The Machine

discs ERNEST AND CELESTINE

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Ernest & Celestine Celestine is a young mouse still learning the ways of the world, and part of her ongoing education is learning that the bears who live on the surface above the subterranean city the mice call home are vicious, mean and constantly intent on eating any mouse they come across. She’s never met one, but she sees no reason why mice and bears can’t be friends. She finds her opinion challenged when one of her excursions up top brings her in contact with a bear named Ernest, and soon the two are on an adventure that goes against all the laws of both bear and mouse society. This French award-winner is a whimsical delight from beginning to end as it tells a sweet tale of friendship that doubles as a metaphor for inter-species relations. Maybe I read too much into that part, but it does work as a story about celebrating commonalities instead of fearing differences, and in that regard it’s a big success. The soft animation, complete with unfinished lines and watercolor stylings, creates an immersive and warm world, and scenes like the duo’s garbage can meet-cute and a wonderfully chaotic chase with police show a diversity that the style handles with equal strength. See it with the bear (or mouse) in your life. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, animatic, interview]

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XLrator Media

The Turing test, created by and named for famed WWII code-breaker Alan Turing, is designed to test a computer’s level of artificial intelligence by having someone engage it in conversation with the intention of determining if they’re talking with a computer or another person. The machine is considered to have passed the test if it’s able to convince people (or leave them uncertain) at least thirty percent of the time. It’s a real-world challenge that’s been explored in fictional entertainment for decades. Films as fantastically fun as WarGames, as wonderfully warm as Her and as… recent… as Transcendence have dealt in varying ways with the idea of computers “thinking” like people. The Machine is a new indie from across the pond that toys around with the concept of human-like A.I. and ties it in with some sexy female cyborg shenanigans. If that sounds up your proverbial alley than you’re in luck as — a handful of issues aside — the film is an entertaining and thought-provoking ride. Dr. Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens) is a doctor and scientist working for the British government in their Cold War-like escalation with China. Rather than a race into space though the countries are sprinting towards a higher evolution of artificial intelligence, and while he works to restore some semblance of life to brain-damaged soldiers (and hopefully save his dying daughter) his higher-ups are eyeing possible military applications. When tragedy strikes one of their own, McCarthy’s latest project is given life in a synthetic humanoid body, but as […]

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Good news for a once bankrupt and destitute MGM, their first new production since hitting skid row is on the way. And, perhaps poetically, their new production teams them up with a man who is also on his way back up in the business. The Machine has signed Vin Diesel to star and produce. At the beginning of the 2000s many people saw Diesel as the next king of the action movie genre, but his career never really worked out that way, and Diesel saw his star power fade a bit over the past ten years. With the release and huge success of this year’s Fast Five, Diesel has another chance to make it to the top of the mountain. Could this be the smash hit that will finally anoint him as Hollywood royalty? The Machine sounds like kind of a cross between The Terminator and The Iron Giant. Those are two things that I love, so if they can find a balance in tone, I would say that this project has some real potential. Diesel will play a government weapon that was built to look like a human being, and who has been deactivated for many years. As this film opens, the killer robot is found, reactivated, and befriended by a small child. Presumably a lot of bonding happens after that, then followed up by a big action sequence where the government comes to try and reacquire the machine. Kind of like E.T., only Diesel’s character will love steroids […]

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published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+


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