Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Ender's Game (2013)
Formics have No Mouths but still must Scream
Basically, you can't make some of these books into Movies. Lord of the Rings? At roughly 12 and a half hours running time for all three extended versions, there is STILL so much left out. And so much changed, but despite that so much of it is exactly as I imagined it when I first read it. Lord of the Rings, that is, I have never read "Ender's Game" and I'm glad I never have.
The same goes for Ender's Game. We know we are getting a simplified story, so I choose just to accept it as it is. Even Orson Scott Card says they stuck to the basic book - So if the Author thinks that, then I can deal with it as well.
So - Asa Butterfield, aka "Hugo" is in another film with his Hugo Co- Star Gandhi, aka Ben Kingsley. And Harry Ford is looking OK just shy of what, 70? And ready for another Star Wars adventure, I think.
What I liked about this film was the mixing of Child Actors and the older actors, who we've seen over and over, so there is a lot to anchor on here- We see these kids, in "Battle School" and we see their Teacher Colonel Graff, so I can handle the Unknown Kids factor much better.
Most astonishing is the appearance of Abigail Breslin as "Valentine" being the exact same little girl she was in "Signs" - She becomes the way the "Buggers"/"Formics" can get into Ender's Mind.
The other total standout here is Hailee Steinfeld, who I thought was a better Mattie Ross for True Grit than the original actress in the John Wayne version. Her Petra is perfect for this film, I don't think anyone else could have done it as well.
And this is the big MacGuffin of the film and of the book - Ender thinks he has stumbled into a Game loaded into his school "iPad" - But his "Game" is more related to what is really happening in his universe than what Graff and later "Mazer Rackham" (Kingsley) are telling him.
And he has to figure this out, but he is being tricked, as we are being tricked by the clever underlying story of the book.
In fact, during the first battle with the Formics, Mazer had learned something important, something which Ender is learning through his Game. In fact, Mazer is tricking Ender into playing His game, while Ender is being shown the Real Game in his device.
When it comes down to it, we can either blow up our enemies into molecule sized chunks and obliterate them forever, or we can find a way to talk to them, even if they do not have Mouths and cannot Scream.
Neill Blomkamp shows us again his world of parallels, and uses a William Gibsonish approach this time.
A small "Ringworld"ǂ - "Elysium" orbits the earth, where all of the richest people live in pleasure and luxury - And without ever getting sick.
But on earth, it is a scene from "Skinner's Room" (The short story by William Gibson about "The Sprawl"), where civilization has no place to go but up and over itself. The World is policed by Robots, and this is the world "Max" (Matt Damon) grew up in. All his life he has tried to save up enough money to buy a ticket to Elysium, but he himself has succumbed to the fact that this is basically impossible.
But the company where Max works, who make the robots, is the same company that built Elysium. And things are not quite as pleasant as they seem up there, "Delacourt" (Jodie Foster in a great character role) wants unparalleled Martial Powers as the head of Security for the whole habitat. And she sets her aims much higher than just enforcing the "No People from Earth Allowed" policy.
Helping her enforce this is Sharlto Copley as "Kruger" looking particularly old, he is the one called on to perform any and all unscrupulous acts.
Mainly the point of this film is that One Piece of Information can either make the world worse, or make it better for all citizens, not just Elysium. And this information falls to Max, it takes him a while to understand just what he needs to do with it- and as much as he wants to save his own life, he has had a responsibility thrust upon him that he alone becomes uniquely capable of making happen- With the help of a Hacker named Spider.
This film shares the Bleak landscapes of District 9 and also Sharlto Copley who is as great a villain as he was a geek in D9, and the only real Threat to Max being able to do what he needs to do. His South Africa heritage comes out well here, along with his two sidekicks.
The side-story here is between Max and "Frey" (Alice Braga), as she gets caught up in the mess as well, but this is just more motivation for Max to do what he needs to do- So as Max had a fairly selfish motive at the beginning of the film (Survive) it becomes more than that.
Niell is a great world maker, although I really would not want to live in his vision of the world which has Elysium floating over it.
But overall there is the hope that we can prevent it from ever becoming that way.
