This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Cinema: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

So, Amy went to see the Harry Potter movie with a friend of hers on opening night. And when I found out Amy was going, I insisted that Brandy and I go too. (To an overlapping showing though, we didn’t crowd in on Amy and her friends. :-)

Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this, but I liked it. Yes, there were major parts of the book missing. But it was a long book. Yes, there were some silly parts. But it was fun. It was funny at the right bits and got sad at the right bit, etc.

Could some of it have been better? Sure. Was the book better than the movie. Sure.

But it was a good fun summer movie, and if you watched any of the rest of these, or if you’ve read the books, then you have to see this, right?

Anyway, none of the Harry Potter movies have been masterpieces, and I’m not sure they even strive for that. But this is one of the better of the bunch so far.

At least I think so.

Amy has already seen it twice.

I think I’ll be fine with once.

But I wouldn’t have missed it.

Cinema: Up

So I really wanted to see Up, and while we waited a little while after it was out to see it, I did drag the whole family to see it, and we saw it in 3D.

Suffice it to say that I agree with pretty much everybody who has reviewed this. I loved it. Great movie. The beginning part was particularly poignant. And then the fun adventure began. As usual for Pixar films, most of the characters are great, and there is a lot of good humor. I particularly liked the dog (Dug), and the bird (Kevin).

Parts of it were of course a bit predictable, but I didn’t care. It was just a lot of fun. And it was cute. And it was funny. And it was sentimental. All the kinds of things I like in a movie. :-)

Now, by this point it has been out for a long time, so if you haven’t seen it yet, go out and see it. Don’t wait for DVD. And if you can see it in 3D, do so. It is the polarized kind, not the old colored glasses kind, so it works much better. Our only problem was that at the theater we saw it in there was a distracting dent in the center of the screen that was emphasized more with the 3D glasses on, but I’d still say the 3D actually added, without being too gimicky.

Anyway. Fun. Good. Go see.

Cinema: Star Trek

So, of course, last week we went to see the new Star Trek on opening night. I’ve always remembered that I’ve seen ALL of the Star Trek movies on opening night, but the truth is I can’t fully remember the earlier ones, although I have a vivid memory of going to Star Trek II with my dad, and hearing the people leaving the showing before us whispering about what happened to Spock.

In any case, we went opening night to an IMAX theater, although it was one of these new “IMAX Lite” kinds of places rather than the full since museum size.

In any case, I don’t have a huge amount to add over the many thousands of reviews that have been published over the last week or two. As a reboot it was pretty great. Out of all 11 Star Trek movies, I’d say it is definitely in the top 3 or 4 or so. It was a lot of fun. It did fan service in all the appropriate places (plus some). It was fast paced with things happening the whole time. It was hokey and campy like the original series in places. And it did the reboot itself in a fairly clean way.

The weakest point though was actually the bits with Spock Prime. I mean, it was OK, and I know he is an old aged tired Spock, but he seemed to be dragging through it. Including just accepting as a given that the damage to the timeline was irreversible, and not seeming all that upset about it. In past time travel episodes, the people from the future have taken elaborate measures to restore the original time line. Of course, you can’t do that and still have a reboot. But it did stand out to me that while Spock Prime did mourn some events in the new timeline, he didn’t seem to mourn the destruction of the OLD timeline, and you would think he would.

And of course there are tons of plot holes, and places where you think “well, why don’t they just X”.

But hey, that is Star Trek for you.

All in all, it was fun, it was good, it was a worthy reboot, and I’m ready to watch Number 12 on opening night as well. :-)

Oh, and in a rare event for me, I’ve actually already seen it twice. A week after I saw it the first time, I saw it again with a bunch of people from work who were going. It was good the second time too.

Cinema: Watchmen

A little over a week ago, Brandy and I went to see Watchmen. Ivan and I spent a good deal of time talking about this on the last Curmudgeon’s Corner, so I won’t spend as long talking about it here as I usually would. Listen to the podcast.

But I will say, I liked it. Brandy hated it. (Ivan hated it too.) Here is what I think is the main difference. What made me like it was not the plot, or the acting, or anything like that (which I think the others perhaps legitimately fault it on). What made me like it was the BACKGROUND. Noticing the little references going on behind the main characters. The things playing on TVs in the background. Figuring out what the differences were between the world in the movie and the real world. (From a historical point of view, not the radioactive blue man point of view.) Looking at the concept in general of these very flawed and unsympathetic characters. Etc. Whatever the main story was would be playing out, and I’d pay attention to that, sure, but then I’d notice that there was a commercial for the clapper playing in the background, and I’d get excited about that. And I’d spend time figuring out just how many terms Nixon would have had to have to still be president in 1985, and I’d like that. Then I’d look at Pat Buchanan talking about superheroes, and I’d like that. The movie was so dense with those sort of things, they occupied enough of my attention that any other flaws the movie may have had became invisible to me, because I was always on the lookout for more nuggets like those. And I’m sure I’ll see even more if I ever watch it again at home. This is the kind of movie that makes you want to look at it frame by frame looking for more easter eggs in the background.

Of course, it takes a special kind of geek to enjoy that sort of thing. Which means everybody else hates the movie, and thus it is tanking quite nicely in the theater.

Oh well!

Cinema: Outlander

So, a little while ago… I think it may have been two weekends ago, but I’m not really sure… Amy had some sort of extra long rehearsal or something, so Brandy and I decided to go to a movie. We had looked earlier at the movie list, and there wasn’t much that either of us thought was really all that exciting. I listed some I’d be “OK” with though. And when we actually got to the theater, Brandy spontaneously chose Outlander, most likely influenced by the exact time it was starting relative to what time it was.

In retrospect, this may have been a mistake.

OK, the basic premise of this movie, and pretty much as much as I knew going in, was that an alien crash lands amongst the medieval Vikings, and then things happen. In the first few minutes, the alien crashed, opened its helmet… and it was a PERSON. This wasn’t even a Star Trek style alien with bumps on its head. Just a generic person. I had been hoping for a movie sort of like ET, but set in the middle ages. No such luck.

Anyway, the first half of the movie was really bad. It seemed like nobody in the movie could act at all. There were a few words here and there and some grunting and fighting. Oh, and a dragon showed up. And of course the alien is going to save the village from the dragon and all. Of course.

Anyway, it was pretty bad. Laughably times at times, but not so much so that you actually enjoyed it because it was so bad.

I think Brandy retained this feeling through the whole movie. She was ready to walk out.

On the other hand, I thought the movie started to improve somewhat about half way through… right after they started giving some backstory on what had happened to the alien guy before he crash landed.

But I think the main thing is that they pretty much stopped even trying to do anything with the characters… there was no more getting to know the people or any of that stuff… they just started running around fighting the dragon. So just your normal sort of action and adventure thing with chases and fights and explosions and such. And OK, that stuff is usually not enough for me in a movie… I like to actually care about the characters some, and perhaps even think a little. But in this case, the constant running around and stuff at least meant that none of the people were trying to have conversations or really talk very much, which they weren’t very good at.

I did feel sorry for the dragon though. I actually ended up empathizing with the dragon more than any of the main characters. Poor dragon. You really wanted the dragon to win, because pretty much all of the humans sucked.

So, I doubt it is even still in the theaters, but if it is, save this for video… or not at all. You won’t miss it.

Cinema: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Once again another movie. This was the 9th of 2008. We only saw 5 in all of 2007. And to be clear, this was the 2008 version, not the 1951 version. It was a Brandy pick. She really wanted to see it. I’m know I’ve seen parts of that original, and quite possibly have seen the whole thing, but if I have, it is so long ago I have no active memories of to compare it to, other than perhaps some of the iconic images from that film. So I guess I won’t try to compare.

Bottom line, I liked it. This really isn’t your action movie chase kind of thing, although it has a tiny bit of that. It is more the hang out with the inscrutable alien type. Keanu plays said alien, and does an OK job of being unemotive most of the time. There was a kid too. I mostly could have done without the kid. He wasn’t really bad, but I’m not sure he added a whole lot other than as a plot device to help the alien learn about how humans care about each other.

Whatever.

Anyway, it was a fun movie. I enjoyed it. Worth seeing.

And I’ve added the original to my Netflix queue.

Cinema: Twilight

So yes, I have a teenage daughter, so yes, I had to see Twilight. It was not a movie I would have chosen. But never the less, there I was, on opening weekend, in a theater full of teenaged girls and a handful of parents and dragged along boyfriends. And yes, I was watching Twilight.

Although of course Amy has, and Brandy has as well, I have NOT read the book, so I had no real idea about the details of the plot or anything, although of course I knew that there were vampires and a love story. That was enough to make me somewhat scared of the movie, as were the hordes of teenage girls. But here we were.

And so…

Well, it is certainly true that a good deal of the movie is just the two main characters staring at each other and swooning over each other. And while that does get old fast, it just made me laugh. Funky camera angle. Close up shot of characters eyes looking intensely at other character. Teenage brooding. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be taken seriously, but whenever they did that sort of thing I had trouble not laughing out loud.

And then at some point you got into actual running around avoiding and fighting bad guys. That wasn’t all that bad. I mean, not great either, but you at least something was happening other than people pining over each other. Then there is the big fight in the end. And then we get things set up for the sequel.

Pretty much all par for the course.

Overall, I surprised myself by not hating this movie too much. It was OK. It was kind of cute. I did not mind spending a couple of hours watching it. I would of course though never have any desire to see it again.

Of course, Amy has already seen it twice. Which means it hit the intended audience perfectly.

Cinema: Eagle Eye

Once again I’m a couple weeks late posting, but a little while ago the three of us went to see Eagle Eye. I’d seen a couple of promos, was not all that impressed, but a movie was happening. Oh wait, I forgot, Brandy and I went as chaperons. Amy sat many rows away from us… with a BOY. :-)

In any case, it seems the movie was very very loosely based on an Isaac Asimov short story in the sense that it shares some very high level elements, but isn’t really like the original story all that much at all.

It was a fun little action movie I guess. You needed a lot of the “suspension of disbelief” juice in your system of course, but as long as you don’t think all that much and just enjoy the ride, it is fine and dandy.

I was fully expecting a sequel setup in the last few moments of the movie, but I didn’t get it. Which is probably OK, because I doubt it did well enough for them to want to make a sequel. It was fine though.

One thing to watch out for… there is a character who helps in some key moments in the film who is named Major BOWMAN. There is a clear reason he is named Bowman. They didn’t make it quite as obvious as they could have… I would have really appreciated it if they did. But it still was glaringly obvious to me and I laughed.

Cinema: Quarantine

So, I’ve once again been slow posting, but a couple of weeks ago, the three of us went out to the movies. This was an Amy and Brandy choice, and not the sort of movie I’d usually choose to go to, but I’d picked the last movie, so we went to Quarantine. I’d never heard of it at all before going, so other than Brandy and Amy telling me it was a horror/suspense sort of thing, I had no expectations whatsoever. It turns out it is actually a remake of REC a 2007 film from Spain. I put that film on my Netflix list. Sounds like it is pretty similar other than being in Spanish.

Anyway, the main interesting bit about this film, is the whole thing is done Blair Witch style with a handheld camera. This time instead of some random kids doing the camerawork though, it is a local news reporter working on a story of the average night in the life of a firehouse full of firefighters. There is about 20 minutes of just goofing around in the firehouse, then the alarm rings and the fun begins. It is not a fire though.

The go to a building for a medical situation, and then the building gets locked down. As the name would imply, there is a quarantine, and there is a highly contagious thing going around. The fear and suspense builds, and then you get the normal horror movie sort of thing where one by one the people get infected and/or killed.

I won’t give any more away, but I will say that it was pretty decent. I liked it. It was tense at time. At other points it was actually very funny. I’m not sure if it was SUPPOSED to be funny. But horrible things would be happening on screen, but the entire theater would just be laughing at it because it was, well, sort of funny.

The one other note I have, is that the people in the row behind us WOULD NOT SHUT UP FOR THE ENTIRE MOVIE. They were talking CONSTANTLY. Sometimes things about the movie, sometimes just random chatter. I wanted to scream at them, but I did not. I just sat there and stewed in my anger. I can’t stand it when people talk in movies. Reacting when things happen on screen, laughing, gasping, whatever… that is fine… and actually is one of the unique bits that going to the theater can bring that you don’t get watching a movie at home… but a constant stream of talking? And not just whispering either, but often full volume talking? That is just obnoxious and rude. Grrr…

Anyway, decent movie. Not amazing. Not worth a second view. But fine for killing a few hours on a weekend. It probably would have been OK to wait for the DVD though.

Cinema: Traitor

Brandy and Amy wanted to take me to a movie for my birthday last weekend. So I picked one based completely on what I wanted to see, as opposed to also taking into consideration what all of us might like. So I picked this one.

I hadn’t seen the commercials for the movie until after the movie, which is good, because they spoil a major item which is supposed to be a mystery and tell you right up front. But I was unspoiled. I still guessed the item in question of course, it wasn’t that hard, but still.

In any case, this is a slowly paced movie. Some of the descriptions have it as a suspense/action sort of thing, but not really. It is really one of those slow paced political thrillers that is more about making you think than raising your heart rate. And yes, it has a political point to make, and it makes it.

Overall I liked it. I was also surprised to find that both Brandy and Amy liked it as well. Given the pacing I thought Amy at least would just be horribly bored. But no. Which is good. It means I get to watch more of this kind of movie in the future.

In any case. Good movie. Worth a watch. Probably will not be in the theaters very long, so if you want to see it there, hurry. Otherwise, wait for DVD.