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Star Trek And The Conservation Of Dialogue Principle

thank you for smokingThere was a movie called Thank You For Smoking, and it had Robe Lowe in it as a Hollywood movie executive, and Aaron Eckhart as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. In one scene, Eckhart’s character is trying to work a deal with Lowe’s character to get cigarettes placed more prominently and positively in upcoming blockbusters, and Lowe describes a scene he has in mind.

It’s set in space, and the idea is that two superhot A-List actors like say Johnny Depp and Scarlett Johansson have sex in a room with zero gravity, and it’s all sexy and graphic, and then they’re floating there afterward smoking cigarettes, and the smoke is spiraling around them and that’s exactly what Eckhart’s talking about.

“But,” he asks. “Wouldn’t the whole thing blow up, lighting up in an oxygen rich environment like that?”

“Well, yeah,” says the movie producer. “But that’s just like, one line of dialogue. ‘I’m so glad we got the whatever installed so we can smoke in space.'”

Very matter-of-fact, because it’s often that simple, and as far as watching the new Star Trek movie goes, don’t go complaining that they didn’t add the extra lines of dialogue for you. They’re already talking plenty. Some things just aren’t going to make sense, and they’re going to spare us the token explanations as to why.

Like you might be wondering why the Enterprise, which can teleport a grown Vulcan male out of the center of the volcano, can’t remotely operate whatever device he’s got down there with him. I think they may have even muttered something about how they can’t be seen by the natives – but you know, they’re usually teleporting from orbit, where the natives wouldn’t see them.

Well, the crust is rich in radioactive isotopes, and they’re screwing with the sensor array, and the device Spock has is too sensitive – the interference could reverse the polarity and then it wouldn’t work. Only way to do it is by hand.

Star Trek 1Or something like that. On the television show, they get pretty bogged down explaining stuff all the time, acting like this is science and not silliness with science stickers on it. I think the new Star Trek movie makes a pretty good decision realizing that it doesn’t need to explain everything.

Like why they could stun Khan briefly on the Bridge, but Uhura unloaded on him about eight times and he supershrugged it off, even with one Metric Vulcan Asskicking in him. That’s how the action needed to flow, don’t make them explain that. Maybe he took a bite out of a tribble before he left, who knows?

We could quibble about how they were beaming folks out of midair in the last one, and this time they can’t get a lock during the final fight scene because “they’re moving around too much!”

It was already awkward enough when Bones is suddenly had a dead tribble next to him and sort of stretched and said, “Yep. Better inject some of Khan’s weird ass blood into this dead tribble while you guys proceed with your action movie. See what happens.”

Everybody even sort of turns to look at him. Sure, Bones. You do that. Right here, why the hell not?

And of course a little dialogue tap dance regarding the need for an extraneous bra-and-panty shot for Dr. Marcus. Because she’s hot, and her agent said so, that’s why.

The problem always comes in when there’s no line of dialogue that could save them from the problem – like when Iron Man doesn’t have any extra suits. That’s dumb, Iron Man. You’re not dumb. Last time you had an extra suit in your car. Keep extra suits somewhere, you big ding dong.

A fine line I’m drawing there, I guess. Star Trek silliness is cool and you shouldn’t ask questions, Iron Man silliness is questionable but still cool, just not as cool as Star Trek. Also, did you notice that Star Trek wouldn’t even have happened if everyone would have just listened to Scotty with regards to seventy-ish torpedos which no one can see inside, and with regards to taking said torpedos on board?

ScottyHe basically had the whole movie beat if everyone had just said, “Hey, Scotty’s right, like he usually is about engineering and missiles. We usually do all right without mystery torpedos, anyway – right?”

All right, well, that’s my advice, and I’ve thought it through carefully for well over twenty-six minutes, so I can’t imagine there is anything inconsistent or hypocritical about it. I was going to bag on the Pope for a little bit, but I was too tired, and he really does seem nice. I guess just being a Pope freaks me out, that’s all.

Cool, now I’m going to use the gravitational pull of the Sun as a sling shot and go land on my couch. You have a nice evening, blogosphere.

