Where No Website Has Gone Before A lunch.com community for the world of Star Trek http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans <![CDATA[ RetroTrek: Reality Bites in Star Trek's "Spectre of the Gun"]]>
(In an attempt to revisit all things classic to this Star Trek fan, I’m going to take some time over this lifetime to sound off on some episodes of all incarnations of Gene Roddenberry’s seminal science fiction franchise.  Along the way, I’ll try to keep things decidedly fascinating!)
 
For a whole lot of reasons, Star Trek’s (TOS) third season has suffered a lot of criticism over the years, but one of the strong points – so far as this Trek enthusiast concerned – was the sixth episode in that last year on television’s run: the Vincent McEveety-directed “Spectre of the Gun.”  In this hour, Kirk and his officers find themselves beamed into a version of the Old West, wherein the Clanton Cowboy Gang are waiting for a showdown with the Earps and Doc Holliday that will rather famously become known as ‘The Gunfight at the OK Corral.’  However, no Starfleet crew will willingly die-for-naught, and – before you can say “Prime Directive” – Spock speculates a solution most will find thematically in the keeping of the realm of science fiction, one involving the participants’ perspective on what is and what isn’t real.
 
It’d be easy to dismiss so much of “Spectre” for its wealth of factual flaws (for example, the drama incorporates Tombstone sheriff Johnny Behan into the story but largely neglects his role in the gunfighters’ showdown).  In short, I’ve been to ‘the town that wouldn’t die’ twice in this lifetime, and I’ve read more than a fair share of books on the topic.  I’ve seen perhaps every major and many minor recreations of the gunfight on film and in television, and Star Trek’s bares absolutely no relation to what took place on that fateful day in 1881.  In fact, the Gene Coon (under pen name Lee Cronin) script couldn’t even get the time right: the real fight took place most likely before 3 pm, while Kirk and his company we served notice to be ready to fight at 5 pm sharp.
 
As is often the case with classic Trek, it isn’t so much ‘the facts’ that matter as do ‘the sentiments,’ and “Spectre” does tap into the right vein.
 
Historically, those events in 1881 were as much about rejecting authority as they were anything else.  A sense of lawlessness persisted throughout most affairs in the town.  Local authorities such as Sheriff Behan was almost always at odds with what county and/or federal officials wanted or required, so the Cowboy Gang was only yet one more cog in an already stymied Western machine.  Depending upon which version of events one accepts, the regular people were split on who was right and who was wrong (some supported Behan, some supported the Earps, and others sided with the cowboys); so it was only natural that some event would pit all of these forces on a path to collide, which they only did in part on that day and continued for a time afterwards.
 
Coon’s script also thematically comes at a time in our history that most folks were evolving against the resident political structure in the United States.  Our nation was mired in the Vietnam crisis, and political parties were clashing regularly over cultural issues in our homes.  The ‘Great Society’ wasn’t quite what everyone believed it ought to be, so it’s easy to understand why Coon’s probably used the OK Corral as analogous to Starfleet’s impending contact with the Melkotians: apparently the Melkots held the Federation’s motivations as suspect, so why not pit a crew of its finest against what the aliens imagined Fleet personnel most resembled, namely lawless gunslingers who only respected their own badges?
 
Like the Melkots tried to warn the Enterprise away from their world and were successful, the Melkots see to it that Kirk cannot even reason with Morgan Earp, a man whom the script implies would shoot first and ask questions later.  (FYI: this characterization of Morgan, as with the rest of the Earps, I think is largely a product of the 60’s since it doesn’t survive to the time of my writing.  Either that or Coon’s was only using these people from history as stock figures, ascribing whatever intent he needed to them from thin air.)  All of the Earps – as well as the ailing Doc Holliday – are depicted as men who’d rather allow their lead to do the talking for them; what’s lost in this equation is that Wyatt, his brothers and the dentist were only intent on disarming the Cowboy Gang per city ordinance when they entered into the fray, but the rest is history.  Unfortunately, Coon’s script doesn’t really supply any motives to Kirk’s orders of establishing contact, leaving this alien species looking more than a bit trigger-happy all on their own.
 
Leave it to the logical-loving Vulcan to recognize that the Melkots’ creation bears no relation to reality except in his mind and that of his Starfleet comrades.  (This should’ve been obvious considering town’s haphazard and recklessly incomplete recreation of Tombstone – no doubt a budgetary constraint, too!)  When it becomes clear that the Melkots’ version of events is definitely altered from what could’ve/would’ve/should’ve been established facts, Spock deduces that they’ve all been experiencing events given a framework actually requiring their acceptance in order for it to be legitimate.
 
In simpler terms: “Reality bites … only if you let it.”
 
After a quickly spun Vulcan mind meld equips everyone to sufficiently alter their paradigm, the Melkots’ power over them vanishes.  The gunfight isn’t so much a gunfight as it is target practice, but bullets reduced to spectres from their guns can’t harm anyone.
 
Like so many times throughout Star Trek’s first run on television, audiences are delivered a moral to the story, this one being that mankind turned its back on the lawlessness of its distant past.  Only such an enlightened perspective would allow the future to shine so brightly as it did in late 60’s television.]]>
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<![CDATA[ World War of the Worlds]]>
Aliens invaded during World War II.  So we get historical figures like FDR, Hitler, Stalin, Enrico Fermi, General Groves of the Manhattan Project and of course General Patton fighing aliens from outer space.  It is a hoot, if you like it.  Of course a main character is a science fiction reader.  Who else knows what to expect from aliens?

The aliens have previous experience with this, having conquered two other species before.  Of course you can't trust humans to do what you expect.  That would not make for good science fiction written by a human.  At least I presume Harry Turtledove is not a member of THE RACE.

This series is rather long, taking up 8 books.

The aliens take over half of the planet in the first four books.  Then a second fleet comes, the colonization fleet.  That makes up the next three books.  Then the last has humans with their own star ship going back to the alien home world.

This series is definitely epic with lots of characters in lots of places.  And plenty of historical puns.

Fun if you like it, though I expect not everyone will.  Check out the first book to decide.]]>
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<![CDATA[ "Uhura! Turn down the volume, this message show is too loud!"]]>
The story has the Enterprise running across a stolen shuttlecraft and find it's lone occupant onboard ill.  Said occupant has skin half white and black and the crew is amazed at this find (never mind the blinks of light or other more elaborate aliens they have met).  Lokai (the alien) claims to be from planet Cheron which Kirk says is: "in the southern most part of the galaxy" Lokai is a passive aggressive prick throughout the episode and garners little sympathy, begging for asylum from Kirk one minute then insulting him the next when Kirk doesn't deliver on the request.  Not too much later, the Enterprise runs across an invisible space ship (budget cutting) and before the ship collapses, Bele another member of planet Cheron transports to the bridge.  Bele is very different then Lokai-he is half black and white instead of Lokai's half white and black.  Bele is some kind of governement agent who is easily the Javert to Lokai's Val Jean in that he has been following Lokai for 50,000 YEARS!(?)  Bele even makes sure to state that it is in Earth years too.  That's a LONG time to be following ONE guy.  Either Lokai is craftier then he seems, or Bele is dumber then Wile E Coyote.

What did Lokai do?  It's pretty vague.  Other then cause trouble here and there and be a jerk, Lokai has used people to rally his cause of freedom back home and in doing so gotten people hurt or killed, but Bele says his people WERE freed but in a manner that an insensitive white might argue that blacks were freed but who cared about civil rights.  Bele certainly isn't sympathetic representing a white power authority figure but his cooler head and better presented argument makes him more likable.  Yes you read that right, the VILLAIN is more likable then the VICTIM.  Even when Bele takes over the Enterprise to direct it towards Planet Cheron he remains a cool presence.

Bele and Lokai are the biggest reason why this episode is a stumble.  As I said above, Lokai is the Red to Beles Blue.  Lokai is very emotional and fighting for a just cause but as like I said before is a passive aggressive jerk who starts pouting when he isn't given what he wants(Kirk doesn't give him asylum since he is a criminal in stealing the shuttle).  Bele represents a government that gave Loaki and his people freedom after enslaving them for years and acts incredulous when Loaki wants basic human rights and respect.  his dealings with Kirk and Spock are far more diplomatic and level headed making his argument stronger even though morally everyone knows he is wrong.

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield is like a football game that is 4th and inches, and the Quarterback getting sacked and losing the game.  It makes such a strong message but it's heavy handedness and poor realization of it's characters and how they are used sinks the show.  The ending while powerful is undermined by some silly gesturing and of all the characters to get sidelined on the show, you'd think this would be one where Uhura would get to have her voice heard alongside Kirks about how Earth ended it's petty differences in race.  Let That Be Your Last Battlefield is one for the ages on how to almost make something important something minor.]]>
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<![CDATA[ It May Not Be THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, But It's Still Pretty Stellar!]]>
Look, as long as we’re being perfectly honest with one another, let’s get this out of the way: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION’s best two-part cliffhanger was, by far, “The Best of Both Worlds.”  After that, you’re free to think what you want, but I thought they went downhill pretty fast.  Now, don’t get me wrong: many of their episodes were still by far some of the best television of its time.  Looking back on them with the distance of time and reason, REDEMPTION has moments that don’t feel as authentic as they probably did during the program’s heyday.  It’s still one of the better ones; it just ain’t all that I remembered it for.
 
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters.  If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment.  If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
 
The Klingon Empire has begun to fracture with the naming of a new leader, drawing Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise-D into all of the ruckus.  At the center of this story is Worf (Michael Dorn), the first Klingon to serve in Starfleet who accepted discommendation from his homeworld due to some political shenanigans compliments of the Duras’ sisters (in an earlier episode).  Worf sees the chance for a new tomorrow as being a chance to finally clear his family name, but, in order to ‘make it so,’ he’ll have to (first) convince his brother Kurn to do something he doesn’t want to do and (second) resign his Starfleet commission, joining the Klingon Civil War as a combatant under Gowron’s command.
 
REDEMPTION did an awful lot for the career of Ronald D. Moore, the man who penned the episode and the writer often given credit for really propelling the Klingons to the forefront of all things Trek.  Granted, he did some wonderful work here, imbuing the race of surly fighters with a depth they hadn’t enjoyed in any outing previously … but he also made their civilization seems more than a bit one-sided when it came to looking down the road at any possible future other than, say, beating the stuffing out of one another.  One might wonder whether or not the Klingons were ultimately best served by Moore’s machinations; rather, I give greater credit to the acting folks like Dorn, Tony Todd, and Robert O’Reilly for ignoring the obvious shortcomings inherent to any species so singularly dedicated to war and death and instead delivering performances of conviction, notice, and (dare I say?) merit.
 
After all, where do you begin fleshing out a role for a species that’s never existed?
 
Sure, you can give Moore all of the credit you want for setting up the notes.  I’ll continue to give the actors credit for hitting the marks AND THEN SOME.  It’s those performances – that exploration of a craft – that truly ignites the Klingon race as one destined (hopefully) for further study on either the big or small screen.
 
Back back to REDEMPTION …
 
Moore’s script operates around a hidden contrivance – the kinda/sorta return of Tasha Yar – to the Trek timeline by way of a plot device introduced in YESTERDAY’S ENTERPRISE (still one of the finest hours of Trek ever).  It isn’t enough to give this two-parter the weight it needed, and it certainly doesn’t posit the kind of “end of all things imaginable” in the same way THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS did.  Instead, it comes off here as WORLDS’ half-baked brother (erm … sister?): a good idea that probably merited more exploration but inevitably never got any (or never got enough to make it more than a plot device of its own).
 
Still, this version of REDEMPTION – this release is cut into a seamless 90-minute movie – plays better than it does with the season break, that’s for sure.  The stakes that are raised here are far more personal than they are ‘galactic’: Picard has to confront the fact that an alternate version of himself brought this new terror unto his timeline, while Worf has to come to terms with the fact that this whole ‘giving up Starfleet and being a full-time Klingon’ wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  It ends up being a solid adventure, but all of the political posturing and maneuvering smacks more of ‘invention’ than it ever does ‘inspiration.’
 
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION: REDEMPTION is produced by Paramount Television.  DVD distribution is being handled through Paramount Pictures.  As for the technical specifications?  Wow!  The episode looks mostly spiffy in this Blu-ray edition – a seamless merger of the TV episodes “Redemption” and “Redemption, Part 2” from the program’s TV run – though the uniforms end up looking neon ‘red’ in several shots.  And you wanna talk about special features?  There’s a terrific 30 minute documentary revisiting the making of REDEMPTION that’s worth the price of admission alone; plus there’s a wonderful commentary from Moore and Mike & Denise Okuda that fans will enjoy.
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Gone is the luster and desperation of THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, but, in its place, there’s a wonderful little actor’s performance piece called REDEMPTION.  The Klingons are given the bulk of the screen time; and there’s a handful of secondary plots involving the Romulans, Picard, and Data thrown in for good measure.  What more could a Trekkie, Trekker, or Trek enthusiast want?  How about L-I-V-I-N-G in the 24th century?  Until that’s possible, this Blu-ray release will have to do.]]>
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<![CDATA[Star Treks Baddest Rides]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3233-Star_Treks_Baddest_Rides.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3233-Star_Treks_Baddest_Rides.html Tue, 16 Jul 2013 14:16:36 +0000 <![CDATA[ "Shields Up!"]]>
With that said, I decided I would return to Lunch with a loud bang by reviewing Star Trek Into Darkness.  I will probably insult a few people in this review, horrify others, and hopefully make one or two people laugh.  This review will contain a spoiler or two (I'll try to keep them vague).  It will also most likely draw the ire of a few people who think I am off my rocker when it comes to my opinion of the film and of Star Trek in general.  Just know that I do really enjoy the original series and most of the films that it spawned as well as many of the spin-off shows and books.  My review will be written from the heart, tongue firmly in cheek, and with no ill will toward anyone.

And so begins my review that CONTAINS SPOILERS.  "Shields up, Kendall!"

I walked into the theater a couple of weeks ago with my daughter in tow.  As much as I love Doctor Who and Star Wars, her passion burns just as brightly for Star Trek.  She loves the original series and ST:TNG, and is especially fond of Spock, Bones, Data, and Captain Picard.  I didn't plan on seeing Star Trek Into Darkness until it had been out for awhile, but she insisted on seeing it as soon as possible.  We saw it in 3-D and by the end of the film, the rebooted crew of the Enterprise had once again impressed me and solidified her love of the franchise.  

As the film began, I felt a great disturbance in the Force.  It was as if millions of Trekkies witnessed J.J. Abrams dash the Prime Directive on the rocks of his Star Wars-infused childhood.  The crew of the Enterprise was actually trying to save a race of primitives on a planet that was about to go belly up via a volcano.  Instead of letting nature take its course, Kirk and company literally freeze the destruction of the primitives, expose themselves and the Enterprise to the people (which leads to a new idol for the primitives to worship), and also endangers the life of Spock.  Naturally this gets Kirk into a whole heap of trouble with Admiral Pike, but in true Trek fashion, Kirk manages to skirt any real punishment and is put under the command of Pike who is given back the helm of the Enterprise. 

