Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci Are Awesome!

Damn, these guys are awesome. For those of you who might not know, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are the screenwriters behind Transformers, it’s upcoming sequel (which I’m very excited about), The Legend of Zorro, Mission Impossible III, Fringe, Star Trek and The Island, the last two I watched recently.

Right off the bat, I’ve got to admit that I don’t really remember Legend of Zorro or MI3, so I can’t speak to their ability writing those or for shows like Xena, Hercules, Jack Of All Trades and Alias, but everything else I’ve seen that they’re written has been rad. As you might have noticed, Kurtzman and Orci have a history of working with producer, writer and director extraordinaire J.J. Abrams (Alias, Fringe and Trek). Not shabby company to keep if you ask me.

What I love about these guys is how thoroughly they think through genre stories that, a few years ago, would have probably been tossed to guys who were just looking to get a paycheck. Transformers didn’t have to be a good movie (and many of you might disagree with me on this), but it was. It was also full of crazy fun action scenes. Aside from the incredible stories you see on the screen, I’ve heard a number of interviews with the writing duo thanks to the Creative Screenwriting Podcast. Most recently I listened to the Star Trek one and it blew me away at how well they were able to address and answer logically many of the geek and logic-based questions. A few holes in the movie were filled in the original writing stage, but were later cut and there’s all kinds of other information they have to offer in these interviews. I highly recommend them.

Like I said, I watched The Island (2005) and Star Trek (2009) last week. I’m thinking of going back and listening to the Island podcast interview actually because I’m curious to hear what they have to say about their first original movie, which ended up getting directed by Michael Bay (who I’ve gone on record as loving). The Island is a very cool movie though it seems at first to have a ton of plot holes (how do they go from naive teenage-level beings to pulling off this crazy scheme?). But, the more I think about the various apparent holes, the more I can explain them. Ewan McGregor’s character is growing memories right? So maybe he’s growing a few character traits here and there. It’s these kinds of questions I think would be addressed in the podcast, which I will, now that I think about it, definitely be downloading from iTunes tomorrow.

What I do know just from watching the movie without any background is that it was clearly influenced by some of the classic 70s sci-fi flicks I watched back in January. It was fun watching the movie, kind of knowing what the twist was, but not really knowing how completely it would flip. SPOILER: I knew they were clones, but I didn’t know the details, like that they were living in a complex created by someone who saw Logan’s Run a time or two too many. Even knowing what I knew, I still couldn’t figure how it would be revealed, so that’s a testament to the writing.

I definitely recommend The Island to anyone. It’s got the assumed Michael Bay chases and explosions. Even a car chase with a truck dropping big scary things while being chased by a smaller vehicle (cars in Bad Boys II, train wheels here). Plus you get McGregor, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean and Steve Buscemi who are always good, and Scarlett Johansson who’s at least nice to look at. Plus if you like their later movies, I think it’s always cool to go back and see how they broke into the movie business.

So, from their first to their latest, I have to throw my hat in with just about everyone else in the world and say I really dug Star Trek. I didn’t come out of it feeling like I did when I left Iron Man (PUMPED!), but I still really enjoyed it. It might be because I’m not a Star Trek fan. Before trying to tackle the Original Series this past year, I had seen only a handful of episodes from any of the series’ (that one episode of DS9 where they Tag and Bink their way through the Tribble episode) and the movies starring the original cast. I knew the basics, it’s hard not to when you’ve worked for some of the geekiest magazines in the world (don’t forget, I was in the research department while InQuest was still around). But, even not knowing much, I had no problem watching this flick, which was great, but I still got some of the nods to past stories.

I appreciate the amount of thought that Kurtzman and Orci along with director J.J. Abrams and producer Damon Lindelof put into this epic story, especially the way they made everything you know still make sense while starting this new continuity. Honestly, I really wish this cast would get together and just do a TV series. How cool would that be? Just forget about Heroes (I dislike that show so much that I actually wanted to hate Zachary Quinto as Spock, but he was so damn good I just couldn’t) and fly Simon Pegg and John Cho in between movie roles and get that DONE!

Also, how cool was that drill scene? I started laughing as soon as the guy in the red suit showed up while Sulu and Kirk were wearing different colors. Em asked me what I was laughing at and I whispered “That guy’s gonna die.” She asked me how I knew and I told her just to watch and, man, they did NOT disappoint with that moment. Even better, though, was how Sulu and Kirk handled themselves given a crappy situation. I love how Chris Pine perfectly embodies that “never say die no matter how bad things look” mentality. Obviously, I’d like to see everyone return for a sequel, but I really hope Pine does a superhero movie. He could do justice to a bunch of heroes.

So, next up from Kurtzman and Orci will be Transformers: Rise of the Fallen and the last two episodes of Fringe that I missed and I’m pretty psyched about both.

TV Time 4/20-4/26

You guys know I love TV, so I figured I’d write about it in one big post (unless something really knocks my socks off). So here’s a quick rundown of what I watched this week on the idiot box.

MONDAY
8:00-9:00PM
Unfortunately both Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother were re-runs last week. Still had fun watching these episodes again, though.

10:00PM
Castle is really growing on me. It’s the one procedural in our weekly line-up, but damnitall of Nathan Fillion isn’t super-charming. His partner is even growing on me (she kind of scared me the first few episodes). What started out as a show we’d watch because nothing else is on has turned into a new weekly favorite.

