Science Fiction

The Terminator

Year: 1984
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, and William Wisher

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was one of the most successful films of the year in 1984 when I was born. I don’t remember specifically when I saw it for the first time. I have a deep memory of watching it with my Aunt and Uncle at a young age, and of course when I was older it was a staple in the household I became part of and then throughout life with my brother. There are few movies more beloved in the home I grew up in than The Terminator, and its sequel Judgement Day. This was a groundbreaking film that studios have always been determined to turn into a franchise with one desperate attempt after another. This movie undoubtedly left room to grow, but for whatever reason there is just no way to recreate the success of these movies with James Cameron behind camera.

James Cameron may be an asshole and notoriously hard to work with, but he is a God at filmmaking. I would literally put him on par with the likes of Stanley Kubrick and early Steven Spielberg. I think he is one of the most inventive and industry changing men alive today and I think the Avatar sequels will surprise us all in new and exciting groundbreaking ways. He took science fiction to new heights with films like this one, Aliensand The AbyssHe stole the hearts of women all over the world with Titanic, making it one of the most successful box office films at all. Making that accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that Titanic has a three hour run time that limits how many tickets can be sold in a day. He broke all the records again when he revolutionized 3D films with Avatar. I saw it in the theater four times and it was worth every penny because it was a truly exceptional experience. You can never watch the movie today and get that same effect that the 3D created in the movie theater, if you missed it back in 09 you made a grave mistake. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit theaters again before it’s long awaited sequels are released so if you didn’t see it in the theater hold out hope for another chance. I think it’s easy to forget that there are more Avatar movies coming because it has been so long but when they come out James Cameron will again prove to be one of the most capable and revolutionizing filmmakers there is.

I don’t think one paragraph can accurately cover how much of a badass James Cameron is. I often joke that after Titanic and Avatar that James Cameron could make a movie about anything and studios would fall all over themselves for the rights to fund it. He could literally pitch a biographical feature about his old German Sheppard Wolfie and they’d give him a 250 million dollar budget for the film. This wasn’t always the case though as prior to this film he was actually living in his car. In fact his vision for this movie was so much grander than the budget allowed he had to cut many corners. In an effort to save money Cameron created what he called “guerrilla film making” where he would film on location without the proper permits. A lot of the movie is shot at night because Cameron and crew would show up, set up, and film as quickly as possible before the cops showed up to shut them down. The man may be hard to work with, he may be demanding and even occassionally bring his stars to tears, but the man is a badass and nobody can deny that.

Sometimes is takes a badass to make a badass and that is certainly the case when it comes to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Who knows where Schwarzenegger would be today without landing the role in this film. Like Kanye and Taylor Swift, Cameron made that bitch famous. Sure his career had already started with the Conan movies but does anybody really think those parts were going to help him ascend to the next level? Would he have ever reached the heights that he has without these 17 lines of dialogue that gave him the opportunity to get better before his next role? Schwarzenegger could barely speak English back in the day and his accent has never really faded but he was able to overcome that due to the iconic part that made him famous.

When you look at Arnold Schwarzenegger you have to marvel at what the man has accomplished. Here is an immigrant body builder who has risen to the heights of the acting world, married into one of America’s most famous families, successfully entered and exited politics, and maintains his fame even now. I think he is a true example of how anybody is capable of anything in this country. It truly is the land of opportunity for certain people and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a prime example. At one point Schwarzenegger was the highest paid actor in Hollywood, he was elected to not one but two terms as The Govenator, and now he is slowly becoming Donald Trump 2.0. It’s an interesting story and I’m sure there are so many untold stories behind the man that only deepen the intrigue. There are probably already several books written about him but I’d really like to read the one that covers the whole life. There is still an uncertain future that lies ahead and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man who can reach out and grab it for himself.

One of the reasons this is one of my favorite Schwarzenegger roles is that he actually plays the bad guy in this movie. The cold hearted ruthless bad guy that doesn’t eat or sleep but simply kills and will never stop. I may give a lot of credit to Cameron for how things turned out for Schwarzenegger but he brought his own ability to this movie. It wasn’t enough to look the part so much, he had to be the part. Schwarzenegger didn’t want to act like a robot, he wanted to be a robot. He spent countless hours working with guns prior to shooting and got so good that he was literally criticized for being too good by gun enthusiasts. His presence looms over this movie so much that it’s a tribute to his own personal prowess as a man and person. He only has 17 lines in this movie and speaks less than Stallone did in Rocky when he specifically wrote the part with little dialogue to mask his difficulty speaking. Interesting the parallels of the once action kings right? Schwarzenegger and Stallone both had problems speaking and burst onto the scene with movies that had them speaking less.

Funny factoid, OJ Simpson was originally considered and desired for the role of the terminator but he was deemed too nice. It was thought that people would never be able to accept him as a cold blooded killer. You can twist your head around backwards trying to imagine how that decision may have changed the fate of the American timeline right there. Would OJ and not Arnold turned into America’s fan favorite action star? How different his life would have been…

James Cameron was fond of casting Michael Biehn and I’ve always liked that about him too. I don’t know the story behind Biehn and why he never quite made it to the next level of acting but I have always been a big fan of his work. I think one of the problems with all these new Terminator films is that they keep trying to recast Kyle Reese and they fail. You just can’t top Biehn in the part. I think this is where he was at his best with his role in Aliens a close second, his role in the Abyss certainly doesn’t win him any awards. When I was little and would play with my G.I. Joes there was always a character who would play out a Reese scenario and generally be molded after the character. One of my favorites would be the soldier lost in time and have to fight his way through all the others.

Don’t want to delve too far into Sarah Hamilton here because there is really more to be said of her in the sequel Terminator 2 when she goes full blown Ripley. In this movie she is the soft and delicate victim. In truth a very typical character that we usually see in slasher films, which as a matter of fact some actually consider The Terminator to be. However one difference being that she actually gets down and dirty yet still survives in the end. Sarah Conner isn’t some typical teen running from the killer though, she’s the adolescent badass of the future. Of course she has sex and still manages to survive. Plus she had to make Jon Connor, and become badass mother of the future.

This was one of the most popular movies I remember growing up. The 80s were a terrific time with many groundbreaking and legendary movies being made but this one sticks out as different. I do not know how old I was when I saw it for the first time but I remember where I was and who I was with. It was a movie that I never would have been allowed to watch at home but it was with my Aunt and Uncle that I saw it for the first time. I remember learning the word motherfucker and thinking it was just awesome. I generally credit Wesley Snipes and Passenger 57 for teaching me that beloved nomenclature but this actually preceded it by quite a while. My parents probably would have flipped had they known I had seen this movie but I had a cool uncle and he introduced me to a lot.

Eventually I would enter into a new family dynamic around the age of  10 or so and in that household the action movie was king. We would watch action movies all the time and over and over again. The Terminator and it’s sequel were some of the most popular and to this day the movies are regularly referenced in my household. In fact I think there is a specific corner of my brother’s brain where the movies just play on a loop non stop. I’ll get to more of that with Judgement Day, but the point being this was an influential movie not only in the movie industry but in the very household I grew up in and in my young life.

I have rambled on for a long time now and still have managed to say so little about something so big. There is so much more to this movie and I could never hope to cover it. I may know it like the back of my hand but there is still so much that I know nothing about. For example, there was probably a lot James Cameron’s wife, Gale Anne Hurd, had to do with it as she has gone on to have a really storied career herself. There is a lot to be said of Stan Winston and the special effects his company were able to create. With a movie so influential and groundbreaking there are plenty of people and things to cover but I think it’s time for this rambler to ramble on.

If you haven’t seen this movie then frankly I think there is something wrong with you. Maybe you’re a kid that doesn’t know any better and been blinded by all these new Terminator movies, I’ll get to that in the review for the third film. Point being any movie enthusiast has already seen this movie and they know. Not only is it worth your time but it’s worth your money, it’s worth your attention, and it’s worth that sponge inside of all of us that absorbs influence and binds to the fiber of our soul. This movie isn’t going to change your life or anything but it’s going to entertain the hell out of you. It’s going to raise the bar for what you expect of movies because it shows what a movie is capable of. Even after more than thirty years and multiple attempts to recreate they simply can’t do what this movie does.

NEXT MOVIE: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) 

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Super 8

Year:  2011
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: J. J. Abrams

RYAN’S REVIEW

Since making that miserable journey through Star Trek and coming to the invigorated reboot I have had my eye on this movie. Not for any particular reason that had to do with the film itself but as an opportunity to bash the film’s maker, J.J. Abrams. So before even popping in the DVD I sat down an wrote out my passionate opinions on Abrams. I have strong feelings because my time is so valuable to me and he personally wasted an awful lot of it that I’ll never get back. Well not literally him personally but I hold him accountable for it, among other things. Many are the grievances I have to J.J. Abrams but after sitting down to watch this movie I found that I wholeheartedly loved it. Damn J.J. Abrams and the conflicting feelings I have right now.

This is a wonderful film that takes us back to the days of Spielberg, who served as producer on the film, and makes us…member? I of course am a big South Park fan and can’t help but consider the man behind Member Berries in the show. This movie makes me member. Not what life was like in 1979 because I was not alive but of so many films that I grew up watching from that era. Member what is was like when movies about kids were real? Member when aliens came to Earth? Oh I member. This movie stands on its own but it does do an awful lot of pulling on our nostalgic strings.

I love the kids in this film who are out to make their own movie. How seriously they are taking it and how it draws them into this greater adventure. The way the big kid directing the movie runs out looking through his hands at the scene is awesome. I don’t know who most of these kids are but they get across a wide range of emotions from enthusiasm to fear and everything in between. They remind us of that confusing period of adolescence and really hit us in the heart.

In hindsight I can’t help but see this movie as a template for Stranger Things. There are so many similarities but they were partially going for the same thing. Both trying to emulate a specific time period and Spielberg feel. Kyle Chandler plays the David Harbour part in this movie and he is nothing short of fantastic. Of course this movie came first and its influence over such a beloved show to myself as well as everybody only frustrates me more because it draws the pendulum of J.J. Abrams back to the “he’s awesome” argument. My opinion on the matter can be read at great length below and despite how great this movie is I stand firm on the matter.

I’ll concede for the time being. In the face of this terrific movie I will temporarily draw back on my argument because the lovers of J.J. Abrams win this round. I absolutely love this movie and I pride myself on accepting when I am wrong about something. I’m not going to make excuses for why it is good and try to argue that it was a fluke for Abrams. He is a very talented filmmaker and deserves plenty of credit but I don’t have to like him. Let me explain why I don’t.

Section reserved for bashing J.J. Abrams:

I will be the first to admit J.J. Abrams has talent. If nothing else what he did with Star Trek as well as this movie alone prove that but nevertheless I maintain he is overrated. When I was in college Abrams made a name for himself with his hit television show Lost. I want to say unequivocally that I think Lost was specifically the most overrated show of all time. A gimmick that strung viewers along like hanging a carrot just out of a donkey’s reach.

When I was in college I would argue with people relentlessly about the show. Some had the audacity to call it the greatest show of all time and to those people I would bestow outrage. I am a big fan of television and dramatic series and I gave Lost an honest effort. It let me down time and time again. Never answering any of the several questions it would propose in nearly every episode.

I’ll never forget once I was coming home from college to stay with a friend one night. My friend called me and asked what time I would be in. I told him I had to watch Lost and I’d hit the road right after. He responds “all you do is talk shit about that show why are you watching it?” He didn’t understand though. All week the advertisements had been on television. FOUR things were going to happen on Lost that week. I had to see it, and as I told him I had invested too much time in the show not to see something actually happen. Wanna know what happened? Not a damn thing and I just ended up getting to my friend’s house late that night.

My point is that Lost was a show for suckers. I don’t think Abrams or the writers of the show had any idea what they were doing. It was like they would toss around ideas and just go with the coolest ones with no larger plan in place. They were freestyling the whole show and everybody, myself included, was eating it up. I was frustrated with the show and I talked negatively about it at great length but I was still tuning in when it aired. Another fool in the masses that gave that ridiculous show ratings.

I eventually quit watching the show at a point when I simply couldn’t take it anymore. When I reached a point where I didn’t care why there were polar bears on this tropical island, who “the others” were no longer made any difference to me, I didn’t even care about the bizarre smoke monster that made not a bit of sense. I do remember my breaking point. It was when “the others” leader led Locke to the guy who had all the answers. The guy who would finally solve some of the mystery I had been suckered into was coming. There was an entire episode of Locke and that guy travelling the island to get to this one guy and what happened when they got there? There was a room with an empty chair, an empty f-ing chair! I patiently watched every episode for I don’t even know how many seasons and what I got for my patience was an empty chair? Who the other guy motioned to and introduced as Jacob if I’m not mistaken.

Now I’m sure there are plenty of suckers out there that would want to argue with me about this but you know what? I think as a writer, when you don’t know what you’re going to do next you put all your eggs in one basket and then get even more vague than you were before. I was done at that point, time wasted and I still to this day haven’t binged the show and gone back to see what I missed.

That settles one issue with Abrams but it doesn’t stop there. My next beef is with Star Wars The Force Awakens. I’m not really a huge Star Wars fan (it’s no accident we haven’t reviewed the movies, I don’t own them) but I’ll easily admit The Force Awakens was a totally OK movie. That’s the whole problem though. It was just an OK movie. The great and powerful J.J. Abrams ditched a Star Trek franchise he had brought back to life to make an OK version of the space rival.

I mentioned during the review of Star Trek into Darkness that I thought the movie might have been better if Abrams didn’t spy a bigger fish in the pond. Granted it was an opportunity that no sane director anywhere would have turned down but still. Abrams had started something with the new franchise of Star Trek and I for one think he belonged at the helm for the series going forward. Not just as a Producer either with one foot in the ring but behind camera where he made the magic happen in that first film.

It doesn’t really matter what I think about Abrams though and my grievances mean nothing. He’s been immensely successful despite what I think and I’m knowingly on the losing side of the argument. Nevertheless this is my space and I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for years. Screw Abrams and the horse he rode in on.

In closing for Super 8

This is a great movie. A movie that seemingly heard what I was thinking and said “oh yeah? I dare you to hate on this.” I simply cannot do that because this movie inspires too much in me. It makes me member, and I sincerely love it. It’s going to be hard for anybody that hasn’t seen it to not think it’s just a rip off of Stranger Things but you have to keep in mind this came long before. This movie is worth your time to see and I would recommend it to anybody.

NEXT MOVIE: Superbad (2007)

Star Trek Into Darkness

Year: 2013
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and David Lindelof. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Finally, I’ve made it. This is the twelfth and final Star Trek film I will be reviewing. We don’t own Beyond and I have no intention of getting it. This movie never seemed good enough to be part of the collection but I was curious. I ordered a copy when I got Star Trek Insurrection as a closing to this journey through Star Trek. I’ve seen this movie before but only once. I remember I was left a little befuddled and unsure of what to make of it. Now, in order to complete this journey let’s see if my initial reaction was justified.

They start teasing this as a rebooted Wrath of Khan early in the film with Spock putting his life in jeopardy. He even drops his famous line about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few. It was cooler when Spock sacrificed himself in the original. That Spock was sacrificing his life to save his friends, not giving up hope for the sake of “protocol.” It’s not worth dying just to follow the rules, a decidedly unbadass Spock move.

I don’t like the idea of trying to redo something that was already done great. Yeah, the first of this rebooted series was awesome because it so drastically improved on the The Motion PictureStar Trek reinvented this franchise but they should have left The Wrath of Khan alone. The Wrath of Khan is a damn near perfect Star Trek film and no matter how good this new version was it would have been better off continuing in its own direction and staying away from Khan altogether. They could have come up with a new villain like they did in the first one and I would have liked this movie better.

Kirk goes full John McClain when Khan attacks HQ. When blasters don’t work he turns to the fire hose and ties his rifle to the end of it to use it as a weapon. Granted he’s not using the hose to bungee down the side of the building but using it at all reminds me of Die Hard. For a second time around Chris Pine makes a great Captain Kirk, dare I say even outshining Shatner himself. His reaction to Pike’s death made an impression on Amber and she’s right, he performed the emotional scene well.

Wasn’t it the ultimate bullet to the head of Star Trek when J J Abrams ditched this franchise to be the man behind the new Star Wars? Not only was he leaving for a different film but to leave in favor of the space rival to the franchise he reinvented was just a slap in the face. No, worse than that, it was a kick to the balls. If the Force Awakens had been the greatest thing of all time then maybe I could get over it, but it wasn’t. He abandoned Star Trek to play with light sabers. It’s all very unfortunate but I wonder if this movie wasn’t as good as its predecessor because he had his eye on a galaxy far far away. Despite how fantastic J J Abrams was with his first Star Trek I have always had a problem with him, but I’ll discuss that when we review Super 8.

The scenes on Kronos are awesome. They have yet to have visited the Klingon home world in the films and it’s really cool that they did so here. Everything from the chase scene to the gunfight is exciting. Khan’s entry into the fray is everything that current special effects and style would have it be. The original Khan was great but this one is jumping around and assassin killing a bunch of Klingons.

I wouldn’t presume to compare Ricardo Montalban and Benedich Cumberbach because they are playing different versions of the character. I wish Cumberbach was playing a different character and not Khan. He steps on the toes of an incredible performance by carrying the same name. I do love how powerful the character is and  how he takes that attempted beating from Kirk. Maybe this is what the character was like in the episode from the original series, I haven’t seen it.

I like Peter Weller but I can’t say I was thrilled when he turned out to be the bad guy. Don’t get me wrong, Robocop makes for a great bad guy, but I don’t care for this role. His whole shtick in this movie is over the top. There’s a war coming and whose gonna lead it blah blah blah. It’s a waste of Peter Weller because I’ve seen him play a good bad guy before, but here he’s not a cool bad guy.

Simon Pegg shines as usual. The whole cast does really. Karl Urban is great, as is Anton Yelchin, with more to do this time around. I was a fan of Anton Yelchin during his Charlie Bartlett days and I was really sad when he died in such a freak accident. He was a talented young actor that died before his time. I have read that they do intend to keep this franchise going but will not recast the role of Chekov.

Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance! I didn’t remember that but it’s pretty cool in this universe that Spock can just call up himself and ask for advice now and again. He passed two years after this film in 2015 and may he rest in peace. Even though it was short it was cool to see him on screen one more time as Spock.

I remember wondering if this movie was brilliant or lazy after watching it for the first time. After making this journey through all the films I don’t think it is either. In fact I think it was awful to flip and recreate the sacrifice that made the original film so compelling. Spock and Kirk don’t have the same relationship in this movie that they had in Wrath of Khan. The characters had a long history of friendship which made the scene hit so much harder. These two guys were fighting one another in the last movie and suddenly their best friends trying to sell this blasphemous story retelling? This Spock crying is no good, the characters just aren’t that close and these guys can’t sell the scene. I think Pine and Quinto are great but they had no business doing this.

I’ve enjoyed this movie but not like I did its predecessor. It’s another cool Star Trek movie but something is missing this time around. I think it’s the story and I have a big problem with how they tried to recreate what was already done before. So much lost potential and with no factual info I blame Star Wars for taking J J Abrams’ eye off the ball. For giving him something bigger to play with and making Star Trek the toy left behind. It reminds me of when Bryan Singer bailed on the X-Men franchise in favor of Superman only to make something that sucked. Star Wars wasn’t terrible but it was more or less the exact same thing as The New Hope. That’s beside the point. This movie is worth your time but I don’t know how I feel about it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stay Tuned (1992)

 

 

 

Star Trek

Year: 2009
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Gene Roddenberry(Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Everything has to get a reboot these days, and typically I spend a lot of time hating on them but I consider this an exception. This is just such a cool movie. Believe me, I’ve watched all ten movies that came before it and while two of them were really good none of them were cool. J.J. Abrams really turned up the volume.

In his debut film Chris Hemsworth gets me every time. The intro to this movie is absolutely incredible. It starts with a bang and then hits you right in the heart. Thrust into action, the future Thor is inspiring with his bravery. Hemsworth delivers on this scene when he’s naming his son as he is sacrificing his life to save everyone. The sparks are flying in the background of this emotional scene and it’s just beautiful. Star Trek doesn’t usually start like this, and it makes a difference.

The following scenes featuring young Kirk and Spock are awesome and deepen characters we already know and love. Despite how crappy most of the movies have been they are still legendary. Captain Kirk and Spock are icons. It’s no easy task to recreate them but J. J. Abrams made it look easy, this time around anyway. He took two characters that people know, and not just know but know really well and taught us something new about both of them.

Abrams did so many things right early on. Showing the conflict Spock has being half Human and half Vulcan. The first meeting of Kirk and Dr. McCoy, with Karl Urban doing a terrific Deforrest Kelley impression. He shows us Kirk cheating the freaking Kobiyashi Maru test! These things were all really well done. I think it’s blasphemous to say it because it’s a reboot, but having just watched all the Star Trek movies I have to admit that this is better. It’s more engaging, it’s more entertaining.

The cast is fantastic. Chris Pine was a relative nobody when this movie came out and he became an instant star with his portrayal of a young Captain Kirk. He has swagger and he looks the part of a young William Shatner but still manages to make his own stamp on the part. Zachery Quinto too looks the part yet manages to make it his own. Quintos Spock won’t just Vulcan death grip you, he’ll karate chop you and outsmart you because he’s been doing so his whole life. I don’t usually like Karl Urban, but he is fantastic in this part. I like that Harold (John Cho) from Harold and Kumar is playing Sulu. Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace, is a cool Chekov. Zoe Saldana continued making her rounds in Sci-Fi franchises and looks great as usual. Simon Pegg is awesome in everything he is a part of and he is no different as Scotty, frankly his presence just makes this movie that much better.

The movie already had us with great action in the intro but the space jump is just amazing. Ha ha the thrill seeking “other guy” eats it on the dive. In true Star Trek fashion that no name along for the ride with Kirk and Sulu is expendable and dies. Oh damn, Sulu has a future sword and starts flipping around like a ninja. Again another character is redefined and cooler than he was before. Who knew Harold had it in him. Kirk Point Break’s Sulu when he’s falling without a shute, and Chekov gets a moment to shine. This scene is hands down a step ahead of the rest of Star Trek, it’s so cool.

I had a big problem when I saw this for the first time because they destroyed Vulcan. I just felt like this was a blasphemous thing to do. It was like killing Cyclops in that awful third X-Men movie. You can’t destroy Vulcan, it’s too important. However, it is a defining moment in the story that drives the rest of the film. I have come along since that first viewing, especially after watching all the Star Trek movies in a row. This one is just better, I’ll forgive it its misgivings.

I don’t think there is anything about Eric Bana as the villain, or the whole Nero story line, that’s really significant. Although he does break out those bugs that make you susceptible to suggestion from The Wrath of Khan. That is cool, but beyond that, and destroying Vulcan, he is just a guy for the good guys to fight. This movie is all about the good guys and they needed a villain when they weren’t fighting each other.

Ha! Kirk is climbing again! It’s been established before, the man likes to climb. Spock maroons him on a desolate planet because he’s too brash. Kirk has to climb out of his landing spot deep in the ice. Then Leonard Nimoy shows up, somewhere William Shatner was outraged, and he’s just a sight for sore eyes. In this long and monotonous journey that included two movies I couldn’t even finish the original Spock is just great to see again.

By establishing a new timeline they establish a new universe for themselves. It was a brilliant idea that should have been great going forward. I’ve only seen the sequel once and we never owned it until I started watching all the Star Trek movies, oh the hours I’ll never get back. After this movie I’m actually looking forward to seeing the next one again but I won’t be reviewing the third film because I have had enough of Star Trek. We watch Star Trek Beyond recently and weren’t impressed.

This movie has a great climax following the awesome fight, or ass kicking I should say, between Kirk and Spock. Spock beats the shit out of Kirk, but Kirk gets what he wants so it’s all good. Kirk has no qualms with taking an ass whooping in this movie, but he keeps fighting anyway. Spock and Kirk of course come to an understanding and then ride into battle together. Beaming aboard the enemy vessel, phasers in hand. They save the day and fly off into the starset as a couple of joes that might still become the friends in this new time line.

I haven’t mentioned it but the score for this film was terrific. I love that weird sound they chime all throughout the movie. It just sounds like Star Trek and really sets the tone.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but this movie nearly saves the name of Star Trek for me. I have made it plain how this journey through Star Trek has been for me. It’s all in print now and I was ready to swear off the whole thing for good. All of it, Kirk, Spock, Data, Worf, my personal favorite Captain Picard, every single person who ever wore one of those stupid uniforms. Nevertheless, this movie has me wanting more and I didn’t think that was possible at this point. I think I’m going to watch the sequel tomorrow night and see where it takes me. I didn’t like the sequel as much but hopefully that changes this time around. Or maybe it won’t. Star Trek has had just enough good movies to keep me going so by the laws of probability there won’t be another good one till this version hits its fifth or sixth movie, if we’re being optimistic.

This is the coolest of the cool, a complete retelling of something that at least had the potential to be cool at times. If you haven’t seen this movie you should check it out. Just don’t go calling yourself a Trekkie until you’ve paid your dues. You don’t have to wear Vulcan ears or anything but you have to know. You have to understand what came before and have some appreciation for it. It’s questionable if any of the movies that came before are actually worth your time but this one definitely is.

Disclaimer: Please excuse me real Star Trek fans. I don’t claim to be one of you but I am like a close outsider. I know things, but I would never beat you in a trivia match up. If I’m way off base here then by all means present your arguments and I would love to discuss it.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek: Nemesis

Year: 2002
Directed By: Stuart Baird
Written By: John Logan, Rick Berman, and Brent Spiner. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

It can be exhausting to watch 10 Star Trek films in a row and having reached the end I can’t imagine it will ever happen again. This movie was said to have ended the trend of odd and even Star Trek films because this even numbered sequel wasn’t up to expectations. I have always disagreed though thinking this was an interesting blend of all Star Trek films that came before. This actually ended up being the lowest grossing Star Trek film in the franchise and I find that shocking. I think that the ninth movie must have left the audience with such disappointment that they didn’t come back this time around.

This movie is not even close to as bad as its predecessor.

Above is all I got down while watching the movie. I’m not going to lie, I fell asleep and dreamed away half of this movie. I’ve watched too much Star Trek and I’m not dipping into this one for seconds, Next Generation or not.

I don’t understand why people had a problem with this movie because I woke up in time to see some great action scenes. Patrick Stewart was badass enough just giving orders but in this one he is piloting vehicles and duel wielding phasers. How can anybody have a problem with that?

This is one of the first films Tom Hardy ever starred in and he expected it to be his big break into acting. I for one thought he was an incredible young Jean Luc Picard, though I had to look it up to know it was actually him playing the part. He was a complete unknown when this movie came out and I just remember thinking they really found a guy that looked like a young Patrick Stewart. I read that the poor reception of this movie really hit Tom Hardy hard because he was expecting it to be his big break. When it wasn’t he became very depressed but his rise to fame was only a matter of time. I like Tom Hardy a lot but come on man, you gotta reign in expectations when they rise for a Star Trek film.

