All good things in entertainment go their start in Star Trek (at least in my mind) and in this episode we see the origin of the recurring villain (I know, Doctor Who probably did it first but throw me a bone here people). Yes, the great Harcourt Fenton Mudd (and no, I did not have to look up his whole name. I’m too big a fan for that. Challenge me with something hard, like what are TOS space outposts along the Nuetral Zone made of? (Cast rodinium)) resurfaces to once again plague the crew of the Enterprise.
I’m going to give this episode an A++ for continuity in that everyone from the ship recognized Harry EXCEPT Chekov. Why not Chekov you ask? Because he did not join the Enterprise until Season 2 and Mudd’s Women was Season 1. This is the kind of fact checking and professionalism I long for in modern entertainment writing. It’s almost like they knew 50 years in the future loser nerds such as myself would have nothing better to do than analyze and notice things like this (what’s that you say? Kironide? Psycho-tricorder? Yangs? Gary Seven? You just reminded me of something important-shut up).
I have to say this is also one of the most fun episodes ever. Mudd is great, and the way Spock and the crew foil the androids is pure Star Trek brilliance. Plus the punishment Kirk thought up with for Harry was awesome (“Stella, dear”. Again, no need for me to look up her name. Am I not awesome? Hot female Trek fans should be throwing themselves at me, unless this is Mirror Earth again. I couldn’t find an image I liked for this post from Star Trek but this Weyland-Yutani android logo from Aliens seems to fit in with the androids from Mudds world. I pulled it from the movie t shirt category).
Speaking of quality writing over the last couple years I have gotten a certain amount of heat from my fellow nerds (I refuse to call them Star Trek fans) for my brutal and unforgiving review of the last awful, awful JJ Abrams space fiasco (I also refuse to call it a Star Trek film). Well, I was very gratified to come across this very accurate Star Trek Into Darkness Honest trailer by the good people at Screen Junkies. If you have always felt like there was something wrong with that film but couldn’t put your finger on it (and are too busy to read the 3,833 words I wrote on it in my own Into Darkness Review) watching this will shed a lot of light on your puzzlement.
the Infamous Dave Inman
An important lesson is learned about always watching a trailer before seeing a film.
Not to say this film was bad. Just that I walked in expecting to see a chick flick with lots of people coming to terms with stuff and instead got a documentary designed to make me feel guilty for living in a 1st world country and for being a man.
As an extremely regular movie goer I have memberships to pretty much every theater reward program out there. Typically this gets me cheap popcorn and the occasional free movie ticket but a couple weeks ago it spat out a free pass to see this movie. I am if nothing else cheap, and giving me a free pass to a new screening is akin to waving the red flag in front of the bull (although I will admit on the rare occasion that I see a film for free or early I tend to start of more kindly disposed to the film (to any Hollywood marketing firms out there that was a less than subtle hint)).
Girl Rising is a documentary about the importance of educating girls and young women in third world hell holes. As a marketing tool I will have to say it is shockingly effective as I am now an advocate for this. No joke I am going to try to scrape together a few ducats and send it to the charity behind this thing (and if you knew how I live you would understand what that means. My life savings is in t-shirts right now and my business is not exactly capable of doing more that buying me the occassional quesadilla from Burrito Ole’.) Showing real people in real situations is always more impactful than all the fake tears and stuntmen Hollywood can through at us, and when those real people are cute little girls from across the globe it will pull at your heartstrings with monster truck force.
During the course of this film I felt a wide gamut of emotions. I felt fear for a couple of the girls who were honestly in danger, rage and helplessness in the face of others who were raped or sold (if you don’t feel an urge to punch the first six men you come across after listening to a 12 year old Egyptian girl talk about being raped and then married off a year later you are not human. Feel free to leave the planet by the quickest method available), and happiness and exaltation for the girls who managed to succeed and excel through education. I have spent most of my life pretending to be Spock emotionally (DJ Spock image courtesy of the Star Trek T Shirt category) but this film blasted through my defenses like a bullet train through a paper towel fence.
The overriding message is that educating girls in Third World countries is an extremely powerful tool for helping not only the girls themselves but the world in general. Educating girls will grossly benefit the countries GNP, cut down immensely on rape, human trafficking, death from childbirth, overpopulation, and reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS. This is all in addition to the massive personal benefit to the girls in question. It shows this presenting short vignettes about 9 different girls from 9 different countries. Some of them are stories of girls finding an education in spite of the cultural and economic issues facing them. These are the happy stories. Others are about girls who can’t get an education due (and in some cases it is illegal for them to do so) and the horrible things that happen or face them because of that. Each vignette is followed by very interesting statistics on how education can benefit these girls.
I was going to give a quick rundown on each of the girls but halfway through it decided one sentence descriptions does not do them the justice the deserve. I will just say it’s worth your time to see each one, even if some of them will have you clawing your own face off in frustration.
I am not going to bother with my usual stars/black holes rating system. I called this blog a review for lack of a more descriptive term but this film can’t be reviewed by normal means. It is not a traditional film. Is it powerful? Yes. Will you want to do something at the end of it? Yes. Will you feel good afterward? Depends on which story you want to focus on, but knowing that for every positive one there are probably thousands of negative ones probably not. Not all movies are about feeling good.
The part of this film that I had the hardest time was waiting for the denouement. As a patron of the Hollywood movie set I spent most of the movie waiting for Jason Stratham to break in with a sub machine gun and rescue each of them but you know what? That sort of hero doesn’t exist in real life. The actual heroes are regular people like you and me who take a stand and do what is within our means. I don’t usually do this sort of thing but I invite each one of you to visit Girl Rising, the website of the organization that put this film together, and do whatever you can to help. If you have money send money. If you don’t then try to watch the film or social media the crap out of them. Facebook, Twitter, whatever it is you kids are doing these days to get the word out. I am not much of a social activist and I hate this Jerry’s Kid’s style telethon BS intensely but if you saw this film you would understand why I now care (and if you know me you know how little I care about almost anything). Please do what you can.
I always say thanks for reading at the end of my blogs, but this time really thank you for reading. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Comments on this cause or movie can be put here and off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again.
Back in November when I did my 10 Worst Star Trek TOS Episode list I included my list of bad ones. One of the episodes that slipped my grasp was the Alternative Factor. One reader commented and called me out on it. At the time I said I had a liking for Lazarus and anti-Lazarus fighting for eternity between universes. However, I have been rewatching the TOS episodes and last night got up to the Alternative Factor and have had to reconsider my position on this one.
Basically this episode is the first to have Season 3 sized plot holes but was barely into Season 1. The science was about as dumb as possible. If anti-Lazarus was made of antimatter wouldn’t he be annihilated as soon as he came into contact with matter from our world? The matter humans are comprised of changes every minute. If anti-Lazarus ate or drank something what happened when he went home? Wouldn’t his stomach contacts destroy the universe? Is it only the exact molecules that destroy each other? How does that make sense?
So Lazarus is a crazed madman who has already expressed a desire for critical components of the Enterprise’s warp drive. Why didn’t Kirk just throw him in the brig, or at least put a guard on him? Instead a complete stranger has free run of the ship, and gets to hang out in the rec room listening to crew members discuss dilithium crystals. Had Lazarus been under observation the crew might have noticed how he kept phasing in and out of reality every time the universe went on it’s freaky binge. Given that knowledge I think Kirk would have not been remiss dropping him into the nearest black hole.
Why, exactly, did anti-Lazarus have to fight Lazarus in the corridor between universes forever? You can’t tell me it’s because of the balance of atoms or something like that. One of them had a bandage that the other did not, so there is no way the atom count was accurate. Why couldn’t Kirk have just executed Lazarus (the crazy one) or rendered him unconscious, tied him up, and tossed him into the little ship? Anti-Lazarus could have just hung out on the other side and blown up his own ship, then went home to market his own line of facial hair products.
Speaking of just knocking Lazarus out, at one point Kirk and Lazarus struggle as Kirk tries to pitch Lazarus into the gateway. That’s all fine and well, but Mr. Spock and two red shirts just stand there fully armed watching. What if Lazarus had been secretly trained in martial arts and tossed Kirk in the door again, or just gotten lucky and gouged out one of Kirks eyes? Spock could have nerve pinched him out, cuffed him, and tossed him into the corridor. Also Kirk takes his sweet ass time nuking the ship from orbit. At any second Lazarus or anti-Lazarus (or both) could have come rolling out of the gate and destroyed the universe.
I don’t know. Is it worse than the Enemy Within, my number 10 worst episode? I guess not. The science is not as horrible, and at least they tried to address some interesting ideas beyond the duality of man. However, Kirk did not get to demonstrate his range of acting ability as he did in the Enemy, so from a cinematographic point of view maybe.
One thing is for sure. This episode would have to murder a bus full of orphans and nuns to be considered worse than Spock’s Brain, so as bad as it or any of the other ones are at least it has that going for it. (Spock’s Brain image courtesy of the Star Trek T-Shirt category)
Today is cheap movie night, so I will try to see Hit and Run tonight. It’s the new pretty boy Bradley Cooper movie, but apparently it was done semi-independently so I am curious to see what comes of it. Look for the review tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have any thoughts or comments on this post feel free to make them here, and if you have any off topic questions or suggestions feel free to email me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
SPOILER ALERT: the boat sinks.
So I did see this last night and yes, the girl I saw it with teared up. Fortunately I had just recharged my robot batteries and managed to escape without being too affected by it. (If you want to see me cry like a baby show me the last 10 minutes of the Wrath of Khan. Spock’s death scene hits me like nothing else. TWOK image courtesy of the Star Trek T-Shirt category)
I have long avoided seeing Titanic for a laundry list of reasons. At the time I didn’t know James Cameron from Adam and had no idea what a talented film maker he was. Also I had issues with Hollywood pretty boys like Leonardo Di Caprio and did not want to support them. Finally, I had a problem with Hollywood using the tragic death of 1500 people to sell a love story.
