Tuesday, December 20, 2011


So, today I learned that if you google "muppets movie 2011" you get a Miami Vice photo of Ricky Gervaise with a baby tiger on his knee.

Who knew?

Anyway, THE MUPPETS was a fun movie and I realized while watching it that I had never seen a Muppets movie on the big screen.  My entire childhood's experience with the puppets was exclusively through fuzzy VHS cassettes or even fuzzier memories of what the show was like when I was a kid.  Seeing close-ups of Fozzie on the big screen was sort of disconcerting.   HUGE heads!   Cheap fake fur!  When did Fozzie get grey eyebrows?  Did he always have grey eyebrows??  It was strange. 

However, I really enjoyed the movie.   I liked the musical numbers, I liked 80s Robot, I liked the silly jokes, I liked the closet full of snacking showgirls, and I liked that they never ever untied Jack Black.

But, what it really made me want to do is just watch the old movies.  Back when Kermit & Piggy sounded like they should, Gonzo was insecure about his weirdness, and no one EVER told Animal not to drum.  ESPECIALLY not Jack Black.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Have you ever met one of those people whom you want to like but can't quite manage it?  Someone who seems cool, who appears to have a lot in common with you, and who you can't quite connect with?  Someone who isn't quite there enough to have a real conversation with -- or is somehow shutting you out so you can't?

TOWER HEIST is a lot like that.  I really wanted to like it, it has actors whom I am fond of, it has setting and plot which are theoretically interesting, and is supposed to be funny.   Somehow, though,  TOWER HEIST manages to not live up to it's own potential.  It manages to take all these great elements and then not really use them.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this as it was directed by the dude who did RUSH HOUR 1-3.   They weren't bad movies, and TOWER HEIST isn't bad either.  It's just not enough.  Not enough heart to the characters, not enough time spent on anyone, and not enough feasible plot points.  I did like the way Ben Stiller's Ben-Stiller-ness was kept to a minimum.  (He tends to think that he's really funny and can grow tedious.)  I also liked how his character Josh Kovacs is actually smart and tough.  There was some attempt to demonstrate how folks in low-paying service jobs are disrespected but not quite enough time proving how clever and human they actually are.  But, it's a Brett Ratner flick so that is probably asking too much of such a middling director. (Not that I could do better.)
However, Ms Sidibe probably could do better 'cause she's AWESOME!
Basically it's sad when you see a film and walk out of it saying "Well, that was no OCEANS ELEVEN."

Sunday, October 30, 2011


So, it's October.  And in spite of it being the month of my birth (which means I can eat cake any time I want based on the "It's my birthday month" excuse) I don't like October movies very much.  It's all scary and I am the biggest pansy ever.  EVER.  "How scaredy are you?", you ask.  Well, I'll tell you and I'll do it in a bulleted list because I really like those.
  • I am such a wuss that once I had nightmares for a week after seeing the TRAILER for LEPRECHAUN 2.  Yup, you heard me, LEPRECHAUN 2, a film so bad it was ignored by the Razzies.  Even now I have to watch the preview with the sound off.
  • I am so terrified of the Ravers on FIREFLY that I refuse to watch episode 102 ever again.
  • I am so bubblegum that when a date once pressured me into seeing SECRET WINDOW, I watched the entire film through the neckband of my sweater, which (and you might not know this) is in NO WAY sexy or cool.  There was not a second date.
  • I am such a baby that SHAUN OF THE DEAD gave me nightmares.  However, they were funny nightmares so I rolled with it.
  • However, SPIDER BABY freaked me out.  FREAKED ME OUT!  It was so bad I refused to walk by this house down the street which looked just like the house in the movie.  The slightly crazy people who lived there with three chickens and duck didn't help with anything.   
  • I am such a scaredy cat that I have to fast forward through the angel episodes of Dr. Who.  Those things are scary!!
  • I am such a chicken that I wasn't allowed to see STAR WARS until I was 14 because it would have been too scary for me.  And it was.
So, there you have it.  October is a terrible terrible month, specially when my Netflix account is telling me that ELVIRA MISTRESS OF THE DARK is available.  Et tu, Netflix? However, I gave in this year and watched two horror films: RUBBER and HIGHLANDER.   (Don't argue with me about HIGHLANDER.  Sean Connery pretends to have a Spanish accent.  You can't tell me it's not horror.)

So RUBBER is not a movie about an S&M accessories shop but is instead a French horror movie about a tire.  A tire that can make your head explode.  It's a B-movie shot in the California desert and while it makes fun of all the horror movie cliches, it still manages to be scary.  I watched it over the course of about 6 hours one Saturday afternoon.  I kept pausing it and going to do things.  Things like grocery shopping.  Things like laundry and Taco Bell runs and  visiting teaching and basically ANYTHING to get me out of the house and the eerily suspenseful film about a homicidal tire.  The best part was the opening monologue by the local sheriff.  He establishes that most films do things for no reason, and you, as a viewer just roll with it.  The narrator calls it "no reason" and I really enjoyed the concept.  I mean, why exactly does an abandoned rubber tire come to life and make things explode? No reason.  Was it a cool movie? Yes.

However, I did have to watch it on a Saturday with all the windows open in chunks of 25 minutes so for REAL people it's probably about as frightening as SIXTH SENSE.  (Which, incidentally, I once watched on a screen hanging on the back of a box truck in the middle of a salt plain in the middle of the desert on a dark night.  It was so scary I actually had to go run laps.  In the dark.  In the desert.) (I don't run.)

"Yesh I'm wearing a peacock feather cape. What of it?"

HIGHLANDER is scary for different reasons.  Mainly because the people are ugly and it was obviously the foundation for every 80's hair band video made after it.  Do you want exploding windows?  Lightening from the sky?   Guys keeping their heads on with safety pins? (yuck)  (Incidentally I'm pretty sure that Clancy Brown, the villain of this film, is the original inspiration for Marilyn Manson.)  Anyway, I can see how this film shaped culture after it but it was still yucky when it wasn't ridiculous.  The ridiculous bits were Sean Connery being an Egyptian/Spaniard and training some dude named "Connor" in the ways of the Immortals while pretending to have an accent which fits the name Ramirez.  And by "pretending to have an accent" I mean he just did whatever he always does and then took his peacock feather cape home with him.  Also, stone towers fall apart spontaneously, no one knows what to do when a punk rocker walks into a cathedral, and everyone has hair so damaged it makes Janis Joplin's hair look like a Pantene commercial.

So, HIGHLANDER is far less scary than RUBBER.  The awesome soundtrack by Queen helps (though I secretly kept hoping they would bust out with just one FLASH! AH-AAAAH!)  In scary it's about on par with REAR WINDOW but without Grace Kelly.  So for normal people that translates into "not very scary at all."
I certainly haven't had enough

October is almost over, I am happy to say.  Soon it will be time to sit on a giant pile of Trick-or-Treat candy and watch all the Oscar-bait dramas... which are scary in an entirely different way!  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 09, 2011


"The Witch" a.k.a. "Mom"
Korean soap operas.  What can I compare them to?  They are like regular soaps except everyone is in high school.  They are novellas with better fashion. They are Twilight without the blood, Glee without the pregnancy, and they are as addictive as crack cocaine.

I just watched 27+ hours of a single series, BOYS BEFORE FLOWERS VOL.1, and I watched it to the very bitter end because I wanted to find out what would happen.  And ya know what? Nothing happened.  Even in the very last moment, they didn't resolve the series.  This makes me crazy but I also makes sense on a psychological level.  Let me explain.

So, there's this girl named Geum Jan Di.  She's not pretty, smart, rich, cultured, and the only thing she has going for her is her work ethic (at one point in the series she attends school full time while holding down four part-time jobs), her generous nature, and how cute she looks in a school uniform.   NATURALLY the four richest boys in the COUNTRY of South Korea are all over her and two in particular become her love interests.  These two young men are sort of the Korean versions of the Edward vs Jacob debate.  I'll let Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky explain why this debate is universal and eternal in civilized society

So, the concept begins at the 1:18:55 point but the real nut of the subject comes around 1:22:00.  Basically, does a woman want a big dumb muscled guy who contributes nothing but good sperm represented by the ultra-rich Goo Jun Pyo who likes to yell, drag girls around, and is too dumb to not mix his metaphors,

Yes, he's the "manly" one.  Just go with it

 or do you women want a man who looks like a woman
He dresses like Russel Brand but with less skin and more scarves
represented by Yoon Ji Hoo who is quiet and does nothing but take care of Jan Di and her family, friends, problems, etc.  (Did I mention that he looks exactly like a girl?  Did I mention that? I should also probably mention that I like this guy the best because he's not dumb.)

So, the real answer to this question in human women is "it depends."  Sometimes women like big stupid men and sometimes they like small smart men and that "sometimes" has been shown in research to be determined mainly by hormone levels.   Which means that this series can never actually be resolved because Jan Di will flip-flop in her preference on a bi-monthly basis.  Which sucks.

Jan Di collapsed after a severe egging & flouring. Jun Pyo is actually on his way to deep fry her
In the mean time a lot of unnecessary drama happens.  Jan Di gets beat up, kidnapped, threatened, injured, and (my favorite) almost dies in a "blizzard" while wandering on a bunny hill in galoshes.  She also, because this is escapist fantasy for lower-middle class Korean girls, travels to Macau, goes on tropical vacations, rides horses, gets new wardrobes purchased by rich and generous men, and eats a vast amount of expensive food.

Throughout all of it she is teaching these rich boys the value of traditional Korean culture and, after administering a few well placed roundhouse kicks, the boys love her for it.

So, did I learn something? Yes.  Do I recommend them? No, primarily because this series will never ever end and it makes me crazy.  Crazy enough to watch 27 hours of this program and crazy enough to blog about it.

Korean soaps-- Just Say No

Saturday, September 24, 2011


So, I took a break from my steady, Netflix-supported (notice I didn't say Qwikster) diet of Doctor Who and kung fu movies to see a couple of films.  Here's the breakdown:

I bawled my eyes out.  I felt so sorry for the man.  Making himself sick, psychotic episodes, being British, giving up on your life's work, and forgetting to talk to your wife I understand but not allowing God to be rational and loving and bigger than the narrow-minded people (and I'm talking about scientists as well as religious folks) around you? That's just heartbreaking.  Also it's really sad when little cute things die so watch out for that.

THE EAGLE -- (6)
I don't know what determines whether a film will be a success or a failure.  This movie has great costuming, attention to detail, interesting-looking actors, folks covered in blue clay, and even does us the favor of doing everything with actual people rather than computer-generated images.  And there are worse "action stars" working today than Channing Tatum. (Just the trailer from that Taylor Lautner thing gives me a rash.)  So, I'm not sure why this thing didn't make any big waves.  Perhaps no one actually cares about how Roman society actually functioned?  Maybe no one expects the moral ambiguity resulting from the interaction between occupied and occupying cultures in a sword fighting flick.  Or maybe nobody cares about a gold eagle on a stick.  Eh. I'm not even sure I care now that I'm thinkin' 'bout it....

Natalie insisted I watch this when I was busy being outraged that she hadn't seen SERENITY yet.  Since PULP FICTION arguably has had a greater cultural impact, I was wrong and we watched it.  I had no idea Bruce Willis was in it.  I liked it a lot and was surprised that it A) was slow, B) made John Travolta look like a complete looser, and C) didn't immediately make a bundle in merchandising from sales of "Bad Mother F-er" wallets.  I know I want one.

And in other news, this guy
Matt Smith

 is not my favorite Doctor.  However this girl

Karen Gillan
is super cool so I think everything will be okay. =)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Motion capture animation is kind of weird. Unless you are WETA and/or Andy Serkis, it always looks creepy and odd.   In MARS NEEDS MOMS, the same POLAR EXPRESS techniques were used to make people and so the humans in this film have similar awkward, weightless, marionette-like moves.  The animation crew chose to make the characters look like the actors which is unfortunate because Seth Green is not very attractive and changing his face to look like a hairy 10-year-old doesn't help anyone.  But, the Martians look cool.  They look and move like cartoons, with enough animated "bounce" to make them natural. 
This film is based on a book by Berkley Breathed (of Bloom County fame) and the boy in the book is kinda Bill the Cat-looking.  Its a good book and a good story.  It's almost a good movie.  What I really wish is for filmmakers to stop trying to make people look and move like creepy puppet versions of themselves and to start making them just be cartoons.  It would be a lot more honest somehow.


THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU is pretty much Adam and Eve + THE MATRIX.   There's a lot of stuff happening which talks about the idea of free will but then it's based on a Phillip K. Dick short story so that's only to be expected.   What kills me about stories like this is how they never just ASK THE WOMAN WHAT SHE THINKS.   I mean, the hero eventually gives her enough information (barely) and then offers her a choice while standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty (get it? Liberty? Choice? Free will? Get it? Was that subtle enough?) but if he had asked earlier it would have saved a lot of trouble and heartache.  Sure it wouldn't have been as dramatic an ending and we wouldn't have gotten pretty shots like the photo above but I can still wish for things.  Let's just call it an exercise of my free will.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

SUPER 8 -- (8)

I loved this movie.  I wanted to be just like the fat kid (pictured here in the yellow jacket) who kept muttering "production values!" to himself.  The production value of the train wreck ALONE made it a spectacular film.  The fact that it's well written, has great costuming, great set dressing, beautiful cinematography, AND A MONSTER!!... there just isn't anything left to say.

J.J. Abrams already made STAR TREK, the greatest reboot since THE DARK KNIGHT, and then he gives us this?   He might be my new favorite guy.  Which means I might actually have to watch Lost.

::sigh:: And I've been avoiding it for so long....

Monday, September 05, 2011

Salvando al Soldado Pérez (SAVING PRIVATE PEREZ) -- (7)

He went for the low-key, quiet daytime look.
 This is possibly the silliest anti-war movie ever.   I liked it.  Let's face it, there isn't much funnier than watching pot-bellied grandpas in boots and polyester Sans-A-Belt slacks running through an Iraq war zone.   Well, maybe an sneak attack by an Indio Mexicano as he pops up out of a vat to tomato juice is funnier.  Or perhaps watching a drug lord bedeck himself with all the good taste and style of Ceasars Palace in it's heyday and drive around his Wild Kingdom estate in a golf cart while wearing nothing but a bathrobe and a Speedo made out of an Hermes scarf is best.  That was pretty funny.  But I am usually really amused by clothing so my judgement may be a bit off. 

"Our password, our battle cry will be.. TOMATE!"

Anyway, if you've never seen a novella, you won't understand how funny a lot of this stuff is.  And if you don't speak Spanish or like to read subtitles, then you'll miss a few of the jokes.  Not many jokes, but some of them. 

However, don't forget that when you are watching the bullets fly and the machismo posturing and the dramatic music that the Americans are the bad guys.   They just up and kill everyone in a terrifyingly clean and perfect way.  Drug lords are the GOOD GUYS in this movie.   Is it simplistic assessment of current political events? Yup.   Does it completely disregard the humanity and compassion of the troops fighting around the globe? Absolutely.  Is it hilarious? YES.

Really, those three questions can be asked of a lot of war movies these days.  Only SAVING PRIVATE PEREZ can answer all three in the affirmative.   Which is like saying "Yeah that guy is a murderous drug lord but he did rescue his POW brother from Iraq..."  Dubious morality but a funny film.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

CONAN THE BARBARIAN: Brought to you by the letters "V", "R" and the number (4)

"V" is for surnames which end in "- o" "v"
for the Bulgarian crew and locations you see.
Someone off screen just yelled "Bolen sam!"

"R" is for blood, guts, and violence plenty
and don't forget naked slave girls w/ no panties.

This is a nip-free blog.

"4" is because I liked Conan's skirt,
though if you're wearing fur boots, you should wear a shirt.

Congratulations! By looking at this photo you have seen the full range of Mr. Momoa's acting ability!

Ron Perlman is in it, and that makes me glad.
He C-sectioned his wife and became Conan's dad.

Ron's sword isn't actually on fire.  However, he's so cool it might as well be.

The kid who plays Conan is better by far
than Mr. Momoa.  That kid is a star.

Run Leo!  Save your career!

The bad guys are bad, you can tell by their hair,
and when posing for photos they make quite a pair.

Oh, watch out. She's totally gonna blow sand in your eyes.
Of course there's a girl, and of course she needs saving
She screams "CONAN!" a lot instead of just fainting.

"I'm a monk w/ martial arts training who's far too polite to do anything about that whole  sacrifice-the-pureblood-to-the-dark-gods-and-create-an-evil-empire thing yall have planned."
So was the film good? Not even a bit.
I understand now why it isn't a hit.
The shaky-cam fights got silly real quick
and, ignoring the plot of this ridiculous flick,
I can safely say you should watch anything else
than this lazy CONAN THE BARBARIAN mess.

"I hear that Winnie-the-Pooh movie is good. Let's go see that!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


When mutations go right.
First of all, why didn't anyone tell me!?  This movie is really good!  Where were the fanboys? Where was the buzz?  Why didn't everyone get excited about this movie and tell me to see it before it got to the dollar theater??  I had friends who saw it and said "Oh, I enjoyed it." but no one was running around pounding on doors and yelling in keyholes with the news that this X-Men movie not only didn't suck but is REALLY GOOD!  It's all 60's and glamorous and has people who can act AND Hally Berry IS NOT IN IT! It's a win for everyone!  Was X MEN: THE LAST STAND so bad that no one likes X Men movies anymore?


Oh.  Yeah... X3 was really bad....

"My evil secretaries always wear white catsuits. Why?"
Well friends, it's time to put on your big kid underwear and go see FIRST CLASS right now!  It has Kevin Bacon in it so it's actually required viewing.  You get to meet Beast when he's not the Beast, Magneto before he's Magneto, and Professor X when he's trying to get into co-ed's pants.  You get to see how everything started.  You even learn how Magneto and Professor X got to be friends and why they are always going on in the other movies about how much they lurv each other and why the other one is wrong.   You learn all about Mystique and, listen closely,... Cyclops ISN'T in it.

Super Stripper-power
What? You want more?  There's a really groovy African-American man but he dies cause everyone sucks.  (Yes I'm bitter.)  You get to see things blow up.  It's the 60's so everyone has killer style.  There are languages other than English in this film and the accents are superb.  The bad guy has a yacht which turns into a submarine. There are girls in their underwear in Las Vegas.  There is even a Cuban Missile Crisis!  What else do you need!

Fine.  Wolverine has a cameo.  Just see it.  It's good.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not Enough Alcohol In The World: Field Notes from a Star Trek Party

What: Star Trek Party at The Crown Nightclub, the Rio Casino, Las Vegas Nevada

When: Thursday August 11th, 10:30pm

Objective: To observe the effects of moving one small specialized social group out of their normal environment and into a completely alien social situation. 

Common Trekkies

Historical Background:  Trekkies (or Trekkers as they are also known) are a specialized sub-group of the standard population.  As with any group there are varying degrees of devotion to the icons which the culture reveres but generally all self-selected members of this group have several things in common.  Namely
  • a willingness to watch and be at least moderately familiar with the characters and plot lines of a television show known as "Star Trek" and it's subsequent spin-off shows
  • tolerance and even appreciation for persons who are willing to change their appearance through clothing and make up to appear like the characters in the above television show
  • and a tendency to be more comfortable playing games (board, card, electronic) to structure their social interactions.
Uncommon Trekkies

This last common denominator strongly affects the events detailed in the below field notes as The Crown nightclub has no tables for games and an acoustic environment which discourages and even inhibits verbal communication.  Since Trekkies generally use gaming to showcase their intelligence or at lease their exhaustive knowledge of specialized trivia, being dropped into an environment where most of the mating information is gained merely by a simple physical display of genetic fitness  is bound to cause some stress.

Standard Party-going attire
Entry Into The Event:  The Crown nightclub is located in the casino at the Rio resort and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Entry into the nightclub is managed by potential customers queueing up between fabricated brass railings until the dark suited security staff deem it appropriate for the next patrons to enter.  Typically, for an event of this nature, the official start time of 10:30 pm serves as merely a guideline for patrons, a time point to miss rather than meet.  However, most of the Trekkies were early.  This group, as a whole, tends to gather at more time-specific events, such as film screenings and lectures from beloved personalities, when being early is to their benefit.  Indeed, waiting in line with others who share your excitement for the coming event is experienced as one of the pleasures of the actual event.  This was reflected in the crowd outside The Crown, with a noticeable cheerful chatty festival atmosphere shared by everyone.  There was lots of admiring the clothing of strangers and posing for photos. I complimented several ensembles myself while waiting for my colleagues to arrive.  The "Currently Experiencing Pon Phar" t-shirt worn by a 60+ yr old man made me laugh in particular.

This was the crowd after a LOT of alcohol

The Event:  The Crown nightclub is constructed as a series of ringed platforms around a circular dance floor, all of which face a stage area.  The ringed platforms all have white couches of moderate length with tables positioned before them.  These couches are available for a fee to patrons of the establishment as a home base to the festivities.  They also serve as a signal of one's relative wealth and are an excellent place to see and be seen.  Typically the couches go unreserved until later in the evening as standard nightclub-goers prefer to be ambulatory and visible, dancing and socializing.  Trekkies all claimed their seats as soon as they arrived and the majority of the crowd simply sat and observed the other patrons.   This proved somewhat frustrating to the event planners who continued to interrupt the music in order to urge everyone to "get on your feet!", "try something new!", and "get your hands in the air" - typical crowd-rousing calls.  These entreaties only garnered some half-hearted cheering and then the majority of the patrons resumed their conversations or wandered off to join others on their couches.

Though this nice Romulan couple tried to dance
The difference in response to this stimuli might be explained in two ways.  Firstly, the alcohol factor.  Typical nightclub patrons believe alcohol to be a way to release inhibitions and excuse social behavior which is not normative. (see: "The Shore" ) In contrast, Trekkies use alcohol as a way to "relax" or take a brief chemical respite from the stresses of everyday interactions.  Because of this difference, no amount of alcohol consumption will ever be enough to prompt the sort of willfully unacceptable behaviour seen at nightclubs.  Alcohol only encouraged a stronger sense of settling into those white couches.

The second factor prohibiting the Trekkies from "getting the party started" was this demographics genuine disinterest in the "party" which the event planners were encouraging.  Rubbing up on random strangers is far less exciting than discussing the merits of favorite Captains with someone who shares your interest.  The typical obsession with the imaginary universe of Star Trek suggests a personality which is far more focused on the intellectual vs the physical and so no amount of encouragement or inebriates will be enough to start the "party."

I was in no way objective when posing for this photo

Summation:  It was a fascinating evening and I am glad to have been invited to experience this event.  Contrary to my expectations, the Trekkies did not change their patterns of behavior but found a way to change the environment to suit their needs. This happening has inspired me to begin research on the doctoral dissertation titled "Taking the Magic Out of the Magic Kingdom: Pin Trading at Disneyland."  Pin traders are another subculture which proves that you can take the nerd to a party but you can't make them have fun.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES gets an 8 for not sucking.

So, Andy Serkis has to be the most famous and accomplished actor who's face I don't actually recognize.  We went to see this movie 'cause my brother-in-law LOVES the Planet of the Apes movies and this one was actually pretty good.  I had no idea that WETA did all the simians and that Andy Serkis played Caesar until the credits rolled.  Not surprisingly I liked it much more than the Marky Mark reboot from 2001 (which is called PLANET OF THE APES).


