Passengers (2016)

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Passengers is a neat example of how female characters are stereotyped in Hollywood films. With only four named characters of substance, it’s not surprisingly that only one is female, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). Her role is to meet the romantic and sexual needs of the hero, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), and to provide a framework for the essential goodness and heroism of his masculinity by personifying the worst of archetypal femininity. If you plan on seeing this film, and I wouldn’t rush out to do so, perhaps read no further. I won’t give away any plot points that aren’t obvious from the outset but I will probably say enough about the characters that you have a pretty good idea of the entire film. So, spoilers. Continue reading

Alien: Covenant (2017)

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Oh Ridley. You forgot what made Alien so great. It wasn’t the iconic HR Giger design, it wasn’t the special effects or complicated world-building narrative. It was two things – character and suspense. We got to know Ripley and Lambert and Kane and Ash. We cared what happened to them. We held onto our seats and sheltered behind cushions as Ripley navigated her way through the Nostromo, we cheered when she and Jonesy made their final report. Continue reading

Chappie (2015)

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Image via collider.com

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South African director Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9 was an unexpected delight. Ostensibly a sci-fi about prawn-like aliens who have been accepted into the Johannesburg population, it is instead an endearing and sobering look at the plight of refugees. Chappie is his third feature film, after Elysium in 2013, and I was expecting the same wry observation of white South Africa. Instead I got a story that seemed to replicate District 9‘s edgy style but without the same substance. Continue reading

Arrival (2016)

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Image via motherboard.vice.com

I loved this film (thanks for the recommendation Kari). Sci-fi is not my favourite genre but this was directed by French-Canadian Dennis Villeneuve, who also made the superlative Incendies, so it is not your average US film. Stunningly beautiful, atmospheric, complex and emotional, it won’t be for everyone but I was clutched tight in its grasp and now, hours and days later, it still hasn’t let go. Continue reading

Interstellar (2014)

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Ah Matthew McConaughey, have I ever really loved any film you’ve been in? You’re often a charmer but it’s a smug, chauvinistic sort of charm, especially in those dreadful romcoms you did back ten years or more ago. Mud was okay but I’ve just scrolled through your filmography on IMDb and the answer, really, is no. So why did I bother with Interstellar? I had a vague impression that it was interesting and, being about space, I thought it might interest my Starship Troopers-loving husband whilst also engaging our brains. It did neither. Continue reading