Meanwhile, a dark and mysterious figure begins manipulating a poor fellow who is a part of Starfleet.  Whovians will recognize him as Mickey (Noel Clark) from the new Doctor Who era.  This leads to the destruction of a Starfleet archive, which leads to all of the head honchos (including Kirk and Spock, naturally) gathering in one place, which makes it ever-so-easy for the mysterious figure to attack and nearly wipeout all of the biggest members of Starfleet in one fell swoop.  Kirk and Spock are two of the survivors, obviously.  Kirk is basically given the green light to find and destroy the mysterious guy at any and all costs.  Spock follows his lead, but only after making it very clear that he disagrees with the actions of Kirk and of a certain high-ranking official in Starfleet.  To top it all off, Scotty quits, refusing to have any hand in the militarization of the Enterprise in order for it to catch its prey.

From that point on, more people are manipulated, orders are questioned, and an old enemy from the original series reveals himself to maybe/maybe not be the villain behind all of the bad things that are happening to Kirk and the rest of Starfleet.

I could literally hear the wailing and gnashing of Trekkie teeth while watching this film.  Abrams not only revives an old and beloved villain, he makes him likeable!  He makes this villain work WITH Kirk and then backstab him all within a few minutes of the film!  I was actually pulling for the "villain" a lot of the time, and to top it all off, Abrams takes a pivotal scene from the most beloved film in the entirety of Star Trek and reverses the roles of its two key members!  He then goes on to take a popular line uttered by one of those said members in Star Trek II, places it within the scene, and has the other person say it!!   Oh, the horror, the outrage!!!!

Once again I felt a disturbance in the Force!  It was as if Abrams had evacuated his bowels all over the memories of the high and mighty Trek.  Children were weeping!  Women were screaming!  Cats and dogs were living together!  I literally had friends who got rid of any and everything associated with Abrams' rebooted Trek.  Others were so upset with what had happened to their beloved franchise that they were turning to "lesser" franchises like Firefly and, dare I say it, Babylon 5, for comfort!

And then it hit me.

Abrams is brilliant.  He took a franchise that is so loved by its fans and made them see it for what it really is....another space opera.  I've always held the belief that Trekkies placed Trek on a pedestal far taller than it deserved to be upon.  Don't get me wrong.  I've taken my love of Star Wars and Doctor Who to places it has no business being, but Trekkies always managed to take their love just a bit farther and for that, I love them.  I believe that they are so very passionate about their franchise that they forget that the original Trek had its share of cheese, objectification of women, bad acting, and more often than once the Prime Directive was violated.  Kirk was a cowboy in space.  Spock was supposed to be his anchor of logic and Bones the unbridled passion.  When the two combined, they made Kirk a better person.  That, at least to me, is the core of Trek.  It really wasn't until The Next Generation that politics, social issues, etc. came to the forefront of the franchise.  The original series had its moments, but in the end it was meant to be entertaining, and I do believe Abrams has succeeded in doing that with the franchise.  Heck, if you dig deep enough, you'll see that Abrams does manage to touch on modern issues like terrorism and the abuse of power.  He does all of this with lots of bang and zip, which is, quite frankly, something that TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise often lacked.

Now, I am by no means a Star Trek wizard.  My opinion is based purely on what I've read and watched over the years.  I'm sure there are fans of Trek reading my words right now and laughing out loud, possibly calling me an idiot, and I'm okay with that.  I've been a nerd for the entirety of my life and can handle name calling and other forms of verbal abuse.

With all of that out of the way, I'll briefly state that the production values in this film were top notch.  I expected nothing less from Abrams and his gang.  The story is fast-paced, well written, and enjoyable to see unfold on the screen.  The few extra bucks for 3-D are entirely worth it.  All of the returning cast did excellent jobs, especially Karl Urban and Chris Pine.  Peter Weller was solid in his role and Benedict Cumberbatch owned the screen any time he was on it (even when he wasn't speaking).  Alice Eve wasn't too shabby, either.

I really enjoyed this flick.  I'll buy it when it is released on DVD and Blu-ray.  I highly recommend it, even to hardcore Trekkies.  You'll scream and tear your flesh, but in the end you will enjoy this film.

"Drop shields, Kendall."]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236916-_Shields_Up_.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236916-_Shields_Up_.html Fri, 7 Jun 2013 15:08:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ strong visuals, spotty plot]]>
SPOILER WARNING: I've included spoilers in my review. I found out about some key moments in the film before having seen it. I think in retrospect it was a good thing. There are some moments in the movie that can be maddening for Trek fans and having them spoiled actually allowed me to get my frustration out of my system before seeing the movie. I think I enjoyed the movie more having been spoiled. IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS, DON"T READ THIS REVIEW.

THE STORY

I love the beginning of this movie. Basically, Kirk violates the Prime Directive to save Spock. However, Spock reports him and Kirk gets demoted. The story connects to classic Trek and it gives the characters more emotional weight.

Unfortunately, the movie doesn't really continue with this intro. The rest of the movie follows rogue Starfleet officer John Harrison, who engages in several acts of terrorism against Starfleet. This part of the movie becomes a bit convoluted. Basically, the entire plot is an attempt by Starfleet Admiral Marcus to frighten Starfleet and to start a war with the Klingons, but what a convoluted way of going about it. When Harrison flees to the Klingon homeworld, Marcus sends the Enterprise to Kronos (yes, it's misspelt in the movie) to kill him. This part of the movie is fun, but a bit short on logic. Apparently, nobody thought to make diplomatic overtures to the Klingons to request that they return Harrison. Given that Harrison seems not to get along with the Klingons, it's hard to imagine they'd keep him.

I wish the movie had explored the consequences of Kirk's violating the Prime Directive and show Kirk actually struggle to get his command back. However, he's back in the captain's chair within a few minutes. This is fine. It gives the initial scenes a bit less emotional weight, but the second third of the movie is still fun. Where the movie really weakens though is the final third. It basically becomes a rehash of The Wrath of Khan. Things happen way too quickly, without any space to breath and let the emotional impact of events sink in.

There are a bunch of stupid plot twists that drove me nuts. Why on Earth was the Enterprise underwater in the beginning of the movie? I'm sure it was because Abrams thought it would look cool, but it makes no sense. Why would Admiral Marcus tell Kirk to fire torpedoes with Khans crew at Kronos? Why not just regular torpedoes? Sure, you could come up with contrived explanations, but like the 2009 movie this movie stretches logic.

THE VILLAIN

Given that I claim the final third of the movie borrows heavily from The Wrath of Khan, it's worth mentioning that John Harrison is Khan. Yes, despite all denials to the contrary, he is Khan. This is both good and bad. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the few actors who can bring enough menace and charisma to the character to make a believable Khan. However, in this movie Khan's motives are pretty mundane. He just wants to get his 72 crew members back. Khan here has no ambitions to rule the galaxy, no epic quest for revenge. In fact, in one scene, Khan actually tears up when talking about his crew.

In short, while there was potential, Khan in this movie just never rises to the level of epic villain. The only reason anybody would care about Khan is because of the legacy of The Wrath of Khan. For much of the movie, Abrams could have substituted almost any other name for John Harrison without changing the villain's role. In fact, by making the villain Khan, I think it forced viewers who had seen Star Trek II to drew too many comparisons with Khan from that movie. It might have been better to just have had a fresh villain, perhaps a human or alien terrorist.

THE CHARACTERS

As with the 2009 Star Trek, I'm impressed with how well the new batch of actors mimic their counterparts from the Original Series. That said, Into Darkness is even less about the ensemble and more about the Kirk and Spock bromance. There are two problems here. First, one of the key relationship dynamics in the Original Series was the three-way dialogue between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Spock represented logic, McCoy represented emotion, and Kirk was the balance. However, in the Abrams movies McCoy has been relegated to a background character and to compensate has taken Kirk to an emotional extreme. I think there's a real opportunity missed for a band of brothers relationship between the three men.

Second, Spock is just too emotional. I don't mean that Vulcans never have emotions. However, in the Abrams movies, especially Into Darkness, Spock's default is emotional. This becomes particularly bad near the end, when Spock becomes enraged, yells "KHAAAAAN!", and goes off to chase Khan. The problem is that we never see Zachary Quinto's Spock as the cool, collected, logical Vulcan we see from the TV series and original movies. It's fine to show Spock's emotional side sometimes, but making him too emotional minimizes those moments.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

This is really where the movie shines. Abrams really knows how to paint a pretty picture. The intro sequence with the red planet and the white aliens with yellow robes was wonderful. The battle scenes are intense and when the Enterprise takes damage it really appears pretty damaged. Despite my other complaints, I do wish other Star Trek movies looked this good.

That said, the movie just doesn't slow down. There's no room for viewers to breath and absorb the emotional impact of events. Nicholas Meyer, director of Star Trek II & VI, says it's important to make some scenes special and some scenes mundane. However, in Abrams' movies, all of the scenes are so bold and busy that viewers really don't get a sense of which, if any scenes, are special (perhaps except radiation chamber scene). It's like a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs but to straightaways.

THE ENDING

As I said above the final third of the movie was the biggest disappointment. There's a situation where Spock grieves for Kirk. It's pretty much a direct rip on Wrath of Khan. I'm fine with a subtle homage. But what really frustrated me was that the end sequence is just a big fistfight between Khan and Spock. The scene lacks any tension and moreover takes place on a moving transport shuttle on Earth in broad daylight. While I think Abrams usually gets the visuals right, here the visuals were not only silly but also didn't provide a climax for the final battle. There was no battle of wits, just a pedestrian brawl.

One reviewer (I think the Transporter Room 3 podcast) said it best: at this point, the characters haven't earned this ending. We've only had one movie before this one with Kirk and Spock. It's not clear how that emotional became so deep. It just doesn't work when viewers know that Kirk will be resurrected. I think the ending could have been just as effective if Uhura had died, and made more sense.

THE VERDICT

Overall I give Into Darkness 1.5-2 stars. It's better than the 2009 Star Trek in my opinion, but Abrams still doesn't seem to understand Star Trek. This is all popcorn movie with little intellectual or emotional heft. More importantly, Abrams seems a bit too willing to make large leaps in logic and to fall back on action sequences rather than develop the plot. I'd still recommend seeing it. Despite my complaints, I did enjoy the movie and I'll buy the blu-ray. It just lacks the thoughtfulness of Star Treks II and VI, and that's a shame. If Abrams does make another sequel, I'd recommend he watch Star Trek II and VI, but not just to copy the plot twists, but also the thoughtfulness in those films.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Star "Twweeaakk" The Coming of Khan?]]> Star Trek”. I suppose it was the right approach to revitalize the franchise, by creating a re-boot that gave him all the needed loop holes to do such things. His first “Star Trek“ flick left the ‘space opera‘ feeling and instead went for something that feels more like an action-adventure which was arguably needed. It was a fun, energetic visual feast that moved fast that it never lost its forward momentum. It pleased fans of the franchise with a feeling of both freshness and nostalgia. Now 4 years since Abrams’ last “Star Trek” film, is what he had created back then will still be able to hold up without the feeling of novelty (which it really wasn’t) since it was a really a straight-forward action flick with gorgeous visuals?

                    Zachary Quinto as Spock, Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison and Chris Pine as Kirk in "Star Trek into Darkness."

2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the sequel that takes us on a ride with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The film begins with the crew in an unknown planet due for volcanic destruction and Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) makes a decision that goes against established directives in Starfleet. This ends up with Kirk being in a load of trouble that it resulted with him losing command of his vessel. Just as soon as things begin to slow down, a unspeakable new threat has risen and this threat comes from within the ranks of Starfleet. Kirk requests Starfleet command to reinstate him get his crew back together, along with Spock (Zachary Quinto), just so they can sanction the man called John Harrison (Benedict Cumberback). But when the manhunt reveals certain secrets within Starfleet command, and the voyage brings Kirk and his crew to a danger zone, the truth behind the former Commander Harrison is set to shake the foundations of the federation itself.

                   Zoe Saldana in "Star Trek into Darkness."

                  A scene from "Star Trek into Darkness."

The screenplay instantly moves fast and tries to establish its footing with a sequence that gives it the ‘grab and go’ feeling just so the viewer could see exactly what he is in for; a fun, energetic action adventure wrapped around its sci-fi elements. Abrams was obviously trying to go fast and strong before he slowed things down when the crew gets back to Earth. Here, the script serves up some minor plot and character developments that aids the viewer in looking inside the walls of Starfleet. How the fleet works and just how Kirk’s attitude often differs from Spock and that of Starfleet. Abrams and company made every effort to give the viewer a feeling of continuity as the return of supporting characters such as Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and the introduction of new ones such as Starfleet commander Marcus (Peter Weller) aid in setting its groundwork. The viewer also quickly gets an idea just how the crew is getting along, and glimpses of their personal lives are seen.

See, Abrams knew that he had to keep the film moving and knows how to cover up flaws because of his style of direction and editing. True to what had been established in the first film, the screenplay follows through very well. I would not say that the characters in this film are very interesting, since Kirk has been reduced to a staple that we’ve all seen before in action flicks, Spock is one of the more interesting characters in the first film, but really, the two worked better as the film brings them into a kind of ‘bromance’. These characters are mere staples of what we have seen before, but it is the way the characters worked together in a group dynamic that made them compelling if not acceptable. With some subtle touches of humor and clever delivery of its dialogue, it was easy for the cast to establish a sense of solid chemistry. Zoe Saldana (she is hotter than ever), Keith Urban, Simon Pegg and Anton Yelchin aid in the script’s flow, despite some issues that I had with Alice Eve (sure she was also hot) being a little misplaced in her character as a science officer. It was a welcome sight to see this new Spock talk to the old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) that certainly would give a ‘trekkie’ goose bumps.

                 Simon Pegg in "Star Trek into Darkness."

                A scene from "Star Trek into Darkness."

All these things would work really well as long as we have an interesting villain for the crew of the Enterprise. As much as I thought that Benedict Cumberback was a worthy villain to later be revealed as Khan, and sure, there were a lot of nods to the past TV series and “Wrath of Khan”, but I thought in the end, the villain and the links to Starfleet were very underwhelming. While I enjoyed the way the film tried to introduce certain devices that sort of made the concept of an alternate timeline resembling the old one and yet different, I thought the film took a turn for the predictable. The twists and turns which were introduced in its runtime were intended to create a reaction, and yet they failed. The surprises weren’t really that effective in making an impact in its narrative.

Luckily, while the storyline wasn’t strong and showed its weaknesses too early, the action sequences were good enough to keep up its momentum. The film looked gorgeous, the cinematography was impressive, the CGI effects were stellar that you could truly hear and see the crunch of metal on metal, the explosions generated a lot of intensity and light effects were indeed grand. The film was truly an achievement visually, and if this was Abrams’ goal, then he had truly achieved it. The film was really impressive in 3D, as there were times that the 3D effects and the sound really made me part of its visuals that I felt as if I was there.

                    Alice Eve and Chris Pine in "Star Trek into Darkness."

“Star Trek Into Darkness” is the kind of sequel that follows an original made solid because of a feeling of freshness, but sadly, while this film is certainly entertaining, it sure wasn’t fresh. It just felt that it was the kind of film that we’ve all seen many times before. It does not merely reference but it just borrows entire plot points from the originals. I just wasn’t at all impressed or moved by its narrative despite accepting its intentions. The villain just wasn’t threatening, and so the film loses a lot of intended ‘bang’. I do have to admit that the visuals were really impressive, the group dynamics worked and the comedic touches aided its flow. It is a lot of fun to watch that I am certain that ‘Trekkies” will have a ball watching it over and over again. I guess I am just a little tired of the old ‘clichéd story, lot’sa flash and action. It is a film meant for its fans but a RENTAL for Everybody else [3+ Out of 5 Stars]

                      Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as James Kirk in "Star Trek into Darkness."
 
