Category Archives: Movies

Cyperpunk Dystopian Matrix Movies and Films

Review: Terminator Dark Fate

Terminator Dark Fate Poster

Terminator: Dark Fate, while being the 6th film in the Terminator franchise, is set after T2 and meant as both a soft reboot and a sequel to the Terminator saga. With the failures that were Genisys and Salvation, Terminator: Dark Fate chose to go back to the basics, with James Cameron assisting in producing and writing the story, and Tim Miller (Deadpool) directing. Also returning are Arnold Schwarzenegger (a Terminator) and Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), both of which provide a superb performance. Newcomers are Mackenzie Davis as Grace, an augmented human soldier from the future, Gabriel Luna as a Rev-9, the newest and most deadly Terminator series we’ve seen yet, and Natalia Reyes as Daniela “Dani” Ramos, a young woman who is the Rev-9’s new target.

A Familiar Story

Dani is working at a car factory plant in Mexico when Grace, an augmented human soldier from the future, arrives to save her from Rev-9, the latest Terminator from a new terrible future. In their attempt to flee from the Rev-9 they encounter Sarah Connor, and then later another older Terminator, who all work together to protect Dani from the deadly and seemingly unstoppable Rev-9.

Review

Dark Fate was an exciting, thrilling way to spend 2 hours. It is definitely better than Genisys and Salvation, and a solid addition to the saga, but because of its need to reboot the series, it seems that the director and writer here didn’t want to take any chances by trying things outside the box. There was nothing particularly new in this movie, which can be both a good and a bad thing.

The Action

Visually, it was very well done. There’s a fast-paced car chase scene that reminded me of the highway chase scene in The Matrix Reloaded. There’s also a thrilling plane chase scene which was done in a creative way, and also reminded me of the plane scene from Fast and Furious 7. There were also a few nods to the previous films, in terms of parallel scenes, and it’s always nice to see the gang back together obviously.

Dark fate Heroines

A New Subtle Dynamic

What I wasn’t expecting was how much I enjoyed watching three different kinds of women that were all bad-ass in their own way. Sarah Connor is a grizzled, bitter, hard-as-nails human with enough emotional trauma in her past to make her cold non-nonsense character make perfect sense. Grace is a highly-capable super-soldier whose sole focus is her mission, and by extension her compassion towards protecting her charge, Dani, from harm. The short flashbacks of Grace’s character did a great job filling in her motivations as well. Finally, the whole film is tied together by the completely human responses that Dani delivers while learning she is being targeted by a robot death machine and needing to adapt on the fly to everything happening around her. She makes some mistakes and is shocked and frozen in place at times, which is exactly what she needs to do to ground the film in a realistic human reaction to an unrealistic situation. She also does a much better job of it than Sarah Connor did in T2.

I look forward to seeing more films with highly-capable action heroines that can actually perform the action well. Halle Berry’s performance in John Wick 3, for instance, left me a little wanting. Dark Fate did not.

In fact, for most of the film, there are hardly any men at all. The only men we do see are actually robots, and therefore aren’t really men at all. There are no male guardians telling these women what to do, and no male saviors of the world, which has always been the cliche in the majority of action films we’ve seen before. This made for a very interesting dynamic.

More interesting characters

The characters in Dark Fate were a lot better developed this time around compared to Genisys and Salvation, and as a result it made me care more about what happened to them. I also liked the sense of despair that gripped the characters, and the viewers, as nothing seemed to stop the main terminator antagonist. All three female protagonists are struck by tragedy in one way or another at some point in their story, which makes them deeper characters. For Dani, it’s something that happens early on in the film, so her pain is raw and fresh. For Sarah, it’s a tragic event explained at the beginning of the film, which is revisited later on. For Grace, it’s the traumatic experiences that came with the end of the world in her dystopian future, which she relates to the others and gives her greater depth. However, her backstory was a bit shallower to the other two, and I would have liked to have seen more of her story developed, but it may have been cut for timing reasons.

New Terminator

A New Terminator

Despite expecting everything to be the same, one thing that really surprised me in this film was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. In the film this Terminator has lost any connection with Skynet, and therefore has no more mission objectives. So what happens to a T-100 without orders, but with the same processing and adaptability capabilities that it had before? This film answers this question. In retrospect it makes sense and I guess I should have seen it coming, but although I recognized the moment when the Terminator would present himself, up until that point I had no idea when or where he would come up in the story, and that was great. Also, what happens to the Terminator by the end of the movie felt like a very elegant way to wrap up Schwarzenegger’s involvement in the series, allowing for different models and different faces in the future, if ever a sequel is made. There were other clues to Schwarzenegger perhaps ending his involvement in the series, such as him choosing not to pick up his iconic black sunglasses after considering them for a second, and telling a family he was with that “I won’t be back,” modifying his classic tagline. For Terminator fans, these subtle moments spoke volumes.

Setting

This film takes place in Mexico, at the border, and in Texas, which allowed the film to offer soft nods to current cultural clashes such as immigration and gun control. There’s an exciting car chase and highway scene at the beginning, and then another scene in the air with a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and a Humvee, as well as a heart-pounding scene underwater at/in a Dam. While most of these scenes are different from previous Terminator films, some, in particular the final scene of the film, felt very familiar to the previous films, which was great.

Final Verdict

Although I left the theater feeling like, while enjoyable, this film offered little new (it stays formulaic in its plot of vulnerable human who is the salvation to mankind is protected and on the run from an unstoppable robot killing machine) upon reflection there were a lot of things that I really enjoyed in this film. The female heroines, both the T-100 and the Rev-9, Sarah’s performance and backstory, the action, the set locations (mostly Mexico, which is something different for the series, but also in the air and underwater), it all combined for an exciting and enjoyable film.

My final rating for this film is 8/10. It’s not a very complex plot and doesn’t offer much new, but the performances, action, and special effects were all great, making this a very enjoyable film to watch and a welcome addition to the Cyberpunk genre (even though this film had a limited amount of high-tech, low-life elements in it).

It’s a shame that this excellent film under performed in the box office. I would guess that it’s performance has nothing to do with the quality of the film, and more to due perhaps with audience fatigue with the series, coupled with bad associations with the previous films and perhaps a general decrease in the numbers of people going to the movies. This unfortunately means that a sequel will probably be shelved for the indefinite future.

Matrix 4: What we know so far

matrix-screens

It’s been a slow drip of news, and what we’ve learned has been sparse indeed. I’ve been holding back on reporting each news piece as I learn it, deciding instead to wait until there’s enough little bits of information to warrant an update. Well, we’ve reached that threshold, so here’s everything we’ve learned so far about the production of Matrix 4.

1. The name of the Warner Brothers project is Ice Cream.

A tasty project name, to be sure. I guess it sounded better than tasty wheat.

2. Keanu Reeves has read the script and says it’s “ambitious”

On September 24th, Reeves was on the red carpet with his sister Karina Miller attending the premiere of the new movie she produced, Semper Fi. While in attendance, Entertainment Tonight got the chance to speak with Reeves, who admitted that he had read the script. “It’s very ambitious…as it should be!” teased Reeves. Considering how hard it would be to top the original trilogy, including coming up with new concepts and ideas, the fact that Reeves had this to say is exciting to say the least.

3. Carrie Anne-Moss has also read the script and says it is “amazing”

While attending the New York Comic Con last Thursday to promote her role in Season 2 of CBS All Access’ “Tell Me A Story”, Carrie-Anne Moss told a small group of reporters that she’s keeping most of her thoughts about the new Matrix movie close to her heart, but that she has read the script and said “It’s amazing. I’m excited. I’m super excited. Believe me, I’d love to do nothing but talk about it, but, at the same time, there’s a time for that, and I want it to be — I want to give it all the respect and room that it needs.”

Well that’s two promising responses from the only two leads who are confirmed to be returning. Good enough for me!

4. There may also be a young Neo and young Morpheus, in addition to an older Neo and Trinity played by Keanu and Carrie-Anne.

Variety reporter Justin Kroll, the same one who initially broke the story that Matrix 4 was beginning production, revealed on an episode of “My Mom’s Basement” podcast that the Warner Bros. are in the process of searching for a younger actor to portray Neo. This comes along with the previously reported rumor that they were also looking to cast a young Morpheus, which may explain why Laurence Fishburne hasn’t been confirmed as returning yet.

Yahya Black Mantis Aquaman

5. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has been cast.

Once again, Variety was the first to report that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II landed a lead role in Matrix 4. Apparently he met with Lana Wachowski over the week and in recent days,

There’s no word who Yahya will be playing, but it’s a pretty easy guess that he may be playing a young Morpheus after all. You may have recently seen Yahya as playing Aquaman’s nemesis the Black Manta in the latest DCEU live action film. He also played Lupita Nyong’o’s father in “Us” by Jordan Peele, and also had a starring role in the episode “Striking Vipers” alongside Anthony Mackie from season 5 of Black Mirror.

I felt his intensity was welcome in his portrayal of Black Mantis in Aquaman, but I haven’t seen him in anything else so I’m reserving judgement. I, for one, trust Lana’s casting choices though.

6. There may be 2 Matrix projects in production at the same time.

Say what???

Saving the best for last, this news comes from the twitter feed from Zak Penn, a writer who was said to be working on a Matrix project where supposedly Michael B. Jordan was being considered for the role. This is what he had to say:

people keep asking, so let me clarify there are two different projects at wb. i wrote one set earlier in the timeline of the matrix universe. Lana Wachowski is directing a sequel that i did not work on, but cant wait to see. Neither of them are reboots.

So…there are…two matrix projects in production at the same time? This raises more questions than it answers. Is Michael B. Jordan attached to Zak Penn’s project, then? And why aren’t the Wachowskis working on both of them? And what is the project about, could it be a prequel if it’s set earlier in the timeline?

That’s all I know about Matrix 4 updates, but I’ll remain plugged into the system trying to stay updated on any further developments as your operator. What do you think of all these updates? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Review: Sturgill Simpson’s Sound and Fury

sound and fury 2

Sound and Fury is what would happen if you added some Tokyo City LSD to Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Jack, and then made it into an hour-long country rock music video.

This is one of the most refreshing, and unusual, tales of a dystopian story with cyberpunk elements that I’ve seen in recent memory. It reminds me a bit of Love, Death and Robots, except the art and story is a lot more connected.

Here’s why Sound and Fury is not your average Anime tale.

Sturgill Simpson is a country singer. Who loves Japan. And decided to go all out in creating the coolest-ever Japanese Dystopian Future tale to go along with his new country rock album Sound and Fury.

To be fair, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this done. Daft Punk famously created “Interstella 5555” as an anime visual realization of their album Discovery. But Daft Punk is a lot more closely aligned to the typical Cyberpunk style. If you don’t believe me, just watch the latest Tron film.

A combination of different sounds and songs.

Sturgill Simpson’s “Sound and Fury” isn’t all Fury, and has many different sounds. Some are slow, for instance. His vocals are excellent, and the rock is great too, but it’s a very different kind of rock compared to the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077’s Samurai-style Punk Rock.

Listening to it on Spotify

Simpson’s album is up on Spotify, so before watching the entire film (which is now available for streaming on Netflix) I saw first a teaser trailer which consisted of a scene from the film, then a proper trailer, and then I listened to the album on Spotify before watching the film.

I would have never imagined the illustrious, imaginative visuals that go along with Simpson’s music. Much like I would have never imagined Interstella 5555, there is very little in way of connection between the actual music and the visuals. But they provide for one hell of a ride.

Unfortunately, the teaser trailer that got me so excited to watch the film probably oversold it, as in my opinion it’s one of the best, if not the best, scene from the entire film.

So what’s it about?

The film follows the story of a Japanese monastery and family within that are attacked ruthlessly by 2 foreigners, who seem to represent corporate greed or cruelty perhaps. The rest of the tale is mostly one of revenge. There are a couple side stories, such as one of a slave uprising in this dystopian future, and one of what appeared to be a homeless person seeking shelter before a bombardment on the city. All stories seem loosely connected, and I am still trying to piece it all together to be honest.

But my favorite tale, the one shown in the trailer, is the main story of course. The main character, a cyberpunk samurai, leads an attack against the corporate villains, with two katana blades forged from the blood and spirits of the blacksmiths who made them.

A Refreshing Surprise

And just as the climax of battle is about to be reached, with an all out battle between the hero and the two villains, what does the anime deliver? If you guessed an impromptu dance routine featuring literally everyone, including foreshadowing what’s to come before the battle even happened, then you’d be…surprisingly…accurate.

Needless to say, this was very confusing to me. After the dance routine more side stories are told, and then THE CREDITS, only after which the battle and its conclusion is finally shown. So don’t worry, the final battle WILL come, you just have to sit through the credits or fast forward to see it. I guess they really wanted you to appreciate the work that went into making this film. Its production value is outstanding.

Catchy tunes that will stick with you

What’s interesting is what happened to me after I saw the film. The music…REALLY stays with you. Things kick into gear with the driving percussion from Remember to Breathe, continuing along into Sing Along, which you might remember as the visual trailer for the film. Next the tracks speed up with a Good Look, also known as When Everyone Breaks Out Into That Crazy Dance Routine. The album then alternates between slowing down a speeding up, tempered beats and slow crooning served next to jarring electronic chords and discordant sounds in a wild feverish mix of electronic-infused country rock gone mad.

Final Verdict: Definitely worth watching and listening to.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the official trailer below:

 

And then see the music video for Sing Along:

And finally, check out the entire film on Netflix, streaming now. You know you want to.

Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow is what happens when Elysium and Starship Troopers meet Groundhog Day. Featuring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, I was happily surprised to rediscover this gem of a sci-fi adventure that I would argue is close enough to Cyberpunk to warrant a review, although I’ll admit it doesn’t fit the CP moniker too snugly.

What’s it about?

Edge of Tomorrow is a 2014 science fiction action flick from Doug Liman (Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) that is based on the Japanese light novel called All You Need Is Kill from Hiroshi Sakurazaka. It is set in a future where most of Europe has been invaded by an alien race, and major William Cage (Cruise) becomes an unwilling soldier stuck in a time loop reliving the same day’s battle every day, resetting only whenever he dies. Despite a more modest performance in the US, it performed well internationally, which is shame because this is actually a really good movie.

Other than excellent performances from both Cruise and Blunt (I really liked the fact that Blunt is depicted from the very beginning as a complete badass nicknamed the “Angel of Verdun”) the fast pacing and tight direction from Doug Liman make this film a heart-stopping delight to watch, and even despite seeing repeat scenes as a natural part of the time-loop premise, it somehow doesn’t get old.

If you’re a Matrix fan like I am, then you’ll find some similarities in scenes that I haven’t seen in any other movies that get the fast-paced and gritty-world textures just right. The Mimics, one of the aliens, feels very similar to the sentinels in the Matrix.

Image result for edge of tomorrow mimic gif Image result for the matrix sentinels gif

The giant guns, gun turrets on airborne vehicles and mech-suits also feel right at home. The score for this film was also very good, it added to the tension nicely. The special effects were also excellent, and there is a real tension in the air that the enemy is nigh-impossible to kill, along with a fear for the characters being ripped to shreds (again, not unlike the matrix). That is, death is practically guaranteed against this enemy unless if you get to try again. And again. And again.

I wasn’t the only one to really enjoy this movie. Click above to see 5 reasons why you should see Edge of Tomorrow, which is now available to stream on Netflix.

If you like this movie, I’m happy to report that a sequel is currently in the works according to Vanity Fair. I can’t wait to see the dynamic duo of Blunt and Cruise return, and where they decide to take this story in the next installment.

Rating

I would give this film a 9/10 due to excellent acting, special effects, music, direction, and plot. The only reason why I have to take off a point is because this film doesn’t leave you walking away with any deep insights or seeing the world in a different way. It takes you away from the real world for a couple hours, but it doesn’t stick with you like some other films might.

 

 

Blood Machines: Upcoming Short Film from Synthwave legend Carpenter Brut

Blood Machines Carpenter Brut

Carpenter Brut is a Cyberpunk classic Synthwave act consisting of Franck Hueso. A French artist hailing from Poitiers, he’s created such Cyberpunk classics as Anarchy Road, Paradise Warfare, and of course the iconic Turbokiller. Carpenter Brut partnered with the visual team Seth Ickerman to create a stunning music video for Turbokiller, which has been the inspiration for Carpenter Brut to continue along the audiovisual route by beginning a short film project entitled “Blood Machines.”

Blood Machines is a short film inspired by the 80’s films and music, and while written and directed by Seth Ickerman, Carpenter Brut is providing the soundtrack. Production for the film actually began in 2017, and is currently in post-production.

While searching for funding and only having a teaser trailer of late, their official trailer for the short film was just released last week, and oh man does it look good. I’ll let you take a look below.

A Sequel to their music video Turbokiller, Blood Machines follows the tale of two space hunters who are tracking down a machine that is trying to free itself. After taking it down, they witness a chilling mystical phenomenon: the ghost of a young woman pulls herself out of the machine, as if the spaceship itself had a soul. Thus, in order to understand what they had just witnessed, the team begin chasing the woman through space.

There’s still no official release date yet, but it should be releasing soon. For more information about the characters in the short film, you can check out their website here.

Considering that I’m a huge fan of Carpenter Brut and listen to them whenever I get the chance, I’m super excited about this space opera project. I was really impressed by the work Seth Ickerman did for Turbokiller, and I instantly recognize Carpenter Brut’s music any time I hear it in a trailer or a video game. It seems like they are taking the time to do this right and I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing short film.