Monday, February 29, 2016

THROWBACK REVIEW: Star Trek: Insurrection

Oh boy... 

Here we stand, ready to talk about one of my most disliked films of the franchise of Star Trek. Yup. We've gone from one of my favorite films, to a film I really don't like that much, but unlike Star Trek: The Motion Picture which I don't like due to absolutely atrocious pacing, or Star Trek V, which I don't care for due to poor editing and forgettable story, Insurrection gets a stamp of disapproval from me for much more technical reasons. It is the one movie out of all the Star Trek movies out there, that feels like it doesn't belong. And I hear some of you already asking me, "Oh yeah? Well what about those reboot films?" Yes. Even the reboots have more to do with Star Trek than this film does. There. I said it. Shall we begin?

Now a few things I will say regarding this film that are actually well done, are the environments. I cannot, and will not deny that the imagery of space in this movie is absolutely gorgeous to look at. No other Star Trek film has portrayed the Enterprise going through a nebula so beautifully. So I will give credit where credit is due. The scenery in space is absolutely gorgeous.  Heck, I'll admit it, even the scenery on the planet the movie focuses on is good, there's just nothing that really stands out about it like the Nebula does.  The Enterprise is looking good as ever (though....whoever was the design genius behind the idea that the Enterprise should be controlled by a joystick in an emergency has been playing too much Atari), and even the enemy ships (who belong to this race called the Son'a) look visually appealing.  There are a few effects during the film's action that appear slightly out of place if you ask me, but overall, the ships are beautiful in this film.  And that is about all the good I can say of this film.  That's not a good thing, movie.

The film's main plot focuses on a race of "aliens" called the Ba'ku, and I put quotes around that word, because they look human in every way possible (they couldn't put a little effort into the make-up department to make these guys look a bit more alien?), who have very much decided to isolate themselves from using....machines....despite using machines in their daily lives. I mean, they straight up say in the movie, "We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man, you take something away from the man." Well that's just lovely...but the thing is...as Linkara expertly points out in the excellent review he does with the Nostalgia Critic of this Ba'ku use machines everywhere, from dams to irrigation systems, and likely to sewing machines. "It's almost like machines are helpful or something." I'll rant a bit more about this later, but another thing I cannot accept in this movie is the fact that the Ba'ku, a race we are told has forsaken technology, knows how to...fix...an android.....

....

Bullshit. Just pure, simple, bullshit. Normally I'm pretty open to Star Trek explanations for certain things, but Insurrection managed to be one of the few things of the franchise that just pressed all the wrong buttons. How does this race know how to fix an Android when throughout the series, almost all life that sees Data, looks upon Data as a technical marvel and revolutionary figure? No one knows how to make another like him, and his creator is dead. Heck, Data has to personally instruct Geordi a lot of the time on routine maintenance. And this race that has forsaken machines and technology can just pull off miraculous repair work? That's........just stupid! They go on to reveal that they know the secrets of Warp travel and other things and, it just....doesn't fit. And I say this because the villagers look at Data like he's some kind of monster. More on their behavior shortly.

Another thing that kinda gets to me, a point that Linkara points out in the mentioned review, is the fact that apparently, the Dominion War is going on during this movie. For those who don't know, the Dominion War is a war the Federation is involved with against the mentioned Dominion, particularly during the series Deep Space Nine. And the Federation was losing pretty badly, with predictions that if the Federation loses, BILLIONS of people will die. And we are told that the unique radiation or whatnot that the planet can give off can help....say it with me now...BILLIONS. Yet Picard says, how dare you try to relocate this small group of six hundred people, who aren't indigenous to the planet. It's like the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.....oh wait... Yeah there's a generic bad guy plot behind it all, but if you don't know that, you'd think Picard wasn't thinking straight. That and the whole fact that Picard has been involved with numerous relocations in the past...really doesn't seem to fit the overall picture here.

