‘The Man In The High Castle’ – Book Review

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Last night I finished the book ‘The Man In The High Castle‘, written by the (late) acclaimed science-fiction author Philip K. Dick.

I first heard about this book when I stumbled upon the TV show of the same name. Being on Amazon, I have yet to see any of it, but the idea immediately intrigued me.

The novel differs greatly from the series – which has been renewed for a second season – but is a great place to introduce yourself to this upside-down world.

Without going into too much detail, the novel is set in an alternative universe where the Germans and Japanese won World War Two, with America split approximately 2/3 and 1/3 respectively. The book follows several character groups that manage to intertwine. One such way in which this occurs is through a novel-inside-a-novel. Despite being a forbidden book, almost every character talks of reading ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’, in which author Abendson postulates a world in which the Allies had been victorious.

The book contains many twists and turns, brilliantly exploring the ways in which humans can understand the world around them, and how we can justify anything in order to continue to survive.

You might have trouble finding the book in bookstores (it’s quite old now, but might come back in popularity due to the series), but I found a copy at the library. There are only 249 pages, so it’s a quite read.

Enjoy and let me know what you think of it!

Debug (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.

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I love David Hewlett. I have loved him since seeing him on Stargate all those years ago, and I even got an autograph from him once. So, when I heard he was making another film, I just had to check it out. Having seen bits and pieces of his process (from youtube, twitter postings, etc.), I still didn’t know what to expect. Well I needn’t have worried, because Hewlett has made an epic film and I have given it a rightful score of 4/5.

Debug is a film that follows six 20-something year old computer hackers whose job sends them aboard a broken and abandoned space freighter. But it is not as empty as they thought. The hackers are forced to fight for their lives against an AI (artificial intelligence) that is desperate to become human, and will kill for the chance.

Having been a fan and a part of science fiction projects before, David Hewlett has seen how it is done, and he knows how to improve upon it. Debug is an awesome film that is scary, intelligent, and one you can’t miss.

The casting was also brilliant, bringing a mix of known-actors and fairly-newcomers. Like with his first film A Dog’s Breakfast, Hewlett has been able to get actors and actresses he has worked with before to take on these new roles. Jason Momoa (who plays the AI), is the same as we have seen him before – i.e. a fighting baddie – but still different to what he has done before. His growing popularity from Game of Thrones should also help bring more viewers as well. Kate Hewlett (David’s acting sister) is also brilliant, and it is awesome to see the siblings working on another film project together.

Hewlett has also written a smart script. It deals with current issues and worries we have about technology and where the line then comes between human and machine.

It does have some violence and blood, but it shouldn’t be enough to dissuade anyone from watching it.

With the reach and reliance on social media growing more and more everyday, Hewlett has grabbed hold of this and really connected with his fans. He has talked about the film – which he is rightfully excited about – and has made everyone feel as though they have been included in the process. This makes you more inclined to see it.

There have not been many reviews yet, but what is out there have been quite mixed. It may not be the newest idea – Hewlett said he watched 2001: A Space Odyssey when he was younger and wanted to make a film from Al’s perspective – but Hewlett has made enough changes to make it different and relatable to viewers of this generation.

There are no two ways about it: you must see this film. Hewlett has done a brilliant job of transitioning behind the camera, and he knows what he is doing. Check it out and be entertained!

4 out of 5 stars

Lucy (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.

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Scarlett Johansson is no longer an unknown name. She has risen to fame with her most notable role arguably as Black Widow in the Marvel series, and is the lead in the new science-fiction action film Lucy. It is clearly not the most scientifically accurate, but is an excellent choice for a purely entertaining film.

Lucy begins with the title character far short of what the trailer revealed her to be. She is not a genius and she does not have ‘special powers’. Instead, she is partying in a Taiwanese night-club, drinking and dancing with no abandon. Her life suddenly turns upside-down when she is kidnapped by an armed gang, and forced to work as a mule, transporting a package of drugs inside of her body. When the deal goes wrong, an attack causes the package to fracture, and the drugs flow into Lucy’s system. Lucy transforms into a warrior with an expanding mental capability (telekinesis, telepathy, superhuman strength, etc.) that rivals anything seen before.

The film is written and directed by Luc Beeson, who has a grand history with this genre. He is probably best known for his work on The Fifth Element (1997), the Transporter franchise (2002 to 2008), and the Taken series (2008 to 2014). He clearly has a firm grip on the genre, and he manages a tight balance between exposition, dialogue, and action.

There is always the annoying distinction between ‘actors’ and ‘sci-fi actors’. There is clearly nothing different about them, but, for some reason, actors are always lumped into one group or the other. Scarlett Johansson has been in many assorted films since she began in 1994, but it has only been in recent years that her popularity has skyrocketed. This is, in large part, due to her role as Black Widow in the Marvel series. She has proved to be more than a sci-fi actress. Morgan Freeman, too, is always an excellent actor who brings credibility to whatever role he plays, and is a wonderful compliment to Scarlett Johansson.

The fight scenes and car chases were believable, and it is cool to see how the film industry has accepted female leads. The rise of heroines instead of damsels in distress is refreshing, and Scarlett Johansson has been at the forefront of this movement.

The only negative thing about this film, would be the lack of scientific realism. It was in an interview that Luc Beeson described the beginning process of Lucy, and how it took ten years to become a reality once he heard about a scientific theory that humans only use ten percent of their brain. It is true that it is a good premise for a science-fiction film, but this theory has been widely debunked, now openly referred to as a myth.

Reviews from critics and audiences have been mixed, with both sides arguing the same above points.

Overall, this film is not very scientifically accurate (even in theory), but it is an entertaining sci-fi action film.

4 out of 5 stars