The weekend went by pretty quick, but it was pretty decent, the rain notwithstanding.
Last night, for reasons that seemed perfectly sensible at the time, I watched the first Tomb Raider movie for the first time. (It was on Netflix.) The movie was…I hesitate to say bad, because there were things to enjoy about it. I like Angelina Jolie, and she at least seems to be having fun throughout most of it. And I’ve also grown to like Iain Glen’s work on Game of Thrones (which I’m close-ish to being caught up on). But the film is maybe one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen. I thought I knew from silly movies, but this is something else. Let’s just say that Daniel Craig’s American accent is one of the least ridiculous things about the movie and leave it at that.
After that, I watched the…I guess we’ll call it “season finale” of Doctor Who. I liked a lot of it in the moment, not least of all because I think it explained a lot about what I guess we’ll also call “the Clara era.” But out of the moment, actually taking a look at what I’d just watched…well, I think Alasdair Wilkins of the AV Club gets at a lot of what I think does and doesn’t work, about the episode, the season, Steven Moffat’s writing in general. I’m a lot more forgiving of the episode that Wilkins is, because I did genuinely like it, and it played to classic Who in some fun ways, though I do agree with him on its weaknesses and missed opportunities. (Seriously, casting Paul McGann in a cameo would have been inspired, if only because it would have meant a weird Withnail & I reunion on screen.)
So while I liked the episode, more or less, I kind of hope that next season, Moffat goes smaller.
Oh, and in between those two, I watched Hannibal. So it’s altogether possible my brain was in a really weird place by the end of the evening’s entertainment.
Today, I went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness. (Maybe you’ve heard of it?) I think the movie is a lot of things, like shiny and fast-paced and entertaining. But like its predecessor, there are a lot of things that it’s probably not, like smart and consistent and, ultimately, Star Trek.
Wading into spoiler territory here, I think the movie does some interesting things in the way that it quotes from the original series, Wrath of Khan in particular, but in the end that’s all those feel like: quotes. As I watched a pivotal, climactic scene, I kept thinking, “well, yeah, but Wrath of Khan did this first, and better. There’s no great accomplishment in proving that you’ve seen that movie, too.” The movie’s fun, I won’t deny that. It’s well acted, looks great, and Benedict Cumberbatch owns basically every scene he’s in just through voice and glower alone.
But there are things about it… For one, Felicia Day’s not wrong in asking “Where are the women?” But even beyond that, looking deeper into the movie, the philosophy of Star Trek — those tenets and deeper questions that made it something special, if sometimes a little hokey — that really does seem to be missing. I realize, as I did after the first movie, that while this is the future of the franchise, it doesn’t really feel like the future of Star Trek. There are more interesting places for it to go, I think, than a shiny, lens-flare-filled re-imagining of its past.
Oh, and before the movie, I wrote this with my writing group:
You can’t kill a man who’s already dead, Pa always told me, but some men, they hide the death inside them better than others. I don’t know if the man who shot him did it because Pa finally glimpsed the evil thing inside him, and he worried that Pa might raise hell with the local exorcist, but I know me and my brothers never cottoned to the secret Jim Hardy was keeping.
He was a hired hand, just there that summer to help with chores and mucking out the stables, and I rarely had cause to look the man in the eyes. But when I did, I never once thought I saw death peering back at me. He looked just like any other. And that, more even that what he done, that’s what haunts me.
That I didn’t know means that death like that can just walk among us, never fearful of discovery. They used to tell us in school we had to be on guard for evil men. They taught us the golden rule and warned us to be wary of them who’d break it, like that by its lonesome would be enough to protect us. But if evil men look no different than the good, if you can’t tell a demon ’til the exorcist’s got him bound and panicked in a trap, what good is any of it? Watching out for evil men didn’t save my Pa.
I used to think I’d take my revenge on Jim Hardy, or whatever that thing was that wore Hardy like a skin. I guess I still hoped he’d be made to answer for his crime. I was just a boy when he shot Pa in the back, and I don’t know how long I held on to that hope, took whatever scant comfort I could in it. After Pa died, it fell to my brother Tom to look after the farm, and in those three years I lost track of how often I’d dream of tracking Hardy down, lighting out after him across Indian territory, even if I didn’t know for sure that’s the way he’d gone, and finally watching him swing. Maybe I envisioned myself a lawman, catching up to him decades later. “You’re the man who shot my Pa,” I’d say, and then I spout the Latin I’d made myself memorize, the words that’d cast him back from where he came. I think in those three years I still believed in justice, still saw Jim Hardy as the problem, not just a symptom, and I still allowed myself the comforts of boyhood hopes and dreams.
And then the war came, and Tom died, and I had occasion to look real, true evil in the eyes.
So it was a pretty decent weekend.