malcolm mcdowell

Star Trek Generations

Year: 1994
Directed By: David Carson
Written By: Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore, and Brannon Braga. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

It was finally time for a changing of the guard on Star Trek and luckily they found a story that would allow a little of both worlds. I remember this as being the first Star Trek film I saw in the theater. I was ten and probably went to see the movie with my mom, who I grew up watching The Next Generation TV series with. I haven’t been a viewer of Star Trek in more than twenty years but when I was a kid I loved the show and loved this crew. Yeah the originals had cultural diversity with a Vulcan to boot, but the Next Generation had so much more. They had a robot, a Klingon, Geordi with the cool visor, and they had Patrick freaking Stewart as Captain.

As a little kid, before I graduated to He-man and then G.I. Joes, my action figure play consisted of Star Trek. I had action figures for all of the Next Generation crew and probably countless other Star Trek toys I can’t remember. I would watch the show with my Mom and play out the scenarios I saw on TV with my toys. I think my favorite character back then was Commander Riker, I don’t know why but I remember him as being the one that survived in my games.

One of the coolest crew members in the Next Gen is Data and this movie made a big change to the character giving him an emotion chip. There are so many situations where a robot comes in handy, but that chip gave him a weakness in this one. He’s still a cool character but I hate to see him cowering in the corner because he’s feeling fear for the first time. His subplot makes for an interesting story in the film and is a good example of why the Next Gen is better than the originals. There are subplots in this film, stories within the story. It’s just grander than any of those that came before it.

This film echoes The Search for Spock when the Enterprise was destroyed by a Klingon Bird of Prey. It was supposed to be a huge deal when it happened in the third movie and I’m sure it was to fans of the original series. This was the one that hit me though. When the Enterprise started to crash I was shocked and I still remember how blown away I was as a kid. This is better not only because of the difference ten years of advancement in special effects can have but because it is just a more exciting scene. There’s an entire ship to account for and a lot more people to get to safety. It’s cool how the top of the ship disengages from the engines, I remember having no idea such a thing could even happen. Then they crash land on a planet which was awesome.

Following the incredibly dramatic crash landing where everyone gets tossed around is a fist fight between Captain Picard and Soren. Having watched all these Star Trek films back to back I have got to say Picard would beat the shit out of Kirk in a fight. Kirk’s efforts at hand to hand combat were so laughable while Picard holds his own facing off against an evil space Alex. When you need an actor to play the villain in your movie you can’t go wrong with picking Malcolm McDowell. He is great facing off and acting along side Patrick Stewart. It isn’t fair that they only made four movies featuring the Next Generation when the original cast got six movies. We could have used two or three more movies featuring Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard.

So much happens in this movie before that fateful meeting between Captain Picard and Captain Kirk. I was really too young to get the full effect but I imagine it was quite an interesting moment for long time Star Trek fans. They get this awesome scene together before the climax is back on and the whole movie hangs in the balance. It’s an exciting end to see two generations of Captains work together and one pass the torch to the other. Captain Kirk looks much better fighting in this movie than in any of the films before. I wonder where in the time line it became practical to bring in some kind of fight choreographer.

I like this movie and it did a good job of getting me pumped for the rest of the series. Time will tell if that is a realistic anticipation or not. It was great to finally see the Next Generation cast on the big screen and they crash the Enterprise into a planet for their introduction into the series. Shatner does a fine job in this movie and saves face a little bit from earlier weak performances. He goes out well and dies a heroes death, it was a great way to close out the character.

It would have been nice to have had a little bit of Spock in the movie but Leonard Nimoy wasn’t interested after reading the script. He felt like Spock’s lines were indistinguishable from what any other character might have said and that proved to be true as he was simply replaced by Scotty. DeForest Kelley may have been more open to a cameo but his health prevented him from participating.

This movie ushers in a new generation of Star Trek characters and I for one was really happy with the change. Having sat through six movies featuring the original cast I must say it was time. I thought the Next Generation crew transitioned to the big screen well and this is an odd Star Trek film that I enjoyed. As far as Star Trek movies go this one isn’t bad and I’d say it was worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

A Clockwork Orange

Year: 1971
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Stanley Kubrick (screenplay) Anthony Burgess (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been on a Stanley Kubrick kick lately and watching many of his films.  It has brought me to this one, a film I haven’t seen in over ten years. As a teen that liked to walk the fine line this was obviously a movie that drew my attention; it drew the attention of all of us that walked that line even 30 years after its release.  I remember that despite my appreciation for this type of film at that tender and influential age that this movie seemed too much for me.  I found value in so much that was inappropriate at that time but this film was more than I could stomach.  I have since considered it an enigma and it had a sort of taboo quality to it.  Now, for the first time since I was a teenager I am revisiting the film.