ǂ - "Ringworld" is a series of books by Larry Niven about a huge habitat orbiting a star 200 light years from Earth, a habitat that is equivalent to the surface of 30 million Earth-Type Worlds, built by a race called Pak. Elysium is a mere fragment of that size, but it's internal surface is very reminiscent of Ringworld.
The X Files: Anasazi (1995)
Who Cares about Minor Ethnic Errors?
Back when I saw this the first time it was run on TV, I Wanted to believe, and I believed.
I believed that they actually flew the production crew out to New Mexico or Arizona, I WANTED to believe that. I wanted to believe that the late and incredibly great Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman was an ancient Navajo Shaman, and I believed that as well.
But Mostly, I remember not being very interested in The X-Files until this very episode, which was the first great Mythos episode. The threads of the story are all here: Genetic Manipulation, Skully and Skully's Sister's involvement, Mulder's Father and his relationship to Cancerman, Alex Crycek's enigmatic involvement and the questions we have about him all the way to the end of the series. We also see the first evidence here that Cancerman has a special Protective Interest in Mulder. If we had watched the show from start to finish, we know why- But for this to be revealed here, was just another puzzle piece.
It was only revealed to me recently how Chris Carter tricked us. He really had us believing that Mulder and a Navajo Kid are riding a Bike through a Reservation. Carter Himself makes one of his three appearances in The X-Files, the others in "Hollywood AD" and in the film "I Want to Believe".
A comment was made about "Research" - And I want to knock that down just to say that a name is not important, there are a lot more details in this and the two following episodes to get caught up in conventions about how to pronounce any Native American names. For instance, we do know that in WWII, Messages in the Pacific Arena were written in Najavo, this is basic history- And I had heard this long before this episode was originally broadcast.
What is important here, are the beginnings of Themes used all through the series - Train cars, Smallpox Vaccinations, genetic markers used to keep track of specific people. Some of the information may be real, some of it just sounds real- I have heard that when you are making a fabrication, stick as close to the truth as possible, and The X-Files research department got all the right words in - "Majestic" is used, as well as some other hints and tidbits. And that if you have a piece of metal embedded in you, think twice about removing it.
I had only been watching The X Files sporadically up to this point, it was this episode that made me a lifetime Fan and that has not wavered since then. Besides, it is better when we know a conspiracy is going in, but we can't quite grasp the whole Boundaries of it. When they were finally revealed in the first X Files Film- And it reaches back from that film all the way to this episode, it was a lot larger than the TV show and the TV sets of the time could handle, but it was also the end of the story.
So I salute this as one of the best Cliffhanger Episodes of all time, for me it was the best Season Finale of the whole series.
Almost Human: Beholder (2014)
The Irony and the Ecstasy
The World of "Chromes" (Genetically enhanced people) is once again in danger.
And this worries Detective Valery Stahl (Minka Kelly who needs no Genetic Enhancement)- Because "Chromes do Not Die Young".
But it seems that a few Chromes are dropping dead anyway, so Stahl asks Kennex and DRN to check it out.
Stahl once again has to venture into Chrome Territory. but as a Police Officer she runs into a bit of Resistance- Until she meets a specific Chrome. There is some exploration of why Stahl became a Cop.
An Investigation produces a possible Killer wearing a Hoodie who is targeting Chromes with specific facial characteristics. He wants to steal their DNA. The only Problem, is that the technique used to extract that DNA seems to kill all of the Chromes Targeted for DNA Extraction.
And it goes back to a Medical Procedure that was tested a year earlier, that failed because all of the patients who were DNA donors winded up on a slab. The Experiments were banned, but the device used in the experiments lives on, in the hands of "Eric Lathem" (Michael Eklund).
But Why is he doing this? The main Aspect of this episode is Irony - Lathem wants to look a certain way for romantic reasons.
The Irony comes into play because of what Lathem does not know about his romantic interest.
And just when Kennex works up enough nerve to ask Stahl out on a date, well... Should have worked faster buddy - But Kennex himself makes the wrong assumptions, just like Lathem.
How many years I gotta wait for reviews to be posted now? Used to go through in 4 hours.
Almost Human: Straw Man (2014)
Dogs of Straw
So ends the 13-Episode "1st Season" of Almost Human.