Poster art for "Star Trek into Darkness."  Poster art for "Star Trek into Darkness: An IMAX 3D Experience."
 ]]>
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<![CDATA[ Star "Twweeaakk" The Coming of Khan?]]> Star Trek”. I suppose it was the right approach to revitalize the franchise, by creating a re-boot that gave him all the needed loop holes to do such things. His first “Star Trek“ flick left the ‘space opera‘ feeling and instead went for something that feels more like an action-adventure which was arguably needed. It was a fun, energetic visual feast that moved fast that it never lost its forward momentum. It pleased fans of the franchise with a feeling of both freshness and nostalgia. Now 4 years since Abrams’ last “Star Trek” film, is what he had created back then will still be able to hold up without the feeling of novelty (which it really wasn’t) since it was a really a straight-forward action flick with gorgeous visuals?

                    Zachary Quinto as Spock, Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison and Chris Pine as Kirk in "Star Trek into Darkness."

2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the sequel that takes us on a ride with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The film begins with the crew in an unknown planet due for volcanic destruction and Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) makes a decision that goes against established directives in Starfleet. This ends up with Kirk being in a load of trouble that it resulted with him losing command of his vessel. Just as soon as things begin to slow down, a unspeakable new threat has risen and this threat comes from within the ranks of Starfleet. Kirk requests Starfleet command to reinstate him get his crew back together, along with Spock (Zachary Quinto), just so they can sanction the man called John Harrison (Benedict Cumberback). But when the manhunt reveals certain secrets within Starfleet command, and the voyage brings Kirk and his crew to a danger zone, the truth behind the former Commander Harrison is set to shake the foundations of the federation itself.

                   Zoe Saldana in "Star Trek into Darkness."

                  A scene from "Star Trek into Darkness."

The screenplay instantly moves fast and tries to establish its footing with a sequence that gives it the ‘grab and go’ feeling just so the viewer could see exactly what he is in for; a fun, energetic action adventure wrapped around its sci-fi elements. Abrams was obviously trying to go fast and strong before he slowed things down when the crew gets back to Earth. Here, the script serves up some minor plot and character developments that aids the viewer in looking inside the walls of Starfleet. How the fleet works and just how Kirk’s attitude often differs from Spock and that of Starfleet. Abrams and company made every effort to give the viewer a feeling of continuity as the return of supporting characters such as Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and the introduction of new ones such as Starfleet commander Marcus (Peter Weller) aid in setting its groundwork. The viewer also quickly gets an idea just how the crew is getting along, and glimpses of their personal lives are seen.

See, Abrams knew that he had to keep the film moving and knows how to cover up flaws because of his style of direction and editing. True to what had been established in the first film, the screenplay follows through very well. I would not say that the characters in this film are very interesting, since Kirk has been reduced to a staple that we’ve all seen before in action flicks, Spock is one of the more interesting characters in the first film, but really, the two worked better as the film brings them into a kind of ‘bromance’. These characters are mere staples of what we have seen before, but it is the way the characters worked together in a group dynamic that made them compelling if not acceptable. With some subtle touches of humor and clever delivery of its dialogue, it was easy for the cast to establish a sense of solid chemistry. Zoe Saldana (she is hotter than ever), Keith Urban, Simon Pegg and Anton Yelchin aid in the script’s flow, despite some issues that I had with Alice Eve (sure she was also hot) being a little misplaced in her character as a science officer. It was a welcome sight to see this new Spock talk to the old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) that certainly would give a ‘trekkie’ goose bumps.

                 Simon Pegg in "Star Trek into Darkness."

                A scene from "Star Trek into Darkness."

All these things would work really well as long as we have an interesting villain for the crew of the Enterprise. As much as I thought that Benedict Cumberback was a worthy villain to later be revealed as Khan, and sure, there were a lot of nods to the past TV series and “Wrath of Khan”, but I thought in the end, the villain and the links to Starfleet were very underwhelming. While I enjoyed the way the film tried to introduce certain devices that sort of made the concept of an alternate timeline resembling the old one and yet different, I thought the film took a turn for the predictable. The twists and turns which were introduced in its runtime were intended to create a reaction, and yet they failed. The surprises weren’t really that effective in making an impact in its narrative.

Luckily, while the storyline wasn’t strong and showed its weaknesses too early, the action sequences were good enough to keep up its momentum. The film looked gorgeous, the cinematography was impressive, the CGI effects were stellar that you could truly hear and see the crunch of metal on metal, the explosions generated a lot of intensity and light effects were indeed grand. The film was truly an achievement visually, and if this was Abrams’ goal, then he had truly achieved it. The film was really impressive in 3D, as there were times that the 3D effects and the sound really made me part of its visuals that I felt as if I was there.

                    Alice Eve and Chris Pine in "Star Trek into Darkness."

“Star Trek Into Darkness” is the kind of sequel that follows an original made solid because of a feeling of freshness, but sadly, while this film is certainly entertaining, it sure wasn’t fresh. It just felt that it was the kind of film that we’ve all seen many times before. It does not merely reference but it just borrows entire plot points from the originals. I just wasn’t at all impressed or moved by its narrative despite accepting its intentions. The villain just wasn’t threatening, and so the film loses a lot of intended ‘bang’. I do have to admit that the visuals were really impressive, the group dynamics worked and the comedic touches aided its flow. It is a lot of fun to watch that I am certain that ‘Trekkies” will have a ball watching it over and over again. I guess I am just a little tired of the old ‘clichéd story, lot’sa flash and action. It is a film meant for its fans but a RENTAL for Everybody else [3+ Out of 5 Stars]

                      Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as James Kirk in "Star Trek into Darkness."
 
Poster art for "Star Trek into Darkness."  Poster art for "Star Trek into Darkness: An IMAX 3D Experience."
 ]]>
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<![CDATA[ An Excellent Follow-up, Keep Them Coming!]]>
When the movie starts, the Enterprise is on one of their first missions and two things go wrong.  Namely Spock needs rescuing and in doing so the Enterprise makes itself visible to a primitive group of people.  This violates the Prime Directive of non-interference in developing cultures (when was this ever a big deal in the original series?  All they did was interfere).  Kirk does not record anything in the ship's log but Spock does, because he can't lie.  (If you remember Taggart in the Beverly Hills Cop movie you will have an idea how this will play out later).

Kirk is briefly demoted and told to report back to Starfleet Academy for remedial training (I was wondering if he was going to meet up with Finnegan).  This lasts until a terrorist attack on London wipes out a bunch of senior Starfleet officers.  Kirk is told to get the terrorist (Harrison who goes by another name that us oldtimers know well) who has hidden himself in the Vulcan sector of space by Admiral Marcus.

The movie moves at breakneck speed as the Enterprise goes to bring back "Harrison," despite the lovers spat that is going on between Spock and Uhura.  Mr. Scott seems to be on the "out" with Kirk and after an argument, quits the Enterprise and Mr. Chekov has to get Engineering up to speed.

The character that steals the movie is McCoy.  The new McCoy goes overboard with spewing cliches that would make DeForest Kelly proud to the point of getting on Kirk's nerves.  He is also worried about Kirk's health and will pick the "wrong" times to examine him.

Note possible spoiler - there is a brief mention of having to take care of Mudd's ship, so of course we will see a familiar furry friend make an appearence.

I really hope that Abrams will continue with a third installment of this film.  If this film is any indication, then the Star Wars franchise is in good hands!
 ]]>
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<![CDATA[ An Excellent Follow-up, Keep Them Coming!]]>
When the movie starts, the Enterprise is on one of their first missions and two things go wrong.  Namely Spock needs rescuing and in doing so the Enterprise makes itself visible to a primitive group of people.  This violates the Prime Directive of non-interference in developing cultures (when was this ever a big deal in the original series?  All they did was interfere).  Kirk does not record anything in the ship's log but Spock does, because he can't lie.  (If you remember Taggart in the Beverly Hills Cop movie you will have an idea how this will play out later).

Kirk is briefly demoted and told to report back to Starfleet Academy for remedial training (I was wondering if he was going to meet up with Finnegan).  This lasts until a terrorist attack on London wipes out a bunch of senior Starfleet officers.  Kirk is told to get the terrorist (Harrison who goes by another name that us oldtimers know well) who has hidden himself in the Vulcan sector of space by Admiral Marcus.

The movie moves at breakneck speed as the Enterprise goes to bring back "Harrison," despite the lovers spat that is going on between Spock and Uhura.  Mr. Scott seems to be on the "out" with Kirk and after an argument, quits the Enterprise and Mr. Chekov has to get Engineering up to speed.

The character that steals the movie is McCoy.  The new McCoy goes overboard with spewing cliches that would make DeForest Kelly proud to the point of getting on Kirk's nerves.  He is also worried about Kirk's health and will pick the "wrong" times to examine him.

Note possible spoiler - there is a brief mention of having to take care of Mudd's ship, so of course we will see a familiar furry friend make an appearence.

I really hope that Abrams will continue with a third installment of this film.  If this film is any indication, then the Star Wars franchise is in good hands!
 ]]>
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<![CDATA[ Despite Flaws, I Really Enjoyed It]]> Lunch.com where liking just about any damn mainstream movie (let alone J.J. Abrams) is considered not so good, it's a wonder how much I've come to embrace things.  And while I understand liking Mainstream movies or even praising them is not particularly "cool" with the Lunch.com crowd, I'll take my chances anyway.  See, I've always believed that there is an art to reviewing and that part of the art is that you review in the essence that you know WHAT you're reviewing and keep in the mind the audience that you're reviewing for.  The reason I say that it's probably not cool to like Star Trek here on Lunch.com is because everyone got my ass about giving J.J. Abrams the smallest ounce of praise.  On a website where liking anything "popular" is considered taboo I'm pretty certain this will be my last review because I'm simply tired of it nowadays.  So I'll leave this one with a glowing five.  Not because it deserves a five, but because I'm tired of this idea that I can't particularly enjoy mainstream movies or anything "popular" without some jackass deciding that I shouldn't because, "Mainstream cinema sucks compared to indie or foreign cinema," from some jackass who seems to think that just because something is indie makes it better.  Who cares?  I'm concerned about other things.  I'm in my mid twenties now and I'm passed that moment of trying to always distance myself from the crowd.  My grade school days are over and sometime just having a little bit of fun at the movies (especially in the summer) isn't such a bad thing.

So does it deserve a five?  Definitely not.  It's got some problems.  Some bigger than others (and perhaps a glaring one or two) but really, I just don't give a shit as I write this review.

So to begin, I realize that J.J. Abrams isn't perfect.  He's not the "next Spielberg," but he does have one thing in common with him: the fact that his popular success makes him one of the more hated film guys in the industry. (it was "bad" to like Spielberg at one point).  Spielberg suffered from this for a while but because he's done so much and has so much under his belt his popular appeal manages to command respect.  And while I don't believe J.J. Abrams will ever get THAT far, I do believe that he gets a lot more criticism than he deserves.  Certainly he's got a lot of cheesy stuff in his films and they're predicable... but so is Joss Wheddon and that doesn't seem to stop anyone from praising the ever living shit out of him, and I happen to like Joss Wheddon a great deal, despite the fact that Whedoon, like Abrams dabbles in cliches and predictability so much that you might as well have just started the movie at the end and played it backwards.

Case in point: Star Trek Into Darkness is not a particularly unpredictable film... or original, but I think if you really believe in originality it's because you've spent the last one thousand years or so under the rock.  It's not the idea that's important it's the execution of that idea, which is where Abrams falters just a tad, but it's also why he's actually quite good at what he does from time to time.  The only thing I don't particularly like about Star Trek Into Darkness is how it was advertised.  The idea of keeping so much secret.  The last movie I saw where I can't recall actually knowing what was going to happen was probably The Dark Knight and that's only because it was so far against the conventional formula that I wasn't sure WHICH formula it was following... but that's primarily because it was inventing it's own.  The Dark Knight has been so influential that THIS is why Into Darkness is a particularly predictable film because so much of what it does is dependent on whether or not you've seen The Dark Knight and Start Trek II: Wrath of Kahn. 

So let's start with something simple: The story concerns Kirk and company trying to stop a volcano from erupting on a planet.  And once it doesn't we understand what Into Darkness is about immediately.  Life and Death.  Spock is not particularly sure why Kirk saved him.  Things change, however, when a mysterious agent (I use the term loosely) decides to create a one-man army against Star Fleet.  When someone close to Kirk is lost then it becomes quite clear that they're not up against an ordinary man.  Instead what they're really up against is someone who is far more clever than that.  But there's more deception going on than Kirk could imagine and he and his crew are forced to deal with everything under the sun.

Certainly Star Trek Into Darkness has a simple story.  Every movie does when you think about it.  Although it's quite clear that Star Trek Into Darkness is more about the thrills.  But it certainly borrows more from The Dark Knight formula, which is pretty much what every movie tries to do nowadays.  That is to say that there is a criminal mastermind who plots to get himself captured and make the circumstances work for him.  A lot of movies have been doing this lately.  Particularly, The Avengers and Skyfall.  And by far Skyfall did it much better than The Avengers, but for very different reasons.  But Skyfall is also the only one I can think of where it was done particularly well.  The Avengers, for as good as it is has far too much of its story focused on the idea of the characters trying to get along that the villain is so uninteresting that you just don't care that he got himself captured to destroy them from within.  In Star Trek the formula is alive and well, although Abrams seems to make it work a little better.  Not because of how the bad guy works (or because of who he is... and if you can't figure it out you weren't much for Star Trek to begin with) but because it's not actually the bad guy you need to be paying attention to during this particular moment in the film.  It's why it works.  It's not much of a change or a twist but it's one that's executed well, at least.

There are a lot of thrills and a lot of fun to be had with Star Trek Into Darkness.  Most notably the action sequences are quite amazing, as well as some of the visuals.  That's not to say there are no annoyances.  Certainly that lens flare is going to get on your nerves.  If I was to make a drinking game in which we took a shot every time that lens flare came up then I'd be dead of alcohol poisoning within the first ten minutes of the movie.  I understand that some people don't mind this, but what I find stranger is why no one really finds it distracting.  It doesn't add drama and in some ways actually obstructs the visual flare of the scene.

Now I'm not one of those stupid "CGI is killing movies," people because that's just the dumbest thing I've ever heard and shows that people understand dialog and character but not narrative.  And indeed there is a lot of CGI in Star Trek and a lot of strange set pieces, but CGI doesn't kill movies.  And if you think it does, you're a dumbass.  Period.  No, what's distracting about some of the CGI is that Star Trek just never feels like it's a world that's been lived in.  One of the things Star Wars (the original trilogy) did so well was that you got the sense that the universe was inhabited.  Here, as in real Sci-Fi fashion, everything looks slick and clean.  So it's actually quite something when you realize J.J. Abrams isn't afraid to make the enterprise look like a floating piece of crap at some point when the characters get into some real danger.  It's quite something and quite the spectacle to see.  On the other hand, it's also quite distracting at times because the characters are not particularly that interesting.  Now, I don't care what people thought of the original show, but those characters also sucked.  They were devoid of most personality.  When creating the reboot it's not as though there was a lot to draw from.  This is why some of the characters are so close.  The sixties was a campy time and regardless of what people think those particularly characters are nothing more than caricatures in 2013 because they were already devoid of any real character to begin with.  They had personality (which is perfectly emulated here) but I never actually gave a shit.  So here it's surprising that there are some moments when I do.  It's just a shame that Abrams puts them in such artificial danger.  Like so many movies Abrams can't bring himself to make it seem like the characters are in any real danger, even in moments where the ship around them is being destroyed.  If there was one thing I think Abrams should've borrowed a page from Nolan about it's not being ashamed to put everything on the table.  Anyone can die.  And anyone should be able to be in the running for being killed.  One of the most amusing aspects about The Dark Knight was that Nolan was willing to kill of a pretty major character just for the sake of proving a point.  Star Trek takes no such risks.  Like Iron Man 3 it's so over the top that you simply know your characters aren't in any actual danger.  Like The Avengers it's also very boring when this realization comes to light.

