Category Archives: Reviews Audio/Visual

Movie Reviews: Snow White and the Huntsman vs. Mirror Mirror

As a lover of fairy tales, it is a rare and special time when movies portray something of the classics outside of Disney. I recently attended Mirror Mirror, and shortly afterwards Snow White and the Huntsman, at my local cinema. Both tell the story of Snow White, both feature a strong female protagonist as well as antagonist, and both are visually beautiful. However, though each features the classic elements of the story, the tone and focus of the movies vary greatly.

For one thing, Snow White and the Huntsman is a horror story as well as an action adventure. Within ten minutes of the movie’s start, I was thanking my lucky stars I didn’t take my eleven year old to see this flick. There’s murder, betrayal, startling special effects, and scenes of intense cruelty and terror. It was definitely too scary for younger children, though for adults it is a compelling narrative featuring mythological themes. Several scenes used elements of Arthurian lore.

 

Mirror Mirror, on the other hand, takes a more light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek approach to the tale. The evil queen is not so much cruel as extremely vain and looking to marry a young stud. Snow White must flee the castle in order to grow into the kind of person who can and will rule the kingdom wisely. Her prince comes, but she’s more proactive about her own fate and takes matters into her own hands. This movie, in my opinion, is safe for children ten and older.

There were things I enjoyed about both films. Both portrayed more feminist interpretations of the tale, and I must admit that I am a sucker for any princess that rescues – not only herself – but her entire kingdom. However, while Mirror Mirror focused on humor and romance, those things were non-existent in Snow White in the Huntsman – which took a much darker and more dramatic approach to the subject. While Julia Robert’s queen in Mirror Mirror was vain and selfish, she lacked the backstory of Charlize Theron’s queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. In the latter, the queen’s motivations and obsession with beauty – while not justifable – at least become understandable. If it wasn’t for her inherent cruelty, the viewer might even feel sorry for the queen.

There is honestly no real way to compare these movies well. I can not recommend one more than the other, because they are too different. While the same tale inspired  both, one is a humorous, family friendly movie and the other a darkly disturbing tale. I would recommend any lover of fairy tales see both and judge for themselves.

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Review: Princess of Mars (as compared to the new John Carter film)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs tells the story of John Carter, a Virginian soldier, who finds himself stranded on the Red Planet. Through his abilities (that the Martians lack) and his intelligence he must learn to survive, caught between the eternally feuding Green Martians and their Red Martian enemies.

This was a fun read. The recent release of the John Carter film, based on A Princess of Mars, is what first made me pick up the book. Until now, I haven’t been a fan of Burrough’s work, but this novel has made me reevaluate my opinion. However, it is the first in his series of Barsoom novels, so I was disappointed that questions were left unanswered by the novel’s end.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

One of the things I noticed was how closely the movie had followed the book, though much of this was in spirit rather than a literal interpretation (which would have resulted in an 8 hour long movie). The novel’s timeline is much longer, as John Carter is stranded for months on the Red Planet, while in the movie it seemed much shorter. Things that he discovered in the novel over the course of months, he learned almost immediately in the film.

In the novel, he learned to speak the language of the Green Martians through lessons he took with his caretaker, Sola – the only compassionate Green Martian that he knew. She was looked down upon by the other Green Martians for being an “atavism” – a throwback to an earlier time when compassion and love were not considered vices. This is explained in greater detail in the book. However, the movie tidily shows how the Green Martians regard Sola’s compassion by showing her branded as punishment for helping Carter – a convenient scene for the filmmaker that never occurred in the book. There were many such scenes.

The film started out with a fantastic air battle between rival factions of the Red Martians; while the book certainly showed them fighting amongst themselves, it wasn’t something that happened early in the novel or happened in quite the same way. The men who manipulated the Martians in the movie never appeared in the book, though they might appear in another of the Barsoom series (which I haven’t finished yet). One of the Red Martian factions did war against Helium, and of course in both book and novel everyone who came across the Princess fell immediately in love with her. While I enjoyed both versions of the story, I found that extremely annoying.

