- Written by - Greg Daniels
- Directed by - Ken Kwapis
- A brief synopsis – Dwight and Angela get married. Everyone gets to do everything they ever wanted to do on a show. Oh, and there are about 2000 guest stars.
- The best line – Dwight: Michael, I can’t believe you came. Michael: That’s what she said.
- Second best line – Pete: Now everyone calls me “Plop.” So, thanks, PBS.
- Third best line – Meredith: A stripper’s only as good as his song.
- Fourth best line - Dwight: A bazooka! You remembered!
- Fifth best line - Michael: I feel like all my kids grew up and then they married each other. It’s every parent’s dream.
- The best moment - Joan Cusack, Erin’s mom? Women don’t like Pam? Toby’s life is boring? Creed…just Creed beats them all.
- The best story line - Michael as bestest mench.
- Notable guest appearances – Mindy Kaling, B. J. Novak, Rachael Harris, Dakota Johnson, Joan Cusack, Ed Begley Jr., Malcolm Barret, Matt L. Jones, Andy Buckley, and Michael Schur. And, of course, Steve and Nancy Carrell.
- Key exit(s) – Everyone.
- Grade - A
It had to end. And they did it justice. Everyone is back. Even the guy Michael fired in the first show. It’s long, awkward (but not for Meredith and her son), but a success overall. Combining the wedding with the panel allows for a very convenient and reasonable. The way they bring back Michael is classy and it does not detract from the rest of the show. Kelly and Ryan are as stupid as ever and that works, too. Stanley and Phyllis are as affectionate as one would hope, but so are the rest of the gang. The show was never just about Michael. The success was in finding everyone else. And we got away from Andy without too much of a commitment.
Beginning the ending with Pam’s self-assessment is key. They understand who was watching. Dwight’s assessment of Austin is awesome. And the offer to stay in the barn is exquisite.
NBC deserves immense credit for carrying this show as it sunk into the abyss over the last two years. It stayed at 9pm as a measure of respect that was deserved. Now, with the finale, the show leaves it all on the court of a fan base that may have dwindled, but will someday come back for it. It was a great way to end it. Life will go on, and we have all this to show for it. Take us home, Creed.
Texas Chainsaw – 2013
Director John Luessenhop
Starring Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine Neverson, Tania Raymonde, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Scott Eastwood, Bill Mosley, Gunnar Hansen, Marylin Burns, Richard Riehle
Screenplay Kristen Elms, Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan
Texas Chainsaw is the kind of movie that exists outside of time. It tries to make some sort of sense by ignoring the myriad sequels and remakes that had been created over the years and picking up exactly where the original left off. It even has scenes directly out of Hooper’s film. In the ensuing moments we find that there is a young child lost in the raid on the Sawyer home. She ends up in the arms of two of those who attended the massacre of what is left of the family.
Cut to, say, 20 years later. The baby is now a young woman named Heather (Daddario). She is presented with a letter informing her that a grandmother she never knew she had passed away, leaving a residence to Heather in her will. One might figure that this should be somewhere in the mid-90′s. Much of the evidence, including modern cell phones, show that the film could have been made today, nearly 40 years after the events of the original story. Either way, many of those who stay in the town have not aged more than that 20 years, It’s a convenience, to be sure, but logic is not why one watches a film with the word “Chainsaw” in the title.
So in this film, we have the tables slightly turned. Those who ignore the wise lawman (Barry) at the beginning of the film, wreaking havoc on a house that had just been the scene of horrific events, are painted in big crayola colors as bloodthirsty fools. Of course they will be the real enemies in this film, particularly the ring leader (Rae), who is now the town mayor.
Somehow, the slightly daft, yet extremely violent Leatherface (or Jed, to be even more backwoods) is looked upon as a hero of sorts. This is a stretch for the viewer to believe, as the group that Heather arrives to the house with gets the usual Jed treatment before Heather comes around to his way of thinking. The townspeople are such unbelievable assess that one has no choice but to side with the guy who kills teens. Really, those are the options. I am pretty sure Jack Benny would still be debating on why the hell he turned into the town of Newt after all.
So, when we get to the real draw of the film, it would have to be the gruesome death scenes. In this case, I am sad to report that the only thing to change in almost 40 years is the hue of the blood. The rest of the routine has become exactly that. Hammer, hook, chainsaw, and “What, that person isn’t dead yet?”
There is a semblance of satisfaction to some of the grisly killings, but that is only because, you know, one-dimensional people need a good killin’ now and then. My biggest fascination was in the strange good looks of the best friend girl, played by Raymonde. Her large lips and somewhat remarkable features held my attention, until I realized she was the one that played Ben’s daughter Alex on Lost. Then I was immersed in the small, ill-fitting coat of shame. Then I see this scene and it starts again:
Problem for me with the TCM series has always stemmed from the truth that the original film is not really good at all. It is just gory. Since it’s release, we’ve seen many better movies…Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Silence of the Lambs…even Hostel and the Rob Zombie Firefly movies mined the territory with more of tension, buildup and acting. The sequels and remakes of TCM have gone all over hell and back, and they’ve supplied weird and gross, if not necessarily a cohesive mood and story. The film was one of the first, but it was not necessary to try to flesh out the weirdness. To paraphrase Jim Gaffigan, just because camping is in everyone’s history doesn’t mean we would not want to live in houses if they are available.
If you’ve seen all the remakes and sequels, you will see this. When you finish, you will wonder why you had to. You will also wonder what year it is supposed to be in Newt, Texas.
(** out of *****)
- Written by - Brent Forrester
- Directed by - David Rogers
- A brief synopsis – Jim convinces Dwight to hold tryouts for the Assistant to the Assistant to the Regional Manager. Angela has no choice but to bring her kid to work after losing her daycare option. Andy auditions for a TV reality show.
- The best line – Dwight (on the merits of proposing to Esther): …genes so pure you could lick them.
- Second best line – (Talking about the one thing) Dwight: …some sort of virus? Jim: Love.
- Third best line - Dwight: You’re a good assistant, Jim. Jim: Not as good as you.
- The best moment - Potential Future Nonsense.
- The best story line - Oscar and Angela.
- Notable guest appearances – Aaron Rogers, Clay Aiken, Mark McGrath, Santigold and Jessica St. Clair.
- Key exit(s) – Darryl? But he left last week? That’s the Irish Goodbye for you.
- Grade - B-
Man, I am getting worn out of this breaking the third wall stuff. By the time Jim asks the film crew for help, it became the straw that broke the camel’s back for that risk. I guess 9 years of love is worth a music video with Snow Patrol, but I got more out of seeing tears form in Dwight’s eyes works as well, if not better.
Daryl coming back works, because many of us know people who would rather blow out-of-town without notice. Of course, it too gets drawn into a wacked out dance number, and that is okay, too. Andy in the A Capella line is on par with everything he’s done over the last two years: not as annoying as Michael, but only because it wasn’t drawn out as long. Still, every moment with him and the nutjob (St. Clair) he’s in line with is a drag, and the forced cameos (really, Aaron Rodgers as a musical talent judge?). At least there was no Roseanne.
Oscar and Angela have a nice routine, which is awkwardly combined with Dwight’s journey back to Angela and the baby for brevity’s sake. Kevin’s jealousy for being ignored is a little too cute, but the $25 dollar Itunes gift card with about $7 on it is sublime. Angela, after all of this time, seems the only one who is definitely changed from the first episode…of this year. The proposal for Dwight and Angela works on all levels.
One more week to see what they can do. It’s a lot of pressure, that the show seems to be crumbling under. They want everything to work out. And so do we. The main problem with these episode, is that the storylines are necessary to complete the show. But they would not be so if it were to go on. I know I would be happier if they stayed…
Jack Reacher – 2012
Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Starring Tom Cruise, Jai Courtney, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall, Alexia Fast
Taking on book franchises can be a tricky business. One can run the risk of pissing off the fan base even before the movie is released. Tom Cruise managed to do this by just not looking like the book’s subject. It seems like a flimsy reason to move away from something, but readers are always the intended crowd for the film makers. In reality, if you have a series that the readers have stuck with, you can expect that it is likely due to the stories. In this sense, one can nail a steady audience of viewers by following the most translatable parts of the story onto the screen. If they do this well enough, they can have the viewers and then even more readers. It’s a win for the viewers, and a win for those looking to pump out product.
That Cruise has one working franchise is a minor miracle. The way the first 2 Mission Impossible films turned out, there did not deserve to be a 3rd. Then Cruise found J.J. Abrams and never looked back. Upon finding out that he was moving into the role of Jack Reacher, one had to wonder who was stepping into the creative role that Abrams and his team, Orci and Kurtzman filled. In the case of Jack Reacher, that spot is filled quite well with McQuarrie. McQuarrie first came into the national consciousness with his script for The Usual Suspects, which netted him an Oscar in 1996. He’s done some decent work since, including Valkyrie and Ghost Protocol, but he also dabbled in some crap, like The Tourist. But even the venerable Julian Fellowes was tarred by that one. His work here is above the latter drivel. Far above that.
Having not read any of the Jack Reacher novels, I am at a loss to evaluate how well the movie follows the spirit of the book. What one can say is the movie is smart, unsympathetic and daring. Several innocent people perish in the first few frames, including children.
Tom Cruise has created a titular character who is hard-boiled, but not seething. He never lets his passion get in the way of his instinct. He’s been around many blocks to not comprehend what is expected of him. His work as an MP lead to a career solving crimes under the blanket of anonymity. He is kind of a one man A-Team, without the convictions. He does very few things that do not make sense, so long as we disinclude the stupid mano a mano towards the end. There is also a fair amount of luck involved when he does make mistakes that help make his character more human if not exactly flawed.
