Thursday, April 30, 2009

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

You know, the one with the whales.

Voyage Home is my personal favorite Star Trek film, and my pick for the best science fiction film of all time. It's just a great film, in my opinion, full of heart, wit, and noble intentions. IT's also really funny and entertaining as hell.

There's very little to say. This isn't the most beloved film among Trekkies (even though it should be), but it's probably the most popular among, well, everybody else. It's the one with the whales. Everybody saw this movie. Everybody liked this movie.

I can only think of three things to nit pick about this movie:

#1. Catherine Hicks isn't a very good actress, or at least her performance in this movie is really lackluster. She's likable and cute, but her performance is really hokey and overly sentimental. Also, it doesn't help that most of her dialogue isn't all that well written. Her character wasn't as well developed as it should've been, making her more of a plot device than anything else. But she wasn't so bad she brought the film down. She was no Jar Jar Binks or Willie Scott.

#2. The time travel sequence doesn't really work, in my opinion. In fact, it doesn't work at all. IT makes no sense. I get what they were going for, but it was a little too metaphysical. Considering how many times we've watched Trek characters travel back and forth through time with little incident, it was strange seeing that extended dream-like interlude in this film. But at least it was cool looking.

#3. Here's a really petty nit pick... but in the scene at the restaurant, why does the waiter arrive with the pizza and the check at the same time? From a film making point of view, I understand that they were trying to simplify things, since the characters suddenly decided to leave, and having the check allowed for a funny exchange of dialogue about the lack of money in the future, but it always bugs me when I rewatch it. After she said the pizza was going to have to be to go, couldn't the waiter have pulled the check out of his pocket? Why was he already holding it?

Other than that, this is a perfect film, in my opinion, and worthy ending to the superb Star Trek trilogy. Hold on, because things are about to get a lot worse.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Search for Spock gets a bad wrap, but it's a film that's entertaining, sentimental, and always better than I remember it. But it just doesn't stand alone as a film on its own merits, which is one of the reasons I think it isn't as highly praised or well remembered as perhaps it should be.

The second installment of what is now popularly called "The Star Trek Trilogy," III mostly concerns itself with the aftermath of II, while bringing things back to the status quo in time for IV. So, for the most part, it's a transitional film, and watching the previous film is something of a prerequisite. If you aren't invested in the character of Spock, this film will mean very little to you, and since Spock only appears in the last scene (more or less), this isn't a good jumping on point for new viewers. And, frankly, the lack of Spock does hurt the film, since he was such an integral part of the success of the series. Luckilly, everybody talks about him so he's never far from the core of the story.

What holds this film together is the clever storyline, the exciting action sequencs, and the brilliant direction of Leonard Nimoy that holds it all together. Nimoy is my pick for the best Trek director of all time. He has the talent and visual inventiveness of Nick Meyer, but more restraint and love for logic that keeps the story from going off the rails, the way Khan did constantly, in my opinion. Nimoy is a talented director who kept the film focused, well paced, and on tone. I can't find anything worth nit picking about this movie.

This film also has the best villain from the film series, which nobody but me will admit. Khan was great, but he was a cartoon with cartoonish motives and nothing original or clever to say. He was ripped off from Ahab and most of his dialogue was dipped off from Moby Dick. Not a great villain, in my eyes. But Christopher Lloyd's Kruge is awesome. He's almost like a darker version of Kirk. Even his name sounds similar. There isn't one moment in this film where Kruge doesn't do the logical, smart, evil thing. His fight with Kirk in the finale is also the best fight scene in the entire series.

Also, Robin Curtis was a better Saavik than Kirstie Alley. But that's just my personal opinion. As an actress, she seemed to have a better understanding of what being a Vulcan actually means. Or maybe it was just because Nimoy was directing, so she had that kind of guidance to work from. Either way, she's my favorite Saavik, and since she was in two films while Alley was only in one, she also wins by default anyway.

So Star Trek III, in its own way, is a great film and a worthy entry into the series. It's a great odd numbered film too, which helps put the lie to that old canard that the odd films are all worthless. What this film isn't, however, is emotionally satisfying when taken comepletely on its own. It's a film that exists simply to bring Spock back to the cast, and has little to no back story or expository explanations about their mission, Starfleet, or the Trek universe at large. But that's as it should be. The rebirth of Spock had to be intrinsically linked to the death of Spock, to give it that much more power and emotion. The final scene, which is one of my all time favorites from any movie, echoes scenes and dialogue from the previous film to such an extent that the emotional payoff can only exist had you seen Khan.

So if you're a Trekkie, give it another look. It's a good film. If you're not, watch the entire trilogy. They're awesome.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Now this is more like it.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is almost universally accepted not only as the greatest Trek film of all time, but one of the greatest science fiction films of all time as well. By everybody but me, that is.

Hold on! I didn't say I dislike this movie, nor did I disagree about its place as one of the all time best sci-fi movies... I just don't think it's the best Trek film. I don't even think it's the second best. Third best, probably. It's an awesome film that's vastly superior to the previous film in the series, but all things considered, it's all really stupid and has too many logic problems that never quite add up.

In my opinion, one of the film's biggest faults is something most people consider its biggest strength: The villain. What's the deal with Khan, and why was his character so poorly written? We get it already, he's Ahab and Kirk is his Moby Dick. How do we know this? Because every other line out of his mouth is a quote from Melville. It's one thing to have a character inspired by a character from another work of literature, but to have an identical character arc and so many quotes that its borderline plagiarism, the whole thing just seems silly.

I mean, clearly the guy read Moby Dick, so why doesn't he remember the damn ending?! After the second or third time he quoted Captain Ahab, shouldn't somebody else in his crew have said, "Um, Khan... you remember that Ahab died in the end of that book, right?" But the whole thing is almost forgivable because Ricardo Montalban is such an awesome actor. But if you want to see
Montalban in a role worthy of his talents, watch Space Seed, the original series episode where Khan first appeared.

Also, what's the big deal with these genetically advanced humans anyway? All through the history of Star Trek, we hear about how the genetic engineering of humans is outlawed because people like Khan are so dangerous. All things being equal, was Khan really all that dangerous? That is to say, was he really more dangerous than any other evil human? Consider: He attempted to take over the world back in 1990s, and was captured and exiled into space. He attempted to take over the Enterprise, but Kirk stopped him and exiled him again. Then he got lucky and broke free again, only to be killed by Kirk. So... what's the big threat? Legalize genetic engineering already. Khan was a push-over.

And as long as I'm talking about stuff that makes no sense, what's the deal with the Kobayashi Maru, a Starfleet test designed to have every student fail? What's the point of that? What are they really hoping to learn?

Or, as Kirk asked after Savik failed, "How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn't you say?"

No, I wouldn't say. That makes no sense. So because somebody doesn't want to die, they'll make a lousy starship captain? And, all things considered, how a person deals with losing a computer simulated scenario has nothing to do with how that person deals with death. That'd be like judging my opinion on my own mortality after watching me get killed in a game of Halo.

So considering the fact that the Kobayashi Maru is used as the metaphor for the overall theme of the movie, it's easy to understand why I never really bought into the whole thing. Because the metaphor is stupid and pretentious and overwrought.

Also... a team of scientists is studying a planet with such scrutiny that they can find a single piece of pre-animate matter on the surface, but they didn't notice that the neighboring planet had exploded? That's moronic.

But it's still an awesome movie.

Forgetting the trite storyline and obnoxious villain, it's still an incredibly fun and entertaining Star Trek movie. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy give the best performances of their careers, the dialogue is really witty and fun, and Nick Meyer's pacing and direction are first rate. Also, the death of Spock always makes me tear up, no matter how many times I watch it. It's just perfectly done.

So... great Star Trek movie, just not the best of the series by a long-shot.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

(It's Star Trek Month at Blessed are the Geeks, so I am reviewing every Trek movie in chronological order.)

Picture it: It's 1979 and Star Trek has been off the air for ten years. Star Wars just came out, and brought science fiction back into style. So Paramount decided to cash in by reviving Star Trek for the big screen. Only instead of making a fun, exciting show that the fans would love, they decided to make a huge piece of crap.

All things being equal, Star Trek: The Motion Picture isn't a terrible science fiction film, but it sure is terrible as a Star Trek movie, forgetting most of the charm, drama, and humor from the show in favor of the film that borrowed way too much from 2001: A Space Odyssey than anything else. There's even a long, drawn out trippy space warp sequence that's a direct ripoff from the "beyond the infinite" stargate sequence from 2001.

But this movie's worst crime is that it's boring. Kirk doesn't act like Kirk, Spock doesn't act like Spock, McCoy, well... you get the idea. There were no great character moments, and any random line of dialogue could've been given to any character without regard to the plot. The only standout characters from this film were Commander Decker and Ilia, neither of whom are from the original series.

So what we are left with is an interesting curiosity that won't satisfy fans of the series or fans of science fiction in general. Why did they hire Robert Wise to direct this? He's a great filmmaker to be sure, but he was much better suited to classic Hollywood films like the Sound of Music and West Side Story. Who thought he would be a good fit for the first film adaptation of Star Trek?

Skip it.

Star Trek Month

The new Star Trek movie comes out next month, and I'm pretty excited. I'm nowhere near as excited as I'd be if it was a movie starring the actors from the Original Series, or Next Generation, or Deep Space Nine, or, maybe, even Voyager or Enterprise.

So, I'm on the fence and hopefully optimistic... but I'm still excited. After all, it's called Star Trek, and that's all it will take to get me into the theatre. Plus, it looks pretty cool.

So here at Blessed are the Geeks, it's Star Trek month. Leading up to May 8th release of the new film, I'm going to attempt to review every other Star Trek movie, rate each TV series, and cram anything else Trek related into this blog before I run out of time.

Everybody, set phasers on fun!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

This should've been called "Forgetting This Movie."

How bad is this movie? It's still on, and I'm already writing a blog about how unfunny and boring it is. It's not all bad, since you get to see Kristen Bell in a bikini and Paul Rudd, who's always funny, has maybe two scenes.

Other than that... forget it. This movie sucks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Parks and Recreation

Well... that's a shame.

The opening for this show should have a credit that reads "Created by whoever created the Office," because it's the same show. Only not funny. Instead of taking place in an office, it takes place in an... office... in the government.

First of all, I'm not a fan of "mockumentaries." By their very definition, it's a lazy way to "write" a movie or TV show. You don't have to come up with a plot or concept beyond simply pretending there's a camera crew filming a bunch of stupid people. That's the premise behind this show, the Office, and every one of those damn Christopher Guest movies. Let's pretend to film stupid people who suck at what they do.

The Office comes out ahead because, though the focus is on some stupid people who are annoying, at least it throws in some people who are likable and intelligent and shows glimpses of how they react to those stupid, annoying people. This show is just stupid, annoying people, and it's not funny.

But, you know, if you love those Christopher Guest movies, you'll probably like this.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Toaster Scrambles Video Review

Well... I'm trying something new here. Instead of writing another 12 page essay on G.I. Joe or Star Trek or some other thing that nobody will read, I figured I'd try to join the 21st century and make a video blog entry. It's pretty bad, with horrible lighting, atrocious editing, and a really poor performance by me, the star. But it's my first attempt. I was kind of excited that I was able to actually have any edits at all.

Also, the only camera I own is the isight built into my Macbook, so that's why all the shots are poorly framed and look awkward. I can only film where I can set down my laptop. That also explains why the sound is terrible, since I used my laptop's built-in mic as well. That's why you can really hear the sound oy my laptop's fan, and a little bit of my voice.

Why is my first video review about Pillsbury Toaster Scambles? Two reasons: I was born, and I bought some Toaster Scrambles yesterday for the first time.

Anyway, enjoy:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Banana Nut Cheerios

I just bought this cereal, the first update to Cheerio's I've tried since Honey Nut came out decades ago. Long story short, this stuff is the bomb.

I have nothing else to say. Go buy some.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Twin Peaks

File this one under the "Another Reason Why I Love the Internet" department:

The complete run of Twin Peaks is available to watch on If you've never watched an episode of this show it's... well... a brief synopsis won't do it justice or convey just how entertaining, atmospheric, and brilliant this show was. It's a cult classic and one of my very favorite shows. I've spent the last few days rewatching them all for the few time in a few years, and they still hold up and feel innovative and ahead of their time even after 20 years.

The player is pretty crummy, however, and crashes too often, will stop playing suddenly, and often replays commercials a few times before resuming, but it's a small price to pay for being able to watch one of the best TV shows of all time. And if you can get past the minor performance issues, the video playback actually looks really good.

And while you're over there, check out some of the other shows they have available. Loveboat, 90210, Family Ties, Twilight Zone, and many more. They've even got a bunch of episodes of the remastered Star Trek: The Original Series on there, some of which are in HD.

I love the internet.

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