Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke


The year is 2131. The world is still shaken after the violent collision with a meteorite in 2077 when “the cities of Padua and Verona were wiped from the face of the Earth; and the last glories of Venice sank forever beneath the sea as the waters of the Adriatic came thundering landward after the hammer blow from space.”

Project SpaceGuard is now installed on Mars, with the purpose of identifying and cataloging space objects potentially hazardous to Earth. A strange object makes it’s appearance in our solar system and it is initially cataloged with a simple numeric name. But as it turns out that 31/439 is an artificial object of unknown origin the visitor received official name of Rama.

A mission to intercept the strange object is prepared in a hurry in order to explore the unexpected guest. Captain Norton and his crew of the Endeavour have only a few weeks to learn the secrets of the cylinder which is 50 kilometers long and 16 wide. Rama reveal it’s secrets as it approaches the Sun, filling the hearts of the human explorers with  fear, astonishment, admiration and finally love.

Arthur C. Clarke’s novel is written in an impeccable manner. Rendezvous with Rama is one of the few novels I’ve read twice and, acknowledge that, although I do not like to read the same book twice, I reread it even more avidly than I did the first time. Rendezvous with Rama was in fact among the first novels that made me to love science-fiction literature. It is a recommendation and a must for any avid science fiction reader. And for those who want to start reading science-fiction, Rendezvous with Rama seems to be a natural start, what makes you ask for more. There is no way you won’t fall in love with Arthur C. Clarke’s work after this one.

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The Book of Eli – A Journey of Faith


I believe every film has a phrase, a key sequence that includes the essence and the message of the entire movie. The core of “The Book of Eli” I found in this phrase, uttered by the character played by Denzel Washington, shortly before concluding his journey:

“In all these years I’ve been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it.”

Since I saw the first trailer I knew I am not allowed to miss this movie. It did not disappoint me. It has great photography and Denzel Washington is doing a damn fine job in the leading role as wanderer Eli, one of the few people left alive after a great war that devastated the world and transformed America into a desolate wilderness. Throughout the film we discover that the terrible war started for religious reasons and that after the war was over, all Bibles were destroyed.

Eli’s journey begins after he hears a voice that guides him to the only place on Earth were a copy of the the holy book survived. The voice then commands him to bring it to the West, to a place where people are in real need for it. In exchange for this service, the Voice promises protection and guidance during the journey and Eli begins a 30 years long journey, during which he reads daily from the book he carries. This last Scripture proves to be very important to some people who won’t hesitate to kill in order to acquire the it for it’s immense power and value.

The interesting part of this film, highlighted in the quote above, is that although it is contrary to the message of love contained in the book, both Eli and those who seek to take the book, will not hesitate to use violence or to kill to impose their views.

Often in our fight to defend what we believe in, or to encourage others to believe in the same things as we do, we overlook the values we are trying to share, and we use violence, in verbal or – worst – physical form so that we violate the freedom of faith and the message loses it’s whole purpose: to make us better people.The film speaks about religious fanaticism and faith – about how people understand and apply God’s will.

The Book of Eli has profound implications, challenging our moral believes. Plot wise, the movie follows Eli as he is being hunted down by an obscure “tribe” chief  who was seeking the book that Eli has in order to complete his library and also use the powers of this book to gain power. I would have preferred to see an organization with the specific purpose to seek and destroy all the books and Eli to be  hunted by this guys instead. Finally, the end is really surprising, at least to a certain point, but I prefer not to say anything about it, I’m sure some have not yet seen the movie and I do not want to ruin it.

So the movie is great, but the idea had a much greater potential than what was actually delivered by Albert and Allen Hughe. The movie resembles the world from Mad Max (the old trilogy), as from it’s image and clothing. If they have given this some more thoughts, The Book of Eli could have been a masterpiece and a reference for the post-apocalyptic genre. It still remains a great movie, but not something special. In any case not better then Will Smith’s I Am Legend.

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Mad Max: Fury Road – A lovely day indeed


Was I hyped for this one or what? Mad Max: Fury Road hit theaters last weekend and had an estimated $109.4 million grossing world-wide with  $44.4 million in the United States alone in just 3 days. With a budget of $150 million, I believe it’s safe to say that the return of George Miller’s Mad Max franchise is going to be a profitable one. There are 2 new movies to be made to complete a new trilogy with a second installment title already announced: Mad Max: The Wasteland, according to forbes.com.

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The excellent reviews and an 8.8 score on IMDb are well deserved. The movie is spectacular, a cinematographic old school masterpiece, one you should not miss seeing on the big screen. Mad Max: Fury Road will make you forgot to breathe as I haven’t seen such a dynamic movie since Crank. The movie doesn’t win many points for the storytelling in a conventional way, but it creates such a great atmosphere that the visuals are so immersive that I needed a few full minutes to get myself back to reality. Unexpected, there’s not allot of CGI in Mad Max: Fury Road. This feature is used exclusively when needed and there’s not a single moment when you would think that it’s too much.

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I won’t talk about the plot of the movie, I would only say that that the title is fully deserved. Tom Hardy is the perfect Max as I can’t imagine somebody else for the role. Charlize Theron is also a great addition to the cast of the movie and I’m looking forward to see more of her in the future. There is allot to be discovered from the Mad Max universe. I would definitely love to learn more about the flamethrower guitar guy! This guy alongside that chastity belt were some of the hilariously awesome parts of the movie. And I have to mention how much I enjoyed the sandstorm sequence. It was beyond epic. Make sure you go and watch this in cinema. It won’t dissapoint. And now back to waiting for the game to come out.

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A post-apocalyptic tale: The Road – Cormac McCarthy


The novel was the winner of 2007 Pulitzer award (why Pulitzer for a science-fiction novel?) And presents our world at the twilight of the human race following a nuclear war. It is true that this whole nuclear winter was never mentioned in the novel, rather being an integrated part of the description that was given to the book by it’s publisher. (Romanian version at least). In fact, the way McCarthy describes the cataclysm that ended the world, proves it was not atomic. There is no mention of the atomic bomb radiation diseases or mutations implied by nuclear detonations. The novel describes only a desolate world, where a man with his son, while enduring hunger, cold and rain, are traveling south in the hope of finding a warmer weather.

Many things do not happen in the novel, the action is linear , with brief flashbacks in which the man remembers either his deceased wife or the world that was “before.” The Road begins as a promising novel but does not deliver. I’ve read this in it’s Romanian translation and the writing seemed strange (after I also saw the film I certainly do not have the patience and time to invest more into this story and also read the English version to compare but I’m sure it sounds better in English). I also do not understand how the dialogue was sometimes placed in the text, without any differentiation with quotation marks or indents, and sometimes it was is clearly marked as dialogue. Besides, conversations are absolutely stupid, “OK” appears to be the only thing that the two characters are able to say. I do not understand how everything is burned and destroyed besides houses as it is a known fact that the homes in the USA are built of wood. Why when they find a bunker full of food that would have supplied their needs perhaps a few years, the two prefer to continue traveling towards a destination they have no faith in? Was it Just because the novel is called “The Road”?

McCarthy’s novel has at least two qualities: it’s thin and has big letters. I would say it’s the first novel I read where nothing happens. But from my point of view, if I got through with it, it’s still a readable novel. I admit that it sometimes “hooked me” but only to leave me disappointed in the following pages. McCarthy have so many platitudes strung through the story that when he is trying to convey profound things they become almost comical. The writing seems the one of a great writer to me, but the story has absolutely nothing

Daybreakers – a sci-fi vampire flick


Daybreakers is the film whose trailer promised to forever change the way we perceive vampires in movies.  Yet it eventually managed to be just another mediocre film with nasty bloodsuckers. I never liked vampires.

The idea of ​​the film has, indeed, potential:  In the near future, a terrible epidemic breaks out, resulting in the transformation of most human population into blood thirsty vampires, with all the ups  (immortality) and downs (sunlight vulnerability) a classic vampire life would give you. But there’s a little problem: with the majority of the human population being transformed, uninfected human blood resources become increasingly scarce as only 5% of the population remains untouched by the plague. So normal people are being hunted and kept to be harvested for blood in rooms similar to the the ones in the Matrix.

The main character is Edward Dalton, a hematologist, a vampire himself, who is striving to find a substitute for human blood, trying to save the human species from total extinction.

The film really begins when the scientist is contacted by some human survivors claiming to have found the cure for vampirism. From here on, the film is a continuous chaise as it seems most of the vampires are unwilling to give up the powers that the turning gave them.

The film has all the ingredients of a vampire classic: crossbows, bats, pale skin, blood, more blood, even more blood and of course sunlight of destruction. What’s new is lightproof vehicles using video cameras for exterior vision, or special military costumes that allow the vampires to face the sun.

As for me this film is just another Hollywood stunt, an unfortunate combination between a zombie movie, True Blood and The Matrix, where the effects are more important than the story with stupid lines and flat characters . Keep in mind that the idea has allot of potential as I dare to say it’s not a complete waste of time. I’m sure it’s not as bad as it seemed to me. I’m not a really a vampire fan so I might be biased. You might like this if you are a fan of ugly blood sucking monsters with no taste for originality.

Man and clown are the same – The Machine [2013]


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There was a time when the note on IMDb determine with amazing accuracy whether a film is worth watching or not. This film is rated 6.2 at the time I was writing this review. Meanwhile, another film from 2013, stands perched on a much higher position with not deserved 7.9 score  I’m referring to Star Trek: Into Darkness. As much as I’d like Benedict Cumberbatch, the film clearly shows the current trend of investing everything in special effects, creating a eye-catching trailer and let the story just go with it.

The Machine is a low budget film. It’s a movie about androids but being unable to rely on special effects of the highest quality, the movie unfolds a very well written story. With a dark atmosphere, the film focuses  on characters, with more than a clear asimovian feel to it.

Caught in a cold war with China, the British government is using an artificial intelligence expert in order to take a technological lead against their rivals. Meanwhile, Vincent (excellent performance by Toby Stephens) takes advantage of the money invested in this field by MIT  in the hope that he could find a cure for his daughter’s illness. The dark laboratories of the Ministry of Defense are full of wounded British soldiers have been repaired with bionic implants and prostheses. It is there where the first self-aware android is created. Things get complicated when the government will have to decide whether they have the moral right to manipulate a stand-alone intelligent entity (I somehow doubt this would ever be a dilemma in real life).

I do not want to say too much about the plot as I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of watching it. I’ll just add that I was impressed and pleased at the same time to discover a science-fiction film that flows so well. The evolution of the characters is refined, following the rhythm imposed by the action as it changes. The Machine has an consistent atmosphere with a solid actor play, the right combination for a good science fiction film. A mix of profound philosophical ideas and strong emotions, this is a movie I highly recommend and whose score on IMDb I find to be misleading.

The Gift – not the regular sci-fi film you are used to see


Directed by Carl E. Rinsch, ‘The Gift’ Belongs to the “Pararell Lines” Phillips Cinema. Placed in Russia, The Gift is a Sci-Fi short filled with allot of action sequences and an amazing atmosphere depicting a futuristic city of Moscow. More than 20 individual CGI were shot for this short movie resulting in a stunning work of art. Enjoy!

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