Kurtwood Smith

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Year: 1991
Directed By: Nicholas Meyer
Written By: six different people including Leonard Nimoy, and Nicholas Meyer. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

After suffering through the last two miserable films it’s nice to see they finally took one of their movies seriously again. They finally put together a movie with a good story and made the best Star Trek movie since The Wrath of Khan.  It would have been really unfortunate had they not put together a good film for the final go round with the original crew. They finally got around to resolving that conflict with the Klingons and did so in great fashion.

You can instantly see in this film that it benefited from having Nicholas Meyer back at the helm as director. The whole tone is different from the last three films. They brought back Nicholas Meyer in order to avoid any problem with Nimoy and Shatner because Nimoy was considered to direct. There was some contractual clause that said anything one of them got to do the other got to do as well and Nimoy had already directed two films. I’d argue that all three directed by Nimoy and Shatner were weak but the fifth film by Shatner was far and away the worst. It was a good idea to put this movie back in the hands of a real director who had already had success with the franchise.

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Kurtwood Smith as a Klingon!!! Didn’t even have to look him up on IMDB, I recognized him even through the Klingon make-up. This movie is as good as it gets with the original crew but having Kurtwood Smith as the Federation President only makes it better. I am a bit confused because he looks like a Klingon but that can’t be right. It wouldn’t make sense for a Klingon to be President of the Federation. He must be some other type of alien that just looks Klingon like. I don’t really know what they were going for in the make-up department if he wasn’t a Klingon because otherwise it was a little ridiculous.

One problem I notice in this movie is that far too often the characters reference Earth in the 20th century. The Klingons are quoting Shakespeare for crying out loud. Why would they be quoting a four hundred year old Earth writer when they are from a different planet on the other side of the universe? They don’t just quote him once either but several times, it’s like the Klingon General’s thing. It doesn’t make any sense but that’s a small problem in an otherwise really good movie.

It’s really cool that they were able to get Michael Dorn into the movie for a Klingon cameo. I have always been a big fan of the Next Generation’s Worf and it’s fun to see him making his first appearance in one of the films. It’s not mentioned in the movie but he is supposed to be playing Worf’s grandfather in the film. There was apparently a story pitched at one point that would have had Captain Kirk meeting Jean Luc Picard and there being a passing of the torch for the films. There was some reason they couldn’t do that though because the show was still ongoing.

This is my second favorite film featuring the original crew. It’s an interesting movie that can stand on its own and that makes it exceptional in this franchise. I love that they finally went back to the Klingons as the villains and I love the conspiracy story of unknown perpetrators trying to destroy the lingering peace between the Federation and Klingons.  It’s an interesting and exciting plot with a terrific climax. I have had to force myself to pay attention for like the last three films but this space battle at the end sucks me in. It follows with an equally exciting assassination attempt. This movie is just head and shoulders above its three predecessors.

I like how the signatures of the original crew actors come across the screen before the credits role. It really…… signifies (hold for applause) their farewell to the series and was a cool way to cap off the movie.

This was a perfect way to close out the original crew and I’m glad they were able to do that gracefully. The next film serves as a cool transition between crews. This is a rare Star Trek film that stands on its own and has the potential to draw new fans. Having gone through all six of these films quickly I’d say The Wrath of Khan was the best, followed by this one as the two best films in the franchise. The Search for Spock was OK but not spectacular and a continuation of the second film, which makes it a tad cooler. I think the first, fourth, and fifth films in the franchise are all pretty lame and I don’t vouch for them. This movie however, is easily worth your time to see because it’s not just a Star Trek film, it’s a good movie all by itself.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: Generations (1994)

 

Robocop

Year: 1987
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner

RYAN’S REVIEW

The farther we go into the past the more interesting the movies about the future tend to be. They are interesting because they represent a clear idea of what people thought was coming in the future. Looking back it’s always fun to see how wrong they were and to contrast it with what did and didn’t actually happen. This movie never says specifically what year in the future it is but they had some very interesting things going on in their rendition of it. These future on goings include a presidential visit to a space station, nuclear war in South Africa between the Afrikaners and the South Africans, specially modeled mechanical hearts like the “sports heart”, and of course robot and cybernetic police officers. It’s so obvious they had little to no idea about the internet. Something that would literally change every facet of modern society. That has to make you think about the future in a different way. What crazy new development lies ahead of us now that none of us could ever imagine?

Not that they had everything completely wrong about the future in this film. At the very least they presented some very interesting ideas. The portrayal of the media is very interesting and the idea that a police force could be owned by a corporation is also interesting. Not that this has happened but the possibility in our ever changing now makes it something to think about.

Something I love most about this movie is the graphic violence. Even by today’s standards it’s incredibly violent but that’s so much about what makes the movie satisfying. It isn’t just violent, it’s excessively violent. From the dismembering gun shots to death by toxic waste this film went above and beyond to earn its R rating. It was worth it, it makes the movie so much better. Yeah, Robocop could have easily disabled the would be rapist and rescued the woman, but don’t we all relish in that scene where he gets more savaged with it? He doesn’t do the easy thing, he shoots between the victims legs to hit the criminal in the junk. When Clarence Boddicker takes a warning to the up and coming executive Bob Morton he could have simply punched Morton to knock him down and make him watch the video. Not in this savage film though, Boddicker dismisses the ladies with the classic line “bitches leave!” and then shoots Morton multiple times in the legs. The more than necessary shooting not only makes the bad guy a more ruthless villain but it makes this ultimately violent movie all that much better.

This movie is loaded with talent, and so many of the actors are exceptional that it’s hard to know where to begin. Best start with the bad guys because they own the show in this movie. Even though they are facing off against a really awesome robot cop. Kurtwood Smith turned in one of his finest roles ever as Clarence Boddicker. He is so vicious and provocative in this movie. He plays the part with a confidence that is impressive and he is so unpredictable as a villain. I spent so much time during my formative years watching Kurtwood Smith portray Red Foreman on That 70’s Show that it always blows my mind to see him in this movie. He is legendary as Clarence Boddicker even until the end as he is beating Robocop with a metal pipe. One of my favorite scenes is the aforementioned threatening of Bob Morton. He doesn’t even speak to Morton. He just shoots him up, pops in the video of Dick Jones, and moseys around before using his tongue to pull the pin out of the grenade that will bring the hotshot executive’s rise to an end. There is also that scene when he is arrested by Robocop and he spits blood onto the police desk at booking. Boddicker manages to be a one of a kind bad guy in this movie who is not simply ruthless and cutthroat but immature with a sexual streak that is surprising.

I am a huge fan of Ronny Cox playing the top dog villain. He has a very similar role in Verhoven’s other great 80’s sci-fi movie, Total Recall. In fact in that film he delivers one of my favorite lines of all time. His role in this movie was first and he was just warming up. He has such a professional look that makes him perfect for playing this type of executive part. He looks like the kind of guy you can trust, but he is as cutthroat and ruthless as the henchman in his employ. Having a villain like Clarence Boddicker under his thumb makes him even more of a badass. When Robocop comes to arrest him he is so cool as he casually approaches the situation. He planned ahead for the scenario and when the classified Primary Directive 4 takes effect he is ready. He has ED-209 waiting to beat up on Robocop while a battalion of cops are waiting in the parking lot to open fire on him. Dick Jones is a great bad guy because he’s a man with power, and he knows how to wield it to his advantage. A villain like him is as unpredictable as he is dangerous, is there anything more to love in a bad guy?

The strength of the bad guys in this movie only make the hero more thrilling and Robocop is an ultimate badass. This movie went against the grain when casting its hero not out of choice but out of need. In the era of StalloneSchwarzenegger action films the role of Robocop was highly coveted but neither would get the opportunity. Schwarzenegger specifically wanted the part but couldn’t be cast because he was physically too large for the suit. A smaller man was needed and Peter Weller was tapped for arguably the biggest role of his career. Weller is an incredibly accomplished man having received his doctorate degree a few years ago. However, after appearing in over 70 features this movie remains the one he is most famous for. Weller’s star has been rising over the last ten years though as he has been featured more prominently in both film and TV. In his older age he is more often cast as a bad guy but that is a role he has thrived in.

I’ve let this draft sit a bit too long at this point so I will just wrap it up here. This is an exceptional movie that still holds weight almost 30 years later. Despite multiple sequels and a reboot this movie still stands head and shoulders above the rest. While it has a silly portrayal of the future; you simply cannot challenge the quality of the story or film. This isn’t a movie for the tender-hearted but if you have an appetite for action and violence then this is something you definitely need to see. This movie is easily worth your time and it can surprise you.

