William Shatner

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Year: 1989
Directed By: William Shatner
Written By: William Shatner, Harve Bennett (story), Michael Loughery (screenwriter), Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

What’s interesting about this time around is that William Shatner himself got behind camera. There he could really make sure he looked good, even giving himself a Stallone-esque Cliffhanger moment to start the film. Kirk flirting with death while he scales the mountain is really the most interesting thing going on in the beginning. Up until the Klingons show up in that awesome Bird of Prey the movie is kind of lame. The whole camping scene is just silly, and boring.

I was being wildly optimistic when I started this film. As it continues I can see that it is really disappointing. I’ve seen this movie before but it’s probably been fifteen years at least. Not that I really expected it to be good but this level of bad has really caught me off guard.

I hate to criticize William Shatner too much but this one is a really weak movie. I’d call it the weakest but I really didn’t like The Voyage Home. The story that he conceived was horrible plain and simple. Shatner was inspired by a fascination with televangelist who could so easily manipulate the public and for what it’s worth that is an interesting aspect of society. Still, it’s a stretch for one of these men, who also happens to be Spock’s brother, to manipulate the entire crew of the Enterprise away from Kirk.

Glad to see all of Shatner’s rock climbing comes in handy later in the film as he is climbing ladders, that is until Spock comes and carries him the rest of the way. These boots Spock is wearing, whose idea was that? His Superman moment in the beginning of the film was ridiculous but here he is now squeezed between Kirk and McCoy with more boot shenanigans.

There’s too much time left in this movie, this one is even harder than The Voyage Home.

The whole scene with God is crazy. It’s a good thing Kirk and Spock are OK after God lasers them, and it’s comical how McCoy rushes to both of them on the ground and simply holds them as if he is treating them. The afterthought Klingons show up near the end to play their wild card only for that threat to be neutralized instantly with a resolution that leads to everybody being friends. They’re literally all having a party together moments after trying to kill each other and everybody is just all hunky dory.

I was wrong before. The fourth film is not the worse, this one is. At least this one has conflict but I just can’t say anything nice about it. It’s amazing the franchise continued beyond this film. It’s definitely not worth your time, you gotta be a serious Trekkie to like this movie. I mean they go back to Row Row Row Your Boat at the end, who thought this was a good idea?

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

 

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Year: 1979
Directed By: Robert Wise
Written By: Harold Livingston (screenplay) Alan Dean Foster (story) Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s time to admit it and own up to the truth. There’s no denying it now as we’ve reached this point in the collection. I’ve been a closet Trekkie for my entire life and own twelve of these movies. It’s not my fault. I was born into a Star Trek family and grew up watching these movies and the television show. I don’t know any Klingon or anything like that but I have a greater knowledge than the average person. I tell people all the time that Amber is the one who loves Star Trek but that’s not true. It’s me, and I have dragged her along this journey before.

It was about eight years ago when Amber and I were really young parents. We had some kind of petty argument that all young couples have but in this one I managed to win and she wanted to make it up to me. She had always refused to watch Star Trek and with this newfound marital leverage I insisted she watch the entire series with me. I’ll never forget because it was around Christmas time when I went to a Best Buy and bought a box set of the first eight movies. I stood in line holding this box set of Star Trek movies literally trying to hide it as people walked by. Like I said, I’m totally a fan but I don’t just admit that to people. I keep it in the closet as a guilty pleasure and deny knowing anything about it when it comes up. I stood in that line for what felt like forever, switching that box set from arm to arm in an effort to hide it from people. When I finally got to the register I laid it down in front of the lady and said “my Christmas shopping is done.”  Eight movies later and Amber still hated Star Trek, but I like to think I enriched her life in an interesting way.

I grew up watching the Next Generation series of Star Trek and it’s those characters I have always been a real fan of. I still appreciate the original crew and like these movies but some of the excitement in this first film has always been lost on me because of it. Half of the fun in this movie for Star Trek fans must have been seeing the gang get back together for a film. The show had finished its three year run in 1969 and ten years had passed by the time this movie came out. Star Trek had proved to be very popular airing in syndication and the movie spent a long time in production. Eventually it was scrapped in favor of doing a new television show before again minds were changed and the movie was back on the docket. This film was adapted from the pilot episode of what would have been the new television show.

The return of Spock is probably the coolest part of this movie, which doesn’t have all that many cool parts to begin with. It’s cooler because there was a big chance Spock didn’t appear in the movie at all. Leonard Nimoy had become angry over his image as Spock being used without him receiving any royalties and was initially not going to reprise his role for the film. He agreed to appear in the film only after he was paid before hand for the use of his image. It’s hard to imagine what would have happened to this franchise and Star Trek in general had they not been able to persuade Nimoy to take the role.

