The Shining (1980) – A Horror Movie Review

I recently rewatched the movie “The Shining.”  This is the Stanley Kubrick film with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall in the lead roles.  I saw this movie in the theater when it came out and I am a huge fan of the Stephen King book that it is based on.  In fact, I believe the book was the best thing King ever wrote.

Kubrick is a famous director and I’m sure the deletions from the book’s plot and the changes made were necessary to bring the movie into a reasonable length.  But making these changes makes the movie a different story from the book.  And that makes the book a much richer story than the movie.

That being said, “The Shining” is a great horror movie.  Jack Nicholson was born to play Jack Torrance.  And Shelley Duvall is Wendy Torrance from head to toe.  Watching Jack descend into madness you could believe that no ghosts were necessary.  All of it could be credited to a combination of writer’s block, cabin fever and a disastrous marriage.

But the supernatural aspects of the story are blended into the psychological situation flawlessly.  You really can’t tell where one aspect ends and the other takes over.  The conversations between Jack and Wendy on the one hand and Jack and his spectral associates are so intertwined that it’s obvious that the ghosts understand Jack better than his own wife does.

The plot is telegraphed early on when Jack is interviewing for his job as winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel.  His employer ends the interview by revealing that a few years earlier a man named Delbert Grady who had taken on the job of winter caretaker had gone mad and chopped up his wife and two young daughters with an ax and then committed suicide with a shotgun.  His boss explained that living in the Overlook during the mandatory five-month winter isolation in the remote Colorado location had been known to cause “cabin fever” for some vulnerable souls.

Later on, Jack actually meets Mr. Grady when he shows up as a waiter in the spectral party that seems to run endlessly in the Overlook’s shadow world.  When Jack finds out his friend’s name he asks, “Weren’t you the caretaker here Mr. Grady?”  Grady claims to have no memory of that.  On being further prompted by Jack about his murders and suicide and Jack insisting, “You were the caretaker here.” Grady replies, “You are the caretaker Mr. Torrance, you’ve always been the caretaker here.”

And that’s the essence of how Jack’s destruction is accomplished.  The Hotel (in the person of Grady) plays upon Jack’s sense of failure and his resentment toward his wife and son because of the humiliating employment choices he’s had to make when he yearned to be a writer.  Now the Hotel plays up his importance and the trust that the Hotel has in his competence.  When the Hotel physically attacks his son Danny, Wendy tries to convince Jack to take them back to Denver.  Jack snaps and starts raving about his responsibilities to his employers.  But instead of meaning the owners of the hotel he’s talking about the ghosts.  And from there it’s only a short step to the ax and more murder.

I suspect most people have seen this movie and know the plot.  But I’ll stop there with the plot.  It’s too much fun to give it all away.  Suffice it to say that between little Danny’s gift (the “shining” of the title), the Hotel’s desire to possess Danny and that gift and Jack and Wendy’s deeply scarred marriage this is a powerful witch’s brew of supernatural and psychological horror.  In a later review I’ll tackle the book it’s based on.  And whether you read the book first or watch the movie I’ll leave it to you to decide.  But both are excellent within their medium.

Highly recommended.

(Strong Language warning for this clip)

Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter (2012) – A Science Fiction – Fantasy Movie Review

Words utterly fail me.  I understand that about $100 million was spent on this movie.  That seems inconceivable.  I also read that it actually made a small profit.  That also seems impossible.  And finally, that I didn’t stop watching this “film” at any one of a hundred places in the 105 minutes of running time is a source of great personal shame for me.

Who thought this thing up?  Who green-lit the project?  Who are these nincompoops?

The premise is that when Abraham Lincoln was a boy his father angered a bounty hunter who went after runaway slaves.  And since the bounty hunter was a vampire, he killed Abraham’s mother.  He vows revenge and when he grows up, he meets up with a vampire hunter and trains to become one.  It turns out that the hunter is also a vampire himself but you can’t have everything.

So armed with his silver-dipped ax, Old Abe rail-splits his way through the vampire kingdom and we discover that the South is not only filled with slavers, it’s chock full of vampires too.  You know I always suspected that.  Eventually Honest Abe puts away the ax and picks up the law books and becomes a politician and the rest is history.  That is until the vampires invade his White House and kill his young son.  And then they use undead troops to try to win the war for the South by overwhelming the Union Army at Gettysburg.  So Abe decides to seize all the silver tea sets in Washington DC to provide vampire killing weaponry for the troops.  There’s an overly long fight on a train headed over a bridge that is on fire supposedly bringing weapons to Gettysburg.  It turns out to be a meaningless plot twist but it goes on forever.

But with silver clad bayonets, bullets and cannonballs the tide is turned just in time for Lincoln to read his Gettysburg Address.  Mary Todd Lincoln gets to shoot the girl vampire that killed her son.  She shoots a toy sword with a silver chain out of a rifle and the chain embeds itself into the vampire’s head.  And this symbolizes something or other.

And that’s more or less it.  Amazingly, this is even stupider than it sounds.

I don’t suppose most people would watch a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but just in case some innocent, trusting individual might stumble onto this turkey I felt compelled to put out this warning.  If you watch this movie, you will lose brain cells.  I myself lost at least three IQ points.

So to sum up, movies of the stupid, for the stupid and by the stupid have not perished from the Earth.

23SEP2023 – Generational Differences

Happy first day of Fall here at the Autumnal Equinox.

So, I looked around at the news to see if anything jumped out at me.  Meh.  Lots of stuff is going on.  The Texas AG sat down with Tucker to talk about the impeachment hit the DOJ put out on him and how it failed.  That was pretty interesting but I wasn’t in the mood for that level of wonkery.

There are all kinds of articles about Menendez but I’ve got a weak stomach so the little bit I’ve done already is about half the fatal dose for that stuff.

But then I was watching a YouTube video by a sf critic called Bookpilled, where he listed what he considered the top science fiction books in his opinion.  The list was fairly interesting:

Dune by Frank Herbert

The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

The Stars My Destination / Tiger! Tiger! by Alfred Bester

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin

Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith

City by Clifford D. Simak

Hothouse by Brian Aldiss

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Blood Music by Greg Bear

The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

Blindsight by Peter Watts

So, because the list seemed thoughtful, I went onto one of his other videos.  This one was called Battle of the Hard Sci-Fi Classics [100 Book Challenge #35-40].  In this “challenge” the host read one or more books by the “Big Three.”  The works he read were “Rendezvous with Rama” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke; “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein; “I, Robot” and “The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov.

Well, I’ll say Bookpilled was not particularly impressed by these golden age authors.  Clarke and Asimov were damned with faint praise but his true scorn was reserved for poor old Bob Heinlein.  Scathing would be a mild description of his comments about the Dean of Science Fiction.  Not amused.

And that brings me to the point of this little essay.  The reviewer Bookpilled, is a Millennial.  His sensibilities were formed in a different world from mine.  Now, much of his criticism of Heinlein (and of the other two authors to a lesser degree) center around the merits of the works as literature.  He finds fault with the characterizations of the protagonists, the seeming simplicity of the plot devices and even with the level of foreshadowing of events.

And in a lot of ways, the criticism is justified.  Heinlein’s characters were very often “types.”  The wise older man, the talented but naïve young man, the omni-competent hero, the socially awkward scientist.  And some of his books, especially in the later years were less successful as “works of art.”  But Bookpilled didn’t just give “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” low marks.  He was viscerally outraged by almost everything in the book.  He was especially upset about Heinlein’s handling of sex.  And, granted, sex is one of the truly weakest aspects of Heinlein’s writing, especially (apparently) from the point of view of Millennial readers.  But it’s interesting that his writing is completely unreadable for this apparently enthusiastic science fiction reader.  Why is this?  Frank Herbert is approximately of Heinlein’s generation but Herbert’s Dune is on Bookpilled’s top fifteen list of all time science fiction books.  So, what’s the deal?

I think the generational difference is that when science fiction was a new art form its audience was entirely made up of young men.  And the aspect of the work that earned it praise was almost entirely its capacity to inspire enthusiasm and wonder about the future.  Whether it was interstellar space travel, nuclear power, or alien life forms the loftiness of the prose and the depth of characterization were almost unimportant to the success of the story.  And so, when these older stories are read by 21st century critics they are not amused.  It matters not at all that “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is probably the first story to consider a political revolution between Earth and a space colony.  He’s read a host of books that took this concept and then updated for the present reader.

