Weekend movie rewind: Silver Surfer, cat whisperer, Neil Gaiman's Doctor Who, Pirates III, etc.

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.

 Weekend movie rewind: Silver Surfer, cat whisperer, Neil Gaiman's Doctor Who, Pirates III, etc.
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.
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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.

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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.

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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!

DAY TWO
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HOT ROD
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…

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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…

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TOTAL RECALL

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.

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SUPERMAN II
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.
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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.

Comments

  1. The Doctor’s Wife had me shed a tear at the end. Wonderful episode, and Gaiman MUST write another episode next season!

  2. I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but Jackson Galaxy looks like the biggest douche to ever douche a douche.

    On a separate note, Spiderman 2 was one against Superman 2. There was a lot of flipping back and forth at Ho12 headquarters.

  3. Doctor Who has been around for such a long time, with comics, audio books, novels that it’s hard to come up with something different and very original in the Who-verse. Yet Gaiman’s premise does just that and such a great one (that I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen the episode yet) that I’m surprised no one has used it before.

    I really hope that Gaiman write another episode, but from reading Gaiman’s blog, his schedule seems always to be so full, that I wonder if he will have the time for it.

  4. I’ve finally been catching up with Dr. Who over the last several months, and this Gaiman episode made me even more glad than ever that I decided to do so. It’s a wonderful series and this might be one of the top episodes ever. /gushing

  5. Badpenny says:

    Saturdays Doctor Who was definitely a historic episode. And a nice touch with the cubes, something that I don’t think we’ve seen since Troughtans era. Plus, we get to see more Tardis! And the roundels! My god the Roundels!

    Seasons 5 and now 6 are proving to be much more fan pleasing than anything they’ve had on the show yet. And there’s also much more continuity. This could be good or bad depending on how much continuity you like. Ecclestons season had that Bad Wolf thread running through it but they were basically self contained episodes. Tennants run was almost entirely self contained shows.

    Smiths run is different. We’re seeing far more carry over of various threads and subplots. Which I love. Season 5 was my favorite and now 6 is on it’s way to topping it. Of course I’ll still always love the Pertwee/Delgado days the best.

    Superman The Movie remains the best superhero film of all time. That’s not me, that’s just comic book law.

  6. My biggest complaint with the latest season of Doctor Who is that it’s becoming more the “Doctor & Amy Show” more than Doctor Who. Sure, Amy & Rory are good companions but (IMO) enough already!

    One thing I’d always loved about DW since I first started watching it in the 70’s are the different companion characters. They give a great counter balance to the Doctor and the writers would change (get rid of or add) the companions before they got stale.

    I really wish they’d finish the Pond era this season.

  7. They really have to stop killing Rory every week. He’s becoming Kenny.

    Richard,
    Seeing as Karen Gillan and Matt Smith are an item in real life, I don’t think you’ll be getting your desired Pond banishment any time soon.

  8. Neil Gaiman’s Dr. Who was one of the greatest Who episodes ever… and with decades of shows to compete with, it spoke volumes.

    It actually reminded me of Alan Moore’s Superman story; taking the essence of the character and distilling it into a fantastic story that both transforms the character and further roots them in their mythology.

    That Total Recall still is so Escher-esque!

  9. ~chris says:

    “I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover”

    And you shouldn’t. I discovered MY CAT FROM HELL two nights ago when fellow cat-lovers came to visit. More than one of the misbehaving owners-of-kitties on the show told Jackson that he looked nothing like what they’d expected. Fun show, especially the one with the Sphinx and the “animal room.”

    Haven’t watched Doctor Who yet so I skipped the Beat’s commentary on that.

  10. Jonathan L. Miller says:

    Cheese: Uh, no they’re not. Matt’s dating a model named…Daisy something.

  11. Great article, lots of smart tips. I am going to show my buddies and ask them what they

    think.

  12. Dave Miller-lad says:

    Good viewing. May I suggest on your next Movie Weekend an all-musical review: Wizard of Oz, Westside Story, All that Jazz, Rock and Rule, Rent

  13. @ Jonathan- The rumor last year was that Smith and Gillian were having the sort of dressing room rattling sex that only 20 year olds can have in between takes. It got to the point that Moffet spent a few hour explaining that they were representing a fifty year old children’s show and they better cool it.

    So not an item in the sense we civilians know the term.

  14. Total Recall and Superman II are among my favorite films too. I was pretty surprised by Rachel Ticotin as a lead then and it still surprises me now.

    Terminator 3 was funny as a parody for the first half hour? Then it turned into a standard action movie with uninteresting characters is what I remember, and the ending had a bit of a twist.

  15. Karen says:

    That Doctor Who episode ripped me to pieces. I should have known it would, but surely even Gaiman has an off-day once in a while? I was nervous what he’d do with the Whoniverse and what did he do but go off and create a brilliant new piece of the canon, something that will inform every episode that follows it.

    Delightful and wrenching and genius.

  16. What, none of you made room for Priest this weekend?

    ~

    Coat

  17. The effects on modern Dr Who are great, but the writing and direction are total crap. You rarely get a good one nowadays. The old ones did the best with the money they had.

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