It's not that I don't love the World that Wyman has built - Which appears to be pieces of Judge Dredd (The Wall) and Blade Runner (Replicants and huge Asian Images on the walls of buildings) - Mostly it is that I started caring about John Kennex and DRN Dorian almost immediately. Also Rudy (Nod to the 6 Million Dollar Man?), Stahl, Maldonado, Detective Paul and even the MX's which all speak with the same voice. Not many shows have this kind of personality that can be caught from the pilot episode and continue on for 13 episodes.
This last episode was a good one to go out on, hopefully it will not be the last time Kennex and Dorian go after crooks. So here is praying that Fox is not stupid and cancels the show altogether, because there is a lot more that Kennex and Dorian can teach us about ourselves.
Dorian is up before a Review Board. They want to know, How is Dorian doing? We would think that after hearing from Rudy Lom, they would have reservations, but then Rudy himself is one cup shy of a fruitcake.
On the other hand, kids are being abducted from Shelters and are apparently killed in a hideous way. Is this a copycat killer? Because a decade earlier the same kinds of murders had occurred, only that time it had been Kennex' Father (Played on Video by Jim Diehl) who caught the killer.
But this case has some remarkable twists, that could only be exploited because of the future speculations of this show, which entail not only Robotics, but "Organic Printers" - In 2014, "3D Printer" technology is in its infancy, but will the technology exist in the future that will allow Living Tissue to be replicated, down to the last DNA strand?
This show steps well beyond the limits of imagination set by other Science Fiction shows including Star Trek, and presented in a refreshing way. And as much as I loved Mister Data's inept bumbling as he tried to learn Humanity, Dorian is depicted in a different way by Michael Ealy. It took Data Seven Years and the show going off the air to get his Emotion Chip, but DRN was built around Synthetic Soul- Which was described by DRN's maker Dr. Vaughn (John Laroquette) in the episode "Unbound"- Because DNA itself does not make us who we are and it appears that Dr Vaughn has figured something out along that line, and hinted at in a couple of places in this show.
But this is a question and a secret that only subsequent seasons of Almost Human can answer. But at least Kennex has a new leg to stand on.
Almost Human: Disrupt (2014)
The Dangers of Home Security
I want to respond to a totally ridiculous idea that USB connectors won't be used in 2048. Why wouldn't they? "It's like I'm reading a review from a 3 year old" to use your vernacular.
The Lovely Karen Holness (Broyles/Foyles wife from "Fringe") makes a "brief" appearance here in a Bathing Suit.
It has been one year since a Teenager was killed by the home security system of a well to do broker (Karen was the wife) while trying to sneak into their yard - Nothing is said why he was trying to sneak in, just that he was killed by their "Home Security" System and that hundreds of thousands of threats had been sent to them since it happened, people protesting the use of laser-guided machine guns to thwart home invaders. Sounds a bit like overkill to me as well.
Bu the homeowners do not have to worry about threats any longer, they are killed by the same system when it apparently malfunctions - At the same day and time, one year after the teenager.
Obviously, they were hacked. Suleka Matthew (from the X-Files episode where Skinner was shot) is "Kay Stenson" - The owner of the home security company, she decided to do home security because she was attacked when she was a child by people who broke in. So her motives were honorable, if not taken to extremes.
But this system she has created has been infiltrated by a Hacker, one particular hacker that keeps to the background. This whole episode is a peep into the world of Hackers in the mid 21st century, what devices they use, and what they do to to celebrate a huge hacking job.
Is this what "Anonymous" will be doing in 30 years time?
Kennex and Stahl don Punk Clothing and go to what looks like a world class Rave - Like in "The Matrix Reloaded" where thousands of people are dancing - But in reality they are all in a dismal room wearing VR goggles, and there are much less of them than thousands.
They tap a hacker "Nico" (Reece Thompson) to help them figure it out- And once again we get a Perp that we would never have guessed was responsible for such havoc- A miffed little girl. This is the beauty of "Almost Human" - Like in Fringe, "Things are not as they seem". And the real reason why the Kid who was killed was sneaking over the fence of the protected house is brought out.