NEXT MOVIE: Robocop (2014)

Cedar Rapids

Year: 2011
Directed By: Miguel Arteta
Written By: Phil Johnston

RYAN’S REVIEW

Amber and I watched this movie on a whim a few months ago and I really enjoyed it.  I hadn’t wanted to watch the movie at all but found myself so surprised that I added it to the DVDs Christmas list of movies I wanted to add into the collection.  This movie has a good but not great cast and a relatively typical story that they all make the most of.  The thing is that it surprised me, and I always enjoy the movies that surprise me because it happens so infrequently these days.  As a lifelong movie fan I have grown bored with all the rehashed themes and remakes that plague the industry today.  That coupled with the fact that TV has stepped up its game so significantly has made it harder to get into movies these days.  More often than not I feel like I have reached a point where I have seen everything and long for the character development we see on TV series that simply isn’t possible in a featured film.  So whenever I find myself surprised now it makes me appreciate the movie all that much more.  This movie isn’t that original or anything special really but it made me laugh, and I saw more than I expected with it.

I do not like Ed Helms.  I have always hated his character on The Office and I haven’t thought much of his movie career outside of that.  The Hangover was an awesome movie, but it wasn’t Ed Helms that made it awesome.  He was good in that movie but is out shined by his costars. He plays a part in this movie that he is well suited for.  I do like him as the straight laced and innocent guy that eventually succumbs to stress and peer pressure before going nuts.  The part where he is hanging out with a prostitute and unknowingly smokes crack was what ultimately made me decided we needed to own this movie, it was such a funny scene and situation.

I think John C. Reilly is an awesome actor and like most of what he does.  Unless he is starring along side Will Ferrell and simply acting like an idiot.  In my opinion the man has far too much talent to waste his time on movies like Step Brothers and Talladega Nights. He is really funny in this movie and manages to make me laugh without sinking to the shameless level of comedy we usually see from Will Ferrell. Anne Heche surprised me in this movie as well.  I have never really been a big fan of hers but in this movie she is witty and really sexy to boot.  I have grown to really like Rob Corddry and although he has a small part in this movie he still brought something to the table.  I was shocked to see Alia Shawkat in this movie because I haven’t seen her in anything since playing Maeby on Arrested Development (possibly one of the funniest shows ever made, oh how I miss it). Thomas Lennon has a small role in this movie and he is one of those guys that can make any movie better.  There is no end to Lennon’s versatility and he brings something funny to every role he plays.  I have always thought Sigourney Weaver was great and like that she can still play a part like the one she has in this movie. Also on board here is Kurtwood Smith and I think he was perfectly cast for his role.

Last but not least, Stephen Root.  I saved him to last specifically so I can say more about him because the man deserves any and all credit he can get.  I have been a fan of Root since he played Milton on Office Space and I am a huge fan of King of the Hill in which he voiced one of my favorite characters, Bill Dauterive. I did not think at the time, especially once Dodgeball came out, that Root had much to offer as an actor.  I could not have been more wrong because the man can do ANYTHING. He is such a diverse talent that I am simply amazed at everything I see him in.  I see him so frequently too that it only adds to the wonder.  Sometimes I wonder if there is a TV series out there that he hasn’t been part of. I have seen him play parts in Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Justified, and 24 just to name a few.  What amazes me even more than his presence in so many shows is the fact that he plays such different characters in all of them so flawlessly.  He pops up in movies all of the time and he always brings it.  Stephen Root truly is an unsung hero in the acting world and I think he is simply great in everything. In this movie he plays Ed Helms boss and does a great job.  He has one line that is just so funny.  He tells Ed Helms that he watched him grow up with the potential to do anything and somehow he managed to do nothing.  That isn’t a specific quote but if you see the movie I don’t think you can help but laugh at that one.

I don’t think this is an exceptional movie by any means but it is a good movie that I really enjoyed.  There are a lot of funny people being funny here and in the end it all comes together quite nicely.  This movie didn’t enjoy any wide release or anything so it is probably one many have never heard of.  If you get a chance to see it though it’s worth your time to see it.