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Cyberpunk Matrix Movies and Films

Love, Death & Robots: Review

Love Death & Robots: il trailer della serie Netflix creata ...

A Series of Animated Shorts

The latest Cyberpunk series, Love, Death & Robots, is finally out! Or rather, the latest sci-fi/fantasy animated short anthology is out.

Love, Death & Robots is a wonderful combination of short films loosely connected around the theme of the title, combining visually stunning stories from some deep concepts to ridiculous tales of sentient yoghurt.

No, I’m not kidding. It’s episode 6 and is called “When the Yoghurt Took Over”.

With 18 episodes in total running between 6 minutes and 17 minutes each, there are only five stories that could truly be considered “Cyberpunk”, with a few others similar in style and the rest simply unrelated. I’ll be covering these

1. Sonnie’s Edge: An Instant Cyberpunk Classic

A well-delivered tale in an interesting world, Sonnie’s Edge reminded me of Pacific Rim meets Altered Carbon a la death-cage-match. Visually stunning, this first episode set the bar too high for me, resulting in my disappointment that (practically) no other episode could compete in quality and themes touched upon. It has the Cyberpunk visuals, the Punk vibe, Cybernetics and Sexuality to make it excellent. I’ve purposely decided not to share the premise, since it does a great job world-building and part of the fun is finding out how the world works.

2. Suits

The second Cyberpunk-like tale is Suits, and tells the tale of a community of farmers from the southern US that need to protect their turf against alien creatures that threaten to invade their land and destroy their crops. It’s basically what would happen if the deep south had to contend with alien wolves attacking their farms, but instead of guns, they were equipped with lasers, mech suits and overpowered artillery. A lot of fun, and a heart-warming tale of killing and community.

3. Aquilus Rift

The next Cyberpunk tale, Beyond the Aquilus Rift, is more Pseudo-cyberpunk and feels more like a tale of “Aliens” if you added a layer of fractured reality. It involves a ship’s crew who begin a routine deep-freeze to travel a long distance through space, only to end up widely off-course upon their awakening. This episode felt more like a Black-Mirror type animated short, with a tale that starts off well enough but slowly gets worse and worse as the episode continues. Great story-telling and visual effects again, but personally not my cup of tea.

4. Zima Blue

Zima Blue was my favorite episode of the entire first season of Love, Death & Robots. Its premise is simple: a reporter is invited to interview a famous artist who is about to reveal his latest piece of work. Although a lot more animated cartoon than digital CGI (it felt reminiscent of Samurai Jack in terms of sharp ages and defined exaggerated features full of vibrant colors and beautiful shapes), the short tale comes full circle in a way that surprised me in the end, and although devoid of action or any fast pacing, replaces it again with a tranquil simplicity in the metaphor it tells of life. Definitely the most profound episode for me, which is perhaps why it’s the one that left the most lasting impact.

5. Blind Spot

Finally, Blind Spot is the second perfect example of Cyberpunk, featuring a high-octane heist of punks trying to steal a valuable microchip from a convoy protected by robots. Another great set of visuals with a fun twist at the end, the artistic style of this episode reminded me more of Cartoon Network’s cartoons, and perhaps something that might show up on Toonami. No CGI digital effects here but also very stylistically different from Zima Blue. It’s a fun fast-paced tale with the right amounts of action and punk attitude.

Final Verdicts:

Overall Love, Death & Robots is a great series highly worth a couple of hours to watch. I would give Sonnie’s Edge 9/10, Suits 7/10, Beyond the Aquilus Rift 6.5/10 simply because I don’t like those kinds of stories as much, Zima Blue 9/10, and Blind Spot 8.5/10.

You can watch Love, Death & Robots streaming on Netflix.

 

Replicas: A Review

Replicas Review

Well, it took me about a month to be able to get a copy of it and watch it, but I’ve finally been able to see one of the latest Cyberpunk movies of 2019, Replicas.

In case you missed my pre-release post about this indie movie coming out in theaters, here’s another summary of the plot. Neuroscientist William Foster is on the verge of a breakthrough in transferring human consciousness to robot bodies when his family is suddenly and tragically killed in a car accident. As a result, Foster decides to take the already developing technology of organic cloning and combine it with his human consciousness work in order to attempt to create flash clones of his family and then imprint their minds on their subsequent clone bodies in time. Not all goes according to plan, however, and not all is at it seems as the corporation he works for starts to suspect something wrong is afoot.

