Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Gary Varner

astronaut in a ship with a giant spider in space

Spaceman: World Is Ending. Worse, an Astronaut’s Wife Wants Out

It’s not clear just what role the threatening Chopra Cloud plays and that complexity dogs the story

Netflix recently released a film called Spaceman, starring Adam Sandler. It’s… interesting. The first time I watched it, I hated it. The second time I watched it, I hated it less. I can appreciate what the movie was trying to do, and Adam Sandler puts on a fine performance… most of the time. But there were just too many plot holes and too much meaningless rhetoric for me to really enjoy the story. The movie is based on a 2017 novel, Spaceman of Bohemia by Czech author Jaroslav Kalfař. It begins with a Czech astronaut flying toward a mysterious, purple anomaly called the Chopra Cloud. The Cloud had appeared in the sky a few years previously, with no known reason. Read More ›

Modernity versus nature concept - end of civilisation

Dune, Part Two: A Good Movie But a Bad Set-Up for Part Three

When Paul avenges his father and settles an old feud, the threads of the story start to connect

Last Saturday, we talked about how the writers did an excellent job setting up Feyd-Rautha as a worthy adversary for Paul. However, their decision to make Chani a skeptical antagonist—opposing the man she supposedly loves—has already created numerous problems for the story, and those problems continue to stack up. By the time we reach the conclusion of the film, I don’t know how the writers expect to create a Part Three that will be in any way, shape, or form consistent with the source material. In Part Two, Paul and the Fremen finally launch their final assault on the emperor. As in previous retellings of the story, Paul uses his father’s stash of atomic weapons to blow a hole in Read More ›

Dramatic sand storm in desert. Abstract background. Digital art.

Dune, Part Two: At Last, Feyd-Rautha Becomes Relevant

The treatment of Feyd in this version is more satisfactory than in any previous one. We are prepared for Paul’s confrontation with him
The portrayal of Chani in Part Two is, however, much harder to understand. If she doesn’t believe in the Bene Gesserit religion, why is she there on Arrakis? Read More ›
desert landscape with sand being shaped into sharp dunes by the wind.

Dune, Part Two: Paul Becomes a Hero — Very Reluctantly

Some departures from the book work better than others. The “reluctant hero” trope simplifies a complex political situation but at a cost
Overall, Paul’s reluctance, in this version, to be the Fremen’s leader enables him to earn their respect over time while doing more ordinary tasks. Read More ›
sandstorm in the desert. Generative AI,

Dune Part Two Succeeds Brilliantly — But Dooms Plans for Part III

The difficulty is that the changes made for the film have warped the core story so much that it’s going to be nearly impossible to follow the source material from here on out.
For example, if the Bene Gesserits are the true power behind the throne, why do they need a Kwisatz Haderach to cement their power? Read More ›
dramatic sand storm in desert, background, digital art

Dune 1984 Offers A Strong Finish to a Unique Adaptation

I’d go as far as to say that, while not all of David Lynch’s adaptations worked, the film is, overall, better than the book
The rainstorm Lynch introduces at the end, implies, refreshingly, that there was more going on in Dune than just the plans of men. Read More ›
Sand dunes in Sahara desert, Libya

Dune (1984) vs the Classic Sci-Fi Novel: What Worked, What Didn’t

For some scenes, the film was an improvement on the book; for others, writer David Lynch might better have stuck with the original

Last time we talked about the opening of Dune 1984. The Hollywood Strike has delayed the sequel to the current remake till March but the classic is worth revisiting in the meantime, both for its successes and failures. The 1984 writer, David Lynch, made various changes to the story that gave the viewer a clearer understanding of what was going on than Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 novel did. After the first two scenes, which help establish the situation in the world of Dune, the Reverend Mother flies to Caladan to test Paul Atreides with the painful Gom Jabbar. I’ve agreed with his choices so far. His opening showed the viewer why the Reverend Mother chose to visit Paul when she Read More ›

Astronauts exploring an asteroid 3D rendering elements of this image furnished by NASA

Where Did Dune 1984 Succeed? Where Did It Fail?

The Hollywood Strike postponed the release of the sequel to the new film version of Dune until March so, for now, let’s have another look at the 1984 version
The decades-old film retelling relied on some risky techniques but they turned out better than we might have expected, given the scope of the plot. Read More ›
Quantum portal to a world of wonder and mystery, where the laws of nature are strange and unpredictable. wormhole, time travel illustration.

Alien Resurrection Part 4: The Good, the Bad, and the… Bizarre

In a single moment, Purvis becomes one of the most heroic characters in the entire franchise
Alien Resurrection might help you forget Alien 3, and that alone makes it worth watching. Read More ›
astronaut in space with stars and moon, spaceship under attack, 3d illustration

Alien Resurrection (1997) Part 3: Call Up the Reluctant Robot

Amid the harrowing crew escapes, Call survives being shot because she’s a robot. She somehow has sentience and hates being a robot
No one can pull ideals from a system of numbers. How could a robot decide what is objectively moral when all its decisions are based on a set of probabilities? Read More ›
Spooky silhouettes of aliens and bright light in background. 3D rendered illustration.