 

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Your Own Personal Trekkie

I mean, I guess that’s what I am. I know a lot of Star Trek stuff off the top of my head, and I do have a Starfleet shirt. I once bartended an entre shift on Halloween dressed like this:

Vulcan Bartender 2So yes, I’m a Trekkie so you don’t have to be, because these days, you could be a perfectly normal person who loves the Star Trek movies for non-dorky reasons. You might just like action movies starring hot people, for example.

I love the new Star Trek movies for both kinds of reasons. Sometimes you hear Trekkies bitching because these last two movies deviate in tone and depth and philosophical ambition from the rest of the franchise, but the way I see it, there’s plenty of old Star Trek out there. Just put a bucket outside before you go to sleep tonight, and by the time you wake up, it will be full of old Star Trek. There’s plenty of that.

But this time around, there’s a lot more for us dorks sprinkled in with all the awesomeness, so just in case you have an actual social life and haven’t seen every episode ever made several times apiece, let me take you on a little tour of the Trekkie stuff from Star Trek Into Darkness.

Khan, for example. Khan Noonien Singh. You might notice that his name sounds a lot like Noonian Soong, the guy who created Data from The Next Generation. It turns out that both characters were named after the same pal of series creator Gene Roddenberry, but then on the most recent series, Star Trek: Enterprise, Noonian Soong’s grandfather Arik showed up (played by Brent Spiner, who also played Data and Noonian Soong) and turned out to be messing around with Augments like Khan.

KHANSo maybe Arik Soong interacted with a later-awakened Khan Noonien Singh, and then told his son about him, and then that guy named one of his kids Noonian. Even the spelling in the credits changes on some of the episodes, sometimes it’s spelled like Khan’s name.

See, in the original Star Trek, Kirk and his crew come across the USS Botany Bay with frozen Augmented Khan and his frozen, Augmented pals in it. This was after the Eugenics Wars, which took place in the 1990s, when superhumans like Khan occupied and ruled one quarter of the world. After that, I think we kicked their asses, but killed a lot of people – that’s why in Star Trek: First Contact, civilization had backslid a little.

So in the movie, it’s Admiral Alexander Marcus (played by Robocop!) who finds the USS Botany Bay, long before Kirk did in the original series. That’s because in the two most recent movies, we’re in an alternate universe created by a time travel paradox, in which the planet Vulcan was destroyed. As Starfleet moved more toward a military mindset similar to America post-9/11, they must have altered their missions to more aggressively chart the area, and so that’s why they found Khan sooner.

Also, when Noonian Soong was screwing around, experimenting with Augments he unleashed some kind of virus on the Klingons,altering their physical appearance, which is why Klingons from the old show appear to be smooth-skinned, while the rest of them – even those in Star Trek: Enterprise, which takes place before the original series – have ridges on their faces and generally more complicated makeup. Yes, they bothered to explain that for us.

Doctor MarcusThe hot, blonde scientist chickaroo? That’s not just the Admiral’s daughter, that’s Dr. Marcus from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She’s the one who has a kid with him and then doesn’t tell him for twenty-odd years. Then she calls him up because mind-controlled Chekhov shows up ordering her to hand over the Genesis device.

Also, did you notice that tribble was pregnant? Do you know how I can tell?

Because all tribbles are pregnant. They’re born pregnant. Dr. McCoy explained that to us way back in “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Member? That’s why they were all over the place.

Whale ProbeAlso, there’s a giant, hollow tree-type of probe on the way to Earth still. It’s the one from Star Trek IV, which showed up because it turned out that humpback whales had been communicating with it for centuries, and then they went extinct so it showed up and went all apeshit on Starfleet, like “Where are the whales, guys? Where are the cockadoody whales?!” Except blowing stuff up, too.

So someone’s going to need to go back in time and get some humpback whales. Doesn’t have to be our guys, but since Old Parallel Universe Spock is here, he might want to give someone the old Heads Up-A-Roo. Just two whales are apparently fine. All you gotta do is use the Sun’s gravitational pull as a slingshot, scootch back to the eighties, right before the Eugenics War, which apparently took its toll on the whale population for some reason.

Khan2As for all this talk about who the real bad guy is – the real bad guy is Khan. If you thought Khan wasn’t pure evil at any point, it was because he’s so fucking smart he can reach right out of the fictional world into this one and control your brain. Sure, the Admiral was a jerk and a bad guy. Getting temporarily enslaved by Admiral Marcus doesn’t make Khan a nice guy. Also, he’s Young Khan. Give him about twenty or thirty years. Maroon him on a barely habitable planet for a few years. See what happens.

Also, a Pro Tip for anyone out there with a beautiful and brilliant daughter – she is NOT going to choose your evil plans over the hot, dangerous guy you hate, just because you raised her. Especially if you told her you hate him and he’s off limits. That’s not how it works.

Okay, cool. This Trekkie lesson is over. Go on upstairs and see if your mom will make you a quesadilla.

Just be all like, “MOM! MOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!!”

KIRK 3

 

 

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I’m Just Going To Pile On Iron Man III For A Moment

Not for very long, I liked the movie. It was, well it was fine. When it was over I said, “Oh. All right then.” And I wasn’t mad or anything.

I can’t say I was thrilled or disappointed, just kind of fine. I guess in general, I had to dial the brain down just a little lower than I’m normally comfortable with, even for a superhero movie, and that’s fine, too, but that’s why I need to plug my nose and whine about it for a little bit. It’s my mystic way.

You shouldn’t read any further than this is you haven’t seen it yet, by the way. I’ll put a big picture of something beneath this so you don’t get a glimpse of any spoilers. How about Angry Nick Cage?

Drive Angry

There you go. Now I’m assuming that everybody here has seen Iron Man III. And I know, I just lectured the Doctor Who crowd about going all Comic Book Guy on the 50th Anniversary Episode, but that’s because it hasn’t been filmed yet and nobody’s seen it. The time to go all Comic Book Guy is after you walk out of a movie like this, and when you find it hard to do that, you’ve seen an awfully good comic book movie.

MandarinI was watching Cartoon Iron Man a few weeks ago, just takin’ ‘er easy, kicking around. And I saw the Mandarin on that one and thought, wow, I forgot what a crazy racist stereotype that character was. How are they going to get away with it in the movie? Then they cast Ben Kingsley, and if you’ve read this far then you know the rest. That was a good one – cracking me up is one half of why I’m still calling this a good movie.

The other half is special effects and in particular, giant things being destroyed. Good work on both counts there.

But Tony Stark having panic attacks? No, thank you. I get that we need him to have some vulnerability so there’s danger and peril and threats to overcome, just again. No thank you. I don’t need realistic weaknesses. Just take away his Iron Man suits.

Which they do. But they’re not normal Iron Man suits, are they?

All of the sudden, they work just fine without anyone in them. Probably, that’s in the comic, I’m just not really interested in what’s in the comic. I like how the suit comes to him, yes, and I get that if the suit comes to him, he could have it programmed to do complicated things. But the suits all kick pretty decent ass on their own.

RipleyI guess I liked it when Iron Man was Tony Stark plus an Iron Man suit. The Man in the Machine. The suits fight effectively without him, and it seems like you’ve weakened the definition of Iron Man.

But okay, that’s how they work. Let’s hold that thought a moment.

Tony gets super duper mad at the Mandarin for nearly killing his pal. Already, I’m a little weirded out by Tony Stark not getting super duper mad at the first nine bombings, but okay. He uses the media frenzy to challenge the Mandarin to a fight, because he’s so mad.

Nothing about the Mandarin suggests that he likes to fight, just that he’s good at blowing things up. But Tony tells him his home address as if the Mandarin himself is going to show up. I’m not sure why he thinks that a man who can take control of every channel at the same time and broadcast untraceable threats against the President, wouldn’t be able to locate the address of Tony Stark, but that’s fine. We needed it to be Tony’s ego causing him to lose everything. Got it.

But he doesn’t lose everything. He loses his big house, Bruce Wayne-style, and they sort of lead us to believe that all of his Iron Man suits have been destroyed, but no, they’re still down there. They have to dig them out with a crane. How long’s that going to take? Oh, about til the end of the movie.

And then they show up and save everything, so Tony destroys them all and removes the ARC reactor from his chest and now it appears he’s going to start over. That’s fine, but it’s a remarkable level of confidence he’s got there, that no other super villains are going to show up while he’s finding himself and kissing Pepper Pott’s ass and having panic attacks.

Which brings me back to the autonomous Iron Man suits. If they are so functional on their own, don’t you think they should have been roaming his house, maybe stationed at strategic defensive positions, after he threatened the Mandarin and told him to come over? Does he have any other Iron Man suits at Stark Tower in New York, the one that had an A on it at the end of The Avengers? Do you think he should have had a couple extras somewhere, anywhere at all?

How many eggs should you keep in your basket again, Mr. Stark?

Anyway, not the way to watch a superhero movie, and yes, I know this. Like I said, it was good, they blew a bunch of stuff up, the villains were tough, and you really just had to dial the brain down and go with it. Best part was the dialogue – a lot of times I was getting slightly bored or irritated, and then they would crack me up, so that’s nice.

Generally, I was just sort of startled that I didn’t care. I knew he’d survive, knew he’d be in the other Avengers movies minus the panic attacks, knew Pepper was going to be fine and that she was going to kick some ass so people didn’t complain that all the girls do is scream for help. It was like they tried to hamstring him so much, it reversed itself and made the peril less compelling. Also, I accidentally went to a theater that doesn’t serve beer.

Cable GuyIt’s funny, usually after the credits there’s a clip hinting at future movies. This time it’s a funny little bit with Dr. Banner in it, and they kind of seem to be aware of the same problem I’m bitching about, that Tony Stark seems just a little whiny, that maybe the attempt at psychological realism could be construed as boring. They give us a clip like a biscuit, let us know Tony Stark will be back, and then they’re gone.

I’ll sleep on it, because the best way to describe my feelings right now are “weird.” I don’t know what to make of this thing. It was like my good friend came over but had a little too much to drink, started just barely getting on my nerves and I wasn’t aware he could do that. Probably I just need to get some biscuits and gravy in my belly and forget it.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Television/Movies

 

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What Do We Owe The Die Hard Franchise?

A lot of people don’t like to talk about A Good Day To Die Hard, and I don’t blame them. It was a godawful, insulting, soul-poisoning mess.

Indy FridgeWalking out of the theater was like lurching across a vast, miserable desert and then having a refrigerator land in front of you with Indiana Jones in it. Oh, dear – old friend. What have they done to you?

Hopefully you didn’t see it. I need to tell you some things about it anyway, though, because time marches on and the day will come when you see it staring at you on Netflix or something and you’ll say, what the hell, might as well watch John McClane kick some ass even if it’s shitty, right? Any John McClane asskicking is a decent asskicking to behold, yes?

No. In point of fact, John McClane kicks very little ass in this movie. Here’s what happens.

He gets some information from a guy on his Police Squad that his son is in Russia and has just shot some kind of Russian Gangster. They can’t even spring for Sam Jackson or Al Powell or anyone from any previous movies to be the one to get him the information, it’s just some guy.

So John McClane gets on an airplane and heads on over to the obviously existing, non-Die Hard script he’s been grafted on to. In order to make it Die Hardy, they use bullet points from the first movie like a template, reasoning that Action Movie Plus Die Hard Plot Template will equal Awesome.

Cab DRiverGoodness. An incredibly painful scene right at the beginning in which McClane bonds with a Russian version of Argyle The Limo Driver. This time it’s a taxi driver who talks like Yakov Smirnoff and who I swear to God sings a song to John after John’s sort of a dick to him. You see, John McClane has come to Moscow speaking not one word of Russian, so when people speak Russian, he smirks and rolls his eyes like when the Californians were freaking him out in the first one. Heh? HEH? See – it’s Die Hard!

That’s okay, says Yakov Argyle – I love Americans and I will sing you a song.

And. Then. He. Does.

Holy shit, I started crying. I understood that very basic screenplay structure dictated that Yakov Argyle would be back later to give John a convenient ride at some point when he needed it, but no. No, we never see Yakov Argyle again. John gets out of the taxi and then runs the rest of the way to the new, Russian screenplay on foot.

Then John McClane arrives at the Courthouse where they’re about to try his son in Russian Court. John notices some military vehicles, and says Hmmmmm. Then there’s either an attempt to rescue his son or an attempt to kill him, and no less than a couple hours after landing in Moscow with no plan at all, John McClane’s son trots right out in front of him.

Let’s have a big car chase, they all agree. And although it’s real mayhem, it’s not exciting and it’s stupid. John McClane Dies Easily in it a half dozen times, but they’re counting on the fact that since John McClane is always surviving ridiculous things, we’ll all be cool with him being totally indestructible. Did you know that there are very few Russian law enforcement officers? If you want to grab random, huge, unattended vehicles and then crash them all over Moscow, they don’t really have much of a system in place to address that.

Then they agree the car chase is over and head over to some building to wait for the rest of the movie to happen. A hilarious turn of character exposition puts them in the bad guys hands, at gunpoint, outnumbered, and although John McClane has not been talking all night by walkie talkie to the bad guys or hiding their detonators or saying “Yippe Ki-Yay, Motherfucker” to them, the head thug behaves as if he and John have a long and bitter rivalry.

VillainOne so long and bitter that instead of putting a bullet in the McClanes’ heads, he instead has to prance about in front of them going, “Welllllll, at last we have the mighty Chewbacca, you are not so tough, Mister American Cowboy, etc” while kicking and punching and whatnot. Meanwhile, John and his asshole son exchange knowing smirks, because they’re sneakily untying their ropes, freeing up their hands to kick some poorly choreographed ass.

It turns out that even though his father is world-renowned for saving literally millions of lives and publicly thwarting four elaborate terrorist attacks, his son doesn’t understand why he wasn’t around very much growing up, and makes a series of hilarious little girl noises about his rough upbringing, and then it turns out he’s CIA and McClane didn’t know that either. He notices if you’re smoking your cigarette like a European as opposed to an American, but nothing ever tipped him off over the years that his son was training for the CIA.

McClane’s not a fly in the ointment this time. He’s not a monkey in the wrench. He’s not an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. He’s a doddering old pain in his son’s ass.

Then it’s off to Chernobyl, where it turns out the Russian guy who took them there wasn’t really trying to do whatever the hell he said he was, he was trying to do something sinister. This is a big, huge surprise to everyone at the end of the movie, even though that’s always what happens at the end of the movie.

Then they shoot everybody and jump into a pool and don’t worry, because right away his super smart son tells us it’s just Chernobyl Rain Water, it’s not radioactive. In fact, there are virtually no radiation concerns at Chernobyl at all – Yay!!

Also, I’m not certain but Bruce Willis is either drunk the entire time he’s filming the movie, or he’s got early onset Alzheimer’s. And it’s an NRA commercial too, if that does anything for you. At the end of the movie is a ninety second scene of divorced John McClane bonding with his son and daughter, in case you were wondering what demographic they were shooting for.

Pretty easy to get upset with Die Hard at this point, because the other sequels are all pretty good by my notoriously low standards. I’m very, very easy to please when it comes with this stuff. For instance, would you like to watch Con Air with me? I swear to God, I’ll drop what I’m doing and watch Con Air with you right now if you want. That’s how low the bar is.

AlAs I’ve said before, the original Die Hard is a near perfect movie, with some truly hilarious-but-not-meant-to-be-hilarious character arcs, like how McClane’s wife learns that her career is dumb and she should have John’s name stamped on her head, and how Al Powell, through his friendship with McClane, learns to kill again.

We owe this franchise a mulligan. And we owe it to our children to see that they watch the first four all in one sitting and then go to Chuck E. Cheese or anyplace with a bouncy ball pit, see what happens. And we owe it to Die Hard to go and spend money seeing the next one, which if I’m not mistaken is going to be called Die Peacefully At Home, Surrounded By Loved Ones.

Thanks blogosphere. I wasn’t blogging back when I saw that, and I needed the time between then and now to sort out my feelings. And remember – just because you shot a kid a while ago who had a toy ray gun that looked real enough, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot anybody else ever again. Shit happens. Get back on that horse.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Television/Movies

 

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Coming To Terms With Conan

First let me just say that I’m not going to watch the new Conan movie anytime soon, and that yes, I’m going to go ahead and complain about it for a while here, so if that strikes you as unfair or irresponsible, might as well scroll on down to the comment box and get it out of your system.  But you should know, I’m not a journalist or a movie reviewer, just a guy drinking in front of his laptop at eight o’clock in the morning, so I can pretty much do as a please.  Can’t fire bloggers, know what I mean?

I was pretty sure this movie was going to be terrible because the guys who wrote it had written nothing but terrible, awful, horribly flatulent crapfests so far, like A Sound of Thunder, a solid candidate for The Worst Mainstream Time Travel Movie Ever. 

But then okay, I thought – it’s just Conan.  All we need is a bad guy who maybe kidnapped a princess, a bunch of henchmen with various medieval weapons, at least one solid monster, and a ragtag band of sidekicks.  They kept it R-rated, after all, so at least they weren’t trying to water it down.  Conan’s pretty messy, yessiree Bob.

So maybe any random two guys with nothing but horrible movies under their belts could hammer out a decent screenplay.  As long as they had some cool swordfights, what’s the difference?  I mean, who wrote the original, Oliver Stone?

Oh.  Yes, it was in fact Oscar-award winning American icon Oliver Stone, just – as Spang insists – taking tons of weird seventies drugs and knocking out one of the greatest fantasy screenplays in American history.  So man, thinking about it like that, I’ll bet it’s pretty easy to screw up a barbarian movie.  For the love of God, you ever see Beastmaster? 

No?  Huh.  How about Beastmaster II: Through The Portal Of Time?  Why, yes, that is former MTV veejay Kari Wuerer on the poster with him there, years before her breakthrough role in Eight Legged Freaks with Scarlett Johansson – good question.

Okay, whatever, that’s fine.  You spend your time however you like, it’s your life.  But you really don’t need to bother – you know the Beastmaster talks to the animals, right?  So it’s like Doctor Doolitte the Barbarian, or Doctor Doolittle the Barbarian II: Through The Portal of Time.

My advice would have been focus on a genre, but what do I know, I’m just a blogger, etc., etc. etc.

And so anyway, you probably don’t know that the guy who plays Conan (Jason Momoa) is also the guy who plays Ronon on Stargate: Atlantis (you heard me).  And so if you look at a picture of him in his Conan suit, scowling, he looks like a pretty good Conan. 

But then when he moves his face, it’s suddenly all wrong,  Conan doesn’t smirk, and he’s not wry, and he’s got crazy eyes – cause the motherfucker is crazy.  You grow up without your mom and get enslaved and then gladiatorized, well, welcome to Crazy Town – that’s how it works.  He might crack a joke once in a while, but it won’t be a subtle joke.  His demeanor is stony and serious and gargantuan and stabby.  And he doesn’t get his goddamn eyebrows plucked.

Momoa looks like a smooth-talking guitar guy from Colorado, smirking at you like he’s about to utilize your own panic to steal your girlfriend.  It’s like he’s too relaxed or something, I don’t know.  He’s too hot – Conan’s not hot, he’s just so huge and homicidal it doesn’t matter if he’s hot.  Chicks apparently dug that in the seventies and in the Age of Steel.

And already I’ve had a couple of people try to tell me that I don’t like the movie I haven’t seen because I’m not familiar with the original paperback novels, written by Whoever The Guy Is Who I Don’t Feel Like Googling Right Now.  And that’s bullshit, I read a couple of those things, found ’em lying around at my cousin Brad’s.  They were awesome, so shut up, that’s not the problem.

I mean, listen, man I had my own sword (Brad’s fault, too), and I’d get it out and tap it against my hand the way other kids get out a ball and glove to watch baseball, except I was watching Conan.  At like ten years of age, by the way – Mom, you know Conan blarnies into a canniballistic orgy at the end of that flick, kills a bunch of naked swingers and dumps out their People Soup?  Rated R, Mom, and that’s a Seventies R.  Just sayin’.

I do realize that I said earlier that I’d watch this movie twice even if it sucked because Rose McGowan’s in it, but why not just set the DVR and watch Charmed?  I mean, screw it, right?

Hollywood’s always doing this to me, and I need to learn to manage my expectations.  They take some treasured childhood movie and they either wake it up just so it can sit there blinking at me (Tron, Land of the Lost, The Day the Earth Stood Still) or they reanimate it like a horrible, spage-age zombie and make it dance around in funny outfits and do godawful things to it that make us forget it was ever awesome in the first place (Star Wars, Highlander) or they do whatever they’ve done to Conan that’s making everyone tell me it sucks.

I’m not participating this time.  I’m a grownup and there are plenty of comic book movies to watch this year and anyway the new season of Doctor Who starts Saturday, and I have kind of a belly ache and school starts tomorrow.  I’m just taking my ball and going home, you bunch of dicks.

