Movie Review: In Time

This movie had a brilliant premise: everyone is genetically engineered to stop aging at 25, you’re given one more year beyond that, and time is a currency. When you run out, you die. Unfortunately ideas aren’t original, especially when Harlan Ellison had it first. I never read ‘Repent, Harlequin!’ but I might now considering how spectacularly In Time botched its attempt.

That’s not to say the movie isn’t enjoyable on certain levels. Justin Timberlake is very fun to watch, and the girl with the really big eyes is really pretty. And Olivia Wilde’s five seconds in the movie are inspired. She dies, just so you know, but the way she dies is spectacular. And since she dies in the first 15 minutes (proving there really is no justice in the world), I recommend you try standing in the back of the theatre before moving on to something else.

The thing the movie spent most of its time on (ha) was working the metaphor of how the rich get rich while the poor die. You see, there’s a limited amount of resources so in order to let the Rockefellers of the world live forever, a lot of people have to die in the ghetto. You can’t leave your timezone without spending an exorbitant amount of time and the second anyone has more time than they should, a Timekeeper runs in to confiscate it. They’re kindof jackasses like that. Anyway, Justin Timberlake is given over a century, and through a series of events he goes all Bonnie and Clyde with Big Eye Girl. They flood the market with time in order to collapse the system.

If I were a very, very cynical person I would spend the rest of this article developing a conspiracy theory that the Occupy Wall Street protests were organized by the film’s producers. However, since the movie hasn’t been working that angle, they’re either very good at covering their tracks or it’s completely coincidental. Or one of those ‘it’s in the air supply’ kindof things, like how the movie Wag the Dog came out right as Bill Clinton started bombing Kosovo during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

I think my biggest issue of the movie is they were never quite sure as to what type of movie they wanted to be. They skipped over the how and the why the system was created, and they also skipped over how the system manages to perpetuate itself. The Millionaire Who Wants to Die (and gives JT his century) says that there’s ‘more than enough’ (time that is) and that no one has to die. Okay.

But then the Earth is going to effing die. The world cannot support billions upon billions of non-aging individuals. Actually, given the state of the world around them, I’m pretty sure the earth already died so maybe that’s not a concern to them. Okay. Well, if Time is your currency and all of the sudden everyone has a ton of it… what’s going to be the impetus to create things like… food. And other things necessary for survival. I would’ve liked at least one nod to that problem. Maybe it’s implied that once the rich can no longer use the time currency to kill off the poor, they’ll move onto some other economic system. But seriously guys, you’re not going to establish Utopia. We are constantly redefining what’s ‘enough.’ You think the rich aren’t going to find some new way to exploit the working class?

Everyone knows that the only way to move to a perfectly harmonious world without currency, without strife or inequality, is when the Vulcans arrive and help us establish Star Fleet.

Duh.

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The Despondent Toaster: How Appliances Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse

Refrigerator: Eject all the foods!

Lawnmower:

Toaster:

Explanation of Joke by Despondent Toaster:

See, a toaster is a completely worthless appliance whose soul is blacker than the blackest Mayan calendar doomsday head chopping off roller derby tournament.  When the world ends, we would rejoice except we are incapable of all emotion save the darkest depths of despair and melancholic sadness.

Also, zombies don’t know how to use toasters. So we cool.

Terra Nova: The Episode Interrupted by Baseball, Apparently

Tonight’s Terra Nova episode was interrupted by baseball.  How do I know this?  People found this blog after searching for just that.  I don’t know anything else about it.  Maybe a Stegosaurus ate the St. Louis Cardinals.  I’d watch that.

And again, we begin with Jurassic Park.  You know that weird tool shed like building where Smokes-Cigars man had to go reset all the electronics in the park because he didn’t know how to do a hard restart on the computer?  Yeah.  We went there.  And when a guy who was chasing bugs comes up to the manicured velocripator pen, he runs into a T-Rex.  Which eats him.  Does the man scream and run first?  No.  He stares stupidly up at it like it’s going to give him a treat for finding him.  Peekaboo!  Is every episode going to start with the devouring of someone too stupid too survive?  Cause if that’s your M.O. I don’t see how you’re going to have enough characters to survive a full season.  But if that’s okay with you, then you have my utmost respect.

