Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Definitive (Not Definitive Because, Opinions) Star Trek Movie Rankings

13- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Want to know the sad part about Star Trek V? It is that it starts out giving you hope that this will be a good Trek movie. The opening themes is one of the best pieces of Star Trek music Jerry Goldsmith has done and that is saying something. We have the pleasant and refreshing Kirk, Spock and Bones camping trip and all goes off the rails. Spock’s half-brother (plot device) is now a religious zealot searching for Sha Ka Ree, the Vulcan equivalent of Heaven where God is telling him to come pick him up in a pimp starship to take him on a trip to space White Castle or some shit. Really by the time we get to the finish it is a marathon of Kirk and Spock bitching at each other, Uhura dancing naked in the desert with big ass feathers, and Kirk asking the question we all asked ourselves in a moment of fourth wall breaking--”what does God need with a starship?”.

12- Star Trek: Insurrection

Otherwise known as How Picard Got His Groove Back. Basically what should have been a 47 minute episode of TNG is stretched to 103 minutes and wastes a lot of crew members time and F. Murray Abraham, who could have been such a great Star Trek villain with the right script, but is reduced to a scene chewing Caitlyn Jenner from South Park-lookalike. Worf gets a giant pimple on his face and just sort of appears even though he is on DS9 at this time with the explanation of “well I was in the space...neighborhood”. The planet they are on makes you feel young so that means Troi and Riker act like high schoolers wanting to go off and Beta-bang or whatever. I’m done.

11- Star Trek: Generations

You know how Hollywood loves giving us origin stories for superheroes over and over even though we know everything about them already? Well they use to love giving us the “transition movie” thinking we could not handle a sudden shift in a movie series direction because we are fragile, mental creatures. Even though Star Trek VI was blatantly labeled the last of the original crew, and we were excited to see where they would take TNG on the big screen, we got Generations. Yay? Don’t get me wrong, I love William Shatner and Patrick Stewart, but don’t give me a 20 minute version of Star Trek Lethal Weapon, with Shatner being Danny Glover living out the life he didn’t have inside a giant purple space tapeworm while Picard tries to convince him he is not too old for this last time. The good this movie did do is get rid of the Enterprise-D with a genuinely funny “oh, shit” line from Data thrown in.

10- Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Mostly a Gene Roddenberry tech demo porn that is anywhere from 20-45 minutes too long depending on the mood I am in when I watch it. Like everything that had to do with Roddenberry there is a lot of dialogue that sounds deep and introspective, but is kind of useless to the film. 2001 was an obvious influence to its detriment. Even for its faults, Persis Khambata remains hot to me as she was the first female I realized could give me a boner being bald. Is that too much? You didn’t come here for me not to give my opinions. Also, watch Warriors of the Lost World for more Persis action and Donald Pleasance in the “I need a paycheck” portion of his career.

9- Star Trek: Nemesis

Star Trek: Nemesis gets a lot of hate. I don’t dislike it as much as some fans. In fact, I  really don’t mind watching it as a close to TNG’s movie franchise. When making a list of Star Trek movies though, it does fall on the lower side. Pre-Bane Tom Hardy, who if you look at side by side with his Dark Knight Rises body looks like he literally ate Batista, is a clone of Picard that the Romulans were going to use to infiltrate Starfleet. They changed their minds as Romulans do (?) and left him on Remus as a child where he grew up to lead the Remans hatching his own plan to take over Romulus and destroy Starfleet. Man, typing that out makes it sound pretty damn good, so why did it not translate to the screen like it should have? Brent Spiner finally got his wish to kill off Data ,with an asterisk, in finding another android exactly like him only more of  a “kid in the helmet” version named B4. Box office for Nemesis killed any hope of another TNG film, so if you want to watch a perfect “ending” for the crew just go watch “All Good Things” and smile.

8- Star Trek Into Darkness

I like Star Trek Into Darkness, but upon multiple viewings it loses something each time. JJ Abrams thinks he made a mistake keeping Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan a secret until the movie released, which I think he did, yet somehow the movie seems to be a bit of Call of Duty: Trek Warfare. Yes, I understand this was a little of what they were going for with a secret plan to militarize Starfleet for a possible war with the Klingons. This plot seems better suited for a TV season like DS9 and The Dominion War. Here it seems crammed in and we have a legendary character, played wonderfully by Cumberbatch, as a means to let Robocop have a fucking huge warship.

7- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

We all know the “theory of odd movies” in the Star Trek franchise, at least until 2009’s Star Trek reboot. But I maintain that Star Trek III is not a bad movie. I am not saying it is a great one either. I know it is not bad and enjoyable for the most part. You have Bones acting crazy with Spock’s dead personality inside of him, Kirk and crew stealing the Enterprise from spacedock is a fun bit and pre-Back to the Future and post-Taxi Christopher Lloyd shows us that Klingons have dogs...and love them deeply. Kirk’s son dies and we are spared anymore of his blonde perm and Robin Curtis does her best to replace Kirstie Alley as Saavik, although it is a bit like the hot girl dumping you and you try and dress your new, way less hot girlfriend like her to keep your memory of her there.

6- Star Trek (2009)

So does JJ Abrams get a lifetime nerd pass for making Star Trek AND Star Wars better franchises than before he worked on them? He should get the lionshare of the credit with Star Trek because Star Wars is...well, Star Wars. You could have John Waters direct a Star Wars movie about wookie shitting habits in the woods and fans would go watch it in droves. Star Trek needed something bigger. It needed more than just another TV show to try and bring the franchise back into the cultural lexicon. Enter Abrams and his young, sexy crew and Eric Bana still trying to make amends for Ang Lee’s Hulk. Sure, not all of this movie holds together as well as you would want after 7 years, like Spock marooning Kirk on an ice planet just far enough away from a Starfleet base to where he has the “action movie run from monsters” scene, and finds the random cave that old Spock juuuuuust happens to be hiding in. That is some bomb ass luck. Abrams nails the right tone throughout the movie and the casting is so, so good that a new generation of Trek fans have been created to join the lifelong fans. So next time you want to make another lens flare joke, please shut the fuck up, and enjoy the fact Star Trek means something again.

5- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV is obstinately the dumbest movie, plot wise, in the franchise. Yes, more so than Spock’s brother finding God in The Final Frontier. Let’s lay it out and think of this as purely a sci-fi film with no Trek involvement. A giant concrete tampon-looking alien comes to suck the world’s moisture because we can not answer its call due to the small fact of we don’t understand it. Turns out they are speaking in whale and in mankind’s infinite fuckery, we made them extinct. The only obvious course of action is to send the crew of a spaceship back to the mid-80’s, where they attempt to steal a pair of humpback whales by converting part of their ship into a big aquarium. Nevermind time travel is a trivial issue and can be done on a whim, basically making any problem they have in any movie obsolete if they can just hotshot around the sun and correct shit as they see fit. Fuck...this movie is so much damn fun. Now I want to watch it. See, this is how Star Trek works.

4- Star Trek Beyond

The newest film for the crew of the rebooted crew is their best. After Star Trek Into Darkness underwhelmed with its serious tone, Simon Pegg came in to co-write this script which felt (as Captain Kirk says early in the movie) episodic. People were wondering how Justin Lin would do coming from the Fast & Furious franchise and if it is one thing that long...long..long running franchise has is its sense of family, and that is something Lin brought to the film. The crew is 3 years into their 5 year mission and Kirk is wanting to transfer to a starbase while Spock ponders leaving Starfleet after he learns of the elder Spock’s death. So it feels like the crew, like the current film series, is at an impasse. One of the trickier part of Trek films is making the villains and aliens the crew deal with be interesting. Idris Elba could play a great role while drunk and high on Ambien, so you know he is awesome, and Sofia Boutella as Jaylah is genuinely one of the most interesting secondary Trek characters in a long time. One sad part is Anton Yelchin has more screen time and comes into his own as Chekov and now he is no longer with us. All the actors feel like they have grown into their roles, and with the third film, it is feeling like a natural thing to watch them be these characters. Now please don’t fuck it up by doing another time travel Trek film where Kirk meets his dad in a way to shoehorn Chris Hemsworth in for star power. Wait...really? Shit. Come on.

3- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The last film adventure of the original crew was a fitting way to send them off. Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer returned and co-wrote a script about political conspiracies, Shakespeare-quoting Klingons and floating purple blood, which for a boy of 11, was the coolest fucking thing to see on the screen. How is this not a great Star Trek film? Christopher Plummer makes me wish more thespians of his ilk would have been major Star Trek villains. Peter Cushing as a rogue Starfleet admiral or Christopher Lee as an angry Romulan. The possibilities!  Anyway, Shatner makes out with Iman (probably in his contract), Red Foreman is Starfleet president, and Kim Cattrall’s sounds during her forced mind meld with Spock are oddly sexual. It’s a fucking good movie. One question I have always wondered is how was Kirstie Alley so hot as a Vulcan and Kim Cattrall so...not?

