• Entertainment,  Life,  Movies

    Theatrical Trek

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    I have seen every Star Trek movie ever made for the theatre, in the theatre.

    I didn’t see all of them first run, but most of them.

    After a lifetime of only being able to see the TV or videocassette versions, I managed to catch Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the theatre in my 20s. It happened at a review theatre in the city I was living in a time, maybe during some small science fiction review festival. I don’t remember what the theme was, if any, but I think as part of the same series we saw the fourth Alien movie, and the first Starship Troopers. That would make it sometime in the late 90s, before fatherhood broadened my life.

    The Wrath of Khan, I watched several dozen times on VHS, Beta, and maybe even once or twice on TV, before I saw it in the theatre as part of a triple feature. Several months after The Voyage Home released, which I think I only saw once on its own to that point, we saw The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, and The Voyage Home all more or less in one sitting.

    I saw Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, with most of my primary circle of high school friends in a two-screen mall movie theatre when it first came out. I remember enjoying parts of it immensely and spending some significant amount of time shaking my head or rolling my eyes. A mixed bag of a film, for sure.

    Early in my university days, I took my girlfriend (a few years later, and still, my wife) to see Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country when it first came out. She should have known what was coming by then. I also dragged her to Generations, First Contact, and Insurrection in turn.

    I took my son to see Nemesis on what turned out to be the night before my youngest daughter was born.

    I saw the 2009 reboot with my entire family. When I went back for more punishment in 2013, not quite as many of my family members were interested in seeing Into Darkness. In fact, I believe all three of the female members of my family stayed at home, leaving just my son and I to go see it, carrying on what has become a tradition but with gritted teeth and sore eyes. I think we would have enjoyed a bit of the Simpsons version of Star Trek XII more.

    Star Trek Beyond saw a slightly expanded audience in our household. Everyone in the family but my oldest daughter was willing to make that trip to the big theatre in the mid-sized city we live near. Far better than the first two films in the sequence, but still disappointing. Still less Star Trek and more action movie with Star Trek trappings. Not quite the same thing, but it tried a little harder.

    (And, depending on how you count things, I also saw Galaxy Quest first run. Yes, there were other attributes, and while it had its serious moments, and it was a real adventure movie about real ideas and real, well actors. You can’t doubt that it was anything other than a two-hour thinly veiled Star Trek reference. Yes, it told a story of its own, too, and that just made it better.)

    We don’t have cable anymore, and I don’t watch a lot of television anyway, but we have a couple of streaming services and all of the Star Trek series are currently available, so I’m never short of Trek if I need it. If I am somewhere and watching TV is possible, and if I’m skimming through the listings and come across a Star Trek movie, I stop, and that’s what I watch. It almost doesn’t matter which movie it is, though I have my favourites.

    I owned most of the movies on video cassette, the ones that released to it, and for the ones that didn’t, I have a DVD. We don’t have a VCR anymore, although I’m thinking that I might change that for the nostalgia factor. The first six movies currently occupy a nice space in my relatively small Blu-ray collection. Right next to all three seasons of the original series on Blu-ray. At this time, I’m debating replacing my Next Generation DVDs with Blu-ray. Probably not anytime soon. I honestly don’t watch them enough to justify the expense. Not enough extras to do that instead of streaming. And with three teenagers, a house, a full-time career, and all the various responsibilities and debts to go with them, I really don’t have the disposable dollars to do it.

    Besides, they’re all on Netflix, and Prime, and…

    Sidetracked again. Where was I? Oh, yes. If I come across a listing for a Star Trek movie on TV (somewhere TV is an option, because we have neither cable nor satellite TV), that’s what I watch. It doesn’t matter that there are commercials. It doesn’t matter that I can get a higher definition picture with better sound and special features from a Blu-ray in my basement whenever I want. Star Trek is on, and it’s on now. And it almost doesn’t matter which Star Trek movie it is.

    My general opinions on the reboots (and especially Into Darkness) are probably obvious already, but all three movies have their good points, and all three movies have their good parts. I don’t know that Into Darkness has been on TV yet, but I’m sure I’ll watch parts of it when it does if I run across it. The 2009 movie, well, I may watch the first half, and then pick and choose what I like afterwards. To date, I’ve still only seen Into Darkness once. Honestly, once might be all I ever need. It has its good parts, but I can keep them in memory. Except maybe the Klingons before Khan shows up. Beyond was better, but so far, I’m good with the single viewing we did in the theatre there, too.

    Almost feels like it’s time to watch a Star Trek movie now.

    I suppose I would be remiss in not mentioning at least my three favourites. Not quite in order but going back to that triple feature: The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, and The Voyage Home. The Voyage Home had slightly better writing than The Search For Spock, and was absolutely a fun time travel story, but I very much appreciate the death scene offered to the Enterprise in TSFS, coming on the heels of the movie that gave Spock an incredible one of his own. TVH ties all the storylines nicely together with an excellent ending, and a new beginning.

    Yes, maybe it is time for a Star Trek movie festival. Considering the shutdown, I probably don’t even have to wait for next weekend.

    Anyone have any favorites?

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Movies

    Watch Good Movies

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherI’m giving the new Mad Max movie a complete miss, and I really don’t care how good it is.

    The same goes for the new Terminator, and Fantastic Four films. I’d like to get behind Insurgent, and the last Hunger Games movie since they’re based on books, but the earlier films in both franchises didn’t impress me. At all.

    I probably will see Jurassic World, and I’ve been told we’re going to see the new Star Wars, but these are sequels rather than reboots.

    Still, I’d like to see fewer sequels, too.

    What’s my problem? Hollywood needs to get back to making more new stories not just remaking the same ones over and over again.

    Which isn’t an entirely fair statement. There are plenty of original movies still being made, but they’re being made by smaller studios with smaller marketing budgets and frequently with limited releases. They don’t get to stand on even footing with the quarter-billion dollar plus budget blockbusters. And those are mostly reboots, rehashes, and recycles.

    The only vote movie watchers get is by buying tickets, but those tickets aren’t often the full slate of what should be available for genre cinema. If things go on, if we don’t support the one-off, original films, or can’t, then by the time I’m thinking about taking my grandchildren to the theatre, my choices are going to be Transformers XVII and TMNT: The Next Reguritation.

    Just think about last year. The biggest genre movies were Amazing Spider-Man 2 (a sequel to a reboot), Big Hero 6, Captain America 2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (a sequel to a reboot) Divergent, Godzilla (a reboot), Guardians of the Galaxy, Hunger Games 3, Interstellar, Robocop (a reboot), TMNT (a reboot), Transformers 4, and X-Men 5. How many of those were actually worth watching, much less paying for? I count 2.5 (Big Hero 6, Guardians, and half of Interstellar.)

    But did you see Earth to Echo, Edge of Tomorrow, Lucy, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, or Transcendence? Not enough of us did for any of them. And at least three of them were good. The other two were better than almost everything in the blockbuster list, most of which have already been scheduled for a sequel.

    I think it’s imperative that we mostly skip what Hollywood thinks we want see and instead go for the second tier and indy films with good stories. Or potentially good stories. If they came to a theatre near you early this year, you should have gone to see Vice, Toxin, Robot Overlords, Jupiter Ascending, and Chappie, no matter how good you think they weren’t. And the last two in that list were pretty good. (Yes, my opinion. Your mileage may vary.)

    AbsolutelyAnythingMy want-to-see genre film list for the rest of 2015 includes things like Ex Machina, Tomorrow Land, Absolutely Anything, Ant Man, Pixels, Self/less, The Lobster, The Martian, Aimy In a Cage, and Time Lapse. Think I’m most looking forward to Absolutely Anything, but I love Simon Pegg. It doesn’t hurt that the Python crew voice the aliens and Robin Williams voices his dog (no, it’s not an animated film, but there is some CGI).

    Be well, everyone. And watch good movies.

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  • Movies

    What I’m Watching for Christmas

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherOn this edition of “What I’m Watching”, we learn what my favourite Christmas movies are.

    I love Christmas, although mainly in a Tim Minchin “White Wine in the Sun” sort of way. It’s a secular Christmas and I don’t really care about presents. I want to spend time with my family, nuclear and extended, even the ones I don’t get along with (in fact, a lot of the presents are selected with this in mind). I also want to manage to visit with as many friends as possible, in person, by phone, or virtually.

    The decorations are fun, but it’s about decorating as a family. Parties are fun, even when I have to sing. Presents are fun, but unnecessary. Even the music is pretty good, although I have a preference for spoofs and parodies that doesn’t please everyone.

    But today, I’m going to talk specifically about movies. More specifically, about my favourite Christmas movies. And by movie, I mean feature length film. So, with apologies, you won’t find the Grinch, Frosty, or Charlie Brown anywhere on this list. Sorry.

    If you want to fight about any of these, discussion and reasoned argument is more than welcome, but it’s pretty unlikely you’ll get me to change my mind on any of them.

    To make it fun, it’s a top ten list, and I found it surprisingly easy to put them in order. Most of these get watched every single year. The time to do so has been harder to find this year, though.


    Home Alone

    #10 Home Alone (1990)

    This is the first thing I remember liking Joe Pesci in and the first time I remember Macaulay Culkin for acting ability. Great writing, great directing, and a lot of fun. The bad guys get what they deserve and there are happy endings for everyone who deserves them.



    #9 A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

    Michael Caine is probably the best classic Scrooge since Alistair Sim. No, not probably. And as long as you have decent writing, the Muppets are always fun. Narrated by Gonzo and with appearances by most of the rest of the primaries, I particularly appreciated Statler and Waldorf as the Marleys.



    #8 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

    So it’s not a secret that I’m a Chevy Chase fan, and he’s done a lot of hilarious work on TV and in movies, but this one stands out for me, and is certainly the best “Vacation” movie. With an array of situations and relatives that we can all relate to (and be thankful we mostly don’t have), you almost feel sorry for Clark, but it’s hard to through the laughing.



    #7 The Santa Clause (1994)

    I actually saw this in the theatre with my wife (then fiancée) when it first came out. The sequels declined in quality, but that’s not unusual, is it? Tim Allen is a lot of fun learning to be Santa and it’s a great story built on a neat idea.



    #6 A Christmas Carol (1951)

    This is the Alastair Sim version, but I like it colourized. Possibly the most true to the original Dickens story, but in any case it’s the best classic version to hit the screen, big or small.



    #5: Gremlins (1984)

    Of course this is a Christmas movie. It’s all about the fallout from an early Christmas and Christmas serves as an important backdrop as well as being key to a couple of bits of character development. A comedic horror movie, it’s got a pretty happy ending, plus it’s a lot of fun.



    #4 Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

    Memories of childhood. This movie wasn’t that old when I first saw it, but you might not have realized that it’s 2014 now, which makes this a 50th anniversary for this Rankin/Bass Christmas classic. Ah, the Island of Lost Toys, Bumbles, and noisy, glowing noses.



    #3 White Christmas (1954)

    Which also means this is the 60th anniversary of “White Christmas”. This movie was made in a different time. Some might say simpler, but if you were an actor, you had to have far more skills than just looking good on camera. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen all looked great on camera, but they also acted, sang, and danced, and did all of those things well. This is an awesome story about two friends bringing people together to do something awesome for someone they respect. And they happened to fall in love with a pair of awesome ladies along the way.



    #2 Die Hard

    Not everyone agrees, but I’ll argue as long as anyone likes that this is a Christmas movie, in spite of its original July release date. Why? The action all takes place around Christmas as the hero takes a flight to visit his (somewhat estranged) wife and kids for Christmas, and a group of high end thieves impersonating terrorists crash the office Christmas party. And I love Bruce Willis. This is a great action-adventure story with a holiday theme, bad guys you can hate, and a hero who’s just trying to do the right thing and save his wife. Yippee kai yay.



    #1 Scrooged (1988)

    It’s not lost on me that there are three versions of “A Christmas Carol” on this list. These are the three best, imho, and most of the rest don’t measure up. And they don’t measure up to the degree that I really wish people would stop. Please, stop.

    But Bill Murray brings it in every moment as Frank Cross (Scrooge) and so does every other member of this star-filled cast. This is the same story, except it isn’t, giving the same message and moral against a completely different, and far more bizarre, setting: 1980s television production. A wacky romp with the heartwarming ending you want from a Christmas story, and on multiple levels. Christmas Eve watching every year.


    Feel free to point out something I’ve missed.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Movies,  Review

    Into Dorkness

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherYes, I know that’s been used on any number of internet memes, but it still works. The Star Trek sequel is possibly the biggest genre film release of the year. Sorry Fe Man 3. (Yes, I’m ignoring the second Hunger Games movie. I don’t want to see it. Really.)

    I’m going to try to keep this spoiler free.

    I think I’ve made my opinion clear in the past on the 2009 Star Trek reboot. The look, feel, sound, overall aesthetic, casting, and acting were all great. So was the writing, for the first half of the movie. The second half, not so much, and to the degree that it spoils the first half for me. But, with a four-year gap between movies, I had some hope that Into Darkness would be better.

    My son and I went to see the movie on opening night. I tried to have no expectations to go along with the high hopes. I am, after all, a lifetime Trekkie and I’ve seen every movie in the theatre. (My son has seen every Star Trek movie in the theatre released in his lifetime, which, granted, is only three. But it’s still a tradition.)

    It was fun. Not quite enough story for my taste, but a lot of action and a lot of excitement and most of what there was came across pretty solid. Instead of the writing falling apart half way through, I think it actually got stronger overall, with some weaknesses in the last quarter that I can mostly forgive due to what I perceive as the intent behind them. Unnecessary, but forgivable.

    The acting was still awesome (note particularly Simon Pegg who wasn’t quite as over the top this time and awesome as Scotty, but everyone was pretty good), as were the audio and visuals. Dynamics between the primary characters were well done. If none of the principals got as much screen time as they deserved, they all served a purpose (although Chekov was a little oddly placed to me, even if it did mostly work). The story worked better this time with a little bit of twistiness this time and no outright stupidities that I caught on first viewing. Most of the issues I had were small ones and there weren’t as many of those as I was afraid of.

    Carol Marcus was only vaguely necessary, mostly present for eye candy this time around but also setting up for the next movie.

    Did I mention that I loved the new Klingons? They’re a small piece of the movie, but a fun one, and a potential setup for some future conflict.

    My ultimate statement after the last Star Trek movie was that the writers needed to do better. They did. From the opening dash through a crimson jungle to the dénouement (always a nice touch when remembered), Into Darkness is worth watching on the big screen and will be getting added to my bluray collection when it comes out.

    With JJ taking over the Star Wars resurrection, I wonder what we’ll get for the next edition of Star Trek.

    And when.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather