With an excellent cast in Jonah Hill (Finkel), James Franco (Longo) and Felicity Jones (Jill), it was pretty easy for me to be intrigued by this drama. All three have proven over the years that they have the ability to give fantastic performances and going into this film I thought this could be another home-run for each of them. Needless to say, I was disappointed in the outcome. For me, the acting throughout seemed quite forced and did not often fit the scenes. I think the main problem I had, was that I had a hard time believing Jonah Hill as he was portraying Mike Finkel. Now I am not saying he did a bad job or his acting was terrible, it is just for me he did not seem to dive deep into who Finkel was. I had a hard time caring for what was happening to his character and just overall had a hard time trying to relate to the things he was going through. Felicity Jones, to me, was completely underutilized. Her character of Jill often seemed completely forced in order to create some sort of conflict, whether it being with Finkel or when she randomly started to talk to Longo. Her interactions with Longo seemed to strictly be in there in order to advance what was happening and did not fit the story at all.
For me the standout performance in the film was James Franco. His portrayal of Christian Longo gave me this sense of unease and had me questioning what his real motives were. He kept you guessing as to what really happened that night his family was killed and drew you in to show how he can change your opinion on Longo as the film moves along. He kept the story flowing smoothly and I continued to want to see more of his character to try and understand who he was as a person.
There are good moments in the film that do make it worth seeing. Masanobu Takayanagi provides beautiful cinematography throughout. The opening shots of the film completely drew me in and reminded me of the look Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners had. The story itself is also intriguing enough to keep you tied into the plot to see the ultimate outcome of each character. True Story is not a bad movie in any sense, it just had the potential to be a great film and for me it started off strong then slowly started to fall flat.
Probably one of the most underrated shows on television, Archer blends the idea of a James Bond like secret agent with hilarious humor, which pokes fun at the idea of being a part of a government agency. With having just recently rapped its' sixth season, Archer continues to stride towards the top as one of the best comedic shows on television. Each character is written perfectly for their roles (Krieger to me is the standout supporting character) and each fit in perfectly with the smart writing and hilarious dialogue.
With an excellent voice cast that features H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Chris Parnell, Jessica Walter, Aisha Tyler, Adam Reed, and Lucky Yates, Archer is able to hit all angles of comedy and continues to rise each and every season. I highly recommend checking this show out (past seasons are on Netflix) because it is a show that tries not to take itself too seriously, while at the same time focusing on issues taking place in the world (i.e. tensions with Russia). Trust me, you will not be disappointed with this show.
which doubles as a research facility, secluded high in the mountains where there is almost no human contact. By shooting almost the entire film in one location, it can be hard to create a compelling story. Garland is able to go above and beyond that to create an environment that blends Sci-fi with reality. By creating that strong environment and allowing the story to unfold before the audience, Garland is able to place the audience at the center of the story themselves to test the robot and change the way that Sci-fi films can ultimately be looked at.
One major element for a story like this to be successful is the acting. If the acting does not seem right or feels out of place, than the story will feel disconnected. The three main leads are perfectly chosen for their roles. Gleeson plays, Caleb, who was sent there to test the A.I., Ava. What separates him from the other characters is that he is essentially an audience member. He too has no idea what is going to happen next. Gleeson is able to express his character’s emotions through his facial expressions (especially in his eyes), which in turn reflects back on how the audience is viewing Ava. We see him feeling more and more connected to Ava which in turn causes us to become more connected with her. Vikander plays Ava, the A.I. created to change the world, and in my opinion gives the best performance of the film. What makes this the best performance is the fact that there are moments when we cannot separate her from either being a robot or a human. By not being able to separate her from who she really is, shows the depth that Vikander is able to achieve in making the audience almost love Ava. We in turn want her to become part of our world.
That brings us to Oscar Isaac who always gives a phenomenal performance no matter what he is in. By playing Nathan, the “villain” in the film, he is able to express his emotions in a physical and intimidating manner. Whenever he is on screen, you almost feel uncomfortable watching him and never know if he is going to snap or not. By giving the audience this sense of confusion and unease he is able to make you question who he is all together.
