Re: Star Trek

1

I laughed out loud at the whole born-thru-his-mom, born-thru-the-enterprise (whose shuttle exit path thing grew to enormous lengths somehow) duality thing at the very beginning, with the trauma of childbirth mirrored in the trauma of Blowing Shit Up. Deep Stuff, JJ Abrams!

Still don't know if I consider it a "good movie."


Posted by: bbass | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 1:47 PM
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Such bull to make Spock gay.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 2:17 PM
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Summer is not as early as your movies.

I'd bet re-runs of Fight Club or Carmen & Johny Rico's space oddity (Starship Troopers ?) are still better in their own ways.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 2:51 PM
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Yeah, I'll have to see this. I'm no Trekkie, but I've always enjoyed a good Trek movie.

Wolverine was bad? That's unfortunate, the X-Men films were pretty good and lots of fun in my estimation. Eh, I'll still probably see it.

3:
What's all this about Fight Club and Starship Troopers?

I hear Spielberg is remaking Park Chan Wook's Oldboy, and, supposedly, it's coming out soon-ish. I really don't understand how such a thing is possible -- I don't get why Spielberg would even want to remake it, it's not his kind of story. I don't know what he's going to do about all the brutal violence, but if he doesn't keep the hammer-in-the-hallway scene, I'll be very frustrated. (I mean, Oldboy isn't as bleak, or as good imo, as Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but c'mon. Spielberg's too nice for the subject matter.) For what it's worth, I'm not opposed to remakes of foreign films on principle (The Departed was great), but it seems too easy to foul it all up.


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:01 PM
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It's hard. I want to like the Wolverine movie. I like the character, and the backstory. How much could go wrong? And yet, the reviews are not looking good.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:06 PM
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Further re: Spielberg's Oldboy. Apparently Spielberg is adapting the original anime (on which Park's film was based) and not doing a straight remake of Park's. That's better, but I'm still nervous.


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:06 PM
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Even Netflix says I'll only give it 2.5 stars.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:07 PM
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The Wolverine movie sort of looked like crap from the get-go, I'm not surprised it's getting bad reviews.

I confess I was expecting the Trek film to be Lost in Space Mk. 2, but I'm on the fence about it now. A lot of people whose opinions I respect have turned in very positive reviews of it. OTOH I can't tell whether everyone is just really relieved because it doesn't completely suck.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:10 PM
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So now there's a science fiction film thread and a science fiction book thread? Can't at least one of them be turned into an abuse-commenters-and-make-them-leave thread?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:15 PM
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That's the last straw Jesus, you asshole. Get out. Now.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:19 PM
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You must really be a fucking idiot to think that was at all original after that setup, paranoid android. How you lasted here as long as you have I have no idea, but you sure as shit aren't welcome to stay any longer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:24 PM
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I'm working up filter scripts on all you bitches.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:26 PM
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You'll have to hit harder than that, android. I've been belittled so long it looks like embiggened to me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:27 PM
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Going to State of Play instead.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:42 PM
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Instead of eating a live octopus, the Spielberg character will eat an all-American creature like a woodchuck or something.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:45 PM
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The trailer made me leery, but Adventureland is very well done and enjoyable. Not very science-fictioney, though.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 3:51 PM
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3:I liked SfMV a little better than Oldboy, but I would have to say that O was considerably bleaker. Accident vs agency? A sucky world can be borne, but not one with totally suckaxx people.

It's a great trilogy, and Spielberg should be kept away from it. What an asshole. The bummer is that I know I won't be able to resist watchig how he ruins it, and thus orginal & remake will be ruined. But since that will complete the misanthropy by removing the last support, the compensations of art & beauty, maybe it kinda works.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 4:18 PM
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A week after watching it, I am still excited about The Tracey Fragments, even though after a half-dozen movies, I'm getting bored with Ellen Page.

Saw Penelope the other night, with Ricci, Witherspoon, and MacAvoy, and R & W were still sweet & cute & funny, but also grownups. Page needs five years. It's a tough business.

But Tracey Fragments is important for what I think is a technical advance and should become a new way of making movies.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 4:45 PM
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You know what movie I watched last night? The Outsiders, and I think someone 'round these parts recommended it. Thanks, that person.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 7:08 PM
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Spielberg is remaking Oldboy?!? Jesus. I wish Mr. B would've poisoned him when he had a chance.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 7:11 PM
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19: You know what movie I watched last night? The Outsiders, and I think someone 'round these parts recommended it.

Tweren't I, but in looking up the novel just now I learned that author SE Hinton was 16 when it was published! It was an interesting book because when it came out in the late '60s, almost all of the (non-nostalgic) fictional youth conflicts being depicted were along hippie/straights line and here came this orthogonal Soc/Greaser thing. (She lived in Tulsa.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-09 7:33 PM
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It was AWESOME (ok, if hokey in many parts with schlocky action) and I wished I had remembered to wear my live long and prosper hand sign pin, and I wish I hadn't left my comm badge at my parents house. No, I am not kidding. You have to be a die hard Trekkie to be so earnest and enthusiastic, even when they mess with the lore. I kind of enjoyed how they messed with it though--for once that time warp stuff paid off, and I never believed in the time travel grandfather paradox anyway. As a Trekkie female, I frowned at the gratuitously short mini skirts, but reveled in my objectifying female gaze of Zachary Quinto as young Spock. Chris Pine was cute too, but his voice was so boyish. And of course, I have always been in love with John Cho, since Better Luck Tomorrow.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 1:32 AM
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Needless to say, I just got home from the movie. I am so wired and excited but tired! I don't know how kids these days stay out late at bars and clubs.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 1:36 AM
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As a Trekkie female, I frowned at the gratuitously short mini skirts,

When I was re-watching the first season of the original series (which is now available for free online, btw), I noticed that in the pilot episode--which was aired as Episode 3, I think--the women actually wear pants. I guess the network decided they needed mini-skirts to sell sci fi in the sixties.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 9:24 AM
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It was a lot of fun on the whole, although there were a few sour notes--as when Spock grabbed the Idiot Ball with both hands because the plot required Kirk to meet Future Spock in isolation and apparently the $150 million budget didn't include enough to hire a writer who could figure out how to make that happen any other way.

Also: the Drill of Disaster was awesome, but I'm not sure why you couldn't just drop your Singularity-O-Matic on a randomly selected McMansion in Houston and get the same result. I can't even comment on "red matter", except to be thankful they didn't bother to try explaining it.

Still, the action was exciting, the re-imagined characters were interesting, and the acting was solid all around. The coda of Capt. Pike's recruitment speech even brought a tear to my eye, because I'm dreadfully soppy for a geek.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 12:37 PM
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25: Capt. Pike? Oh my. Now there was some classic Star Trek; I don't know how many times I've seen those episodes. I may have to see this movie!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 12:45 PM
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Pike's played by Bruce Greenwood, who's perfect for the role.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 1:03 PM
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As a Trekkie female, I frowned at the gratuitously short mini skirts....

Isn't one of the lessons of feminism that the short skirts are not gratuitous, but that their purpose (objectification, male gaze, agency, somebody called Tina Fey fatzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz) is illegitimate?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 2:42 PM
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I'M GOING TO SEE IT THIS EVENING! THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT! NOT LOOKING NOT LOOKING NOT LOOKING


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 2:46 PM
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I will be waiting to talk to you about it, Wrongshore!


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 2:50 PM
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I'M GOING TO SEE IT THIS EVENING!

Well, god. I was going to wait to see it until it comes to the $4 theater, which is in the same complex as the Mediterranean/Egyptian food joint with the fantastic homemade lemonade and the belly-dancer every other Friday night. The belly-dancer is a little distracting when you're trying to eat with your friends, but other than that, I like my plan.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 2:51 PM
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28: If a thing's purpose is illegitimate, isn't it gratuitous by definition? A gratuitous thing is a thing without apparent justification, right?

('Course, that purpose isn't in itself illegitimate, only certain forms of it are, but still.)

I think Pike's yeoman was wearing a miniskirt, actually. After the pilot they just decided on that look for all the women.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 2:54 PM
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31: See, this is my plan. Except we don't have a complex with an Egyptian food joint in it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 2:55 PM
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I think Pike's yeoman was wearing a miniskirt, actually. After the pilot they just decided on that look for all the women.

Was Pike in the pilot (which according to 24 was aired as episode 3)? The series of episodes I remembered was later in the show, I thought, but incorporated scenes from the past when Pike was a young man; that series culminated in a trial? With Pike as an old and/or disabled man in some kind of giant enclosing wheelchair contraption? This is a little hazy now. I'm not sure I've seen the really early episodes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 3:30 PM
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34: Yeah, the flashbacks in those later episodes were actually the original pilot episode featuring Pike and his crew, with Spock's court-martial as the framing narrative and Pike in that Dalek-esque chair.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 3:46 PM
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35: Right -- I was piecing that together, though I didn't fully get that when watching the episodes, despite the fact that the flashbacks had an entirely different filmic (?) look. And ... Spock's court-martial, right. I might not be qualified to see this movie; I hate being the one who's all like, "Wait, what? Isn't ... wait. So, wait, so no, the Klingons, like ..."

Actually I find that Star Trek: Next Generation (Jean-Luc Picard's gig) intrudes quite a bit on my memory of the show.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 4:01 PM
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I have to admit my antennae tingle when I see "praise" of the movie like this:

It was AWESOME (ok, if hokey in many parts with schlocky action)

Which is how a lot of the "positive" reviews on Rotten Tomatoes look. Along with a lot of talk about how cool the effects are and how all the boring stuff has been "shouldered aside" for the action. It can wait, I think.

36: I hate being the one who's all like, "Wait, what? Isn't ... wait. So, wait, so no, the Klingons, like ..."

I'm given to understand that the time-travel plot does away with any of that.

And, well, TNG did run for seven seasons after all, there's lots of it to intrude. Though I find when I see episodes now, it hasn't aged well.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 4:16 PM
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There were actually two pilots, right? The original one with Pike, which was never picked up. The other one was "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which aired as Episode 3 because NBC thought it didn't have enough action for a premiere. That's the one where the ladies where pants.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 4:37 PM
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Which is how a lot of the "positive" reviews on Rotten Tomatoes look

Hence the $4 theater. Oh, but I see you've said that.

I haven't really found an online movie review site that satisifes: both Rotton Tomatoes and IMDB are full of judgments I don't really trust, though it may just be the nature of the beast. IMDB's Top 250 list is odd/interesting/odd.

Ha! Back in the day, I made a project of investigating as many of Rolling Stone magazine's 5-star albums as I could: that was worthwhile.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 4:42 PM
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TNG was my favorite of the series. The first season is hokey, but there are certain episodes that really stand out (the one on torture by the Cardassians, the one where Picard lives an entire man's life in 15 minutes b/c of a probe, Drumhead, the one with a courtmartial/zealous persecution)...lots others. That show had moments of depth.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 6:25 PM
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Except we don't have a complex with an Egyptian food joint in it.

Which makes the belly-dancer at dinner not just distracting, but downright odd.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 7:20 PM
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40: Oh, it's still my favourite of the TV series. It's just when I see them now, a lot of the episodes are much, much shittier than I remember them being.

41: Which makes the belly-dancer at dinner not just distracting, but downright odd.

A Pizza Hut isn't the ideal venue, it's true, but I think I usually manage to blend in pretty well.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 7:26 PM
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42.last: I have some finger-cymbals I can lend you, dear. (I really do; they were my grandmother's.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 7:32 PM
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The problem with things with a fan base (like Star Trek) is that the fans come in just different stripes of fervent--the purists too devoted to The Canon and thus likely to be _too critical_ of any endeavor; or the grateful mildly obsessive fans (like me) who are generally so happy to see some new incarnation of their Most Favorite Thing Ever that they are way too forgiving of the flaws and thus express too much enthusiasm in the reviews to be useful. Hence, "it was awesome! except for the part that was not!" So it's hard to find a detached, objective, "useful" review from a fan. But the problem is, critics and mildly interested non-fans _just don't get it_. Those reviews are usually frustrating to me. I usually enjoy movie reviews as either good/bad exercises of criticism and analysis (although my favorite remains James Agee's review of You Were Meant For Me: "That's what you think"), but occasionally, when I'm reading a review of something I know and care about, I get into fits of irrational rage: "what do you mean, starting off this review stating that "you were never a fan" or "you never saw the original/don't know the canon"?! Then the review sounds ignorant to me and feels useless: I need comparisons to things that I know matter! "Is it better than The Wrath of Khan? How different is it from the original?" It's irrational, because I blithely read reviews of movies based on books and don't think it's necessary that the reviewer read the original work, for example.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 7:55 PM
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Wait, there's a time travel plot device, and it doesn't suck?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 9:09 PM
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(I really do; they were my grandmother's.)

Was she a belly dancer? I have my Nana's trumpet. Apparently she was in a dance band.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 9:13 PM
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45: Star Trek had lots of episodes with time travel which didn't suck. It's almost like you don't get it, Cala!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 9:15 PM
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Was she a belly dancer? I have my Nana's trumpet.

Not as far as I know, she wasn't. But she had a couple of guitars, and a ukelele, and the finger-cymbals. She was a forward-thinking woman. She wore bold jewelry and was a craftswoman whose favorite colors were red and orange; it was the 70s. Happy grandmother's day!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 9:19 PM
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I'd raise a Manhattan—Nana's favorite cocktail, consumed in copious quantities in her last years—if I had some bourbon and vermouth. A beer will have to do.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 9:23 PM
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Hear, hear. To your Nana's trumpet. Hang on to that. (It'd be great if you had any recordings of her playing it.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 9:28 PM
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44: Actually, The Wrath of Khan gets at what Trek tries to be but mostly isn't; it strikes a balance between being relevant to the fans and accessible to the non-fans. Someone could give an opinion of that movie as someone who wasn't a fan and it would still be relevant and informative to a fan.

I don't really care that much about fanservice in the Trek universe, because they almost always do it exactly wrong, staying faithful to silly things like showers of sparks coming out of the command consoles while fucking up the most basic continuity for no good reason. They spent so many years getting it exactly wrong that Trek fandom has long since calcified into countless sects with their own takes on what is or isn't Canon and what kinds of fanservice are and aren't acceptable, which circumstances made carelessness on the part of producers easier and easier to indulge, and so it went in a vicious cycle.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 10:01 PM
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(Or shorter 51: Trek fandom's disconnection from the broader cultural conversation marks it as an exhausted franchise. Unless the new movie creates a whole new generation of obsessive fans... meh. Don't see that happening. But we'll see.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 10:03 PM
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Daniel Larison on the new ST movie :

Now J.J. Abrams promises/threatens to do to an old, admittedly creaky and tired franchise what he does in pretty much every movie he directs: blow up a lot of things, including any pretensions the franchise has ever had to being something more than a violent space opera. For most people, this will come as a relief, but I am not one of them. The insufferably cerebral and moralistic elements of Star Trek have been bad enough to make even devoted fans wince many, many times, and if the acting often seemed weak it might have been because so few actors can credibly recite some of the drivel generations of actors have been forced to say over the decades. However, stripping Star Trek of those things isn't to create a new, reimagined Star Trek, but simply to slap the old names on something entirely different and pretend that annihilation is the same as renovation. Of course, I have found almost every assumption that undergirds the old Star Trek universe utterly ridiculous and unrealistic even by sci-fi standards. It is indeed the meliorist's and progressive's dream come true, which is another way of saying that it is impossible. There is almost nothing in the franchise's politics that I find attractive, and the regular sermonizing was at times very unpleasant. Yet I learned to like it not just in spite of its preachiness and precious political correctness, but also partly because those were constants one could rely on.... Millions of people who grew up with the hokey, earnest and ridiculous Star Trek will miss it when it is permanently replaced by its "self-obsessed" namesake.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 10:13 PM
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53: that was painful to read. Ugh.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 10:39 PM
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Is Daniel Larison not liberal? Because I think those things--the utopianism--are kinda neat.

"Blow up a lot of things, including" seems about right. I enjoyed heartily, but found that most of my enjoyment was on the level of "that was a cool action sequence" and "hey, I actually got that bit of fan service even though I'm a mildly interested non-fan". The time travel plot had an unfortunate side effect of saying, "guaranteed, this will all work itself out." So I didn't feel like the action sequences really built towards anything. I wanted to like it more, especially since I got a bunch of friends who don't often go to summer movie spectaculars to come see it together.

I'm starting to think JJ Abrams' combination of very good action and very obvious character beats works well when he's unfolding them over the course of a TV season, because there's time for the beats to trip one another up as they pile up over time, rather than in a two-hour movie where they just feel like really obvious beats on the hero's journey, sometimes clunkily early.

By the way, JJ Abrams scripts are really fun to read. He tends to editorialize in the action...there's a lot HOLY FUCKING SHIT THE PLANE BLOWS UP and such.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 10:50 PM
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Daniel Larison is not a liberal, it turns out.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 10:51 PM
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The quote in 53 is from American Conservative magazine, so yeah. Not a liberal.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 11:07 PM
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55.last: Ooh, that is fun to read! I don't even really enjoy watching the show, but the script is great.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 11:34 PM
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Is Daniel Larison not liberal? Because I think those things--the utopianism--are kinda neat.

As you already know, Larison's no liberal, but I am, and I think the utopianism is about as obnoxious as he does.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-10-09 11:55 PM
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Star Trek's moderate liberal utopianism can be silly, but it is part of what makes it Star Trek. I feel like Trek without some kind of deliberate political/moral consciousness is kind of like The Avengers done as a gritty, realistic spy thriller, or The Muppet Show done with CGI.

Anyway, I'm not seeing the new one because seriously, a non-Shatner Kirk? That's just absurd. The promos look like kids playing dress-up.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 5:48 AM
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Would you prefer a Shatner Kirk?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 6:44 AM
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I've only seen Lost through season 2, but on the frozen planet in ST when old Spock and young Kirk first go into the federation outpost where they find Scotty, is the long cold hallway with buzzing flickering fluorescent lights supposed to be a reference to the medical station on the island in Lost?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 7:22 AM
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Larison's not a liberal, but he might be the best and smartest conservative writer on the web. Always worth reading.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 7:36 AM
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Yeah, SP, I don't know if it was intended as a reference or if it's just how JJA rolls, but my exact words were 'which Dharma station is that?'

Ditto the red matter echoing the Rambaldi sphere whateverthefuck from Alias.


Posted by: Ham-Love | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 7:38 AM
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Re: Wolverine, I liked it, although apparently I'm the only person who did. It wasn't high art, but so what? That's not why most people go to action movies. Stuff blew up good, the plot made more sense than X2 or either Christian Bale Batman movie, it had lots of red meat for fans, and it had a lot of acting talent in there. If Liev Schreiber were dead, his Sabertooth would be getting just as many fawning accolades as Heath Ledger's Joker did. (They both were playing wildly against type in sadistic, ultra-violent villain roles.)

Re: Star Trek, I haven't seen it yet, but I probably will. If nothing else, my roommates will ask me about it until I do. They're pretty big Trekkies. (Or is "Trekker" the PC term?)

I was very encouraged to see the movie when a friend told me that it departed a lot from the source material.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 7:46 AM
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Would you prefer a Shatner Kirk?

Hasn't that been the standard for the last forty years?


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 7:52 AM
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Larison is one of the smartest political thinkers on the web, and he's better on the issues of torture, state surveillance, and (most important) U.S. militarism and imperialism than the great majority of mainstream liberals.

Speaking of that last issue, here's Larison's followup post on the central moral hypocrisy in Star Trek -- treatement of the Prime Directive. The connection to U.S. imperialism is clear enough.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:07 AM
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65: It wasn't high art, but so what? That's not why most people go to action movies.

See, when I see these two sentences, I estimate a 90% probability that what's being talked about is an action movie that sucked, by someone who's trying to convince themselves they didn't waste their money. It's rare that people have to say this in defense of action movies that were actually good.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:09 AM
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And on a more general note, I came out of the movie giving it an 8/10 and have revised it down to 7/10 upon sober reflection.

No one cares about original series Trek more than I do. I'm not bothered by the departures from canon/rewriting of canon.

1. I also was audibly rolling my eyes at the opening. The silliness of it was almost, but not quite, paid off with Pike's "your father was captain of the Kelvin for twelve minutes blah blah daddyissuescakes" speech.

The movie definitely could have used some more breathing room. We didn't even get a decent look at the Enterprise - I'm not asking for a Star Trek: The Motion Picture ten minute slow pan here, but maybe one more like the one in Wrath of Khan. It's the Enterprise, and we need to see her. I don't like the new design at all, but they didn't even try to sell me on it. (The Enterprise of the original-cast movies is IMO the prettiest.)

Oddly, it's the changes to Starfleet policy more than the characters that pissed me off. Kelvin's crew complement was way too big. Spock was way too young to be a commander (at the start of the original series, he was a lieutenant-commander, and also had finished puberty). At the end of the movie, Kirk appears to have been made a captain for no other reason than that he's Kirk, WTF? Literally any of the other characters in the movie would be more appropriate to get the center seat.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:10 AM
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the plot made more sense... than either Christian Bale Batman movie

I also think the criticisms of Wolverine have a been a bit overdone, but it's time to put the crack pipe down.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:15 AM
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re: 70

I thought the second Bale movie was woeful shite, but I haven't seen Wolverine to compare.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:17 AM
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Larison's right about the politics of Star Trek. The problem is not that utopia itself is impossible, it's that there's no real sense in the story of how it all came about, and so it's always had the feel of going down a wishlist of things we would have liked to see in the 1960s and 70s. Interracial crew! U.S. and the U.S.S.R getting along! The whole planet getting along! Science! Peace! (Shoot to kill!) No money! Nothing to kill or die for and no religion, too! Prime Directive, because that's what anthropologists do, right? (Exceptions to the Prime Directive: civilizations who are really not nice in the folkways, beautiful women, green women, Klingons, Romulans, everyone else.) But it's not the same if all of that goes away. Cheesy politics are part of it.

Wolverine was okay. Liev Schreiber was a treat. I think part of the problem was that all of the fights were shot in too close, and Wolverine doesn't throw kicks to open up the frame at all, so a lot of the action was dull. It needed about a hundred more playing cards.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:27 AM
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You know what makes me not want to see this film? The fear that J. J. Abrams will do the same thing he did with every goddamn episode* of Alias and Lost that I've ever seen: tempo it up to a…cliff-hanger ending. He seems like a one-trick pony.

*Admittedly, um, not a whole lot of 'em, so I'm prepared to be told I don't know what I'm talking about.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:40 AM
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The problem is not that utopia itself is impossible, it's that there's no real sense in the story of how it all came about

Dude, as later Star Trek writers had it, the invention of the warp drive by a post-apocalyptic, mid 21st century human engineer and subsequent visit by Vulcans to earth inspires humanity to put aside all tribal conflicts and explore space in a spirit virtuous curiosity. What more explanation could you want?!?


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:42 AM
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73: No cliffhanger ending, just an extreeeeemely silly one.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:47 AM
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"Millions of people who grew up with the hokey, earnest and ridiculous Star Trek will miss it when it is permanently replaced by its "self-obsessed" namesake."

Yes, which is more offensive: Star Trek's naive meliorism or the Hollywood bastards who ruined it? That's certainly a dilemma, Mr. Larison.

Eh. It entertained me for an afternoon. It was better than I expected it to be, really. And contra Larison, I thought it captured the spirit of the original series--described by Roddenberry as "a Wagon Train to the stars," remember--as well or better than most of the movies that followed.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:47 AM
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74: How the hell they afford the Enterprise!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:50 AM
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I think part of the problem was that all of the fights were shot in too close

The last Bond movie had the same problem. It's like they looked at the Bourne movies and took the hand-held camera work and fast-cuts but took it too far and in the process lost the things that made the action scenes in the Bourne movies work. Namely, that they are largely done for 'real'* and shot in ways that let you see the actor/stuntman actually moving/fighting in believable ways.

The action scenes in Quantum of Solace could have been CGI, or knitted together from dozens of takes, which completely removes any excitement.

* i.e. without CGI and with stunts performed in a fairly realistic way that doesn't make use of wire-work.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:52 AM
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Exactly. I'm not sure why that style of filming fight scenes has become popular, but it's got to stop.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:55 AM
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68: Like I said, I liked it, but that's what I would say, isn't it.

70: Which part do you disagree with - are you saying that Wolverine's plot was worse than I make it sound or the Batman plots were better?

People are often illogical about this stuff. My father said he didn't like tDK much because it was too unrealistic, how the Joker managed to always have explosives all over the place and always be two steps ahead of everyone even when in jail and predict how people would change their plans in reaction to him. And yet, my dad says he likes Tim Burton's Batman, in which the Joker eschewed preturnatural insight, relying instead on well-known methods like poison gas spewed from an impromptu parade.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:57 AM
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Yeah, Greengrass uses really fast editing techniques and hand-held cameras to add energy to the scenes, but he doesn't use them to obfuscate what is actually happening, and that's the key difference between what he did in the later Bourne movies and what all the imitators have done since.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 8:59 AM
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77: By a 75% top marginal tax rate on the hundreds of billions of Federation citizens, of course.

There are references to money here and there in the original series -- it's just that aboard a military starship in a post-scarcity economy, there wasn't much to spend it on, so it rarely came up.



Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 9:07 AM
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73: What if I told you it was much more Felicity than Alias or Lost?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 9:33 AM
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the invention of the warp drive


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 9:36 AM
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God, if 83 were true I would have liked the movie so much more than I did.


Posted by: toops | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 10:00 AM
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Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg's assertion that he "neither own[s] an authentic Star Trek uniform nor ... read a single Trek book" is almost as hard to believe as Kirk's lucky encounter with the old Spock in a cave on Delta Vega.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 10:14 AM
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||

A sea change has occurred. When simply typing "unf" into the URL field and then pushing Enter before the unfogged URL actually appears, one is now taken to a hydroponic gardening blog, instead of the University of North Florida website.

|>


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 10:25 AM
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87: Still takes me to unf.edu.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 10:33 AM
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86: Thing is, Goldberg has good points about the plotting problems in the movie, but he's such a dick on the way to getting there, and seems to have the strange idea that Leonard Nimoy is responsible for writing the parts of the movie that involve Leonard Nimoy, that I just want to kick him repeatedly in the beanbag.

Okay, actually, I want to kick Goldberg in the beanbag whether or not he's talking about Star Trek.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 11:16 AM
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At the end of the movie, Kirk appears to have been made a captain for no other reason than that he's Kirk, WTF?

I think we're supposed to believe that Pike pulled the strings to make that happen. This was definitely one of a few things they glossed over a bit too much, though (the aforementioned idiot ball moment for Spock Prime being one, Scotty being named chief engineer by the end is another -- we hear exactly how McCoy gets his field promotion, but when/how is Scotty placed in charge?).

Also, I'm not really a J.J. Abrams fan so I didn't know the "red matter" McGuffin was just par for the course until one of our friends explained it to me. I was just amused that for plot purposes it was very pointedly unexplained.

My GF is a Trekker from way back (she swears she had only an Enterprise badge and not a full uniform, but she admits she went to multiple cons), and she loved it. I think the only thing our group unanimously disliked was "punch it." Everybody in our group enjoyed it, though, and I suspect we'll be seeing it again before it leaves the theatres.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 11:48 AM
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when/how is Scotty placed in charge?

The guy that bought it diving down to the Drill of Doom was the Chief Engineer.


Posted by: Duvall | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 11:53 AM
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91: I thought he was just a bog-standard red-shirt.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 11:56 AM
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86, 89: Also, Goldberg's list of shitty Star Trek movies reveals that he dislikes Undiscovered Country, but really likes Nemesis. What?


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 12:08 PM
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90. Pull strings all you want, it still goes against the grain of all military tradition and everything the original timeline tells us about Starfleet.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 12:21 PM
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Also, Goldberg's list of shitty Star Trek movies reveals that he dislikes Undiscovered Country,

I think because it implied peace was possible with Klingons/Soviets. I also think he hates Nimoy because he's a liberal fascist who likes whales and San Francisco.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 12:37 PM
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it still goes against the grain of all military tradition

Everything about Star Trek goes against the grain of all military tradition.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 12:42 PM
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Also, the tradition in the movies is for Kirk to get some sort of commendation which is then immediately taken away from him for some other transgression, isn't it? The new movie ends with him promoted without being busted down. The horror!


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 12:45 PM
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97: Well, yeah, but he has to get promoted up to his baseline level of captain somehow. He's sort of like Major Major Major Major.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 2:09 PM
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it still goes against the grain of all military tradition and everything the original timeline tells us about Starfleet.

I'm not sure either half of that applies, really. We're given enough evidence to believe that Kirk has completed an adequate level of officer training, and his CO gives him a field promotion (or commission, depending on his status at the Academy) to the rank of first officer, placing him behind the acting captain. Also, the Enterprise was a new ship and Starfleet found itself in an unexpected second war, so staffing it with the current graduating class from the Academy seems like it's right in line with military tradition.

As for the original timeline, this is addressed somewhat with the whole time travel/alternate universe plotline, and the line about how Starfleet is a peacekeeping armada. Yes, it's very conveniently glossed over, but at least they attempted to explain it. Kirk's still an infant terrible, and it's clear they were going more for archetypes than nitpicky details.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 2:39 PM
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I'm not sure either half of that applies, really. We're given enough evidence to believe that Kirk has completed an adequate level of officer training, and his CO gives him a field promotion (or commission, depending on his status at the Academy) to the rank of first officer, placing him behind the acting captain.

Kirk's a cadet/midshipman. Starfleet ranks beyond that point: Ensign, Lieutenant, Lt. Commander, Commander, Captain. Pike = Captain, Spock = Commander (which is absurd anyway).

Okay, so galactic emergency = cadets on starships, fine. Field commission to ensign, fine (although Pike is not even his CO; Kirk's technically a stowaway and AWOL from wherever he was supposed to be). First officer isn't a rank, it's a position, and we can assume it's within Pike's authority to establish whatever chain of command he likes aboard his ship, but it's absolutely neither traditional nor sensible to put, literally, the greenest officer on the ship in that position. So that's just dumb. But even if I accept all of that, even if we jump Kirk to Lieutenant on their return from the mission, if Pike is physically unable to command a starship, you have actual experienced officers here including Spock, who outranks Kirk by a mile, and we can assume, plenty of other officers of at least commander rank and actual command experience, itching for the center seat on one of the twelve shiny new Constitution-class starships.

NERD NERD NERD


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 3:35 PM
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Also, Goldberg's list of shitty Star Trek movies reveals that he dislikes Undiscovered Country

Undiscovered Country was about thwarting a right-wing military conspiracy scheming to block any detente with the Evil Empire. Of course Goldberg hated it.


Posted by: Duvall | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 3:42 PM
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Hey, has anyone seen it in imax yet? Is it going to be worth an out-of-the-way trip to do so? (It's actually convenient for me, but for my buddy it's way the F across town).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 4:02 PM
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I was underwhelmed by the IMAX, but a friend of mine who saw it twice (once IMAX, once regular) says the extra price is worth it.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 4:06 PM
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OK, so I went and saw Wolverine. I liked it about as much as I expected--it was OK. Worth the trip and the Guinness. (Alamo Drafthouse!) I was underwhelmed by the action sequences, for reasons well-covered above, but I liked the early action scenes well enough. The ending was anti-climactic, and them defeating the final boss seemed a way unrealistic. They were completely outclassed. Now, of course, you can get lucky in real fights, but winning a fight by luck is not very satisfying at all. Plus the bits where the bad military dude typed in commands to the weapon was like soooo lame. There were a couple annoying plot holes. But the girlfriend was really cute and affectionate, and all the acting was good. The plot was fairly well balanced, if a bit cheesy (which can be forgiven given the source). Gambit's accent was a little weak for my taste.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 4:32 PM
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The more I think about it, the more I think that every character point or emotional element of the story relied on the audience bringing in just the right amount of familiarity with the characters and the mythology. (Not too much: then you're offended by the departure from canon.)

It's an interesting way to make a movie: fill it with action (most of which was pretty good, some of which was awesome) and take advantage of the plentiful hor-texte to fill in the context.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 4:40 PM
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104: them defeating the final boss seemed a way unrealistic. They were completely outclassed. Now, of course, you can get lucky in real fights, but winning a fight by luck is not very satisfying at all.

I'm going to have to see Wolverine just because I read so much X-Men in college. One of the more appealing things about the comic was the discouragement of grandstanding in a fight; the films weren't really getting that part. But team training sessions at Professor X's school? In the, uh, danger room or whatever it was called, which they were constantly redesigning in order to de-fang, as it were, people's particular powers? Very cool: teamwork, folks! No one's power makes him or her invincible, so back off and act as support if a given fight doesn't invite your particular talent, and don't render yourself a fucking liability!

The teamwork was superlative, and that's how they won fights even when apparently outclassed. Tee-hee. (I really was fascinated by all that. Wolverine was always getting yelled at for his excessive showboating.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 5:26 PM
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The teamwork was superlative, and that's how they won fights even when apparently outclassed. Tee-hee. (I really was fascinated by all that. Wolverine was always getting yelled at for his excessive showboating.)

There probably should have been an X-Men movie starring Rob Lowe in the 80s then.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 5:38 PM
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take advantage of the plentiful hor-texte to fill in the context

Il n'y a pas de hors-texte.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 5:49 PM
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106: It was only Wolverine and Sabertooth (whose cheesy name isn't mentioned in the movie) in this fight, who have very similar powers, so not much help from the teamwork aspect. (Though of course in the end it does take both of them.) Wolverine does no showboating in the movie that I noticed. It's 98% pre-memory-loss, and his personality is mellower.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 6:02 PM
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109: Wolverine had memory loss? Wow, are we talking really early on, before he joined the X-Men? After he'd undergone the adamantium skeletal implants and so on but before he was found wandering helplessly on the Canadian tundra? (I'm not sure I'm even remembering this correctly; it's been a long time.)

Alright, I'm hooked. I'll see this thing, and might read a plot summary first, something I usually try to avoid before seeing a film.

Sabertooth's name isn't mentioned in the movie? What the hell!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-11-09 6:11 PM
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110Wolverine had memory loss? Wow, are we talking really early on, before he joined the X-Men?

Yes. In the comics, he had no memory of where the adamantium came from, how he wound up wandering in the wilderness or who he was before then*. The movies change how he gets to that point a bit, but all through the movies the same problem has existed: several years before he meets the X-Men, he loses all memory of where the adamantium and himself come from.

What the hell!

He doesn't get called "Sabertooth," but I'm sure he gets called by his first name, Victor, somewhere or other, didn't he?

* Well, I think this has changed; I haven't bought an X-Men comic in years, but with all the retcons and limited series and mind-warping, I gather he now knows where he came from and how he got the metal. All the important stuff about his past was a mystery to him for years after he joined the X-Men, though. Say 1975 to the early 2000s in real time.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-12-09 7:19 AM
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In the superhero movies it's somewhat common for the bad guy or especially a minor villain to have a superhero name that isn't mentioned in the film. (Spiderman gets around this by having the newspaper editor coin goofy monikers for most of the villains.) I figured this was because it's hard to work it in subtly ("..Harvey Two-Face") in quite a lot of cases. ("We're off to our big battle now, but first, I think we need to name you, Iron Monger.")


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-12-09 7:34 AM
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I grew up a hardcore Trek consumer in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere in which the original series in reruns was basically our only reliably available form of televised science fiction (the local station that ran it kept waffling on syndicated BSG and Buck Rogers, all to the good) and the Star Trek non-canon comic was one of the half-dozen kept in stock at the gas station across the valley, so I have read me and watched me some Star Trek. Having hoped to establish my street cred, I thoroughly enjoyed the new movie. They reboot the setting and character backstories with sufficient cleverness that I have no complaints. The action is fun, the character touches are spot-on, the plot makes no less sense than any other Trek movie and quite a bit more than many, the set dressing is fantastic and in the one scene in which a female character is undressed for our oggling we also get to see Kirk in his hot little undies. I completely buy the new kid as Kirk, too.

Actually, I have two really minor complaints: I don't think being like, "Well, you're dying anyway but we're gonna shoot you because it feels so good," is really standard Federation operating procedure but I'm willing to give them a pass on the theory that the characters are young, and secondly, McCoy's nickname is not because of some completely lame, shoehorned wit line, it's because he is a sawbones. I'm getting over the first and I'll never forgive them for the second.

Still, my first thoughts were:

1) Wow, they didn't fuck it up!
2) I want to go watch some old Star Trek right now.
3) I'm going to watch this at least one more time in a theater.

So, mission accomplished all around. What impressed me was that the six of us who saw it together all enjoyed it and we're a sixsome who have had some wildly varying opinions about movies we've all seen together.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05-12-09 10:22 AM
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Wolverine was kind of fun. I went in expecting it to be what it was, and it was exactly that.

Star Trek was not kind of fun. I went in with no idea what it was going to be, and as each of the Li'l Officer Babies shows up, all cute and fubsy, I went "What? WHAT? WHAT?" some more. (And, which by me is the real marker of a bad movie: I kept checking my watch because by that I could figure out How Much Plot they had left.)

Also, hum: look, Nyota Uhura is a babe. A highly competent xenolinguist Communications Officer, who can sing, but a babe. She is not Walking Skellington, OK?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 05-12-09 3:52 PM
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Star Trek was okay. I loved the intentional sixties-trek-ness of the design. It was certainly engaging, and the explicit Trek references were nice. On its own, though, I don't really know if it stands. Not particularly memorable.

I kept thinking "well, it doesn't disgrace the franchise", but shit, it's Star Trek. I love Shatner, and when I was young and foolish I read too many of the books, but you know, whatever. The vast majority of it over the years has been stupid.

Still, as a movie franchise, without the chance to redevelop the characters' relationships (because c'mon, it's not the same chemistry) it seemed flat, and the general-purpose-action-movie part of it wasn't really enough to pull it back together.

(NERDNERDNERD)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-09 8:09 PM
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I haven't seen this span of contrary opinions all of which make sense to me -- to wit, 113 and 114 -- in a long time. I'll have to see it.

Another friend says something like "hey, how can you eject the warp core and still be warp?"

That's a puzzler.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-12-09 8:26 PM
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"hey, how can you eject the warp core and still be warp?"

Maybe they talked to these dudes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-12-09 8:38 PM
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So, Sifu, what you're saying in 115 is, if you take apart all the entity's molecules and then reassemble different molecules into the same shape somewhere else, is it still the same entity?

I want to know if Baby McCoy is reluctant to use the transporter.


Posted by: rm | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 12:09 AM
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It's a sabotaj! (ObSimpsons: "You say evasion, I say avoision!")


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:30 AM
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Still, as a movie franchise, without the chance to redevelop the characters' relationships (because c'mon, it's not the same chemistry) it seemed flat,

I think the way they've introduced the new Spock could lead to some different, interesting character arcs and relationships. The fact that they nuked Vulcan, too. Kirk is the character that went through the most explicit character development over the course of the original movies, so I don't know what they could do with him that wouldn't seem either out-of-step or a retread.

The new McCoy, as presented so far, is just a parody of the old McCoy and comic relief, though I guess it's not that hard to add depth over the course of several films.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-13-09 11:43 AM
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