In the year 2042, time travel has not yet been invented. But by the year 2072, that is no longer the case. Nevertheless, it is outlawed, inaccessible to all but the most powerful and violent gangs in an economically repressed dystopia. Due to scientific advances of that era, it is impossible to dispose of a body without a trace, so the criminal gangs use the time travel to execute their trash, sending the bodies back in time to be executed by hit men called Loopers. The body vanishes from the future, but never existed in the present. Unless something goes terribly awry. Such is the setup of Rian Johnsons bleak, brilliant sci-fi film Looper, a shrewd commentary on how we use technology, the value of a human life and whether a destiny can be changed. It is easily the best sci-fi film since 2010s Inception, and surely one of the best of this year in any genre. Full ScriptPhD review, below. Continue reading REVIEW: Looper→
It has been 28 years since the release of the enormously groundbreaking science-fiction adventure Tron, the story of Kevin Flynn, a video game programmer that gets sucked into the virtual grid of the very game he created. As Flynn’s son, now cyber-reunited with his father, points out, decades of technology have bestowed us with cell phones, wi-fi, the internet, and even virtual dating. But one immutable fact stands the test of time—great sci-fi is great sci-fi. Without upstaging the original, TRON: Legacy manages a sleek, stylish, clever sequel utterly germane to the times we live in. ScriptPhD.com got treated to a preview screening in Hollywood this week. Our full review under the “continue reading” cut. Continue reading REVIEW: TRON: Legacy→
A Father’s Love and a Scientist’s Dedication in a Race against Time
Imagine this scenario: you are a young married professional, a rising star in a well-respected pharmaceutical company. You have three children, two of which suffer from a rare, inherited genetic disease for which there is no cure. They will die in about a year or two. What do you do? Inspired by the book The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million – and Bucked the Medical Establishment – In a Quest to Save His Children by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Geeta Anand, Extraordinary Measures is a drama about the real-life story of John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) and Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) as they work feverishly to find a cure for the disease afflicting Crowley’s children. The dramatic caveat is that said cure is based solely on a scientific theory. CBS Films’ motion picture debut touches on a myriad of salient modern-day issues, including personal morality, risk taking, scientific funding, pharmaceutical business practices, the dedication to science, professional relationships, and a man’s love for his family. For the full ScriptPhD.com review, please click “continue reading”.
Picture this: a mysterious Man with No Name comes into a tiny desert town that’s dominated by a manipulative and powerful bossman. He has something the bossman wants and won’t give it up – and No Name is an almost supernaturally powerful fighter; you really don’t want to mess with him. Before the battle between Good and Evil is over, the Man with No Name has decimated the bossman’s thug-army and brought the evil leader low, the dusty little settlement is either burned to the ground or better off than before he arrived, and off he goes, continuing his mysterious journey – always in motion, never at peace. Except for a tie-‘em-up ending that’s tacked on to the back of The Book of Eli, that’s pretty much what you’ve got here: a post-apocalyptic tale of the mysterious hero vs. the bully prince, just like an old Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. Just replace Eastwood with Denzel Washington, replace the Old West with the near future after a global catastrophe, cast a painfully over-the-top Gary Oldman as the Bad Boss, give newcomer Mila Kunis the inevitable pretty girl/spunky sidekick role, and you’re golden. Or at least should have been. Unfortunately for the viewing audience, there’s more Sergio Leone than Cormac McCarthy in this ponderous and unconvincing post-apocalyptic allegory. For a full review, please click “continue reading”.
One of my favorite movies as a kid, and now, as a professional scientist, is Andromeda Strain. The heroes are mostly older, professorial types who work feverishly to understand an alien organism and save the planet. After being asked to review ReAction! Chemistry in the Movies for ScriptPhD.com, I was so curious to consume (with relish) the book’s guesswork about the chemistry found in Andromeda Strain. After returning to the beginning of the book and giving it a read, I was thrilled to find that ReAction! is a detailed, thoughtful exploration of the representation of chemistry in film. The book addresses, first and foremost, the fact that chemistry can play a lead role in film. The authors also discuss the dichotomy between the dark and bright sides of chemistry (and science) as illustrated by films in which chemistry or chemists play a central role. Also included are several playful explorations of the real science behind some famous examples of fictional chemistry in film. After the break is a full review of the book along with an in-depth interview with authors Mark Griep and Majorie Mikasen on the process of working together as chemist and artist, portrayal of chemists in film and how film can change public perception in science.