Posts tagged “Star Trek

Old Computer Games: Star Trek: Starfleet Academy


Star Trek  -  Starfleet Academy  -  Front Game Cover

It’s a tragedy when old things don’t work anymore.  Actually that’s not really true, as a lot of old things are rubbish.  But some old things are good.  I started ‘seriously’ playing computer games in the late 90s.  Well to be honest, calling myself a “serious gamer” is probably building up my status rather more than is strictly accurate, but I did like to play one or two online.  Mostly I frustrated people on the same side as me in team-matches, with my inability to shoot even the weediest, largest, slow-moving targets, whilst simultaneously being loved by anyone who faced off against me in a death-match.  Running away as fast as possible tended to be my tactic of choice.  This had the advantage of being unexpected by my opponents, which helped to both extend my lifespan and annoy the hell out of them at the same time too, although pissing off a bloodthirsty killer who’s already out to try and murder you probably isn’t the greatest idea in the world; but then again, what did I have to loose?  Many of these games I’ve haven’t played for years and years (and some I’ve never actually got around to playing), so over Christmas I thought I’d get a few out and see if they still worked.  Most of them are Star Trek themed ones; a lot of these got released around the turn of the century and there’s an interesting story behind most of them.

I tried eight in all, but only three would install and run properly.  The other five either wouldn’t run, crashed very early on, or wouldn’t run well enough to make them fun to play.  There’s no enjoyment to be had from trying to help Commander Riker from the Starship Enterprise investigate a damaged space station, when the graphics make it look like someone’s been sick all over everything after eating a banana-based blancmange.

The most frustrating was “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy”, which allowed me to complete a number of missions before reaching a particularly long and fiddly one against the Venturi (with no in-mission save option) which, however well I did it, I was always informed at the end that I’d allowed my ship to be destroyed.  What?  How did Commandant Rotherot think I got back home?  Swim or flap my arms and fly many light-years through the vacuum of space?  The man’s an idiot.  I even hailed him from my ship (I was its captain you know) when I got back to the starbase to tell him I’d completed the mission, so all he had to do was look out of the window to see my ship and crew were safe.  He wasn’t the least bit sympathetic either; no support, no discussion, nothing.  What a useless teacher he is.  He may be in charge of Starfleet Academy but he’s obviously just a stupid pencil-pusher who hasn’t a clue how to motivate students.  “Your score is inadequate. You’ll have to repeat the mission.”  Seriously dude, that’s not in the least bit helpful to me.  He’s pretty well ruined my self-confidence now.  After having the same conversation with him three times I got so pissed off that I tried to shoot at the starbase itself, but that just invoked an even more scathing rebuttal from him.  I really did feel like I was back at school; then again, I suppose shooting at your own base isn’t exactly the most grown-up thing I could have done.  I’m probably lucky I didn’t get expelled.

I think the solution to this problem and many of the others, is to get hold of an old Windows 98 computer and install them on that instead.  That’ll show the idiot that I really am starship captain material!  (I am, I really do believe that.)

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy at IMDB (8.1 / 10)
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy at Wikipedia
Review 1
Review 2


Frontier Blues / Begging for Money


Frontier Blues  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

In this debut feature written and directed by Iranian born Babak Jalali, “Frontier Blues” features four, intertwined stories all set in Iran’s northern frontier with Turkmenistan, a region that has long been neglected in Iranian cinema, interesting not only for its magnificent, forlorn landscape but also for its multi-ethnic population of Persians, Turkmens and Kazakhs. Featuring non-professional actors from the northern region of Iran, Jalali’s film looks at fragments of the everyday existence of a varied collection of characters from the region.

2009 –  Certificate: 12  –  Iranian Film
Rating Details: One use of strong language and a moderate sex reference
7.0 out of 10

Although I frequently do nothing at work for weeks at a time (except procrastinate), I occasionally have to do something. This is normally something which I can’t delegate downwards or pass the buck upwards.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I had to complete a funding application.  I’d known it’d need doing for the last month or so, but it was only yesterday that I did much about it, as it had a 17:00 deadline.  I’d had a quick look at it the day before and decided that it wasn’t a lot of work; why I believe myself when I think something like that I’ll never know, but somehow I always do.  So yesterday I found myself having to do some real work for a change.  Now, there are people who actually do this sort of thing as their full time job and some of them actually seem to enjoy it.  I lack the intelligence, focus and strength of character to be like that.  I see it as a necessary evil that allows me to lead the decadent lifestyle that I do.  No one should be forced to write funding applications; it’s only one step up from begging in the street.  Like writing poetry or songs, funding bids come from the heart; they’re not something that can be forced out of someone.  In my case they’re dragged screaming and kicking from my very soul, before being nakedly spread-eagled across the page for all to gawp at, pointing and laughing as they do so, as if I was exposing a very private part of me, which in a way I am.  Being forced to write a funding bid is like being forced to love someone.  Of course I enjoy getting that follow up letter that contains the word “congratulations”, but most of the time they just say “I’m sorry to inform you”.  Writing funding bids is like asking someone out, and I’m crap at that too.  (You work yourself up for ages to do it and then it all comes out wrong.)  I’m just not thick skinned enough to take the rejection and it sends me into a subconscious mire of desolation and self-loathing.  I still haven’t got over asking Debbie Warby out in 1977 and getting turned down; I only wanted to go and see “Star Wars” too.  I never did see it at the cinema; no wonder I prefer “Star Trek”.  So anyway, I got it done yesterday and what a beautiful creation it was; really, it should’ve been on display in a gallery, not stuffed into a brown envelope.  After a 100mph death-defying drive, (it wasn’t far to go and I had an hour or so to get there, but I’d drunk far too much coffee), I got to hand it in before the deadline.  I got a call about two hours later from the fund’s administrator, asking if I could e-mail her a copy, as she was having to scan all the applications and she’d been “inundated” with them and would be at work for hours doing them, so it would save her time.  Inundated.  Inundated!  It’s like asking girls out again; a futile exercise that ends in humiliation and a feeling of abject failure.  A woman gets asked out in this movie; that ends in abject failure too.

