Review: Ender’s Game

Rating: Worth a matinee of $6-$8 on a big screen with good audio.

Cast heavy weights, Harrison Ford, Colonel Graff, and Ben Kingsley, Mazer Rackham, had portrayed characters hardened by the military threat of an alien race, the Formics. Viola Davis as Major Gwen Andersen and Asa Butterfield’s, Ender Wiggin, had served as emotional counterpoint to the psychology of war. At beginning of the movie, a school bully had corned Ender into a violent situation. Using brutal force with strategy, Ender’s response had caught the eye of Ford’s Graff. Deciding to mentor Ender, Graff had started throwing different challenges at his prize horse.

With each level of success, Ender had faced increasingly more complex moral dilemmas. At one point, he had decided to quit his military training after an injury to a peer; however, his sister, Valentine, had convinced him to continue on, despite his misgivings regarding Colonel Graff. After completing his training, Ender had faced his greatest challenge, a genocide. Coping with this reality, he had searched for more substance behind his actions and a means of atonement.

The film had explored a sea of adult themes like leadership, mentoring, teamwork, genocide, and ego. Despite the youthful perspective, the movie had delivered serious points of the rational behind going into battle blindly. If you had enjoyed science fiction genre, definitely get out to see this on a big screen with great audio.

Read more:
Ender’s Game (IMDB)

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Review: Gravity

Rating: Worth a matinee on a big screen.

Summary:  In the second week of release, I had wanted to originally skip this movie like a rogue asteroid. This rational had surrounded the casting of two Hollywood heavyweights, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Their collective science fiction offerings had provided an abysmal to non-existent track record. For starters, George Clooney’s last voyage in space, Solaris (2002), had embodied the metaphor as lifeless as the vortex of a black hole. On the other hand, Sandra Bullock hadn’t necessarily worked successfully in any dramatic performances since Speed (1994).

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Upfront, Gravity’s tempo had dispensed immediately with exposition by thrusting into space Dr. Ryan Stone, Sandra Bullock. Providing calm, George Clooney had depicted Matt Kowalski as the practical and ego-centric veteran. The opening sequence, many thereafter, had demonstrated the film’s ability in composing on the edge, dramatic excitement. At times, you had figuratively felt yourself falling into the chaotic action. Rotating camera angles and zoomed out views had reinforced the remote perspectives of the script’s characters. Another element, audio had focused on the astronauts’ experience of breathing, the silence of space, and radio communications. Along with selective application of the music score, audio had further underlined the emotion impact of the action. Anchoring the other two elements, the theme of man versus nature had driven the story. With that theme, the characters had explored their own responses to adversity. In exploring that frailty, the film had reaffirmed a theme of mine, “What’s inside you?” In the context of the life’s impromptu challenges, we had not known the answer without challenging ourselves or getting up when knocked down.

While leveraging core elements of great cinema, Gravity had changed my opinion of Bullock and Clooney. Gravity’s expansive shots of the earth and space had rightfully deserved the canvas of a large movie screen. In the end though, the merits of the story had won me over.

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Read More:

Speed (IMDB)

Solaris (IMDB)

Gravity (IMDB)

Review: Riddick

Rating: Worth full price for any scifi or action fan.

Summary: With $38 million budget and 7 years of production, Vin Diesel had made another solid, yet smaller entry into the Pitch Black anthology. On a desolate world with a mixed ecosystem, featuring wolf like predators and a water born menace, Riddick had started his journey to reasserting his animal instinct. With a new domesticated pet, Riddick had evolved into a more sophisticated man, despite statements to the contrary; However, Riddick’s dark pragmatism had still endured with quotes like “Leave God out of this, he wants no part of what comes next.” In an effort to escape the planet’s surface, he had enabled an emergency rescue beacon. In pursuit had been two different teams of mercenaries initiating the “body count.” The story had leveraged the best aspects of the two previous installments, the “Mercs” and the monsters. The movie had delivered on key attributes of the franchise with grotesque wounds, unique kills, misdirection and adult humor. One of the highlights had been roll reversals between the members of mercenary teams. Drawing on connections to the first two installments, the script had provided adequate character development and few twists along the way. While lacking the grand scope and climax of Chronicles of Riddick (2004), I had been very satisfied with the brutal action sequences and sarcastic dialogue. At close, the audience had been left in Riddick wake’s leaving the door open for another adventure.