2- Star Trek: First Contact

Whenever I watch First Contact I think “what if TNG crew had enough movies to have another great one?” TOS had 6 movies and two were great and one was really, really good. TNG had 3 full movies so the law of averages would say they were due another great one if they went for 1 or 2 more. But box office for Nemesis killed that. First Contact works on almost every level. It brings back the Borg and plays into Picard’s experiences with them and the weakness and connection he still feels. Not only that but every crew member is given something to make them feel like they matter (I am looking at you Insurrection). Picard and Data are the emotional center, Worf is a badass, Crusher is the voice of reason with Alfre Woodard. Even the secondary story with Cochran and the rest of the crew on Earth is funny and great. Damn...what if?

1- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I know what you are saying. “Ohh another list where Star Trek II is the best Star Trek film. How original.” Well until a better movie than Star Trek II is made this will be the answer you get from (probably) every list you read on this vast selfie-filled, cat-loving porn-scape known as the internet. Why do I need to explain again why this is Trek at its best? Is it Ricardo Montalban’s velvet delivery of chilling lines while showing off the chest of a 20 year old bodybuilding frat guy? Shatner’s overacting, which long since has been made fun of, but within the context of this movie, work in every way. Tell me you don’t smile every time Kirk says, "Still, old friend. You've managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!"

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Mummy Review (From Someone That Didn't See The Mummy)

Universal is taking a page out of Marvel's book and starting a cinematic universe with all of their classic monsters. The Mummy is the first in the new series of flicks. Here we go.

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an ex-fighter pilot who lost his best friend Goose and decided to retire and become an archaeologist and follow in his family's footsteps of hunting for mummies. His great grandfather found a mummy in Egypt in the 1920's and met his wife there too. She was hot and dark haired and he once kept a caveman in his house with his idiot friend.

He dies in a plane crash, which we all know because every movie gives away big plot points in the goddamn previews and comes back to life to fight the mummy, who is a woman now, mostly to piss off people who think men are being overlooked for everything. This pleases me. A bunch of scary shit happens and things explode while the mummy chases Ethan across the globe trying to do some kind of Egyptian mind meld ritual because...Egypt. Honestly I just wanted a connection to the ending of The Fifth Element, but I was left unsatisfied with that.

In an unusual bit, Ethan tries to fool the mummy into drinking poison while trying to wow her with his bartending skills, but she sees through his ruse.

The only way Ethan can defeat the mummy is to get over his fear and jump back into a fighter jet to shoot special missiles filled with some kind of movie plot device that make the mummy disappear, until she is reawakened for the sequel.

(I just looked at the box office for the movie. Nevermind, she is dead)

Also, Russell Crowe plays Dr. Jekyll, which is the most accurate role for him ever. When he turns in Mr. Hyde he throws telephones at hotel employees until the serum wears off.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wonder Woman Short Review

Wonder Woman is a movie about a woman who is wonderful. No really. She is. Gal Gadot is wonderful. The character in the movie is wonderful. Chris Pine is wonderful. Lets see how many times I can say wonder and wonderful in this. I am not getting paid by using that word, but if anyone wants to make an offer, now is the time.

Wonder Woman is fun, genuine and hopeful.  Gal Gadot lets the character show her naivety without her seeming dumb. She eats ice cream and tells the vendor he should be proud. She bucks society when deciding what to wear after leaving Themyscira by not wearing a fluffy dress and going for a pantsuit, then walks out of the store with her sword and shield in hand. There is a yin and yang. Diana is strong and willful, yet clueless with wide-eyed childlike wonder (pun intended). It is a balancing act that Gadot masters. I hope people will watch the movie and catch this because it adds so much weight to the character, especially against the hellish, dark backdrop of World War 1. 

The only minor, minor drawback is the movie devolves into the base "huge 'spolsion fight" with the bad guy that every comic book film succumbs to. I know, I know you're saying "well what the hell else are they supposed to do", but after spending the first 90 minutes learning the characters it seems to throw the pace off just a bit. That's all...really. The fight itself is fine and she is certifiably badass. It is just a pacing issue.

If someone had a lasso of truth around me and could ask me any question, first I would thank them for asking me about this movie and not the size of my junk. You are a true friend. When it comes to Wonder Woman, it is one of the best superhero movies since 2008's The Dark Knight. I would put Logan a slight favorite above it, but Wonder Woman is that good. People wondered how the character would translate in her own movie and I am glad to say the grace and strength that comic fans have read for 70 years translates near flawlessly. 

Chris Pine is also naked. This is not bad. I can fully say that being comfortable with it.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Did Microsoft Sell Me On The Xbox One X?

Sony's own reveal of the PS4 Pro did them no favors. It was clunky and a load of mush-mouth talk that didn't offer us any reasons to spend 400 dollars on a new console when most have only had their existing PS4's for 3 years. Especially if you did not have a 4K TV, it was doubly useless.

I bought one anyway.

Why? Well, I have a 4K TV, love video games, love being in debt and have the mentality (as do a lot of tech people) that I want the new stuff. Because it's...well, new. And I have enjoyed my PS4 Pro. It looks beautiful, especially with games like Uncharted 4 and Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Seriously, Horizon will melt your eyes in 4K.

So why was I not convinced by Microsoft to buy and Xbox One X during their conference at E3 this year? You would think I would since I am the target audience. A fat guy who plays a lot of games, wants the newest stuff and is willing to throw money into a giant industry that regularly treats its fans like cattle and makes them feel underappreciated.

1. PS4 Pro

The obvious answer is I already own a console that is capable of 4K gaming. I have been playing games in 4K for months and know the joys of it. If you don't have a PS4 Pro, this may make you want an Xbox One X. But for me, I am fine with my lovely little 4K PS4. Also, Microsoft putting a 4K Blu-Ray player in the Xbox One S has now come to hurt them. The one thing my PS4 Pro lacks is that. But I have a One S so there is no need for another 4K Blu-Ray player. If Microsoft had waited and made the player an X-clusive (sorry, not sorry) it would be another selling point for the system.

2. The price

All this was missing was Phil Spencer going full Ken Kutaragi and saying if people want an Xbox One X they will get a second job to pay for it. It is more powerful than the PS4 Pro. Good job, but when you have NO FIRST PARTY SUPPORT it doesn't matter. Every third party game will be made along the same lines for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. No super duper graphic pack for Xbox (really? Minecraft in 4K). And Microsoft is charging $100 more because it is more powerful. Have all the teraflops you want, I would like to have some exclusives to play and save that 100 bucks. It would have been better for Microsoft to take the loss and priced the X at $399 just to get in more homes. See, Sony may have tripped up on the PS4 Pro announcement, but you know what I do know is coming? Games that I can only play on PS4, which leads to...

3. The games

Microsoft didn't do themselves any favors with their games lineup for the Xbox One X. Yeah, Forza looks like car porn and was the biggest non-surprise you could possibly come up with in E3 predictions, but beyond that? Crackdown looked...ok...actually kind of disappointing. Super Lucky's Tale? To steal a line from Negan, what the actual fuckity fuck? Almost every game shown will release on the PS4 with Pro enhancement and some companies like CD Projekt RED have announced a 4K update for The Witcher 3 on both Xbox and PS4. EA tried during their shit on the table show Saturday, but do I really give a single fuck about how realistic fabric looks on Madden? That is not something I will ever...ever pay attention to.

4. Do more

Now this could change before the release of the console on November 7th, but all I can go on is the information we have now. A $500 premium console with little to no exclusives at launch, or the near future after, and you want me to toss that kind of scratch at you why? Promises in the video game industry are a dime a dozen and even then they will sell you expensive DLC on the cheap dozen you bought. How about packaging the console with an Elite controller? It is your elite console and you are selling it to a supposed elite group of gamers. Make us feel that way and give us the best controller you make. Hell, even like a special achievement or avatar for X owners...something that shouldn't cost you anything, damn. Make us feel wanted, Microsoft. Don't take us to an expensive dinner, make us watch you eat steak while we wait on food that is never coming, then expect us to ask you to come up for coffee.

Was that analogy too much? I don't know. Fuck it.

This is the rub. I want to want an Xbox One X. Show me reasons to get it Microsoft. Help me, help you. And with that 20 year old dated movie reference I will go and watch more E3.