This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon

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God, the Universe and Everything Else

Original Release: 1988
Date Watched: 2010 Dec 11
Queue: Owned
Format: DVD

So, it was time to watch something that we owned but had never gotten around to watching. This time in specific it was a DVD Amy had accidentally purchased at some point. Oops.

Anyway, this is just a TV roundtable that aired in the UK in the 80’s. A moderator, Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking discussing a variety of topics from the Big Bang to the origin of creativity.

As these sorts of things go, it was a somewhat interesting discussion, but a little dry and slow. It also was noticeably dated, what with being more than two decades old at this point. I tried to pay attention to what they were actually saying, sort of as a bit of a time capsule of the times and the nature of our knowledge of the topics discussed at the time, but I think Amy and Brandy were mainly just amused by the whole thing.

Anyway, kind of interesting to see these three personalities having a chat, but overall probably not really worth the hour unless you are a completist wanting to see everything these folks ever appeared in. And admittedly, I am a Sagan fan, but if I wanted to see Sagan, I’d be much better off watching some Cosmos.

Doctor Who: The War Games: Disk 2

Original Release: 1969 Apr 19 to 1969 Jun 21
Date Watched: 2010 Nov 25
Queue: Who
Format: DVD

Time for another Doctor Who, and this time it is finishing up the last story from the Second Doctor, The War Games. We started it back in August with Disk 1.

Picking up the story, it turned out that the Second Doctor and his friends had ended up in the midst of war games where humans were plucked out of time and were fighting each other as part of some nefarious alien plot, while thinking they were still fighting the wars they had been plucked out of.

In this second disk the action moves from within the war games themselves to the alien headquarters. The Doctor goes back and forth with the menacing aliens, along with the one person working with them who is actually from The Doctor’s own people. All this plot stuff though is basically all just to set up the ending though. This is the last Second Doctor story.

So basically, at the end of the main part of the adventure here, the Doctor realizes that the only way to undo the mess that has been caused is to call his own people into the situation, to have them clean things up. Of course, there is the problem that he is a fugitive from his own people. Basically, the Time Lords have a policy of non-intervention in the affairs of other people. The Doctor chafed under those restrictions, stole a Tardis, and then traveled the universe getting involved with things interfering all the time (to make things better). As such, he was an outlaw. In any case, calling in the Time Lords mean that the Doctor himself is caught. He is given a quick show trial, then is sentenced to a regeneration (although they didn’t call it that yet) then exile on Earth. (His companions are made to forget all but their first adventures with the doctor and are put back where he picked them up.) And thus ends the Second Doctor.

The regeneration at the end… well, the start of one, you don’t actually see the transformation into the Third Doctor, is the main point of interest in this whole adventure. Otherwise it is a bunch of running around, although it has a few funny Second Doctor moments.

Oh, and Amy and Brandy were really amused at the faces some of the bad guys made as they hypnotized people at various parts of the story. That was indeed funny.

Tron

Original Release: 1982 Jul 9
Watched: 2010 Sep 12 to 2010 Sep 13
Queue: Sam’s
Format: DVD

So, I’ve recently moved from going through my queue in the order things were originally added to the queue, to picking randomly what will be next. But I make exceptions when there is a particular reason to watch something sooner rather than many years in the future. In this case of course Tron: Legacy is due to come out this December, so to prepare we all had to watch Tron. I think I last saw Tron in the theaters when it first came out. Most likely with my dad.[[[ jml]

V ?

That last bit was Alex. He liked Tron.

Anyway, Tron. This is of course one of those classic geek movies. At the time it seemed like it was just so cool visually. Watching it now, it just looks so cheap and basic. There was of course actually not that much CGI in the movie. Wikipedia says less than 20 minutes. The rest is just made to look like what people thought CGI should look like. And Sark? What’s up with the paper things on his head? It looks like something somebody’s first grader cut out or something. Of course, this was great at the time I guess. But it just shows how fast these kinds of things move. It will be interesting to see what they do with the new movie.

Then of course there is the actual plot, which honestly just doesn’t make much sense. Well, I mean, OK, if you back up a bit from it, it is just your standard quest thing once you get into it. They are on a quest into the enemy’s territory to destroy him with an object that he is vulnerable. Hmmm, Tron as Frodo?

Bottom line, it was fun to watch in a nostalgic kind of way, or to prep for watching the new movie. But I’m not sure it really holds up as a stand alone movie. It just sort of seems dated and quaint.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Original Release: 1937 Dec 21
Date Watched: 2010 Aug 30
Queue: Sam’s
Format: DVD

So it was my turn, and more specifically, for every other one of my turns, it is time for another movie from the 100 Years 100 Movies list. I’ve been working my way from #100 down to #1. So here we are at #49, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

This is a classic and all. First full length animated feature. One of the earliest major pictures in color. Etc, etc. If I had seen this movie before, it would have been when my age was in single digits. I certainly did not remember it, other than some of the iconic clips I’m sure I’ve seen over and over again.

