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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel


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Film Reviews: Project Almanac (2015), Chappie (2015), and Mad Max 1, 2, & 3
Movies
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Project Almanac (2015). Written by Jason Harry Pagan and Andrew Deutschman, and directed by Dean Israelite. With the aid of his friends David Raskin (Jonny Weston) is filming an application for MIT based around gesture control of drones. Subsequently he gets into MIT, but without the scholarship he required to be able to afford it. Later he's digging around in his attic and strays across an old video camera of his dad's, who died when he was ten. He finds a video of his tenth birthday party and spots his adult self for a split second in a mirror. Twas with a groan that I realised Project Almanac was a found footage film, but I stuck with it. Annoyingly there was no real need for the found footage approach, and the film would have worked just as well if not better without it, for me at least. I also got the feeling that if Project Almanac were filmed in the 80s or early 90s it would have had a bucket load more charm, but this 2015 version is lacking. Despite that the cast do seem to be giving it their all, and the story is reasonable, albeit starts to get wearing towards the end. Probably best enjoyed by the teenage demographic it's aimed at. 3/5 (Average)

Chappie (2015). Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. Set in the near future in Johannesburg, the police are successful reducing crime by utilising humanoid robots known as Scouts. The robots' software has been developed by Deon Wilson (Dev Patel). The success of the Scout robots has upset another developer Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) who wants to trial his much larger but human operated Moose robot. Meanwhile, due to a bungled robbery three criminals are in debt for 20 million rand with another gang. They want to rob an armoured car but know they have no success while the Scout robots are functioning. I watched Chappie with low expectations, having avoided it at the cinema due to the poor reviews and a bad feeling, but it wasn't as bad as I expected. Yes, it is somewhat like a harder edged Short Circuit, but it isn't a complete rip-off. The story is a mix but overall scraped entertaining for me. I didn't find Die Antwoord (the South African rap group playing the main criminal pair) too annoying. The rest of the characters are passable. Recommended for fans of science fiction action who aren't too choosy. 3/5 (Average)

Mad Max (1979). Co-written and directed by George Miller. Set in Australia in a dystopian near future, the Main Force Patrol (MFP) keeps the peace from car and bike gangs. One such gang member, Nightrider, has escaped from prison and is being chased by the MFP. After three police units fail to catch Nightrider they call for Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson). I must have first watched Mad Max in the 80s. It's a minimal low budget affair that went on to hold the record for most profitable film for twenty years. The story is fairly basic and involves a feud that's triggered between Nightrider's gang and Max, and is a fairly unpleasant watch in places. For me I was just about entertained. Recommended for fans of raw low budget action. 3/5 (Average)

Mad Max 2 (1981). Co-written and directed by George Miller. The film starts with some exposition for the dystopian near future setting, along with explaining who Max is. The action starts with Max being attacked by a gang on the road. Two of the cars chasing him are destroyed and Max returns to salvage the fuel. The remaining enemy biker cuts his losses and retreats. Mad Max 2 is a significantly different beast to the prior film, with a higher budget, a lot more story, and a much bigger cast. Despite still feeling a bit low budget and also rather dated I find it a lot more entertaining than the first film. Recommended for science fiction action fans who don't mind it being a bit dated, raw, and still a bit low budget. 4/5 (Good)

Mad Max 3 (1985). Written by Terry Hayes and George Miller, and directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie. The film opens with Max driving a caravan of camels across the desert. He is attacked by a small plane and knocked from the caravan. Max gives chase but the pilot steals it. Max continues on foot until he reaches Bartertown, where he agrees to assassinate a member of the town in exchange for information about who stole his caravan. Mad Max 3 continues along much the same lines as Mad Max 2. The budget is improved again, and is demonstrated in a number of bigger sets and a huge cast. I find the story excellent in the first half although sadly that's tempered by the somewhat silly Peter Pan-like second half. The first half was clearly a huge influence on the Fallout series of games. Recommended for science fiction action fans that don't mind it's a bit dated, and can cope with the mixed script. 4/5 (Good)
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