Ex Machina (2015) is a sci-fi drama about the talented computer programmer named Caleb. He is fortunate enough to win a competition in his office, and gets to spend one-on-one time with the eccentric and secluded CEO of his company. Caleb gets to help out with a special project in the field of artificial intelligence, and his assignment is to determine whether or not the CEO’s home-built android passes the Turing Test. Passing the test would mean that its responses should be indistinguishable from that of a human being, and what he finds during this trial touches, in a way, questions on the essence of humanity. What does it take to be human? Is it having flesh and bones, or could a sufficiently accurate computer simulation be enough?
Sin Nombre (2009) is the movie about a Honduran girl trying to migrate to the USA, and the struggles and sacrifices she has to live through during that journey. The movie also centers around members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang who are known for their violent revenge culture and the inability to escape from their reach.
Veronica Mars (2014) is a crowd-funded movie about private investigator Veronica Mars who returns to her hometown to help her old high-school friend who has been accused of murder. Arriving back at Neptune, she soon realizes that things aren’t what they seem and starts unraveling a deep coverup.
I have watched and rather enjoyed the old Veronica Mars TV series, so I was delighted to hear that a movie had been made to complete the story a decade later. I was pleasantly surprised that they managed to bring back that old fuzzy feeling, reminiscent of the old series. They did it fairly well, and I enjoyed watching every minute of it, even though the movie was riddled with clichés and an undeniably predictable plot.
Since being a fan of the original series left me with a marshmellowy veil covering my senses, one could say that I am somewhat biased and looking at this movie as a self-contained unit instead of and extension of the old series, it barely holds up. The viewer is presented with an small history lesson in the beginning of the movie, but it’s far from enough to convince the viewer to ignore the cheesy characters and predictable plot.
If you are a fan of the TV series, just watch this movie already – if not, don’t bother.
Score: 7/10 (Good)
I have finally taken the time to watch The Place Beyond the Pines (2012). The plot itself seems quite straight-forward at first glance, but what makes this movie unique is the way three separate stories are connected in sequence, yet intertwined at the same time.
A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.
The movie starts on an excellent note with Ryan Gosling doing what he does best. It loses some momentum in the middle though, and continues to dwindle as the movie progresses. The characters don’t really evolve during the story and they have a couple of questionable motivators12.
I would have preferred a greater focus on the first part and further developed the motorcycle riding and the life of crime with Goslings life spiraling further down the drain, and perhaps even leave the other parts out.
Score: 8/10 (Great)
Upside Down (2013) is a movie about Adam and Eden and their improbable love story.
In an alternate universe where twinned worlds have opposite gravities, a young man battles interplanetary prejudice and the laws of physics in his quest to reunite with the long-lost girl of his dreams in this visually stunning romantic adventure that poses the question: what if love was stronger than gravity?
While this movie is visually stunning and provides interesting conundrums, it is sadly filled with plot holes and has a terribly weak story.
Score: 5/10 (Meh)
Even though Oldboy (2003) is a South Korean movie from this century, it has already become something of a cult classic. It’s the story about a man who must deal with the horrors of unknowingly having made someone his enemy.
After suffering through a terrible ordeal being imprisoned without knowing why for a long time, he dedicates his whole being to find the one responsible for his imprisonment after being released for an unknown reason.
It is hard finding the words to adequately describe this two-hour exquisite blend of gory violence, feeling of despair and hopelessness, which at the same time is intertwined with joy and love and sex.
The scenes in this movie are impeccable, with an insane amount of detail in every inch of the background as well as the main elements. The only problem is that it will take multiple viewings to fully appreciate the rich world that is laid out before the viewer.
There’s really nothing else to say – just see it if you haven’t already.
Score: 9/10 (Superb)
Chloe (2009) is a movie about a doctor, played by Julianne More, who hires an escort to seduce her husband, as a way of verifying that her suspicions of him cheating on her.
This was a fairly straightforward and simple movie with a simple predicament, and there is where the problem lies. The story in a way too simple, meaning that any avid movie watcher will smell the plot twist from miles away.
And what’s up with the embarrassingly weak window frame?
Score: 6/10 (Fair)
Fruitvale Station (2013) is the story about twenty two year old Oscar who crosses path with friends, family, enemies and strangers on the last day of 2008.
The movie features a well-portrayed Oscar with his family and the problems he goes through on New Years Eve. He has trouble finding a way to pay rent after losing his job, but that is only part of the story.
The only problem I see with the movie is when Oscar and his girlfriend visits San Francisco for the New Years Eve party, where it looks like they were only there for a bathroom break, when they were in fact there for hours before heading back home on the BART.
The details all fade in comparison with the story itself, especially when you realize that Oscar was in fact a real person and that this tragic story did actually happen. It lead to massive riots in the Bay Area during the days that followed.
The following text may contain spoilers.
To read more about the shooting of Oscar, there is an in-depth article on Wikipedia called BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant
which seems to cover everything from the shooting and aftermath to the criminal trial.
Several experts who observed video evidence suggested Mehserle might have confused his gun for his Taser causing him to mistakenly believe he was tasering Grant.
One would think that being a police officer would constitute being able to stay calm in tense situations and having thorough grasp on the differences between firearms and tasers.
The movie seems to stay true to the real story and has been portrayed with great care and insight.
Score: 8/10 (Great)
Watchmen (2009) is the second Zack Snyder movie I have seen in a short period of time. Instead of alternate realities of the mind in Sucker Punch, Watchmen is about an alternate 1985 where superheroes exist.
We follow Rorschach in a murder investigation where he uncovers a horrific truth which could change the course of history and life on our planet as we know it.
I have put off seeing this movie for quite some time, mostly because of its length. What I didn’t realize was that the movie could in fact hold its own and never become boring during its three hours director’s cut edition.
While I have never read the original graphic novel on which the movie was based on, I can see strong influences from for instance Dr Strangelove and perhaps even Sin City.
If you want to see a superhero movie but without most of the usual clichés, watch this.
Score: 7/10 (Good)
Secretary (2002) is an award-winning movie about Lee, a former mental patient trying to get back on track with her life. She starts working as a secretary for a paralegal, and he changes her life forever by challenging her and leading her into uncomfortable situations.
Score: 7/10 (Good)
This is a story about finding yourself, and be true to who you are, regardless what other people think is right or wrong. Maggie Gyllenhaal does an exceptional performance portraying Lee, the former mental patient with a psychological disorder. Her character grows from being completely insecure about herself and the world to the very opposite, where she is in control (or lets someone else take control, on her terms).