In these updated versions, the protagonist may be a black trans-lesbian with anti-white-colonial credentials and the computer will be the disembodied mind of Che Guevera or Woody Allen or someone else, depending on whether it’s an earnest political story, a comedy or something I can’t even imagine.  And the “diversity” allows the author to virtue signal to his audience the correctness of his story.  And if he’s a talented writer it allows him to add exotic points to the writing.

And that’s fine.  Every generation has its own art.  I think the important thing for me to note is that there is a place today for art that does not follow the template of the current day.  Bookpilled is a guy that looks like he’s somewhere in his early thirties.  So, his sensibilities are in line with his generation.  Now, I think he’s probably a fair example of his cohort and I’ll even say he’s probably not hostile to the world view of his parents’ generation.  He just sees things from his point of view.  But if he can enjoy Dune, Mote in God’s Eye, The War of the Worlds and even Frankenstein then he is reachable through art that speaks with a very different voice than his here and now literature.

So as an incipient science fiction author I think it behooves me to understand my potential market.  These young people are intelligent (well, at least the ones I want to reach).  Probably good writing, even if it comes from a different world view will interest them if it can provide sympathetic characters and interesting plot.  But if my plot challenges their world view it will need to be persuasive.  I won’t be able to win them over with exposition.  I’ll need to show them what I want them to understand.  That’s the challenge.

Well, why not?  Propaganda for its own sake is pretty awful even if it’s of your particular stripe.  So, Bob Heinlein be warned.  The Millennials have lost their patience and if you’re not careful they’ll take back your grandmaster’s hat and robe.  Get a copy of “Fifty Shades of Gray,” a highlighter and drop all the dears!

Little Songs by Colter Wall – A Country Music Review by JT

 

I’ve listen to ‘Little Songs’ a couple of times in the past few days. The first thing that I noticed was the audio improvement compared to his last album. My second takeaway after two listens was that I like all the songs and the flow of the album. I don’t recall a standout cut yet, which gives me the feeling that there may not be one, but I don’t care about hits when I listen to Colter. I like the laid back peaceful honesty in his originals, and his covers are always carefully selected and originally performed. I do miss his previous vocal style, that is what was partially responsible for my becoming a fan, but I respect the fact that he is the leading authority of his instrument and the minor changes he made don’t really affect my listening pleasure very much. He is one gifted vocalist to be sure. And songwriter extraordinaire!, especially in the almost extinct genre he has revived.
I’m a fan, I just ordered the vinyl version of this offering, and I’m looking forward to the next 20, something listens. Colter is the real deal, and has been big favorite of W.B Walkers Old Soul Radio Show for years now. W.B.knows a class act when he hears one, and I like to think sometimes I do too.

Little Songs by Colter Wall – A Country Music Review

I’ve been a fan of Colter Wall since a friend of mine introduced me to his eponymous album, “Colter Wall.”  That collection had some very strong songs like Kate McCannon and Bald Butte.  And in general, that was a big album.  This month I got ahold of his album called “Little Songs.”  And that is surely an honest title.  The longest title clocks in at 4:32 and the shortest is 2:25.  And more than that, none of these songs is big in its impact.  They’re quiet, almost subdued.

They’re of the western genre in the country/western alliance and they have the understated manner of the modest inhabitants of the Great Plains, especially the northern expanse of the plains in Canada where Colter Wall hails from.  We hear about ranchers and cowboys and farmers and their work and their romances and their blues.  But there’s no shouting unless you count a little yodeling in one song.

So, this isn’t a collection to get you all stirred up.  It’s quiet and small.  I’m a fan of colter Wall so I’ll add these songs to my MP3 player and they’ll leaven my collection of country music with some of the softer notes that provide a counterweight to all the fussing’ and shouting’ that some of my other songs provide.  Your mileage. of course, may vary.

We Interrupt This Rant.  Moving Forward, Getting on With It, Recalibrating

We all have to get used to the new reality.  It’s a different world we now live in and some things are no longer news and other things are still useful.  And priorities change.  In 2015 and 2016 Donald Trump opened up a new way of looking at the world and that change filled up the internet and mesmerized the Right for eight years.  Well, now that outlook has spread to everybody it can reach.  And that news isn’t news anymore.  And the Left has asserted itself and plugged up the holes in its walls and stopped the peasants from crashing the castle gates.  The party’s over.  It’s time to adjust.

For me the adjustment is to dividing up my time differently.  A daily blog post can’t be only about the war between the Left and the Right.  That will be too repetitive.  Even taking events from the news and reacting or critiquing them cannot be a daily occurrence.  There’s just too much overlap from story to story.  Too much, Joe Biden, too much Deep State, too much woke capitalism, too much fake news.  Same old, same old.

Now I’m not going to abandon these things.  I’m just going to cut back on the frequency and pick my opportunities judiciously.  I’ll look for an occasion when the example has some special emphasis.  As an example, the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action would be an occurrence that merits a discussion.  It’s more than the usual background noise, it’s a significant story.  But it’s exceptional and it will be treated as an exception.

So then, what will I fill up my time with?  Well, two buckets.

One will be public interest.  And that can be anything that might interest people who read this site.  For instance, I like science fiction and fantasy.  Reviewing movies and books is something I like to do.  And not just sf&f.  I like all kinds of books and movies and I like to share things I think are good.  And I’ll share businesses that I find that are run by folks on our side of the culture war.  I’m hoping that will become a bigger part of the world we live in.  Hopefully one day there’ll be an ad on this site for a every product that I believe in and can recommend.  Who knows?  Maybe it’ll be for a right-wing beer company that Dylan Mulvaney won’t ever be asked to “partner with.”

And the other bucket is writing my book.  Currently I’ve got slightly more than 49,000 words finished.  But last year I thought I’d be completely finished by this July.  Obviously, I need to get religion.  And by that, I mean make fiction writing the first priority of my available time.  Now for the last few weeks I’ve been pulled in multiple directions and I can forgive myself for getting behind on everything; posts, pictures, quotes and fiction writing.

But I have to start somewhere and so I’ve been prioritizing the fiction writing this week.  And I’ll continue with that plan going forward.  So, while I’m adjusting there may be some dry spells on the site.  Nothing drastic just some less busy periods.  But once I get the hang of this new routine, I expect things will return to about the same output in terms of posts and other content.  The only difference will be that repetitive rants should be way, way down.

But that won’t change the fact that Joe Biden sucks.

And now having said that I return you to end of western civilization already in progress.  Have a nice day.

What Are the Best Science Fiction Movies?

Reviewing Aliens and hearing from folks who remembered it fondly got me thinking about what readers here consider the best sci-fi movies.  So, of course, I went to YouTube.  And here’s the list.

  1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  3. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
  4. Aliens (1986)
  5. Jurassic Park (1993)
  6. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  7. The Matrix (1999)
  8. Children of Men (2006)
  9. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  10. The War of the Worlds (1953)

Now, right off the bat, I disagree with several of the picks.  Neither “Planet of the Apes” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still” would be on my top ten movies list.  Planet of the Apes isn’t my idea of a sci-fi movie.  And The Day the Earth Stood Still is commie propaganda.  So, there’s that.

Some of the other movies are pretty good ones.  Now as for the order and any additional movies to pad out the top ten I’ll have to give it some thought.  But I think it’s a good talking paper to inspire discussion of what each of us considers to be good sci-fi movies.

Now here’s another list (see below).  This is IMDB’s “TOP 100 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time.”  There are a few commonalities between the top ten of this list with the former list.  But one interesting thing I noticed is that once you get past the top of the list the sequels start piling up.  Between sequels to “Back to the Future,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Predator,” “Jurassic Park,” “Star Trek” “Alien,” “Terminator” and “Star Wars” we’re looking at a lot of retreads.

What it made me think was that there really aren’t that many really good science fiction movies.  There are definitely a lot more good science fiction books than there are good movies.  Which I guess is kind of hopeful if you’re an optimist.  For instance, I saw that they’ve made a movie out of Asimov’s Foundation stories.  I saw the coming attractions.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell anything about it at all.  It could be great.  It could be awful.  But at least it’s a new movie.  It’s not a sequel.