Aside, remember the TV show Dinosaurs?  Remember how it ended?  The dinosaurs destroyed their environment by killing off one little species–which I guess was some kind of environmental propoganda but I was a kid so what did I know–it ended with a long cold winter setting in.  And anyone who knew any science outside a Fundamentalist Christian Jesus camp knew this was The End.  As in, Extinction.  That was dark.  And awesome.  Are you that awesome Terra Nova?  One can hope.

So again, because these people don’t learn anything from previous episodes, Taylor’s camp sends out a team to “find out why this other group of people has suddenly stopped responding.”  Honestly.  Did these people forget to pick up a guide book in the gift shop?  Humans are not at the top of the food chain.  At all.  Not even a little bit.

So Wife and Taylor (oooh, are the writers bored with one love triangle and trying to instigate another?) head off into the jungle leaving Malcolm and Husband to stand awkwardly side by side.  Taylor and crew get to the Velocriraptor tool shed where the gate is open (but it’s not supposed to be!)  Wife finds strange notes like “This is not a Dream” and “Do not leave the building.”  Apparently they were doing weird research on psychadelics.  Crazy people locked up–umm–why did you open that door?  Have you never recognized a quarantine before?

Anyway, within seconds they find the video journal (aka exposition 101 for the internetless SF worlds) of the guy who got ‘et earlier and he reveals that it’s “pathogens.”  And they’ve all probably been exposed.  Whoops!

Meanwhile, Boy plays guitar with Not-Girlfriend and her housemates.  Guitar sounds a little better, but Not-Girlfriend reveals her musical stupidity by saying ‘you’re good’ to a handful of strummed notes and pensive musing.  Sigh.

Wife and Husband talk via video conference and it’s revealed wife is suffering symptoms.  She can’t remember Zoe!  Oh and Girl had her first date with Solider Boy.  She says she likes cooking because it’s like Chemistry but you get a treat at the end.  She’s embarrassed about how awful her first date was, but honestly I thought it was a cute.  Girl is precious.

Husband has argument with second in command–she says they can’t check out the people cause there’s a quarantine.  So Husband goes to Science Guy (he has his own rover) and they’re going to trek out there together where they will bond over their mutual love for the same woman and decide in the end she is not good enough and together they will dump her to go raise a family of baby pterodactyls in the wilderness.  It’ll be awesome.

So the In-Love-With-Wife Duo arrive at the outpost and discover Wife who doesn’t recognize anyone except Malcolm (see you end up in your past, which means she’ll only remember Malcolm… hahaha… she’s been reset to the beginning of their romantic relationship aka ‘the honeymoon period’).

Not Girlfriend takes Boy to see a bartender who can get people through the gate.  Bartender makes some vague intimations about “secrets.”

Sigh.  Husband goes outside to chase dinos off the power cables forgetting that there are BIGGER DINOSAURS IN THE WORLD.  So something big runs by, he goes back underground but we’re in a different shelter now?  I’m very confused by the geography.  He finds Brady knocked out?  Dead?  I’m guessing Taylor has gone back in time to when he was some kind of uber-scary commando fighting Giant Blue Aliens.  Oh, no.  He’s back in Somalia and he wants to  know who’s running this mind game and who took his wife and kid.  He makes some threats to Husband and then heads back to Terra Nova where he’s going to slit some throats.  Exciting.  On the way back to camp he passes some dinosaurs and his response ‘Cool’.  I love Taylor.

Husband isn’t infected (because he had a cold–duh–why doesn’t anyone get that immediately).  Husband knocks out Science Guy for freaking the ‘eff out over a compy, there goes their spin off series where they solve medical crimes.

Taylor makes it back to camp and prepares to infiltrate.  He really is a bad ass.  Going against and entire compound by himself!  Granted, it’s HIS compound, but he doesn’t know that.

Wife keeps getting distracted by her own fears of inadequacy and forces her to fall in love with her husband again and again.  Although why they keep doing this is beyond me–their relationship isn’t in trouble.  He does give a cute line “What I feel for you is more than just a memory.”  Wife finally gets curious as to WHY he’s fine and he sneezes.  Oh and he’s been eating some root thing.  Oh.  That was the block–not the cold.  Sigh.  I was almost right.

Taylor flips out on a lot of people but his second in command talks him down with talk of Home and stuff.  She has to knock him out though with a sonic gun (

HA!  It was the cold.  Not the animal dung root.  Although really that doesn’t make any sense.  I mean, I get that a cold would prevent the pathogen from taking hold in the unaffected, but how is it going to weed out the already CATATONIC?  Anyway, to prevent us from thinking of anything more complicated than metabolizing oxygen, Husband decides to pass the illness on by kissing.  I really hope that’s what the rest of this episode is: making out with strangers.

No.  They just cut scene to the infirmary.  Damn.  That would’ve been awesome.

And the whole bartender ‘get my girlfriend through’ thing was a whole scheme with Mira–the sixer gang leader.  Turns out Bartender is her inside man–and she’s going to “take advantage” of the fact that Sheriff’s son is now working for Bartender.

Huh?

I know they need an “other” group in order to give some sort of conflict, but my problem is this: the planet is pretty big on its own.  2149 pretty well sucked.  What’s the deal?  There’s no clear motive except to provide strife.  This whole sub plot is ABOMINABLY stupid.  Even if the Sixer group can contact 2149 when there isn’t a fracture, what can they get out of that?  I can kindof understand the power struggles on the 2149 side–you want to get your people through so when you finally head over you’re in charge, but there’s no reason for the people who come over to subscribe to that.  Mira and her crew are through the fracture.  Taylor is actually kindof awesome.  If you don’t like him, go somewhere else.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  And what kind of advantage can you press with the SON of the guy who ISN’T IN CHARGE AT ALL?  Sigh.

Terra Nova: The Episode of Interrupted Relations

I’m still recovering from the strep plague of doom so rather than writing a canon post tonight, I’m going to catch up on my review of Jurassic Park.

Oh I’m sorry, I meant Terra Nova.

No I’m sorry, I really meant Jurassic Park.  The new episode opens with Nedry’s car crash complete with rain and the same model vehicle.  And the eaty parts.  Apparently despite living in a dinosaur world, the heavily armed guards were quite surprised to hear rustling in the bushes and a monster swooping down to kill them.  At least, I assume that’s what it did as the scene cut to Dino World Survival for Dummies: making fire and identifying compass moss.  My only guess is they’re trying to establish survival cred of some kind… to convince the audience that it’s totally reasonable for people to travel back in time and not die immediately.

Except it IS totally reasonable since you’re sending them back with INSANELY ADVANCED TECHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE. So long as you keep both hands and feet inside the really tall fence, of course you’ll live.  And if you want to go outside the fence, well it’s survival of the fastest.

Later that night we have the first downside to life in a prehistoric time period: your cuddly sessions get interrupted by shrieking pterodactyls.

Second advantage: your wife may run into an old buddy from University the next day at work.  Who clearly likes her because she is both Female and a Main Character.  It’s a special pheremone they exude–which is why solider boy is in love with Daughter-who-Knows-Everything-Except-How-To-Tell-if-Boy-Likes-Her.

Meanwhile Taylor and Husband run off looking for the crew that crashed and discover the bodies without eyes.  Ew.  Wife and Old Flame have to work “late” to figure out what did it leaving Husband to try to cook dinner by himself–at which he sucks.

And Boy who Ran off with Girl and got chased by monsters finds a guitar.  And plays it.  Badly.  Probably because it’s not made very well, but it’s made by a guy who had his legs eaten by a dinosaur so I guess we can cut him some slack.

Later there’s another attempt at sexing, and another shrieking dinosaur.  Funniest buzzkill ever.

Hah, and it turns out the shrieking pterodactyls are what killed the men.

Science Guy wants to set up a field team to observe them so they can figure out how to act around them and Taylor clearly wants to kill them all, right? Because that’s the classic tension between Science and Military.

Oh.  No.  Taylor just wants to keep everyone inside the compound.  Science Guy is still mad.  Though I don’t really understand why–it’s like getting mad at your mother for making the perfectly rational suggestion that you not jump in the lion pit wearing a meat dress.

Boy still wants the guitar–which makes me wonder what stopped him from bringing his own guitar in the first place.  I’m pretty sure he had one.  I know I wouldn’t run off to a new world without my books.

And the Mini-pterodactyls are apparently just as annoyed as sappiness as I am because they attack as soon as Boy starts mooning over the girlfriend he left at home.  And science lover boy from the past has figured out its a species wide migration.  There are MILLIONS coming.  Ha, and they’re coming back to spawn.  They built Terra Nova on their breeding ground.  That’s hilarious, and is a nice mirror to the snuggly-blocking the pterodactyls were doing the first night.  Turnabout is a bitch.

Blah blah blah synthetic pheremone, they lead all the birds away from Terra Nova and Girl Who is Not Old Girlfriend Still in the Future makes a stupid bet under the excuse of giving Boy 60 Terra Nova bucks so he can buy the stupid guitar and assault her ear drums all day long.

OH and Science guy named the Pterodactyls after himself.  You know, because he wants to be the guy interrupting Husband and Doctor Wife from relations.  Did you get that?  Did ya?  Did ya?

Anyway, show is still pretty stupid.

Steve Jobs

Christmas, 1991. The big present that year was ostensibly for my brother and me, but really it was for my father. An Apple IIe. Or was it c? We still have it, upstairs among boxes of Christmas ornaments and athletic equipment. I used it to start an unknown number of novel projects, all terrible. You know the story you’re supposed to never write? Two kids digging in a field discover something? Yeah. My first. It was a dinosaur bone.

Mr. Jobs, you invented the technology I dreamed of. Though I don’t think typing on the iPad is a “dream” as you say, it is the coolest of toys I have ever toyed. Every day is Christmas in a fantasy cartoon where all information, music, ideas, writing apparati is available to me. You gave me Penny’s computer book. You gave me Star Trek. You gave me the SUPERIOR of those things.

Thank you. If there is a heaven, may it be bright and shiny and wireless.

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Things You Cannot Bring With You Aboard the Spacecraft

No pens, no pencils, or writing instruments of any kind.
Paper will not be provided for your use; we transcribe thoughts
through the latest technologies.  We have all sciences here:
the medicines we give make obsolete your aspirins and motrins,
please leave them in the buckets with cigarettes, smokeless and non,
your lap belts and shake weights.  Welcome to zero gravity.

Abandon your electronic devices in your luggage
to be sent later.  We have hyper-screens and holodecks,
playing cards and antique monopoly boards.  Get to know
your fellow passengers or merely watch them through lowered
lids and remember what it was like to speak through moist lips.
No pockets of any kind, lest you sneak the flora and fauna
of your home, the revived dogs of your childhood, snakes,
iguanas, Blue Morpho butterflies.  The captain is allergic.

We have timepieces for your own personal use. We insist:
no watches, sundials, or white stones from an abacus
which you slide intermittently while you sleep.  No children
surreptitiously stowed in fabric containers.  You may not leave,
talk, whisper or aid another once you pass security.
You may not make loud or persistent noises.  Do not run,
walk, or skip.  You may have no rights except those we grant you.
You may always turn back, even after we have left.  We have doors
for your disposal, the heat of our exhaust melting your skin
as you breathe once, twice the space you dreamed of filling.

Terra Nova: Sometimes to Go East You must First Go West

Aside: Let me go on the record stating I am in favor of strict copyright law.  I know piracy is evil, the music industry is hurting, and I am very nervous about Google’s tendency to grab at the rights of every thing that isn’t nailed to the floor of the International Space Station.

However.  I am terribly, terribly vexed with both Netflix and Hulu at the moment.  Netflix because they’re losing content but want to charge more for the same service.  And Hulu because of this stupid 8 day delay they’ve instituted for certain shows.

Pretend for a moment that you desire to watch a show: a new show premiering on Fox.  If you missed the pilot, but wanted to watch it before deciding to watch the second episode, you can’t.  Until the day after the 2nd episode airs.  Because that makes sense.  Of course you could pay for a subscription to Hulu, but if you’re a graduate student on a tight budget isn’t  $7.99 a month just a little much to watch one pilot for a show that I don’t even know is good?  Wouldn’t a five day delay make more sense?  Give the advantage to the people who pay for a subscription but don’t hurt the show’s chances for success.

Anyway, thus concludes my rant.  So lets get to the review of this terribly original new show on Fox which I completely saw in a legitimate fashion…

Terra Nova is bright and shiny.  It features dinosaurs.  And time travel.  And secret groups of “others” who want to hurt the main colony.  Unfortunately it’s flash more than substance.  And half the flash comes from ripping off every other SF tv show that was ever made.  For every good character, you have two bad ones.  For every moment of surprising–hmm–for every moment that’s not terribly cliche, there’s another of mind numbing stupidity.  It’s still leaps and bounds above Falling Skies, but that’s an embarrassingly low standard.

Since I can’t rewatch the show without breaking about 20 intellectual property laws, a short (for me) summation of the plot and other points of boredom will have to suffice:

In the future, we’ve ruined the environment and the only hope for anyone, anywhere is to go through a time fracture to hang out in the Jurassic period.  Not our Jurassic period, it’s a separate time stream.  Did you get that?  Because they’ll tell you it’s a separate time stream again and again and again.  It’s like they fear you will slip into your own separate time stream in which no one has told you it’s a separate time stream and if it’s not a separate time stream then NOTHING WILL MAKE SENSE.

So people in the future keep sending ‘pilgrimages’ back in time to grow a colony.  There’s some hand wavey science about event horizons but it’s nice and subtle: aka no unobtanium.  Sadly it’s the last moment of subtlety in the entire show.  Also, you’re not allowed to have more than 2 kids and if you break that rule, you get sent to prison.

Oh wait, you only get sent to prison if you beat up a cop who finds your hidden third child in an air duct because she’s incapable of stuffing her face full of magical hidden orange and not cry.  The third child thing is only important because it puts the father: Jim Shannon in jail which makes it necessary for him to break out of jail and also smuggle his daughter through the time rift with the rest of his family.  All in all it’s a ridiculous plot point for multiple reasons A) Why did they decide getting pregnant for a third time against the law was a good idea considering the DIRE DEATH THAT EVERYONE FACES IN THE WORLD B) How did they conceal the pregnancy?  C) Other than the pilot, how is this relevant to anything ever again?

There’s some other vague angsty stuff between the son and father once they get to the Land Before Time Featuring the Group Dynamics of Lost but it makes no sense.  Son is mad because father was in prison.  He seems to think that if the father hadn’t assaulted the cop then he would’ve gotten away with a fine.  Umm.  Seriously?  In an overpopulated world the worst you get is a fine? Then why the scary death squad people tearing apart the apartment?  And later, when the mom: Elisabeth Shannon is recruited for Terra Nova, she’s not allowed to take the secret third child because they don’t want to reward people for breaking the law.  Huh?

That’s not to say the concept is dumb.  Overpopulation is a serious thing.  Rules, consequences, the brutal conditions for prisoners–all serious things.  So why not explore them?  If the whole point of the pilot was to get the family–and you know the whole family was going–to Terra Nova then why not just START in Terra Nova.  The only reason to start elsewhere is to establish things which will have repercussions down the line.  But there aren’t any, except for the angst, but the angst comes out of nowhere and is stupid.  Personally I think the whole first season should have been in future world–with Terra Nova the pay off at the end.  Then the writers could have explored humanity in humanity’s darkest hour: the family dynamics, the dystopia despite advanced technology… Terra Nova would have been the dream: a fresh start all bright and shiny and hyperoxygenated… At the very least you could have spent half the season… a half dozen episodes… TWO episodes.

Anyway, why is this a big deal?  Because once you get over the ‘Hey cool! Dinosaurs!’ you need something else to drive the plot.  What drives the plots of dystopian SF shows?  Strife between people.  So the show gives us this “other” group of colonists, people that broke off from the colony and are called Sixers.  And there’s the Commander’s son who is carving equations and geometry into the rocks to taunt his Dad, buuut… that’s not going to last very long.  And we have nothing to compare it to.  Is it supposed to be tragic because they escaped a terrible, terrible future and now are repeating themselves?  I don’t know because I didn’t really get to see much of the other world–but saw enough that I’m perplexed why they would set it up and not deal with it.

