Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Jurassic World and the World Wide Web

by Matt McKenna Welcome, dinosaurs, to the pantheon of horror film monsters including zombies, sharks, and aliens that have been subjected to the sci-fi trope of genetic-engineering-gone-too-far. To be fair, it's hard to blame directors of horror sequels for invoking this narrative cliché–how else are they expected to make their follow-up films interesting? Must they…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Fury Road and Absolutely Everything

by Matt McKenna Not since last December's American Sniper has a simple blockbuster action film generated as much serious discussion as Mad Max: Fury Road. Where American Sniper seemed to tie people in knots about its stance on war, Fury Road has divided moviegoers as to the film's feminist credentials. Is it really a feminist…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Ex Machina, Xfinity, and a Lot of Spoilers

by Matt McKenna Ex Machina is the debut film by Alex Garland, writer of the critically acclaimed zombie movie 28 Days Later. At first glance, Ex Machina appears to tread the well-trod sci-fi ground paved with the question, “What does it mean to be a robot with consciousness?” Indeed, the characters in the film mainly…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Get Hard and Religious Freedom

by Matt McKenna Nobody walks into Get Hard expecting to see a good movie. Likewise, nobody turns to Indiana expecting to find examples of progressive legislation. Still, it's disappointing that Get Hard manages to be so bereft of humor, and it is disappointing that Indiana Governor Mike Pence would sign a bill so bereft of…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: A Most Violent Year and the Clinton Email Scandal

by Matt McKenna A Most Violent Year is a disappointing movie. The performances are good, the cinematography is beautiful, but the film adds up to a lot of nothing. For all the pregnant pauses, for all the threats of violence, and for all the moral conundrums the characters confront, nothing ever… happens. By the time…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: American Sniper and Shark Attacks

by Matt McKenna American Sniper has been both a wildly successful and wildly controversial film. While moviegoers have made the film the highest grossing war movie of all time, cultural critics have alternatively lauded and criticized the film for what they see as either a stirring depiction of a soldier's travails or a galling piece…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: The Battle of the Five Armies and the College Football Playoff

by Matt McKenna Even without seeing the film, you probably already know if you like Peter Jackson's final installment of the Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies. If you saw any of the previous Hobbit or Lord of the Rings films and got a kick out of elves and wizards and epic, bloodless…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Birdman and Hillary Clinton

by Matt McKenna Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman is a gorgeous and wry dramedy about a 90s-era movie star attempting to regain relevancy in a media landscape to which he can no longer relate. This description may make the film out to be yet another highfalutin take on upper-class midlife crises in the 21st century, and…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Interstellar and the 2014 Midterm Elections

by Matt McKenna Christopher Nolan's Interstellar may have been advertised as a science fiction blockbuster set in the vast nothingness of outer space, but the message of the film is clearly directed at more terrestrial concerns. While Interstellar attempts to distract its audience with riddles about space, time, and the nature of reality, the movie…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Dracula Untold and the NFL

by Matt McKenna There was a time when American football was played without helmets, and there was a time when Dracula's best trick involved opening doors with his mind. Since those early days, however, both American football and the Dracula films have taken a turn for the extreme, and their body counts have increased as…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Dolphin Tale 2 and the Apple Watch

by Matt McKenna I didn't see the first Dolphin Tale movie starring Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, and a couple kids who look as if were custom built at the Disney Channel Research Lab, but allow me to synopsize the synopsis from Wikipedia: a wild bottlenose dolphin faces death when she loses her tail in…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: The Guardians of the Galaxy are Taking Our Jobs

by Matt McKenna At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, there is much rejoicing by the citizens of the noble planet of Xander after their having been saved by the film's titular ragtag bunch of lovable anti-heroes. What is interesting to note, however, is how unconcerned the individuals on Xandar are by the troubling…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the Microsoft Layoff

by Matt McKenna Back in 2000, chances were that if you were using a computer, it was running a Microsoft operating system. In 2014, those chances have diminished considerably, and you are now more likely to be using a device running Apple's iOS or Google's Android software. Microsoft's stock price has responded accordingly, and its…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: The Edge of Tomorrow, Barack Obama’s Sinking Poll Numbers, and the Endless Cycle of American Politics

by Matt McKenna In Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise’s character inadvertently acquires the power to relive the day he dies, a day in which he dons a bullet-spewing exoskeleton and is eviscerated by aliens along with the rest of his fellow soldiers. With this plot device as its core narrative instrument, the film plays out…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Godzilla and Public Policy

by Matt McKenna Much has been made of whether this summer's Godzilla movie is a pro-environmentalist film or an anti-environmentalist film. While both readings are plausible on a surface level, neither addresses the dominant public policy critique embedded within the biggest monster flick since last year's Pacific Rim. While the lack of an environmental focus…

Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Paul Walker’s Penultimate Film and Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century

by Matt McKenna A story was recently imported from France to America, and it has since become a national sensation. It is the story of inequality and the danger of capitalism run amok. It is a prophecy for social upheaval if this inequality isn't handled in a timely manner. It is, by all accounts, an…