2011 Upcoming Summer Fall films worth seeing in the Theater! (And those that aren’t)

This Summer & Fall’s selection of movies is pretty uninteresting.

Pirates- don’t care. Harry Potter- don’t care. Green Lantern- trailer looks awful. Hangover- Don’t care. Panda2- Don’t care. Cars2- Don’t care. X-men First Class- Trailer has me completely uninterested.

So yeah, summer is sequel heavy, and I am not spending my money on most of em.

    Also ones that sound interesting and they can go either way, being either okay or terrible, are:

STRAW DOGS- As I’ve previously mentioned I have my qualms about this remake, and having just seen the trailer it only increases my doubts about this film. First the trailer basically is the entire film, and 2nd the film is a pretty formulaic reduction of a far more complex original, and 3rd the actors as I’ve previously discussed. Basically the trailer has actually decreased my interest in this film. The lack of a decent poster at this late stage, illustrating the lack of this films identity when compared to the original, that has one of the great, iconic posters of film. So based on all this, currently no plans to see this remake in the theater if at all.

VIVA RIVA- This congo film is seemingly getting some attention, but from some conflicting reviews it sounds like it might be more exploitation flick, gansta rap than I care to be interested in.

I liked CITY OF GOD because there is a vein of decency and humanity and redemption that grounds it. VIVA RIVA has me concerned that it’s just a lowest common denominator, abuse women gangsta want-to-be flick, and that doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

I have a low tolerance for watching women get abused, or the glorification of ignorance, not my idea of something to pay to see. If reviews come in and paint this as something better than what I think it is, then I’ll catch it on DVD.
ADDENDUM: I just saw the trailer to VIVA RIVA… it looks good. So yeah, if I can catch this at a local theater I’ll check it out.

ABDUCTION- I keep wanting to like the films of John Singleton, but the thing is typically I just don’t.

BOYS IN THE HOOD was okay, a nice debut, but is ever in the shadow of the superior MENACE II SOCIETY by the Hughes Brothers. The former feeling dated even upon release, and the latter being ever timeless in its stylish, existential and gothic examination, of hearts of darkness. But very few films can compare favorably to the Hughes Brothers debut, but taking that out of the equation Singleton’s followup films from SHAFT to FOUR BROTHERS also tend to underwhelm, to go through the motions of having a story but tend to lack either momentum or direction.

So adding to my misgivings of Singleton as director, is my complete disinterest in watching his TWILIGHT star, that is the lead in ABDUCTION. I don’t mean any harm… but that is one odd looking kid, but I guess the teen girls find something in that look. However me being not a teen girl, I require out of the star and the director, the ability to carry a film and make me care about it. And I’m completely uninterested in watching this actor. And the trailer does nothing to change my reservations.

So failing any additional feedback ABDUCTION will probably be a DVD rental if that.

    Now the ones that do interest me enough to pay theater prices? Glad you asked :) They are:

10 Jun-

SUPER 8- looks like a cross between ET and CLOVERFIELD, and considering it’s a collaboration between Spielberg and JJ Abrams, that particular feel is obviously by design. I hated CLOVERFIELD but JJ Abrams coming off his impressive STAR TREK reboot, has built up some good will with me, so I’m willing to plunk down money and try this one in the theater.


29 Jun 2011

TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON IMAX 3D- For reasons previously discussed, very interested in this film. And will be the only movie I pay IMAX 3D prices for, for the rest of the year. Michael Bay shot this with the Cameron 3D cameras, so the 3D should look as good as AVATAR. Plus the trailer just looks great.

THE LEDGE- Matthew Chapman’s first film as director in over 20 years, it’s an intriguing premise about a man compelled to committ suicide. Stars Terrence Howard trying to put his career back on track post the Iron Man debacle. This and another 2011 film LITTLE MURDER, directed by Predrag Antonijevic, starring Howard and set in post-Katrina New Orleans has me interested.

1 July 2011

THE PERFECT HOST- A criminal chooses the wrong house to hide out in. Not typically the kind of film I would pay to see in the theater, but the trailer looks good. Definite maybe.

5 Aug 2011

RISE OF THE APES- There’s only two trailers for the rest of the year that really made my jaw drop and made me exclaim “I have got to go see that!”.

One is the TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON the other is RISE OF THE APES.

Just like any other kid who grew up in the 70s I liked the Original PLANET OF THE APES films, largely due to the performance of Roddy McDowell one of my favorite actors, and Kim Hunter who I only recently realized was the Kim Hunter of STREET CAR NAMED DESIRE and THE 7TH VICTIM (If you had to define my perfect woman, what I’m attracted to, it would be very close to Kim Hunter in those two roles, her looks and the strange aura she gives off of both vulnerability and sultriness).

So shorn of these two actors to center such a out there scifi film, I had doubts about any remake. Particularly given the awful Tim Burton attempt. However this trailer is going for a different tact, and the Universal Monster/Frankenstein fan in me… really likes it. If the movie lives up to the trailer it will be AWESOME. Either way, I’ll be in the theaters to find out. Also I’m hearing noting but accolades for writer/director Rupert Wyatt’s previous film THE ESCAPIST (which I will make time to watch on DVD in the coming week). This could be the movie of the summer, if not the entire year.

12 Aug 2011

FINAL DESTINATION 5- The series that cannot die returns for a fifth installment. The previous entry which I saw in RealD 3D, was okay 3D, with a fantastic opening credit sequence, unfortunately that was the best thing about the movie, after that it continued to lose steam till the forgettable ending. That said a new director, the addition of Tony Todd, and a pretty solid trailer, and the fact it was shot in 3D has me interested enough to give this latest entry a look on the big screen.

26 Aug 2011

COLUMBIANA- I really liked SALT, and the trailer for this does look good, and I like Zoe Saldana, and how do you not like a director with the name Olivier Megaton… all that is on the plus side. On the minus side is Zoe Saldana playing a bad ass is pushing my suspension of disbelief too far. She’s a 110lbs for goodness sake. The guns are bigger than she is.

Angelina Jolie is at least a big, substantial girl, so you can buy into her handling herself a little bit more. Plus I don’t like how they are kinda grooming Zoe Saldana to be the next Halle Barry, ie someone who is being groomed for typical Black women in White films type rolls, ala MONSTERS BALL. These type of roles are the reason I don’t go to see anything Halle Barry is in, and i would hate for Zoe Saldana to fall into such easy stereotyping. All that to say, the trailer looks good, but I do have qualms. I may see it in the theater though, because it also has Lennie James in a starring role, and he’s a good actor.

Entering the fall only one film as of this writing has me interested in seeing it in the theaters, Tarsem Singh’s THE IMMORTALS.

