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Mini-Reviews

Those who are reading my book and have not yet commented on 5.2 – meaning everyone but thursowick – PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give me what for. These comments are more helpful than you know. I eagerly await your reviews.

Reviewing things is fun to do, anyway, isn’t it? Which is why I have prepared a series of mini-reviews of a bunch of crap I’ve seen and done over the last few weeks. Enjoy!

EXPELLED – NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED

I was eager to see this movie in theatres, and it came and went before I could get there. I’m the natural audience for something like this – I’m not hostile to Darwinism, but I’m open to discussion on the subject. I like Ben Stein, and I thought that if anyone could make the pitch for Intelligent Design as an alternative theory, he could. So we Netflixed this sucker and popped it into the DVD player.

Well, I’ve only seen half of the thing as of last night, and color me underwhelmed. It’s not that the arguments aren’t persuasive – they make a great case for the idea that groupthink and thuggery dominate the modern scientific community, and they expose the militant atheism of the hardcore Darwiniacs – but that the whole movie is a cluttered, convoluted mess. Instead of letting us sit and watch people talk about things, they underscore every conversation with loudly obnoxious New Age music, and every other sentence cuts away to some cutesy black-and-white little pop culture reference – we’re talking evolutionary theory, andup pops Edward R. Murrow or Gary Cooper or The Wizard of Oz to make a wisecrack. It’s really annoying, and it demonstrates that they either don’t trust their material or their audience. Probably both. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it all the way through this one.

JOHN ADAMS

As I blogged earlier and as was posted at Aint It Cool News some months ago, I was present at the premiere of the HBO miniseries based on the McCullough book , and I saw the second installment of this series on the big screen. I loved it, and I said so. Now, having gone back and watched most of the rest of the thing, I’m far less impressed. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney both play one note through the whole thing – Giamatti is akin to a crusty old woman, and Linney is a wide-eyed ice queen. That’s not bothersome in small doses, but nine hours of it gets to be a bit much. I also don’t understand why they age Linney by giving her bigger and bigger hair as the years go by.

The other problem is that they lift all the dialogue directly from Adams’ letters, which makes for stilted conversations that are, at times, inappropriate. Adams recites his failures as Ambassador to France to the coachman taking him away from Versailles, which the real Adams would have seen as a huge breach of etiquette. The other problem is that there’s very little after the Declaration of Independence in Adams’ life that lends itself to direct dramatization. Watch him be bored as vice president! See him ask for a loan from the Netherlands! Watch as he gets sick! To mitigate this, they toss in utterly random nonsense, like when we get to watch the Adamses reconsummate their marriage upon Abigail’s arrival in France. Ummm, ick. We didn’t watch the last two episodes which cover Adams’ presidency and his death, and those might have been interesting, but we’d had enough.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK

Netflix brought us this little gem, too, which is a reboot of the series after the noble failure of 2003’s Hulk. I wasn’t all that interested in seeing this until after I saw Iron Man, which holds its own with The Dark Knight as the best superhero movie ever made. The Hulk is a companion piece to Iron Man, as it further sets the stage for the upcoming Avengers movie that will use all these heroes at once. Unfortunately, The Incredible Hulk feels a lot like exposition, which is kind of boring. We learn about the super soldier serum and such to prepare the way for Captain America, but the use of it feels tacked on, as does the central villain, who is bad solely for the sake of being bad. Edward Norton sighs and mopes his way through this movie, and a slightly heftier Liv Tyler is an ever-breathless and completely implausible research scientist. William Hurt’s turn as General Ross is well-received, though, although he’s the only interesting character in the mix here.

And the plot! How dumb is it to send a team of commandos after Banner in Brazil but not tell them that he might hulk out? The idea that they want to use his blood to make weapons is stupid, too – and it’s been done, better, in the Alien movie series. This whole thing was buy-the-numbers superhero boilerplate, and an all-CGI hulk is tiresome to watch. If I have to watch a glorified videogame, I’d rather play the videogame instead.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3

Saw it with the kids. I liked the first two, actually. This one felt like one too many trips to the well. The characters were exactly as they’d been in the last two, and who needs to see Sharpei scheming and Troy and Gabriella mooning and Ryan firmly ensconced in the closet one more time? The new kids were unlikeable, especially this “Rocket Man” doofus. And I told my boys that if they give up their dreams to follow a girl to college, I’m disowning them.

This movie was a case of having too much money thrown at a story that was already spent. The songs were forgettable; the story was tepid, and the whole thing felt padded. I kept looking at my cell phone to see if it was time to go.

So it seems like I didn’t like anything. Sorry. I’ll give better reviews if I can see better movies.

Chapter 5.2
Happy Thanksgiving!

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