The observant ones among you may have noticed the recent updates to my "movies" sidebar on the right. It's about the only thing on this blog that didn't fall behind last month while my posts were few and far between; my movie watching was also few and far between. But we managed to catch Finding Nemo and Winged Migration a week or so ago and that finally gave me something to update.

Finding Nemo impressed me -- I had heard it was good and I liked it well. Pixar really has the formula down pretty well, and they do it in a way that appeals to me. Have you ever noticed that all of their movies are quest stories? Actually if you really look at it, most of Disney's cartoons are quest stories of one kind or another.

Winged Migration. At least the title doesn't promise anything more than it delivers. Billed as a documentary on, well, the migration of birds, WM proves to be, well, basically just a bunch of shots of flying birds stitched together and sold as a movie. The narration is spare to say the least -- he cuts in only every couple of minutes to read a sentence or two -- and the random subtitles giving other details are too spotty to be depended on. There is no plot or development whatsoever and with as little verbal and written content as the movie has I find it hard to consider it a real documentary. The upside of WM, however, is some really awesome shots of birds in flight. There are lots of really familiar shots of birds going by overhead that look as though they were pulled out of the film vault to fill time, but interspersed throughout the film are close-ups of flying birds that must have been shot with cameras mounted on planes and boats. You know what I'm talking about here -- the camera is moving at the same speed as the bird and together you're just cruising along above the countryside -- these aren't really anything original either but they're still really cool as you get to see the precise muscle movements and aerodynamic adjustments that make bird flight work. Watching these shots made me think of the concept (popularized if not coined by Michael Behe) of "irreducible complexity" -- it's clear that one little detail (anatomical or practical) missing and there's no way these things are getting off the ground. Final analysis: not worth the time it takes to sit through. But if you happen to have access to a copy to skim through so you can catch the flight close-ups, they're really quite a treat.

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