Relatively short in length, Replicas tries to attempt many different things at the same time, and I would venture to say it was fairly successful in doing so. Despite relatively poor CGI for their robot bodies by today’s standards, I thoroughly enjoyed this Cyberpunk take on digitizing consciousness and cloning. Keanu Reeves does a great job of being a harried scientist that has to race against time to solve problem after problem in order to try to bring his family back to life.

I really don’t know why this movie got so poorly reviewed online. Perhaps because of high expectations for some reason? Or maybe because of the relatively flimsy nature of the antagonists in the story? Although I would argue that the real antagonist here is fate. Replicas feels like a Cyberpunk tale of a scientist problem-solving his way through an impossible task, much like Matt Damon did in The Martian. It’s not an action film, if that’s what you were expecting, and it’s nothing deep philosophically like the Matrix was. However, it does an interesting job of asking the question: how would biological bodies interface with mental minds and human brains, in order to have a digital copy of consciousness take on a body or even a clone body? And how would these clones of real life deal with the ethical and philosophical implications of them existing only as a copy of someone or something else?

Overall I would give Replicas a solid 8/10. Go into the movie expecting a race against time and problem-solving story, with little action, and you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

NSFW animated anthology Love, Death & Robots coming to Netflix

It’s being hailed as “the next best thing since the Animatrix”, and judging by the cut-up slices of what we can glimpse from the trailer, I believe it. The Animatrix was revolutionary and visionary, an amazing mix of different artists and different views connected by the unifying theme of The Matrix as subject content. Love, Death & Robots looks like it’s less thematically connected, but it’s taking the animated anthology concept to the next level, and finding the proper home it deserves on Netflix. Coming from Tim Miller (Deadpool, Terminator: Dark Fate) and David Fincher (Mindhunter), the anthology promises “sentient dairy products, werewolf soldiers, robots gone wild, garbage monsters, cyborg bounty hunters, alien spiders and blood-thirsty demons from hell – all converge in 18 NSFW animated stories”.

Check out the teaser trailer for yourself and get back to me, because it’s that good. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiUARnClx80

Take a look at the variety of different formats here! Just like in Animatrix, we have 2D and 3D formats in both anime and full CGI. Apparently the full list will include 5-15 minute segments broaching the topics of racism, government, war, free will, and human nature, and provided from filmmakers from Hungary, France, Canada, Korea, and more. The anthology will be made available on Netflix March 15th, so this is the next Cyberpunk media content to put on your calendars after seeing Battle Angel Alita this weekend!

http://collider.com/love-death-and-robots-trailer-netflix/

 

Alita: Battle Angel Review

Alita: Battle Angel is the latest blockbuster Cyberpunk movie to hit the theaters, and is based on a Manga of the same name, also called GUNNM, and was a project in the works from producer James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) for over 10 years! He had to put the project on the backburner as he worked on many different films during that time, eventually handing off the directing duties to Robert Rodriguez (Sin City). After a long and laborious production involving a lot of cgi work and concept design, Alita was finally ready and its trailers started rolling out last February for a July release. However, its release date was pushed back to December, and then finally to February 14th in the US, with a later release slated for February 22nd for most of the Asian market.

Alita: Battle Angel follows the story of Alita, a cyborg with a human brain, who is found dismembered in a pile of rubbish by cyborg scientist Dr. Ido. Ido decides to give Alita a new robot body, and since she has no memories of who she is or what happened to her, Ido takes her in and gives her the name Alita after his own deceased daughter. Alita soon realizes that she has military instincts and training, and this leads her onto a path of discovery for who she is, as well as fighting the many injustices that she sees along the way. The story takes place in Iron City, a futuristic dystopian city filled with lawlessness and crime, which is located underneath the wealthy city of Zalem that floats above. Only the rich can live in Zalem, and most of the people who live below in Iron City dream to try to live up in the clouds one day too.

Because of the incredible visuals that James Cameron is known for (Avatar), and the cyberpunk elements of martial arts fighting (guns are outlawed in Iron City) and a wide array of cyborgs and cyber-enhancements, I was really looking forward to watching this movie. To prepare me for the movie and get acquainted with the material, I also watched the 1993 anime movie that was based off of the original manga, which I found to be excellent as well.

So after over a year of waiting, I was finally able to go see Alita: Battle Angel opening night last Wednesday, and wow, it definitely did not disappoint.

