Lucy: Scarlett Johansson is the New Neo.

LUCY

STARRING: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, Choi Min-sik

DIRECTOR: Luc Besson

GENRE: Action

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: France

It was supposed to be a simple job. All Lucy had to do was deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang. But immediately Lucy is caught up in a nightmarish deal where she is captured and turned into a drug mule for a new and powerful synthetic drug. When the bag she is carrying inside of her stomach leaks, Lucy’s body undergoes unimaginable changes that unlocks her mind’s full potential 100%. With her new-found powers, Lucy turns into a merciless warrior intent on getting back at her captors. She receives invaluable help from Professor Norman, the leading authority on the human mind, and French police captain Pierre Del Rio.

One reason “Lucy” emerges an enjoyably nutty diversion rather than a self-important slog is that it pays deft, knowing homage to any number of Hollywood sci-fi head-trip classics, embedding its ideas in a dense labyrinth of cinematic references that somehow end up feeling sly rather than shopworn. In trying to locate mankind’s precarious position within the greater cosmic order while also anticipating the literally mind-blowing next phase of human evolution, Besson’s film carries unmistakable traces of both “2001” and “The Tree of Life.” (Some of it even takes place in outer space.) Lucy’s gradual rise to omniscience and omnipotence recalls Neo’s own such journey in “The Matrix,” while her many black-suited Korean opponents suggest another army of Agent Smiths (Asian Smiths?). And in those moments when Lucy uploads herself, Big Brother-style, to every computer and TV screen in the vicinity, the movie can’t help but suggest a livelier, less ponderous remake of this year’s similar-themed “Transcendence.”

Not least among these allusions to other movies are the obvious echoes of Besson’s own. Like “La Femme Nikita,” “Leon: The Professional” and “The Fifth Element” before it, “Lucy” is a slickly engineered showcase for a kickass heroine whom we instinctively, unhesitatingly root for. It also feels like a calculated bid for popularity with a younger American audience that may be unfamiliar with this particular Gallic genre maestro (the “Taken” movies he produced notwithstanding). Certainly, after the bland history lesson of “The Lady” and the joyless family-friendly shenanigans of the “Arthur” trilogy, this is easily the director’s most alert, energized and recognizable piece of direction in years — a movie that, with its muscular widescreen imagery, vibrant streaks of color and pulsing musical beats, as well as its occasional tonal missteps and moments of unintentional hilarity, feels unmistakably like the work of its director.

French filmmaker Luc Besson (Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element), who has also produced and written a number of successful thrillers (such as Takenand The Transporter) directs Lucy. In spite of its sci-fi action marketing, the film is more aptly described as sci-fi drama with a few stylized action beats. This isn’t to say that, on its own terms, Besson’s film is a misfire – it just might not be the gun-toting, jump-kicking brawler that some moviegoers were expecting. Instead, Besson delivers an uneven but interesting blend of philosophy and scientific theory that attempts to comment on human nature and our place within all of creation – with subtle and not-so subtle filmmaking decisions to hammer home his message.

PROS:

  • Interesting plot.
  • Scarlet Johannson’s performance.
  • Homage to other films of the genre.

CONS:

  • Not sci-fi action like it was marketed.
  • Poor filmmaking choices.
  • Creationism messages.

SCORE: 6.0 / 10

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Transcendence: Very Close to a Sentient Computer!

Hello everybody! Today we have Johnny Depp’s most recent attempt at film, Transcendence.

TRANSCENDENCE

DIRECTOR: Wally Pfister

STARRING: Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser, Paul Bettany

GENRE: Science Fiction

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United Kingdom, China, United States

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed-to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

Transcendence is an interesting film and I felt that it was released at the perfect time. People are afraid that as we push the boundaries of technology we will eventually make a smart enough computer that will become sentient and rule the world. Transcendence definitely has the same feel as late 1990s science fiction film, but it feels updated and it works.  Wally Pfister, an ace cinematographer known for many blockbuster films, makes his directorial debut and the film looks awesome. His cinematography background truly shines throughout the film.  Transcendence takes an interesting (yet outdated) concept and updates it for the new generation.

Let me put this out there right now, Transcendence is far from perfect Johnny Depp struggles throughout the entire film, his acting background definitely doesn’t show at all. What happened Johnny Depp? Why did you take this role? I could see so many other actors that could have filled the role better than you did. While Wally Pfister is an awesome cinematographer, I feel that he should stay out of directing. The narrative was strong through the first half of the film, but logic problems and plot holes completely ruin the rest of the film. I don’t feel like anyone will absolutely love Transcendence, they will definitely like it or extremely hate it.

PROS:

  •  Interesting concept.
  • Beautiful visuals.
  • Great timing for release.

CONS:

  •  Disappointing narrative.
  • Johnny Depp’s performance.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10

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The Lego Movie: Assembling in 2014

Hello everybody! Today we have the recently released The Lego Movie

THE LEGO MOVIE

DIRECTOR: Phil Lord, Chris Miller

STARRING:  Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

GENRE: Computer-Animated Adventure Comedy

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United States, Australia

An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together. We follow Emmit (Pratt) as he fulfills a legendary prophecy told by Vitruvius (Freeman) which tells of an unknown hero who will foil the plans of Lord Business (Ferrell) with the “Brick of Resistance”.

The Lego Movie is a film that, once I watched the trailer I knew I wanted to see it. Legos consumed my childhood, I was always building different things than what was written in the instructions. Who follows the instructions on these things? Anyway, i found the animation of this film remarkable. The animators found a perfect blend of cgi and the use of Legos. When they show water or liquid, they show it in the form of Legos. Is there an explosion or fire? They show it in Legos. Also, the voice acting is amazing. The ensemble cast really pulled out all of the stops for The Lego Movie.

I have to say that The Lego Movie is definitely not a film for my demographic (18 – 25). While I did enjoy it, it took me a long time before I was actually interested and entertained by the film. I was bored of the plot for the first 30-ish minutes, but I was able to stare at the beautiful animation. I didn’t like Will Ferrell as the villain, I didn’t recognize his voice until the end of the film (once he appeared on screen for the live-action part of the film). His evil plot of world domination was pretty lame too, but I am not going to ruin that for you.

PROS:

  • Majority of voice cast, amazing performances.
  • Beautiful animation.
  • Cameos galore.
  • Ensemble cast.

CONS:

  • Limited Demographics.
  • Will Ferrell as villain?
  • Boring plot.

SCORE: 9.0 / 10

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