moby-dick-(or-the-whale)-71
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ENTERTAINMENT UPDATE

02 June 2007

A bit of an insight in the media I have been partaking of in the last week.

I saw Blade: Trinity, which is an absolutely draconian movie you will have no qualms with if I spoil a few tidbits of (though not the ending). After two perfectly acceptable gothic vampire movies (Blade and Blade 2, for lack of a smarter title), the movie to end the trilogy is quite abysmal. It revolves around the unearthing of the lord of all vampires: Dracula. There are approximately 120 ways in which you could have made a really cool movie out of this, but what really happens is that Dracula -who is, let me reiterate, the absolute master of all vampires and the most powerful creature in existence- becomes some sort of servile lapdog to a completely vapid, spoiled contemporary vampire harlot. Also included in this wonderful piece of entertainment are a band of human vampire hunters using jocularity as their primary weapon in the fight against the night and an obligatory female hunter to offset Blade's intense manliness. Though it was marginally more interesting to watch than, say, The Cave, I am of half a mind to demand the two hours of my life back it cost me to consume this film.

A book, for good measure. Descartes' Meditations. Classic philosophy, and like Erasmus' In Praise of Folly, classically illegible. How can such short books require so much effort and energy to plow through? The pleasure of reading is woefully absent. Contentwise, the book is more interesting. Descartes is widely acclaimed as one of the first philosophers to use ratio and reason, a more scientific method, to research how life really works. As admirable as this is, Descartes proves to be too much shackled by the Christian religion to actually do anything with it. Truly desperate for his findings to coincide with Scholastic doctrines, he makes mistake after mistake, abandoning cringingly the pure intents of his own system when he fails to properly scrutinize himself and his interesting thoughts on what truly exists. After the perennial 'I think, therefore I am' (cogito ergo sum), things go from bad to extra bad when he makes ridiculous and circular claims for the existence of God (based on the assumption that because he can imagine a perfect God, He must exist since otherwise He would not be perfect; et unfortunate cetera). What starts as a well-thought through experiment derails madly as Descartes takes the easy way out again and again, in the end utterly failing in bringing up anything noteworthy or interesting.

We return to movies. Pan's Labyrinth, or El Labyrinto Del Fauno. I was pleased that the movie was entirely Spanish, which gave it a natural charm and auditive sing-song quality emphasizing its fantastic aspirations it would have lacked were it spoken in English or, say, German. Thumbs up for Guillermo Del Toro, who used the money he made with the very enjoyable Hellboy to fulfil this ambitious project. Pan's Labyrinth makes craftfully sparing use of fantasy elements and doesn't neglect the human side of the story (something which was more unbalanced in the (in some ways) comparable Mirror Mask). There are some rather disturbing and scary scenes in the movie, including one which features the bizarre man-creature seen in many a publicity photo. In the end it's a magical, subtle experience and well worth watching.

I finally watched through the Giant Robo series. It was the first time I watched anime again in some time. Giant Robo is a short series of seven episodes, quite well-animated and well-written. It has all the typical cues of the Japanese yarn: people with unexplained superpowers, hysterical children and, obviously, a Giant Robo. But this show does something quite strange. Where I am usually tired of seeing all those clich,'s again in most series or get frustrated at what I perceive as bad storytelling when they introduce characters without properly putting them in the tale or telling us anything about them; Giant Robo is for some reason so disarmingly charming that I can't help but enjoy it. It's bold and epic, Shakespearean and humane. Don't be deceived by the deliberate oldschool looks of the characters; this is one of the better anim,, though already a few years old.

Reading through The God Delusion at the moment. Especially after Erasmus and Descartes, it's a true pleasure to read something of Richard Dawkins again; one who is able to write so pleasantly and with such token wit. There is no struggle between the eye and the sentence, no conflict between the mind and the word. I'd almost call it light reading because of this, though its contents are of course far more lucid and thorough than Descartes' compromised jumble of conflicted interests. The God Delusion is of course a recent work that attempts to confirm atheism as not only a healthy choice as one's philosophical pillar but also the only reasonable proposition after carefully examining the fallacies of what Dawkins terms the 'God Hypothesis'. The book aims with this of course at the religious strongholds of the world; the United States in particular is targeted with this open challenge and sincere message. In the Netherlands, being a country that is, unlike the US at present, secular in more than just outer appearance, atheism is of course widely accepted. Over here, it's simply no big deal for most people; a far cry from America where atheism is even less appreciated and tolerated than homosexuality and the silently growing group of atheists has to keep quiet lest they are shunned from social life. Such racism and prejudice should not exist in what we still claim to be an enlightened age. But to get to my point; here in Holland the book serves more as a confirmation of the things we were all kind of aware of but maybe hadn't investigated with any clarity yet. Having read Dawkins' other works and also that of Bertrand Russell, most of the arguments are quite familiar to me. But, really, it's just such a pleasure to read the book for reading's sake alone that I'll devour it whole.

Lastly, the movie Underworld: Evolution. I was already underwhelmed by the original Underworld, which promised style and elements of the gothic roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade, but instead delivered only a mediocre urban action movie with some, but not many, interesting elements. Evolution opens with a rather exciting flashback to medieval times with vampires in cuirasses pursuing a werewolf through a snowcovered village filled with slaughtered inhabitants that then turn into beasts as well. My expectations were rising, but were fortunately after that quickly doused again before I had the chance to get to anything approaching enthusiasm. It was back to modern times again, back to the tediously boring lead characters: Kate Beckinsale in a Matrix rip-off coat and about as much charisma as the leads from that movie, and the male love interest which unsurprisingly proves not interesting at all. New is the increased emphasis on vampire sex, with utterly unnecessary and unconvincingly sexy full frontal love-making. The one thing the movie got absolutely right is its length: in a time where 95% of generic Hollywood action movies are pretentiously bloated, Evolution understands its place and doesn't try to seem any more sophisticated than it is by adding useless scenes. That, however, doesn't mean the movie itself isn't useless. At one time, in the span of two minutes, all the dialogue of the film consisted of the word 'shit' uttered three times without much passion. That captured my feelings towards it alright.

Roderick.