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‘Mother/Android’ Review: The Future Looks Bleak for Chloë Grace Moretz and Her Baby

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Mother Android

Ending a year begun saving her baby from a gremlin in deliberately outrageous “Shadow in the Cloud,” Chloë Grace Moretz again suffers peril-fraught maternity as half of the title equation in “Mother/Android.” This sci-fi thriller, launching on Hulu Dec. 17, offers a more sobersided survival tale set in an imminent future where humanity’s artificial helpmates have turned against their creators. It’s a familiar dystopian premise that plays out in narrative terms redolent of myriad recent movies like “A Quiet Place.”

Still, at least to a point, it’s lent sufficient engrossing urgency by Mattson Tomlin in his commercial-feature directorial debut. He wrote two other fantasy-tinged tales released last year, “Little Fish” and “Project Power.” This project is ostensibly more personal, inspired by the Romanian biological parents who apparently gave him up as an infant amidst the turmoil of that nation’s 1989 revolution. But “Mother/Android” falls short when it attempts to grasp a similar degree of tragic parental sacrifice later on, faring best in the straightforward fugitive suspense of its first half.

It opens with troubles of a less-than-fantastical nature, as collegiate couple Georgia (Moretz) and Sam (Algee Smith) discover her very unplanned pregnancy. It is unwelcome news to them both, though he proposes marriage — and to support whatever her decisions may be.

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At a subsequent Christmas party, however, they suddenly have much worse developments to deal with. In this near-future, the only significant difference from our present reality is that robotics have advanced to the point where many households have entirely human-looking/acting android servants. Unfortunately, that workforce chooses this particular moment to rebel, with immediate, bloody consequences.

Eight months later, Sam and the almost-due Georgia are living in the woods, doing their best to escape notice by the machines that by now have largely destroyed society. They hope for a chance at a new start abroad; some less-afflicted countries like Korea are rumored to still accept fleeing young emigrant families. But first they need to cross a “No Man’s Land” and reach the harbors of Boston. For a while they’re taken in at a military base, but leave it (or rather get ejected) in worse straits than they arrived. They try making a run for it with a motorcycle they’ve acquired. At the film’s midpoint, however, the pair get separated, Georgia landing in the custody of apparent lone-wolf AI engineer Arthur (Raul Castillo), who claims “I’m alive because I know how they think.”

Though “Mother/Android” remains watchable enough, from this point onward it grows less gripping and plausible. Tomlin’s screenplay deserves credit for mixing things up, introducing new characters and narrative turnabouts. But nothing is again as bluntly compelling as the early going, and despite hardworking principal performances, these characters and their movie lack the emotional depth to pull off an earnestly teary, draggy finale.

Aiming for something more than a gritty genre piece, Tomlin lets tension flag without really clinching the poignantly universal humanist message intended. Which in the end just makes this an initially solid, then somewhat disappointing genre piece whose pretensions are out of its weight class. Nonetheless, it’s well-crafted and resourceful within its bounds, smoothly integrating Massachusetts locations and modest FX to create a credible-enough portrait of a civilized world that’s badly eroded in just a few short months.

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Sam Raimi Explains His ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Feelings, Reveals Whether ‘Doctor Strange 2’ Is Finished Filming

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3 Split 8

Sam Raimi, the director of Columbia Pictures’ original “Spider-Man” trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, has spoken out about watching his original cast reprise their roles in last year’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

In an exclusive interview with Variety while promoting the Oscar-shortlisted film “You’re Dead Hélène,” a live-action horror short film produced by Raimi, the director discussed seeing Maguire, Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina take up their iconic characters once again.

“It was so much fun,” Raimi said. “I love ‘No Way Home’ and the audience I was with went crazy. It was delightful to watch Alfred play his role, and Willem Dafoe, just seeing these guys take it to the next level. And Tobey was awesome as always. The best word I can say is it was refreshing for me.”

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The superhero film shows Maguire battling with many of his greatest foes, including Norman Osborn a.k.a. Green Goblin (Dafoe) and Otto Octavius a.k.a. Doctor Octopus (Molina), The success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is undeniable, as the uniting of three Peter Parkers — Maguire, Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield — across three iterations of the web-slinging superhero has continued to rack up returns at the box office. In its sixth week of release, the Sony comic book sequel has grossed an impressive $721 million at the domestic box office, currently sitting as the fourth-highest grossing domestic release of all-time behind “Avatar” (2009), “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015).

“Spider-Man” (2002) and “Spider-Man 2” (2004) both grossed over $400 million at the box office respectively. The first film was nominated for two Oscars — best sound and visual effects — while the sequel won visual effects, in addition to two nods for sound mixing and sound editing.

In terms of Raimi’s next directorial project, the sequel to “Doctor Strange,” the filmmaker wasn’t as willing to reveal details. He did share an uncertainty if the film was done filming, responding to reports that the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring sequel faced “significant reshoots” back in November.

“I wish I knew the answer to that question,” Raimi said, responding to the question of whether the movie was complete. “I think we’re done, but we just cut everything. We’re just starting to test the picture and we’ll find out if there’s anything that’s got to be picked up. If something’s unclear or another improvement I can make in this short amount of time left, I’ll do it. One thing I know about the Marvel team is they won’t stop. They’ll keep pushing it until it’s as close to being great as it could.”

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Raimi also emphasized the positive experience he has had working with Marvel Studios and its head Kevin Feige.

“Marvel’s been a great team to work with,” Raimi continued. “I think that was a not-surprising surprise. I’ve been super-supported by the whole Marvel operations, starting at the top with Kevin Feige, and working all the way down to the crews that they work with. [They’re] super professional and have supported me every step of the way.”

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is scheduled to be released in theaters on May 6, 2022.

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Bradley Cooper Says Replacing Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Nightmare Alley’ Exposed His Insecurities

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Bradley Cooper Nightmare Alley

Bradley Cooper earned rave reviews for his lead performance in Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” but the eight-time Oscar nominee was not necessarily the director’s first choice for the job. It was Leonardo DiCaprio, who del Toro originally cast in the role of Stanton Carlisle, a drifter and con artist who rises from lowly carnival worker to a renowned mentalist. Speaking to Mahershala Ali as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, presented by Amazon Studios, Cooper opened up about replacing DiCaprio and how not being first choice exposed his own insecurities.

“‘Nightmare Alley’ was an interesting example of how insecure I am,” Cooper said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I still am the guy that wants to be in the group,’ because I had no intention of acting in anything other than what I’ve been writing. Leonardo DiCaprio fell out, and Guillermo del Toro came to me. I still remember thinking, ‘Oh wow, the guys that don’t hire me, they want to hire me?’ And then it was like, ‘Of course, I have to do it just because I’ve never been allowed into that group.’ It was insecurity and ego.”

Cooper continued, “Thankfully, it wound up being an incredible experience. And that was very interesting to me to play a character, Stanton Carlisle, who has clearly been traumatized as a kid, has no parental foundation, has no foundation for love, intimacy, real connection, and he just is surviving off of a gratification and a desperate need to find out who he is.”

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“In this movie, a lot of things happened on the day,” Cooper added. “It felt like Stanton taught Guillermo and I about where this exploration into humanity could go. It was terrifying for both Guillermo and myself because of that; it was really going into the unknowing. The whole movie leads towards the end, where finally someone tells him who he is.”

Cooper’s decision to star in “Nightmare Alley” paid off in raves for the actor, with Variety’s Peter Debruge writing in his review that the actor “delivers another terrific, tragic turn” in the film. Watch Cooper and Ali’s full conversation as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” in the video below.

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