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Detective Pikachu: A total win for fans and non-fans alike

Detective Pikachu
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

Despite being quite the average geek, I've never been that much into Pokemon. It's not because I don't like it, but rather because it became popular when I was in undergrad and had a lot less time to devote to shows, games, etc. Still, I've always loved the characters and went into the movie with an open mind. My reaction? Awesome.

In my completely spoiler free review, Detective Pikachu shows us a world where humans and Pokemon live side by side and does it superbly. The animation is top notch and there are almost no points where the Pokemon don't seem so naturally part of the scene that you forget they're not actually there. Each one translated into 3D very smoothly and seemed (from my limited Pokemon background) to represent their particular traits authentically. There's little more important in a movie like this than to get the design and character right… as in "authentic to the established world"… as in NOT whatever the hell this is:

Kill it. With. FIRE.
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

Point being, this was a really good movie and a good Pokemon movie from what I can see and I highly recommend it.

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The Island

The Island
(See online!)

The best movies in my view are the ones that make you think and expand your mind. This one is about what it means to be human and what you can do to people who "don't count". There's little I can say without giving it away so:

Spoilers below! You've been warned!

I'll try to keep the examples brief, but here are some quick takes from the movie (and the concepts they raise):

Surveillance society

A smart-toilet analyzes a man's morning pee and determines he has been eating too much salt. Later in the lunchroom, he's denied his beloved bacon for breakfast. Another man gets angry and hits a wall and security instantly appears to have a "chat" with him about his outburst. A man and women start to get close, but security steps in to remind them to keep a "proper" distance.

Racial Superiority

The hundreds of employees that run the facility know about the abuse of the residents, but do nothing (supposedly having bought into the "they're not real people" pitch). Trigger warning: there is a scene where they birth a baby then kill the mother because they were just using her for the birth and didn't care about the "lessor human".

In summary

Anyway, it's a good movie with plenty of action and it accurately portrays the horror that could occur if we increase our technology and forget humanity along the way.

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Minority Report

Minority Report
(See online!)

Summary

In the not-too-distant future, technology has progressed to the point that we can predict murders and convict people before the crime is committed. When the name of the officer running the program comes up as a murderer one day, he has to find a way to prove his innocence… assuming he doesn't actually do the crime.

Spoilers ahead!

You can see that people have a lot of trust in the police. They accept the incarceration of people who the police say would have committed murder even though the crime never happened. At one point, a horde of spider-like machines is released into a building to scan people's retinas to prove their identity. A couple in the middle of arguing heavily stop to allow the machines to crawl onto their face, point light into their eyes, and then resume the argument immediately after. Every time they walk into a store, the automated displays greet them by name and ask them about prior purchase before making customized recommendations on something else they might like.

One that most people miss is the scene where Tom Cruise's character is eating a bowl of cereal and because he put the box down on the counter next to his TV, a quiet advertisement for the cereal begins to play. Cruise, annoyed, throws the box across the room.

There are some great lessons about government trust and accountability plus it's a great action flick. I definitely recommend it! To learn more, click the movie thumbnail above.

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Enemy of the State

Enemy Of The State
(See online!)

Will Smith, who has done nothing wrong, accidentally winds up in possession of proof of crimes by a powerful person in the government. To recover the evidence, the "big bad" deems Smith a national threat and the NSA hunts him with advanced surveillance such as public cameras, debit card access logs, and tracking devices.

This movie speaks to the power of vast data and monitoring systems and how a very small handful of people can target and destroy anyone using these systems. While these threats are mostly theoretical at this point, it's important to make sure that government capabilities are limited and accountability strict.

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V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta
(See online!)

Summary

In the near future, the UK has come under oppressive rule by its own government that put the people of the country under their boot. Undesirables like dissidents, homosexuals, or anyone that would speak openly of dissatisfaction is taken away in the night and never seen again. Meanwhile, a strange masked hero takes on the entire regime by blowing up a public building and threatening to destroy the house of parliament in one year's time.

Lessons

  • A society that gives up its privacy and rights can become dark and broken and may never regain them.
  • With enough technology and complete media control, a very small number of people can subvert and control an entire nation.
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Gattaca

Gattaca
(See online!)

In the near future, your job and dating prospects are all a factor of your DNA and the quality of your genetics. Much like the risk of people hunting you down online that we have today, this shows how the essence of who you are could be used against you. Some examples:

Spoilers ahead!
  • A girl takes a stray hair to the corner DNA lab to check out a guy she's interested in.
  • Our protagonist, who's parents decided to let grow naturally in the womb instead of letting the fetus be genetically perfected, has inferior DNA. This prevents him from getting any kind of job better than cleaning toilets.
  • Even though people are legally protected from DNA collection, potential applicants who don't "volunteer" a sample are considered unhirable. Though illegal, the discrimination is impossible to prove..
  • Desperate people use the DNA of others to borrow identities so they can get things they otherwise couldn't.
  • All police searches, checks, investigations, etc. involve checking DNA.

Basically, it's a cautionary tale of what we could become if we let our genetic data become the standard by which we're treated in society.

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Possible Trend: Movies on USB Drives

To the movies!
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Ghostbusters has become the first movie to be distributed on a USB drive. It includes a strong form of DRM that they hope will prevent people from copying it. Whether that proves more effective than the DRM they've tried on DVDs remains to be seen.

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