Some Thoughts on Some Movies

I don’t really have enough for a full review of any of the movies I’ve watched recently, but I feel like sharing about some of them. Zootopia_Flash_and_Priscilla

Sometime in January or February, we finally got around to seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you are at all interested in seeing it, you probably have already done so, and I’m not such a Star Wars geek that I flatter myself that I have anything significant to add to the various conversations surrounding the new film and its place in the canon. So, yeah, I really, really liked it a lot. It wasn’t perfect, but Abrams did a fine job of it, I was pleased with the characters and casting, and it sure as anything beat the hell out of the prequels.

Speaking of the prequels, some of you may be unaware of this thing called the Machete Order. But don’t click that link if you have ::gasp:: never watched any of the Star Wars movies. In that case, I’ll just tell you straight-up that the recommended order for watching the first six episodes of the saga is IV, V, II, III, VI. Yes, completely skipping episode I (the first prequel). If you have watched at least the original trilogy, go ahead and click through for Rod Hilton’s explanation of why he feels this is the best order in which to view the films. I’m inclined to agree with him overall, but I still feel a bit odd about actively recommending any of the prequels.

Not long after that, we went with some friends to the opening night of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I don’t often go to opening nights or weekends anymore, mainly because in my old age I’m becoming less tolerant of crowded venues. But most of our group were part of a book club that read the book, and this was the first real opportunity I’d had to check out the new cinema bistro in town. And it was refreshing to see cosplayers in Georgian garb instead of spandex. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good feel for the new venue, as several of us had a hard time finding the place and the previews were already going by the time we got in. I never did find the button to put my footrest up.

I said our book club read the book, but I suppose it’s more accurate to say it was a book club selection. I have tried twice now to read it but haven’t gotten very far. It’s an amusing concept, but it only goes so far, and the inserted zombie bits don’t feel smoothly integrated into the Jane Austen story. In some ways, I suspect the movie is actually better than the book. I went in with very low expectations, and I was rewarded with an entertaining pseudo-period romp. I did find it odd that about half the cast seemed to be in on the joke and did a great job camping it up, while the other half seemed to be laboring under the impression that they were in a Masterpiece Theatre production. Even odder, though, was that this just made it all the more fun. Anyway, this movie is worth seeing for Matt Smith’s Mr Collins alone.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a fun Bollywood version of P&P, check out Bride and Prejudice. Bonus: Naveen Andrews! Though he has this irritating habit of being fully clad throughout the movie.

I was kind of burned out on superhero movies, so I didn’t really have any desire to see Deadpool, despite all the hype. But then I saw an actual preview and decided it looked like it might be a little different. So we went during opening weekend. And stupid people brought their young kids. Really? Cinemas should have bouncers. Anyway, the movie was a lot of super-violent fun. I don’t really keep up with the Marvel characters and all their reboots and prequels, so I’m sure I missed a lot of the inside jokes, but it was still a great ride. It is quite graphic and raunchy, though, so don’t see it unless you are prepared for that.

Last weekend I watched Silver Linings Playbook on Netflix. Great performances, good story, but wow, really hard to watch. Particularly for me, as Bradley Cooper in this puts me in mind a great deal of an old friend of mine from high school. It’s worth it, though.

Then a few nights ago Flash (If you know Brian and have seen at least the sloth trailer for the movie, then you understand.) took me to see Zootopia.  This is the best kids’ movie I have seen in a very long time. Beautiful animation, a noir-ish mystery, and great messages about prejudice, all bundled up with a sense of humor that has something for everybody.

Star Trek Into Darkness (and the Era of Reboots)

I finally made it to a showing of the new Star Trek flick this past weekend. It was not without its eyeroll moments, but even then, JJ Abrams was obviously having so much fun with his reboot of the Trek universe that it would have seemed mean-spirited to complain.

I suppose I should explain that I have a certain fondness for Chris Pine’s Kirk that I never had for Shatner’s. No, I am not a Chris Pine fangirl. Besides the whole issue of crushing on somebody with the same first name and the fact that he is far too young for me, he just doesn’t appeal to me in that way. But when I was much, much younger, I had a college friend whose favorite Trek character was Kirk. He was also an actor, and he had just the right looks and attitude that I always thought he should head to Hollywood to see if he could get cast as the bastard son of Kirk and some alien chick. So when Chris Pine turned up on the screen in 2009, looking and acting so eerily like my old friend, I knew Abrams was heading the right direction, no matter what all those stick-in-the-mud purists had to say.

And now I suppose I have to make a confession that will probably lose me what little geek cred I may have had. Confessions, actually. 1. I’ve watched only a handful of TOS episodes. I’m pretty sure “Space Seed” was not one of them. 2. I’ve never seen more than snippets of the first three Star Trek movies. So the whole Khan/Marcus storyline was lost on me. But I decided to read up on those plot lines, and now that I know just what Abrams was messing about with, I have to say I like his take on Trek all the better. He took known elements from the canon, he brought them together at a very different point in the larger story arc, and he toyed with how things would happen in his Trek world, which is so deliciously not canon. 

Piece of cake, right? Heh. I wish. I realized that my current project is, at its core, a reboot of Mark Twain. Sheesh. I’m resurrecting Sam’s dead older brother as his treasured baby sister. And she’s worried that she might be a zombie. If JJ Abrams is taking heat for time travel in Star Trek, what am I letting myself in for? Maybe I’ll find myself wishing for blessed obscurity when I finally get my work out there.

So what does make or break a reboot? There are so many now! If you don’t like how RDJ portrays Sherlock Holmes, wait five minutes, and you can give Benedict Cumberbatch’s version a whirl. I happen to like both. I firmly believe, especially after reading some Baring-Gould and watching Doyle’s own Bohemia/Reichenbach mashup, that Doyle had rather a cavalier attitude towards Holmes and his world. Which is good, considering the sheer numbers of Holmes pastiches that have been unleashed on the world. But where some of the recent superhero reboots have been deemed huge successes (e.g., Iron Man), others are considered but pale green imitations. And now they’ve started rebooting the reboots to the point that I just don’t think I can be bothered to care about the new Spiderman, Superman, and Batman offerings.

So as I embark on my steampunkification of Samuel L Clemens (and the zombification of one of his siblings), I ask you to tell me what you love and hate in a reboot. What can I do to win you over to my vision of the 19th century on the Missouri River?