Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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Justin Timberlake is getting his suit and tie ready for Saturday Night Live. In a move that is surprising to no one, the frequent SNL guest will host and perform on the March 9 episode of the sketch comedy mainstay to promote his new album, The 20/20 Experience, out March 19.
But that's not all — the following week, Timberlake will spend every night performing and talking with Jimmy Fallon on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Yep, an entire week (March 11-15) of Justin and Jimmy. Hopefully that means an entire week of the "Barry Gibb Talk Show", but that might just be wishful thinking.
This will be Timberlake's fifth time hosting SNL in ten years (he made his hosting debut in 2003), but he's cameoed on the show eight other times. He also sang with N Sync as the musical guest in 2000. Basically, this guy would have a parking spot at 30 Rock if they actually had a parking garage there.
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With Andy Samberg gone it's doubtful that JT will reprise his "Dick in a Box" role, but chances are he'll pull out another of his fan favorite characters — we'll surely see his singing mascot ("bring it on down to [fill in the blank]-ville!"), if nothing else.
Interestingly, Timberlake will be the third person to host and perform on SNL this season, after Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber. Sorry, Biebs, but let J.T. show you how it's done.
Once you found out JT was putting out a new album you knew a SNL appearance wouldn't be far behind, but it's still pretty exciting. How do you think his episode will stack up against the other hosts this season?
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[PHOTO CREDIT: John Marshall/Invision/AP Images]
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In August, Oscar Pistorius shattered the preconceived notions we held for disabled athletes by becoming the first Paralympian to compete in an Olympic Games. Then, six months later, he shattered the pedestal on which we placed him by allegedly murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. On Tuesday, Pistorius appeared at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria, South Africa in a bail hearing for charges of premeditated murder, a crime that carries a mandatory life sentence.
As reported by the New York Times, Pistorius said in a sworn affidavit read by his defense lawyer, Barry Roux, "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated. I had no intention to kill my girlfriend. I deny the aforesaid allegation in the strongest terms."
"It filled me with horror and fear," the Associated Press reports Pistorius said in the statement."I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night."
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Pistorius continues, "As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself."
Pistorius claims it was not until after he fired that he realized Steenkamp was no longer in their shared bed. At which time he pulled on his prosthetics and tried to kick down the bathroom door, a task that ultimately required the aid of a cricket bat.
"She died in my arms," Pistorius said. "We were deeply in love and I could not be happier. I know she felt the same way. She had given me a present for Valentine's Day but asked me only to open it the next day."
As is the way of court cases, the prosecution has their own version of events. Led by Gerrie Nel, the prosecution accuses Pistorius of pulling on his prosthetic legs and walking approximately 20 feet to from his bedroom to the bathroom before he fired four rounds into the locked door — three of which hit Steenkamp — with the sole intention of killing his girlfriend.
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While Roux maintains, “All we really know is [Steenkamp] locked herself behind the toilet door and she was shot," according to the New York Times, Nel thinks this is enough. "She locked the door for a purpose. We will get to that purpose," he said.
Nel adds, "If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated. The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk seven meters and I kill." According to the AP, Nel says, "It is our respectful argument that 'pre-planning' or premeditation do not require months of planning."
Of course, Pistorius' fate is not up to us — a judge (the South African court system does not include juries) will ultimately decide his innocence or guilt. But long before we arrive at a verdict, Pistorius' reputation will have been marred forever — indeed, it already has. For fans, he is no longer a symbol of triumph over adversity, an inspiration, or a hero. In just six months he has gone fallen from our good graces, joining Lance Armstrong, Michael Vick, and Tiger Woods in the land of scorned sports stars.
RELATED: Do We Need Technology to Break Olympic Records?
Ironically, as Pistorius was gaining fame worldwide, Lance Armstrong was becoming infamous thanks to allegations of doping (to which he has now admitted). Inspired by Armstrong's PR nightmare, Hollywood.com's own Brian Moylan wrote, "We simply can't believe anything we see anymore. Even when we find a hero (or think we do), we can't hold on to him (or her) for long. The only thing that's real anymore is our longing for something that is authentic – and that's because no one is giving it to us."
