A turkey indeed.
There seems to be a divide between makers of kids movies. On the one side are those who appear to love children and want to make quality entertainment for them while understanding that a lot of parents are going to have to suffer through them as well and thoughtfully throw in some concepts and jokes for the adults. These wonderful people seem to end up working for Pixar or Disney and help produce films such as the Incredibles, Toy Story, Wreck It Ralph, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille.
On the other side of the divide is a group of people who see kids (and their parents) as untended cash cows and the idea of a cash teat not hooked up to the entertainment machine as a sin. They provide films that are not necessarily bad, but are just there like a brick in a wall. It is not really notable and odds are the wall would survive without it, but no one is going to have a real objection to it’s existence. These films include Planes, Turbo, the Lorax, and Escape from Planet Earth. (damn, I review a lot of mediocre animated films).
So Free Birds. More in the second camp than the first. Not really horrible bad, but pretty much the definition of formulaic. I really wanted to love this film, if only because I am a huge George Takei fan (the man who taught me how to pronounce tsunami correctly. Image courtesy of the Star Trek T Shirt category BTW). I am also a Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler fan and like to see them succeed. However, while this film was not bad in the I-wish-I-were-drunk-off-my-ass sense, it just doesn’t truly entertain.
There is one massive trap in this film that I will warn you about. Like choosing a large pile of snow to urinate on only to find out that it was really a sleeping polar bear, taking your kids to see a film about cute animated turkeys fighting to get turkeys off the menu a few weeks before Thanksgiving will literally bite you on the ass when it comes time to carve your holiday bird. I have always found animated food creatures either fighting against or campaigning for being eaten off putting (Sorry, Charlie), and unless you really want to delve into the depths of the poultry industry and the difference between movie turkeys and food turkeys with your kids you should probably steer clear.
The story. Reggie (Owen Wilson-Cars, Midnight in Paris, Wedding Crashers) is a turkey who figures out he and his friends are due for the chopping block. He is grievously ostracized by the other turkeys due to being smarter than the rest of them (no flashbacks here) and spends his time trying to convince them of their fate. The President arrives at his farm and he manages to get the yearly turkey parole.
He is transported to Camp David to be the Presidents daughters pet and lives life of luxury. Eventually he is shanghaied by Jake (Woody Harrelson-Natural Born Killers, No Country for Old Men, Zombieland), a turkey revolutionary. They sneak into a military compound and steal a time machine named S.T.E.V.E. (George Takei-Star Trek, Heroes, the Green Berets). They plan to go back in time and convince the pilgrims to not eat turkeys on the first day.
They get back there and meet up with a herd (flock? What do you call a group of wild turkeys? All I know for sure is the reason crows are the coolest birds ever is a group of them is called a murder) of turkeys who have been distracting the human hunters away from their underground Rats of NIMH-like compound. Reggie meets Jenny (Amy Poehler-Blades of Glory, Parks and Rec, Mean Girls) and her brother Ranger (Jimmy Hayward, who also directed this film). The humans are more or less starving but Governor Bradford (Dan Fogler-Fanboys, Balls of Fury, Kung Fu Panda) is saving all their food as a bribe for the Native Americans at the Thanksgiving meal. He puts finding food on the head huntsman and all around bad guy Miles Standish (Colm Meaney-Con Air, DS9, Law Abiding Citizen) who for some reason thinks turkeys are the only food in the universe and seems to hate them with the same passion that I hate the new Star Trek movies.
Honestly it just rolls out with bland regularity. The humans hunt turkeys. Reggie tries to chicken (haw!) out but falls in love with Jenny. Things seem to grow grim for the turkeys but for the intervention of Steve and a huge delivery of pizza. The end.
Sorry but honestly I was getting bored recounting the story. I don’t do stars or black holes for kids movies. It seemed like the few kids in the audience were entertained, so by that standard we can call this film a technical success. As an adult I was pretty bored, which means as an actual rounded kids film (Monsters U for example) it’s kind of a meh. However, unless you are an advocate for animal rights and already feed your kids nothing but tofu and bean sprouts this film will definitely make things awkward come the holidays. I don’t really see this film as a recurring holiday film (it’s no Kiss Saves Christmas) but if you are looking to kill a few minutes and already have your tofurkey planned out go for it.
Thanks for reading. Not my most in depth review but middle of the road films like this one tend to be pretty boring to write about. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have comments on this film or my review please leave them here, and if you have off topic questions or suggestions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and have a great night.
Yes I’m back on this. I can’t start a project and let it fail after only completing 2/79 parts. It would be much more my style to have it fail after completing 76/79 parts. Also I personally own so many Star Trek t shirts that every morning as I get dressed I feel guilty for letting this series fall by the wayside and I have enough guilt for actual bad things in my life.
So the Savage Curtain. If there were one item to epitomize what was wrong with Season 3 it would have to be Abe Lincoln in space (yes, the suicide planet, hippies in space, and telekinetic Greeks all have their place but this one is at the top. For the record Spocks Brain was at the end of Season 2). Honestly, how does having Kirk and Spock dream up good guys and bad guys and get into a fist fight with them tell the turd monsters (sorry, the Excalbians)? What if Kirk had slipped on a rock and broke his skull open, leaving the Excalbians understanding of good and evil to a minor twist of fate?
(Honestly I don’t think good and evil are that hard to understand. I have an understanding and am happy to have chosen ev…I mean good!)
For that matter, who appointed Kirk and Spock as the universal representatives of good? Wasn’t it established in The Enemy Within that Kirk is comprised of both good and evil parts? I’d say a laundry list of intergalactic booty calls and half breed alien bastard children might have a thing of two to say about him from a moral perspective. Didn’t he let a super hot innocent girl walk in front of a truck in order to save his future? What about the other future full of people that he just destroyed? And Spock would let 1,000,000 people die if it meant saving 1,000,001 people. Not a lot of morality in that equation.
Finally, the real problem with this episode is they were really running out of ideas and opted to just remake Arena without the Gorn. I’m not saying I hate this episode. Only that the signs that the series was running out of steam were pretty strong. I sometimes wish for a fourth season but really when you think about it this shows the trend. Who knows what bad ideas would have arisen in season 4? A racist cartoon rabbit that talks with a lisp? Kirk being replaced by a captain with no hair? A complete reboot where the entire universe gets more stupid and Star Wars-y with no nod towards Gene Roddenberry’s vision? No, in those halcyon days such things were decades in the future.
I in all ways qualify as a fan boy. I am really into and obsess about certain nerd sub cultures and will fight tooth and nail to defend my position against the ignorant savages who want have deluded themselves into believing that the Star Trek reboots were decent films, or that Superman is as good a comic book character as Batman, or that the Alliance is better than the Horde because the characters are prettier (2009 Star Trek image courtesy of the Star Trek T Shirt category). If you ever get me into a discussion of the relative merits of the new Star Wars verses the original three prepare to be either bored or enthralled (depending on your own fan boy status) for several hours as I discuss exactly how Lucas failed and betrayed us all in excruciating detail.
The thing is I am for the most part I am a fan boy of characters and concepts far more than people. I am a huge fan of Han Solo but given the opportunity to meet Harrison Ford I could take it or leave it. My love of Han never got me to become a big fan of Indiana Jones. The point is that one of the few actual real life humans I am a fan of is the late, great Iain M. Banks.
I wrote something about his developing cancer a couple months ago so I am not going to gush on about how great his books are or how much they always meant to me. If you are that interested you can check out the blog I did back then here. Sufficed to say he was one of the few people in the world I would have gone to great lengths to meet and discuss his work with, and with his passing yesterday the world feels like a more bleak place for me. Anyone who knows anything about Science Fiction (or just dark, gothic fiction) knows what he was to our beloved genre, and I hope you all take a minute out of your day to reflect and appreciate what a rare gem he was; a truly creative and humorous soul in a literary world cluttered with sparkly vampires, dragons burning sky worms, and every other rampantly prolific author of pulp designed to regurgitate every trite sci fi idiom as a bland paste.
Iain M. Banks, I for one will miss you.
P.S. Mr. Banks managed to finish his last novel three weeks before his death. Not at all surprisingly it is about a man with cancer. It is called The Quarry, and I recommend we all buy and read a copy as a tribute to a great author. I am looking forward to it.
I am in every sense of the term a nerd. I love science and (to a lesser extent) math. I would rather read a book than watch or participate in a sporting match. Solving problems logically is a joy. I am socially awkward, especially with women and dating. I used to have 20/400 vision and wore thick Coke bottle glasses but had laser eye surgery (and as further proof of my nerdishness went into the operation with the secret hope that a freak lab accident would give me the ability to shoot lasers out of my eyes). In collage I wore only the worst possible clothing (ever wonder what tie dye shirts and camouflage pants looks like together? I don’t have to) and had the personal hygiene habits of pig/monkey hybrid (ponkey?) with dysentery. My nerd interests are legion, including science fiction, comic books, cartoons (anime), video games, role playing games, and miniature war games.
However first and for most I am above all things a Star Trek nerd. Star Trek was my introduction to the nerd world, opening the door to the wonders of science fiction and datelessness, enticing me through with soft music and the delicate scent of flowers and bacon. Kirk and Spock were the friends I wished I had when my so called peers were kicking the crap out of me in grade school and my actual friends looked on. Most of my childhood was spent wishing for the chance to beam the hell out of my life and then call in an orbital phaser strike on Palisades Elementary School.
I start this review thusly in order to establish where I am coming from. I am sure any marginal or non fan will have no problem with this film and enjoy it immensely (although any fan of movies without gargantuan plot holes will be bitterly disappointed). However, as a fan of both Star Trek and well written movies I find myself once again frustrated and insulted by the lazy pap thrown up on the screen.
I tried. Honestly I did. I have had a few years to get over how butt hurt I was at the whole remaking of the entire Star Trek universe into the developmentally challenged image that J.J. seems to feel is appropriate. I have been watching episodes of Fringe in an attempt to acclimatize myself to his particular story telling style (of course in a recent interview on the Howard Stern Show he said he was not really involved a whole lot in Fringe and has not even seen all the episodes) and showed up at the theater wearing a Star Trek t shirt and a heart full of hope.
132 very long minutes later I walked out and the only thing I could think of was “It’s going to be really hard to remember all the plot holes and canon screw ups when I write my review tomorrow”. After about an hour the part of my brain that feels pain every time they butchered another piece of my childhood was nothing but a burned out mass of scar tissue and all that was left was the occasional flare of ire at the laziness of the script and honestly a certain amount of boredom.
So, Star Trek Into Darkness, or as it should have been called Star Wars Into Dark Side. I have always said J.J. Abrams always wanted to be making Star Wars not Star Trek and never has it been more clear. It started when I realized the new formal uniforms that Star Fleet now wears look like a slightly more Nazi version of the uniforms of the Death Star officers. There was a scene where a suspiciously coin shaped ship squeezed through a narrow passage in an almost exact reproduction of the Millennium Falcon’s assault on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Instead of the trademark long sweeping maneuvers from TNG we get either Episode IV style dog fights or Episode III style long slow battles. Even the aliens looked a lot like the aliens from Star Wars, including one that looked suspiciously like a scaly Ewok in size, facial features, intellect, and demeanor.
I’m about to lay down some pretty heavy spoilers as I don’t think I can pass all my bile out without doing so. If you feel like this will ruin the experience for you and/or don’t want to be bummed out by my banging on about Star Trek canon why don’t you got back and read the review I did for Oblivion? That review is far more upbeat than this one. Come back after you see the this movie and finish reading this review. Be sure to let me know here if you agree with me or are a poser half assed fan who didn’t vomit all over his or her popcorn when you watched Generations. I promise I won’t ignore you to death.
SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT! This movie claims to be a remake of my most beloved Star Trek movies The Wrath of Khan, and for sure is uses a character with the same name and sort of the same back story but other than that it is such a miss I’m not sure they were even in the same ballpark. I think in a week or so I will do a detailed list of all the plot holes, stupidity, and canon rapes this movie has but for now I think it would be amusing to keep a counter going like this (0).
