Archive for Media Monday

Media Monday: Star Trek: the Motion Picture

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture Poster

Image belongs to Paramount

Title: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Media Type: Feature Film
Released: 1979
Director: Robert Wise
Studio: Paramount
Genre: Science Fiction
Summary: [from IMDB]

When a destructive space entity is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral Kirk resumes command of the Starship Enterprise in order to intercept, examine and hopefully stop it.

My Review:

As those of you who follow me on Twitter might know, I’ve spent the last month or so obsessing over Star Trek – or at least obsessing over Spock. I’ve been voraciously devouring everything I can get my hands on, and that includes every movie and all the spin offs (eventually. There’s a lot of material out there).

Unfortunately Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the worst specimen of the Star Trek franchise that I have yet encountered. For one thing, it was painfully obvious that the premise made its start as a television show and was having trouble making the jump to movie format. Several times, they would spend what felt like HOURS just panning across the ship to music – the one that comes to mind is when Kirk first comes back to the Enterprise. They cut back and forth between the look on Kirk’s face and the view of the ship four or five times for a few MINUTES each time before they finally get on with it and let Scotty dock the shuttle. Okay guys, we get it, he’s proud of his ship. MOVE ON!

Another thing that really bugged me was Spock himself. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, Spock has been relegated back to the two-dimensional smart guy – tell us important stuff, and then LEAVE (or at least sit quietly). Part of the reason Spock was so wonderful in the original series is because he was three dimensional! I did a whole post on this on my other blog, but basically Spock was a well rounded character, with a good back-story, and on top of that, a sense of self-confidence that smart characters are rarely given! In this movie though? Stiff as a board, only giving information when asked, hardly speaking but when spoken to. If we had been given a reason (and that whole “training for Kolinahr changed him” is crap. He wouldn’t be changed THAT MUCH – especially since later he isn’t even changed that much by DYING AND THEN BEING RESURRECTED. [Spoiler, highlight to read]) I didn’t even care about Spock for most of the movie, and considering he was my favorite character, that’s saying something.

Beyond that, the writing was just plain sloppy. An old earth satellite goes away, gets a makeover, and comes back deadly? Where have I heard that before… oh that’s right, they totally did that on an episode in season 2! It was barely enough material for a TV episode then, and you want to turn it into a movie? HA! And don’t even get me started on bald navigator lady. First you tell me that she has taken a vow of celibacy because of something about the culture on her home planet (they’re never real specific), and, okay, I’ll buy that. But don’t expect me to believe you later when you imply with the strength of an anvil dropping on Wile E. Coyote that she’s always had an all-consuming love for the (new) first officer! BULLSHIT! If she’s “always loved him” then she damn well would NOT have taken a vow of celibacy, because she clearly doesn’t believe in it! GAH!

I guess the film did have its moments. Once or twice I had a real squee when I recognized a theme in the music that was quoted in the 2009 movie. But the sloppy writing and stereotypical characterization just really put me off. I hope that was the worst of it!

Media Monday: The Ad-Bowl!

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I’ll admit it, I am NOT a fan of sports. Like AT ALL. I don’t mind a football game on in the background while I’m working on something just as noise, but I hardly ever watch the games. Lots of cheering happens, I look up to see who scored, and go straight back to work. Once a year, though, I sit down expressly to watch a game, or at least what comes with it – the Ad-Bowl!

I have to admit, this year’s commercials were fairly disappointing. There weren’t nearly as many good ones, and some of them I didn’t even get – according to a friend I was skyping with at the time, the Taco Bell old fogeys commercial was funny because the song was in Spanish and if you know the meaning of the real lyrics it’s ironic? Yep, missed it. Go Daddy’s “Combinations” one was just disgusting. NOBODY wanted to see that. The Budweiser Black Crown ones were beautifully done (reminded me of a Night Circus type midnight dinner) but the message was absolutely ridiculous. And what was with the trailers?! They were like, 90% of the reason I was watching, and we got something like 3 seconds of new material! Admittedly the new Cumberbatch line in the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer was pretty good, but that was ALL WE GOT. And don’t even get me STARTED on Iron Man 3‘s gimmicks. A 5 second scene and then “go to facebook”? Um NO THANKS!

There were a few that I did enjoy, though. Read more »

Media Monday: Quantum of Solace

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Quantum of Solace Poster

Image belongs to MGM Studios

Title: Quantum of Solace
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Marc Forster
Studio: MGM Studios
Genre: Action
Summary: [from IMDB]

Seeking revenge for the death of his love, secret agent James Bond sets out to stop an environmentalist from taking control of a country’s valuable resource.

My Review:

What is it with me and picking action-y movies lately?! Geez!

The thing with Bond is there’s a halfway decent story there under all the car chases, shooting people and blowing stuff up, and that is why I watch them. I’ll admit, I tune out most of the action. I make a point of having some knitting or something in my lap for precisely that reason. Unfortunately that does mean I miss some things. But I get the gist – why would I need to watch the fight scenes? I know who’s gonna win in the end!

The thing that struck me this time was the symbolism. Sometimes it hits you over the head with a mallet, sometimes it’s more subtle. One of my favorites is as we meet Camille – the Bond girl of the flick. I knew right away that she would be the one to “save” Bond emotionally. If you look closely, there are several shots of her from behind. There’s an odd scarring pattern between her shoulder blades – later we find out it was from a fire she lived through as a child. Look at it symbolically, though, and the placement of the scarring suggests a loss of wings, a fallen angel, if you will. That symbolism is only strengthened by the fact that their escape boat is called “Gardien les etoiles” – French for Garden of the Stars. So, of course, knowing the lore of the first fallen angel, I’m sitting here wondering when she’ll betray him. That’s a fairly common trope among Bond movies, so it’s not too big a leap. It’s not until later that we discover the symbolism being used isn’t exactly fallen angel, but rather a broader loss of innocence when she acquired the scars.

Besides that, I was pretty “Eh” about the movie. It was decent, had a decent plotline, and certainly had enough action to satisfy those who watch for that sort of thing. Me, I’m just in it for the clever, mysterious parts.

Media Monday: Looper

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Looper Poster

Image belongs to Endgame Entertainment

Title: Looper
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Rian Johnson
Studio: Endgame Entertainment
Genre: Sci-Fi
Summary: [from IMDB]

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.

Warning: This movie is rated ‘R’.

My Review:

OH MY GAWD! SO MANY DEAD BODIES! There is a reason this movie is rated R and it ain’t the sexin’!

So, here’s the thing. As a sci-fi geek I can definitely appreciate the story. Time travel is a very trick thing. Looper explores the intricacies and difficulties inherent in time-travel as a plot device. It does a pretty good job too. Though they never officially take the time to explain their kind of time travel, it’s pretty clear they’re using a kind of linear displacement – once you’ve gone back in time what you “remember” of the future can change, because you’re around to change it. This gets kind of confusing at the end though – I say a “kind” of linear displacement because they seem to also use elements of a circular theory (I suppose kind of necessary in a film called “Looper” lol) in that events stay essentially the same unless someone REALLY makes an effort to change them.

Anyway, back to the thing, before I got on a tangent admiring the time travel. I get that they’re making a point. I think it’s a good point to make. I just think it could be made just as well without all the gore and some of the violence. It was so bad that several times I found myself thinking “Okay, now you’re just going for the shock factor.” I mean, seriously, a kid with blood practically painted on his face, even though he wasn’t that close? Unrealistic, but it’ll sure get people to pay attention!

So, in the end, I can admire this one from an academic standpoint. Do I ever want to see it again? Not on your life!

Media Monday Discussion: Reruns

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Film Reel

Image borrowed from

This weekend I had the opportunity to go see The Hobbit again. It definitely wasn’t made for two viewings that close together – some of the slower parts had me zoning out and sleepy. But, it was still just as good the second time around, plus since I’d already seen it, I noticed more interesting details –  Kili (the only non-dwarf-looking dwarf) is the only archer and wears what looks suspiciously like an elven cloak, they used more music from the LOTR trilogy than I originally thought etc.

This got me thinking. There are so many ways that things can get better on a second watching, mostly because when you’re less plot-focused you have time to notice so much more. That’s why I can rewatch favorites over and over, trying to catch all the details. But there are some people who can’t stand watching something more than once. Case in point – my father, if he accidentally tapes a rerun of one of his TV shows, will watch just long enough to be sure he really has seen it (a minute or two) and then deletes it, no matter how long it has been and how much he might have forgotten. He loves his TV and movies, he just never wants to see the same thing twice. I’ve never understood that, but I can accept it as a way of life.

