Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘StarTrek’

Soldier”  —  movie review
Today’s review is of the 1998 action movie, “Soldier“, starring Kurt Russell as “soldier” Sergeant Todd 3465.  We know this because he has “Todd 3465” tattooed on his face.  Whatever…
Okay.  Todd is the product of the selective training of soldiers from “orphaned” youth (i.e. babies).  The film progresses through their aging and training into dispassionate killer soldiers whose only sense of self is tied up in their profession of violence and following orders absolutely without question.  Selected trainees who cannot make the grade are summarily executed, so only the “best” survive.  Todd survives the training and multiple battles / wars to become a “seasoned” veteran.
Along comes the movie bad-guy in the form of West Point graduate Colonel Mekum (played by Jason Isaacs) who brings along a group of replacement soldiers which have been genetically altered to be superior to the previous batch who were “only” a selected, raised and trained batch (which is Todd’s group).
Mekum uses one of his new soldiers (Caine 607, played by Jason Scott Lee) to demonstrate the groups superiority and the new soldier defeats the old in three-on-one combat.  Two are killed and the third (Todd) is presumed dead and all three bodies are disposed of as a “training accident”.  Todd is dumped on a the garbage planet “Arcadia 234”.  Apparently, in the future, we have such a shortage of resources on Earth we have to explore other worlds to survive, but we have such an abundance of energy that we can transport naval aircraft carriers to other planets to dispose of them (along with a host of other laughable items).
Todd wakes up and finds himself injured on this junkyard planet with a bunch of settlers whose re-settlement ship crashed on this planet.  They’ve made due the best they can, but basically live like homeless folks somewhere in southern California – hot, dry with terrible sand storms.  And, of course, they nurse him back to health…
Blah, blah, blah…  Todd discovers his humanity and begins to make friends.
Now, the good Captain wants to give his men some combat experience, so he decides to land on a junk yard planet and kill anyone they may find there.  (Because that’s how all good officers train their new soldiers.)  Of course, the new guys stumble on Todd’s friends and Todd doesn’t take too kindly to his new family being slaughtered.  So, he goes all Rambo (v5, not v1) on the new guys, but he doesn’t have to show any mercy (v1), so he just kills them all (definitely v5).
Blah, blah, blah…  Lots of explosions, fights and killing goes on and Todd kills all of the new guys with the big final set piece / fight scene against – you guessed it – Caine 607 – the last remaining new soldier.  Todd wins, gathers up the settlers and they commandeer the dead soldiers’ space ship and continue to the original settlement location, with everyone lives happily every after.  Well, all except Mekum, who accidentally blows himself (and Arcadia 234) to smithereens.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work within any of its genres: Sci-Fi, action-hero, “Escape from New York / LA / Stargate / Arcadia 234”, family protecting killer soldier (I mean hero) versus genetically engineered killer soldiers?  Did I enjoy it and / or find it entertaining?  Well, despite the fact this movie was an absolute bomb at the box office, I would say: Yes.  Sometimes.  And, yes!  Of course I enjoyed it.  I mean seriously.  Read through that list of genres, again.  Talk about a pitch being in the batter’s wheelhouse!
Seriously.  This is not a very good movie unless you are seeking a simple minded, summer-type, action movie with fights, explosions, special effects, and (“Oh, the humanity of it!“) one emotionally fulfilled killer wiping out a couple of dozen emotionally unfulfilled killers.  Did I mention there are fights, explosions and special effects?  In other words, you paid for “Snake” Plissken, so eat your popcorn ’cause you’re getting “Snake” Plissken.  The movie doesn’t make ANY sense on so many levels, you just have to hit the switch and say: “Okay, blah, blah blah…  How long until the next fight and explosion”.  On that level, this is actually a pretty good movie and I found myself rooting for Todd and emotionally fulfilled (me, not Todd) when Mekum blows himself up.  Evil fails spectacularly and good is triumphant!!
Final recommendation: moderate.  This movie never tries to be anything it isn’t and is successful at being what it is: a pretty good pop-corn and soda / matinee / action-hero film.  Put it this way, I’ve owned this DVD for over 10 years and this is only the third time I’ve viewed it.  Good enough to keep on the shelf and watch again sometime, but not good enough to schedule another viewing in the immediate future.  A final note:  If you are a total film nerd, there are literally dozens of references to other movies (StarTrek, StarWars, Predator, Blade Runner) and many of Russell’s roles from other movies.  Now that you’ve been told this, you HAVE to view the movie just to see if you can find them.  You KNOW you do…  Then go check out the Wikipedia and IMDb pages to see how close you got to their lists.  Caution: it’ll cost you another viewing or two to confirm who is right.
.
On This Day In:
2019 Will John Bolton Testify?
2018 Just Maybe
2017 Police In My Review Mirror
2016 Full And Rich
2015 Go Deeper
2014 Intentional Mapping
2013 The Sweet Path
2012 Living Free And Abolition
Morning Wood
2011 I Resemble That Remark

Read Full Post »

Paul” — movie review
Today’s movie review is for the Sci-Fi, buddy, nerdy, road trip, comedy, extra-terrestrial parody / spoof “Paul” which was released in 2011.  The movie was written by and stars Simon Pegg as Graeme Willy and Nick Frost as Clive Gollings – two British friends who have come to America to visit a bunch of UFO sites in the Southwestern United States using an RV.  The two play life-long best of friends.
Along the way, they encounter a “real-life” alien by the name of Paul.  Paul is the alien who crashed in Roswell, New Mexico way back in 1947.  The “alien” was captured by the government and kept in secrecy in Area-51.  After 60-plus years of captivity, Paul gets wind the government feels they’ve gotten all they can from him and now intend to dissect him.  So, of course, he breaks out and tries to go home (shades of “E.T.“).
Seth Rogen is the voice of Paul, who is completely CGI.  Jason Bateman plays one of three FBI agents who are tasked with recovering Paul.  Sigourney Weaver is the head of the agency responsible for Paul and orders him captured or killed.  Kristen Wiig plays a right-wing religious fanatic who is “converted” by Paul.  She is also he love-interest for Pegg / Willy.
The alien is named “Paul” because when he crashed, he inadvertently crushed a young girl’s dog – named, you guessed it, “Paul”.  Blythe Danner plays the adult (60 years older) girl and Paul (the alien) wants to visit her before leaving so he can apologize.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it funny?  Does it work in any of the genres it’s trying to reach?  Yes!  Yes!  And, absolutely – ALL of them.
To be honest, I have not seen most of Pegg’s “big” roles.  Yes, I saw him in Mission Impossible and as Scotty in the three StarTrek re-boots and I thought he was pretty good.  I also saw him as the lead in “Absolutely Anything“, but I never got around to reviewing it (my bad).
Pegg and Frost are the two “live” leads / stars and they are both good to very good in their roles.  None of the acting (or other actors) is exceptional, but the movie works as the sum of its parts, not as a starring vehicle.  With one exception…  Unfortunately for the rest of the cast, but fortunately for the movie, the Rogen voiced Paul absolutely steals the movie in EVERY scene.  Paul is a smoking, drinking, cursing, sarcastic realist with nothing to prove to anyone and he would prefer going home to being autopsied.
Most of the humor is sophomoric, but it ALL works and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (out-n-out laughed) several times and guffawed / chuckled even more.  I would caution anyone who is shocked by pointless, vulgar language that this is a movie you need to avoid.  I would advise turning on the system censors, but I think you’ll miss too much of the humor as even the cursing is made fun of.  The movie is rated “R” for language, sexual innuendo and drug use (they smoked weed around a campfire).
If you are one of those folks who are into cultural references, this is THE movie for you.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of references to other movies, news, social trends, etc.  The only thing I’ve seen (recently) that’s been close was “Ready Player One” (which, curiously, I have also never reviewed — my bad, two).
Final recommendation:  Highly!!  The movie is (somewhat) predictable, but it’s a great trip.  In each of its genres it’s like walking up to your favorite roller-coaster:  you know every climb, every drop and twist, but you line up for the ride again because it’s just simple, entertaining, fun.
A final note:  prior to posting this, I have gone back to see some of the reviews of this movie and I am surprised how poorly it was received.  I gather Pegg and Frost are a team who have done some very funny movies in the past (which I have not seen yet) and this is not close to being their best work.  I guess I was just in the mood for some well done (if juvenile) social satire and this punched my ticket for the ride.  In any case, I now have a beacon pointing me to some “good medicine”.  (And after all, laughter IS the best medicine.)
.
On This Day In:
2019 Welcome Home
The Whole Community
2018 The Cells Are Right
Day 19: Broth
2017 Be Responsible
2016 Thinking About November 8th, 2016
2015 Lonely Teardrops
2014 Pleasurable Law
2013 Room For Justice
In The Minds Of Others
2012 Extinction, n.
2011 Snap!

Read Full Post »

Today’s “binge” review is for the series “Lie to me*“, which aired between 2009 and 2010.  I purchased two of the seasons (I haven’t seen Season 3 – from 2011) on VUDU while on sale for $5 each.  Season one has 13 episodes and season two has 22, so I watched about 26 hours of the show over the last week (ish).  Season three (13 episodes) is not currently available to purchase on VUDU, and even if it becomes available, I’ll still wait until it’s on sale for $5.  (Cause I’m just cheap / thrifty that way.)  Which means I may be waiting some time before I see / review the final season.  I believe the series was cancelled for lack of audience.  My brother referred this series over a year ago (he said it was terrific / must see), but when I told him I was watching it, he claimed to not remember it at all.  Go figure…
The series is basically a crime drama / investigation / police procedural starring Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, Kelli Williams as Lightman’s partner, Dr. Gillian Foster, Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, a graduate student / employee of the Lightman Group (Lightman and Foster’s company), Monica Raymund as Ria Torres, another employee, Hayley McFarland, as Emily Lightman (the Dr.’s daughter) and Mekhi Phifer as FBI Agent Ben Reynolds, muscle assigned to work with the Group.
The company specializes in “reading” body language and micro-expressions to act as human lie detectors.  The premise is Dr. Lightman is a “genius” at this and can tell if anyone is trying to lie.  Hence, he gets lots of work from the government and various police forces.
The show is based on the actual scientific studies and work of Dr. Paul Ekman who serves as a consultant for the show and who actually performed these duties for real agencies, in the real world.  I was completely unfamiliar with “micro-expressions” or the work of Dr. Ekman.  I read “Body Language” by Julius Fast, way back in the early 1970’s when it was a best seller, so I have been “kind-of” familiar with the general concept of “reading” people for most of my adult life.  Fast’s book was published in paperback in 1970, which is the version I read.  Dr. Ekman has loads of books and has been publishing for over fifty years.  You can find some of his videos on YouTube if you are interested in the topic.
Is the show any good?  Does the “science” work?  Yes and who knows for sure…  I thoroughly enjoyed the series after I got over my initial doubts that ANY of the premise is actual science.  If the show works (as entertainment), who really cares if the science is real or not (see StarTrek, StarWars or any of a million other series).  It IS entertaining.  Mostly because Roth owns this role.  I’m not familiar with much of his other work, so I don’t know if he’s acting or doing a John Wayne (playing himself in every role, over and over again).  I remember Roth from one of the Hulk movies and kind of remember him from “Reservoir Dogs“, but I haven’t seen that in ages, so, like I said, I’m not sure.  The other actors are mostly ok to good in their roles, but to be honest, it’s all mostly attractive yuppie stuff, so I wouldn’t say I’d go out of my way to look for any of them in other roles.
Final recommendation: Strong, but with reservations. I did enjoy the series and found the premise interesting enough that I will look into the scientific basis if I happen to stumble on a used book on the topic of micro-expressions / lie detection / body language, but I doubt if I would ever really try to use any of the info I might glean from the book.  Generally, I think I’m a bit too narcissistic to care about other people’s body language now that I’m retired.  I’m not sure their “truth” is worth all that much effort on my part and I certainly would not devote enough time on it to become expert level.  Like I said: interesting premise and entertaining series.  I’m looking forward to viewing season three.
.
On This Day In:
2017 Give And Keep
2016 No Change Here
2015 Campbell’s Law
2014 Dignified Values
2013 Unappreciated Skill
2012 Living Courage
2011 What’s Happening To Us?
2010 Toothbrush, Carbon and Monoxide
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

 

Read Full Post »

I took Friday off to get a little maintenance done on the car and to just chill a bit from work.  I also went out and picked up the DVD for “Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows (part 1)“.
Hil and I watched it last night.  Hil hasn’t read the books and hasn’t followed the movie series closely, so she was a bit lost.  I’ve only read the books once and although I’ve seen every movie, I don’t tend to “study” them the way my daughter Sarah does.  Anyway, it was my second viewing.  The first was at the theater the weekend of first release.  I enjoyed it (again) even though I still didn’t feel like the movie made much sense.  I also didn’t like the producers splitting the ending movie up by a whole year (parts 1 and 2).  In my opinion, it’s just to drive up the sales of both tickets and DVDs.  Still, it is what it is…
During the day (yesterday), I watched “The Core“.  This is a SciFi movie which I must have seen 20 or 30 times in the last 10 years.  (Actually, I believe it came out in ’03, so the last 8 years.)  I enjoy it more each time I watch it.  There are just some great “movie moments” in this film (for me).  One of the classics is when the character Hilary Swank plays is waiting outside a hearing room where she believes she is to be court-martialed and she gets called in and has no place to put her gum, so she swallows it.  That was just a great, real-life, happened to me moment (forced to swallow gum, not getting court-martialed).  The movie is about the core of the earth stops spinning and a group of scientists must go to the core and restart the spinning.  The effects are great the first few times you see them, average after about ten and so-so after twenty views.  BUT the acting gets better and better!  There is a lot of subtle character interaction and that’s what makes it so enjoyable for me to re-watch.  This is definitely a movie I’ll have to pick up on DVD (when the price is right).  Highly recommended!!
Yesterday, I also read a graphic novel: “Fallen Son: The Death Of Captain America”, written by Jeph Loeb (2007©).   My son (James) and I were discussing patriotism and he was out a the mall and thought I would like this book, so he bought it for me.  I grew up reading most of the comics Marvel Comic Company produced.  Captain America was one of the many characters I read about, but without super powers, he seemed one of the least interesting to me.  Marvel was always ahead of their time in dealing with societal issues – particularly the angst of being “different” in a society where many people just want to “be normal” and “fit in”.  I never really thought much about how a fictional, comic-book patriot would feel about what was happening in America during the George W. Bush Presidency.  After reading “Fallen Son“, it’s refreshing to see Captain America came out against many of the abuses of personal liberty which came out of that Administration and time period.  It is also interesting to see the company have the character captured and “assassinated” in order to draw attention to the ideals of freedom which Captain America came to represent.
Of course, Cap is a popular character, so after a suitable period of time he gets resurrected (more correctly, he never actually died) by Marvel, but still, it is nice to see some company stood up for fundamental American values.  I wonder if Marvel took any “heat” for their stance and if they would be allowed to do it again (as the comic company is currently owned by Disney Corp).
It seems there is always a conflict between the needs of the many and the needs of the few.  This theme keeps coming up in my lifetime – be it in comics, the Army, StarTrek, current politics, or American history.  I don’t know that there is any resolution to the question.  What is “safety and security”?  Are we safer with nine criminals and one innocent in prison than we are with all ten free?  Historically, this country has – in theory – always sided with it being better to have guilty free.  As a practical matter, I’d wager the reverse is the reality though – particularly if the incarcerated “innocent” is poor or a minority.  (But I digress…)
I am currently reading a short book on the faiths of several of the founding fathers.  It is fascinating.  More later…
.

Read Full Post »

In my last post, I forgot to mention another point the author of the book spends a lot of time on – namely, “a runner’s high“.  This is vaguely described as a feeling of euphoria during or immediately after (and a result of) physical exertion.  The author says there is a vast range of experiences and intensities to this “high”.  I have felt it numerous times, but would point out a more addictive form which I would label (borrowing from StarTrek) the “temporal shift”.  In this state, the person is “in the zone”, that is, time appears to slow, experience (colors, sounds, tastes and textures) is intensified and you genuinely feel “alive” and in the moment.  It is a sensation of perfection.
One example of this occurred while I was taking an Aikido lesson several years ago.  The person was throwing me and as I entered (attacked), I had the sense of being caught in the wind.  I could not feel the opponent, but I was so caught up in his energy and movement I followed a natural path into my fall and roll.  When I got up I asked him if he felt it too, and strangely enough, he did not.  He did not feel I was particularly easy or  difficult to throw, but he did not “experience” the throw in the same energy flow I did.  This seemed strange to me because I assumed if you felt the shift with another they would also feel it.  On reflection, though, it made perfect sense as I’ve had numerous other similar experiences where time appeared to slow – or stand still – and others seemed completely unaware of the experience.
A similar experience (for me) used to happen every once in a while when I was a programmer.  I would be concentrating so hard for so long, I seemed to have 15 or 20 variables in my head and the cloud of the application running simultaneously in my brain (with the cpu).  In a strange way, although time seemed to slow, it was actually racing along, as I would look up and hours would have passed and it would be time to go home.  Obviously, there is a different mechanism which produces the state of euphoria, but makes the experience of time variable.
.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: