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Entertainment in Review: Kung Fu Hustle; Hitchhiker's Guide; the Firefly pilot

Other than movies and TV, it's been working and setting up my spiffy new laptop (I hate adjusting to new keyboards), so here's what I thought of Kung Fu Hustle, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the Firefly pilot.

Chad called Kung Fu Hustle a Bugs Bunny cartoon with live actors, and while I would not have thought of this description on my own, it's pretty reasonable. I was briefly dismayed by the level and type of violence in the opening sequence, but the following scene of the Ax Gang doing a little dance number (with their axes) generated the kind of half-incredulous laughter I expect when watching a movie by the guy who did Shaolin Soccer. If you're allergic to musicals, don't worry, as that's the only dance number in the movie—though there is a very cool fight sequence later involving music, which also happens to be a example of the movie's use of cheap CGI to good effect. (Such as a riff on the Matrix Reloaded's scene with dozens of Agent Smiths fighting Neo, which is vastly more interesting at probably a fraction of the cost.) About as silly as Shaolin Soccer, but with less emotional whiplash, and the same nice multi-generational mix of characters.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is about what I was expecting from the reviews: silly, great visuals, with an earworm-inducing opening song and an annoying romantic subplot. (Trillian is not like that, I'm sorry, she just isn't.) It had more narrative cohesion than I'd expected, for all that the cohesion came partly from the aforementioned romantic subplot. The Guide sections, the dolphins, and the Vogon sequences were sufficient to have me feel that I hadn't wasted the time or money, but I'm not particularly looking to see it again.

Oh, there's another Guide section in the closing credits. And I now want a knitted Arthur, a jeweled crab, and a Deep Thought as desk toys.

We didn't get the Serenity trailer on the big screen yesterday, alas. The trailers were a dire lot, with the exception of Batman Begins, which might be interesting. I did watch the Firefly pilot on DVD last night, which was (to borrow a word) shiny. What fun—spaceships and smuggling and sharpshooting and snark. The characters are terrific, and I like them all already, except for Jayne of course (as he's the deliberately unlikeable one).

FireflyWiki.org's Episode Guide has translations of the Mandarin phrases and shooting scripts, which among other things answers why they didn't use subtitles.

I am suddenly awash in serial-format narratives: more episodes of Firefly to watch, more volumes of Lucifer to read (I've read the first so far and am salivating over the rest), and the whole darn Dark Tower series to re-read. Mmmmm, big crunchy narrative arcs.

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missysedai

2005-05-01 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

We saw Hitchhiker's today, and I had the same reaction to it. Contrary to what some critics have said, it really does have DNA all over it, and it was fun. I didn't care for the romantic sub-plot either, but whatever.

Have you not seen Firefly until now?


kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)

No _Firefly_ until just now. The _Serenity_ trailer got us interested, and Chad borrowed the DVDs from a student who'd previously enthused about the series to him.

orzelc

2005-05-01 11:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Trillian is not like that, I'm sorry, she just isn't.

I thought the romantic subplot was cheesy to the point of being dorky, but I wasn't offended by Trillian's character. Mostly because I don't recall thing one about her from the books, which leads me to think that she didn't have much of a character to begin with.

Of course, I said the same thing about Faramir in Lord of the Rings, so I may just lack the gene for finding deep reservoirs of personality in bit players.

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)

She's the only sensible one in the whole damn series, and goes off because she had an astrophysics degree that was languishing while she was on the dole (there's a point in favor of it being a 1980s British book), not because she's all big-eyed and breathy for excitement and better relationships.

It's not as bad as Faramir, but it's annoying all the same.

montoya

2005-05-02 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)

You have ascribed more personality and motivation to Trillian in that sentence than I got out of reading the book dozens of times.

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 12:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

To be fair, some of that's from the third book, where she is the one to save the day.

annathepiper

2005-05-02 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh, Jayne gets a lot more likeable even when he's being a major pain in the ass. ;) Heck, he has some of the best lines in all of the episodes! Glad to hear you're checking out Firefly, though!

