Here are some brief thoughts on the films/movies:
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- The most purposely silly of the Indy movies. The action sequences have largely aged fairly. Unfortunately, a lot of the acting has not. Someone made the choice to have Brody and Sallah act like parodies of themselves. The father-son bickering either works very well or is just goofy, which means that it never feels even. I realize now why Connery didn't want to make a second go at Henry Jones for the new film, because he mostly comes across like a daffy old man. Elsa pales against Marion's shadow, but is decently blond and skinny enough to work as a surrogate Bond-Girl. In the end the saga could have ended here. How could Indy ever one up the Old Testament and the New Testament?
Rome, Season 2, Disc 1 -- Awesome. Brutal. Starts off well, picking up exactly where Season 1 ended. This brief series is HIGHLY recommended if you can stomach sex, violence, and characters with endlessly challenging value-systems.
I Am Legend -- Not bad. But not as great as it thinks it is. There's little I can say because I'd give away too many spoilers. The first hour or so of the film is solid, but then after the most intense sequence in the movie, the whole momentum slides downhill quickly. The mannequins are a good touch. Sam, the dog, is great in a part more complex than a lot of other female roles that I've witnessed recently. I appreciate that the film shows Will Smith's character slipping away from sanity. But that's mostly it for the positives.
Two negatives stuck with me throughout. First, on a small note, the close and medium shots of empty Manhattan looked great. But the long shots looked flat and very effects heavy. The "night seekers" or whatever they're called looked CG heavy (read: fake) as well.
And that takes me to the second issue. Ignoring the lengthy credits, the movie falls under the 90 minute mark which is usually a good thing. But here it sacrificed depth, giving up many opportunities to make the protagonist's and antagonist's actions more meaningful. By writing off the bad guys as having "lost all human characteristics", the filmmakers have made them singularly bad. But while watching the Alpha Female strapped down and prodded with needles, it became impossible not to notice (through shot selection) her rather pneumatic feminine form. My mind started wondering about the Alpha Male who searches for her and I began to plug in my own invented story about his motivations and needs. The movie never supplies these because to do so would cause viewers to think too much about all of the torture and pain inflicted by the protagonist on dozens of "night seekers". It also wouldn't have hurt to show how the "night seekers" have developed or learned. We see them set a trap, but it ends there. The filmmakers choose to show them as marauding lunatics and that's where they lost me. They sacrificed a morally complex film for a one-sided movie.
Plus it's generally not advisable to bring God into a story with 10 minutes remaining.
(On a side note: I get Cruise and Travolta's involvement in Scientology. But with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, two seemingly genuine hep-cats......am I the only one who's waiting for the other shoe to drop? Am I the only one expecting Will to say on E! "Ha Ha! Just kidding! I can't believe y'all really thought that we became Scientologists."? I dunno, maybe it's just me.)
I'm Not There -- My mind is still blown. There is so much Bob Dylan fact and lore in every single shot, that I'm still picking up the pieces. A number of great 8 1/2 references too. I think it may be years and a half-dozen viewings before I can even begin a schpiel about it. It's good. It's loaded. And it either means everything or nothing at all. Like our troubadour's lyrics.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- Yeah, I had to see it opening weekend. First off, terrible title. Say it out loud. Yeah, it's sound falls flat like The Phantom Menace (not providing a link for that film). Thank Spielberg that it's a better flick than TPM. Though that's not an achievement.
It's fun! Just try not to think too much while watching it. The action sequences are well assembled. You can actually follow what's going on in them. How novel. Mr. Ford is great. Nice to see him looking comfortable in a role again. Karen Allen returns as Marion, reminding you why there's no other lady for Indy. Shia LaBeouf comes across well, but I'm sure that's a debate that will last for decades. There are a few idiotic moments during the action that nullifies even Indiana-Jones-level suspension of disbelief. Some sluggish moments in the beginning. A new bunch of stereotypical baddies (Commies). My jury's still out on Cate Blanchett in this one after seeing her brilliance in I'm Not There. It will be interesting to see if this one holds up on DVD and millions of repeat viewings by us fans.
At the end, Steve, George, and David Koepp really make it feel like Indy's hanging his hat up, showing more of his family and emotional side. Though, the final scene rung flat with its abrupt cut and strange lighting. And we really don't need Mutt Williams and the Holy Underwear of Joseph Smith coming out in 2010.
To conclude, I had a dream last night that I was about to fight Anderson Cooper. I regret to say that I woke up too soon.