Meanwhile, Dorian has been having "Flashbacks" - Where it appears that he is a child playing with a toy.
Rudy tells Kennex, the problem with this, is that it is a real Human memory, and it was planted in Dorian from outside, years before he was partnered with Kennex. Where is this coming from? Is there something about "Synthetic Souls" that are not so synthetic? Are they based on real people who lived? And will we find out before Fox cans this show?
Almost Human: Perception (2014)
I want a New Drug
No Rating yet - 10/10
This episode gets into the world of "Chromes" - Genetically created and Superior human beings, what kind of drug would such people take?
It all happens at a school where most of the students are "Chromes" - Except for a few very gifted non-Chromes.
Two Genetically Enhanced Girls are enjoying the benefits of this drug, which we are shown a graphical interpretation of - And then they just drop dead. It takes a while for the Crime Lab to figure out that it was in fact a drug. Both girls had Bio Protected cases, enough to hold one pill.
This gets into Future Pharmaceuticals, and that some people even have special Pill Making machines, that make their drugs for them - Right in their houses. Gee, I wish I had one.
But one such machine is found, and special overdoses were made for the girls, because the machine had been hacked into.
Kennex and Dorian find out that these two girls had one non-Chrome friend, who had died while under the influence of the future dope.
Who killed these girls, who killed the first girl? Kennex and Dorian interview several people, including a Teenager who is under the influence of this thing- He tells Kennex the outcome of the interview before they even start. They also talk to the mother of the original girl who died, who reveals that Evidence had vanished between her giving it to the detective and it getting to Police HQ- IN such a way that it could not be proved that it had been deleted.
In the meantime, we see that Kennex is still going to the Recollectinist- And Kennex himself has to take "MemBliss" - A Drug that helps him remember.
When Kennex sees the effects of this new drug, he decides to use a different drug than Membliss in his next Recollection session. Which Drug? Guess.
We also see the level at which Kennex is obsessed with revenge against Insyndicate and his ex-Girlfriend, "Anna" - It is revealed on his Bulletin Board in the amount of little Digital "Sticky Notes" plastered all over-
The Perp in this episode has the exact same Bulletin Board set up in her house, Kennex gets to see himself from another POV. And we see that INSyndicate still has a special interest in Kennex - An Interest that is current.
Almost Human: Unbound (2014)
Gina Carano goes Haywire
No ratings available- 10/10
All through this show, we have been wondering what happened to that Robot Head from the Pilot.
Finally, at long last...
We get to see now, it belongs to an unstoppable killing machine, who has no compunctions against killing everyone it sees. Only kind words from a child seems to stop it from inserting bullets into a human being. So... It can be Flattered.
From the start of this episode, it just shows that as modern and intelligent as these mid 21st century cops are, they still are not smart enough to figure out a trick and Trojan Horse gambit when one is played on them.
Otherwise, they would have seen a huge red flag, when the Robot kills it's way back to a warehouse containing Sex-Bots and change bodies, it runs smack into it's creator, and the creator agrees to help them "Find it and Stop it". Why would this 'Bot, who seemed to have no trouble killing everyone in it's way, leave one man alive?
John Larroquette makes an appearance as "Dr. Nigel Vaughn" - Creator of "Danika" - A Robot that went ballistic during it's unveiling and killed half of the police force taking it down. But there is something else - He also made the DRN's - aka "Dorian". Hints are inserted regarding exactly what "Synthetic Soul" really is, is there more to it than Dr. Vaughn says?
So, Dr Vaughn does help them spot this Beserker's movements, but they can't figure out her motives, except that she is heading to a Political Fundraiser where they guy who put an end to the DRN's on the Police Force was putting on a Gala. Why would a Robot seek Revenge - Unless it was Programmed into her to do it, or, was a ruse?
Both Danika and Dorian use the same "Synthetic Soul" module. So why is Dorian not out shooting civilians? Ironically, when Dorian confronts Danika, she tells him that they are both "Sacrifices" of some sort: To Be Continued.
