So because of Hour of the Wolf’s pre-emption last week, my review of TRANSCENDENCE, the science fiction romantic thriller in which Johnny Depp’s consciousness is loosed on the Web and a number of people — including Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy — fret about what that means for the fate of humankind (hint: How do you feel about nanobots everywhere?), was held for airing on this week’s show. Which is cool — I mean, the film, unfortunately, doesn’t live up to the promises of its premise, but the notion of what happens to humanity as it begins to intersect more and more with technology is so potent that I feel an examination of what director Wally Pfister did right and wrong in exploring the concept is still worthwhile. So, tardy though it may be, please enjoy this latest segment.
(Interestingly, HotWolf host Jim Freund so liked last week’s review of 23:59 — which was intended only to run on the Web — that he also included it in this week’s show. So we were actually ahead of the curve in that sense. BTW: If you tried to listen to that segment earlier this week and the player was broken, it’s now fixed. Give it a shot & enjoy!)
Click on the player to hear the review.
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It’s some kind of irony that the experience of watching a film called TRANSCENDENCE is far from transcendent. Not that director Wally Pfister doesn’t try: The story of a scientist working in A.I. research (Johnny Depp) who has his own consciousness transferred to the Web is lushly mounted (as befits a big-studio production from the man who previously served as Christopher Nolan’s director of photography), reliant on an atypically grounded mise en scene that emphasizes the love story between Depp’s scientist and his colleague wife (Rebecca Hall), and chock full of actors who can deliver skilled performances (joining Depp and Hall are Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara and Paul Bettany). Unfortunately, it’s that restraint, along with poor plotting (Really? We’re supposed to empathize with anti-technology terrorists whom we’ve previously seen murdering a roomful of innocent people with poisoned cake? Really?), that leaves the film as a promise unfulfilled.
The Cinefantastique Online team of Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons get together to weigh what went right and what wrong with this ambitious attempt at dramatic science fiction. Click on the player to hear the show.
By any logic, the prehistoric creatures of the ICE AGE franchise should be extinct by now, or at the very least have migrated to the direct-to-video market, like their colleagues over at THE LAND BEFORE TIME had the grace to do. But no, here we are with ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, the 3D, CG-animated film in which we rejoin family mammoth Manny (voice by Ray Romano), irascible saber-tooth tiger Diego (Denis Leary), and wacky sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) as they deal with the break-up of Pangaea, an iceberg full of animal pirates and, for some reason, a teen mammoth (Keke Palmer) who just wants to belong to the cool gang (never mind the shifting of land masses that WILL VERY LIKELY KILL HER).
Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons went to see all the animal hijinks and weigh in on how the fourth installment of the ICE AGE franchise fares, whether the filmmakers are at all invested in these films at this point, and where the hell did all the humans go? Then, Steve takes a look at the genre elements in Woody Allen’s latest, TO ROME WITH LOVE, and Dan gives his thoughts on the paranormal thriller RED LIGHTS. Plus, what’s coming to theaters next week.