Star Trek

Star Trek, oh Star Trek.

I’ve been “between things” recently, so that’s why I have all this time to watch movies and write about them. There’s a box set of the original five Star Trek movies on Blue Ray on a shelf next to where I sleep. The answer is, Yes. I’ve been watching them.

I’ve never watched the Search for Spock all the way through so I decided to rectify that. And I failed. I got about halfway in and just gave up. It’s a Long Ass Movie and it’s not helped by the slow as nails pacing and overall boring-ness especially when compared to The Wrath of Khan, which Search is the sequel to.

This is the lone blemish on my otherwise flawless record. I’ve seen every other Star Trek movie ever made, even the ghastly Final Frontier, which I know we’d all love to forget ever existed.

As I re-watched these six fabled classics I, of course, began to think about the more recent Star Trek movies. I know that a lot of Trek fans don’t really like them, but I gotta say, whatever faults those movies have, they are FAR from the worst it gets.

I prefer the humorous Star Treks like The Voyage Home, you know, the one with the whales or the parts of First Contact when the Next Gen crew are befuddled by Zefram Cochrane’s alcoholism. I guess the new Treks aren’t that humorous, and they have a lot more flash and fire than the traditional Treks. They seem to have taken their acting cues from the brash gallantry of Kirk and Riker rather than the eggheads we all actually like watching, such as Spock, Picard and Data. Everybody argues in New Trek. The bridge feels more like a boxing ring rather than the helm of a huge beautiful starship, the players feel more like whiny college students than professional explorers.

But I still like watching them. For all they’re faults, they’re better than a large sample of Star Trek movies. I will list the Treks that are worse: The Search for Spock, The Final Frontier, Generations, Insurrection and Nemesis. Honestly the only ‘Next Gen’ movie that holds up is First Contact.

I’m not trying to talk shit, I’m just being objective. You can love something and be critical of it. Heck, I posted earlier how Starship Troopers is my favorite movie of all time.

So don’t get me wrong, I still think there are original Treks that easily outshine the rowdy bluster of these New ones. I guess I’m just happy they’re still making Star Trek and they’re doing a pretty good job, all things considered. Was Kirk’s revival in Into Darkness really any crazier than the revival of Spock with the Genesis torpedo?

Maybe they shouldn’t have tried to remake the Wrath of Khan, but you know what? The Wrath of Khan isn’t really that great. I mean it’s fun, and it presents Star Trek in its “mature” style for the first time with a well imagined space battle, that in terms of special effects still looks pretty good. It also shows us how world weary our heroes had become, and it has the Kobayashi Maru. Yes. It’s a classic. But… eh. Star Trek, for me, is about fun.

And New Trek is fun. I guess I appreciate that they’re trying to make exciting movies rather than pandering to a fanbase that has always been fickle. A fanbase that, even I as a Trek enthusiast I find tiresome. Trekkies, in my mind, represent an old guard of nerd-dom that started to see its kingdom crumble right about when Iron Man transitioned from a b-list comic book hero into a gazillion dollar franchise. Because you don’t own Star Trek. You are not the arbiter.

My mom likes Star Trek. She’s pretty into Jean-Luc Picard, and I admit that I’m pretty fond of the captain too. One of my old coworkers who also likes Star Trek used to call Picard “captain wooden-head” because she found Picard to be god awfully boring. I don’t understand how anyone could feel that way, but you know what? There’s no ‘right’ way to enjoy Star Trek.

So some people didn’t like Into Darkness. I guarantee its not the first time they disliked a Trek movie, and if it is, your tastes are nonsensical. Besides these movies are based on a show that visited places like the “Nazi Planet” or features androids who travel back in time to befriend Mark Twain and almost every alien race looks exactly like a human with a little silicon ridge of one shape or another glued to their forehead. Some of the aliens don’t have any ridges at all. Yeah I know, they explained why that is in an episode of Next Gen, but who cares? It’s more fun to enjoy it rather than obsess over it.

Besides the best Star Trek movie of all time isn’t even technically Star Trek.


Harry, Sally and “The Friendzone”

I just re-watched When Harry Met Sally, and I must admit its still pretty good. I remember watching it either in high school or middle school with my friend Ben, because for some reason at that time he was SUPER into rom-coms. He watched Friends regularly and his favorite movie, for some inexplicable reason was “Kissing a Fool” starring David Schwimmer and Jason Lee.

