When I provide my opinion of movies and TV shows, I try to explain why I liked them. That is, I share a personality trait or life experience that likely made me like or dislike it. If you and I share that trait or experience that the movie or show triggered, then you can reasonably rely on my review. Otherwise, my opinion shouldn’t mean anything to you.
For example, imagine you’re a professional food critic. You tell me that there’s this new product from Kraft called, let’s say, Cocktoasten. You tell me that the combination of herbs and spices are phenomenal and like nothing you’ve ever tasted. I should absolutely try it. The problem is that it’s simply a new form of mac and cheese, and I hate cheese. (I know, I know. That’s weird. Try to stay focused on my point.) It doesn’t matter how good the cheese is; it’s cheese, so I hate it. That’s true of any food. It’s all subjective and pretending that your critique is solely objective is dishonest to your audience and probably yourself.
Clearly, the same thing is true of movies and TV shows, though it’s anymore complex analysis. Certain themes draw some of us in that may leave others uninspired. These often override any objective measures of filmmaking (though these measures are still important). After all, I liked Green Lantern. Because movie and TV critics tend to arrogantly think that their opinions are objective truths, I never listen to them.
The Midnight Sky
This movie is getting hammered by the critics, and obliterated by the audience, and I understand why. It’s not good storytelling, bouncing between two stories that meet at the end in the most predictable of ways. Some people make some dumb decisions along the way. Nevertheless, I really liked it. Why? Because it hit a particularly strong chord with me. As predictable as the ending is, sharing this nature of this chord would be a massive spoiler. That demonstrates yet another reason why reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. The things that may turn you off or on may not be sharable.
I can’t expect anyone else to like this movie, but if there’s a lesson in this post, it’s that ultimately you must form your own opinions, which can vary wildly from the masses. Hence, the notion of guilty pleasures. Unfortunately, with all the content out there and limited time to watch, that can be frustrating.
Back to Hulu I go, and this time I’m doing something really different. This is my first audio blog post, and I’m joined by my cousin, Kessel Junkie, who I give so much grief on this blog. This is our running commentary on a movie that’s certainly a guilty pleasure for both of us. No one else seems to like it, but we both love it.
Cue up the movie when instructed if you want to watch it with us. Kessel has clearly done his research on this movie, which is unsurprising considering 1) his love of the movie, and 2) the fact that he has a degree in theater. As a Star Trek nut that was raised on the theater (Arena Stage), I should be just as knowledgeable about this movie, but I’m lazy.
Just one note. There’s a point where Kessel Junkie changes the subject on me, and I don’t quite pick up on it, so we wind up talking past one another. I get his point. There’s an apparent canon violation between an episode of the Animated Series and this movie. Both have the Enterprise visiting a planet at or near the center of the galaxy. Fortunately, he’s wrong. The Enterprise was thrown into an alternate universe, so the fact that “God” wasn’t there isn’t a canon violation. Interestingly enough, “Lucien” was originally supposed to be God, but the network nixed that. Enough about that. Enjoy the listen.
Click here for the audio file. Note: This is just over two hours long, and if you pause it, note where you paused. Pausing it often requires you to refresh the page before continuing.
It’s time to revisit all the Star Trek movies. It’s my favorite intellectual property, but don’t expect me to act the apologist. As my friends will attest, I’m happy to criticize the things I love, but there’s a lot to love here as well. The things we tolerate for drama. *sigh* This post doubles as an entry in my Guilty Pleasures; it wasn’t well received by anyone. It isn’t the first Star Trek movie to be in that category, and it won’t be the last. Here are my viewing notes.
Nice theme music. I remember getting into a mild argument with my uncle. I claimed that they reused it for the Star Trek: the Next Generation series. Guess who won that argument.
“I’m so offended they changed the Klingons! How can we explain this in canon?!” The FASA Star Trek RPG did so brilliantly (which they adapted from John M. Ford‘s work), and the canon explanation from Star Trek: Enterprise wasn’t bad either.
Trivia: Mark Lenard was the first actor to play three different species in the Star Trek universe. In my favorite Star Trek episode, Balance of Terror, he played a Romulan commander. In Journey to Babel, he played Sarek, Spock’s Vulcan father. In this movie, he was the Klingon commander. If I’m not mistaken, it wasn’t until Jeffrey Combs played Shran that someone else accomplished the feat. I’m not entirely sure about that though. It could have been Tony Todd or Joseph Ruskin. I’m too lazy to look it up.
I’m not even three minutes into the substantive content, and we’re already getting a scene with unnecessarily long exterior views of things that don’t matter. We get it. The space station is big. Really big.
Ooooo, a backwards-firing photon torpedo. We’ve never seen that before. Wait. Why not? How stupid were the designers of these ships?
I don’t think the movie ever explained that the voice calling out to Spock was Kirk’s, not V’Ger. I seem to remember from the novelization that it was Kirk. I read the novelizations of the first five Star Trek movies. Yeah, that includes the Final Frontier. That book was pretty good. Sybok could have been the best villain ever.
Poor Sonak. He didn’t realize what was in store for him, but he almost deserves it. You’re not Spock, Sonak. Don’t raise your eyebrow like that. It’s a Spock thing, not a Vulcan thing. (It became a Vulcan thing, but it shouldn’t have been.)
Why is the Enterprise the only ship in range to intercept? They’re on Earth, which is the center of government for the Federation. Shouldn’t there be at least a few ships nearby? This isn’t the only time this nonsense was used as a plot device.
And here’s the unnecessarily long exterior view that everyone talks about. I really should fast forward through this one, but writing these notes is distraction enough to make it bearable.
The engineer on the floating disk is probably violating OSHA regulations.
All these actors are amazing. I actually believe they’re happy to see William Shatner arrive.
The other person in that transporter malfunction had a pretty decent treatment in the novel. Here, she wasn’t even named.
The crowd of crewmen included a lot of diversity. The rest of the movie? Not so much.
Chekov’s smile when Ilia enters is classic. Sulu tried and failed.
McCoy should have kept the beard for the entire movie.
I don’t think wormholes work that way, but I’ve never been in one. From a dramatic perspective, the scene wore out its welcome not even halfway through it. It had the same effect as any of those external shots.
Kirk needs a ready room.
I’m sorry. That you left Delta IV? Or that you didn’t say goodbye? If I had, would you have been able to say it?
Now picture me rolling my eyes so hard they fall out.
I made a simple ST:TMP game on my Commodore Vic-20. There wasn’t a lot of memory to do anything impressive, but it was a good way to connect with the movie.
More external shots. Yes, we know. This thing is even bigger.
“This is how I define unwarranted!” How did Decker make Captain? Space travel is risky business. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it. They’re trying to save Earth. There are billions of lives at stake. You must take risks.
Spock is a seer. He can see the future.
The computer’s assessment of what’s going on
Why is the Ilia probe wearing clothes? This isn’t wishful thinking. She was created in the shower without clothes, and then they were added before it exposed itself.
My memory of the novel tells me that it went into a ton of detail about the scan of the probe. It was . . . . fascinating.
Why didn’t the door open for the Ilia probe? She shouldn’t have had to break through it. They’re automatic. We already know it’s extremely strong.
In one of his posts, Kessel Junkie claimed that this ship. . .
Spock getting emotional over a handshake. It’s as if millions of Vulcan voices cried out in terror.
I want to see V’Ger fight the whale probe.
Nimoy was wearing a lot of makeup.
“Mr. Chekov, when do those probes reach their final destination?” “Fifty-seven minutes.”
What? That means that there’s got to be 57 minutes left in this show for the ending to have a close call! Oh, there’s only 20 minutes left. Phew!
“Captain, I’d like to go along.”
Of course, you would, Commander Decker. Someone’s got to die.
In 1979, I was 11, so the big reveal (i.e., “VOYAGER”) surprised the hell out of me.
Couldn’t they just hit Voyager with a phaser? That’s the whole ship’s brain.
“Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this.”
Again, how did this idiot become Captain (of the flagship, no less)? It must have been nepotism.
In a sense, this was the perfect Star Trek movie. Lots of human drama, and a “villain” that represents the unknown of space, while representing a cautionary tale for humanity itself: Our actions will always have consequences. But that doesn’t resonate well with non-Star Trek nerds. It didn’t have the face-to-face villain that everyone craves. That’s because the first movie is always about the protagonists, with the sequel about the villain. Maybe the next movie will fare better with the masses. 😊
Yesterday, I talked about the original Clash of the Titans and mentioned this one. Of course, that got me thinking. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, the Clash of the Titans remake earned scores of 27% from the critics (who cares?) and 40% from the audience, but I’m one of the 40% that liked it.
To start, I’m an apologist for anything related to mythology, even when, as here, they take far too many liberties with the stories. I get that the needs of drama override fidelity to the stories. I also thought that, special effects aside, this movie actually outclassed the original with the scenes featuring the Stygian Witches and Charon. Other than some silly dialogue, I thought the scene with Medusa (Natalia Vodianova) was a match for the original, which is no small compliment, and this movie provided more of Medusa’s background.
As much as I like Rosamund Pike, I wish Alexa Davalos had returned for the sequel as Andromeda. I thought she was good here. Overall, if you look at the cast, it was as solid as a diamond, with some established actors, some making their first attempts at a blockbuster, and some just getting their starts. In addition to Ms. Vodianova and Ms. Davalos, you have Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelsen, Danny Huston, Luke Evans, Liam Cunningham, Nicholas Hoult, Rory McCann, Alexander Siddig, and one of my all time favorite actors, Pete Postlethwaite (RIP). I think they spent plenty on the cast and not enough on the screenwriters to give the movie broad appeal.
There were definitely some annoying characters. The religious zealot who led the charge against royalty and the two brothers, Ozal and Kucuk, who had no business going on the quest, all irked me as much as they did the rest of you.
If I had to watch movies based in mythology all day, I would do so gladly. This is no exception … though even I wasn’t too fond of Wrath of the Titans (despite a better audience score). YMMV.
Over on Rotten Tomatoes, Priest earned scores of 15 from the critics and 46 from the audience. Not many liked it. I bet some the actors I copied will not be happy I did.
The 2011 movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth in which warrior-priests are the first line of defense against a race of vampires. While there are similarities — fangs, superior senses, vulnerability to sunlight — these vampires are different from what we see in other media. They’re barely even humanoid. The critics criticized the movie as just trying to throw a bunch of pop-culture elements together in a way that hasn’t been done, and it created a mess. You may criticize its execution, but trying to carve a novel path isn’t something deserving of such criticism. I won’t hold that against them. By no means do I like this one as much as many of the other guilty pleasures about which I’ve written, but it’s okay.
This movie is nothing more than a shoot-em-up, and sometimes thats all I want to see.
Rotten Tomatoes reports scores of 38 from the critics (who I don’t care about) and 49 from the audience, both of which are rotten scores. Nemesis is certainly a guilty pleasure, and I get that. Troi porn, a childish android, and the worst toast in the history of weddings are just a few of the examples of why this movie earned such low scores, but it had some good points. Moral philosophy is the foundation upon which Star Trek was built, and at its heart, it was an examination of the nature v. nurture debate. Nevertheless, it didn’t skimp on the action.
The goal of the movie was to recapture the magic of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by giving Picard a fitting nemesis, just as Wrath of Khan gave Kirk his, and by having Picard suffer a loss as did Kirk. Nemesis is no Wrath of Khan, and Shinzon is no Khan, but SPOILER ALERT being Picard’s clone inherently made Shinzon a good match for Picard, and Shinzon’s lifetime of pain resulted in a rage mimicking that of Khan. Data’s death also mimicked Spock’s. I didn’t find this to be lazy plagiarism as it’s sometimes been labeled. There are only seven stories, and this story used the themes that have been proven to appeal to Star Trek fans (and non-fans).
The movie also set up the Picard series in a couple of ways. It set the foundation for Picard’s connection to the Romulans, and Picard resolved Data’s story without cheapening his death in Nemesis.
Sprinkle in the fact that I’m a Star Trek apologist, and I like this movie. You don’t have to.
I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with the critics and abandoning the common folks. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, Colossal earned scores of 81 from the critics and 59 from the audience. I’m with the critics.
Anne Hathaway plays a self-destructive woman who winds up in her hometown because she has nowhere else to go. She meets up with a childhood friend played by Jason Sudekis. Long story short, she discovers that she has a connection with a giant monster attacking Seoul, South Korea. However, this isn’t a story about a monster . . . except that it is. People can be as bad as any kaiju. The movie took a hard turn for the “holy crap!“, taking me completely off guard.
I thought it was clever and liked both Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudekis, neither of whom I usually like.
The two Tron movies were the first or second thing (don’t remember) I watched when I subscribed to Disney+. I subscribed for the MCU, NatGeo, and Star Wars; and I was intrigued by Pixar (I had never seen any of those movies), but I watched the Tron movies before any of those.
I’m not sure if Tron: Legacy is actually a guilty pleasure. Rotten Tomatoes reports scores of 51 from the critics (who I don’t care about) and 63 from the audience. The 63 is technically a “fresh” score, but just barely. Still, I suspect it fair to call this a guilty pleasure if for no other reason that the sequel, Tron: Ascension, was scrapped due to a poor box office. That could have been an awesome story of Clu’s invasion of the real world.
Besides a really good cast, there are three things I loved about the movie. First, “Radical, man!” “Far out, man,” “We were jammin’,” and the like. Based on the story, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is clearly a man out of time, and everyone he knows from the VR world would similarly be so. Even if new lingo had developed within the VR world, Flynn’s isolation would keep his vocabulary stale. It seemed like almost every sentence Mr. Bridges spoke contained a smattering of 80s lingo. That’s a hell of a way to tug on the heartstrings of a child of the 70s/80s like me.
Second, I like when a movie plays on the notion of the grass being greener on the other side. The idea of plugging ourselves into a virtual reality world is something that intrigues a large percentage of us (if not a majority), but Clu has the exact opposite perspective. He’s in that VR world and is doing everything in his power to get out. What’s more important: Being able to move like Neo in the Matrix or seeing a true sunset? I think the former is more important. We don’t really see sunsets, but rather how our brain interprets sensory data from our eyes and intervening parts. If the brain can be sent signals for a sunset even when the sun isn’t up, it’s no different from the real thing and could actually be programmed to be better. So, in the VR world, you can have both. Regardless of whether you agree, the point is that many of us want VR, but human nature is such that humans who’ve always existed in VR would probably want to see the real world. Everyone wants what the can’t have.
Then there’s the music. I have music from both Tron movies on a playlist I frequently enjoy. I’m a child of the 80s, so I loved the scene when Sam turned on the power at the arcade, and Separate Ways belted out. However, Legacy took place much later, and Daft Punk captured the upgraded feel very well.
If Tron: Ascension were ever made, I’d be there opening weekend.
Legion has Rotten Tomatoes scores of 19 from the critics (who mean nothing to me) and 31 from the audience, which is even worse than Green Lantern. Go figure. Like Green Lantern, the cast was actually pretty good, mixing newcomers with established veterans, and a couple of up-and-coming stars. I’m sure a few of them wouldn’t appreciate me linking them here, but they did a good job with what they had.
I think there are two things that make me like this movie. First, as a mythology fan, I love it when mythology, religion, and legends are turned on their heads. It gives the stories a different take and thus isn’t a bland remake of the same story we’ve seen a million times. In this case, while not evil per se, Gabriel is still the villain. Michael, on the other hand, is the protagonist even though he’s going against the Judeo-Christian-Islamic notion of god. That’s the big difference; there are others. Maybe some of the bad ratings are based on the fact that this offended people. Perhaps just a little bit?
Second, at the time I saw it, I was still playing Dungeons & Dragons and thought it could be the basis of a really interesting campaign. Unfortunately, I never got around to it. Food for thought for the gamer nerds.
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Yeah, I know. With Rotten Tomatoes scores of 26 from the critics (who mean nothing to me) and 45 from the audience, Green Lantern isn’t exactly well-loved, but if it were, it wouldn’t be a guilty pleasure. You chose to read this post. You’re committed to hearing me praise a movie you can’t stand.
Let’s start with the easy part: Ryan Reynolds is always great. You all love his sarcasm in Deadpool, and he delivers it here in spades. It’s a typical Ryan Reynolds performance, and if you can’t get behind that, you’re truly lost. As for the rest of the cast, I know of at least three Oscar winners (Tim Robbins, Geoffrey Rush, and Taika Watiti) and one nominee (Angela Bassett) in there. They didn’t win Oscars for this movie, but it’s a good cast.
Moving on, one of the dead horses I love to beat is that I’ve never really read comics, but there’s a method to that madness. I have an exceptional, long-term memory, and I read a few comics in childhood, so I have some idea of comics lore. However, I have no loyalty to their story lines. If Parallax is nothing like what he was in the comics, I wouldn’t know and don’t care. This isn’t a defense of Parallax — I thought he was rather goofy — but rather a means to help you understand why I hold the positions I do on this and other Guilty Pleasure posts. Ergo, many of the reasons you may have for hating this movie have no relevance to me.
Next, Sinestro. Whether we’re talking about the actor (Marc Strong) or the character, this movie was the set up for a sequel that would rival the Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan or Aliens. Whereas the first movie is always about the protagonists, the second movie is always about the villains. I know of no comic villains with a more tragic fall than Sinestro. He was made quite sympathetic and demonstrated a dedicated campaign against the fear to which he eventually succumbed. This made his fall from grace all the greater. Again, I don’t know many comic book back stories, but a second movie with Mark Strong playing Sinestro as the villain could have been incredible.
Then there’s Taika Waititi. He really sucked in this 🙂 , but considering who he’s become, this is a great look back at his beginnings. Sure, that’s not a reason to like the movie, but I consider it bonus points. He’s turned into something special and won an Oscar for his efforts elsewhere.
Finally, the music. Music is my favorite art form, and when I really like the music, it can often carry the movie. The music is overall rather weak in this movie, but there are a couple of pieces that are on one of my playlists. Here’s a short example that I thought captured the scene well:
The music starts at 0:54, but you may need the entire clip to appreciate my point.
All of this is enough for me to watch this movie occasionally despite some poor dialogue and overacting. I’m doing so as I write this.
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power–Green Lantern’s light!