Sure enough, Alita’s visuals are stunning. I remember trying to soak in all the details in the first few frames as the viewer is introduced to Iron City in all its busy, gritty glory. Much to my surprise, the entire movie is surprisingly bright, especially compared to other cyberpunk films like Ghost in the Shell or The Matrix. This is because, at least at first, most of the film happens during the day since Ido warns Alita that she must be home by curfew because “the city is too dangerous at night”. As a result, the viewer is able to really take in all that is Iron City, which features a variety of people of all races and levels of cyber-enhancements, as well as a plethora of bright contrasting colors of storefronts and ads cobbled together in a style somewhat reminiscent to Blade Runner if it weren’t raining all the time and had clear bright skies.

A lot of people have complained, both from the trailers and from the movie itself, that Alita’s eyes are too big and distracting, creepy even. I personally did not feel this was true, and felt her eyes never distracted or detracted, especially considering the original manga had her with big eyes and that never bothered me either. Rosa Salazar does an excellent job here personifying Alita and working with the CGI rig to truly bring the character to life, and I’m glad she had James Cameron as producer on the project to make sure she had a good script to work with. Christoph Waltz also does an excellent job of playing Dr. Ido, with a very nice added nuance to his character instead of being a boring flat father figure. I was personally very excited to see Mahershala Ali play Vector, the crime boss of Iron City, especially because I’ve seen him do great work in Luke Cage and the visuals of his outfit and mirrorshades looked epic. Although he did a great job, especially personifying two people at times as an implant that allows communication from someone in Zalem occasionally takes over, I wish he had been given more time to do more with his character. Due to him alternating between the two characters, I felt his original character could have been more fleshed out.

The action is excellent, and not only does Alita have some impressive moves using martial arts fighting with her fights against a variety of cyborgs, but also the action in the Rollerball games, which is something that appeared in the manga but not in the adapted animated film. Rollerball feels like a combination of Mad Max and Speed Racer but using roller skates, it was very original and a lot of fun. And although Alita does seem overpowered in some scenes, in others one can see that she’s not only a good fighter, but a clever one, and that was really great to see as well.

There isn’t much I can think of to fault this movie. There is a very powerful scene near the end that connects with the audience emotionally, that was also featured in the film so I was prepared but also glad that they kept it in. The movie’s ending also felt like it could be enough to wrap up the movie, or serve as a proper lead to future sequels, which is why I’m hoping the movie will be successful enough to allow the sequels to happen. Since this movie was one of the last, if not the last, film produced by 20th Century Fox before they complete the process of being acquired by Disney, it remains to be seen how Disney decides to work with their newly acquired material. Although some have been worried about Disney potentially quashing creative freedoms, I feel that Disney’s done a good enough job with Marvel and Star Wars to deserve my trust.

The soundtrack also worked very well with this movie, and although this movie doesn’t wax very philosophical, there are a lot of powerful themes this movie touches on (such as issues of weath inequality, identity, corruption and morality), it does a solid job presenting them along with its excellent world-building and character development, which is no easy feat.

As a result, I give this movie a 9.5/10. It is definitely worth seeing, and for hardcore cyberpunk fans, I suspect this may be the beginning of a new trilogy that along with Netflix’s Altered Carbon may continue setting the standard for modern-day cyberpunk to come.

 

 

Replicas: New Upcoming Cyberpunk film with Keanu Reeves to release this month

When I wrote in November  that Battle Angel: Alita was the next upcoming Cyberpunk film to watch out for, I wasn’t expecting to learn about another big Cyberpunk film that was flying under my radar a month later. But sure enough, here it is: Replicas is the newest new Cyberpunk film to look out for, releasing on the quickly approaching date of January 11th in the United States. An American film from Entertainment Studios, Replicas stars Cyberpunk legend Keanu Reeves, who helped with the production.

The story centers around the efforts of Neuroscientist William Foster to bring his wife and children back to life after they die in a terrible car crash. He tries to do so using cloning and digitizing their consciousnesses into robot bodies, something that is illegal and leads to him being pursued by the government, if the trailer is any indication.

There hasn’t been much news on this film yet, directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (writer for The Day After Tomorrow and The Tourist), and I’m trying to steer away from any reviews before I see it. But this film looks like it will be a fast-paced thriller and something will assuredly go wrong, as it always does in Cyberpunk tales. I’m excited to see Keanu Reeves in a Cyberpunk film again, since I’ve only been seeing him in various kinds of action flicks of late (John Wick, the Man of Tai Chi).

You can check out the trailer and see for yourself if this will be worth the watch here.