CBS vs Paramount? Old Star Trek vs Confused Star Trek? ST Discovery = Epic fail? and JUSTICE LEAGUE?!

 

Some Times you wonder how what is seemingly obvious  is utterly lost on people in positions of power.

VALERIAN movie? Great concept on paper , great visuals, the leads are as interesting as watching paint dry. I would not in a million years have chosen those two people to helm that movie. They have no visual interest.

The latest Universal bomb in THE MUMMY, completely predictable. White Egyptians, unless they are Boris Karloff, just never a good idea.

Casting and visuals and chemistry is still a HUGE part of what makes a film or show work and why it is dead on arrival.

It is one reason the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie is despite everything they are trying to course correct and do right, can’t fix intrinsic issues they have done wrong. The comic book decided to put CYBORG in the comic, not because he is a good character, but because he hit three demographics they throught would make for both multiple diversity streams and good merchandising. He was a Black crippled robot.

TRANSFORMERS has proven that robots sell, all day long. On top of that being able to add a character of color to the blindingly white DC universe, ticks that box, and making him a cripple, ticks the handicapped audience. A lucrative and growing segment condsidering how many young men and women this country sends overseas to mutilate and get mutilated.

Here is the issue though. It doesn’t make sense for CYBORG to be in the Justice League, beyond tokenism and a blatant money grab.

From a story point it makes NO SENSE in the comics, and it makes no sense in the movies. I’m all for characters of color toning down the lilly whitness of the Justice League, but not awful characters. The JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon has shown a great character of color that deserves to be in the Justice League and works great in the Justice League… John Stewart, The Green Lantern, And you know what, he also has kick ass powers and is more than a walking toaster. The late great Dwayne McDuffie made John Stewart a great character, and the Justice League a great AND diverse team without sacrificing quality or common sense. They were great BECAUSE of that diversity and love that Dwayne imbued that series with, that made it great.

Greatness is a thing that seldoms gets said in the same sentence as JUSTICE LEAGUE. Unlike the AVENGERS that has a few notable stories you can hand people to sell them on these characters for live action movies, most notably Mark Millar’s THE ULTIMATES  followed by Steve Englehart’s, Gerry Conway’s, Jim Shooter’s and Kurt Busiek’s runs; the JUSTICE LEAGUE has very little that holds up, or is of appeal to a movie going audience. Outside of deconstructive and apocalyptic stories, the twilight of the Gods type mythology such as KINGDOM COME, and some Morrison work, there are almost no great JUSTICE LEAGUE comic stories. The best the JUSTICE LEAGUE has ever been is in the McDugffie helmed cartoon.

The current comic and the current movie unfortunately, has learned nothing from the late McDuffie’s lead.

Add to that the Cyborg and Flash costumes are crap (didn’t you learn anything from the GREEN LANTERN train-wreck about CGI costumes) and you have a movie that could have been great, crippled by by people who are going to lose dollars to save pennies.  People ignorant or uncaring of the part visual chemistry plays in whether a thing works or not.

And that brings us back to Star Trek.

 

Looking at the cast photo of Star Trek Discovery… that cast has no visual interest, no chemistry. The same issue suffered by THE ENTERPRISE cast, and to a lesser degree the VOYAGER cast. There was no joy or interst or chemistry in this combination of people.

Watching  the latest STAR TREK DISCOVERY Trailer, I find the trailer interesting, however the jury is out on whether that translates into good. There was no excitement in that trailer, a bunch of uninteresting looking people, no visual chemistry or excitement to them, and a general air of uninterst and lack of joy in the whole.

You are in effing space, that should be awe-inspiring to the cast and to the viewer. But all that comes across in that trailer is how dreary everything is. The one male lead, who I know to be a good actor, he perhaps has never been the most rousing actor, and whether lead or not, you need somone immediately that grabs your eye, and you can say, yep, here is a hero or man of action, or somone who can command a screen and command the attention of viewers. Without a doubt great scenery chewing actors is the hallmark of great Star Trek, whether it is William Shatner, or Leonard Nimoy or Patrick Stewart or Johnathan Fraker or Avery Brooks or Michael Dorn.

The star of this series, is a lead actress, and she is clearly charismatic, but you can’t act in a bubble, without that chemistry  of clicking actors around you and fun plots, it is just dreariness. And that’s what came across in the trailer… dreariness.

And a lot of changes for change sake.

