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Tag Archive: Matrix


Oblivion or Top Gun 2

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re in sync with Joseph Kosinski’s latest science fiction flick Oblivion, you may find yourself thinking about it days after you watched it.  Who exactly was (or will be) Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), his companion Vica (Andrea Risenborough), and the new arrival Julia (played by Bond girl Olga Kurylenko?  How do you know what is real and what is not?  A science fiction film can do something entirely new, or it can mix together quintessential science fiction elements in a new way.  Last summer’s moderately well-received Oblivion, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, is the latter.  It is a good mix of many things that ultimately serve to continue to prove that Tom Cruise knows how to pick scripts that entertain.  

Oblivion is post-apocalyptic, but without the dismal brown tones of most films in that genre.  It contains typical science fiction warning signs, including the age-old “beware of technology,” but also asks the question “are you sure you want to promulgate drone technologies?”  It mixes action and sci-fi in a visually impressive way.  But it does a lot more.

Oblivion clip A

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By C.J. Bunce

We highlight them all the time here at borg.com.  But some of them don’t naturally come to mind when you think of cybernetically enhanced organisms–cyborgs, or borgs for short.  What makes a borg?  An organism, human, alien, or animal, who has been modified by technology or uses technology as part of or in place of another biological function.  We use this broadly, encompassing not only a long-accepted group of borgs that are more metal than man, but also robots or androids modified with biology or biomatter, although taken to the extreme this would seem to include the bioneural starship USS Voyager from Star Trek Voyager.

Regardless of how you define it, meet our borg.com Hall of Fame, always ready for new honorees…

With Marvel’s big premiere of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, we’ll begin with Tony Stark’s Iron Man.  Tony Stark is not advertised as a borg, but if your power source involves techno-gadgetry via an arc reactor and you have his fully integrated armor, we think that makes you a borg.  Whedon is very familiar with borgs, having created the character Adam, the nasty, almost unstoppable foe of the Scooby Gang in Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If Iron Man is a borg, should one of the oldest creatures of science fiction be considered a borg as well–Frankenstein’s monster?  How integral are those bolts and attachments to his survival anyway?  Does an external power source make a borg?  Did he ever have to regenerate?

And if Frankenstein’s monster makes the cut, maybe this spin-off fellow should, too:

Yes, Frankenberry, the only cereal mascot borg?  Are those pressure gauges on his head?  What functions do they serve?  Before we move forward very far in time, we also think we need to at least consider Maria’s doppelganger from Fritz Lang’s sci-fi film classic Metropolis as a possible borg.com honoree–a robot admittedly, but somehow transformed into a humanoid creation with flesh, used to replace the real Maria and wreak havoc across Metropolis:

From one of the biggest science fantasy franchises, Star Wars, Darth Vader began as Anakin Skywalker, but through his own rise to evil and subsequent downfall he became more machine than man:

He even caused his son to require borg technology by slicing off his arm and hand with his lightsaber, making Luke Skywalker a borg as well:

With Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we met an interesting new villain, General Grievous, a four-lightsaber wielding almost lobster-like biological creature made up of techno-armor and, in close-up are those reptilian eyes?  His apparent disfigurement and breathing problems hint at a back story that must be not unlike Vader’s.

In The Empire Strikes Back we also briefly met Lando Calrissian’s majordomo who possessed some type of brain adapter technology–we learn from action figures, trading cards and comics his name is Lobot:

And probably the very first cyborg to be referred to specifically as a “borg” (by Luke Skywalker, even), Valance was a cyborg bounty hunter in the early pages of Star Wars, the Marvel Comics series:

Some borgs are more cybernetic than organism, at least at first appearance.  This would include Doctor Who’s Cybermen:

and we’d learn even the Daleks were cybernetic organisms:

and the Terminators from the Terminator movie and Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, very much more machine with a bit of organics (and even Arnold’s character called himself a “cybernetic organism”):

In Star Trek: First Contact the Borg Queen alters the android Lieutenant Commander Data in such a way so as to make Pinocchio a real boy:

giving real organic material to Data, (like Maria’s double above from Metropolis?) bringing him briefly into the realm of borg status, like Isaac Asimov’s Bicentennial Man:

and this even suggests the Tin Man from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz may be a rudimentary variant borg being along the lines of Frankenstein’s monster:

All humanoids or aliens modified to become The Borg of the Star Trek franchise clearly are good examples of cyborg beings, the most famous of which are probably Patrick Stewart’s Locutus:

the seemingly innocent Hugh:

and Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager:

On Earth we encounter humans all the time with bodies improved by borg technology.  Because of the OSI Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers were rescued from near death with enhanced biology and appendages to become the Bionic Man and Bionic Woman:

The British agent James Bond had to take on Doctor No, an evil scientist who took on his own technological enhancements because of medical maladies, bringing James Bond into the fold of genre franchises investigating a borg character:

Featured in a 1980s movie series and soon to be the subject of a new movie, Robocop:

showed us a variant on Austin and Sommers, and a bit like Iron Man, we have the government creating technology to make super-humans, and here, a superhuman police officer.  This is taken even further, making three animals into borgs for military use in the Eisner-nominated comic book mini-series WE3:

 …a far darker take on the classic cartoon character Dynomutt from Scooby Doo:

Inspector Gadget:

and Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock) in Spider-man 2:

 

both were borgs that made it into big-screen films.

In the DC Comics universe we have a newer Justice League featured member Cyborg, a football player/student who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, when his father’s lab goes up in flames and his father uses his own research to save his son from death:

Before that, Frank Miller envisioned a disfigured future world Green Arrow who would need his own prosthetic cybernetic arm in The Dark Knight Returns:

Mr. Freeze was an early borg villain in the Batman series:

In Marvel Comics Rich Buckler created Deathlok the Demolisher, another cyborg creation, and one of the earliest borgs in comics:

Add to that Marvel characters like Ultron, the “living” automaton:

Ultron’s own creation, named Vision, the “synthezoid”–

and the borg called Cable:

In the 1990s Jim Lee created the Russian borg in the pages of X-Men called Omega Red:

Long before these Marvel characters the cyborgs Robotman and Robotdog graced the pages of DC Comics in the 1940s, and yes, they were not just robots:

The modern Cylons from the reboot Battlestar Galactica TV series are borgs in the Terminator sense, robots made to look and pass for human.  And there were a bunch, not just background, but named characters, the most famous of which was the seductive Number Six:

  

Years before, Philip K. Dick would create more than one borg character in his novels and short stories, revealed to us the best as the Replicants in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner:

Several replicants appeared in the film:

 

…all indistinguishable from humans to the naked eye.

In the horror realm we have Ash, from Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, his arm a functioning chainsaw, and at least in the comic book, like the Star Trek borgs he has an interchangeable arm like a mega Swiss Army knife:

If we include Ash do we also need to include Cherry Darling from Planet Terror, since she has a rifle as a leg like Ash’s arm attachment?

Heck, even horrific camp troller Jason became a borg eventually in Jason X:

Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn comics had both the borg assassin Overtkill:

and the cybernetic gorilla Cy-Gor:

Speaking of borg beasties, even Japanese monster movies embraced borgs, having their hero Godzilla encounter Mechagodzilla:

and Gigan:

In the world of manga and anime we have Ghost in the Machine’s own borg girl Motoko Kusanagi:

leader of a group of borgs, and the villain Cell from Dragon Ball: 

Cowboy Bebop had the borg character Jet Black, which seems influenced by the design of Seven of Nine:

Akira had Tetsuo Shima:

And we have a new one to add to the list because of the film Prometheus, the creepy borg, David 8:

But he’s certainly not the first in Ridley Scott’s Alien universe.  Don’t forget Ian Holm’s Ash in Alien:

Lance Henrikson’s Bishop from Aliens:

and Winona Ryder’s Annalee Call from Alien: Resurrection:

But these are just the biggest examples of borgs in popular genre works.  Countless books, comics and short stories have introduced other borg beings, not to mention every other new video game.   What will be the next borg to enter the mainstream, with a new TV show or movie?