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More information:

Vin Diesel: ‘I leveraged home to make Riddick film’ (Herald Sun)

Riddick (IMDB)

Riddick Official Website

Review: Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy Reconfigured

Rating: Worth a spin at $1 per track

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Summary: When pre-ordering Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (2013), I had stumbled across this other release. What I had discovered, a new steady for working out at the gym. Some of you had known Daft Punk from this summer’s  “Get Lucky” (2013) and others maybe from their older club hit, “One More Time” (2001); However, between Tron Legacy (2010) and Random Access Memories (2013), Daft Punk had been missing a certain quality. The Tron Legacy soundtrack had been precise and mechanical to a fault, perhaps the influence of the film’s German producers. In contrast, this year’s Random Access Memories had been over indulgent with certain rifts. Tron: Legacy Reconfigured (2011) had embodied the balance of keyboard fills, syncopation and climaxes. A few stars of 1990’s house and trance, like Paul Oakenfield, Moby, and Crystal Method, had made noteworthy appearances. The best up-tempo entry had been the Teddybears‘ “Adagio for Tron”. In contrast, I had wanted to add Moby’s slow tempo version of “The Son of Flynn” to every summer home movie. With respect to critical acclaim, Photek’s remix of “End of Line” had been nominated for Grammy for “Best Recording Remix, Non-Classical.” The only song that had been disposable, “Arena” from The Japanese Popstars. Despite reading mixed critical reviews, I had loved this album from first play, maybe you will too!

For a quick auditory summary,  Disney Music had posted 9+ minutes of highlights of the whole 1:17 minute runtime: TRON: Legacy Reconfigured – Album Sampler (YouTube)

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1. “Derezzed” The Glitch Mob 4:22

2. “Fall” M83 vs. Big Black Delta 3:55

3. “The Grid” The Crystal Method 4:27

4. “Adagio for Tron” Teddybears 5:34

5. “The Son of Flynn” Ki:Theory 4:51

6. “C.L.U.” Paul Oakenfold 4:35

7. “The Son of Flynn” Moby 6:32

8. “End of Line” Boys Noize 5:40

9. “Rinzler” Kaskade 6:52

10. “ENCOM, Part II” Com Truise 4:52

11. “End of Line” Photek 5:18

12. “Arena” The Japanese Popstars 6:07

13. “Derezzed” Avicii 5:03

14. “Solar Sailer” Pretty Lights 4:32

15. “Tron Legacy (End Titles)” Sander Kleinenberg 5:04

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Daft Punk album collage courtesy of CS version of Photoshop & GarzaFX

More information:

Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy Reconfigured available on iTunes and Amazon
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tron-legacy-reconfigured/id426251101
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tron-Legacy-Reconfigured-Various-Artists/dp/B004M20YDU

TRON: Legacy Reconfigured – Album Sampler (YouTube)

“The Grid”-The Crystal Method from TRON: Legacy Reconfigured (YouTube)

Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy Reconfigured Facebook Page

The film, Tron: Legacy (IMDB)

Review: Elysium

Rating: Worth Matinee $5 -$8

Summary: In 2154, the wealthy and privileged had abandoned an overpopulated Earth in favor of the Elysium station.  Under the protective eye of Secretary Delacourt Rhodes (Jodie Foster), the Elysium population had prospered living free of illness (i.e. cancer, leukemia, etc.) and the scourge of poverty. Max (Matt Damon), a former convict, had worked the line at manufacturing plant for robots.  In his youth, Max had obsessed about voyaging to Elysium. Raised by a nun, he had been challenged to remember his roots in LA.  Opening the film, Secretary Rhodes had been summoned to address illegals heading toward their secured habitat. Delacourt’s brutal response had placed her in direct conflict with Elysium’s political leaders, including President Patel. Unwavering in her quest for expedient results, the Secretary had assembled a plot to consolidate her power. The struggle between Max and Rhodes had kicked off by his coincidental hijacking of Delacourt’s plan. In pursuit of Max had been Rhodes’s military agent, Kruger (Sharlto Copley of Distract 9 fame). A hardened operative on the edge of madness, Kruger had used violence at every opportunity for fear or death.

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The script’s political commentary on US immigration, while timely, had periodically weighed down the overall pace of the film. The gritty, industrial vision of the future had produced a believable familiarity with military transports, guns, drones and overpopulated slums. Several action sequences had included different rounds of  ballistics with jarring, unique effect. The grotesque result of one explosion on a victim had almost been worth the price of admission.  Jodie Foster‘s Cheneyesque performance had been a welcome contrast to her idealistic role in Contact. Matt Damon and Shalto Copley had provided range of fun moments from desperation to sarcasm. Director Neill Blomkamp‘s first outing since District 9, while not a classic, had been one of the more visually interesting pieces of sci-fi film this year.

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More Information:

Elysium (IMDB)

District 9 (IMDB)

Review: The Wolverine

Rating:  Wait for PPV (i.e. Amazon, iTunes, on-demand)
Summary: This entry into the franchise was like selecting the last options in a Japanese love house. Had you wanted “the dungeon”, “the doctor’s office” or “Mission to Mars,” great, but fresh non-stop action, look elsewhere. Of the X-Men branded films, this had been the least enjoyable due to an inability to deliver on elevated imagery of mutant conflict. There had been a lot of elements that should work like ninjas, sexy mutants, swords, Japanese architecture, and Logan cursing (i.e. shit, mutant bitch, and dick). In this installment, the body count had also increased considerably with deaths by impalement, nuclear denotation, kisses and arrows. A possible great theme, the duality of women in misogynistic tradition, had been introduced; however, once it had been capitalized, how under empowering. For a story exploring emotions, it had lacked a certain attraction and charm. If you had been going for an edge, let the blood fly. Periodically, superheroes (i.e. Thor – 2011, Superman II  – 1980) have confronted loss of their powers. From a point of drama, that contrast has been a great tool. The hero in the these movies had struggled to overcome normalcy but, somehow find justice by leveraging courage, intelligence or both. The Wolverine had made a lot half-hearted attempts to be edgy, emotional and dramatic. The most powerful scenes were the opening bar showdown, the train-top sequence, and the airport metal detector. Those three moments of focus had accounted for about 30 minutes of over 2 hour running time. After that, I had started contemplating Hugh Jackman’s workout regime to transform into a monster.

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More information:
The Wolverine (IMDB)

Art and music from the film Pacific Rim

Part of Pacific Rim’s spectacle had been the pounding string and guitar work from the soundtrack. The majestic walk of the Jaegers’ had seemed to match the tempo quite effectively. These specific tracks had driven my purchase for the gym:

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1. Pacific Rim (feat. Tom Morello)

2. Gipsy Danger

3. Canceling The Apocalypse

4. Jaeger Tech (feat. Tom Morello)

5. Physical Compatibility

6. Go Big Or Go Extinct (feat. Tom Morello)

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7.  Passages (From “Pacific Rim Trailer 2013”)

Soundtrack for Pacific Rim available: Amazon, ITunes

Music from trailer Passages (From “Pacific Rim Trailer 2013”) by Evolve available: Amazon

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Artwork in hardcover available: Pacific Rim: Man, Machines, and Monsters (Amazon)

Fan artwork available: Get ready to rumble with 15 ferocious Pacific Rim fan art posters (Blastr)

More information on soundtrack: Tom Morello Marches With Ramin Djawadi on ‘Pacific Rim’ – Song Premiere (Rolling Stone)

GarzaFX: Review: Pacific Rim

Review: Pacific Rim

Rating: Worth matinee ($5-$8)

Summary: Earth has been invaded by wave of alien monster attacks from the Pacific ocean. Man’s response was led by Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, Captain Janek from last summer’s Prometheus) with the Jaegar program. The tide of the war has turned against Pentecost’s program with smarter and more frequent opposition.