With these amazing performances, along with beautiful cinematography by Rob Hardy and an excellent score from Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, Garland is able to bring all of these elements together to create a Sci-fi masterpiece. By bringing us into a world that seems like reality, he is able to tell a story of not only love and understanding, but also a glimpse into possibly the future of the human race. By allowing the audience to test Ava, we are able to place her in reality and see her as one of us.
An Audience Perspective (Mike Welsch):
How many times have you checked Facebook today? Instagram? Twitter? Snapchat? If you are anything like me then I would suspect the answer to be similar: too many times already. There is no denying that technology has and continues to progress at an exponential rate, not only from a technical perspective, but socially as well. From iPhones to MRI machines, technology has sparked a worldly evolution within the past decade that will change the way humans think, interact, and communicate for the remainder of our species' existence. We are creatures drawn to creation and innovation, enthralled by discovery and the unknown, and possessed with intelligence. We have always asked ourselves how we can reach that next technological breakthrough and such has instigated our culture of ignorance to the real question: at what cost do we reach it?
Ex Machina paints a vivid and disturbing picture of Man's obsession with advancement and the role that artificial intelligence plays in the evolution of our species. The film dances around a key theme to the story: what is alive? Does being alive mean being able to speak and to communicate? Does it mean being able to feel and sense pain? Perhaps it means being able to employ logic? Or to know fear? Empathy? Love? I say the film is disturbing because it forces us to dissect what makes us human and what truly makes us alive.
The film's primary specimen of artificial intelligence, Ava, may be made of glass and metal hardware functioning by means of computer logic and electrical circuitry, but what if "she" can do and feel the things mentioned above? At what point does something meet the requirements for what it means to be alive and conscious? It is oddly fascinating as well as terrifying to consider the possibility that we as a species have reached a technological level in our intellect that allows us to mimic, or otherwise create, a functioning replica of a human being. "To erase the line between man and machine is to obscure the line between men and gods." There is plenty of speculation regarding the current progress of artificial intelligence as it exists in today's world, but the very concept alone signifies that we are indeed striving for the power of gods. And when we finally realize that power and create a machine that thinks and talks and feels...where will human beings fall on the evolutionary scale?
Here are a few other films that I have seen and rated. For some of the films I will write a brief sentence or so on what I thought.
Reviewer: Pat Brennan
A Serious Man (2009)
Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen
Writers: Joel & Ethan Coen
Cast: Michael Stuhlburg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writers: Kelly Marcel & Sue Smith
Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman
- Probably one of the more underrated films of 2013, Saving Mr. Banks is not just any old Disney film. This film explores the relationship between P.L. Travers and Walt Disney as they work together in order to adapt the story of Mary Poppins into a feature film. When I decided to watch this I thought it was just going to be a musical about the background of Mary Poppins and more of a glamorized version of the behind the scenes at Disney. It is safe to say, that I was completely wrong. This film has deeper themes and issues that can relate to almost everyone. By exploring the childhood of P.L. Travers and contrasting it with the person that she has become, it shows how she is not easily able to just give away the story she has created. By exploring the effects of alcoholism and the idea of having to become an adult at such a young age, Hancock is able to show how Disney films can become something more than just glitz and glamor. I highly recommend checking this one out.
Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Evan Daugherty & Vanessa Taylor
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Andel Elgort, Maggie Q
- This is another one of those teenage post-apocalyptic films that seems to come twice a year. This film had potential from the start as it established the characters well and explored the world that it was trying to create, so that we as the audience became familiar with the path that the characters were going to take. After about 20 minutes or so, the film seemed to fall apart. I would say that the overall main problem was the editing. I just felt that action sequences did not fit right and would cut at moments that did not seem necessary. With a rushed story and a very predictable plot, Divergent is just one of those stories that we have seen over and over again.
That Awkward Moment (2014)
Director: Tom Gormican
Writer: Tom Gormican
Cast: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas