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Saturday, November 11, 2006
A Good Combo
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:23 pm

All six Star Wars flicks in a row + two sick boys = making the best of a bad situation (Eldest Son and Middle Son both have strep throat and the flu-plus the combo is creating asthma probs for Middle Son. Not good all ’round).

And I will say this: 1) the Star Wars movies look good in HD, but 2) HD doesn’t make the writing in the first three any better and may, indeed, make Hayden Christensen’s acting look even worse than it does otherwise.

The number of logical problems with episodes I-III in particular are legion.

I won’t go into them now, but here are my musing on II and III. I also mused on the political ethics of Star Wars here.

I will re-iterate a point that I like to make: Empire Strikes Back is, in my opinion, the best of the six and to me it is no coincidence that that is the one that Lucas didn’t write.

Filed under: Movies, Kids, SciFi | Comments (7) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, October 26, 2006
A Question…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:24 am

…do we really need another Rambo movie?

Sy Stalone seems to think so (via the NYT: ‘Rambo’ Returns, on Location in Thailand

Sylvester Stallone will spend several weeks in Thailand early next year, shooting ‘’Rambo IV: In the Serpent’s Eye'’ in the country’s lush, mountainous northern provinces, said Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office.

In the latest sequel, John Rambo is pulled out of retirement in Bangkok to help find missionary aid workers who disappear as they’re delivering supplies to ethnic minorities in neighboring Myanmar.

Somehow I think I will be missing it.

Of course, I have never seen any of the Rambo flicks.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Movies | Comments (5) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, September 29, 2006
An Odd Choice
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:20 pm

Robert Downey Jr. — I am “Iron Man”

“The Marvel characters are not just about how high they jump or how fast they fly, they’re about their character flaws,” Feige said. “They’re about their inner demons. They’re about the struggles that they go through between being a man and being a hero.”

Downey, who has battled his fair share of inner demons, worked hard to get the role, getting in shape and even growing a goatee like the one Stark sports in the comic books.

An interesting argument.

I suppose I should withhold judgement, given that Michael Keaton was actually pretty good in the first Batman flick, and the choice originally struck me as, well, insane.

Filed under: Movies, SciFi | Comments (5) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, September 14, 2006
A Sub-Mariner Flick?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:23 pm

Via Reuters: “Terminator 3″ director revives Marvel veteran

“Terminator 3″ director Jonathan Mostow will write and direct “Sub-Mariner,” an adaptation of one of Marvel Comics’ oldest superheroes.In the comic, the Sub-Mariner’s real name is Prince Namor, a half-man/half-amphibian from the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. An anti-hero, he frequently finds himself helping the human race as much as he fights it when humans pollute the waters.

I can already feel myself being hit over the head with some sort of “message” from this film.

Even if that tactile premonition turns out to be false, I have to ask: the Sub-Mariner?!? As a supporting character he was often interesting and John Byrne’s treatment of him in 1990s comic, Namor was fine (but more because it was Byrne than because of Namor), I’m skeptical that Namor is sufficiently interesting to merit his own movie.

Filed under: Movies, SciFi | Comments (7) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Monday, September 11, 2006
United 93
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 5:56 am

While the Blogosphere ponders The Path to 9/11, I thought today would be a good one for reviewing United 93 which was released on DVD last week. I received a review copy a few days before the release date and finally was able to watch it yesterday.

One watches the beginning of United 93 with a sense of dread (I did, at least). The story is known, and it isn’t a happy one.

This film, really like any of those inspired by the events of five years call several questions to mind. One is that of accuracy, a second has to do with timing, and a third is: should these events be developed into entertainment?

Well, at least on the last count I can say that United 93 is hardly entertaining. Not that that is a surprise, I suspect. Indeed, had it been entertaining, I would have been disturbed.

Having said all of that, I will note that film was well done and comports with known facts about the day in question. It certainly is gut-wrenching. It is well acted and the cinéma vérité approach works—given the subject material. It is clearly a drama and never gives the pretense of being a documentary, but it does also have a more real fell than the typical movie.

The fact that many of the people on the ground were played by the actual participants, especially FAA National Operations Director, Ben Sliney, who puts forth a commendable performance.

~Ben Sliney plays himself in the film~

The fact that most of the actors were unknowns (at least to me) was a help. I must confess to being somewhat distracted by the fact that one of the key passengers was played by Christian Clemenson, a fairly well-known character actor who recently played Jerry ‘Hands’ Espenson on Boston Legal.

The film consists of two parallel narratives: those on the ground, especially at the FAA, who are watching the events in the sky unfold as they try and figure out what is going on and the events in Flight 93.

I actually found the portion of the narrative building up the attack on Flight 93 to be the least interesting, because I knew that much of that was based on speculation, while the actions in the military and FAA control rooms were based on known events.

As I watched the drama unfold on Flight 93 itself, I kept thinking “what kind of evil bastards could sit amongst their prey as they prepared to murder everyone around them, themselves includes?”

Certainly the film generates significant emotion—both the remembered emotion of that day and the emotion one shares with the those onscreen as we, the viewers, relive September 11, 2001 from a different perspective—specifically through the experiences of both the victims of Flight 93 and from the men and women who tried, fruitlessly, to deal with the unbelievable events that unfolded before them.

It is griping, powerful and profoundly sad.

Still, I find it hard to recommend the film, per se. It is, as I noted above, not entertainment. However, in the future it will serve a purpose, I think, in helping to explain that day to future generations who did not experience it. I wil say this: if one feels the need to watch one of the several films that have been made about 9/11, I think this is the best one to see. I will admit that that is more of an impression than anything else, as I have not seen Stone’s film and have seen a smattering of The Path to 9/11.

Misc Thoughts:

  • It is nothing less than sickening to watch people kill and frighten and simultaneously run around and thank their god.

  • The obvious lack of military preparedness and communication was a clear problem on 9/11 and is noted in the film.

  • There are only two sources of satisfaction that come from this film: that there were those smart enough, and brave enough, to know what had to be done. That and the fact that at least some of the bastards who were responsible for that day died knowing that they had failed.

Filed under: US Politics, War on Terror, Movies | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, August 3, 2006
Matt Damon: James T. Kirk?
By The Permanent Guest Blogger: Steven L. @ 10:00 pm

IMDb says so, at least provisionally.

Since this project is categorized as being in production, the data is subject to change; some data could be removed completely.

Interesting, at least. I see this news has been floating around a while, so apologies if you’ve seen it, but Poliblogger is the Star Trek geek-fest, after all — Steven T. or no Steven T.

Filed under: General, Movies, SciFi, Trek | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Celebuverse linked with Superman Meets Shiloh Nouvel
PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Trek XI Rumors linked with [...] Tuesday, August 8, 2006 Trek XI Rumors By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:35 pm As Steven L. noted in my absence, Poliblogger is the Star Trek geek-fest”-so with that in mind, h [...]
Sunday, July 9, 2006
Court Rules Against Sanitizing Films
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:50 pm

Via the AP: Court Rules Against Sanitizing Films

Sanitizing movies on DVD or VHS tape violates federal copyright laws, and several companies that scrub films must turn over their inventory to Hollywood studios, an appeals judge ruled.

I don’t know the law, so couldn’t say what the appropriate ruling should have been.

However, one question that comes to mind in the overall context of this case is why the movie studios themselves don’t sell their own edited versions of the films in question? It would open up a whole new market, it would seem to me.

And let’s face facts, most films (although granted, not all) would hardly be any different if a couple of f-bombs were removed or if they contained less T&A.

Although, as James Joyner notes, some films would be far shorter.

Filed under: Movies, Courts/the Judiciary | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, July 7, 2006
Prairie Home Companion (a movie review)
By Bryan S. (guestblogger) @ 11:36 pm

A Prairie Home Companion (IMDB)

You probably don’t know this, but I do a drop-dead impersonation of “A Prairie Home Companion” creator Garrison Keillor. It’s probably the most useless impersonation you could have in an arsenal of impersonations, unless you plan on going to an NPR meet-and-greet.

The impersonation was honed over years of listening to Keillor’s trademark storytelling style. As many Saturdays as I could, I would tune in to hear Keillor utter those (semi) famous words, “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown …” I read several of Keillor’s books (he’s actually funnier in print than he is on the radio) as well.

So when I found out that Robert Altman was going to be putting “A Prairie Home Companion” on screen, it was a must-see.

It’s been a week since the viewing, and my sense is that the PHC movie is a lot like most episodes of the radio show - hit and miss. The story - obviously written by Keillor - is good enough. An old-time radio show is being shuttered when the local radio station is bought out by a national chain (Clear Channel, anyone?). The movie takes place as the final program is airing.

The cast is stellar, obviously. Actors like Kevin Kline (as Guy Noir), Virginia Madsen, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones and Lindsay Lohan wander across the stage along with voices that will be familiar to those who listen to PHC, and the musical team headed by Rich Dworski. Of the lot, Lohan is obviously out of her league.

The most enigmatic character is - ironically - Keillor, who acts as a sort of radio sage - throwing out pithy slogans in between mind-numbingly intricate anecdotes about the beginning of his career in radio.

And those expecting to hear a little news from Lake Wobegon will be sadly disappointed. There is nary a mention of Wobegon, or the many characters who make the little town where “all the women are good looking and the children above average.”

Perhaps it is a testament to the quality of the production that I just realized that while I was typing this review. Ultimately, the movie’s ending is the thing that leaves me feeling less than energized by the film. It isn’t a happy ending. In fact, it’s entirely melancholy, which is the nature of much of Keillor’s humor. On the other hand, there are numerous moments of whimsy to offset the obviously serious theme of death that hangs over the entire film.

If you’re familiar with Keillor or “A Prairie Home Companion,” it’s worth a look, just to put a face to the familiar voices, and hear Streep and Tomlin sing, but I’d wait for the DVD. And I also hope there will be some sort of movie treatment of the Lake Wobegon stories, as it’s arguable that it’s Lake Wobegon that makes PHC what it is.

Filed under: Movies | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Quite Cool
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:20 pm

The Spider-Man 3 trailer.

h/t: TAM

(OTB has a link to the YouTube version if you can’t wait for the nifty HD version)

Filed under: Pop Culture, Movies, SciFi | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Monday, May 29, 2006
X3: A Quick Review
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:04 pm

I saw the newest X-Men flick this afternoon.

Without getting into details I would say that it is a worthy addition to the trilogy, but still think that the second one is the best of the bunch.

I thought the plot was less, well, nuanced than I would have liked, but it was enjoyable.

If you liked the others then this one is worth a matinee for sure.

Filed under: General, Pop Culture, Movies | Comments (4) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, May 4, 2006
Fun Stuff
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:27 pm

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer for Superman Returns.

It looks interesting (although that Lois Lane has a child is, well, odd). What is especially interesting is that seems to be keeping the new movie at least generally in the same “universe” as the Reeves’ Superman flicks-the look of the Fortress of Solitude, for example, and the music. Indeed, not to use John Williams’ Superman theme would have been a crime.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2006
A Detour into Pop Culture Land
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:08 pm

I noted the following on WaPo home page, and thought it was on target.

Liz Kelly on Tom Cruise:

Today, Cruise is kind of a wacky entity well on his way to Howard Hughes-scale strangeness. He’s not just an actor anymore. We’re wary of him.

That sounds about right.

He’s also a sufficiently mediocre actor that prior to this weird phase he was one of those guys who, when you saw them on the silver screen, “Hey, there’s Tom Cruise” not “Hey, there’s [that character].” Now I can’t see his character at all.

When you see Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs or, for that matter in Shadowlands you see Hannibal Lecter and C.S. Lewis respectively. When you see Tom Cruise you see Tom “I Jump on Couches” Cruise.

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Friday, April 21, 2006
The Return of Trek?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:46 pm

Via Reuters: “Star Trek” franchise set for 2008 revival: report

More than three years after the last “Star Trek” movie crashed at the box office, the venerable sci-fi franchise is being revived by the director of the upcoming “Mission: Impossible” sequel, Daily Variety reported in its Friday edition.


Daily Variety said the action would center on the early days of “Star Trek” characters James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, including their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and first outer-space mission.

This idea has been rumored for a while-although I am not certain whether I like it or not.

I knew they wouldn’t keep the franchise on the shelf for too long-there is simply too much money to be made.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Movies, Trek | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Best Bond?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:39 pm

(A little lunchtime digression from the more serious news of the day).

Asks Dan Oko in Slate: Was an Australian underwear model the best Bond ever?

That’s easy: no.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is far from the worst of the Bond flicks (hmm, Moonraker, anyone?), but it is also far from the best. And how one could prefer Lazenby to Connery is beyond me. I will admit I haven’t seen OHMSS I do recall a decided lack of acting skills by Mssr. Lazenby.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Movies | Comments (9) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Monday, March 6, 2006
Or, Maybe it Really is an Honor Just to be Nominated…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:49 am

I haven’t so much as blogged a pixel on the Oscars or Brokeback Mountain, but this headline caught my eye (via Reuters): “Brokeback” too controversial after all:

Larry McMurtry, 69 who has spent his career challenging the stereotype West — and generally won.

That just strikes me as patently silly (and rather whiny)-the movie was nominated as one of the five (I think are normally five) best films of the year, which is substantial validation of the film, it would seem. It certainly doesn’t bespeak of rampant intolerance.

Saying that failure to win it all means utter rejection is kind of like saying that the Buffalo Bills of the 1990s were lousy because they only managed to lose the Super Bowl four-straight years. They may not have been champs, but they still were pretty darn good.

And gee whiz, Brokeback won two major Oscars: adapted screenplay and director (as well as original score (see here).

Filed under: General, Pop Culture, Movies | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
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