The Terminator (1984)

By Maggie Tan

James Cameron made his debut in 1981 with Piranha II: The Spawning, a B-movie horror sequel that flopped. Little did he know that The Terminator would become part of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. This was the movie that made a name for Cameron and he later went on to make other box office hits, such as Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009).zg3634_terminator I

It is 2029 and earth is at war. The end of humanity is near, as artificially intelligent machines have taken over the world. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a human resistance fighter from the post-apocalyptic world, is then sent back to 1984 in Los Angeles to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). The reason being that Sarah Connor is the mother of her yet-unborn son, John Connor, who will lead the human resistance against the machines in the future and may eventually save the human race. However, a cyborg Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is also sent back from the future by the machines in order to kill Sarah, before her son is born. Can the indestructible Terminator be stopped?

The music in the movie, composed by Brad Fiedel, has one of the most memorable rhythmic tones. According to Fiedel, the music is all about “a mechanical man and his heartbeat” and the sound turned out to be very suitable for the movie.

The cinematography is subtle, yet powerful. The lighting in this movie serves to make us tell the difference between the humans and the machines. For example, Sarah Conner’s face is always lit by a soft frontal light, which humanizes her. In contrast, there are often pulses of red light in the scenes with the Terminator when he looks for Sarah and Kyle.  The red light makes the Terminator look artificial, merciless and relentless. The contrast in lighting between the scenes with the Terminator and Sarah is done brilliantly, as it makes the former look more machine-like and the latter more human.

Although not as groundbreaking as in the sequel, the visual effects are still quite good considering its time.  Nevertheless, by today’s standards the special effects may appear a bit dated. For some scenes, the movie relied stop motion, which some people may find awkward looking. In other scenes, the movie used a large stage where all the miniatures would be shot on, with cut outs of ruined cities as the background and more ruined buildings and skulls as the foreground.

The best performance goes to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although not much acting or lines are required of him, he delivered a solid performance as a ruthless killing machine. His facial expressions which remain stoic throughout the movie, makes him look coldhearted and soulless, like a true machine. His body builder’s physique also makes him seem imposing and threatening. Furthermore, his unforgettable one-liners are, needless to say, one of the best parts of this movie.

The Terminator was never really meant to be something more than a niche movie, yet it has found its way to many people’s hearts. Fast-paced and packed with action, this is definitely an enjoyable movie.

 

Directed by                 James Cameron
Produced by              Gale Anne Hurd
Screenplay by             James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, William Wisher Jr.
Starring                      Arnold SchwarzeneggerLinda HamiltonMichael Biehn
Music by                     Brad Fiedel
Cinematography by  Adam Greenberg
Editing by                   Mark Goldblatt
Studio                         Hemdale Film Corporation, Pacific Western Productions
Distributed by            Orion Pictures
Release date              26 October 1984
Running time             108 minutes
Parental Guide          Rated R
Country                      United States
Budget                        $6.4 million
Box Office                  $781,371,200

Health Hazard of Fukushima

By Rhea Holleman

On 11 March 2011, the most powerful earthquake that has ever hit Japan, caused an enormous tsunami to hit the coast. Not only did thousands of people die, and did more than a hundred thousand buildings collapse, the tsunami caused so much damage in the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that nuclear meltdowns occurred.

A nuclear meltdown means that the core of a nuclear reactor has melted, and consequently releases radioactive particles. For 20 km around the Fukushima power plant, an evacuation zone is in effect. People living within a 30 km radius have been advised to move, or to stay indoors and take precautions. Despite the measures the government has taken to protect the safety of its population, some concern remains over the health risks for the residents of Japan and for contamination of its water supplies.

Even though the disaster happened over two years ago, contaminated water that was used to cool the reactors is still leaking out of the storage tanks and into the environment. The radiation levels surrounding the leaked water has been measured to be around 2,200 mSv per hour. In comparison, a typical level of background radiation is about 1-13 mSv per YEAR.

When exposed to a high level of radioactive particles, the chemical bonds in the human body break. The DNA in the cells can be damaged, and the long term risk of cancer is increased. The population in Japan surrounding the power plant, outside of the evacuation zone, may have a 1-2% increase in their risk of getting cancer. Water supplies surrounding the plant have elevated levels of radioactive particles, as have water supplies in Tokyo, though the levels are not as high as to be alarming. Nevertheless, young children are advised not to eat or drink products that are contaminated with radioactive particles over the set limit.

The Fukushima situation as it is now, is manageable; the health risks are not as big as was feared. But should the situation deteriorate, who knows what could happen?

