Short Movie Review: The Parent Trap (Lindsay Lohan version)

You know, I can’t just leave my complaint with this movie as an offhand joke at the end of a post on Bruce Willis’s Surrogates. This movie is messed up. I assume you know the premise: Two girls meet at summer camp, discover they are long-lost identical twins who were split up when their parents divorced, and decide to switch places as part of a plot to reunite their family. This is not the implausible part yet.

The implausible part is that everyone lives happily ever after. We never really find out what separated the parents in the first place, but it would have had to have been pretty bad, I’d imagine, for them to consider splitting up their children like chattel and then lying to them for the rest of their lives. I mean, that’s pretty messed up. And I’m supposed to buy that they’re all happy to get back together again some day? Golly, I can’t imagine where these kids get that lying, manipulative streak from.

In summary, The Parent Trap is a heartwarming story about how Disney is full of filthy lies.

Short Movie Review: Surrogates

Bruce Willis stars in a movie about how nobody leaves the house except in an android body. It’s probably a commentary on something or other, but mostly it reminded me of how people who are horrified that anyone would walk anywhere when they could drive. In terms of my level of enjoyment, it fell somewhere just above sitting around bored, and several steps above the second movie in that day’s double-feature, the Parent Trap remake.

The Year in Numbers

Or, a random assortment of things that I can quantify, though perhaps not 100% accurately.

12 Number of flights taken
411 Number of bylined Macworld articles I wrote
32 Number of [books I read](http://writeology.tumblr.com/tagged/book/)
3 Number of books I read that were graphic novels
45 Number of movies I watched
37 Number of *new* movies I watched
2 Number of Dungeons & Dragons adventures completed as DM
5 Number of Xbox 360 games purchased
4 Number of above games completed (for reasonable definitions of completed)
50,574 Number of words written [for NaNoWriMo](http://doombot.com/2009/12/03/five-writes-dont-make-a-wrong/)
84,508 Number of words written in non-NaNoWriMo novel
1,089 Number of [photos taken](http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmoren/) (not including iPhone)
1 Number of [spoof movies](http://fireball-the-movie.com/) produced
10 Number of [Doomcast](http://doombot.com/category/doomcast/) episodes released
2:55:17 Length of total Doomcast episodes

Short Movie Review: Avatar

Every review of this you have read is probably more or less right and more or less the same. I’ll summarize: Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully. Spectacular visuals, but a weak and predictable story, and 3D effects that gave me a serious headache. Also, about a half hour longer than was really needed. Good popcorn movie, but not the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars successor it seemed to think it was going to be.

Short Movie Review: 2012

I didn’t have high expectations for 2012 and was generally fearful that it might be pretty similar to the rather dreadful The Day After Tomorrow (notable for an extended sequence of characters being chased by a cold front.) I was pleasantly surprised to find it much closer to a movie close to my heart, The Core (notable for being awesome.)

2012 features your pretty standard disaster movie requirements: an array of scientific nonsense, depictions of your favorite landmarks dying fiery deaths, and more people-escaping-in-the-nick-of-time sequences than is worth counting. There are three separate scenes with airplanes taking off from runways being consumed by fire! Three! I was actually somewhat surprised at the array of characters they chose to follow throughout the movie and none of them particularly grated on me in that way most one dimensional action movie characters tend to. 2012 is generally fun and has some unexpected twists in the story toward the end, so if you haven’t seen a movie with lots of explosions and not much thinking this may fit the bill. Expect nothing intelligent about this movie and you’ll be fine.

Short Movie Review: Punisher War Zone

For an action movie Punisher War Zone is pretty disappointing: it is certainly not good, but it is also not bad in any interesting ways like say The Spirit or Shoot ‘Em Up. I wanted to like this if only for Dominic West playing the villain Jigsaw; we know he’s capable of a solid American accent but as a villain he sounds like a mishmash Italian/Russian generic mobster. My experience  here was similar to the Max Payne movie: some interest in the source material led me to what would end up being an unsatisfying movie experience.

Is there anything particularly notable about Punisher War Zone? We’ll there’s an obsession with colored lighting that makes it feel like the movie is set more in Joel Schumacher’s Gotham than New York City. You’ve also got an almost fetishistic enthusiasm for depicting not just people getting shot, but stabbed, decapitated, impaled, and exploded. This dedication to gruesome depictions of murder at times make me feel like I’ve been tricked into watching a slasher movie set in the Marvel universe. I’m all for a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence, but War Zone just feels gross at time.

So yeah, if you’re really into the Punisher I’m guessing you’ve already checked it out when it was in the theatres, everyone else can probably pass.

Short Movie Review: District 9

I don’t think this will qualify as a spoiler, but if you don’t want to know anything about District 9 that you can’t get from the trailers, you should probably stop reading.

Okay?

Well, the trailers make this look like a hybrid between science-fiction and documentary about apartheid (but with aliens). And, to some extent, that’s true, particularly in the documentary-like cinematography. It doesn’t take long, though, before it becomes apparent that it’s really a hybrid between science-fiction and action—like pretty much every other sci-fi movie Hollywood has been willing to produce in recent years. In fact, the documentary-style imagery kind of confused me at times, as there are things that were definitely not supposed to be read as “shot by a man on the ground,” but known only to the viewer. I got it eventually, obviously, and the effects were neat, and it was smarter than most action movies, so it was a net positive overall. I just wish the filmmakers had been bold enough to really follow through with something truly original in approach—something like what the trailers seemed to promise.

Short Movie Review: Moon

This movie is about some guys on the moon who try to make the best out of an awkward situation. It was okay.

Short Movie Review: The Tale of Despereaux

This looks like a charming fairy tale about a cute mouse, and you may enjoy it more if you just approach it that way. You may be tempted to ask yourself various troubling questions, such as: Why are the bloodthirsty and uncivilized rats portrayed with somewhat Middle-Eastern-sounding accents and background music? What on earth is the convoluted moral the writers are trying to illustrate—on top of the simple platitudes about the virtues of honesty, honor, and bravery—about the nature of pain and forgiveness? What is the deal with the genie made of vegetables with the vaguely Italian accent? Allow yourself to ignore these questions, however, and instead you should have a good time watching cute animals and picking out which celebrities did the voices.

Short Movie Review: Star Trek

It was okay. Good, non-intrusive special effects, generally decent casting, though more goofy humor than necessary. I was never a fan of original Trek, so I didn’t feel invested in how this was made, but still, I feel like the best Star Trek stuff has always been about something—ethical questions and social commentary on the Cold War, colonialism, race relations, genocide, whatever. This new movie is a relatively generic Hollywood action flick about saving everyone from the bad guys (with enough time travel wankery to give them carte blanche as they reinvent the franchise). In short, sufficiently fun to warrant few complaints, but I hope they go for something more interesting in the inevitable sequel.