Anyway, there’s a part in When Harry Met Sally that has always stuck in my head. Near beginning Sally tells Harry that they’ll just have to be friends rather than pursue anything romantic, at which point Harry explains that men and women can never truly be friends. “Because the sex part always gets in the way,” he sagely reveals.

In one sense this sets up the friendship they later form and also predicts the doom of that friendship which ultimately morphs into a romance. I originally watched this movie at a formative age, and Harry’s claim about the impossibility of platonic friendships with the opposite sex has, for better or worse, always stuck in my head.

Today I am a 27 year old man and I like to think that I’m “just friends” with a number of women. The use of the classifier “just”, however, is totally needless. On the internet it’s easy to find examples of a campaign against the concept of something called “The Friendzone” which is a term that did not exist at the time of Harry’s speech. I don’t think that Harry felt he’d been “friendzoned”, rather I think he was just being honest with Sally when he told her he didn’t really want to be friends.

I wonder how many other young men have seen this and taken Harry’s words at face value: “men and women Can’t Be Friends because Sex.” Being “just” friends with someone who you’re attracted to can be tough, and I’ll admit I myself have ruined friendships in the past with the dreaded “hook up”.

Over the course of the film Harry proves himself wrong by striking up a deep and decidedly sex-less friendship with Sally. Then, of course, because this is a genre with certain preexisting requirements, they have sex. Then, at some point after this they decide they’re in love.

But the questions remains. Can men and women be friends? I left the “just” out because I think the questions sounds more serious and inspires deeper consideration without it. Can men and women be friends?

Easy answer. Yes they can. I have several.

But I also think that Harry was partially right. It’s not cut and dry, but in many friendships between heterosexual people of the opposite sex a specter of attraction can hover even when it has been banished by formal declarations.

“We’re just friends,” is a statement that can be tough for some single men (I believe, maybe I’m projecting an obnoxious part of myself onto others) to say to their male peers, because there is an emasculating subtext. I’m not saying that the ‘subtext’ is grounded in reality, but I think there is a modicum perceived weakness in the “just friend” statement. For if a man is friends with a woman but they are not romantically entangled, a weaker male mind might see two possibilities. First that the man has been rebuffed by the woman yet he still spends time with her, in which case he’s hopelessly “out of his league” or something. Or possibility two: that the man doesn’t know how to seduce her properly, in which case he’s a “pansy” or a “coward”. Both of these premises assume something that is often assumed of men: that all they think about is sex.

In When Harry Met Sally, Harry does think about sex a lot. True to form he has casual sex much more readily than Sally. Harry’s male friend is suitably confused about how Harry can be friends with a woman he’s not having sex with. Harry then assures his male friend that he’s having plenty of great sex with other women so there’s nothing to worry about. This solves that problem.

I still really like this movie, and it has lots of great lines, and it also underscores how romance and friendship are tightly entangled but it does make some assumptions that don’t totally hold up today. In some respects I wish I’d never heard Harry say “Men and women can never be friends,” because it makes me wonder if it didn’t color some of my interactions with women over the years. On the flip side it is important to recognize feelings of attraction, whether or not you choose to act on them, which I think is what Harry really meant. If you are going to pursue someone’s company, in whatever form, whether it be for friendship or something else, you have to be honest with yourself and it doesn’t hurt if you’re honest with the other person too.

Honesty is also what our titular characters must grapple with, and it is what ultimately saves their relationship. Similarly I think honesty is what critics of the term “Friendzone” are up in arms about. If you’re going act like a friend then you should BE a friend. Be honest.

In the end though, I’m not an expert. I don’t know much. When Harry Met Sally is still a good watch, though.



I’m not totally sure how I’m gonna write a “review” of Birdman because I think the real purpose of a review is to help people who haven’t seen something decide whether or not they want to go see it.

