The irony being that after lamenting last week that I hadn’t seen as many Christmas movies as usual, I got to watch a couple for the time-travel book, and both sucked.
SAVING SANTA (2013) watches like a half-hour TV special that got jumped up to feature length. An inept, insecure elf Who Only Needs to Believe in Himself—a point the film hammers home over and over—has to save the North Pole by using Santa’s time-traveling sleigh (how else can he travel so far in one night?) to go back in time and stop shipping magnates Joan Collins and Tim Curry from conquering the North Pole. It wouldn’t have been good at 30 minutes, but at least it would have been over faster.“It wouldn’t be Christmas without complete chaos and utter panic.”
BACK TO CHRISTMAS (2014) is a by-the-numbers do-over story in which a career woman wishing she hadn’t dumped her boyfriend on the previous Christmas Eve gets to go back and do it right, courtesy of the eccentric guardian angel who enlightens her with whimsical insights. Despite one nice twist (by the laws of temporal physics, things can diverge from the original, much to the protagonist’s surprise), this is familiar fare and even if I hadn’t seen so many similar tales, the acting is too bland to sell the story. Though I think what really bothers me is the way so many films (Eve’s Christmas, Snow Globe Christmas, Holidaze and even the non-time travel Sweet Home Alabama) insist that moving away from the (always wonderful) small town you grew up or marrying anyone that you didn’t know in childhood is a terrible, terrible mistake that mandates a do-over. “Right—because we know all good relationships are based on assumptions, not communication.”
Things didn’t improve when I got away from Christmas films: ROBOREX (2014) is the eponymous mechanical mutt the tween protagonist’s future self sends back in time to prevent Ethan Phillips (“In my time he’s known as—Professor Apocalypse.”) from obtaining a McGuffin that will give Future Phillips Absolute Powert. This was so dull and predictable I kept anticipating twists that didn’t happen; Ben Browder suffers through the role of Struggling Single Parent Who Does Not Understand His Child. “Not many people know this, but I wanted to be a magician growing up.”
BACK TO THE FUTURE was the ‘toon series spinning off the trilogy, with Doc Brown and his family relocating in present-day Mill Valley to hang out with Marty and get into more trouble (apparently Biff Tannen has evil ancestors scattered throughout history). The two episodes here—everyone goes back in time for a classic Dickensian Christmas, then Doc and Marty get into trouble in ancient Rome—should be enough to give me a feel for the series, which isn’t very good. The big problems are that Marty’s new voice (David Kaufman) is weak and scratchy, and this uses up a lot of screen time giving kid viewers Fascinating Historical Facts. “Of course I know it’s a scientifically disprovable concept—I’m merely using it for rhetorical effect!”
RICK AND MORTY is the kind of sexploitative, mean-spirited cartoon I find unwatchable, but fortunately I don’t have to: some episode guides and watching the first episode satisfied me that it isn’t as time/parallel-world oriented as some descriptions made it sound. So no more!
PRIMEVAL NEW WORLD was a sequel to the UK’s PRIMEVAL (which I’m familiar with enough I won’t be rewatching it) about wormholes opening up and bringing dinosaurs out of the past. In the sequel, it’s happening in Vancouver, but nothing about it catches fire, from the uninterestingly angsty protagonist to the military allies having a Hidden Agenda. “It’ll take more than an original STAR TREK series reference to throw me, sir.”
I did see some good stuff, which will be in the following post.