What I’ve been watching, December 2010

I, Robot – I have to admit I’ve never read the original book. I know it’s a glaring omission for a science fiction fan like myself, but I have a tendency to avoid “the classics”. If I had read it, no doubt I would have many complaints about this movie. As it stands, I actually enjoyed it a lot. There seems to be a fair bit of character development missing with regard to the old woman and Spooner’s friend who never listens – the latter especially feels like he was included to try and appease the book-loyalty crowd but could have been left out of the movie. I really liked the delivery truck design. Other than that, there’s nothing remarkable to call out.

First Men in the Moon (2010) – Doesn’t really add anything over previous versions. Some nice stock footage of the Earth and Moon from space, and a historical wrapper around the original story, but it’s pretty much identical and the CG creature effects are almost worse than the original stop-motion. Skip it.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin – The title of this movie has bugged me since it came out, since I always figured its title would eventually become my title and it seemed to be implying some kind of stigma.  I finally decided I should at least know what its content is before the due date.  I regret it.  I tend to avoid sitcom-like and American-style slice-of-life movies because they make me wince; the magnifications of interpersonal awkwardness and unhealthy “buddy” relationships are almost physically painful for me to see.  My avoidance policy has now been reinforced.  The only “life lesson” I got from watching this is confirmation of my existing opinions that the “singles scene” is to be avoided at all costs and that the advice single men give other single men is crap and can easily be recognized as such because they’re single men.

The Strange World of Planet X – Turned out I had seen this before under a different name.  I wish they wouldn’t give movies alternate titles.  Even so, it’s a pretty decent flick and I watched it through anyway.  It’s another in the fine tradition of aliens getting scared by our adventures in science and coming down to try and put us in our place.  For our own good, of course.  Bah!

Tron 1 and 2 – Tron was such an influential movie in my life that I wrote about it separately here, and I will write another post about this year’s sequel after I’ve seen it once or twice more.

The Sound of Music – From when my family first got cable TV until I left home, we watched this movie almost every Christmas.  I generally hated it; it seemed silly and sappy to my younger self.  After having not watched it for many years, I decided to test-revive the tradition for myself this year.  Maybe I’m just getting sentimental or something.  Anyway, it’s not as tortuous as I remember; musical silliness aside (nobody calling the whitecoats for someone singing in public) it’s a decent family love story that is sentimental without being a tear-jerker, and refreshingly lacks the heavy-handedness of modern drama.  Also, Julie Andrews was pretty hot in her time.

Invasion from Inner Earth – I’m amazed this one escaped my notice for so long.   It’s unfortunate the low-budget production gets in the way of the story.  There is a lot of silent implication going on towards the end and I get the impression the director is trying to set up the surprise ending to be something profound, but the rest of it is so dreadfully boring I wasn’t motivated to pay it enough attention to understand what it might all mean.  I can make some guesses at what the ending was about but I have no idea if I’m right.  The rest of it was chock full of people entertaining the crackpot UFO theories of the time, and variously dodging red flashlight beams or shouting at CB radios.

Machete – The fake trailer was such a wonderful parody that it ended up getting made into a movie.  I really wanted to see this on the big screen, but it came and went so quickly I didn’t get a chance.  Not let down though – the movie delivers what the trailer promises.  Definitely recommended as a good ultra-violence action romp that doesn’t take itself seriously at all.

Legion – Meh. I had wanted to see this when it was in theaters but didn’t get a chance.  Now that I’ve seen it, I’m glad; it would have been a waste of money and effort.  Not much going for it – basically a zombie horde versus gas station occupants standoff with a couple of boss characters and a biblical skin on the whole thing.  Nothing impressive story-wise or effects-wise.

Hunter / Prey – I was afraid this was going to be a rehash of Enemy Mine, which I hated because of its predictable and overly heavy-handed moralizing.  Indeed there are a lot of similarities but I enjoyed this one more.  I wouldn’t say it’s outstanding but at least it wasn’t painful to watch.

Invasion of the Neptune Men – Typical Toei SF.  Aliens try to conquer the Earth (because what else would aliens do with themselves?) and are thwarted by observant children, selfless scientists, slimy journalists, the occasional superhero, and easy worldwide cooperation.  Love it!

Tank Girl – I don’t know what motivated me to watch this.  I guess I was hoping that like many more recent comic-based movies it might actually be good.  I would have been just as happy having not watched it.  All annoying style, no substance.

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