Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Summer Movies

This year's Tribeca Film Festival had more than the average number of science nerds in attendance, largely due to the Science and Technology Series program, hosted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Emma Marris reported on the event for
My verdict? All in all, science on film still feels a bit awkward. The scale (two hours) and pace (fast) of the medium just don't quite match up with the realities of scientific endeavour. Many films — such as Nobel Son and Vitus — avoid the problem by concentrating on personalities instead of scientific ideas or work. Eye of the Dolphin fails pretty drastically on both realism and entertainment. But the mock horror Black Sheep (featuring killer GM animals) in some ways fares best by not even attempting to be realistic.
Marris reviews two new movies with explicitly biological themes:

Eye of the Dolphin is a "saccharine family film" in which a teenage girl is sent to live with her dolphin-researcher father. Marris gave it 2 points out of 10 for scientific realism.
The researcher believes that the cetaceans transmit to one another three-dimensional representations of objects via sonar, but the implications of this are left unexplored in favour of the importance of relating to the animals 'spiritually' in 'a connection that is deeper than science can measure'. The father's (no doubt sound) advice that sporting with wild dolphins is dangerous for humans and bad for dolphin socialization turns out to be wrong.
You gotta love the mystical healing power of dolphins! I can almost hear the ethereal wind chimes now.

Black Sheep is a genetic engineering horror-comedy that's about as far from Eye of the Dolphin as you can get and still be in the movie theater. Matter gave it a 0 for scientific realism, but a 10 for entertainment value.
Two brothers from a sheep-farming family in New Zealand are pitted against each other, one with a pathological fear of sheep and the other with an unhealthy interest in them. The villainous latter brother has been dabbling in genetic engineering with the help of a sexy but evil scientist in impeccable lab whites and blood-red lipstick. Meanwhile, green activists sporting ponytails, ethnic textiles and wide-eyed belief in chakras, feng shui and auras, skulk around the perimeter determined to expose the 'cowboy lab'. Naturally, the result of all this is not good, and before long innocent lives are being laid to waste by carnivorous monster sheep.
Now that sounds like fun summer entertainment.

A quick browse of the list of summer releases turns up few movies that I would consider to be science fiction. However, there are a few horror movies that look like they have biology-esque themes:
  • 28 Weeks Later (horror) returns to the epidemic-ravaged Britain of 28 Days Later. Refugees are finally allowed to return, but one family unwittingly carries back the devastating rage virus.
  • Fido (comedy-horror): "In the small town of Willard in the seemingly tranquil 1950s, where a corporation called ZomCon has domesticated the raging zombie population, a young boy discovers that all may not be well."
  • Skinwalkers (horror): "Rival factions compete for control of a half-breed boy whose powers control the destiny of a race bound by the blood of the wolf."
Single line descriptions aren't much to go on, so I'm looking forward to real reviews of these movies (Fido, especially) and the other summer movie offerings.

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  1. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Black Sheep is going to be great? Have you seen the preview? Absolutely no redeeming values but looks like a ton of fun.


  2. Anonymous12:28 AM

    The horror movie sites I read have had some good reviews coming in for FIDO.

    Here's one!

    I'm really looking forward to Black Sheep. I think it will be great.

  3. Anonymous7:24 AM

    I like your blog, it’s always fun to come back and check what you have to tell us today.

  4. I'ma movie geek, that's for sure! And i'm looking forward to some great horrors this summer. And btw, i like your blog - it's cool...


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