Edison and Leo (2008) – [rate 2.5]
The animation is right on target, the characters have plenty of character and the story isn’t just straightforward in this animation movie. Some scenes looked a little rushed and reminded me of Robot Chicken episode, but even that didn’t detract from the overall movie. So why the low rating?
Well, there really is no point in watching this well-made movie. It’s not a nice family picture, since there is some seriously graphic violence and sexual material in it that makes it unfit for the young. But the story doesn’t have the depth, background or sufficiently rich ideas to recommend it to your friends, more so since you’ll be sending them to see stop-motion animated puppets.
If such a movie is to succeed, it needs to tell a good story in an inspired setting like Strings (2004). Or it needs to have memorable and loveable characters like Wallace and Gromit (1995). Policital satire also works, as in Team America: World Police. But Edison and Leo is a somewhat simple story about the unknown (and fictional) side of Edison and his family background.
It’s well-made, with nice effects, sound and voice-acting, but I really can’t think of a reason to go see it and I would only recommend it if you really like animation or if you don’t care about brutality and (mild) sex in the movies your kids watch. They might learn something…
11 Minutes Ago (2008) – [rate 3.5]
In the past few years, there have been a number of highly original and ‘realistic’ movies about time travel. Unlike the silly Timecop (1994) and slapstick Back to the Future (1985) series, these movies have been about relatively ordinary people; usually scientists or people that wander into the situation unaware, without special powers or attributes, dealing with a situation in a way that you and I would. Time travel is strange but mundane in movies like Primer (2004) and Timecrimes (2007).
11 minutes is like that and as a movie it is interesting in that it shows the story from the perspective of the time traveler. It has a number of clever restrictions: the time traveler is only shown at his destination, never in his own time. The chronological order is his timeline and unlike many (worse) movies about time travel, he makes mistakes in interpreting the effects, it’s as confusing to him as to you, the viewer.
For unknown (or rather untold) reasons, the stints of time travel have to be restricted to 11 minutes, but why does this man keep coming back to the same party? And the presence of a film crew at this meticulously organized wedding make it entirely believable that everything has been caught on film and allows the main character to interact with the film crew, lending the whole thing credibility.
Many original ideas mesh into a coherent whole, of good length, telling an entertaining – if somewhat soppy – story. The only negative points I would point out are his initial reasons to visit our time and the slightly corny overall motivations of the main character. But none of this should prevent you from watching this excellent time travel story.
Sleep Dealer (2008) – [rate 4.0]
In Sleep Dealer we are given a sneak peek at a not so distant future. New technology is changing the way people connect to the net, and high-tec unmanned planes are patrolling the air. But unlike many Hollywood scifi flics, this doesn’t result in our entire world being miraculously replaced by a shining, new plastic and aluminium reality. Instead, the new technology meshes with current day architecture, society and culture.
And with that also come current day problems. Migration, access to drinking water, labour outsourcing, privacy in the light of security, Sleep Dealer deals with all of it. It tells the tale of a Mexican man who dreams of the city and, as a result of various events, ends up working in a factory that allows workers to remotely control equipment for heavy labour, a so-called Sleep Dealer.
The atmosphere in Sleep Dealer reminded me somewhat of Code 46, but even more than in that story, I felt the presented reality was entirely believable. Not so much because the technological advances seem more likely, but because it is completely believable that the world of Sleep Dealer would grow out of our own and could do so in only a decade.
The plot has some flaws and the effects sometimes made me too aware that I was looking at something created in computer memory, but all of it was effective in telling a story and as a whole, Sleep Dealer deserves to be recommended to anyone with an interest in the effect technology may have on current day issues.