Tag Archives: District 9

Escape from New York (1981)

Welcome to A Review of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, or: A History of the Cinematic Infodump.

As far as narrative exposition goes, the infodump is traditionally one of the more crass methods of conveying the ways in which the world of the film differs from the world of…the world. Here Is Everything You Need To Know, the infodump says before the film gets going. Preludes, prologues, epigraphs, whatever. Presumably, the more akin to “reality” a film pretends to be, the less exposition it should have — and, yeah, even though that’s definitely not always true, it’s science fiction and fantasy that demand large chunks of information be delivered as inconspicuously and efficiently as possible. That way we can get to enjoying the movie without wondering what the heck a Na’vi is, or a replicant, or why legions of Things That Aren’t Humans are fighting over this little gold ring, or why we should care about any of that at all.

Some films elect to disseminate the good stuff throughout the course of the film, like Inception or certain Star Wars installments (looking at you, midichlorians…I mean I’m not actually looking at you, because you’re so small, which I know because Qui-Gon told me mid-movie, but I’m looking in your direction). Escape from New York, the 1981 John Carpenter jaunt destined to become a cult classic and eventual ostensible subject of this very article, certainly has plenty of exposition peppered throughout the film in this fashion.

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Automata (2014)

Just by virtue of being a smaller, lesser-known project with a scrappy underdog mentality, Automata has an instant advantage over similar sci-fi dystopias of recent memory like Elysium, the Dredd remake, Oblivion and the godawful In Time. The comparison to Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium and his earlier District 9 is especially unavoidable, as the world-building employed here is every bit as important and every bit as impressive. This is a distinct Earth that’s very unlike our own, but it doesn’t take a second to get used to.

The credits sequence says it all, really: our ecosystem has crumbled and our atmosphere has become unbearable, and so the future humankind invents a whole host of technological solutions: mechanical “clouds” that produce fake rain and shield our planet, massive walls that keep the desert from encroaching upon our cities, and most importantly a vast array of “automata” – robot slaves who weld our machines, cook our food, wash our dishes and wipe our asses when we get old. The credits sequence already pulls a 180 on us, though, by depicting this future as the past. By the time the events of Automata take place, humankind is jaded to the wonders of these technological advances, and the automata themselves seem to have become a bit jaded too.

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