The pickings are slim.
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There’s a pretty good chance you’re still too busy with holiday events or traveling to sit around watching movies and TV on the Internet. And that’s probably a good thing in this case, as the titles we have for you in this week’s Cross the Streams are only worth your time if you’re into bad movies or interesting nonfiction series. Depends on if you took the blue pill or the red pill, I guess.
The Matrix: Revolutions (Amazon Prime Instant)
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since I felt the supreme disappointment that accompanied me as I walked out of the theater after watching The Matrix: Revolutions. There was obviously no way it would be better than the original film, but I’d hoped the Wachowskis would have spent as much time on the story as they did on that massive battle scene, the one part of the movie worth the watch, even though it looks much more dated than I would have expected. As part of a trilogy marathon to show your kids or your friend who was trapped in that gravel pit for the last 20 years, it’s probably worth going back to, but never as a standalone.
Stranded (2013) (Netflix Instant)
Picture Christian Slater as the host of a terribly boring radio show where he just barks orders at others who work inside the radio station. That’s kind of what Stranded is like, as it looks like Slater was only hired for a couple of days with a second-unit director, while Roger Christian (Battlefield Earth) was working with the rest of the cast. The story follows a group of astronauts on a lunar base after a meteor shower yadda yadda yadda…alien babies and people yelling. It’s so disappointing when acting is just bad instead of campy. Eighty-four minutes has rarely felt so long.
Alien Uprising (Netflix Instant)
Pierce Brosnan’s son, Sean Brosnan, and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s daughter, Bianca Bree, are the two leads in this film that actually doesn’t have an alien uprising in it at all. Why the name was changed from U.F.O., I’ll never know. But by that logic, it also could have been called Shitty Performances and a Suckass Plotline, since those were both evident throughout. The film follows two lovers in a town that gets increasingly more berserk following the arrival of a spaceship that does nothing. And then Van Damme shows up with a shotgun, but it doesn’t matter because you’ve already fallen asleep wishing that actual aliens would have attacked this film during its production. If there’s a saving grace, it’s director Dominic Burns; but he also wrote this claptrap so never mind.
The Wall (2012) (Netflix Instant)
I had genuine hope going into Julian Pölsler’s contemplative drama The Wall. It looked like a less noisy version of Stephen King’s Under the Dome, with a single woman trapped in and around a remote cabin in the Austrian wilderness, blocked in by invisible walls with no clear reason for being. Based on the novel by Marlen Haushofer, The Wall is never about the mystery, and that’s fine with me. But even the strong, quiet acting of Martina Gedeck as Frau can’t save the film from her character’s illogical ways of dealing with her situation, nor the incessant voiceover that tells us every single thing that Frau is thinking at any given moment. I guess that’s the only way Pölsler felt like he could properly do the novel’s philosophical angles justice, but it’s just clumsy, and the story often falls by the wayside of the gorgeous cinematography and locations. It isn’t a terrible film, but one whose potential for originality is never reached.
Landers (Hulu Plus)
Photographer Steve Pyke goes on a cross-country American journey tracking down and photographing the surviving men who have walked on the moon. He captures their stories with truly striking images. It isn’t the most exciting doc in the world, but it should be just right for those interested in moon travel.
Richard Hammond’s Journey to the Center of the Planet (Hulu Plus)
Wonders of the Universe (Hulu Plus)
Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey (Hulu Plus)
Hulu continues its streak of giving audiences everything that the BBC has to offer by way of science. Oddly enough, though, the first show is misnamed and is actually Richard Hammond’s Invisible Worlds, wherein the Top Gear presenter takes us into the worlds of light and speed, where there is much more than meets the eyes. In the second, physicist Brian Cox explores the universe by studying the Earth itself. And in Orbit, Kate Humble and Helen Czerski go on all kinds of mini-adventures exploring such earthly forces as spin, orbit and tilt.
Sorry there’s nothing more going on here, even though it’s not my fault. On a more positive note, we’ve got Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Atomic Brain, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, and more MST3K releases on Netflix, so at least we can laugh ourselves into 2014 rather than wondering why Jean-Claude Van Damme isn’t doing more automobile commercials.