In Memoriam: Stephen Hawking


It is a heavy beyond leadened heart that has moved me to create this post. One of the brightest lights in our universe has eked out its final flicker. The iconic physicist Stephen William Hawking died today at the age of 76. His family says that he passed away peacefully in his home in Cambridge, England. He leaves behind a daughter, Lucy, and two sons, Robert and Tim.

The enigmatic Mr. Hawking will be remembered for so much more than enduring over half a century with a form of Lou Gehrig’s Disease that over the course of decades slowly denied him physical movement, and for his tireless efforts in and stunningly resourceful methods for working around the many obstacles the results of a progressively devastating neurological disease threw his way.

Mr. Hawking was a man whose intellectual capacity was only matched by a boundless ability to inspire and excite. Who honestly would not get giddy whenever they came across a headline stating something about his theories about the future of mankind — or its possible origins? The prospect of going on without him, living life without Stephen Hawking guiding the way, flagging up signs of potential trouble with increased intelligence in human-engineered A.I. — that kind of loss has an impact not unlike that of the strange and (potentially terrifying) cosmic phenomenon known as the Black Hole.

supermassive blackhole Dave as ‘Gargantua’ in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 sci fi epic Interstellar

It is immature of me to say, but this just isn’t fair. The inevitability of his succumbing to an ailment that he lived with far longer than any doctor might have expected is, I suppose, an easier pill to swallow than the sheer shock created by the randomness of John Forbes Nash and his wife or Princess Diana being involved in fatal car accidents. But life does and has to go on. And so does the work of the scientific community, and the millions upon millions whom he has inspired and instilled a thirst for knowledge and truth. The question is, to what corner in the cosmos do we point in our backyards at night whenever we want to have little private sounding boards with one of the great minds of our time?

Where is our fascination with artificial intelligence leading us? Will our future really look like it does in Blade Runner 2049? Or will we revert back to tribal living, and worshipping shit like the sun and the clouds and the trees? What is the actual value of life? Is it measured scientifically, or is love all we are here to find and feel comforted by? I’m quite sure I don’t have answers to any of that, but I know that whenever Stephen Hawking said something either speculative or that held scientific weight, I listened. I am going to dearly miss that soothing voice of wisdom.

I think if Mr. Hawking were still here he’d urge us all to carry on these discussions ourselves. To never stop thinking about the possibilities. As long as we keep pushing for answers, not even the sky is the limit. And when you’ve lived like this wonderful, brilliant man has lived, you’re the kind of light that actually has a chance of surviving a black hole.

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking. 1942 – 2018


Click here to read my review of The Theory of Everything, a 2014 romantic drama which detailed the personal life and career achievements of Stephen Hawking.

Science-y/otherworldly films worth talking about: Under the Skin; Interstellar; The MartianEx Machina; Arrival; Blade Runner 2049; Annihilation


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Photo credits: http://www.huffingtonpost.com; http://www.interstellarfilm.wikia.org

Love & Mercy

Release: Friday, June 5, 2015 (limited)

[Theater]

Written by: Oren Moverman; Michael Alan Lerner

Directed by: Bill Pohlad

Capturing the life of one of rock’n roll’s most luminous figures in The Beach Boys’ very own Brian Wilson poses obvious challenges. Painting broad strokes risks missing all those curious little imperfections, while delving into a day-in-the-life could yield a movie so large a mini-series event would seem a better format. There’s also the issue of casting the part.

Bill Pohlad’s love letter to the heyday of The Beach Boys phenomenon opts for the general specific, briefly opening a window into two different phases of Wilson’s colorful life, offering intimacy before slamming shut and locking forever once again. Despite aching with nostalgia Love & Mercy‘s potency actually stems from its uncanny ability to translate a simple cause and effect into an immersive experience. How Wilson’s young star (Paul Dano), brilliant but troubled, begets an aging, broken man (John Cusack), housebound and saddled with a routine that sees him less functional and more conforming. Some might describe it as a typical downfall, but typical isn’t the word I’d use to describe Wilson.

