• Upgrade (2018)

    Written and director by Leigh Whannell who was involved in successful horror franchises like Saw and Insidious, Upgrade can be described as a Black Mirror episode with feature film length. This dystopian science-fiction movie convinces with bleak settings, a mysterious plot and a strong lead character. It's one of the greatest dystopian science-fiction movies of the decade.

    The movie tells the story of Grey Trace, a rare mechanic in a futuristic world of self-driving cars who repairs classic cars for rich collectors and entrepreneurs. His wife is quite the opposite and works for an enterprise that develops human-computer augmentations. One day, their self-driving car crashes and the couple gets ambushed by a mysterious group of strangers. Grey Trace gets severely injured while his wife is brutally assassinated. Months later, police investigations are stalled and Grey Trace is confined to a wheelchair, sinks into depression and even attempts to commit suicide. A former client then convinces him to participate in an illegal experiment that enables Grey Trace to walk again with the help of an intelligent implant that has its very own identity. The former mechanic must pretend to be still paralyzed in public while secretly trying to find out who is responsible for the ambush.

    Upgrade convinces on many levels. The film's gloomy atmosphere is established right from the introduction and upheld until the dramatic conclusion. The settings of the futuristic world are quite realistic which only makes them more haunting. The diversified action scenes are skillful, intense and brutal. The resilient lead character is easy to empathize with. The story has a few interesting twists and turns that aren't too hard to predict but still developed quite efficiently. The conclusion truly is the climax of the movie and worth the wait.

    If you like dystopian science-fiction movies, you should definitely watch Upgrade. Leigh Whannell delivers the goods again and shows that his science-fiction stories are as intriguing as his successful horror concepts. Upgrade stimulates your guts, heart and mind and is one of the best genre movies in recent memory along with Ex Machina.

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  • Radius (2017)

    Radius is a gloomy science-fiction drama that convinces with solid acting performances and an intriguing story.

    The Canadian movie tells the story of a man who wakes up after a car accident without remembering what happened to him, who he is or where he belongs. He soon realizes that any living being that comes too close to him dies almost instantly. The man manages to find his house and wants to put the pieces of the puzzle together while local media suspect terrorism behind the strange deaths. Before he can fully understand what happened to him, he is visited by a woman who seems to be the only person who can approach him without dying. Their fates seem to be intertwined and they try to understand what happened to them while local media and police officers try to track them down.

    On the positive side, the film's sinister atmosphere is established with the very first scene and lasts until the shocking conclusion. The story is quite creative and has a few sinister and supernatural turns that make you wonder how you would react under similar circumstances. The two lead characters are profound and their relationship constantly shifts and changes. It's easy to empathize with them at one or another moment in the movie.

    On the negative side, the film's pace is somewhat dragging at times, especially in the first twenty minutes or so before the two lead characters meet on screen for the first time. The side characters can be somewhat annoying as they are often closed-minded, constantly ignore warnings and take many questionable decisions.

    In the end, Radius is a gloomy science-fiction drama that convinces with profound atmosphere, great lead characters and creative twists and turns in the story. Especially the film's radical conclusion is memorable. The movie's strong points pardon for a few lengths and annoying secondary characters. If you like atmospheric science-fiction films with a grounded interpersonal touch, you can't go wrong with Radius. Even though that movie was despised by critics, Radius reminds me positively of Shyamalan's The Happening.

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  • Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

    Alita: Battle Angel is a cyberpunk action film based upon Japanese manga series Gunnm. This movie is the first installment in what is going to be a franchise centered around a sympathetic female cyborg with outstanding fighting skills who protects those who are dear to her in a dystopian world. This first movie tells how Alita is brought back to life by generous scientist Ido who is also secretely a Hunter-Warrior who tracks down criminal cyborgs. Against the will of the scientist, Alita gets inspired by her mentor's secret career and starts her own as the rookie soon impresses colleagues with her determination, empathy and skills. She also falls in love with young dreamer Hugo and befriends the members of his quirky gang. Everything seems to be perfect in Alita's new world but her mysterious past resurfaces in dangerous situations and leads her on an exhausting quest for identity. In addition to this, her admired lover Hugo hides a terrible secret from her. The greatest danger however comes from influential administrators and politicians who soon hire hitmen to uncover Alita's mysterious past and eliminate a respectable opponent that could change a dystopian world for the better.

