A Christmas Story is one of those movies that has become a fixture of American culture in ways that you can notice even if you’ve never seen the film. Various characters and scenes from the movie have found their way onto “A Christmas Story” t shirts, among other kinds of merchandise. Let me tell you a little story.
Once upon a time, it was around Christmas and I was walking to the gas station. I forget exactly what I was after. It may have been eggnog because I was feeling festive. It may have been cigarettes, because I still smoked back then. It may have just been snacks, a protein bar or shake. I don’t remember if I was lifting weights at the time, but it might have been a protein bar I was after. This was when I lived in a sleepy mid-sized Midwestern city.
I usually walked to the gas station because I didn’t like to drive when I could walk. I had a car. I’m just a person who walks everywhere. Especially after I’ve moved to a new place, I feel that it’s better to walk everywhere than it is to drive. When you drive, you’re insulated from the location. You don’t see much. When you walk, it forces you to get up close and personal with the new place you’re living in. And that is what makes all the difference in really making yourself at home in a new town. I had lived in that city for a few years by then, but I always took walks and tried to take a different route each time. I felt that it made the place more personal for me.
So there I was. It was a few days before Christmas. There was a lot of snow on the ground. It was the wet, crunchy snow that falls in that part of the world sometimes. Not light powdery stuff, oh no. This was heavy and deep. I was wearing a set of hiking boots and they were still leaking a little. It was a brutal winter. I lived in a suburb on the edge of town and there were streetlights all the way to the gas station. Their light was cold and blue. I was all bundled up in my scarf and gloves and ankle-length coat. I had a big beard back then and it had ice crystals in it.
As I walked to the gas station, I passed many houses. It was dark, but not too late in the evening, so a lot of them still had lighted windows. I paused at one of them because something perched in the window caught my eye: It was a lamp, shaped like a woman’s leg, with a lampshade on top. It’s the exact same lamp that the father receives in the mail in A Christmas Story! I smiled to myself and thought, “Well, I guess somebody won a major award…”
Modern screen printing technology has made it cheap to print graphic t shirts. Combined with the internet, which provides access to every graphic you could possibly want, it’s possible to print pretty much anything. Cheap t shirts abound. Why, then, do some t shirts cost $20? Materials are widely available. Screen printing is cheap. There’s a cornucopia of free images online. A $20 shirt seems almost absurd.
But there are reasons why shirts cost that much, and the biggest one is licensing. It’s not just about goods and services. It’s not just about the material that the shirt is made of and the screen printing process. It’s also about the images, and that’s where the real snare is. Remember that today we live in an information economy. It’s not so much about raw materials anymore. At this point, we’re much more focused on information, on ideas. That’s where the money is. That’s where all the profit is. With most industrialized countries having switched to service economies instead of industrial ones, we’re all about ideas and information.
In order to make money off of ideas, you’ve got to have the idea of intellectual property. This is where we get things like trademarks and copyrights. This is also why we have things like digital rights management (DRM). A lot of people complain about this stuff. Every nerd knows that, back in the 1990s, there was a huge legal hullabaloo over Napster allowing people to download Metallica songs for free. The reason it’s in the news so much is that intellectual property is what our whole world is based on at the moment.
The truth is, though, this stuff is necessary. If your favorite artists, franchises, and brands are gonna exist, they have to make money. And there was a time before intellectual property. Back then, it was very hard for artists to make money. For example, the famous German author, Goethe, made very little money off of some of his books. He made little money even though they were selling well! The reason is that Goethe was writing back in the 1800s. And back then, there were no laws about intellectual property. As a result, even with many of his books being printed and sold, Goethe made little money. Most of that money went to the publishers.
As much of a pain as intellectual property laws can be, they’re important. Not just for the studios and companies and publishers, but for the artists and musicians and actors, for the creators. Those laws and licensing regulations protect the people who create the art you love. $20 might be a lot for a t-shirt, but it’s a worthwhile price to pay to support your favorite creators.
Thelma and Louise meets Falling Down.
I guess this movie is another example of the skill and power of studio marketing departments. I have seen the trailer for this one several dozen times and walked in fully expecting to see a hilarious Melissa McCarthy Bridesmaids-esque project with fun characters and ridiculous situations and instead I got…you know I don’t know what the hell I got. It wasn’t a comedy but it had comedic elements. It wasn’t a drama but at times it was damned depressing. In many of my reviews I like to talk about tone and the failure of a movie to maintain it (tone is something you specifically do not notice if it is maintained properly) and this film might well be the penultimate example of tonal failure.
This film reeks of vanity project in the same way my high school locker reeked of jock strap. Starring Melissa McCarthy. Written by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone (husband of Melissa McCarthy). Directed by Ben Falcone (with no other directing credits). Produced by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. Did the two of them collaborate on the soundtrack and handle craft services? Melissa is an accomplished comedian and all around funny person but I guess that does not necessarily translate into the ability to write a script. It’s clear that after the success of Bridesmaids, the Heat, and Identity Thief someone thought she could just excrete a good movie with no oversight. At least the excreting part was accomplished successfully.
This is more evidence that the curse of the Hangover is still in effect in Hollywood. Everyone now looks at cheap to make rated R comedies in the same way a dingo eyes a baby and sees little dancing dollar signs in front of their eyes. Unfortunately just because a film fits into the same general category as a more successful film does not mean it is automatically going to hitch up to that success train. A good rated R comedy still needs to be good, and since this film is neither a good film nor really a comedy I guess I have to deem it a failure.
Proof that only thing in danger of extinction is quality movie making.
There’s a cartoon from a few years ago on Adult Swim called Frisky Dingo. It is the story of an alien named Killface who plans to destroy the Earth but feels a bizarre compulsion to market that fact to the population of the planet with the help of some incompetent henchmen (If you don’t want to take my recommnedation and watch it but want to understand the humor it can be more or less summed up by the fact that Killface’s arch nemisis is Awesome X and his team is called the Xtacles). At one point while explaining to his marketing team why he doesn’t have the budget for a media buy Killface flies into a rage and one of the team says “Please don’t kill us!” to which Killface replies “Please don’t make it so appealing!”
That pretty much sums up my feelings about Michael Bay and his Transformers series. I really don’t want to hate it and him on all levels (even subatomically) but he just makes it so, so very easy to disgorge a lifetimes of bile and disgust all over my keyboard. It’s like I’m a lion and his movies are a gazelle that he cuts two of the legs off of and then covers the thing in ranch dressing and throws in a side salad and basket of dinner rolls. He produces the most rote crap ever. He’s like a bizarre alien from an illiterate dimension who can only survive by breathing in and recycling corny cliches. He must take meetings with his market research people daily and craft his films based on their recommendations to the nth degree. Explosions, stereotypes, annoying humans, and dialog that would sound hackneyed and childish to a Speak & Spell must all be trending positively in marketing these days, although Heaven knows where they are finding their marketing demographic. Maybe from the top 50 contestants in the National Lead Paint Chip Eating Contest.
The good news is that this is not the worst Transformer movie of the series. All things are relative however and even if this were the best of the series (which it isn’t) it would still be the equivalent of being dissolved alive in 18 molar acid instead of 25 molar acid. As a kid I loved the Dinobots and while their character and heritage was treated with the same respect Bay and Hollywood treats all of my childhood toys (not well. Kind of like if you took the Declaration of Independence and tweaked it into a jingle to sell Happy Meals) it was fun to see them on the screen. Of course in spite of the fact that they were featured in every single trailer and there was a huge cardboard cut out of Grimlock in the lobby of the local theater they only occupied about 10 of the 165 minutes this film ran.
Yes I cried dammit.
I’m not even going to try to mask this under my usual thin layer of machismo. I naturally assume most of my readers are at least of above average intelligence and as such are generally perceptive enough to see that most of my macho bravado is a facade. I guess that’s the joke. During this movie two burning tears scalded tracks down the side of my face in what on a different day I might have called marks of shame but today I am just going to be OK with. Odds are within the next 30-40 words I will be back to my usual sarcastically bitter self but for now I will be OK with being vulnerable (my therapist would be highly pleased I think).
OK, enough of me spouting estrogen. Yes I saw it and in spite of the fact that I will now have to turn in my manliness card I quite enjoyed it. I think I see what women love about movies like this; it’s weirdly refreshing to feel a strong emotion (even a negative one) for a short duration and then be able to move on with your life (you know, when I think about it that’s kind of like how most guys see watching porn. Weird). You know, cry a little but not have it be something that sticks around with you. There wasn’t a dry eye in the very crowded theater (no way was I the creepiest person there. I was a perfectly normal dude in a Dickies shirt by himself in a theater full of women watching something I really had no business watching without a chick strong arming me to sit there). In my defense I did call a couple of my female friends in an attempt to get one of them to come with me but they all seemed to have other things to do.
So the movie was not what I would call great but was very effective. I am going to coin a new term here (Copyright 2014 David Inman): emotional waterboarding. This film holds it’s audience down with a towel over it’s head and forces a gushing hose of emotions into your face until you give it the response they want. Heavy handed does not begin to describe the emotional manipulation and by the end of the film I was feeling a little resentful for the lack of organic emotional flow. No one likes being told how to feel and this film does it in spades. Fortunately they do have a huge pile of talent both in front of and behind the camera to hide what they are doing but on some level you can’t help but feel it.
Charming and fun.
I saw this a few days ago. I am a John Favreau fan and enjoy his work. When he gets a sci fi movie gig I have hope for that franchise (unlike films that fall into the Bay hole or the Abrams triangle) and am of course a huge Swingers fan. He is a talented director and writer and I will give anything he does my best consideration.
So Chef. A very fun movie, greatly enhanced by both John Favreau and the rest of the cast. It reeks of vanity project but it is a good reek. John is too talented to do a vanity project badly, and honestly he is one of the few directors who in my opinion rate a one. He also has a prediction to cast all his hottest friends giving viewers such as myself (solo loser in the back of the theater eating popcorn, Whoppers, and a huge slice of loneliness pie) some nice eye candy.
All that being said it’s not amazing. The story is kind of lightweight and once the main plot element is established – a guy loses his job and starts a food truck – the movie tends to meander about for another hour. In spite of a ton of opportunities for conflict – the ex wife, the kid, his ex wife’s insane first husband, the former sous chef who more or less stole his job, the struggles someone starting a small business always faces (believe me I know), the a-hole former boss – nothing pops up. Everyone gets along great. About halfway through the film the truck is selling food in South Beach in Miami and a cop comes up asking for a permit. In a film with more oomph this would have been the perfect point for John’s character to get into trouble with the local law, maybe get into it with the cop and spend a night in jail, or have his business raked over the coals by the local city business officials but no, he whips out his permit and is told just to move down a few blocks. The cop even poses for a bunch of photos.
Ironically one antonym for transcendence is failure.
Transcendence is one of the most difficult movies for a fan of hard core science fiction (and good film in general) to watch and review. It has all the best possible elements for a successful movie: interesting concept, talented cast, and a fat CGI budget. However, like a computer made of the best possible components but assembled using string, duct tape, and chewing gum the whole thing falls apart when you try to power it up.
The concept of artificial intelligence becoming self aware and trying to kill or enslave us as a sci fi trope is so old it almost predates the War of the Newts. It ultimately is the basis of the Terminator, War Games, Tron, the Matrix, West World, Blade Runner, and to a lesser extant 2001. If you actually read some books it shows up on a regular basis and does so because it is an intriguing concept and one that appeals to nerds like me. Also since it has long been my dream to one day be downloaded into a computer and live forever as an evil computer program you can imagine my disappointment when a film takes something so rich in fodder and proceeds to grow corpse flowers with it.
Where did this film fall apart? First of all, in a film chock full of talented actors the director had them all play out like computers themselves. Say what you will about Johnny Depp (like this is his fourth box office bomb in a row) but he is an actor who can convey emotions. However they pretty much had him do nothing but act like an Animatronic version of himself. His voice had absolutely zero inflection and his face never changed expression once, even when he was still human and informed of his imminent death. Morgan Freeman is another one who can deliver a powerful performance and get the audience to engage on an emotional level but when he witnesses the death of a dozen people he worked for years with he treats it with the angst normally reserved for opening a bathroom door and getting the faintest whiff of the last users two hour old fart. The supporting actors were all pretty much cardboard cutouts too. The only emotional portrayal by anyone was from Depps wife Evelyn but it was pretty clearly forced and the contrast to all the cardboard cutouts surrounding her made it even more garish. You can literally feel your interest drain away with every scene involving dialog or exposition.
The trailers sure made this film seem like there was going to be some kind of action but it was perfunctory at best. Nothing drains the tension from a scene like learning that shooting people and blowing stuff up does absolutely nothing when nanobots will repair any damage done in a few minutes. Why not have the actors run around and hit each other with teddy bears? It’s effectively the same.
Then there is the thinking part of the film. I am generally a fan of movies that make you think and this one had some interesting core concepts, such as the morality of self aware computers and forcing conformity on humans. However the film sat on the fence about being an action drama or an thinking film and like most movies that do so ended up with a fence post up its ass. There was very little debate actually going on and most of it boiled down to a few minutes at the beginning of “AI is evil” and “AI is good”. There was some moral struggling going on for one of the supporting characters as he jumps from one side to the other but really he just shifted gears at the exact moment the plot needed him to join the resistance, not from any evolutionary character arc.
And for every possible interesting concept there was the injection of flat out stupidity and painful suspension of disbelief. Hollywood should have learned from Independence Day that using a computer virus to pull the power on your enemies is farcical and boring. I guess having used an old sci fi concept the director felt he had license to cram as many sci fi movie ideas as possible with the cleanliness and oily smoothness of feeding a length of rebar into a meat grinder. By the end of the movie there were audience members laughing and I broke from my normal “scary loner” mien to ask a very pretty girl what she thought and she more or less felt the story was ham handed and lame (actually I was more intrigued at what a hot girl was doing by herself at a 10:15 showing in Jack London Square. Most of the loners that late look like Bond villain henchmen. I fit right in).
Then finally the pacing. 119 minutes and I spent most of them pushing my right foot into the floor in subconscious hope of finding the accelerator for the plot. Honestly the main plot (man downloads himself into a computer, turns into an evil AI, and tries to take over the planet) was established in the trailers. In traditional story telling Act 2 is where conflict arises and the drama is the protagonists working to overcome them. Having an evil computer work towards building an empire in a direction we all know he is going in does nothing for the drama. This film suffered from not actually having a protagonist per se but the “good” guys (some hippy anti-technology Burning Man escapees, an FBI guy, and Morgan Freeman) would only stick their heads up like prairie dogs once in a while to establish their presence for the denouement but honestly you spent half the movie trying to figure out if they were good or bad anyway. The plot, like the acting, was as flat and uninteresting as possible. It was like getting on the Merry Go Round and being stuck on one of the fixed (non up and down) horses.
The story. Will Castor (Johnny Depp-the Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows, Pirates of the Caribbean) is some kind of spacy computer genius who lives with his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall-the Prestige, Iron Man 3, the Town). He goes to lecture some computer geeks on advances in AI and gets shot by some anti technology nuts. Meanwhile the nuts attack a bunch of other computer labs and manage to kill off the entire team working with fellow researcher Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman-Oblivion, Now You See Me, the Lego Movie), a fact that really bums him out for like 10 minutes.
Turns out the bullet was radioactive and Will is going to die in a few weeks. Evelyn recruits another friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany-Priest, the Avengers, Blood) to hook him up to a computer and download his personality. They succeed but Max suddenly decides that AI Will is evil. He runs off to drink and gets kidnapped by the anti-tech people headed by Bree (Kate Mara-127 Hours, Shooter, Deadfall). They lock him in a cage and convince him that AIs are bad (something he more or less just decided on his own I thought?).
Evelyn uses millions of dollars Will pulled by high speed stock trading (oh, topical) to take over a crummy small town and turn it into a crummy small town with a massive solar powered data center. Will starts researching nanotechnology and figures out how to fix humans and coincidentally turn them into networked slaves. Fortunately all it takes is some copper netting to interrupt the network. The radicals are joined by the FBI guy and Morgan Freeman to attack. Stuff gets blown up and instantly fixed. Y2K finally happens (yes, they actually called it Y2K to the laughter of the audience) and the whole world sort of falls apart or something.
Bold in concept. One star. Some great visuals, especially if you are turned on by the Apple Store. One star. Some attempt was made at an intellectual, topical story. One star. Ugh. I don’t want to bury this one in the rain of black holes I am about to unleash but that is all I can really think of. I guess I liked that a lot of it was set in East Bay, where I live? One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes:
A movie about artificial intelligence that had all the actors playing their roles like they were reprising the IRAC computer from Wonder Woman (try to out-nerd reference me, I dare you). One very ironic black hole. For all it’s pretension with regards to being a thinking film a lot of the stuff in here was pretty stupid. I bet you didn’t know brain probes could be installed by a computer guy with a power drill in an abandoned warehouse. One black hole. On the same note I’m going to hit this film for the base concept of Y2K, the use of that reference, and the implication that the worst part about it was no more power or internet rather than all of American devolving into anarchy and cannibalism in about three days. One black hole. There were implications that the question of machine intelligence and its morality were going to be addressed at some point but in fact the question was left to fester on it’s own like a roadkill possum on a hot day. One black hole. It’s clear the director really only wanted to film Rebecca Hall talking to a video screen of Johnny Depp and all the action and scenes that required a moving camera were done under protest with all the fiery heat of a bowl of soup left out overnight. One black hole. No protagonist to speak of, no antagonist, and no reason to care if anyone in the movie lived or died. A good film will get you to connect to at least one character. One black hole. Very predictable, and guilty of trying to pull in every sci fi reference possible without using any of them to add to the film. One black hole. Dull. Dull dull dull dull boring. Pacing from the slowest level of hell. One black hole. The film didn’t really end so much as sputter to a closing like a balloon leaking air. One black hole. Total: nine black holes.
So five black holes, putting this firmly in the bad film zone (although not in the brain aneurysm inducing zone. For that we need Michael Bay). Worth seeing at all? Sure, if you have long dreamed of what the love child of Skynet and Max Headroom would look like. It’s not awful on the Jack and Jill level. You won’t hate yourself any more after seeing it than you did before. Wait for Netflix. I feel bad pounding yet another spike in Johnny Depps career as I kind of like him, but really he has only himself to blame. He should take a few years off and come back as a drug addict or alcoholic like in Leaving Las Vegas. Date movie? Meh. Unless she loves computers (or is turned on by computer geeks. Pick up line joke comes from the cheap t shirt category) there is a lot in here a girl might find creepy (like Will taking over the body of another man in order to sex up Evelyn). I’d say pass. Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere you like, although there is a scene where Evelyn is eating dinner with “Will” that is particularly worthless. It has already been established that she is having doubts about his humanity. Do we need to drag it out for another 10 minutes?
Thanks for reading. More to see soon (yes, I will see Heaven is Real but honestly I have my concerns). Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Feel free to post comments here on this film or my review and email me at email@example.com if you have off topic questions or suggestions. Have a great night. Talk to you soon.
Ever wonder what the most holy document in Western Culture would look like as cheesy action movie? Wonder no more!
Religious themed movies are a bit of a conundrum for me. An astute regular reader might have noticed that I tend to be pretty forthcoming with my opinion on bad or good movies. Normally when the movie subject is giant robots fighting each other or chicks coming to terms with stuff the danger of that opinion offending someone is reasonably minimal. However religion and politics are two areas where just having an opinion will automatically alienate half of your potential readers. For this reason I did not review Son of God even though I saw it.
This problem was binding me up as I sat in the theater for Noah. However, as questions kept coming to mind like “Hmm. I don’t remember the Biblical story of Noah having giant rock lava monsters who helped him build his ark” or “Pre-flood Biblical people had magical metal nuggets that could start a fire, do a pregnancy test, or be used to build shoulder launched RPGs? I did not know that” I slowly came to realize that this film was not a religious movie at all but instead a creature that I have hunted down and slaughtered dozens of times before; a horrible sci fi adaptation of a novel.
Yes, it’s our old friend the bad Hollywood version of an otherwise innocent story. Like Hercules, the Golden Compass, Daredevil, the Cat in the Hat, and Ghost Rider this is another story that should have either been treated with the respect it’s fans demand or just left alone. And like most bad adaptations it’s a craptastic movie.
I can say that without fear of repercussions because if I were a hard core Christian I think I would find this movie to be on the border of sacrilege and heresy. Every lame element that Hollywood smears over every film has been forced onto this story: giant CGI monsters, magic, bad romantic sub plot, a villain who is evil for evils sake, gargantuan plot holes, and historical continuity errors. I think it a sign of massive ego and arrogance that Darren Aronfsky and Russell Crowe requested a private audience with the Pope based on the fact that they made this bad science fiction movie. Honestly I think Will Smith has about as much right to do so for making thinly veiled Scientology movie After Earth. It has about as much to do with the Bible.
This film is another example of the brilliance of Hollywood film marketing departments. I have seen the trailer for this at least 20 times and never once caught wind of giant rock monsters, glowing radioactive power stones, or magical beans. It’s clear that some talented director of marketing sniffed out the elements of this film that truly sucked and opted to leave them on the cutting room floor when it came time to create the trailer. By the way, if you check out the Noah official site you will not see a single rock monster image. Smart. Would that Darren had consulted them sooner.
The other thing that is weird about this film is like most design by committee Hollywood BS it sits firmly on the fence in fear of offending one side or another. Is this a Bible movie or not? If it is I think it fair to to call God God instead of the very PC and gutless “Creator”. During the tale of creation as told by Noah to his sons they more or less screwed up the timing and instead of showing God creating life as we know it it shows a montage of sped up evolution. Is this Creationism? Is this intelligent design? Is it true evolution? It’s like they are trying to alienate both the religious and non religious audience members.
Plus a lot of the stuff they added made no sense. So Noah and his wife find a drug they give to all the animals that let’s them sleep for nine months straight (or at least as long as it takes made up character Ila to go from barely pregnant to giving birth. At the bare minimum it should have been 40 days and 40 nights, right?) but somehow they don’t need food or water while asleep? Is it true stasis? It shows all the animals breathing while asleep so they are processing something? Is this a miracle? If so why do they need the herb? Also if so why did no one on the Ark remark upon it? What the hell was that glowing explosive metal? Where did an ancient army get stainless steel armor and weapons that would have made a 12th century army proud?
You see, the issues of feeding thousands of animals, having the carnivores not eat every herbivore as soon as they get off the boat, genetic degradation from massive inbreeding, and the ability of a boat to house millions of tons of animal flesh are endemic to the story of Noah and need to be explained by the hand of God in order to work but by making changes to solve some of them but not all of them you only make them more obvious. Add in all the historical continuity issues and the fact that the main character Noah spends the entire film being a class one dick to everyone around him and you end up with a film buried under it’s own problems.
Oh, while this movie might have been inspired by the Bible it was also “inspired” by about 10 movies including the Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and the Dark Crystal. Original thought is not this films catch phrase. I find this odd since until now I would have said Darren Aronofsky was one of a few really creative writer/directors.
The story, I guess. Did you ever read the story of Noah from the Bible? If so try to forget it as it will have very little bearing on your comprehension of this film. That being said there are a few spoilers coming. It starts off with humanity being broken up into two groups; the evil descendants of Cain and the good descendants of Seth. However the Seth guys are literally killed down to one man and his son. The man is killed by a king named Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone-Sexy Beast, Hugo, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull) and his son, Noah, escapes. Noah grows up and has a family with Naameh (Jennifer Connelly-Hulk, Requiem for a Dream, Winters Tale) and his sons.
(Wait a minute. If Noah is the last descendant of Seth and all the descendants of Cain are evil where did he find Naameh? Did he convert her over to Seth-ism?)
Anyway, Noah has a dream where he sees massive flooding and death. His dream needs interpreting so he takes his family to see his grandfather Methuselah (? Anthony Hopkins-the Silence of the Lambs, Beowolf, Meet Joe Black). On the way to see Methuselah Noah and his family get captured by giant rock monsters (looking suspiciously Ent-like in my opinion) who decide to let the family die of dehydration in a canyon. One of the rock monsters (if only they were Monsters of Rock. Haw!) decides to help them…for some reason. They get to the mountain where Methuselah lives.
Once there Methuselah and Noah figure out the “the Creator” (I’m going to keep putting that in quotes to drive home how lame and sackless it is) plans to destroy the world because the Cain-ites are evil and have corrupted the planet. Noah decides he needs to build an Ark. Methuselah give him a magic bean from the Garden of Eden (?) that Noah plants and overnight grows into a huge forest, giving him the wood he needs. The rock monsters, as servants of “the Creator”, decide to help him.
Skip forward a few years and the ark is nearly built. Noah’s sons are grown up (mostly). The oldest, Shem (Douglas Booth-Worried About the Boy, LOL, Romeo and Juliet), is kind of a kiss ass but has a girlfriend in Ila (Emma Watson-Harry Potter, This is the End, the Perks of Being a Wallflower) who is barren. His next oldest son Ham (Logan Lerman-Percy Jackson, 3:10 to Yuma, Perks of Being a Wallflower) is a horny teenage boy who kind of resents the fact that Shem has a hot girlfriend and he is stuck with the old manual override (if you know what I mean). His youngest son is Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll-no other credits), who is pretty much a non-entity as far as the movie goes. The ark is huge (and honestly kind of what I would imagine the ark would look like. I’ll give good credit to the art director).
Anyway, Tubal-Cain shows up with an army drafted off the field from the Battle of Hastings and demands…something of Noah? Fealty? He tells Noah that if and when the flood comes he will be on that ark. Noah says no way and scares him off with the rock monsters.
(I’d like to bitch about this scene for a second. This was the pivotal scene in that trailer I mentioned before. Tubal-Cain says “I have men at my back and you defy me” and Noah replies “I’m not alone” in a very prophetic tone of voice. The trailer cut out at that point and very, VERY strongly implied that somehow the hand of God (or “the Creator”) intervened to help Noah but in the movie the rock monsters just stand up and scare the men away. I am savoring the irony of me complaining about not enough deus ex machina in a film but if that isn’t bait and switch I don’t know what is.)
Meanwhile Ham has the very legitimate concern about how is he ever going to have kids on a boat with him mother and the barren girlfriend of his brother. Noah sets out to procure wives for him and Japheth (Wive-R-Us? Or was he just going to hypnotize two ladies with the gravelly sound of his voice? By the way if there is a place called Wives-R-Us someone let me know. Thanks) but when he gets to Tubal-Cain’s encampment he finds every sin possible. He goes back to the arc and tells his family that the human race needs to die out so good luck with all those teenage hormones Ham and Japheth.
Ham is a little bent out of shape and runs off to find his own wife. At the encampment he falls into a mass grave and meets a cute girl named Na’el (Madison Davenport-Over the Hedge, the Possession, Horton Hears a Who) (By the way, a pit full of rotting corpses seems about as reasonable a place to meet women as anywhere else I’ve tried and with the exception of the girl I’m going to go out with this upcoming weekend better than online dating). The rain starts and it’s a race to get back to the ark before Tubal-Cain and his army arrive. Na’el steps on a bear trap (invented in the 18th century for those who care). Noah runs up to save Ham and leaves Na’el to literally be trampled to death by the crowd.
At the ark the rock monsters re-enact the scene where the Ents attack Isengard from the Two Towers except now they are on the defense and loose. Tubal-Cain brought some homemade RPGs and is blowing them up. The massive flooding arrives to wipe off all the humans although Tubal-Cain manages to stow away on the Ark (what Bible passage was that, exactly?). He hides among the sleeping animals and eats more than a few of them (Noah and his family are vegetarian. Didn’t you know that?).
Meanwhile Ila is pregnant (oh, yeah. Methuselah healed her. Which passage was that one?) and Noah, after consulting with “the Creator”, says that if it is a girl he will kill the baby to keep the human race from breeding. Tubal-Cain heals and turns Ham’s horny head away from Noah. Nine months later he attacks Noah while Ila gives birth to twin girls. Noah fights him off with help from Ham and at the last minute his love prevents him from killing the babies. Naameth realizes that with the birth of twin girls the ratio is now right and her two other sons can now marry their nieces (ewww).
Some other crap happens and Ham leaves the family to wander alone leaving Japheth behind to impregnate both of his nieces (double ewww).
CGI and special effects were decent. One star. The director told Russell Crowe to be an intense, abusive a hole and he ran with it. One star. The rest of the acting was really good. One star. If you forget the source material and treat this as a cheesy Lord of the Rings knock off it can be fun. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes:
Were I a religious man I would find this movie sacrilegious as hell. Even were I not I find movies that claim to be adapted from literature but then twist in into some bad “re-imagined” Hollywood effluvia insulting. Two black holes. The sci fi elements they added to the story really compounded this issue. Rocket Propelled Grenades? One black hole. Massive plot holes. How did all those animals sleep for nine months with no food or water? You can’t say “miracle” without throwing us some sign of an actual miracle happening. One black hole. Noah’s character was a total bastard to his family. It’s tough to identify with a guy who is in all ways every stereotype of an abusive father. He even turns into an alcoholic at the end in order to more cater to his trope (Beer Magnet image courtesy of the Cheap T Shirt category). One black hole. Plans for future incest with girls who are infants is never a good story element. One black hole. Rock monsters. One black hole. 138 minutes is a really long time to spend looking at Russell Crowe looking like a homeless leather mug maker from a Renaissance Faire. One black hole. Total: eight black holes.
A grand total of four black holes. Kind of crappy. Should you see it? Probably not. If you are religious you will feel insulted and if not you will feel, well, kind of insulted. I know a lot of people are going to see it because it’s a religious film and they feel some obligation but at the end of the film as I walked out the fairly large crowd seemed really subdued, like they didn’t know how to process what just happened. They all kind of look liked they had just had a medical exam that may or may not have had the doctor touching them in a weird way and were all trying to figure out if they should say something or not. Date movie? No, for all the reasons I just gave plus the whole “baby murder/incest” thing might not be well received by your date. Bathroom break? The whole scene with Ham meeting Na’el among the rotting corpses does absolutely nothing since she is destined to be left to die by Noah in ten minutes anyway. Perfect time IMO.
Thanks for reading. Nothing on deck until tomorrow so I might just do a couple Star Trek retrospectives. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu and like us on FB. Feel free to post comments here with regards to this movie or my review. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
Sorry I haven’t written anything in the last five days. Things are crazy for me right now and I had to take a quick road trip. I did see a Wind Rises but honestly what would a review of a Hayao Miyazaki film net you? It’s going to be brilliant and maybe heartwarming (this one really wasn’t actually). If I get enough request I will write it up but honestly I think I will give it a go.
I am scheduled to go see Sabatage tonight and will definitely write that one up first thing tomorrow morning. Schwarzenegger movies are like a heroin fix for reviewers of a certain mindset. I sincerely hope it doesn’t suck but will have my rapier like wit sharpened in case it does.
So Episode 49 Return to Tomorrow. This is the glowing globes episode (said globes were destined to resurface later in the Enterprise Incident). I have said before I am a Spock fan and whenever they write him as doing something other than being his awesome self I find myself throwing a little temper tantrum. I very much did not like Spock as controlled by Henoch. Also, if Henoch was Sargons enemy why would Sargon trust him?
Actually the whole creation process is kind of dumb. Couldn’t Sargon just tell Spock or whomever how to make the artificial bodies? The Enterprise had replicator technology so creating the components should have been relatively easy. Also Kirk has said many times that his ship is not a democracy yet calls for a vote to help the aliens. Again, out of character behavior always bugs me. Also what exactly was Henoch’s exit strategy? Even Spock at his best would have had a hard time taking on the entire crew of the Enterprise, which is pretty much what Henoch would have had to do.
That being said the twist at the end was pretty cool. Cleverly done. Also since Nurse Chapel has been carrying a torch for Spock since the beginning it seems a little apropos that she finally got Spock into her (haw!). It’s also funny that even when possessed by aliens creatures Kirk gets to hook up with the nearest hottie. Did Shattner have some kind of blackmail over the writers? It’s like if I were 14 and had control over the writers of my life. I would be making out and hooking up with every hot girl in Northern California. Borderline ridiculous. I kind of see the whole show as Shattner’s way of trolling chicks without actually having to put any work in. (Pick Up line shirt comes to us from the Cheap T Shirt category)
By the way consciousness storage was yet another idea that Star Trek invented. Star Trek invented everything.
Whenever I find myself reviewing a Tom Clancy based movie I often talk about super patriotic Americans who may or may not be able to pleasure themselves while looking at an American flag. I am of course exaggerating (maybe. You all have yet to meet my cousin Matt) but there is a term known as “flag porn” for entertainment generated solely to show the world how cool USA is and the rest of the world sucks. (WW Champs image courtesy of the Cheap T Shirt category)
That’s pretty much what Omega Glory is. Kirk, as the studliest human in the universe, naturally needs the oportunity to tell the screen how great his “ancestors” were (that would be us, the audience). The bad guys are all dark haired, scrawny, backstabbing Asians and the good guys look like Neanderthal Nazi Party recruitment posters. It is even implied that the Comms conquered the Yangs through the deceptive means of biological warfare while the Yangs embody everything noble in both the white Americans and native Americans. Not the open minded approach that I believe Roddenberry wanted.
All that plus another dopey story. One of the weaker episodes from season 2. However, it does explore a great deal what the Prime Directive is and means in practicality. Would that JJ Abrams knew what it meant. That doesn’t really excuse the racism, the milking of another “parallel Earth” story, and the big ironic reveal being yet another random word coincidence in a language that the Omegans have no business speaking. On the other hand it is always fun to see Kirk get hit over the head with an iron bar by a woman.