Pohlad might have gone the documentary or mini-series route, but then he’d have missed the opportunity to showcase Oscar-worthy performances from his leads, both of whom are clearly smitten by the chance to simultaneously dramatize this most peculiar musician. In the sixties, following the critical and commercial successes of albums like Surfin’ U.S.A. and Today!, Dano is magnetic. He becomes Wilson, dropping his trademark and quite contradictorily unsavory appeal in favor of an effusive personality tailored to fit the profile of musical genius. He’s pushing for a new Beach Boys sound as the band enters its eleventh studio album in Pet Sounds, a production that didn’t see the warmest reception on American shores due to its detouring into the . . . well, weird.

Love & Mercy provides ground-floor access into a studio that can’t hope to contain all the ideas young Brian Wilson, already fragile, has pouring out of him. But the story moves beyond those walls and into the eighties, embracing Cusack’s forty-something version, a character who, while representing a stark contrast from Dano’s, arguably is a more crucial component. Similar to young Brian’s often happenstance discovery of unique acoustics (the aforementioned 1966 release certainly hints at a memorable recording experience), older Brian’s stumbling into a car dealership has profound implications for his life post-Beach Boys.

Elizabeth Banks’ Melinda Ledbetter isn’t aware to whom she is potentially selling a Cadillac in an opening scene. Cusack is unabashedly sincere, playing a man mellowed almost to the point of self-denial, though he’s polite and charming. Melinda will be his saving grace, an oasis of beauty whose infatuation is reciprocated across a number of romantic escapades. In middle age, Brian has deteriorated considerably and is kept watch over by his suffocating psychotherapist, a Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti, also fantastic). Supposedly the man is Brian’s legal guardian after the death of his father. As Melinda spends increasing amounts of time with Brian she realizes there is a great deal more to the story behind his darting eyes and weary smile.

Love & Mercy isn’t quite like its subject; it doesn’t exactly reshape the biopic if even subtly. There are tropes and there are predictable resolutions. Yet the two timelines complement one another so well the journey resonates on a much deeper level than average entertainment. Beyond superb performances from an engaging cast, Love & Mercy lives up to its title, offering up an abundance of both in its intense scrutiny of a figure many shouldn’t be blamed for assuming is a perpetually upbeat, satisfied human being. Melinda’s introduction is hardly a product of genius screenwriting but let’s not dismiss her as a product, period. Banks — as does Cusack — breathes life into her character, committing some of her finest work to date.

Pohlad’s fascination with the enigmatic also gives fans new context for some of The Beach Boys’ less recognizable tracks as well as those that have been played mercilessly over and again. We are privy to Wilson’s iconic vocals as much as we are to the tension he creates between his bandmates as his grip on reality slowly but surely loosens. Love & Mercy is as much an auditory sensation as it is visually arresting. Settings and wardrobe take us back several decades; tranquility eventually wins out over the disturbing, often painful psychological and emotional bruising. In many senses it is heartbreaking. Uplifting. Intoxicating. Bound to be a classic.

Brian Wilson’s cinematic treatment may never convince major theaters it’s worth their while but it won’t need to. Love & Mercy is a biopic gifted with a massive fan base already built in and, impressively, doubles as an eye-opening experience for general audiences as well as those leery of the California dream.

Recommendation: Love & Mercy isn’t a film just for fans of the legacy of Brian Wilson and/or The Beach Boys, though it’ll no doubt help elevate the experience. This is a profoundly touching experience, one that I couldn’t help becoming more enthusiastic about in the days following. It may not haunt you the same way it has me, but may I recommend this one on the strength of its performances at the very least. A very welcomed surprise in the middle of this summer blockbuster bash. 

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 121 mins.

Quoted: “We’re not surfers, we never have been, and ‘real’ surfers don’t dig our music anyway!”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

TBT: Airplane! (1980)

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We continue our silly little exploits of the film industry of yesteryear throughout this, the 2,015th January since the A.D. era officially got underway, and yes this time we are going to get good and silly indeed. I took a poll last week to see what kind of film everyone would like to see next (I didn’t really, but I totally should have — that is actually a good idea) and the results that never were proved to be overwhelming: we need a spoof. Not necessarily a brainless exercise, but something lighthearted and perhaps more palatable than the recent stuff that’s finding its way into cinemas as of late. It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy

Today’s food for thought: Airplane!