Should we add an Honorable Mention list to the borg.com Borg Hall of Fame, for beings resulting from the merging of humans with cyberspace?  Think of characters like Tron and Flynn from Tron and Tron: Legacy?  Or Neo and Trinity & Co. from the Matrix movies?  You can argue some of the above in or out of the list, but we’ll be visiting most of them here now and then.

Editor note: We’ll update this list from time to time and feature it as its own page on the borg.com home page.  Just click on “Know your borg” at the top of this page now for a full update!

Hype schmype

We’ve all been there… your friends, co-workers, boss, agent, and big brother can’t stop talking about some hot new “must watch” (or read) film, TV show, book, whatever.  They are aghast, sympathetic, and even evangelical when you admit you’ve never seen Highlander or read Harry Potter.  Thus convinced by people whose opinion you respect, you jump on the bandwagon, eager for a great ride.  When the ride comes to a stop, however, you wander off, vaguely nonplussed.  Did I see the same movie?  Is my brother on drugs?  What’s happening here?  Yep: You’ve become the victim of hype that fell flat.

With the theory that intelligent pop culture consumers can have different but equally valid opinions, we’ve asked the borg.com contributors to sound off about their single biggest hype failures.  What highly-anticipated, universally-praised properties didn’t work for us, at all?

Elizabeth Bunce:  This one was easy: The Matrix.  I consider myself an intelligent fan of intelligent science fiction (Gattaca, The Adjustment Bureau), and can appreciate the fun the genre has to offer, too (who doesn’t love Total Recall or Tron?).  Heck, I even thought  Inception was OK!  But, man, did I ever miss the boat on The Matrix.  Admittedly, I was handicapped coming in, as I’m not usually a big Keanu Reeves fan, although I thought he was perfectly cast in Bill & Ted and Speed.  I know the super-slow-mo, bullet-dodging SFX are much admired (not to mention imitated), but I found them just plain silly.  Any minute, I expected them to start spouting stilted, dubbed-in English like some vintage Kung-fu send-up.  But my biggest problem with the film is a thematic one.  I just can’t get behind the premise.

Ok, I can believe that our world is just a virtual reality recreation foisted upon us by energy-hungry robots.  That’s not my problem.  What I can’t get around is everyone’s eagerness to shed that illusion and return to the drudgery of real life.  Sure, freedom fighting is all very noble, and 150 years of fantasy have convinced us there’s no place like home, but come on!  If I have to choose between riding a motorcycle with Carrie Ann Moss or slurping rations in some dingy 23rd century version of your mom’s basement, along with the other gamer geeks who haven’t showered in three days… Yeah.  I’m gonna let those metal squids suck out my brain.

Art Schmidt:  The first thing that popped into my head was a movie I saw last year.  I had been reading about this movie for a year.  The director had directed three of my favorite movies from the last ten years, and this time he was writing the screenplay, too!  Bonus!!!  The early hype on this movie was phenomenal, and the trailers that trickled out onto Facebook were mind-blowing.  This movie was going to absolutely R-U-L-E!!!  And then it didn’t rule.  In fact, the movie was a certifiable train wreck.  The director was Zack Snyder, and the movie was, of course, Sucker Punch.  However, I can’t list this as my pick for the thing that I hated that everyone else liked, because no one liked it.  The studio “suckered” me into giving them my money, so I have no close friends to conveniently lay the blame for that lost ten dollars on.  Now for my real pick.  The Millenium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novels).

Critics said it was cutting-edge, gritty and brilliant.  My neighbors who read it said it was awesome (I have one neighbor who is from Ireland, and he said they were “brilliant”).  My favorite entertainment magazine said the novels were better than anything being written out there.  They were going to make a movie out of them, even though movies had already been made out of them in Europe.  I read all three, and I’m still confused about why everyone is so gaga over them.  I mean, all I really got from those books was that men are pigs, Europeans think women cheating on their husbands is just fine, and Swedes drink a lot of coffee.  I mean, really, what’s with all the coffee?  I like coffee, I drink coffee every day, but seriously, all anyone ever drinks in those novels is coffee (okay, twice someone drank mineral water and I think I recall a couple of scenes where someone had a beer but wished they were drinking coffee).  The majority of scenes are literally defined by the presence or lack of a coffee maker, whether someone turns it off when they leave the room, and by what type of coffee cup the people in the scene are drinking their coffee out of.  And the first book, seriously?  The climax is the discovery that the ‘murder’ being investigated never actually happened, but no worries, there is a murderer to be apprehended anyway.  I give up.

