i-Phone 6 is a cheap piece of bendy junk

Yesterday was #Bendgate bonanza. It’s as if consumers around the world woke up with the realization that the semi-disposable pieces of technology that they wait for in crazy line-ups and pay exorbitant amounts of money for are actually getting junkier.

Don’t worry. Apple has us covered. Their first line of consumers determined that the i-Phone series 6, a slightly oversized version of the smartphone that is picking its cues from Samsung, bends when placed in a pocket.

US is by no means a nation of murse-wearers. Dudes in North America apparently love to carry all their junk in their pant pockets, which also explains for scratched up and broken phones in general, as well as an enormous loss of wallets and other such personal items. But I guess if you carry around a small house (read: car) with you, having some puny briefcase or a murse seems redundant.

The thing is, the phone bends. It is bendy. Reports on the “bendiness” of the iPhone 6 come from consumers carrying the device in their front as well as back pockets.

It seems that the phone is simply built too cheaply to maintain its structural integrity, regardless of which pocket you choose.

The aluminum casing, optimized for cost of unit vs. materials expended, is superbly lightweight, but also structurally unsound, bending specifically around the cut-outs for buttons.

This is a typical failure of culturally-relevant product testing, and such things occur more commonly with companies entering new markets, in which as outsiders they have no ability to understand the nuances of the local cultural landscape.

This failure to connect implies that Apple no longer understands the culture of North American consumers. Apple doesn’t comprehend the very cultural norms of the people it hails from.

So the question is – how do Apple executives carry their phones? Do they put them in their pockets?

Watch the bend.

Strati, the First 3D-Printed Car

The first 3D printed car is made of merely 40 parts, and is made by the Arizona-based Local Motors.

The process for this unique vehicle took 44 hours to complete, has a battery range of 120 – 150 miles, and sports some conventionally made parts, including tires, seats, wheels, battery, wiring, suspension, eletroci motor and windows. The seats, body, chassis, dash center consol and hood are printed out of black plastic reinforced with carbon fiber.

Read more at Techodrom.

Outlander & Extant: The Rise of Lady Sci-Fi

Outlander-Costumes

by Irma Arkus

There is a new generation of science fiction on television and I can think of no better way of calling it than Lady SciFi.

What is Lady SciFi? Good question indeed. I’ve been breaking my head trying to understand what Extant is, or whether Outlander even qualifies as science fiction, and indeed, they both belong in the same sub-category of shows with an appeal to primarily female audience.

On the one hand, these shows are a welcome change from the recent stabs at hard sci-fi, both in film and tv, largely oriented toward men. And lest not forget comic book films, which this year proved to be largely exceptional in storytelling, but continue to be abysmally weak (as always) in the female character development department.

Outlander is a little bit of romance, little bit of time traveling, but mixed with a lush, period drama. This high quality production is based on a series of best selling books by Diana Gabaldon, and represents a new era of high-production value for Starz network.

My guess is that Outlander is an answer to the powerhouse that is GoT by Starz, and is going to be a relatively successful one.

The show, created and produced by Ronald D. Moore (of Battlestar Galactica), stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp, who while on post-war vacation in Scotland with her amateur historian husband, gets transported back in time to 1743, right in the midst of uprisings, political maneuvers and major conflicts between Scots and English.

In two blinks of an eye, savvy Claire becomes held by the “laird” whose illness forces her to show off her medicine woman skills, which the world of 1743 desperately needs.

The story itself is interesting, interspersed with lots of Scottish pride, pomp, and circumstance, tradition and incomprehensible Scottish dialects, peppered with numerous speeches that lack some much needed subtitles.

This is all very nice and dandy, but the production feels as if it is a brainchild borne of Scotland’s Ministry of Tourism, and that of Scottish nationalist party (whoever that may be). A lot of chest thumping and noble pomp, the show is a rudimentary propaganda piece with heavy separatist tones. To call them undertones would be a stretch.

These are not political messages of peace, love and understanding, but rather a call for war, honour, freedom, tradition and Scottish cultural integrity, and all that perfectly timed for the Scottish separatist referendum.

I cannot fault the show for it, but it feels somewhat burdensome to watch it. Despite the lush cinematography, and beautiful costumes, and some mighty handsome men who do what it is that Scottish men do, it feels like a beautified propaganda piece. Then again, perhaps it is time for some feistier political messaging on TV, subtlety be damned.