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Now landing at gate 22 . . . 23 . . . 24 . . . 25 . . . 26 since: July 2, 1980

[VHS]

Surely I can’t be serious, only now getting to write up something about one of cinema’s proudest achievements in the realm of deadpan comedies/inane spoofs . . . Well, guess what? I am serious. And don’t call me ___________ .

It looks like I picked the wrong week to nearly call it quits on the blog, as I totally forgot how many things Lloyd Bridges’ McCroskey voluntarily quit during his time as an air traffic controller — smoking, drinking, amphetamines. Sniffing glue. I mean, it’d be a tad selfish to stop this one thing I do when others are out there making far bigger sacrifices than I. Of all the sacrifices, it has to be Ted Striker (Robert Hays)’s that becomes . . . most . . . striking in this movie. He hates flying, ever since his days in the war, and yet he chooses to board a flight whose fate will be left completely up in the air thanks to a bad case of food poisoning that affects both flight crew and passengers alike. He will have to land the Boeing 707 on his own, plain and simple.

A straightforward review of this spoof simply won’t fly. Punny enough, that’s why I’m going to let the cheese do the talking this time. Here are ten quotes that the film Airplane cannot afford to leave the ground without; without these moments the comedy, you might say, would suffer from terminal unfunniness. (Okay, I’m done. . . I promise.)

Hanging Lady: Nervous?

Ted Striker: Yes.

HL: First time?

TS: No, I’ve been nervous lots of times.

 

Roger Murdock: Flight 2-0-9’er, you are cleared for take-off.

Captain Oveur: Roger!

Roger Murdock: Huh?

ATC: L.A. departure frequency, 123 point 9’er.

Oveur: Roger!

RM: Huh?

Victor Basta: Requesting vector, over.

Oveur: What?

ATC: Flight 2-0-9’er cleared for vector 324.

RM: We have clearance, Clarence.

Oveur: Roger, Roger. What’s our vector Victor?

ATC: Tower’s radio clearance, over!

Oveur: That’s Clarence Oveur, over.

ATC: Over.

Oveur: Roger!

RM: Huh?

ATC: Roger, over!

RM: What?

Oveur: Huh?

VB: Who?

 

Ted Striker: [flashing back to the bar he frequented during the war] It was a rough place — the seediest dive on the wharf. Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta. It was worse than Detroit.

 

Jack: What’s going on? We have a right to know the truth!

Dr. Rumack: [to all passengers] All right, I’m going to level with you all. But what’s most important now is that you remain calm. There is no reason to panic. [his nose begins to grow]

Rumack: Now, it is true that one of the crew members is ill . . . slightly ill. [the nose continues to grow longer and longer]

Rumack: But the other two pilots . . . they’re just fine. They’re at the controls flying the plane . . . free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.

 

Dr. Rumack: You’d better tell Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.

Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?

Rumack: It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.

 

Elaine Dickinson: Ladies and gentlemen, this is your stewardess speaking. We regret any inconvenience the sudden cabin movement might have caused, this is due to periodic air pockets we encountered; there’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

 

Dr. Rumack: Extremely serious. It starts with a slight fever and dryness of the throat. When the virus penetrates the red blood cells, the victim becomes dizzy, begins to experience an itchy rash, then the poison goes to work on the central nervous system; severe muscle spasms followed by the inevitable drooling. [Oveur experiencing each symptom as the doctor describes them.]

Rumack: At this point, the entire digestive system collapses accompanied by uncontrollable flatulence. . . . until, finally, the poor bastard is reduced to a quivering wasted piece of jelly.

 

Steve McCroskey: Johnny, what can you make out of this? [hands him the weather report]

Johnny: This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch, or a pterodactyl . . .

 

Ted Striker: [as the plane loses an engine] The oil pressure. I forgot to check the oil pressure! When Kramer hears about this, the shit’s going to hit the fan! [meanwhile, in the office, feces hits a fan and explodes all over the room]

 

Airport Male Announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.

Airport Female Announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.

AMA later on: The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the white zone.

AFA: No, the white zone is for loading of passengers and there is no stopping in a red zone.

AMA: The red zone has always been for loading and unloading of passengers. There’s never stopping in a white zone.

AFA: Don’t you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for stopping!

AMA: Listen Betty, don’t start up with your white zone shit again.

AMA, later still: There’s just no stopping in a white zone.

AFA: Oh really, Vernon? Why pretend, we both know perfectly well what this is about. You want me to have an abortion.

AMA: It’s really the only sensible thing to do, if it’s done safely. Therapeutically there’s no danger involved.

airplane

4-5Recommendation: We all know this section is here because of formatting reasons. I do not need to recommend the best spoof ever to anyone. You’ve either seen Airplane or you have not. Though it may be one of my favorite creations of all time, I can see where the over-the-top silliness and perpetual pun-spinning wears out its welcome for those wanting something with a little more logic to it. But where’s the fun in being logical?

Rated: PG

Running Time: 88 mins.

TBTrivia: Crazy coincidence: three of the film’s characters who had no comedic acting experience prior to Airplane — Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves and Barbara Billingsley — all passed away in 2010, the film’s 30th anniversary year.

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Photo credits: http://www.canalpiloto.com.br; http://www.imdb.com 

The Theory of Everything

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Release: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

[Theater]

Written by: Anthony McCarten 

Directed by: James Marsh

If you want to talk ambition, meet British director James Marsh. He once thought it realistic to stuff everything Stephen Hawking-related into a two-hour romantic drama. There are obvious issues with such a strategy. Not so obvious perhaps are the compromises he’s made in producing something worth watching.

Or, maybe they are. Either way, it looks like it will still be some time before we get the definitive guide on the inner workings of one of the greatest minds this world has and likely will ever see.

Marsh (Man on WireShadow Dancer) blends elements of the standard biopic with those of a romantic drama while infusing the production with at least the pretense of science. More often than not intellectual stimulation is sacrificed in favor of powerful emotional recoil at the sight of a body enduring prolonged deterioration. Yes, the experience fails to manifest as an interesting journey as much as a heartrending commitment to watching what we already are aware has happened. But it’s a perfectly inoffensive approach all the same.

Considering the number of similar films attempting to fashion glamorous takes on the lives of many an ill-fated genius or savant — Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind being one of the most memorable in recent years — it’s hard not to feel the nagging tension of having been there, done that this time around. Howard’s muse happened to be brilliant economist John Forbes Nash. The crux of that particular film revolved around schizophrenia and how it nearly eroded the passionate love shared between an ailing Nash and his fiercely determined wife Alicia Lardé. Fast-forward to 2014 and you simply change the variables. The constants remain, though: bodily dysfunction, emotional trauma, and the very human ability to somehow ignore and even triumph over it all.

The Theory of Everything plays out like the autobiography Professor Hawking will probably never write. (That’s not intended as a cruel joke, in any way, shape or form. I simply just don’t envision this man ever writing one.) And by rights, it should. While camera angles hew intimately to Hawking’s views of the world, it’s his first wife whose work has most directly inspired this particular Oscar-hopeful. Adapted from her memoir ‘Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,’ the film logically detours away from the scientific to focus on the romantic aspects of a life less ordinary.

Leaning on mush and sentimentality does not crush Marsh’s project, luckily enough. After all, he has been afforded a pair of breathtaking performances in the form of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The pair of young performers will seem inseparable after this. In the last several weeks, a certain someone has been knocking on this blog’s door with more questions about whom he should consider grooming next for the big stage in the Dolby Theatre. Now it would seem to be the young and freckled Londoner’s turn to be called upon. What he accomplishes in Theory is nothing short of revelatory in practice.

Twisted, pained expressions dominate Redmayne’s facial features for the film’s later stages, a development made all the more heartbreaking when given his cheerful, exquisitely nerdy countenance early on. It’s one aspect of the film that absolutely demanded perfection regardless of the surrounding material or narrative flow. Redmayne understood this and courageously ran with what will down the road be described as one of his career’s most challenging and daring decisions.

This is also Felicity Jones’ finest hour. She is a force to be reckoned with alongside the towering Redmayne, channeling her inner Jennifer Connelly appropriately. As Jane Wilde, Jones exudes strength and bravery in a situation that would surely demolish both in any ordinary mortal. There is nothing theoretical about the performances here. The film radiates sincerity and the rapport between Jones and Redmayne single-handedly elevates a somewhat pedestrian narrative. That much is most certainly clear.