Until reading about it I had no idea this movie was poorly received or that it failed at the box office. I remember it wasn’t making a lot of money but it was a Star Trek film and I didn’t realize anybody expected a significant box office return. I liked the movie and just assumed other Star Trek fans would feel the same way.

I do remember specifically thinking this movie made for a great ending to wrap up the series. I thought I saw elements that tied it to each of the films that came before, but I’d have had to stay awake the whole time to really explain that. From what I actually watched the only parallel I saw was to The Wrath of Khan because Data sacrificed himself in the end in order to save everyone. #NextGenSpock

In closing to the original Star Trek series I will simply say it wasn’t very good and I doubt I ever watch these movies again. There were a couple of gems along the way but ultimately it bored the hell out of me, and I like Star Trek. The Wrath of Khan and First Contact are both terrific films that belong in the collection but I could do without the other EIGHT.

For years I have actually thought these movies would be the death of the blog. I never envisioned that I’d actually sit down to not only watch all of them again but to actually write about them as well. Now that I have done it I am glad it’s over with, although there is more Star Trek to follow as the reboot series is next. That’s a much cooler Star Trek than the one that came before though and it hardly counts as being part of the original series.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek (2009)

 

Star Trek: Insurrection

Year: 1998
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
Written By: Rick Berman, Mike Pillar. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is the only Star Trek film I literally have no memory of. I was actually in high school when this movie came out, a freshman no less. I was probably trying to hide altogether that I had ever even heard of Star Trek much less making a trip to the theater to see it. I remember watching it on video eventually and thinking it failed in comparison to First Contact. This movie was the only one of the original ten that I didn’t own as part of the collection. I ordered it on Amazon two days ago because I figured I should have the whole set now that I’ve reached it on the blog. Right now, I am sitting down to it blind and it is the first of these nine movies I can honestly say I don’t remember anything about it. So here it goes….

Data goes rogue….thirty minutes into the movie and this is all I have. It’s cool because Data should have a prominent role in any movie going forward, he is the new age Spock after all. This story isn’t big enough though. I don’t really even know what’s going on yet but the mere fact that I’m at a loss highlights a problem with the story. This movie has always been criticized as being too much like an episode and that holds true. It is an odd movie that gives credence to the argument that only even films are good.

Captain Picard is now singing out loud and Worf and Data are joining him. Damnit this is why people make fun of Star Trek! Here you have your three most badass characters and they are singing exaggeratedly to one another. Patrick Stewart of course has an incredible voice but that is beside the point.

I’m only a third of the way through this movie but I can see that there was a reason I didn’t own it before. The criticisms of this movie are right. It’s too much like a long TV episode and not a grand enough idea to really warrant a movie. While it’s always great to see these characters on screen I feel like I’m wasting my time right now.

I remember now, I hated the part in this movie when Geordi La Forge got his eyes back. That’s so lame when the coolest part of his character was the visor he wore. It was what LeVar Burton wanted but I don’t care. As a fan of the character the way he used to be I think it was totally lame.

After First Contact I expected more out of another movie in this series. The studio apparently wanted something with a lighter tone but I think that was a mistake. I noticed that the last movie was distinct in that it was the only film to garner a PG-13 rating and I think they were heading in the right direction then. This movie was lighter in everything from color to excitement and there they went too far.

By the time that something even remotely happens in this movie it’s too late, and LeVar Burton’s eyes are the alien in the room. I don’t even care what happens from here on out. I have almost an hour left and I don’t think I can stand to watch the rest. I made Amber suffer through eight Star Trek movies with a few thrills along the way but I’ll be damned if I make her suffer through this when I can’t even explain it to myself.

Sorry, I’m ending this movie, this review, and I’m regrouping with the tenth film, Nemesis, before jumping into the rebooted series. That will be tomorrow, but tonight I am done.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

 

Star Trek: First Contact

Year: 1996
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
Written By: Rich Berman, Brannon Braga, and Ronald D. Moore. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is far and away my favorite Star Trek film. Watched it in the theater, bought the VHS, rode the ride (for a few years a nearby theme park, then owned by Paramont, had a premier roller coaster called The Borg Assimilater). When this film came out I actually felt OK admitting I was a Star Trek fan. Albeit I was 12 and dangerously close to high school so it was a short lived openness.

After an abysmally long intro where bluriness transitions into credits the film starts with a bang. The scariest enemy to date is attacking in this large cube shaped spaceship and the entire federation fleet can’t handle it. Captain Picard shows up and takes command to annihilate the enemy. The space battle is cool and I spy with my little eye a really young Adam Scott piloting the ship commanded by Worf, who promptly gives the order to ram the enemy. I’ve watched like seven Star Trek films in a row and I’m wondering why they didn’t all start with a space battle.

I watched a lot of Star Trek as a kid but I don’t remember ever seeing the episodes featuring the Borg. My mom probably deemed it too scary for me or something like that and I’ll admit it probably would have given me nightmares as a six year old. The episodes this movie are based on were a season three finale and season four premier that aired in 1990. The Borg are decidedly scarier in this film with all the budget that comes with a major motion picture. At times this movie almost feels like a horror film but if the bad guys are that scary it only makes it better.

This is the eighth Star Trek film in a row that I’ve watched and I can honestly say the stakes have never been higher. The very existence of Earth hangs in the balance and whales aren’t the answer this time. This time there’s a real threat, one that will infect you and make you one of its own. The Borg are like techno zombies before zombies became the craze of society.

I don’t take part in Star Trek fandom, but I am sure there is a debate about the original cast vs the next generation. I may be biased because I grew up with this one but I do not see how the two compare. The Next Generation cast is far and away cooler and this being the best movie to date only proves that. Yeah I’m saying it, this is better than The Wrath of Khan.  This crew has Data, it has Worf, and Captain Picard is far and away more badass than Captain Kirk ever dreamed of being. I hate that in this movie Geordi ditched the visor. Apparently LeVar Burton wanted to be able to use his eyes to act but I always thought the visor made his character cool.

The Next Generation movies continue to bring Data into the limelight. Generations introduced the emotion chip which brought about much conflict for the character. Here again his character comes into conflict with himself as he fights with his desire to be more human. The Borg try to reverse turn him into one of their own by adding organic flesh to his robotic body. Data is a total badass in this movie but succumbs to the weaknesses of flesh. For a while you have to fear whose side he is on but Data is very much the Spock of the Next Generation and he always comes through.

One of the specific things that made The Next Generation better was the Holodeck and I think it’s cool that they were able to utilize it in this film. They gave us that fun scene in Generations with the crew all decked out in old school naval gear and Worf getting promoted. In this film they do even better by putting Picard in a tuxedo and having him shoot the shit out of a Borg. Again, Patrick Stewart as Jean Luc Picard is just hands down superior to Captain Kirk. I can’t speak to the show but the last seven movies I just watched never had Captain Kirk rocking a Tommy gun.

“Mr. Worf, do you remember your Zero Combat training?” I love this scene because it’s the scene that features “the other guy.” That one Lieutenant whose name you can’t quite remember who comes along just so a non important character can be killed. You have Captain Picard, Commander Worf, and Lieutenant other guy walking on the hull of the ship. Anybody wanna take a wild guess on whose expendable on this particular mission? We get teased that something happens to Worf in this scene but he’s too badass to die. First he breaks out his secret Kingon melee weapon he just happened to bring along but when the Borg tear his suit he just ties that shit off with a severed Borg arm. Decompress this bitch, adapt to my blade #Worfissocool.

Speaking of how cool Worf is, anybody that wants to present an argument contrary to Picard being the cooler Captain should check the scene when Picard calls him a coward. One of the finest moments in this movie is Picard standing ground while Worf tells him if he was any other man he would kill him where he stood. Captain Picard tells a Klingon to his face that he is a coward and lives to tell about it. Not just any Klingon either but Worf, the silver band thing wearing Chief of Security Worf, who always has a blade in the era of phasers. Patrick Stewart is not only more badass as Jean Luc Picard but he’s just a flat out better actor than Willaim Shatner.

At this point in the series they’ve destroyed the Enterprise too many times. It was a big deal to plenty of people in The Search for Spock and it was a big deal to me in Generations but had they followed through with it in this movie it would have been overkill. It still makes for a cool scene when the ship is evacuated and Picard stays behind to save Data. It’s a good thing they were able to save the ship and get back home too. What was Worf going to do on Earth trying to blend in?

As this movie comes to a close I can honestly say I’ve gotten more entertainment out of this one than any of the seven that have come before it. Yes, The Wrath of Khan is fantastic, but not even the greatest achievement of the original cast can match up to The Next Generation. This is hands down the most fun I have had so far in this journey through Star Trek film.

There is so much more I haven’t even covered in this review. James Cromwell is great in this little future history lesson that serves as the other half of the story. That is only one thing in a movie full of many things to like. Having put down over one thousand words just while watching this movie I think I have said enough. To cap it off I think this movie is worth your time. Trekkie or not this is a badass movie and I dare you to watch it and not get sucked in.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)