So the film starts off with Kirk and Spock violating the prime directive by saving an indigenous people from an exploding volcano. All Star Trek fans know that the Prime Directive is more of a guideline and nothing at all to be taken seriously (1). For some reason they have to hide the Enterprise under the sea because they can’t launch the shuttle craft from orbit (2). I’m OK with the transporter not working as that is a pretty standard Star Trek thing. In an effort to maintain a low profile and not interfere with the primitive alien culture Kirk and McCoy sneak into the alien temple for no apparent reason whatsoever (3) and Kirk opts to shoplift some kind of holy drawing of a Christmas tree (4). They run away and jump off a cliff in order to swim back to the Enterprise using some kind of underwater jet boots (no number there. I actually thought those were kind of cool).
Meanwhile Spock is wearing some kind of armor and is going to be lowered on a rope into the volcano in order to detonate a cold bomb and freeze it (no one ever heard of a winch or parachute? For that matter if you are going to lower some kind of explosive device into a lower level from an aircraft wouldn’t it be nice if there were some kind of way of “dropping” the “bomb” without risking someone’s life? Too bad something like that wasn’t invent during WWI. 5, BTW). Apparently if the volcano erupts the whole planet will die (6). Anyway, for some reason they can’t do this at night and only a shuttle craft can sneak into the smoke. Also something was said about the heat damaging the Enterprise (??? Don’t they have shields? Aren’t they capable of withstanding massive energy based damage? For the record heat=energy. 6). Of course the heat managed to wreck the shuttle craft yet somehow Spock is OK in his EVA suit. Why don’t they just wrap the shuttle craft in the same material? (7).
Kirk further violates the pesky Prime Directive by lifting the Enterprise out of the ocean directly in front of the aliens (why did he park it within sight of their village? Also I’m pretty sure the Enterprise was constructed in space and was never intended to land anywhere. I think they expanded the in atmosphere capabilities in TNG but for sure even being slightly in atmo was bad. 8 and 9). Naturally he rescues Spock and goes back to Earth for a nice relaxing three way with some alien chicks. He heads back to headquarters where the look of the season is SS uniforms.
He gets demoted back to first officer under Pike again. Meanwhile the only character that really was worth anything shows up in the form of a traitor named Hamilton (Benedict Cumberbatch). He subplots a guy with a terminally ill daughter and cures the daughter in order to get the guy to blow up something. He then attacks the meeting of all the officers with a gun ship (why would he try to kill them all with effectively a machine gun? Why not just kill them with explosives? 10). Pike gets killed, and Kirk manages to blow up the gunship with a firehose (no joke. 11).
For some reason (I keep using that phrase over and over again but this film is pretty miserly on explanations of pretty much anything) Scotty is part of the forensics team looking into the wreckage of the gun ship (12) and is allowed to wander off with a massive chunk of evidence. It is some kind of long range transporters that indicates the traitor has gone to Qo’noS (that’s Kronos to the posers out there) the Klingon homeworld (I should ding them for the long range transporter but really that was established in the last bad movie). Admiral Marcos (Peter Weller) gives Kirk some experimental photon torpedoes and orders him to park outside of the Neutral Zone (for the record the Neutral Zone always marked the border of the Romulan Empire, not the Klingon. 13) and shell him from a distance but to do so quietly so as to not start a war with the Klingons (14).
A new crew member shows up for no apparent reason and with incomplete or forged orders (apparently if you want to go for a ride on the Enterprise all you have to do is flirt with Kirk for a couple seconds and make up some bogus story. 14) in the form of hot blond science officer who later turns out to by coincidence be Admiral Marcus’s daughter (15). Scotty resigns off the ship in a snit because no one will let him look inside the the new photon torpedoes (for the most part Scotty was a good officer and knew how to obey his orders. Anyone else remember him letting a big computer run the Enterprise in Episode 53 the Ultimate Computer? 16). Kirk remembers his standard orders of peace and law when he gets to the neutral zone and sneaks onto Kronos with no apparent problem (the Klingon Empire has little interest in detecting enemies coming to their home world. 17). He heads to the planet in a shuttle craft they confiscated (apparently the shuttle bay on the Enterprise now has room for a fleet of smaller craft. I guess the ship is a carrier? 18) that looks suspiciously like another space ship that shall go unnamed but sounds like Aluminum Malcolm. He uses that ship to turn sideways and escape between a narrow metal passage while being pursued by tiny little Klingon ships. They are stopped by the Klingons and rescued by the very traitor they were after, who manages to kill like 20 of the galaxies greatest warriors.
