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Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Once Again, the Evens Come Through
Well the pattern has held up with Star Trek 10 turning out to be a throughly enjoyable movie. Being both a fan of quality cinema and a fan of Star Trek, I was happy to see that the TNG's cast got a send off worthy of their hard work and talent.
This movie does a great job of providing fodder for the fans while at the same time providing substantive writing and acting for those just out for a good story. The movie maintains intensity throughout and while in most films I have no problem finding time for a bathroom break, in ST:X I held out until the point of extreme pain for not wanting to miss a single moment of the film. For the fans we see the characters we all know and love making inside referances and using all sorts of fun new toys (and hey, who could ever find a problem w/ new toys). For the story, the film artfully dodges cliche and predictability throughout its entire length. Shinzon is not your classic evil clone villian, but a discarded Cold War style project whose funding got cut. He is not a typical Star Wars style dark evil Emporer, but a Coup leading figurehead who is maintaining his grasp on power by the tips of his fingers and like most usupers he is quickly abandonned when his novelty fails to pay off. The Romulans are show to be not some nameless faceless horse. Although Earth is the target we aren't subjected to a climactic final battle in our planet's orbit where tragety is averted by several seconds. No non-Enterprise ships are cut to ribbons by Shinzon's supperior firepower. Captain Picard maintains complete control throughout, despite being kidnapped and his ship blasted to tatters and so we aren't subjected to cheesy misfortune after cheesy misfortune in an effort to engineer some sort of climax. This film will probably be best remembered for what it managed (thank god) to leave out rather than what it decided to put in. By not following the path laid out and well trod by countless Sci-Fi/Action flims before it, ST:X becomes a welcome breath of fresh air that surprises you at every turn and keeps you thinking well after you leave the theatre.
Turning to what the movie did include, I would have to say that ST:X contained one of the most exciting and TECHNICALLY ACCURATE space combat sequences I have ever seen. This ships make use of all X, Y AND Z axies in their attacks and maneuvers. The sequence is long and hard. No three shots and you done here. The battle isn't an elegant dance, but a brutal street fight with the participants beating on eachother with rocks, broken bottles and their bare fists. Bloodied and broken the ships just keep fighting on until they have expended every last ounce of strength in each of them.
Above this all the film makes a wonderful exploration into the nature of indivuduality, nature vs nurture and determinism vs free will. As I mentioned before, we are exposed to the pure genius of Captain Picard who, while facing an opponent who suposidly thinks just like he does, is able by his amazing character to take his play to a completely higher level and blow Shinzon away. Just like in Wrath of Kahn we see when intelligence goes up against experiance, experiance wins.
A lot of people have rightfully pointed out that this film borrows heavily from Wrath of Kahn. The 3D space battle in a "rift", the "running out the guns" scene and having a guy chasing the Enterprise to get at Piccard are all clear examples of this. But unless you have watched WoK a dozen times on VHS or DVD it really dosen't hit you very hard and in no way does it compromise the originality of the plotline. While I am sure that SOME people out there have a problem with the WoK connections, personally I think that if you need to get inspiration, Wrath of Kahn is the one to get it from and any resulting movie will be all the better for it.
If there is one thing I have to sat I didn't like about the film, it would probably be the ending. The end of Piccard's fight scene was a tad enegmatic and Data's arrival on scene and subsuquent actions were a bit abrupt. I'm sure the director meant something in the ending and I might just need to watch the movie again before I can appriciate it.
So anyway, I highly recomend Star Trek X: Nemesis I give it an 8/10 (w/ 7/10 being an average good movie) and I hold it up as a prime example of how space based Science Fiction SHOULD be handled (George Lucas please take note). The only storm cloud is that not only is Paramount going to have to find a new crew for the ST movies, but that the next film is going to be an ODD number as well.
A Good Film for a World War 2 Film Buff
I saw this movie a couple of times on an off-brand "network" TV and I found it pretty enjoyable to watch. I would highly recomend it to any fan of war or action/war movie IF they can't find anything better to rent or IF they happen to catch it on TV or in TV Guide. The film provides a descent balance of action and suspence and a very good portrait of the main Japanesse soldier. Perhaps the films strongest asset is how balanced it is. One gets a good dose of action, history, character devolopment and plot and even if any one of these aspects are not very strong taken by itself, as a whole it makes for a very worthwhile movie experiance. It is a shame that this film hasn't gotten much attention as it is definitly a lot better than some of the flotasm floating around out there.
The Great Train Robbery (1904)
Great Movie for Train Buffs
I just saw this at an NRHS meeting and its a hoot to see Reading camelbacks in a western set movie. Overall its a real fun movie and its great to see early views of eastern Pennsylvania. Lubin is the original Philadelphia based director who went to great lengths to not cop out and move west. To make westerns he filmed in quarries and covered fields in lime. More people should give this region a chance.
Great movie, kept me guessing till the end.
I saw Psycho last night at the campus movie theatre and it was great, not to mention scary. I mean I had never seen it before (except for parts on TV when I was small) and had no clue about the plot or the ending. Untill the final scene I still thought it was the mother. Now I'm one of those guys who can pick out the ending like half way through the film, but Psycho had me fooled all the way to the end. Psycho may be great to watch again and again, but its even better the first time.
The Naked and the Dead (1958)
A poor Hollywood remake of a classic novel.
I saw this movie on a local PBS station about the same time I was writing a Term Paper on the novel. I have already read the novel several times, but I still thought that the movie perspective might be helpful. Needless to say I was wrong. The movie turns a book about the futility of the individual's role in war into a boiler plate feel good war movie w/ a happy ending. One of the most important parts of the novel, where Hearn is betrayed despite his best efforts to be a "good" leader, is scrapped. Hearn not only survives, but the movie goes on the kill the ass hole, Sgt Croft. In the book we see a group of individuals who all want to singlehandedly make a difference and who all end up failing because modern war has grown beyond the control of the individual. In the movie we see a division of good guys and bad guys where where good guys win and the bad guys get what's coming. Finally I would like to point out that this movie is a waste of time or unpleasant to watch. If its going to be on TV by all means watch it, but if you've read the book brace yourself to be VERY disappointed.