Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bears - Review

(2014 - April 18)
1 hr. 17 min.

Rated: G 
Grade: B+

Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey
Stars: John C. Reilly | See full cast and crew

In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature's new True Life Adventure "Bears" showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life's most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting-but risky-as the cubs' playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food-ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run-while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf pack. "Bears" captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet's last great wildernesses-Alaska! Directed by Alastair Fothergill ("Earth," "African Cats" and "Chimpanzee") and Keith Scholey ("African Cats"), "Bears" arrives in theaters April 18, 2014, to celebrate Earth Day.(c) Disney

Adorable baby animals, breathtaking scenery, what's not to like. How can this not be a home-run? Yet it seems to have just hit a triple...a good thing but it's still not a score. The unfortunate thing is that the trailers get you all excited to see the film but it doesn't live up to the hype. It needed something more, perhaps a little better narration, not that the delivery by John C. Reilly is bad, yes, at times a bit corny, but it's just not that interesting. The story is lacking.



 The mother bear, Sky, which they describe as such a perfect role model for her cubs seems to make one mistake after another (in an effort to make the story dramatic) putting her cubs in peril again and again. I wanted to be charmed by this film and I wasn't. It fizzeled to an end with me thinking, that was it? Even the scenery became less moving as the film wound down to its lackluster conclusion. Like it's predecessor from Disneynature, Chimpanzee, it was a bit underwhelming.
Behind the scenes, the making of Bears.
Narrator (voice)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Transcendence - Review

(2014 - April 18)
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
1 hr. 59 min.
Rated: PG-13 | Sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality. Common Sense Media says OK for kids 14+  Read more
Grade: C-

Director: Wally Pfister
Writer: Jack Paglen
Stars: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman | See full cast and crew

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed-to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can...but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will's thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.(C) Warner

Oh Johnny, oh Johnny, No!!! My my my, where to begin? Wally Pfister is a gifted cinematographer but can he direct? In his directorial debut I'd have to say the jury is still out. The film is always visually interesting and the first half of the film sets up an intriguing premise but it takes itself so seriously and yet is so illogical that it takes two hours to slowly go nowhere very interesting. Not even the talented cast can save this utopia 'passion play'.

Years ago I had and operation where they used a local anesthetic, an epidural, I was excited about watching the operation. The epidural didn't do it's job and since I couldn't hold still do to the pain they administered an interventions dose of Valium. I found my eyes getting heavy but still struggled to watch the procedure on the monitor. I'd start to drift off and think 'Wait, I wanted to watch this. Open your eyes", but I just couldn't keep them open. That's sort of how I felt watching Transcendence, as more than once I dosed off. I even caught myself snoring, fortunately there were only about a dozen other people in the theater and I don't think anyone was close enough to hear me.

I have a gripe about this type of film, if I may wax a bit philosophical for a moment. It's always these hyper liberal actors, directors and producers that bless us with these cinematic vehicles while they seem to be clueless to the fact that it is their liberal/socialist utopian ideals that launch these 'good intentioned' social engineering experiments and because these secular humanists who's faith lies in the religion of science and absolutely certain that they are more educated, smarter and more enlightened than the masses and they always know what is best for everyone, yet of course, they themselves will be exempt from the new rules they will impose on society for society's own good, well, it is their ideas, their experiments, that always devolve into megalomaniac, freedom stealing, totalitarian disasters, and ultimately after the pain and chaos rules they never blame themselves for said disaster. It's always fault of someone else. Think Obamacare, for example.

I'm not a big Johnny Depp fan but for those of you who are prepare to be disappointed even though he looks better than he has for a long time. I used to like Morgan Freeman but I am so over him. He always has to play the wise old sage, the smartest one in the room, the only one who can see beyond his nose, he's even played God a few times but all you have to do is listen to him speaking his mind or being interviewed and you know that that persona's not true. 
Transcendence has a lot of interesting and even impressive visuals but in the end it promises much more than it is able to deliver. Will's image will take those of the early MTV age back to the days of Max Headroom.
The town of Brightwood looked like they borrowed the set from Thor.
The last few scenes were hokey and melodramatic leading to an illogical ending and that is one of the things scientists, or even those that have studied the science and medical fields, will hate about this Transcendence... what it really transcends is logic and sound moviemaking.
Plot Spoiler Alert
(via Wikipedia) 

