Monday 23 July 2018

Trailer rundown - part two

Bohemian Rhapsody 


Queen are perhaps the greatest pop rock band of all time, and Freddie Mercury was a true icon. It's safe to say that this film is important to a lot of people. It looks promising - for one thing, Rami Malek is perfectly cast as Freddie and is the dead spit of him when he sings - but it could easily turn out to be underwhelming. Different trailers have hinted at romance with women, while this one at least suggests more to his sexuality, but we could really do with an honest portrayal of the bisexual superstar. Really hoping this one is as good as it should be.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I quite enjoyed the 2014 Godzilla, although it took far too long to get in on the monster action. It doesn't look like this one is going to have that problem. Godzilla! Mothra! Rodan! King Ghidorah! Nice to see Sally Hawkins back, and great to see Millie Bobby Brown become the film star she's destined to be. On the other hand, how derivative is this? MBB is a spooky kid with some kind of connection to a monster, Charles Dance is ominous and goes on about kings... Still, it's probably silly to see the 35th Godzilla movie and complain about it being derivative.


This one looks pretty good. Glad to see that DC aren't taking this too seriously, given the inherent silliness of the character. Kind of going off Momoa given his dickishness at conventions and the like but he does carry this part bloody well. Whether it's enough to make the film work is another matter, but it does at least look fun. The Black Manta looks amazing.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald

I'm not the biggest Harry Potter fan but I really enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts film. This sequel looks like more of the same, but ramped up with more threat supplied by the villainous Grindlewald. Hopefully this will turn out to be one of Johnny Depp's great performances, rather than his increasingly ropey ones in recent years. Casting Jude Law as Dumbledore is a great choice; he's surprisingly good at playing fuddyish characters now he's older. Joshua Shea looks perfect as the young Newt. This should be good fun.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Trailer rundown

It's Comic con time in San Diego, which means there's trailers galore. So, what's coming up?

Doctor Who season eleven

After the rather pointless teaser aired during the FIFA World Cup final, we finally get a proper trailer for the thirteenth Doctor's debut series. Jodie Whittaker looks like she's going to be absolutely perfect, but the trailer really doesn't tell us much about the series. Would it kill them to show us a monster, or a historical figure, or play us some dialogue with the companions? It still feels like we know nothing new about the series. One thing we do know is that the Daleks are taking a breather, which is probably for the best.

Star Trek: Discovery season two

This looks pretty grand. There's even more of a hint of Abrams Trek to this than the first season, but it also looks like Discovery is getting back to the sense of exploration than Trek is known best for, albeit with some mysteries and threats to face. Anson Mount looks like he should make a great Captain Pike - Bruce Greenwood is still my favourite though - and it's also been reported that Rebecca Romijn is set to play his executive officer, Number One. Spock's absence is clearly a major plot point, while we know he does make an appearance in the season at some point this might just refer to the reported flashback scenes to his and Burnham's youth.

As well as this exciting and visually remarkable trailer - love the Saurian crewman - it's also reported that, among other initiatives, the gap between now and next year's season will be filled by mini-episodes called Short Treks. Lots to look forward to here.

The Orville season two

This looks really promising. As well as the feel being almost identical to Discovery's trailer, this makes it appear that the series will be more like Star Trek itself than the parody that the first season played as. As that first season went on, the scripts relied less on humour, and the jokes that were included were better balanced with the drama. Season two looks like it will continue in this direction.


Cap'n Marvel! Cap'n Marvel! The first Shazam! cinematic release in almost eighty years, this looks like it'll be a lot more fun than most of DC's recent film output. It's not how I'd have done a Shazam! movie, more like a new version of Big than anything, but it looks like it's going to be tremendous fun. Captain Marvel is the silliest of the properties DC is comfortable bringing to the big screen, only a step away from its own parody, Bananaman. Looking forward to this one.


Hmmm... not feeling this. Previous TV takes on the Teen Titans have been aimed at younger viewers and embraced the inherent silliness of characters like Beast Boy. Alternatively, a middle ground, a show for older kids like Young Justice would have worked well. This is just... blah. I guess it's pretty accurately predicting what teenagers would be like as superheroes: convinced that they're terribly mature, going on about how dark everything is, swearing whenever possible. Doesn't mean that this is any good though. Teen Titans Go to the Movies looks better.

Marvel Rising: Initiation

This is the beginning of a series of Marvel Rising cartoons which bring together a bunch of modern, young characters from Marvel comics - either new in the last few years, like Ms. Marvel, or revamped, like Squirrel Girl. Largely female, which sets this apart from most superteams on screen. Spider-Gwen, the breakout star character of the last few years, is clearly the big draw here (named Ghost Spider in this version), but it's Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl that make me want to watch more than anything. Love that Squirrel Girl hasn't been madeover into the usual skinny type. Also, America Chavez is going to be in this, so expect multiversity.

Sunday 8 July 2018

The World's Greatest Detective

Lots and lots to write about soon, but for now the blog's a little quiet due to my being very busy with real life. Most of it good, though. For now, may I direct you to C P Studios where the first episode of The World's Greatest Detective is now available to stream or download!

"Curtan Razer," Episode One stars Terry Cooper as a note-perfect Batman. It also features Pete Lutz, Scott D. Harris (the C P Studios Doctor), Sean Young and William E. McCloskey, and a brilliant turn from James P. Quick as the villainous Mr. Woebegone. It's written by Scott Harris, James Quick and Rick Warren and features some excellent sound design. Episode two will be out next week and further episodes are to come, including "The Lynx of Mbacke," my two-part story at episodes five and six.

Listen here, you will not be disappointed.

Sunday 1 July 2018

Cinematic Enterprise 3: Re - Genesis

Directed by Leonard Nimoy
Written by Harve Bennett
Released: 1st June 1984
Set: c.2285
Starships: USS Enterprise NCC-1701,
USS Grissom NCC-638, USS Excelsior NX-2000
Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Merchantman
Planets visited: Earth, Vulcan and Genesis

The third Trek movie formed the middle part of a linked trilogy that charted the lengths that Kirk and Spock would go for each other. While it's considered the weak link in the trilogy by some - suffering from the supposed curse of the odd numbers - to my mind it's a fine adventure with real heart.

The Wrath of Khan had been a hit with the fans and critics alike, and naturally Paramount wanted a sequel. The first and most important part was getting the stars back on board, and Leonard Nimoy's involvement was, well, paramount. Fortunately, Nimoy's feelings on Trek had been revitalised by the success of Khan, but there was one proviso: he wanted to direct the film. The previous director Nicholas Meyer had cut his ties with the franchise over disagreements concerning the scripts, so the position was open. Producer Harve Bennet began writing the script with Nimoy's input, crafting a story about the resurrection of Spock on the Genesis planet. The story would involve Kirk going to any lengths to retrieve Spock's renewed body, stealing the Enterprise from Starfleet in order to travel to the quarantined planet. In a more metaphysical element of the story, Spock's soul would be carried by McCoy, who had been melded with by Spock moments before his death (leading to some intense moments from DeForest Kelley as the addled McCoy).

Nimoy brought in Industrial Light and Magic much earlier on this film than previously, working closely with them during the storyboarding and design process. The result is a visual richness that surpasses Khan, but works in a very different way to the ethereal, hyperspace visuals of The Motion Picture. The result is a more lived-in, workspace kind of universe, a little bit Star Wars in its rough-edged realism. Roger Ebert called the film a compromise between the tones of the first and second, and that's exactly right. It feels more like a true follow-up to the TV series, and also looks forwards to the upcoming The Next Generation, only three years away at this point. While the uniforms are straight from Khan, we get to see the main characters in their casual, off duty wear, and they wear clothes that people might actually go outside in. I love the mix of the grimy, used alien ships and the shinier, more majestic Starfleet facilities, but even then, there's a realism to it. The Spacedock prop, which would turn up several times as different space stations in TNG, is filmed brilliantly, making it appear absolutely gigantic, the Enterprise a bug against it. Inside, starships are lined up, building on this tremendous sense of scale. Then McCoy goes to the bar on the Spacedock, a seedy joint not that far from the Mos Eisley Cantina, with bizarre alien patrons, and tries to charter a ship off a shrill, big-eared extraterrestrial who looks almost like a prototype Ferengi.

Even the Enterprise is looking a bit worn out by this stage, overshadowed by the newer, sleeker USS Excelsior, designed as a plausible design evolution from the familiar ship. The Excelsior prop would become the mainstay of Starfleet, appearing again and again in TNG and even DS9, an old workhorse of the 24th century - part of the old guard, but not that old. Then there are the alien ships: the battered kitbash Merchantman, with its mixed crew of humans and a sexy female Klingon captain; and of course, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey. While this is another new ship, it's Klingon through-and-through (in spite of early scripts having it a stolen Romulan vessel, hence the name). It looks like it was made old, a functional and threatening beast of a ship. While again, its reuse throughout TNG and DS9 was partly due to having a well-made prop that could be reused, it's such a perfect ship for the Klingons that it becomes iconic in short order.

The Klingons themselves are designed better here than in The Motion Picture, refined from their brief appearance there since they need to function as actual characters, rather than V'Ger fodder. Early plans were for the Romulans to be the primary antagonists, but Nimoy wanted the Klingons, who he felt were more theatrical (the studio was in agreement, considering them a better selling point). His casting of Christopher Lloyd makes that plain. Lloyd, a year away from Back to the Future, is brilliant here, hammy as anything but genuinely threatening. Commander Kruge is just an absolute bastard, through and through. His obsession with controlling the secret of Genesis is a feasible goal; he's not wrong when he states that it's the greatest weapon ever created. (I assume Starfleet thoroughly buried the technology after this, for the sake of keeping the peace.) The Genesis planet itself is at once both wondrous and hellish, with wormlike bacteria creatures that try to eat the Klingons (Kruge kills one straight away, just to show how hard he is).

The Search for Spock reinforces the status of the Enterprise crew as a family, in spite, or indeed because, of Spock's effective absence for much of the runtime. Sulu was given command of the Excelsior in early drafts, an element that would be held back until the sixth film. In the event, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura and Scotty all help Kirk and McCoy pinch the Enterprise. The film continues on from Khan with the inclusion of David Marcus and Saavik, working together to explore Genesis as part of the USS Grissom crew. There are hints of romance there between them, but this plotline never really gets anywhere. The link back to the previous film is weakened somewhat by the recasting of Saavik; with Kirstie Alley declining to return, Robin Curtis took on the role, giving a little more humanity to the character. The inclusion of Mark Lenard as Sarek linked the film back to the original series, and cemented the family theme; Spock's father and Kirk's son are both major parts of the film.

There was a real risk, when developing this film, that bringing Spock back would invalidate his sacrifice in Khan's climax. Retrieving Spock would have to come at a price. The cost of Kirk regaining his friend would be the loss of son - killed by the Klingons in a moment of pure cruelty - and the Enterprise itself. The ship is as much a character as any of the actual cast, and while destroying the Enterprise is par for the course in Trek films now (happening again in Generations, Into Darkness and Beyond) back in 1984 it must have packed on hell of a punch. I can't imagine many viewers were that upset by Merritt Buttrick getting stabbed up, but I bet a few fans cried when the Enterprise was destroyed. Beyond that, Spock, when Nimoy finally appears in the closing scenes on Vulcan, is not the man he was.

Some fans tend to skip The Search for Spock, but it's an essential part of the ongoing story of Star Trek and a film with a lot to offer.