Time makes fools of us all, however. Avatar made me a James Cameron fan. Granted he doesn’t make the greatest stories, but he makes incredibly effective films that tug at your heartstrings. Watching him in Inception has made me a fan of Leonardo, and I have since watched and enjoyed him in films like Shutter Island and J Edgar. And finally seeing Hollywood take the great tragedy of my time, 911, and turn it into a cheesy story in Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close had more or less hardened me to the exploitation of tragic events that happened decades before I was born.
I am not going to go into the story. If you are like me and haven’t seen it yet I’m sure the story of love found and lost (as told by Shakespeare) has filtered into your subconscious. Either that or you live in a cave somewhere. Nor am I going to do a formal review as it would be a pointless waste of time. The movie is nigh flawless, and except for a couple issues with some forced dialog I really couldn’t find any black holes that would not be total nit picking. The story was seamless, the acting superb, and all the characters believable and cool. I am especially a fan of Billy Zane (see him in Demonknight if you have not). The chemistry between Leonardo and Kate Winslet is very real and makes for a great love story, while the tragic ending is like a punch in the stomach that somehow feels good. Plus we get to see Kate Winslet topless.
I will say that unless the original film was a Hanna Barbara cartoon the 3D did absolutely, 100% nothing. If I hadn’t gotten up to use the restroom I would have totally forgotten about the bad fashion decision on my face. 3D sucks, and post production 3D (15 years post production) sucks even more.
I couldn’t even come up with some funny questions like I did with Harry Potter. I do have some but most of them make sense. Like, for example, in the unlikely event I were ever to set foot on another ship (watching this movie has cured me of that desire for life) and there were not enough light boats, I think I would have grabbed a fire axe and cut enough deck material to make some kind of floatation device. Kate ended up an a big piece of wood. Also, why were crew members given seats on the boats in order to row when there were any number of able bodied male passengers who might have done it?
Actually I do have one funny question. It is navel tradition that the captain of a ship be the last man off and should go down with the ship. If you were given captaincy of a ship you would know that. Why then would you be OK with being on a ship that did not have enough seats for everyone? If you have 2,800 passengers and enough lifeboat seats for 2,799 people guess who gets the short end? Of course, this movie is a study in the error of hubris. This is why no ship since has been called “unsinkable” and why I don’t use phrases like “safe”, “that should work”, or “a good idea”.
Anyway, I did enjoy this movie, and if you are a stick in the mud like I was for years I suggest you get over it. However, the 3D is more or less worthless so I think it OK to see it on a larger TV. On the other hand a lot of the shots were pretty impressive so maybe it’s worth the headache (literally).
Thanks for reading. Not a lot out right now that I want to go see, but I will find something to write about tomorrow morning. If you have a comment about this review feel free to post it here, or follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. You can email me with specific questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
Ever wonder what a rated R action movie is supposed to look like? Now you can find out.
Wow. That pretty much sums up this movie in a word. Easily the best action movie I have seen in years, possibly decades. On par with Die Hard, First Blood, Lethal Weapon, or any other top action movie (even the Road Warrior, and if you know me you know that is saying a lot). This film takes the crime action and martial arts genres and melds them seamlessly with great characters and some of the most amazing action camera work ever.
Let me talk a little about the camera in this film. Most action films plant the camera at mid range and then use dumb quick cuts to generate action. If they want to make the audience feel like they are in the scene they don’t use a steady cam and let the Blair Witch effect take over. However, as jumbled up as you may be in a fight scene your eyes don’t really jitter around like that. What this movie does is incorporates the camera into the fight choreography, dodging in an out, panning with the fighters, diving in, and placing you in the action better than anything else I have ever seen. The last time I felt that close to a fight I was one of the ones fighting. Truly great.
The martial arts is also great. The film is Indonesian (with my new favorite director Gareth Evans. Sorry Scorsese. He has also done Footsteps and Merantau, both of which I am going to track down) and most of the stars are experts in Pencak Silat. There are no dumb wire fight scenes. All the fighting seems really cool and brutally realistic. Even the gun action is great.
The story is of young Rama (Iko Uwais-Merentau is his only other film credit), a new officer leaving his pregnant wife after a short training montage to join his team of elite cops. They are raiding crime lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy-Dilema, Demi Dewl, Jinx), a brutal man who rules his 30 story slum tenement filled with the scum of the earth with an iron hand. He has two main henchmen: amazing martial artist Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian-Merentau. He and Iko did the fight choreography) who lives only to fight, and brain man Andi (Doni Alamsyah-Fiksi, Merentau, Hearts of Freedom), and an army of thugs and psychopaths. The cops stealth into the building, taking out spotters and guards as they progress, but are spotted. Tama wakes up the whole building and all hell breaks loose.
After the initial gun fight sequence (started off in the dark in the coolest way possible) this movie shifts gears smoothly from action to survival/horror. Granted, none of the bad guys are zombies (that we know of) but a lot of really cool horror elements are incorporated, like good guys hiding around the corners while the bad guys are tapping their machetes along the wall looking for them. The survivors of the first big fight split up. Rama is trying to save the life of his injured friend Bowo (Tegar Satrya-Negeri 5 Menara) while his Sergent Jaka (Joe Taslim-Rasa, Karma) head in a different direction with Lt. Wahyu (Pierre Gruno-True Love, London Virginia, Ekspedisi madewa) and another red shirt (Dead Man Walking image courtesy of the Star Trek T-Shirt category).
This is where the martial arts action really unfolds. Rama kicks and punches his way through a corridor of bad guys (and to anyone who thinks there was too much of the fighting, or that some of the fight scenes went on too long, it is obvious you have never really developed an appreciation for martial arts movies. Perhaps you should go see the Lorax). Some cool plot twists develop, although if you are here for an amazing story I think you walked into the wrong theater.
The stars. Amazing action. Three stars. Really great camera work. Three stars. Fight choreography that is second to none. Two stars. For the most part really good characters, especially the villains. One star. Overall a wonderful film experience. Three stars. Total: twelve stars.
The black holes. I hate giving any, as I loved this movie on almost all levels, but have to be honest. The story was pretty simple and even the plot twists no big deal. One black hole. Some of the dialog felt forced and artificial, especially the cussing. This film was written in English and translated for the actors to speak in Indonesian. It felt culturally out of place. One black hole. I could give a third for some cheesy CGI blood, but honestly it was hardly noticeable. Two black holes.
A grand total of 10 stars, one of the best scores I have given in a long time. Should you see it? Abso-freaking-lutely. You will have to look hard for it since American theaters won’t show anything that doesn’t have Brad Pitt or the like in it, but it will be worth the search. See it in a theater to encourage other good movies to be made and released here. Date movie? Hell no, but drag her ass to see it anyway. If she puts up with it you know she’s a keeper, and who knows? You might awaken a sleeping love of martial arts movies in her and you next date could be a Bruce Lee marathon. Even if she dumps you at least you have exposed her to a great film, thus incrementally increasing the culture level of this country.
The one thing that drives me nuts about this film is not the movie itself but rather that it painfully illustrates how lame the vast majority of Hollywood action extravaganzas are. Action isn’t about how many explosions you can fit into ten minutes of film or who has the biggest CGI budget. It’s about the action. This film is like the svelte, athletic person entering a room full of fat people. All of a sudden everyone in the room just looks fatter. They are already working on an American remake and I would bet a large sum of money that it will not be half as good.
Thanks for reading. Go see this movie. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu or email me with suggestions or questions at email@example.com. If you have a comment about this film feel free to post it here. Something came out recently called Intruders with no fanfare that looks creepy as hell. I might go see it tonight. Talk to you soon.
Extremely Depressing and Incredibly Painful
I am going to start this review with a lesson from my upcoming book “How to Make Movies that Don’t Suck”. The lesson is this: no matter how good the story, acting, direction, filming, or editing is, if you make the movie about 9-11 then the biggest American tragedy of the 21st century is going to overwhelm the story and plot in a depressing gloom and actually annoy the hell out of your audience. It’s like if you set out the world’s finest buffet table, with sushi, caviar, and all the best foods possible, set it out on a table covered with flowers, fine china, and a silk tablecloth, but then dead center put a big platter of dog feces. No matter how good the food may be, the very fact that it sat on a table with dog crap is going to put a lot of people off even touching it. Furthermore, when someone looks at your beautiful buffet their eyes will be drawn to the crap in the middle and they will want to look away. Some people might start on one end of the buffet and not notice the dog crap until halfway through, but as soon as they see it the food they have collected will end up left untouched on the credenza, while others will have been chased from the room by the smell wafting through the air alone.
Thus we come to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a movie about a troubled kid dealing with his dad dying on 9-11. I am not actually saying that this movie is the greatest buffet of all time except for the dog crap salad at the center. It has plenty of other issues, most related to pacing, but I can see what director Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliot, The Reader) was trying to accomplish. However, it does have elements that in a movie without the dog crap centerpiece would have made for an excellent cinema experience.
The funny thing is at first I thought this movie was treating 9-11 as a main issue without forcing the audience to sit through it, to it’s benefit. The death of the father was related via expository scenes rather than footage of the Twin Towers falling. However, as the movie progresses through a never ending Vortex of Flashbacks we are subjected to everything from that day I never wanted to see or hear about again. I don’t even want to talk about it here. I watched all that stuff live on TV and still get the chills.
The story is basically As Good as it Gets meets Stand by Me set in the City of Lost Children. Tom Hanks plays super dad to his highly intelligent but disturbed kid Oskar (no other real credits). They play games and Tom’s character Thomas likes to give his son puzzles like a scavenger hunt to solve. Thomas dies in one of the towers and the kid has a breakdown of sorts. He finds a key in his dad’s possession and decides it must be part of the last game Thomas was setting up for him. He blows off his mother (Sandra Bullock-she is excellent in this movie, BTW) in a big way and undergoes an OCD inspired quest to find what lock the key fits into. Along the way he meets a ton of people, deals with his own phobias and issues, alienates his long suffering mother, and meets up with a creepy older man (Max von Sydow-Minority Report, Shutter Island, the Exorcist) who is mute and writes everything down on a piece of paper. The plot plods on and on like me trying to push my ’79 T-Bird to the gas station, with lots of boring non productive scenes punctuated by temper tantrums from the kid. The kid in a weird way describes a perfect character arc. At the beginning of the movie I found him painfully annoying. Towards the middle I kind of really got to like him and his eccentric ways. Then towards the end I found him really annoying again.
The story is obviously about the character development in the kid, and in it’s own way does an admirable (if boring) job of portraying it. The problem is the 9-11 basis for the story so overshadows everything else that you really couldn’t care. I will say the story managed to not step in any other major quagmires. While the ending was a little fanciful it did not really bend my mind accepting it. The acting was very good, and the dialog decent. If the story had been about about a kid dealing with his dad dying in a tragic Segway accident it would have been a decent, if slow, movie.
The stars. Acting was decent all around, although in spite of getting top billing Tom Hanks was only in about 15 minutes of the film and more or less played a grown up version of Josh Baskin from Big. I thought Sandra Bullock did a particularly good job. Two stars. For the most part I liked the characters, especially the mute old man. One star. The movie did what movies should at least try to do: actually have a character show some form of development (for most of you directors out there this phenomenon is called “character development”) and truly describe a true story arc. One star. Overall of a quality I wish more filmmakers would aspire to. Two stars. Total: six stars.
The black holes. 9-11 based story. Two black holes. The story kept coming back to 9-11. One black hole. Pacing felt like my mother was driving the movie. Sluggish and boring. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
So a total of two stars. I honestly did not want to see this film when I saw the trailers, and only “professional” obligations got me into the theater. Now that I have seen it I know I was right in that assessment. If you think enough time has passed and you are not disturbed by images and stories set on 9-11 then by all means go see it. You will probably enjoy it, but you won’t be invited to any of the wild parties I throw on a regular basis (the last one was in 1998, I think. Party like a Vulcan image courtesy of the Spock T Shirt category). I think the acting will carry this movie if you can ignore the subject matter. The kid is talented, and Tom Hangs and Sandra Bullock have a good chemistry together (I thought so when I reviewed Larry Crowne). However, overall the entire movie was pretty much a bummer.
Thanks for reading, as always. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Nothing really on deck until Friday, so I think I will take a break and let Jason post more of his short rants. Talk to you soon.
So after I read Dave’s review for Tree of Life months ago I went and saw it to see if he was right on how bad it was. It totally sucked. I’ve seen YouTube videos that had better plots and stories. How can the morons at the academy give a Best Director nomination on a film that was a random pile of weird footage? Dave’s probably smarter on movies than I am and he couldn’t figure out what the damned point was.
This is a pretty good sign that the academy is chock full of pretentious a-holes who use their position to try to prove to the rest of Hollywood that they are smarter than they really are. The question on my mind is if this is so why do they bother with such blue collar awards like best special effects? Shouldn’t they be focused on which movie had the best caviar at the catering trucks? If Tree of Life actually wins either of these awards I am going to set up a camera at the dog park near my house and submit whatever random footage I get as the animal movie of the year.
By the way, I don’t think Starfleet Academy is full of pretentious a-holes. This shirt from the Star Trek T-Shirts category was the only image I could find with the word academy on it.
Decent movie, but don’t see this if you actually love horses.
This movie was actually better than I expected. Sure, it’s Spielberg, but I had just been disappointed with Tintin and as masterful a storyteller as he is, he has a tendency to let his story dip into the sappy zone and hover there, like in E.T. However, while the sap was there (lots of young boys snuggling horses) the story, after a sluggish start, really drew you in.
Spielberg appears to be using this production as a tool to show the horror of WWI like he did with Saving Private Ryan. However, in spite of a much more terrible war (WWI was way more brutal than WWII. WWI is why they created war crimes) it does not come even close to how well Private Ryan did. The blame for this I put firmly on the PG-13 rating Spielberg bends bars to maintain. I am not one of those guys who feels the need for gore and blood in everything, but the impact of a battle scene loses something when nothing brutal is shown. Guys get shot and just fall to the ground. One of the main characters gets caught in a gas attack and in the next scene, instead of showing him lying in a cot coughing himself to death (mustard gas) he has a bandage over his eyes. There was none of the horrific desperate attempts to hold your own entrails in, or guys getting their limbs blown off. It was almost sanitized, like a video game, and that sensitization kind of washes away a lot of the impact.
However, as kind as Spielberg was to his human characters he makes it up in his treatment of the horses. Through a series of really good puppets and camera work with very little CGI he shows all kinds of horrible things happening to horses. To be honest it was more than a little stomach turning, and I had to look away during a couple scenes. A horse is a noble creature, and should not be shown in extreme pain and horrible situations. I can’t actually call anything that happened animal cruelty, as none if it was malicious or intentional, but just really hard to watch. This goes out to my horse loving friend Lauren in particular. Don’t see this if you have a love of horses.
Anyway, the movie, with a few spoilers. It follows the life of Joey, a thoroughbred horse born on a Scottish farm prior to WWI. His birth is witnessed by young Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine-no other film roles), who takes an instant bond with him. The horse goes up for auction and Alby’s drunken father Ted (Peter Mullan-Trainspotting, My Name is Joe, Boy A) makes the mistake of buying him for a very large amount. This is going to cause them to lose the farm, literally, unless Alby can train Joey to pull a plow and can then plow the most rock filled field in all of Scotland. He does so and all seems well until the crop is ruined from a storm. Ted is forced to sell Joey to a cavalry officer (Tom Hiddleston-Loki from Thor, Midnight in Paris, Conspiracy), who takes him to France where he learns what happens when sword wielding cavalry charges machine guns. Joey is captured by the Germans and put to use hauling ambulances. He then goes through a long series of owner changing, from two German deserters, a French jam maker and his granddaughter, and a German artillery officer who seems to relish putting down injured horses. He finally breaks free in a panic and runs out into No Man’s Land and gets caught up in the one scene I had the hardest time watching. He gets rescued by a Scottish corporal with the help of a German infantryman (a love of horses supersedes the need to kill each other) and is eventually reunited with Alby, who apparently joined the infantry while all this was going on. Some other drama goes on before the end.
The stars. Decent if sappy story. One star. Amazing camera work and visuals. Two stars. While not graphic enough to really impact, the fighting did illustrate a lot of the horror of WWI. One star. The uniforms and equipment seemed correct, including the German spiked Kaiser helmets, and the entire film was very well within period. One star. This is something only a treadhead would appreciated, but they actually did show a rhomboid tank (I think it was a MkV Heavy, but they didn’t really show it off entirely). I don’t know if they found a functional unit (there are a few in the world) or just built a replica, but really cool. One star. The horse handling, puppets and special effects were stunning. One star. I don’t want to get into it too much, but this movie did manage to draw out an emotional response from me. One star. Overall good movie. Two stars. Total: nine stars.
The black holes. Stomach wrenching horse-in-pain scenes. One black hole. For the most part, all the characters seemed flat and uninteresting. I don’t know if this was the writing or the fact there doesn’t actually seem to be a real protagonist. The focal character changes every 15 minutes or so, never allowing you to connect with any of them, and Joey the horse does not show enough of a distinctive personality to really connect with. For the most part he acts like a horse and a horse is a horse (of course, of course). One black hole. Each sub-character seemed to have a whole new sub plot that disappeared with that character. One black hole. What could have been a great R rated war movie got a PG-13 rating tied to its feet. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
So a grand total of five stars. Decent movie in all regards, and well worth watching. I will also say that the visuals are amazing, and if you don’t see it in a huge theater you will not get the full effect. Go out and see it. I don’t know how this would work as a date movie. Sure, it has horses, but it also has a lot of other stuff that might turn a girl off. She might respond well to the ending, but I personally don’t like to leave stuff like that to chance.
That’s it for now. I have a freakishly busy weekend coming up (party, party, dinner with friends) and don’t know if I will get to see anything. It might be Monday before I blog again. (Party Like a Vulcan image courtesy of the Star Trek T Shirts). Thanks again for reading. Talk to you soon.
The warning stroke of the Star Trek franchise.
I can’t keep putting it off. I promised I would do the entire series and am at the dross of Star Trek. This is like dinner as a kid, when I would rush to eat all the delicious mac and cheese and be left staring at a bowl of steamed spinach and broccoli. The fun is over. Time to put the work in.
Ugh. Where to begin. I suppose I should just do what I have been doing so far and talk about what happened in 1994. Tonya Harding went nuts. Nelson Mandala became president of South Africa. The US invades Haiti. The Northridge earthquake hits LA (I slept through it). OJ is arrested for the murder of his wife and her lover. A Finnish ferry sinks, killing over 900. NAFTA is signed. Most of Montana burns up in a wildfire. No one else in the US notices. Java is released as a programming language. The Channel Tunnel is dug. Other movies included the Lion King, Forest Gump, Dumb and Dumber, the Mask, Clear and Present Danger, and Pulp Fiction. Popular music included Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart, Sting, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Sheryl Crow, and Boys II Men. Television was Law & Order, Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Frasier, Star Trek DS9, and the great X-files (one day ask me about my Scully fantasies).
(Generations image courtesy of the Star Trek t shirt category)
While TV was doing OK, I think it pretty obvious that movies and music had both hit a slump. Paramount needs another hit Star Trek film. However, as the last one has more or less shown, the cast is well past their prime and not likely to appeal to the modern generation (haw!). The obvious solution would be to create a Next Generation movie. However, anti-movie producer Rick Berman failed to have enough faith in the TV show he produced for years to believe it could stand on it’s own, and like attaching water wings to a young (or severely disabled) child managed to convince the TOS stars with the least respect for their characters, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, and of course, Bill Shatner, to step in and make their TOS roles look even stupider.
So, the story. A giant space ribbon is tearing ass across the galaxy and sucks up Captain Kirk or something. Still not sure what happened there. Later, Picard comes across Malcom McDowell (remember that really cool movie he did a while ago about a violent sociopath? The movie with the great story that made sense and came from a book. I’m talking about Tank Girl, of course), who wants to get sucked back into the Nexus (the name of the ribbon) again because for some mysterious reason that is like Heaven, where you can do or be anything you want (my plan is to become an erotic dancer named Destiny). The only way he can do that is to attract the ribbon, and the only way to do that is to blow up a star with a populated planet around it. Picard and his crew do what they can to stop him, but fail.
So Picard gets sucked into the Nexus, where he gets bored of Heaven pretty quick. He runs into Guinan, still wearing the dumb hats, who explains that she is not really there but is a shadow and Picard can exit the Nexus anywhere he chooses, at any time he chooses. So he wants to go back to stop Malcom, but needs help. He recruits Captain Kirk, who was happy just chopping wood. Together they get into the lamest geriatric fight action sequence of all time (think a less coherent Bum Fight). Kirk dies, but Picard succeeds. Then, Picard leaves Kirk’s body to the rats as he goes rushing off to more adventure.
That’s pretty much it. I don’t want to get too deep into the what it had and didn’t have, although the value of what it didn’t have grossly outweighs what it did. What is specifially didn’t have was Mr. Spock or Dr. McCoy. Leonard Nimoy and DeForrest Kelley both either had too much integrity or they hired a third grader to read the script and let them know it was a steaming pile of crap. Uhura managed to miss it too. Sulu they only got by promoting him.
What the movie had was some massive, gaping plot holes you could fly the Enterprise through. Let me go into a couple.
OK. You are Captain Picard. You are in the Nexus, and need to stop Malcolm McDowell. You can come out at any point you wish. Why would you pull an old man out of retirement and then appear 2 minutes before Malcolm launches his doomsday rocket? Why would you not show up three days earlier on the bridge of the Enterprise and just throw his ass into the brig right then and there? Or paste his little base from orbit? Or transport to the surface with like 100,000 security guys? How dumb are you, man? He could have saved his brother’s life too
What the hell was Worf doing on the Enterprise? Wasn’t he supposed to be on DS9? And if he somehow transfered back, why was he still wearing his DS9 uniform, along with about half the crew? Was the costume budget so small they had to recycle old uniforms from other shows?
So Malcolm is about to launch his death rocket. According to Worf, it will impact the sun in something like 11 seconds. Assuming, since everyone can breath on the planet, it is a class M world similar to earth, that means it is 8 light minutes from the sun. This rocket would have to be able to do warp 46 to get there that fast. Lazy writers piss me off.
Why didn’t Picard recruit like 100 people to help him? For that matter, if time has no meaning in the Nexus why not enjoy a few million years of happiness and hair before dealing with the problems at home?
The planet’s ionosphere prevented the Enterprise’s sensor from detecting Picard? How lame are these sensors? This planet has an ionosphere. Also, given that we can now read a credit card from space couldn’t you just have the computer visually look at most of the surface, searching for the distinctive reflection off Picard’s shiny pate? How about getting off your lazy, bearded ass (yes, Riker, you) and send down a couple shuttles to look around a bit? I mean, it’s just the captain, right? He’s not really critical to the operation of the ship. No way he has broken a leg and is currently dying of thirst.
Why would Picard pick Kirk anyway? It’s not like he needed Kirk’s years of experience. He basically needed a red shirt to distract Malcolm and die while Picard saves the day, which is pretty much what Kirk did. While I do find irony in Kirk finally going down like a red shirt, it still bugs me that Picard didn’t recruit some kind of young combat guy or something.
What was the point of Data and his emotion chip, other than to completely annoy and distract the audience from the rest of the plot? Actually, now that I think about it, given the quality of the rest of the plot I don’t know if that was such a bad move. Still, it sucked.
If after Picard failed the first time and he and Malcolm were both in the Nexus, what was to prevent Malcolm from going back in time and killing Picard as a child, then jumping back into the Nexus at the first point he encountered it? For that matter, why didn’t he just fly up to it in a ship and shoot himself at it inside a photon torpedo?
Why did Picard leave Kirk, a galaxy wide hero known across Star Fleet, buried under a pile of rocks? His ship was about to pick him up. Are coffins so expensive in space? How about a nice memorial and tomb for him? I hope your final wish was to be eaten by alien worms on a forsaken planet, James.
What’s the deal with everyone in the universe being totally familiar with Tri-Lithium when it is an experimental compound the Romulans (not well known for sharing secrets) were experimenting with? Also, if it is such a rare, exoctic material, why did they have to come up with such a common sounding name? Lithium is pretty commonplace, and Tri-Lithium sounds like you just packed three of them together. Why not a Romulan name?
Did any of you ever watch the TV series? Apparently none of the movie producers did. Remember when Picard had to change his pants after being given a 12,000 year old “curlin nescar” (I don’t know how it’s spelled) and has a whole speech about how priceless it was? Well, why then would he drop it on the floor of his wrecked ready room and leave it for future archeologists after picking up his stupid photo album? For that matter, why the hell was his photo album and curlin nescar (Curling NASCAR? Maybe it had something to do with that weird Olympic sport where you sweep the ice combined with stock car racing) in the ready room and not his quarters? Isn’t that where he is supposed to keep important personal items?
Actually, the list goes on and on. The script was stupidly and lazily written, the TOS charactes were really out of place, Shatner’s overacting totally clashed with Picard’s Shakespearean training, Data acted completely out of character, and more or less the movie experience sucked. Of course, was it the worst of the Star Trek movies? Nope. It was more the harbinger of more pain to come.
Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.
I admit I have been putting this off a bit, as this is the last of the “good” Star Trek movies. After this the franchise stops circling the drain and finally goes down. By no small coincidence it was directed by Nicholas Meyer, the man responsible for all the best Star Trek films. They were pretty much done with the actors directing films by this point, although Nimoy did a decent job. (The Undiscovered Country image courtesy of the Star Trek t shirt category)
I have fond memories of this film, and enjoyed seeing it. However, this film really drove home the fact that instead of the young action figures I was used to seeing I was watching some older men kind of fumble around on the screen. When James Doohan was the one to save the day at the end I knew the action days of the Star Trek crew were pretty much over (we’ll talk about Kirk fighting it out with Malcolm McDowell in Generations later).
What was happening in 1991? Well, I was a sophomore in my second try at college. I was grinding my way through the mechanical engineering program and hating it (I would later switch to Studio Art). We attacked Iraqi forces in Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm (good thing we were done there and never had to go back. Oh, wait…). Iraq also agreed to eliminate all WMD’s and, as far as all evidence since has shown, complied. Russia has its first free elections and votes in Boris Yeltsin. A big fire in my home town of Oakland, CA burns thousands of houses. The Prime Minister of India, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandh, is assassinated. South Africa adopts a new constitution that was multicultural. The Balkan war started. Mike Tyson was arrested and charged with rape. The phrase “going postal” started up by a postal worker shooting up a bunch of people. Freddie Mercury died of AIDS. The Rodney King video tape is shown. The Internet is opened to the public and has over 1 million computers on it (ha ha ha ha aha ha). The first web browser is released.
Movies were kind of ok. Good ones included T2: Judgement Day, Silence of the Lambs, Backdraft, Father of the Bride, and Thelma and Louise. Less good ones include Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Hook, the Addams Family, Beethoven, Beauty and the Beast, and the Naked Gun 2 1/2: the Smell of Fear. Popular music included Pearl Jam, Brian Addams, Phil Collins, Guns ‘n Roses, Metallica, Gloria Estephan, R.E.M., U2, Van Halen, the Clash, Garth Brooks, and Nirvana.
So, the Undiscovered Country. The Klingon moon Praxis (by the way, there is a series of books called Dread Empires Fall that talks about the Praxis as a philosophy. Great science fiction, especially if you like space battles that actually take most real physics into account) blows up and more or less wrecks the Klingon Empire. They sue for peace and send Kirk to transport the Klingon ambassador even though it is known that he hates the Klingons for killing his son David, who he knew for all of 2 weeks or so. Kirk is framed for killing the guy, and surrenders to the Klingons. He and McCoy are convicted and sentenced to a prison gulag. Some prison stuff happens, including an attempted escape with the help of a shapeshifter who really plans to kill them. Spock beams them out after he discovers what really happened. They find two assassins dead but trick their accomplice to reveal herself. Turns out it was Samantha from Sex and the City. Anyway, a bunch of Klingon, Romulan, and Federation officers are working together in a conspiracy to prevent the treaty that would allow them all to work together(?). The crew finds the cloaked Bird of Prey that did the original attack and blow it up. They all beam down to the conference and save the presidents life.
What it had:
The full crew. Captain Sulu. Captain Spock. Captain Scott(? I guess all the S names got promoted). Some cool space battles. A decently complicated plot that didn’t drive me berserk. Some decent humor. An illustration of the bonds of friendship between the crew that was organic and not shoved down our pie holes in the form of an awkward dumb speech made around a campfire. A dumb cameo by Christian Slater. Super hot Imam as the shape shifter. A shockingly large number of minor continuity failures. A generally good movie experience.
What it didn’t have:
Sulu on the bridge with the rest of the crew. That’s pretty much it. I can’t think of a lot from this one.
So a very positive experience, especially given the dross we were forced to watch in the last one. Unfortunately this would be the last positive Star Trek film experience, pretty much for ever (and don’t give me any crap about the J.J. Abrams movie. If you are really a Star Trek fan than you know it’s garbage). I warn you now that the following retrospectives, starting with (de)Generations, are going to take a much darker and bitter tone so if you feel you need positivity in your life you might want to skip them. It’ll be a couple more posts before I get to it, especially since I am about to go see Friends with Benifits and expect it to burn up my bile reserves pretty easily.