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Blue Like Me 02.01.2010

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"Nightcrawler, phone home!"

Movie: Battle for Terra, oh, I mean, Avatar (2009)
Plot: A paraplegic Earth warrior (Marcus Wright?) is given the chance to walk again by going undercover among unfriendlies in order to get oil, I mean a MacGuffin, but then he decides to betray his species! But we all know the humans will return and squash those pesky ETs next time! Oh, and it’s in 3D.
IMHO: The amazing visuals are obviously the main point, not the release-of-white-guilt plot (“See, we do realize we were bad to the Injuns [or any Other], so it’s okay feel good about ourselves then!”). But while the film’s actions uplift, its contradictions leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Its message would seem anti-military, but, as ever, Cameron loves violence and soldiery. Its message would seem anti-corporate, yet the movie will make millions for a corporation. Its message would seem  anti-technology, yet its existence as a film is completely pro-technology. Its message would seem anti-human, and yet chances are the Na’vi probably won’t be watching this movie. Sci fi has always wagged its fingers at humanity, taking you and I to task for for our congenital greed (see just about every episode of Twilight Zone), but humans have generally been redeemable. But Avatar just makes humans look like assholes (with a very few exceptions), so much so the protagonist would just rather become an Other, even if he’s a mutant one with five fingers. Which is not to say I disagree with any of Cameron’s messages, or that I wouldn’t totally go native in Jake Sully’s place (in fact, I’d go faster than he does — boo, humans!).
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is “life from lifelessness.” Which is to say, the animation is pretty damned good — it better be for the money spent.
If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, he would’ve played the voice of Galvatron. Or maybe there would’ve been a “Why you pointy-eared, blue-skinned . . .” joke.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Why, Starfleet would’ve sent the Captain to negotiate a treaty with the natives, just as he did with the Halkans. Oh, what an adventure that was.”

If humans ever do meet technologically inferior blue aliens who have something we want, it won't be pretty.

SPOILER: Despite the movie’s pro-environmental message, the audience continues to litter as it walks out of the theater anyway.
I give this movie: 3 Nomads out of 5 (though I’m tempted to subtract another point for the use of Papyrus in the Na’vi translations)

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My Girlfriend Made Me Watch 28.12.2009

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I love it when Sandra plays tough.

Movie: The Proposal (2009)
Plot: Beautifully aging Canadian gal strongarms her assistant who is frankly too old to be her assistant to marry her in order to avoid being deported. Romance and hilarity ensue.
IMHO: Romantic comedies are perfect examples of fantasy storytelling — their plots are more unlikely than, say, robots transforming into trucks. But alas Sandra Bullock is my kryptonite, and she can spend an hour in overalls prepping and cooking pork chops with brussel sprouts on the side, and I would pay to see it. Otherwise, Betty White gets all the best lines. The guy who plays Deadpool is also in this, but his head looks like it got crushed at the temples. Which is what he gets for touching Sandra’s butt!
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is “a no-win situation.” For boyfriends, that is. Except for the Sandra-Bullock-is-actually-naked! scene.
If William Shatner had directed it, he would’ve screwed the continuity glitches and reprised his role as Stan Fields.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Aye, and I’d’ve liked to fly Betty White a few times around the galaxy me-self.”
SPOILER: Sandra Bullock wins.
I give this movie: 1.29 Nomads out of 5 (if you’re reading this, Sandra, 5 out of 5)

Tin Men 16.12.2009

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"Just to register emotion, jealousy, devotion, and really feel the paaaaaart!"

"Just to register emotion, jealousy, devotion, and really feel the paaaaaart!"

Movie: Terminator Salvation (2009)
Plot: Batman somehow goes back to the future to yell at Metallo and then fight the governor of California. Transformers make a cameo.
IMHO: This overblown, PG-13-rated entry is packed with action but sadly lacking in the humanity (and heart — see what I did there?) that made the original “Demon with a Glass Hand,” I mean, Terminator so good. BTW, giving John Connor a terminator’s (real? lab-grown?) heart is interesting, but the rumored original ending, with a terminator becoming Connor, seemed like a much more ironic and organic idea.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie proceeds from a false assumption.
If William Shatner had directed it, he would’ve had the star Sam Worthington (or was it Christian Bale?), do a roll on the ground a few times.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “I wouldna mind taking one of those robots apart. Nothing personal.”
SPOILER: Dr. Silberman does not make an appearance.
I give this movie: .5 Nomads out of 5 (minus 2 Nomads for giving Helena Bonham Carter work)

I Scream, You Scream 14.12.2009

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"But in the first movie I said I didn't have a family."

Robocop does not appear in this movie, although killer robot appliances do.

Movie: Screamers: The Hunting (2009)
Plot: Earth space soldiers answer a distress signal, and when they arrive, really vicious Roombas attack — and some of them also look like people! Then it’s up the model-thin warrior-soldier-lady (Gina Holden) to save the day by freeing the wrong people and cozying up to the guy named Guy who screams, “Screamer.”
IMHO: While it’s always nice to see Lance Henriksen, if only for a few minutes, this video sequel to 1995’s earnest-but-dull  Screamers adds gore but little else to the storyline, which was based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety.” Lots of spouting blood and fists-through-bodies while charming do little to hide the heavily derivative proceedings. And that attempt at a surprise ending will — surprise — make you scream. But not for the right reasons.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is “dominated by craylon gas, sand, high velocity winds. Incapable of supporting life forms.”
If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, there would’ve been a a strong metaphorical reference to the Holocaust somewhere.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Captain Kirk would’ve convinced the Screamers to deactivate themselves, and then bedded the lass long before the planet exploded.”
SPOILER: Another in the hurtling-toward-Earth-with-impending-menace-ending genre.
I give this movie: .5 Nomad out of 5

Review: Pinocchio of Earth 2 10.10.2009

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No one looks better in a best than Tina.

No one looks better in a sweater vest than Tina.

Movie: The Invention of Lying (2009)
Plot: On an alternate Earth where everyone always tells the truth, mutant Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) discovers his power to lie, and keeps at it, until he snowballs into the ultimate lie.
IMHO: A quiet, intellectual fable that doesn’t quite gel, mostly because of directing/editing that chop up Gervais’s trademark timing and chemistry, and a romance with Jennifer Garner that just rings false. Ah but Tina Fey is always lovely to look at. No lie.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie gets a commendation for original thinking.
If William Shatner had directed it, his songs would’ve been used for all the wasted-opportunity montages.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Looks to me like another one of those Landru computers has the citizens in its thrall. No doubt Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock would make quick work of ‘im.”
SPOILER: There are no jokes about Diogenes.
I give this movie: 2.62 Nomads out of 5

Review: Wrassling for Significance 06.10.2009

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Mickey is the movie's whole reason for being.

Mickey Rourke heads for the turnbuckle.

Movie: The Wrestler (2008)
This movie is like Rocky VIII, except with wrestling. The actors are good, although Mickey Rourke generates pathos just by standing there and letting us look at the history on his face. Marisa Tomei makes my heart tap out and proves once again that I should have accepted her marriage proposal all those years ago. Call me! The director does well by his previous overrated works by playing possum this time. The script reads like a New Yorker short story, for good or ill.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie has a fondness for antiques.
If William Shatner had directed it, he would not have been able to resist putting on tights and showing us a few of the old dropkicks.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “The man orders a tequila and then leaves the bar. Is he daft?”
Overall: Wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson realizes his life is rotten and needs redemption. We’ve seen this before, but the insight into on-the-mat athletics is fascinating, the other stuff, meh.
SPOILER: Andre the Giant does NOT make an appearance, not as himself nor more importantly as Bigfoot.
I give this movie: 2.99 Nomads out of 5

Review: The Informorant 16.09.2009

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What does one do while waiting for the next Bourne script to be written?

What does one do while waiting for the next Bourne script to be written?

Movie: The Informant! (2009)
This movie is the comedy version of The Insider (1999) we all haven’t been waiting for.
The actors galumph through their roles, particularly Matt “Marky Mark” Damon, who seems to think he’s in an extended Saturday Night Live sketch. Kudos to Scott Bakula for the hair though. The director, Stevie “sex, lies, and Ocean’s 11” Soderbergh, makes another pretty picture, but no sympathetic characters. The script unsuccessfully uses manic depression as a gag, and 180s from broad comedy to the last five minutes of an episode of Law and Order.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie consists of various unremarkable ores.
If William Shatner had directed it, he would have made a great Mark Whiteacre.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “A little of the old Vulcan mind meld woulda resolved the whole thing faster than it’d take to reconfigure the deflector array to emit a tachyon pulse.”
Overall: This may have been the only way to make a movie about price-fixing conspiracies remotely funny. But some good moments don’t overcome an inevitably downbeat finale, and you’re left not really sure about what was really going on with ADM, and not in a good way. Kudos again to Scott Bakula for trying to get past Star Trek Enterprise. Let’s see that Quantum Leap feature film already. Not!
SPOILER: George Clooney does not come in and save the movie.
I give this movie: 2 Nomads

Review: The Time Traveler’s Wifey 01.09.2009

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“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Then again you might. Since you went ahead and married me.”

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Then again you might. I mean, since you went ahead and married me already.”

Movie: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
This movie Quantum Leaps into uncynical hearts; but cynical hearts, not so much.
The actors do well with thin material, and Eric Bana seems distracted, maybe because of the wig he has to wear because he shaved his head to play yet another time traveler, albeit a bald one, in some overrated sci fi flick, and then had to come back and do re-shoots. The director could’ve upped the comic aspects of the situation. The script doesn’t let Ron Livingston make any references to Office Space.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie teaches you to beware Romulans bearing gifts.
If William Shatner had directed it, it would’ve been called The Time Traveler’s Ex-Wife.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “A genetic anomaly that makes you travel through time? That’s a wee kinder on the engines than sling-shotting around a sun.”
Overall: A date movie with a light sci fi touch, since a movie called The Traveling Salesman’s Wife wouldn’t capture enough of the market share. The best thing about this wedding is that Owen Wilson never shows up to crash it.
SPOILER: Bana’s character apparently spends 20 years in a Klingon penal colony, but you can’t tell from watching this movie.
I give this movie: 2.25 Nomads

Review: Passing the Gravy 30.08.2009

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Still clownin' after all these years. But why?

Still clownin' after all these years. But why?

Movie: Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie (2008)
This documentary follows someone who stepped out to find Eden, ate all the fruit and threw away the rind.
The subjects have drunk the Kool-Aid, and sometimes make you wish you could, too, and maintain personal hygiene and eschew STDs. The director could’ve done less about Woodstock and more about the back story of Hugh Romney, a.k.a Wavy Gravy, the clown emcee at Woodstock.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is about us flying a goddamn computer console when we wanna be out hopping galaxies.
If William Shatner had directed it, there would be an extended version of his cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, the soundtrack would include him on the lyre.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “I just want to give those barefooted what-do-you-call-’ems the boot out of here.”
Overall: An inspiring if superficial look at a minor character from another time who gamely tries to keep up the best parts of the hippie philosophy, not the ones that led to massive self-entitlement/-indulgence, but that peace and love stuff (which itself got commodified a long time ago).
I give this movie: 2.97 Nomads

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Drunk Prince 24.08.2009

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Gambon wishes he could break into a song from the ‘40s.

Gambon wishes he could break into a song from the ‘40s. "You always hurt the one you love..."

Movie: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
This movie is a like a wet dream but not in a fun way.
The actors seem bored. The director gives us three B plots but no A plot. The script makes Alan Rickman take cold showers and think of his next paycheck.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie indicates two-dimensional thinking.
If William Shatner had directed it, there’d be at least one fart joke.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have screamed, “That Lucky potion seems to have a kick. I’d fancy a taste of that.”
Overall: The film series get older while its characters fail to mature. The budding love stories fizzle, as does an ending that should make us weep into our smuggled flasks. Oddly, Dumbledore telling Harry to cozy up to Slughorn could’ve played like a British schoolboy version of Notorious. But not with a commercial behemoth like Potter. Maybe in the porn version.
I give this movie: 1 Nomad
PS: Much like her husband’s direction, Helena Bonham Carter continues to be one of the most unpleasant presences on screen, and not in a good way.