What’s less clear is how much Marsh actually appreciates Hawking himself. Regrettably The Theory of Everything ends terribly. The final scenes threaten to drown out any sense of originality on the subject, as the narrative merges with the collective populace’s impressions of the guy: he’s no doubt an inspiration. But we know this already. That’s why there’s now several movies made about him. These last shots may resonate, but they resonate for the wrong reasons. It becomes evident in Theory‘s awkwardly sweeping yet rushed conclusion (why do these stories always end in big auditoriums or conference halls?) Marsh doesn’t want to put too fine a point on the harsh reality of Stephen’s triumph. He doesn’t want to betray the public perception of the iconic wheelchair-bound professor.

That’s why he saves one of the film’s most inspiring lines for the very last moment. Too bad I can’t say the same for this review.

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3-5Recommendation: Arguably laden with cheese and sentiment, The Theory of Everything features a lot of heartbreak and cold science (of at least the medical variety) to help try to balance the equation. Two incredible performances help stabilize it a little more, though ultimately this is a movie that belongs on the Hallmark channel more than anywhere else. This is a light year away from being a bad film, but it’s just as far from being original or truly moving. 

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 123 mins.

Quoted: “There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

OCMC: Daniel Hillard/Mrs. Doubtfire in Mrs. Doubtfire

mrs-doubtfireWe have reached the end of the voyage, dear friends. Our beloved Captain is due back on shore tomorrow, where he shall drop anchor and bid adieu to us after one fine week of sailing the high seas. I guess I better drop the metaphor before it gets even more confusing. Basically, now that the week where it’s been acceptable for me to say “Oh captain my captain” to pretty much everything is coming to a close, I’m feeling quite bittersweet about the whole thing.

I’ve really enjoyed going back and revisiting each of these moments (and many others) this week. I hope you all have as well, even though at times I’ve felt as if this OCMC tribute has been a little redundant. Not necessarily pointless, but it wasn’t as if we needed any more reminding of the man’s talents given the outpouring of support and love for the man over the last fortnight. Hopefully I haven’t so much sold you on anything as much as I’ve reminded people of why I, like millions of other fans, couldn’t help myself in verbalizing the pain I felt for his loss. It only seemed natural to suspend activities on DSB for one week and properly tip my hat to a performer I’ve idolized for awhile. Yes that’s right — idolized. (I promised myself a while ago that would be a word I’d never use. . .but, well. . .ehem.)

There are few characters created that become so successful, so endearing to audiences as to become greater than the film itself. In some instances they become standards to which other characters in said genre might be measured. I believe today’s entry more than qualifies.

Guys and gals I’d like you to (re)acquaint yourselves with Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, a creation that could only have been Robin’s. A tough nanny with high standards of cleanliness and organization and a penchant for grooming well-behaved, cooperative children, she was essentially Mary Poppins with a Scottish accent and a beard. (Well, the beard’s implied. We knew she was a man, either way.) The character’s great, but the situation is what really projected Williams’ multi-tasking talents: Mrs. Doubtfire was actually the brilliant brain-nanny of desperate but talented voice actor Daniel Hillard who, after royally fumbling his marriage with Miranda (Sally Field), planned on remaining in his children’s lives in whatever capacity he may be able. He engineers a new character to look after the three tykes as Miranda is seemingly unable to do quality parenting of her own (oops, too harsh?) and could use the help. When the funny-talking, funny-looking she-male inadvertently impinges upon his ability to function in his own world, time will only tell before the cracks begin to show. And then. . .then what happens?

It may be worth mentioning that this is my very favorite role Robin Williams has played. His nanny is pure magic.

*

Quoted: “Carpe dentum. Seize the teeth!”


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Paranoia

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Release: Thursday, August 15, 2013

[Theater]

I’d like to plead the fifth to any questions raised concerning whether I just went to see this for Amber Heard. I mean, come on guys. It’s also got Liam Hemsworth in it — you know, that strapping gentleman from The Hunger Games, real-life brother of Thor, hello? And this movie also features huge A-listers in Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. Why anyone would ask me whether she was the reason I saw Paranoia is actually pretty logical, though. There are scant reasons to see this aside from her. To be delicate, this movie leaves only nine other spots on a theoretical list I’m making of the Ten Worst Films I’ve Ever Seen. The script for this supposed crime-drama is that bad, it really is.