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmmm, well, I'll believe it when I see it. And even if he doesn't, Wash would make up for Jayne and Saywer (from _Lost_) besides. =>

annathepiper

2005-05-02 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Hee! Oh, there are a bunch of moments all throughout the series where the viewer definitely wants to toss Jayne right out the airlock--but there are other bits where he is just screamingly funny. ;) That's one of the things I love about Joss Whedon, his talent for making characters who are simultaneously maddening and hysterical.

And oh yes, I (heart) Wash too. "And we will call it... This Land!" "Curse you and your sudden but inevitable betrayal!" Hee! ^_^

larabeaton

2005-05-02 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Zoe is way cooler than all of them put together.

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Zoe's _cooler_, but Wash is more fun.

(We watched the next two last night, I loved Zoe trying and failing to look meek and contrite when Inara came in after the train job.)

marykaykare

2005-05-02 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

One person on my friends list said he understood why Wash married Zoe but why on earth would Zoe marry Wash. I tried to explain it to him but I'm not at all sure he got it.

MKK

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

. . . yeah, there's really not much I could say to that.

montoya

2005-05-02 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Firefly and Lucifer: Welcome to the fascinating and thrilling world of unfinished long-form narrative arcs! (Oh, you've been a resident for a few decades now? Well, grab an extra ottoman, then.)

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 12:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

But there's going to be the movie, to continue the story! (And, it sounds silly, but I was already interested in _Firefly_ thanks to a bunch of the characters showing up in a cross-fandom RPG I read, so I can get my fix regardless.)

Also, I was under the impression that _Lucifer_ had wrapped up some parts of the arc, despite 7 ending on a cliffhanger, according to Chad.

montoya

2005-05-02 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Lucifer, I understand, will finish, it's just not finished yet. (There are intended to be, I think, 75 issues.)

rysmiel

2005-05-02 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yep, the plan is 75 issues exactly; there is a month-by-month schedule of what's left to come out floating around somewhere, but I recommend against looking for it as it's spoiler-full.


rysmiel

2005-05-02 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

That is, spoiler-full for things before #60 or so, not if you are keeping up with the monthlies.

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks.

rysmiel

2005-05-02 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Also, I was under the impression that _Lucifer_ had wrapped up some parts of the arc, despite 7 ending on a cliffhanger, according to Chad.

I have deep thinky thoughts on how Lucifer does closure for sub-arcs and overall story pacing which I'm not going to post about at length until the thing's finished. I do think it's better at doing closure for individual three or four part stories than anything else I've seen in the medium, but they tend to be phase-changes rather than endings for any individual major thread.

The other annoying thing about volume 7 is that, because Vertigo apparently have a price-jump point at collections of eight monthly issues or larger, it's missing the one-issue story that goes between the two longer stories within; this is going to be published at the start of volume 8. [ Which is due in June, yay; the schedule on which the previous three came out had led me to expect to be waiting until October for it. ]

I am really looking forward to your reviews of this series.

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for the warning about the missing issue.

My thoughts on the first volume are basically "oooh, shiny ambitious mythological goodness ahoy!", which is not so deep, but I hope to have more interesting things to say when I've read those to date. =>

rysmiel

2005-05-02 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, and also, next time one or more of our household and one or more of yours are crossing paths, I have a copy of Nirvana, which is a very pretty all-painted standalone Lucifer story occurring somewhere after the end of volume 2 and before the major events in volume 4, which you should read. I gather it's hard to get, I found mine in Berkeley, and there appear to be no plans to collect it. [ It's got Daniel in it. ]

kate_nepveu

2005-05-02 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ooooh. Thanks.

Speaking of households and stuff, I believe Z. still has my Doyle & Macdonald YA series, the Circle of Magic books. I'm in no major hurry to get them back--the first housecleaning-service visit reminded me of it, is all, as I realigned various paperbacks that got bumped in dusting.

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