2 Reviews of Sunshine

If you haven't read it yet, check out my big poppa's review of Sunshine. Otherwise you'll have to settle for mine.

Sunshine Review
by The Spoon

In the not-too-distant-future, Earth is threatened with a permanent winter and the likely extinction of all life on the planet save cockroaches and Starbucks. The culprit is a Sun on the fritz and the only solution is for a small crew to deliver a Manhattan-sized bomb into the Sun’s core in the hopes of reigniting the dying star and renewing Mankind’s lease on Earth. Eight men and women are assigned to this perilous mission and each of them discovers that a little bit of Sunshine can lead to worse things than unsightly tan-lines.

Get used to it

Sunshine reunites director Danny Boyle and his 28 Days Later star Cillian Murphy and, as in their previous project, Boyle carefully constructs a sense of imminent disaster before going ape-crazy. In 28, tension built up as Cillian wandered through the barren and weirdly alien landscape of a deserted London. Sunshine instead creates unease through the tell tale signs of mounting pressure on board the spaceship Icarus II.

Cillian, as soft-spoken physicist Capa, struggles again and again to find the right tone for his final message to family and friends back on Earth. Psych officer Searle (played by Cliff Curtis) loses himself in sunlight “baths.” The rest of the crew, including Chris Evans and Michelle Yeoh, have their own concerns but none are as grave as their Captain’s.

Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada) leads the final hope for Mankind yet remains troubled by the unexplained disappearance of the Icarus I while on the exact same mission seven years previous. In one early scene, Kaneda examines one of the final transmissions from the Icarus I’s captain. Kaneda pauses the screen and stares directly into the lost commander’s eyes. It is a portentous moment and perfectly captures the unspoken understanding that whatever dangers befell the Icarus I also waits for them.

Deft and confident, the acting through the first half of the movie is superb. Brilliantly imagined scenarios and a nuanced script allow the cast of Sunshine to (pardon the pun) truly shine. As the natural protagonist, Cillian does not disappoint with his restrained delivery that manages to express equal parts reluctance and determination. His distinctive, angular features, which have caused so much fear in previous roles (Batman Begins, Red Eye), prove just as effective at projecting the unease and suffering of a would-be savior of Earth. But as remarkable as Cillian and the rest of cast are during the movie’s first act, they are easily overshadowed by the film’s cinematography.

These may be brilliant astronauts with a mission to reach the Sun but they sure look like they're going the wrong way

Simultaneously majestic and terrifying, the Sun is as much a character as any of the astronauts. Director Danny Boyle and cinematographer Alwin Kulcher have crafted a beautiful vision of space that elevates our nearest star from a mere cosmic placeholder to the vessel of the crew’s - and humanity's - hopes and fears. Amidst the human crew’s many trials, the Sun waits patiently and uncaring, emanating a presence that continuously reminds the audience of the sheer power of the cosmos.

If Sunshine could simply follow through with its early promise as a sci-fi drama this would have been a remarkable film. Unfortunately, somewhere in the 2nd act Boyle apparently decided to begin filming an entirely new movie entitled “28 Days Later in Space.”

Delicate pacing and meaningful dialogue get trashed in favor of cheap thrills and borderline amateurish film techniques. What worked so well in 28 Days Later comes across here as recycled and out-of-place. Sunshine manages to right itself somewhat by the film’s final act but it's ultimately hampered by an ending that lasts at least ten minutes too long.

Through the first act and a half Sunshine raises some very complex issues about the nature of sacrifice but its message is undermined by a third act that is more interested in making the audience jump at every shadow. This is a beautiful, flawed movie that, despite its problems, still manages to “get” the essence of science fiction and is an almost-revelation to fans of the genre. Sunshine burns itself out by the end, but it’s a trip that’s still worth buying a ticket for.

2 Reviews of Sunshine

You're in for a special treat today because I've got not one, not three, but two! reviews for Sunshine. I saw this science fiction thriller during the weekend with my dear old dad and he was kind enough to provide me with his own review of the movie.

I'll post the big guy's review first and mine will come up next (scroll up to find it). Please share the love by posting any compliments/fawning admiration you might feel compelled to express. After all, he has to put up with me every day.