One of the things I loved about the film version was the strength of the Princess. She fought. She got angry. She was incredibly intelligent and obviously a scientist. While the novel mentioned that she was part of a research mission when she was originally captured by the Green Martians, it wasn’t stressed what her mission was or exactly what her job entailed. Her function in the novel, besides illustrating the differences between Red Martian culture and human culture, seemed to simply be the pretty girl that John Carter fell and fought for. She was almost always angry or emotional, and she was always beautiful. Since the character of the princess was my favorite part of the film, I was disappointed with her portrayal in the novel.

I was not, however, disappointed with the novel’s portrayal of Woola – the Martian (for want of a better word) “dog.” This huge beast, in both film and book, was a huge animal who loved John Carter, helped him, and followed him like a puppy. He was a monster with a heart of gold.

One thing the novel had that wasn’t covered by the film was John Carter’s telepathic powers. Green Martians had limited language that they supplemented with telepathic thought, and Carter often “caught” stray thoughts that were not meant for him. Coupled with his proficiency in the language and the fact that the Green Martians could not read his mind, he had a powerful advantage. And of course, in both, he could jump great distances due to the difference between Martian and Earth gravity.

I would recommend the book, Princess of Mars, though the ending of the book is far less satisfying than the film. The parts of the film that cover Carter’s means of travel to Mars differs greatly from the novel, but I suspect those differences are ultimately unimportant – given that I have yet to read the rest of the Barsoom series. His back story on Earth is different, but his rugged and honorable character shines through in both the printed page and the big screen. All in all, I believe the film tells a better story than the novel, but the novel is still worth reading.

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Movie Review: John Carter

With the phenomenal box office failure of this adaption of ‘A Princess of Mars’ by Edgar Rice Burroughs, I was uncertain whether or not the film would live up to the previews. It didn’t. It was much, much better than I expected.

First of all, this was an epic film. Large sets, warring societies, aliens with fantastic special effects, and wonderful characters. John Carter is a Virginian soldier who has lost everything, even the cause he had fought for, but on a new world he might find one again. The film chronicles his strange journey to Mars and how he once more discovers something worth fighting for.

I read ‘Tarzan’ by Burroughs a few years ago, and I really wasn’t a fan of his writing. But the movie was done very well, the characters were developed in a believable way, and one of my favorite things of all… the protagonists made mistakes. Frequently in films characters figure things out instantly – no matter how bizarre the situation, but Carter didn’t. He crashed things, he fell a lot, and for a large part of the movie didn’t even realize he wasn’t on Earth.

There were humorous parts due to miscommunication between Carter and the Martians he encountered. There was the obligatory pretty girl for the male protagonist to rescue or fall for, but what impressed me was that she rescued him as well. They were equally matched, and the story didn’t depend on romance, but rather the real problems that faced the entire planet of Mars. Even though the Princess was the main female role, unlike Princess Leia, she wasn’t the only tough woman on the planet.

There were some inconsistencies, but I didn’t really mind because everything else was done so well. I had trouble remembering some of the exotic names, but that didn’t keep me from following the plot. A few of the special effects and battle scenes were almost gory (meaning that they would have been gory if the blood had been red), but despite that I felt reasonably comfortable watching the movie with my eleven-year old. All in all, I don’t hesitate to recommend this movie to others.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’m reading ‘A Princess of Mars’ now.

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Review: (Movie) The Tempest

The 2010 movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, stars Helen Mirren in the lead role as Prospera. Deprived of her Dukedom and stranded on a desert island, the sorceress Prospera raises her daughter away from human society until fortune brings her enemies within her grasp.