So, I guess being a science fiction movie fan is all about being an optimist.  And in the larger world of science fiction/fantasy movies we were rewarded in the early 2000s with the Lord of the Rings movies.  So that tells me miracles can happen.  Maybe one day a true fan of Heinlein will reboot “Starship Troopers” without the nazi iconography or might even film “Have Spacesuit Will Travel.”

So, this will be an open thread to get some comments.  If you’d like to give your top sci-fi movie list or what story you’d like to see filmed in the future put it in the comments.  Later on, I’ll add some more of my own thoughts on what is a proper science fiction movie and what isn’t.

A last question for the audience.  Is “Escape from New York” really science fiction?

 

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. The Terminator
  3. Planet of the Apes
  4. Alien
  5. Blade Runner
  6. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  7. The Matrix
  8. Back to the Future
  9. Aliens
  10. Interstellar
  11. Contact
  12. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  13. The Road Warrior
  14. Predator
  15. The Thing
  16. The Man from Earth
  17. Edge of Tomorrow
  18. District 9
  19. Dark City
  20. Blade Runner 2049
  21. A Clockwork Orange
  22. Gattaca
  23. Jurassic Park
  24. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  25. Mad Max
  26. Starship Troopers
  27. Minority Report
  28. 12 Monkeys
  29. Inception
  30. Back to the Future Part II
  31. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  32. The Abyss
  33. Looper
  34. T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  35. Star Trek: First Contact
  36. Stargate
  37. Ex Machina
  38. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  39. The Truman Show
  40. Children of Men
  41. The Martian
  42. Avatar
  43. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  44. The X Files
  45. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  46. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  47. Cube
  48. Star Trek
  49. RoboCop
  50. The Time Machine
  51. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  52. War for the Planet of the Apes
  53. Prometheus
  54. Total Recall
  55. They Live
  56. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  57. Sunshine
  58. Moon
  59. Super 8
  60. I Am Legend
  61. Signs
  62. The Fly
  63. Escape from New York
  64. Pacific Rim
  65. Dredd
  66. Oblivion
  67. Cloverfield
  68. Pitch Black
  69. Godzilla
  70. Back to the Future Part III
  71. Limitless
  72. Deja Vu
  73. War of the Worlds
  74. The Matrix Reloaded
  75. Elysium
  76. Enemy Mine
  77. The Butterfly Effect
  78. Predestination
  79. I. Artificial Intelligence
  80. Logan’s Run
  81. Another Earth
  82. Independence Day
  83. The Arrival
  84. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  85. Predators
  86. Outlander
  87. John Carter
  88. Alien³
  89. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  90. Phenomenon
  91. Predator 2
  92. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  93. Riddick
  94. Cloud Atlas
  95. Armageddon
  96. The Running Man
  97. The Fifth Element
  98. Waterworld
  99. The Day After Tomorrow
  100. Mimic

Aliens (1986) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

It’s a funny thing I had never seen Aliens in its entirety until today.  Somehow, I missed the first half hour of the movie and only came in when the main action was beginning.  So finally, I have the correct basis on which to judge it.

I won’t synopsize the plot because it’s an Alien movie so the plot is for Sigourney Weaver to outlive the rest of her fellow humans battling the aliens before ultimately jettisoning a xenomorph into the vacuum of space.

As in the original “Alien” movie Sigourney Weaver is Ellen Ripley a commercial astronaut who works for the evil Weyland-Yutani Corporation.  Fifty-seven years after the first Alien attack Ripley is discovered still in suspended animation in the shuttle craft that she used to escape the destruction of her ship the Nostromo.

The evil Weyland-Yutani Corporation was very unhappy about her blowing up their ship but when they find out that their terra-forming colony on the planet that the alien was found on has gone silent they send “space marines” and Ripley to fix things.  They also send Paul Reiser playing smarmy corporate yes man, Carter Burke to provide the requisite “greedy corporation wants xenomorph for bioweapon” subplot.  And finally, they throw in an android to show that despite what happened in the first movie, androids can be pretty swell people too.

And finally, to soften up Ripley’s Rambo impression, they throw in an orphaned little girl named Newt that Ripley rescues a few times over the course of the movie, proving that a modern woman truly can have it all.

