New Hobbit Trailer & New Hobbit Movie

Thursday, November 6, 2014 21:39
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So this is quite the exciting week, since the extended edition of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug came out on Blu-ray and DVD and there’s a new trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

I just watched DOS EE and thought it was great. The most notable additions focus on Thrain, and and while I think it was wise to exclude them from the theatrical cut, it’s good to have them in the extended edition. It’s nice to fill in that space between Thror and Thorin.

The trailer for the next film is pretty standard stuff, but there’s no reason for Warner Bros. to reinvent the wheel.

DS9 Reviews Part 36

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 17:43
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Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I continue with Deep Space Nine, season six. I’m rating these episodes on a scale of 1 to 10 with the following meaning:

1. Abysmal, 2. Terrible, 3. Bad, 4. Poor, 5. Mediocre,
6. Fair, 7. Good, 8. Great, 9. Superb, 10. Perfect

In addition, I’ll be rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) the historical importance (HI) of the episodes – looking at how much they tie into other Star Trek episodes or lay down important precedents.

Statistical Probabilities: 7.5

A group of eccentric genetically engineered people visit the station, and Bashir takes an interest in their dark predictions for the future.

Air date: 11/24/1997
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Pam Pietroforte
Directed by Anson Williams

“Well, I’d love to stay and chat about our impending doom but…” Dr. Bashir

If a Star Trek writer ever got together with Samuel Beckett and Isaac Asimov to write a play, it would probably look something like this. With its simple settings, emphasis on character, and repetitive material, much of “Statistical Probabilities” seems more like what you’d expect to see on a stage than in Star Trek; but it works well as a simple Bashir episode and a nice followup to “Dr. Bashir, I Presume”.

The plot of the episode stems from the arrogance of those who think they know better than others, a cornerstone trait of society. From sports to the economy to technology, there are always those who claim that statistics and past experience will allow them to predict the future with 100% accuracy and get testy with those who doubt what they have to say. Yet even the most intelligent of people inadvertently make assumptions that turn out to be false. It’s the contrast between Bashir’s “non linear dynamics”, where the accuracy of a prediction becomes more reliable the farther in the future you go (like the prediction that flipping a coin over and over will lead to similar occurrences of both heads and tails), and the butterfly effect, where small actions by individuals in the present can have enormous consequences in the future. “Statistical Probabilities” looks at both sides of the issue and has a lot of fun in the process, with Anson Williams (Potsie on “Happy Days”) directing the first of his six Star Trek episodes.

Is it difficult to buy that Starfleet would trust three mentally unstable individuals with detailed intelligence reports or that Deep Space Nine would allow Weyoun and Damar to sneak around the station for clandestine meetings? Sure. Is the episode still compelling? Absolutely.

The four new guest stars, after establishing themselves here, return for the seventh season episode “Chrysalis”.

HI: 4

The Magnificent Ferengi: 7

When Quark’s mother is captured by the Dominion, Quark leads a team of Ferengi to attempt to get her back.

Air date: 12/29/1997
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Chip Chalmers

“A child, a moron, a failure, and a psychopath. Quite a little team you’ve put together.” – Brunt

It would seem the perfect plot for a Ferengi comedy: the Grand Nagus is captured by the Dominion, and all the recurring Ferengi characters band together to save him. Unfortunately, with Wallace Shawn unavailable, the writers are forced to substitute Quark’s mom. It doesn’t make much sense. (Why would the Dominion want Quark’s mom?) But the episode isn’t really about the captive anyway; that’s just a plot device. Like The Magnificent Seven, the 1960 classic Western film, it’s about the diverse set of characters who gang up together to accomplish a mission.

And then there’s the antagonist: Iggy Pop. With his Midwestern accent, he sounds nothing like the Vorta that have appeared before, yet he’s got a deadpan delivery and charming awkwardness that work for the race.

