Brid-Aine Parnell

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Candy-cane optimism tastes sweet in Disney’s Tomorrowland

Film Review I don’t think there’s ever been as Disney-esque a movie as Disney’s new offering, Tomorrowland, from writers Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Damon Lindelof (Lost). It’s an old-school family adventure about hope and optimism that’s also chock full of corporate in-jokes (many Star Wars props) and product placements based on a …

Mad Max: Fury Road – two hours of nonstop, utterly insane fantasy action

Film Review The one thing you can definitely say about George Miller’s revival of his post-apocalyptic Aussie outback petrolhead Mad Max is that it stays true to the original films. There’s no Mel Gibson this time around, of course, instead the mantle of the monosyllabic, mentally-compromised desert drifter is worn by Tom Hardy. Mad Max: …
Spooks

Spooks: Big-screen upgrade for MI5 agents fails to be a hit job

Film Review Most serious spy movies seem to be pretty much the same these days: a parkour-fuelled, adrenaline-pumping, extremely violent rollercoaster through an occasionally thin plot, such as the Bourne and modern Bond franchises. However, every so often, you get the quiet, studied manipulations of a film like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy …
Galaxy NGC 2623 captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

Building the world's biggest telescope array - with machines that don't yet exist

Once completed, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the biggest radio astronomy telescope in the world. "Biggest", though, really is too mild a term for the sheer size of this project. The first phase, SKA1, will be broken up into two instruments, SKA1 MID and SKA1 LOW, based on their frequencies. SKA1 MID alone is made up …
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, credit: Brunel Museum

Bridge, ship 'n' tunnel – the Brunels' hidden Thames trip

Geek's Guide to Britain When you mention Brunel to most people, they think of the one with the funny name – Isambard Kingdom Brunel. A few folks will know that his father Marc Isambard Brunel was the first famous engineering Brunel, but not many will know that Isambard's own son, Henry Marc Brunel, was also an engineer and finished some of Isambard’s …
Bostrom drinking coffee. Image credit: Ken Tancwell under creative commons attribution-share alike 4.0 international licencelicence

Meet the man who inspired Elon Musk’s fear of the robot uprising

Exclusive Interview Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom is quite a guy. The University of Oxford professor is known for his work on existential risk, human enhancement ethics, superintelligence risks and transhumanism. He also reckons the probability that we are all living in a Matrix-esque computer simulation is quite high. But he’s perhaps most …

Unfriended: Odious screen-teens get theirs in this flat horror

Film Review Few movie genres see as much innovation as horror, pioneer of the found-footage style and master of the macabre comedy. Just because something is new and clever doesn’t actually mean it will make a better film. Unfriended has a good idea and it runs with it for the whole movie. We open on a pretty teen girl’s Mac screen and that …
Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron – blisteringly big banter, brawls and brio

Film Review Marvel’s Avengers franchise is such a massive, behemoth of a marketing machine, such a merchandise-heavy, almost decade-long suction of talent, time and money that I want to hate it. I want to say, why don’t we spend all that money on independent films? Original stories? Something new, for God’s sake! But there’s just no denying …
Robot Overlords

Robot Overlords: Tween babysitting fodder with no in-jokes for the adults

Film Review Robot Overlords is an old-school kids’ movie, with none of the surreptitious nods to the dragged along adult audiences that we’ve become accustomed to, just friendly, under-13s fun. When a race of giant alien robots come to Earth, the war (represented by sound effects behind a blank screen for the youngsters) lasts just 11 days …
The Voices

The Voices: A horror-comedy that’s as schizophrenic as its protagonist

Film Review Horror comedy is not an easy genre-mishmash to pull off, although when it’s done right (Shaun of the Dead, The Faculty), it’s usually brilliant. Unfortunately, The Voices doesn’t quite manage it. Things start promisingly enough, with Ryan Reynolds as Jerry, the apparently aw-shucks hometown boy who works in the bathtub factory …
X+Y movie

X+Y shows teens are teens, regardless of where they are 'on the spectrum'

Film Review X+Y plays a familiar tune on our heartstrings, echoing movies like Little Man Tate, Rain Man and Beautiful Mind in its portrayal of Nathan Ellis, a mathematical prodigy with mild autism struggling to navigate his way through social relationships. Despite an early diagnosis of being “on the spectrum”, Nathan has a close emotional …
Chappie

Chappie: The AI tale that’s about heart, not intelligence

Film Review Director Neill Blomkamp has recovered from his E​lysium ​stumble with this cross between P​inocchio, S​hort Circuit and R​obocop, ​which brings a whole lot of heart to the dystopian AI future trope. Like so many tales of the future, C​happie ​takes place in a city on the verge of tearing itself apart, where criminals can lay …
Blackhat

Blackhat: Michael Mann brings an informed cybercrime yarn to the silver screen

Film review You don’t expect much from a storyline that reads like a cyber remake of the cheesy classic The Rock – crime happens and only dastardly criminal taken out of lock-up by the Feds can stop it. But director Michael Mann has turned out a pretty decent thriller in Blackhat, even if it does take itself a little too seriously. For a …
Colin Farrell surveys the planet in the Total Recall remake. Credit: Sony Pictures

Something Coming Through – aliens, LA noir, techno-thriller, dystopia ALL in the mix

Page File Something Coming Through is a story that manages to be all over the genre map but still somehow work. We’re in clear sci-fi territory in one way – humanity has made first contact with aliens known as the Jackaroo, we’re now living on alien worlds and it’s a short hop into the future in Earth time. But otherwise, the book has …

The Glittering World: Some style, but no substance

Page File When I hear “mysterious race of beings” on the back of a book, my mind goes straight to aliens, not strange, supernatural, fairy-like creatures, so The Glittering World wasn’t quite the book I thought it would be. It’s being pitched as a Neil Gaiman-esque kind of story and you can see why the publisher went there. The novel has …
Row of victorian london black cabs. Photo by Shutterstock

Cannonbridge sells us a dummy – great premise, crap ending

Book review When you set up a central mystery in a story, make it the crux of your tale and drop tantalising clues about it all the way through, you’ve set yourself a difficult task. You’ve made a promise to the reader from page one that the answer to your mystery is a good one, you’ve beckoned them from page to page with the assurance that …
Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending – a literally laughable train wreck of a film

Film review It’s usually not a good sign when a film’s release gets repeatedly delayed, as happened with the Wachowski siblings newest sci-fi extravaganza Jupiter Ascending. Knowing this, I tempered my expectations. But even my preparation to view what I expected to be a cheesy, largely nonsensical movie in the vein of the third Matrix …
James Franco clutches puppy alongside Seth Rogen in a still from The Interview

The Interview? Kim Jong-Un, you really shouldn’t have bothered

Film review North Korea really didn’t need to go to the trouble of hacking Sony Pictures over The Interview – even if it did have anything to do with it. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea should have just objected to the movie on the basis of good taste (and the possession of a sense of humour) and it would have been a fair argument …
Artist’s impression of sunset on the newly discovered super-Earth world Gliese 667 Cc. Credit: ESO

Hardboiled, fast-paced, mind-bending fun – Dark Intelligence IS sci-fi

Page File It’s not easy to come in cold on something like Neal Asher’s Polity universe, a hard sci-fi world spanning 12 books and counting that I’ve never quite got around to starting. Instead, it was a dive into the deep end with the twelfth novel, Dark Intelligence, the beginning of a trilogy about the black AI Penny Royal, who’s popped …
Big Hero 6

Cuddly robots, whipsmart laughs and plenty of heart in Big Hero 6

Film review Disney still has that cartoon magic. Just look at the awesome phenomena that is Frozen. The latest from the Mouse House is Big Hero 6, the studio’s first cartoon collaboration with Marvel. Rather than go for a showy, already-famous tale, Disney has plumbed the depths of the Marvel collection for a little-known comic, featuring …
Ex_Machina_film

Ex Machina – a smart, suspenseful satire of our technology gods

Film review It’s not easy to say something new about artificial intelligence in the movies. It’s pretty much a toss-up between the they-could-be-people-too argument of sweet child robot David in A.I. or the sphincter-tightening terror of HAL and the Terminator. But with Ex Machina, we get a more complex picture of our android future …
Rachel in Blade Runner

Sex, androids and violence in Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Page File It all sounds like a beautiful love story. A man in forbidden love with an android robot sets out on a quest to find and reassemble her after she’s kidnapped and stripped down for parts. But Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is a gruesome, grotesque noir story of a dismal future, where half of the world is considered …
British Library reading room

The Invisible Library – a playful, timey wimey, spook adventure tale

Page File The Invisible Library has been billed by the publishers as a sort of Doctor Who meets spy thriller, where a secret society of spooks skip through alternate worlds and times looking to collect books on behalf of the eponymous library. Irene is the librarian in question, part spy, part thief, who uses her wits and the Language – a …
Foxcatcher still

Power, patriotism, paranoia and envy wrestle for attention in Foxcatcher

Film review Foxcatcher is not really a sports story, it’s a dark epic of power, patriotism, paranoia and envy that just so happens to include professional wrestling. The story begins with the working class brothers and wrestling champions David (Mark Ruffalo) and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). While both have won gold at the Olympics, it is …
Jack Gyllenhaal in Enemy

