Long, boring painful death

I watch crappy shows so you don’t have to.

Some thoughts on films and TV shows I have watched in the past twelve months, including (if available) links to their best (or worst) moments.

WARNING: Many, many spoilers ahead!

THE GOOD

Children of Men (2006). Turns out that the old rabble-rousing World War Two song was right—there will always be an England.  It might be a dystopian hellhole in some places, but it won’t fold completely.

  • Tried for a technical Oscar, but lost moment.
  • Personal favourites. I liked the fact that the Household Cavalry survived the worldwide apocalypse and are still trottin’ around the tonier parts of London.  I also liked the fact that Her Majesty’s Government funds expeditions (presumably well-armed) to other parts of the world to save humanity’s artistic heritage and stuff its remains into the Tate Modern.  I find it reassuring that someone would try to hang on to that, even if the rest of the world had truly gone to hell.

The Tudors (2007). As a reviewer once said about Frank Miller’s 300, this show is “one-fifth history and four-fifths something that looks cool”.  Gets all the details wrong, but nails the thematic essence.  I agree wholeheartedly with Andrew Stuttaford’s review in NRO.

  • Hard to pick a best moment from a whole series.  I don’t like it because of its meticulous attention to historic detail, obviously.  I like it because it breathes life and motive force into Henry and his infatuation with Anne Boleyn—the catalyst for the break with Rome.

THE BAD

Happy Feet (2006). Save them!  They dance!  Support the Penguins’ Hunger Relief Fund.

  • Best moment.  Aside from that, two giant, penguin-guano-covered thumbs down.
  • Worst moment (SPOILER ALERT). When Mumble is caught by the humans and placed in a zoo, the whole movie cartwheels into a pity party of depression.  It’s jarring enough to interrupt your suspension of disbelief.  It would be less disruptive if they simply inserted a WWF or PETA ad, without explanation, into the middle of the film.

Bee Movie (2007). Liberation theology for our six-legged, stinging brethren.

  • Best moment.  Love the little nods to human aviation, like ground crews pull-starting the “engines” and pulling away the wheel chocks.  Makes bees almost cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Worst moment (SPOILER ALERT). Bees which had trouble keeping up with tennis balls, cars and trucks are suddenly able to pursue and overtake a commercial airliner at cruising speed.

THE UGLY

Eye of the Beast (2007). Giant squid threatens Dawson’s Creek—in landlocked Manitoba.  Small-town police chief tries to convince her townspeople that there’s real danger out there on the water.  Here’s the trailer.  Gee, that’s a fresh concept.  And yes, it’s Canadian content.

  • Best moment (SPOILER ALERT). One of Dawson’s scientist colleagues inspects satellite imagery of Lake Winnipeg and zooms in to see the fucking squid captured in ordinary visible-spectrum imagery.   But in several thousand years of human habitation (and fishing!) around this body of water, which must house a giant (freshwater) squid population big enough to breed, not one person has found a squid carcass or hauled a juvenile of the species out of the lake.
  • Worst moment. Some fargin’ genius wrote an utterly formulaic sea-creature-terrorizes-town movie, but left out a Quint clone and his scenery-chewing USS Indianapolis monologue?  For shame.

Heroes (Season 2, Volume 2). Same old super-powered cast rehashing the same old plotlines.  SPOILER ALERT all over the place because I’m going to vent.

  • Best moment: When I decided to stop watching this piece of trash.
  • Worst moment 1. Nathan and Peter Petrelli are alive despite the fact that they should be 1) unconscious due to lack of oxygen at extreme altitude, 2) vapourised due to an uncontrolled thermonuclear reaction from Peter himself.  Neither of their superpowers involve invulnerability to shockwave overpressure effects (a routine feature of thermonuclear detonations), so their survival is pretty much a load of bullshit.
  • Worst moment 2. New York City did not suffer an immediate and crippling blackout (plus failure of all non-hardened electronic devices and components) due to the EMP effects of a thermonuclear detonation in the upper atmosphere over the city.  Amazing that a nuclear detonation can occur over NYC and the civil authorities do not step up security one iota, nor does anyone have to explain all this on the nightly news.
  • Worst moment 3. The Company forgets all about the strategic importance of Molly Walker, the girl who can locate anyone.  They don’t actually have another tracking system in place yet, but are still able to locate persons with superpowers (like the Haitian) on-demand, as required by the script.  Other times they are unable to locate people on-demand (as when Noah Bennet kidnaps Elle Bishop), as required by the script.  Nice continuity.
  • Worst moment 4. Claire Bennet gets reset into Season One mode of having a crapload of teen angst about her dad.  This despite the fact that he has saved her ass—multiple times—not to mention been shot and had his mind wiped so that she and the family could make a clean getaway.  He bought her a car for her birthday, but it got stolen because she didn’t lock it.  Now he won’t let her have a boyfriend, so he’s back on the shit list.  Some gratitude, spoiled brat.
  • Worst moment 5. Noah Bennet gets an awesome death scene, but at the end of the same episode he is shown alive and regenerating from his fatal wound.  So, it’s official then.  That dialogue from Hiro and his dad Sulu about accepting destiny and one’s time to die—in the same damned episode!—is a load of bullshit.  The writers sincerely hope you didn’t notice that the one core character without super powers is also, not coincidentally, the most interesting—that’s why he can’t die.
  • Worst moment 6. Pretty much any time Elle Bishop is on.  This is what Karla Homolka would be like if she had super powers.  Dangerous and super-effin-annoying.

The Unit (Season 3). Started off strong in the first two seasons, then stopped paying attention to where it was going and stepped into a big steaming pile of stupid.

  • Worst moment. The whole outfit gets rounded up and shut down.  Some are tortured.  Families are threatened.  And yet, when some escaped team-members round up the evidence and call CIA to account, everything is reset to pre-betrayal mode and everyone is happy to go out and risk their lives for the same brass that thought they were traitors until mere hours ago.  Try doing that to an actual military unit.  Trust is essential between men that go into harm’s way.  You blow it and you’re not going to get it back anytime soon.  If ever.
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