As the story progresses (finding its way to Empok Nor, Deep Space Nine’s sister station), the Ferengi, naturally, do everything wrong, and there are a lot of funny moments. But as is often the case with Quark, there are genuine heroic moments as well, turning what could be a farce into a semi-serious episode. The Ferengi all but admit that people don’t have enough respect for their culture, and they view this as a opportunity to prove the public wrong. (The chance does take a hit when they kill their own prisoner and have to do the “Weekend at Bernie’s” thing.)

In the end, good wins because evil is stupid, but it’s not like they advertised this one as “The Best of Both Worlds”. As a Ferengi comedy, it succeeds just fine.

HI: 4

Waltz: 8

Sisko is severely injured and trapped alone on a deserted planet with Dukat, who becomes increasingly unstable.

Air date: 1/5/1998
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

“Benjamin, just a few hours ago I was a prisoner on my way to trial and you were my dear old friend come to visit me in my cell. Now look at us. I’m free, and you’re a prisoner of your own battered body.” – Dukat

Following up on “Sacrifice of the Angels”, this Dukat/Sisko episode is a classic “elevator” episode, though not quite as literally as “The Forsaken”. In the more Star Trek way, the two characters are stuck on a planet (the cave set) waiting for rescue. The point, of course, is to allow the dialogue to carry the show, and Moore, Alaimo, and Brooks bring the goods, resulting in one of Star Trek’s better bottle shows.

The interesting thing is that it starts off as if the writers are backing off of Dukat going crazy, like they’re trying to tell us to forget the events at the end of “Sacrifice”. Then then proceed to bring alive the voices in his head through a chorus of personalities played by Weyoun, Damar, and Kira. It’s a device that illuminates Dukat’s mind in a unique way that even a monologue could not achieve. Within its construct, Weyoun represents Dukat’s feelings of inadequacy, Damar represents his pride, and Kira represents his self doubt. As the episode progresses, we move from Dukat’s need for validation to his self satisfaction at finally defining himself, which leaves us realizing he’s even crazier (and more dangerous) than we first thought.

While all this is going on, there’s a short B story with the Defiant about the search for Sisko. While the meat and potatoes of the episode lies with Dukat’s self-exploration, the Defiant story includes a classic fake-out moment, and the two stories strike the perfect balance for what they each are.

HI: 5

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DS9 Reviews Part 35

Monday, November 3, 2014 20:28
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Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I continue with Deep Space Nine Season 6. I’m rating these episodes on a scale of 1 to 10 with the following meaning:

1. Abysmal, 2. Terrible, 3. Bad, 4. Poor, 5. Mediocre,
6. Fair, 7. Good, 8. Great, 9. Superb, 10. Perfect

In addition, I’ll be rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) the historical importance (HI) of the episodes – looking at how much they tie into other Star Trek episodes or lay down important precedents.

Favor the Bold: 8.5

Captain Sisko convinces Starfleet Command to launch a fleet of starships to retake Deep Space Nine.

Air date: 10/27/1997
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

“Odo, we are way, way past ‘sorry’.” – Kira

Taking its title from The Aeneid by Virgil, this flip side of “Call to Arms” is an ensemble piece that features preparations for a Federation invasion fleet while Weyoun and Dukat prepare to clear out a mine field blocking the wormhole. Like “Call to Arms”, it’s composed mostly of small character moments, showing us what everyone is thinking heading into the looming confrontation between the Federation and the Dominion. With DS9’s character depth, this allows the episode to cruise along without too much story movement, hopping from Sisko to Odo to Rom to Kira to Dukat and so on, with small moments for the lesser stars such as Garak, Nog, Jake, Lita, Admiral Ross, Ziyal, and Morn. (Even the Changeling leader gets in on the action, literally getting some action.) What’s great about this sort of episode is that the large number of characters makes the story seem even bigger than it is, as if it’s spilling off the screen affecting millions of lives (just how a war story should come across). And ace director Winrich Kolbe returns for the first time in two seasons to pull it all together and give it the perfect pacing.