So, go see it. There. That’s my review. After you’ve seen it, feel free to come back and keep reading (you don’t have to come back) but seriously don’t keep reading if you’re worried about “plot spoilers” (I haaate that phrase) because I’m gonna just talk about everything, regardless of whether it will ruin the movie for you, because sometimes that’s what you gotta do. As I just said, Spoilers Ahead:

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I, Robot

I was surprised to find during my recent re-watch that my favorite line in I, Robot is not actually in the movie at all. There’s a scene when Lt.John Bergin (played by Boston Public’s principle Chi McBride) get’s up from behind his desk and cocks a shotgun in preparation to destroy some robots. I distinctly remember him saying, “School’s back in session!” at this juncture, but he does not. As I stroked my chin in confusion I realized that actually it wasn’t McBride who said the line. It was my friend Josh who, when we went to see I, Robot in theaters in 2004, loudly cackled it both to me and the rest of the theater.

This proves two points. Firstly that sometimes audience participation really does enhance the experience. And secondly that our memories are murky things that should not be trusted.

In this case, however, I found I, Robot was pretty much just as mediocre as I remembered. There are some funny things that date it. For instance there’s an extremely young Shia LaBeouf on display. His inclusion in the movie seems completely arbitrary. He’s barely even a character. Also there’s a lot of slow motion action sequences which feel more like a stylistic hold over from The Matrix than anything that’s actually necessary.

Of course the real reason to see I, Robot is to watch Will Smith do his Will Smith thang. Will Smith is one of those actors that essentially plays the same character in every movie, though I’d still argue that his repertoire is really a kaleidoscopic umbrella under which he can give us many different Will Smiths. Me and my friends like to say the key to Will Smith is that his characters ‘don’t play by the rules’. That’s like his central tenant. Seriously watch one of his movies, you’ll see. He just doesn’t play by the rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Will Smith. But even the proverbial rule breaking Will Smith in I, Robot isn’t so great. He’s supposed to be a grouchy detective who’s scarred by the past. Let me tell you, it’s not the Will Smith we want to see.

On the other hand the movie opens with him getting out of bed shirtless (which maybe you do want to see?). Then we see him workout a little and then he takes a shower. This is all super boring in terms of the plot. Finally he’s ready to walk out the door, but first he makes sure to put on a pair of “vintage” 2004 (the movie is set forty years in the future) Converse All Stars. “A thing of beauty,” he whispers before donning them. It’s basically a shoe ad. Then he struts out the door into a city full of robots.

And the movie has finally begun!

But first he has to stop at his grandmother’s house, who of course asks him, “What’s that on your feet?”

Will Smith quickly educates her as to their branding and vintage, while propping them up so that she and the audience can get a good look. It’s such brazen product placement that it’s almost entertaining.

Now the movie may begin. There’s a murder plot, and chases and escapes. Will Smith says stuff and does stuff, most remarkably he rides a door like a surfboard out of collapsing building. The robots are very reminiscent of the old iMacs, which makes them look sort of old, even though they’re clearly supposed to look new. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not that great either. If you’re looking for a solid Will Smith fix, you should look for it elsewhere.

I didn’t realize until after the movie was over that the character Sonny (one of the robots) is actually Gollum-suit-acted by Alan Tudyk, who’s famous from the much lauded cowboys in space show Firefly. I’m not sure if he does a good job or not. It’s always hard to tell with those Gollum-suits. In this case it’s even harder because Sonny delivers his lines in a sort of droning innocent Hal-esque way. Which is fine, I guess. Robots will be robots.

I have to say that the special effects were pretty good at the time of this movie’s release. Unfortunately they’ve gotten even better since then. Somewhere between the release of Avatar and the first Avengers movie I stopped caring much about special effects because it all started to look totally real to me. I know it takes hundreds of magicians working tirelessly on a fleet of super powered computers to render it all, but I just don’t give it as much thought as I used to. I no longer suspend my disbelief. What’s on the screen, these days, is pretty darn convincing. But the 2004 digital effects of I, Robot don’t quite hold up. They have an artificial quality (Ha! Get it? Artificial?). They’re sort of fun, but also kind of distracting. Much like the Star Wars prequels.

Ultimately I don’t have the heart rip the movie apart, but I’m not sure I can recommend it either. If you’re stuck inside during a blizzard like I was it can be a fun time. Just don’t forget that the best line in the movie might have to be supplied by the audience.


The Matrix

I dreamed I was in the Matrix. Within the dream I was not “The One”. Instead I was only second best. But as the agents bore down upon me I remembered that “second best” still kicks ass. So I kicked their asses.

It won’t surprise you to hear that a few days after having this dream I decided to re-watch the movie. I first saw The Matrix in theaters when it was released in 1999. I was only eleven years old at the time, and let me tell you, it blew my mind. I often hear people talk about how the original release of Star Wars was an amazing experience. I like to think that The Matrix holds a similar place in the minds of my generation. It’s a shame that the sequels robbed the original of much of its magnificence and mystery.

When I first saw the trailer for it back in 1999 my eleven year old mind went into overdrive trying to figure out what the heck it was about. Back then I had no inkling about how to look up a movie online to mine it for spoilers. It might be hard for younger viewers to imagine a time when the central premise of The Matrix was not widely known. From the clues I gathered watching the televised trailers, it appeared as though it was about people with super powers. A man in a drab business suit jumps across rooftops. Another scene shows a policeman transforming into another man. Everywhere there were heroes (or were they the villains?) dressed in strange black leather getups. Most fantastic of all, there was some sort giant insect or monster shooting a laser underground. What was this all about? It resembled Dark City (1998), and also Dreamscape (1984), but the special effects looked about a million times better.

I imagine that the truth about “what the matrix is” has more or less saturated itself into the general fabric of our minds to the point where even those who haven’t “seen it for themselves” know the central premise. In some ways it’s sort of like Soylent Green. The big reveal is already spoiled beyond repair. The upshot in this case is that the Matrix’s reveal isn’t the final line of the movie, which makes it in my mind more than just a conceit.

Besides, The Matrix has no shortage of iconic scenes. The choosing of the pills, red or blue. The bald headed boy pronouncing the insight, “There is no spoon.” The list of quotable, meme-able and memorable moments goes on and on. I won’t lie, I went home after seeing that movie back 1999 and tried my darnedest to bend a spoon. When I am disgruntled I sometimes spout in a good mimicry of Hugo Weaving, “I haaate this place. It’s the smell!” Not to mention Weaving’s other monologue elucidating the true nature of humanity, “You’re not actually mammals.” It’s one of my personal favorite villain-ologues, as it both gives insight into the alien perspective of Agent Smith and points a finger towards our own real world troubles with climate change and industrialization.

When I re-watched it I was struck by how the movie seemed to revolve around faith. I already knew that the film was full of biblical references, that was no surprise. But the dialogue stressed over and over again the importance of believing in oneself. I’m a fairly casual atheist so I was sort of surprised at how strongly the themes of faith resonated with me. Faith, it seemed, was one aspect of humanity the machines were unable to understand. It is after all an extremely human experience. As someone who has always seen the world more scientifically I found myself asking, does Neo’s story of redemption through belief engage me only because it’s dressed up as science fiction?

It seemed like a strange place for religion to find purchase. A hellish future ruled by machines who make the terminators look like cuddly bunnies. The humans that survived, however, managed to attach meaning to their existence and they did so through faith in themselves.

In a way, this is part of The Matrix’s accessibility. We all struggle with questions of destiny. The pursuit of meaning is no simple subject. In Neo’s case he’s been saddled with the daunting task of saving mankind. Throughout the film he insists he’s not the man for the job. He even visits a psychic who confirms this suspicion. “Maybe in another lifetime, kiddo,” she says before sending him on his way. As I watched I became aware of a possibility. Did I dream about this movie on purpose so that I would watch it? Is searching for one’s destiny as foolish as looking for meaning in dreams? Do atheists need faith?

These aren’t questions I know the answer to. But I still like asking them.

My cynical side, on the other hand, felt that The Matrix was really about a man who joins a cult. Neo’s a lost loner with few friends. He’s invited to meet the cult’s leader by a girl he met at a party. He’s then taken for an interview, during which he’s told vaguely that something’s wrong with his life. Honestly it reminded me of the Scientology interviews they did in that episode of South Park. “Do you feel there’s something wrong with the world only you’re not sure what?” Finally he’s told he has to take a pill to join. Did he wash the red tablet down with cool-aid? The subsequent initiation process is brutal, and ultimately, true to form with most cults, he’s unable to see his friends and loved ones after joining. Really, it’s pretty messed up. I’ve ever identified so much with Cypher as I did during my recent re-watch.

