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Science Fiction

Film Review: Short Film ‘The Replacement’ at 53rd Chicago International Film Festival

Replacement, The

CHICAGO – The science fiction that we once knew, that we thought was impossible, is fast becoming everyday life. One short film that premiered at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival – “The Replacement” – takes the concept of cloning, applying a chilling and symbolic twist to a science fiction that can also be interpreted in our current times as reality. “The Replacement” screens one more time as part of the “City & State” slate of shorts on Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 (details below).

Film Review: Suspenseful ‘Life’ is Tense, Compelling Science Fiction

CHICAGO – Combining the invasion elements of “Alien” with the life-raft-in-space morbidity of “Gravity,” the new film “Life” maintains a grip from the enlightened beginning to the twisted end. Mars is the origin, so the film joins “The Martian” and “The Space Between Us” in sourcing the red planet.

Film Review: Story Can’t Match Eye-Popping Visuals of ‘Passengers’

Passengers

CHICAGO – The use of science fiction for all kind of stories is one of the hottest go-to genres for Hollywood today. “Passengers” is a love story, and adds the visual glory of modern special effects…but the soapy tale of a star-crossed (literally) couple is problematic and cliché ridden, and breaks at the end with heroics that are shoehorned into the rest of the scenario.

Interview: Director Rujanee Mahakanjana Takes a Different Route to ‘Lab 99’

Rujanee by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – Director Rujanee Mahakanjana has created some atypical and artistic statements in her film career. Her studio Nebula Creatives represents that work, which includes the short films “Random Seating” and “Out of Sight,” and feature films “Man and His Erections” and “Parallel Universe.” She is taking a different route to her next film, “Lab 99,” with a creative process that utilizes the comic book format.

Film Review: Science of the Human Condition Makes an ‘Arrival’

CHICAGO – The film genre of aliens from other planets is as old as the movies. But it hasn’t been told as boldly and humanely as the new film “Arrival.” Its theme is communication, and how this interaction relates to the concept of the life cycle. Yes, it’s lofty, but it is also edge-of-the-seat engaging.

Film Review: ‘Morgan’ Takes Out Intelligence in Artificial Intelligence

CHICAGO – There is nothing like the feeling of watching a completely immersive sci-fi film that delivers the complexity of technology in a modest package, and uses elements of nature to create a beautiful contrast. Unfortunately, “Morgan” doesn’t deliver on the enlightenment it promises.

Film Review: There are Future Consequences in ‘Ex Machina’

CHICAGO – The title “Ex Machina” is a play on Deus ex machina, the stage/scenario term meaning god from the machine, or the basic happy ending. By cutting out the “Deus” in the phrase, the film is left with just the machine, and the humans.

Interview: Director Alex Garland Seeks Humanity in ‘Ex Machina’

CHICAGO – Who are we anyway, when as inventors of artificial intelligence, we can create a new wave of thought process? That is what writer – and now director – Alex Garland (“28 Days Later…,” “Sunshine”) has been grappling with his entire career. His directorial debut is the stunning and prescient “Ex Machina.”

Film Review: Farcical Themes Bring Laughs to ‘The World’s End’

CHICAGO – In the collaboration of actors Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright, the best in life come in threes. Following their sublime “Shaun of the Dead” and the wacky “Hot Fuzz,” comes ther third comic film rendering, “The World’s End.”

Interview: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright at ‘The World’s End’

CHICAGO – Good things come in “threes.” It’s the new film, “The World’s End,” the third of the infamous “Cornetto Trilogy” – after “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” – and there are the “three” that made it all happen. It’s the actors and co-creators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along with director/writer Edgar Wright.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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