    Alita: Battle Angel convinces if compared to numerous exchangeable superhero films by Marvel or DC Comics for three specific reasons. First of all, the heroine is dynamic, empathic and positive which makes her very likeable and viewers empathize with her. Secondly, the movie focuses on strong characters and a mysterious plot instead of overusing visual special effects. Thirdly, the film takes its time to develop characters and story carefully, creating a most fascinating, detailed and adventurous universe that leaves the viewers craving for potential sequels in the future.

    The movie also convinces in many technical departments. The visuals are stunningly beautiful, creative and diversified. The sound effects are very efficient and best enjoyed at your local cinema. The soundtrack is balanced, catchy and dynamic. The action sequences are colourful without feeling too exaggerated.

    The movie manages to keep a balance between emotional settings and technically stunning effects. Even though some parts of the plot are predictable and the film doesn't reinvent the genre of superhero movies, it's certainly one of the greatest of its kind and worth the positive hype. Robert Rodriguez has created a memorable film that can nearly compete with his masterpiece Sin City and it's positive that the influence of formulaic director James Cameron has been reduced to scriptwriting in this case. The outstanding performances by underrated lead actress Rosa Salazar and charismatic veteran actor Christoph Waltz must also be pointed out as they are perfect choices for the characters they play. Go watch this stunning movie with your whole family.

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  • Aquaman (2018)

    Aquaman is another exchangeable superhero movie but it's so dynamic and visually stunning that you won't care about the insultingly predictable plot and the repetitive superhero tropes.

    The movie has a short and appropriate introduction before the epic adventure unfolds and ends on a concise positive note going back to its opening sequence. The underwater world looks fantastic and especially the animals like sharks are lovely. The quest that leads the main character and his female sidekick across the planet includes stunning locations like Sicily and Morocco that offer a welcome change from the seas. The settings are carefully chosen and cleverly mixed with computer animations. Director James Wan filmed everything calmly, extravagantly and precisely. Even the dramatic action scenes like the breathtaking escape sequence in Sicily avoid shaky cameras and exaggerated special effects which makes the film enjoyable to watch from start to finish. The final duel between the courageous half-breed protagonist and his sinister half-brother is visually spectacular and emotionally engaging.

    You will get exactly what you expect from this movie: shallow but gripping entertainment for the whole family with a big budget. It's pleasant while it lasts but also quickly forgotten because of predictable tropes, an overall tiresome story and mostly average acting performances. Up next, let's create another exchangeable superhero movie called Airwoman, Earthtransgender or Firetiger.

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  • Mortal Engines (2018)

    Mortal Engines is yet another dystopian science-fiction franchise consisting of four novels and this is the first movie of said franchise. This first entry in the franchise tells the story of an apprentice historian called Tom Natsworthy who lives in the mobile city of London and gets involved in a conflict opposing a mysterious fugitive assassin named Hester Shaw and the Head of the Guild of Historians called Thaddeus Valentine.

    The movie convinces with gorgeous high-quality visual effects that find the right balance between a realistic touch and splendid imagination. The idea behind moving cities that are destroying smaller towns to take their resources is quite creative. The different vehicles and planes are as imaginative as the strange creatures and machines in this world. Still, the film is profoundly human at heart and deals with topics such as family, freedom and loyalty. The film has solid pace and never gets boring as especially the vivid introduction makes it easy to empathise with the futuristic world and its characters. The story is somewhat predictable but still nicely executed thanks to likable characters like the naive historian, the resilient fugitive and the megalomaniac antagonist. The action sequences aren't too exaggerated but rather executed with care, drive and precision. Another advantage is that the movie has a proper conclusion despite being part of a franchise and you could stop following this franchise without any questions left unanswered after having watched this single film.

    Mortal Engines is a movie that should appeal to young teenagers and adults. Despite its dystopian setting, the movie isn't as brutal as The Hunger Games franchise, the romantic love story isn't as exaggerated as in Divergent and the language is more elegant than in The Maze Runner franchise for example. This movie could be described as a dystopian fairytale. Those who are looking for more sinister entertainment should watch Battle Royale and similar franchises instead. Mortal Engines is a film that is worth being watched at your local movie theater because of its astonishing visual and sound effects. It's a movie that could literally be interesting for the whole family except for very young children. Mortal Engines offers a nice occasion to escape a cold winter day and spend some quality at the cinema again.

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