Anyway… NOTHING HAPPENS. This is almost a 2001 like experience, but with songs. If you put together the parts of this movie were something was actually happening, it would be something like 10 minutes long. In between you just get LONG musical segments. Some of them really seem to go on forever. For me, especially the ones with Snow White herself singing. Something about her voice, well, I guess that would be Adriana Caselotti‘s voice, really grates on me. I like the “Heigh-Ho” song though. And I guess it is fun to watch them clean the house and all that. But this time it was me (rather than Amy) who got to the end of the movie and was saying “REALLY? THAT’S IT? REALLY?”

Amy also pointed out a number of differences between this and the Grimm version.

Earlier, when Snow White was about to eat the Apple, there was this exchange:

Amy: She is so stupid! Even the birds know not to eat the apple!

Sam: Well, there is a reason she is not called Snow Bright.

She really is incredibly stupid. Oh well.

And shouldn’t it be “dwarves” anyway?

2010: The Year We Make Contact

Original Release: 1984 Dec 7
Date Watched: 2010 Aug 24
Queue: Brandy’s
Format: DVD

So we finally get to the movie Brandy wanted to watch on New Year’s Eve. Oops. A little slow there. But we got there eventually. It was of course 2010. This is of course a very different style of movie than 2001. As in, it actually has things like a plot and dialogue and such. Things actually happen.

Now, that is not to say that at the end Amy didn’t still react with “WHAT? WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” Because of course it is still a little strange. What with the apparition of Bowman and all. Amy is creeped out by the space baby thing.

It is one of those things where the movie is going along, typical sort of thing with spaceships and futuristic but realistic things happening, and then Bowman shows up, shifts ages every few seconds, then turns into a floating space baby. I can see why that would creep someone out.

And then of course things happen to Jupiter that are not fully explained. So you get the “WHAT?” factor going.

But it is a fun movie. I enjoy it. Worth making sure you see it while it is still 2010, just for the comparison of what the vision of technology was versus the reality of what it is. As far as I can tell, we are missing the manned missions to Jupiter with the spaceships with lots of glowing primary color buttons all over the place. Oh well! Perhaps by 2110?

Doctor Who: The War Games: Disk 1

Original Release: 1969 Apr 19 to 1969 Jun 21
Date Watched: 2010 Aug 20
Queue: Who
Format: DVD

Time for another Doctor Who, and this time it is the last story from the Second Doctor, The War Games. It is a 10 episode one, so this disk only had the first half of the story. The crew lands in somewhere that seems World War I, but then turns out to be something different.

So far this is an OK Second Doctor Story. There is a lot of comedy from how silly some of the villains are. The Doctor himself is not as clownish as the Second Doctor sometimes is. As usual for this era things are very very slow by modern standards. The first two hours or so of the story that we have watched so far, if done in the modern style, would be less than half the length.

But it is OK.

The first half that we have watched so far is all setup though from what I understand, although I haven’t seen this before. The Doctor and his companions are in the process of getting into a mess that he can’t solve himself, which will result in him calling on his people, the Time Lords, for help, which is their introduction in the series, and which leads to the regeneration into the Third Doctor.

So, things are nicely set up at the half way point. Trouble abounds, everyone is in peril, etc. So I guess bring on the rest…

My Sister’s Keeper

Original Release: 2009 Jun 26
Date Watched: 2010 Aug 15
Queue: Amy’s
Format: DVD

We’re finally in the recent past. Only a few weeks ago now. After we got the new projector and A/V system set up in our family room, this is the first thing we watched. It wasn’t exactly the kind of movie you watch to show off a bright new screen and sound system… no big special effects or explosions or anything… but it was next in line, and Amy had been patiently waiting while we ordered the new stuff, waited for it to arrive, and then took more than two weeks to get it all set up.

Anyway, My Sister’s Keeper… girl has cancer. Parents have designer kid (second girl) to provide spare parts for first girl. Second girl sues to right over her own body, to choose NOT to have to give her kidney (or whatnot) to her sister, even though that is her sister’s only hope at that point. Then hilarity ensues. Well, no, very little hilarity, although there are a few lighter moments.

For the most part though this is one of those heart wrenching watch as a family confronts and deals with a horrible situation type of movies that tries to pull all your emotional strings. And so of course I liked it.

It wasn’t the best of these sorts of movies I’ve seen, but you do start to care about the people, and start to put yourself in their shoes, and feel their pain and struggle. If you like this kind of movie it is OK. Worth the rental.

Amy of course finished the movie with a long monologue about the things that were different from the book, which she had read recently. I have not read the book, so I did not notice any of these things.

2001: A Space Odyssey

OK, so I can’t begin to mention how far behind on my “reviews” for both “Family Movie Night” and the ones we have actually gone to the theater for. Many months behind. Of course, that only means five movies. But since we revamped our home entertainment center a couple of weeks ago, we have been speeding up again, so I need to catch up.

Anyway, a bit ago, as I said, several months, it was Brandy’s turn for Family Movie Night, and her movie was 2001: A Space Odyssey. She had originally picked this with the intent that we would watch this in time to watch 2010 on New Year’s Eve as it turned from 2009 to 2010. Now, I’m behind, but not that far behind. We didn’t actually get to this until the Spring sometime. Oops. Anyway. 2001.

This is a movie which is of course known for its visuals and music, and the fact that not all that much actually happens plot wise. Amy had not seen it before. So the main thing to talk about here is her reaction.

Basically, she sat through the whole thing, enjoying the music and the visuals and all that, but just waiting for things to start happening. Of course they never did. She oohed and ahhed at the appropriate places. But then it ended. Her reaction when something like this:

WHAT?

WHAT??

WHAT WAS THAT?

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

IS THAT IT?

REALLY??

How long were we sitting here? REALLY? THAT’S IT?

YOU ARE KIDDING ME!!!!

WHAT WAS THAT BABY DOING?

I WASTED HOW LONG ON THAT??

REALLY?

Of course, she had seemed to be enjoying it just fine before it ended. And of course, that was before the credits. There were lots and lots of credits still to go after that. And then even after the credits ended, the music continued for several more minutes. Somehow we convinced her to stay to the very end. But still, nothing happened.

It was most amusing.

From my point of view of course, I really like 2001. It is a very different kind of movie of course. For the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes, you just sit back and let it roll over you. For the middle portion, you think about HAL. It is fun. It is an experience.

It is not of course the kind of movie you watch when you want action. Or a real plot.

But it is an experience that is definitely worth watching at least once a decade. :-)

Braveheart

So, as usual it is several weeks after the fact, but a while back Braveheart came up as the family movie night movie. I really should write these sooner after the fact, as my memories are already fuzzy. In general though I liked it. It was a good movie. Engaging. Kept my attention. All of those sorts of fun things. It did after all win a bunch of awards, so I guess that is not too horribly unexpected.

What did annoy me though was afterwards going and reading a bunch of Wikipedia articles about the various historical characters in the movie and seeing just how far off from historical truth the movie is.

You see, I know when you make a historical movie (or novel, or whatever) you need to flesh it out and fill in all sorts of gaps not actually captured by the historical record. You need to make it interesting and entertaining. You have to match some sort of narrative structure. You may include tons of stuff for which there is no historical proof.

But these should be things that COULD have been true. Things that add and fill in gaps. But not things that directly contradict known historical fact. See, if you are going to do that, just change all the names, use made up countries and places, and call it straight out fiction. Not historical fiction, just fiction. Nothing wrong with that. Tell a good story. It can be great. But then don’t pretend the story is actually about William Wallace who lived from 1272 to 1305 and then give him a love interest with Isabella of France who lived from 1292 to 1358 and who didn’t come to England until after Wallace was dead. And don’t make King Edward I die during the course of events here who actually lived after that. Don’t completely change around the timeline of when Robert I of Scotland did various things. Etc, etc, etc. It seems various people have called this thing one of the most inaccurate historical dramas ever made. The kind of things they have done here would be comparable to making a movie about the American Revolution where Washington died heroically in battle, Franklin became president, and Lincoln showed up to save the day. It might be great fun, but it wouldn’t even remotely be related tot he real history.

OK, now I kind of want to see that movie with the Washington/Franklin/Lincoln SuperFriends.

I guess having said all of the above, it was a fun movie… as long as you don’t get hung up in any of the bit about it being “based on a true story” or learning about anything interesting from a historical basis. It is just fiction. They should have used made up names and places. But it was a good fun movie. Lots of violence of course here. It is about a war of course. It is known for the battle scenes.

House: Season One: Disk Two

A little while ago it was time for another DVD we own but hadn’t watched, and it was specifically time for more of House: Season One, which I’d gotten for Christmas.

This disk has episodes 5-8 of Season One. At this point we’re pretty on track with the standard House formula. You know, two or three wrong diagnoses before getting to the right one in the last few minutes of the episode, with of course some drama between the characters and House being an ass the whole time. It is fun to watch, but you can’t deny it is pretty formulaic.

Here we had one episode about a sick nun, one with a teenager taking care of his mentally ill mother, one about a woman who can only be cured if she admits she had an affair, and one with mysterious poison.

Of these, I think Episode 6, the one with the teenager and his mother, was the most fun. In any case, another four episodes of House. Good show. Good disk. Amy was anxious to just move on and start the next disk of this series, but it was something else’s turn first…