On the other hand, at the very least the characters are actually actively involved in much of the plot.  Despite knowing they're in no real danger, at least Abrams is willing to inconvenience them at any turn.  The plans the characters hatch are always going wrong which is enough to keep you going through the movie.  It's not the cleverest thing out there, but it's a farcry from the Star Wars prequels where everything is always anti-climactic at every goddamn turn.

There are a few funny moments in Star Trek Into Darkness, which continues the other trend of having the tone of a movie clash constantly.  It's not as bad about it as The Amazing Spider-Man but again, Abrams failed to learn anything from Nolan (who he so clearly was trying to emulate in MANY moments).  The humor in The Dark Knight is very twisted.  The character committing most of it is the darkest character there.  We know we shouldn't laugh at the Joker but we understand that this is what he's about.  It's hard to go from crying to jubilation in an instant.  Not that you'll cry much.  Despite how much Star Trek ups the emotional ante, it's constantly trying to lighten the mood with strange humor at every turn.  It would be like Alfred deciding to do standup at the moment Rachel died just because.  It's not too annoying here, but it is enough to make you wonder why you wasted the last five minute feeling bad for a characters predicament only to laugh at it ten seconds later (in particular the scenes with Scotty are like this).  The emotional moments are destroyed by Star Trek: Into Darkness constant moments to try to remind you how serious its supposed to be.  Marvel sucks at this big time and Abrams isn't doing any better. 

Yet for all its worth, Star Trek Into Darkness is actually a lot of fun.  It's easy on the eyes and has quite a few twists and turns.  Nothing actually surprising but as I've said, a movie hasn't "surprised" me in quite some time and I'm not one to care.  Storytelling isn't about surprises, it's about execution.  There are some things Abrams doesn't do so well.  Not at the emotional core, but in making a big deal about much of what the movie is about.  The villain, for instance, is exactly who you think it is.  The fact that Abrams and company tried to keep this underwraps is surprising.  The big twist at the end?  Same thing.  Very obvious (actually it's not... we're literally told halfway through what will happen).  That's not to say there aren't some things you won't see coming.  The other problem is that there is a lot of convenience in the plot.  And while that's not necessarily a bad thing (EVERY movie has it) it is kind of annoying that some characters are put in one place or another for no apparent reason only for us to learn later that they just happened to be there.  Scotty's predicament isn't so bad, but there's a particular female character that has absolutely no business being where she is and it doesn't actually make any logical sense, but lo and behold there she is.

That doesn't mean the movie isn't fun.  I had a lot of fun with it.  I was blown away by quite a bit of the movie because I was impressed with just how entertaining it was.  I get that being "entertaining," isn't enough for the Lunch crowd and that I've sinned by liking a movie because of it's "entertainment" factor instead of its "intellectual" one, but again... you have to know the audience.  And I've little problem with actually sitting down and just enjoying something.  Sometimes a movie really works out better that way ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") while other movies are destroyed by being too all out pretentious about what they do ("Lions for Lambs," "The Art of Getting By,").  The point is that the movie is still fun as hell to watch and I'd probably go see it again because the ride was actually a very good one.  It was entertaining and thrilling.  I laughed (although I didn't cry) and I really believed that I saw something pretty darn good despite its flaws.  Again, predictable, but as I said the last "unpredictable" movie I saw was five years ago and I don't think it's really such a bad thing if you do know what happens (everyone talks about the "big twist" in Iron Man 3 but I figured it out pretty soon into the film... so much so I didn't know it was actually a twist). 

So yes, fellow Lunchers, I've committed the sin of enjoying a mainstream movie.  I've committed the sin of liking J.J. Abrams and I've committed the scene of actually being entertained by something considerably mindless.  But I just don't care anymore.  I went to have some fun and I got my fun.  This isn't a particularly bad movie.  It has it's flaws and I'd never suggest any film is perfect (if a film is, you're an idiot).  But I am particularly tired of this idea that mainstream=bad.  That's just stupid.  There are A LOT of Star Trek references to the original film and series, which may also be something that is kind of annoying.  As I hated the television series (but was delighted to see Star Trek II, IV and VI... because the odd number movies suck) I was surprised I still caught onto so many references.  This may actually be a bit of a problem.  The story is not going to interest you unless you can pick up on these particular bits (in particular: Watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn).  All of the best moments of Into Darkness are pretty pale and forgettable unless you actually do.  And I'm not a fan of that sort of stuff.  The movie-goer shouldn't be forced to do outside homework.  And seeing as how the movie going crowd sucks at reading books and going anything beyond watching a goddamn movie I'm sure some people will miss a lot of references that'll fly over their head (or will they?).  And it kind of sucks that Into Darkness relies so heavily on a movie from thirty years ago to create some of its biggest moments.

Anyway, it was not a bad movie.  I'd highly recommend it for those looking to have some fun.  Not to turn off their brain, but just to have fun and perhaps find themselves excited by some of the majesty of the movie itself.  It's a fun movie and deserves your attention at least once.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236442-Despite_Flaws_I_Really_Enjoyed_It.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236442-Despite_Flaws_I_Really_Enjoyed_It.html Fri, 17 May 2013 08:57:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ Despite Flaws, I Really Enjoyed It]]> Lunch.com where liking just about any damn mainstream movie (let alone J.J. Abrams) is considered not so good, it's a wonder how much I've come to embrace things.  And while I understand liking Mainstream movies or even praising them is not particularly "cool" with the Lunch.com crowd, I'll take my chances anyway.  See, I've always believed that there is an art to reviewing and that part of the art is that you review in the essence that you know WHAT you're reviewing and keep in the mind the audience that you're reviewing for.  The reason I say that it's probably not cool to like Star Trek here on Lunch.com is because everyone got my ass about giving J.J. Abrams the smallest ounce of praise.  On a website where liking anything "popular" is considered taboo I'm pretty certain this will be my last review because I'm simply tired of it nowadays.  So I'll leave this one with a glowing five.  Not because it deserves a five, but because I'm tired of this idea that I can't particularly enjoy mainstream movies or anything "popular" without some jackass deciding that I shouldn't because, "Mainstream cinema sucks compared to indie or foreign cinema," from some jackass who seems to think that just because something is indie makes it better.  Who cares?  I'm concerned about other things.  I'm in my mid twenties now and I'm passed that moment of trying to always distance myself from the crowd.  My grade school days are over and sometime just having a little bit of fun at the movies (especially in the summer) isn't such a bad thing.

So does it deserve a five?  Definitely not.  It's got some problems.  Some bigger than others (and perhaps a glaring one or two) but really, I just don't give a shit as I write this review.

So to begin, I realize that J.J. Abrams isn't perfect.  He's not the "next Spielberg," but he does have one thing in common with him: the fact that his popular success makes him one of the more hated film guys in the industry. (it was "bad" to like Spielberg at one point).  Spielberg suffered from this for a while but because he's done so much and has so much under his belt his popular appeal manages to command respect.  And while I don't believe J.J. Abrams will ever get THAT far, I do believe that he gets a lot more criticism than he deserves.  Certainly he's got a lot of cheesy stuff in his films and they're predicable... but so is Joss Wheddon and that doesn't seem to stop anyone from praising the ever living shit out of him, and I happen to like Joss Wheddon a great deal, despite the fact that Whedoon, like Abrams dabbles in cliches and predictability so much that you might as well have just started the movie at the end and played it backwards.

Case in point: Star Trek Into Darkness is not a particularly unpredictable film... or original, but I think if you really believe in originality it's because you've spent the last one thousand years or so under the rock.  It's not the idea that's important it's the execution of that idea, which is where Abrams falters just a tad, but it's also why he's actually quite good at what he does from time to time.  The only thing I don't particularly like about Star Trek Into Darkness is how it was advertised.  The idea of keeping so much secret.  The last movie I saw where I can't recall actually knowing what was going to happen was probably The Dark Knight and that's only because it was so far against the conventional formula that I wasn't sure WHICH formula it was following... but that's primarily because it was inventing it's own.  The Dark Knight has been so influential that THIS is why Into Darkness is a particularly predictable film because so much of what it does is dependent on whether or not you've seen The Dark Knight and Start Trek II: Wrath of Kahn. 

So let's start with something simple: The story concerns Kirk and company trying to stop a volcano from erupting on a planet.  And once it doesn't we understand what Into Darkness is about immediately.  Life and Death.  Spock is not particularly sure why Kirk saved him.  Things change, however, when a mysterious agent (I use the term loosely) decides to create a one-man army against Star Fleet.  When someone close to Kirk is lost then it becomes quite clear that they're not up against an ordinary man.  Instead what they're really up against is someone who is far more clever than that.  But there's more deception going on than Kirk could imagine and he and his crew are forced to deal with everything under the sun.

Certainly Star Trek Into Darkness has a simple story.  Every movie does when you think about it.  Although it's quite clear that Star Trek Into Darkness is more about the thrills.  But it certainly borrows more from The Dark Knight formula, which is pretty much what every movie tries to do nowadays.  That is to say that there is a criminal mastermind who plots to get himself captured and make the circumstances work for him.  A lot of movies have been doing this lately.  Particularly, The Avengers and Skyfall.  And by far Skyfall did it much better than The Avengers, but for very different reasons.  But Skyfall is also the only one I can think of where it was done particularly well.  The Avengers, for as good as it is has far too much of its story focused on the idea of the characters trying to get along that the villain is so uninteresting that you just don't care that he got himself captured to destroy them from within.  In Star Trek the formula is alive and well, although Abrams seems to make it work a little better.  Not because of how the bad guy works (or because of who he is... and if you can't figure it out you weren't much for Star Trek to begin with) but because it's not actually the bad guy you need to be paying attention to during this particular moment in the film.  It's why it works.  It's not much of a change or a twist but it's one that's executed well, at least.

There are a lot of thrills and a lot of fun to be had with Star Trek Into Darkness.  Most notably the action sequences are quite amazing, as well as some of the visuals.  That's not to say there are no annoyances.  Certainly that lens flare is going to get on your nerves.  If I was to make a drinking game in which we took a shot every time that lens flare came up then I'd be dead of alcohol poisoning within the first ten minutes of the movie.  I understand that some people don't mind this, but what I find stranger is why no one really finds it distracting.  It doesn't add drama and in some ways actually obstructs the visual flare of the scene.

Now I'm not one of those stupid "CGI is killing movies," people because that's just the dumbest thing I've ever heard and shows that people understand dialog and character but not narrative.  And indeed there is a lot of CGI in Star Trek and a lot of strange set pieces, but CGI doesn't kill movies.  And if you think it does, you're a dumbass.  Period.  No, what's distracting about some of the CGI is that Star Trek just never feels like it's a world that's been lived in.  One of the things Star Wars (the original trilogy) did so well was that you got the sense that the universe was inhabited.  Here, as in real Sci-Fi fashion, everything looks slick and clean.  So it's actually quite something when you realize J.J. Abrams isn't afraid to make the enterprise look like a floating piece of crap at some point when the characters get into some real danger.  It's quite something and quite the spectacle to see.  On the other hand, it's also quite distracting at times because the characters are not particularly that interesting.  Now, I don't care what people thought of the original show, but those characters also sucked.  They were devoid of most personality.  When creating the reboot it's not as though there was a lot to draw from.  This is why some of the characters are so close.  The sixties was a campy time and regardless of what people think those particularly characters are nothing more than caricatures in 2013 because they were already devoid of any real character to begin with.  They had personality (which is perfectly emulated here) but I never actually gave a shit.  So here it's surprising that there are some moments when I do.  It's just a shame that Abrams puts them in such artificial danger.  Like so many movies Abrams can't bring himself to make it seem like the characters are in any real danger, even in moments where the ship around them is being destroyed.  If there was one thing I think Abrams should've borrowed a page from Nolan about it's not being ashamed to put everything on the table.  Anyone can die.  And anyone should be able to be in the running for being killed.  One of the most amusing aspects about The Dark Knight was that Nolan was willing to kill of a pretty major character just for the sake of proving a point.  Star Trek takes no such risks.  Like Iron Man 3 it's so over the top that you simply know your characters aren't in any actual danger.  Like The Avengers it's also very boring when this realization comes to light.

On the other hand, at the very least the characters are actually actively involved in much of the plot.  Despite knowing they're in no real danger, at least Abrams is willing to inconvenience them at any turn.  The plans the characters hatch are always going wrong which is enough to keep you going through the movie.  It's not the cleverest thing out there, but it's a farcry from the Star Wars prequels where everything is always anti-climactic at every goddamn turn.

There are a few funny moments in Star Trek Into Darkness, which continues the other trend of having the tone of a movie clash constantly.  It's not as bad about it as The Amazing Spider-Man but again, Abrams failed to learn anything from Nolan (who he so clearly was trying to emulate in MANY moments).  The humor in The Dark Knight is very twisted.  The character committing most of it is the darkest character there.  We know we shouldn't laugh at the Joker but we understand that this is what he's about.  It's hard to go from crying to jubilation in an instant.  Not that you'll cry much.  Despite how much Star Trek ups the emotional ante, it's constantly trying to lighten the mood with strange humor at every turn.  It would be like Alfred deciding to do standup at the moment Rachel died just because.  It's not too annoying here, but it is enough to make you wonder why you wasted the last five minute feeling bad for a characters predicament only to laugh at it ten seconds later (in particular the scenes with Scotty are like this).  The emotional moments are destroyed by Star Trek: Into Darkness constant moments to try to remind you how serious its supposed to be.  Marvel sucks at this big time and Abrams isn't doing any better. 

Yet for all its worth, Star Trek Into Darkness is actually a lot of fun.  It's easy on the eyes and has quite a few twists and turns.  Nothing actually surprising but as I've said, a movie hasn't "surprised" me in quite some time and I'm not one to care.  Storytelling isn't about surprises, it's about execution.  There are some things Abrams doesn't do so well.  Not at the emotional core, but in making a big deal about much of what the movie is about.  The villain, for instance, is exactly who you think it is.  The fact that Abrams and company tried to keep this underwraps is surprising.  The big twist at the end?  Same thing.  Very obvious (actually it's not... we're literally told halfway through what will happen).  That's not to say there aren't some things you won't see coming.  The other problem is that there is a lot of convenience in the plot.  And while that's not necessarily a bad thing (EVERY movie has it) it is kind of annoying that some characters are put in one place or another for no apparent reason only for us to learn later that they just happened to be there.  Scotty's predicament isn't so bad, but there's a particular female character that has absolutely no business being where she is and it doesn't actually make any logical sense, but lo and behold there she is.

That doesn't mean the movie isn't fun.  I had a lot of fun with it.  I was blown away by quite a bit of the movie because I was impressed with just how entertaining it was.  I get that being "entertaining," isn't enough for the Lunch crowd and that I've sinned by liking a movie because of it's "entertainment" factor instead of its "intellectual" one, but again... you have to know the audience.  And I've little problem with actually sitting down and just enjoying something.  Sometimes a movie really works out better that way ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") while other movies are destroyed by being too all out pretentious about what they do ("Lions for Lambs," "The Art of Getting By,").  The point is that the movie is still fun as hell to watch and I'd probably go see it again because the ride was actually a very good one.  It was entertaining and thrilling.  I laughed (although I didn't cry) and I really believed that I saw something pretty darn good despite its flaws.  Again, predictable, but as I said the last "unpredictable" movie I saw was five years ago and I don't think it's really such a bad thing if you do know what happens (everyone talks about the "big twist" in Iron Man 3 but I figured it out pretty soon into the film... so much so I didn't know it was actually a twist). 

So yes, fellow Lunchers, I've committed the sin of enjoying a mainstream movie.  I've committed the sin of liking J.J. Abrams and I've committed the scene of actually being entertained by something considerably mindless.  But I just don't care anymore.  I went to have some fun and I got my fun.  This isn't a particularly bad movie.  It has it's flaws and I'd never suggest any film is perfect (if a film is, you're an idiot).  But I am particularly tired of this idea that mainstream=bad.  That's just stupid.  There are A LOT of Star Trek references to the original film and series, which may also be something that is kind of annoying.  As I hated the television series (but was delighted to see Star Trek II, IV and VI... because the odd number movies suck) I was surprised I still caught onto so many references.  This may actually be a bit of a problem.  The story is not going to interest you unless you can pick up on these particular bits (in particular: Watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn).  All of the best moments of Into Darkness are pretty pale and forgettable unless you actually do.  And I'm not a fan of that sort of stuff.  The movie-goer shouldn't be forced to do outside homework.  And seeing as how the movie going crowd sucks at reading books and going anything beyond watching a goddamn movie I'm sure some people will miss a lot of references that'll fly over their head (or will they?).  And it kind of sucks that Into Darkness relies so heavily on a movie from thirty years ago to create some of its biggest moments.

Anyway, it was not a bad movie.  I'd highly recommend it for those looking to have some fun.  Not to turn off their brain, but just to have fun and perhaps find themselves excited by some of the majesty of the movie itself.  It's a fun movie and deserves your attention at least once.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236442-Despite_Flaws_I_Really_Enjoyed_It.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236442-Despite_Flaws_I_Really_Enjoyed_It.html Fri, 17 May 2013 08:57:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Lots of Glitz...Not That Much Originality (Video)]]> The boys are back...Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana)
                                                                               


The film opens with the USS Enterprise on a observation mission to Planet Nibiru...When they arrive at the planet, the crew finds a volcano on the verge of erupting and wiping out its primitive inhabitants.  In the process of launching a dangerous mission to halt the eruption, Spock's life is jeopardized, forcing Kirk to break the 'Prime Directive' and reveal the Enterpise to the inhabitants...

Bad move:  Not only is Spock pissed off at his BFF, Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) relieves Kirk of his command and he takes over the Enterprise.

Not a good week for our Captain.

But wait...Things are about to get worse.  Starfleet agent John Harrison aka Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) bombs a secret Section 31' installation in London. 

An emergency meeting of high ranking officers is called at Starfleet headquarters, which Kirk attends.  NOTE'  Little SPOILER coming up.

The meeting is attacked by a gunship piloted by Harrison, who winds up slaughtering most of the attendees, including Pike.

Of course Kirk is reinstated and Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) orders him to hunt down Harrison, who is now hiding out in the land of the Klingons, and kill him. This becomes problematic since Starfleet and the Klingon Empire are at war.  Remember those days?  

To say anymore would spoil the surprises and there are a couple...Unfortunately, even though I enjoyed the relationships between the crew members, especially the love connection of Spock and Uhura, I didn't find the plot all that original.

The film, directed by J.J. Abrams is very glitzy. Shot in 3D/IMAX, it's  beautiful to look at.  But for me the plot wasn't very original and it lacked the complexities and intensity of some of the other films in the Franchise.  Personally, the 'Borg' films are my favorites.. 

It's for that reason I gave 'Star Trek Into Darkness' which opens in theatres, Thursday May 16, 2013 three bagels out of five.

Check out our video to see John's bagel score and of course for more of our witty banter.

Please SUBSCRIBE to our youtube channel and LIKE us on our Two Jews On Film facebook page.
                                                                       

Thanks everyone.  Let us know what you think about this movie.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236396-_Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_Lots_of_Glitz_Not_That.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236396-_Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_Lots_of_Glitz_Not_That.html Tue, 14 May 2013 03:53:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Lots of Glitz...Not That Much Originality (Video)]]> The boys are back...Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana)
                                                                               


The film opens with the USS Enterprise on a observation mission to Planet Nibiru...When they arrive at the planet, the crew finds a volcano on the verge of erupting and wiping out its primitive inhabitants.  In the process of launching a dangerous mission to halt the eruption, Spock's life is jeopardized, forcing Kirk to break the 'Prime Directive' and reveal the Enterpise to the inhabitants...

Bad move:  Not only is Spock pissed off at his BFF, Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) relieves Kirk of his command and he takes over the Enterprise.

Not a good week for our Captain.

But wait...Things are about to get worse.  Starfleet agent John Harrison aka Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) bombs a secret Section 31' installation in London. 

An emergency meeting of high ranking officers is called at Starfleet headquarters, which Kirk attends.  NOTE'  Little SPOILER coming up.

The meeting is attacked by a gunship piloted by Harrison, who winds up slaughtering most of the attendees, including Pike.

Of course Kirk is reinstated and Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) orders him to hunt down Harrison, who is now hiding out in the land of the Klingons, and kill him. This becomes problematic since Starfleet and the Klingon Empire are at war.  Remember those days?  

To say anymore would spoil the surprises and there are a couple...Unfortunately, even though I enjoyed the relationships between the crew members, especially the love connection of Spock and Uhura, I didn't find the plot all that original.

The film, directed by J.J. Abrams is very glitzy. Shot in 3D/IMAX, it's  beautiful to look at.  But for me the plot wasn't very original and it lacked the complexities and intensity of some of the other films in the Franchise.  Personally, the 'Borg' films are my favorites.. 

It's for that reason I gave 'Star Trek Into Darkness' which opens in theatres, Thursday May 16, 2013 three bagels out of five.

Check out our video to see John's bagel score and of course for more of our witty banter.

Please SUBSCRIBE to our youtube channel and LIKE us on our Two Jews On Film facebook page.
                                                                       

Thanks everyone.  Let us know what you think about this movie.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236396-_Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_Lots_of_Glitz_Not_That.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/product/UserReview-Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_2013_film_-60-1867457-236396-_Star_Trek_Into_Darkness_Lots_of_Glitz_Not_That.html Tue, 14 May 2013 03:53:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ COUNTDOWN Starts Big But Scales Down To A Respectable Non-Climax In This Kinda/Sorta Finish]]>
I’ve already heaped plenty of praise on the story that was STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN – the four-part comic book story published by IDW Comics that, literally, set the stage for the events within JJ Abrams’ pretty solid STAR TREK (2009) motion picture.  Briefly, everyone whom I know that read that story AND saw the motion picture praised how the two tales worked in sync ; one enhanced the other in such a way that you couldn’t imagine the other being told without it.  Because of that success, it was probably only natural that IDW hoped to re-ignite the magic with STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS, which presumes the raise the stakes as to what one can expect when STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS opens this summer.
 
But …
 
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary for the discussion of plot and characters.  If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last paragraph for my final assessment.  If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
 
… therein lies the problem with this story: it appears – at this point of my awareness with the story (or should I say “the closely guarded possible story”) of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS makes it almost impossible to deduce what impact the tale told here may have on the journey told then.
 
The story this far explores the efforts of former captain of the Starship Enterprise Robert April to circumvent Starfleet’s Prime Directive in order to save an entire race from probably extinction.  There’s much ado of the adventure highlighting Kirk & his crew’s attempt to thwart April (which they kinda/sorta do – won’t spoil that for you) … but there’s this gnawing sensation in the pit of my stomach that reminds me they didn’t quite save the day.  Again, avoiding specifics is paramount (or should I say ‘Paramount’?) here and I won’t ruin it for those who’ve yet to read it; suffice it to say that this story didn’t feel like a complete meal.  It felt like a lesser adventure; the stakes weren’t nearly as high as what was presented in the first COUNTDOWN, and, except for some lingering hints of a galaxy-spanning conspiracy to undermine the Federation’s most noble pursuit, I’m not sure how much of this can effectively translate to the story that’s yet to come theatrically.
 
Still, the story by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson is interesting.  It postulates all of the good ‘morality play’ questions that have populated Star Trek since it began nearly fifty years ago.  Some of the moments don’t quite feel true to the spirit of these characters as they were originally designed by Gene Roddenberry, but that may end up being nothing more than this old dog not being able to learn respect for any new tricks.
 
STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS (Part 4 of 4) is published by IDW Publishing Company.  The story is by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson; the art is provided by David Messina, with ink assistance from Marina Castelvetro; the coloring is by Claudia Scarletgothica; with lettering by Chris Mowry.  The issue bears a cover price of $3.99, and that’s not too shabby for a tale promising to boldly go where no one has gone before.
 
RECOMMENDED.  Based on what’s come before from IDW and Paramount when they teamed up to do these kinds of stories, I kinda/sorta expected something a bit grander – a bit larger in scope – than what played out in these pages.  No, it wasn’t a disappointment; rather, it’s an appetizer for the meal that’s set to come when STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS opens soon.  Then, I’ll try to remember to come back and provide a postscript update finalizing my thoughts on how well these brave new worlds mesh once the complete story is told.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_Countdown_To_Darkness_Part_4_of_4_-60-1861217-235429-COUNTDOWN_Starts_Big_But_Scales_Down_To_A.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_Countdown_To_Darkness_Part_4_of_4_-60-1861217-235429-COUNTDOWN_Starts_Big_But_Scales_Down_To_A.html Thu, 11 Apr 2013 23:22:21 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hated it the first time I saw it, I have watched it about 20 times since]]> What was your first impression? Very negative

 

Plot summary? A new cast of the characters having the same name is introduced with a new storyline. Kirk and Spock forge a friendship under fire.

 

What's the bottom line?

There are some bad moments that will turn off many long-term Star Trek fans but if that happens, watch it a few more times and concentrate on the relationships between the main characters. 

]]>
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<![CDATA[ Considered One of the Weaker Entries in the Trek Universe but still Star Trek]]>
So the big question you're probably asking yourself is whether or not I feel it was money well spent and I'll be glad to divulge such information but before doing so, let's take a moment to break down the hard facts of the show and its DVD release so as to further determine whether or not this is the set for you, shall we?

Set in the nearby regions of the Milky Way galaxy, during roughly the 2150s (ten years before the United Federation of Planets would be formed), the show follows the adventures of humanity's very first warp 5 capable starship: Enterprise.

According to the mythos, at warp 2, only a handful of inhabited planets were within a year's travel from Earth. But at warp 5, that number increased to ten thousand planets and thus it is the appointed task of Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) & crew to visit as many of these worlds as possible.

The show debuted September 26 2001 on UPN and ran for 98-episodes spanning a total of 4-seasons (ending on May 13, 2005). Low ratings are credited for its demise and unfortunately the dubious distinction of being the first Star Trek series since the original to have been cancelled by its network rather than finished by producers. It's also the bookend of an amazing run of Trek TV: The last series in an 18-year run of back-to-back new Star Trek shows beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987.

That said, I can truly state that I went into the program with absolutely no expectations or predeterminations save for those established during previous Trek incarnations (most notably Next Generation and Deep Space 9). Initially I was a bit let down with the Enterprise formula. The first season, at least in my opinion, struggled to find itself. The cast didn't seem overly believable, the sets were deficient in imagination and perhaps most of all, the prose simply lacked that slightly mind-bending flow of believability that has always been a staple of the Star Trek experience to me.

Granted, I realize that this particular point in the mythos' timeline is supposed to be laced with claustrophobia and marvel considering it represents humanity's first foray into the galactic fold; the episodes themselves were a bit meandering to me with emphasis on action and quick resolve over the technologically brilliant conclusions to seemingly unsolvable dilemmas I'd come to cherish in past Trek efforts.

I made it through the fairly lackluster first season and the initial half of the second, starting to assume this would be the formula for the entire series only to be pleasantly surprised somewhere around the halfway point of the second season. Suddenly it was as if the cast had fallen into rhythm with both the characters they portrayed and interaction with one another. Perhaps even more importantly, however, was the writing seemed to have taken a huge step forward as well.

Episodes became far less reliant upon the gimmick of making the viewer privy to events of historical importance (even those that came off feeling like cheap reenactments) and instead simply dropped the cast of characters into some interesting scenarios where their sharp wits and collaboration became crucial for survival. It didn't hurt that technological explanations and believable science became cornerstones of the formula as well.

By the time the second season concluded, I was quite excited about starting out the third in the hopes of it continuing on with its newfound rhythm. The third season, however, made another radical departure to the recipe, this time becoming a single episode that happens to take an entire season to develop. While this was surely a risky move as far as syndication opportunities are concerned, viewers of the DVDs do get to follow along on a very solid dilemma with high stakes (earth being the target) and a whole bunch of exotic locales, species, alliances and betrayals to keep things interesting.

Once again however I fear the tendency of the show's habit of going one step forward for two steps back rears its head. The third season thread is resolved, well that's not technically correct, ends on a cliffhanger that carries into the fourth (and final) season.

Here we kick things off with an alternate universe scenario that, aside from learning an entire episode was merely a dream, ranks up there as one of my lesser-appreciated cop outs in fiction. This rather odd thread involving World War II era earth carries through for a couple of episodes, returns so stand-alone episode format then returns with but another alternate universe crescendo multi-parter. This time the crew of Enterprise in an alternate dimension, one where violence and ruthlessness reign supreme, happen upon Kirk's Enterprise from the original series (complete with wonky sound effects and 60s-style uniforms) and intend to use the vastly superior tech to overthrow their totalitarian empire. Many of the moments of this particular thread come off as forcefully comedic and, I suspect, not nearly as polished a finished product as it must have seemed on paper.

Then, just when things are at their proverbial darkest hour, the 4th season concludes with an interesting thread centered on human-supremacy groups resorting to terrorist actions to preserve the human-way of life on earth during impending alien cohabitation. I won't give away any spoilers, but let me just say that the final episode of the show takes a clever, fairly brilliant, approach to sending off the crew of Enterprise as only a cast & crew aware that the show has reached its conclusion can.

I suppose if my ramblings and summaries thus far need have amounted to anything, I would hope they resemble a reflection to the fact that the show is a bit inconsistent at best. There are moments sprinkled about its 4-season run that truly hark back to the finer moments of Star Trek's fabled history but unlike say Next Generation, consistent brilliance is simply not a given. However, when Enterprise does hit its marks, and rest assured- it does, it's right up there with the quality and depth of storytelling Trekkers have come to expect from the franchise.

In closing, to those who have endured my rather lengthy critique wondering whether this box set is worth their time and money, I have to say that I did find myself watching the entire program successively in about a year's time including all of the commentary and bonus materials. In even its darkest moments, Star Trek is still superior to just about 99% of all science fiction out there and this show does continue on in that tradition. Though my words may have come off as harsh at times, please do keep in mind that many of the flaws and shortcomings mentioned manifest when compared to the impeccable past Trek incarnations first and foremost. When judged on their own accord (especially against what passes for science fiction television of late), nearly everything I mentioned can be overlooked!