But now I’m curious. What makes a person so averse to repeats? Is it boredom? Is it that the ending is already spoiled? Is it just a time issue, or is it actually not fun to watch anymore?

Do you watch reruns of your favorite movies and/or TV shows? If not, why not?

Media Monday: The Hobbit

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The Hobbit Poster

Image belongs to New Line Cinema

Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Peter Jackson
Studio: New Line Cinema
Genre: Fantasy
Summary: [from IMDB]

A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on a “unexpected journey” to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim a their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.

My Thoughts

I have been waiting for this movie for SO LONG. Seriously, I was that kid in high school that had marathon parties before each movie came out. We dressed up (I was Eowyn, and before you ask, no there aren’t any pics that I know of. But I may still have the costume and wear it on occasion *shifty eyes*), made lembas bread and spent HOURS watching through all of the extended editions. I wrote a research paper on the music of the whole trilogy. And I read the books, obviously (although I never managed to make it through book 2 a second time – something I plan on changing next year!) Let’s just say my expectations were pretty high. I was certainly not disappointed!
Read more »

Media Monday: Men in Black 3

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Men in Black Poster

Image belongs to Amblin Enternainment

Title: Men in Black 3
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Barry Sonnenfield
Studio: Amblin Entertainment
Genre: Sci-fi satire
Summary: [from IMDB]

Agent J travels in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

My Review:

Apparently I’m a bigger sucker for time-travel than I thought. All the reviews said Men in Black 3 was terrible. But you know me – I love to ignore reviews, so I watched it anyway. I personally loved it! Granted it wasn’t quite as funny ass some of the earlier ones, but the few one-liners did have me laughing out loud.

While time-travel wasn’t much more than a means to an end in this story I thought it was fairly well handled. The writers chose their type of time travel and the stuck to it. It wasn’t particularly well explained – if I sat down and watched through it again, I could probably poke holes the size of Belgium in their theory with a few well-placed questions – but they gave themselves room to explain it in future films. It’s kind of like they gave us all of the third film to get used to the idea that there is time travel in their world before they got into the logistics of how it works.

I suppose I can see why some reviewers might not have liked this one quite as well as the first two. The novelty of the secret agency and aliens is gone and some of the jokes are getting a little tired. But I, for one, haven’t given up hope – the next one (if/when they get around to it) could be the most epic yet!

Media Monday: Wreck-it Ralph

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Wreck-it Ralph Poster

Image belongs to Disney

Title: Wreck-it Ralph
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Rich Moore
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Genre: Kids
Summary: [from IMDB]

A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

My Review

Now, I’ll admit I’m a sucker for kids movies, if they’re well done. But this one I’d rank among my top ten, easily!

Ralph is a bad guy who is tired of being bad. He goes to bad guy support group and everything (seriously, so many clever things like that in this movie!) So, in order to get the rest of the citizens of his game to like him, he game jumps in an attempt to become a hero. Unfortunately everything goes wrong, and it’s not long before Ralph is convinced he’s to blame.

One of the reasons Wreck-it Ralph works so well is the many layers of story. Each character is well-rounded and has their own back story that really influences who they are. Even some of the side characters whose back-stories are never told are complexly imagined – I wouldn’t be surprised if we see spin-offs or even sequels featuring some of the minor characters.

A nicely layered story also leads to layered messages. All of the characters are flawed somehow which is definitely important. But also, not one of them has the “answer.” All of them have lessons to learn on prejudice, bullying and helpfulness. These lessons are tied together so smoothly that someone not looking might not even notice how good for you this movie is!

Sadly, I don’t remember anything significant enough to comment on about the music (shame on me!) but this is definitely one I’d like to see again and again so maybe next time!

Media Monday: Dark Shadows

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Dark Shadows movie posterTitle: Dark Shadows
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Tim Burton
Studio: Warner Bros.
Genre: Paranormal
Summary: [from IMDB]

An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.

My Review

You know how I say I rarely read reviews, because I don’t want my opinion to be colored by what other people are saying? Sometimes I really REALLY wish I did. Dark Shadows wasn’t just bad. It wasn’t even really bad. It was downright horrific, and not in a good way. All the reviews would have told me that too. Why, oh why am I so stubborn?!