The change to the Kilngons… strikes me as… foolhardy at best. THE NEXT GENERATION hit a home run in being able to make an interesting but crude visual race of the Kilingons… better. Not just better, but a rousing transcendent success.  The way the Original Series hit a home run with the Vulcans and the Romulans, the Next Generation hit that Home Run with the Klingons.

You don’t fix what isn’t broken. And in this case DISCOVERY’s redesign of the Klingons just seems change for change sake, that tears down a success, and what could have been an easy inroad to the series for fans craving the popular Klingons, becomes instead a detriment.

Just poor, poor thinking.

Along with that the idea of trying to make American audiences pay to see this series that initially needs as much groundswell of support it can get, is just idiocy. Out of the gate you set an antagonistic relationship between show and audience.

I will, needless to say, not be paying for this show, no more than I had any intest in paying to see VALERIAN or THE MUMMY.

But I will keep abreast of it through online reviews and podcasts, and I hope it can prove me wrong. But if Paramount stick to the visuals and that tone and that cast, that seems clearly set in stone for the first year….you may have an interesting SciFi show, but you arguably wont have a good show, and you definitely won’t have a great Star trek show.

Paramount instued of suing the AXANAR fan film, should have gone with that filmmaker to produce their new show. It is obvious that the fan films have more heart, intelligence, and fun, and understanding of what makes good Star Trek than Paramount has.

PARAMOUNT’s rebooted STAR TREK films, a case of diminishing returns, from the excellence of the first one, to the too self indulgent but still great second film, to the atrocious third film; points to a company that is in desperate need of course correction. And that same folly and arrogant stupidity that highlights their dealings with the fans, mars their handling of this latest television show.

For more on this, I want to direct you to a MIDNIGHT’S EDGE YouTube video, that revealed some of the reasons for Paramount’s mishandling of the latest Star Trek property and where CBS fits in. It’s a riveting and informative bit of reporting.

 

 

 

 

 

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SHORT FILMS OF THE DAY : The Short films of Alejandro Suarez Lozano

When I can find nothing of appreciable interest in the long form format I turn to short films. And there are real magnificent gems to be found there from David F. Sandberg’s LIGHTS OUT to Alec Peter’s brilliant PRELUDE TO AXENAR.

A new addition I’ve recently stumbled on, are the short films of Alejandro Suarez Lozano.

His THE FISHERMAN is a well paced, well performed and beautifully shot tale of a Fisherman haunted by the one that got away. With traces of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and MOBY DICK this visually adept tale of man vs nature also adds the fragile geopolitical overtones of the third world and the first world fighting for space in a 21st century poised to outgrow them both. The ending is both unexpected and perfect.

His HIDDEN SOLDIER follows a soldier on a mission behind enemy lines during World War II. Vividly told in haunted Blacks and Greys, this one pulls you along to an ending that is both audacious and chilling.

Both films are the calling card of a filmmaker to expect increasingly great films from.

The best way to see these two films? Use the link below and view them on the Director’s site and tell him… HT sent ya!

https://www.asuarezlozano.com/films

Movie Review : STAR TREK BEYOND… Great or Badly Flawed??!!

STAR TREK BEYOND – As a rule I avoid trailers for movies I know I’m going to see. Like CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR or STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS, I knew STAR TREK BEYOND was a movie I knew I was going to see, so I wanted to go into the film, and be as blank a slate as possible, not basically pre-watching the film before the film.

It has worked with me for other films. Loved CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR, liked STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS.

With STAR TREK BEYOND  I  did manage to catch one trailer, the one with the mortorcycle and music that caused something of a negative pushback online, but for myself I thought it was fine. Not a great trailer, but an okay one.

The movie, finally seen, in a solid, nearly empty theater with great picture, and great sound (2D not 3D) and verdict?… I enjoyed it. I think the look of it was fantastic, the beginning and middle solid. Some good performances and fun scenes. It’s a nice, if flawed, addition to these new STAR TREK films.

Why flawed?

To explain that I’m going to have to get into specifics, as in spoiler theory. But a quick nonspoiler take on STAR TREK BEYOND… if you haven’t already seen it in the theater, save money and wait for it on streaming or for rent.  A cheap rental.

Okay that sounds harsh for a movie that I thought started off very strongly. Okay here is some detail to explain my feelings. To avoid spoilers skip everything except the last paragraph, and come back after you’ve seen it.

