Hugo 2014: Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form

Friday, August 15th, 2014

This is a tough vote. The best movie among the nominees is clearly Gravity (though you could make a case for Frozen) but my concern is that it’s not speculative. This is set in the present day, with present day technology. If it had been done 40 years ago it would have been SF. Today it isn’t. IMHO, merely being set in space does not qualify a movie as SF, so as good as it is, it doesn’t get my vote.

Star Trek Has Jumped the Shark

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

OK. I can’t hold my mouth any longer. Star Trek is dead and J.J. Abrams killed it. The latest movie has finally put Star Trek in the ground far more effectively than Star Trek V ever did. Although technically a good movie (unlike Star Trek V)–well plotted, well shot, and adequately acted–it has destroyed the franchise. More seriously, it has destroyed the entire Star Trek universe.

Lots of folks and critics seem to have liked this movie, and indeed liked it more than almost any other Star Trek movie/episode; and that’s the key point. The people who never liked or cared about Star Trek before, didn’t really notice or care what Abrams just did to the characters and universe they grew up with. They just admired the modern special effects, the well-plotted action, and the better-than-the-original-series acting. But those of us who did love Star Trek since 1966 because we had been able to see beyond the bad makeup and the occasionally corny dialog to the real heart of the show? We walked out of the movie with a very bad taste in our mouths that for once didn’t come from the popcorn. Spoilers follow.


Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I caught Hancock at the $2 movie in Woodbridge last week. ($1.50 matinee actually.) That was about the right price. There were seeds of a couple of really interesting movies here. One you saw in previews: polishing the obnoxious superhero for modern media. The other story–well, I won’t spoil it for you.

Unfortunately there really wasn’t time to do both stories in 90 minutes or so. This story might have been better done as a TV series (Heroes?). But what really killed it in the end was a cliché that has lost all force.

The Mummy Returns (but probably shouldn’t have bothered)

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

I finally caught Tomb of the Dragon Emperor yesterday. Moving the story to China insead of Egypt, and finding a new mummy was a nice change of pace. Maria Bello was a definite improvement on Rachel Wesiz (if not quite as easy on the eyes) and Brendan Fraser was, well, Brendan Fraser.

However the basic rule for these sorts of movies is that they need to move so fast that you don’t have time to notice all the holes in the plot. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor didn’t quite achieve sufficient speed to lift off. Just when you thought it would; there’d be a long boring sequence that gave you time to catch your breath and start laughing at how silly the whole thing was. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t bother. It’s not worth the $10.

The Dark IMAX

Monday, August 11th, 2008

I finally got around to seeing The Dark Knight yesterday. I don’t know why the rule that comic book sequels are always better than the originals, but it continues to hold. (Superman II, Batman Returns, The Incredible Hulk). Possibly it also holds in sci fi in general: The Wrath of Khan, Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, etc.

As everyone already knows, Heath Ledger was incredible as The Joker, and Christian Bale once again blew chunks. (Why no actor has ever been able to voice Batman properly, I have no idea; but in my head I just never heard him talking in some funky whisper. Batman has a strong, authoritative, commanding voice. It’s Bruce Wayne who disguises his voice, not Batman.) Nonetheless, it’s a really good movie. Go see it.

The reason I waited so long was that I wanted to see it in IMAX. I heard that it had been specially designed and shot for IMAX, and that it would really take advantage of the medium. Wow, was that wrong.

The Golden Compass

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Wow. What a disappointment. I was looking forward to this one for months, but I guess I should have known Hollywood couldn’t do this book justice. I just had no idea how badly they’d fail. I mean, I knew they were going to water down the anti-religious message. (The Golden Compass was flat-out heretical. The Subtle Knife was actively blasphemous, and by the time the third book arrived, the series was bordering on satanism. No way Hollywood was going to follow that plot line.) However, I didn’t know they were going to open with massive spoilers.