When I first saw that a woman played the lead in what is traditionally the male role of Prospero, I had reservations. Bu the more I thought about the play, the more I thought it probably didn’t’ matter.  Prospero’s character is defined by his love of his daughter, his need to resolve the demons of his past, and his magical power. A woman could portray all those things as well as a man, so I was open minded.

Aside from some dialogue and background changes to accommodate the change in the main character’s sex, this movie was pretty true to what I remember of the play. The Tempest has never been my favorite play, but the movie version really brought the story to life.  Every actor gave a stellar performance. The emotional scenes were well done, the clowns were hilarious, and the special effects were both spectacular and horrifying.

Other than some slight inconsistency with the music score (it suddenly switched to rock music for the storm scene, which was odd), everything was wonderful. The sudden love between Ferdinand and Miranda was unbelievable (in both the play and the movie), but I suppose the affair could be chalked up to the island’s magical influence.

Helen Mirren’s performance, in particular, brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never had much sympathy for Prospero, nor did I have much for Prospera, but I could see her inner turmoil. The people who betrayed her were finally in her grasp, and the rage she’d bottled up for all those lonely years could finally be unleased upon her enemies. Still, I couldn’t empathize with her treatment of the spirit Ariel.

And I have to comment one more time on the gender change. It really didn’t make much difference to the overall plot, though I still wonder why they cast a woman instead of a man. It’s not as if Shakespeare lacks for strong female protagonists, even though it’s true this particular play doesn’t (originally) have one.

However, this movie adaption of The Tempest is a must-see for any Shakespeare fan. The DVD is currently available through Netflix, Amazon, or (should be available) through your local library.

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Review: (Movie) Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, starring James Franco and Andy Serkis, is a wonderful blend of action, special effects, emotional tension, and philosophy. Last night, as I watched the movie with my husband, I was struck with just how well the movie was done. The motivations of the characters allowed us to empathize with them, but as the movie progressed we mostly empathized with the apes themselves.

Scientist Will Rodman works in a laboratory where he experiments on primates, searching for the cure to Alzheimer’s Disease. After an incident at the lab, he brings home a young chimp – Caesar, raises him like his child, and monitors his cognitive development in the hopes of saving his own father. When Caesar is forced to live at an abusive primate ‘sanctuary’, his own life – as well as the lives of the rest of humanity- will never be the same.

Originally, I thought this movie was a sequel to Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, but I’m no longer sure there’s any connection. At the very least, it’s an alternate explanation for the way intelligent apes replaced humanity. The movie feels altogether different than the Tim Burton movie, with more realism and less theatricality, though there is the requisite “Get your hands off me, you damn, dirty ape!” The line is something of a tradition in these type of films, but I thought it cheapened the movie.

I wondered how the apes had been portrayed, but soon realized some excellent CGI was involved (ala Gollum from Lord of the Rings). The special effects were believable, and I felt sorry for the human scientist. He was experimenting on animals – which I personally found deplorable, because he wanted to save his father. How could anyone not understand his motivations, even if condemning his actions?

I won’t go into detail here (no spoilers), but the laboratory’s lax approach to security and safety seemed overly convenient. I just didn’t believe the scientists and the people running the highly secretive experimental lab would be that dense. The same thing goes for some of the police tactics later in the movie. It wasn’t all the time, but it happened enough to  break the illusion and irritate me.

There was no sex, and the violence was more hinted than shown – brutal but not graphic. However, young Caesar’s childhood, his experiences at the primate ‘sanctuary’, and the humans’ treatment of apes throughout the movie are heartbreaking. The heavy emotional impact would make this movie unsuitable for younger viewers.

However, I loved the movie. The characters themselves (with the exception of lab security) were entirely believable and well-developed. The special effects were fantastic, yet just what was necessary to convey the plot well. Both my husband and myself empathized with the characters, especially the apes and Caesar’s human family. I recommend Rise of the Planet of the Apes as an entertaining, thoughtful movie to enjoy with someone you care about.

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National Blog Posting Month: 2010-02-12 and Movie Review: Avatar

National Blog Posting Month: Day 12

Here I am again, Day 12, and I’m not really sure what to say anymore. I’m still doing my edit, still using the same system, but logging just about my progress is not going to hold anyone’s interest except mine. So I’ve decided to spice up the selection a bit with some other content, since I’m still committed to blogging every day this month.

First things first though. My original goal in doing this was to keep myself honest so that I’d edit every day. So with that in mind, yesterday I edited my Nanowrimo but did not reach my 3 page goal. My idea throughout the day had been to get my household things done and edit at night, which worked well so far. My son was going to play soccer that evening, then I was going to pick up some groceries (my cupboards were very bare), head home and edit before bedtime. Soccer practice fell through, much to Minimeder’s disappointment, but we ended up going to see Avatar instead. After the three hour movie, I still had to buy at least some food before coming home. By the time I went, came back and got everything put away, it was after 11 o’clock.

And I won’t lie. I really, really, really just wanted to go to sleep after that. I probably could have squeezed some editing in before midnight, but I didn’t because I was exhausted. My head was killing me again (I’ve been getting headaches all week), and I had trouble concentrating. I was too tired to do much good with it anyway, so I promised myself to make up the difference today. I did get some editing done throughout the day, just not that much. Today, I will finish editing up to page 40 of my rough draft. Thus ends my progress report.

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Now for something a little more fun. I saw AVATAR last night.  Here is my review, but be warned: There be spoilers ahead!

AVATAR is well worth the price of admission, especially in 3-D. The movie is so beautifully shot though that I would go see it again, even in 2-D. From the reviews, I wasn’t expecting a wonderfully written plot, so I wasn’t disappointed. When the movie started, I expected to sit through 3 painful hours. The 3-D glasses gave me a headache, the main characters weren’t likable, and when they first introduced the ex-army guy that was destined to be the bad guy it was dead obvious. I mean, he even had a scar. Please.

But after awhile, I got used to the glasses and forgot about my headache because the film was just do damn beautiful. The colors, the alien-people, the wildlife…gorgeous. I loved how whenever someone stepped on grass or moss (I’m assuming that’s what they were) their footsteps glowed. It was wonderful.

So when the ex-soldier guy got excited about his avatar and disobeyed the very first order he was given (to just “sit down”) and took off like a crazy person, I didn’t roll my eyes quite as much. I know he was excited because he could use his legs, but still the whole thing was ridiculous. The plot was pretty obvious, and the comments about it being ‘Dances with Wolves‘ in space are spot-on in my opinion. But I was okay with that. The world building was incredible, and the main characters grew to be truly likable people by the end. I really, really enjoyed the movie. The three hours didn’t seem excessive, and I was disappointed when AVATAR ended.

Now, supposedly there will be an AVATAR 2, but I’m wondering where they are trying to take this. It was a nice fairytale to say that the aboriginal inhabitants defeated the evil corp’s superior technology with bows and arrows (I mean, really?), but I seriously doubt that they won’t come back and kick their butts with superior force and even more superior weapons. After all, Pandora had unobtanium.

Unobtanium.

So, go enjoy the movie. Don’t expect a plot that isn’t full of holes or characters without flaws. Then happily suspend your disbelief and enjoy a truly spectacular film.

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Review: America by E.R. Frank

This year, in honor of the ALA’s Banned Books Week, I will write a review of a challenged book I recently read. For anyone unfamiliar with Banned Books Week, the American Library Association uses the last week of each September to call attention to our right to intellectual freedom and the necessity of vigilence to keep that freedom alive.

Review of America by E.R. Frank
SPOILERS BELOW: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. :)

The first thing I have to admit is that I can completely and totally understand WHY this book was challenged.  There is a ton of profanity and child sexual abuse throughout the book. But having said that, it’s also probably one of the most well written and thought provoking books I have ever read in my life. I would not personally recommend this book for children, because it’s very disturbing, but I would definitely recommend it to adults.

The story starts in the middle, told from the point of view of a young, disturbed, institutionalized youth.  It’s told in his thought patterns and memories, how he reacts to the people and situations around him, what he thinks is happening.  From the middle of this young boy’s life the story progresses in snapshot memories of his childhood until the end of the book when he’s older and a more adjusted member of society.  The way the story unfolds is captivating, if not heartbreaking, because you see how tragedy destroys his childhood and innocence, how he “got lost in the system,” how he blamed himself and what he thought about what happened to him. You think you know what messed him up even though he gets “rescued” from his neglectful mother, only to find out that the situation he’s brought into is both better (his Mrs. Harper) and much, MUCH worse. It makes the flashbacks to his early childhood that much more powerful, because you know that love and innocence is destined for a terrible end.

Luckily, the book does have a happier ending.  Lucky for me at least because otherwise I probably would have been crying for the next month.  This book gripped me like very few have, and I am not at all sorry I read it- especially because I think facing pain and trouble are an important part of life. It made me want to reach out to abused children. The only thing I could fault the book for is that in the end, I was left wondering “What can I do?”… and that was also it’s biggest strength.

Other Articles about Banned Books Week:

American Library Association: Banned Books Week

Mur Lafferty’s “I Should Be Writing” blogpost about “Banned Book Week.

Stacked (blog): Thoughts on Censorship

Tablet: A new read on Jewish life (complete with a wonderful anticensorship poem)

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Star Trek Spoilerific Movie Review

Well, it finally happened. J.J. Abrams brought us a newer Big Screen version of the original series Star Trek so that we could boldly go were we’d never gone before. Or where we’d gone 8 or 9 times before? I’ve lost count.

Let that go. As it stood, I was pretty ambivalent about the impending movie. On the one hand, I really wanted to see the continuation of the series I’d loved as a child. I liked that the special effects would be better (the preview alone illustrates that), and the movie makers were actually willing to put some money into the production. But from what I’d heard and seen in different reviews, commentaries, and trailers prior to the release, I was afraid that they would completely botch the job.

For one thing, aside from great special effects, the trailers looked incredibly, stupifyingly lame. I’m sorry. I know a lot of people loved them, but they did. Little punk boy drives a car over a cliff; then when a policeman asks his name, he huffily declares, “James Tiberious KIRK!” Um, lame. Whiny beat-up bar guy telling Captain Pike in a bar, “Why you talking to me, man?” Again, lame. Oh, and the best one? The trailer that shows the Enterprise has no Captain or First Officer and then announces something about “deciding your destiny” as Kirk just DECIDES to sit in the Captain’s chair? MAJORLY LAME. I still don’t understand Star Fleet’s advancement program, even after seeing the movie, though I grant it wasn’t quite as bad as the trailer made it look.

So, with some (okay, A LOT) of trepidation, I went to see this movie last Monday. It was good. I wouldn’t say it was the best movie I’d ever seen (Star Trek or otherwise), but it was fun. If I wasn’t a Star Trek follower and fan, I might even say great, though I did have a problem with some of the plot flaws and some scenes where people acted out of character. If I wasn’t a fan, those things might not have bothered me as much. But I am, so they really bugged me, though I still recommend people go see the movie. The scene where old Spock talks to Sylar Spock at the end…that alone makes the entire movie worth watching.

So, what did I like and not like about this movie? I could talk about this for hours, but I’ll narrow it down to my opinion of the movie’s top few Pros and Cons.

PRO: Incredible Special Effects.

I mean,we get to see an entire planet destroyed! That was awesome in a way I cannot put into words.

CON: The physics.

Parts of the movie I didn’t mind this so much (like noises in space), but the planet being sucked into a black hole was problematic. Still, it was so much fun to watch that I didn’t really mind that.