This movie reminds me of 2001: A Space Odessey in that everything moves really slowly. 2001 was a great movie that is incredibly influential in the movie business but I’d hardly call it watchable. I own the movie and have tried to watch it at least five times but have somehow still never seen the end. This movie too feels unwatchable at times as it takes forever for anything to happen. It’s like they figured out these new special effects and had to draw them out as long as possible.

This is a long and slow moving movie that I have never really been a fan of. I found myself sucked in more than I ever have before with this viewing but still, it is what it is. It’s impressive that the franchise was even able to continue after this film, given it wasn’t really well received. William Shatner has even been reported to have walked out of the screening and thought that Star Trek was officially over, and he wasn’t the only one. Gene Roddenberry was blamed for the failure of the film and was forced out for the sequel. That’s a cold way to treat the creator but it worked as the sequel was, for a long time, the franchise’s crowning achievement.

I think there was a time and place for this movie and that was 1979. Watching it now comes without all the anticipation that fans felt back then. It was probably really cool to see the band get back together for the big screen after ten years but that does little to satisfy a viewer today. I think this movie is for the die hard Star Trek fans out there. While I may have outed myself as a fan in this post it is still something I intend to keep quiet and I don’t qualify. I don’t think this movie is worth your time but may it live long and prosper with the true Trekkies out there.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

 

Halloween

Year: 1978
Directed By: John Carpenter
Written By: John Carpenter and Debra Hill

RYAN’S REVIEW

I didn’t intend to review this film when we started this horror themed month for October but I got caught up in the spirit.  We have watched and reviewed several horror films this month but none quite as iconic as this one. Barring The Exorcist (which I refuse to see again) this is the big enchilada when it comes to the genre.  An iconic film that set the tone for the decades that would follow.  It was not the first slasher film but far and away this is the one that all the others would take the lead from.  Everything from who the victims were and what they were doing to setting the tone with music to who would win in the end was all in the blueprint for this film.  Seeing everything that comes after almost makes it redundant.

I was born in 1984, and by that time this franchise had already risen to the top and fallen from grace due to a horrible third film. The franchise would come roaring back with it’s fourth film in 1988 but it wasn’t so much a roar as it was a weep that kept it going for another 15 years.  When I was growing up it was Friday the 13th that was all the rage.  As a kid I specifically remember the hockey mask of Jason Voorhees being the thing to wear and while I didn’t know what it was I thought it was really cool.  My mom would never let me go as the bloody machete wielding villain though opting for more traditional and cute costumes that never impressed my friends. Nevertheless I was introduced to Jason long before I even knew anything about Michael Myers.  One of the first horror movies I ever saw was one of the Jason movies, no clue which one, and it scared the hell out of me. I remember going into dark rooms as a child and fearing Jason would be standing over me when I turned the light on.  Darkness is always scarier when the idea of a slasher who is there to kill you for no reason is introduced.  To a preteen child such irrational things seem possible when you are all alone.

By the time I actually saw this film I was in my later teens.  I watched it because I knew it was a legendary film, but having already seen so many movies just like it the film had little effect on me. I had seen it all before and in much more violent and bloody fashion.  Not only that, but Michael Myers’ white mask (a William Shatner mask turned inside out) had nothing on the hockey mask worn by Jason Voorhees.  Even Jason’s weapon was scarier than Michael’s because Jason used a machete while Michael simply used a kitchen butcher’s knife. When I finished this movie for the first time I found it not scary at all and anticlimactic as well.  I know now how wrong my initial perceptions were.

I may not have been impressed as a teenager but I was too young to really appreciate classic stories then.  At that age I was always looking for more blood, more explosions, and more boobs.  Some movies had been built up too much in my mind based on what I had already seen and I couldn’t look past something less to appreciate the fact that it was what started it all.  The Jason movies only seemed more frightening to me because with each new film it was both trying to one-up this movie as well as all the other slasher films that preceded it.  Jason would have never existed without this film and its success.  This movie was made on a really low budget and raked in tons of profit.  It became the blueprint for what many franchises would build their foundation on.  A killer who kills kids for no real reason, victims that are engaging in promiscuous behavior, and a musical score that would set the tone for the film.