COWBOYS VS ALIENS -- gets an 8 for not being super predictable. Two of those points are awarded because the characters continue to shoot aliens with their revolvers even though it is about as effective as shooting a bear with a .22 rifle.  Which is to say it might EVENTUALLY work but it's a bad/scary idea when the monster is running you down... and yet people would do it anyway when it's the only thing they have.

Four obsessive things about COWBOYS VS ALIENS:
which, by the way, I enjoyed after my sister stopped yelling "Dobby!"

whenever she saw Daniel Crag.

1. The sound of his voice
 I, unkindly, cannot help but obsess over Daniel Craig's accent.  Every time the man opens his mouth I wait for him to mess something up or try to detect any minuscule sounds which make it seem false.  I'm not normally this big of a jerk.  I ignore Christian Bale's lisp, have no problem watching all of Dick Van Dyke's Disney movies, and enjoy House without waiting for the brilliant Mr. Laurie to be anything less than perfect.  Mr Craig, however, just doesn't sound true.  And before you can go all Pontius Pilate on me (http://bible.cc/john/18-38.htm) I am totally serious about this.  His American accent sounds about as sincere as your average Josh Groban joint -- which is to say not very sincere at all. (Though, to be fair, Mr Groban was pretty sincere when he sang this.)

2. Parental relationships
 Harrison Ford is in this movie and he manages to have the worst son in history.  Like a creepy psychopathic shooting-up-people-for-fun kind of a kid. This is strange because for the rest of the movie you are shown that his character isn't really all that bad a father -- as long as you are okay with him teaching kids how to kill things with knives.   In fact, we get a glowing testimonial as to his ability to be a good father (to someone he thinks he ignored) so it makes his failure with his own son that much more interesting.

I just read this article (How To Land Your Kids In Therapy) the other day and my favorite line from it was "If a therapist is telling you to pay less attention to your kid’s feelings, you know something has gotten way of out of whack.”  It makes me wonder if the character of Harrison Ford's son was written as what happens if someone with PTSD raises a kid around a lot of weaponry or if it actually might be a reflection of some of the young adults we are seeing around us.   Something to think about, anyway.

3. The way it looked
There were an awful lot of shots of Mr Craig's backside.  Seriously, half of the movie was spent looking at his posterior.  This is not a bad thing.  I just think it's kinda funny.  Also funny was the way he and Harrison Ford ran away from an explosion/collapsing tunnel and the only damage was a few shirt buttons (the better to see your naked chest, Daniel m'dear...)  Olivia Wilde looks funky in pioneer-ish clothing, particularly when she's wearing Slash's hat.
I also discovered that it's kind of unsettling to see so much of the aliens.  I think I have gotten used to a lot of shadows and rain covering any computer-generated life forms because it hides the falseness better.  The aliens in COWBOYS VS ALIENS were running around in dusty hot desert sunshine and it was kind of horrible to be able to see them.   Somehow the way their muscles bunched as they ran and the impact of bullets pushing them in different directions was worse when you could see everything well.  I think the fact that the aliens were so meaty was also a change.
I'm used to precise robot-like aliens (like in the 2009 movie HIGH PLAINS INVADERS which happens to have the exact same plot!) which are much more detached and somehow less scary.

I also noticed how the lighting changed from overexposed yellow and shadowy browns to a clear bright white once everyone decided to be the "good guys" and work together to destroy the aliens.  It was very SERENITY.

4. Westerns and character development:
Did you ever see SHANE?  Or the film SEVEN SAMURAI by Akira Kurosawa?  Both of those films have an odd sort of conflict in them.  They preach this "if we all work together we are stronger" principle and yet it takes the sacrifice of one to actually make this idea work.  In these films as well as COWBOYS VS ALIENS, it's only the supporting cast who show any character development.  The hero destined to die doesn't actually change, or even need changing.  Apparently they all just do what they gotta do to get the job done and leave change, progress, and evolution to the folks they left behind.