So, the producers pull out all the stops.  Aliens are popping up everywhere in the industrial complex that serves as the venue for this first-person shooter game.  Bits of aliens and “molecular acid” are sprayed everywhere and one by one the marine platoon is picked off by the monsters.  Until finally we’re down to Ripley, Newt, android and the pick of the Marine crew, Corporal Dwayne Hicks played by the ever-popular Michael Biehn.  But during the final rescue of Newt on the planet Hicks is wounded by molecular acid and from then on, all the heavy lifting is done by Ripley.  Which she performs with panache, culminating in the above mentioned obligatory spacing of the mother alien (of course there’s a mother alien).

So, what did I think?  Well, I have some quibbles.  The plot contrives it that the marines can’t use their heaviest weapons because the industrial plant is a “thermonuclear” power plant and if any of their explosive charges rupture a heat exchanger line the whole plant will detonate.  Since it’s a cinch that all the colonists (except Newt) are already dead why are they bothering to throw away their lives in this death trap.  As Ripley so astutely recommended, “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  It’s the only way to be sure.”  Also, they overdid it with the strong female characters and weak male ones.  Yeah, I know, I know.  “There’s nothing wrong with that.”  But honestly it is insulting and stupid.

But taken all in all the movie does provide an exciting action-adventure/science fiction/horror experience.  I won’t claim it’s my favorite but it is a worthy representative of its genre.  I will give it a recommended status.

Ad Astra (2019) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

Ad Astra (Latin for “to the stars”) is a science fiction movie starring Brad Pitt as astronaut Roy McBride whose father Clifford McBride (played by a decrepit looking Tommy Lee Jones) is inexplicably firing anti-matter particles back at Earth from the orbit of the planet Neptune.  The anti-matter will eventually destroy Earth so Roy is supposed to go to the Moon to catch a ride to Mars to broadcast a message to his father asking him not to destroy Earth, or something.  The why and how of all this is very odd.  Clifford has been MIA for twenty years on a mission called Lima that was somehow supposed to be looking for extraterrestrial intelligence (from somewhere near Neptune!).

Eventually we learn that Clifford murdered his crew long ago because they figured out, he was crazy.  When Roy gives his message on Mars Clifford doesn’t agree to cease and desist so the military outfits a mission to nuke Project Lima to erase the threat.  Somehow (but not believably) Roy stows aboard the rocket (after it blasts off) and without really trying he kills the whole crew that were trying to kill him.  Now he flies to Neptune and confronts his father who is completely nuts.  He sets the nuke and thinks he’s convinced Clifford to return to Earth with him.  But when push literally comes to shove, Clifford unshackles himself from Roy and heads off into empty, empty space.

Finally, Roy uses a hatch panel to protect himself while he takes a shortcut through the rings of Neptune and then somehow the nuclear blast that destroyed Project Lima was able to provide most of the kinetic energy to return him to Earth before Roy dies of old age.  And despite all the astronauts he killed getting out there the military decides to forgive and forget and so Roy finishes off by reciting some kind of humanistic spiritual affirmation statement of some kind or other and then gets back together with his ex-wife Liv Tyler.

Now maybe that sounds quite odd for a science fiction story.  And it is.  This is a somewhat confusing rigamarole.  So let me give my thoughts on it.  The visual effects are quite good.  Some scenes in low Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and aboard spacecraft are a lot of fun to watch.  But there are (I kid you not) space monkeys!  Which I kinda/hafta frown upon.  So, two points off.  Brad Pitt’s character starts out as an apparently emotionless robot who always saves the world from disaster without getting his pulse above eighty.  By the end he’s crying about his crazy father being crazy.  Tommy Lee Jones’ character is crazy so there’s not much there.  Donald Sutherland has a small part and he’s always crazy.  So, this movie doesn’t make a lot of sense.  For instance, how is Tommy Lee Jones investigating other life in the universe from Neptune.  Neptune is too incredibly cold for anything to live there.  And it’s not like it’s any closer to the stars than Earth.  Alright, I’ll stop making fun of the movie.  It’s a crazy movie, but like “2001: A Space Odyssey” it’s a visually enjoyable movie if you don’t care too much about the plot.  I recommend it for hard-core sci-fi film lovers who can live with space monkeys.