current location: The Cell
current mood: bitchy
current song: Shivaree - Thundercats
I've been having trouble sleeping these last few days, so you'll have to excuse any aposiopesis on my part in some of these thoughts. I also haven't updated in a while due to the general malaise that usually sets in around this time of year, so I thought that I'd just play it safe and mention a few films that I've seen recently.
I saw Angels & Demons last week (looooooool). Reading the plot on wikipedia hadn't quite prepared me for just how stupid the film was. I'm not even sure it could be called a movie; it's entirely purpose was to act as a generator for the conveyor belt shoving popcorn into the mouths of the people dumb enough to watch it (I know this includes me, but I at least had the sense not to spend $20 on a box of corn). Part of the reason why I'm going on about popcorn so much is that I can't actually remember anything about the movie beyond the fact that there was an awful lot of running (requiring Tom Hanks to use his real hair this time) and a lot of people whose names I hadn't bothered to learn ended up dead. That was about it. The one image that will stick with me is a scene were the Pope - an apparently Irish Ewan McGregor - parachuted out of a helicopter that he had to pilot into lower orbit to stop the antimatter 'device' on board - that had been stolen by the Illuminati from the Large Hadron Collider - from blowing up the Vatican City.
So after that funsuckfest, this weekend it was a choice between Hannah Montana and Star Trek. Unsurprisingly, I went for the one where stuff exploded.
I never been a huge fan of science fiction films, or indeed science fiction in general. The closest I've ever got is the vague insinuation in the Metroverse that there's a huge clockwork Dark Moon orbiting the planet, and thankfully I don't think this has ever really been considered by the the bright sparks in Hollywood.
Generally, science fiction movies tend to suffer from the same problems as fantasy movies (settings that haven't had much thought put into them, crappy effects and actors who really should be promoting medical insurance). The few exceptions only seem to be considered as such because they either have good scripts (Joss Whedon's Serenity) or particularly impressive effects (that movie with the hairy thing).
I think it's fair to say that Star Trek firmly jumps into the lifeboat with the wookies and the Death Star, leaving poor Serenity to paddle after 2001 with the grim resignation that it's going to have to start eating body parts to survive.
As a film, Star Trek doesn't so much have a crappy story and good visual effects as having no story and, well, fairly good special effects. It's difficult to assess visual effects these days, you know everything's done with a computer so you can't work out what crazy stuff the effects guys pulled to make you think Medusa was coming right at you.
I swiftly came to the conclusion that the film didn't really need a plot; it was just a series of action set-pieces with no real rhyme or reason behind them. The most prominent example is when Kirk is randomly ejected onto an ice planet for doing...something, ends up being chased by an angry alien monkey that in turn is eaten by a spider tyrannosaurus. Cue a lot of rolling down frozen slopes (evoking the infamous brachiosaur pile-up in King Kong) concluding with Leonard Nimoy chasing it off with the world's smallest insect-dinosaur repellent. Based on my experience of movies, if I'm ever trapped on an alien world I would happily eschew all the heavy weaponry I could carry for a small flaming torch that is capable of frightening off giant arachnid lizards.
I presume that I'd be sat in the casual film-going audience as far as Star Trek was concerned, but that's fine as the Director clearly was as well. While I don't really know the first thing about the original series, the show spawned a great number of protomemes that have become household names, so even I could get the in-jokes.
The casting was pretty good as well, with one niggling exception. Sylar unfortunately is so iconic as a serial killer - I call him Sylar despite having seen a grand total of three episodes of Heroes - that it's difficult to buy him as a young Leonard Nimoy. The hair didn't exactly help; he'd clearly been repressed to the point where he had the same
wig hairstyle throughout his entire life. The others seemed to do alright, and Karl Urban in particular seems to have the ability to actually act. The uniforms are still very silly, however, and seem unfairly geared towards the male libido. For something that was apparently forward thinking (although nowhere near as controversial as a black-male/white-female relationship, which never appears in film, white-mail/black-female relationships are still considered somewhat risque) it seems almost quaint that all women serving in Starfleet are ordered to wear short dresses; presumably this is for the Captain's benefit when they're sitting down.
Now I just have to wait to see that film where Christian Bale shouts a lot, and the cycle of big movies this summer will be complete.