The mystery itself is rather predictable, but the way it is unfurled is entertaining nonetheless. Some of the cast is intriguing, especially the inclusion of Jenkins, Duvall, and especially Herzog, who makes a rare appearance in front of the camera. None of the 3 are wasted. The rest of the cast, including Pike, has a limited appeal.
Jack Reacher clocks in at a lengthy 2:10. They really could have shaved off at least 45 minutes and still maintained its appeal. If they make more of these films, my guess is that they will have to be shorter. We won’t need to know who he is, not that we really care. As played by Cruise, Jack Reacher is what he wants us to see.
(***1/2 out of *****)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 1979
Director – Robert Wise
Screenplay – Harold Livingston based on the story by Alan Dean Foster
Starring – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Stephen Collins, Persis Khambatta, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan
Okuda Timeline – 2271
Synopsis – The Enterprise is drafted back into action mid-upgrade to intercept a strange life form that is headed towards earth. Admiral Kirk volunteers to take the Captain’s chair from Captain Decker (Collins) as Spock and Bones find themselves drawn back as well.
Review - It’s fun to have them back, but really the film is boring as hell. Taking elements from the stillborn Phase II television project, we see many experimental effects that work on certain levels, but really just drag for the most part. It’s a lot of stuff that was handled better in the original series but now is done just for the sake of doing it (Spock’s arrival to Enterprise comes to mind). The look of the film takes a new life in digital form, however. The Kirk / Decker interplay still works, even if their motives seem to change a bit, no doubt due to the merging of the TV show pilot with the movie script. The balance between Spock, Kirk and McCoy are off, though, as the character of Spock is unnecessarily compromised, as if they really had not understood who the character is, even after a 3 year series. Some believe that his integration with V’Ger helps to resolve his own inner conflicts and pushes them towards what eventually would be The Borg. It would have been more entertaining if it weren’t so subtle. The degree of discomfort is just plain strange. The rest of the crew is there just be patronized, it seems. Khambatta’s acting actually makes sense when viewed as a robotic monitor. Still, the ending of the film intrigues when we find out what, exactly, V’ger is. Plus, it opens the door to greater things. For this, we give the film as pass.
(*** out of *****)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - 1982
Director – Nicholas Meyer
Screenplay – Jack B. Sowards and Meyer
Starring – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Ricardo Montalbán, Kirstie Alley, Paul Winfield, Merritt Butrick, Bibi Besch
Okuda Timeline – 2285
Synopsis – Space Seed Khan has blossomed in the desert of an uninhabitable planet. He and the descendants of that episode capture a Federation ship, setting up one of the great confrontations in Trek history. In the midst of all the chaos, Kirk meets a former flame, Carol Marcus, and her son…his son, David as scientists responsible for a magnificent project, Genesis.
Review - A tremendous script with virtuoso performances of the 3 leads, as well the perfect nemesis for Kirk. The acting in this film is exquisite, especially when one considers that Meyer never had the antagonist and protagonist on the same screen. According to Meyer, this allowed for Shatner to do his best work after many takes whereas Montalbán could nail his scenes in one take. It’s a lean film that gets the most out of almost every situation dramatically and comedically. If you need proof, keep an eye on Spock, especially when he is not speaking. The rest of the crew is geared up for action and they give a real impression that they know what a ship’s crew should do. Even if it’s a little corny, what happens to Chekov is still ghastly.
Kirstie Alley gets the most out of the two-dimensions that she is allowed. Kirk’s son and his former flame add a necessary dimension to his character, fitting nicely with the metaphor for aging that the script employs. For the first time, the fearless leader faces mortality and even if he does not flinch, he still suffers.
The filmmakers approach the story fearlessly, heading where Star Trek had never gone before, and out of this new territory, we see much more than we ever could have expected.
(***** out of *****)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – 1984
Director – Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay – Harve Bennett
Starring – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Christopher Lloyd, Merritt Butrick, Robin Curtis, Mark Lenard, Judith Anderson
Okuda Timeline – 2285
Synopsis – Kirk is struggling, but not as much as McCoy. Spock’s Dad shows up and tells them that they messed things up during his son’s wake. Meanwhile, Savik and David find that Spock is reborn as a rapidly growing child on the Genesis planet. Klingons, lead by Lloyd, intercept transmissions regarding Genesis and decide that it must be some sort of weapon. Havoc ensues.
Review - Although it’s a decent film, The Search for Spock ends up feeling like a movie in search of a lead character. The absence of Spock allows for an expansion of the roles of others, but they prove not quite ready for the task. They each have their moments, especially Bones, but even though the movie bears his name, Spock’s presence is definitely lacking. The Klingons seem obligatorily gross and Lloyd just lacks menace to carry as an antagonist. Lenard has a good presence, though, and the rest of the gang seem to be having fun. It’s just lacking Spock.
(*** of *****)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – 1986
Director – Leonard Nimoy
Screenplay – Steve Meerson, Harve Bennett, Peter Krikes and Nicholas Meyer
Starring – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Catherine Hicks, Mark Lenard, Jane Wyatt
Okuda Timeline – 2286, 1986
Synopsis – Kirk and crew, still in exile after the events of The Search for Spock, find that the earth is in peril once more from a probe heading towards earth. Turns out it’s a ship of whales who are searching for their relatives left on the planet. Sadly, all whales had been extinct for some time. The crew then takes the Klingon cruiser that they hijacked and travels back in time to kidnap two to get an answer to the probe. While there, they meet a marine biologist (Hicks) who they take along for the ride.
Review - Even if the bones of this film are straight out of the first film, the rest of the script is pure fish out of water gold. The entire cast is superb and are given many relevant things to do. There are literally no wasted roles in the film. Catherine Hicks defines the sexless leading lady of the ’80′s, and she provides many moments of awe. The interplay between Spock, Bones and Kirk has rarely been this good, with so many wonderful moments and lines. That there is no definable enemy is a pleasant success and it shows how the magnetism of the crew was enough to sustain interest for an entire film. This is not only one of the best Trek’s, it one of the most well-rounded films of the decade. As an added bonus, the film contains what is the most quoted line by me and my friends:
“San Francisco. I was born there.” God love Sulu.
(***** out of *****)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – 1989
Director – William Shatner
Screenplay – David Loughery
Starring – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, David Warner, Laurence Luckenbill
Okuda Timeline – 2287
Synopsis – Spock’s religious zealot of a brother, Sybok, takes over the Enterprise on a search for God. They find something, but only after finding out other stuff, you know, about each other’s secret pain. Kirk and Spock are impervious to the sham, of course, but no one else is. Oh, and there’s a bored Klingon who is in the vicinity, just looking to cause trouble and, you know, destroy the fabled Enterprise.
Review - It’s a silly film that does not get any better with age. The circumstances of this, like most Star Trek films after the first, is to give each minor character their own special comic moment. That said, Uhura’s belly dance is downright odd. Scotty, well, he hits his head. Kirk climbs El Capitan (with his bare hands, and that big gut) and then, when he gets back to the ship, he’s wearing a shirt that says “Go climb a rock.” It’s that kind of humor, folks. Shat humor.
This is often called the film Shatner got to direct because Nimoy got to direct a couple of films. There is nothing on-screen that tells us that there was anything close to inspiration or artistic merit driving the effort. Okay, well, there are two things…towards the end, when they are facing the supreme being and Kirk gives himself the great line: “What does God need with a starship?” Then after that, the core of the group, Bones, Spock, Kirk, all singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” by the campfire. Cheesy, but it feels good.
(**1/2 out of *****)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – 1991
Director – Nicholas Meyer
Screenplay – Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn
Starring – William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Kim Katrall, David Warner, Christopher Plummer, Rosanna DeSoto
Okuda Timeline – 2293
Synopsis – When the Klingon moon Praxis explodes The Enterprise is volunteered by Spock to pick up their Chancellor, Gorkon (Warner) and bring him back to Earth to pursue peace with the Federation of Planets. Along the way, the Chancellor is murdered with Kirk and McCoy absorbing the blame for it. They are given a life sentence to the Klingon prison asteroid Rura Penthe. As Spock works on the mystery of the murder on the ship, Kirk and McCoy work on surviving and escaping.
Review - The most eloquent Star Trek of them all finds everyone at their wisest. We get to see Kirk grow from agony to acceptance. We see Spock at his most moving, in a performance that sets the tone for all of his subsequent television and movie appearances as the wise older Vulcan. We get to see Sulu as a Captain of his own ship, The Excelsior. And Bones is funnier than hell.
It’s a remarkably graceful exit for the old cast and crew, even if the ending stretches believability. Who can believe that those geezers could give the saboteurs a run for their money, physically? Katrall does a good job creating a new Vulcan protoge, although it would have been better if the character would have been Saavik. The best of all is Plummer as Chang, quoting Shakespeare as he attacks from a cloaked ship.
There are several great lines, many nuanced moments and the film is full of all the grace that the earlier effort lacked.
(****1/2 out of *****)
Star Trek: Generations – 1994
Director – David Carson
Screenplay – Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga
Starring – William Shatner, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Malcom McDowell, Whoopi Goldberg
Okuda Timeline – 2293 and 2371
Synopsis – Kirk is seemingly killed while saving the Enterprise B at the beginning of the film. Flash forward 3/4 of a century and we have TNG crew on Enterprise D. The bonds between the two eras, Guinan (Goldberg) and Dr. Soran (McDowell). One is a friend of the crew, who tends bar and listens. The Dr. is crazy to get back to the ribbon, which he believes will connect him to his long dead wife.
