Autómata (2014) Review

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Autómata (2014) Review

Directed by Gabe Ibáñez

Starring:
Antonio Banderas
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen
Dylan McDermott
Robert Forster
Tim McInnerny
Melanie Griffith

Running time: 110 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Jacq Vaucan is an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation who investigates cases of robots violating their primary protocols against altering themselves. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

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My Opinion:

So I’m on a bit of an “artificial intelligence” movie kick lately having just watched Ex Machina & Electroma. Like I said in those reviews, sci-fi is my favorite genre & I’m fascinated by artificial intelligence and the singularity occurring and Skynet killing us all and blah blah blah. So, anyway, as it’s a concept that appeals to me I really wanted to see Autómata despite negative reviews. It certainly has its flaws but it’s not the worst sci-fi movie I’ve ever seen. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of the genre.

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First of all, I’ll say you need to go into this one expecting a B movie. I suppose that’ll make some of you instantly uninterested but, well, it’s not something that bothers me as long as there’s something I appreciate about the film. I apologize to my regulars who already know of my love for Hardware but I have to mention it here (as both are low budget sci-fi & especially as Dylan McDermott is in both films – it was so weird seeing him in Autómata!). No, Autómata is no Hardware (Hardware is much better) but it’ll get the same level of people loving it or hating it, I think. Hardware was made on a very low budget (and it’s obvious) but it has such a great feel & characters & simple but fun story. Autómata is also low budget but it looks much prettier while the acting & script feel low budget. Antonio Banderas is fine but the rest of the acting is a little dodgy. I think it also tries too hard to be intelligent but doesn’t ever get very deep so ends up feeling a little pointless. Hardware says “fuck it” and just entertains you with a killer robot, which makes it a far more enjoyable movie than Autómata.

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So what did I like about Autómata? The story was a bit of a mess & the acting was iffy but I still liked the concept of “robots violating their primary protocols against altering themselves”. Also, the look of the robots was quite effective for the budget & the filmmakers managed to create a decent looking dystopian world. And… You know what? It’s late & I really want to watch Game Of Thrones. Only four more episodes & then I’ll be all caught up so I can watch the new ones when they start! Woohoo! So, anyway, I liked Autómata okay but it’s a genre I really go for so I’m likely to enjoy it more than some would. It’s NOT a “good” film but, hey – at least they tried! I’ve seen better & I’ve seen far worse. Maybe give it a watch if you love sci-fi (but first watch Ex Machina, Electroma & HARDWARE). 😉

My Rating: 6/10

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Ruby Sparks (2012) Review

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Ruby Sparks (2012)

Directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris

Written by Zoe Kazan

Starring:
Paul Dano
Zoe Kazan
Annette Bening
Antonio Banderas
Steve Coogan
Elliott Gould
Chris Messina

Running time: 104 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a novelist who, while suffering from writer’s block, creates a character named Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). Calvin starts to fall in love with her and, much to his surprise, wakes one day to find a very real Ruby Sparks in his kitchen.

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My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see Ruby Sparks for ages because I LOVE the idea. It’s such a simple idea for a plot, really, but there were so many ways they could have chosen to go with the film. What would you do if you could write a person into existence & have complete control over them? How many of us would do the right thing & how many of us would abuse that power? I like movies that explore the ramifications (that’s a big word for me!) of situations such as this one.

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Instead of one of my wordy reviews where I go on & on, I’ll keep this simple. I enjoyed Ruby Sparks. It’s a great story AND I even really liked how they chose to end it. There were many different ways they could have gone with the ending & I found it a satisfying conclusion (I’m often disappointed by how films end). The whole script seemed solid and was apparently written by the girl who stars as Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). I don’t know anything about her but I think she shows huge promise as a writer based on this film. She was also probably the highlight of the film as far as the characters were concerned.

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I wasn’t crazy about the character of Calvin but that could be because Paul Dano just kind of rubs me the wrong way. I feel bad saying that kind of stuff because, you know, Paul Dano might read this someday & then I’d feel bad. Other characters such as his mother & her boyfriend (Annette Bening & Antonio Banderas) and his therapist (Elliott Gould) are just quirky enough in that indie movie sort of way without being annoyingly so. Calvin’s relationship with his brother (Chris Messina) is the most interesting one in the film (outside of his relationship with Ruby, of course). His brother has different theories on women & relationships and has his own opinions on how Calvin should deal with having the ability to control Ruby just by writing whatever he wants about her.

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Summary:

The movie asks a good question – if we could actually change our partners and make them exactly the way we want them, would we and, more importantly, SHOULD we? I loved the story & it’s handled very well but, overall, it’s not a movie I’d really feel the need to watch again after seeing it the one time. I didn’t fully connect with the characters (particularly Calvin, who is quite depressing – it’s clear why he’s had so much trouble with relationships in the past). Ruby is a good creation, though, and it’s a very good script – I’d watch another movie written by and/or starring Zoe Kazan.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Justin And The Knights Of Valour (2013) Review

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Justin And The Knights Of Valour (2013)

Directed by Manuel Sicilia

Starring Voice Actors:
Freddie Highmore
Antonio Banderas
James Cosmo
Charles Dance
Tamsin Egerton
Rupert Everett
Barry Humphries
Alfred Molina
Mark Strong
David Walliams
Julie Walters
Olivia Williams
Saoirse Ronan

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Justin (Freddie Highmore) lives in a kingdom where bureaucrats rule and knights have been ousted. His dream is to be become one of the Knights of Valour, like his grandfather was, but his father Reginald (Alfred Molina), the chief counsel to the Queen (Olivia Williams), wants his son to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer.

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My Opinion:

I’ll make this quick & simple: This isn’t exactly a great film but, hey, it’s for kids. It’s not actually THAT bad, though, considering it wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney or even the inferior (well, what I see as inferior) Dreamworks.

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I think kids will enjoy this one. I myself actually enjoyed it a bit more than this year’s Epic, which looked prettier but had a story that was somewhat too complex for the younger kids and had forgettable characters. Justin of course has lessons to teach the audience, just like most kids’ films: Work hard, stand up for what you believe in, and bitchy self-absorbed girls never get the knight in shining armor (well, it would be nice if that last bit were true in real life as well).

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Oh! And you must have a knight who looks like Sean Connery if you’re going to make a movie about knights.

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Boys will probably like this one more than girls (especially if they liked How To Train Your Dragon) because of all the knights and a little bit of fighting with some baddies and Justin going through training to become a knight (the training with the elder knights was by far the best bit of the film). But there’s also a good, feisty female character that girls (and their mothers) will approve of. (You don’t think she’ll actually hook up with Justin by any chance, do you?!) 😉

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So, anyway – Justin And The Knights Of Valour isn’t going to change the world but it’s not the worst movie you’ll ever have to sit through with your kid. It has a solid enough story and few strong characters and the usual “teaching of values” with a bit of silly comic relief. Whatever. It’s better than I was expecting, at least.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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I just wanted to get this quickie review out of the way so that I can focus on finishing my review for Rush in the next couple days. Because that film was fantastic!!! 🙂