TUESDAY
9:00PM
I’m really glad Fringe is back. I actually missed it while it was on hiatus, plus, it’s really the only thing we watch on Tuesdays. This episode was interesting enough on its own, but also offered a deeper level of mystery and connection that will hopefully explode with craziness as the first season wraps.

10:00-10:20PM
I caught about 20 minutes of The Unusuals. I really liked what I saw, but wanted to watch Josie and the Pussycats without falling asleep, so it lost out. I’m still rooting for the show’s success.

WEDNESDAY
9:00PM-10:00PM
As all the Losties know, there wasn’t a new episode last week, but a clip show. This one looked at the Oceanic 6 and showed all the flashforwards and flashbacks in chronological order. It wasn’t necessary to watch, but it reminded me of a few things I had forgotten. I’m still not clear on the time frame of Locke visiting Jack, Locke getting killed, Jack flying around with a scruffy beard and Jack running into Ben at Locke’s showing. It seems like there’s too much time there for all these events to happen in a realistic fashion. I’m not saying they don’t have everything figured out, it’s just nagging at me a bit. I’m sure there’s an explanation.

10:00PM-11:00PM
The Duel 2 continues to offer up a level of conspiracy that is always hilarious. I’d really love someone who has studied game theory to either analyze the show or, better yet, make it onto the show. I myself did not take the game theory class my college offered (too much math and science for this English major), but it sounded fascinating when friends would talk about it. Without getting into spoilers, the guy duel was pretty intense. Unfortunately, the guy we were rooting for didn’t win, and thus the status quo continues.

THURSDAY
8:00-8:30PM
I don’t talk about My Name Is Earl a lot, but it’s a consistently good show that I enjoy every week. I’m impressed that they’ve been able to keep such a solid show going with what seemed like an easily exhausted premise, but I’m always happy to see Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly (anyone else remember Poison Ivy 3?), Nadine Velazquez (Catalina) and Eddie Steeples (Crabman)every week.

8:30-9:00PM
Last week’s Parks and Recreation was the best episode yet. But that’s not really saying much. To be completely honest, we’re only still watching this show because it’s between two other shows we like and I’m pretty sure nothing else is on. I wish they would keep the cast, scrap this concept and just start over because watching Poehler act like a Michael Scott clone for 22 minutes is just painful.

9:00-9:30PM
We finally get a resolution to the doomed-from-the-start Michael Scott Paper Company and it was a lot more fist pumping than I thought it would be. That being said, I was totally worried that Michael would screw things up in the meeting.

9:30-10:00PM
30 Rock is awesome. As much as I love the plots and larger jokes, it’s really the smaller jokes that get me. Like when Kenneth is passing out and says something like “My name is Dick Whitman.” Awesome. Or a few weeks back after seeing the world through Kenneth’s eyes and then seeing the real Liz walk-running like a Muppet. I am a bit worried that Tracey and Jenna are turning into cartoon characters instead of actual real characters. Oh, I’m also sad to see Salma Hayek leaving the show, both because she was really funny and hot.

10:00-11:00PM
I totally meant to watch all of Harper’s Island last week. After all, it’s essentially a show about a slasher killing wedding guests off one by one on an island. I was all into last week’s episode (the second of the season I believe), but I fell asleep in the last 10 minutes and completely missed the ending. Luckily, this week, I didn’t fall asleep. I’m not sure yet how I feel about Harper’s Island. I’ve given up watching my favorite Girl Next Door Bridget on her new bikini-filled show Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches to check it out. I did have a hard time keeping track of the characters (lots have the same hair color and look too similar). But I think I’ll stick with it for now.

FRIDAY
8:00-10:30PM
After sloshing through the first 20 minutes of The Spirit (more on that later), we gave up and watched some Cartoon Network. Saw a Batman: Brave and the Bold episode that focused on the Blue Beetle legacy (even showing Dan Garret, the Golden Age BB!). As always, it was a rad episode. Then I checked out an episode of the Clone Wars CGI show that was kinda cool and made me want to check the show out on DVD. After that The Soup was awesome.

Later that Night…
We watched the end of the Red Sox/Yankees game. Being from New England, Em is, of course, a Red Sox fan and hates the Yankees. Being something of a Tiger’s fan and initially not being all that happy about moving to New York, I hated most NY sports teams (and still do, really). So, even though I don’t particularly like the Sox, I like watching the Yankees lose. And lose they did. In overtime. This reminded me of college when Em would come over and we’d watch from inning 8 or 9 on of the Sox World Series. Now, that’s baseball.

SATURDAY
While hanging out in Nyack we kept an eye on the game. Didn’t see the end, but the Sox took it.

SUNDAY
8:00-9:00PM
Em and I have become pretty big fans of the Amazing Race. We stumbled upon it when The Simpsons was in reruns last season, but this is the first season we’ve watching, mostly, from beginning to the soon-to-be end. Better than every reality show game except Real World/Road Rules.

More Baseball
Em fell asleep watching the game, but I was in it till the end. A dude freaking stole home! I’ve never seen that before. It was awesome. See for yourself:


The Yankees play the Tigers next, so hopefully I can see them get beat up on Detroit style (but without guns and knives).