Picard and his crew are thrust into a mystery of an attack at a space station involving Soran and the two ostracised Klingon Duras sisters. Picard, dealing with the loss of his brother and the brother’s family and Data, dealing with a revisit of his emotion chip, lead the crew’s efforts to solve the mystery before something bad happens. Picard finds Kirk under circumstances too convoluted to explain and then together they work together to save the day.
Review - The gift of seeing TNG crew on the big screen has lessened over the years. What we are left with is good, but not great. What is the Nexus? Really, I w0uld like to know. After all this time, and the many viewings, it’s still unclear it is anything more than a plot contrivance.
The good news is that we get plenty of Guinan, who offers wisdom, honesty and star power. The stellar cartography room is fantastic. The crew shos the levity that they possessed in the latter part of the series was a natural progression. Particularly effective are Riker and Worf.
Data, usually a staple in the series, is compromised by the distraction of the emotion chip. If it was intriguing, it lacks the value of being entertainment. We get it. Brent Spiner sings and dances off set, we don’t need to see it on film. Picard is an oozing puddle of emotion himself, giving Troi a scene to seem valuable. McDowell’s motives are clear enough, but seeing him push around Klingon’s makes the whole race seem less.
The Nexus allows us to see the fantasy of Picard and Kirk. Picard’s, as expected, is a bit prissy. Kirk’s is filled with macho manliness. Of course none of this is real. Kirk chopping wood or jumping with a horse requires a willing suspension of disbelief.
The crash onto the Veridian planet is curious and silly, given the amount of money spent on it makes the final action scenes between Picard, Soran and Kirk look like something that the Super 8 kids could have achieved. Not that the crash is all that better anyway. No matter how many times we see it, it still looks like a play set with dirt painted green. We can’t forget the re-use of the Warbird explosion scene from VI, either. Cheap-O’s. The ensuing conclusion to Kirk’s character is a waste; one that Shatner himself would spend years trying to compensate for.
(*** out of *****)
Star Trek – First Contact – 1996
Director – Jonathan Frakes
Screenplay – Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore
Starring – Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Alfre Woodard, James Cromwell, Alice Krige
Okuda Timeline – 2063 and 2373
Synopsis – The Borg are back, and they have individuals now. Well, a few of them. There’s this Locutus guy (Picard) and then there is a Borg Queen (sublimely creepy Krige). Going against his command’s orders, Picard takes the Enterprise E to face the threat, ans seemingly end it. We then discover that The Borg has travelled back in time to assimilate Earth. Of course the TNG crew has to go back and undo the Borg’s plans. Along the way, they meet Cochrane (Cromwell) and his assistant, Lily (Woodard), the two that orchestrated the first light speed flight, which predicated “First Contact,” or the day that humans meet the Vulcan race for the first time.
Review - The most deftly handled of all of TNG films. Finally using a fair about of digital effects, interesting puzzles and just plain brute force, we get a chance to see more of the ship do more than just fall back and forth while the ship is fired upon. Picard is in action hero mode, something he dabbled with in Generations and will do with more frequency as the series goes on. This ignores the strength of the character, especially when you see him barking at Worf about being a coward. He’s a different sort of man than this.
As for action with The Borg attacking the ship, at least it makes sense. Worf, in particular gets a few wonderful moments in zero G combat with a youngish Neal McDonough. Troi actually gains some appeal while working with Riker on the landing party. LaForge has new eyes and they are cool.Data is put to better use this time, as his Pinocchio journey finds a natural fit with The Queen. Cromwell and Woodard are two of the best TNG costars ever. Woodard, in particular, gives Stewart an unflinching mirror for Stewart when he gets unhinged. It’s a wonderful, odd moment seeing Picard say “the line must be drawn here!” In the next scene, he is apologizing to Worf.
The negatives on TNG’s movie life is in their inherent lack of distinct personality. Here we get to see Riker continue the subtle asshole manoeuvres that he started with Generations, mostly on Worf. Still, it’s nice to see him say “we don’t have time for this” and then zap a fleeing Cochrane with a phaser set to stun. Every time we see Crusher, though, we are reminded that there is no one with the caliber of Bones to throw real insults out. These complaints are small, though, compared to how entertaining this film is.
(****1/2 out of *****)
Star Trek – Insurrection – 1998
Director – Jonathan Frakes
Screenplay – Michael Piller
Starring – Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, F. Murray Abraham, Anthony Zerbe, Donna Murphy, Daniel Hugh Kelly
Okuda Timeline – 2375
Synopsis – So there is a study going on of a planet where the people do not seem to age. In the midst of the study, for some reason, Data goes berserk. We find out that there are some sneaky things going on behind the scenes, where some folks have decided that they need to suck the life force out of the planet that gives these guys their longevity and “spread it around,” you know, for the good of the many. Picard and the Enterprise decide to stick their beaks in the midst of the process and keep these folks from being subjected to communist group think.
Review - Oh Lord, but this movie is bad. While I do love the irony of a Federation based in San Francisco might agree with a thought process that is so clearly socialist, the execution of this film is tremendously bad. The special effects, being the first movie to be entirely digital, look a tad below what we have come to expect on the TV shows. The acting is loopy at best. The lead native chick (Murphy) looks very sleepy at most times and the overall effect rendered is that of a coffee commercial. Abraham is a prototypical bad guy, but the greater sin is that this movie did not seriously look at the options they were presented with: a break from the Federation. The effect takes the oomph from any of the decisions made in the film, taking away the drama and making the thing look as muted as it seems.
(** out of *****)
Star Trek: Nemesis – 2002
Director – Stuart Baird
Screenplay – John Logan
Starring – Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Tom Hardy
Okuda Timeline – 2379
Synopsis – Finally, we see Romulans, but as subjugated by a former slave (Hardy) who is actually a clone of Picard. He’s got evil plans, but the crew of the Enterprise, brought into the area by a clone of Data called B-4, immerses themselves into the situation. The former slave, Shinzon, is hell-bent on doing bad stuff: even going so far as to mentally rape Troi while she does the deed with her new husband, Riker. In the end, 2 versions of Data prove too much for Shinzon, as one of them saves the day by sacrificing himself. B-4 is left with every bit of programming the first one had, thus giving us the same result that we had with Spock’s death, without the need for resurrection.
Review - Whoa, this film is even worse than Insurrection. Every move is telegraphed, desperate, and, frankly, wrong. So little do we respect the character of Troi that she is limited to the role of wife and victim. On the other hand, I would have thought she would have been ready for anything after being with Worf. The move completely obliterates the monumental decision of her marriage to Riker.
Similarly, what better way to drum up sales in a floundering franchise but to promise the death of a major character? Not one person believed that Star Trek would dare remove Data from the equations in any real way…even if we know what is coming from the moment we see yet another version of the droid.
Picard seemingly exists only for physical peril these days. Setting the scene for moving in different directions (especially for Riker), we instead get a bunch of predictable stuff that just happens. Thanks for breaking the curse, though.
If you notice that none of the other staff are mentioned…take a hint. There is a reason for that.
(*1/2 out of *****)
Star Trek – 2009
Director – J.J. Abrahms
Screenplay – Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Starring – Leonard Nimoy, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Ben Cross, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Bruce Greenwood, Anton Yelchin, Eric Bana
Okuda Timeline – 2387, 2233 and 2258
Synopsis – Nero is pissed, and he’s taking his anger into the past, chasing the man who caused his anger. Starting out with an attack on the USS Kelvin, we see Kirk’s father, George, and his mother, Winona, who is about to give birth to James T. Kirk. Dad does not make it, but nearly 800 of his crew mates(including his family) do survive. Nero, who is on a quest for Spock, decides to lay low for a few years and catch up with him later, when he gets out of his own wormhole.
Meanwhile, on Vulcan, we see young Spock, going through the trials. His burden as a half-breed is great, and he has a little harder time holding his emotions. Years later, he has mastered them somewhat, as he answers the call to join the Federation. This leads to his eventual meeting with an upstart Kirk, and through a series of misadventures, they both end up on the same vessel, The Enterprise, as commanded by Pike (Greenwood).
After old Spock arrives, Nero and his Romulan horde captures him and begin his quest to exact revenge on Spock and his planet. From here, it’s a certainty that he would head to Earth to complete the annihilation of the half-breed’s people.
Will Kirk, Spock, Bones and company prevent all of this? No. But they do save the Earth, and continue the original Spock’s timeline, all while changing their own futures.
Review - click here
(***** out of *****)
The Guilt Trip – 2012
Director Anne Fletcher
Starring Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand, Brett Cullen, Adam Scott, Ari Graynor, Casey Wilson, Colin Hanks, Yvonne Strahovski, Jeff Kober, Kathy Najimy, Nora Dunn, Jeff Kober
Screenplay Dan Fogelman
- Every time Barbra Streisand makes a live appearance, people who refer to her as Babs swoon as if it’s the second coming. The Guilt Trip is Babs’ first role since Little Fockers. The common thread, she was nominated for the Razzie each time.
- The cell phone montage at the start of the movie is less annoying than one might expect from a Razzie nominee. Part of me wonders why a single guy like Andy Brewster (Rogen) would not have enough time for his mother at least once a guy. It’s not like he’s got anything going socially.
- Selling a product named Sci-Clean does not give the feeling of “environmentally friendly.”
- Could a person playing Streisand’s son have a job that did not meet her liberal standards? I mean, could he run a Walmart?
- Streisand actually has a good touch as an overly mothering mother. I wonder if her one son, Jason, can relate to Rogen at all here.
- Barbra looks pretty good for a woman in her early ’70′s.
- I find it quite fetching when Joyce tells her son to put up his hood in the snow storm while the stripper uses her heel to knock snow from the bottom of the tire.
- I wonder if Costco’s product development is actually located in Texas. I would have thought that it was in Western Washington.
- The laughs that this film gets is almost directly proportional to the chemistry between the leads, with the talent of Streisand the cherry on top. This movie with Rogen and most other middle-aged actresses would not be nearly as good.
- Joyce’s self-aware moment (“Why, Andy? Why? What did I do wrong?”) is something one would not expect from a movie, say, like “Stop or My Mom Will Shoot.”
- The bar fight that comes soon after is also one that might not be expected. Stallone would never let himself get hit without taking everyone out everyone else in the room. I am not sure Stallone could take out Jeff Kober, though.
- 4.5 pounds of meat…the size of a small poodle…in a under one hour. With the Salad Dressing on the side. Nice.
- Brett Cullen is 15 years younger than Barbra, but they look like they might work out alright.
- I think I got tired of going into The Gap before the Thompson Twins made it big.
- Food IS love. But so is not letting your loved ones eat after 7pm.
- Seeing the Grand Canyon is a time trap.
- Imagining Babs is going to Las Vegas for the first time is what one would call the willing suspension of disbelief.
- Imagining Barbra Streisand sitting next to a normal schlub for the first time at Vegas is not so hard to believe.
- It is hard to take Rogen as straight-laced when his laugh just oozes “pass the joint.”
- I would be pretty ticked if one of my kids plotted to get me in touch with an old flame, too.
- Nora Dunn is one I expected would be starring on HSN by now. I just did not expect that she would be playing a character on the channel.
- One wishes that Seth Rogen would have realized that he was boring earlier in the film.
- “Does it actually clean? Well we’re really gonna wanna see that at some point.”
- This is the first movie Adam Scott was in that I might watch a second time.
- Part of me thought I should be annoyed by Barbra Streisand, but she is thoroughly enjoyable in this film.
(***1/2 out of *****)
- Written by - Niki Schwartz-Wright
- Directed by - Jeffrey Blitz
- A brief synopsis – Andy is trying to get the courage to quit his job and pursue acting. Jim comes back to Scranton for some quality time with his family. Dwight gets his coveted black belt.
- The best line – David Wallace: Will you be the new manager? Dwight: Where?
- Second best line – Stanley (to Andy): Can’t you just leave?
- The best moment - Dwight Schrute, Manager of Scranton Branch, Dunder Mifflin
- The best story line - Everything David Wallace did in this episode worked so well…
- Notable guest appearances – Michael Imperioli as a karate instructor
- Key exit(s) – Andy as manager, without being fired.
- Grade - B
An episode that could have been so great, instead turned to average. The teasing of the obvious took a decent turn. The conversation between David and Jim about Dwight was a wonderful feeling after so many years. Dwight’s big moment feels so wonderful to achieve, but then Andy takes a dump on a car. Thank God they don’t drag the Andy thing out too much. Oh wait, they did. Andy took a dump on a car. Kevin was a little overused, and as for the groping…poor Toby. Angela hitting rock bottom…really? At least she knew enough to not fall back into a relationship with Andy. Wish she could get over Dwight, but it’s nice to see the development with Oscar. The buyout gives the proper drama to end the show, I just hope it is not predictable or sad. I am a wuss.
Silver Linings Playbook – 2012
Written and Directed by David O. Russell
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, Anupam Kher, Shea Wigham, John Ortiz, Brea Bree
Pat: How old are you?
Tiffany: Old enough to have a marriage end and not wind up in a mental hospital.
I can’t be serious about this film. The movie is incredibly funny, and it deals with some really serious stuff.
“Why,” my wife grins and asks early on, in the relationship between Pat (Cooper) and Tiffany (Lawrence), “Would you set your sister up with someone who is so deranged?”
Unsurprisingly, I had no wisdom to give, “Well, maybe it’s because the sister is a nut…”
My wife then looked at me quizzically, looked back to the screen and laughed once more.
Tiffany: I was a big slut, but I’m not any more. There’s always going to be a part of me that’s sloppy and dirty, but I like that. With all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself fucker? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?
The conversations between Pat and Tiffany, in their cadence and vocabulary, are unlike anything we have heard in recent memory. They go all the places anyone who’s ever loved and lost might want to go. And then they change their mind. In the midst of the lunacy, we are gifted with the most unlikely of romances. It’s so unlike anything else in the field of romantic comedy, it deserves to be remembered.
Pat is on his way back after a brief stint in a mental health facility. His wife’s infidelity led to a breakdown that left her suitor in a hospital and Pat diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. The thing is, some of the things that he notices, like the positioning of the pictures of he and his brother, are things that anyone might notice. Or, maybe it’s just me.
He is introduced to Tiffany, the sister-in-law of his friend. She lost her husband recently, and her job even more recently. Their introduction acts as a powder keg, with the potential to destroy a lot of lives. So, of course it works.
Pat Sr.: Yeah have Ernest Hemingway calls us and apologize to us too.
Joining Pat and Tiffany in their journey is Pat Sr. (DeNiro), whose OCD tendencies have caused issues for Pat’s poor mother Dolores (Weaver) long before Pat had his breakdown. Pat Sr. gave all the attention to his older brother. He knew his younger son had problems all along, but who the hell knows how to deal with that, especially when he has issues of his own?
Dolores spends most of her time trying to negotiate between father and son. Their lives are a whirlwind that swallows her up and pushes her to the side. She gives it everything she’s got. That is not even close to enough, and she knows it. She knows what normal is, and she wants everyone to meet her there. Instead, they drag her ass over to the other side.
Then there is an assortment of Eagles fans. All of them nuts, including his therapist.
Tiffany: Humanity is just nasty and there’s no silver lining.
The basic components to the film are as contrived as any comedy:
Will they get together?
Will the Eagles win?
Will they make the big dance?
The glory of Silver Linings Playbook is how the acting and script color the basic premise and make it an original masterpiece. Cooper and Lawrence elevate their game to an incredible height, more than a match for DeNiro and Weaver. More importantly, they are perfectly matched on screen, living out a chemistry that is visceral, funny and scary as hell.
DeNiro is back to acting, after many movies that made money but squandered his talent. Weaver shows that Animal Kingdom was no fluke. Even Chris Tucker, making a return after a 5 year absence in which no one missed him doing Rush Hour movies, makes an indelible mark. His talent for handling Russell’s dialogue like a master linguist and still making him human is a pleasant surprise.
The ending is a wonderful, real performance that is even better because it is feels real. Imagine, a romantic comedy about insanity that is better than all the straight films out there. David O. Russell has never been considered a stabler director, but skilled work like this is almost impossible to find.
“I like this,” my wife says as tears escape her eyes, “I can understand now why it won so many awards.”
It won my wife’s approval, and that’s even harder to do.
(***** out of *****)
- The Writers - Mark Farell and Paul Mather
- Director – Rob De Lint
- A brief synopsis - Oscar declares war on the lawn ornaments next door. Brent needs a new camera. Wanda goes from teammate to competitor (along with Davis) when Hank and Lacey kick her off of their trivia team. Karen tries to train Davis how to gamble.
- The best line – Oscar: I’m gonna have to do something about this (the trolls next door). Emma: Promise me it’ll be something stupid.
- 2nd best line – Any of the jokes Wanda tells about Brent’s old camera.
- The best moment - Matching lawn gnomes.
- The best storyline - Brent’s love of his old camera and his battles with the new one.
- Notable guest appearance – Ralph Goodale member of Parliament who answers a question about the capital of Canada.
- Em’s Favorite Character - Wanda, because she was so smart at the trivia game.
- El’s Favorite Character - I like Wanda too, she’s the smartest.
- Grade – B+
Oscar’s efforts against the tyranny of lawn ornaments signifies the real reason that this show is successful. Love the music whenever the gnome takes center stage. It’s about things we all think about, but only Oscar does. Brent plays his goofy premise for all it’s worth. Only a game of trivia could bring a town like Dog River together. This show is comfort food for only slightly above average intellects, except for those who understand all of what Wanda knows.
- The Writers - Brent Butt and Paul Mather
- Director – Mark Farell
- A brief synopsis - Brent and Hank find that their old tree house infested with a new crop of kids, who run them off. This starts a war to reclaim their lost fort. Davis tries to pin Wanda down with the authority vested in him, with surprising results. Lacy adds Kung-Fu to the list of activities she is bad at. Oscar encounter’s an old friend.
- The best line – Emma: The last thing Oscar fixed was breakfast and he broke the toaster…and we weren’t even having toast.
- 2nd best line – Wanda: Good work, Starsky. (see below)
- The best moment - Davis action rolling over the car in efforts to catch a dine n dasher.
- The best storyline - Wanda’s literal escapades with Davis.
- Notable guest appearance – Shirley Douglas as an old high school friend looking to rekindle something that had not been kindled in the first place.
- Em’s Favorite Character - Wanda, because she kept getting out of whatever Davis thought he had her in.
- El’s Favorite Character - Lacey, because she was learning Kung Fu.
- Grade – A
One episode where everyone has a good to great story line, especially Wanda. There is not a wasted moment here and several clever tracking shots, like when Wanda needs ice. Brent and Hank’s tree house debacle rings familiar and harmless. Only they could get into a war with kids and make it seem real. Emma and Oscar touch on an area neither are exposed to very often: romance. I love the way that Karen protests Lacey’s use of the words Kung Fu. Top notch effort, all around.