The guy surrenders when he finds out how many of the experimental torpedoes they have and reveals that he is Khan as in Space Seed and the Wrath of Khan (wait a minute. Wasn’t Khan Noonien Singh supposed to be Indian? This guy is whiter than Casper and has an English accent. 19). He is taken back to the ship where McCoy examines him and tells Kirk he is 300 years old (note-at the start of the movie they reveal that the year is 2259 which means Khan was born in…1959? He could be watching this movie as we speak at the ripe old age of 54. That’s lazy beyond the pale. It’s one form of lazy to not do any research into any element of your actual source material but this is so lazy you can’t pull out a calculator and figure out the age of your villain is stupid. 20). Also McCoy says Khan’s blood has healing properties and injects it into a dead Tribble (didn’t they encounter Tribbles as part of their voyages? Here it seems like they are as common as guinea pigs. 21)
The ship has a warp core malfunction and is stuck in the Neutral Zone (Klingons still not really great and checking for enemies. Typical. They are generally a peaceful and docile race). Khan convinces Kirk to open up one of the torpedoes. In order to do this he opts to use his new super hot science bimbo (who also happens to be an expert in experimental weapons. 22). She needs help and recruits McCoy because he had steady hands (??? Are there no technicians or engineers on the ship who know how to use a screwdriver? I thought that was what Red Shirts were all about. On this ship there is exactly one medical doctor and about 400 basic bullet stoppers. 23). Naturally he bones it up (haw!) so we can have an “exciting” 30 second countdown to death averted at the last second by just ripping out the computer core or something (24). Inside the torpedo we find a frozen human?
Yes, it’s the rest of Khan’s jolly crew from the Botany Bay. Don’t worry none of them wake up to make this film actually interesting. Somehow Khan or Marcus got the crew stuffed into the torpedo tubes (25) and Marcus was going to fire Khans old mates at him instead of just dropping them into the nearest sun (26). At that point Marcus shows up with a super dreadnaught that has everything a warship could possibly need except for locks on the outer doors (27). Much is said about how this is the first Federation warship and how the Enterprise was just an explorer with guns (sorry, but I have to take issue with this. The Enterprise in TOS was always a considered a warship that was used for exploration. 28). Marcus does the typical evil monolog and plans to kill Khan and the rest of the crew. His daughter comes up to stop him and he just transports her onto his ship (what was her plan exactly? How did she not see that coming? 29). They do a space battle but Marcus’s ship is disabled when it is revealed that Scotty was on board the other ship and shut down the warp core (I might by his ability to hide on board the ship and shut it down, but how did he know what was going on? For all he knew Marcus was fighting an alien horde. Also remember when communicators were for short range communication? Apparently Abrams does not as hand held communicators can now reach from Kronos to Earth. 30. By the way, when they show Kronos it is with the moon blown up. For those of you who aren’t in the know, that moon got blown up in Star Trek 6, 30+ years after the date of this film and IN AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT TIMELINE THAT JJ ABRAMS DESTROYED WHEN HE REBOOTED THE FRANCHISE! For god’s sake if you are going to do something stick with it. Lazy, lazy, lazy. 31).
Neither ship has weapons capabililty (nothing more exciting than a space battle involving two ships aimless drifting at each other) so Kirk recruits Khan to personally assault Marcus’s ship before they are all killed (the Enterprise has a crew of over 400 people. Doesn’t he have anyone who knows which end of a phaser the pew pew comes out of? 32). They capture the ship and of course Khan betrays them. He extorts his crew out of Spock and starts blowing the hell out of the Enterprise. Naturally Spock send over armed torpedoes and blows his ship up (by the way, much is said to establish that Vulcans cannot lie in order to make this deception a big deal, but that was never a part of any Star Trek until this movie. Spock could lie when it suited his needs, and his wife T’Pring lied her ass off at him).