Once again, the station gets the A story while Sisko and the Federation get the B story, though the stories, at last, begin to intersect, thanks to Morn, of all people. Throughout the hour there’s a sense that characters are committing themselves to choices that cannot be undone. When Kira tells Odo that they are “way, way past sorry”, it doesn’t just describe their own relationship but where the show has gone as a whole. The Dominion’s attitude towards Rom, Kira’s actions toward Damar, and the impending invasion, all represent decisions that one way or another threaten to change lives for better or for worse. By the end, it’s clear that everything is about to change, and the only question is, what will it change to?

HI: 9

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DS9 Reviews Part 34

Friday, October 31, 2014 15:41
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Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I start Deep Space Nine Season 6. I’m rating these episodes on a scale of 1 to 10 with the following meaning:

1. Abysmal, 2. Terrible, 3. Bad, 4. Poor, 5. Mediocre,
6. Fair, 7. Good, 8. Great, 9. Superb, 10. Perfect

In addition, I’ll be rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) the historical importance (HI) of the episodes – looking at how much they tie into other Star Trek episodes or lay down important precedents.

A Time to Stand: 8

With the Dominion winning in the war against the Federation, Sisko and his crew regroup and prepare for a special mission.

Air date: 9/29/1997
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker

“It’s only a matter of time before the Federation collapses and Earth becomes another conquered planet under Dominion rule.” – Dukat

While the fifth season finale teases a big battle show to follow, “A Time to Stand” spends most of its time in the periphery of hostilities until the end. There are battles, but they happen off screen. Sisko and company’s regrouping and the Dominion’s occupation of Deep Space Nine (the alternating A and B stories) are both rather quiet and do not intersect. The bulk of the episode includes small-scale scenes between the characters, including a mix of new and old pairings like Kira and Odo, Weyoun and Jake, Dukat and Kira, and Ben and Admiral Ross. Most of the scenes go as we would expect, with the exception of Ben and the new Admiral. Barry Jenner takes a novel approach to playing the Captain’s boss: he doesn’t act like a dick. This unusual acting decision immediately vaults him ahead of just about every admiral preceding him for the “most liked figurehead” award.

As the episode nears its end, the action picks up with a daring undercover mini-mission, setting the table for the next episode.

HI: 7

Rocks and Shoals: 8

Sisko and his crew are stranded on a planet with the Jem’Hadar.

Air date: 10/6/1997
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Michael Vejar

“I’m going to order the Jem’Hadar to attack your position tomorrow regardless of whether you agree to my terms or not. So you can either kill them or they’ll kill you. Either way, they’re coming.” – Keevan, the Vorta leader

Reminiscent of “The Ship”, but better, “Rocks and Shoals” is another “Sisko as a troop leader” episode. It’s supposedly part of the season opening six parter, but could just as easily have been made as a standalone episode. (Actually, the next episode, “Sons and Daughters”, was shot before it.) Sisko and most of the regulars (along with Garak and Nog) are part of the A story, where they and an enemy ship have crashed on a planet. Only working together can they escape. The result is combat crosscut with political drama. The script itself isn’t anything special, just running through the motions, but the acting (including the new guest stars) and the directing (taking advantage of a beautiful location) elevate the story, giving it a unique feel. (At times it looks like a feature film.) Most of the episode features Sisko making the tough decisions, but in the end we learn more about his enemy (the Vorta and the Jem’hadar) than him, better defining what the Federation is up against.

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Middle-earth Madness in Paperback

Saturday, October 11, 2014 1:51
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MM1

Middle-earth Madness is my new book all about both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies! My Middle-earth Madness section on this website is all up to date, so you can click on it to get all the details and find out how to purchase the book electronically or now in paperback. I have a copy now in my hands, and I think it’s really a great collector’s item!