But with everything wrong with this picture, from Picard's overall thinking, to just...overall...strange scenes with Data (like how he can be used as a floatation device or how they sing to...gain control of him?), and from overall rushed plot elements, to plot elements that make absolutely no sense (I still don't get why the Ba'ku could do half the crap that they do in this movie), there is one thing I've been waiting to talk about as to why I dislike this movie so much, and it revolves somewhat around the Ba'ku and technology. As I said up above, the Ba'ku don't like machines or technology so much (despite using machines...and having knowledge of technology...as stupid as it sounds). And I've said how this movie goes about depicting it, from the village basically looking to Data as this...abomination almost. Kids run away from him, the people distrust him, the movie hammers in the point that they look at technology as a bad thing.  And ironically...TECHNOLOGY SAVES THE DAY!  Yeah, I can't help but wonder what the Ba'ku were thinking of Picard's crew who were shooting down drones and erecting force fields to protect the 600 villagers.  I like a certain line from that review I keep mentioning (sorry I bring it up a lot, it's an excellent review). "Thanks for saving us with your technology, by the way, we hate technology." But that's not even what gets to me.  Star Trek is about how we as humans have evolved through the centuries up ahead, to better ourselves as a species with the help of relations with aliens, and the advancement of...say it with me now...technology.  Technology is a CORE ASPECT of Star Trek.  Now I understand that Star Trek is a broad series, and honestly, I would have welcomed this concept of the crew coming across a culture that has rejected machines, but the way it was executed here, it literally felt at times like the moral of whatever story they were telling was that we shouldn't rely on technology...and while some may say this to be true...technology is just a tool that we use in our daily lives. And the people of Star Trek know it. While yes, some people shouldn't spend so much on technology nowadays, the philosophy of Star Trek stands for how much our advancement in technology has done us good. I mean, good God, it's inspired inventors to actually make so many things from the show for the past fifty years! And this is what I mean when I say that this movie feels like an anti-Star Trek movie, it rejects this core aspect.  You may argue that the reboots may not be in full spirit of Star Trek, But at least they stuck with the basic principles for the most part.  This movie straight up turned its back to it.

Star Trek: Insurrection easily earns a one star out of four. If the improbable plot elements and ideals don't get to me, the overal themes do.  What could have very much been at best, a mediocre episode perhaps, ends up taking up an entire feature film, which only leaves me rubbing my head, and asking myself "How could Jonathan Frakes, the guy behind First Contact, come up with this?" How could this movie...which has such gorgeous scenery, and at least...a followable plot, get so much wrong?  How could Final Frontier end up entertaining me more than this?  These are questions I will likely never get an answer to.  While the first Star Trek film got a lot of dirt from me for pacing and boring story, this one just...nearly infuriated me for it's themes, and that's another bad sin to come from Star Trek. I'm pleased to say that no other Star Trek film has ever tested me on this kind of level, but...we still have three more Star Trek films to go...and they all have their critics.

Please feel free to suggest a movie for me to review down below.  Leave a comment about your own thoughts and feelings about this film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Final Verdict: 1/4

Friday, February 19, 2016

THROWBACK REVIEW: Star Trek: First Contact



Star Trek: First Contact in multiple ways feels like this was the Star Trek movie that was made for me. It is one of the coolest adventures of the Trek universe, and easily the best of the Next Generation films of Star Trek.  Long have I praised this film, long have I defended it from the relative few who I have seen trash talk it.  And long will I continue to love and defend it.  I won't let some nitpicking fans ruin my love of this film, especially when I feel that a lot of their points that they try to make are debatable at best. Is Captain Picard out of character here?  Is there too much action?  Let's just take a look.

I will start this review out by pointing out ironically, my only problem with this movie.  The setting. At the end of Generations, we'd witnessed the destruction of the USS Enterprise-D, and we saw the crew getting picked up by a few Starfleet ships, before warping into the distance, ready to continue their many adventures.  Well, when First Contact starts up, where are we?  On the new and beautiful ship Enterprise-E.  But.....where did it come from?  This is my biggest question.  Why weren't we given a little introduction to this ship? I mean in Star Trek IV, when the crew is getting shuttled to their new assignment, we were given a glimpse at the newly constructed USS Enterprise-A. This gave us some insight as to the fact that the legacy of the Enterprise was only beginning.  Here, they're literally just sitting around a table, talking about their new ship and how they're ready to fight the Borg. I mean don't get me wrong, the Enterprise-E is a beautiful ship, but I would have loved to get to know her a bit before this movie.  An introduction scene or montage or something.  I mean heck, even the crew members like Geordi look different. His visor is gone.  We were given no hint that he'd be given implants instead of his visor before this.  And in his case, no one even bothers mentioning the fact that he decided to get implants or what led to his decision.  It's just a minor gripe about how they set up this movie that gets to me.  But by the time the movie gets rolling, this problem can easily be forgiven, because when we hear that the Borg are attacking Earth...well...who wouldn't be on board?

The opening battle between Starfleet and the Borg cube is one of the coolest scenes of these movies. Normally, Star Trek isn't a franchise I'd associate to put together a fun space battle, but this movie certainly went above and beyond to put this one together in which we get a small cameo by the USS Defiant, and even a very brief glimpse of the famous Millenium Falcon from Star Wars.  And while this battle may not be too visually spectacular when compared to the dogfights of Star Wars or whatnot, it's still a very impressive scene to have come out of Star Trek, before launching us into the main plot of the film in which the Borg send a probe back in time to assimilate Earth before humanity can launch their very first warp-capable ship, which would enable first contact between them and the Vulcans. The Enterprise, caught in this time warp, finds itself in the 21st Century, in a post-WWIII world.  Where we meet easily my favorite non-Enterprise character of the movie, Zephram Cochrane, played perfectly by James Cromwell.  James is an absolute riot in this movie.  I don't think I've ever see a guy play a depressed drunk quite like him. The crew of the Enterprise is tasked with assisting him in repairs to his ship, which is damaged during the Borg attack, and in just...well...helping him find that pride to actually do the launch again, though the hero worship doesn't help at all. Every emotion, every line that James says is just...so in character.  Even the franchise's only title drop in it's long history seems fine. James easily makes this movie worth watching.  He was perfect for the role of Zephram.

