Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I Watched this Weekend: Star Trek, The Tempest and Jon & Kate Plus 8

This Memorial Day weekend I had the chance to view a an eclectic assortment of shows - the Star Trek movie, The Tempest at Steppenwolf, and the Jon & Kate Plus 8 season premier. Here are my reviews of each.

Friday night: Star Trek - An intergalactic roller coaster ride chock full of hotties & humor
This action-packed romp through space and time is pure fun, fun, fun! The special effects were great and I appreciated the treasured Trekkie "beam me up" and "warp speed" references, but the best part was discovering each member of the Enterprise crew as his or her younger self. The new cast is outstanding - Chris Pine is perfect as a brash, charming, daredevil Kirk and young Spock is surprisingly studly. Even the tattooed goth bad-guys were kind of hot. And while whole planets end in destruction, the violence is secondary to the good-natured rollicking cheer of the film.

The only thing I could have done without was Leonard Nimoy's appearance, boy does he look old with his wrinkled pointy ears. And Winona Ryder is strangely cast as Spock's mother. But I'm nitpicking now - just go see it!

Sunday afternoon: The Tempest - Only dozed off once!
I treasure my Steppenwolf season tickets, but I wasn't dying to see this show. Shakespeare's archaic language, twisted story lines and longwinded speechifying often leave me snoozing in my seat. And I wasn't encouraged by the barren and gray Steppenwolf stage. "Where's the set?" I whispered to my friend Mary, stifling a yawn. Then - kaboom! I was in the midst of a hideous storm.

The opening shipwreck scene was brilliant - something right out of Cirque de Soleil - with sailors dangling precariously from swaying rope ladders above our heads. I sat on the edge of my seat, heart pounding. This was no boring musty classic here. Things proceeded at a relatively brisk pace. Led by Frank Galati as Prospero, the talented cast interpreted the cumbersome language in a way that I actually got what was going on. And with the political intrique, magic spirits, love-at-first-sight, and slavery-bondage themes, there was something for everybody. I admit I did nod off a bit in the first act. But overall, it was a provocotive and cool show.

Sunday evening: Jon & Kate Plus 8 Season Premier - Compellingly cringe-worthy
My sixth-grade daughter loves this show, but all those screaming little kids and sniping parents stress me out. Still, I couldn't resist watching the season five premier last night. The sextuplets were celebrating their 5th birthdays, but the real action was watching Jon and Kate deal with the tabloid reports that they've cheated on each other.

I have one word to sum up their interactions - awkward! Kate is so pissed she can't even bring herself to say her husband's name and Jon slumps around like a sulky teenager. Obviously the strain of living their lives and bringing up eight kids on TV has taken it's toll. But it's so bizarre that they would continue to play out their private difficulties in public. It made me sick, and I think the exploitative producers should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, last night's episode got probably got the shows highest ratings ever.

Okay, that's my round-up. What are you watching these days?


Karen M. said...

My brother tried with little success this weekend to explain Star Trek to me.. I never watched the series. He insisted that even if I hadn't watched the series I would enjoy the movie.. maybe I'll try it... I thought he mentioned Kardasians... that might be interesting.

While you were watching Tempest I was watching Legally Blonde - The Musical. It was cute and fun especially if you are a fan of the movie.

As for Jon and Kate Plus 8.. I've only seen moments of the series, but a People editor was on The Today Show this morning; she had interviewed Kate... Kate said this show is her job and she will never leave it... so I have to say the producers aren't totally to blame on this one. It's kind of like a car wreck you can't look away. I do feel very sorry for their kids.

Meg said...

LOVED Star Trek, can't stomach reality shows. But if you have any inclination toward ancient religious sects, haunting musical vocalizations, and soaring views of Vatican City, go see "Angels and Demons." If it's hotties you seek, Tom Hanks is fit as a fiddle these days, and Ewan MacGregor's appeal emanates even through priestly black and a backwards collar. Some swarthy Italians help chase the bad guys, too. Heck, even the bad guy is easy on the eyes!

Marjie Killeen said...

I'm dying to take my daughter to Legally Blonde - I'm going to try to get tickets. And I love Ewan MacGregor, so I'll shoot for Angels and Demons too - but didn't it get awful reviews?

As for Jon & Kate - I'm giving that one up. I was so turned off by Kate's behavior. I doubt she can separate those kids from the show itself. But I'm pretty sure Jon did something he shouldn't have!

Meg said...

Ignore those reviews about Angels and Demons! We did, and we had a great time. If you're an earlybird (I mean REALLY early!), you can get in for $5 at the Gardens Theater. If you hate it, I'll treat you to Starbucks!