Category Archives: Review

Dr. Who Christmas Special. My First Amazon Review. A Twofer.

Image courtesy BBC
& Dalekdom on Deviantart
available on Amazon.com

Posted here on Amazon.

Let me set something straight. I love Doctor Who. I have watched every episode available from the First Hartnell to the latest Matt Smith. My cable system and PVR let me down and didn’t record this years Christmas Special, (wasn’t marked “new” apparently) so kudos to Amazon for having it available to purchase and stream (can I get a round figure on what it would cost to own all of the Doctor this way? Less than 5 figures, please) Doctor Who remains Doctor Who whether we’re talking about Hartnell’s Captain Kangaroo delivery, Pertwee’s 007 flamboyancy, Tom Baker’s charming teeth and curls, or Matt Smith doing a fair impression of Troughton’s second doctor. It’s all British, it’s all time traveling entertainment on a grand scale.

Watch this one, it’s good.

However, I write this post because, once again, I’m sent a message by Amazon asking me “how many stars I would give this show”. The same hook they use each time I purchase ANYTHING. From a song to a book to a movie that is 20 years old; to this film (which could probably benefit from a positive review) and each time I fall for the hook and wander over here, it’s demanded of me that I wax verbose on the subject of whatever it is. If I’ve purchased a single song, I cannot leave a review without writing an essay about it! That is simply ridiculous.

Please. Please, I’m begging here. Remove the requirement that essays be written for each and every product that you purchase, just so you can give an ‘attay boy’ to something that deserves it, without having to struggle with wit and punctuation, and heaven forbid CAPS LOCK. Let us just give a star rating, please? At least quit pretending in your e-mails that a star rating is all you want.

How Many Stars, Amazon? You Mean Write 150 Words.

Amazon sends me eMail asking me (again) how many stars I would give a streamed purchase I’ve made. However, when I click on the link, it doesn’t just want me to give the movie a number of stars, it wants me to wax loquacious about the merits of the film, and then summarize the entirety of my thoughts into a title for the post.

This time it was Dead Poets Society, a film that I could actually write quite a few words about, if it wasn’t 20 years old. The previous film was Blind Date, which I only purchased because a) it had Bruce Willis in the cast and b) we had never seen the film, with a possible c) we were drunk and shopping online. Considering the factors involved, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars, but what do you say review-wise about that?

Facebook status backdated to the blog.

Star Trek by the Minute, the Last Minute

With minute 117, STBTM has come to a close. I think this quote from the comments pretty well covers it.

I believe the point that this film was shamefully sexist, religious, ignorant, inconsistent, and poorly written in ways I never would have imagined…
…all have been made sufficiently by the detailed qualitative assessments in each segment.

I haven’t done an exact count, but the number of minutes with women speaking or appearing in this film amounts to less than a quarter. Considering that the only ‘person of color’ in the film also happens to be the only woman with a significant speaking role is just a further indictment of the film.

I stand by my original assessment. RIP Star Trek. I won’t be wasting any more money participating in fannish activities that would force me to acknowledge this horribly flawed film.

Star Trek by the Minute – Read the Comments too!

Slowly reading through Star Trek by the Minute. I’m savoring, don’t rush me. I’m also taking the time to read the comments for the separate posts. Like this one, from 063.

Of course, as we all know, the amount of time it seems to take and the ability of the transporter to beam a person in crisis at all is governed by a formula that takes into account (a) the needs of the writers at that moment and (b) whether the person being beamed is a regular character or a guest, and (c) whether said person is wearing red.

Priceless insight. That’s what that is. The writer has his own blog, Star Trek Musings, full of insights like the above. Check out Tribble Trouble, see if that doesn’t skew you thinking on the subject.

Comments on Star Trek by the Minute

What follows is a record of my comments on and conversations with the author for Structured Dream and his posts for Star Trek by the Minute

Star Trek by the Minute 022: Leap Without Looking

R. Anthony Steele said…
I always saw that scene with Scott and his nephew as Scotty’s throwing the cost of avoidable battle in Kirk’s face. It’s possible he expected Bones to be on the bridge, since that is where he seems to spend most of his time on the show.

In any case, while WOK is one of my favorites, I don’t consider it to be exactly ‘canon’. None of the films really work in the context of the original show (except the first one) since they are all products of the writer/producer/director team makes them.

Having said that, I have to say that I no longer consider myself a Trekkie or a Star Trek fan, after this last film. It’s dead for me now. I can’t think of anything that could have been more of a betrayal of the Trek that I followed and loved than this latest film is.

I have enjoyed every minute of the review that I’ve read so far. Thanks for writing it, it has saved me the pain of doing it myself, as I pointed out on my blog.

RAnt(hony)-ings – Star Trek

March 14, 2010 12:19 AM


BurntSynapse said…

Thanks for the feedback and the links, Anthony. You’re the type of fan I’m trying to reach, and I enjoyed your Abramination posts. I would like to read your TrekBBS posts; Are they accessible?

March 14, 2010 7:35 AM


R. Anthony Steele said…

if you go into the interface and do a search for ‘ranthony’ you should get all my posts in a list.

There’s really not much there, if I remember correctly. I reposted the RIP blog post, and was looking for feedback (it’s still there, in the closed thread) and then was attacked, repeatedly, for daring to ask where my posts went, and for not liking the film.

It’s funny. I used to run a Trek fanclub. When I see my former club members, almost all of them *love* the film. When they find out I don’t, the questions begin, and it almost follows a script.

“Loved the action” Yep, it was great.
“Loved the actors” Yep, they were great. They clearly all had respect for the characters they were portraying, and they did good jobs with what they were given.
“So, what don’t you like?” EVERYTHING else. A story would have been nice. Some science would have been good too (red matter. It would be funny, if it wasn’t in a Trek film) REAL FEMALE CHARACTERS sort of tops my charts of complaints. Where are they in this film?

I have a theory, and I wish I had the money and permission to give this a try. Take STV, and remove every special effects scene. Rework it with state of the art effects, and the budget this film had. I think it would be every bit the seller this film was. And it would be a real Trek film, to boot.

That film was thrown to Shatner as a bone, and the studio never got behind it. But it has some of the best scenes with classic characters interacting. There are some really bad scenes (the birth sequence, as someone else noted, is horrible) but mostly it suffered from a lack of a real effects budget. Compare the comic moments between the two films. I don’t see the difference.

…and yet STV is routinely panned as the worst film. Why? Because of the laughable effects, IMO.

Anyway, thanks for reading my linked posts.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:33 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 025 Safety Belts

R. Anthony Steele said…

The bike sequence is the moment in the film when I could no longer suspend disbelief. The antique car at the beginning, far fetched as that sequence was, was an artifact of the past.

Kirk’s bike is a tool of the modern age, and it has wheels, which is completely outside of the trek universe (It’s also why Nemesis doesn’t make it as a trek film, btw) and it’s appearance pulled me right out of the film. So much so that I couldn’t even enjoy the grand entrance of the under construction Enterprise.

The ‘giving away things’ comment in the novelization is probably a wrong-headed attempt to incorporate the (poorly conceived) notion of money and property in the ST universe that previous screen writers have failed to communicate in their own right.

They would have had to have some grounding in philosophy, money and ethics in order to understand it themselves, much less communicate it to others.

As you pointed out, the film addresses none of this, doing even less (if that’s possible) to incorporate past conceptions of Trek into the story.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 5:36 PM
Star Trek by the Minute 027 Three Years?

R. Anthony Steele said…
Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. That was the first thing in my mind. Maybe they invented some Red Dwarf type games to pass the time. Soap suds slalom down the cargo ramp, perhaps.

Still, they aren’t the last Romulans alive, and they traveled to this time period to change the timeline. Why not just go to Romulus and CHANGE IT. Just a thought.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:10 PM

Star Trek by the Minute 031 Cheating to Win?

R. Anthony Steele said…
It’s been my opinion, since the announcement of this film, that this scene was the reason for setting the film as a prequel.

It should have been the shining moment in the film. I kept thinking how much I hated that smug bastard in the Captain’s chair.

Funny, I never felt that way about Shatner’s performances.

-RAnthony

March 14, 2010 6:37 PM

The Abramanation, Dissected

Got this in the mail last summer, when the Abramanation was heading to theaters;

From: forums@trekbbs.com
Date: Sat, May 9, 2009 at 4:44 AM
Subject: Seen the new Trek movie yet?
To: ranthonysteele@gmail.com

As soon as you’ve seen the new movie, be sure to drop by the Trek BBS and discuss what you thought.

Loved the Enterprise? Hated Spock? What do you want to see in the next movie? Whatever your opinions, discuss them with other fans.

Visit us at http://www.trekbbs.com

Your username is RAnthony.

Check out the dedicated ‘Star Trek IX’ forum, or find out the latest news at http://www.trektoday.com

See you soon!

Trek BBS

I had my reservations about the film, but I went to see it with an open mind. After seeing it, I wrote Star Trek 1966-2009, RIP. I was attempting to be objective in my criticism of the film, while at the same time expressing my sense of betrayal of everything Trek that the film represents. When I posted my review at TrekBBS, it was promptly roundfiled in a closed thread, because ‘There were too many negative threads being created’, even though they had specifically invited me to come there and post.

When I dared to object to the treatment my posts were receiving, I was basically driven from the board by attack after attack, demanding that I substantiate my views in greater depth (go figure, this is the reason I don’t do BBS’ much anymore. The discussions always run this way) something that I had intended to do at the time. I am certain that the film is a betrayal of Roddenberry and of Science Fiction as a genre, and all it would take is time and a few blog posts to cover it.

Life got in the way, though.

Luckily for me, I’m not alone in my convictions. I was alerted to an ongoing work over at Structured Dream that the author is titling Star Trek by the Minute. Where he finds the time to dedicate to this project is beyond me (betting he doesn’t play WoW) but I’m enjoying every minute of his review in a way that the Abramanation could never dream of achieving.

Here’s a quote:

I don’t want to be petty and nitpick, especially a Trek film – rather I want to get swept away by a great story to a place I’ve never been on a grand adventure. But when there’s no sensibility, no consistency, and the plot is advanced without plausible cause and effect events in a narrative believable for the universe in which it is set, one feels somehow insulted by the film. This feeling persists regardless of how pretty the actors, how grand the music, and how good the special effects look. In fact, better production highlights defects, placing them in sharp contrast to the great quality of the presentation.

Point after point, minute after minute, I find myself laughing, agreeing with and liking this guy more and more. Thanks to him, I can go back to playing WoW.

Star Trek, 1966-2009, R.I.P.

For the record, I should have stuck to my guns. But I didn’t. I caught J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (from here on out to be known as the Abramanation, for brevity’s sake) a few days back. By the time it was over, I knew that the universe had changed.

Abrams said he was creating a film that was entertaining, and true to his word, it is. From the initial scenes of the massive Romulan ship appearing and spawning an alternate timeline (this is not a spoiler, this happens two minutes into the film. Spoilers ahead though, be warned) when it engages in a fierce battle with a clearly more archaic Federation vessel, to the final scenes with a triumphant Captain James T. Kirk at the helm of his (way too shiny) Enterprise, this blockbuster is most definitely entertaining.

It’s just not Star Trek.

A good portion of the audience applauded at the end of the film. The group I went with all enjoyed it (ages 10, 18 and 55. Definitely the target audience) I even found myself enjoying it. But just as the re-launch of Lost in Space (the film I was most reminded of viewing this one) redefined (in a good way, in my opinion) what Lost in Space was about, the Abramanation has redefined what Star Trek is about, and something significant has been lost in translation.

It isn’t a problem with the cast, they all performed admirably. It isn’t a problem with the dialog, a good portion of which seemed to be lifted word for word from previous episodes and movies. I think the problem is that Star Trek has always been more than just entertainment to me (no matter how many times I repeated the mantra “it’s just entertainment, don’t take it seriously”) and to see it “dumbed down” to the level of blockbuster entertainment (a process started several films ago) leaves me feeling a bit hollow.

I find myself at a loss now. Unlike many fans, I’m not insulted by the content of the film. I just can’t grasp what it is that the vast majority of the fans and viewing public see in the film. It’s first weekend returns exceeded all other Star Trek films to date, even adjusted for inflation.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): $11,926,421 (opening weekend)/ $82,258,456 (cume)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): $14,347,221 / $78,737,310
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984): $16,673,229 / $76,389,860
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): $16,881,888 / $109,713,132
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989): $17,375,648 / $52,210,049
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991): $18,162,837 / $74,888,996
Star Trek: Generations (1994): $23,116,394 / $75,671,125
Star Trek: First Contact (1996): $30,716,131 / $92,027,888
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998): $22,052,836 / $70,187,658
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002): $18,513,305 / $43,126,129

Adjusted for inflation:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): $34,668,706 (opening weekend)/ $239,115,674 (cume)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): $35,038,451 / $192,290,437
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984): $35,629,102 / $163,237,856
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986): $32,671,686 / $212,328,919
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989): $31,267,457 / $93,951,918
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991): $30,976,050 / $127,720,425
Star Trek: Generations (1994): $39,707,107 / $129,980,545
Star Trek: First Contact (1996): $49,896,339 / $149,493,266
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998): $33,761,058 / $107,451,468
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002): $22,918,195 / $53,387,173

(numbers compiled by Daniel Garris)

(From Boxoffice: The History of ‘Trek’)

I’ve read dozens of posts in support of the film on Trekbbs. Fans are dragging their friends out to watch it; in much the same fashion as if the average American needs to be convinced to chew bubblegum. The Abramanation is bubblegum. I don’t see the point in promoting bubblegum; people will chew it anyway.

No, I don’t like the film. If you really want to know why read through…

!Spoiler Alert!

Paramount finally gets it’s way and removes those pesky Vulcans that are so hard to understand and write for (logic, what’s that?) by having Vulcan destroyed by an artificially generated black hole (the explanation for which would be technobabble, had they only attempted to explain it) thus insuring that the only Vulcan they will have to write parts for in the future is the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, who seems to have a lot more trouble restraining emotion in this universe.

Uhura in essence sleeps her way onto the bridge of the Enterprise by having a relationship with Mr. Spock, who is not only one of her professors, but also a superior officer. The moral issues of this arrangement are never questioned, leading me to wonder if we haven’t somehow stumbled into the Mirror, Mirror universe (Sylar, is that you?) where that type of behavior is run of the mill.

James T. Kirk becomes captain of the Enterprise largely influenced by the career of his father. In this alternate timeline, the now fatherless Kirk (dad being killed in the opening sequence of the film. The com conversation between the two parents, as George Kirk is about to be killed, being one of the silliest parts of the film) still becomes captain of the Enterprise; proving the modern belief that fathers are irrelevant in the scheme of things, and can be disposed of with no ill effects for any required plot device.

Then there’s the running gag of Bones McCoy infecting the recently reprimanded Kirk with a mock disease in order to smuggle him on the Enterprise. This leads to a subsequent series of injections in order to cure him of humorous side effects. Or the transwarp beaming accident that leaves the recently found Scotty floating in engine coolant until conveniently rescued by Kirk through an inexplicably placed access hatch in the coolant tube. both situations so clearly contrived as to almost be cringe-level uncomfortable for me.

I could go on, but I won’t.

!End Spoiler Alert!

I can’t help but wonder what Leonard Nimoy (whom I will hold blameless) saw in this film to recommend his tacit approval and his venerable image to it. Spock prime stands in sharp contrast to the new cast, carrying with him into history a mantle of respect this revisioined Star Trek will never achieve. Because unlike Star Trek and it’s 42 years of history, the Abramanation is just entertainment.

With this film, Paramount can pat itself on the back for finally successfully milking this franchise the way it wanted to when the property was acquired with Desilu Productions. Like so many entertainment properties (Lost in Space, the Brady Bunch, Bewitched, the Flintstones, etc.) before it, sucked dry of nostalgia dollars, Star Trek can be safely shelved in long term storage, probably never to be heard from again.

If there is any mercy in this Mirror, Mirror universe, it won’t be. Rest In Peace Star Trek. Say hi to Gene for me.

Mamma Mia

If you are prepared to watch a Rock Opera, and if you are prepared to listen to Abba music for an hour and 48 minutes, then I highly recommend this film. If either of those two conditions don’t apply to you, stay away.

I found this film to be a nice trip down memory lane, reminding me of why I liked Abba all those years ago, and marveling at how the songs were worked into to the theme of the play/movie.

I’m glad that the leadership on the film chose actors that could sing, instead of requiring that they be Pavarotti’s that try to act. Yes, there are some rough edges on the soundtrack; but then there are some rough visual edges on the actors as well.

All in all it made for a real feeling film that pulled you into the world it portrays, at the same time bringing back the emotion of being 17 and in love for the first time, again.

Dick; the way the 70’s Should be Remembered

Hands down the silliest political satire I’ve ever sat through. Equally lambasting everyone from Dick Nixon to Woodward & Bernstein, this is the way I want to remember the 70’s.


visit videodetective.com for more info

Humor may be in the eye of the viewer, but the only way to explain the panning this film gets is judging it in context with the time it was released. Whitewater and the Clinton impeachment.

In hindsight the film becomes even funnier. At least Tricky Dick understood when he was an embarrassment to the nation, and himself; and didn’t keep trying to pretend he wasn’t a disgraced President.

If only ‘W’ had employed teenage dogwalkers. Ah, the times they are a-changing.


Speaking of ‘W’…

Caught the trailer for ‘W’ before watching Pineapple Express on Monday (that film would have been funnier if I had been properly motivated) I can’t imagine how this film will fair considering that it’s airing even before the subject leaves office; although they aren’t advertising an actual air date yet. Looks like it will be funny. Is it supposed to be?

Day X

As the wife pointed out, the previous post is a little out of date. On the other hand, I never did blog on the fact that one of her first films is finally in stores, and you can rent or buy your own copy to watch repeatedly (if you are into zombie films, that is) Day X.

There’s more story in this film than in all of the Romero zombie films, combined. If you do watch the film, take the time to rate it at IMDB or Flixster. Like all straight to video films, viewership is driven by word of mouth. Also like most straight to video films, this one suffers from a landslide of incredibly negative ratings.

One would hardly be able to tell that it won Best Director at Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival 2005 based on the biased slams that can be found online. Good grief people, it’s a low-budget indy film about zombies. What did you expect, a 100 million dollar budget and Spielberg at the helm? How about some realistic expectations?