Here we go:

 

An action movie ultimately is defined by the quality of the conflict, the quality of the conflict that opposes our heroes, the quality of the antagonist. STAR TREK BEYOND has a great actor, Idress Elba, who is completely wasted;  who is given a largely mediocre and nonsensical role, and motivation.

You have an antagonist that in one of the film’s most memorable scenes early in the picture, shows he possesses a weapon that can kick serious ass. But instead of using this awesome weapon for achieving his vengeance, he… for over a hundred years… only uses this devastating weapon, to pirate other ships, in an attempt to find a so-called ultimate weapon.

That weapon when found is unimpressive piece of nonsense, compared to the weapon he already had at his disposal.

It’s like somebody who wants to take revenge against the people he blames for his family’s death, armed with a machine gun, who instead of taking this machine gun and getting his vengeance immediately, spends over a hundred years carjacking  people in the hopes of finding a different ultimate  weapon, and that weapon when found, turns out to be a yo-yo or slingshot.

It’s that much of a let down and disappointment, compared to the weapon he already had.

It makes no sense and delivers a flawed and weak and toothless ending.  How no one in production could see this glaring issue with the plot/script is baffling.

And speaking of weak, why would our antagonist, this eater of life… be getting weaker after consuming lives? Each life should be making him stronger.

So on top of this dud of a doomsday weapon, this antagonist himself at the ‘climax’ Of the film, for no conceivable good reason… is a weak, crying, easily beaten, and more than a bit rubbish, whiner.

The actors do the best they can with this, but the writing /plot ultimately lets them down. This one falls squarely at the feet of the writer, Simon Pegg, who writes everything well except the most important thing to get right, the villain and the villains motivations.

I thought the first rebooted STAR TREK film was great. In many ways it is STAR WARS done better than STAR WARS, possessing as it does that EMPIRE STRIKES BACK vibe. It is a solid A-.

I thought the 2nd one, while it had deeper pitfalls than the 1st film, the poor idea to try to cleave too close to WRATH OF KAHN, also had higher peaks. And as a whole I think it is masterful, it just edges  out the first film being a solid A-/A.

END SPOILERS

 

This third one I was enjoying till the whole idiocy of the  ‘doomsday weapon’ and the poorly written antagonist and final act. Whereas I can rewatch the first two reboot STAR TREK movies constantly, and proudly own both Blu-Rays, I have no desire to sit though this 3rd movie ever again.

Grade: C-.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie of the Day : STAR WARS VII FORCE AWAKENS in IMAX Laser 3D!

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After 2 years of hype the most eagerly anticipated film in years has arrived, STAR WARS VII THE FORCE AWAKENS, and I saw it at the Airbus IMAX in Chantilly, Virginia voted one of the 7 best theaters in the United States.

No less than the director JJ Abrams praised IMAX 3D Laser Projection as the preferred way to see this years in the making labor of love. He said of STAR WARS VII in a recent associated press interview:

ABRAMS: As someone who really hasn’t been the most vocal advocate of 3-D, the strangest thing happened to me on this. When I was watching the reels in 3-D, there were a number of shots — and I know this sounds insane — that I hadn’t understood in the three-dimensional space quite the way I did when I saw them in 3-D. I actually felt that there were things that were playing better in 3-D. I had never felt that before. And if people have access to a theater that has laser projection, it is shockingly better.

Having seen the film at the 86 foot wide Airbus IMAX, with their newly installed 3D Laser Projection system I have to say… It lived up to the hype.

The screen, the 3d projection system, blew me away. Initially it was so big and so overpowering, that it was daunting. It was so much visual imagery and information going on in every part of the picture, that I found my head going back and forth trying to take the scene in.

Because of how that IMAX room is built, there is not a bad seat in the house. The seats rather than going out away from the screen as most theaters, are closer to the screen and go up, giving the effect that you are almost in the screen, immersed in the screen rather than just watching it.

And adding 3D to the mix and the film is cinema cranked up to 11. That said, it takes a few minutes but suddenly you are grasping all the information your visual cortex is being sent, and there is no more playing ping pong. It becomes a completely immersive, and not at all distracting experience, as 3D can be. Sometimes when wearing those glasses the screen is too dark, not so here, the picture came across as if there were no glasses at all. No doubt this has to do with the far more substantial glasses you get at this IMAX. Not the simplistic RealD glasses.

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All in all, the visuals were stellar. One of my most impressive and memorable screen viewings, right up there with seeing LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 70mm and seeing Cameron’s AVATAR in IMAX. Now the 3D isn’t the spectacle AVATAR was, with things coming out of the screen at you, and while part of this is no doubt because STAR WARS FORCE AWAKENS was not filmed in 3D or with 3D in mind, the sheer scale and majesty and clarity of projection via IMAX 3D Laser is a spectacle and wonder of its own. Rather than just looking at the screen, IMAX 3D Laser makes you feel as if you are in the frame. It’s a naturalistic and very cinematic effect, that transcends/eliminates the issues some people have with 3D. IMAX 3D Laser at the Airbus IMAX transcends gimmick to deliver an effortless viewing experience, and a rewarding cinematic one and comes highly recommended.

Now I’ve spent all this article discussing how STAR WARS VII is presented, but now a few words on the movie itself. My verdict? JJ Abrams had the unenviable task of living up to the expectations of fans of one of the most iconic film franchises in the world. To his credit he and his crew of writers, actors, etc, were in this humble writer’s opinion up to the task. The movie was a follow-up to a beloved franchise that (prequels aside) ended over thirty plus years ago, and much as he did for STAR TREK he was able to integrate the new and the old in a way that completely captured and paid homage to, what was best in what we’ve come to know as STAR WARS.

I love that the main principals from the original movies, were not only available to return, but were so brilliantly written into this latest chapter. It’s a smart script, that is also inventive, action packed, and satisfying, and leaves the future of Star Wars in good hands indeed.

While it falls short of being a great movie, the film is a solid entry in the Star Wars cannon, being only second to the great EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Grade B+.

 

 

THIS MONTH’S Best and most inept ACTION Films on Amazon Prime!

10 BEST ACTION FILMS on AMAZON PRIMEThese are films you’ll come back to, and deserving of buying on DVD or BluRay to have, so you don’t have to rely on a streaming channel, or an ISP, or broadband speeds, to watch them. These are films that you want to have access to, whether or not streaming services go out of business. So watch them for free today courtesy of Amazon Prime, but buy them for their special features, best quality, and posterity.

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I AM SOLDIER  –  Ronnie Thompson with only his 2nd feature film writes and directs this film on the British Elite Fighting Force – the SAS. The film comes off as a love letter, recruitment film for the SAS, but it also comes off as a very good film. The cast is across the board excellent, with Tom Huges being the audience’s entry into this world. Noel Clarke is also excellent in this film, showing the gravitas of that Shakespearean training that was wasted for so many years in his television work. All in all an excellent movie that kept me riveted. Unfortunately there is currently not a decent DVD or Blu-Ray of this film available (By decent I mean that, at a minimum, it would need director’s commentary). So at this time you’ll need to just catch it on streaming till a suitable DVD or Blu-Ray arrives.

 

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The Veteran

 

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The Arroyo
– This film starts slow but builds into a FANTASTIC film. If you like NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, you will love THE ARROYO! Unfortunately the DVD is nearly sold out, and the studio seems to be pushing just the streaming option, so when it is gone, it is gone. My suggestion, if you want this movie in a non Internet dependent format… get it now. Best of luck!

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Boy Wonder

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Vendetta
The DVD comes with special feature including Director’s Commentary. Great flick!

ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM

Another Zero in the System

 

INK – More fantasy than action, Jamin Winans has two films on Amazon Prime and they are both excellent. He is one of these new breed of festival and VOD directors that are building a name strictly on the amazing content they produce for streaming channels.

 

EXPENDABLES 3 – While not as good as the first I really enjoyed this film and it was far better than the second one. Director Patrick Hughes managing to juggle massive stars, action, exposition, moments of pathos, and humor all effectively.

 

BRONSON – More Drama than Action, Nicolas Winding Refn continues to make the most interesting films about Men that are both shaped and shapers of violence, and the oft surreal worlds they inhabit.

 

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – Obviously more Sci-Fi than Action, however there is no denying the Action is awesome. Just a great film across the board.

 

 

6 AVERAGE ACTION FILMS – One Watch is enough

  1. DRAGON EYES dragoneyes
  2. THE LAST HIT
  3. THE ROVER
  4. LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN
  5. JACK RYAN SHADOW RECRUIT
  6. AMERICAN JUSTICE

13 POOR, INEPT FILMS ON AMAZON PRIME  – I wasted my time trying these, don’t waste yours. Not even worth one complete watch. Movies so bad they should be removed from Amazon to make room for something better

  1. ULTIMATE FORCE

  2. CROSSHAIRS

  3. SHADES OF A KILLER

  4. THE BUNKER

  5. TRANSIT – Wonderful poster. By the numbers film.transit-2b98-4c0a1c539a680-poster

  6. 2:22

  7. THE CURSE

  8. EL GRINGO

  9. THE ESCAPE

  10. MONIKER

  11. RE-GENERATOR

  12. 2035 FORBIDDEN DIMENSIONS

  13. LIBERATOR

Join us next time for more of the Great, the Good, and the Inept! 🙂 And if so inclined, please use any attached links as they point you to the recommended versions of these films to order. The DVDs or Blu-Rays with the best commentary, or special features, or picture.  I do the research so you can spend more time watching quality movies. Enjoy!

Streaming TV Show of the DAY : Star Trek CONTINUES

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I’ve covered quite a few fan projects on this blog, some really exceptional ones. Among the best are those related to the Star Trek universe. STAR TREK CONTINUES is a web series that the term fan project does a bit of a disservice to.

This is a full fledged production as smooth and polished as the Original Star Trek series that it revives. Not simply a homage this web series continues the unfinished five year mission of the original series (which was cancelled after three seasons). STAR TREK CONTINUES conceit is that it starts off in the 4th (never seen) season of The original Star Trek.

And going along with this conceit, STAR TREK CONTINUES first episode PILGRIM OF ETERNITY, before watching you really should watch the season two episode of the original series, titled WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS. STAR TREK CONTINUES premiere episode is a direct follow-up to that 1967 episode, complete with the actor who played in that episode, reprising his role here.

You’ll have so much more appreciation for exactly how wondrous STAR TREK CONTINUES is, if you precede it by watching that 1967 episode. You’ll also have a far better understanding just how excellent Vic Mignogna is, largely the driving force behind this labor of love, in his role as the iconic James T. Kirk. Vic Mignogna has Shatner’s Kirk down to an alchemy, it’s not science, it’s magic.  From the walk, to the pauses, to the lift of the chin, to the way he sits, this isn’t mimicry, or mockery, it is acting of a very high and compelling level.

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Vic Mignogna understands and loves the role, and that comes across, as does his passion and expertise for the original series. Wearing an insanely impressive number of hats from director, to editor, to writer, to producer, to star, Vic Mignogna has put together an impressive production and a large and varied cast.

From Christopher Doohan reprising, excellently I might add, his father’s role of Mr. Scott, to Kim Stinger doing a lovely Uhuru, to Michele Specht ravishing in her role as new character Dr. Elise McKennah, to the towering 84 year old Michael Forest (with many movie and tv credits to his name) reprising and bettering his 1967 performance of Apollo, it is a series that would have made Gene Roddenberry proud, and makes this fan of Roddenberry’s endearing dream…  incredibly impressed and happy.

Now not everything works of course. Not all the actors do as well a job of bringing to life their characters as the above actors do. But considering everyone is largely doing this for the love, the general level of performances is fantastic, and the costumes, and makeup, and sets and special effects and writing is jaw droppingly good quality! Every bit professional level. Hell, this show is easily better than most of the post-DS9 Star Trek television shows that Paramount paid small fortunes to produce.

Now I like the JJ Abrams STAR TREK movies, I think they both were fantastic. That said, I think there is a place in this digital world, for Chris Pine on the big screen, and Paramount backing the STAR TREK CONTINUES series and having Vic Mignogna on the small screen.

Okay enough praising this series. Go watch the 1967 episode WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS courtesy of Amazon Prime for free, then go to the STAR TREK CONTINUES website to view the existing three episodes. If you have Roku, you can go to the Vimeo Channel here for an easy way to view it on your tv.

And once you are as impressed with the series as I am, help them keep it up by swinging by their web page and sharing the love and donating; so that you can help keep this great project coming! And tell em HT sent ya! 🙂

Enjoy!

 

FAVORITE THEATRICAL FILMS OF 2013

FAVORITE THEATRICAL FILMS OF 2013

These aren’t necessarily the best, not critical darlings like 12 YEARS A SLAVE or INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (the Academy’s critical darlings, historically I am not a fan of) but they happen to be the ones I was interested enough to plunk down hard earned money to see in the theater. GRAVITY was my favorite and most enjoyable theatrical film of the year.

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