Questions start arising, as in: Was Dorian planted as Kennex' partner? Because Kennex was involved in a fight with INsyndicate, they are his personal enemy, and they were keeping tabs on him, even 2 years after his initial bout with them. Why are they so interested in Kennex? And this also brings up the point that INsyndicate could have continued their pogrom during the two years Kennex was incapacitated - So why did they wait two whole years before they started up again - On the very first day Kennex got back? Not to mention, Dorian gets re-activated and made into Kennex' Partner.
There are a lot of Grey areas here, motives that are not clear.
It seems that the Danika robot was not the issue, this was all about Dr Vaughn- He wanted his Synthetic Souls, and he also wanted the main CPUs to build a hundred new Danika robots.
But where can he set up a factory?
This is where we hear more about "The Wall" - Apparently there is no civilization beyond it. No Civilization, and no way to find Vaughn once he jumps over it.
How big is this area of lawlessness? Is it bigger than the City Kennex defends? Is it bigger than the World Kennex defends?
All we are shown is a huge Wall - And Dr Vaughn going over it with enough Synthetic Souls and other gadgetry to build an army of Danikas.
Gina Carano is a fighter, and it has been said that the people she fights for have a huge problem with her: How can someone so beautiful be so vicious? This is perhaps the best role for her yet. And just because she was blown up in this episode, doesn't mean we will not see more, and more, and more of her in Almost Human.
Millennium: Monster (1997)
The Children's Hour of These Three
This episode of a veritable feast of X-Files actors: Agent Spender (Chris Owens), Robert Patrick Modell (Robert Wisden), Melissa Rydell Ephesian (Kristin Kloke, aka "Lt./Cpt. Shane Vansen" of "Space Above and Beyond") and most importantly, Lauren Diewold who was Skully's De-Facto "Daughter" "Emily".
But the winner of the Guest-Actress Award goes to Mary Gillis as "Penny Plott" - And Although not having been in "The X-Files" she can be seen on a Balcony in the film "2012" yelling - "We have to move to Wisconsin!"
In fact, Ms. Gillis acts as the narrator of this tale. Basically, this episode is a reflection on the national policy of "McCarthyism" (Or, "McCarthyWasm, to put it the way Eisenhower did), which tried and convicted people of communism without the benefit of Judge and Jury.
We also see shades of a classic movie, called "These Three" which was re-made later as "The Children's Hour"- In which all it took to destroy the lives of Three Innocent People were the words of one lying child.
And it is this concept that most people, especially in the United States, have a hard time wrapping their minds around. Because we in the US, we see Children as Innocents, forgetting that even the Bible says that Not One is Innocent, and that the Seed of Sin is implanted into every human being - At Birth.
Ms Diewold as she probably is now, magnificently illustrates that it is actually possible for a child to be born bad: Just as she portrayed an Innocent Child in The X-Files in Three Episodes, she is the exact inverse here.
Frank Black has lost his Ability to Profile, he has lost his Spiritual Edge. Or, he had, up until he goes to Penny Plott's Daycare Center, and for the first time since the end of Season 1, sees his imagery of a Daemon: But he comes face to face with the Eyes of Laura Means.
We had seen Laura (Kristin Kloke) on the same plane as Black, looking out a window and seeing an Angel. What did that mean? Basically it means the same thing as Black's Daemon.
But back in Seattle, Jordan Black is found with a mysterious Injury to her mouth which could have been "Blunt Force Trauma" and behind Black's back and In Absentia, he is just about convicted of Child Abuse.
But he does not know this, and it causes a problem while he is investigating the child "Danielle Barbakow" (Diewold)- Who feigns Injury at Blacks hand, and he is arrested for it.
Black: "You can take my money, you can take my Yellow House, but not on a Lie".
But Black was Lucky, he had Catherine and Jordan supporting him and even flying out to Arkansas.
But Frank's Salvation is due to the mother of Danielle, played by Gillian barber (Who was Penny Northern in The X-Files, an Abductee Friend of Skully's)- She had seen from Birth, that Danielle was not what she expected in a Child, and moreover had heard Danielle cause her own injuries.
If only more parents could be as honest as this, but it is difficult when a Child is in the Mix, as Danielle's Father instantly and irrevocably sides with Danielle.