The other thing that bothers me is the acting. Claire is supposed to be this strong, smart, savvy, knowledgeable and even sexually provocative character, yet Caitriona Balfe appears to be incredibly waspy, cold and wooden actress who makes the likes of the queen of wasp, Andy MacDowell, look like a tropical heat pump with chortling laughter and a bubbly personality in comparison. And that is something of a concern.

Caitriona Balfe after all, is a model, considered beautiful by photographers and fashion designers alike, and she may have graced catwalks and magazine covers, but for the life of me, I fail to remember her in anything at all, despite her fair number of acting roles.

She feels wooden, she looks wooden, and while her body may represent the photographic ideal of the fashion world, I would have given my firstborn for someone more human and curvy, and with a bit more personality to have been cast for this role.

I thought it would become easier to connect with her character, that she would grow on me a bit, but as the show goes on, she is becoming mildly repellent, colder and less sympathetic.

CBS_EXTANT

Extant, on the other hand, is also Lady SciFi, but more of a Mommy SciFi. I’m not even sure that this is a television show, but the heavy marketing campaigns assure me that that is indeed the case.

Brought to us by Steven Spielberg, (which is strange, because the show has more in common with Ronald D. Moore’s Helix than anything else I can think of,) the show focuses on a mom, who is both a mother to an android and an alien newborn.
Extant_promo shot
Halle Berry, an accomplished actress for whom I have the utmost respect, stars in the protagonist role. Berry, as Molly Woods, is an accomplished scientist who spends some odd 13 months in orbit on a solo mission, only to come back with some interesting cargo on board.

Woods returns home to her loving husband and their solution to her barren state, a little android child, that looks and acts just like the tyke from AI.

In fact, the entire storyline feels like it has been pasted out of random, trashed pages from AI, and has been progressively getting less coherent.

Characters that were entirely in the background, such as the case with Alan Sparks or Gordon Kern, become suddenly enriched with flimsy backgrounds, and are pushed to the forefront in a matter of minutes.

Berry is mostly seen flailing, sweating, doing her best to keep up appearances. I am not sure that any of the actors know what is going on, and they get to read the scripts before they shoot the show. As for the viewers, I can assure you that we can only surmise that this show has been written by monkeys.

Extant fails to connect in terms of narrative integrity, timing, action, and is generally drowning in what I can only call an abysmal failure.

At this point, the show has hit its 11th episode, and let me assure you, things have not been getting better. Quite the opposite, in fact. At this point, the alien man-child is on the loose, and the action surrounding the chase after him is incredibly poor.

That said, the lighting is good. The costumes are great, and the future looks like it has been constructed out of catalogue pages. It’s also making me cranky, because there is a missing piece of the story that pertains to their society, aka. our future. They are either living in an era of prosperity because of some cataclysmic event, or the show is simply suffering from the fact that the peeps working on this production are entirely divorced from reality of human existence, which constitutes the extra insult to viewers, as the show is called Extant.

Those blind monkeys working on this show will most likely never see the second season, so I recommend you soak up as much Berry as possible.

These two shows represent an interesting new breed of television. They are grappling with science fiction themes while trying to connect to a less explored audience. Similar science fiction developments aimed at teen audiences also premiered this year, namely The 100, and Star-Crossed.

All of this implies is that science fiction is currently the less explored genre with a huge potential, and that there are indeed less explored audiences, which may result in that one new show to reach unprecedented heights of popularity.

With HBO raising the bar with GoT, I am hoping some of it will soon translate into not only ill-conceived Lady Sci-Fi, but excellent, high-quality science fiction television that will garner fans for generations to come.

Best Fan Artist Prize Unveiled at the Hugo Awards

by Irma Arkus

According to the latest from Alaska Dispatch, Sarah Webb, an illustrator from Fairbanks received this year’s L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future as well as the Best Fan Artist prize at the Hugo Awards ceremony this year.

Other Hugo Awards presented this year include Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice” for Best Novel; “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu for Best Short Story; and “Gravity” and “Game of Thrones” for Best Dramatic Presentations (long and short forms, respectively).

Her art is amazing and she is super cute too!

20140410 - ASI - WOTF - THE BIG REVEAL _promot shot

Check out some of her amazing art here.

2014 Hugo Awards Nominees

Presented at:Loncon 3, London, United Kingdom, August 17, 2014

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
– Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
- Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK)
– Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)


Best Novella

– “Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
– “Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)
– “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
– The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)


Best Novelette

– “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
– “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
– “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
– “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
– “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Sofia Samatar*
Max Gladstone*
Wesley Chu
Ramez Naam*
Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Best Short Story

– “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
– “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
– “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
– “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)

Best Related Work

– “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
– Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
– Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It, Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
– Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
– Writing Excuses Season 8, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story

– “Time”, Randall Munroe (XKCD)
– Saga, Volume 2, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
– Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
– “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who”, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
– The Meathouse Man, adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

– Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
– Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
– Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
– Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

– Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
– Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
– Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
– An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
– The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
– Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)

Best Editor, Short Form

Ellen Datlow
John Joseph Adams
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams
Neil Clarke

Best Editor, Long Form

Ginjer Buchanan
Liz Gorinsky
Sheila Gilbert
Toni Weisskopf
Lee Harris

Best Semiprozine

– Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
– Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin
– Apex Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
– Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
– Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews

Best Fan Writer

Kameron Hurley
Abigail Nussbaum
Foz Meadows
Liz Bourke
Mark Oshiro

Best Fan Artist

Sarah Webb
Brad W. Foster
Mandie Manzano
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

Why You Need to Watch: Halt and Catch Fire

halt-and-catch-fire-season-1

by Irma Arkus

Recent addition to my viewing schedule is AMCs Halt and Catch Fire which according to EW today is getting a very welcomed second season renewal.

The show, created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers, set in 1980s, depicts the riveting ups and downs of personal computing industry. The surprise? It’s neither too technical, nor makes for bad drama. In fact, it’s brisk, captivating, likeable and somewhat enigmatic. But let’s get to the gritty…

Set in Texas, very much mired in history of “Silicon Prairie” and Austin’s boom during the same era, the show depicts an ambitious yet tyrannical and manipulative visionary, embodied in no other than a sales agent and product manager, Joe MacMillan. Played by the wonderful Lee Pace, MacMillan shows up out of nowhere, joining a relatively sleepy corporation with a mediocre product. Sleek, polished and persuasive, MacMillan is quickly uncovered to have more lofty goals than your average East Coast sales agent, as he maneuvers his new employer, Cardiff Electric, into an impossible and legally-trick competition against the giant IBM.

Before you know it, not only is the company transformed, but has a new product in the works that may (or not) transform the booming industry of personal computing.

Caught in his web of ambition are two major talents. The first is a family man, Gordon Clark, whose entire life is defined by his previously failed independent product developments. This development vision, it seems, is also a passion which he shares with his surprisingly talented wife, played by Kerry Bishé, who despite her contributions to variety of hardware and software developments, seems to continuously earn but the short end of the stick.

Clark, played by Scoot McNairy, is a wonderfully complex character, who often consumed by a creative challenge, finds himself battling personal inadequacies, faces the crimp of family obligations, and is generally plagued by personal demons.

The second, and most lovely, is Cameron, played by a Vancouverite, Mackenzie Davis. Not only is Davis preposterously and captivatingly beautiful, but she very aptly depicts the new generation of programmers who view the world of computing with very different norms and expectations, seeing technology as a gender and class-neutral device for individual and meritorious empowerment.

Lately, we’ve been watching a lot of shows about business, mostly adventures set in isles of antique department stores, but Halt and Catch Fire is not really about the riveting life of retail. Difficult to peg, the show can be described as Mad Men meets Silicon Valley.

On the one hand, there is the nostalgic element of the 1980s, with its bold, fresh, cutting edge designs and interiors. On the other, there are the dangers of developing anything (back then or these days), and the potential for failure for many of these entrepreneurial projects all makes for a riveting drama.

Outlander Promises a Time Travelling Romp With Kilts Flying

Ronald D. Moore is working on a new production. Moore, the creative force behind Battlestar Galactica, has a new show Outlander, based on some pretty soft time travel romance novels by Diana Gabaldon that remind more of the Time Traveller’s Wife than anything else.

The casing is thus far promising some handsome men in kilts, and ample swooning ladies in some fine corsetry, with seasoned actor Simon Callow as the Duke of Sandringham, Tracy Wilkinson as some savvy housekeeper (sorry but that’s all we know as we’re a little short on deets), and according to JustPressPlay’s Randall Unger, an ample amount of angry Scots in kilts.

The premise is an unusual one, summarized as nurse flying through time only to land in midst of a Scots vs. English conflict during the Jacobi rising.

And of course, there is the romance angle, with a handsome, kilted, champion of all men.

Just when you think Ronald D. Moore went the way of J. Michael Straczynski, he comes back with not one, but two anticipated shows, as Helix is expected to premiere in January of 2014 on SyFy.

2013 Hugo Award Winners

LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the 2013 Hugo Award winners. 1848 valid ballots were received and counted in the final ballot.

BEST NOVEL

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)

BEST NOVELLA

The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)

13578175

BEST NOVELETTE

“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)

BEST SHORT STORY

“Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)

BEST RELATED WORK

Writing Excuses Season Seven, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM

The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM

Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM

Stanley Schmidt

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

John Picacio

BEST SEMIPROZINE

Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker

BEST FANZINE

SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester

BEST FANCAST

SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)

BEST FAN WRITER

Tansy Rayner Roberts

BEST FAN ARTIST

Galen Dara

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

Mur Lafferty

Elysium Is Out, And Some Of It Is Good

elysium

Elysium (2013), created and directed by Neill Blomkamp, is an eagerly anticipated sequel to the fantastic film that is District 9. While Elysium is a cinematic accomplishment for Blomkamp, and his first big budget debut, and it most certainly presents us with intriguing themes and topics, the film does fall short of expectations.

Elysium is about class and health care, or rather lack thereof, and as such, it is a film released at an opportune moment, in the midst of public deliberations on Medicare and introduction of Obama-care south of the border.

The film is set in a post-automation society, the kind that transhumanists look forward to, and futurists warn about. Similarly to the remake of Total Recall, our hero, starring Matt Damon, is a mechanical labourer, toiling in production of the very machines that will replace him.

Unlike the recent stab at Total Recall however, Blomkamp explores the society in a more class-aware manner. In the universe that is Elysium, there is the underclass, and then there is the upper class. Living on what remains of an overextended Earth, depleted of its resources, is the burgeoning population toiling in physical labour and wrestling with resource scarcity.

Up there, in the sky however, lies Elysium, the stuff of science fiction novels. Like RingWold, it hovers with its gardens, shimmering pools, and its clean atmosphere. In Elysium, the beautiful, the rich and the immortal live the lives of demi-gods.

Elysium is essentially that tanker for the super-rich, except far nicer, better secured and technologically superior.

It also has the dream technology available: healing capsules that diagnose and fix anyone with any health issue or deficiencies. This machine optimizes human health and ensures it remains at its peak.

The machine is life, which is why Elysium is the promised land for millions, of which only thousands attempt to reach

Matt Damon’s character is an orphan who grows up to be a labourer at a Los Angeles facility, Armadyne, that produces the very machines that oppress him. His employment is tenuous, and despite the intense work, his supervisor is consistently applying pressure, threatening him with the loss of his job. Because of his criminal record, Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), has little choice but to comply.

Inevitably, the work turns to hazard and due to his supervisor’s negligence, he is exposed a deadly dose of radiation. With time ticking, he has but one option – to attempt what many have attempted – get to Elysium.

The plot line evolves with Armadyne’s CEO formulating a code crack that can be used on Elysium’s systems, and allow the user to change its parameters.

In this particular case, Elysian Secretary of Defense, played by Jodie Foster channeling her best Hillary Clinton impersonation, desires the power to shoot the refugee shuttles directly from Elysium, and thus assume control and independence of the colony. This maneuver would allow Delacourt (Jodie Foster) to entirely circumvent the regulations, instead of having to subvert them by hiring defense agents on Earth grounds, who attack and eliminate any approaching shuttles full of undesirables.

Elysium-screenshot-20

Max facing rather short end to his already miserable existence, turns to the local mob, equipping himself with some extra muscle and an exoskeleton. The idea is that he can exchange his physical abilities and desparation for a job well done, and then he too can get on the shuttle to nowhere.

The job is kidnapping / bank account information, but before he can blink, the entire operation turns ugly, as Delacourt’s hounds attempt to defend Armadyne’s CEO, and the code crack gets inadvertently downloaded by Max.

Kruger, played by the wonderful Sharlto Copley, is the crude stick wielded by Delacourt from afar. He is a mercenary whose job is to hunt down Max at all costs, and retrieve the code.