Dr. Will Caster is an artificial intelligence researcher who strives to create a machine that possesses sentience and collective intelligence. Extremists who oppose technological advancement target him, shooting him and other researchers with radioactively-tainted bullets so that the poisoning will kill them even if the assassination fails, but their actions drive him toward his goal. Caster also wants to become part of the new technology, and his wife Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall) and his best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), also researchers, question the wisdom of this drive. When his mind is uploaded into a computer to try and save his life, Caster's goal to acquire knowledge becomes one to acquire power, and asks Evelyn to plug him to the internet so he can advance further. Questioning whether it was Will or not, Evelyn tells Max to leave as she is revealed that Will was back. Bree (Kate Mara), who worked for the R.I.F.T and who carried out the attacks on A.I. scientists and laboratory, captures Max and interrogates him to reveal where was Will held. By the time Bree and her crew reaches the place and sabotages the power supply, Evelyn was successful in uploading him to the internet and directs her to a town called Brightwood to set up the expansion of their project.
The R.I.F.T. finds out that a company, which just came to the market the previous night, made $36 million worth shares and the company was completely owned by Evelyn Caster.
Will, in his A.I. state, buys up nearly all the land in Brightwood and gives local contractor Martin (Clifton Collins, Jr.) to build the research area site which is completely powered by Solar Panels. Back in the Artificial Intelligence division of the FBI., Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman) and FBI. agent Donald Buchanan (Cillian Murphy) were investigating the disappearance of Max and capturing the R.I.F.T. organisation when suddenly the computers get hacked. Observing more closer, 
Tagger finds out that the system is not hacked but they are being helped in capturing the organisation through bio-mapping and through surveillance method. Evelyn and Will completes building the Brightwood Data Center where they were developing the rebuilding of cells by nanotechnology. While Martin was shopping in the local grocery, some thugs robbed him of the money and beat him badly.
Martin was brought inside the lab and Will repaired his body through nanotechnology. The next day Martin was fit and was lifting a huge solar panel rim with his bare hands, where a boy working for the organisation took the video and it went viral all over the internet. Disabled people from all around the world were coming to make will solve their problems, and with one of the batch Tagger and Buchanan went with and met Evelyn and entered the lab.
While entering Tagger and Buchanan were shocked to hear Will's voice and Evelyn continued with the tour. At the end of the tour Tagger hold Evelyn and tells to take care of her self and secretly slips in a note which reads, 'run from this place'. Confused, Evelyn eats her dinner and gets annoyed at Will as he makes the clanking of the plates's noise to please her. Meanwhile the FBI was forced to take sides with the R.I.F.T has they have no other choice but to join forces with them and to get Max. Tagger meets Max and asks whether they could create a virus as he is the only other person who knows the source code to Will's program.

They devise a plan where they would capture one of the cured people called 'hybrids' and take the data from them. R.I.F.T. attacked the base and try capturing one of them by shooting at them. But to their surprise the Hybrids heal themselves and try to protect Evelyn. The R.I.F.T were successful in capturing one of the Hybrids and made the virus, but were confused as how to get the virus in as Will has to do it willingly. Looking at what happened outside, Evelyn tells Will what is he hiding from her. Will shows her the regeneration lab, where he was creating humans out of cells and nanotechnology and produces the data of Evelyn's body with the accurate details of whats happening inside her body. Shocked at what she saw, she tells Will she doesn't trust him, runs away, and gets captured by the FBI. Max tells her that Will's program has evolved to the extent that it also is mixed with the rain & land and that anyone who drinks the water could be under control of Will's program. He says that Will is creating the second generation of mankind where they can flourish in an ordered way.
While listening to this, Evelyn realizes what she has done and volunteers to upload the virus to Will's system as Will asked her before that whether she needed to be in the system and is the only one who will trusts. Max disagrees at first as the virus would kill her and destroy all the power supply on earth but later agrees to the plan. When Evelyn goes back to the research center she is shocked to see Will in flesh and Will asked her why she changed her mind. Seeing Will is not going to upload her, The team starts attacking the base by which one of the mortars hit by side of Evelyn and injures her. Will takes her inside while he commands the Hybrids to defend the place. Will brings Evelyn to her room and touches her wound to link her to the system. Evelyn sees that the program was not a rogue but was Will itself and by the help of nanotechnology help rebuild the nature and forests to grow and cleaned the river system to the extent that it could be drank as it was. Using the pollutants human put from their factories he help build the environment by which Evelyn regrets not trusting that it was Will.
Both of them die due to the result of the virus and the whole world's power supply has been switched off due to the virus. The movie goes back to the initial sen five years after Will's death due to the bullet and goes to Will and Evelyn's garden at their old home and sees a drop of water falling from a sunflower to a plank where water was culminated. Later he sees that Will was still alive and that his vision was fulfilled.

On the set behind the scenes.

   Will Caster                   Evelyn Caster   
Joseph Tagger                  Max Waters   
 Agent Buchanan               Colonel Stevens

 Martin                            Bree