Now we get to the part that made me want to weep. The core is knocked out of alignment and in a sort of homage to TWOK with a super “fun” twist it is now Kirk who has to go into the radiation room and fix the warp core with precision kicks (literally. Everyone knows you can fix high tech equipment with blunt force, like Fonzie and the jukebox. 33). They do the whole Spock death scene exactly as they did in the good film only without the emotional gravitas or weight. Anyway, Spock now has an emotional freak out (34) and screams Khaaaaan to no one in particular (35). Khan has crashed his ship in San Francisco (did I not mention that the whole fight took place 200K kilometers from Earth? Good thing Earth doesn’t have any kind of detectors or ships around that might have done something. 36) and Spock goes after him (again, no one else on board who can shoot?). They do a foot race that looks a lot like the final fight scene from Revenge of the Sith (with less lava, of course) and he captures him. JJ then pulls a happy ending from the deepest recess of his sweatiest ass and has Khan’s blood return Kirk from the dead (37), effectively removing any possible emotional connection with this film and draining the last of my interest.
I’d like to comment a bit on fake death scene and why it was such a miserable failure. I have often said that that scene in TWOK made me cry like a little girl and to this day tears me up. It was the death of a legendary icon, my childhood idol and best friend, and the effective end of the franchise (sure they kept it going but really the Star Trek I grew up with died there). In this film we get a cheesy reimagining with characters we don’t really give a damn about and an event we all know the studio will never let stand, especially when McCoy was already working on blood with regenerative abilities. It has all the weight of a wet fart and was about as annoying and insulting. Also, when Kirk scream Khaaaaan in the good movie Khan had just left them to die on a rock and Kirk was in communication with him, not bellowing at an empty bulkhead. This scene was force into the movie with all the subtlety of a gardenhose colonoscopy and was about as painful. The only thing I felt when Kirk died was a weird kind of relief that that scene was over and a slight wonder as to when they would do the blood thing.
Oh, by the way why the need to capture Khan alive? Does Kirk need a full body transfusion? A tiny syringe of blood was enough to revive the Tribble. Couldn’t they mop up Khans blood off the pavement, or drain it from whatever body parts are still lying around after Spock gets done with him? Also aren’t replicators pretty well established in Star Trek and couldn’t they just whip up a batch of it on their own? How about the fact that they have like 72 other frozen super humans with the same blood, including the one guy they pulled out in order to freeze Kirk in the first place? Am I the only one seeing these things? 38, 39, and 40.
Special effects are great, but if you are going to a Star Trek film for special effects you are missing the point. One star. Some of the stuff I liked included the underwater jet boots and the look of the Federation Dreadnaught. One star. Uhura and the new girl are very easy on the eyes in a family friendly PG-13 way. One star. For all my bile, it is still a Star Trek movie. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes.
So 40 plot holes, canon mistakes, or just stupid plot devices and that’s after a tertiary examination. I think that’s worth at least three black holes. Using Star Trek to warm up for his Star Wars movie. One black hole. Chris Pine is still not Kirk. One black hole. The crowbaring in of the death scene and the Khaaan moment in a worthless and painful manner. One black hole. Essentially a very lazy script that only picked the low hanging fruit, while leaving all the good stuff that required a step ladder to rot. Two black holes. Extra character who added nothing. One black hole. It’s weird to say this, but this movie had a strange pacing. Normally 135 minutes of sci fi is easy for me even if it’s not Star Trek, but this one felt like a grind. One black hole. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there is a limit to how many near death escapes a character can survive before you stop giving a damn, and this one hit the limit in the first 20 minutes. Every scene was yet another shockingly (yet not really shocking. More like licking a 9 volt battery than getting hit with a tazer) close call. It’s like being given a delicious chocolate sunday and as soon as you are done being fed 23 more in two hours. Eventually you are going to vomit and go into a sugar coma. One black hole.
A grand total of seven black holes. An incredibly disappointing score for me for a Star Trek movie. However, understand that as I love Star Trek so much I hold anything related to it to a higher standard. If you are not a rabid fan and/or just want to be entertained go for it. I think you might get a little bored by the end but no worries. You will feel like you got your monies worth. Date movie? It annoys the crap out of me that I have to say yes as being a Star Trek nerd has for years been a huge deal breaker for me and women, but I think it would work. Bathroom break? Honestly the death scene is the perfect time, and since no one actually dies it has zero weight or merit. Go for it.
Thanks for reading. This is another one I hate myself for doing, but I am in almost all things honest, especially when it comes to things I love being abused by people. For the record this is the longest review I have ever written. Follow me on Twitter NerdKungFu. Feel free to post comments here on my review or this movie. Off topic comments, suggestions, or death threats can be emailed to email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
An important lesson is learned about always watching a trailer before seeing a film.
Not to say this film was bad. Just that I walked in expecting to see a chick flick with lots of people coming to terms with stuff and instead got a documentary designed to make me feel guilty for living in a 1st world country and for being a man.
As an extremely regular movie goer I have memberships to pretty much every theater reward program out there. Typically this gets me cheap popcorn and the occasional free movie ticket but a couple weeks ago it spat out a free pass to see this movie. I am if nothing else cheap, and giving me a free pass to a new screening is akin to waving the red flag in front of the bull (although I will admit on the rare occasion that I see a film for free or early I tend to start of more kindly disposed to the film (to any Hollywood marketing firms out there that was a less than subtle hint)).
Girl Rising is a documentary about the importance of educating girls and young women in third world hell holes. As a marketing tool I will have to say it is shockingly effective as I am now an advocate for this. No joke I am going to try to scrape together a few ducats and send it to the charity behind this thing (and if you knew how I live you would understand what that means. My life savings is in t-shirts right now and my business is not exactly capable of doing more that buying me the occassional quesadilla from Burrito Ole’.) Showing real people in real situations is always more impactful than all the fake tears and stuntmen Hollywood can through at us, and when those real people are cute little girls from across the globe it will pull at your heartstrings with monster truck force.
During the course of this film I felt a wide gamut of emotions. I felt fear for a couple of the girls who were honestly in danger, rage and helplessness in the face of others who were raped or sold (if you don’t feel an urge to punch the first six men you come across after listening to a 12 year old Egyptian girl talk about being raped and then married off a year later you are not human. Feel free to leave the planet by the quickest method available), and happiness and exaltation for the girls who managed to succeed and excel through education. I have spent most of my life pretending to be Spock emotionally (DJ Spock image courtesy of the Star Trek T Shirt category) but this film blasted through my defenses like a bullet train through a paper towel fence.
The overriding message is that educating girls in Third World countries is an extremely powerful tool for helping not only the girls themselves but the world in general. Educating girls will grossly benefit the countries GNP, cut down immensely on rape, human trafficking, death from childbirth, overpopulation, and reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS. This is all in addition to the massive personal benefit to the girls in question. It shows this presenting short vignettes about 9 different girls from 9 different countries. Some of them are stories of girls finding an education in spite of the cultural and economic issues facing them. These are the happy stories. Others are about girls who can’t get an education due (and in some cases it is illegal for them to do so) and the horrible things that happen or face them because of that. Each vignette is followed by very interesting statistics on how education can benefit these girls.
I was going to give a quick rundown on each of the girls but halfway through it decided one sentence descriptions does not do them the justice the deserve. I will just say it’s worth your time to see each one, even if some of them will have you clawing your own face off in frustration.
I am not going to bother with my usual stars/black holes rating system. I called this blog a review for lack of a more descriptive term but this film can’t be reviewed by normal means. It is not a traditional film. Is it powerful? Yes. Will you want to do something at the end of it? Yes. Will you feel good afterward? Depends on which story you want to focus on, but knowing that for every positive one there are probably thousands of negative ones probably not. Not all movies are about feeling good.
The part of this film that I had the hardest time was waiting for the denouement. As a patron of the Hollywood movie set I spent most of the movie waiting for Jason Stratham to break in with a sub machine gun and rescue each of them but you know what? That sort of hero doesn’t exist in real life. The actual heroes are regular people like you and me who take a stand and do what is within our means. I don’t usually do this sort of thing but I invite each one of you to visit Girl Rising, the website of the organization that put this film together, and do whatever you can to help. If you have money send money. If you don’t then try to watch the film or social media the crap out of them. Facebook, Twitter, whatever it is you kids are doing these days to get the word out. I am not much of a social activist and I hate this Jerry’s Kid’s style telethon BS intensely but if you saw this film you would understand why I now care (and if you know me you know how little I care about almost anything). Please do what you can.
I always say thanks for reading at the end of my blogs, but this time really thank you for reading. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Comments on this cause or movie can be put here and off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again.