Max, on the run from the well equipped Kruger, hides in the least expected place: a long-lost childhood friend, Frey, whose daughter suffers from leukemia. Before you can spell 1,2,3 everyone is on the way to Elysium, and all hell will break loose.

There are more than a few intersting moments in the film, and more than a few remarkable roles. As caricatured as they may be, Jodie Foster as Delacourt is wonderful, Armadyne’s CEO Carlyle played by WIlliam Fichtner is amazing and unforgettable, and Copley’s Kruger is wonderfully insane.

In fact, while Matt Damon’s Max is as likeable as expected, it is Kruger that happens to be the most interesting character in Elysium. Kruger is a sociopath, who does not shudder at the thought of killing thousands, from afar or in person. He is a mercenary with a special talent for dying. Not to worry though, as Delacourt has resurrected the s.o.b. so many times, that not everything is alright up in that head. He looks at a mirror and he screams like a baby. A demented, killer baby.

This goes along with the narrative, as Max, along with Frey and her sick daughter become Kruger’s cargo. Lacking the obligatory romantic interlude, Kruger and his assistant even propose the idea of instant family with Freya, laughing maniacally.

Elysium Movie Kruger

Kruger is a minor character, yet possibly the most important and interesting character in the film, and one I wish Blomkamp took the time to develop further. The crack for the Elysium code, for example, becomes the prize that both Kruger and Delacourt desire. It would have been a true pleasure seeing Kruger become the mad, sociopathic king that he was intended to be – to see all this power and wealth embodied in the penultimate expression of Elysium’s society – broken, immortal, cruel Kruger.

There is enough action and twists for Elysium to keep the audience going, but the film definitely fails to deliver.

For one, the setting, depicting the misery that is the future of Earth, is unsettling, but not unsettling enough.

Max, for example, lives in a tiny detached house that would probably be the envy of Vancouver and Hong Kong residents alike. Meager by Hollywood standards, and I assume for the ease of filming (you have to fit all that big budget crew), or Blomkamp’s, it doesn’t come near the endearing quality of squandor experienced in District 9.

We’ve seen the future – the cage-like residences in Beijing, the coffin-like hotels in Tokyo, and micro-condos – and Blomkamp’s future is just not miserable enought to be fully immersive and believable. I mean, there are people living at this very moment beneath the gratings of Las Vegas sewers! Why settle for less?

The other flaw, and this one I find to be the most significant, is the fact that end of Elysium (super spoiler alert!) is irrational.

Max sacrifices himself, to assume control over Elysium and make everyone into a citizen of the very exclusive colony, which ends on a happy note of everyone receiving the health care.

While I fully support this, there is a major issue staring us in the face. He did not redistribute income from god-kings of Elysium, or restarted the economy, or waved his magic wand to curb overpopulation or extreme scarcity facing the world. Instead he allowed an equivalent of busloads of people to receive the health care they desperately needed, and by doing so, potentially extended their own, and others’ suffering.

This leap in logic is arguably mostly my nitpicking, and the film should be acknowledged for tackling what is the formative issue of this generation. However, I expected more from Blomkamp. The first time I watched District 9, I took the time to watch his short films, and I was amazed at the ingenuity and political awareness of Blomkamp. He has the chops to make relevant films, and he is apt at tackling the unspoken, wrapped in “other” and that of the robotic future of automated labour. Yet, Elysium, sadly, fell short of this goal.

The Thief and the Cobbler: The Best Animated Film You’ve Never Seen

600full-the-thief-and-the-cobbler-poster

by Irma Arkus

The Thief and the Cobbler is a must watch. This legendary animated film started its production in 1964 by the amazing Richard Williams. This Canadian genious is best known for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but the most animators know that his work on The Thief and the Cobbler remains as one of the most amazing, ambitious, and longest running productions in the history of cinematography and animation.

The film was in and out of production for over 20 years, and during the latter stages after his Roger Rabbit fame, he signed with Warner Brothers to finalize it, but production went over budget, and the partnership fractured, leaving Williams out of funds.

The bond company eventually hired Fred Calvert, an animator hired to finish the project, leaving Williams entirely out of loop.

While some portions of the film were released under a separate title, the original vision became a cult classic and is considered a masterpiece amongst professional animators.

The film was finally completed in 1995, 31 years after the production started. It took so long to “recobble” this film, that Vincent Price, who voiced the character, passed away without having finished all the lines.

Watch the remainder here.