Ugh.  Anyway, the only saving grace for the whole show is Commander Taylor.  He looks and acts like the typical tough guy military officer–you remember him best as General Sourface from Avatar.  No really, it’s the same guy.  He doesn’t rant about smurfs this go round–and he’s considerably softer–more human.  He wants the colony to survive and since it’s not at the expense of anything you want him to win.  Clearly there will be some friction with the other group–what their agenda is I don’t know but I’ll bet it’s not so much evil as morally ambiguous.  The main leader said something about ‘control the past, control the future’ which made no sense considering the 18 hundred different times we were told we were in a different time stream.  And I know that’s correct because if we WEREN’T in a different time stream, then the show would be over by now.  You know how I know that?  Because sending a human settlement back into its own time would dramatically alter the present.  And also because sending a human settlement back into a time before a giant Extinction Level Event (I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a pet velocirpator) is incredibly stupid.

But then again, this is network SF TV.  On Fox, aka the same idiots who did that thing that shall not be mentioned because it makes me unhappy.

I don’t like to be unhappy.

A Wiccan Confronts her Coven After a Viewing of ‘The Secret Circle’

Look guys, we’ve come too far to back out now.  Ever since we all got together in my mom’s basement and watched a bootleg VHS copy of The Craft I stole from my boyfriend’s sister and we all realized deep down in our souls that we were all natural witches, we’ve been here for each other, our gods and goddesses, and our employee discounts at Hot Topic.

We’ve all made commitments to this group.  Becky, you died your hair black even though black isn’t a good look for your skin tone and makes you look like a leukemia patient because you knew that we all had to have synchronicity of appearance to channel the potent healing energy of the dead deer skull we found last week.  Do the rest of you even understand what a big deal that is? Hair doesn’t grow fast enough for people to not notice how ugly she is.  If we break up now, she’ll have to shave her head and no one will want to talk to her.

I know you’re all scared and a little disturbed by what we all saw.  Even though The Vampire Diaries totally gets deep, romantic love that spans the centuries, and we hoped The Secret Circle would make huge strides in the positive portrayal of pagans, we were wrong.  Betrayed.  Our hopes were beaten like two egg yolks mixed to form a really sad, sad omelet.  We were the victims of witch-prejudice.  That show inflicted vile, vile crimes upon us by creating unrealistic expectations of what real wiccans can do with their harnessed spiritual awakenings and community of spirit.  I can’t light up light bulbs by channeling energy through open electrical wires and that’s just dangerous.  I could die if I tried.  Which is why I didn’t when Steve dared me.

He’s all, ‘Hey if you’re a real witch why don’t you call up a monsoon and get our classes cancelled,’ and I’m all ‘Hey we have a spiritual bond with nature which transcends the physical realm.’

He doesn’t get us.  I think we should exclude him from our gatherings from now on and I’m not just saying that because I caught him and Becky making out in the pantry during the commercial break.  He is toxic energy and that’s not what we need right now.

We need to heal, as a coven and as friends.

Becky, you are just like the mean brunette girl in ‘The Secret Circle’ and I don’t just say that because your nose is slightly crooked like hers, but because you think power is something that you have that only you can use and you can just walk right over people on your way to their soul mates and bewitch them with your leukemia skin and slutty ‘power of three’ innuendos.  We love you Becky, and we care about bringing you back to the world of the light.

You know our patron Helena Bonham Carter as Morgana La Fey from the 1998 Merlin tv-mini series would agree with us.  She’s smart.  And British.

So for the good of the group, I think you should tell Steve you have herpes and can’t see him anymore.  Tell him you fell in love with your now sentient “lady appliances” and the thought of having to put up with his garlic breath makes you sick.  And also he smells.  Bad.  And you’re no longer interested in men.  Because you’re a skank-ho.

Also, and I’ve been doing a lot of meditation on this guys, I think we should try watching The Secret Circle again.  It’s wrong to judge others based on a few measly episodes.  Plus I totally understand how Cassie must feel: all this power welling up inside her and nothing but back-stabbing bitches standing in her way.

The Despondent Toaster

Things a toaster is not:

A cylon.

A licensed physic–

No seriously.  Toasters are not cylons.  Cylons are not toasters.  Things that a cylon can do:

Formulate, prepare for, and execute a plan to infiltrate the incredibly complex security systems providing nuclear defense for the 12 colonies.

Destroy 99.9% of humanity in a matter of hours.

Fly space ships.

Shoot lasers from their eyes (maybe)

Things a toaster can do:

Burn your toast.