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Battleship: Humans Vs Aliens Action Flick
Summer is all but here and we have been blessed with another alien-action blockbuster based on a toy and no, this time around it’s not Transformers, though by the way this film’s been marketed, you’d think Battleship was an extension of the Transformers franchise; ‘Transformers at Sea’ if you will. And while the two films have several things in common, they’re also quite distinct. For one Transformers focuses on the robots - and truth be told, they’re pretty damn impressive - while on the other hand, Battleship, surprisingly, focuses more on the human characters. Neither of the films managed to combine the two - interesting robots/aliens and compelling humans that is- but the human element in Battleship makes it easier to get caught up and emotionally involved in the film.
NASA discovers a planet in a different solar system that has very similar conditions to Earth, conditions conducive to life, and promptly builds a satellite station in Hawaii to try and establish contact with any forms of extraterrestrial life that may be out there. The scientists discover the success of their experiment when five huge unidentified objects hurtle into our atmosphere. One takes out a huge chunk of Hong Kong while the rest crash land in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Hawaii, in the middle of a bunch of international navy fleets that have gathered for an exercise. A massive battle takes place between the aliens and the navy as the humans try and thwart the aliens’ attempts to communicate with their home base and send for reinforcements.
Since Battleship is being marketed towards the same demographic that made Transformers such a cash cow, you’d think they’d have put a bit more effort into their alien design. Firstly, their spaceships look like metal cubes, kind of like a rectangular version of the AllSpark cube in Transformers, and secondly, the aliens themselves look like tall, metal Power Rangers. Another thing is that it’s never really explained why the aliens come to Earth in the first place. All we get is the hypothesis that when the humans managed to establish contact, a few aliens decided to mosey on over here to check out our planet.. Thankfully, and this may be a product of entering the film with zero expectations, the humans mostly make up for the aliens and the general lacklustre visuals.
Kitsch plays Alex, a smart slacker with attitude issues who’s forced by his older brother, Stone (Skarsgard), to join him in the US Navy as a way of getting his life on track. Decker plays Samantha, Alex’s girlfriend, who’s a physical therapist and the daughter of the fleet’s captain. Thanks to the fact that the film clearly emphasizes Alex’s potential, his transformation from immature slacker to a bona fide leader is actually believable while Samantha, thankfully, gets to be more than just the token girlfriend and plays a large part in saving the planet as well. Rihanna makes her acting debut as a badass Navy officer named Raikes while Linklater plays Cal, a wimpy, nervous scientist and the source of most of the film’s comic relief.
The film as a whole takes a while to settle into its groove, but when it does it becomes quite engaging. By the final third, when the war reaches its peak, you’re actively rooting for the Navy and restraining yourself from cheering out loud and singing along to AC/DC. The film as a whole is far from perfect and is actually too uneven to be called good, but the final half hour is wall-to-wall fun, ending the film on a pretty high note.
Well-deserving of all the attention it’s been getting, James Marsh’s Theory of Everything – an emotional and a rousing look inside the life of one Professor Stephen W. Hawking and his loving but, turbulent thirty-year long marriage to Jane Hawking – is nothing short of wonderful.
Sourced from Jane’s 2008 memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the story begins in 1963, with an exceptionally charming twenty-one physicist, Stephen Hawking (Redmayne), on his way of pursuing his doctorate from the University of Cambridge.
It is there that he first meets the beautiful literature-major student, Jane Wilde (Jones); a devout Christian whose outlook on life – and science in particular – doesn’t necessarily fall in line with his more agnostic and mathematical assessments of human existence.
Just as the love between the two begins to blossom and Stephen begins preparing for his final thesis, he discovers that he is suffering from motor neuron disease; an illness that will soon begin to take away his ability to walk and talk, amongst other things. Having been given only two years to live, the young and the highly-intelligent physicist – whose thirst for knowledge and passion for life refuses to surrender – slowly begins to challenge his weaknesses. However, as he continues to grow professionally, his life at home with Jane – who is single-handedly carrying his physical limitations on her frail shoulders – begins to show signs of despair.
While this is in fact a biopic – a simple and a straightforward one at that – which celebrates the life and work of Hawking, it is also very important to note that this is not a story that goes deep into his rise to fame as the renowned physicist we know today. It’s a much smaller scale story of love and compassion and a one focuses on human endurance, courage and, most of all, hope.
The Theory of Everything is shot beautifully and a real sense of romanticism and nostalgia – driven by a sensual and a tear-jerking classical score – can be felt throughout. It’s an emotionally-rich drama that, although sometimes can feel a little too sugary, manages to stay grounded. It is, to a large degree, thanks to Redmayne’s extraordinary performance audiences will be able to appreciate what is an insightful and meaningful peak inside the private life of one of the most respected and remarkable minds living today.
The month of January – as far as the movie business goes – is regarded to as a ‘dump month’ or ‘cesspool’, where some of the most disappointing features of the year are innocuously seeped into cinemas. Michael Mann’s latest feature, Blackhat, is one of said disappointing features.
It all starts with a mysterious cyber-terrorist attack on a nuclear plant in China, which not only causes a near meltdown, but also manages to drive up the price of soy with the cagey and the enigmatic hacker pocketing millions as a result.
Enlisting the help of a computer-wiz, Chen Dawai (Wang), both the Chinese and U.S governments are eager to locate the hacker before he gets a chance to strike again. However, Chen is unable to do the work alone and soon asks for the help from his old MIT classmate, Nicholas Hathaway (Hemsworth); a masterful computer genius who is currently being held behind bars in a U.S federal penitentiary.
Pulled out from prison to assist the mission, Hathaway’s movements are closely watched by F.B.I agents, Carol Barrett (Davis) and Mark Jessup (McCallany). Joining the team is Chen’s sister, Lien (Tang) – the only person Chen can really trust – and soon, the group finds themselves embarking on a trek around the world to locate the ‘Blackhat’ hacker.
Michael Mann has been entertaining audiences for over thirty years with films such as Heat and The Insider paying testament to his largely unanimous standing as one of the greatest directors of all time. However, his distinct voice and style hasn’t been quite as potent in recent, as can be seen in his last two directorial efforts, 2009’s Public Enemies and 2006’s Miami Vice.
Sadly, Blackhat continues the disappointing run of form; derivative, one-dimensional and peculiarly tension-free, everything about Blackhat feels under-developed. Full of clunky, tech-heavy gobbledygook, the the banal dialogue fails to bring any sense of reality to a plot that already lacks originality.
Marooned in the middle of the flimsy script is hunky chunk of brawn, Chris Hemsworth, who fails to really register as the only A-lister in a film that is decidedly B-list. A competent leading man for Hollywood action, his character is riddled with the kind of anti-hero cliché that was scoring big numbers at the box office in the eighties. In fact, that’s a perfect summation of Blackhat; a tiresome and commonplace action flick that just isn’t even in the same league as the Bournes and 007s of today.