But the movie’s action quickly pushed my cynicism to the curb. Besides I wasn’t watching this to feed my snarky side. This movie is as much about an inward journey as it is about guns and Kung Fu. I guess I was hoping for an answer to my dream, just like how Neo looks for answers from the Oracle. But she had none for him, and neither did The Matrix for me. Then again maybe an answer wasn’t what I needed to hear.

I dreamed I was second best. Was that a metaphor? Was the epiphany that “second best is still pretty darn good” applicable to my waking life? Should I, as an atheist, have some faith in myself even though faith in other worldly beings has never intrigued me?

I don’t know, but maybe. Or maybe it’s just a movie.


Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

It’s still so good, and since its on Netflix right now you should watch it. If you’re into vulgar dude-comedies. Even if you’re not that into dude-comedies, if you’re ever going to waste your time with one, this should be it. I have corroborated truths (aka opinions) from the esteemed film maker Anthony Zagarella that this is in fact the greatest Kevin Smith movie of all time.

It’s aged well too, unlike some of Smith’s other flicks. The last time I watched Mall Rats (which, in terms of content and maturity is on par with Strike Back) I could barely make my way through it, and frankly there were very few laughs to be had. Not so with my recent re-watch of this excellent all around classic.

The only pit-fall, and this isn’t a pit-fall really, also I hate saying pit-fall it’s total reviewer-speak… Anyway, the movie’s biggest weakness is that a fair number of the jokes are “in-jokes” pertaining to other Kevin Smith movies, some of which, like Mall Rats, haven’t aged that well. So it’s a tough movie to recommend to those not familiar with Mr. Smith’s “oeuvre”.

What holds up especially–nay, prophetically well is the central event of the movie is about a comic book being adapted into a major motion picture. Which you may have noticed, adaptations are about all you can see in the theaters anymore. Jay and Silent Bob, characters who at that point had appeared in minor roles in every one of Kevin Smith’s movies (writer and director Kevin Smith plays Silent Bob) are for the first time the stars of the show.

In a previous Kevin Smith movie, Chasing Amy, two comic book artists made a fictional comic called Bluntman and Chronic. Now, in this movie Strike Back, a Hollywood adaptation is being made based on that comic. The only problem is that Jay and Silent Bob are the “real life” basis for the characters, and they haven’t been consulted about the likeness rights.

They soon discover something about fame in the 200o’s that is still true, if not more true, thirteen years later. If you’re famous, people will talk shit about you on the internet. On a fictional website called Jay and Silent Bob read numerous trolling comments directed at them (you know us movie nerds can’t stop posting about movies on the internet) which infuriates the duo to no end. This kick starts a dizzying cross country quest to stop the Bluntman and Chronic movie from being made in order to halt their online defamation.

It’s full of famous cameos and good stupid laughs. A staple of dude-comedies is that the schlubby main character ends up with a beautiful and highly competent women, and this movie is no different. In this instance the match up is almost over the top, since Jay (played by Jason Mewes) is perhaps the rudest, stupidest least redeemable dude of any of these 90’s (or early 2000’s in this case) comedies. Even Happy Gilmore looks like a saint compared to Jay. When told that, “Girls don’t like to be called bitches,” Jay scratches his head and tries to come up with an alternative.

“How about Booboo-titty-fuck?” he asks.

Despite his idiocy, I find it hard not to love the guy. He’s really a savant of acting like a dumb ass. Part of his charm is that he’s just absurdly oblivious to ways that normal people behave, but he’s not antagonistically obnoxious like, say, Tom Green. Rather he’s a dude you’d want to hang out with, if only occasionally, since even though he needs to think really hard about whether or not to expose his (and I quote) “trouser snake” to a girl he just met, he’s still decent enough to hold off. If that’s not a heart of gold then I don’t know what is!

If you want to see George Carlin explain the benefits of offering head to truckers, or watch a girl jump acrobatically over laser wires only to fart on the landing, or see Mark Hamill play a villain named Cock Knocker then this is the movie for you. If any of the items mentioned above sound distasteful then you should probably skip it. Beyond the poop humor though, is a film full of late 90’s nostalgia. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back feels more like a party than anything, and Netflix is inviting you to stop by.


The Cabin in the Woods

When I compared Cabin in the Woods to Shaun of the Dead I was told that it was an unfair comparison because Shaun of the Dead is a spoof, and Cabin in the Woods is a “deconstruction”. I sort of frowned, because the point I was trying, and possibly failing, to make was that Cabin in the Woods was a far inferior satire.

But I guess I’ll concede the point, it’s not satire. It’s a “deconstruction”. I still don’t like it, though.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about how “smart” this movie is, and I put that in quotes because I really don’t think it’s that smart. It’s certainly not the first movie genre deconstruction, nor is it even the first horror movie deconstruction.

Let’s look at what deconstruction means.

According to Google it’s: “A method of critical analysis of philosophical and literary language that emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression.”

Yikes. That’s a mouthful. I think we better ask our friend Wikipedia. There’s a lot of disclaimers at the top Wikipedia’s page on Deconstruction, including: “This article may be confusing or unclear to readers.”

And it is. For me actual philosophy, though interesting, has always been a tough subject. Feel free to dive in if you want.

I think that ultimately the term has a different meaning on internet movie message boards than it does in academic literature. Essentially, when people say that Cabin in the Woods is a deconstruction, they mean that the movie plays with the tropes and mechanics of the horror movie genre in such a way that it is able to comment both on the genre itself and Real Life. in this case is a better source for information than Wikipedia.

Anyway, I guess that’s where the attraction for fans of The Cabin the Woods lies. Other films have similarly taken apart genres in this way, specifically Scream (1996). But I think a better comparison for Cabin in the Woods is the action movie deconstruction, Last Action Hero (1993).

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Movie Review: Man of Steel


One word reviews are fun, useful, and in this case totally deserved. Why do they keep letting this guy (Zack Snyder) go to town on the most revered pillars of the comic book temple?.


Was he trying to model superman’s personality after a crash test dummy? I mean “big blue” isn’t exactly known for his exuberance or wit, but Jeebus H Christmas. This rendition of Superman is even blander than usual and despite trying to fill him with pathos, Snyder instead gives us a ridiculous, almost mind numbing–no wait, its not almost numbing, it’s complete Novocaine level brain drain–plot. These people wander through the film, saying things and doing things as if there is a rhyme or reason for their actions, but I found no thread to grapple with, nor anything human to relate to.

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Movie Review: In a World…

In a World…

The iconic words of cheesy movie trailers are the core of this movie, which takes place in a world (ha!) suffering from the after effects of Don LaFontaine’s death, a real life voice over artist who became famous for the phrase which is this movie’s title. As various voice artists jockey to retake the throne (or phrase) a woman dares to compete in what has been historically a man’s game.

What I’ve written above could basically be a trailer script for the movie. Which I wrote so that you’d think I was clever and funny… (how do spell FAIL?)

I enjoyed this movie despite the fact that I actually didn’t enjoy large sections of it. Now when I say I “didn’t enjoy large sections”, what I mean is I’m a big wimp. The over all flavor of the film is an Indie-Dramedy. My spine shivers just writing those words. Dramedy. Whoever created that portmanteau should be taken out behind the chemical sheds if you know what I mean.

Anyway, what I found difficult about the film was how the ‘second core’ of the plot (the part that’s not really about trailers or voice over) is all about sneaking around and cheating. Now I’m not judging or anything but whenever people behave shamefully in movies the quarter of my ancestry that’s Japanese emerges from my genetic code and insists that I commit seppuku rather than be forced to view the character’s imminent shame. Seriously, don’t you know you’re gonna get caught?

The only upside was that I was totally sick when I watched it and the awkward drama sent my heart rate through the roof, pushing the viral fugue so far from my brain that I actually managed to write this review. No gunfight or horror movie monster could get me this tense.

In a World… (the ellipsis is apparently part of the title) is still a lot of fun to watch though, partly because it gives an interesting window into… a world (Ha!) that I both immediately understand but also have never considered. A few years ago Jerry Seinfeld made a promo for his 2002 documentary “Comedian” riffing on the titular line. Here we get a caste of interesting characters all tied into this niche industry. Lake Bell is really superb as the main character Carol Solomon, (she’s also the writer and director, so … anyway she’s great) the woman trying to make it in a man’s world (Ha. I’m gonna keep doing this). In fact rooting for her pushed me through to the film’s finale. She’s at her strongest when she’s doggedly pursuing accents to record and catalog for her collection. The people around her are equally tangible. Sometimes I harp on “Indie” movies for being just as formulaic as the big budget monsters they claim to be an alternative to but I really connected with these characters and wanted to see more of them at the end of the film, which frankly is a quality I find hard to come by. Reading about the actors after watching (another rare treat. I didn’t already recognize every face I saw. I’ll salute any screen not stuffed with Mega Stars) I was almost disappointed that Sam Soto wasn’t a real person. For some reason my enfeebled plague ridden mind hoped that they were pulling one of those fun tricks where the actors play themselves.

There is the obligatory Hollywood party scene. It reminded me of Curb Your Enthusiasm (another show that, at times, makes me want to seppuku myself), as it dramatized the Ins-and-Outs of The Biz. Actors and their accompanying self absorption, in real life, usually make my skin crawl. Do these parties actually happen like this? How do these people not hate themselves?

But just as I started to wonder about the mental health of celebrities the story curved back to the grounded and interesting Carol Solomon and her quest to dominate what’s typically been ‘male only’ voice over work. Even the trailer script she reads champions a world (last time swear!) in which men no longer rule. It’s a good watch.


Movie Review: Galaxy Quest

Let’s call this piece timely because Galaxy Quest is on netflix right now, so don’t give me any lip about it coming out 15 years ago.

For such an “old” flick it actually holds up surprisingly well, but I won’t pretend to be impartial: I love this movie. In fact I think it’s probably my favorite Star Trek film, even though it’s technically not Trek in any respect.

It’s a spoof. But its a loving spoof full of jibes and jokes which clearly illustrate that the people (David Howard and Robert Gordon) who wrote this movie knew its source intimately. This isn’t mocking Star Trek, it’s celebrating it, and in the year 2014, a time when the cineplexes are dominated by mega-franchises (including a new and “improved” Star Trek) and our action movies are main-stream-ifizing what was once nerdy sub-culture you still don’t get a lot of movies like Galaxy Quest. A one off, sequel-less sci-fi romp with a bunch of old school special effects, in jokes plus regular jokes for everybody else and starring a cast that hits it out of the park?

(I will admit that Guardians of the Galaxy, which came out this summer does have a few things in common with Galaxy Quest, including the word Galaxy in its title. However, Guardians is part of a “Mega-Franchise” (the Marvel universe) and is based on a comic book of the same name. What I find rare about Galaxy Quest, which was not rare at the time of its release, is that it isn’t actually tied to an existing “property” even if it’s core is a spoof of Star Trek. GQ is decidedly its own entity, its own “thing”, and I think a truer movie for it.)

Did I mention that I love this movie? Yeah. I love it.

Did I mention it holds up well for a movie from 1999? The pacing is brisk, and the characters are spot on. In fact I’d love to give a hand to whoever cast this film because it is star studded. Sigourney Weaver is impeccable as always. Allan Rickman, not yet famous for playing Snape (alert, another mega-franchise) in the Harry Potter films, but probably still recognizable at the time for his memorable role in Sense and Sensibility, is probably my favorite part of the movie. Tony Shalhoub also costars a few years before Monk would propel him to fame. Oh, and I almost forgot! One of my favorite actors, Sam Rockwell plays the memorable/forgettable “extra” Guy Freegman. Daryl Mitchell also does a great job, but gets a little overshadowed by the blazing ensemble around him. Even Tim Allen is terrific. (Also the guy who plays Dwight on The Office is an unnamed alien. Who could be better for that role?)

Now that I’ve name dropped just about everyone who appears on screen let me segue to why the film is still relevant thematically. The core of the story is about fandom. Specifically “trekkies” or whatever their Galaxy Quest equivalent is. In the movie a group of aliens (called Thermians) who believe the television show Galaxy Quest is “for realz” hire the show’s actors to defeat a Big Bad Alien. The fun is watching the real everyday people who starred in the show grapple with the larger than life events that they’ve been portrayed conquering countless times, but who in reality can barely cope with.

In 1999 it was mocking/celebrating a sub-culture. Today Star Trek, comic books and all the things that used to be the domain of “nerds” are now mostly mainstream, and fandom is not quite so stigmatizing. As a result the movie Galaxy Quest has never been easier to access as a viewer, nor has it, I believe, been able to speak to so many people, who like the Thermians, yearn for their favorite silver screen fantasy to be more than just on the screen.