Monday, May 11, 2009

At the Movies: "Pop" goes the weasel

On this week's episode of At the Movies, Ben Lyons reviews (again) the new Star Trek movie thus:

Lyons: It's a pop culture movie. And it really crosses over and satisfies those hard core fans and appeals to a wider audience. Really easy to say to do but harder to execute and they were able to do it nicely.

So Star Trek has gone from being an "event movie" to being a "pop culture" movie that "crosses over". Putting aside that "pop culture movie" is an even more dubious genre category than "event movie" as I explained last week, the idea of the Star Trek franchise crossing over seems a bit unusual to me. Granted, there are hard core "trekkers" who speak Klingon and dress up as Spock:

But to talk about Star Trek "crossing over" forgets that it was a major television show in the 1960s and a long running film franchise in which this is the eleventh film of the series. A list of well-known "Trekkies/Trekkers"--including King Abdullah of Jordan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Angelina Jolie, and Eddie Murphy--suggests that a fairly wide audience has enjoyed the series. It would almost be like talking about the James Bond series "crossing over" with Casino Royale. Or, in Ben's case, Goldeneye.

Of course, what all of those listed fans have in common is that they are over 30--and many over 40. Teenagers don't necessarily know anything about Star Trek, for no fault of their own. But to consider their ignorance as making it less than a "pop culture" phenomenon, and then attribute their acceptance of it over the weekend at the box office as "crossing over", is an unusual way of looking at things. Although not necessarily unusual inside of the Hollywood bubble that Ben Lyons so proudly inhabits.


Now take his comment slamming Next Day Air:

Lyons: Why this is being released in theaters and not on DVD I don't understand. From the actors on screen to the filmmakers behind the scenes, seems everyone is just trying to make a quick buck. Save your money and "Skip it".

I'll leave judgment aside, other than to ask: when exactly did Lyons get all up in arms about people doing something for a fast, cheap, and unworthy buck? I suspect Mos Def could teach him a thing or two about working in the entertainment and not just selling your soul outright.


Finally, a couple of odd "Rent it" moments happened this week. First in reviewing Little Ashes, Mank responds to Lyons' critique that the movie was too black and white and did not have enough ambiguity:

Mank: I hear your criticisms and I think some of them are valid. I thought there was enough ambiguity here and ultimately I'm going to go ahead and reflect that ambiguity and say "Rent it".

That's a bit of a refreshing comment considering how twisted Lyons in particular gets about saying how lame a movie is then recommending that we "Rent it". But then we get a double "Rent it" recommendation on Taken, which is just being released on DVD and is given time for a full review since they did not talk about it earlier in the year. But that means they do not find time to review any of The Lemon Tree, American Violet, Tulpan, or Adoration, which have all opened recently--among MANY other films--but get no mention.

Of course, some of those are foreign films, which seem to have an especially difficult time making the cut in their list of movies to review.


Anonymous said...

Not to defend the Bens, but interesting to note that Ebert also hasn't reviewed "Adoration," "Tulpan," "American Violet" or "Lemon Tree."

Anonymous said...

He reviewed American Violet and he'll probably review Adoration in the next week or so when it comes to Chicago.