But the most frightening thing about this episode, is the "Town Hall" meeting at the beginning of this Episode, Chris Owens' Character decides to side with Penny Plott, as she had raised most of the people in the town, but they start chanting "We believe the Children, We believe the Children" - This is a chorus phrase that could doom anyone in the US, guilty of molestation or not.
In Protecting our Children, it is paramount that we find out if they are lying, just in case they are. But beyond that, we cannot just assume somebody is guilty, no matter what any Newspapers or Fox News bulletin says, every man is due his day in court and it is the right of every man to be CONFRONTED with his accuser - Something that McCarthy denied his victims, and this is also denied to the Accused in (some) cases of Child Abuse as well. We cannot judge and convict anyone on Hearsay Evidence.
Millennium: Roosters (1998)
The Paintings and the Blood Banner
Frank Black is investigating his Wife's new Employer, who calls herself "Clear Knight" (Ashlyn Gere who was "Felicity OH" in "Space: Above and Beyond").
Ashlyn is a Striking Actress, she delivers her character with Aryan Precision, down to the Single "S" on her Cuff-links: The prefect image of Blonde Aryan Beauty, finely chiseled face and manner.
Frank has noticed something else, a Striking Watercolor on the wall in her office - Something last seen in an Underground Bunker in Berlin in 1945.
But another employee of this firm tries to talk to Catherine, he is only able to say one word: "Odessa" before Frank drags his Arse out of the car.
Frank is trying to Protect Catherine and Jordan from evil, but without knowing what the evil actually is, he can't talk to her about it, or about The MillenniuM Group. Frank's Question is, is the Group as much as a danger as this new thing he is seeing, or are they a boon for him? But Catherine knows he is holding something back, she gives him the choice: Either Tell her about it or they will always be apart.
Frank makes a "casual" visit to Clear Knight's Office, in Casual conversation he brings up the word "Degenerates" and "Foreigners" to Gauge her reaction. But his special insight kicks in and this is not necessary. as we see images of Jackbooted Troops and Nazi's and Hitler.
In South America another "Old Man" - The Old Man of Odessa, is seen talking to his Assassin. In the background is a Huge Nazi Flag with Blood splattered on it, and a Block of Wood with a Shiny Object on Top of it.
We know historically, that Hitler would tote around this Blood Banner and also another Object, an old Spear that may have been used to pierce the side of Christ, the Spear of Destiny. We also know that within 90 hours of Hitler losing the spear, he was dead, it went to Patton, who also ended up dead. Was this spear also in the collected artifacts of Odessa? It may well have been there, all we see is a room full of Nazi artifacts, and the power they represented.
The Old Man is notified by Peter Watts, who had sent The Old Man a broken image of the Odessa S Logo, The Old Man wastes no time in going to see Frank Black at The Yellow House. Laura Means is there. While Frank goes to get Catherine, The Old Man gives Laura, and us, an history lesson. Simultaneously, Frank tells Catherine the same story: The Nazis had set up businesses in South America and had sent most of the Gold extracted from the teeth of Holocaust Victims there, they set up companies that were used to affect world events, suggesting even that the taking down of the Berlin Wall and the Fall of Russia was somehow brought about by their manipulations.
But the ironic thing was that the two opposing factions of MillenniuM, while infighting, had left open the door for these people to interfere and try to obtain the Christian Artifacts- Would they give Odessa even more power?
For the factions of MillenniuM to stop fighting, they must band together, and a dire consequence has to occur for this to happen, and it is all on The Old Man who sets himself up, it's the old story of The Lamb that was Slain.
These two episodes are the essential image of The MillenniuM Group of Season two, which differed from Seasons One and Three. At this point in the story, MillenniuM was not yet affected by Lucy Butler/Mabus.
This also points to the ending of Season Two, where MillenniuM decides to manufacture their own Apocalypse. This had not happened yet, so for a time, MillenniuM and Peter Watts is protecting Frank Black. But one thing is brought out in these Season Two episodes, Frank Black has a gift, which will ultimately destroy him if he does not have Catherine there to keep him from Imploding.
This concept is addressed from this episode and to the end of the series. For Frank Black, Odessa is the least of his worries. But these two episodes give us a great "Hysterical Perspective" and an almost- factual history lesson.