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Humanity’s survival has only the coastal wall project and four more Jaegar teams to go. The movie’s emotional response had been paced by the action sequences grinding through Alaska, Honk Kong and the Pacific floor. Showcasing scale and loud effects, the movie has a big escalation with second act in Hong Kong. Pacific Rim has encapsulated the childhood joy of watching Godzilla, or any other monster movie for the first time. Critical art no, explosive action that had deserved a big screen and great audio, yes.

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Pacific Rim – “Destroy All Kaiju” Featurette : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0G6mXiA33Y

Review: World War Z

Rating: Worth matinee price ($5-$8)

Summary:  The film’s opening sequence had started with Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family fleeing New York at the onset of a zombie outbreak. In New Jersey, Lane had called in a helicopter evacuation from his former employee.  After a UN rescue, Lane had been forced to exchange his services to protect his family’s place on secure naval fleet. After signing on for the investigative team, Pitt’s journey had embarked to South Korea and then Israel. Both excursions had climaxed with hoarding undead pursuing Lane with few answers in return.  With PG-13 rating, this zombiefest had lacked  most of the normal gore and dark overtones expected in an outing like 28 Days Later. The movie World War Z  had focused on the frenetic pace which chaos unravels as its’ strength.

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Production details: World War Z (IMDB)

More concept art available: World War Z: The Art of the Film

Solar Flares + Western Theology

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In American culture, science and Western theology have been cast as opposing forces. To believe in one, had meant rejection of the other. Fast forward to motion pictures, Contact (1997), Signs (2002) and Knowing (2009), each had mixed together these different subjects. In Knowing, solar activity has washed the Earth in escalating disaster. The plot’s imagery had invoked reference to the Biblical passage of Revelation 20:15 – “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” In the finale, star Nicolas Cage had found an answer to the pattern of events concluding with an epiphany. Knowing had spoken to the common ground between faith and science versus their mutual exclusivity.

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The passage Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” has a different meaning when measuring against the Solar Storm of 1859. H2 channel’s Ancient Aliens depiction of Solar Storm of 1859, had led to thoughtful review of the precarious relationship between electricity and civilization. Without power for technology, a similiar solar event has the potential to reset contemporary society. In this environmental realignment, agrarian cultures and those choosing this lifestyle have the opportunity for equity against those rooted in today’s urban areas. A point to consider has been man’s over reliance on technology leading to human development issues like the following, Digital Dementia On The Rise In South Korea; Childhood Internet Addiction Must Be Addressed, Experts Say. Even the Catholic Church has made unprecedented overtures over the past few years considering the impact of alien life on salvation. In the end, this conversation has been about considering possibilities in convergence.

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More Images Available from Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory
http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/main/

Sign-up for Solar Activity Notifications
http://www.ips.gov.au/mailman/listinfo/ips-flare-alert

Sign-Up for Earthquake Notifications
https://sslearthquake.usgs.gov/ens/

Review: Man of Steel

Rating: Worth Full Price

Summary: Updated depiction of Superman combined solid action and brisk pacing. Performances from Kevin Costner (Jonathon Kent), Russell Crowe (Jor-El) and Michael Shannon (General Zod) provided the movie’s emotional hooks. Zack Snyder’s interpretation was effortless at a runtime of 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Production details: Man Of Steel (IDMB)

Concept art: Man of Steel artist shares 15 awesome concept images (BLASTR)