 

Bibliography

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23779560

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12722435

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_UN_approves_radiation_advice_1012121.html

Lord of the Flies

By Rhea Holleman

Lord of the flies. William Golding. London: Faber and Faber LTD, 1968. 223 pp.

Lord of the flies is written by Sir William Gerald Golding in 1968, and regarded a must-read by many. It’s an allegorical novel and represents ideas about human nature and society. A gripping story, brilliantly written, full of adventure, yet still hard to get through.Lord2

A group of boys survive a plane crash and is stranded on a deserted island. No adults, no rules, just fun and games. Ralph is chosen as a leader, he stands for democracy, reason and gentleness. Take a 180° turn, and there you find Jack, a hunter, a killer, who seems to have been restrained only by the rules of society. While chasing ‘monsters’ and hunting for meat, civilization starts to take a back seat. While keeping a bonfire going, so as to attract bypassing ships, the situation slowly descends into chaos; with disastrous consequences.

Lord of the flies is a story about what happens when society falls apart and animal instincts take over. It is beautifully written; the conversations between the boys especially are very lifelike, childlike, and suitable to their age. The group of boys is wonderfully diverse, it includes leaders and followers, cruel and reasonable characters, even an easy bullying target called ‘Piggy’. All these different characters and their matching behaviour have been developed to such a degree that the reader can feel sympathy for all, even Jack. The boys immediately plunge into one adventure after the next, hunting pigs and chasing monsters, but the story is not exciting; it doesn’t keep me hanging at the edge of my seat. Maybe it’s the absence of a proper description of the area that makes the adventures of the boys hard to imagine. In any case, it isn’t one of those gripping books you only put down once you have finished it.

Do not read this book if you are looking for excitement and suspense. Read this book for the ideas behind it, and think about what the characters represent.

Top 3 Character Clichés In Zombie Movies

By Maggie Tan

There’s just something about apocalypse movies that I seem to love. However, when there are zombies involved: even better. The case with zombie movies, though, is that once you’ve seen a zombie flick, you’ve basically seen them all. As zombie movies flood the market, so the clichés come peeking around the corner. The question is whether fans will continue to watch zombie movies despite of it all. Let’s take a look at some of the most common character clichés in zombie movies.

Characters who fail to recognize zombies

I find it particularly striking that there are always characters in zombie movies who just do not seem to get their head around the fact that, yes, they have indeed come face-to-face with a zombie. Some character’s friend would be standing in his doorway and this person would be totally oblivious that his friend has turned into a zombie. What with the blood-soaked shirt, the missing jaw and the decomposing body, you’d think that this character has picked up on the fact that his friend is a flesh-eating cannibal. But no. As this character proceeds to approach his friend, stupidly asking: “Hey man, are you alright? Maybe you should see a doctor”, his friend will just rip off a chunk of his neck. What are the odds?

Characters who cannot outrun zombies

Zombies are not particularly known to be the stealthiest beings in zombie movies. They make themselves known. They groan loudly, stumble over obstacles and knock down every possible object down the road as they advance toward the characters. At the pace the zombies are moving, the survivors could have just sauntered slowly to any vehicle and got away, if they so desire. Given the fact that a zombie walks at the speed of a confused old lady, the characters probably do not even need a vehicle to be at a safe distance from the zombies. They could have simply walked away from them. I can’t help but wonder how the characters always manage to be caught up by the zombies and get devoured. In recent movies, though, zombies can run like Olympic sprint champions. Whatever works.

Characters who endanger other group members

In zombie movies, there is always a character’s dad, boyfriend, or what have you, who got bit by a zombie and decides to keep this little piece of information from the rest of the characters. Yes, why not? Eventually, someone lets the cat out of the bag and the character would beg and wail: “Please don’t kill my father, he is the only one I got!”, and the dad would get shot in the head anyway. Other times, a character would deny that he got bit, or he’d say: “Oh, it is just a scratch. No need to worry.”, while standing there with blood oozing out of his gaping wound. A somewhat intelligent group member catches on and prevents a catastrophe from happening by bashing that person’s head in with a bat. As baffling as it sounds, most of the time the characters would believe the infected person’s story and they happily get on with their lives. Until the inevitable happens: that person transforms into a zombie and turns some of the group members into his zombie friends. Classic.

In the end, zombie movies are not free from clichés. But then again, which movies are? The cinema will find new ways to reinvent the theme, even if we’ve seen the same clichés over and over again. I’m sure most fans don’t even mind the clichés in zombie movies, and neither do I. My only complaint is that I can’t get enough of them.

