Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Admiral, there be spoilers here! But I'll put them in the third paragraph, so if you haven't seen STID yet, go see it. (except you, Ro Karen. You get a pass)  So this may come as something of a surprise to some of you. In fact it was a surprise to me, but I really enjoyed this movie. As my wife and I entered the cinema I was already composing my scathing tweets and reviews, for I was fully prepared for JJ Abrams to shit all over Trek in all kinds of new ways. But as the film progressed I found myself saying, 'OK, so far so good.' over and over again, until finally I just gave in and enjoyed the ride.

I'm not going to summarize the plot here, but suffice to say that this is a thrill-ride of a movie that never really slows down long enough for you to catch your breath, run to the bathroom, or ponder the plot too much. Say what you will about Abrams, and lord knows I have, he is really good at action flicks. As in 2009, most of the performances are spot-on, and while there are a few head-scratching moments, there is nothing as egregiously stupid as red matter or a supernova that threatens the entire galaxy. I'm kind of sad that I dislike the look of the 'new' Enterprise because there are some truly stunning shots involving the ship, but I just can't get over the ugliness of it.

Now don't let it be said that I thought it was all tribbles and tranya, and here come the spoilers. First of all I am really pissed that despite all the flat out denials from the Abrams camp, Benedict Cumberbatch does eventually fess up to being Kahn. But, to be honest, it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  But what did piss me off was we see the origins of Section 31, which is the Starfleet black-ops outfit that infuriated me so much in DS9. I also have to admit that I wasn't that taken with Cumberbatch's performance. Maybe I was expecting too much, but he was very monotone. What you hear in the trailers is pretty much how he talks through the entire film, almost like he's trying to do his best Alan Rickman impression, but not quite getting it right. And Scotty was a little bit too much the comic relief this time, but only just a little.

So this is not the Star Trek we all grew up with, but we knew it wouldn't be. Making a multi-million dollar movie leaves very little room for risk taking, so this is all flash and dash, with very little needed in the way of cognition. I don't imagine we'll see thought provoking Trek until, and unless it returns to television where they'll have the luxury of interspersing action with mental stimulation. So until that day comes at least we can look forward to exciting amusement park rides, and if their popularity paves the way for a return to TV, then it will all be worth it...I hope.

Live long and prosper, y'all.


Nimoy's cameo was kinda stupid and unnecessary, but I liked it anyway.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Doctor Who?

Nerd alert, folks. If you're not into Doctor Who then might I suggest going to flurrious's blog and checking out her wonderful blend of snark, sarcasm, and despair. It truly is hilarious. However if you are no stranger to the TARDIS then come along, my friends, while I rant just a bit.

So this season has been, and I'm being generous here, lackluster.  We got a new companion in the form of the amazingly gorgeous and perky Jenna Louise Coleman, a new TARDIS control room, and a new mystery for the Doctor to solve, i.e. Coleman's Clara. And on top of all this the story lines are all converging toward the massively hyped, and impossibly expectation-heavy 50th Anniversary Special. So why, then, has this season teetered on the brink of suck since the get go? There have been a couple of decent episodes, Cold War with its Hunt For Red Octoberness, and The Crimson Horror, which felt very much like a throwback to the days of Classic Doctor Who, but this weekend's Nightmare in Silver proved that even Neil Gaiman doesn't seem to know what to do with the Doctor right now. It was ok, but just ok. I'll freely admit that I think the Cybermen are kind of silly, but that wasn't the problem with the episode. So what was/is the problem? I'll tell you what I think, and it pains me to say it.

Jenna Louise Coleman and Matt Smith have zero chemistry together. I don't know if it's a matter of the writers trying to create an Amy Pond type relationship within 6 episodes, or the actors just don't click, but I don't believe that the Doctor really cares about Clara as anything other than an intriguing anomaly, and I really don't buy her level of devotion this soon. Not to mention how totally nonplussed she is at all of their adventures at the stage where previous companions have still been freaking out. Maybe the reasons for that are going to be part of some big reveal later, but right now it just seems like lazy writing to me. Karen Gillan leaves the show, we get a new companion, and she acts very much like Amy Pond. The relationship between the Doctor and the companion usually takes much longer to develop, and I'm just not buying it this time.

I'm still enjoying the show, though I must admit I really don't care what the Doctor's name is, but I sincerely hope that after the season finale next week the writers take a good, hard look at what they're doing, and bring their A game back, otherwise we may very well be witnessing the beginning of the end...again.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Wherein I Once Again Use the First Line From a Book I've Never Read

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That is 50% of my knowledge of A Tale of Two Cities, and if it weren't for Star Trek and Jeopardy I wouldn't even know that much. But, be that as it may, it is very apropos to yesterday.  As you know I have dear friends by the names of A and B whom I've known since I was but a wee pup.  We haven't seen them, or their younglings G and D, since before Sharon was born.  They live a couple of hours away, which is just far enough to make it more than just a spur of the moment visit, and going for longish drives with the baby has proven to be less than joyous. There have been several aborted attempts to get together, but it just hasn't worked out, until yesterday.  Sharon has finally gotten big enough to use her front-facing car seat, and I thought I'd give it a try. This was also a good chance to see if driving to West Palm Beach, just she and I, would be feasible this summer. So phone calls were made, plans set, and after an hour's delay due to children being slower than the time flow at the event horizon of a black hole (that was this year's winner in the "most obscure simile' contest at Cannes) I finally got Sharon, the CoA, and myself under way.

The drive down wasn't too bad. The portable DVD player and numerous munchies kept the baby occupied, and the CoA's attitude was remarkably pleasant.  We arrived at A's place a bit later than planned, and a fun reunion was had and some of the best steaks I've ever had were eaten. (even Sharon ate some, which is a first)  Everyone adored Sharon, and she was working the room like a seasoned Vegas lounge lizard.

 Well, I say everyone, but there was one being who was less than thrilled with the little pink poop monster's presence. They have a gorgeous dog named BigB (sorry, I'm not sure of the spelling) who is 1/4 wolf. He looks ferocious as all get out:
But he's a big snuggle-bug once he gets to know you. He didn't know what to make of Sharon, though, so he kept his distance. Sharon, on the other hand, is the Baby Who Knows No Fear ™ and kept going after the poor dog with an adorable 'Hi!'. Fortunately he would just move away until we could catch her, but I'll have to keep my eye on her around larger critters until she develops some self-preservation powers.

Not too long after we got there she ran out of steam and crashed:
While she slept they showed me an episode of Community, which is a show I must now watch all of in my copious spare time. We tried to watch another but Sharon woke up and was all giggles and energy, so paying attention to anything else was impossible. D seemed the most taken with her and they played together for quite some time:

Sadly as the day wore on the CoA grew 'bored', the baby started rubbing her eyes, and the time to wend our way home drew nigh. Hugs were given, bags were gathered, and a bundling into the car was accomplished. Assurances were made that the interval twixt visits will be shorter this time (a promise I intend to keep) and we launched ourselves northward. The less I say about the drive home the better, but as fatigue set in, and we all grew cranky, especially the baby, the atmosphere became less than festive. I can now safely say that I won't be sallying forth on any more long trips with both kids without Mrs. Marius along, and I suspect that a 4.5 hour drive with just Sharon and me might not be the best idea, either.  So, as you see, it was the best of times going to see A and B and G and D, but the drive home was quite nearly the worst of times. Curse you, Charles Dickens, for your incredible aptness!! :-)  And our undying love and thanks to A, B, and family. We'll be seeing y'all again soon, promise.

Peace, y'all,