Firstly, there seemed to be four or five different plots going on at once. Each character has some backstory and their own secrets, but they’re all jumbled together. Most of the characters tell their backstories in quick, voice-over flashbacks (aside from Barnabas, who gets a whole 5 minutes of introduction at the beginning). The effect is very disjointed, and definitely telling rather than showing. Some of the characters don’t even get a backstory. One character in particular revealed a large secret right in the middle of the final “battle” so to speak – and I hadn’t even known she had a secret in the first place! Without the build-up and expectation, the reveal lost its power, and felt rushed and unnecessary.

Then we had the characters – clicheed to the extreme, these characters could have been funny if done in a satirical way. Instead, all of the characters were played with a straight face, no laughing required. There was hardly time between all the information-giving segments that let us know who the characters were in the first place. Add to that the fact that the POV never seems to stay put long enough to give us a real narrator and I barely made it through the whole thing – the only thing keeping me going was knowing I wanted a Halloween-ish review for this week!

As horrible as I thought the film was, all the “mistakes” are pretty easy to understand. It’s hard to transform a TV show with a lot more time to devote to developing 4 or 5 story lines into a single coherent plot. My advice? Pick a narrator and stick to it! (I would pick Vicky – she has the added bonus of being an outsider looking in on the Collins family, plus she has her own secrets to discover.) Cut out all the useless bits of information that are only there to make your job easier. (SPOILER, highlight to read: For example, did we really need to know that Carolyn was a werewolf? Talk about Deus ex Machina!) If you’re really determined to get all those storylines in? Why not do really well at one or two of them, and then MAYBE you’ll get a sequel, so you can bring in the rest.

Bottom line: Tim Burton may be great at his animated, slightly weird films, but I wouldn’t advise you to touch this one with a 39 and a half foot pole.

Doctor Who Logo

Image belongs to BBC


You know what I love about television? Television is a way to extend a single story and make it last a really long time (even if you watch several seasons in a row years after the show went off the air, which I have been known to do). Because of this, there are certain kinds of television I just don’t like – reality TV shows are pretty much out, and most of the current craze of crime/cop dramas aren’t all that interesting to me either.

Every once in a while a really great show will come out that is actually concerned with the long arc. The writers have clearly planned out through at least the first season, and because they know where it’s going they thread the big arc through every single episode, even if it isn’t the main focus.

One of my favorite shows that does this isDoctor Who. I didn’t notice it at first – I was hooked enough on the time-travel idea that I made it to the end of the first season. And then they brought out the big guns – “Bad Wolf.” I hadn’t noticed it as I was watching, but HOLY CRAP they had a meme (for lack of a better word) throughout the entire season because they knew EXACTLY where the whole thing was going. My mind was blown – I hadn’t seen a long arc that good in a VERY long time!

Obviously, I’ve continued watching, and I have to admit, some seasons are better than others at the long-arc kind of thing. My personal favorite is season 5 and the crack in the wall. They did an amazing job at weaving the crack into every episode. They even made it affect the ones that weren’t related – the vampires in Venice came through one of the cracks, but there’s not another mention of the cracks anywhere in the episode! And! They hid a tiny little easter egg for those of us paying attention in an episode halfway through the season that was VERY IMPORTANT to the big season-long arc.

Then, at the end of the 5th season, I fell in love even more (if that’s possible) because they made it sound like they were going to make the arc EVEN BIGGER! They left tons of questions about why the events of season 5 happened, who made them happen, and most importantly, why the Ponds were so important. And now? The Ponds have left, their arc over, and of the questions we were left with at the end of their first season only ONE has been answered, and that one not particularly well in my mind.

Wait, what? You set up these questions, and then DIDN’T ANSWER THEM??? Why? You could have made the second, or even third Pond season arc about answering those questions (the third if you feel you MUST do the thing with River Song – while all the episodes this fall were okay, they were about on the level of a one-off special and didn’t DO anything important). And if you were never going to answer them, then why draw attention to them in the first place?

You see why I’m frustrated?

I will keep watching. A tiny part of me hopes that they gave up on the Pond story to make room for a much MORE epic storyline that I will love more. A larger part of me hopes that they’ll go back and answer the questions eventually anyway, doing with Amy and Rory what they did with Rose. But unfortunately, this is big-strike one. Too many more strikes, and I may have to say good-bye to my favorite TV show.

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