It’s not until the sequel to this movie that you get any motive as to why Michael Myers has targeted these teens for killing.  I suppose the pointless killing adds an extra level of fear to the whole thing but this always bothered me, and I’ll admit it bothered me while I was watching it last night.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is an awesome movie, but there is little point to it other than the guilty pleasure of watching violence.  The popular slasher film that came out when I was in high school was Scream which made a lot of the “slasher victim formula.” The formula being that the kids engaging in drinking, drugs, and sex were the ones to fall prey to the stalking killer.  This is the lead that the others followed because it’s the way it appears in this movie but I don’t see it this way.  John Carpenter has dismissed the notion before and I think it’s simply because he wrote the teenagers to act like teenagers.  What generation of teenagers don’t engage in drinking, drugs, and sex when the parents aren’t around? I think the fact that the victims in this movie were doing such is merely happenstance. Laurie Strode appears to be the angel of the group because she is the more innocent of the three girls terrorized by Michael Myers but she was getting high at one point in the movie.  According to the formula proposed by Scream this would have put her on Michael’s chopping block but it didn’t happen because that formula never really existed in this film. They were just kids being kids, coincidentally doing what kids do when the slasher came to kill them.

I think the greatest thing about this movie is the musical score.  That tune on the piano which has become legendary now is such an eerie and dramatic sound.  It sets the tone for the movie and moves it along at the right pace.  John Carpenter also did a lot of interesting things behind camera that added to the effect the movie had when it came out and was imitated by the filmmakers that would follow.  Shooting from the point of view of the killer was a new idea at the time and it allowed the viewer to fear for the unsuspecting victim as their death crept up on them. Both of the qualities, the musical score and the view from the killer were things specifically copied for the Friday the 13th franchise.

This was the first film Jamie Lee Curtis appeared in and was the beginning of what would eventually give her the title of “scream queen.” Curtis came by it naturally because her mother probably would have had that title had it been around twenty years earlier.  Her mother, Janet Leigh, was made famous for screaming in the shower scene in the original Psycho film.  I have always been a big fan of Curtis because of her role in True/Lies in 1994, and because I saw her boobs in Trading Places as a kid.  I was young when I saw that movie and instantly fell in love with her, her role in True/Lies only served to re-enforce that infatuation.  This infatuation has proven to be very troubling as I have heard many times over the last ten years that she was born as a hermaphrodite, meaning that she was born with both male and female reproductive organs.  I do not know if this is true or simply a popular myth but I don’t like it and find it really hard to believe. Curtis has fallen out of the limelight as far as films go these days but remains active in many notable causes.  I think she had many terrific roles throughout her career and it all started with this movie.

Aside from Curtis the most notable actor to be involved in this franchise on a regular basis was Donald Pleasence playing the part of Michael Myers’ doctor Dr. Loomis.  I have never really cared for the character because he always comes off as so annoying.  In every one of the Halloween movies he appears in he is always the guy running around trying to warn everybody but nobody will listen.  If he wasn’t such a whiney know-it-all maybe people would have listened to him.  He is specifically preachy in this movie and honestly, most of what he says doesn’t make any sense.  He says that he knows Michael Myers better than anyone but what can you really know about a person that hasn’t communicated in any capacity in fifteen years? His analogy that behind Myers’ black eyes is nothing but pure evil serves as nothing more than making the villain more ghoulish and threatening.  That is the point I suppose but this guy couldn’t have died soon enough in my opinion.  I haven’t seen the sequels in quite a while but if I remember right Loomis blows himself up at the end of the second film in order to kill Myers.  If anybody knows how he managed to come back to the franchise let me know because I have always wondered.

This movie may come across as boring to younger generations that have seen it all before, just as it did to me when I was younger, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is a lot to be said about a film that sets the bar and leads the way for so many that will follow.  It doesn’t matter what film may have out done it later because it was merely trying to copy what was already achieved by this one.  I didn’t love this movie when I saw it the first time but I have grown to appreciate it for what it is worth and what it has done for the genre and industry.  This movie is one of the greatest horror films of all time and was a great way to spend Halloween night after the kids were done trick or treating and safely tucked into bed.  It goes without saying that this movie is worth your time to see.

 AMBER’S REVIEW

Classic. That’s really all that can be said about this movie. So classic in fact they made many, many, too many more. It’s a really cool horror movie that isn’t as scary as it probably was back in its prime, but I think it still holds it own. And nothing is more Halloween iconic than the theme song. I made it my ringtone this year.

Halloween PosterI am going to say here that I feel kind of bad for the designer. They didn’t know what an iconic movie this would become. I am not a fan of this at all. I don’t like the illustration, the typography is just plain bad, and the copy-writing is worse. “The Night HE came back.” Who, Jesus? I actually want to recreate this one. I think it could be a lot of fun.