Thoughts on the Robocop Remake

I’d call it disappointing if I’d had any hopes for it in the first place.

There are no spoilers in this post — nothing you wouldn’t know from watching the trailers. But, I’ll put part of it behind a cut anyway.

Our brother in law took us out to see Robocop last night. We weren’t going to see it otherwise; it was definitely something we didn’t want to pay money for.

It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. It wasn’t terrible.

It wasn’t awesome, either.

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Into Darkness? Methinks it was an apt title

I’m not being literal with that observation. There was plenty of lens flare.

Overall I found the latest NewTrek film disappointing. For various reasons. What follows is an elaboration and refinement of my original, raw review, posted to Google+ soon after seeing the film.

MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Star Trek: Into Darkness. I’ll put them after the “Read more” jump so you can easily avoid them.

Nate took me to see Star Trek: Into Darkness Monday night. (We also saw Iron Man 3. It was a Double Feature Date Night; something that’s always a lot of fun because we can only afford it something like once a year.)

Star Trek and Philosophy

I am a huge Star Trek fan. I’ve not seen every episode of every series or every movie, but I grew up on The Next Generation as and when I was allowed or able to watch TV. I have yet to finish my complete viewing of TNG. I’ve seen almost all of Voyager (my favourite series, so far; there were a few episodes I had to skip because they were awful). DS9 and TOS are still on my to-watch list in their entirety, but I’ve seen enough episodes (or movies) of either to consider myself a fan of both. Enterprise I will likely never watch unless I get really, really bored. Or drunk.

I’m also a fan of philosophical science-fiction in general. Growing up on Star Trek likely awakened that love in me. Not every episode nor every movie succeeds in really tackling the hard questions, but I would definitely say Star Trek as a whole is philosophical. I don’t think that every episode or every movie should strive to tackle those questions — philosophy needs to be balanced with mindless entertainment, I think, especially for those of us who like to marathon episodes. Furthermore, the first goal of a movie will generally be bums in seats. Philosophical sci-fi is a gamble in that respect. It could work really well, or it could bomb. What does consistently work well is the promise of a lot of action and high-stakes, tension-filled scenes.

Often this is why filmmakers will do those sorts of blockbuster hits in great numbers — to make enough money to fund artsier, more philosophical, and less commercially viable projects. Banking on a sure thing in order to make sure the other thing that may or may not make a lot of money actually gets to production stage.

(Writers often do this too, for what it’s worth. I’m not knocking the practice at all. It works.)

To that end, it’s a bit easier to get philosophy into long-running TV shows. So long as the action and tension are still tight, the characters well developed, the world engaging, and the plot convincing and well-moving, you can afford to tackle philosophical issues in an episodic plot structure.

Of course, too much philosophy — too many questions about life and the nature of humanity and the morality of law and not enough explosions, kidnapping, or other high-tension situations — and you run the risk of being canceled. (See: Caprica.)

My point is, while I think philosophy is important to the sci-fi medium (it’s not really sci-fi if you’re not asking questions about the nature of humanity), I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of philosophy in the new Star Trek films and that’s okay with me. There’s plenty to be had in the extant films and series, and newly-made fans who go back to watch those things will either love said philosophy, or they won’t.

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SyFy Original TV Movies: possibly worse than syphilis

Last night we drove for far too long and finally staggered into a room at a Hampton Inn & Suites in West Sacramento, CA. At first, there was good TV — The Daily Show and The Colbert Report — but then I turned off the satan-box for some downtime. Mom complained, saying she needed some mindless background chatter to make her mindless paperwork seem bearable. So I turned it on and went to the SyFy channel.

Phantom Racer was on. What ensued was my drunk liveblogging of it on Twitter.

Some choice tweets:

Above is a literal transcription of her lines in that scene.

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30 in 30: Day 13 (in which I talk about ducks and how Chris Weitz is a complete fucking ass and should suffer for destroying The Golden Compass)

Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)

My favorite book as a child was Drakestail, which is an old French folk tale. Mom would read it with me, and we’d sing out the repeating chorus of Quack! Quack! Quack! When shall I get my money back? together with great relish and glee. I especially liked that the duck was dating the river. Seemed rather apropos.

The Golden Compass is my current favorite YA book. I haven’t yet read the rest of the trilogy, but the first book is top notch. It is a response to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and the not-so-subtle Christianity embedded in that story and world. (Seriously, re-reading it as an adult I’m like “Oh, so THAT’S where all those dominant Christian tropes in my brain that I’ve had to train myself out of came from! The obvious sexism in Narnia (“War is ugly when women fight!” um dude war is usually ugly, and tell that to the Morrigan JUST SAYIN), and that children’s Bible some neighbour gave to me when I was a kid which is honestly pretty creepy now that I think about it.” I mean, in general I don’t have a problem with Christianity OR the Bible, but there are very strong tropes of misogyny, racism, etc, within both book (especially when it’s been simplified for kids, like in my children’s Bible) and Church and it takes a thinking Christian to put aside the “This is how things were back then” and see it as an interesting look at history/a repository of facts, myth, religious meaning, etc. Like, it’s possible to read the Bible and take beauty and meaning from it and not hatred and bigotry (especially internalized self-hatred), just like it’s possible to be a Christian and not be racist/misogynist/classist/etc. I’ve seen it happen. Anyway, I digress.)

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30 in 30: Day 05 (in which I rag upon Eragon so hard I make him bleed from inappropriate places)

A book or series you hate

Oh man. This one is almost too easy. (I say ‘almost’ because there is a book/series that I actually hate more than the one I’m writing about now…but as I haven’t actually been able to bring myself to read the whole thing, and as there’s a lot of virulent hate for it already, I figured I’d go with the lesser-hated series.)

Eragon. Or the Inheritance saga, whatever the fuck. Has to be the worst writing I’ve ever read in my life. After I finished the first chapter I felt like someone had hit my head with a sledgehammer, repeatedly. Paolini was in high school when he finished the book, and you know what?

It shows.

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