The new sci-fi short SEAM by Master Key Films packs a lot of action into its 20:45 run time. Set in a near future world where humanoid machines live among us, its opening minutes track the history of the robots rebellion, the subsequent war that happens and finally the fragile peace that is established in its aftermath.
It’s a classic sci-fi setup, one you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever seen a little film called Terminator or a show called Battlestar Galactica. In SEAM, the machines, which look just like humans based on their physical appearance, become unwitting suicide bombers when their “synthetics begin spontaneously exploding” (according to the film’s Youtube page-the science of what is happening is never really explained). An opening scene shows what we assume is a family-all of them distraught as the woman and child leave the man behind, only to see him burst into flames against his will , killing dozens of innocent bystanders a few minutes later. With that, the link between human life and these machines – integral, but also tenuous and possibly deadly-is firmly established.
In the story that follows, the setting is easily recognizable to anyone following current geopolitical crisis. A militarized border zone (called “the seam”, where the film gets its name) surrounds a desert territory that has been set aside for the machines and is reminiscent of similar war-torn areas around the world. A crowded bazaar, women wearing headscarves and traditional music all nod to the Middle East. By using such parallels, the filmmakers surely wanted viewers to see a comparison between this fictional dystopia and the conflicts that exist in our real world, where wars are fought and borders are drawn based on religious and ethnic differences rather than that between man and machine.
SEAM‘s last 10 minutes are heavy on chases, explosions and hand to hand combat. While some of the effects work better than others, what kept me watching was the human connection. At the center of all the action is another couple (this time she’s the machine) trying to make their way unnoticed into the safe zone while being hunted by a human military force. Their emotional connection and concern for each other becomes the crux of the film. The story’s progression doesn’t always make complete sense – if she’s just trying to go back to where the robots are allowed to live, why don’t they let her? Are human-machine couples what’s prohibited? Why does becoming emotional make the machines explode any way? But the pace of the plot is enough to keep you wondering what’s going to happen next.
With visuals inspired by sci-fi cannon like Blade Runner and Mad Max, SEAM is able do a good amount of world building in relatively short time. Rather than relying on exposition, it throws you into a story that has both exciting and tender moments. Those moments add up to the question writers and filmmakers have posed for decades if not longer – what does it mean to be human after all.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm