2011 brought with it a whole slew of films from the Hollywood movie factory (and others); some were captivating, some tugged at our hearts while others made us wish we hadn’t wasted our precious hours watching them.
Here are the top 5 sci-fi/tech themed movies that we at GreyReview feel are the ones worthy of mention (and repeated viewings).
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
This movie succeeds because of one man: Andy Serkis. His portrayal of Caesar the super-intelligent ape (albeit through the use of a mo-cap suit) makes him the most compelling protagonist in recent films. Serkis gives an astounding physical and emotional performance worthy of an Oscar. The special effects from the wizards at WETA are phenomenal and adds to the realism of the scenes. Definitely one for the Blu-Ray library.
In our retro review of TRON, we hailed it as a milestone in the computer animation industry and a hugely enjoyable piece of escapism which has stood the test of time. Since even before that review was published, we have been patiently anticipating the long awaited sequel to that ‘80s masterpiece, TRON: Legacy with bated breath. Now that the wait is over, was it worth it? Will TRON: Legacy be celebrated as a cinematic opus like its predecessor? We’ll get to that in a minute.
The movie starts in 1989, and we are reintroduced to the original main protagonist, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who by that time had become the CEO of Encom and creator of the Grid, disappear after making a great and secret discovery. Cut to the present and we meet his son, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund, who played Brad Pitt’s Achilles’ cousin, Patroclus, in Troy) who is sent by Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), to investigate a mysterious page originating from the long abandoned Flynn’s Arcade. There he is inadvertently digitized into the Grid where he participates in the games so familiar to Tron fans; disc throwing, light cycle races, the works. He is then rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and reunited with his father and the trio have eight hours to reach the portal and get back to the real world, while CLU 2, the elder Flynn’s grimly authoritarian avatar with his own designs on the real world, tries to prevent their escape.
Let us look back to a time before the advent of photo-realistic CGI and its accomplishments, such as the shape shifting T-1000, the annoying Jar Jar Binks and the tragedy that is Gollum. Specifically, let us look back to the year 1982 and one of the first films to extensively use computer graphics; Tron.
Tron tells the story of hacker/arcade owner Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) who is desperate to prove that the hottest videogames from software corporation ENCOM were stolen from him by a former co-worker Ed Dillinger (David Warner), who is now a senior executive there. Flynn’s efforts, however, are made fruitless by ENCOM’s megalomaniacal Master Control Program (MCP). One night, the MCP catches Flynn in an attempted hack and pulls him into the virtual world. Flynn finds that the MCP is making life in the virtual world just as, if not more, miserable as in the real world. Flynn’s only hope is to find Tron (Bruce Boxleitner), a heroic independent system security program, and help him destroy the MCP to bring order to both worlds.
Ah, Facebook… that online social network service where you can collect friends (most of whom you’ve never met or probably never will) like bottle caps and Poke and Super Poke them ad nauseum. Where you and your friends (those you actually know) can plan flash mob events and disrupt public places like malls and train stations and then tell everyone all about it via… . where else? Facebook.
But have you ever wondered how Facebook came about?
That is the focus of David Fincher’s latest film, The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin (of The West Wing fame, among others). It tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, brilliantly played by Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Adventureland), a student in Harvard who after being dumped by his girlfriend (played by Rooney Mara) sets about to find a new project to get him over his break-up grief.