MindScans (2013)

I’m not sure what to make of this one.

Or exactly what to say about it.

Just to give you one example:  when someone says “bad acting”, what generally comes to mind involves uncertain line deliveries, misplaced emphases  and self-consciousness.  But here? none of that applies.  Everyone seems confident and the lines come out correctly, but the end result is worse than what we’d get in a Polonia brothers film.  I have a sneaking suspicion that they may have drawn their cast from not actors but TV weathermen or radio announcers.  It’s hard to to explain what went wrong otherwise.

Which leads to the next problem:  the dialogue just doesn’t feel natural at all.  Most of it sounds overwritten, as if, in real life, we’d have summed it up in half the words.

Or maybe just a vague grunt.

I found myself thinking (repeatedly), if I’d been playing that part, I’d have kept saying, “maybe we should try it like this, instead.”  The posters, of course, emphasize that they based this on a story by Steven L. Kent.  Perhaps the dialogue would have passed muster in print and they merely copied it slavishly from the original.


But I’ll admit I’m more inclined to blame first time writer and director, Ben Chiu

And despite its decidedly luxurious running time, the whole affair feels a bit padded, with some of the sequences (particularly a lengthy one leading to the suicide of a woman who had a memory implant) desperately in need of serious pruning.  I mean, seriously, does it take us five minutes (or does it just feel that long) to figure out that someone feels miserable?

Oh, well.

Storywise, we have a reporter investigating a new technology, which allows us to link our minds directly to hardware, or even download a scan of our minds.  There’s a lot of talk about familiar cyberpunkish tropes, within a near-future setting, leading to what amounts to a series of short stories, as the reporter studies the lawsuits the MindScan company is defending itself against.

I suspect that Ben Chiu might be using an old, independent film trick here, and that his large cast and parallel storylines are here to ease the burden on his volunteer actors (and make sure he can get enough people together for a day’s shooting)

I do have to give him credit for an intelligent examination of the possibilities surrounding this sort of technology – and for putting a rather dark spin on some of them.

But by the end, we’re left with a rather unsatisfactory conclusion which fails to address the serious questions raised.  This is undoubtedly deliberate and probably reflects the source material, but from a dramatic point of view, it means the story fails to do what it claims it set out to do.

Which is a problem.

So bonus points for trying to do science fiction dealing with serious SF questions, and for trying to envision just what effects such new technologies might have.

But not enough to overcome the very real problems with this film.



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