15 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Embers (I) (2015)
A Highly Metaphorical Outlook Within a Dystopian Future
16 August 2016
Embers reveals to us the most valuable, and at the same time, perhaps least-valuable, of human assets: "memory".

Claire Carre takes viewers to a dytopian future in which a virus plaguing a certain civilization forces it to forget all previous events upon waking up from sleep. Through the eyes of a lost couple, seeking refuge in the chaos, the eyes of a psycho sadist, and the eyes of a mute young kid, viewers are guided through the important decisions of what it means to be human.

Unfortunately, the plot offers little more than this metaphor to the meaning of humanity, and how we derive value from life. Those seeking more opinionated or deeper messages in the hard science- fiction genre may have to look elsewhere (or within, as this film would have it). The plot consists of characters struggling to decipher their previous messages they left for themselves, of walking around in a seemingly abandoned city, and acts of humility. Very much like Blindness.

Acting is on point, sets are detailed and accurate, and the music emotes a sombre, melancholy feeling of disarray felt by the confused civilization. However, the lack of character development prevents viewers from becoming attached to any one character. It becomes difficult to track how each story overlaps. Embers leaves most interpretation up to the viewer, perhaps in a recursive fashion, emphasizing the aforementioned "memory" theme. The very metaphorical nature of this film, which makes this film so unique, in fact, plays to its detriment.

Before watching Embers, ask yourself these questions: would I risk forgetting my past and all my memories to not be alone? What is love without memory? Do the people we know define us, and if so, is this just for our own benefit? Are we truly alone in our experience, and if experience isn't subjective, what IS real?
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The Secret Circle (2011–2012)
A Midly-Interesting Teenage Witch Soap Drama
7 August 2016
I think most people know what they are signing up for when they read the description of this show, but those male viewers out there should know this isn't half bad. It's what you would come to expect from a teenage drama, with plenty of soapy romance, who's sleeping with who, and of course an emo guy who probably wears eyeliner (Adam). But if you can get over the soapiness, you just might find this isn't half bad.

The show focuses on the classic teenage drama one might come to expect from any show based on sorcery. Think Twilight drama, minus the sadomasochism. We follow the life of Cassy, a young 16-year- old, who moves back in with her grandmother because her mom dies. She soon learns she is a witch, and we follow her her journey of self- discovery.

Luckily for Cassy, she finds 5 of her schoolmates, somehow in the same school, are ALSO witches, and so begins the monotonous drama of every episode: Cassy goes to school, discusses witchcraft with said fellow witches, ditches school because she and her friends are too "cool for school", engages in some risky activity, usually involving demon-chasing, and talks about the drama with said witches. Early antics focus on the "team effort" of these witches who somehow found themselves together in Chance Harbor, as they bind themselves and their magic together.

If you are confused by the use of the term "witch" for male characters, you would be right. Probably for feminist reasons, the writers decided to call "wizards" witches.

Obviously, the star of the show here is Britt Robertson, who does a great job. While the writing is bland, the actors do a tremendous job of opening us up to their characters. Near the end of the season, you start to really see Britt's character and ask yourself how she can be so stupid, but therein lies the ingenuity. Most characters seem to display a limited amount of depth, but probably just enough to keep you interested.

The sound is just average. I watched in a surround configuration and found the rear speakers to be mostly unutilized.

The show feels drawn out, and very slow-paced. Not much happens in the first couple episodes, and it felt like the writers were short on ideas at times. With the amount of secret-keeping in witches' families, I found myself wondering how these parents and their kids could keep so many secrets and not find out more. You know the writers are short on ideas when they only hold their scenes in 1 of 5 places: the school, the diner, the abandoned house, and the forest. Probably a budgeting thing, but I would have liked more creativity here.

Overall, if you can get over the soapiness and the slow pace, you might find you enjoy this season 1. I think male viewers like myself will find it hard to watch the whole thing due to its slow pace, but for those who can tolerate it, The Secret Circle makes for some entertaining late-night TV.
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Zoolander 2 (2016)
Almost Funnier than the Original
12 May 2016
The returning cast, a slew of cameos, and a good bunch of laughs. A stale plot for sure, and overly dramatic music, but with that aside, Zoolander 2 does offer a substantial amount of laughs to be had.

I don't quite understand the reason for all the bad reviews. I watched Zoolander 2 immediately after watching the first, and I honestly think number 2 is funnier. There are plenty of references to the original Zoolander, and the movie becomes more funny if you think of it as a satire on 60-70s spy movies, with the exaggerated music and all.

If you enjoyed the Austin Powers series, then you will likely enjoy Zoolander 2 very much.

Put your judgment aside from the other negative reviews, and give Zoolander 2 a go. You might just find it's funnier than the original.
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Love (2016– )
Twisted in its own way
24 February 2016
Love's strangeness permeates throughout the title; not only does its generic name suggest simplicity at its core, but the plot itself remains simple throughout (season 1): two estranged middle-aged adults find themselves in a relationship, and deal with struggles of everyday life, and of the relationship itself. Love captures the strangest emotions we experience on a day-to-day basis; yet, somehow, Love manages to lead the viewer along. Fear, guilt, passion, sorrow, and regret: the constituents of the everyday relationship.

The plot documents the love and work lives of two individuals: Gus and Mickie: Mickie, the daring, self-serving, lonesome woman; and Gus, the caring, passive-aggressive, "nice-guy". Of course, when the two meet under seemingly coincidental circumstances, all does not go well. Rather, Love takes the viewer on a ride for the worst, through some laughs, and some extremely awkward first dates.

Some may opt to label Love as a "new-age" soap opera. The simple plot line, exaggerated circumstances, and witty dialogue easily fit the classic soap opera genre. However, Love somehow captures the strange essence of what being in a relationship encapsulates at times: the awkward sense of belonging, yet lack of actions to show such affection. Mickie's longing for approval and belonging, Gus' inability to show such emotion when it counts, and Bertie's refusal to acknowledge her discomfort, contribute to an overall anxious and unpleasant feeling.

But though Love presents a canvas of a rare kind, it also comes with its flaws. Scenes can feel drawn out and over-exaggerated at times. Awkward scenes seem longer than necessary, and at times, the plot line seems to lose its pace. Given the Netflix production value, users will likely opt to skip those parts.

Despite its flaws, Love's scenarios, characters, and plot will likely interest most viewers on Netflix. Love's strangeness, its memorability, in fact, contribute to its uniqueness.
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Delete (2013– )
Cogito Ergo Sum
15 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Delete captivates the viewer throughout both episodes, leading to a satisfying finale. Through busy action scenes, car chases, and tense hacking scenes, the series delivers a compelling plot, not too far-fetched for hard sci-fi fans.

The series centres around a young hacker (Daniel) who spends his spare time on "ethical" hacking projects such as hacking phone records for justice; a modern-day digital vigilanti of sorts. In what seems like coincidence, Daniel meets reporter Jesse White, becoming a prime suspect for what the U.S government at first labels a "cyber- terrorism" act due to his limited ties to a notorious ethical hacking group called "Devito" (the modern-day equivalent to "Anonymous"). A frivolous struggle ensues when Daniel and Jesse discover that members of the Devito group are being murdered one by one. Soon after, Daniel and the reporter discover that an AI (artificial intelligence) has been orchestrating the terrorist attacks for which Devito had formerly been accused.

The first episode explores the origins of the AI, Devito, and the government's initial reaction to the AI threat; the second episode captures the government's continued efforts to contain the AI and Daniel, Jesse, and Max Hollis (the detective).

Delete explores engaging ethical questions and political situations which captivate the viewer throughout. Beginning with the "mechanical failure" of the nuclear power plant, we follow the U.S government throughout their political discussions and deliberations on how to act. These political discussions lead up to panicked, rash decisions made by the US government. Delete showcases how, under pressure, or the right circumstances, governments make rash, ungrounded decisions.

Camera work consists largely of close-up perspectives, and appears mostly professional; at times, camera work can appear "jerky" due to some odd angles. Overall, the camera work adds to keep the viewer engaged throughout.

Music is spot-on. The music provides an tense, ambient, "Sci-fi" feel which adds to the tenseness of the film. At times, the music evokes the same "grungy" sound heard in artists like Trent Reznor. The music succeeds in that even though, at times, there is a subtle beat, it only adds to the film, and you tend to not notice it.

Hard sci-fi fans will rejoice in that Delete delivers for the most part when it comes to accuracy; not long ago, Stephen Hawking along with several well-known scholars called for a truce on the "War on Artificial Intelligence", claiming that the war is not 5 or 10 years away, but 2-3 years away. Viewers having some preliminary knowledge on the data gathered by government agencies such as NASA and agencies in the UK specifically, exposed in the revelations of Edward Snowden, a global, will agree that such an omniscient AI is well within the realm of possibility. Even looking to today's cryptocurrencies or new "Web 2.0" platforms such as Ethereum (launched just last week), an AI could very well use a derived implementation of the blockchain technology to collectively exist on every machine (in "clusters"). Decryption scenes are, for the most part, accurate, in that hackers will often attempt various word lists in attempting to crack a password by brute force; decrypting ASCII does not seem realistic, however.

Unfortunately, Delete does contain some technically impossible scenes such as a phone "overcharging" -- this would not be possible unless the phone supported wireless charging, and such charging occurs at speeds close to 10x less than normal charging speeds anyway even with today's technology; more likely, the phone was overclocked and forced to compute some CPU-intensive operations, but even then, the phone would turn off first due to the way motherboards are manufactured -- and a "datalink" in which Daniel supposedly "interfaces" with the AI, and virtually confronts the AI on several occasions. Finally, some short shots of Daniel, Jesse, and Max in their old car don't make sense when the car would obviously not have any cameras within it.

I must digress, though, as most non-hard sci-fi viewers will concede disbelief, and enjoy this masterpiece of sci-fi.

I would highly recommend this short TV series for any sci-fi (and especially hard sci-fi) fan. Overall, the TV series delivers on all counts, and provides an engaging story line which keeps the viewer wondering just what the AI will do next. The story line is clearly well-thought-out, and shows an understanding of the way ubiquitous technology integrates with everyday life, and how many of us rely heavily on its capabilities. Excellent work.
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Time Lapse (2014)
Someone has some real explaining to do
2 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I suspended my belief for the better first half of the movie. But then it became apparent that 3 "close" friends would never go on homicidal rampages against one another. Take Jasper, for example: he's overly cautious, he looks out for Finn, yet at the end, he will stop at nothing to keep the money he made from betting. And then Dr. Heidecker, who shows up, PROVIDES information, and then suddenly Jasper shoots her? Really? I can understand a gradual change in attitude, but you don't go from caring for your "best" friends to shooting a woman just because she has a gun in her hand. Seriously.

I get that the point of this movie is to show how "destiny" controls you, but it seems like they went way overboard.

Now let's address the time paradoxes: the ending makes absolutely no sense. Even theoretically speaking, relativity states that you cannot go "back" in time. And that's the entire point of this version of time travel; the characters must act in the present, with some knowledge of events to come (theoretically possible). At least, I thought that was the point, until Callie claims killing Finn will have no consquences because she can go back... no! Given the established method of time travel, she could never go back to tell her "past self" how to handle a situation. Callie would just have to continue living her life, with Finn deceased, knowing that her safeguards to forge a better future failed. Because she already had her chance in another parallel universe, 12 hours ahead.

I still have to commend Bradley King for his attempt at creating a take on a classic sci-fi trope. Unfortunately, things were dragged way out of proportion, and I eventually had to suspend my disbelief, as the characters were no longer believable. I give that there was some good writing, and that the movie was mostly adequetely-paced, but when you leave gaping plot holes in the story, it leaves much to be desired.
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Dark Minds (2013)
Waste of time
13 November 2014
Even from the beginning title scene, you KNOW there's something wrong with this movie: odd transitions, blurred images, and echoed voices. It's one thing that this was all intended; but it just DOESN'T WORK.

Now let's talk about the acting. The psychologist's daughter (Jamie), as well as the psychologist (Jennifer), it's obvious that this isn't acting at all; a more accurate term is "role playing". The acting is really that bad.

The sound is inconsistent at best. Peaking is a common occurrence in the movie, and it can be, at times, difficult to hear voices.

Camera work is very strange -- perhaps on purpose. Most shots are close-ups. Combined with the odd, fading transitions and blurry effects, you get the vibe that something's not right. Maybe that was intended, but it's definitely not what you might expect in a traditional movie.

Save yourself the disappointment of a wasted night, and don't watch this movie.
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Bland but Introspective
10 November 2013
I watched this movie expecting a psychological thriller, but Seven Psychopaths was nothing close. It's a movie about writing a movie, a very "meta" topic. But don't get your hopes up; Seven Psychopaths fails to meet expectations. The movie is packed with unnecessary violence, gore, and even some nudity. The scenes are uneventful for the most part; the scenes that do further the story are packed with gruesome violence and only make you feel more confused.

The plot is complicated, but the order of events they are shown to us is even more confusing. The idea is great in concept: psychopaths contributing to the screenplay of an upcoming movie. A movie about a movie. But we are "shown" the script, with the characters of the main story playing those characters in the script, as the characters in the (real) movie "discover" the ideas. If this sounds a lot like "flashback" confusion -- or the dreaded "Man of Steel" effect, you're not too far off.

To be honest, I watched this movie with my family because my mom liked all the actors. But though the acting was "sub-par", the screen-writing was boring and uneventful. My family all agreed that the movie was "strange", and not in a good way.

I would caution viewers to reconsider watching this movie; alternatively, viewers may wish to "gloss by" the boring parts or the blood and nudity. Five loaded flare guns out of ten.
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Breathe In (2013)
No, no, no...
27 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie really failed to do anything besides show bad morality looks like. The entire premise of this movie is WRONG. The characters in this movie are not believable.

