Monday, June 24, 2013

Update; Star Trek Into Darkness; World War Z; Detropia

Hey!  Hope everyone is doing okay!
My week at work last week was inexplicably busy.  Summer is supposed to be the time of vacations and slow dockets at the courthouse, but between meetings, covering dockets for people who are on vacation, mental health court, and vet court, last week was a really busy week.

Friday night Amy and I went to the Alamo to see Star Trek: Into Darkness.  I'd read a few of the complaints about the movie from longtime Trekkies before going to see it, and while I understand some of their arguments, I still mostly enjoyed the movie.
I've been watching Trek myself since I was a kid.
The movie was fun.  I definitely don't feel like it knocked the ball out of the park, but it was fun.
I have a few gripes, but, at the same time, most of my complaints were addressed with at least a little lip service during the course of the film.
I think Trek should be more about exploration and less about fighting and military conflict.  Mr. Scott voices this complaint, though, and, in fact, temporarily resigns over it.  This new Kirk seems to have all of the swagger of the original Kirk, but lacks Shatner Kirk's craftiness and intelligence.  A main theme of the movie, however, arises from the fact that Chris Pines' Kirk still has much to learn about being a captain (although we all assume that when push comes to shove he's always going to ultimately do things his own way).

Most importantly, the movie takes pains to remind the audience that this is a new Trek universe.  This new realm of Trek is similar to, but not identical to, the Star Trek universe that we previously knew.  Just in case the audience has forgotten this fact, Leonard Nemoy pops up to school Zachary Quinto about how things used to work in the original series.  The old literally informs the new.  This sort of device probably annoys the crap out of a lot of fans of the original show/movies.  I see it as a necessary conceit for a director and writers who might otherwise find themselves hopelessly shackled by one of the most elaborately crafted science fiction narratives of all time.  Anyone working on a latter day Trek series is going to strike a very delicate balance between respecting tradition and allowing themselves the freedom to tell new stories.
Anyway, I enjoyed the movie.  As a criticism of the movie in itself, I thought the pacing was fairly rushed and the dialogue occasionally too cute and/or clunky.  
Then again, the original Star Trek wasn't exactly Shakespeare.  It could be uneven, but we still loved it.  It's easy for Star Trek fans to lose sight of that fact as well.
As for the pacing, now that I've been spending my time watching some pretty good TV shows, I've begun to find that many Hollywood movies feel extremely rushed.

So Friday night was the spaceship movie.  
This weekend Amy ended up having to go in to work.  Quite a bit.  She got hung up working on bills and amendments pertaining to the abortion legislation that's been in the news as the legislature is wrapping up this first (and hopefully last) special session.  Apparently both Democrats and Republicans were working on amendments to try to modify the final version of the bill.
It's been a controversial subject area involving a lot of heated debate.
It also seriously threw a wrench into our weekend.

So Saturday morning we went out for breakfast.  Amy went to work after that.
I worked out and went to see World War Z in the afternoon with Ryan.  Amy doesn't especially love the scary movies, so with her working, this was a good chance for the Steans men to go catch a zombie apocalypse flick.
World War Z was a bit of a disappointment.  I really enjoyed the World War Z book by Max Brooks.  I know it's a cliche to say that the book was better than the movie, but in this case it's especially true since the movie bore such little resemblance to the novel.  The novel contains an interesting collection of vignettes about characters around the world, stylistically different and sort of thematically diverse.  The movie is pretty much your standard "a man at the end of the world" zombie apocalypse scenario.
(if you threaten a robot and kick it in just the right spot,
apparently it will cough up movie tickets)
There were very few new ideas that the World War Z movie brought to the subgenre of zombie fiction. The movie seemed primarily invested in showing us aerial shots of large numbers of zombies wreaking havoc (which, admittedly, did lend a kind of cool sense of scale) and in demonstrating the fact that zombies are both reckless and very good climbers.
But World War Z was pretty forgettable.  And I still don't understand for sure how these zombies managed to spread across the entire globe so quickly.  When they got onto planes or other confined spaces it seems like bad things happen.

This past Saturday was the first Saturday of summer, so when Amy got off work we did some celebratory grilling.  Chicken breasts in lime chipotle marinade, grilled squash, and eggplant.  I had a Ranger IPA and Amy had some wine.  It was very good.  Tasted and felt like summer.

Sunday Amy went to work again.  For a long time.
I went for a bike ride and had my first brawl of the year with the Texas heat.  It's unbelievable how much different the heat makes.  I guess it really started getting hot the weekend we were at the beach, but this was my first time to venture out when it was in the mid to upper 90s this year.  
I ride that little 12 mile route all the time, but this time it was hard.

Sunday was pretty uneventful.  I did some grocery shopping and a few chores.  Got a little reading done.  Watched a documentary on Independent Lens about Detroit called Detropia.  It was sad and alarming.  It's unnerving to see a major city just falling apart right in the middle of the country.  I guess everyone sort of knows on an intellectual level that it's happening, but the images in the film really drove the reality home.  It's even more distressing to realize that with the decline in American manufacturing, Detroit might just be the first city to fall, with others soon to follow.  Corporate profits remain strong, CEOs and shareholders continue to build wealth, and the American middle class just withers.  Detroit looks, without exaggeration, like a third world country.  As of this year it had over 100,000 homes standing empty and abandoned (plus many more commercial buildings), and this March the governor of Michigan appointed an emergency manager to oversee Detroit's financial operations in the face of the city's imminent financial collapse.  People are fleeing Detroit like rats off a sinking ship.  The population is predicted to drop 40% in the next 5 years.
The documentary tried to present some promise with the move of some young artists who are moving to Detroit because of the affordable real estate, but without a solid economic base to provide jobs, it just doesn't seem like a few artists are going to stop the hemorrhaging.

Amy came home for dinner, but had to go back.  She ultimately didn't get home until well after midnight.  Hopefully that's the last time this year.

So that was the weekend.
Hope everyone is having a good week!  


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