I’m sorry blogosphere, I get cranky if I don’t get a nap.  My mom will call your mom later and square it all up.  Good night.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Television/Movies, Uncategorized

 

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Piling On Back To The Future For No Reason

One of my favorite movies, no doubt about it, and easily one of the cornerstones in any conversation about films from the eighties.  Watching it is like watching Happy Days, if you’re a Baby Boomer.  Like going back in time, one might say.

But I was watching it with my daughters the other day, and I have to say, they had a pretty nice time ripping it apart.  These are veteran Doctor Who fans, so they take their time travel pretty seriously, and old Marty McFly and the Professor just weren’t cutting it, I’m sad to say.

In the non-time travel category, they were not very impressed with the Professor.  Said one daughter, “His robot dog food can opener looks like it takes up a lot of energy and space, and must have cost what?  Six thousand dollars back then?  And it saves him all of ten seconds a day.  Our giant three gallon upside down dog food bin refills itself without using any energy at all, and it doesn’t refill itself if the dog doesn’t eat the food, and it’s dry dog food, so it’s not gross.”

Yes.  Well, the professor is an eccentric one, you know?  That’s why he built a twelve-foot speaker, gave a guitar-playing teenager access to the key, and then forgot to hang a sign on it saying don’t use this.  And that’s also why a man so absent-minded feels free to test his time machine by driving it straight at himself and said teenager, in the parking lot of a mall at one-thirty in the morning – the eighties were a wild time, I tell them. 

In addition, although the girls were in full agreement that a scientist on the verge of time travel might not have been afraid of Libyan terrorists since he was about to escape into the future, it sure seemed questionable that he would involve his teenage pal, with no apparent contingency plan in case they find him (which they did, he didn’t know how, but they found him.)

“Run for it, Marty!”

I mean, that’s it, that’s the plan?  You brought a kid into a serious beef with international terrorists and you figure, RUN!? 

Not, quick, get in the time machine?

Then there is a real debate about the absence of a second hand on the clock tower.  I mean, said one daughter, it sure was a stroke of luck that the lightning happened to strike at the exact instant the minute hand moved, otherwise they’d have NO idea where in that minute they needed to hit the cable at 88 mph.

Good thing that pine tree farmer didn’t bring his gun out the first time, like he almost certainly would have in 1955, another daughter observed.  That’d be a pretty short movie.

Well, sure.  But he didn’t so let’s move on.

Then a big discussion about what happens when you get erased from existence.  The general consensus seems to be that you don’t disappear from photographs one limb at a time, as the movie suggests, but rather that you’d stop existing, and then so would your wisecracking, time-traveling kid.  And also, no one would have taken the picture if those three didn’t exist to pose for it – the picture itself would stop existing.

That really bothered them – it sure looked at the end like Marty and his siblings were going to stop existing, but someone still bothered to take a photograph of nobody standing in front of the well.

And then if you managed to reunite your parents such that they were on track to get married and have kids again, well wouldn’t they end up doing everything differently now that McFly was a hardass instead of a dork? 

And that includes the sexual intercourse which led to the kids.  And unless we’re all mistaken, different sperm carry different sets of genes, and therefore any change at all to when and where the parents had sexual intercourse would result in a different sperm reaching the same – or possibly a different – egg, and that would of course result in a different child.

You gotta think that the newly confident George McFly went about sexual intercourse in a markedly different way than the old, nerdy George McFly, right?  I mean, right? 

So Marty not only would have stopped existing, but if the professor managed to get his parents back on track in the same manner Marty did, he wouldn’t be re-creating the same kids.  He’d be creating new, previously uncreated siblings.

Also, if Marty turned his dad into a confident, literary go-getter, why’d it take thirty years to get his first novel out, even though it appeared inspired by Marty in his radiation suit?

And if Marty’s sister and brother were so cool and rocking now that he changed the past, why’d they still live at home?  They had to both be in their twenties.

Also, the girls were relieved to know that once a vanload of armed Libyan terrorist crashes into a Fotomat a few hundred yards away, they are all disabled and you can pretty much forget about them.

And they were all alarmed by the casual, nostalgic way that Marty’s parents recalled the time Biff sexually assaulted the mom.  “If it hadn’t been for him, we never would have fallen in love!”

You mean, the sexual assault in the school parking lot.  If it hadn’t been for Biff and the way he sexually assaulted you in the school parking lot, you guys never would have fallen in love.

Is that grounds for keeping a guy like that hanging around the house with your teenage kids, washing cars and whatnot?

Way to yank the fun out of the movie, girls.  Now you’re all locked into the sequels so get comfy.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Television/Movies, Time Travel

 

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Advice For Movie Villains

It always detracts from my movie experience when I can think of something right off the bat which would have allowed the villain to win, and he or she just conveniently doesn’t think of it.  I’ll try to stay away from the obvious stuff that’s been done a hundred times – like installing a door on that Death Star Weak Spot seems like it would have been a better use of time and energy than building giant mechanical camels.

Usually the villain isn’t thought out quite as carefully, even by the great writers.  Like Tolkien for instance – remember in Return of the King, how the rules were that “no man could kill him.”  And so girls just plain didn’t occur to him. 

That little bit of sexism got him a sword in the face, and all he needed to do was email me and I would have pointed it out to him.  You see how carefully they worded this, Dark Rider Bill?  That doesn’t say anything about girls.  In fact, it doesn’t say anything about hobbits or elves or dwarves, either, so maybe just be careful out there. 

There’s more than dudes out there to worry about, you know?  Don’t get all cocky.

The time traveling robots in The Terminator series really needed some efficiency training as well.  If you’re a robot who can reach out and crush someone’s skull like an egg, then maybe the most efficient way to kill someone is to go ahead and reach out and crush his skull like an egg.  This whole pick-the-guy-up-and-throw-him-against-a-wall-then-stomp-over-to-him-and-repeat, that’s causing a lot of people to be able to reach stuff they can kill robots with.

Robots shouldn’t have a Brawl setting.  Find.  Kill.  Repair.  Keep it simple, evil robots.

Speaking of which, if you are killer robots who just took over most of the world, then just go to Arkansas and get all those chemical weapons the U.S. stockpiles and spray them all over the world.  Robototopia.

Seems like giant walking robots with smaller motorcycle robots coming out of their feet is just asking for trouble, and not a very efficient use of resources, either.  You give me an army of evil robots and I’ll kill every man, woman and child on the planet, all without leaving my Blogging Bunker.  Poison, motherscratchers, poison.  Can’t stress that enough.

Plus, you guys know you have to stop leaving the hero to die.  Remember when Jeffrey Lebowski took out Iron Man’s ARC reactor after he paralyzed him?  Just one bullet on the way out the door, Lebowski, and you would have had him. 

Don’t even get me started on the evil military forces in Avatar.  The whole reason they had to go to war against the Blue People was that they had a bunch of unobtanium under their enormous tree house.  It was the biggest deposit “in two hundred clicks.”

That really sounds like there’s a bigger deposit two hundred clicks away, and since you all came from another planet, I’m thinking you should have landed two hundred clicks away and helped yourself.

Or, if you really wanted what was under the tree, then you should build an orbital missile platform.  Then you wouldn’t have to send wave after wave of your men after them. 

Also, you might want to hire a negotiator.  I couldn’t help but notice that you claimed that you had nothing the Navi wanted, so you couldn’t trade with them.  And then I couldn’t help but notice they didn’t have any guns. 

So give them guns.  Looks like there were all sorts of other blue people around for them to shoot and rob and all that, just get them to trade their treehouse for a thousand guns.  Then mine the unobtanium while they’re bitchslapping all the other indigenous people around, and skate once global society collapses and you have the resources you need.

It doesn’t seem like I should have to tell you guys how to be evil.  Ramp it up a little, you just got your butts kicked by bows and arrows.  Oh, I forgot – get them all hooked on drugs, too.  You’re welcome.

A lot of times, just a cost analysis needs run right along side a risk-reward equation.  For example, in Die Hard With A Vengeance, stealing sixteen dump trucks of gold from the Federal Reserve is sure a lot of money, but you’re paying a staff of what, thirty people?  Building how many bombs?  Buying the dump trucks, renting what was that a cargo ship?

How many dump trucks worth of gold did that cost?  What was the Net Dumptruck Gain?

It’s just that you guys seem REALLY smart and competent, and I think that you might have done well to just start a tech company or a logistics outfit.  Same staff, a few drivers, different goals – this is America, you could do just fine without the terrorism.

Oh well, crazy is crazy.  Sorry for the old Movie Cliche’ Phone-In.  See you tomorrow.

 

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