I am glad to have the most recent Trek incarnation taking its rightful place on the entertainment center shelf next to Voyager before it and am hoping, for better or worse, that the powers-that-be get to work on its successor. There is something inherently missing in a world that does not have a current Star Trek series on the air.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_Enterprise-60-1406947-234348-Considered_One_of_the_Weaker_Entries_in_the_Trek.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_Enterprise-60-1406947-234348-Considered_One_of_the_Weaker_Entries_in_the_Trek.html Thu, 14 Mar 2013 01:22:13 +0000
<![CDATA[ The COUNTDOWN Begins!]]>

In early 2009, IDW Comics launched a terrific mini-series called STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN.  I couldn’t say how many comic book readers or Star Trek fans read it, but my opinion of it was that the production was stellar from start to finish.  In many ways, the mini tremendously complemented what was about to appear theatrically – that being JJ Abrams’ first installment in the Star Trek universe – as the first part of the four-issue basically introduced audiences to the characters who would be explored (to some extent) in the upcoming motion picture.  With some smart cameos and some wonderful artwork, COUNTDOWN became a sensation in its own right; and I came across several fans in cyberspace who insisted that JJ and company should’ve included more detail from its pages in the film.  I don’t know if that would’ve worked myself; but I’d be a fool if I didn’t state that reading the mini vastly increased my appreciation for the next Trek film.
 
Now, just this week, IDW may be hoping for lightning to strike twice.  The company launched a brand new mini-series titled STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS.  Again, they’re promising to “set the stage” for characters and events that’ll take to the silver screen when the next film, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, premieres in theatres this spring.
 
(NOTE: the following review will contain spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters.  If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last paragraph for my final assessment.  If, however, you’re accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
 
As fate would have it, Spock is experiencing trouble sleeping.  His mind is heavy from the events of the recent past; Vulcan was destroyed, the remnants of his people are scattered across the stars, and his mother was killed in the assault on his home planet.  Kirk, too, is experiencing difficulties, as the strain of command is wearing thin on the young captain’s psyche.  He’s learned how alone he feels, so much so that he catches himself in casual conversation with the ship’s computer.
 
Hoping to lose themselves in their work, Kirk and Spock and the rest of the crew arrive at the planet Phaedus, where they’re supposed to conduct a routine observation of a world not yet rewarded with ‘first contact.’  However, much to their surprise, they establish orbit and discover a high-frequency energy field in use – one that vastly surpasses the Phaedans known technology – putting them in a treacherous situation: do they risk accidentally being discovered by traveling to the planet to investigate, or should they simply file a report?
 
As you can guess, Jim Kirk and his shipmates are never one to pass up on a mystery, and it’s this decision that puts this COUNTDOWN into motion.  Their trip to the planet’s surface is not without incident, and what they find may very well change the history of this quadrant as they’ve come to know it!
 
Sadly, there really is very little substance in this first issue.  I say that not as a complaint – rather, it’s just an honest reaction.  Much of these events appear to be little more than set-up, bringing the ship and its crew into focus for where they are in the here and now of this story.  Spock’s development is relatively predictable, and the frame of mind Kirk finds himself in is not at all unlike that already explored by Captain Christopher Pike in the original (TV) STAR TREK pilot, “The Cage.”  In fact, much of Kirk’s log entry (his speaking to the computer) seemed reminiscent of Pike’s speech to his doctor in said episode.  Rather than consider this a mistake, I’ll consider it a respectful nod back to the show that spawned the film franchise.  I’ve no idea what the writers will make of it, but it’s a nice development.
 
Lastly, there’s a terrific surprise cameo in the issue’s concluding pages that hopefully will tie in with the pending movie – otherwise, it feels vaguely commercial, if not repetitive in the same way that an older and much wiser Spock played into the timeline of JJ’s first Trek movie.  There’s nothing wrong with introducing other characters from the original program into this new period – especially nothing wrong with the emergence of this ‘legend’ only tried-and-true Trek fans will appreciate – and that’s why I’ll definitely be here next month when the second book streets.
 
I definitely want to know where this journey is heading, and I’m hoping it’ll boldly go where no man has gone before.
 
STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS is published by IDW Publishing Company.  The story is written by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson; the script is written by Mike Johnson; the art is by David Messina; the ink assist (?) is provided by Marina Castelvetro; the colors are by Claudia Scarletgothica; and lettering is by Chris Mowry.  The issue bears a cover price of $3.99, not payable in gold pressed latinum or quatloos.
 
RECOMMENDED.  Sometimes, it’s hard to grasp where a comics miniseries could be heading; however, given the overwhelming strength of the first STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN – the one which set-up in some amazing detail the events explored in JJ Abrams’ 2009 STAR TREK film – I’m giving COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS a bit of a ‘get out of jail’ free card.  There wasn’t much to sink your teeth into here – some fairly predictable character developments, but it was all handled with strong focus and excellent artwork – so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the next issue has a bit more to offer.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Two Great Tastes Don't Necessarily Taste Great Together]]>

Crossovers are not always an easy sell.  What might look like a stroke of genius bringing two separate worlds together on the face of it could just as easily backfire, leaving a blemish (or a stink) on both universes.  Thankfully, most writers who undertake such a complex task know more than a little bit about both sides of the intended crossover, and this greatly helps facilitate not only the reality of what such a story would, could, and should look like but also it helps suitably iron out the wrinkles of how to get all characters back to where they belong.  However, when readers are unfamiliar with both universes (or franchises) presented, the end product really needs to be the best of both worlds … and I’m not entirely certain that’s what IDW delivered with this volume, STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (2012).
 
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of character and plot.  If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last paragraph for my final assessment.  If, however, you’re entirely accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
 
Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise are no strangers to time travel or inter-dimensional travel.  Nor are any of the champions serving the Legion of Super-Heroes.  When a freak transporter accident AND the collapse of a bubble-craft traveling through space-time coincide at just the right (or wrong!) moment, both teams find themselves stranded on a parallel Earth, one where the Federation exists but its primary mission is to conquer strange, new worlds!  Only by seeking out and finding one another can they hope to survive the resulting chaos of their displacement into a completely new universe, and only by cooperating can they hope to separate this new timeline back into separate entities so that they can return home!
 
As I said above, crossovers had problems already built in to them that writers have to be extremely conscious of, and, unfortunately, STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES’ scribe Chris Roberson bit off much, much more than any single man should ever attempt to chew.  Why do I say that?  Well, on the face of it, I’m not entirely sure such a crossover was even a good idea to begin with.  The world of Jim Kirk and his crew of explorers represents one possible tomorrow for the people of planet Earth; this is not to say it’s a ‘reality,’ per se, but it has all the makings and variables that several significant elements of it are likely.  Of course, it’s fiction (don’t send the men in white coats to my front door just yet, mother dear), but there’s a wealth of science in there – space exploration, the possibility of finding intelligent life, not to mention phasers and tricorders and transporters, oh my – that, while speculative, isn’t beyond the grasp of what’s possible if not probable.  However, with the Legion of Super-Heroes … it’s just super-heroes, and, since they’re wholly licensed to the world of the fictional, then why bother?
 
It isn’t that TREK/LEGION doesn’t have some strong writing because, to be fair, it does.  Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov come alive – at least as much as they have in any other comic book incarnation.  I’m not schooled with the Legion’s crew, but, so far as I can tell, they certainly appear to be legitimate creations.  The circumstances that propel these two teams into the same newly-minted universe isn’t all that new or novel, especially considering it’s a variation on themes already explored several times in the TREK world alone … but that’s a minor quibble when considering the entire story at play.  As far as the villain goes, you get a solid two-fer (one from the Legion’s background, and a surprising counterpart from a different version of STAR TREK); however, I will say that so very much of the story felt like a retread of other tales already explored.
 
Granted, this wasn’t what I expected.  Still, I hadn’t expected the crossover in the first place … so there’s something to be said for making an honest attempt at a truly unanticipated pairing.
 
STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES is published by IDW Publishing.  The story is by Chris Roberson; and the artwork is by Jeffrey Moy.  The volume bears a cover price of $24.99, and, so far as this reader is concerned, that’s more latinum than these 152 pages are worth.
 
MODESTLY RECOMMENDED.  If you’re a tried and true STAR TREK fan like I am, then you’ll probably enjoy this one enough to make it worth a single read, but there isn’t enough substance (or greatness) to encourage me to ever pick it up again.  The Trek characterizations are pretty solid (sorry, but as I’m no fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, I couldn’t speak to the validity of theirs), and there’re enough guilty pleasure cameo-style appearances to keep in interesting.  Personally, I didn’t see that much value in the crossover of these two properties; the way Chris Roberson highlighted so many parallels between the primary six characters used from each franchise, it just didn’t seem all that necessary come the conclusion.]]>
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<![CDATA[ STAR TREK's Mortal Adversary – Brannon Braga – Is Back With A Tepid First Installment in HIVE]]>  
(NOTE: The following review will contain spoilers necessary for the discussion of the plot.  If you desire only a thumbs up or a thumbs down, then transport yourself down to the last paragraph, and be on your way.  Otherwise … prepare to engage!)
 
Still in command of the Enterprise-E, Captain Jean Luc Picard takes a much deserved holiday with a love interest from the days of his TV adventures.  Vash is along for companionship – and we do mean ‘companionship’ as even Vash had admitted that their relationship is only about sex.  Still, a fateful whisper in the back of his mind tells the captain that things are amiss somewhere in the galaxy.  The Borg have reared their ugly heads again in the Alpha Quadrant, and it’s up to Jean Luc and friends to alert Starfleet that their greatest enemy is coming for …
 
… for peace?
 
Maurice Hurley created the Borg in the stellar TNG episode, “Q Who?”  Since that introduction, it’s mostly been Braga tinkering and retinkering and re-retinkering and (even) re-re-retinkering with their origins and development.  The central premise is that the Borg seek to conquer the galaxy by ‘assimilating’ various species along with the technology and culture into one master race ruled by a Queen and the Hive-mind at her control.  By only bugaboo with the Borg is that there never really seemed to be an authentic reason why they’d do this, but methinks that’s why they’re such a great villain: they just do want to do it.  Assimilation into the Borg Collective serves to rob the individual of any specific identity, all for the purposes of making the one serve the entire species, and much of it reminds me of today’s progressive Democratic Party.  (snicker snicker)
 
However, with STAR TREK: VOYAGER, Braga and the knuckleheads on his writing team practically devoted the bulk of four seasons into exploring more personally and creatively what the Borg were (how they functioned, where they were mostly from, how they went about their day, etc.) … so much so that, to this viewer, the Borg lost any real ‘teeth.’  With each new adventure, it became easier and easier for the various Starfleet crews to thwart the Borg threat.  Granted, a toothless predator is still a predator, but much of the scare is gone.  The writers even created Species 8472 – a nemesis that resisted Borg assimilation and, thus, instilled fear into the drone society – which only served to further soften the brutes from emotionless cybernetic hoarders to stock cardboard villainy.
 
With his new HIVE, Braga seems to have forgotten much of what he’s penned (and supervised) before.  He creates yet another all-new species – this one Species 1881, the Voldranaii – who largely function with the exact same backstory as Species 8472 … though they sure have a cooler name!  (Ugh.)  Then, just as the Borg did when faced with Species 8472, they approach agents of the Federation for the purpose of establishing a ‘compromise’ or a truce under which terms they’d work together with Starfleet.  And it even looks like Braga’s decided to revisit characters, themes, and situations he’s plumbed before, bringing Data back into the fold for the purpose of tempting (yet again) the Borg Queen (previously seen in STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT).
 
Granted, this is only a first issue, and maybe – maybe – I’m being a bit harsh.  But I can’t escape the fact that so much of what took place in these pages feels dramatically like a retread of material already developed by Mr. Braga.  Will this affect of the story?  Well, that’s up to him.  Based on his track record, I’m not holding my breath.  See, resistance isn’t all that futile, Mr. Braga.  TV Trek died, mostly at your hands, due your arrogance and your open refusal to let capable others play in the Trek universe.  Whatever dirt you may have on the management at IDW you no doubt pulled out of a drawer and used to get this gig.  Now, they’ve given you a chance, so here’s hoping you don’t screw it all up again.
 
RECOMMENDED definitely for fans of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.  Nothing spells cancellation like Brannon Braga, but, despite his participation here, HIVE is worth a read.  Clearly, Braga’s lost sight of what he’s penned before as so many elements here harken back to territory and stories already explored in TNG and (especially) STAR TREK: VOYAGER, but, as a Trek enthusiast, I welcome any return to the days of Jean Luc Picard and his crew.  I wanted more, but all this delivered was mostly set-up, and nothing all that grand to begin with.  Hopefully, Braga’s got something more up his sleeve than this.  Only time and further assimilation will tell.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_Hive_1_-60-1840810-229740-STAR_TREK_s_Mortal_Adversary_Brannon_Braga_Is.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_Hive_1_-60-1840810-229740-STAR_TREK_s_Mortal_Adversary_Brannon_Braga_Is.html Thu, 8 Nov 2012 19:30:25 +0000
<![CDATA[The Changing face of the Enterprise]]> The Famous USS Enterprise; as a tradition in Starfleet almost all of the Federations Flagships have been called "Enterprise". From the 22nd Century right until the 26th (I Assume). This is just a list of all the Enterprises over the years.

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3138-The_Changing_face_of_the_Enterprise.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3138-The_Changing_face_of_the_Enterprise.html Sat, 16 Jun 2012 03:35:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ TROUBLESOME MINDS Is One Great Trek into the Worlds of TOS!]]>  
Kirk and company are on their way to welcome the Isitri into the Federation when a distress call diverts them from their intended destination: quickly, they rescue the travelers of the wayward craft … only to discover that they’ve inadvertently interfered with a space-based execution.  Berlis – a powerful telepath with the skills to subvert an entire civilization’s wishes – was meant to die, but now – at Kirk’s unintentional intrusion into the private affairs of a planet – he’s free to enslave his people in his own telepathic crusade … even if it means the annihilation of a species!
 
It’s a grand tale told convincingly by an author inspired by the voices of the original crew of the Starship Enterprise.  Beneath Galanter’s prose, Kirk and Spock and McCoy (and the rest of the crew, to a lesser extent) come alive as Trek’s “holy trinity” once more as they squabble and debate the merits of their actions.  It all looks as sounds as though it’s been lifted from the frames of an unaired episode – secretly lost somewhere in the vaults at Paramount – and only recently discovered.  The aliens aren’t too flashy, and the situations aren’t too conflated, but it’s all told with enough vim, vigor, and drama to fit comfortably within established canon.  Whereas other authors within Trek publishing have sought to force-fit THEIR version of a Trek tale into the established universe, Galanter exudes confidence at spinning a yarn “not too cold, not too warm, but just right.”  Instead of yet another bloated vanity tale from the usual chorus of Pocket Book authors, Galanter goes back to the originals and allows his tale to unfold quickly, seamlessly, and organically … the way a great Trek tale should.
 
In fact, it’s just what the doctor (McCoy) ordered!
 
STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.  Fans of TOS will have plenty to celebrate with this adventure.  Though it’s far from perfect – the prose might be a little too crisp at times for its own good (I read this in two sittings, it’s so quick), and a few creative diversions into the psyches of these classic characters would’ve been greatly appreciated – it’s told at such a breakneck pace you’ll easily forgive a few harmless faults along the way.  Maybe you’ll even find yourself enraptured a bit – as I did – in traveling boldly where no one has gone before.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Troublesome_Minds-60-1824601-224441-TROUBLESOME_MINDS_Is_One_Great_Trek_into_the.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Troublesome_Minds-60-1824601-224441-TROUBLESOME_MINDS_Is_One_Great_Trek_into_the.html Tue, 29 May 2012 17:06:11 +0000
<![CDATA[ Shatner's THE CAPTAINS Boldly Looks Back Where STAR TREK Has Gone Before]]>  
Shatner conducts interview with Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and even Chris Pine, who took over the center seat as a younger incarnation of the legendary Captain James T. Kirk in Paramount Pictures 2009 STAR TREK relaunch that enjoyed solid box office performance.  That I’m aware of, this was the first opportunity for Pine and Shatner to go on the record jointly, and, while there are no ‘shocking’ revelations, it’s still a pleasant visit between two talented men.
 
As for the other interviews?  Everyone’s very cordial, and that’s no doubt the fact that they’ve probably met before at any number of the officially-sponsored conventions that occur regularly each year around the world.  STAR TREK is a cultural phenomenon, and it’s very clear that each of these actors holds the franchise in great respect.  Here, they get to sound off about how they felt about the responsibility, how they deal with fandom, and even sound off a bit on ways they first got involved in the craft of acting and what their various influences in life have been.  While each of them may have some personal reservations about what effect serving Starfleet had had on their careers, they still embrace the reality of their situation with obvious love and charm.
 
Though I’ve no problem saying it: Avery Brooks (DS9’s Captain Benjamin Sisko) came off looking a little bit of a cuckoo!  I remember reading that, last February (2012), Mr. Brooks was pulled over driving while intoxicated, and I have to wonder if that incident wasn’t some time about the time he sat down for his visit with Shatner.  Watch the disc, and I think you’ll quite possibly agree!
 
The disc comes with one bonus feature (“The Making of The Captains”).  Sound and picture are acceptable quality, and, clearly, a good time was had by all!
 
STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for fans of the Star Trek franchise; mildly RECOMMENDED for everyone else
 
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to share that the folks at E-One (Entertainment One) provided me with a DVD screener copy for the expressed purposes of completing this review.]]>
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<![CDATA[My Favorite episodes of Star Trek Voyager]]>
(A Lunch Featured List)

Check Out my Other list.

My Favorite Episodes of Star Trek Enterprise]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3107-My_Favorite_episodes_of_Star_Trek_Voyager.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3107-My_Favorite_episodes_of_Star_Trek_Voyager.html Thu, 1 Mar 2012 18:46:44 +0000
<![CDATA[My Favorite Episodes of Star Trek Enterprise]]>
(A Lunch Featured List)


Check out my other list
My favorite Episodes of Star Trek Voyager]]>
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<![CDATA[ Endless Spacewar, 20 Years & Counting]]>
Baen books has a HUGE collection of science fiction CDs on the Internet.

http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

I have used it to read Mission of Honor from David Weber's Honor Harrington series.  Since there are very strong rumors of an Honor Harrington movie being produced it must be time to say something about the series.

On Basilisk Station
The Honor of the Queen
The Short Victorious War
Field of Dishonor
Flag in Exile
Honor Among Enemies
In Enemy Hands
Echoes of Honor
Ashes of Victory
War of Honor
At All Costs
Storm from the Shadows
Mission of Honor
A Rising Thunder
Shadow of Freedom


I stopped reading the series after In Enemy Hands so a number of things that I knew nothing about were mentioned in Mission of Honor.  It really did not matter.  That is why I stopped reading the series.  The same basic kinds of events keep occurring.  Apparently there are a lot of people who enjoy reading about interstellar super dreadnaughts being blown into balls of glowing plasma but it got old for me.  And Weber gets annoyingly melodramatic with his characters at times.

But Mission of Honor pulls together a number of threads and presents the Kingdom of Manticore with a new enemy.  Or a known enemy that is much bigger and more dangerous than originally portrayed.

But to understand the Harrington series the galactic background needs to be explained.  If you read the series this information is slowly put together but this needs to be explained for a review of a book far into the series.  

This series is set 2000+ years in the future.  Humans are supposed to figure out faster than light travel a couple of hundred years from now.  So by the time Honor is born  humans have colonized 1700 planets and encountered a dozen "intelligent" species though none of them are technologically advanced.

The kingdom of Manticore of which Honor is a citizen is hundreds of light-years from Earth which takes weeks to reach.  There are three habitable planets in the Manticore system, Manticore, Sphinx and Griffin.  All named after mythical combined creatures.  Humans had been in the system for nearly 1000 years and Honor was born on Sphinx which is the only planet in the system that has one of those intelligent species, cats with six legs that just happen to be telepathic.  Honor's great-great-something grandmother was the first person to find the "intelligent" species and be "adopted" by one, even though they had been watching the peculiar humans for decades.

The background activity to the entire series is the conflict between the Republic of Haven and the Kingdon of Manticore.  Haven had been conquering other star systems and the government of Manticore was expecting to be attacked eventually.  Honor is in the space navy by the time their cold war becomes a hot one.  So except for Field of Dishonor all of the books up until Mission of Honor revolve around the various kinds and magnitudes of battles between Haven and Manticore.

David Weber is a historian and seems to get approval from people in the US military for the kind of attitudes he encourages about militarism with the characters he creates.  Within the stories there are also various political and economic sub-plots that affect the war.  These eleven books span a period of 20 years in the Honorverse by the way.  Another important thing about the Honorverse is the invention of the Prolong treatment which extends people's lives.  They expect to live 300 years.  Kim Stanley Robinson did the same thing in his Mars Trilogy.  Personally I expect something like that to actually be developed in the next 200 years.  The human genome project is done and computers keep getting better.  But the odd thing about the Honorverse is so little mention of computers except as weapon control systems and the only robot mentioned is Honor's fight training machine.

Mission of Honor was interesting since I had no idea what had happened in the previous three books.  Apparently there was a major battle in At All Costs which I have not read and Manticore has chosen to try for a peace settlement with Haven.  But the Solarian League, based on Earth and the greatest power in known space, has come into the picture with an unprovoked attack on Manticoran ships and is on the verge of war with Manticore which they expect to be a pushover.  It may be that David Weber is just finding ways to drag on a popular series but he seems to be able to come up with enough twists and turns to keep it alive rather than turning into a stumbling zombie that only appeals to die hard fans.  It is of course superior to the Gor series by John Norman which is up to book 30 even with consistently bad reviews, but there are Gor fans anyway.

http://gorchronicles.com/modules/wfchannel/

So that just shows people have to find what THEY like.  After all it is their time they have to spend reading the stuff.  I would suggest starting the Harrington series with the second book, Honor of the Queen, however.  The Graysons, religious fanatics in another star system, make the story much more interesting than On Basilisk Station and they will become a major component of future stories while Basilisk just gets mentioned as some place out there now and then.  So after reading #2 you can decide whether or not to follow the Harrington road.  My interest declined after Flag in Exile which also involves the Graysons.

I am quite curious about what they will do with a movie though.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/book/UserReview-Mission_of_Honor_Honor_Harrington_Hardcover_-60-1478236-218851-Endless_Spacewar_20_Years_Counting.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/book/UserReview-Mission_of_Honor_Honor_Harrington_Hardcover_-60-1478236-218851-Endless_Spacewar_20_Years_Counting.html Fri, 6 Jan 2012 05:31:53 +0000
<![CDATA[Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 14: The Galileo Seven Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_14_The_Galileo_Seven-60-1519248-218847.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_14_The_Galileo_Seven-60-1519248-218847.html Fri, 6 Jan 2012 00:54:54 +0000 <![CDATA[ "Now with the scales properly balanced, we have equal amounts of terror"]]>
As the episode opens, Kirk is about to wed to crew members in matriomony when an alert sounds from the bridge: Federation outposts are under attack on the border of the Neutral Zone-an area of space that seperates the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire.  The Romulans who had a war with the Federation almost a century ago and haven't been heard from since-may be attacking the outposts.  The Enterprise moves in to investigate and witness an alien craft destroying another outpost and when a transmission is intercepted from the vessel, we see the Romulans, and they look like Spock which raises the ire in a helmsman whose family died in the Romulan War.  Kirk knows the tense situation is now getting worse with war being a possibility.

On the Romulan ship though, the commander is compelled by the war life style of the Romulans to commit these attacks.  He does not want another war but the mentality of his people want one and is even pushed into actions he does not want to do by a subordinate officer who would look stronger by attacking the Enterprise when the Commander would not.  A scene towards the end of the episode has the Romulan Commander note that in another life, he and Kirk could have even been friends.

Balance of Terror is a Trek classic and showed a step towards a new alien power for the Federation to fight.  But then the Klingons would appear in the later season who became the breakout aliens for the series.]]>
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<![CDATA[Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 9: Balance Of Terror Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_9_Balance_Of_Terror-60-1519252-218810.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_9_Balance_Of_Terror-60-1519252-218810.html Wed, 4 Jan 2012 07:56:26 +0000 <![CDATA[ "The old Trek told us of how our lives were playing out as we lived it. Not like the new Voyager "]]> You gotta love it when Kirk pontificates on then current events.  In any other show, it would be preachy or corny, but somehow Trek makes it work.



This is it kiddies.  My favorite classic episode.  No not the one with Edith Keeler or the Tribbles and may God have Mercy on your soul if you said the one with the hippies.  No, this one bay-bee.

The Enterprise is on it's way to respond to a distress call from one of it's sister ships, the Constellation and learn that the region of space that it's in, has no planets, only rocks and debris.  Probing further on they find the Constellation-floating derelict in space-attacked by something.  Beaming over Kirk finds Commodore Decker the commander alone and in shock on board his ship with no crew.  Decker explains to Kirk that he encountered an enourmous robot ship that destroys planets and digests the debris for fuel and cannot be stopped.  Decker goes aboard the Enterprise with McCoy for treatment, with Kirk and Scotty staying behind to prepare the Constellation, but the robot attacks again, cutting off Kirk from his ship, and Decker taking command to destroy the robot that killed his crew, even if it means taking the Enterprise down the same doomed road.

The Doomsday Machine is a simple and single minded killer and the Federation has no hope of combating it.  Anything it sees, it attacks-friend or foe which Kirk alludes too earlier.  Decker got his crew killed and wants revenge and will follow the same plan he did before to stop it with Kirk and Scotty stuck aboard his crippled ship to provide assistance anyway they can.

The Doomsday Machine is also perhaps the most action packed episode of the original series with Decker on his quest for revenge, a corny TOS era fist fight and another ticking clock scenario.  I've touched on performances in some of these reviews, but I cannot ignore William Windom as the doomed Commodore Decker, who when Kirk points out that there is no third planet for Decker's crew to take refuge on, Decker's madness compounded with grief pours out:

"THERE WAS!  BUT NOT ANYMORE!!"

It's one of the most memorable lines in the series and it's delivered perfectly. 

SADLY it is understated by the fact that Decker is FIGHTING a robot ship that eats planets, so- in preperation for the Constellation to be destroyed, he beams his crew down to a PLANET, you know the thing the Planet Killer is EATING to hopefully spare them, only to SHOCK BEYOND SHOCK, learn that the planet killer is EATING they're planet. - but of course it's all an error in judgement as Kirk says.

The Doomsday Machine is truly one of the TOS eras best episodes.  Might I also say that I love the original Constellation effect, an ERTL Enterprise Model kit that was blow torched and modded to look like another ship.  Proof why practical effects will always better then CGI.  Not to say that the CGI in the remastered episode doesn't look cool.


 

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http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Doomsday_Machine_-60-1501102-217576-_The_old_Trek_told_us_of_how_our_lives_were.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Doomsday_Machine_-60-1501102-217576-_The_old_Trek_told_us_of_how_our_lives_were.html Thu, 29 Dec 2011 05:22:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ "You will make an episode with great characters and performances then leave out something important"]]> Another one of those classic Trek episodes that everyone knows about-the one with the insane man who comes aboard and knows something evil is going on down below on the benevolant planet.  The head Doctor sounding so saccharine that you KNOW he's up to no good, the sexy doctor who goes with Kirk down to the planet and it's another episode where there was plenty of things taken in a classic South Park episode.

The Enterprise just dropped off some supplies to a state of the art mental hospital, but a patient has snuck aboard and demands asylum from Kirk.  Sedated-the man tries to give information about what goes on at the colony but his dementia won't let him get it all out.  Kirk take the Enterprise back to the colony with a lovely doctor to take a closer look at whats going on and find out some unsavory acts are being committed with a new treatment device.

There is a lot about this episode that I like.  If I didn't make it clear above, Marianna Hill as Helen Noel has got to be one of the sexiest women ever in the show's run.  Morgan Woodward as the insane Simon VanGelder, the man who gets aboard the Enterprise is really effective at playing a crazy man without being too caricaturish.  James Gregory as Dr Adams is so dripping with niceness, you KNOW he's evil-playing into the benevolent future of Star Trek and Kirks' assertions to Bones that new mental hospitals are not the dungeons of old, and Helen and Kirk's experimentation on how the treatment machine works is memorable and again it's a story where the a strategy and some thought will win the day, but with a little action mixed in.

Now, here is where I gotta dock this episode, and Charles review below sums it up in the title.  Why is Dr. Adams doing what he is doing?  For the evulz?  For reasons left on the cutting room floor?  Weird experiments?  Yes, we see some pretty vapid faces walking around the institution but what does Adams gain?  We don't know other then we can chalk it up to a pretty twisted man at work, but one we don't know why.

Dagger of the Mnd is also special for the first time Spock uses his Mindmeld, and it's used on Van Gelder with caution that Spock's mind could be damaged.  It was a on the spot creation so that the story could proceed and added considerabbly to how awesome Spock and the Vulcan's could be.  How boring would it be if the say was saved by some lame computer. 

Course if you ask Bones Spock IS a computer, with green blood.

Damn racially insensitve Star Trek characters.  Oh who am I kidding, I love Dr. McCoy.


 

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http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_11_Dagger_of_the_Mind-60-1517162-217565-_You_will_make_an_episode_with_great_characters.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_11_Dagger_of_the_Mind-60-1517162-217565-_You_will_make_an_episode_with_great_characters.html Thu, 29 Dec 2011 03:57:30 +0000
<![CDATA[Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 11: Dagger of the Mind Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_11_Dagger_of_the_Mind-60-1517162-217544.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_11_Dagger_of_the_Mind-60-1517162-217544.html Thu, 29 Dec 2011 02:35:11 +0000 <![CDATA[ This "grup" won't "foolie" you.]]>
The Enterprise finds a radio signal sent from a planet, not just any planet an Earth like planet and no not even one with similar size and atmosphere, IT'S JUST LIKE EARTH with a North American continent, boot shaped Italy, EVERYTHING.  Beaming down with the trifecta of Kirk, Spock and McCoy-Rand and two redshirts we see a decayed civilization and Spock theorizes that it is modeled after 60's America.  Stranger and stranger.  The first person they see is a diseased man who attacks them, followed by the preteen Miri who was hiding.  There are only kids left and all the adults are dead or diseased.  The rest of the kids are hiding and like the Who, won't get fooled again by the "grups" who "foolied" them.

I'll just say it here, the cop out on the sets to save money by making this planet "just like Earth" is the only weak point.  Sadly Trek did this a few more times.

The children as it turns out age years at a time yet stay young, but upon reaching physical adolecance, start to get sick and the landing party is infected.  Under quarantine, the crew stay below to find a cure from the leftover notes and the children start to plot against the "grups" so they don't get attacked anymore.  In the meantime, Miri who is actually quite old has a crush on Kirk, which makes Rand jealous-but when Rand breaks down and confesses to Kirk her attraction to him while showing her boils of illness, it causes a schizm with Miri.  It's strange to see small romance between a thirty year old man and a young child like Miri handled the way it is, unlike things like Child Bride or even the anime Please Teacher! but thankfully it's kept cute and doesn't get creepy.

The other children, led by Michael Pollard are what makes things erie and you only thought wild children were only scary in something like Lord of the Flies, which this almost is.

"Miri" is one of the greats of season 1.  Atmosphere, a ticking clock and using brains and not brawn to win the day.  Though had Kirk given that "bump bump" kid in the blue 5 or 6 good licks with his belt for being a nuisance.  Course Miri might ask if it is as unpleasant as a kiss from Kirk.


see, what I did there I made a True Grit ref........oh never mind.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_12_Miri-60-1517170-216678-This_grup_won_t_foolie_you_.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_12_Miri-60-1517170-216678-This_grup_won_t_foolie_you_.html Wed, 28 Dec 2011 05:05:56 +0000
<![CDATA[Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 12: Miri Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_12_Miri-60-1517170-216677.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_12_Miri-60-1517170-216677.html Wed, 28 Dec 2011 04:32:58 +0000 <![CDATA[ Supreme Shat]]> This episode is a classic.  It's the infamous "Good Kirk and Evil Kirk" episode.  It's also noteworthy of bringing to light that this is where we get to see both sides of William Shatner's acting skills.  His full on clipped voiced, ham eating finest, and his softer and dramatic skills.  This single episode proves on both sides that Shatner is full of camp and skill and not just one or the other, but it does show that he has range.

The episode begins with a survey mission on a planet where night is approaching and the temperatures are starting to drop sharply.  A transporter accident however brings up Captain Kirk and duplicates him.  One a softer passionate man and another rife with aggression and hot blood.  Passionate Kirk is off to relax and kick back after the mission, but the other one goes for some booze and tries to rape Rand.  When the accident is learned of, the Transporter needs to be repaired and that means Sulu and the rest of the landing party is stranded.  Why not use the shuttle?  Cause they weren't invented at this time yet.

The main message of the story is that we need good and evil to remain balanced.  The good side may have thoughtful actions, love and a straightforward line of thought, but the bad side has the strength to make hard decisions and lead in times of trouble.  Put together, they form a complete man.  The episode sets this up well but dwells a little too long.

The Enemy Within is a strong episode but stays put too long which includes a few too many reminders that Sulu and the other crewman will freeze to death if the transporters aren't fixed in time to pad things out.  William Shatner fans will surely like what he has to offer here and the Good Kirk, Evil Kirk has been a trope for a long time.  I cannot end this review though without mentioning the Monster Dog that is used in the episode and how PETA would object to a dog in make up in this episode, let alone that implication that they experimented on the dog with the transporter.  Maybe I'm overthinking this.

]]>
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<![CDATA[Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 5: The Enemy Within Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_5_The_Enemy_Within-60-1519774-216666.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_5_The_Enemy_Within-60-1519774-216666.html Tue, 27 Dec 2011 21:41:16 +0000 <![CDATA[ "Dad, let me take the Enterprise to the Pearl Jam concert, or I'll make Spock dissapear!"]]> Teenage adolescence is both awesome and horrifying.  You start to have sexual feelings, think about the future and enjoy those times with your friends before they leave for school and maybe even a job.  The other side of the coin can include some alienation to older people who may not take you seriously cause you are still "just a kid" your body changes in odd ways and it IS the first sign of growing up where you gotta let go of those days of being a kid and start taking life seriously.  No one taught this to Charlie Evans, the title character of this episode and when you learn he has been abandoned for most of his life, and is a teenager.  He has feelings that are developing but his mounting frustration makes him lash out in lethal ways.

The Enterprise has met up with a cargo ship that found young Charlie living among himself.  Charlie seems out of place having been living alone so long but sees Kirk like a dad to give him advice.  His first sight of a woman is the lovely Janice Rand and is instantly smitten with her.  Ol' Charlie needs to ask Jim why it's impolite to slap Rand on the ass at one point.

Slowly but surely as anything else, Kirk and Spock get to sense that Charlie is dangerous.  It's hinted at when they learn the ship that delivered Charlie suddenly is destroyed but further hammered home when Charlie makes a crew member dissapear solely for laughing at him when Kirk and Charlie work out.  Charlie's emotions are in full teenager swing and angst and anyone who starts to upset him can meet an end.  Kirk can't simply shoot Charlie, a danger to his ship cause Charlie made the phasers dissapear and attempts to trap him fail since Charlie can immobilize anyone arround him.  Sending him to an Earth colony will not only endanger the inhabitants but the Enterprise could meet a fate similar to the ship that previously brought Charlie.  It looks like Kirk is stuck with this teenage brat and will have to wheather his tantrums and outbursts.  Or will he?

I may not have a child, let alone one who is a teenager but as much as I did want to see Kirk outsmart this kid, you do feel for Charlie at the same time.  He's not mean so much as he is misunderstood and being thrust into civilization after so long is hard.

It's hard for all of us Charlie, and if you think about it:  Star Trek back in 1966 predicted the High School shooting.


 

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http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_8_Charlie_X-60-1519267-216617-_Dad_let_me_take_the_Enterprise_to_the_Pearl_Jam.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_8_Charlie_X-60-1519267-216617-_Dad_let_me_take_the_Enterprise_to_the_Pearl_Jam.html Mon, 26 Dec 2011 04:13:27 +0000
<![CDATA[Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 8: Charlie X Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_8_Charlie_X-60-1519267-216616.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Original_Series_Episode_8_Charlie_X-60-1519267-216616.html Mon, 26 Dec 2011 03:48:03 +0000 <![CDATA[Worst Episodes of Deep Space Nine]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3049-Worst_Episodes_of_Deep_Space_Nine.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3049-Worst_Episodes_of_Deep_Space_Nine.html Fri, 2 Dec 2011 04:17:09 +0000 <![CDATA[Star Trek Openings]]> Star Trek has been on TV for years and years and with every new series comes a new opening credit sequence. This is a list of them all .

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<![CDATA[My favorite Star Trek Ship Classes.]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3025-My_favorite_Star_Trek_Ship_Classes_.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-3025-My_favorite_Star_Trek_Ship_Classes_.html Wed, 2 Nov 2011 01:32:46 +0000 <![CDATA[Constitution (refit) class Cruiser Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Constitution_refit_class_Cruiser-60-1777039-214884.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Constitution_refit_class_Cruiser-60-1777039-214884.html Wed, 2 Nov 2011 00:44:09 +0000 <![CDATA[ The bridge has the big screen on it, maybe we can stream The Wrath of Khan on it.]]>
Nicholas Meyer is one of those names that you never really hear too much about, especially outside of his Star Trek forte.  He has made other movies either by writing screenplays or directing and some consider the work as good, and some of it is considered bad.  Coming into Star Trek when he did "Is that the show with the guy with pointy ears?" he already had some movie work under him and some books and after Star Trek II jumped into the world of TV with the nuclear horror movie The Day After which triumphed when aired and from there would work on screenplays, fight to have his work being transformed by others, have his work thrown in a pile and forgotten about and finally more Star Trek before going back into the world to write some more.

If I found a failing in the book, it's that Meyer will be talking about some of his works like an adaption of Don Quixote or a movie he made called Company Business getting a royal shafting at the box office and the stories come up short.  No real anecdotes or stories about making the movies.  Whether the experience was too painful to talk about, or Meyer saw no point in dwelling on the pain in a book about movies few saw or work that was never made, because if he was going to do that, Nicholas Meyer would have his own internet review show.

The sections about his work on The Seven Per-Cent Solution is far more detailed as is his work with Star Trek and Time After Time.  You can tell that Meyer is proud of his work because it's a point that his work will be called by a higher up as genius and that any unnecessary fiddling irks him considerably.  This is best pointed in the best part of the book, in the chapter about making The Day After where two suits and he sit down to edit the screenplay he agreed to work on.  "If they are going to edit it, why not do it BEFORE they hired me?"  It's a good question.

While Star Trek is only a fraction of his career, it is arguably his most popular having co written Star Treks 2, 4 and 6 and directing 2 and 6  (Hey, those are EVEN numbered Trek films aren't they........wonder where the even number rule comes from.....) and while he is proud of his work, I do get the sense that he is comfortable with his place in Trek's history and lives up to his own words.  He mentions it in the book in so many words that Gilbert and Sullivan may not have always gotten along and tried to work apart, but what we remember is Gilbert and Sullivan.  The stars of Star Trek for better or worse with it's original stars, warts and all is what we remember them for no matter what else they did or shows that they acted on.  What we remember is Star Trek and we will remember them for it.

I will always remember Nicholas Meyer in that regard because I will always remember Star Trek.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/book/UserReview-The_View_From_The_Bridge_Memories_of_Star_Trek_and_a_Life_in_Hollywood-60-1772135-214385-The_bridge_has_the_big_screen_on_it_maybe_we_can.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/book/UserReview-The_View_From_The_Bridge_Memories_of_Star_Trek_and_a_Life_in_Hollywood-60-1772135-214385-The_bridge_has_the_big_screen_on_it_maybe_we_can.html Tue, 18 Oct 2011 08:08:10 +0000
<![CDATA[Best Episodes of Deep Space Nine]]>

Deep Space Nine, by Trek fans is often called the best of the show even though it's pop culture flags are much smaller then those of TOS and TNG. Much like my favorites list for TNG, I'm going to take one episode a season for my favorites list.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Trek's first clip show, and it's last.]]>
Shades of Gray is TNGs only clip show and I don't think there really is another example of a clip show in all of Trek which shows how odious this is.  TOS had "The Menagerie" which at least utilized the episode of the unused pilot episode into the proceedings to make an episode which showed some creativity.  No such luck here.

Season 2 was infamous for some real clunker episodes, lets go over a few of them:

"The Child" which opens the season had the crew in transition at the start but focuses on a plot having Troi being impregnated by an alien beam of light which many people took as being at best a weak story line and at worst, rape.

"The Outragouse Okona" showcases a would be charmer who got himself involved with the politics of two worlds while Data learns comedy from that comedic genius himself, Joe Piscopo.

"The Dauphin" has little Wesley Crusher falling in love with a cute young woman who will bring a warring world to piece while being looked after by a cranky old woman.  Wesley in love......BARF.

"The Royale" has Riker, Worf and Data being trapped in an alien recreation of a bad pulp casino and hotel.  Could have been fun.

"Up The Long Ladder" has the Enterprise crew interacting with a family of Irish colonists who are so stereotyped it could have come from an episode of Family Guy.  A second story involved illegal cloning but it's almost an after thought.

"Samaritan Snare"  The one where the aliens kidnap Geordi and say "We are strong.....our ship is broken,  make it go!"  You know the one.

All of those episodes came from this season.  Does this season sound good?  Other then a few winners like "Where Silence Has Lease" "Q Who?" "Elementary Dear Data" "The Measure of a Man" "A Matter of Honor" and a few others, season 2 stunk and the clip show doesn't help.

I'll admit that the episode COULD have gone somewhere at the start with Riker being infected by a parasite, but the silly premise of having to stimulate memories in Riker to get the clips going is goofy.  I can sympathize with a budget problem and a potential writers strike but even we could have had something so cheap made like a "ship loses power via invisible alien force" episode and pad it out and it would have at least been decent.  It wouldn't have been clips at least.

Shades of Gray only great marker in people's minds is that it's the last time we saw Dr. Pulaski as her character was written off the show so that Dr. Crusher could return.  Hey, seeing the lovely Gates McFadden come back is the bright light at the end of this gray tunnel.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Shades_Of_Gray_TNG-60-1519682-208121-Trek_s_first_clip_show_and_it_s_last_.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-Shades_Of_Gray_TNG-60-1519682-208121-Trek_s_first_clip_show_and_it_s_last_.html Wed, 1 Jun 2011 02:48:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hmmm, break Starfleet's chief law or kill the most annoying character on board............]]>
ANYWAY where am I going with all of this?  Oh yeah, the episode Justice which could be one of the worst episodes in the whole run of TNG.

The show starts with the Enterprise visiting an out of the way planet after just completing a heavy colonization on a neighboring system.  Normally Starfleet doesn't interact with the peoples of different worlds in danger of the risk of contaminating they're society or influencing them in different ways, but an exception is made since it's a tropical and idyllic little place with nice weather and plenty of skimpilly dressed hardbodies who are all tanned, oiled and free and easy.  Tasha even backs up that last part, of course.  What else did she do on the show?  Besides die.

Anyway, Wesley even goes frolicking on the planet and accidentally breaks a window.  Apparently this is harm and foul and the inhabitants have only one real punishment: kill the offender.  Wesley of course is alarmed and taken into custody after Riker interferes.  Picard is now charged with what to do:  Risk annoying the overseer of the planet, not to mention breaking Starfleet's Prime Directive to save Wesley's life, the son of Beverly Crusher, a widower and friend to Picard, not to mention that the crew was unaware of the rules and would have been more careful.  What to do?

If it wasn't for the scene where Beverly pleads with Picard to save Wesley, there would have been no drama or care in this episode since they are talking about a character whose death would have been met with great apathy or celebration from the audience.  They shouldn't have been on the planet, let alone Wesley be on the planet and then you are talking about the Prime Directive before Voyager ruined it and made it okay for genocide.  Sorry, but such a one sided issue fails to generate interest in me, thats one crime, a second would be Brenda Bakke looking ugly in that blonde curly do, and the third should be obvious.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Next_Generation_Justice_-60-1503510-207847-Hmmm_break_Starfleet_s_chief_law_or_kill_the_most.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/d/UserReview-Star_Trek_The_Next_Generation_Justice_-60-1503510-207847-Hmmm_break_Starfleet_s_chief_law_or_kill_the_most.html Thu, 26 May 2011 04:51:54 +0000
<![CDATA[Least Favorite Episodes of TNG]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-2915-Least_Favorite_Episodes_of_TNG.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/Lists-60-2915-Least_Favorite_Episodes_of_TNG.html Thu, 26 May 2011 04:06:13 +0000 <![CDATA[Star Trek: Generations Quick Tip by Trekscribbler]]> http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/movie/UserReview-Star_Trek_Generations-60-1015881-206944.html http://www.lunch.com/startrekfans/reviews/movie/UserReview-Star_Trek_Generations-60-1015881-206944.html Wed, 4 May 2011 18:48:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 35: The Measure Of A Man Quick Tip by Trekscribbler]]> This exceptional morality play about the nature of existence has wonderful depth for being a mere forty-plus minutes. In record time, it manages to deal with such titillating sci-fi subjects as the man vs. machine controversy, a person's right to choose, and even slavery.

Brent Spiner, as Commander Data, is at top form in this episode, given perhaps the greatest story possible: a story tinkering with a hidden sense of euthanasia and his right, as a manufactured being, to make the choices that determine his fate. Picard Stewart, as his captain and defense attorney in court, gives an incredibly stirring speech about the nature of epistemology.

Another must-see ... but not just for Trek fans.

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