Sunday, September 22, 2013

World War Z

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World War Z. Brad Pitt, zombies, action…great, campy combination. It all starts out in Philadelphia traffic, which is devastating enough, during a period of martial law, which isn’t devastating this film. It’s devastating in the truther conspiracy world where martial law brings about a police state, strict curfew, unlimited surveillance, and Fema camps. But it’s all hunky dory in this film, daddy makes his kids breakfast in your perfect suburban home. It’s what happens when he sees a man pounding on someone’s car window then attacks the driver inside, that is devastating. No, he doesn’t have an extreme form of road rage, he has turned into a zombie, and turns anyone be bites into a zombie…kind of like a vampire, but not sexy.   

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Soon, our protagonist, Gerry Lane, finds himself running away from an entire city which has turned into a swamp of zombies because this is the apocalypse and we are the aliens. We are destroying ourselves, not a group of little grey or large green men from another dimension. We are the enemy. I like the fact that this movie sources from different conspiracies. In this case a virus created in a laboratory to inevitably affect the global population in a lethal manner, as I’ll discuss later. It’s only convenient, I suppose, that he works for the U.N., so he, his family, and a token child whose parents turned into zombies, are able to escape the city and remain uninfected by the zombie virus.

After Brad Pitt sets up his wife, and now three children, in an aircraft carrier out in the middle of the ocean somewhere,  he goes on a mission to find the original host of  the zombie virus in the hopes of finding a cure, and saving the world from the zombie apocalypse. He ends up in Israel, the only safe haven on planet earth, other than the ocean, that has found a way to keep out the zombies- build a super tall wall that they can’t climb over. However, even Israel can’t withstand the onslaught of zombies and soon succumbs to their invasion.

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While Lane is fleeing the swarm of zombies running after him like a group of horny fans, he briefly looks over his shoulder, and observes a Buddhist monk who is surrounded by zombies, but isn’t infected with the virus. They’re also not attacking him. This is Gerry Lane’s big “Ah ha!” moment, because he realizes that these picky eaters don’t attack people who are already sick, no. And he surmises that the zombies won’t attack him if he is injected with a particular virus. Where did I see that scenario before? Oh yeah, Pacific Rim, when the scientist formed a neural bridged with a Kaiju brain which makes him invisible to the Kaiju. But it could also be inspired by the current cancer breakthrough which uses the HIV virus to kill cancer cells. 

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On his way to the pharmaceutical company with his female Israeli soldier sidekick, Segen, what should happen on the plane but a sudden outbreak of the zombie virus? You know that baby’s going down!  He clearly can seem to get a break, but he also has unusually good luck because both he and Segen are still alive when the plane crashes, and the plane lands near the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the zombie virus. Rather convenient. However, Segen has to get him to the pharmaceutical company right away because part of the airplane’s seat has punctured through his side. Does he quit his quest to save mankind and die somewhere? No. He’s singularly determined to save mankind, as well as himself, so he agonizingly makes his way to the pharmaceutical company. 

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Yes, he survives. When he gets there, the pharmaceutical company extracts the metal from his hip and he heals in no time. Now he has the opportunity to inject himself with a disease, but there is just one problem -the laboratory, which holds the specific injection that he’s looking for, is filled with doctors who became zombies.  So now he has to navigate the pass them to get to the room with the injection. Which he does successfully, of course, and injects himself with the virus while a zombie, who is chomping his teeth at him, looks on from outside the room. Which is the comical part of the movie, like the comic foil, if you will.  You can tell it’s an actor having fun playing the role, but that’s ok, because the movie’s too serious anyway and the audience needed a good laugh.

Despite all the negative expectations concerning this film…the constant rewriting of scripts, the growing budget, and the expectation that it wouldn’t come out at all, this film was really good. I felt that the script was well written. In fact, its storyline is a complete departure from the novel, but that’s also ok, because it’s interesting. People who have read the book, though, are disappointed with the film because, they say, World War Z only uses the title of the book and the scriptwriters took far too many liberties with the storyline. Perhaps the problem lies with having five scriptwriters in the first place.

As for the characters, I really didn’t feel connected to any of them, except for Gerry Lane, who monopolizes the movie. There was so much action and such little drama, you really couldn’t connect with any of the characters…except Gerry Lane. What about the Mexican family? Nope, they become zombies within a few minutes. What about his family? Usually one family member accompanies the protagonists throughout the movie, but not this time. What about Segen? No, she almost says nothing at all. What about the pharmacists? There are far too many of them and you only see them for a few brief minutes. No, this is clearly a Brad Pitt movie.

I personally don’t know whether or not I appreciate the fact that the screen writers took liberties with the zombies, though, and liberties they took. These are not your mama’s slow moving, fleshing eating zombies. These zombies are quite agile-marathon runners who bite people and have the mental acuity to form a pyramid with their bodies so they can breach Israel’s walls. You don’t want to mess with these zombies!

All, in all, the film was very good. It did it have its holes, and probably more than I mentioned. But that doesn’t take away from the fact the storyline is very original, which in itself is a breath of fresh air, considering that fact that theaters are inundated with remakes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Comment from Writer

The universe through the artists’ eyes. How much do we know of the universe? Are there government institutions withholding vital information about an extraterrestrial presence engaging our reality, and if so, are there whistle blowers leaking this information into the public domain? Absolutely! And during their quest to write stories, sci-fi script-writers find these bits of information during their research. Some info is provided directly from whistle blowers themselves. The trick is, to research the anecdotes in the movies. How much is truly original? How much is created in the mind of the script writer? I explore ufological influences as I critique the movies. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Critic's Review of Man of Steel

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s rather boring. Some people liked Man of Steel, but it didn’t do too much for me. Admittedly, I watched it with a migraine which could have affected my opinion at the time, most definitely. But I suspect that I’m not far from the mark, and here’s why:

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Storyline, the movie never went in depth. Don’t get me wrong, the anecdotes were fabulous, but they left you dangling. I found that I wanted to know more about life on Krypton. I wanted to see its culture, its people, its customs that are a stark contrast or similar to earth’s culture. I wanted to see more conflict/plotting between General Zod and Jor-El, not just a few moments before planet Krypton explodes. I wanted to know more about Clark Kent/Kal El/ Superman’s childhood, his relationship with his parents, and his relationships with other children. The story doesn’t go in depth about the conflicts in his childhood either, instead, his conflicts are resolved much too soon, such as his conflicts with the bullies...there wasn’t enough drama. As for his relationship with Lois Lane, I must admit I’m also a little biased because I loved the 80s Superman series. In the 80s, Clark Kent’s relationship with Lois Lane was more developed, you can tell that they were on their way to a full-fledged romance during the first movie. However, Lois Lane had more of a relationship with his father in this movie, which is fine, if it extended to more than a few short minutes.  I mean, everything was rather brief.

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But even though the storyline is lacking, the film still has its perks. The most obvious one being the action scenes.It's colossal, it's bold…it is almost as good as Pacific Rim’s. But it was also a little too much…too lengthy. While I enjoyed the destruction of the entire town, give me more storyline, please don’t wrap it all up in the action sequences. Though the special effects were spectacular. And, frankly, so were the futuristic costumes. 

The message was fantastic too. You have this alien from Krypton trying to adapt to our world.  It is difficult because his genetics put him at both an advantage and disadvantage over earthlings. On one hand, he could pick up a truck as if it were a small toy and save a life. On the other hand, his sensory frequency is incompatible with earth’s because everything was more visible and louder to him, as it would be for extraterrestrials who are trying to adapt to our environment. That is why our villain, General Zod, was attempting to terraform the earth’s environment in the first place, to make it easier for the Kryptonian race to live on earth. That means humans had to die, of course, but that was the least of his worries. Yet, here was this man, Kal El, who was also Kryptonian, and was attempting to protect humanity from General Zod’s invasion- even if it meant that he would be the last living Kryptonian in existence. So, General Zod’s flawed plan for the perpetuating their species didn’t exactly pan out as he planned. If, say, he found ways for the Kryptonians to adapt to Earth, they would have survived (Pacific Rim also conveyed this message in a round about way when the scientist drifted with the Kaiju. It didn’t notice his human neurological scent, so it left him alone as if he were a Kaiju). So once again, brains triumphs brawn. 

General Zod courtesy of

The other message contained within this conflict between Superman/Kal El and General Zod, is that within one branch of the same species, are two opposing factions…one who wants to hurt humanity, and one who wants to protect it at all costs. Kind of like, aliens are not all bad, like the aliens in Pacific Rim were. Well, in the Kaiju genre in general the aliens are all bad. I imagine the same would apply to an extraterrestrial presence engaging this reality…like the much feared Reptilians.  Are they really all bad? Can’t there be a few gems amongst them? And I mean Reptilians who represent a benevolent, helpful presence to humanity, rather than a hateful, destructive one. Like Kal-El. I like the fact that Man of Steel doesn’t paint one group of people with a single broad brush.

Kryptonian baby pod. Image courtesy of

So, now that  Superman is the last surviving Kryptonian, the question remains if he can perpetuate his species. At least in the physical form…as we see in the scenes with Jor-El, they can also become spirits. But can he reproduce with Lois Lane, if extraterrestrials have a different genetic makeup than humans? Unless we have a common ancestor which makes us genetically compatible, the answer is no.  According to Wikipedia, Kryptonians have a completely different genetic makeup than humans which makes it impossible for them to breed with us. So, even if Kal-El looks exactly like a human man, he can’t reproduce with Lois Lane. And who knows what he really looks like under that suit! Underneath all the bulging muscles he could even be a hermaphrodite. So what about artificial insemination? We see in the movie that the aliens were created through artificial insemination rather than through sexual reproduction-except for Kal-El/ Superman/ Clark Kent whose parents broke the law to have him naturally. But does that somehow make him different than your average Kryptonian?  Since he is genetically incompatible with Lois Lane, or any human on planet earth for that matter, that means artificial insemination is out of the question. But is his species virtually screwed? Is he truly the last member of the Kryptonian race? What about cloning? Well, science isn’t that advanced yet, we’re not supposed to be able to clone humans let alone Kryptonians, but who knows what really happens  in research facilities these days. Perhaps they could clone him, but according to Wikipedia, his genetic structure is too complex for scientists to decipher let alone clone. So, sorry Superman, now that your species is dead, there probably won’t be another Kryptonian anytime soon.  That is, unless love produces the kind of chemicals that could facilitate sexual reproduction with Lois Lane.