Currently Watching : THE MACHINE (2013) – NetFlix Streaming VOD Movie of the Day!

 

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THE MACHINE – Directed by Caradog James, is a definitely worth a look scifi thriller, however if you have the slightest familiarity with the Science Fiction genre you are clearly aware the film is breaking no new ground.

Indeed much of it, is you marveling at the stupidity of supposedly brilliant scientists (a stupidity that unfortunately is not relegated to fiction), that open seemingly obvious Pandora’s Boxes of moral and spiritual and existential chaos.  Humanity has enough trouble being humane to other humans, much less the storm of confusion and conflict and potential horror and abuse, that will spiral up around the  very concept of potentially conscious beings that are built or grown, rather than born in the traditional sense.

It is a door that Mary Shelley saw two hundred years ago we were not ready to walk through, and humanity for all its technological leaps, has become no more emotionally or morally responsibly since. Indeed it can be argued that as our technological marvels increase, our humanity decreases. That humans increasingly become drones, in a world were we have relegated the marvelous to our creations.

So THE MACHINE touches on all of this, but it’s a well worn topic, and the movie often feels plodding and redundant rather than an innovative new take on the dwindling of the human spirit. So again worth a look, but ultimately pretty forgettable.

Far more satisfying takes on the subject would be Whales’ BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN or Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER or the enigmatic, but brilliant UPSTREAM COLOR. The latter is also available courtesy of Streaming.

Grade: B-.

 

Movie News: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is it worth seeing in 3D?


Marvel Studios 10th feature film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, is breaking on American shores this weekend, and the decision people have to make is… ‘is it worth seeing in theaters and more specifically, is it worth seeing in 3D?’

Well, dealing with the broader questions first, whether or not you are a fan of the Marvel Movies, you really have to tip your cap to Kevin Feige and the whole Marvel Studios machine for really doing what seemed if not impossible, highly farfetched; namely creating a critically and commercially successful movie empire based on the shared universe approach of comic books.

It, in many ways, is the return of serial movies, the type popular in the 1930s and 1940s, but done on a massive scale, undreamed of by those low budget quickies of yesteryear.

And Marvel Studios films have managed to be not only popular, but entertaining, sometimes impressively so. I would list their movies from best to worst as:

AVENGERS
CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER
CAPTAIN AMERICA
IRON MAN
HULK

IRON MAN 2
THOR
IRON MAN 3
THOR 2

And now their 10th film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, is poised to carve out their place on the above list. I find myself largely uninterested in the film. Nothing about the premise, the characters, or the one trailer I’ve seen intrigues me at all. Add to that they have an unimpressive ‘Before the Window’ 3D rating from CINEMA BLEND, like all previous Marvel Movies, and it is no incentive to see this in 3D.

But what does stand out in opposition to all that disinterest is the director, James Gunn. James Gunn like many of the directors Marvel picks, lacks any pedigree in the action or blockbuster genre, but like other directors chosen, they have a personality to the films they have directed, and a way with actors and characters, they have glimmerings of potential.

I enjoyed James Gunn’s SLITHER and I do think Marvel Studios helmed by Kevin Feige have been nothing short of phenomenal in picking talent both in front of and behind the camera. For all the heat their choices engender prior to the film, their unconventional choices have proven movie after movie, to be great.

And it is hard to argue with great. I have no interest in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY as a concept or as characters, but I am interested in seeing James Gunn do a big, fun, space hopping action picture.

So verdict: I’ll catch GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on a matinee, or 2nd run, without 3D

Hopes this helps anyone on the fence, and feel free to chime in with your opinions. ENJOY!

Favorite Films discovered on Streaming On-Demand in 2013!

Favorite Films discovered on Streaming On-Demand in 2013!

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2013’s most interesting films for me weren’t found in the theater, or backed by major studios. They were small, even intimate, Independent films found courtesy of the new distribution opportunities that venues such as Amazon Prime and Netflix have opened up.

HALO 4 FORWARD ONTO DAWN, BOY WONDER, ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM, and HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN are films seen in 2013, that here in 2014 still stand tall as memorable and commanding viewing experiences. The last three being some of the most haunting examples of existential angst meets neo noir meets anti-hero you are likely to find. And HALO 4 FORWARD ONTO DAWN on a shoestring budget, creates a scifi epic with more heart and style than any ten STARSHIP TROOPERS.

These are films so good that having seen them for free courtesy of streaming, I had to purchase them on DVD/Blu-Ray. After viewing them you may agree. You can price them at the links below.

Boy Wonder

Another Zero in the System

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn [Blu-ray]

House of the Rising Sun

Deal, Collectible of the Day : STAR WARS Frames

Star Wars: Frames

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Star Wars: Frames … Price Your Copy Here!

Book Description
Release date: October 29, 2013 | ISBN-10: 1419704702 | ISBN-13: 978-1419704703 | Edition: 1
After George Lucas finished work on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, he wanted to look back on the Star Wars saga with an entirely new point of view: isolating stills, or frames, from each of the six Star Wars films, focusing on them intensely as works of photography and design, and reproducing them in a book. For two years Lucas went through more than 150,000 frames per film, editing more than 1 million frames down to the 1,416 images that now comprise Star Wars: Frames, a testament to the hard work, craftsmanship, and dedication evident in every frame of every film. Star Wars: Frames brings together Lucas’s personal shot-by-shot selections into a lavishly designed two-volume hardcover set—one volume for the Original Trilogy and one volume for the Prequel Trilogy. For collectors and fans, Star Wars: Frames is the ultimate look on this grand project devoted to a cinematic phenomenon—and the ultimate Star Wars collector’s tome.

Editorial Reviews
Review
“Cinematography is not about technology. It’s about art, it’s about taste. In the end it’s about understanding your craft.”- GEORGE LUCAS””FRAMES” is about allowing the reader the time and the space to examine fully that (“cinematography”) craft.”- J.W. RINZLER, Executive Editor, LucasFilmAuthor of “The Making of Star Wars”

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Product Details
Hardcover: 736 pages
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1 edition (October 29, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1419704702
ISBN-13: 978-1419704703
Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 12.7 x 3.7 inches

Star Wars: Frames … Price Your Copy Here!

ON-DEMAND Viewing Guide: The best and worst Roku

If you have a Roku Box and are looking to explore the world of ON-DEMAND viewing, the challenge is always to find quality free channels, with good content and no ads or limited and unobtrusive ads.

That is always a fluid hunt, as channel offerings vary from month to month, and in some cases week to week.

So without further ado my list of best and worst of Roku Channels this October.

If you have a Roku I do recommend supplementing free channels with at least one provider such as AMAZON PRIME or NETFLIX just because the Roku Free Channels, by themselves, you will find hard-pressed to fill your TV watching needs. However pair the free channels with AMAZON PRIME or NETFLIX and you can safely kiss your cable bill goodbye.

So what are, the free channels that are worth your time?

Well I’ll start with the disappointing, CRACKLE. When I first started using Roku this channel was great, however in a scant month their ad usage has become so excessive (you get ads before movies, you get ads if you fast forward or rewind, you get ads every 15 minutes, and you are unable to fast forward ads) and so annoying and obtrusive that it is not worth the frustration of dealing with.

So CRACKLE from a channel that was initially one of the best, has become absolutely one of the worst. (Their XBOX ads are so annoying as to be an assault) . Avoid this channel and I recommend everyone unsubscribe from it, and as their numbers drop it should spur the Sony owned CRACKLE to do the right thing and reduce the # of ads, and stop having ads any more often than once every 30 minutes, and remove the automatic ads should you fast-forward or rewind, because that’s just idiotic.

So yeah CRACKLE gets our Worst Channel mention, they should be ashamed of themselves. Okay that negative over now onto the good stuff.

Today’s channel worth your time is:

THRESHOLD+ – Has a good if not great selection of B movies, with a heavy dose of classic Horror and scifi movies. From the alien movies of the 50s to the low budget exploitation films of the 80s. The quality of the video ranges from good to mediocre, since much of this seems to be sourced from public domain or TV prints so no HD quality here. However it makes up for this in the lack of ads. Some notable films available for viewing on this channel are:

BOOGEYMAN (2005) – Not getting the IMDB derision and hate for this film as I find it stylishly and inventively directed, and better acted than most films of the genre. A film of poetical horror, which perhaps is too subtle for the blood and gore crowd. However if you are a fan of atmospheric slow burn films like the recent WOMAN IN BLACK, you may find this film a worthwhile watch.

And thanks to THRESHOLD+ you can view it for free and decide for yourself.

And other notable films available on THRESHOLD+ are:

MESSIAH OF EVIL
I MONSTER
SCARECROWS (1988)
THE BELL OF HELL (1973)
ASYLUM
THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF
SHE
4D MAN
X: THE UNKNOWN

More recommended on-demand channels next installment!

MOVIE TRAILER Update : STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS in IMAX

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The third and latest trailer for STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is out, and while it still doesn’t make me as excited as the trailer to JJ Abram’s first STAR TREK movie, it however is far better than the earlier teaser trailers. There’s actually a story here that I’m intrigued to view and the visuals are, in a word, sublime.

For those of us who grew us with the Star Trek mythos, the trailer doesn’t particularly scream Star Trek. It feels like something decidedly different and I for one think that’s a good thing. With sequences shot in the 70mm IMAX format (not with the IMAX 3D cameras) it should be a great film to see on a REAL IMAX movie theater.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (would it have killed them to put a ‘The” in there?! :) ) hits theaters on May 17th.

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FLASH GORGON Trilogy Update

Quick update on the FLASH GORDON Trilogy:

Just finished all three of the Flash Gordon serials. While I praised the first one FLASH GORDON (from 1936, renamed FLASH GORDON SPACE SOLDIERS), and was kind of luke-warm on the sequels (1938, 1940), I have to say re-watching the last two, they are rocky (dressed as Robin Hood’s Merry men in a Space Opera?? Really?), but you get past the shaky openings and they really get pretty darn good. Well the third one gets pretty darn good, the comedy bits of the 2nd one, FLASH GORDON CONQUERS MARS still do not work for me, and it is the weakest of the trilogy, lacking the sexiness or action/intensity of either the first one or the third one, FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE.

But that last one, FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE, really builds to a kick-ass finale, every bit as good as the first film and a fitting end to the trilogy. A highly recommended box-set!

Flash Gordon: Box Set (Space Soldiers/Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars/Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe) (3DVD)