Archive for the ‘Retrospectives’ Category

Star Trekking XII: Into Darkness

Posted: September 3, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

“When it comes to movie franchises, Star Trek is one of my major blind spots. I have a bit of experience with the series; I’ve seen the Abrams’ films, Wrath of Khan, and even an episode of the original television series for class. But for the most, I’m a novice, and it’s a bit surprising when a sci-fi/adventure series seems right up my alley. I’ve decided to finally rectify this, and thought it be interesting to chronicle my experience through the films, not unlike what I did for the Harry Potter and Batman films. The major difference being that those series’ were ones I had a lot of experience and a strong emotional connection to, unlike Trek. I will be reviewing all twelve theatrically released films from now until late August (at the very latest). With that said, allow me to begin with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

This was the first paragraph of my review for The Motion Picture back on May 3rd of this year and served as an introduction to my “Star Trekking” series. I’ve kept my word, watching every film in the series in chronological order and writing a series of lentgthy reviews (though it took me a bit longer than I expected). Despite some less than stellar entries, I’ve really enjoyed my time with Star Trek. There’s some really enjoyable films in this series, and even the weaker films offer some interest. Not only that, but I really felt like I’ve aquired a fairly strong understanding of this world and why it’s so beloved. However the trade off to this is that I view the Abrams films in a very different light now. While I still enjoyed 2009’s Star Trek as a summer action film, but it lacked the magic and imagination of classic Trek. Because of this, I was a bit apprehensive to revisit Abrams’ second foray into the universe, Star Trek Into Darkness.

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Star Trekking XI: Star Trek (2009)

Posted: August 20, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

star_trek-newposter3Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

In the wake of the “Next Generation” films, it was clear something about Star Trek wasn’t working. It’d be easy to pin the failure on the critical and financial disappointment that was Nemesis, but I think the problems run a lot deeper than that. The fact is, the TNG crew had never taken off on film the same way the original crew did. Even the most financially successful of the four (First Contact) only out-grossed the last two films from the original run, and the overall quality of the TNG films was generally lacking. The only one I even like is First Contact, and it’s not even in the same league as films like The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home, or The Undiscovered Country. Personally, I would have been interested in seeing Picard and his crew back for a proper finale, but the cast did seem tired, so I can’t really blame Paramount for abandoning them. The question then became, what next? I’m sure it was suggested that a film be made about one of the other “Trek” series, but I can see why that never materialized. While the other shows were successful, none had the pop-culture impact that “TOS” and “TNG” had. Beyond that, with so many different shows, mainstream audiences likely weren’t able to keep up. Thus, the decision was made to return to square one, by making a film about the younger versions of Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of The Original Series cast. That film became Star Trek, and it would go on to be one of 2009’s biggest hits with both audiences and critics.

The year is 2233, and the USS Kelvin is investigating a lightning storm, which soon reveals itself to be a portal of some kind. A massive Romulan ship emerges, destroying the Kelvin and many of its crew. The damage is minimized due to the efforts of first officer George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), who manages to save many including his wife and newborn son, James, though George himself is killed in the attack. Many years later, and James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is a direction-less young man in Iowa, who is eventually convinced by Star Fleet Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to enlist. Kirk decides to do just that, and excels in Star Fleet academy through the next few years. Eventually he, finds himself on his first real mission, on the Enterprise with the likes of Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty (Simon Pegg). However this mission involves investigating a lightning storm in space in essentially the same circumstances the day Kirk was born and his father died.

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Star Trekking IX: Insurrection

Posted: July 24, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

*Spoilers ahead MPW-29235Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

I don’t know if there’s anything more discouraging than apathy. With previous Star Trek films, there seems to be strong opinions going one way or the other. Whether it be the love for The Wrath of Khan or the hatred for The Final Frontier, or even the divisive opinions of The Motion Picture, all of the films had a certain level of passion which made things interesting. With Star Trek: Insurrection however, most people don’t really care. Some people don’t like it, some do, but nobody is really willing to jump up and defend it, or tear it down for that matter. Having seen Insurrection, I must say, I understand the lack of passion. While far from the worst Star Trek film, Insurrection is certainly the most mediocre.

In the Briar Patch of space, where communication is blocked, there is a planet inhabited by a race known as the Ba’ku. The Ba’ku are humanoid aliens who, having rejected technology, have lived on this planet for over three hundred years. Due to particles in the planet’s rings, the Ba’ku adults have ceased ageing. In fact, all have been physically improved and are even in a state of mental bliss. However, a dying race known as the Son’a see this planet as their last shot at survival and thus want the Ba’ku relocated. They attempt to do this subtlety, but are not above taking the planet by force. Picard sees this as wrong and is willing to fight for the challenged race.

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Star Trekking VIII: First Contact

Posted: July 8, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

*Review contains spoilers

first contactWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

I wasn’t very fond of Star Trek: Generations, but I had hopes that the following “The Next Generation” entry, First Contact, would be a lot better. The film is generally thought of as the best film of “The Next Generation” era. Plus, it featured the iconic Trek race of the Borg, and I was excited to finally see them on screen. But before going into the film, I did something I didn’t think I would, at least until I had finished “Star Trekking”; watch some episodes of the tv series. Specifically the TNG two-parter “The Best of Both Worlds”. I’d been told that I probably wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy First Contact without having seen them, so I, somewhat reluctantly, gave the episodes a whirl. Well, I’m glad I did because not only were the episodes really damn good, but they also gave me a better understanding of the new crew, the Borg, and generally amped for First Contact. So after all of that build up, I can finally look at the film itself.

The Borg, an alien race of cyborgs bent on assimilating all life and cultures, have entered Federation space and are moving towards Earth. Though Picard is initially instructed to stay out of the battle, he and the Enterprise race in at the zero hour, dealing critical damage to the Borg’s ship. However a smaller ship is launched from the Borg cube which ends up travelling back in time to the mid-21st century on the day before humans made first contact with the Vulcans, a moment which would eventually lead to vast breakthroughs in all eras for humanity, along with the forming of the Federation. the Borg plan not only to stop this event from occuring, but to assimilate the planet, turning all humans into Borg drones. Picard and his crew stand ready to fight, but they become vulnerable when the Borg infiltrate The Enterprise and begin taking over.

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Star Trekking VII: Generations

Posted: June 29, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

Warning: Spoilers

star-trek-generations-movie-poster-1994-1020190499Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country may have ended the original crew’s journey, but it would not be the end of Star Trek. Even in 1991, this was a known fact since the tv series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (which, as its name suggests, takes place after the days of Kirk), had been running strong since 1987. With the original crew’s glory days behind them, the only logical choice would be to shift focus to The Next Generation cast of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Data (Brent Spiner), and Worf (Michael Dorn), among others. However, some were weary over introducing movie audiences to a new crew cold, so it was decided that Star Trek: Generations would bridge the casts, featuring Captain Picard…and Captain Kirk.

The film opens in 2293, with the Enterprise under new command. Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov accompany the ship for a run more based on publicity than anything else. However the ship recieves a distress signal when two ships are caught in an energy wave tearing them apart. There are many causalities, but the Enterprise manages to save a handful of people, including Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell). In the process, the Enterprise takes damage and it is believed Kirk is killed. Flash-forward to 2371, when the new Enterprise, headed by Captain Picard, investigate an attacked solar observatory. They evacuate the survivors and hold them on the Enterprise. Among this survivors is the aforementioned Tolian Soran. From there, we learn that the energy wave of earlier is called the Nexus, and provides anyone within it limitless pleasure. This is where Soran was before he was beamed out by the Enterprise in 2293, and he’s willing to do anything to get back, including destroying stars in order to change the Nexus’ trajectory so that it absorbs him. Picard and the Enterprise set out to stop him, but eventually find the require the assistance of a legendary captain from the past.

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By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

In the land of explosions, eardrum-pounding sound effects and hyperactive action sequences, director Michael Bay reigns supreme. Bay has had many hits and misses, his best movie to date being 1996′s The Rock, but the Transformers franchise — for the most part — successfully utilizes Bay’s prowess for filming action sequences with the energy and glee like that of a kid at Christmas and turns it into an asset. Love them or hate them, the latter being the most likely, these Transformers movies, a live-action adaptation of the popular cartoon and toy brand, represent pretty much everything that Michael Bay movies are all about. Whereas most people regard him as one of the worst directors working today, I consider him my kind of schlockmeister when all’s said and done. So, with Transformers: Age of Extinction pounding its way into theatres this weekend, it seems like a most opportune time to take a look back at the first trilogy of films in the series. I ask that you please hold the bile until I’m done.

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Star Trekking VI: The Undiscovered Country

Posted: June 19, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

*Review contains spoilers

star_trek_vi_ver2Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

If the original series Star Trek films were made today, there’s a great chance we never would have seen The Undiscovered Country. We currently live in the era of the reboot, if a series fails once, we can just start over again. But before 2005, that wasn’t really an option. Movie franchises were faced with a simple choice in the face of defeat; either stop entirely, or try to do better next time. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is unquestionably a failure, though rather than let the film series fizzle out, the filmmakers marched on to give the original crew a more fitting send off. Nicholas Meyer (director of The Wrath of Khan) was brought back on board, and the story would draw on contemporary events like the collapse of the Soviet Union through allegory. The end result is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a film which proves a great finale for the beloved crew while fully embracing the core beliefs of the franchise.

The alien race known as the Klingons are in mortal danger. The depletion of their ozone layer and the destruction of their primary energy production facility has placed the warrior race in a weakened state, to the point that they reach out for help. The Federation argues about what is to be done. Some say the Klingons are not to be trusted and should be left to die, or worse yet, obliterated now while the race is weak. Ultimately though, the Federation decide on peace, thus Kirk and the Enterprise are sent to escort Klingon chancellor to Earth for negotiations. Kirk is resistant, given his violent history with the Klingons and his personal animosity towards them, but Spock points out an old Vulcan proverb; “Only Nixon could go to China.” However the negotiations are complicated by a web of conspiracy which throws not only the fate of the Enterprise into chaos, but all of the galaxy.

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Star Trekking V: The Final Frontier

Posted: June 7, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

*Review contains spoilers

Star_Trek_The_Final_FrontierWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper

My “Star Trekking” series has been very rewarding so far. My rewatch of The Wrath of Khan proved it even better than I remembered, The Voyage Home is great, and even the weaker entries like The Motion Picture and The Search for Spock are good movies with strong elements. However, from the moment “Star Trekking” started, there’s been a dark spectre haunting it, and that spectre is called Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. The film has been panned by fans and critics since release and even won the Razzie for Worst Picture. Not only is The Final Frontier considered the worst film of the series, but it’s also unanimously hated. Even the lesser liked Star Trek films do have their fans and supporters. It was almost fascinating to go into such a disrespected film and I’d say The Final Frontier lives up to its reputation.

While the new Enterprise is going through heavy maintenance, Kirk, Bones, and Spock are enjoying shoreleave by camping in the forest together. However their break is cut short by an urgent mission to the neutral planet Nimbus III, where a renegade Vulcan named Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill)has taken the Starfleet, Romulan, and Klingon ambassadors hostage. The Enterprise crew rushes off to confront him, but they do not realize Sybok’s true plan; to pass the impenetrable barrier at the center of the galaxy in an effort to meet God.

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Star Trekking IV: The Voyage Home

Posted: May 31, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

*Review contains spoilers

Star-Trek-IV-The-Voyage-Home-poster-star-trek-movies-8475632-500-762Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

It’s interesting how the Star Trek film series can be broken up into smaller sub-categories. The most obvious way to do this is to isolate the movies featuring the original cast, the Next Generation crew, and the Abrams reboot. Another way to do it would be to look at the films by the decades they were released in or the filmmakers who helmed each instalment. But perhaps the most interesting grouping is the mini-trilogy within the original cast films. Though The Motion Picture was the first entry of the series, it was Wrath of Khan which introduced plot and thematic elements which would carry through the next two films. The Search for Spock carried many of these elements over while setting up for the trilogy’s climax and pay-off; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

The film begins shortly after the events of The Search for Spock, with the Enterprise crew still on Vulcan and Spock now revived. Though his knowledge and skills have returned to him, Spock is struggling with emotions and human interaction. However, he returns to his post, and the crew man the Klingon Bird of Prey to return to Earth, where they face nine charges of breaking Star Fleet regulation. Their journey however, is cut short by an alien probe which has come to Earth sending a mysterious signal which no one understands. Spock deduces that the signal is not meant for man, but for Humpback Whales. Unfortunately, in the 23rd century, Whales are extinct and without an answer for the probe, the Earth could be destroyed. So, there is only one solution, Kirk and his crew must travel back in time to the late 20th century and take some whales to the future. There, they clash with the time they do not fully understand.

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Star Trekking III: The Search for Spock

Posted: May 18, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews, Retrospectives

*Warning: Spoilers star_trek3Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

While I’ve been greatly enjoying my “Star Trekking” series so far, but I had reservations going into Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Part of this had to do with the fact that Search seems to be thought of as one of the least noteworthy films in the Star Trek series. The film also has the pressure of following up the awesome Wrath of Khan. But neither of these points were why I was wary regarding The Search for Spock. In actuality, what bothered me had more to with the fact that this is the film where they bring Spock back to life, a decision I have certain issues with. Still, I was on something of a high with the Star Trek series so far, and thus went into The Search for Spock with a level of optimism.

The plot begins shortly after the events of Wrath of Khan. Spock is dead, and his absence has left a tangible void on the Enterprise, particularly on the mind of Captain Kirk. As the Enterprise heads back to Federation space, Saavik and Kirk’s son David remain on Genesis, the planet created by the Genesis Project, for study. Upon arrival, the crew of the Enterprise finds their ship is being retired and their future’s are unknown. Kirk then learns that before dying, Spock was able to transfer his conscious into Bones’ mind. So Kirk, Bones, and the Enterprise crew go against regulations and decide to return to Genesis to reunite Spock’s mind with his body. Meanwhile, Saavik and David discover Spock on Genesis, his body reanimated by the Genesis project, though now a young boy, rapidly ageing. However the goal of reviving Spock is complicated by a group of renegade Klingons who plan to use the Genesis device for their own ends.

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