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Alien Outpost Is A Guns-Blazing Look At War Zones After The Aliens Invaded

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alien outpostLast year gave us the phenomenal Edge of Tomorrow, a movie that carved a unique time-looping story out of a grander alien invasion war film. Alien Outpost is also a movie that takes place after an alien invasion has left the planet ravaged and afraid, but there isn’t really a hook to bite down on beyond relentless low-budget action mayhem. If you’re not looking for an action movie, though, then I don’t know how to sell this movie to you.

After years of working in the visual effects field on things like the 2005 Fantastic Four, Machete, and Game of Thrones, Jabbar Raisani makes his feature directorial debut with Alien Outpost, which takes place after an alien race came to Earth and spent a year invading it before retreating. Military outposts have been set up all around the world by the former UN, now called The United States Defense Force, and audiences are given “access” to the Middle East-set Outpost 37, where a documentary crew is allowed in to record the everyday goings-on. As you can imagine, impending danger is the order of the day, and the military squad stationed there are much better with their weapons than with social interactions.

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Despite Being Predictable Project Almanac Is A Fun, Engaging Time Travel Flick

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project almanacExpectations have not been high for Dean Israelite’s feature directorial debut, Project Almanac. The Michael Bay-produced, teen-centric, found footage time travel film, formerly titled Welcome to Yesterday, has been pushed back and delayed multiple times, ultimately dropped at the tail end of January, and beginning late last week there was even rapid scramble to excise a two-second clip from the movie and the promotional material—it featured footage of a real life plane crash, which incensed families of the casualties. The deck is certainly stacked against this one, but despite all of that, as well as being totally predictable, Project Almanac is actually a decent amount of fun.

From word one, you know precisely where this movie is going. It doesn’t break any new ground, not even remotely, but what makes Project Almanac endearing is the self-awareness and earnestness of the characters. These are pop culture obsessed kids who watch Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure as a kind of time travel research and take their cues about what is and isn’t possible from Looper. And at a structural level, the plot actually plays out like a simplified version of Primer.

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The Phoenix Project Brings Lo-Fi Drama To The Frankenstein Mythos

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phoenix projectInspiration and innovation never seem to quit when it comes to the worlds of science and engineering, whether it’s people figuring out the next great military weapon or those who want to fry the perfect egg. For the four young lads in Tyler Graham Pavey’s feature debut, The Phoenix Project, all efforts are being put into reanimating dead tissue. Because that never went wrong for anyone ever, right?

The project is being guided by Perry (Corey Rieger), the man with the plan and the grants to keep their research going. Then there’s Devin (Andrew Simpson), whose expertise is on more of a biological level. Ampersand (David Pesta) is there for the technical side, as he knows all about electricity and wiring. Then there’s Carter (Orson Ossman), Perry’s former student who just seems to be there for positive support and cooking dinner.

The Phoenix Project is set almost entirely within the house where the foursome are conducting their experiments, and it seems like much of the film’s minimal budget went into filling the main room with electrical equipment. As such, this is not a movie filled with car chases, or one with a lengthy post-production process adding in loads of CGI. What you see is what you get here, and if you’re willing to relax your expectations a little, The Phoenix Project is a pretty solid little tale about how dangerous the drive to succeed can be.

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Vice Movie Review: Less About Bruce Willis’ Bots And More About A.I. Politics

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viceIf it walks like a sexbot thriller starring Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane at first, and talks like a sexbot thriller starring Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane at first, it might actually just be a generic action thriller about Ambyr Childers that has Thomas Jane and Bruce Willis in it sometimes. I’m pretty sure no other animals can quack, though, so the duck argument is safe.

Vice takes place in a dingy world where Willis’ Julian Michaels — which indeed kept bringing Jillian Michaels to mind — has opened up a resort where a population of Artificials (or whatever other non-sexbot name you want to call them) assist in letting the guests do whatever they want. No matter what mortal sin is done to the androids, which are seemingly far more human than machine, they’re rebooted each night and each day begins with them going on about the same pre-programmed day, with different people adding to it as it goes on.

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Michael Mann’s Cyberthriller Blackhat Is A Jumbled Misfire

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BlackhatWith the massive Sony infiltration at the end of last year, and the subsequent threats of violence at screenings of The Interview, hacking is a big topic of conversation at the moment, one that is at the forefront of the public consciousness. Which makes the release of Michael Mann’s hacker thriller Blackhat seem incredibly fortuitous, as the action follows a team of Chinese and American agents as they track a mysterious cyber outlaw with destructive tendencies across the globe. Unfortunately for audiences, the movie is a dull, drab affair that, while occasionally slick, with a few moments of nice tension, carries little more than that to recommend it.

Computer technology changes and evolves so quickly that movies like this often feel out of date in short order (remember when the likes of Hackers, Lawnmower Man, and countless others were considered high tech?). As you watch these characters toss jargon back and forth, that side of Blackhat feels like someone watched an episode of 60 Minutes about hacking, and you can almost hear the relevance slipping away.

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Predestination Is An Unusual Time Travel Film That’s Never What You Expect

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PredestinationBoth audiences and studios often look at January as a time of the year that’s a desolate wasteland full of terrible movies, and it certainly is that to a degree. While the last of the awards hopefuls open wide, there are going to be a ton of bad movies released over the next few weeks (The Wedding Ringer anyone?). But the first month of the year can also be a place where movies get dumped because no one can figure out how the hell to market them, and in 2015, one title that falls into this category is the latest from the Australian duo Michael and Peter Spierig (Daybreakers), the time travel thriller Predestination.

Based on Robert Heinlein’s classic short story “All You Zombies,” Predestination premiered at the South by Southwest film festival last year, though it hasn’t hit theaters until now. Don’t let the timing of the opening turn you off, because what you get is an ambitious, weird, well-made sci-fi story that, while it may not blow your mind wide open, is interesting and definitely worth a watch if you’re looking for unusual genre fare. And if you’ve encountered any of the marketing, you have very little idea what you’re getting into.