One of the things people tend to complain about in this movie is the fact that Picard seems out of character, as he slowly descends into an obsession to destroy the Borg at the cost of...well...anything. I've read articles about how this once intelligent and level-minded leader, was turned into nothing but a man who just wanted to kill anything Borg, despite not ever showing this side before.  To that I say...really?  So his willingness to use a single Borg drone to carry a virus to eradicate the entire Borg race wasn't an obsession? In that same episode, his angry refusal to even speak to the Borg drone who was starting to show signs of individuality wasn't an out of character grudge?  Look I understand that in that episode, he did decide against his act against the Borg, and did in fact get to know the drone in question, but you gotta put into effect what exactly is going on in this movie.  Picard's entire way of life is at risk.  The Borg are threatening to end life on Earth as we know it, erasing everything we've done.  Now I will say that yes, Picard could have been more level-headed but all captains react differently in a crisis. Picard didn't want to lose the Enterprise, despite the fact that for all he knew, it was already lost. With everything the Borg had put him through in the entire franchise, I could easily see why he was so reluctant to accept defeat, and to destroy his foe in the only means left.  And to see him finally realize what he was doing in the end, I felt was very fitting.  When he starts quoting Moby Dick, before finally ordering the complete evacuation of the Enterprise it's easily one of the strongest scenes of the movie. I can only guess that people don't like this because it makes Picard, arguably one of Star Trek's strongest captains, appear weak. Weakness is a part of being a captain, and I find it interesting to see how captains handle this aspect. I mean....if you want an example to compare it to, Captain Edward Smith was supposed to have been the most experienced and talented Captain of White Star Line back in 1912. Yet when the Titanic struck an iceberg, even the talented Captain was weak in the time of crisis. It's just a thing that captains face, and I thought this movie pulled it off. 

As far as the action is concerned in this movie, you'll hear no complaints from me. I've long since grown a bit tired of hearing complaints about how much action should be in Star Trek. Now before I go on, yes, there are times when Star Trek action does very much feel out of place. And I will take note of it. But in this particular film, there was not one scene that felt out of place. Why? Well I guess it was how the scene was set up. I can't really compare it to action of Star Trek II or VI, because unlike action of those two movies which involves ship to ship combat, this action primarily takes place within the Enterprise, which is a move I absolutely love. The concept of the Borg beginning to take over the Enterprise is something that will keep you on the edge of your seat, especially when you begin to realize that the fight is a losing battle. But that tension is still present. When you watch the crew slowly walking through the halls of the Enterprise, past Borg drones, left and right, or when Picard and Worf are battling the Borg on the hull of the Enterprise itself? Man....it's so satisfying to see Worf slice through a Borg in zero gravity. 

But I think the best aspect of this movie, is finally seeing just how humanity meets the Vulcans for the first time. Now I will say that the climactic scene, which features the landing of the Vulcans feels a bit rushed into, especially after the climactic fight between the Borg Queen, Picard, and Data. The fight is resolved, and we pretty much suddenly see the landing happening. I would have appreciated just a little buildup, but the whole fascination between the humans and Vulcans alike is well done, and the music to the scene? Perfect. I've not talked much about the music of the films, but I really should. The musical score of this film, and Generations are fantastic. Regardless of what you might think of the movies, the music is very well done. Back to the scene, we've only had to imagine before this how First Contact could have played out. To see the humans and Vulcans finally meeting, engaging with one another, and experiencing each other's culture for the first time is a treat I really love. I absolutely love how the Vulcans react to Zephram's jukebox. 

At the end of it all, there's a lot I could talk about in this movie, from interactions between both Data and the Borg Queen, and Picard and Zephram's friend, Lily, but then this review would be longer than I'd like. All you need to know, is that I feel this is the one film of the Next Generation crew that got almost everything right. The strongest of the film's. And though there are a few minor gripes, it's nothing that made me dislike this film, or penalize it in ways other films did get penalized from me. Is it my favorite film? I dunno. Again, it's still hard to decide between this, and Undiscovered Country, but it's still a great film, for multiple reasons. 

