There have been many times in the past few months where I found my mind wandering to thoughts on J.J. Abram’s new take on Star Trek. Like Batman Begins, Casino Royale or even new series such as Iron Man, Abram’s Star Trek is an origin story detailing how the characters we have come to cherish and love basically came together. For the past decade or so, Hollywood has found much to smile about with these films and although there have been a few missteps along the way audiences seem to have a real affinity in discovering how their heroes came to be.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. All my friends know I am a Trekkie and have always liked it more than Star Wars. I remember being in high school and being completely mollified and ridiculed that I liked Trek since Star Wars was just so inherently cool. Now, I’m not someone who will gloat. What people never seemed to understand was that I just liked Trek better. That does not mean I hated Star Wars. In fact, the original trilogy is not only some of the greatest science fiction movies ever committed to film but rather some of the best films period. Okay, I lied, Episode 6 (aka Return of the Jedi) was not very good but the first two were breathtaking forms of entertainment that to this day still resonate. Why? Precisely because we actually gave a damn what happened to these colourful bunch of characters. Sure, some of their names were a bit odd, but Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back presented wholly sympathetic heroes who all had internal issues to overcome. And overcome them they did while a galactic uprising was occurring with stupendous action sequences and effects never before seen on the silver screen.
There was a point during the first season of Keifer Sutherland’s 24 where I remembered thinking to myself, “Okay, this is about to jump the shark.” After merrily buzzing along at warp speed the story suddenly seemed to run out of ideas when Jack Bauer’s (Keifer Sutherland) wife suddenly developed a severe case of amnesia which is one of the most ridiculously overwrought and overused plot devices imaginable. To its credit, the inclusion of such a silly soap opera subplot didn’t torpedo the show as it managed to right itself and keep going with a wonderful marriage of tense situations and compelling action.
Since there is a particularly momentous presidential inauguration going on south of the border in a little country called the USA what better way to celebrate than with a review of one of cinema’s toughest genres to tackle – the political satire motion picture. Hollywood is littered with many failed politically based movies that have found it hard to either be critically lauded or to excite audiences to box office success. There are many theories as to this issue but most would give great weight to the very fact that audiences just aren’t engaged enough to care about the subject matter as they can see the real thing on their local prime time news program. Actually, this general apathy towards politics lies at the very heart of Kevin Costner’s new flick, Swing Vote.
Space the Final Frontier,
These are the voyages of the starship Shenzhou 15,
As I sit here at my computer reminiscing about my most memorable events of the past twelve months my thoughts, as they so often want, turn to Star Trek but this time not so much centered on Kirk and co warping to distant stars to seek out new civilizations but instead much closer to home, namely the Earth and its moon.
During the first week of August 2008 the world was glued to their TV sets not because of the economic turmoil that was about to descend like some petulant alien invasion but rather all eyes were on Beijing for the start of the summer Olympics. This was a grand spectacle like no other, probably never to be rivaled at least in the short term. Just how many countries could mount such a lavish production and spend upwards for $40 billion dollars on staging the games and the related infrastructure needed to accommodate them. To put that into perspective that’s the entire yearly nominal GDP of the Dominican Republic or Oman or Syria. That’s about 1/3 the nominal GDP of Egypt and a staggering amount of investment by any measuring yardstick.
With their new movie, Speed Racer, the Wachowski Brother’s have succeeded in taking their technical wizardry to a new level by making one of the most intricately beautiful movies ever committed to film with dazzling colours and futuristic locales. Just about every film cell would make a wonderful wallpaper on your PC with its stunning blend of live actors and state of the art computer graphics. Unfortunately, while Speed Racer definitely looks immaculate in still shots, it fails miserably in providing even the most basic element of fun with its ham-fisted attempt at a plot that is inundated with a bizarre blend of childish platitudes and garish machine-gun style editing that does nothing but draw attention to itself at the expense of creating a unified world. This is MTV editing taken to the nth degree as no one at Warner Brothers has seemed to be able to reel the directing brothers back. With no constraints imposed on them they’ve taken their daring camera work learned on the Matrix Trilogy and let their imaginations run wild to disastrous results.
Anchored by British comedic legend Ricky Gervais, Ghost Town breathes some needed life into the well-worn romantic comedy genre by giving us something we haven’t seen in years, a bunch of completely down to earth realistic human beings who aren’t afraid to show all their warts. Although the film revolves around a gimmicky plot device director/writer David Koepp manages to integrate it into the narrative with surgical precision having it provide extra material to mine yet the viewer never feels that they are being wholly manipulated to give an emotional response.
One of the surprising aspects of the new Apple 3G iPhone is just how robust the game selection is. Traditionally, Macs have lagged far behind PCs in this area with most gaming companies totally ignoring bringing their games to OSX. Those that do sometimes release ports of their wares months, even years, after the PC release. Therefore, it’s a joy to see Apple beginning to come around and noticing that the gaming market is incredibly lucrative and, if the reports are correct, the bulk of iPhone APP store purchases are indeed from video games. The biggest problem for consumers though is trying to wade through the copious amount of below par software that is available on iTunes to try and find the gems. Confounding this even more is the severe lack of online reviews and articles about the available software. Relying on comments in iTunes is just about useless as most are nothing more than knee-jerk reactions praising the game as the best thing since sliced bread or the worst piece of garbage ever to be coded. Hopefully, in the future, some of the bigger video game sites will see that iPhone/cell phone gaming is going to boom.