expect blocky robots with grotesque transformations I never imagined that the Autobots and Decepticons would be depicted so authentically. All the internal parts of the vehicle modes are visible in the humanoid form which is absolutely breathtaking, I don’t care how much it cost to render all the frames at 38 hours each it was worth every penny. However, now that the initial thrill is over I bet in the sequel (and there blatantly has to be one) there are more panels covering the mechanical organs, probably ret-con’d in as armour now that they are warring again.

Showed me something uncommon then, and a rarity now; for once the good guys didn’t always win outright at the conclusion of that weeks episode but they did eventually triumph in that particular story arch which meant that anything could happen and kept me guessing each week and inspiring me to work it out with my toys. With the eighties show being so iconic I assumed that the film might do the same, whilst the tale didn’t regale me as a beloved intrepid leader falling at the hands of the enemy the special effects did, something progressively harder in these insensitive times.

As for the toys, I owned Optimus Prime, both the original version and the Power Master version. I did not have Megatron, which is easily forgiveable because his alt mode was a pistol and given one of them to a kid is not something I would be entirely happy with today, toys guns should look like toys, plastic and brightly coloured. Maybe I’m being to PC but there are many parents not being protective enough out there and others being too much, if I fall into the ‘to much’ category on this issue so be it. Anyway, with the detail on the transformations being so high I’m interested to see how they engineer the newline of toys…

Hopefully you’ve kept reading to this point and as such I’ll not keep your attention much longer. This film whilst not entirely faithful to the animation that I loved so much is a fantastic watch. An entertaining story, great effects and superb performances.
Rating 96%

Wallpapers: Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9)

Film Review: Zathura

Would you like to play a game? Ordinarily a harmless request but this is an extraordinary game. Zathura takes you into the Jumanji universe where board games aren’t just pieces being moved around a board, they’re adventures beyond your wildest imagination.

Although a film targeted at children I found this thoroughly enjoyable; there are plenty of jokes for all ages and a deeper story about how hard it can be for children after a divorce.

The story starts with a father and his 2 sons enjoying their weekend together playing games, intermittent with him finishing preparations for a presentation at work. Typically the boys compete for their father’s attention and in the process raise some minor havoc which leads to one of them being tricked into the basement and discovering a cool looking game.

The discoverer opens it up and starts playing; a card is ejected but being so young he can barely read and asks his slightly perturbed brother what it says. Upon reading, a meteor strikes, devastating the living room. Looking out of the window they are stranded in space with no parents and an apathetic sleeping teenager – what are they going to do?

I thoroughly enjoyed Zathura. Usually there’s an obvious formula to children’s movies meaning you can almost predict what’s going to happen next, but Zathura certainly kept it interesting for me. You expect a big hoohah seeing aliens immediately and then getting back at them but Zathura takes a different approach, withhold seeing them until absolutely necessary. Get the kids thinking of the most disgusting and scary monster alien they can imagine, and just when they can’t bare it any longer they show you and it’s pretty intimidating but nothing a 5 year old can’t handle.
A good film to go and see if you’re looking for some easy entertainment, firm acting from the cast, thoughtful plot and respectable CG effects. Certainly worth the price of a cinema ticket.

Rating: 82%

Happy Winter-een-mas!!

X3 Reunion Game Box

Well actually it started on the 25th so we’re smack bang in the middle of it but still have a happy holiday none-the-less.

What is Winter-een-mass? It’s a fictional holiday created by Tim Buckley for gamers, to celebrate computer games. With the huge sub-culture surrounding games, brought on by the boom of the internet it was only a matter of time.

So what have I been doing to celebrate this Gamers Festivities? I’ve renewed my efforts to keep up my gaming efforts that severely dropped last year, I missed out on the WoW (World of Warcraft) phase which I’m likely to be shamed about for years to come.

I have however picked up a copy of X3 – Reunion another sequel in the mahusive ‘X’ universe. X is the modern day Elite series, most famous of these is the Elite II – Frontier which I’ve played for days straight, weeks even! Its possibly my first favourite Flight Sim RPG game of all time. The universe was huge and you could practically do anything, skim suns, halo drop, fly-bys, trade, steal, pirate, transport and even assassinate.

To make things that little bit more interesting there were 2 prominent advancement systems you could advance in the Sol Federation (that’d be where Earth is) or the Achenar Empire. You could choose one or the other to advance in but both usually got your superiors curious about your loyalties and tried to have you killed by increasing the danger on your missions. I don’t think I ever achieved Admiral or Prince respectively in either but I did get above halfway.

Anyway X3 – Reunion is mightily impressive, stunning visuals but the control system is taking forever to pick up everything, I suppose in the long run its good as you’ll have everything at your fingertips but currently just trying to remember to drop Chaff on incoming missiles is enough.