The more a robot looks like a real human, the more empathy most people have for it. If a robot becomes almost ‘real’ in its looks, movements and interactions, many people suddenly experience a huge drop in empathy where it can even flip to extreme dislike – this stage of human replicas being almost truly lifelike, but not quite right, is known is the Uncanny Valley.
Noomi Rapace plays Renee, a divorced mother who one day finds herself abducted and taken to some secret facility. She soon finds out she is not the only abductee there, but why was she brought there remains a mystery. But she, like the others in this facility, is tied down onto a bed and before long her kidnappers start various ‘tests’ on her; following ‘protocol’, pushing her buttons, but why…? What are they trying to find out…?
A giant starship is on a century-long journey to a recently colonised planet, carrying five thousand colonists plus crew in suspended animation. The ship is highly advanced and is self-repairing and self navigating, so no human crew are required; this ship’s complement will be woken when the ship nears its destination. The film opens when one of them, an engineer called Jim (Chris Pratt) is awakened from his sleep, and quickly discovers that he is not only the only one awake but that there are still ninety years left in the journey. Needless to say, this is unwelcome news…
Lee Weathers (played by Kate Mara) is a corporate risk assessment analyst, which doesn’t sound a promising job for an action thriller until you realise that this is Hollywood, where considerable latitude to is given to job descriptions in big companies. She is tasked by her boss (played by Brian Cox) to investigate unsettling events at an isolated scientific laboratory where Dr Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones) and Dr Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh) and running an experiment into creating artificial life.
Arrival is a thoughtful science fiction film, about as far from “Independence Day” as it is possible to get, though the special effects are impressive in their own way. The basic premise is that aliens have landed around the world in twelve huge spaceships, but their intent is unclear. At intervals the ships open a gate and admit visitors, and the aliens show themselves behind a huge screen, but what do they want?
Ever since George Romero made “Night of the Living Dead” there have been films about zombies, but few manage to be worth watching. Directors have tried applying comedy (“Shaun of the Dead”) and even Jane Austen (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”) to the theme, but most efforts plod along as ineptly as the zombies themselves. The Girl With All the Gifts takes a new bite at the cherry.
When CIA agent Bill Pope gets killed on assignment, an experimental technology is used to transplant his memories to someone else to try and find ‘The Dutchman’. The recipient of Bill’s memories is convict Jericho Stewart, a violent criminal with limited self control and no stop-button. He is however a very suitable candidate for the procedure, as his violent character is due to a brain disorder which has left part of his brain unused his entire life, making it an ideal bit of grey matter to transplant these memories into. As the memories start to trickle into Jericho’s awareness, they also start to influence his personality.
It is twenty years since the aliens attacked our planet and were defeated by a cunning combination of Jeff Goldblum, a heroic pilot and the invaders’ dazzling inability naivety about the basic concept of a computer firewall. It turns out that a distress call was sent out into deep space and now they’re back, presumably having fully assimilated the sacred text “PC Security for Dummies”. The human race has been busy in the interim…
A seemingly estranged father (Michael Shannon) appears to kidnap his own son from what turns out to be a cult and takes him on the road… But why? And where are they going? And why was the boy revered by this cult?
The details slowly emerge as the chase progresses and we learn more about the boy, Alton, and certain powers he seems to posess. But we never quite understand them, and the director (Jeff Nichols) keeps playing with the audience’s understanding of what may be going on.
What if someone would be able to harness the immense potential energy of Earth spinning in space and redirect that energy to open a wormhole… where would that wormhole lead? A different space, a different time, a different universe in the multiverse, or all of the above…?
Indeed, that sounds like geek material. But wait, it actually is a love story!