Star Trek: First Contact, is issued with tough love, a three and a half star rating out of four. I want to give it that full four star rating more than anything, but I think it just barely misses that. Barely. While it does so many things that will make it rival other strong films, it does seem a little rushed in a few areas which does end up slightly hindering the experience, but it's still one of the best out there, and I will continue to preach that until the cows come home. From the action, to the acting, it still feels like the perfect Trek movie for me as a person. 

Please feel free to request a movie you'd like me to take a look at. Leave a comment down below telling me of your own thoughts on this movie or whatnot, and as always, thanks for reading. 

Final Verdict: 3.5/4

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

THROWBACK REVIEW: Star Trek: Generations



I hope you all enjoyed my reviews of the original six Star Trek movies, and my little Battlefield Earth intermission review, now let's keep going. We've crossed into the threshold of the movies of Star Trek which belong to that of the cast and crew of the hit TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. And these are the films I find that are highly criticized. And parts of me don't really understand why. I'm sure all the "hard-core" Trekkies could refer me all over the map as far as why certain films are terrible and whatnot, but for the most part, I enjoyed these films. And ironically, the Trekkies who dissect these films trying to make me understand why they're terrible...only make me like these films even more for what they are. Now I will admit that there are a lot of times where you will notice that the crew of Picard just doesn't seem to carry quite the same movie magic that Kirk's crew had in their films, but when they're on target, the results can just be fantastic. And the first film to tackle, in this area? The film known as Generations.

This is one of those films often called one of the bad films, and having watched it a few times now...I don't get it. Why is it hated so much? I mean sure it has flaws, but I still can't figure out a sure answer as to why it's so despised. In my eyes, it tells a competent story, it keeps my interest, and I will stand by this statement of it having one of the absolute best scenes in the filmdom of Trek. 

Well I guess one reason it's not liked by so many is the manner in which they put both Picard and Kirk on screen at the same time. The Nexus is an idea I remain open to, though perhaps it could have been fleshed out a bit more. The exact manner in which one enters or exits the phenomenon known as the Nexus is never really explained. Kirk enters it through a hull breach, Picard is kinda just...taken into it, and they both just...kinda leave it. How? I can't even explain it. Is the Nexus alive? Did it know that they both wanted to leave and go to the same place at the same time? It doesn't make sense. I mean we're told that it's this place of never-ending happiness and whatnot, but it's not explored much in the film, despite the fact that it's the focus of the main story of the film.

Another thing that I kinda found slightly annoying was the emotion chip of Data, which he had gotten from Lore in the series. What could have been a great way to develop Data's character further was instead overused in some rather...silly and annoying comedy that for the most part, fell flat. I wouldn't mind this comedy so much if it was maybe only one or two scenes, but in this movie, it seems that whenever Data is on screen, he's laughing hysterically, behaving like a child, or just being overall odd. I sincerely laughed at his first real taste of alcohol, and I absolutely loved how he delivered that "Yes!" line. but when he was playing with..."Mr. Tricorder", and singing "Tiny Little Life Forms", I kinda rubbed my head a bit.  Now I should say that there is development with Data and the emotion chip in the film, but the overall unneeded comedy far outweighs the serious development. I just wish it was handled better because after this film, the whole concept of emotion in Data is roughly never heard of again. It was potential that was just wasted.

And of course, we all know that William Shatner stars in this film, reprising his role of the iconic Captain Kirk, and his time on screen with Picard is a little silly, but I will say he has some very good moments. Despite what some might say, I actually like the discussion the two have while they make a delicious looking meal of eggs. And both Picard and Kirk do seem to work rather well together, despite having such different personalities; Kirk being the adventurous cowboy diplomat, and Picard being the more disciplined by the book man.  They are so different, but I can't help but feel that they blend rather well together.  Their fight scene with the film's antagonist, Tolian Soran (who is excellently played by Malcom McDowell) was much better than from what I remembered, and when we get that Kirk death scene, despite it getting SO MUCH negative rep, I can't help but say...you know, it's a fitting death scene. As Kirk predicted, he died alone (You can say that he died with Picard, but they didn't really know each other, so I'm willing to say that his prediction from Star Trek V came true in that sense). And to know that he helped save billions of lives in the system, I see as a fitting way to send off the legendary captain.  I've yet to hear a reasonable argument as to why this scene is bad, that doesn't include how Kirk deserved a much more dignified or glorious death.  

But my favorite scene has to be the destruction of the Enterprise....oh...spoiler alert....screw it, the film is over 20 years old. I've heard some people argue that the old Klingon Bird of Prey should not have been able to take down the Galaxy Class iconic starship, an argument that I will say does hold some ground, but the film explains it well enough for me.  The only thing that annoyed me about the scene was the obvious use of stock footage when destroying the Bird of Prey from Star Trek VI. But the following crash scene is just...so impressive. The practical effects used to show the saucer section crash landing on the planet below are so unbelievably incredible to watch, and they still hold up today.  I honestly will call it one of the absolute best scenes of any Star Trek movie. While the destruction of the Enterprise in Star Trek III may be a bit more of an emotional destruction, as far as effects and overall "epicness", this scene blows that one out of the water.  The saucer section plowing through trees, people getting thrown around left and right, it's not a glorified end of the Enterprise-D as some would have wanted it, but I could REALLY care less at that. It's a great scene. Not everything needs to end glorious.

