“Yesterday Dr. Will Caster Was Only Human.”
Chronologically, we have The Dark Knight Rises, Moneyball, Inception, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Italian Job, Insomnia, Memento. Those are some very impressive credits. Although Transcendence director wasn’t at the helm for the aforementioned films, he was the cinematographer – and very influential on how they turned out looking. Needless to say, the directorial debut of a D.P. with that kind of resume is sure to get some attention. Unfortunately looks aren’t all that matter when it comes to making a film, and without a cohesive story and well-written script, things tend to fall apart. At least Transcendence looked good, right? I wish I could say it did. With a background like Pfister’s, the movie should have been visually better than simply complacent.
Dr. Will Caster (Depp) is a world-renowned scientist in the field of Artificial Intelligence, or AI. His life’s work has lead to his most important project, a sentient computer code-named PIMM. While there are those who strongly support the work Dr. Caster is doing, there are many who fear this type of computer intelligence – mainly a group of extremists called RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology). What they are afraid of is “Transcendence,” defined as an existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level. During simultaneous attacks on AI labs across the country (don’t other countries have AI research too?), Will is shot with a radiation-laced bullet and given only weeks to live. His wife and fellow researcher Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) decides to apply the research of uploading the consciousness of rhesus monkeys and apply it to her dying husband. With the help of Max (Paul Bettany), Will’s mind lives on… or is it really Will?
For those who know anything about comedy, the name “Wayans” is sure to ring a bell. Comprised of 10 brothers and sisters who do everything from acting and writing, to directing and producing, the Wayans have made their name synonymous with funny. And that is only in the first generation, who have given birth to an entirely new line of actor/writer/comedian/directors.
Marlon Wayans, the youngest of the siblings, made his film debut in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) at the age of 16. Although he only had a small role in his brother Keenen’s directorial debut, it would be the start of an epic career spanning the last 26 years. And things don’t look like they are slowing down any time soon.
In honor of the release of A Haunted House 2, the sequel to his hugely successful 2013 comedy (which grossed over $60 million dollars worldwide on a $2.5 million dollar budget), Marlon came to St. Louis to talk about the film and his long-running career.
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This week on the show we struggle to find out just exactly what Oculus means. Not the movie, the word. It gets a little confusing since, like a Led Zeppelin song, they never actually use the title of the movie within the film itself.
Also, we set a land speed record for branching off on a tangent, we learn that Tom has a man-crush on Seth Rogen and we defend the oeuvre of Kevin Smith.
All this plus a box office report from Kevin and video recovery from Dan.
It’s Reel Spoilers #40: Oculus.
You’ve been warned.
The National Football League rules America. It’s the most popular sport in the United States. Grown men don the jersey of their favorite team every Sunday for 16 or more weeks, in hopes of them reaching the Super Bowl. While Kevin Costner’s latest film, Draft Day, isn’t the Super Bowl of sports movies, it’s pretty damn good.
Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Weaver is a month removed from the death of his father, who was a legendary coach of the Browns. To make matters worse, Brown’s mother, played to perfection by Ellen Burstyn, resents the fact that Weaver had to fire his father, in a move that was best for the team. Costner’s romantic interest in the film is played by Jennifer Garner, a numbers crunching, front office executive for the Browns. Weaver must not only deal with his mother’s issues, but the issues of having the #1 draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. His Browns are on the clock and it’s a choice that will not only decide the fate of a team, but the city of Cleveland, as well as Weaver’s future as general manager.
I’m a sucker for a good mind-bender of a movie, and Oculus delivered in that department. Mike Flanagan’s low-budget horror film keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, despite a bit of a slow start.
The story centers around Tim (Brenton Thwaites) and Kaylie (Karen Gillan), two siblings who were witness to some pretty horrible actions by their father onto their mother 11 years earlier. It all started when their father put a mirror in his office. As the film goes on, we find out that the mirror has quite the horrid past, and can play some pretty tricky mind games on the owners of it. Tim was convicted as a child of killing his father and sent to a mental institution. Now 21 and cured, Tim is released and met by Kaylie, who has some plans up her sleeve to destroy the mirror that destroyed her family more than a decade earlier. What ensues is mind bending images, frightening images, and a butt load of suspense.
While watching the film, I found myself thinking back to Insidious, which was a big hit a few years back. Both films had a low-budget, relatively unknown cast, a relatively unknown director, and an original premise. Insidious worked so well that it spawned a sequel. While it’s unknown if Oculus will get the green light for a sequel, the door is definitely left open for one.