Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Star Trek

This past Saturday my wife and I finally saw Star Trek. Now, I've been a fan of every incarnation of Star Trek since about 1990. I've seen every single episode of the five different series with the exception of a few Voyager episodes (I was on a mission in Mexico at the time). I own the two-disc special editions of all the previously released movies, all four seasons of Enterprise, and the last two seasons of Deep Space Nine. Unfortunately I'm not quite rich enough to own a whole lot more than those six seasons. I actively collect Star Trek novels. I own the official encyclopedia and the official chronology as well as the Original Series, Deeps Space Nine, and The Next Generation technical manuals. I have the Star Trek Star Charts. I even have the official blueprints of the Enterprise-D from The Next Generation. In other words, I think I'm fairly well qualified to judge J. J. Abrams' new Star Trek.

I thought it was the best Star Trek movie ever.

My wife, who didn't exactly grow up on Trek, was very impressed by it (and actually teared up during the first fifteen minutes).

The story was engaging, the characters were good (better than the originals, in fact), and the action was constant without ever dumbing down the movie. The cinematography was more dynamic than in any previous incarnation of Star Trek (this is particularly noticeable in a noteworthy scene in which the Enterprise swoops in with literally all phasers and torpedoes blazing). They even addressed the age-old complaint that all action in the Star Trek universe occurs in a single plane, with all the starships being presented as if they were sea vessels limited to the surface of the ocean rather than moving in the three dimensions of space. In one particular scene the Enterprise actually appears upside down with respect to the object on which the camera is focused. This may seem like a small detail, but it shows that the new caretakers of the franchise have been paying attention.

The film is also filled with minute details for the fans: various sound effects are cleverly modernized versions of their 1960s counterparts, quotes and paraphrases from the Original Series and its movie spinoffs can be found throughout, and there's even a reference to "Admiral Archer" and his beagle that viewers of Enterprise will find pretty funny. Since the movie was obviously designed to appeal to a larger audience than the typical Trek movie, I was pleasantly surprised to see how faithful they were to their source material.

In short, Star Trek was a great movie that seems to appeal both to Trek fans and non-fans alike, as indicated by its 95% on Rottentomatoes.com. This compares pretty favorably with The Dark Knight's 94% (let's just ignore that in my last post I said I don't usually agree with the critics). Once the closing credits appeared, my wife and I agreed that we couldn't wait for the sequels. I'd give the new Star Trek a 4.5 out of 5:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Like any other self-respecting nerd [sic], there was a period in my youth when I collected comic books. While I collected far more Spiderman comics than any other particular series, I was also quite a fan of Wolverine. Years after I bought my last comic, I enjoyed the three X-Men movies and felt that the character was well-portrayed. I was therefore looking forward to the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

My wife and I went to see it a few weeks ago, around the time of the Star Trek premiere. Now, I'm a Star Trek fan first and foremost, but I also hate crowds, so we decided to see the slightly older Wolverine. I had heard that Wolverine was getting some pretty lousy reviews (37% on Rottentomatoes.com), but I don't often agree with movie critics. After reading a few of those reviews, I thought it humorous that one of the critics' main complaints was that the movie spends much of its time showing Wolverine fight random mutants (Wolverine vs. Gambit, Wolverine vs. Blob, Wolverine vs. Sabertooth, etc.). All I can say about that criticism is what Microsoft may say about any number of its products; it's not a bug, it's a feature.

It turns out that the movie was pretty good (definitely better than 37%); I enjoyed it at least as much as the X-Men movies. The movie covers Wolverine's origins (who was born in the early 1800s as James Logan), and spends most of its time on his relationship with his brother (Victor Creed; better known as Sabertooth, although he's never called that in the movie) and the experiment that bonded the indestructible metal "adamantium" to his skeleton and claws. That's right, the movie is consistent with the 1990s X-Men comic that revealed that Wolverine has always had claws made of bone; his claws weren't implants but pre-existing claws bonded with adamantium. The movie also reveals that the experiment performed on Wolverine is merely one part of a program to create the ultimate mutant weapon.

For those who are bothered by it (as I sometimes am), the movie had a bit more profanity than most of the PG-13 Marvel Comics movies and was more violent than any of the Spider-Man or X-Men movies. However, the violence was of a highly exaggerated sort (which my wife and I perversely enjoyed) and wasn't nearly as disturbing as the violence in The Dark Knight (another movie we both enjoyed, but in spite of the violence).

For entertaining me for an hour and a half, for focusing on the most interesting of the X-Men, and for the shear magnitude of the property damage that occurs in the last twenty minutes, I give the movie a 4 out of 5.

Monday, May 4, 2009


My wife recently posted about family milestones, two of which were mine. First, I turned 30 years old this past April. Now, is there a point at which one is supposed to feel like an adult? Considering that my birthday presents consisted mostly of Star Wars Lego sets, I don't think I've reached that point yet. When I was younger I thought that there was an age at which you realized that you had finally reached maturity and that you knew what you were doing. Well, I hit 18, and that certainly wasn't it. I reached my 20s and it didn't happen then, either. I was married in 2001 and now have three kids; that didn't do it. I received a bachelor's degree in engineering in 2003, but I still felt like a kid. I earned a master's degree in engineering in 2005 and felt like an over-educated, heavily indebted kid. This year I turned 30 and will soon have spent four years at my current job. More than once I've wondered what my employers are doing allowing some dumb kid to work with nuclear technology. Maybe I'll reach maturity when I'm 40.

The second milestone has to do with my weight. Those who know me may have noticed that I've been on a diet recently. This past month, for the first time in quite a few years, the number on the scale started with a "1" rather than a "2". That's a loss of about 60 pounds since October, 2008. My goal is 170, which I haven't weighed since high school. I've been asked repeatedly how I've done it and the answer is simply that I eat less.

I've tried diets such as "South Beach" and "Slim-Fast" and have been unable to maintain them due to the limited food choices. I've done much better following the "Weight-Watchers" point system since it allows you to eat whatever you want; it just limits your portions. For the first few months I was closely following the system, but have since gotten a feel for how much I should be eating. It appears that I had to recalibrate my sense of hunger to more closely match my level of physical activity (i.e., cubicle dweller).


Related Posts with Thumbnails