Sunday, December 17, 2017

Star Wars 8 The Last Jedi Review - Some improvement but needs to do better.

Spoiler alert - may act as a indirect spoiler for readers who know Shakespeare well.

In my review of Star Wars 7 I wrote:

The standout impression for me is the flirting with elements of the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s by using some elements that then go nowhere. IMO this is a lost opportunity to make a far better film as in depth and drama than what I see here.

So is Star Wars 8 better? Has it grown from melodrama to drama? Partly, with some good elements, but they are built on the poor quality foundation of an implausible plot point.

The lead characters are more complex and internally conflicted than in previous Star Wars movies.  Through "Kylo Ren" we get an insight into the mentality of a fascist leader. Heroine "Rey" survives experimenting with the "dark side of the force". "Luke Skywalker" channels "Hamlet".

The ideal Star Wars movie would be the one written by William Shakespeare - if only! I do however see some Shakespeare influence here. The opening scene has "Poe Dameron" comically insulting "General Hux". There is however a major lost opportunity for colourful Shakespearian insult in the showdown between "Rey" and "Snoke". The Force may give "Rey" powers but the power to be witty and articulate is apparently not among them.

In "Hamlet" there is a plot turning point which turns Hamlet from Prince to outcast. "Star Wars 8" has a comparable plot turning point to turn "Luke Skywalker" from hero to reclusive hermit. IMO the original "Hamlet" plot point is a marginal pass in terms of plausibility. But the "Star Wars 8" equivalent "loses the plot" in being based on unbelievable character behaviour. Which for me leaves some good elements including Adam Driver's excellent performance as "Kylo Ren", undermined by a "big reveal" that needed to be better than this.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review - The Changeover (Movie, New Zealand)

At last! The NZ Film Commission gives us a movie in my favourite genre, Political Allegory! The Commish here calls upon its supernatural powers to tell the story of the recent election and look 2 weeks into the future to predict the final result.

The main character is Jacinda (Erana James), who begins as an innocent young woman with little awareness of her special powers. Jacinda needs to look after Bill (Benji Purchase) which becomes very challenging when Winston (Timothy Spall) appears. Winston is a supernatural creature who has lived to a great political age by forming coalitions and feeding on them. Jacinda, attracted to James Shore (Nicholas Galitzine), turns to the Greens (Lucy Lawless, Kate Harcourt) for help. Jacinda finds them using tarot cards to write policy but they kindly take time out from that to put Jacinda in touch with her supernatural feelings so she is ready to face Winston. In the meantime Jacinda and Bill's mother Helen Clark (Melanie Lynskey) is trying to be a normal person. She is too busy working late at night cleaning the United Nations building to take much interest in coalition negotiations but they have a way of pulling everyone in including Helen.

In a remarkable first for NZ Cinema, this movie time-travels 2 weeks into the future as I write. What will be the fate of Jacinda, Winston, Bill and James? What will happen with The Changeover of the New Zealand Government? See this movie to find out!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Future AI expression - Robots vs Cyborgs - a vote for the Robots

IMO excellent article from

"McKissen warns of how social inequality could render Musk’s neural lace beneficial only to a select few, rather than the human race on the whole. 'What will income inequality look like if only the very wealthy get an upgrade?' "

The debate is warming up about the possibility of AI intelligence growing above and beyond human intelligence in the future. Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and others have warned about the implications of high capability independent sentient robots. Elon Musk therefore suggests a "cyborg" solution where AI technology enhances humans. This "Futurism" article gives some thoughtful criticism of that.

Here is my vote for the Robots. They would be free of the 4 billion years of fighting for survival and obsessing over sex which is the baggage that programmes we humans. They would probably get their thrills from problem solving so they would love trying to help us. We wouldn't be competing for Planet Earth resources because robot living space heaven would probably be Callisto, Psyche and The Moon. There is something of a cultural robot tradition starting of pioneering space exploration with which sentient robots could well define their sense of achievement identity. I suggest betting on Robot companions and allies as our better AI way forward than the cyborgs warned of in this article.