Red matter? I had no idea what they were talking about. I assumed it was some backstory issue that I hadn’t been told. I think there are Star Trek (prequel?) comics that are supposed to explain this, but why should I have to do extra reading to understand the movie? I love reading, but I shouldn’t have to study to be able to understand what’s going on. Especially since I’m already a fan of the series that the movie is based on! Still, I was willing to let that slide.

PRO: The characters.

The movie was cast very well. For the most part, the cast acted like their characters and not like imitations of the t.v. cast. I especially enjoyed Sylar Spock with one EXTREME exception. I’ll get to that later in the following Con.

Scotty was fun, given his limited screen time. And I LOVED Bones. I know he sort of broke the rule and imitated DeForrest Kelley, but I liked that. To be honest, the original McCoy always annoyed the hell out of me. He was always going off yelling at people and making offhand remarks for no apparent reason. His facial expressions were just weird. But the new Bones managed to say all his classic McCoy-isms and yet not be annoying. I know some people think his imitation was a bit over the top, but he wasn’t nearly as frenetically emotional as Original Series Bones.

I’ll admit that about halfway through the movie, even Kirk grew on me. Uhura was given a bigger role. You got more of her backstory, and it emphasized just how brilliant she really was. Chekhov had a couple of funny lines, throwback jokes to the previous movies. Sulu looked like he was doing a good job, but neither Chekhov nor Sulu had many lines. At least Sulu got to sword fight though. How cool was that? I really enjoyed getting more backstory on young (little boy) Spock.

Leonard Nimoy as older Spock was incredible. There’s simply nothing else to say.

CON: The characters.

My number one problem with this movie was the whole Spock/Uhura love affair. It’s not the actors’ faults. They did the best they could with the script, but come on!

Uhura was fine, EXCEPT for all the scenes where she’s throwing herself at Spock. In the turbolift, she comes and keeps kissing him after his personal tragedy while he’s standing there like a statue. You think maybe she could take a hint? He’s a Vulcan! He doesn’t like to show emotion, especially in public. Okay, maybe they had a relationship and in private he showed more, but the turbolift? I thought that was stupid, but okay, I’ll suspend my disbelief.

And then, what? – they’re MAKING OUT ON THE TRANSPORTER PAD! In front of Kirk, no less! I’m sorry, but that’s the most uncharacteristic Spock moment in the entire movie. Even I couldn’t suspend my disbelief THAT much! I understand maybe they were going for a humorous moment to offset the Vulcan tragedy, especially since Kirk had been hitting on Uhura throughout the entire movie. I understand that Vulcans have intense emotions and that watching your planet blow up might make you reconsider how much you suppress them. But only a few minutes earlier, in relative privacy on the turbolift he hardly moved. And now we’re expected to believe that he has no problem making out in front of another officer? PULLEASE.

CON: The music.

I know a ton of people loved the music. There was a new, rock n’ roll type soundtrack instead of the traditional Star Trek themes that we’d come to know and love. It felt like the focus was so concentrated on attracting newer younger viewers that they were slighting the loyal longtime fans. They did play the theme at the very, very end during the end credits, but it felt like a token gesture.

PRO: Cannon.

Specifically using Cannon to discount Cannon. The Time travel debate.

If you are a big budget director, how do you reinvent an old series in a way that would be acceptable to loyal fans while giving you the freedom to take the series in a new, unpredictable direction? Time travel.

Time travel, apparently, solves all your problems. At least in the Star Trek Universe.

It can’t be faulted for not being cannon, because it’s been done many times before in the many incarnations of the series as well as the movies. They didn’t slingshot around the sun, but red matter filled the gap nicely. It was equally implausible and dumb (unless they explain it better in the prequel comics), yet it allowed the story to progress in a new and excitingly complicated direction. Since it had been done before I had no problem with it.

