June 29, 2009

Weekend in Reviews

Whew, busy weekend of TV and movie watching!

Star Trek - Look, JJ Abrams is a genius. There are about a million ways this movie could have sucked and it really didn't. There was the occasional cheesy or ham-fisted line of dialogue but that is to be expected and forgiven when you're adapting a cheesy TV show from the '60s and making such an effort to stay true to the original.

The story is pretty intricate, beginning on the day of James T. Kirk's birth when the Federation ship that his father is on comes under attack from a ginormous, tentacular, scary-ass Romulan ship. After the ships captain is lured to the Romulan vessel and killed, George Kirk (Jim's father) is left to captain the ship during an emergency evacuation. As his wife goes into labor in the middle of the evacuation, he must make the difficult choice to remain on the ship and steer it directly into a suicide crash with Ol' Tentacle Ship as that's the only way to give the escaping crew and their families enough time to get away. James is born just seconds before George dies. Then Jim grows up to be a smart-ass scrapper always rebelling against something as boys with dead fathers are want to do in the movies.

Eventually he joins the Star Fleet Academy to prove something to himself or his dad's memory or the entire world. Then there is a thing where Spock is captain of the Enterprise after the other captain is taken hostage by the Romulans and Future Spock has to tell James how to undo that travesty so he can be captain and save Earth and the entire universe. It's a bit convoluted but it makes total sense in the moment.

All the original characters are here - Spock, Kirk, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, Bones and Scotty - and they're all really entertaining. I particularly loved Scotty, Bones and Chekov (Simon Pegg, Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin respectively). The visual effects and the production values were stunning and the acting was top-notch. It was also quite funny...much funnier than I would have ever expected.

All in all, I'd highly recommend seeing it in the theater if you can. I imagine it would lose much of it's grandeur and power if your first viewing is on a smaller screen.

He's Just Not That Into You - Having read the book, I could never figure out how they were going to make it into a movie. It wasn't a book with a plot or a story, it was a series of dating anecdotes followed by a dose of stark reality where the male author would say "yeah, he doesn't like you, move on." Call me crazy, but I don't think that makes for a very interesting movie.

As it turns out, I wasn't wrong.

Ginnifer Goodwin is one of those women who is out to find her soul mate and she is not above trying to force every man who smiles at her to fit that description. She does the wrong thing every time and scares them all off. After one of these unfortunate dates with Kevin Connolly, she turns to stalking him when she meets his friend Justin Long who gives her the facts - he didn't like you, he won't call you, move on. He isn't mean about it, he just lets her know that sometimes men aren't interested and this is one of those times. He quickly becomes her Oracle. Every time she goes out with a man, she calls him to ask if what's just happened (or what's happening at that moment) means he likes her or doesn't.

Meanwhile, Ginnifer's friend Jennifer Connelly's husband Bradley Cooper is having an affair with Scarlett Johansson who is simultaneously stringing Kevin Connolly along. Bradley's friend Ben Affleck is ardently anti-marriage but not at all afraid of commitment as he's perfectly happy and in love with Jennifer Aniston with whom he's been cohabitating for 7 years. But Jennifer A. can't really see the forest for the trees there and breaks up with him because he doesn't ever want to get married. Meanwhile, Scarlett's friend Drew Barrymore is trying online dating sites, getting advice from her gay friends and having no luck at all.

There are a shit-ton of people in this movie is what I'm trying to tell you. I think at least two of the sets of people had stories that would have made pretty good rom-coms all on their own but when everything was stuffed into two hours together the whole thing was a bit disjointed and bloated. I wanted more of some things and a whole lot less of others (Scartlett Johansson!) and in the end, I felt as though there was forced payoff on things we hadn't really had a chance to give a shit about.

It's a fine way to kill two hours when it comes on cable sometime soon but if you miss it, you're not missing out.

New In Town - Renee Zellweger is a cut-throat aspiring executive from Miami who is sent to Minnesota to take over a food manufacturing plant, replace the existing equipment and lay off 1/2 the employees.

It's a fish out of water story in the same vein as Baby Boom was. And just like in Baby Boom she has a breakdown, she falls in love with the rugged local (Harry Connick Jr. here) and she makes friends with the townsfolk and discovers that she'd rather stay there and live amongst these people than to go back to her big city job and life. Unfortunately, I like Baby Boom a lot more.

It wasn't a bad movie exactly, but I almost forgot everything about it as soon as it was over. It was boring.

So You Think You Can Dance Season 3 - I finished watching the season. Man oh man do I LOVE that Mandy Moore table routine and Dimitry's Samba and that Paso Doble where Sabra makes herself into a ring and drops down around Neil. And the Transformer hip hop routine and Neil and Sara's disco, and...oh the list goes on and on. I miss Dominic and Sabra and Sara and Pasha and Neil and Lauren and even Danny. I don't miss Lacey because I had forgotten how much she got on my freakin' nerves. I didn't find her sincere at all, she constantly mugged for the camera and she always danced out to the audience and never even looked at her damn partner. She was selfish and always playing up the sex-kitten thing. I really find her unlikable.

Everwood Season 2 - I also finished the second season of Everwood. I cried a lot. I don't know what I can say about this show that would make someone who hasn't watched it understand how good it is. I can tell you what I love most about it though - I love that these are not perfect television families. The parents don't always say and do the right things but they also don't always do the wrong things. The kids don't know everything, but they think they do, just like real kids. There are consequences for everyone's actions. The parents care about what the kids are doing and are in their faces. Amy was a little brat and her mother and her brother made sure she knew that wasn't ok with them. When things were mended between Amy and her family it was because Amy had to admit that she fucked up. Then she had to apologize and start behaving like a nice girl again. Ephram got in over his head with Madison just like his dad told him he would and when it was all said and done, he admitted that his dad was right. But his dad was wrong too, he did the wrong thing with/for Madison at the end of the season. Bright and Harold are probably my favorite characters on the show - Bright because he is an excellent friend to both his sister and Ephram, he's funny and while maybe not smart, he's wise. He speaks his mind and he is a really nice guy. He's a joy to watch. Harold is a sour apple. He insults people right and left and has no use for anyone but his wife and children until someone needs him and then he is there completely with compassion and love and sensitivity. His reluctant friendship with Andy is a wonder to behold.

You should watch this show if you haven't before. It is well worth your time, I promise.

ER Season 1 - I made a bit more headway with this. Last night I watched the episode "Loves Labour Lost" wherein Mark misdiagnoses a pregnant woman with eclampsia and eventually loses the mother. It's gut-wrenching and sad and incredibly hard to watch.

I find that I especially love how the show doesn't dumb down the medical mumbo jumbo for the audience. They throw around words or abbreviations without explaining because that's how they talk in a hospital and making sure we understand the medical speak isn't what the show is about. I think I'll watch more of this tonight rather than whatever reruns happen to be on TV. I've reached the point where I'm really hooked now.

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