If you follow our Twitter feed – and who doesn’t! – you know we’re been having lots of computer problems. We’ll share our exciting process when it’s finished, and hopefully successful (for the moment we have to use our travel backup) but it’s already taken up the whole weekend, which, what with FMB being out of town for a (from what we hear) very successful signing at Black Cat Comics in Salt Lake City, we slaved away all weekend with a steady background of whatever happened to be on the TV, giving us a chance to rewind with a fine selection of films from our nerd heritage collection and a few new gems as well.
FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
I did not think much of this film when it came out, but now it is pleasant and silly — as a Saturday diversion for children, it’s essentially harmless. Chris Evans does very well as Johnny, and I’m thinking he will go 3-for-3 for Marvel as an excellent Cap. The Thing sure is Saturday Morning-ready though.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END
I DETESTED this movie when it came out, and smile a grim smile of satisfaction when the producers reveal that they knew all along that it didn’t make any sense. And it still doesn’t. I watched the first half hour of this, watched two other programs, and turned it back on and it was still going on without a single thing having happened, in terms of the emotional progression of the characters. I was struck once again by the sheer desperation and exhaustion of Gore Verbinski’s direction. But, Johnny Depp is hot. Would watch again.
ALSO: On TV the post-credits ending, which culminates the entire trilogy, isn’t even shown. FOR DVDS ONLY.
THE CAT FROM HELL (Animal Planet)
Hipster LA musician/spiritualist Jackson Galaxy goes around helping people with their misbehaving kitties. Those hoping against all sense that there is some magic bullet that will train cats to be peaceful, tractable pets will be sorely disappointed. Galaxy basically comes in and tells owners how to fix their homes so the cat won’t destroy it and/or the owner’s peace of mind. “Oh would you mind totally changing your living room so it belongs to the cat? What’s that you say? You HAVEN’T completely remodeled your patio so the cat will be happy? What kind of monster are you?”
Any cat owner will be wistfully familiar with these “compromises.” “Fix my litter or I’ll pee in your bed!” Yep that’s how it goes, Tabby.
Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife by Neil Gaiman
As a non-Who scholar, I only got about 10% of the references here, but I got a lot of the Gaiman touches, and the gist of it, and even I could see that this was an epic/seminal episode of Doctor Who, that even bought a tear to my eye. I understand people have been watching it over and over since it aired so I will let them have at it in the comments.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE WITH ED HELMS
Surprisingly wooden host. Even by today’s low standards I didn’t think this was a very funny episode. I did like “What up with that?” The highlight, of course was the live action Ambiguously Gay Duo with Jon Hamm, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and a moray eel that had to be bitten on the nose. Watch and see what I mean! Jon Hamm as a superhero finally!
Andy Samberg fills the Will Ferrell role here as a young naif who thinks he can jump a lot of buses to raise money to save his ailing stepfather. The step-dad is played by Ian McShane so that is all win. The cast — Bill Hader, Isla Fischer, Danny McBride — is contemporary comedy best quality and there is a lot of stupid sweet stuff here. But mainly Ian McShane.
I took a break to watch the ballgame, and 60 Minutes and then turned on…
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES
I liked this when it came out and still like it. I especially like the ending! Kristanna Loken. was a nice break from the usual foe. I didn’t think anything about it was too incredible but it didn’t insult my intelligence.
This was followed by…
Needless to say, the highlight of the movie weekend. I’ve seen this movie a zillion times, but maybe it was this time which made me realize, more clearly than ever, that it was just a dream the whole time. Also: ’90s film women were so much more vivid and less cookie cutter than current film femmes. Can you see a Rachel Ticontin playing the lead in a movie these days? And the Sharon Stone/Ticontin fight was BRUTAL. ’90s movies were really into the whole Hong Kong vibe which had hand to hand fighting between actual people as opposed to today’s preference for CGI.
Without remembering the whole controversy over the Donner cut of this film, I can still say this is one of my FAVORITE superhero movies of all time, bested, perhaps, only by Spider-Mans 1 and 2. It looks gorgeous to this day — the need to shoot actual things instead of just animate them made for much more interesting shot composition than most CGI movies can handle. For instance, the awkward by today’s standard flying sequences of the Kryptonian bad guys allows close-ups of their faces. In a CGI film it would be little cgi people flying around — much less characterization. I only watched the middle third of this, but the scene where Superman gets beaten up by the diner bullies is always a shocker. And Christopher Reeve’s performance is unsurpassed in a superhero.
Then FMB came home and we had to watch the cat show again.
BTW I seem to be dumping on CGI a lot here, but there is such a tendency to let giant set pieces — a woman exploding into a ship full of crabs — take the place of story developments. That and the onerous hegemony of turquoise and orange film grading give the current style a lot of sameness, to my eye.
Winner of the Weekend: Doctor Who, Ambiguously Gay Duo
Loser of the Weekend: PIRATES III — that is still a horrifying movie in every way.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.