When all is said and done, Generations is a flawed, but enjoyable film for me.  I have heard so much dirt about it, and watching it again, I can't understand why it's trashed as it is.  It's nowhere near the worst, and I won't even call it bad.  Am I wrong? I don't know.  As a critic, I live by the statement that there's no such thing as a wrong opinion.  So I will say, maybe I'm in the minority.  But you know what?  That's just fine by me. I don't at all mind being part of a small group of people who find some charm in this movie, despite its flaws. I'll call it a guilty pleasure.

Star Trek Generations earns a three star rating out of four for me. Yeah, it could have been done better, but the things that it did do that hit on target have such a great payoff that I find it impossible to hate this film.  It plays off maybe to some as what one might expect from a mediocre episode of the show, but to me, I could follow it from beginning to end. From the questionable scenes (such as Picard dealing with the news of the death of his brother and nephew), to the better scenes (that awesome crash), it's a movie I find enjoyment in, and before anyone questions, no, I will not say that I'm blinded by nostalgia, as I saw this film only once as a kid. And barely remembered it before watching it again (other than it had the cool opening scenes with my then favorite incarnation of the Enterprise-B).  All I know was that I liked it then, and today, I still like it.  And if the majority of Trekkies don't like it...well it just makes me like it even more.

Please feel free to request a movie you'd like for me to perhaps take a look at and review.  Leave a comment down below telling me your own thought and feelings of this film (I have a feeling a lot of you might disagree with what I've said about the film in question).  I'll see you next time on our Trek-a-thon, and as always, thanks for reading.

Final Verdict: 3/4

Monday, February 15, 2016

THROWBACK REVIEW: Battlefield Earth


For a while I've been wondering about how I wanted to go about reviewing this film. Should it be special, should it be under a certain circumstance, well screw it.  I'm just gonna review it because I want to. You all likely know of Battlefield Earth, and it's legacy as being known as one of the worst films to have ever been made, but after sitting through it twice now, I kinda gotta wonder...is there some element of likable charm to it?  If you've never heard of this film, well where have you been?  I guess it kinda fell out of the loop after it crashed and burned back in 2000, but from what I can gather, it still has quite the legacy, and a lot of people still have a bad taste in their mouth.  Heck for all I know, you might be one of the many who has a bad taste in their mouth, and are only here to make sure I tear it a new one.  What can I say?  I think the film's a riot.

Now that's not to say the film isn't bad.  It was poorly received for good reason.  Tere's a lot to talk about as far as the film faults go, from hammy acting, to shoddy camera work, to some simply bizarre or awkward shots, to plot devices are are an understatement to call coincidental, the faults of Battlefield Earth outweigh any rights it has...and honestly, I'm not sure if it even has any rights.  Well, I think I can come up with a few, I will say that the environment of a post apocalyptic alien taken over world is pretty decently designed. The dome that the Psychlos (yeah...that's the name of the alien race) build is actually pretty cool to look at. And I won't deny...I wouldn't mind tasting that bright lime green drink that they call Kerbango. Serve me one of those in one of those weird glasses! I guess one final thing I can say toward the movies credit is that the film score isn't bad at all. There are times the music does shine through. 

But honestly, there's not much else I can say as far as the good in this film, because...it's so very very...bad. When compared to other films I've seen that I absolutely despise or hate such as Last Airbander, Freddy Got Fingered, or anything else in my movie career that I've seen and walked out enraged on, Battlefield Earth just didn't infuriate me.  Because it's so very entertaining in all its glorious badness.  When it comes to most bad movies, there are two types of actors that tend to get the most of my attention; the actors that are bored out of their minds (such as the majority of Last Airbender), or the actors who simply have no idea what they're doing (such as Troll 2). Now there are other types of actors, those who put their heart and soul into it, but in bad movies, these tend to fall flat on their face, such as in Freddy Got Fingered.  But here in Battlefield Earth, almost each and every actor puts their all into this performance, as silly as it is...and it's impossible not to get a laugh out of. This movie has some of the most laughably cheesy lines I've ever heard.  From lines like "But there's a bright side! One day, you're going to die, and when you got to hell, it'll at least be a step up from this pace!" To Travolta's infamous "spell your name" line.  I cannot help but laugh.

The writing behind the story is actually halfway decent as far as setting up the story is concerned.  It's the actual telling of the story where it falls flat on its face. Earth has been under Psychlos rule for 1000 years, and man is an endangered species.  Our story centers on what I can only imagine is a character made soley on wish-fulfillment.  This movie is based off the novel of the same name by L. Ron Hubbard (though if the movie has anything to do with Scientology, I can't connect the dots), so there might be a small trace of author insertion.  Further research into the protagonist only strengthens that claim.  I mean the middle name of this guy is literally called "Goodboy". Throughout the film, he's constantly praised as humanity's last hope, and how the love of his life (who literally serves little purpose in this film) always knew that his destiny was to drive the Psychlos away from Earth.  These are characters that by the book, I despise.  There's barely anything interesting about him.  He's just the teacher's pet chosen by Terl to learn things, and it's by this select process that he is educated in the silly way that he is, and becomes the only hope for humanity.  His dialogue is clich├ęd and just all around silly at times.

But if that wasn't enough, the way he fights the Psychlos in this movie can be laughable if not plain stupid.  There's a hose scene in the movie near the beginning that serves little purpose at all.  Might as well have just cut it out, because it's such an awkward scene, where Jonnie literally fights Psychlos with a firehose. No joke.  But that's nothing, try Jonnie leading the resistance against the Psychlos using...military technology that's centuries old.  And it all works just fine. Yeah, never mind maintanence on fighter jets, or 1000 year old jet fuel, it's a "piece of cake" to train these men who haven't held a gun in their life to fly fighter jets in two weeks.  Two...weeks.... But if that's not silly enough, you got the whole Psychlo atmosphere reacting violently to radiation plot device.  Things could not have been simpler for our rat-brained man-animal group who manage to simply beam a nuclear bomb from Earth to the Psychlo's home world. Which upon detonating, destroys the entire planet. Can you see why this story is so dumb? One nuclear bomb is enough to destroy the ENTIRE atmosphere of the Psychlo home planet?  Eh, screw it.  

There are so many things wrong with Battlefield Earth, that I don't know if I should discuss them all here in this review.  From the overuse of Dutch angles, to the overall stupidity of the Psychlo aliens which is probably what makes them lose in this film to begin with, but honestly....I don't know why I should.  Everyone knows it's a fundamentally bad film, and I'm probably only repeating what countless other critics have said, but there's something about Battlefield Earth specifically that sets it apart from other bad movies.  The heart it has.  I've never before seen a film where everyone on board puts their all, their spirit, their heart into doing everything right, only to have the entire thing crash on top of them.  I'm actually thouroughly impressed by that standard.  The performances are impossible not to laugh at, the story is so dumb, it's impossible not to see for yourself just how dumb it can get, I almost wanna say just how much I very much recommend it. It's balancing perfectly on the "so bad that it's good" line. I cannot in my right mind condemn this film as the worst of the worst when it did so much, so right.  I mean that too.  There are a lot of things that I feel are actually done right in this film, which is why it's so funny to see just how it crashed.  This film needed a lot of tweaking, but there's plenty to enjoy for what it's worth.

Battlefield Earth earns a well earned one star rating out of four.  By all accounts I should hate this movie.  By all accounts it could have easily earned a half star rating, or even the lowest rating I could give with absolutely no stars at all.  All the ingredients are there, but there's enough spice in this silly mess to warrant a better score.  I cannot bring myself to hate it.  There's just too much of that likable charm, that numerous performance, that silly story that I really wanna just say "go find a copy if you can and see for yourself". Heck I got mine on eBay for three bucks. But I do realize that this film was hyped up by Travolta himself to be on the same lines of Pulp Fiction or Star Wars.  He really built this film up as far as the hype was concerned...so I can imagine people being pretty angry with this film for letting them down as it did, but for me personally, it's just a dumb silly movie, with a dumb sci-fi story and dumb sci-fi action.  It doesn't do any harm, and left me with a little smile on my face, even if it was for a different reason than most. 

Please feel free to make a suggestion for a film I should review.  Leave a comment down below telling me your own thoughts on the movie, and as always, thanks for reading.

Final Verdict: 1/4

Hope you all enjoyed my brief intermission from the Star Trek reviews and enjoyed a little blast to the past as I discussed this silly movie....or not. Time to tackle the Next Generation films! 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

THROWBACK REVIEW: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country



And so here we stand.  The final film of the original six Star Trek films, and halfway through my Star Trek filmdom marathon reviews.Firstly let me just apologize for the delay in this review...but Boncos.  Yeah, I had a great time on Sunday watching my team get their third Championship, which didn't leave much room for writing my thoughts on this awesome film, but here I am, let's dive right into the Undiscovered Country.

Despite having seen this before, watching it however many years later, I cannot believe how strong this film is.  Like it just completely blew my mind that I'd forgotten how incredible this film is.  Has it replaced Voyage Home as my favorite Star Trek film of the original six.  Heck has it replaced First Contact as my personal favorite film of all Star Trek?  I don't know, but from start to finish, this film holds up.  It starts with a small dedication to the late Gene Roddenberry who passed before the film released, before setting the entire stage of the movie right then and there with an explosion on the Klingon Moon, Praxis, and one of my favorite ships, the Excelsior (with a much better looking bridge than last time), witnessing the Shockwave.  

Now not only is the opening scene with the Excelsior very impressive to watch, even if certain aspects appear slightly dated, but it's important to note the parallels that Star Trek is so very good at doing. I can't believe it took my father to point thus it, but this movie is basically a science fiction take off the end of the Cold War. He straight up said that Praxis was Chernobyl. He's right. The tie in of Chernobyl was very clever here, and just strengthens why I've come to love this movie so much.

And from there on out, the movie only strengthens in story as the Federation attempts to make peace with the long time enemies of Star Trek. We get an in depth look at Kirk's inner hatred of the Klingons being responsible for the death of his son, we get tension amongst all crew members who are unsure of peace is even possible, and we get an event that only broadens the impressive range of this movie. When a couple assassins successfully kill the ambassadors of the Klingon Empire, Kirk and McCoy are the prime suspects in the murder. From here, this movie starts to take on a feel similar to that of Law and Order, and it is glorious. 

From a trial scene, which ironically stars Michael Dorn (who plays a Klingon named....Worf), to a full blown investigation aboard the Enterprise, the entire length that Kirk is imprisoned in the Klingon mines, and the mystery is being solved by the crew of the Enterprise successfully keeps you in your seat, even at the edge of your seat at times. And the payoff is absolutely phenomenal. Watching it all these years later, I will admit, it pulled an ending I fully did not expect.  I won't dare spoil it, but I will reference it when I talk about a later film in the Trek franchise.

The action in this movie, much like Wrath of Kahn is perfectly paced, but I dare say, it's probably even better as far as tension.  Introducing a Klingon Bird of Prey that can fire while under cloak only builds the suspense, and seeing it just deliver such a beating to both the Enterprise, and the Excelsior is one of the coolest Star Trek scenes I can think of.  And the acting during this scene is just as great, from a frustrated Kirk calling for a torpedo that could save his ship, to the Klingon general endlessly quoting Shakespeare.  It's a sequence that is just excellently put together. I dare say that the only thing I wish could have been done slightly different...was having the Excelsior having just a little bit more to do with the scene.  I mean once it comes in, the Enterprise doesn't even hail it.  I think they could have been just a tad bit more involved with each other there, but that's just a minor gripe.

Heck, sitting here, I really cannot find any major faults with this film.  Unlike Wrath of Kahn, the story of Undiscovered Country keeps your interest from beginning to end. It doesn't phase out in the middle like Wrath of Kahn did for me. It genuinely kept my interest throughout the film.  And I will go ahead and challenge Wrath of Kahn yet again, and say...that Undiscovered Country's ending is nearly just as strong as that of Wrath of Kahn (not the thing I refused to spoil up above). I mean, sure Spock doesn't die or anything, but it's just...such a fitting end to the original crew, that I couldn't help but smile as the credits began to roll, and even shed just a few tears perhaps.  After everything's solved, the Enterprise receives a transmission from Starfleet to return for the official decommissioning of the Enterprise-A.  This also is something the crew is kinda saddened by because this was their final mission before most of them will retire. So what do they do?  They take the Enterprise out for one last run, to...wherever.  We get that famous monologue which gives the verbal change, "Where no man...where no one has gone before." And the signatures of all original cast members are shown on screen one at a time. Now THAT'S how you give the original crew a send off!

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has quickly become one of my favorite entries of the franchise.  I may be in some small denial but for all I know, it very well may have replaced First Contact as my personal favorite Star Trek film.  As far as Star Trek, and science fiction in general is concerned, there's not much else to say about just how well a great story is executed, which is why I am pleased to award The Undiscovered Country, with the fullest possible rating I can give, a full on four stars out of four.  It's well told, well acted, and played out to the fullest possible extent that it could do.  It's a film I will not dare ever forget as I did as a kid.  If you've not seen this film, or are new to the franchise or whatnot...just do yourself a favor and watch this.  It's a great way to have told how the Klingons and Federation finally put aside their differences, and it's just an all around fantastic film.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Please feel free to suggest any films I should review down below.  Leave a comment on how you feel about the film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Final Verdict: 4/4

We are officially halfway through this marathon of Star Trek films. Six down, six more to go before July hits!  But if you'll permit me...I'm gonna take a small intermission and write a review I've been dying to write for some time now.  Feel free to check it out as well (its on my profile).


Monday, February 1, 2016

THROWBACK REVIEW: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

There's a line in an episode of Futurama called "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" which sums up this film rather nicely. For those unfamiliar with the episode (and if you aren't, do yourself a favor and watch it), it takes place on a desert planet, and guest stars all surviving members at that time of the original Star Trek cast, minus James Doohan (who straight up said "No way."). It centers on an energy being named Melllvar, who is a diehard fan of the show, and forces the cast to perform an atrocious script he wrote. During a point, Leonard Nimoy, in his Spock attire approaches the being, and says "Melllvar, you have to respect your actors. When I directed Star Trek IV, I got a magnificent performance out of Bill because I respected him so much." To this, William Shatner immediately replies, "And when I directed Star Trek V, I got a magnificent performance out of me, because I respected me so much!"

Yeah, the name of this film alone is enough to make most Star Trek fans cringe in absolute disgust. To put it simply, this is a bad movie,  unless your name is James T. Kirk, Spock, or Leonard McCoy. How could such a film arise after a string of good films? Well the answer is in the first paragraph. William Shatner. I don't know the full story, but after finding success with directing in the previous two films, Shatner had enough, and wanted a piece of the action (pun intended), and thus he wrote and directed the infamous Final Frontier, the film many fans will call the bottom of the barrel in Star Trek filmdom. It was a film my parents refused to show me as a child, because it was so bad. Well I've finally seen it. So what do I think?

Honestly, I think it's rather sad....as in sad it's this bad, because the film had a LOT of potential. To those of you thinking this film just crashes and burns in every way possible, it doesn't. The film actually starts off fairly strong. I was actually kinda surprised. It's more when the film reaches the middle, and end where the biggest problems begin to take shape, but when this film hits the target, it can be very well done. And the first and foremost element that this film succeeds in is character development. The fleshing out of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is at times, absolutely phenomenal. That's not a joke either, they share some genuinely deep, and very convincing moments together whether Kirk is saying how he knows he's going to die alone, or Spock is witnessing his birth, or McCoy is witnessing the death of his father, the development can be absolutely incredible...for these three characters.  Remember how I said this movie is good if you're named Kirk, Spock, or McCoy? It's because of the crew, they are the most heavily focused on.  The others barely get any screen time, development, or are just an overall joke on screen (particularly Scotty).

But aside from character development...this film's bad side heavily outweighs the good.  While decent at telling a story...for the most part, the film is absolutely littered with awkward scenes (ranging from dancing three-breasted cat-women, to Uhura dancing naked on a sand-dune), forgettable characters, poor editing, comedy that falls completely flat, and absolutely terrible special effects, the problems this film can have are endless.  This film had some potential in perhaps fleshing out diplomatic relations as the movie tries to focus on ambassadors from both the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and Romulan Star Empire.  But they're nearly forgotten about as the film goes on, shelved with the rest of the Star Trek cast.  The film's Klingon villain is absolutely laughable at how forgetable he is.  All he does is shoot space garbage, and chase the Enterprise.  And when he tries to battle, he gets a slap on the wrist by the Klingon ambassador, and is given the bad child treatment pretty much.  The film's villain...or anti-hero...I still don't know what to call him, in Spock's half-brother, Sybok is actually decently played out, but the fact that he's never been mentioned again or even hinted at is kinda disappointing.  There was a lot about him that genuinely kept my interest.  How was he able to do what he could?  Why did he have emotions despite being a Vulcan? But...he just...fizzled out. Erased from the franchise...

The story of the literal search for God I will go on a limb and say...is interesting, but poorly executed. But despite how poor the execution in this story can be...Shatner can be a riot to watch.  You can tell he is putting his heart and soul into everything this movie has to offer, and the result can be...laughably entertaining. Don't get me wrong, he does have some very deep moment with his friends, further developing his character as I said above, but at the end of the movie, you can tell where it's going.  Shatner's ego gets in the way and all of a sudden the story transforms from the search for God, to Kirk saves the day.  I don't know how high Shatner's egotistical high-horse was in this film but my God was it big.

When all is said and done, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier gets a one and a half star rating out of four. Yeah, it's bad.  Not at all a high point of the Star Trek franchise.  But as far as being the absolute worst of the worst? I wouldn't call it that.  Unlike Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this genuinely kept my interest, whether it was because of the little good there was in the film, or the laughably entertaining bad moments it had.  I find it easier to forgive this film than pictures like Insurrection or the Motion Picture.  For what it is...it's a bearable film for me. Not good.  Bad.  But I can watch it bad.  Thankfully, this would be the first and only film Shatner would direct, and I will say that's a good thing.  As much as Kirk is a fun character, Shatner's egotistical moods can get in the way of what could have been a very promising movie.  As it stands...The Final Frontier will forever be Shatner's final frontier. In more ways than one.

Please feel free to suggest future movies for me to review and to look at.  Leave a comment down below telling me your thoughts about this film, and as always, thanks for reading.

Final Verdict: 1.5/4