 

MM3

 

 

DS9 Reviews Part 32

Monday, October 6, 2014 12:49

Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I finish Deep Space Nine Season 5. I’m rating these episodes on a scale of 1 to 10 with the following meaning:

1. Abysmal, 2. Terrible, 3. Bad, 4. Poor, 5. Mediocre,
6. Fair, 7. Good, 8. Great, 9. Superb, 10. Perfect

In addition, I’ll be rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) the historical importance (HI) of the episodes – looking at how much they tie into other Star Trek episodes or lay down important precedents.

Empok Nor: 7.5

Scavenging an old Cardassian space station for equipment, O’Brien’s team discovers they are not alone.

Air date: 5/19/1997
Teleplay by Hans Beimler
Story by Bryan Fuller
Directed by Michael Vejar

“I’m not a tailor. Not for the moment anyway.” – Garak

It’s O’Brien and Garak in a murder mystery without the mystery. (Actually, it evolves into DS9’s version of “The Most Dangerous Game”.) This horror episode, pairing up the two characters for the first time, takes place on a mostly abandoned sister station, giving the episode and the show a new setting at no expense. (Here’s a secret: the sets for the sister station are actually the regular DS9 sets with new lighting! Don’t tell anyone.) Star Trek, going back to “The Man Trap,” has often struggled with horror stories, but director Mike Vejar is up to the task here, handling the timing with expertise. The episode builds its suspense nicely before delivering “jump” moments at just the right times. Meanwhile, having a sister station not only saves money but story time. There’s no need to orient the viewer to the new setting. We know the Promenade is the Promenade and Ops is Ops.

Is Empok Nor a Top Ten episode? Of course not. It’s a low-budget filler episode that doesn’t lend itself well to repeat viewings. (Nobody would argue that this is either the best O’Brien episode or the best Garak episode.) But does it succeed at what it sets out to do? Absolutely.

 HI: 3

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DS9 Reviews Part 31

Sunday, October 5, 2014 20:35
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Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I continue with Deep Space Nine Season 5. I’m rating these episodes on a scale of 1 to 10 with the following meaning:

1. Abysmal, 2. Terrible, 3. Bad, 4. Poor, 5. Mediocre,
6. Fair, 7. Good, 8. Great, 9. Superb, 10. Perfect

In addition, I’ll be rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) the historical importance (HI) of the episodes – looking at how much they tie into other Star Trek episodes or lay down important precedents.

Ferengi Love Songs: 7

Quark discovers that Grand Nagus Zek is having a secret relationship with his mother.

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Middle-earth Madness Review

Sunday, September 28, 2014 7:58
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You always hope for good reviews for your books, but you never know. Glad to see this first one for Middle-earth Madness:

As a constant reader of TheOneRing.net, I was thrilled to see they had written a book. This incredibly detailed volume caters to the ultimate nerds among the so-called “Ringers.”

After some history on the background and difficulties leading up to Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, the book delves right into scene-by-scene analyses of the first two Hobbit films. The analyses include witty summaries, “geeky observations,” and also revelations of the films’ rare mistakes.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the tidbits and thoughts expressed in Middle-Earth Madness. As someone who went from knowing very little about hobbits in 2012 to a full-blown Tolkien geek at the DOS midnight premiere, I appreciate the opinions and observations from all these fellow fans of J.R.R. Tolkien—an incredible man who used his God-given gifts to challenge and inspire the world.

Middle-earth Madness

Saturday, September 27, 2014 6:23
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My newest book is available for Kindle and Nook! It’s all about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies. Find out more (and read a sample chapter) at TheOneRing.net.

Ten years go by fast

Sunday, August 24, 2014 17:38

Here are Keely and I in photos exactly ten years apart. The first was taken on August 20, 2004 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI. The second was taken August 20, 2014 in our home. (We refuse to age.)

Grey HR Line

U.S. Residents Can Now Purchase a signed copy of The Lord of the Films for $5

Or Purchase the Book From These Retailers:
Barnes & Noble | Powell's Books | Amazon: US | US Kindle | Canada | UK | UK Kindle

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