I can never love this movie because I find the rape scenes too disturbing but despite that I could never deny how incredible of a film it is.  What a wickedly sexual film. Only Stanley Kubrick could have made it.  What other director out there would have the balls to do such a thing? Has there ever in all the history of film been a man bold enough to have his star fight off a woman with a porcelain penis before killing her with it? Where did the man even find all the props for this film? The suggestive art was easy but where did the Jesus quartet come from? This is typical of Kubrick in truth but this is far and away the most pervasive sexuality I have seen in one of his films, and I’m considering his last film when saying so. The sexuality is pervasive but effective nonetheless.  It’s what makes this movie stand out.  It’s what made me think it would be so cool to watch when I was a teen.  I can only hope I’m not the only teen that found it to be too vile and offensive.  To think any of them out there are identifying and being influenced by it is an alarming thought. The extreme nature of the film can leave a lasting impression and to an extent overshadow what is otherwise a work of art.  Stanley Kubrick was one of the most compelling filmmakers of all time and the body of work he left behind is incredible.  This movie as much as any shows his talent and boldness as a director and filmmaker.

I wrote everything above a couple of weeks ago when I was watching the film and my feelings have changed after mulling it over in that time.  In the oddest way I simply haven’t been able to get the film out of my head.  The magic of a Kubrick film right? The kind of film that leaves an impression on its viewer. The type that gets into your head and swirls around till your entire perception of it has changed.  I approached this film in a negative way and too early felt repulsed by the graphic break-in scene again, just as I had when I was younger.  Nevertheless I persevered and appreciated the film more in the end.  I didn’t love it then but simply marveled at what a great filmmaker Kubrick was.  As the past two weeks have progressed I have come to feel so differently.  I keep re-watching scenes in my mind just as our dear narrator would “viddy” films in his own mind.  The more I have thought about the movie the more I have come to like it in ways I never would have imagined.  I am still bothered by the rape scene because it is awful but I can overlook it now in light of becoming aware to the larger greatness of the film. I now feel like I love so much about this movie.  I love the strange dialogue, which Amber and I only understood once turning on subtitles; I love the boldness, the perversion, and the wickedness of the world that it conveys.  This movie is wicked, but this is a wicked world we live in and I think that Kubrick understood that about this world.

One of the things that really makes this film terrific is the performance of Malcolm McDowell. As Alex, or 6655321, McDowell played the greatest part of his career.  He has the most evil smile I have ever seen and his delivery of the slang dialogue is flawless.  One of my favorite scenes in the film is the awkward one in which he returns home after being released from prison.  He stands there so strangely casual with his parents for the longest time before inquiring about the random guy sitting in the room that nobody has mentioned yet.  ” Hey dad, there’s a strange fella sittin’ on the sofa munchy-wunching lomticks of toast.” The slang that he is speaking is a combination of languages called Nadsat.  It’s much easier to read than to listen to and once we turned on the subtitles for this film we got more out of it. It’s a fascinating language in truth and it makes the film interesting as much as anything else about it.  A truly unique dialogue that sets the film apart, but so much about this movie sets it apart from others.

I have let this review sit too long now and the movie isn’t as fresh on my mind.  As much as Amber and I both enjoyed it I’m going to leave this one as is for now instead of watching the film again.  I will undoubtedly be watching the film again in the future and may put some more thoughts about it down then.  Otherwise until that time don’t waste your time reading what I have to say when you could be watching this movie yourself.  This is a crazy one and once you get through the worst parts of it you will see a film that is as complete and incredible as any that has ever been made.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan wouldn’t watch this movie for the longest time. All he knew for sure was that they raped someone and he said it was too horrific to watch again. There are other films like that too, Reqiuem for a Dream, The Exorcist. I am sure, eventually; we will see all of those as well. Having now finally watched A Clockwork Orange, I have to say that I was incredibly blown away. I honestly feel like Kubrick was immensely ahead of his time. I could only imagine the craziness that he could create with today’s technologies. But then again, it’s hard to tell if he would be considered special in today’s time. But back then….he was a genus. Ryan has always said he was off put but how bad they are, and believe me, they are…but it is nothing we haven’t seen done. I think it was new and considered risky back then. I also was intrigued with the whole trying to correct his brain thing. Having just read A Brave New World, it reminds me that these things don’t always work. And of course it doesn’t here. Sometimes, evil is just evil.

aclockworkorange_poster

I like the simplicity here. The use of negative space is so refreshing. Like I can breathe while looking at it. I like the way the character is sort of breaking out of the mold of the A, and also metaphorically in the film and in time. The cue ball is an eye ball which alludes to the evil within. The font, although wouldn’t be used today is very iconic for its time. I am equally pleased with the movie and poster.