Oval Office Thunderdome: An Instant Disqualifier

When it was reported that EgyptAir flight 804 disappeared from radar on its flight from Paris to Cairo, I’m sure that many people made an immediate assumption that the crash was the result of terrorism. I know I did. Even without proof, the first place my mind went was the insidious realm of doubt and fear that Islamic terrorism has fostered. But it’s unwise to let a first impression like that guide opinions and beliefs, and more unwise — stupid, even — to let it guide policy, were a person in the position to do so. Continue readingOval Office Thunderdome: An Instant Disqualifier”

The Empty Balcony: High-Rise

High-Rise, director Ben Wheatley’s and screenwriter Amy Jump’s adaption of the novel by J.G. Ballard, sure looks good. The photography is a slick imitation of cinema from the 1960s and ’70s. Cinematographer Laurie Rose muted the palette somewhat. It’s not the type of desaturation made popular for a short time by Saving Private Ryan, but more resembles natural color decay. The blues have been turned down, making the overall color temperature quite warm. Whether this was a stylistic choice only, I cannot say, but a great deal of the mood of this film is established by the way it was shot. It flirts with clinical precision, but falls short, mostly because it’s easy on the eyes. So, like I wrote, High-Rise looks good, but I had a hard time figuring out what was happening on screen. Eventually, I had to set any frustrations aside and just go along for the ride. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: High-Rise”

The Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys movie posterIt’s incredible how little redundancy is built into Skynet. Not long after Terminator Genisys opens, we see the mythical John Connor leading an assault on Skynet’s time travel facilities. Connor, played by Jason Clarke, has ordered the bulk of his forces to attack Skynet itself, farther north, much to the consternation of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who hasn’t been let in on the Terminator series canon at this point. As the battle rages at the time machine, all of Skynet’s killer robots go inactive, signaling that Skynet has been destroyed, and only the war in the past remains undecided.

A viewer is required to engage in a large amount of suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy Terminator films. There’s the whole time travel/killer robots thing to get past, and a plot hole-to-consistency ratio that is weighted too far towards the wrong side. But the idea John Connor’s troops could attack a single location, presumably blow it to smithereens, and a worldwide computer network would collapse, is ludicrous.

This is it. We’re in the future. Thirty years ago, when the first Terminator was released, something like Skynet was as far beyond our comprehension as time travel, making it fine to just make stuff up. But today we live in a world of server farms and off-site backups. Sure, there are still times when an ISP goes offline and millions of people can’t get their email, but those times are rare, and never last all that long (unless it’s a Sony network). Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys”