The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 17:25

Well, I saw the film, and I enjoyed it. There are characters who don’t appear in LOTR that don’t really have resolutions to their stories, so I regretted that a little, but maybe the extended edition will touch on that. Also, I feel the film lacks the punch of Revenge of the Sith and Return of the King, which really are great finales, but “Battle” doesn’t disappoint. Lots of it is straight from the book, and it’s quite fun to see pure Tolkien on the big screen. I’d say the characters the film focuses on in order are: Thorin, Bilbo, Bard, Gandalf, Azog and Thranduil, with the rest (including Legolas, Tauriel, and Bolg) getting less screen-time. The story is a bit drawn out, but there aren’t too many slow spots. Billy Boyd’s closing number is very pretty and a nice way to end this second journey.

Still, I miss that high from seeing The Return of the King for the first time and kind of wish this was more in the ballpark. At least I have LOTR on Blu-ray so I can reminisce. And when I watch both trilogies back to back, it will all end with ROTK.

DS9 Reviews Part 40

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 20:06

Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I continue with Deep Space Nine, season six, finishing the season. 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.

Time’s Orphan: 4

An accident sends the O’Briens’ daughter back through a time portal three hundred years into the past into an uninhabited world. Beamed back too late, Molly returns to the present eighteen years old with no immediate recollection of her life or her family.

Read the rest of this entry »

DS9 Reviews Part 39

Friday, December 5, 2014 14:05
Comments closed

Welcome to another installment of my reviews for all 715 episodes of Star Trek. Today I continue with Deep Space Nine, season six, finishing the season. 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.

His Way: 7

Odo consults Vic Fontaine, a holographic lounge singer, about his relationship with Kira.

Air date: 4/20/1998
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker

“Look, pally, you want to win the girl, we’ve got to thaw you out a little.” – Vic

Late in the series, DS9 fearlessly introduces yet another recurring character in this Odo episode taking its title from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. James Darren, an old friend of the Rat Pack, steps into the shoes of Vic Fontaine, a self-aware holographic lounge singer with an intuitive understanding of relationships. Like Joe Piscopo teaching Data about comedy in TNG’s “Outrageous Okona”, Vic takes Odo under his wing and shows him how to cut loose and win Kira’s heart. Auberjonois hams it up, and Visitor gets to perform a sexy song (which she does quite well), creating the light-hearted story needed to follow up the drama of “Inquisition” and “Moonlight”. It’s one of Star Trek’s better romantic comedies, and – with full length musical performances – it’s the only Star Trek episode to ever get an Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Music Direction.

Darren himself, playing Fontaine after Rene Goulet, Tom Jones, Jerry Vale, and Frank Sinatra Jr. declined the part, proves a breath of fresh air in the series and returns for seven more episodes, starting with the sixth season finale, “Tears of the Prophets”.

HI: 5

The Reckoning: 6.5

Read the rest of this entry »

DS9 Reviews Part 38

Thursday, December 4, 2014 14:01
Comments closed

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.

Change of Heart: 6

Dax and Worf bicker over where to spend their honeymoon, finally settling on a dangerous trip through a jungle to rescue a Cardassian defector.

Air date: 3/2/1998
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Livingston

“How are you enjoying your honeymoon? Are you suffering enough?” – Dax

Read the rest of this entry »

DS9 Reviews Part 37

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 14:01
Comments closed

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.

Who Mourns for Morn? 7

After hearing that Morn has died, Quark suddenly finds himself in the middle of a dispute between Morn’s old acquaintances.

Air date: 2/2/1998
Written by Mark Gehred-O’Connell
Directed by Victor Lobl

“I want Morn’s money. I need Morn’s money. I deserve Morn’s money.” – Quark

Another “Who Morns for Adonais?” this ain’t, with Morn’s apparent death only serving to set up a station-based treasure hunt for Quark with some hammy character actors showing up at each turn. It’s essentially a remake of “The Nagus”, a comedy that’s as broad as the day is long and predictable as the sun rising in the morning. But for a middle of the season filler episode between the seriousness of “Waltz” and “Far Beyond the Stars”, it works just fine, with the “Quark gets in over his head” stories never getting old.

Anchoring the guest cast are Brad Greenquist and Cyril O’Reilly as a pair of alien brothers serving as the episode’s “heavies”. Director David Livingston lets the two actors have at it, and they steal the show with their quirky, hilarious shtick. (Meanwhile, Gregory Itzin is quite forgettable their coconspirator, which is too bad since he’s from my hometown. At least we still have Tony Romo.) Armin Shimmerman, of course, is old hat at this sort of outings and handles Quark with just the right blend of humor and seriousness. Mark Allen Shephard (Morn) himself has an interesting cameo. He plays a Bajoran who, at the request of Quark, keeps Morn’s seat warm!

In the end, it’s not the greatest piece of work, but it’s probably the best episode about Morn of DS9’s run. (And it did earn an Emmy Nomination for Best Make-up.)

HI: 1

Far Beyond the Stars: 9

Experiencing a vision from the Prophets, Sisko sees himself as Benny Russell, a science-fiction writer in the 1950s struggling in a world of racism and segregation.

Air date: 2/8/1998
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Story by Marc Scott Zicree
Directed by Avery Brooks

“If the world’s not ready for a woman writer, imagine what would happen if it learned about a Negro with a typewriter – run for the hills!” – Herb

Read the rest of this entry »

New Middle-earth Madness Review

Friday, November 28, 2014 17:47
Comments closed

Paul Genesse left a great review of Middle-earth Madness at Amazon. Here it is!

What do you get a huge fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies? A copy of Middle-earth Madness of course! J.W. Braun and TheOneRing.net staff have put together an awesome collection of essays and inside information that super fans will love to read. The book is largely about the first two Hobbit movies by Peter Jackson, but there is a ton more information about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Middle-earth movies by Ralph Bakshi and Rankin/Bass.

You get to read about the history of The Hobbit films, behind the scenes info, and lots of interviews with the cast and crew. Each major part of the first and second Hobbit movies were summarized and detailed observations were made by the authors. Learning inside information was my favorite part, as I want to know as much as possible about the films and how they were created.

The Q&A with artist and designer Daniel Falconer was a highlight. Learning his feelings about working on the films after being a huge fan his whole life made me smile. The interview with Lord of the Rings producer Mark Ordesky was also fantastic–even though I’d read it before on TheOneRing.net.

I loved the essay by Hobbit girl and fantasy author, Kellie Rice. The essay, Hobbitception, goes over how the video of Kellie and her sister Alex watching the first trailer for The Desolation of Smaug went viral after Peter Jackson promoted it. It has over 450,000 views on YouTube. Jackson showed it to some of the Hobbit cast, filmed it, and that video of Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, and Lee Pace, went viral as well. I remember the event and learning the exact backstory was so fun. Of course I had to re-watch the video of Kellie and Alex again. I laughed and smiled along with them as they screamed and freaked out.

There’s a lot of highlights in Middle-earth Madness, especially the in depth interviews of Peter Hambleton (Gloin), Jed Brophy (Nori), Richard Armitage (Thorin), Graham McTavish (Dwalin), Sylvester McCoy (Radagast), William Kircher (Bifur), and all the little snippets about the other cast and crew members.

This is a book by fans for fans. The authors put together a great collection of behind the scenes Middle-earth movie lore that will delight readers and especially Ringers.

Tip of the hat to: J.W. Braun, Clifford Broadway, Larry Curtis, John Webster, Kirsten Cairns–who did excellent interviews, Catherine Frizat, John Webster, Kristin Thompson, Nancy Steinman, and all TheOneRing.net crew.

 

 

New Hobbit Trailer & New Hobbit Movie

Thursday, November 6, 2014 21:39
Comments closed

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
Comments closed

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

Read the rest of this entry »

DS9 Reviews Part 35

Monday, November 3, 2014 20:28
Comments closed

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

Read the rest of this entry »

DS9 Reviews Part 34

Friday, October 31, 2014 15:41
Comments closed

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Like on FacebookLike on Facebook