Wednesday, March 30, 2005

All work and little play

Cathy and the kids were away last night, leaving me a rare evening alone. So, what to do? Well, first, stay late at work, trying to get a little closer to caught up. Then, bring some work home (a book proposal to evaluate), trying to get even closer. But I had to do something just for me, so I decided to watch a couple of movies I hadn't seen but can't run when the kids are around: a mini "nuclear bomb" film fest.

Terminator 3 had the biggest smash-em-up street chase I've ever seen, and it was faithful to the best conventions of time-travel stories. But I over and over I found myself disbelieving that the T-X cyborg would keep on losing. Every ten minutes I'd think, "But the T-X would just" do something obvious, like fire a weapon or crush a limb. The moviemakers avoided the problem simply by not having the machine do what it was clearly capable of. (I suppose lots of people had the same reaction to The Lord of the Rings, wondering why a wizard didn't cast spells more often or the giants eagles didn't just carry the Fellowship.)

The Sum of All Fears was simply bad. There were only flashes of actual acting, and too many flashes of action for what should have been a character-driven, cerebral story. The bomb scene was excellent--accurate, with a drastic change in the level of "movieness" (score, visual effects, camera moves) that heightened the reality. But everything before and after was cardboard cutout.


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