So this was a chance to watch my entire collection of Iranian films… all one of them. Not sure what I was expecting really, probably just some propaganda to do with nuclear bombs, oppressed women who choose to wear a burqa and jihadist wars.  There isn’t anything else there is there, other than sand and oil… and camels probably?  Well, that’s what it says in the papers, so it must be true.  Okay, I don’t really believe any of that nonsense, but I was surprised by what I did see.  In fact it took me a while to get over my preconceptions and begin to appreciate what this film actually was, which made me feel a bit guilty; I really was under the impression that it would be sort of worthy, but a bit amateurish and boring.  In fact this is a black comedy, which pokes fun at itself and Iran’s own, internal preconceptions about itself.  It’s true to say that not a lot happens for most of the film and there aren’t a great many spaceships, aliens or explosions in it.  It’s simply a snapshot of the lives of four people that to some extent are interconnected.  At first I did find it a bit boring, but when I finally worked out what I was watching it got a lot more interesting.  It was almost as if I felt guilty about finding the discomfort of the characters funny, which is a bit sad really.  The picture quality isn’t always the best, which is a bit frustrating as the scenery is really worth seeing.  It’s also quite slow and nothing happens quickly; and in a cultural way there are a few things that just don’t sit comfortably for many westerners too.  However, the majority of it is good stuff and I really rather enjoyed it.

The music used in the film is sparse and haunting. It’s not something I’d listen to on its own but as a soundtrack it’s great and adds to the atmosphere a lot.  We also get treated to a bit of what sounds like Marlene Dietrich, but I could be wrong.

Movie Weather Forecast. I’ve still not started doing this properly, but it was dry and mostly sunny, with some blustery wind at times.

For stupid people like me, the trailer makes the tone of the film a bit clearer.

Recommend for wrestlers, photographers and anyone who works on a chicken farm.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I like tea.  I drink a lot of tea.  I like coffee but I like tea more.  In this film the characters drink tea.  They drink a lot of tea.  In fact I suspect that it’s a subtle joke about how much tea people in Iran do drink.  I thought all they did there was build nuclear bombs and hate on the West, but actually they drink a lot of tea and have a sense of humour that I can relate to.  That’s cool, because most of the people I actually know don’t understand it.  I’m a Brit so tea is automatically badass and badass in a way coffee will never be.  In fact it’s the most badass of drinks; except perhaps cider.

Frontier Blues at IMDB (6.7 / 10)


Laura / Wow! How to be a Great People Manager


Laura  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

The sensually provocative images of internationally acclaimed photographer David Hamilton again move and breathe in Laura. A delicate journey through innocence, beauty and sensuality involving a 16 year old ballet dancer who falls in love with her mother’s former lover, a 40 year old sculptor. A classic cinematic treatment of mother-daughter competition and the first stirrings of sexuality.  With utmost taste and talent, Hamilton presents the gratification of budding womanhood.

1979 –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
5.0 out of 10

For reasons that mostly baffle me but probably point to a severe breakdown in the decision-making process somewhere, I’m trusted with the management of nine people at work, plus another two or three that are ‘incoming’. I’ve never received much in the way of training to accomplish this, but I do my best.  I try to work them all to within an inch of their lives, make them feel worthless and in awe of me, blame them when something goes wrong and take the credit when something goes well.  I provide them with impossible deadlines and grass them up to more senior people when they fail to meet them.  I invent or overcomplicate existing procedures, to make their lives as difficult as possible.  My managerial catch-phrase is, “if you don’t like it you can leave”.  In fact the only book on management I’ve ever read is “The Art of Demotivation”.  I’d heartily recommend this to anyone who manages staff.  I keep my well-thumbed copy by my desk at all times.  Despite my obvious lack of emotional intelligence, in a strange way I consider these ‘resource units’ as my family.  (In that sense I care for them deeply, in the same way that Captain Janeway on the Starship Voyager cared for her crew, but still managed to nearly get them killed most weeks.)  Consequently, I get very distressed when any of them decide to fly the nest or take maternity leave.  (Mainly because of the extra hassle it’s going to cause me.)  In the next couple of months I have to recruit three or four new members of staff.  From experience, I’m pretty sure that interviewing is about as close as a man can get to giving birth.  The only difference is that we interview during office hours to a sensible timetable that minimises the disruption it causes.  It is however a painful experience, in which you deal with things as best you can, when all you really want to do is scream and moan about how long it’s all taking, as you wait for the candidate(s) to come into the room so to speak.  And my top tips for interviewing?  Always have the interview panel with the light behind its back.  I find it helps to put interviewees at ease if you silhouette yourselves.  I also find that starting off interviews with the question, “what’s the worst question we could ask you today?” often helps to put candidates at ease too.  If I don’t see tears by the end, I know I’m facing a tough son-of-a-bitch, who might one day challenge my Alpha Male status, an attribute that at work we call Wow; strangely, these people always score really poorly and consequently never get appointed.  There’s nothing Wow about this film either.

David Hamilton made a few films like this and they’re all crap. This is probably because I know nothing about art and can never relate to anything or anyone in them.  And I hate the ‘soft focus’ (i.e. out of focus) photography that always seems to get used too, so it’s not just the people, plots and places I don’t get.  I guess if I was cultured enough I’d think this movie was a cinegraphic masterpiece that “presents the gratification of budding womanhood” and unrequited love, rather than some child porn dressed up as art.  But what do I know?  I’m probably just an ignorant, Mail-reading Brit, who thinks anything foreign is rubbish (unless it’s American or curry).  I guess if I go out and kill someone on purpose, as long as I do it tastefully it’s art, not murder.  Having said that, there is a story of sorts (a somewhat pervy love triangle) and a bit of action when something catches fire.  There’s also some ‘fun’ with weed-killer too.  (It’s a good example of what happens when you don’t store and use chemicals correctly.)  I guess if you can work around all its technical and plot foibles, then you could get something positive out of it.  (It’s not unlike a trashy B-movie in that respect.)

The soundtrack is mainly plinky-plonky ‘emotional’ piano or dated prog rock. It’s not something I’d miss if it was somehow erased for existence by time-travelling, intergalactic film critics.

Trailer. Well if there is one I couldn’t find it.  Yes, the Internet has let me down.  The best I managed to locate were some clips, so I’ve picked out an especially action-packed one for here.

Recommended for sculptors, dancers and anyone with a very open mind.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? I guess it’s another reason for me to be sent to Hell, but Paul (40) manages to get off with Laura (15).  It’s not that I approve or would want to be in his place; it’s just that he could, which makes it badass, although mostly just bad.  What’s he got that I haven’t?  Other than he’s good looking, French, talented, sexy and (in these post-Saville times) “a sinister pervert who used his fame to get close to young women and girls”.  No wait, that’s Rolf Harris.

Laura at IMDB (6.0 / 10)
Laura at Wikipedia
Laura clip at YouTube


I Know What You Did Last Summer / Star Trek Novels


I Know What You Did Last Summer  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Uk Release

On the magic Summer’s night of high school’s end, Julie, Helen, Ray and Barry get into Barry’s new Beamer and drive out to celebrate, their lives and hopes before them. But on the road they have a terrible accident; hit and kill a man.  In the shock and panic that follows, they dump the body in the sea rather than reporting the accident.  As the body sinks, the hand of the dead man breaks the surface in a last grasp at life, then disappears into the murky depths.  The four friends realise they are now guilty of murder and swear to take their secret to their graves.  But now someone is stalking them, someone who knows who they are, knows what they did last Summer, and seeks revenge…

1997 –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books. Not just any old book though, but Star Trek books.  (This is cue for you to both yawn and go find something else to do, or think this is the best thing, ever.  I don’t mind which you choose; after all, not everyone mentally and emotionally matures at the same speed.)  So anyway, for those of you who have matured sufficiently…  I’ll admit that in the past I’ve flirted a little with Star Trek novels and Star Trek audiobooks.  (I must confess that I especially love the minimal effort the latter take to enjoy and that I can do other things at the same time, like drive or go to sleep.  What’s not so good is the limited range of titles available, their cost and the fact that most have been greatly abridged.)   Star Trek was always as much about the relationships between the characters, as the ‘blowing things up’ stuff.  If it sometimes tries too hard to project a perfect version of America as itself, then I can forgive it that.  Most of these stories were based somewhere in the known Star Trek timeline, generally between this episode or that episode, or occasionally kind of outside it.  Following the release of “Star Trek: Nemesis” a void opened up, one as large as the universe itself.  The Star Trek reboot, whilst brilliant in its own way, can never hope to fill this space; it’s simply the wrong shape, size and timeline.  This void is empty except for one thing, a single Question; what happened to everyone?  The novels from this period are generally really entertaining and exciting, well written and treat ‘known’ Star Trek history with the appropriate level of respect and consistency.  However, they don’t answer that Question.   Then in May 2001, “Avatar” was published, a story written and set after the end of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.  Over next few years more books came out that did a similar thing and were set after the various TV series and then finally Nemesis itself.  Suddenly we could have answers to the Question.  Of course not everyone likes how future history is working out and what’s happened or happening to all those characters we travelled with for so long, but I’m finding the experience to be wonderfully entertaining.  No longer hemmed in by ‘official’ history or the limitations of TV or film productions, the books set in the period after Nemesis are able to chart their own way forward, taking the Star Trek story further into the future.  They also do a pretty good job of maintaining their internal consistency from one to the next and between different authors.  This makes it feel like they’re all part of one, giant story arc, rather than just random tales.  I’ve just finished reading the “Destiny” trilogy.  This does fundamental things with the Star Trek universe that would have taken a whole series on TV to do justice to them, as well as a sizable special effects budget.  For anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge and started to read these books, I’d fully recommend you find the time to do so.  I wish I could write stories…  This film was the first part of a trilogy.  I think that’s about as far as I can push the comparison.

This movie initially worried me. If someone really did know what I did last summer, then it was likely to be a totally over the top erotic thriller, with elements of horror, science-fiction and comedy mixed in with it.  (Although I must admit I was curious to see who was playing me in it.)  In the end it turned out to be a teen horror with Buffy in it and some killer running around wearing a yellow pacamac and carrying a hook so bent I can’t imagine it was easy to get it to go into anything, never mind a squealing teen.  It also features the absolutely worst pretend ice cubes I’ve ever seen a movie; seriously, they don’t even sound like ice.  And it heavily features “Hush” by Kula Shaka on the soundtrack too, one of the most insipid, horrible tunes ever to be conjured into existence.  It’s awful.  I can remember walking past the video hire shop (remember them) in Colliers Wood on a number of occasions when it first came out on VHS and seeing a big, cardboard cut-out for it in the window.  (Come to think of it, it could have been for one of its two sequels, but let’s ignore that possibility for now.  N.B.  Actually I’ve thought about it some more, I think it might have been an advert for the whole trilogy.)  I can’t recall exactly what went through my mind at the time, but I think there was a level of disappointment that suggests to me now I wasn’t expecting to see it.  It’s weird how you can sometimes recall these random thoughts years later.  I guess my disappointment must have been pretty profound.  Despite all this (and more), it’s actually a really good film, but I can’t for the life of me work out why.  Pretty enigmatic, isn’t it?  I think they’re making a new version of it too…

The evil of Kula Shaker aside, the soundtrack is actually okay and includes songs by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Offspring.

The trailer. It’s better with the sound off.

Recommend for students and fisherman.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Despite being an entirely obnoxious rich-boy who seemed to exist entirely for the purpose of pissing off his friends and showing his stomach muscles off to the viewer, Ray finally does the right thing and saves The Girl from The Baddie.  As well as being a cliché of the first degree, this is (if it was real of course) a really badass thing to do.  (However, he’d probably have been killed by Ben if it was real life, so it’s just as well it’s only a movie.)

I Know What You Did Last Summer at IMDB (5.6/10)
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Wikipedia
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Roger Ebert (1.0/4)
I Know What You Did Last Summer trailer at YouTube


Lars and the Real Girl / Doing Less Than Nothing


Lars and the Real Girl  -  Front DVD cover  -  US Release

Sometimes you find love where you’d least expect it.  Just ask Lars (Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca.  Lars is completely content with his artificial girlfriend, but when he develops feelings for Margo, an attractive co-worker, Lars finds himself lost in a hilariously unique love triangle, hoping to somehow discover the real meaning of true love.  You’ll be swept off your feet by “Lars and the Real Girl”, hailed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by The Associated Press.

2007  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Some Sex-Related Content
8.0 out of 10

I’m on something called Annual Leave at the moment.  This is a strange, but rather welcome concept through which I get paid my salary to do sod all.  In fact for the last two days I’ve done even less than that and in doing so have actually discovered a new physics, which I’ve decided to call “Anti-nothing”.  This is a weird, quantum effect wherein you can actually do less than nothing at all.  It’s pretty scary stuff too.  It’s only through washing my sleeping bag at one point that I avoided crossing over the non-event horizon and falling into some sort of parallel dimension where no one does anything ever.  I’ve never been there myself, although I think I’ve met a few people who have.  Doing nothing has given me the time to enjoy the view out of my window a little more than usual.  I’ve notice a huge, bright orange building that has suddenly spring up amongst the trees that I’ve never seen before.  There’re also a couple of cars in the car park that have had most of their windows smashed in, which are accompanied by a number of dented panels.  I’ve no idea what the story is behind them, but they’ve been sitting there, neatly parked, side by side for several days now, and resemble a couple that have had a row and now aren’t speaking to one another.  Whoever owns then hasn’t even bothered to sweep up the glass or block up the holes.  Weird.  I’ve also observed the police dealing with who I imagine is my local drug dealer.  They spent ages searching him and his car yesterday morning; I watched all the action through my binoculars.  The good thing is that the car has gone now, because it’s been frequently and annoying parked just where I turn in.  There’s never a dull moment around here!  This movie has none of these exciting things in it, yet it’s still very entertaining.

This is basically a comedy-drama about a guy who buys a blow-up sex doll to have as his girlfriend.  Now I’ll readily admit that I’m not an expert in such ‘things’, but I’m willing to bet that most who are don’t take them outside to meet other people very often.  Although we live in relatively enlightened times, I’m not sure the world is quite ready for ‘significant others’ down the pub, at the shops or in the cinema, who are made of silicon and rubber and have lifelike ‘bits’ under their clothes.   It’s probably acceptable in the Star Trek version of the far future and in Japan right now, but for the rest of us it’s a bit of a social faux pas.  But this film sees Ryan Gosling doing exactly that.  This would all seem to suggest that this movie’s going to be full of smutty innuendo and body-function-based humour.  Actually it’s nothing like that at all.  It’s much more of a study of how one individual starts to recover from a life-long difficulty in relating to people.  Yes it is very funny at times, but it’s also quite moving too.  I really like Ryan Gosling and he seems to totally nail the part in this film.  The plot does start to stretch the boundaries of realism, especially towards the end, but it’s well written, acted and made.  Kelli Garner is very cute too.  An original, well-observed and great film.  It’s got one of the worst titles ever though.

The soundtrack is fine for what it is, but isn’t very memorable.

The trailer makes this movie seem more of a comedy than it really is.  It probably has most of the best jokes in it.

Recommended for people who work in builders’ merchants, mums-to-be, parents that want to have to explain what a “Living Doll” is to their offspring whilst watching the movie, and anyone who works in an office with people who clutter their desks with toys.  (I despair at some of my own colleagues, who stick lumps of brightly coloured fur-with-eyes to their monitors and clutter their work spaces with animal-based, plastic fripperies and desk tidies full of virtually unusable and hideously ugly pens.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In the same way as I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to voting for UKIP, I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to using a blow-up sex doll. However, given the number of votes and sales associated with both, I probably have unknowingly met quite a few.  So it’s a pretty badass thing to take your blow-up girlfriend out and about with you, especially if you start to have conversations with her in public too.  (I’m not so sure voting for UKIP is though.)

Lars and the Real Girl at IMDB (7.4/10)
Lars and the Real Girl at Wikipedia
Lars and the Real Girl at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
Lars and the Real Girl trailer at YouTube


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan / Cinematic Perfection


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release Box SetFeeling that the future holds nothing close to what the past once did, Admiral James T. Kirk begins to believe that galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young.  Yet on a routine inspection of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk’s Starfleet career enters a new chapter as a result of his most vengeful nemesis: Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically enhanced conqueror from late 20th-century Earth.  Escaping his forgotten prison, Khan sets his sights on both capturing Project Genesis, a device of god-like power, and the utter destruction of Kirk.

1982  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
10.0 out of 10.0

Yesterday was Wednesday; time for another trip to the dentist.  My dentist (who for some reason reminds me more and more of a vampire each time I see him), seemed in a slightly better mood this week; (I guess he must have had a good feed of virgin’s blood or something).  He still didn’t want to remove my misbehaving wisdom tooth though.  Instead he gave me even more antibiotics.  In this film Khan says to Kirk, “I’ve done far worse than kill you, Admiral.  I’ve hurt you.  And I wish to go on hurting you.”  This time my dentist gave my antibiotics that I’m not supposed to drink alcohol with.  I’m pretty sure I know how Kirk felt about Khan at that moment.  I think my dentist might be into my “utter destruction” too.  It’s just a feeling I have.

When people ask me what my favourite film of all time is, I often say this one. The best sequel ever, I’ve watched it 1,000s of times (poetic licence okay) and can probably quote most of the dialogue, but I still love watching it again.  And I’m probably about to gush a load of insufferable, embarrassing and slightly degrading stuff about it and how it’s affected my life, but I don’t care.  If this movie hadn’t become the success it was, it’s quite likely there’d have been no more Star Trek and basically life as we all know it would be futile and virtually meaningless.  Star Trek gives us meaning and purpose, and this film is probably as close as any of us will get to perfection.  From the awesome first scene, where most of the regular crew appear to get killed, until the final one where someone really does, it’s just one, long, cinematic orgasm.  It’s the sort of film the Borg would enjoy in its search for perfection.  The fact that it was revisited for “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (which was also an amazing movie) just goes to prove how good it really is.  It’s got a great villain and a great (if slightly clumsy looking) space battle in it too.  Made over 30 years old, it’s theme of getting old has become more and more relevant to me with each viewing, as they characters in it haven’t aged a bit but I have; I guess it wasn’t such a big deal when it was first released when I was 19.  I use so, so many out of context quotes from this film in my day-to-day life.  Indeed, I think I’ve probably arranged my life to better fit the film, entirely for this purpose.  So, for example, when I drive about in my car I secretly, (or not so secretly if I’ve got a passenger with me who I don’t feel will think I’ve lost it), when I go from one area to another, ‘borrow’ from Sulu’s words during the Kobayashi Maru scene and say something a bit like, “exiting the Berkshire sector, for the Hampshire sector”.  (Yes, I really do that; in fact it’s become such a habit that I have to actively stop myself doing it if I don’t want to weird anyone out too much.)  When I do my budget forecasts at work I often think that I’m facing my very own Kobayashi Maru test and then find myself quoting Sulu again, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”  In fact my whole life is a “no win scenario”.  And as someone who used to do something quite similar to “exploring strange new worlds” and “galloping around the cosmos”, but is now stuck behind a desk delivering the occasional bit of training, I can totally relate to Kirk when he says the latter “is a game for the young”.  If it didn’t mean I had to go outside when it was cold and wet, I’d follow McCoy’s advice; “Get back your command. Get it back before you really do grow old.”  Sadly I’ve never had anyone say anything like “Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material” to me.  I guess that means I was as rubbish at what I used to do as what I do now.  Shame really.  I guess I’ll have to steal one of our minibuses from work, go back in time and save the Dodo or something like that; which seems strangely apt.  (But that’s another tale for another Star Trek film.)  And the list goes on and on.  Sad, isn’t it?  And as for the overall story arc of starting the day with a routine bit of work and ending it literally saving the universe from an evil genius with a terrifying weapon; well, that’s not as unusual for me as it might seem.

Is there’s a bigger gap anywhere between a great film and a diabolically bad trailer?  I don’t think so.  OMG, it’s bad!  (Note for young people:  That’s “bad” as in actually bad, not “bad” as in wicked, sick, hot, etc.)

Not only is this film almost perfect, it’s also got an amazing soundtrack; I even bought it on CD and I hardly ever do that.  There’s a bit of music which is used when the Enterprise is first seen in dry dock just prior to launch.  Whenever I’ve start anything epic in my life (which is exceedingly rare), or driven a new vehicle for the first time (also exceedingly rare), that bit of music is my soundtrack to the event.  Imagine the lights coming on, the music booming out and try it yourself, it really works!  (Incidentally, I’ve never really understood why Kirk looks so uncomfortable in this scene.  Whatever Saavik says or does, it’s Sulu that’s actually ‘driving’, so I can’t imagine for a moment he’s just going to go ahead and crash into something if she makes a mistake.)

Recommended for everyone.  Seriously, if you don’t like this film you really need to go see a doctor.

No cats, chainsaws of decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Can I say the whole film?  I guess not, so I’m going to select Kirk’s reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test so he could beat it.  Is that not the ultimate in thinking outside the box?  (You could set up an entire and very lucrative, senior management training programme around that one.)  It’s just a shame it’s not possible to do it to real-life.  I’d have my Aston Martin by now if it was.  It’s still totally badass though.

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Wikipedia
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.0)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (the original one)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (a better one)


Alone in the Dark / Working for Fighter Command


Alone in the Dark  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseEdward Carnby (Christian Slater) is a private investigator specializing in unexplainable supernatural phenomena.  His cases delve into the dark corners of the world, searching for truth in the occult remnants of ancient civilizations.  Now, the greatest mystery of his past is about to become the most dangerous case he has ever faced.  With the help of his ex-girlfriend, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and his bitter rival, government agent Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff), Edward is about to learn that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it cannot kill you!

2005  –  Certificate Not Rated  –  German/Canadian Film
4.0 out of 10

I hate this time of year.  It’s not just the fact that all the good bits of the winter are over and it’s still months until the summer; or the fact that I’ve got no money as I squandered it over the Christmas period; or even that there’s hardly ever any decent gigs to go to.  No, it’s also the time of year when everyone I care for dies and my relationships always end.  On top of all this, it’s when we write our Financial Plan at work too.  The latter is less a mathematical exercise and more a futile attempt to predict the future; (and the scale of my successes in the National Lottery over the past 20 years nicely demonstrates how well my precognitive abilities have been developed).  The process bares all the hallmarks of Fighter Command at the height of the Battle of Britain, wondering where the next plane or pilot is going to come from, as its fully committed assets are quickly depleted.  The consequences of all this is that it generally feels like we’re looking into a dark, bottomless abyss, as the world as we know it ends.  (Although on the up side, we are still here after nearly 55 years).  More to the point, I have to spend this afternoon and evening working, because I’ve been told to move loads of numbers about in mine; I’m not sure why, they won’t get any bigger however many times I move them.  This film is also about the end of the world as we know it.

Other than all the things and people I hate, despise or loathe, I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going, laid-back, tolerant guy.  But even I have my limits and this film has just reached one.  What makes things worse is that it could have been really good.  The story’s fine (it’s based on a computer game), the effects are decent enough (the gun-shot one borders on impressive) and even I’ve heard of its three, principal actors.  Christian Slater was the Communications Officer on the Excelsior for goodness sake; it’s not the most challenging bridge job around that’s true, but it was on Captain Sulu’s ship so that must count for something.  And Tara Reid, the Choir Chick from “American Pie”, gets given some glasses to wear, so she can look intelligent and thus play the part of an archaeologist.  The chase scene, (once we’ve got over the longest “Star Wars” like preamble in cinematic history), is actually pretty good too.  Unfortunately, the characters are so poorly written that the Oxford English Dictionary is considering using them as part of its official definition of one-dimensional.  The Alpha Male rivalry between Richard Burke and Edward Carnby is a key plot element.  (Edward used to work with Richard, so consequently they scowl at one another a lot.)  It’s probably fair to say they don’t get on, aren’t each others’ friends on Facebook and don’t send one another Christmas cards, not even e-cards.  Then, in the middle of a big battle Edward shoots a ‘bad guy’ who’s coming up behind Richard.  The latter gives Edward a brief nod of gratitude.   This incident is never acknowledged or further developed, but from then on they’re instantly the best of buddies.  Is that what it takes to remove years of personal animosity?  Maybe I’ve entirely missed some sort of gay subplot, which would explain a great many things, as well as why Edward and Aline are ex-lovers. The whole film is littered with a garbage script and stereotypical characters that act in nonsensical ways.  I especially enjoyed the Abkani (they’re the bad guys) charging towards some soldiers and then basically stopping a few metres in front of them to growl and throw their limbs around a lot, thus allowing the latter to blast away at them for ages and ages; not that the sight of thousands of rounds of ammunition fired at point blank range not seeming to have much of an effect, puts them off trying.  When I see a movie like this I want to really believe the world is about to end, not keep glancing at the clock to see how long I’ve been watching it for.  So basically it’s great, except for the characters and everything they say or do…

It has a Scandinavian, heavy metal soundtrack.  Nightwish aside, this tells you a lot.  Listen up.  Heavy metal (and all its sub-genera) should never be used for any film with a budget of over $500,000, ever.  It’s just not right.

The trailer’s like the rest of the movie; it seems to promise lots but contains nothing.

Recommended for archaeologists, private investigators, ‘Government agents’ and anyone who wears glasses to look intelligent.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At one point Steven Dorff throws a bit of a wobbly.  He picks up a few bits of paper (probably the script), scans them briefly and then pushes over a table and screams out, “My guys are dying out there for nothing; for fucking nothing!”  Seeing an actor demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence by empathising with the audience whilst also staying in character, just has to be badass.

Alone in the Dark at IMDB (2.3 / 10)
Alone in the Dark at Wikipedia
Alone in the Dark at YouTube

No trailer I’m afraid, thanks to YouTube blocking the video.  Liongate clearly doesn’t want anyone to find out about this film!


Deterrence / Fun With Laptops and Phone Lines


Deterrence  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Dutch ReleaseIn the year 2008, U.S. President Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak), who recently took office after the death of the former chief executive, is campaigning for re-election.  After winning the Colorado state primary, Emerson finds himself stranded in a roadside diner after a freak snowstorm.  While the president exchanges pleasantries with the diner’s staff and customers, a new bulletin appears on TV: Udei Hussein, son of the late Saddam Hussein, has invaded Kuwait and butchered several hundred U.S. peace-keeping troops.  Outraged, the president announces that if Hussein and his forces do not withdraw and officially surrender, he will begin dropping nuclear weapons on Baghdad.  However, Iraq responds that if they are attacked, 23 cities in the United States and allied nations will be immediately destroyed in a counterattack.  Emerson, his advisors, and the others trapped in the diner with them debate long and loud about what to do, and what the potential consequences could be.

1999  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  French / American Film
8.5 out of 10

A few weeks ago I wrote about my work laptop having a few ‘issues’.  Work-related stress, cruel and heartless management and a failure to ‘work smarter and not harder’, had reduced it to an untidy pile of nearly useless components unable to do the simplest things, other than make up excuses for not having done them. (Oh wait, that’s just me.)  Over the past week or so, to coincide with moving our office, trying to sort out the old one and get the new one in a state to be used as anything more than a second-hand furniture shop, I’ve had ‘The Man From Dell’ visit no less than four times, in an attempt to fix my laptop’s problems.  However, I’m now the proud owner of what looks like a new computer; although it’s been totally pulled to bits so many times and so many parts have been replaced, that I’m not sure it even recognises itself now.  More importantly, it actually works.  I really enjoyed downloaded the four million or so e-mails that have piled up for me over the past couple of weeks, many of which are increasingly angry ones from people demanding that I do this, that and the other by yesterday.  I doubt they’ll care that moving office takes a bit of effort, my laptop’s gone mental, my mobile phone went into hiding and the new office looks like Engineering on the Enterprise after a particularly bad day dealing with Klingons.  They’ll just think I’m a lazy, work-shy imbecile, who can’t be arsed to make an effort; trouble is, they’re probably right.  In related news, ‘The Man From BT’ was also in today, to put in two basic phone lines.  Quite why this took him (and a colleague) most of the day, I’m not sure.  We’re in the centre of the town, there’re landlines and junction boxes everywhere.  Unlike BT and myself, the President in this film manages to ‘get things done’, even though he’s stranded in a cafe with just a few phone lines and a TV, as he organises universal Armageddon faster than BT can get a telephone to work.

Despite all its plot holes and general dumbness, this is actually a really clever and tense political thriller.  A number of its assumptions have since proved to be quite prophetic too.  Its clever use of stock footage of American Presidents playing at “Team America: World Police” and TV coverage of the developing crisis, works very well.  I wasn’t entirely sure if it was making a point about war being bad or necessary; or that American presidents have too much power or a responsibility to use that power.  However, there is something very chilling about seeing someone ordering a nuclear attack on another country.  It was also rather depressing to see how little value was placed by the Americans on the lives of its enemies and allies alike.  (If it wasn’t for us, they’d still be riding around firing bows and arrows at one another.)  I can’t really say much more as knowing about the plot would spoil things, but I’d certainly recommend watching it.  It’ll give you lots to talk about afterwards too.

The soundtrack is good example of understated music making a big difference to the feel of the film.  Good job.

Recommended for Special Agents, dictators and anyone caught in a snowstorm or who works in a cafe.  Definitely not recommend for American Presidents.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The American President ordering a nuclear attack is about as badass as you can get.  Shame it’s not a good type of badass.  I wouldn’t like to piss him off though.

Deterrence at IMDB (6.4 / 10)

Deterrence at Wikipedia

Deterrence at YouTube


Suck / A New Challenge


Suck  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”).   The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal.  After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood.  One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10

Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time.  No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park.  My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip.  A number of other differences were apparent too.  For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools.  A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules.  I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else.  It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer.  Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading.  On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt.  Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male.  Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time.  Game on…  This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.

Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks.  Nether was it some sort of  unimaginatively named 70’s porn.  It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast.  (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”?  It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.)  The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing.  It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk!  That’s real ultra violence.  And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it.  Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak.  See, even vegans have a sense of irony.  Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing.  I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom.  Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.

A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock.  It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction.  The performances are pretty good though.

Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nicole de Boer has a part in this film.  That’s badass.

Suck at IMDB (5.9 / 10)

Suck at Wikipedia

Suck at YouTube


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown / Soft Drink Shortage Hits Cactus World


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseThe streets are filled with death and destruction.  Ruthless drug traffickers prey upon the poor, the lonely, the helpless.  LA is a city desperate for deliverance… until now!  Charles Bronson returns as Paul Kersey, the original urban vigilante and one-man demolition force in this pulse-pounding, take-no-prisoners thriller!  Two rival drug gangs have a death-grip on LA’s battle-torn inner city.  But their brutal reign of terror is about to come to a violent end.  One man is out to avenge the cocaine-induced death of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter.  His name is Paul Kersey – and he’s armed, dangerous… and mad as hell!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
6.0 out of 10

The unseasonal run of warm days we’ve been having recently has put an unprecedented strain on reserves of cold drinks in Cactus World.  In fact I’ve run out of normal soft drinks and the things I only drink in an emergency, like bitter lemon and ginger ale, have been in the fridge so long they’ve all frozen solid.  I tried opening one this afternoon, but so much pressure had built up in the bottle that the contents started to explode everywhere; in fact I read this evening that earlier today America had briefly gone to DEFCON 1, as some military satellite had mistaken my attempts to get something cold to drink as a ballistic missile launch.  I think it’s all okay now though.  Fortunately, I also found some old bottles of Bacardi Breezer (Pineapple) in the back of the fridge that the alcohol had stopped from freezing.  It tasted okay(ish), considering it was two years past its Best Before date.  I also have to report the good news that the far worse scenario of there being a shortage of cold, alcoholic drinks, is not presently a concern.

Before we had mega-budget screen superheroes and nutters like Martin Riggs cleaning up urban scum, we had Paul Kersey.  The original street-level vigilante, here’s a chap who reluctantly goes off on his own and sorts out bad guys.  In many ways he’s a lot like Batman, a tortured soul who’s lost the ones he cares for most; except he’s not especially fit and strong, isn’t a billionaire and doesn’t have a flash car, cave, computer, utility belt or butler.  Then again, he does use guns and he hasn’t got an annoying sidekick either.  Last time we saw him, he was busy helping disadvantaged communities in New York become more resilient.  This time he’s back in America’s other city, Los Angeles, sorting out corrupt police and drug barons; you know, the usual stuff architects deal with.  Scarcely have I recovered from seeing Lieutenant Commander Chakotay turn up in “Night of the Comet” when along comes Lieutenant Commander Tuvok in “Death Wish 4”.  Clearly working under cover for Starfleet in some sort of time-travel paradox, he inadvertently gives some drugs to some dumb bimbo, who promptly kills herself with them.  She just happens to be the daughter of Charles Bronson’s latest love interest too.  In another interesting parallel with “Star Trek” I would say it was at least as deadly being a friend of Paul Kersey, as it is wearing a red shirt as a member of a landing party.  There’ve been five Death Wish films and nearly all of his ‘nearest and dearest’ have ended up being raped and/or murdered.  You do see Bronson take out Tuvok’s car with a grenade in an underground garage, but I’m pretty sure I saw him being beamed out just before it exploded.  Tuvok could’ve easily stunned them all with his phaser, but he probably didn’t want to contaminate the time-line or such like.  I watched the hardcore, uncut version, not the old, UK cut one with its missing 54 seconds.  Because of that I’d have probably turned into a serial killer by now, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was also a pan and scan version too, so half of it was missing.  I hate it when they do that.  It was mono as well.

There’s not a great deal of music in this movie and what there is has a tendency to sound like a reject from The Terminator.  The theme music is horrible though; some nasty saxophone-heavy garbage that sounds like it escaped from an obscure, 70s porn VHS.

Recommend for architects, vigilantes, would-be superheroes and anyone who might make friends with Paul Kersey.  And a warning to the latter; DON’T DO IT!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, someone does sort of explode into nothing after having a grenade fired into him.  And you thought The Terminator came up with that one first?

Top badass moment?  Dumb question. Charles Bronson IS badass.  And when someone asks, “who the fuck are you?” and you simply reply (after a tension building pause), “death”, that’s badass too.  And keeping a M203 grenade launcher attached to a M16 assault rifle in a cupboard behind your fridge is badass too.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at IMDB (4.8 /10)

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at Wikipedia