Let's start with Keith (the father). Keith is a married man, with a job as a music teacher, who happens to not like teaching. So he is auditioning for first chair in the local orchestra. He gets the job, then decides to elope with Sophie (the exchange girl). First of all: you get the job you want, then, out of some undemonstrated hate for your kid AND your wife, you decide to elope with a stranger you met only a couple of weeks ago. Hmmmm... I totally believe this.

Then Sophie (exchange girl). An girl goes on an exchange to the US, without really researching where she'll be staying (who the family is), then decides she will not play piano in the house she's staying at because she wants to "have the choice". So... you go on an exchange to study music... to not study music? How many students do you think do an exchange without researching the family where they're staying? Hmmm... I totally believe this.

The actual movie was slow, and no real problem was ever presented. Only near the end, when Keith and Sophie decide to elope, is there some conflict; but Keith fails to address any of it with Megan (the wife). Things could have been SLIGHTLY interesting if we saw some kind of interaction addressing his eloping, but all we get is dry screenplay with little material to keep us watching.

The movie is ridden with unnecessary family drama, violin concerts, and piano lessons. I don't recommend this movie whatsoever, unless you want to learn how to be a sex offender. Maybe go read Oedipus Rex, and you'll get a taste for how disgusting and implausible this is.
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Man of Steel (2013)
Another "meh" movie to join the crowd with more gratuitous action scenes
18 June 2013
I can't say I was too impressed by Nolan's rendition of the classic superhero movie, but I can't say it wasn't bad either. I came to this, in theatres, expecting anything like the 2006 Superman Returns and what I got was a blown-up Sci-Fi rendition. Being a big sci-fi fan, this actually made the movie very likable; however, I can see how this could take away from the experience for viewers like my mom who has no appreciation whatsoever for Sci-Fi. Character development was limited because of the action scenes. Action scenes were blown up like a Michael Bay movie, if not worse. I found myself not very attached to Clark, even near the end, and I was almost more attached to his nemesis.

The story suffered the most. The timeline was split up with "flashbacks" to Clark's past childhood, in effort to represent a "fragmented past". Unfortunately, I don't think they pulled it off; I often found myself lost in the story, not able to actively identify where in the timeline we were. Worst of all, Nolan and his fellow writer neglected to leave in the key scene of Clark's parents finding him (key scene!). I think that if the story had been revealed in chronological order, the story could have been significantly more comprehensible, and as a result, more enjoyable. A key characteristic of any superhero movie is the scene in which the heroine discovers his/her powers; I found this scene to be very lacking. Perhaps if Nolan had taken from the screenplay of the Green Lantern (also DC), we could have a better development of the heroine. I really appreciated the prologue and the explanation of how Superman came to be. This was actually my favourite part of the movie, and it left me with a better understanding of how Superman started. I felt I had learned something.

I will say it flat out: how can you make a Superman movie and not have the line "It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman"? The whole movie I was waiting for this line… but not once did I get it. You have to remember, a lot of parents come to this PG movie with little recollection of the series, but everyone knows that famous slogan. You can imagine how disappointed I was.

The movie failed to do Sci-Fi correctly. This is a smaller factor, but for me, it disappointed me even more. I wish more directors had to take a basic physics course; you cannot hear anything in space – it is a void. Action scenes like the ones outside the earth's atmosphere should have no sound, but they were littered with it. We are giving these little kids the idea that they can hear in space. Likewise, there lacked explanation on how the superpowers worked. Though we were told that Clark's abilities were severely limited on Krypton-like planets, that doesn't explain how he is able to use his powers perfectly well in outer space (which has no atmosphere). Worse, the "black hole" idea of the two ships colliding. This is probably one of the most absurd ideas/hypotheses I have ever heard of, and this is not at all how a black hole works. In order to even create such a thing, both objects would have to be moving faster than the speed of light, which obviously wasn't the case. And even then, the matter "absorbed" would not just disappear. The Sci-Fi explanation left a lot to be desired.

Lastly, if we are trying to portray Superman as a "moral" hero, I don't think he gets the title. The whole time, while he is saving Lois Lane, or some innocent bystander, we see him battling the enemies, taking down building after building of thousands of people. The least he could have done is taken the battle away from New York. Sure, the comics may have portrayed him as such, but come on, Nolan, this is your terrain. We could have developed a much deeper character with a better sense of morality!

Through the gratuitous action scenes, the unchronological storyline, and the lack of sci-fi explanation, I was truly disappointed in many ways; however, Nolan's dark writing made its way back to reclaim yet another "satisfying" rendition of the superhero classic. Even though there were many parts to be desired, I found the performances by the actors to be accurate, and the action scenes were always "fun" to watch. The floor is now open to the upcoming sequel in the DC Comics Universe, the Justice League.
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