Firetrucks and Starships: This Week In Review

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This week I saw 2 movies in the theatre and read 2 books.

This is the End

Directed by Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

“Dude, what if we made a movie about the apocalypse where we are all literally playing ourselves, so no one can complain about the fact that we play ourselves in every movie we make?!” I give you This is the End, where the main 6 actors, playing themselves, toss around jokes about pop culture, party culture, the bible, penises, and of course jokes about themselves and the stereotypes they’ve acquired as Hollywood actors. I expected this movie to be good but what I didn’t expect was that it would keep getting better and better up to the glorious ending when I was clapping and crying because of how funny it was. Obviously, it’s not a life-changer but I think that Seth Rogen hit the target dead on with this piece of comedic gold. You can brush it off as silly but this idea of actors playing themselves in outlandish situations is also kind of postmodern and brilliant. 4.5/5 stars

Star Trek Into Darkness

directed by J.J. Abrams

Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise crew must face their toughest enemies yet, including some within their own world and some that are from the deep vacuums of space. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been seeing too many indie movies lately but I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the many Hollywood cliches thrown into this movie. The dramatic near saves, slow motion stare-downs, overuse of explosions, and loud violins over every serious moment drew me away from the strengths that this movie had. What I found enjoyable were the smaller action scenes, the ones that were about the characters rather than the computer effects, and the silly dialogue that was a delightful homage to the original series. I did gasp at the entrance of Benedict Cumberbatch, who was leagues above the other actors performance-wise and who quickly turned Khan into my newest favorite movie villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker. 3/5 stars

Book

Music for Torching

by A.M. Homes

On an impulse Elaine and Paul set their house on fire and consequently must face both a marriage and a fire-damaged house that are in dire need of fixing.  A.M. Homes’ suburban story has a lot to it’s credit including the delicious, poetic prose and the use of repetition to enhance subtext in the writing.  However, this character study never quite made me fall in love with the story itself as much as it did with the language used to tell the story. My friend read this book for her “love and eroticism” class so it explores sexual meaning and sexual expression a lot but it does so with taste so that the reader does not feel like they are reading a porno. Unfortunately, I absolutely hated the ending, which is too bad because although it was never my favorite book it was, for the most part, an enjoyable read. 3/5 stars

Maze Runner

by James Dashner

Thomas arrives in the Glade the same way that all the boys in his new home arrived: with no memory except his name and with a huge determination to solve the maze that surrounds his community in order to escape. This young adult dystopian thriller is not as much of a favorite to me as Hunger Games and Divergent, which it often gets compared to, but it is still an incredibly engaging and fun read. At some points I felt like it was talking down to me, like it was written for a younger audience, and at other times I felt like I was young again, loving every thrill and trying to solve the mystery with the boys. The premise is the best part because the author has created a dangerous and mysterious world and given us wonderful characters to experience it through. I did not always like the way the story was told and often thought the author was writing too simply, even for a younger audience, but the story and premise are intriguing enough that I would like to read the sequels in the future. 4/5 stars.

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