11 NOV 2011

THE IMMORTALS- Tarsem Singh who helmed the visually stunning THE FALL returns this fall with THE IMMORTALS. By the producers of 300, it has that 300 feel with some CLASH OF THE TITANS tossed in. Visually the trailer looks awesome. However just in that bit of trailer the acting looks hokey and the story similarly questionable. It was a problem that plagued Singh’s THE FALL; shaky performances, and a shaky story. Unlike Snyder who can do both amazing visuals and elicit amazing performances, Singh has yet to meld both in service of a strong, engagingly told story. However, there’s always a first time, and based on the visuals alone I’m intrigued enough to give this film a try in the theater. Because again, like Snyder, even his failures are far more interesting than most directors’ successes. Much like Peckinpah who produced films that never did great at the box office, and opened to mixed critical reviews, but 50 years later have grown in esteem, and are now remembered and still watched when the more commercially successful films of his day are not.

That’s the trajectory of directors Snyder and Singh… they are making movies, slightly ahead of the comfort zone of their time, movies that people will be discussing and praising 50 years from now. Perhaps IMMORTALS will be one of those films or perhaps like most mythological movies it will sink like a stone from the memories of men. Time will tell.

Okay some last minute mentions:

After a lapse of over a decade, John Carpenter returns to the directorial chair with the horror film THE WARD. The film which wrapped in 2010 and received a UK release in January 2011, is finally slated for an 11 July 2011 US release. By all reports critical response to it so far has been luke-warm. I’m still at odds with the idea of releasing US movies abroad before releasing it domestically.

While some of this has to do with studios playing games of economic gymnastics, for smaller studios… much of that has to do with the monopolistic distribution system in the US and the difficulty and expense of getting a slot for wide release in increasingly studio controlled theaters. Whatever the reason THE WARD after a sizable delay is hitting US theaters this year.

Seemingly dealing with a ghost in a women’s institution… the film doesn’t scream original, but from the trailer it is shot nicely, plus it’s Carpenter, he’s earned the benefit of the doubt with me.

That said, the poster is not filling me with confidence.

I’m a big believer if you don’t care enough to put out a creative poster, that’s pretty proportional to what value the backers put in the film. Having a good poster is no indicator of quality, look at Roland Emmerich’s 2012 (a horrible film), but at least it means someone thinks enough of a movie to try and promote it well.

Typically when the poster is nothing more than someone’s face, the money men are saying “we’ve paid for a star, we’re not paying for marketing as well. Their mugshot either brings in people or it doesn’t, either way we’re not spending any more money to market this turkey.”. You get these bland mugshot posters typically when the backers think they have a commercial failure on their hands.

Now that’s not always the case, sometimes expected financial disappointments turn out to be commercial successes… such as HANCOCK (worst… poster… ever, but turned out to be a good movie and managed to gross over 300 million).

So we’ll see if THE WARD will also be an exception to the bad poster rule. Somehow I don’t think so.

And another delayed film, the Guillermo Del Toro produced DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, after being shelved for some time, is also looking at a theatrical release this year. Already released in Iceland in March, the film gets a UK, Australia, and Turkey release on the 12th of August, a Finland release on the 19th of August, and finally cracks the states on the 26th of August.

That just annoys me. But the vagaries of distribution aside the film itself looks interesting, if extremely familiar and formulaic.

With odes of DARKNESS and any number of “child in jeopardy, not believed by the parents, evil house” films. Films that tend to infuriate me with the stupidity of its leads/writing.

Helmed by first time feature director Troy Nixey, the film can go either way. The trailer itself is okay, but films like this tend to lean on that same conceit which I have a problem with, of staying in a house when they’ve been made aware of the danger. So time will tell if this film can do anything different. Katie Holmes, who I tend to find, comes off very annoying and abrasive in everything I’ve seen her in, from Dawson’s Creek to the Batman films, seemed okay in the trailer, we’ll see if that extends to the film as a whole.

I have seen pundits on-line creaming their shorts over the trailer for Jeff Nichols 2nd film, TAKE SHELTER, scheduled for 7 Oct 2011 release. I’ve seen the trailer, it’s okay. Obtuse, not giving anything away, but kinda intriguing. What it is not… is great, or deserving of all this hyperbole of best trailer ever. Are you people on crack? It’s a small, understated trailer, that doesn’t really say anything, but hints it’s about a guy with schizophrenia. May be worth a look, or not. But all this hype screams of award season bs. Time will tell.

And as of this writing that’s all the films for the rest of 2011 that have me interested enough to see them in the theater. I’ll add to this list should any notable new trailers pop up.

Epsilon Data Leaks

If you’ve done any business on line, such as buying flowers or books or utilizing job search sites among other activities, more than likely you’ve received an email from various companies saying your data has been exposed.

Why?

The official story is Epsilon, the uber-firm, that contracts with major firms to handle their email correspondence, and by its own estimation sends out 40 Billion email messages on behalf of its powerhouse clients, among them Target, Walgreens Citigroup, was hacked and the email addresses for the clients of these vast firms were… siphoned off.

It amounts to easily millions upon millions of affected customers. And right now all Epsilon is admitting to is the theft of email addresses. Though logically it would occur to me that any hacker group adept enough to smash, hopefully stringent security, walked away with a lot more than just email addresses, up to and including real names, full addresses, and credit card #s for a start.

This is the problem with consolidation, with a monopolistic mindset. Increasingly all our data is congregated through a single provider, which also as this example shows translates into a single point of failure, a potentially catastrophic failure.

So instead of the bad guys having to hack 200 different companies, in the age of information consolidation, and monopolistic data aggregation, all they have to do is get by one company’s defenses… and everything comes tumbling after.

This latest, and arguably greatest, data leak, reinforces the need for more checks and balances, and better and more stringent privacy and information controls. And indeed less consolidation of same. Instead of companies outsourcing everything to increasingly fewer providers, bring these sensitive data services back in house. And besides abuse from without, I’m also concerned of the potential for abuse from within. All that data and info, subject to a single company’s policies can be an unpleasant personal liberty nightmare waiting to happen… again.

I think in an age of FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE and TWITTER we may need to recognize the obvious detriments to such easy dissemination of information and perhaps be a bit more wary about what we share and why. And more importantly what is done, and who controls the things we share. Perhaps be more aware that what we give up in exchange for this ease of online dialog may be nothing less… than ourselves.

Something to consider.

2011 Upcoming Movies/Films to be on the Lookout For!Pt. 1 of 3!

So 2010 was a fantastic year for film. Whenever you get me going to the theater over a dozen times in a year, pretty good year.

So before we continue with the 2010 Year in Review, will 2011 be as exciting?

Well so far the first two months of 2011 are pretty uninteresting film-wise (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of BABEL film released BIUTIFUL this January. He’s a brilliant director, but the film’s premise doesn’t interest me enough to see it in the theater, but I will pick it up when it hits DVD. There’s a film called LOVE that is listed as a FEBRUARY release but I haven’t seen it in any theaters, like too many intriguing films, such as BLACK DYNAMITE it probably can’t get distribution, so probably will end up straight to DVD, but sounds great. Like this year’s MOON. Another one I hope to check out on DVD at least). So let’s take a look at what films do have me interested enough to pay theater prices to view them:

THE UNKNOWN-Thriller-Release Date: 18 February- I wasn’t a fan of Liam Neeson’s TAKEN, and this film seems to be in the same playground. What does interest me is the director Jaume Collet-Serra, I was quite a fan of his ORPHAN.


Feb 25th sees the release of DRIVE ANGRY 3D and SHELTER. Both I’m pretty lukewarm on, especially DRIVE ANGRY.

So 3 maybes, that’s a pretty pathetic January and February.

March gets a bit better, RANGO is a fun looking, family friendly animated film.

I really am, as a filmgoer, tired of Matt Damon, you would think he was the only actor in Hollywood, but that aside the previews for ADJUSTMENT BUREAU by first time director look very good. So that one is on my radar. But really casting couch, can you cast someone besides Matt Damon?

Also in March you get Jonathan Liebesman’s BATTLE OF LA.

It looks a little less stupid than the similarly themed, and by all reports awful, SKYLINE. However Liebesman gets a little bit of rope with me for his film DARKNESS FALLS, which while it faltered at the middle, and limped to an ending, that first 15 minutes is impressively scary and effective! So BATTLE LOS ANGELES is a weak maybe.

So far a lot of maybes but nothing I’m really committed to seeing in the theater. Until… SUCKER PUNCH. I know going in this is going to be completely nonsensical, but I also know it’s a Zack Snyder film, and he is one of the few directors that creates films, truly deserving of the big screen. His film are visual game-changers, adrenalin fueled power houses, designed to rattle your bones and stun your senses. So even when his films stumble (WATCHMEN) they are still compelling, and Amazing, and definitely worth seeing on the big screen. So SUCKER PUNCH is my first must see movie of 2011. Congrats to Zack Snyder (That said , what the heck is wrong with Zack Snyder hiring a British Actor to Play Superman!? Really? Is America no longer producing actors? All our actors come from England, or Australia, or South Africa or Canada? Really? WTF? Comeon, I know there are home grown actors out there besides Matt Damon!)

Okay, so onto April…

April 1st sees the release of Duncan Jones’ follow-up to MOON, the film SOURCE CODE. An interesting DAYBREAKesque type time mystery/thriller/scifi flick. Sounds good.

James Wan’s INSIDIOUS sounds like a reworking of POLTERGEIST, sounds intriguing but have not seen a trailer. It’s a maybe.

Steven Soderbergh has been more miss than hit for me recently, and I’m getting a little tired of all these female Assassin films (SALT was good, but enough is enough) however HAYWIRE is getting buzz of being Soderbergh’s best film since THE LIMEY, so depending on the trailer may be worth a look.

April 22nd sees the release of the mysterious sounding APOLLO 18. I saw the trailer and looks intriguing, about the moon landings discovering (and covering up) evidence of life on the Moon.

Okay May 6th sees the release of one of the most hyped films of 2011, Kenneth Branagh’s THOR, which I discussed in a previous post. Up there with SUCKER PUNCH as a must see in the theater movie of 2011. It’s been a long time since Branagh has had a hit, I think interest alone will make this film profitable, but it being good depends upon if Branagh, can rise not only to the challenge of a blockbuster action film, but the quality of his own early success. I’m hoping he succeeds, and will be in the theaters to see for myself.

Okay so here it is almost six months into 2011, and the only films with any significant number of characters of color, particularly Black characters are comedies. Inane product like “Medea something something”, and idiots walking around in drag, or whining, snap your finger, shake your head, talk show complaining flicks. I mean I’m sure those films have their place, but everything in effing moderation.

Which is why I LOVED the fact that 2010 gave us films like TAKERS and OBSESSED and even THE LOSERS. It gets old, Hollywood films that have no characters of color, or worse the token, step and fetchit character of color (COP OUT anyone). IT infuriates, mostly because I go to the film festivals and there are dozens of great films and filmmakers of color out there, but their films do not get picked up for distribution.

I can see the conversation going something like this: “Wow a movie that has characters of color not wearing their pants on the ground, or cursing every other word, or not a comedy, or otherwise lowest common denominator?? In other words showing Black People as more than the propaganda and stereotypes we’ve spent billions of dollars to sell to their children? Nope, we don’t want any of that!!” :).

My facetiousness aside, that seems to be the general thinking of the gatekeepers, those who determine what ideas, perceptions, should or should not reach the larger consciousness and conversation of the masses (particularly American).

So my rule these days is to seek out films that star characters of color in non-stereotypical ways, challenging and hopefully uplifting ways (which generally means no Halle Barry movies :) ). And you’ll see by the films I select (with exceptions), if a film doesn’t at least recognize diversity in its casting, I don’t recognize it in the Box Office. It is one of the reasons I have very little use for Woody Allen films.

Okay tirade over, onto the rest of the year of upcoming movies:

June has films that should be heavy hitters, but I’m really not interested in. GREEN LANTERN film, while it has a decent director, not a fan of the lead casting, or the trailer. But film does have Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller and Nick Jones as John Stewart and Taika Waititi as Tom Kalmaku. So those three and decent word of mouth may sway me to see this film. Matthew Vaughn, follows up KICK ASS, with X-MEN:FIRST CLASS, I’m a bit indifferent about the film, but Vaughn is an interesting director, and removed from his uncomfortable juxtaposition of extreme violence and preteen kids, I should have less problem with this film then I did with KICK ASS. It’s a maybe.

And also in June, JJ Abrams, a hit and miss director for me, is coming off a big hit with STAR TREK so I’ll follow him into his latest release… the scifi/alien flicK, possibly found footage film, SUPER 8.


July 1st brings us Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS:THE DARK OF THE MOON, and I have to tell you, I have no real interest in TRANSFORMERS, but much like I said about Zack Snyder, I find Michael Bay a filmmaker who makes films that are deserving of the big screen. And he has an amazing eye for camera placement and shot sequences, that stays with me long after I have seen his films. That’s a rare Pekinpahesque ability he has, for getting his images… to persist.

There’s a shot in TRANSFORMERS 2, where Megan Fox is leaning over the prostrate Lebouf, and the helicopter flies over her head in slow motion. It’s an absolutely gorgeous shot. I’ve seen that particular scene maybe twice, about a year ago, and that image is still rock solid in my head. David Lean would be proud.

It’s an amazing understanding of the iconic, and what visually… compels. So caring very little about the Transformers, for his visuals, as well as being a director who uses a diverse cast (While not a fan of his lead actor, his supporting actors are always intriguing) I’ll be in the theaters for this movie.

July 22nd brings us Joe Johnston’s CAPTAIN AMERICA:FIRST AVENGER. Like THOR that’s a no-brainer for me. I’ll be in the theaters for it. And the 29th brings us the latest from Jon Favreau, COWBOYS AND ALIENS. Riding high on his new lease on life with the IRON MAN films, we’ll see if he can continue his blockbuster ways sans Robert Downey Jr.


August brings us yet more hack remakes and sequels, in a year full of them. Among them CONAN (Lead actor looks great, but the director has a horrible track record. This, right now, looks like rental fodder), FINAL FANTASY 5 (This one has a fledgling director, but one who has assisted James Cameron, and writers who did not write the atrocious previous films, but also have not proved themselves capable of doing any better, one of the writers has also written the THING prequel, so FF5 could be a good barometer for how good or bad the THING movie will be), and also FRIGHT NIGHT (by a director of comedic romances).

September 2nd FINALLY brings us a film with a couple of people of color in the lead, Zoe Saldana (of TAKERS, STAR TREK, LOSERS and AVATAR fame… yes she has been very busy :) ) as the protagonist in COLUMBIANO, and Lennie James (WALKING DEAD) as Special Agent Ross.

Though I’m not crazy that Hollywood is trying to groom Zoe Saldana to be the next Halle Berry, or the fact that the film is yet another SALT permutation, about a female Assassin seeking vengeance. Still, I’ll support COLUMBIANO strictly because of the casting of Saldano and James in a thriller.

September 16th brings us DRIVE the latest from director Nicolas Winding Refn of BRONSON and VALHALLA RISING fame, a heist/thriller it’s a wait and see. Stars Tina Huang and Tiara Parker.

Also on September, 16th Rod Lurie who helmed the brilliant CONTENDER and is master of political thrillers, enters more stark thriller territory with the remake of Pekinpah’s classic STRAW DOGS. I’ve never been a fan of remaking great films, the optimum form of that film already exists, re-release it in theaters rather than remaking it, or push the DVD. However, if you’re going to remake something for a new generation, then remake something that you can improve on.

While I quite like the casting of James Woods and Laz Alonzo, and it is intriguing to see Kate Bosworth and James Marsden kinda reprise their SUPERMAN RETURNS roles of ill-fated lovers (though Kate Bosworth looks completely different as a blonde, that and the scant years, have made quite a difference in her face, there’s something quite unusual and perhaps a bit feral in her face in recent stills, that makes her quite beautiful and quite perfect for the role of a woman burning from within), I’m still a bit wary.

No one has ever improved on a Pekinpah film, and I don’t think Rod Lurie is going to be the first.

That is a concern, as is the fact the film hinges on James Marsden filling the role, amazingly performed by Dustin Hoffman in the original, and to date Marsden hasn’t shown the ability to be compelling on screen, or to have the range to make you care about him. X-MEN, SUPERMAN RETURNS he’s always the least interesting person on screen. Still, Lurie tends to be able to get the performances he needs, so I’m intrigued enough to give this one a look.


23rd September sees the release of ABDUCTION. I have no interest in the lead actors, or really the premise, but John Singleton as director makes me intrigued. Mostly because he’s slated to helm the POWER MAN/LUKE CAGE film, and what he can do with this film, will speak a lot on whether POWER MAN/LUKE CAGE will be horrible or great.

John Singleton is a director I keep wanting to like, but his films tend to underwhelm. SHAFT was awful, yet his last film… 2005′s FOUR BROTHERS was good, if not great. So I’m hoping the years since that movie, have made him a stronger filmmaker. We’ll see.

And closing out September we have Daniel Craig in director Jim Sheridan’s DREAM HOUSE, “a couple move into house where murder was committed” type thriller/spook tinged film.

Some honorable mentions that I’m not sure when they are being released:

CARANCHO- Just saw a trailer for this Argentine thriller, and it looks great. Mad, and war touched, and a bit beautiful.

RUBBER- Okay I’ve seen my share of weird movies, but this trailer even gave me pause. A killer tire??? Trailer is pretty funny, take a look.

RED RIDING HOOD- I’m no fan of TWILIGHT, but this take on the Red Riding Hood myth, stars Gary Oldman, and the trailer is pretty good. Plus I’m a huge fan of Werewolf movies. This is one to go see.

BLACK HEAVEN- Distributed by IFC films, the trailer for this French import looks quite compelling. Something about a VR game, that has dark and mysterious consequences in the real world.

CONSPIRATOR- Just saw the trailer for Robert Redford’s latest film, concerning the trial of conspirators in the wake of Lincoln’s Assassination and it looks FANTASTIC.

LIMITLESS- The trailer for Neil Burger’s latest re-imagines the idea of someone with superpowers, powers used not to jump around in gaudy spandex, and fight crime, but the way most would probably use such gifts, to pleasure themselves and to acquire more. It’s WALLSTREET meets THE BIONIC MAN. Nice hyper-kinetic trailer.

BLACK DEATH- This trailer tells a tale of superstition, and a reign of bloody torture during the dark years of the 14th century. Quite compelling trailer.

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Kenneth Branagh or Marvel Studios Thor and Black Norse Gods!


Mavel Studios 2011 feature THOR, will be the latest film from director Kenneth Branagh, following up his 2007 film SLEUTH. SLEUTH met with uneven reviews at best, generally considered to suffer in comparison to the original.

I haven’t seen Branagh’s SLEUTH, and indeed have not followed a film by Kenneth Branagh since his 1996 film HAMLET. I consider Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 debut film, HENRY THE V, to be an undisputed masterpiece. It’s one of those rare debuts that is so good, that the rest of a filmmakers filmography can, if he is not careful, suffer in comparison.

It is a fate that befalls many a great director:

Orson Welles spent all his life in the shadow of the success of his first film, CITIZEN KANE.

Tobe Hooper has never quite crafted anything to rival, much less exceed the filmic power of his first film 1974′s TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

Michael Bay who made himself a Hollywood Power, on the strength of the blockbuster success of his first film, 1995′s BAD BOYS, but arguably (while his films get bigger) he hasn’t yet made one better, than that early buddy film.

And that brings us back to Branagh. Following up his debut with DEAD AGAIN (Branagh’s most financially successful film to date. Nearly tripling its 15million Dollar budget, with its US take alone), PETER’S FRIENDS, and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (A theatrical hit, doubling its budget in US sales alone), all good films, but all paling in critical comparison to his first film, and then releasing his first unquestioned financial and critical failure in 1994′s FRANKENSTEIN (which in the years since has managed to recoup its cost in Worldwide sales).

FRANKENSTEIN is the kind of film that can easily end careers, however Branagh, being Branagh, follows it up with a beloved comedy A MIDWINTER’S TALE and his best film since his debut, the magnificent, audacious 4 hour magnum opus HAMLET.

Long before LORD OF THE RINGS sold America on extended length films, in 1996 Branagh, backed by three brave production companies (The now defunct Turner Pictures and Fishmonger Films, and the still swinging Castle Rock Entertainment) released this stunning production on an unprepared America (Distributed by Sony Films and Columbia Pictures) . It did Katherine Hepburn type business (critically acclaimed, but too high-faluting for middle America, the theaters that did show it, showing it in a butchered 150min print), which is to say it lost money theatrically.

However on DVD the film would gain a new life, and continues to be considered not just one of the most ambitious Shakespearean productions ever staged, but one of the best. You can make a strong argument for HAMLET being Branagh’s best film. And I think the more often you watch it, the better it gets. Though personally for me, HENRY THE V is the stronger film. Part of it being, it’s no fat on it, it’s gripping from beginning to end. That said HAMLET is a brilliant and strong film, and is deserving of all accolades, and is a very close 2nd.

It is obvious Branagh put his heart and soul into this film, and its theatrical failure was a clear disappointment and setback to the director, as he would not make another film for 4 years, the 2000 film LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST. By all accounts a good film, but on a 13million dollar budget, the film would receive virtually no distribution, only being released in less than 200 screens in the UK, and only TWO SCREENS in the USA. Needless to say the film was a financial disaster.

Following this Branagh would not make another film for six years, 2006 ‘s AS YOU LIKE IT for HBO Films, and 2006′s THE MAGIC FLUTE (a French/Uk production, Branagh’s most expensive film to that time, at a reported 27 Million Dollars) both films, virtually unknown in the US, generating little theatrical business. Though both films, as well as LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST I’m in the process of acquiring the DVDs to, and viewing, as they all sound compelling.

So That brings us to 2007′s SLEUTH. Five different production companies, including Sony, an undisclosed budget, and Branagh coming off a string of Eight theatrical misses, and a piecemeal distribution schedule, the film did not have hit written over it, and unfortunately it wasn’t. Managing to gross only a sickly $343,000 in the US. And considering the actors involved the budget was most likely between 18 and 30 million dollars, the loss can only be called… staggering. Whatever its actual budget it’s clear the film was yet another crushing theatrical failure, Branagh’s 9th in a row.

With a budget of $150,000,000 Dollars Marvel Studios’ THOR is yet another of their very expensive super-hero franchise films, and kenneth Branagh has been chosen to helm it.

To date Marvel Studios, since taking over production in-house at the end of 2007 (with David Maisel as Chairman and Kevin Feige as Head of Production) , has been hitting all homeruns, starting with 2008′s Iron Man which grossed $319 Million domestically, followed by HULK in the same year, it was a powerful and successful one-two punch. Followed in 2010 by the equally successful IRON MAN II. 2011 year sees the release of the latest Blockbuster films from Marvel Studios: THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA. At budgets of a $150 Million and a $140 Million respectively, no one is going to confuse these with cheap movies. And it is clear THOR is the one they are banking on , hoping to be this year’s IRON MAN.

Marvel’s choice of directors for both films is quite interesting.

Branagh for THOR and Joe Johnston for CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Their choice of directors from day one has been unusual to say the least. Their choice of Jon Favreau to helm their first film, a huge expensive action blockbuster, IRON MAN, when Favreau’s filmography didn’t hint at the background to pull it off, had many people seeing a repeat of Tim Story and The Fantastic Four films (Which are better films than Story is given credit for, the issues being not directorial, but script and production). However Favreau steers the ship, creating one of the best films of the year, and duplicating his success with 2010s IRON MAN II. So not sure what made someone think Favreau could do the job, but they were correct. Or was it just a case of economics? Was Favreau the right price? Much like Branagh for THOR and Joe Johnston for CAPTAIN AMERICA, Favreau was coming off of a movie that was a theatrical disappointment.

While I personally was a huge fan of Joe Johnston’s WOLFMAN, it was a theatrical failure.

Could Marvel be selecting directors that have fallen on hard times, coming off theatrical failures, directors they can control? Directors that have name recognition among fans for films done early in their career, but have not been successful of late. This extends to Joss Whedon, that both the big screen and small screen, have been not exactly favorable to in recent years.

This way the studio gets a name director, but without the prima-donna stance that is typically the director’s right. An auteur as hired gun.

The only exception to this being Louis Leterrier, director of 2008′s Hulk, unofficially co-written and co-directed by Edward Norton. Leterrier coming to the table with a short filmography, but a filmography of films that make money domestically. Unfortunately THE HULK, which I found to be a great film due to what Norton and Leterrier brought to it, and tried to bring to it (the conflict between director/star and studio being well known), didn’t recoup its $150000000 cost domestically. But I see this as less supporting Marvel’s producer heavy style, and more indicating the flaws of handicapping your director/star.

I’m still waiting to see THE HULK director’s cut.

The least interesting part of the Hulk film was the 30 minute CGI fight at the end. What was interesting about that film was Ed Norton’s Bruce Banner, the journey he took that character on. So the fact that Marvel Studios is quick to flex their producer muscles, and throw actors under the bus they deem difficult, ignores the fact that those actors may be difficult, beyond just monetary reasons (we’re not talking Terrence Howard here) but because they invest themselves in those characters, and they really deeply care. And in the case of Ed Norton, they may be completely right about how that character should be played.

Kevin Feige came out with a pretty scummy press release about Ed Norton back in 2010, trying to label him a troublemaker, and justify the studio’s, I feel, bad decision to replace him. Kevin later on stating they wanted basically a weaselly, simplistic Bruce Banner, who basically will just be there as a place holder for their CGI nonsense. In essense playing up what didn’t work about the previous two Hulk films, which was the Hulk, and discarding the thing that did, which was the heroism and humanity Ed Norton imbued the character of Bruce Banner with.

It is a bad decision by Kevin Feige and a bad decision on Marvel Studios part, and shows the first chink in their armor, the chink being a mentality of treating directors and actors as commodities that should obey, rather than as collaborators that should care. It’s a policy of hubris, that if not watched, will begin to chip away at the studios… successes.

Already in IRON MAN II you begin to hear the grumbling, and the diminishing returns of just special effects. Of just CGI. The film cost more than IRON MAN I and made less. A movie needs a heart. That means actors of the level of Ed Norton, who care enough to tell you when you can do better. And you need a head of production, who is not so full of himself, that he is actually capable of listening, and letting the director do what he is paid to do, which is make the decisions on set, and make the best film he possibly can.

Which, again, brings us back to Branagh.

I do think it was a great idea, recent films notwithstanding, to hire Kenneth Branagh for the THOR film.

For my money they could not have chosen a better director to get people excited about this film. Branagh’s name, and his Shakespearean Pedigree, brings an air of legitimacy, that will attract people with no interest in a comic movie. People who want more from their films than CG/Video game action.

I think Branagh can deliver that.

And the cast is beyond reproach. I too was a bit up in arms by the choice of Idris Elba as a Norse God. Nothing to do with his acting, it’s understood that Idris Elba is one of the best actors of his generation, but there was some, justifiable question, about a Black guy playing a Norse God.

But I’ve seen the trailer, and it’s not just Idris, there are Asian characters as well, they are going for a whole multi-cutural feel, and I had a chance to think a bit, and especially weighed against some extremely stupid, moronic comments I read online, I can see the casting making sense.

Some less than enlightened individual (I won’t credit him, because he is undeserving of credit) posted the following (his mistakes of spelling left in), regarding Kenneth Branagh and Thor:

“if he really loved the character and world of thor he wouldnt have casted Idris Elba as Heimdall. and dont give me all this racist crap everyone here always does. Heimdall is white, the actor should be white, Norwegians are white, do you know what ancient Norwegians called black people? NOTHING because they didnt know they [frick]ING EXISTED! so go bring on your hate “

The problem with the above is it is written by someone who sees but poorly. But it helped, by its moronic and belligerent stance, clarify the problem I initially had with Idris’ casting. Yes Norwegians are white, and yes Norwegians were ignorant of Black people. But the film is not about Norwegians, it is about the Gods they worshiped.

I was hung up on this idea that Gods are extensions of the men that worship them. In short we make them up, so they should look like those who worship them.

But here in this fiction, Gods are real tangible things. Which means they are not extensions of the limitations of men, therefore our definitions of them, encompass them but poorly. And let us assume Gods are not as limited or ignorant as men. Let us assume the Gods the Norwegians prayed to, were real gods, of real colors, and that they were not ignorant. That they were the real spacefaring fact, behind the Norwegians flawed and biased fantasy, and the Norwegians being only human made in their own image… those who were not of their image.

Same way even today Hollywood portrays Nubian Queens with Elizabeth Taylor, or Black Scouts with John Wayne. Or for that matter the way churches still propogate the idea of a white Jesus Christ, of the straight hair and the blue eye, which goes contrary to his description in the bible. So let us assume the ancient Norwegians were as close-minded when recounting their tales of Gods and heroes as modern day man. Were as willing to whitewash the truth.

Now I’m saying all this without having read the script, or having seen anything more than the trailer, but just throwing out some ways the casting of Asiatics and Nubians could work.

So yeah, I can totally see that these Gods adopted by the ancient Norwegians, were not then, nor now, Norwegian. They were Gods, or Advanced Aliens ( The Trailer looks like they may be going for that), they don’t have Norwegian names, Norwegians adopted their names. and as such the multicutural cast works fine.

So if you go into the movie, with that perspective, it works fine. But I can definitely see how initially that casting, sans anytype of explanation like what I just gave you, could cause issues.

I personally have a bit of an issue, everytime I see a White person playing an Ancient Egyptian/Nubian. And I would have similar issues seeing a Black person playing a historical Norwegian. However if we accept my previous hypothesis that the Gods (Aliens) are not the men, and the Men are not the Gods, you know a nifty scifi explanation, then I can work with it.

Going back to Elba for a second and the heat he has been taking; he’s an actor, it is not his job to justify the roles he chooses to accept, it is his job to do those roles credit. And Elba has made a career of doing that job well.

So any questions, concerns shouldn’t be directed at him in the first place, but the filmmakers. And I’m confused why Elba is the only one getting heat. As I pointed out, he is not the only actor of color cast in this film as a ‘Norse’ God, however he’s the only actor to get any grief about it. So I would say… back off. Those issues need to be taken up with the producers, not the actors.

Anyhow, Marvel Studios, Branagh, I gave you guys a way to make this casting right for the complainers. You can put my check in the mail. :)

Okay I hope I’ve put that argument to rest.

I am looking forward to the THOR movie. Based on the trailer, and Branagh’s track record with the dramatic and Shakespearean I think it will be a good film, and I definitely think it will make money. At least as much as IRON MAN II. My only concern is the budget of these Marvel Studio’s films. I think with budgets of 150million and 200million, you have to do a lot more to make a sizeable return on that investment. I think from a business standpoint if they could bring these films in for 100million or under, it would take a lot of pressure off of needing the film to crack 300 million domestically.

Now the question is could they bring it in and still get the quality actors and directors, and special effects? Well Look at DISTRICT 9, that was done relatively affordably and it looks great. So I would think it can be done. Of course, I guess being backed by Disney these days, money is no object for Marvel Studios.

Though I tend to think extravagance, for extravagance sake, does not usually translate into great film-making. Look at TERMINATOR 3. Very expensive film at the time, pales in comparison to the first two films.

So in summation, very excited for a good THOR film, and more than that I’m excited for a strong showing from Branagh. Here’s hoping we get both.

The first year of the 2nd Decade of the 21st Century… IS ENDED!

Closing out the 1st year of the 2nd decade of the 21st century (which is what 2010 was, if you didn’t know) I find myself once again at that odd summing up place:

“I’m an oooooddddddd

And Vicious man but I’m still

Stan Ding

And the dark is all around

But it’s a

Lan Ding”

Copyright 2010-2011

That little refrain of mind sums up me making it through this year. A battle of inches, a grueling ground war, every well-fought over piece of foot forward, weighed against every crushing foot back

A year of successes: Travel some, Publish one, secure peace of hearth, those quiet places internal, discover roots unknown, E & V, Celebrate generational additions, Syd. try hard, steps definite. Lots to celebrate.

But all weighed against this sense of treading water… not well. Of real, personal connections and “opposition to save us from ourselves” always… not quite realized.

Of a whole world of people having conversations about the meaningless, while the meaningful is blown to hell.

An odd,summing up year.

“You’re so filled with inconsolable rage”
— QUANTUM OF SOLACE (Good if flawed movie, but excellent opening title/credit sequence and surprisingly good song by Keys and Black)

STAR TREK OF GODS AND MEN Premiere!

29 May 2011 – Article has been updated with some additional info. You’ll find it in the Addendum section at the bottom of this page.


STAR TREK:OF GODS AND MEN

It is really easy these days to be cynical about so much. When so much of what we see, or hear, or do is… toward venal ends, and suspect goals. So few things these days, seem to be done… for the love of doing it.

STAR TREK:OF GODS AND MEN is one of those few.

A fan film, seemingly to end all fan films, I became aware of the existence of this three part web film through a British podcast called GEEK SYNDICATE. Hosted by the Nuge and Dave, the Internet based audio-show covers all things pop-culture (If a newbie to the show start with episode 89, as they take on Buzz Aldrin… hilarious and brilliant!). From comics, to tv, to movies, to technology, to happenings on the web. One of the happenings it praised was… OF GODS AND MEN.

So working my way to the STOGAM site , I took a gander at the first 2 parts, and was well impressed. A fan film, but directed by a major talent and starring major talent?? The cast read like a who’s who of Star Trek lore.
And prior to actually seeing the third part I received notice of this big screen screening of the whole film with stars in Attendance. I signed up immediately.

They had me at big screen.

So I went, I saw, and I have to say… I really enjoyed it.

The Fine Arts Theater where the screening occurred, is conveniently located in Beverly Hills. With available residential/street parking in walking distance. Entering the place after being checked off on the VIP list, I found a packed theater lobby.

I immediately saw the still stunning Nichelle Nichols, surrounded by fans and photographers, and in another section Walter Koenig also surrounded by fans and well wishers. I moved out of the traffic area to the edge of the lobby with other gagglers, and I people watched a bit. There were more than enough people clamoring for the stars attention, I didn’t want to add to that number, so went in and found a decent seat, and put my reporters hat on. I’m being metaphoric there.

The Fine Arts Theater, is a throwback to the one screen theater of yesteryear. The interior garishly decorated, you get a sense of the place being used for school plays, or dance programs, and occasionally for films. It’s a lived in, familiar feel to the interior. Like School Auditoriums of not that long ago.

I watched, and listened. Two rows in front of me the cast and crew of the film began to assemble. Being still new to LA, there’s still an oddness for me of seeing stars in person. I grew up far from these tinseled lights, and while I don’t get star-struck, there is this moment of surrealism.

I would think, for a star as well, there must always be something slightly… unreal and surreal, about you watching yourself in a film, while you are also being watched by fans. Both of “you” being watched by fans. The you of the screen and the you in person.

There’s something both paradoxical there and endearing, that plays out unspoken, and typically uncommented on, but plays out never the less. A little bit of movie magic, that is a tiny throwback to ancient man gathering over an open flame, to share stories of wonder.

Some of the other stars in attendance were Garrett Wang, Gary Graham, Crystal Allen, William Wellman Jr, and of course the ravishing Chase Masterson (The thing about Ms. Masterson is she’s so stunning, people tend to overlook the fact that she’s a fantastic actress. Scenes work, that otherwise wouldn’t, because she’s always processing, she’s always projecting, so when she has a close-up there’s more than a pretty face there, you get the sense of depth, of a backstory, of history.. which is hard to do with just your eyes, just a look, or a smirk, or a nod, or a phrase. In the old days we would call that, star power. Whatever you call it, she pulls it off).

But to be fair, time has been kind to all the women of Star Trek, or perhaps the casting directors are supremely smart to pick women who don’t age like the rest of us mere mortals. Nichelle Nichols, Grace Lee Whitney, Crystal Allen, Chase Masterson… I’m convinced there is a painting of these women in a Paramount closet somewhere, that is getting older, while these women continue to just get better looking.

Now moving away from the beauties of Star trek and allusions to Dorian Gray, let’s discuss a little about the crowd.

An eclectic cross section of people, with only one person in costume… it didn’t seem to be the stereotypical trekker crowd. Having never been to a Trek Convention I could be talking out of turn, but I got the vibe the people there were still the audience for it. Some 20 somethings, lots of 30 and up somethings, it was people who had grown up watching the show in syndication… but not con-goers, or rabid fans, but people who had quietly grown up on this pioneering show… and people who quietly… missed it.

While sampling the crowd, I noticed Walter Koening, sitting in the back of the theater, an old trick of pros, so they can gauge the audience reaction, and potentially make a quick departure should that be necessary.

But it was obvious that would not be necessary with this crowd. To the right of me sat a casting agent, who worked on some of the Trek properties. To the left of me sat Karen Hart, her husband Mike (I’m so bad at names, that if I got that right, I’ll be amazed) and their friend, whose name I would definitely get wrong if I tried to remember it.

Karen turned out to be a composer/performer of some note, as well as being pretty darn fascinating. For more on Mrs. Hart’s work, go here… http://www.karenhartmusic.com/home.html. We spoke a little about how we ended up here, and somewhere along the way names like Cash, and Buckley and Seal came up.

And we worked our talk back to Sci-fi, notably her not being enamored of most recent television, particularly science fiction. Though she was a fan of the original series. That and the cajoling of her husband brought her here tonight.

I think that’s what most of the crowd shared, not her husband cajoling them :) , but rather a disappointment with current science fiction, particularly as it relates to the 40 year old franchise of Star Trek.

The Trek TV shows have gotten for the most part progressively worse (If I had to rate them they would go STAR TREK, DS9, THE NEXT GENERATION, and following distantly VOYAGER and ENTERPRISE— send hate mail to…), and the films have likewise lost their way.

Which brings us to the reason we were all assembled in that theater… OF GODS AND MEN.

Before I get into my review of the film, I have to mention the 2 minute rap that occurred to open the proceedings.
I still find it laugh out loud funny, that someone thought the best way to warm up a crowd of sci-fi fans, was with a rapper. MC something something. It was inexplicable, but thankfully short. Which was followed by the producer, Sky Douglas Conway, introducing the film and the stars.

Okay onto the film. The lights dim… and away we go.

The film was made for the web, so blown-up of course it’s a little pixelated, it’s not 35mm film we’re watching here, but that said it was a perfectly acceptable picture.

Avoiding a play by play, let me summarize that this no-budget tale of a powerful foe from yesteryear seeking vengeance from a dead Captain Kirk, is better than the majority of multi-million dollar star trek films Paramount has done. Exceptionally well directed by actor/director Tim Russ. All the beats are note perfect. Hey, somebody give this guy a big screen film to direct!

Add to that a really FANTASTIC script, and the flick earns its praise. It is well performed by everyone, but Nichols, Koening, and Alan Ruck bring the money. Nichele and Walter have proven countless times their ability to command the screen, and this film is no exception.

The surprise for me was Alan Ruck. Alan Ruck has been working in movies and tv for over 20years, in everything from FERRIS BULLER to YOUNG GUNS to STAR TREK, but this is the first time he’s gotten to be a hero and a badass, and I think he relishes it, because he gives a nuanced and commanding performance. I personally think it is one of his best performances.

That said everyone is great. The film is witty, action packed, suspenseful, and sexy.

The producer and director, Sky Douglass Conway and Tim Russ, should be applauded for getting this great cast together, and making this fiction a reality. However it is not for the casual or new fan, I mean the film is deep in the original Star Trek lore, and for maximum enjoyment and understanding you should watch or re-watch two episodes from the original Star Trek series. CHARLIE X from Feb 1966, the 2nd episode of Star Trek ever aired and WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE, the 3rd episode of the first season.

With those two episodes under your belt, you watch this film and you can really appreciate the brilliance of the script.
Writers Ethan H. Caulk and Jack Trevino who bought cut their teeth on DS9 (the best written of all the Star Trek spin-offs) and producer/writer Sky Douglass Conway, based on the quality of this film, should officially be handed the keys to the Star Trek toys.

And talking about good writing, looking back at the 1st season of Star Trek to research this article, I realize just how impressive and well written that first season was. It really was “boldly going where no one had gone before”. And seemingly that is something TV and film doesn’t do too much anymore.

Which makes STOGAM all the more note-worthy.

Now a little bit on casting, particularly two notable casting choices:

Daaman J. Krall stars as Gary Mitchell (Krall does a good job, but too bad they couldn’t get the original actor Gary Lockwood to reprise his part. The script makes a big point of building to the reveal of the bad guy, and it’s a little meaningless because you don’t know who Krall is supposed to be. It’s not till the expository dialog by Nichelle that you figure out who this guy is supposed to be. However if the reveal had shown Gary Lockwood that would probably have worked much better)

William Wellman Jr stars as Charlie X, a role originated by Robert Walker Jr. Robert Walker jr. was (and as of this writing “is”) the spitting image of his father, a famous actor who starred with Spenser Tracy, among others. So While Wellman did a great job, it would have been nice if Robert Walker Jr. could have reprized his role. (Oh well, maybe in the remake :))

Those substitutions aside, the actors did admirable jobs… and it comes across.

I mean the film is of course captive to its budget, but that acknowledged… it really is, in the face of its limitations, a fantastic achievement. And should do two things 1/ motivate would be filmmakers to just do it, and not use lack of funds as an excuse and 2/ spur Paramount to toss money at all of these guys to remake a big screen, big budget, 35mm version of this… or just give these guys money to make another Star Trek film or series.

Those two things would happen in a sensible world.

The first one has and is happening. The film motivates everyone who sees it. As far as the 2nd one, unfortunately Paramount has repeatedly proven themselves pretty blind, deaf, and dumb to quality… but who knows… maybe they’ll surprise me this time.

All in all a great event, great film, and a great crowd. And the after movie Q and A was equally brilliant.

Darn it! I have to start carrying my camera, or recorder… if I had I could have posted the Q and A for you guys. I’ll remember for next time.

There are a few more big screen showings planned, so check the STOGAM site (www.startrekofgodsandmen.com) to stay informed. And if you enjoy the film as much as I did, consider purchasing the making of DVD. It looks well worth it.

There are only three Star Trek movies I think enough of to own… WRATH OF KAHN, UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, and FIRST CONTACT.

OF GODS AND MEN will be the fourth.

**********************

Addendum: 29 May 2011 – This review was originally written before the JJ Abrams STAR TREK reboot. So just wanted to add a few comments.

I would add the JJ Abrams STAR TREK to the list as well. Also Paramount is a bit of a mess when it comes to triple and quadruple dipping and that makes determining what version… is the best DVD or Bluray for you to own, a bit difficult and time-consuming. Taking that into consideration, I’ve done some of that research/homework for you, to hopefully help make that decision making process… easier.

First, Avoid the 2009 Blu-ray versions of any of the earlier Star trek films (WRATH OF KAHN, UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, and FIRST CONTACT), and stick to the 2disk DVD Directors cuts. Links are below. You just get more bang for your buck, and Paramount in a year or two will release Director’s cut version of the movies on Blu-ray, with better mastering.

However I would recommend the Star Trek Original Series Complete Seasons 1-3. Paramount did an okay job on those Blu-Rays, with exception of cheap packaging, and no labeling on the disks.

The 2004 Star Trek Original Series Complete Seasons 1-3 DVDs are better packaged than the blu-rays, and come with labeled disks, but the Bluray’s offer you remastered images and the option between viewing with CGI effects or original effects.

Pretty cool. So not perfect, but you gain more than you lose, by going with the Blurays over the DVDs for Star Trek Original Series. Also the very reason the 40 year old series could be processed into HD Blu-rays was because it was shot and mastered on film, the same as any movie, As opposed to many shows of the 80s and 90s, including DS9 and TNG, that were cheaply mastered and processed on video, meaning the original masters are not on film, so no true HD is possible with these shows, they top off at 480i.

For a pretty absorbing read on why you wont be seeing true HD Blurays of DS9 anytime soon go here and here.

So bottom line the existing DVDs of DS9 are the best you’re going to see of the series for the immediate future, if not the indefinite future. At the very least until technology goes up, and the cost goes down. So, below I have put a link to the DS9 set, as well.

For the JJ Abrams STAR TREK they did a good job on that Bluray, so would suggest the 3Disk Bluray. Though only 2 of those 3 disks I consider worthwhile.

Well that’s my suggestions and links are below.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – The Director’s Cut (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition)

Star Trek – First Contact (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition)

Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country (Two-Disc Special Collector’s Edition)

Star Trek (Three-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray]

Star Trek: The Original Series – Seasons 1-3 [Blu-ray]

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series

Hope This helps.

End of Addendum 29 May 2011

*****************************

Other Fan Films you may want to check out, and that I recommend are:

THE GREEN GOBLIN’S LAST STAND (Created long before there was ever a Sam Raimi Spiderman– and in many ways looks like it influenced that movie)

BATMAN DEAD END- 10 minute short by Director Sandy Collora, done way before the Nolan Batman films. I am not a fan of the Nolan Batman films, I hated the first one and thought the 2nd one was serviceable but flawed. I don’t think Nolan’s interpretation of Batman works, which is why the Nolan movies are more interesting when his Batman is not on the screen. Nolan just doesn’t get Batman. Collora in this 10 minute short gave Hollywood a blue-print on how to do Batman right. Unfortunately they ignored it and we get Nolan’s transformer/lego style Batman instead. See previous reviews if you want to hear more of my DARK KNIGHT bashing (oh I don’t really bash it!—much :) stop crying!). Oh and it’s worth mentioning this stars Andrew Koenig, Walter’s son, in a great turn as the Joker.

Okay kiddies, till next time, in the words of Don Cornelius… “Peace, Love and…. SOUL!”