Enemy – Eerie double trouble from indie doppelganger chiller

Film review Although Enemy, the small indie take on Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s The Double, was made in 2013, it’s only just getting a limited UK release now. Which is a shame, as Jake Gyllenhaal plays both downtrodden everyman and charming lecher with understated grace in this psychologically thrilling tale of a man who …
Raphael's School of Athens

The Just City: A brilliant, if puzzling, philosophical dialogue

Page File At first glance, Jo Walton’s novel The Just City doesn’t seem to fit into the category of science fiction at all. We open with the god Apollo, who is confused about why Daphne the nymph chose to pray to the gods to be turned into a tree rather than sleep with him. Pleading with the goddess Athene for understanding, she …
Artist's impression of Philae on Comet 67P

Ground control to 2014: A year in SPAAAAAAAAAACE

Review of 2014 The year 2014 belonged, without question, to the comet-chasing Rosetta mission, which moved humanity’s space exploration programme forward by landing on a moving space rock out in the depths of the cosmos for the first time ever. The first step in the epic journey this year was accomplished in January, when boffins at the …
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking biopic is immensely moving

Film review “I think I just used science to trick you into watching a movie about feelings!” I apologised to my fellow science-loving film-goer after leaving The Theory of Everything. Although, to be fair, the posters make it clear that this is not the big screen depiction of Stephen Hawking writing A Brief History of Time, this is the true …
Artist’s impression of sunset on the newly discovered super-Earth world Gliese 667 Cc. Credit: ESO

Proxima and Ultima: AI, hard sci-fi and multiverse – ALL GOOD. Romans – not so much

Page File Fresh from his multiverse world-building with Terry Pratchett in The Long Earth series, Stephen Baxter turns to his own multiverse in the two-book set Proxima and Ultima – a very different hard sci-fi tale. Proxima starts in the far-flung future, when Earthlings have started making their way out into the immediate galactic …
James Franco and Seth Rogen in The Interview

'Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us'

QuoTW The Sony Pictures hack dragged on and on this week, as the studio was forced to pull the release of North Korea comedy The Interview following hacker threats against the film while cyber attackers continued to dump files stolen from Sony online. The studio kicked off the week by sending a strongly-worded letter to media outlets …
Regina Egbert, El Reg's virtual news anchor

TRAGEDY STRIKES Vulture News Central but details remain scrambled

A sad day as Vulture News Central loses its lead anchor, Regina Eggbert, in a horrific misunderstanding ... no, I can't go on. I simply can't describe it. You'll have to see for yourself! ® Youtube Video Regina Egbert, El Reg's virtual news anchor
Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Why the chemistry between Hollywood, physics and maths is so hot right now

Interview Folks in the scientific know like to pick apart movies about science and science fiction, pointing out all the ways in which they don’t embrace real facts and theories. They also love to complain about how nerds are so often portrayed on film the same way, as socially inept weirdos, sweet maybe, but not really taken seriously. …
Amy Adams in Big Eyes

Big Eyes falls short on the big question of popular art

Film review The ingredients are all there for an Oscar-winning film in Big Eyes. Multiple Academy Award nominee Amy Adams and one-time winner Christoph Waltz play Walter and Margaret Keane in a flick based on a true story about pop culture and high art in the 1960s. Margaret ships up in San Francisco in the late 1950s, a single mother and …
Angry old man

Hackney council leaked thousands of locals' data in FoI blunder

Thousands of Hackney residents are fuming after their personal information was leaked by the council online in a bungled Freedom of Information request. Details including addresses, rental accounts and sexuality of 15,000 Hackney Homes tenants and leaseholders were available in full from the website What Do They Know for nearly …
Space Cowboys movie still

LEGS IN 2015: SpaceX Falcon's landing PUT ON HOLD

NASA and SpaceX have announced that the firm’s fifth ISS resupply mission - which was also the first test of its ground-breaking leggy landing on a floating platform - will be postponed until next year. The Falcon 9 rocket that boosts the Dragon cargo-craft to the International Space Station was supposed to test its X-wing-aided …
SpaceX' autonomous spaceport drone ship

Friday: SpaceX will attempt to land rocket on floating, robotic 'spaceport drone ship'

Upstart start-up rocketry firm SpaceX is planning to try out its new upgraded rocket landing legs on its next trip to the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow. Youtube Video The private space firm has been trying to make the game-changing dream of a precise soft-landing, reusable rocket come true with its Falcon 9 booster …
Mobile phone no service

UK.gov binds mobe operators to £5bn not-spot deal

Blighty’s government has announced a new deal with the top four mobe operators in the country to improve the state of so-called mobile roaming "not-spots". Culture secretary Sajid Javid announced a binding agreement with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, meaning they will tackle poor signal issues in certain areas by investing £5bn, …
James Franco and Seth Rogen in The Interview

NY premiere of The Interview cancelled after hackers' terrorist threats

The New York premiere of Sony Pictures’ movie about a fictional assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un has been cancelled in the wake of hacker threats invoking 9/11. The Interview was due to debut on Thursday at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in Manhattan, but a spokesperson confirmed to Variety that the screening was off late on …
CGI image of Lunar Mission One on the Moon

HUMAN HAIR will soon be FOUND on MOON: Brit 'nauts aim for SPAAAACE

Blighty-backed moonshot Lunar Mission One has managed to hit its Kickstarter goal of £600,000 in crowdfunding, just a day and a half ahead of the cut-off point. After a fast-paced start, helped by media coverage and endorsements from the likes of celebrity rockstar physicist Brian Cox, raised £200,000 in three days, things …
Parcels

Amazon workers in Germany stage CHRISTMAS STRIKE

Amazon workers are striking yet again in Germany, hoping to put pressure on the etailer over the Christmas shopping period. Trade union Verdi called on employees last week to start a three-day strike at warehouses in Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Graben, Rheinberg and Werne, starting yesterday. Yet the union has now added a sixth …
Monty Python Wafer Thin Mints

Secretive Chinese smartmobe colossus Xiaomi is on WAFER thin margins

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi is operating on the thinnest of margins to keep its handset prices low, according to a filing with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The Chinese phone-maker, that’s creeping up on Western manufacturers, made a profit of $56.2m on $4.3bn in revenue last year. That gives the firm operating margins of …
Candy Crush Saga

Hooker beating: What if you read the Bible AND play GTA5?

QuoTW Angry Aussie gamers were up in arms this week after Target and Kmart pulled Grand Theft Auto V from sale in the country. The shops dumped the game after a petition on Change.org claimed that GTA5 “encourages players to murder women for entertainment”: The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill …
Graph search

Get the EGGSPERT ANGLE on the news with ovoid anchorbeing Regina

Youtube Video This week on Reg Vulture news, Facebook's creepy graph search is coming to mobile iOS, the Pirate Bay is briefly sunk, and Bernie Madoff's IT guys go down for their part in his huge Ponzi scam. Didn't hear enough from Regina? Check out the full stories here, here and here. ® Graph search
Water World at Universal Studios Los Angeles Credit: Universal Studios

Tides of Maritinia: The spy who jumped into a sci-fi water world

Page File When Tides of Maritinia first kicks off, it’s a bumbling-Brit-abroad, Evelyn Waugh-style tale of a stuffed-shirt bureaucrat literally moulded into a secret agent, but it evolves into quite a tragic story of the misdeeds of war and one man’s struggle to find his moral compass. Jakob Bryce is the lead for Warren Hammond’s first …

BLAM! Max Sound flings vid codec sueball Number FOUR at Google

Tech firm Max Sound has filed a new lawsuit against Google and YouTube over a video-streaming patent used in new Nexus devices. The firm has added a suit in Mannheim in Germany to two other patent suits filed earlier this year in Delaware and California and a fourth suit filed in Berlin’s district court. Max Sound claims that …
Gloved hand reaches into victim's pocket to steal mobile phone

UK.gov STILL won't pop a cap on stolen mobile bills

Brits who have their mobes stolen are still facing shock bills, despite government promises that charges would be capped in a similar way to stolen credit cards. The Citizens Advice watchdog said that as many as 160,000 victims of phone crime were forking out up to £4m a year to pay for thieves’ texting and calls, although they …
Slow downloads

BT Infinity ‘working to fix problem’ after three days of outages

BT Infinity users have been suffering with outages and slow service for three days, as the network struggles with a DNS or routing issue. El Reg readers tipped us off that folks trying to connect with BT were getting problems such as failure to resolve DNS, slow web-page loading, interrupted web pages, and frankly rubbish video …
How the bronze statue of Assange, Snowden and Manning would look

Assange's WikiLeaks: Give generously this Xmas – for STATUE of our DEAR LEADER

Julian Assange has alerted Wikileakers to an important Kickstarter campaign that aims to create a bronze statue of the snowy-haired founder, billed as a “monument to courage”. How the bronze statue of Assange, Snowden and Manning would look How the statue will look if they can get another £80,000 The proposed artwork, which …

Tech titans lob $25m at 'social' business Change.org

Petition platform Change.org has raised $25m from a range of tech luminaries, including Bill Gates and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. The website, which calls itself a “social enterprise” but is not a non-profit, said it had raised the funds to help mobile development of the site and help users to create more localised …
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Amazon comes over all eBay with new ‘make an offer’ facility

Amazon is making a bid to steal customers from online marketplaces such as eBay with a new option to “make an offer” on items. The firm is introducing the option on Amazon.com for folks to offer a lower price for products in the fine arts and collectibles sections initially, and will then be expanding the service to other items …