Of course, Pistorius isn't in quite the same boat as Armstrong — on the one hand, his athletic triumph is still intact: he didn't knowingly dupe the public or cheat in his impressive athletic feats. Of course, the charges Pistrorius faces are much more severe than Armstrong's, and, if true, much more horrific. But the way the public feels is much the same. Once again, we find we put our hopes and dreams in a man who has let us down. Now that Pistorius is behind bars, we can never view him in a light of pure admiration. In the days and weeks that follow, and Pistorius' trial continues to make headlines, we will no longer be able to look at him with rose-colored glasses. Those have forever been shattered.
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[Photo Credit: AP Photo]
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Will Smith kept his Men In Black 3 director Barry Sonnenfeld on his toes while filming the new movie as he would frequently grab the filmmaker and wrestle him to the ground.
The pair has maintained a close friendship since shooting the first installment of the alien action comedy in 1997 and Smith often let loose on the set of the new sequel by messing around with Sonnenfeld whenever the cameras stopped rolling.
And Men In Black 3 co-star Michael Stuhlbarg admits their playful nature kept the cast and crew entertained.
He tells the New York Post's Page Six column, "Will was always grabbing him and wrestling around. They have a long friendship and it’s very funny and very eccentric, and you never know what is going to happen. Put them together, and it’s like a flash fire."
But Sonnenfeld hasn't always enjoyed his playful bouts with Smith - the actor accidentally knocked out the director during production on 2002's Men In Black II after attempting to show off his new fighting skills from filming boxing biopic Ali.
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Though ostensibly successful 2009’s The Final Destination represented to many a horror franchise on its last hackneyed legs. Rote uninspired and humorless it scored a (modest) hit only by virtue of the novelty -- and added ticket price -- of its 3D transfer. Two years later Final Destination 5 arrives with a slightly tweaked formula a beefed-up storyline actors you might actually recognize and genuine honest-to-goodness 3D. It’s still schlock mind you -- but artful schlock and a marked improvement over the preceding entry.
The story begins in familiar fashion with a cursory introduction to the characters followed by a grisly premonition that sees them perish wholesale. An assortment of cubicle-dwellers at a paper factory are being bused to a corporate retreat when one of them Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto perpetually bug-eyed) dreams of a massive bridge collapse in which he and his co-workers are impaled beheaded bisected crushed by cars singed by tar -- however many ways a suspension bridge can kill a person the film’s opening set-piece explores it gruesome detail. Sam awakens duly horrified and demands the bus be evacuated. Seconds later the employees watch in horror from the sidelines as Sam’s vision comes to fruition.
You know what happens next. One-by-one death stalks the survivors who meet their fate in a series of elaborately-staged incidents. Some are relatively straightforward; others involve fiendish head-fakes and red herrings. The range of victims is older and more colorful than in previous Final Destination films in which death preyed exclusively on attractive nubile teenagers but the end result is invariably the same. (Not to give anything away but those considering acupuncture or laser eye surgery would be wise to avoid the film entirely.) As death’s scheme becomes achingly evident Sam his lachrymose girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell) and his increasingly unhinged buddy Peter (Miles Fisher) become increasingly desperate. Enter the ever-ominous Tony Todd returning to the franchise after (wisely) taking the previous film off offering a potential way out. But is it genuine or just another of death’s cruel tricks?
Director Steven Quale a James Cameron protege hired principally for his 3D expertise takes full advantage of the added dimension delivering some of the most vivid and immersive 3D sequences in recent memory. Unlike The Final Destination which seemed little more than a amalgam of crude one-liners Final Destination 5 feels like a real movie one with a discernible plot an element of suspense and a handful characters who are more than just punchlines. Most of the actors are surprisingly competent save for Fisher a credible doppelganger for Tom Cruise (he parodied him 2008’s Superhero Movie) who imbues every line with couch-jumping intensity.
Final Destination 5 ends with a twist that while genuinely unexpected feels like a Hail Mary for a franchise that can’t forestall its inexorable descent into stale irrelevance despite the best of efforts from Quale. Its trademark formula has simply lost its potency -- a problem no amount of cosmetic upgrades however welcome can fix. That the film is bracketed by two pointless and time-consuming montages -- the first an animated sequence that hurtles various hazardous objects at the audience the second a greatest hits compilation of memorable kills from previous Final Destination films -- is a telltale sign that the saga’s creativity is on life support. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.