• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

147. The Matrix – Summer of ’99 (#18)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Grace Duffy and Alex Towers, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, continuing our Summer of ’99 season, Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s The Matrix.

1999 was a great year for movies, with a host of massively successful (and cult) hits that would define cinema for a next generation: 10 Things I Hate About You, The Virgin Suicides, Run Lola RunElection, Cruel Intentions, Fight Club. The Summer of ’99 season offers a trip through the year in film on the IMDb‘s 250.

Thomas Anderson lives a fairly ordinary life; an office drone by day, a computer hacker by night. However, Anderson’s life quickly begins to fall apart when he finds himself drawn to a mysterious hacker named Trinity. It soon becomes clear that Anderson’s life (and his very reality) is not at all what it appears to be.

At time of recording, it was ranked 18th on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the best movies of all-time.

Continue reading

Star Trek: Voyager – Warhead (Review)

If Relativity featured a time bomb, then Warhead focuses on a smart bomb.

Star Trek: Voyager is a fascinating television show. It is a television show very firmly rooted in the listlessness of the nineties, reflecting cultural anxieties and uncertainties; these millennial anxieties reflected in stories like 11:59. At the same time, it is also structured as something more overtly nostalgic than the other Star Trek spin-offs, a conscious throwback to the retro science-fiction of the forties and the fifties; this sensibility reflected in the nuclear parables of Jetrel or The Omega Directive, the infiltrator narratives of Cathexis or In the Flesh.

“Yes, that is a rocket in that pocket of rock, and yes it is happy to see us.”

In many ways, Warhead represents a perfect fusion of these two approaches. Warhead is a story that is strongly anchored in uncertainties about the legacy of the Second World War, the tale of a sentient weapon of mass destruction with the capacity to cause untold destruction that exists beyond the capacity of human reason. Warhead is also a philosophical parable about identity and determinism, a discussion about what it means to have a sense of self and whether an individual’s reality is shaped by their design and their programming.

The result is a strange hybrid story that captures two of the competing facets of Voyager in a single forty-five minute episode.

Explosive drama.

Continue reading

Space: Above and Beyond – The Angriest Angel (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Existentialism is something of a recurring theme in the work of Glen Morgan and James Wong.

It echoes through their work. Mulder’s choice of action ultimately serves to define him in One Breath, in contrast to the other more senior male characters in the narrative. The duo’s second script for Millennium, 5-2-6-6-6, opens with a quote from existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. Even the pair’s feature film work – The One and the Final Destination films – touch broadly on existentialist themes.

Pressed (up) on the issue...

Pressed (up) on the issue…

However, The Angriest Angel is perhaps the most candid of their scripts, with McQueen explicitly explaining how his actions are serving to define his identity. In his power-house opening monologue, McQueen describes these defining moments as make-or-break points. “Everyone, everyone in this life knows when the moment is before them. To turn away is simple. To ignore it assures survival. But it is an insult to life. Because there can be no redemption.”

This is perhaps the most elegant and effective summary of Morgan and Wong’s approach to character development. McQueen articulates it clearer than any of their characters, but the philosophy applies just as much to Scully in Beyond the Sea or Never Again as it does to Tyrius Cassius McQueen. Indeed, it would come to define their work on Millennium, with the second season repeatedly suggesting that the end of the world was as much a personal event as a massive social occurrence.

Slice of life...

Slice of life…

Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Second Skin (Review)

The September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Second Skin continues the identity and reality themes running through the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Search revealed that the Dominion is led by shape-changing aliens who can impersonate anybody, after our heroes spend an episode in a virtual reality. House of Quark stemmed from lies Quark told about himself, only to discover that Klingon culture is not what it claims to be. Equilibrium revealed that Dax held secrets even from herself, having a whole other life. Second Skin confronts Kira with the idea that she may be everything she hates.

The theme will continue in the episodes ahead. The Abandoned is a rather cynical meditation on the nature-against-nurture debate. Civil Defense involves the Deep Space Nine crew discovering that the station itself is not as safe as they like to think. Meridian involves a subplot about Kira’s right to control her own body. Defiant is built around a crisis of identity for a doppelganger. Past Tense features Sisko stepping into the identity of a historical figure. And so it continues. Things are not what they appear to be; the truths we take for granted are not true.

Rewatching this first block of Deep Space Nine‘s third season, it’s amazing how cynical the show could be.

Face of the enemy...

Face of the enemy…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Ghost in the Machine (Review)

I like Ghost in the Machine more than I really should. I mean, I know it’s a mess. The plotting is uninspired. The characters are thin. There’s a last minute link to the show’s overall conspiracy arc thrown in to compensate for the fact that plugging a device into a USB socket is hardly the most thrilling of climaxes. And yet, despite that, I think there’s an endearing weirdness to Ghost in the Machine that appeals to me.

It’s an AI story that has clearly written by a team who (by their own admission) know nothing about computers, and so there’s an almost ethereal quality to the whole thing – Mark Snow’s looping electronic score, the sparse theatrical set design of the COS mainframe, and director Jerrold Freedman’s obvious affection for Dutch angles all contribute to the sense that something rather strange is happening at the very edge of the frame.

Watch out...

Watch out…

Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Q-Less (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

And the first season of Deep Space Nine continues its trend towards mediocrity. I feel I should qualify that. The first season of Deep Space Nine is never truly terrible. Even the (very) dodgy Move Along Home is superior to any number of episodes from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, like Code of Honour or Angel One. The first season of Deep Space Nine just winds up feeling like it’s treading water, as if it is trying too hard to emulate The Next Generation, instead of exploring the unique storytelling opportunities offered by the show’s setting.

Q-Less is arguably the most obvious example of these attempts at imitation. While episodes like Babel and The Passenger could have been reworked as episodes of The Next Generation with a minimum of fuss, Q-Less rather cynically takes two recurring guest stars from The Next Generation and allows them to steal focus from an ensemble that is still finding its feet. It feels not only a little ill-judged, but also a bit rude.

Guess Q...

Guess Q…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Source Code

A special thanks to the guys over at movies.ie for sneaking us into an advanced preview screening.

Duncan Jones really grabbed our attention with Moon, one of the most boldly original films of the last decade. However, it’s often the second film of a promising young director that is the most fascinating to watch, as the weight of expectation is measured against a (typically) larger budget and profile. Too many young talents fizzle out or stumble at the second hurdle. I’m glad to report that Jones manages to make it safely across. While Source Code might lack the power of his debut, it’s still a fascinating little science-fiction thriller, one I’m still thinking of hours after I left the screening. And that is certainly a mark of quality.

Has Colter gone off the rails?

Continue reading