Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

June 30, 2014 at 11:29am

Nerd Alert! - Fourth of July movies, Halle Berry's Extant and future movies

Tammy learns her husband has cheated, loses her job and holds up a fast-food restaurant.

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Till all are one, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


The Fourth of July arrives on a Friday this year, so any reasonable person would expect a three-car pileup of blockbuster movie releases. I'm a reasonable person, give or take, so it took several minutes for me to verify no such cascade of cinematic wonderment is forthcoming. The Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy will be in theaters Wednesday, as will the cop horror flick Deliver Us from Evil and veritable E.T. remake Earth to Echo, but that's all she wrote. Apparently the studios thought Transformers: Age of Extinction (whatever that means) will still be guzzling the bills from your wallet. Perhaps they're right, but at time of writing, its reviews inspire as much confidence as a C from the Health Department or the endorsement of Glenn Beck. We're talking RottenTomatoes.com scores in the teens. The word "rancid" has been tossed around, which see critic James Rocchi of About.com, who also implies Trans4mers: What the Hell Ever is an act of Chinese terrorism.

I have questions about the Transformers movies - nay, the Transformers themselves. If one's goal is to be deceptive, isn't calling oneself a Decepticon a poor choice? Why do Transformers fight with swords and martial arts, when it's clear they all have guns? Aren't they basically made out of guns? Why are so many characters in these movies, including the robots, defined by their ethnicities? Has Michael Bay apologized for those stereotypically "ghetto" robots in the second one yet? (I challenge you to find an inoffensive way to even describe them. They make Jar Jar Binks look and sound like Mr. Peanut.) Whatever happened to Megan Fox? Who cleans a motorcycle like that? What exactly are the Autobots and Decepticons fighting about? Is this a Hatfields-and-McCoys type of thing? Have they tried economic sanctions? If these robots are powered by the Allspark, what happens when somebody puts gasoline in Bumblebee? How did Bumblebee come by that name? Do they even have bumblebees on ... wait, I'm looking it up ... Cybertron? Is the planet really called Cybertron? By whom? It seems a bit on-the-nose. Do they also have vintage Camaros on Cybertron? And dinosaurs? That breathe fire? To sum up: are these movies written by Sid from Toy Story? Is there even a writer? I mean, yawn.


Academy- and Razzie-Award-winning actress Halle Berry stars in her first TV series, Extant. It's produced by Steven Spielberg and debuts Wednesday at 9. Ms. Berry plays an astronaut who comes home after a year in space and attempts to reconnect with her husband and son. Meanwhile, she'll take intermittent control of the weather, an unconvincing parade of white wigs, and enough cats to give Andrew Lloyd Webber a migraine. According to showrunner Greg Walker, Extant addresses the thematic question, "What makes us human?" I guess my question to Walker is, are you telling us you don't know? Is it really that difficult a question? Have you found yourself attracted to Camaros?

We're less than a year from the release dates of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World. If Harrison Ford recovers from his on-set leg injury, we're 17 months from Star Wars, Episode VII, and Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) was just named auteur of Episode VIII. We have lots more Star Trek and superhero movie installments in our future. DC's getting Wonder Woman off the ground at long last. The big-screen adaptation of Ready Player One is moving forward again; I imagine its director will be named soon. These are welcome developments, to be sure. But I'm also old enough to remember big-budget genre entertainment that came out of nowhere: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, Gremlins, The Matrix. Those movies weren't adapted from anything other than creative folks' wild imaginations. This decade, such surprises are slim on the ground.

Edge of Tomorrow was a decent start, but even that seemed cobbled together from old favorites. The inevitable Halo film will look much the same. Here's hoping Interstellar from Christopher Nolan (due in November) or Brad Bird's Tomorrowland (May of 2015) have exciting and groundbreaking visions to share. It's rare for studios to trust us to recognize great new material, but we need to leave something for unimaginative people in the 2030s to rip off. Can I get a witness? Amen.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may these kids today with their iPads and Autobots grump grump grump.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Pop Culture,
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