Jason McClain:  I have to agree with Elizabeth: hype is the most dangerous thing to my possible enjoyment of a movie. I often wonder how my opinion of The Blair Witch Project would have changed if I would have seen it three weeks later.  It goes beyond hype, though. If I know I want to see a movie, I avoid everything about it.  I learned this trait from Entertainment Weekly when Seven came out. I had no clue Kevin Spacey was going to be in the movie until I read an Entertainment Weekly article.  I still remember how upset I was when he came on the screen and that moment of surprise had been ruined.  So, I avoid trailers. (Yes, I will put my head down and hum to myself while in a theater.)  I avoid commercials.  I avoid everything if it is a movie that I know I want to see.  If it isn’t, I don’t care.  If it isn’t, I will listen to people, watch all the funny moments in a trailer, get excited when a commercial comes on the TV and probably try to go opening weekend.  I may as well cover the movie in bacon grease and throw it in a pen of tigers, because at that point the movie is doomed to fail in my eyes.  When I started to think about the movies I remember being ruined by hype, I thought about movies that I don’t find funny (Shrek 2, Old School or The Hangover) but comedy is subjective and it is possible I was in a bad mood the day I saw these.  (A bad mood, after hype, is the second most dangerous filter with which to view a movie.)  I could mention an overly long nature documentary that anthropomorphizes animals that live in the furthest south region possible, but these aquatic birds can’t defend themselves.  Only one movie made me throw things in anger and yell at the TV screen during the Academy Awards, Gladiator.

That movie still makes me angry to this day.  Sure, it was a crappy year for movies when it won (except for Almost Famous), but that doesn’t excuse it.  I have no clue how anyone ever in the history of all recorded time found this movie to be anything but awful.  Because my jaw is clenching right now and I want to punch a CGI tiger in the mouth, I think I’m going to sign off.  I’ll just say this one last thing: Gladiator made me laugh more than Shrek 2, Old School and The Hangover combined.  I’m not too sure which side that reflects poorly on (or if it is on me) but only one of those things won Best Freaking Picture of the year.

C.J. Bunce:  There are so many over-hyped films that grate on me to this day that I’ve mentioned here before, like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), then there are so-so movies that critics rave about, like almost all the Coen Brothers movies (Raising Arizona excluded).  I have wanted to like The Big Lebowski, but I don’t know what it is supposed to be.  Funny?  Nope.  Serious?  Nope.   But to force myself to choose one big hit that everyone liked except me–I ultimately land at the Coen Brothers’ Fargo as my biggest hype disappointment.  Why?  Some background on how I think:  Part of the test the U.S. courts used to determine whether something qualified as obscene included a test referred to as the Miller test.  Basically, the work would be shown to have no socially redeeming value if it lacked “any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” (I’m leaving out a bit but this is the main part).  Fargo has none of this, at least for me.

Is it supposed to be funny?  I’ve known people from Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Dakotas and they never talked with such an overdone, obnoxious accent as the actors in this movie.  Innocent people in a wood chipper as entertaining?  Bad acting, bad story, absurd antics, preposterous murder plot, a film that left me wanting my money back.  And the movie claims it is based on a true story, but that’s nonsense other than a guy once really put his his wife in a woodchipper.  Macy and McDormand have done better.  Seven Academy Award nominations and a win for McDormand for her acting in this film?  The National Film Registry and American Film Institute Lists?  Oh, Coen Brothers, make a film I like, please.  At least Wes Anderson had The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you ever had an inkling to go to film school, if you are going to film school or if you teach film courses, Richard Rickitt’s Special Effects: The History and Technique should be required reading.  Not only is it a comprehensive work about the history and craft of special effects, it is a detailed account of the history and progress of film, and could serve as a college textbook to a master class in film technique.  And it is also a history of science and technology in its own right.

Rickitt’s Special Effects is a well-reviewed work, which is why it was purchased for me as a gift.  It is used as a college text in film schools and for good reason.  It has seen several printings since its first printing in Great Britain in 2006, including a reprint as recently as 2011, and it is as current as a nearly 400-page volume can be, including new effects technologies employed as recently as the Lord of the Rings films and X-Men 3.

Because of its price, Special Effects may not be for the casual movie enthusiast–but only because of price–as it can cost $40 for older editions and up to $230 for the most current edition.  Yet if you are really interested in behind-the-scenes cinema, it is probably worth saving for, and if you’re a college student, just slip it into your current semester’s $800 book purchase (at least that’s what I spent on each of my last few semesters for books and I can’t imagine prices have dropped–plus this book is actually a fun read you’ll hold on to).  It’s breadth is enormous, with both general and detailed coverage of landmark people and technologies from George Melies to Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen to Industrial Light & Magic to Pixar and Weta.  Although it purports to cover merely Special Effects, in truth it covers the beginning of film and every technology that was created since, building upon each discovery and new invention to bring us to the complex CGI technologies of today.

This is far from a quick read, and will likely serve as a reference work or one you pull off the shelf from time to time when you need something exciting to read of the non-fiction variety.  I mentioned college text–Rickitt is a good teacher, clearly explaining in terms anyone can understand not just the “what” but the “why” and “how” of benchmarks in film with visuals and diagrams, including explanations of the role and use of technologies like the zoetrope, the parts and functions of the modern movie camera, the history and types of film recording materials, matte film, blue-screens, film printing, optical and digital compositing, the A to Z of film projection, post-production techniques like image interpolation, the use of mirrors, forced perspective and miniaturization, pyrotechnics, cloud tanks, models, motion-control photography, digital and procedural modelling, texture mapping, special effects animation, rotoscoping, 3D technologies, motion blur, digital skin, performance capture, particle systems, high dynamic range images, match moving, rendering, the A to Z of matte painting, props, make-up, prosthetics, animatronics, sculpting, inner mechanisms, performance systems, digital make-up, atmospheric effects, breakaway effects, sound recording, sound effects mixing, foleying, dialogue replacement, and the future of film technologies.

A diagram from Rickitt’s Special Effects: The History and Technique

The author uses hundreds of photographs and provides real-use examples from movies to explain techniques.  Detailed analysis is used for movie benchmarks Rickitt has identified, including The Abyss (1989), The Birds (1963), Aliens (1986), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Citizen Kane (1941), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), Destination Moon (1950), Earthquake (1974), The Exorcist (1973), Fantastic Voyage (1966), Forbidden Planet (1956), Forrest Gump (1994), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Jurassic Park (1993), King Kong (1933), King Kong (2005), The Last Starfighter (1984), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), The Lost World (1925), The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003), Metropolis (1926), Mighty Joe Young (1949), 1941 (1979), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), all six Star Wars films (1977-2005), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), The Thief of Baghdad (1940), Things to Come (1936), Titanic (1997), Toy Story (1995), Tron (1982), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The War of the Worlds (1953), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Willow (1988), and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).

You’ll learn about ambient occlusion, beam splitters, cannon cars, color separation, depth of field, diffuse reflection, dissolves, dubbing, edge detection, emulsion, extrusion, fluid dynamics, go-motion, introvision, the Lydecker technique, morphing, NURBs, plates, ray tracing, squibs, time-lapse and time slice photography, wipes, zooms and zoptics.

An early edition of Rickitt’s book–note that earlier versions will not have the most up-to-date coverage of current technologies. The version shown at the top of this review is the most recent edition.

And along with the “what”  and “why” Rickitt profiles a “who’s who” of landmark film creators, including Georges Melies, Mack Sennett, D.W. Griffith, James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, George Pal, Roger Corman, Irwin Allen, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson, Dennis Muren, John P. Fulton, Linwood Dunn, Richard Edlund, Dennis and Robert Skotak, Arnold Gillespie, Theodore and Howard Lydecker, Gordon Jennings, John Dykstra, Steve Gawley, Lorne Peterson, Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen, Phil Tippett, John Lasseter, Norman O. Dawn, Albert Whitlock, Peter Ellenshaw, Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce, Stan Winston, Rick Baker, Ken Ralston, Cliff Richardson, Michael Lantieri, Jack Foley, Ben Burtt, Gary Rydstrom, and the Carboulds.

But you don’t need to look at Special Effects: The History and Technique as a dense book of facts.  Pick it up now and then and enjoy reading the book in 4-5 page stints and you’ll become an expert in film in no time, or just be amazed at how the magic of film works.

Special Effects: The History and Technique has a forward by Ray Harryhausen and an appendix, including a glossary of film terms and awards.

Review by C.J. Bunce

My best reaction to movies comes from those films that are not over-hyped, and that have trailers that do not show too much of a film’s content.  Examples are Inception and Avatar, two movies that were so hyped that by the time I saw them I was disappointed.  Not so for Source CodeSource Code is so innovative and interesting that you may keep talking about it, keep thinking about the different elements, the different choices made and possibilities the story reveals.  If they only made sequels to movies like this.

For one, my favorite sci-fi movie subject involves alternate realities, whether they are parallel timelines, time loops, time travel, or alternate histories.  On a basic level you will encounter time loops, a discussion topic from earlier this week, and you may encounter other alternate reality topics in Source Code.  Despite its title, it is not a computer techno-romp like The Net.  That’s a good thing.

Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man on a train who appears out of nowhere and believes he is an American soldier whose last memory was fighting a battle in Afghanistan.  He is pulled out and replaced into a confined space, and from the trailer we know this place is a train that has a destiny with some type of horrible explosion.  Like Unstoppable, reviewed earlier here, only a handful of characters and tight locations are necessary to tell this tale.  The grandiosity of the typical blockbuster is not necessary here to deliver fast-paced action and harrowing circumstances for Gyllenhaal and co-star Michelle Monaghan, and uniquely difficult decisions for a project leader played by Vera Farmiga.  The is a small film, but high concept.

Gyllenhall fails to disappoint.  Joining Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis, his films always deliver.  His acting project choices, like this film, will hopefully continue to propel his career forward.  Like his character in Zodiac, the suspense mystery about the search for the real-life Zodiac serial killer, his character in this film struggles with confidence, angst, and a desire to break out of his confinement, his lot.  His performance here is as equally exciting as his acclaimed role as a troubled youth in Donnie Darko.

Source Code contains traditional sci-fi elements, to the point you would swear this was based on a Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke or Ray Bradbury story.  It has the feel of a classic sci-fi story.  Like with Bruce Willis’s Twelve Monkeys, Gyllenhaal’s Colter Stevens is a traveller, not by choice, not in the way we all dream about what you could do if time travel were possible.  Like characters in Connie Willis books (To Say Nothing of the Dog, Lincoln’s Dreams, Doomsday Book, All Clear) Stevens has a mission to complete, but not all is as it appears.  Rounding out the key characters of the story is Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale), a lead actor type who is always equally solid in a supporting role as “the man behind the curtain.”  Look for the voice of Scott Bakula as Stevens’ father, not entirely coincidental considering this Quantum Leap-inspired quest.  And see how this could be considered another borg story, not unlike The Six Million Dollar Man.

Source Code could be compared with the Matrix, but Source Code is much better, much smarter, and more compelling.  As with movies like War of the Worlds, you are forced to ask yourself “what would I do if I suddenly awoke in Stevens’ shoes?”  Directed by Duncan Jones, this film does not follow any typical pattern and the story begins in the middle of the action, like a lot of TV shows, such as Heroes, have been filmed in recent years.  The pace works really well here.  You may be able to stay ahead of the action and decisions a few times throughout the movie, but I’d wager no one could predict the branches the story ultimately follows.  What contributes to the gravity of the characters’ situations is the believability of the circumstances in our current era of varying colored alerts.

While you’re buckling down for Irene to arrive this weekend, you could do a lot worse than renting Source Code on DVD or Blu-Ray.  Source Code’s creative story, action, and good acting earn 4.5 of 5 stars.  This may have fared even better in theaters, because so many details contribute to the story understanding that even on a decent size small screen you may miss some of these bits and pieces.

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