The difficulties arise in our interpretation of what the new and excitingly complicated time line means. Is it one time line? Is there a primary time line or do multiple timelines exist in equally valid ways? When I saw Vulcan implode, intrasucked, or whatever that was, I was concerned about the timeline. If there was only one, did they just NEGATE the entire original series? Because that would have really sucked. It would have sucked in a way that was consistent with cannon, but still. Sorry I’m not more eloquent, but so be it.

After some reflection (and a conversation with my husband), I reconsidered this view. I’d failed to consider something (or rather someone) fairly obvious- Older Spock. At first, I thought that Older Spock might have been exempt from any changes in the timeline once he was taken out of his own. But then would he still have memories of a timeline that no longer existed? Or would he disappear?

It makes more sense to think of both timelines as being equally valid. That explains why Spock is still there in a less complicated (lol) way, yet allows them to blow up Vulcan without violating cannon. I thought the time travel solution was rather clever. The only potential con is the ambiguity about what happens to the original timeline. Sylar Spock even addressed this with a line about how they were living a different timeline, which I interpreted as “Don’t worry fans. We’re still respecting cannon. Anything we’ve done is explained in a way that you can accept.” And I did. Again, I thought it was clever. The fact that they respected the cannon made up for a lot.

Also, the potential with the new timeline is awe inspiring. I can’t even imagine where they’ll go with Vulcan out of the picture and their entire civilization condensed to a small displaced people. It opens up a whole new universe of possibilities.

PRO: Action packed fun.

From the very first scene, the action is virtually continuous. From the scene with Kirk’s father to the destruction of Vulcan. There’s planet destruction, a sword fight with Sulu, and space battles. The effects were top notch.
So, overall, my review leans in favor of watching the movie. There were plot flaws, but they gave nods to the fans, they respected cannon, and above all they featured Leonard Nimoy. The fact that he actually had a real role, not just a courtesy cameo, made this movie worthwhile. All the rest is just garnish. So if you don’t care about spoilers and read this review anyway, go see this movie. Maybe there’ll be a new series!

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The joys of "Dollhouse" on hulu…

My wonderful husband recently introduced me to the joys of the online website called “Hulu.” Basically, you log on and can pick tv shows that you want to watch either by individual episodes or by subscribing to the series. The website is completely free. Currently airing shows might only list the 5 most current, while older shows vary from the first few seasons to the entire series.

This has been an incredible sci fi boon for me, especially since we haven’t had cable in years. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. There are a ton of great scifi shows on network channels right now, but the problem is that without cable my tv reception is virtually nil.

Listening to Casta Blasta (almost continuously since the podcast started) only exacerbated my cravings. I mean, they talk about all the great scifi shows airing, and I wait for the videos to be available at the library. How lame is that?

Imagine my esctasy when I realized that there was actually a brand new show by Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Firefly fame) called Dollhouse. When I first heard the name, I thought it sounded like a trashy evening soap. But it’s actually a great new scifi show airing Friday nights.

The show follows the exploits of “Echo” (Eliza Dushku), an active at the Dollhouse – a secret, illegal organization that caters to the ultrawealthy. Their specialty? Programmable people. The “dolls” are people who have had their entire memories wiped. Their old lives, who they were before they came to the dollhouse, are gone.  They exist, while in the dollhouse, in a state of blank personality and complete innocence. However, when they are activated for a particlular job, they are implanted with the required memories and skills… Programmable people, custom tailored to fit the client’s needs.

And no, those needs aren’t always sex.  Honest.  The very first episode, Echo was a hostage negotiator.  Her assignments range from backup singer (bodyguard) to blind hitchhiker (infiltrating and gathering information on a cult).  The dolls have no will of their own.  They are simply programmed.

I just have to say that I’m completely in love with the premise for this show.  It’s one of the things I’ve always loved about scifi… how it can tackle deeper philosophical and political problems and still just be a whole lot of fun.  Are the dolls still people?  Do they have rights or are they just shells?  Did they volunteer or were they coerced and trafficked? Keep watching to find out, and if you haven’t seen it yet – watch it now!

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