The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | A-

director: Garth Jennings
starring: Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, Alan Rickman

Hitchhiker's GuideAt once confusing, hilarious, baffling, and altogether obnoxious, the movie adaptation of Douglas Adams’ classic novel embodies the same spirit that made the book so popular, and does it well. Numerous attempts have been made to make the book into a movie over the years, and I’m sure there was widespread sentiment that it would never get done. The project went through numerous writers and directors, eventually settling on virtual unknown Garth Jennings. Not exactly a past track record that would indicate future success. Despite the odds, Jennings pulled it off (with the help of co-screenwriter Adams, of course) and made a film that does the novel proud and works pretty damn well as a sci-fi comedy.

One wouldn’t think that a novel about an Englishman and his friend hitchhiking through the galaxy after Earth is blown up and that features singing dolphins, a two-headed President of the Galaxy, a clinically-depressed robot and a guide that advocates having a towel at all times could translate into a conherent film. Well, maybe it doesn’t need to be coherent, as that goes counter to the whole spirit of the story. The movie works on every level the book did, and I highly recommend seeing it (and read the book if you haven’t already). I leave you with the lyrics to “So Long and Thanks For All the Fish,” sung by dolphins, the 2nd most intelligent species on Earth (behind only mice, which are actually a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings), just before they escape Earth:

So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but oh dear?

You may not share our intellect
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that
grow around you

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

The world’s about to be destroyed
There’s no point getting all annoyed
Lie back and let the planet dissolve

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your
pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish


So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but oh dear?

(oh dear)

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your
pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish


Well, there’s a lot of little, thematic stuff we can analyze this week, like the references to fan theories such as the time loop and purgatory (Time Loop Theory: Hurley makes references to “the loop” repeatedly, Jack says “there is no loop”; Purgatory Theory: Helen reading the obituaries and saying “no one ever says anything mean about people once they’re dead”), and the continued foreshadowing of the inevitable battle between Sawyer and Jack–but who cares about that stuff when you’ve got a huge, fluorescent door mural to analyze?!

Door Mural
click to enlarge

Continue reading “Lights”

Doom | C

director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
starring: Karl Urban, The Rock, Rosamund Pike

DoomAliens came out in 1986. 20 years later, evidence of the movie’s impact is still readily apparent in film today. The old Hollywood precept of milking a good idea for all it’s worth holds true in movies like Doom. The film centers on an elite group of Marines–commissioned by a multi-national conglomerate–sent to an inhospitable planet to rescue scientists and retrieve important scientific data. Along the way, things don’t exactly go as planned and our heroes are confronted with unspeakable horrors as they fight their way out of “hell.” More or less the same plot as Aliens, yes? The main difference is that Aliens is an original, finely-crafted film classic (at least, it is to me) and Doom is a poorly-conceived retread that fails to realize what made Aliens work: the characters.

In Doom, we’ve got the one-dimensional stereotypes filmgoers have become accustomed to: the tough guy leader who’s seen it all (The Rock), the conflicted hero (Urban), the scared kid on his first mission, the big dude with the big gun, some nameless cannon fodder, and the crazy guy you can’t rely on. That’s pretty much the formula these days, though it may be too much to ask for some decent characters in a movie based on a videogame.

Original Genius

Doom Cast
Unoriginal Crap

So I’ve essentially taken two paragraphs to say that Doom is “meh.” The production values are pretty good, and the direction is decent. The acting is passable, though The Rock’s performance is more befitting the wrestling ring than celluloid. But what starts out as a relatively interesting plot (thanks to Aliens) in the first half of the movie rapidly turns into a cliche-ridden music video once the proverbial shit hits the fan. Fans of the videogame will no doubt be tickled with some of the direct references to the game (the BFG, the FPS sequence, etc.), and Doom has its moments. Me? I’ll file it under the “wait to watch on cable TV” category. I’d like to note that the “multi-national conglomerate” in the movie appears to be AOL. I guess they’ve been up to more than just dumbing down the world’s Internet-goers. Who knew?

True Stories of Buffalo, NY

So I’m sitting here watching TV and minding my own business when I hear a car screech to a stop outside, followed by a girl screaming like a banshee. She quiets down after a minute, so I think nothing of it.

Five minutes later, I hear the screaming again, so I open my blinds and look outside. There’s a car stopped in the middle of the intersection, with a guy standing outside the passenger side, and a girl standing outside the driver’s side doors. She is screaming at the top of her lungs like she’s out of your mind, and the guy is pretty much just standing there taking it, periodically interjecting with “let’s go!” and motioning her to get back in the car. Each time he tried to come around to her side, she flipped out and starts screaming again.

Needless to say, I get my autographed Ralph Kiner Hall of Fame bat out of the closet, put my sandals on and walk outside. I’m on the other side of the street and yell “what the fuck is going on?!” He responds with “nothing, buddy, we’re fine.” She was quiet at this point, then she yells out to the guy again, seemingly oblivious to me: “a fucking 18 year old, you piece of shit!”

Ah, we have our answer. The dude cheated on her with an 18-year old. The blonde chick wasn’t exactly endearing herself with all that yelling, let me tell you, though I kind of felt bad for her. But I determined threatening the guy with a bat probably wasn’t necessary. She keeps screaming at him, not even noticing me, and the guy looks like he’s had enough. He starts jogging down the street away from her, as she screams “COME BACK!!! COME BAAAAAAAACK!!!”

He keeps jogging, so she jumps in the car and screeches off toward him at top speed. My thoughts turn from “I wish I had my video camera on me” to “oh shit, she’s gonna run him over!” I start to run after the dude and the car, but I see her screech to a stop next to him on the street and get out again. The yelling continues “COME BACK!!! COME BAAAAACK!!!!!” and she runs down the street after him in her high-heeled boots. She leaves the car running in the middle of the street and disappears down the road, so I wait there for a minute and catch my breath.

About two minutes later, she comes walking slowly back up the street, toward her car. I’m pretty sure she had no idea what was going on around her, so she didn’t notice me and got back in the car. Alas, I won’t be able to comfort her on this night. She drove off slowly into the night, leaving me standing in the middle of the road with my bat, wearing nothing but my PANTS t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

Tune in next week for more True Stories of Buffalo, NY.

The Whole Truth…or maybe an 1/8 of it…

Tonight’s new episode of Lost was nothing to write home about, but there were a few sparse tidbits worth noting.

  • Another “miracle” on the island; Sun is growing more than just vegetables in that garden of hers. How exactly did Sun get pregnant if Jin is shooting blanks? Immaculate conception? Are the Others going to try and kidnap her, à la Claire? More importantly, who brought the pregnancy test on the plane? You’d have to rule out Sun, as she thought it was impossible for her to conceive a baby. So, who’s left? Someone we haven’t met yet? Then again, maybe she’s lying. The look on her face after telling Jin doesn’t exactly seem innocent? Taking more than just English lessons, she was, hmm? (Sincerely, Yoda)


  • Continue reading “The Whole Truth…or maybe an 1/8 of it…”

V for Vendetta | A-

director: James McTeigue
starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, John Hurt

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent to blow up the King and the Parliament. Three score barrels of powder below, Poor old England to overthrow: By God’s providence he was catch’d With a dark lantern and burning match. Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring. Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King! Hip hip hoorah!

V for VendettaIt’s easy to come away from V for Vendetta thinking it’s a direct assault on the current Bush Administration (and perhaps the UK’s prime minister as well) and a seemingly glorified account of a terrorist. But to sum up the film with such a narrow focus would be to do V for Vendetta enormous discredit. There will be people who see this and get annoyed at its liberal poke at the “fascist” Bush government, and those who will simply see it as a popcorn flick. I think it works on both levels pretty well, but I think the central theme of the movie transcends a simple critique of the current government. Yes, the content has obvious ties to what’s going on in the world today (Iraq, terrorism, religious intolerance, discrimination based on sexual orientation), but it’s much more than that. V for Vendetta is, quite simply, about the power of the Idea. Wearing the visage of 17th century religious freedom fighter-cum-terrorist Guy Fawkes, the title character “V” becomes a living Idea himself; a symbol the people will never forget and rally behind. V himself says it best: “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. There is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.”

The Idea is something our governments, our religious leaders, and our media can try to suppress and manipulate, but they can never truly destroy it. They can never truly destroy the will an Idea can bring about in a group of people, whether it be 10 or 10,000. What V for Vendetta is truly about is that we should hold on to our Ideas, because they can bring about great, positive change when put to good use. At the same time, it can bring about great horror and destruction as well. Of central debate in the movie is whether or not terrorism is ever an acceptable avenue to voice one’s opinion or bring about change. It is a wholly relevant debate in light of today’s current political and social climates.


Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, the film itself is, in a word, great. While it can be incoherent in execution and tends to feel a bit disjointed at times, as a whole it is extremely entertaining, from V’s unforgettably written (by the Wachowski brothers) and delivered (by Hugo Weaving) dialogue to the fight sequences to the epic-in-scale action setpieces at the climax of the film. (I’ve gotta find a fantastic quote from early on in the film that makes full use of the V section of the dictionary. I’ll post it when I find it.) All the acting is first-rate, though Portman’s attempt at an English accent seems on the edge of barely passable. My favorite performance is John Hurt’s raging Chancellor Sutler, a megalomaniacal despot hell-bent on absolute control of his subjects. Irony-in-spades when you consider the star of 1984 is now playing Big Brother in V for Vendetta. The music is top-notch; Dario Marianelli’s score is a great, sweeping orchestral composition, and in the mix are masterpieces from history’s past. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the 1812 Overture quite as much as I did here.

Repeat viewings are a must to fully appreciate what I’ve seen, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good flick. Indeed, upon further reflection, I think some of the inherent symbolism of the movie is a bit too in-your-face and obvious at times, which wasn’t necessary. The filmgoing audience often isn’t given enough credit. Some, more than others, will be turned off by what they’d view as a “slap-in-the-face wake-up call” mentality of the movie–they’ll focus on the inherent liberalism of a movie bent on portraying George W. Bush as a fascist and glorifying the actions of a terrorist. Some will tend to focus more on what the implications of the film’s central Idea mean to our current government and the media that reports on their actions. Indeed, it forces you to question the true interests behind our current leaders and their actions. Some will focus simply on the fighting and explosions. And it works pretty well as a popcorn flick; fear not. In the end, what I find to be the greatest, single quality that V for Vendetta has to offer is that it will inspire debate and leave you thinking long after having left the theater.

V: People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.

It's an avocado….yes, an avocado.


Don’t ask me to make sense of it, but others have postulated that it’s a reference to “The Avocado Declaration.”

The Avocado Declaration was initiated in January 2004 by Californian politician Peter Camejo (b. 1939) as part of the Avocado Education Project to explain how the Green Party of the United States needed to adopt a firm and uncompromising identity if it was to promote its values and combat the opposition of the more powerful Democratic and Republican Parties in the United States.

It was called the “Avocado Declaration” to emphasize the ideal of Party Members being like the avocado: “Green on the inside; green on the outside.”

Or it’s just a joke. Ha Ha Ha.