As always, I got ahead of myself and checked the status of the upcoming movie on Rotten Tomatoes before going in and what I saw really shocked me. As limited as the marketing was backing up Luketic’s new project, the trailers had me believing we would be getting a cool new action thriller. Oldman in another sinister role, awesome. How the film would qualify for my “list of ten worst films” considering the disappointing little you get from a cast as good as this. It is stunning how terrible the dialogue is for much of the movie, and a lot of the time the plot doesn’t make sense. While there are moments that invite your eyes to widen a little bit as if you’re ready to change facial expressions, the vast majority of Paranoia is utterly, utterly flat and boring.

(I’m actually patting myself on the back for not walking out on this.)

But yet, there was some. . .quality to this film remaining that managed to keep me there, along with, I guess, the other six people who were in my theater. Despite director Robert Luketic’s seeming incompetence to provide anything but cliches to fill the time, the presence of Oldman, Ford and to a lesser degree, Hemsworth, were a bit compelling.

Some semblance of a plot is as follows:

Adam Cassidy (Hemsworth) is a bright, hard-working 27-year old fighting in the corporate world to get ahead and earn a job that will finally pay him his dues. His status and work ethic suggest advancement but his boss, the insufferable Nick Wyatt (Oldman), insists he’s nothing special. He proves it by firing him along with his team of brainiac friends after a presentation Adam was giving failed to impress a distracted Mr. Wyatt. Adam then takes his friends out for drinks as an apology for his pushiness which led to their firings, but he also uses the leftover allowance on his corporate credit card to pay for the night. Win-win, or so he thinks.

Wyatt bargains with him when he discovers $16k has been spent the night of his dismissal, and during one of the only good scenes in this entire yawn-a-thon, Oldman’s menacing temperament is shown. He tells Adam he is going to work for his rival company — Eikon, run by his former partner, Jock Goddard (Ford) — and gain valuable inside information for Wyatt’s personal gain. Even if the plot is unremarkable in that regard, there wasn’t much of a chance to enjoy the development since Luketic insisted the movie be dumbed down as possible.

It was like a spelling bee First Round, where the words are very easy and simple and everyone gets it correctly — that’s how this script passed by editors, got approval. Inexplicably, the likes of Ford, Oldman and Hemsworth, and even Amber Heard as the potential love interest for Adam, a very on-again/off-again Emma Jennings, who didn’t have much to say but what she did have to say was utterly bland — all these people agreed to what they read! It is tough to understand unless you watch this, but that’s a thing that I absolutely insist you do not do.

As Adam receives a “make-over” of sorts from a couple of Wyatt’s corporate malefactors, Dr. Bolton (Embeth Davidtz) and “Meechum” (Julian McMahon) — this is an attempt to integrate Adam into the image that would attract Eikon to hire him which really is mostly just unbelievable — he is erstwhile attempting to look more divided about the situation he is in. Hemsworth does his best in expressing it, but his character is a dumb dog following its commands. In moments he’s meant to be expressing his ehem paranoia . . . he ends up just looking confused or annoyed. Not his fault, though. There’s really nothing to react to most of the time.

The plan is to get a hold of an advanced phone technology being developed by the genius but selfish Goddard, and Wyatt uses Adam to physically steal the next-level device from its heavily-protected chamber on the 38th floor of the building. Yes, all that familiar rigamarole. Insisting Adam’s services have been sufficiently provided and that he will not continue doing his former boss’ dirty work, he tells Wyatt that he’s done, he’s out. Unfortunately, more bad movie ensues.

Half-heartedly acted, poorly edited and with simply nothing at all to distinguish itself from the ranks of other crime-drama thrillers revolving around technological one-upmanship, Paranoia is a kick to the stomach thinking about the wasted potential. Perhaps there were things going on behind the scenes that contributed to the film’s rather hushed promotion and subsequent release, and which may explain possible on-set awkwardness that allowed the film to come out as clumsy as it has. Mere speculation on my part, but I just hope there’s something else besides Luketic simply producing a complete and total misfire here.

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1-5Recommendation: Stay away. A complete let-down, even for me as I sat down thinking how much fun this is going to be to try and defy the odds of it being grossly under appreciated in the initial reviews. Even with fake expectations, I came out still. . . disappointed.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 106 mins.

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com