Sunshine Review
by The Spoon's Dad

Mix in small portions of several classic science fiction movies such as a 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Armageddon (OK, not so classic), an excellent cast of crew members, scorching special effects with a dose of philosophy, psychology and biology (pretty much your undergraduate core courses) and you have the latest science fiction mis-titled adventure movie – Sunshine (more on this later).

The movie begins aboard the spaceship Icarus II on a voyage to the sun, 50 years in the future. The mission of the eight-member crew is to detonate a device the size of Manhattan into the dying sun in order to re-ignite a new star and thus save mankind.

The special effects shine early in the movie with a fantastic screen-filling image of the sun and a brief scene depicting the dark planet Mercury in the foreground passing across the brightly-lit sun in the background. The crew members along with the movie audience are clearly mesmerized by the beauty and power of the celestial images.

The mission is complicated by the unexpected discovery of Icarus I – the predecessor to Icarus II – long presumed to have been destroyed attempting to detonate a similar device over six years earlier. The discovery of the Icarus I presents the first of several fundamental obstacles and decisions faced by the crew as a whole and by crew members individually.

The strength of Sunshine is in the tension-building manner the obstacles are presented and the decision making of the crew. Some decisions are democratic, others autocratic; some for the good of mankind, others self-serving. Most decisions need to be made instantly with the consequences dire. The crew members clearly understand the gravity of their situation and each must cope with the realization they may not survive the mission let alone the next moment.

Speaking of cast members – they are excellent. Cillian Murphy (Red Eye, Batman Begins) is the physicist responsible for detonating the device and he plays the role in an effective understated manner. Cliff Curtis (Fracture, The Fountain) is the onboard psychologist who has clearly been issued less than full strength sunscreen. Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is the biologist who shows little emotion except when her plants get toasted. My favorite character is Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) who plays the crewmember I would take along if I were ever asked to save the earth, the whales or anything that requires some kick-ass effort.

There are only two weaknesses with the movie and both represent misdirected marketing opportunities. The first involves the unexpected and unnecessary twist of gore (slash) horror and the second is the title of the movie itself. The gore/horror element with a slightly modified marketing strategy could have brought in the slasher crowd for a bigger payday at the box office. Secondly, the title Sunshine implies brightness and cheerfulness - again attracting the wrong demographics. The mood and sets in Sunshine are quite dark as befits any earth saving mission and as I looked around I was relieved to see no Little Miss Sunshines in the audience (by the way I think it would have been fun to title the movie Sol Train and replaced the Icarus computer voice with Don Cornelius).

Overall, Sunshine is a sizzling futuristic adventure with scorching images, an excellent cast facing rapid-fire decisions of celestial importance with enough dosage of philosophy and psychology to satisfy the requirements of most undergraduate sci-fi moviegoers. A-


Movie Quiz

As I was searching the internetz today I came across this little movie quiz. I don't want to brag, but I did score a 95% and it only took me two tries.

95%The Movie Quiz

FilmCritic.com - Movie Reviews

See? I wouldn't lie. It's not very difficult as movie quizzes go since nearly every question is about a popular movie and I'm pretty certain I saw every one of them.

Take the quiz and we'll compare sizes. I mean, scores.


Burning Movie Question Submissions

Got a Burning Movie Question? It’s okay if you do. In fact it’s as harmless as a third nipple but with a greater potential for enlightenment. Here are a few examples of my own Burning Movie Questions followed by their corresponding Burning Answers:

  • Do actors get freaked out while making scary movies?
Answer: Yes.
  • How did they get the T-Rex in Jurassic Park to not eat its tasty human co-stars?
Answer: Digital special effects. The human actors were shot in front of a blue screen and were digitally added after the T-Rex filmed its scenes.

Jeff Goldblum never got within 100 feet of the T-Rex during the making of Jurassic Park. Wuss.
  • Who produced Kazaam and has the offending party suffered appropriate karmic backlash?
Answer: Starsky, aka Paul Glaser, suffered through an incredible series of family tragedies in the 80’s so the answer is yes. Aaaaaaand now I feel like a dick. Just one more reason to hate Kazaam.

Perhaps your interests are more into film editing techniques or bondage. That’s cool too. Please send your Burning Movie Questions to me via email or in the comments section and I’ll choose some of them to investigate. I’ll snoop around the internetz and available resources (read: naughty websites) to deliver you the answers you so desperately crave. Or failing that, I’ll make something up. Either way we all win. Because if you don’t have any questions for me to answer I’ll be forced to describe events in my personal life like that one incident involving my cousin who was born without an a$$-hole.

Don't forget to email me with your Burning Movie Questions.


And Our Favorite Clue Character is...

The Spoon's first poll is over and the results are in... And it's a tie!

Miss Scarlett
ties Mr. Green as the readers' favorite Clue characters.

Congratulations to co-winner Miss Scarlett

The strong leader for most of the week, Mr. Green saw his winning margin suddenly disappear in the poll's final hours. Between approximately 12:00pm and 4:00pm on Thursday, July 26th Miss Scarlett's votes spiked by nearly 100%. When asked about the fortuitous outcome Miss Scarlett credited her "killer sense of luck" while kissing her personal good luck charm shaped like a 3 foot metal rod.

Amid cries of foul play by those in Mr. Green's camp, an impartial third party has begun investigating the voting process for signs of possible wrongdoing. Early findings have been inconclusive and the lead investigator has chosen to hold onto his cards before filing any accusations.

Mr. Green could not be reached for comment.


Love never grows Old, just more wrinkly and creepy

I witnessed a very disturbing sight today. Standing in line at my place of work was a young girl freshly ushered into the sweet, sweet charms of womanhood. Her flowering figure was tastefully sheathed in booty shorts and a tank top and I swear I could hear chimes when her thighs rubbed together. But to my horror she was being wooed right before my very eyes – by a wrinkled, ninety year old granddad. Except, maybe “wooed” isn’t so much the appropriate verb as “perved on.”

Clearly the young vixen was not yet of legal age, but Mr. Grandad Perv was pressing his suit like a wrinkled, clawed hand pushing against a door marked Pull. He was completely oblivious to the growing line, the waiting cashier, or his own oozing creepiness. The young woman politely pretended to listen to his questions about her age but only time will tell what kind of psychological problems she developed while under his visually impaired gaze.

Thankfully the girl escaped. Granddad Perv struck out, but some of these big screen satyrs have had greater success.

Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in Grumpier Old Men

Resident grumps Walter and Jack one up each other in order to bang that hot young tart Sophia Loren. Oh wait, she’s not that young? And her kisses are less tart and more baking soda? Well, they were still horny bastards.

Sophia Loren circa the Eisenhower administration

George Carlin in Scary Movie 3
Carlin’s role as the horny Architect in Scary Movie 3 was clearly beneath him, but if any silver tongued (and haired) older gentleman could separate a young girl from her chastity, it would be the Elder Hippy Dippy Weatherman. Able to strip down any common phrase into a nugget of comedic gold, Carlin would no doubt perform a similar service to any willing target if given the chance.

Nobody can resist a kilt

Sir Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Guilty of being the Sexiest Man Alive, Mr. Bond has a long history of seducing women. Of course, in The Last Crusade Connery was the one being pursued by all accounts. Elsa Schneider may have been searching for his grail diary, but we all know she found much more than that. This is one Grandad with a legitimate license to thrill young women everywhere (as confirmed in Entrapment).

Christopher Walken in every movie he's ever been in

Christopher Walken has been capable of playing the role Creepy Old Man #1 since the age of nine. Technically, I only remember him performing in a lecherous capacity as music producer Bobby in Wayne’s World 2. But look at Walken in any role and you can see a depraved soul just begging to be freed. Perhaps that’s what those Prophecy movies are all about.

Are there any other Grandad Pervs deserving of a shout out? Mention them in the comments section because I’d like to know (although I couldn’t explain why).


Why Indiana Jones is my Hero

Few movies can stand up to the wonder and excitement of the Indiana Jones series and even fewer figures can measure up to the fedora capped peaks of Indiana Jones as one of the most admirable and respected role models in cinematic history. For this reason, Indiana “Junior” Jones is now officially The Spoon’s Patron Saint of Style, General Manager of Gallantry, and Grand Pooh-Bah of Panache all rolled into one. In other words, he’s kind of a big deal.

Not everyone loves Indiana Jones, but I do

When I was a wee little tyke I knew two things. 1) Never pee while lying on your back and 2) Indiana Jones was the bomb diggity. He could fight anybody to a standstill with his whip and yet continuously showed mercy and restraint with his (frequently) over-matched opponents (to wit, he never shot an unarmed opponent). Indy also fought for the right kind of causes. He would kick ass to preserve knowledge, protect the weak, and fight tyranny and evil. Nobody ever rewarded Dr. Jones for his unceasing efforts but he never stopped fighting for what he believed in – and all on a professor’s salary no less.

Indy could even turn a bag of sand into Box Office Gold

Indiana was an action hero but he also showed the kind of emotional maturity you want in a role model. Remember in the Last Crusade when Indiana was able to leave the Holy Grail behind and traded the tantalizing pursuit of immortality in exchange for the dangers, fears, and tempered joys of real life? I dare you to put yourself in that situation and make that same decision. It’s awfully tempting to live forever, especially if you’re a sports fan who wants see the Detroit Lions ever make the playoffs (not even immortality will last long enough to see the Lions in the Super Bowl).

Indy wore many hats (figuratively speaking) and embodied the well-rounded individual every momma wants her baby to become. He was the intellectual college professor and resident heartthrob on campus. But Indiana was just as comfortable archaeolog-ing through the cloistered walls of a crypt as lecturing in the classroom. He was also the dutiful son who never stopped wanting to make his father proud. And beyond his varied interests and pursuits, Indiana never discriminated in his choice of allies (except for camels). Indy had friends of all ages and races from Short Stuff to erstwhile colleague Dr. Elsa Schneider. If Indy had any flaws, it was being too trusting and perhaps a tad too arrogant. But a little arrogance is understandable when you can think or whip yourself out of almost any situation.

I'd like to see Steven "Baby Seal Clubbin'"Seagal take down a Panzer with just a whip

And the true mark of Indiana Jones’ legacy? He was never above accepting help from his friends. How else did he survive the mind-controlling powers of the Temple of Doom? Not to mention the pugilist Nazi sergeant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or even the Great Seal’s final precipice in the Last Crusade? As great as his capabilities were, Indiana Jones knew that he could never achieve great things without a little (and sometimes more) help from his friends.

"This is how we say, 'Catch me goddamnit!' in Austria"

In this age of corruption and failing values it’s refreshing to look back at a role model who did things the right way. Never mind that he’s technically a fictional character, Indiana Jones has a very real place in my heart. And now he has a place in The Spoon.

Welcome home Indiana.


Transformation Underway

The Spoon thanks you for your patience as we undergo the painful transformation towards an upgraded template. All links and other flashy objects should be up later today. In the meantime vote for your favorite Clue character in the sidebar poll. Yes it's a terrible poll idea, but it can only get better from now on. At least that's what we keep telling ourselves.


Fun with Harry Potter
Howdy folks! Today's post comes to you through the furious tapping of my delicate fingers and the magic of my new iPhone. As a result, expect even more typos and incomprehensibility than usual.

As a bookstore drone valued employee I have the pleasure of ushering impressionable little children into the wonder and excitement of the last Harry Potter book which is released tonight at midnight. The following comments i may or may not say to screw with these children.

-J.K. Rowling wanted to vote for Bush but couldn't because she had already quit being an American

-Harry Potter's character is based on Hitler

-(to girls) harry hates quidditch but continues to play solely for the communal after game showers

-(to boys) Hermoine is a lesbian

-(to everyone) who here likes to party?

-in the last book, Harry and Rupert partake in the forbidden secrets of "the power of love"

-everyone can perform magic like Harry if they really want to. All you need is hope and crystal meth

I invite you to share your own messages to these impressionable, Potter-loving children in the comments section.


Welcome Back Mr. Pottaaah!
Harry Potter returns in The Order of the Phoenix

I haven’t read the Harry Potter books beyond the first, so when I finished watching the Order of the Phoenix I still had a plethora of questions: What was this new prophecy all about? Who is Luna Lovegood and why am I attracted to her? What is happening to my body? Is this normal? In a surprising display of initiative I decided to mount my own investigation and drum up some answers.

I happen to think being clueless is sexy. Being under-aged? Not so much.

First I put on some pants because apparently it’s the law. Next, I ate a sandwich. Then I spoke to a few friends who had actually read the Harry Potter books and asked them to interpret what the hell happened in The Order of the Phoenix. I listened to their answers and then, regretfully, ate another sandwich.

That was probably not the review you were anticipating so let me go into a little more detail. But first, please excuse me while I make myself more comfortable.

[Cue Mister Rogers music]

[Removes pants in manner eerily reminiscent of Mister Rogers]

It was a little known fact that underneath his Cardigan and pants,
Mr. Rogers was naked

Ah yes, much better. Now we can begin.

The Order of the Phoenix (to hereafter be referred to as TOP) marks director David Yates’ first showing in the Potter series and he has his work cut out for him. Legions of rabid Rowling-ites want to see their beloved Harry and friends re-enact their favorite scenes from the book while legions of rabid movie goers who have not read the books (or possibly even seen the previous movies) will expect to be entertained with magic, mayhem, and a plotline strong enough to stand on its own. Yates clearly chose to side with the legion of Rowling-ites and left the muggles who neglected the books to make-do. This isn’t to say that TOP is a bad movie, merely a disjointed and incomplete one for anybody who hasn’t read the books.

In the first scene, Harry sits alone on a swing as the sky slowly darkens into night. Several large young men approach him and begin verbally tormenting him, even going so far as to ridicule Harry’s dead mother. The bullies are vulgar and hateful and their words are almost shocking in their unexpectedness. Both the bullies’ appearances and actions are not the lighthearted gags of previous Potter movies and instead set the stage for a darker, moodier film than its predecessors.

Harry quickly loses his temper and prepares to fight back against the bullies. Before he can strike, however, the sky turns completely back and an unnatural storm descends upon them. Harry and the lead bully, who is actually his cousin (I think), are separated from the others and take shelter under a bridge. The air freezes around them and Dementors (death-like wraiths) appear. Harry manages to fend them off, but not before his cousin is injured. It’s an exciting scene that promises a film brimming with energy and violence. Unfortunately, the rest of the opening act - and the majority of film - slow down considerably.

Immediately after this energetic opening sequence, Harry is introduced to several of his old friends. While they’re being reacquainted, explanations begin to fly and quickly threaten to overwhelm the unprepared viewer.

And this is the crux of the problem. TOP wants to be a dark, moody film. It wants to have valiant struggles between wizards and warlocks. It also wants to follow the powerful forces warring in Harry Potter’s troubled conscience. But the over reliance on retelling its source material frequently breaks up the flow of the movie and leaves the audience struggling to find a rhythm.

From what I’m told, TOP the book focuses most of its attention on Harry Potter’s inner thoughts as he comes to terms with his impending standoff against arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort (played by a creepy and nose-less Ralph Fiennes). After all, he is dealing with an enemy who killed his parents and, furthermore, has never truly been defeated. And while Harry seeks an end to Voldemort’s machinations, he struggles with the knowledge that more of his friends may suffer or die as a result of their involvement in his crusade against the evil wizard.

Harry’s fears also play a key role throughout the film. Even as political intrigues rage on Hogwarts campus, Harry is continuously locked in battle within his own mind. All of this means you’d better get used to the sight of Harry waking up in a cold sweat because you see it a lot in TOP. A lot. Director David Yates frequently seemed at a loss as to how to express Harry’s growing fears. As a result, we are hit over the head time after time with the sight of Harry sweating profusely, shrugging off his friends and generally feeling sorry for himself.

If it sounds like I’m complaining too much about seeing Harry’s inner demons, it’s because I am. The problem is that there really isn’t much else going on in TOP. Yes there’s an entire plotline about Professor Dumblddore losing control of Hogwarts and some more development of other students but none of it is all that compelling. And besides, it's not really the director's fault.

Even for people like myself who haven’t read the books, we know there is no conclusive battle in TOP. How can there be when the entire series hasn’t even been published yet? Obviously there are a couple more books to go and neither Harry nor Voldemort will die. It is unfortunate, but TOP feels less like a continuation of an adventure and more like a placeholder. It is anti-climactic from beginning to end and the only compelling reason to keep watching it is to catch a glimpse of the occasional display of magic.

Watching TOP can make you pale and confused

My friends did their best to explain to me what actually happened in TOP the movie. Maybe it’s just my thick skull but I still don’t believe much happened at all. If you want to know what really transpired during The Order of the Phoenix, then I suggest you read the book because this Harry Potter movie doesn’t have many answers.


Michael Vick is not the Dog Whisperer

Despite the fact that I feel the way Rosie O'Donnell looks, news that NFL star Michael Vick is being indicted for a dogfighting conspiracy has been a source of some relief. Yes indeed, a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. Now I finally have an answer to that age old question:

Who let the dogs out?

Well played, Baha Men

Warning: Natural Disasters
I was writing my Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix review yesterday when my tummy made like old faithful and ralphed all night. Turns out eating an entire grilled cheese sandwich while being lactose intolerant (as previously noted) is not such a good idea. I'll be back to finish the job either today or tomorrow or whenever the vice-like grip on my colon is relaxed.

Until then, I will be accepting prayers for my anus.

That is all.


World Series of Pop Culture
If you like the kind of useless information I tend to post here then you'll probably enjoy VH1's World Series of Pop Culture (check your local listings for airtime since I haven't a clue). I've been playing along at home and hot damn if it doesn't make me feel like that non-moustachiod stud Alex Trebec.

Shown: Clean-shaven visage
Not shown: Ridiculous mane of pubic hair

The show pits teams of 3 people against one another in one-on-one single category face offs with the loser eliminated (the team that loses all its members first, naturally, is also eliminated). The categories usually focus on movies, music, and television shows of the 70's through 00's. Whenever the movie category comes up, I can sometimes be mistaken as Bill Murray in Groundhog Day but Mexican and with more hair.

Most of the teams know their stuff but Lori Miller of the team White Russians (you know, from the Big Lebowski) committed the unpardonable sin of completely blanking on an entire set of 80's music questions and blaming her inadequacy on "not being born." Geez, the lack of respect in today's sports just about makes me sick. I wasn't born yet in 82 either but I certainly know the lyrics to When Doves Cry (editor's note: apparently Lori wasn't supposed to be a contestant but still).

The questions are fun, the nostalgia is great, and putting all of your useless knowledge to use is vindication for those long hours putting a dent in your couch. Check out the competition and let me know what you think.


Adventures in Working
I was doing my job today, all innocent and fancy-free, when a pair of Gary Coleman-sized cockroaches attacked me. Fortunately my feline reflexes saved me from actually touching the killer insects. However, the commotion startled some nearby customers but I think my quick rendition of "the robot" convinced everyone I was just dancing. Dancing with no warning or music like in Footloose except for two huge cockroaches playing the part of Lori Singer.

Stick some antennae on this guy and you've got one bad ass cockroach

The two cockroaches seemed to be working in tandem to mess with my head so I named them Oprah and Dr. Phil. Oprah and Dr. Phil were worthy adversaries and I knew immediately that they would not be easy to defeat. No amount of machismo or movie trivia knowledge was going to intimidate these two killing machines.

I grabbed some bug spray and gleefully took to spraying down the roach infested workspace. Oprah and Dr. Phil may have checked into my hotel, but they damn sure were not checking out.

My foes must have sensed my approach with insect cunning since neither could be seen. I knew Oprah was ordering Dr. Phil to hide since Dr. Phil is dumb and cannot be trusted to think for himself.

But Dr. Phil was too dumb for even Oprah to control. While I was moving a stack of books, Dr. Phil jumped from his hiding spot and full on bum-rushed me. I countered once again with "the robot" just in the nick of time.

Note my impeccable form and buns of steel

At this point I was about as jittery as Michael Biehn in the Abyss. I tapped every chair and every stack of books once, twice, three times before trusting my delicate flesh to touch it. Every flicker in my peripheral vision triggered an immediate and emphatic karate chop.

Alas, I had scared off Oprah and Dr. Phil.

I finished my task and went off to eat lunch, careful to wash my hands of cockroach spray and fear. When I came back, I found out my little, 60 year old female boss killed one of the bugs. I didn't see the corpse myself, but I'm assuming it was Dr. Phil's since he's too dumb to live.

Oprah remains at large.


Transformers is a spanking good time

I don’t usually look at other reviews when I want to write about a movie, in fact I often go so far as to cover my eyes and ears and hum “Na Na Na Na. Hey Hey Hey,” to myself before quietly whispering “goodbye.” But in the case of Transformers, there are just too many opinions out there to ignore. Here are a few examples.

Readers at IMDB have given Transformers a hearty 8.1 rating with many glowing reviews like, “Best Cartoon Adaptation Ever!!!” and “2 ½ hours of Power Rangers (at least, I think that’s a positive review).” On the flip side are the negative reviews such as “Disappointmentron” and “A Noisy Mess.”

Readers are more critical at Rotten Tomatoes where the average score is 57%. And even that number pales in comparison to the ongoing discussion that the success of Transformers director Michael Bay is proof that God does not, in fact, exist. While This Distracted Globe makes some very astute observations about Bay’s preference for Satanism style over substance, I’ve swallowed this amalgam of reviewing madness and produced a very simple theory for the polarized opinions on this summer's newest blockbuster:

Transformers is robot porn.

Admittedly, this photo of Megan Fox isn't from Transformers but
I still think it supports my claim. And I like it. Grrrrrr

I did not arrive at my porn conclusion lightly. Far from it. Many hours of deliberation were spent whilst squatting on the toilet and groaning. Groaning in deep, deep concentration.

If you consider the film’s composition, I think you’ll agree with my pornographic analysis. Transformers is about robots. Robots that fight each other and get very sweaty (obviously not with normal human sweat, but with DW 40 and other artificial lubricants) and grunt and “get physical” with one another. Frequently these robots interact with humans in interracial scenes, if you will. And like many other Michael Bay/porn productions, the plot merely serves to create semi-plausible scenarios for said robot action. It’s also plausible that you’ll want to take a nap after this orgy of robot action replete with multiple fighting partners, occasional tag teams, back door attacks and bondage. The only thing this movie is missing is light petting and – oh wait, even that’s in Transformers too.

This one's for the ladies

Watching this kind of movie will no doubt separate people into different camps.

One of these camps is for people that don’t want to admit any interest in a Michael Bay/porn flick. These types of people are liable to say things like, “I hardly ever watch these kinds of movies,” and “I didn’t want to see this at all but my finger must have slipped on the wrong 3 button sequence while my other hand was simultaneously scratching a very strong itch on my upper thigh.”

The other camp enjoys the thrills and isn’t ashamed to scratch their itch in public.

The third and final camp just doesn’t like this movie.

Of course, these camps are only filled with adults since Transformers seems innocent enough to kids who don’t know anything about the birds and the bees. But everyone not regularly watching Dora the Explorer will know that they are seeing pure, unadulterated, orgiastic action that is simply not interested in producing genuine emotion or character development.

Maybe my analysis still seems far-fetched. I offer one final quote from Michael Bay.
“I make movies for teenage boys.”

And what do teenage boys want to see? That’s right, robot porn.


Television Spotlight: Burn Notice

USA aims for the lighter side of espionage in its newest spy television show Burn Notice. After watching a couple of episodes, I’d say it’s more or less on target.

The spy in this spy show is played by Jeffrey Donovan (who incidentally was not in Mumford). Donovan is Michael Westen – a US Government agent who is unceremoniously fired, beaten up, and discarded in Miami without so much as a pink slip or explanation from his former agency (I’m assuming this is the case. I missed the beginning of the first episode so I’m going with the commercials on this one). To make matters worse for Westen, his money’s gone, his history’s been erased and he’s stuck in the same city as his possessive mother and combative ex-girlfriend who also happens to be a spy. It’s now Westen’s job to figure out how things went wrong and then put them right again.

Jeffrey Donovan has a severe case of puppy dog eyes

Burn Notice has a difficult mission. It wants to be two parts James Bond to one part Remington Steele. It’s a fine line to be edgy, dangerous, and comedic and I have strong suspicions that Burn Notice will end up falling on the softer side of Remington Steele.

For one thing, leading man Jeffrey Donovan isn’t quite suave enough to be Bond (or even Steele, really) but he fits smoothly into the role of an everyday nice guy caught in a jam -who just happens to be an ex-spy. And in many respects, Donovan’s acting is a lot like his character’s personality; he wants to be a tough guy but deep down inside he’s all softie. Sure, he may help immigrants and little old ladies because he needs the money and information, but we know it’s really because he’s a decent guy who can’t ignore a genuine plea for help.

That’s not to say that Michael Westen is a wuss. Donovan is sleek and muscular enough to be a credible killing machine even if his puppy dog eyes (I may be a dude but I do notice these things) convey an inner good guy-ness. It’s only when Donovan tries to be cold and conflicted that he instead comes out sounding stiff and stilted.

It’s still early in the show’s career, but the simplistic plotlines also keep Burn Notice out of Bond territory. Westen quickly meets a wronged victim and sets out to help them in exchange for some cash or helpful intel. The bad guys are then identified within the first ten minutes and the remaining time in the hour long show is spent going through the espionage motions of bugging, shadowing, and general tomfoolery. This could get formulaic real fast except for the key additions of some excellent co-stars.

Gabrielle Anwar is the trigger-happy ex-girlfriend and she manages a solid performance despite an Irish (?) accent that makes her sound like a female version of Colin Farrell. By the second episode, some actual chemistry exists between her and Donovan and the makings of a relationship that isn’t quite “love-hate” begins to emerge.

The real scene-stealer, however, is good old Bruce Campbell. Brisco County Jr. has aged considerably since the last time I saw him, but he’s still got that same loveable charm and goofball wit. Campbell plays washed out ex-agent Sam who is Westen’s energetic foil and reluctant ally. Sam looks like he’ll be a frequent partner for Westen and bringing in Bruce Campbell already looks like the smartest move Burn Notice has made.

Visually, this is unmistakably a beach show. It doesn’t have the crazy colors of CSI:Miami (or David Caruso’s baby lips), but the washed blues and beiges remind me of Pacific Blue from back in the day. And perhaps I’m simply spoiled on high-definition television, but the film quality on Burn Notice seems grainer than most shows.

If a baby were aged 50 years and forced to pose relentlessly, then that baby's name would be David Caruso

Burn Notice is set to live and die by the performance of its relatively small cast. While the early episodes already show the beginnings of an Investigation-of-the-week formula, it’s up to the ex-spy and his friends to keep the action fast and light. With any luck, they’ll tighten some plots, throw in a few new characters and survive for a little while longer. Burn Notice is a spy show that’s more comedy than killer but it’s already captured my attention.


Primal Fear is best described by adjectives
A lot of words get thrown around in movie reviews that I generally don’t agree with. Words like “thrilling,” “taut,” and “great ass.” Few movies can live up to such lofty descriptions but Primal Fear is one of them.

Primal Fear is indeed a taut, thrilling courtroom drama filled with sweet lines and a great ass. Richard Gere supplies said ass as hotshot defense attorney Martin Vail – a man who has made a career out of massaging the law for his mafia and thug ridden clientele.

Few men command as much attention from women and gerbils as Dick Gere

Nobody is surprised when Vail talks his way into defending the number one suspect (played by Eddie Norton) in the brutal slaying of a popular local bishop. But while Marty Vail thinks he’s riding a bullet train to Publicity Town, he’s completely unaware of the planned detour in What-the-hell-is-going-on-here-Ville. That's right, this slick plot is filled with scandalous twists and mephitic turns, but it’s the acting that really drives this film.

Ed Norton contemplates the horror of his Italian Job 'stache

Gere is shrewd, arrogant, and impossible not to love. He’s the kind of guy who can stay out all night chatting up women in bars and messing around with his gerbils and then kick ass in court the next morning. But before you get too excited, I should probably note that the gerbils only have a minor role in this particular film.

Laura Linney also stars as Martin Vail's lawyer ex-girlfriend. In a move that shouldn't surprise anyone, she gets assigned as Gere’s opposing prosecution/love interest. Linney brings a certain intelligent foxiness that makes her more than adequate in both roles though I still liked her more in Congo (Just kidding. Ugh. Excuse me while I dry heave on my cheese nips).

I saw Congo once. And now I'm probably sterile

Linney is good and Gere is better but there’s no doubt that Edward Norton is the true star of the film. “How good is he?” you may ask. He’s so good that it’s impossible not to be caught up in his performance. This is the role that shot Norton into the limelight and for good reason. I could describe his performance in greater detail but I won’t - so you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

Primal Fear is a little dated with its stuffy wardrobe and lack of cool gadgets (case in point: they use VHS) but that serves to keep it true to its Film Noir roots. Every once in a while you’ll hear some trumpet belting out a sad tune and you’ll think “oh yeah, I’m feeling me some Film Noir up in here.” And the dialogue is just crisp enough to keep that hard-boiled feeling going strong from beginning to end.

Primal Fear is a smart, well-crafted movie that is captivating right up until the very last scene. It may not be the deepest movie, but it’s definitely got a thrilling, taut ass. I suggest you stare at it intently and be prepared to drool a little.