The Day After Tomorrow

By Rhea Holleman

“If you look over behind me, that’s a tornado. Yes! A twister in Los Angeles. It’s one of many tornadoes that are destroying our city. There’s another one! That’s the Los Angeles skyline! It’s unbelievable! It’s huge! I’ve never sMV5BMTU1NTA3NzMwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzEzMTEzMw@@._V1._SX640_SY964_een anything like that!”

In a storm of sudden climate changes, the world is dropping into a new ice age at an alarming rate in The Day After Tomorrow. Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a group of survivors try to stay just that, survivors. In the meantime his father, paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is on a desperate and seemingly hopeless quest to rescue his son, and mend the strained father-son relationship. The government is now trying to limit the damage done by failing to listen to Jack Hall’s warnings.

Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow is a man vs. nature drama, the good kind. A dramatic warning of what could happen if global warming continues. This film is a perfect example of how you don’t need explosions or time bombs to keep an audience in suspense; Mother Nature is enough. Despite the serious topic and life-threatening situations, there is still a place for humour; the witty conversations between Jeremy and Elsa, two other survivors, especially lighten the mood.

Some of the scenarios are a little farfetched (Sam and his friends outrun a blast of freezing air and close the doors to keep it out) and, of course, there is the stereotypical government that doesn’t listen at the critical moment, dooming half the population.

The special effects, though, are impressive, especially the ice shelf cracking, the New York City flood, the lifelike wolves, the ship sailing through the streets of New York, and the overall weather effects. The music complements the dramatic moments in the film, full of suspense when the action unfolds, and thoroughly sad when necessary.

Some good acting on the parts of Jake Gyllenhaal, who still manages to be in love while all the drama unfolds, Dennis Quaid, convincing as the father who risks all to rescue his son, and Ian Holm, who knows how to bring bad news. Only Emmy Rossum’s acting as Laura is a bit affected.

Despite some minor flaws, The Day After Tomorrow is an exciting, interesting film, that keeps you hanging on the edge of your seat. Go see!

Movie: The Day After Tomorrow
Release: 2004
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Emmy Rossum
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Studio: Centropolis Entertainment Lions Gate
Script: Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 124 minutes

Writers

Rhea Holleman, CEO

r.holleman@apocalypselaters.com

Frans Snackers, Head of Public Relations.

f.snackers@apocalypselaters.com

Maggie Tan, Head of Content.

 m.tan@apocalypselaters.com

Survival Of The Fittest

By Rhea Holleman

Over the last couple of decades, scientific research has shown the alarming consequences human behaviour has on earth.  Our ever increasing CO2 emissions especially have caused a lot of harm; acid rain has caused acidification of our soil, smog in big cities is seriously damaging our health, and we can’t even predict what consequences global warming will have in the future. So what if the worst happens? What if our irresponsible behaviour causes climate changes so dramatic that we will be confronted with tsunami’s, tornado’s, or temperatures way below freezing point?
rubenSurvival expert Ruben Dinkelman, has trained for – and competed in multiple survival runs. He gives us some potentially life saving tips. First and foremost, he states, “you have to find some kind of shelter”. In a case of extreme weather conditions going underground is not necessary, a public building will suffice. “Though of course, you should be careful about giving shelter to other survivors. It’s not a case of the more, the merrier”. Indeed, the more people sharing a space, the more chance of strife, food shortages, disease, etc. However, shelter alone won’t give you much of a fighting chance. “Electricity will probably be gone quite soon. I suggest collecting a lot of wood, and using it economically; you never know how long these conditions will persevere”. Staying warm and dry is crucial to your survival. As for food, “a large supply of canned goods would be wise. In the very worst case scenario, I would still recommend never to stoop to cannibalism. Not only is there a chance of disease, it’s bad for morale”. When it is possible, scavenge for food; and try to pick up a first aid kit along the way. If there is no source of food anywhere nearby your shelter, you might want to start hunting! A bow and arrows are recommended, “and an axe would be a good idea too”. But what about water? Of course, it all depends on your location the moment disaster strikes; “get away from the coast at any rate, it’s the most dangerous place you could be. Being near a river would be ideal, you need to find a source of fresh water ASAP”.
Shelter, fire, food, water and medicine are our first priorities, according to Dinkelman. Of course, good preparation can save lives too, so plan ahead! And those of us that survive these potentially dramatic consequences of our behaviour, might want to consider changing our lifestyle a bit.