Alien Resurrection, Part 2: Trying to Recover After a Retcon

The writers of the show never seemed to agree on how smart these aliens really are.
A problem for the franchise as a whole is that there’s been no consistent measurement for these creatures’ intelligence. Read More ›
Scary gray alien walks and looks blinking on a dark smoky background. UFO futuristic concept. 3D rendering.

Alien Resurrection, Part 1: This Movie Pays for the Sins of the Last One

It's better than Aliens 3, but has a host of problems nonetheless.
Ripley remembers enough about her old life to have misgivings about the military raising the Alien Queen, but of course, she’s ignored, and the army moves on to the second phase of their plan. Read More ›
Abstract flight in retro neon hyper warp space in the tunnel 3d illustration

Alien 3 Review, Part 4

Ripley's curtain call

In the third article, Ripley woke up in an all-male prison after surviving a shuttle crash. A parasitic alien tagged along and implanted an embryo in an inmate’s dog. The embryo breaks out of the animal and begins killing people until everyone figures out what’s going on, then they hatched one of the dumbest plans I’ve ever seen in cinema. After that, Ripley begins feeling sick. She goes to her still fully intact cryobed and scans herself. She finds that the parasitic alien has also planted an embryo inside her. The fact that Ripley had an embryo in her the entire time is ridiculous for a number of reasons. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, her cryobed wasn’t broken, so Read More ›

Rising planet

Alien 3 Review, Part 3

Aliens vs. Looney Tunes

In the previous reviews, we talked about how Ripley is once again the sole survivor. Her ship crashed because, somehow, the alien queen she killed in the second movie managed to lay an egg in the five minutes before it died. That egg hatched, attacked Ripley and the other’s cryobeds, and some of its acidic salvia melted its way into the ship’s wiring, causing the spacecraft to crash. To make the situation even more ridiculous, the escape shuttle the cryobeds were moved into crashed as well, and everyone expect Ripley was killed. Ripley wakes up in an all-male prison. Superintendent Harold Andrews is concerned for her safety, so he does his best to keep Ripley in the medical wing. Ripley Read More ›

ACT I, typed text on a vintage typewriter, screenplay title heading. On old paper with ink. writer's idea

Alien 3 Review, Part 2

An attack on motherhood and logic

Last time, we began with the opening scene, and already, the entire franchise is ruined. In this review, we’ll discuss why. I would recommend reading the previous article for clarity, but for now, I’ll simply list the sequence of events. The alien queen, somehow, managed to lay an egg inside the room where the cryobeds were kept in spite of the fact that she’d never been outside the hull of the ship. The egg hatched and the parasitic alien damaged Newt’s cryobed, then for no apparent reason, abandoned its attempt to latch onto Newt, and latched onto Ripley instead. But here’s the thing. Ripley’s bed wasn’t damaged in anyway. So, how did it break into the bed? Both the ship Read More ›

Outer space background

Alien 3 Review, Part 1

How to destroy a franchise in seven minutes

No sense in burying the lead. This one is awful. But it’s important to understand how and why it’s awful. Alien 3 manages to destroy the entire franchise with remarkable speed. I’ll explain how, as the reviews go on. We start off with a credit sequence, and already things feel off. Ripley and the surviving members of the previous film are still in their cryobeds, but something else is aboard the ship as well: an alien egg. This egg is seen hanging upside down, almost at eye level. Already, we have a plethora of problems, so let’s dive in, shall we? The previous movie, Aliens, established that it takes a queen to lay these eggs. Now, we don’t know exactly Read More ›

realistic render of the earth seen from space,visible lights of European cities at night.Elements of this image furnished by NASA. 3d rendering

Aliens Review, Part 1

I found Alien to be tolerable, but not worth the hype. So, who’s to say if the second movie will be any better?

Editor’s note: Parts one and two of this series have already been published here and here. The editor apologizes for the oversight and hopes you will enjoy this initial review and read the attending reviews as well. The first Alien film is considered a sci-fi classic, and Aliens, the sequel, is widely regarded as the best movie in the series. But personally, I found Alien to be tolerable, but not worth the hype. So, who’s to say if the second movie will be any better? It starts out with Ripley being found by a scavenger ship, where she is quickly taken back to earth and awakened from her cryosleep. Right away, we have a problem. One of “The Cooperation’s” big Read More ›

Black egg on a black background. The concept of coloring eggs for Easter. Standing alone egg

Alien Review, Part 2

Herding aliens in space is a bad idea

Read Part 1 of this review first if you missed it: Alien Review, Part 1 | Mind Matters In the previous review, we began discussing the sci-fi classic, Alien, and we left off with one of the Nostromo’s crewmembers, Kane, waking up after being attacked by a strange creature which had essentially glued itself to his face. Now, the creature is dead, and all seems well. Since Kane appears to be alright, and the crew begins eating another meal, preparing to renter cryosleep for their return journey to Earth. But as they are eating, Kane begins to scream in pain. The other’s try to help him, but they have no idea what’s going on. Finally, another alien explodes from Kane’s Read More ›