Happy 50th Birthday Star Trek!!

kirk_spock_mccoy_bridge_2267Today is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Star Trek. The first episode, “The Man Trap” aired on this date, September 8, 1966. I was barely 3 years old at the time, wouldn’t actually turn 3 until that next month, so I never saw the original series in its original run.

It was 1975 and I was 12 years old. Our town just got cable and I discovered WPIX Channel 11 out of New York City. The station had reruns of the Munsters, the Brady Bunch and Gilligans Island and even Godzilla movies. Enough to make a burgeoning nerd happy. Then I discovered a show called Star Trek and my life was never the same!

I was hooked from the start. I do not remember the first episode I saw but soon I was watching the show any time it was on. I loved the characters and the stories. Life was not always easy at home so I was drawn to Spock. He was logical and seemed to have conquered these human emotions. My love of science-fiction was something that I was drawn to as a young child. I never felt that I chose science-fiction I always felt that it chose me.

Star Trek had/has dramatic stories of aliens and the problems of the human condition along with time travel and history all wrapped in a positive vision of the future with larger than life historic characters. Though I was young when I first began watching the show I learned later in life how groundbreaking the show was in showing human diversity and races and cultures getting along harmoniously. I think that is what I enjoyed most about Star Trek and still do. Beneath well acted and well written stories is the theme of hope for the future.

So Happy Birthday Star Trek! You have lived long and prospered and long may you continue to do so!

Batman Syndrome?

This is hopefully going to be a lighthearted fun piece. One of the interesting things about following science-fiction and fantasy films is that the fan base for certain franchises can be strongly opinionated and people can tend to get nasty. I have noticed it with Godzilla, Star Trek and Star Wars fans and comic book superhero fans. That leads me to today’s topic. Another point I want to make is that although I grew up in the 60s and 70s reading comic books I do not read them that much any more although I have kept up with what is going on in many of them. One of the trends that is big right now is superheros fighting other superheros as apposed to fighting criminals and villains.

In light of next years movies, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Marvel’s Civil war…superhero battles are all the rage…pun intended. Therefore on many of superhero related groups on Facebook there are these hypothetical battles between these fictional characters and the most prevalent one is between Batman and Superman. Observing the passion on both sides between which superhero would be triumphant there is something I have noticed about Batman fans, which I am one, but these übber fans guys take it up several notches and have what is called Batman Syndrome.

Now I must confess I am biased. I am mostly a Superman fan and Batman comes in second place. Having admitted that, let me define Batman Syndrome. Batman Syndrome is the belief that Batman cannot be defeated and not only that, given enough prep-time Batman can defeat any superhero no matter how powerful they are. Superman has limits but it seems like Batman does not.

Why is this a problem for me? Well, as a Superman fan I do find it a little funny to think that a guy who can fly faster than light, lift a freight-train with one hand and have bullets bounce off his chest as if they were jelly beans can be beaten by someone with zero superpowers. But if you have Batman Syndrome you think beating Superman or any meta-human with powers can easily be done…any time and all of the time. Sure, Batman has his kryptonite which can weaken Superman and for those with Batman Syndrome that is all it takes.

But my problem goes deeper than that. Batman Syndrome fundamentally changes the essence of all the characters. Do you have superpowers? Doesn’t matter in the end because despite them you can be beaten. Then why have superheros with special powers? In the end, under Batman Syndrome, they’re worthless. The other and more important point is that it changes Batman the most. Part of the appeal of Batman is that he is a human being with no superpowers. He lurks in the shadows and the night and strikes terror in the hearts of criminals. Yes, he is a master of martial arts, he is extremely intelligent and has unmatched detective skills along with advanced gadgets and technology at his disposal. But when you turn him into a god-like being you take away his humanity and it is his humanity that made him a great character in my eyes.

The last thing that bothers me about Batman Syndrome is that it turns Batman into someone with questionable ethics. In my day Batman and Superman were friends with trust and a common goals of stopping crime and evil. A cynical Batman who doesn’t trust anyone and has questionable ethics doesn’t sound like a character that would even want to fight crime and evil.

I like Batman to be human and with limitations. I like all my superheros to have some limitations for it makes for great story telling. A human Batman is one to look up to and relate to as he embodies all the best characteristics of being human. Without that he is just another superhero and nothing really distinguishes him from the rest. As a mortal with no powers and with limitations is an exciting character.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, trailer review

This past weekend the full trailer for the movie Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released. My first reaction was Holy Crap! Holy Crap meaning that was excellent! I am certainly not one that hated Man of Steel so I am greatly looking forward to this next movie. In my participation in various message boards and groups Man of Steel (MOS) does have its fair share of haters. Those haters of course ceremoniously also are sticking their noses up at this movie before they see it.

One of the reasons people tended to hate MOS was due to the rampant destruction. They seem to side with Holly Hunter, playing the part of a Senator that heads a committee holding Superman responsible for the destruction. Another reason the haters hated MOS was its failure to addresses the mass destruction issue. However, it looks like this movie will be addressing that very issue! Plus, we see Bruce Wayne, who was apparently in Metropolis on the day of the fight between Superman & Zod, and this is the impetus for the distrust and rivalry between the two Superheros.

I would like to comment on the main focus of the movie. The fight and rivalry of Batman & Superman. I grew up in an era where Superheroes fought other Super villains and not one another!!! I grew up in the 60s and 70s with the Super Friends cartoons and Batman and Superman were the best of buds and on the same side. From my participation in fan groups and pages dedicated to Superheroes (I even run one myself) having Superheroes battle one another is all the rage. Personally, I find it a bit annoying. Sure, some rivalry and bruised egos and distrust will make for some good story telling, and I don’t mind it going that far, but these out and out hatred and battles between them are not what I really like to see.

Reading the official synopsis of the movie does give me hope that this rivalry will not last long as a bigger threat arises forcing Batman and Superman to join forces against a bigger threat.

Two more points before I end this. I was on board when Ben Affleck was chosen as the new Batman for this film. You would think the internet had broken when so many fans had a meltdown when Ben was chosen. Haters crawled out of the woodwork! Today, I am happy to say that haters have dwindled in number to a very small few. The same can be said of the casting of Gail Gadot and Jessie Eisenberg as Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor respectively, as we view more pictures and trailers more and more prople are coming on board.

The tone of the movie looks good, it will have a lot of action and adventure with good drama and conflicts. I like the fact that Superman is not universally loved in theis Universe. It is like the real world. If someone that powerful did live among us, I am sure there would be those who did not trust him or did not like him.

Sky High: a review

Over the years as much as I try and stay up on movies coming out there are times one will slip past my radar. Sky High was one of those movies. I had not even heard of it before this past winter!

Here is a quick write-up from Wikipedia.

Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film about an airborne school for teenage superheroes. It was directed by Mike Mitchell, and written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle. The starring cast includes Michael Angarano as Will, an incoming freshman at the school, Danielle Panabaker as his best friend and love interest, Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a popular senior, Steven Strait as Will’s rival, and Lynda Carter as Principal Powers.

This movie is a mixture of a teen comedy and a superhero movie. Basically, the premise is Will Stronghold is off to his Freshman year of high school and if that wasn’t stressful enough his parents are The Commander and Jetstream the world’s most powerful and best loved superheroes. To continue adding to the young Will’s stress is the fact that he hasn’t developed his superpowers yet so he may be regulated to “sidekick” status.

This movie is funny and fully of charm. Everyone is one their game. Michael Angarano is excellent as Will as he struggles with class status, the girls in his life, his loving but demanding father and finding a way to fit in while he wonders if he will ever get his superpowers. Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents are particularly great in this movie. Two actors that really steal the show are Dave Foley (no relation) as Jonathan Boy / All-American Boy. He is the Commander’s old sidekick but now works as a Hero Support teacher (aka Sidekick) at Sky High. The other scene stealer is Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla, the bulbous headed Mad Science teacher. He gives me the most laughs.

The movie is lighthearted fun and never for a moment takes itself seriously. However, despite the tongue firmly implanted this movie has a lot of heart without being too sentimental or schmaltzy. In other words the movie strikes a perfect tone. Will learns what real love looks like and all the nerdy sidekicks, I mean those in hero support, get to find out what it means to be areal hero.

This is a fun, charming and entertaining movie that I cannot recommend enough for those that either like teens comedies, or for those who remember their teens years and its struggles…of, yeah this movie is also for those who love the superhero genre.

Jupiter Ascending

To begin this review I will start with a mini right up from Wikipedia:

Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 American-Australian space opera film written, produced, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. Starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, the film is centered on Jupiter Jones (Kunis), an ordinary cleaning woman, and Caine Wise (Tatum), an interplanetary warrior who informs Jones that her destiny extends beyond Earth.

This is going to be a mixed review. I think the little summary is pretty accurate. I will expand on it just a little. Yes, this will have some mini spoilers. Jupiter Jones has become Queen of the Earth and there are two factions, one to protector her and the other that wants to rob her of her new inheritance. That is it. That is the story. However, I have to say the movie is a bit of a mess. Although for me it is an enjoyable mess! The story is basically easy to follow, the main part of it is anyway, its just that there are subplots and plethora of characters I was not able to always figure out what they had to do with the story!

I do not apologize for the fact that I am easy to please as a viewer and I love CGI and special affects and this movie is great in creating a wonderful spectacle of eye candy. This movie does transport you to other worlds that are beautiful to look at and also helps you experience the story. I think that is what is positive about the film. Essentially the movie is a love story with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as the central focus and when we are with them we see Mila experience these new worlds and experience them along with her and when Channing Tatum is protecting her we experience these worlds from his perspective and that is when the movie is at its best.

Another positive aspect about the film is actor Eddie Redmayne who plays BaleLana m Abrasax, Emperor of the House of Abrasax. Balem is the eldest of the three Abrasax heirs. Balem controls the wealthiest business empire in the known universe from a gigantic refinery in the Great Red Spot of the planet Jupiter. If you want to know what his business is think Soylent Green, but not as a food product but as a fountain of youth type of beauty product. The emperor feels threatened by Jupiter Jones’ claim to the Earth and attempts to stop her. Actor Eddie Redmayne, who just won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the movie the History of Everything, really steals the show as the deliciously evil emperor. He would give Tom Hiddleston as Loki a run for the money as an evil character. Although I do like this movie it could be better and in many ways and in my opinion Eddie Redmayne desrves to play an evil character in a better movie. His obvious talent is wasted here.

Jupiter Ascending is an enjoyable film full of great special affects and an interesting yet muddled story that is carried by the strength of its three important leads, Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne. I do recommend this movie albeit with some cautions.

Jurassic World: Preview

What happens to kids who love Dinosaurs? They grow up to be adults who love Dinosaurs!! 

I remember my friend George took me to see Jurassic Park when it was in the theater telling me I had to see this on the big screen.  Boy was he right! Jurassic Park was a breakthrough in special affects and dinosaurs never looked more real. They raised the bar on special affects, especially for creatures and monsters. While Jurassic World doesn’t seem to be as ground breaking as its predecessor but it does show how great these affects looks today. Although I do think the FX in the original movie have not aged at all.

I enjoyed all three Jurassic Park movies. The first and the third are my favorites and while I do like Jurassic Park: The Lost World, it is missing some fun and a little soul to it. So what are my expectations for the Jurassic World? First of all I have read a synopsis of the plot but I won’t spoil it for you here. So, the story sounds pretty good. I like Chris Platt from Guardians of the Galaxy and his role here (mini spoiler) is that he is a Raptor trainer and has an essential part in the plot. Also, and I say this without judgment, there is a bit of formula in these movies and basically its that once you mix humans and dinosaurs together mayhem will ensue. So I am expecting that in this movie. We also know that there is a new hybrid dinosaur that is the main threat and it has been rumored that the T-Rex from the original movie will make an appearance. I am also happy to learn that the movie will take place Isla Nublar which is where the first movie was set. It is the first sequel and second film to take place on Isla Nublar, as the previous two sequels took place on Isla Sorna.

My expectations are rather high given what I have seen and what I know of the film. Honestly, they would have to go a long way for me to be disappointed in this film! This movies I am looking forward to the most for this summer!! Directed by Colin Trevarrow the film was produced by Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley, and is scheduled to be released on June 12, 2015 in North America, by Universal Pictures.

Seventh Son: Review

Seventh Son is a 2014 American epic fantasy film directed by Sergei Bodrov and starring Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Vikander, and Julianne Moore. It is based on the novel The Spook’s Apprentice (titled The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch in the US) by Joseph Delaney. The story centers on Thomas Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, and his adventures as the apprentice of the Spook. After having its release date shifted numerous times, the film was released in France on December 17, 2014 and in Canada and the United States on February 6, 2015.

This film was poorly handled. I will not go too deep into that but this was one of those films that was not marketed well and the original affects company went bankrupt and had to be bailed out in order for the special effects to be completed. The movie did not do well with critics and did not do well at the US box office. With a production Budget $95 million it only made $17 million at the box office domestically but it made 110 million world wide. The fact that this movie was released in February, where movies go to die, didn’t help.

Despite all of that negativity I really enjoyed it. The story of how Thomas Ward played by Ben Barnes is the new apprentice of the Spook played by Jeff Bridges and has to recapture Mother Malkin the queen of witches and her minions is a basic staple of fantasy films but I think this one is well executed. If you like monsters and witches, demons and dragons then I think you will like this movie too. This is the type of escapist fun movie that I really enjoy. It has a good story and is well acted with great special effects and there is a lot of subtle dry humor to show it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

One of the delights about this movie is the performances by stellar actors Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. They both chew up the scenery and they both look like they’re genuinely having fun in this movie and that translates to fine and engaging performances. Bridges play’s the Spook, named Gregory and is a wise cracking old mentor who is trying to train a replacement apprentice while at the same time trying to recapture Mother Milken who has escaped where Gregory last held her. Both Gregory and Malkin have a history and Thomas meets a young gal who also has a secret and a history that ties into the entire story. As we follow our two heroes on their quest we will see and battle some epic creatures along the way.

All-in-all a very enjoyable fantasy film that will be re-watched on nice cool rainy days, such as the one I am experiencing today.

The Music of Michael Tomlinson

No, this is not Spam. This is blog owner Bill Foley here with an important message. Please forgive me for this one indulgence. I would like to take a break for a moment and speak about something important to me. Michael Tomlinson is one of the best singer-songwriters in the business these days. He is in the process of creating a beautiful new album and if his past work is any indication this new CD will fill your soul and make you smile and make life just that much enjoyable. So, let’s all support Michael Tomlinson in any way you feel moved. Financially, emotionally, pass this on to a thousand friends, what ever you can do. In a world that can be difficult Michael’s music shines through and lets us all know how positive and joyous life truly is.

http://www.michaeltomlinson.com

Coming Back……next week!!

I will be bringing this blog back to life next week. I am going to do it a little differently. I will feature more topical posts like I have been doing, such as who is your favorite Superman etc. I will also being doing reviews of old films and new films, they just will be shorter. I have learned writing long reviews is just not my thing so I will include them but they won’t be drawn out. I find people don’t like to read a lot of text on the computer. So, new and interesting topics will be coming along starting next week!! If you have a topic you would like to read about just let me know!!!

Who was the best Clark Kent?

A while back I did a post on who was my favorite Superman. Of all the live action portrayals of the Man of Steel which was my favorite. It came down to George Reeves for me because he personified and projected strength. So have Cavill and Christopher Reeve but not to the extent George Reeves did. But what about his later ego, Clark Kent? Who played that part of the character the best. Ironically, I have to eliminate George Reeves right off the top! He played the role very well. However, my problem with his portrayal of Clark was that it was hardly no different from his portrayal of Superman. Clark is supposed to be a “mild mannered” reporter. George’s Clark was a very hard nosed reporter. Sure, there were moments that they portrayed him as being timid but those were very brief and far in between.

I think in order to portray Clark and not to reveal that he is Superman the personalities must be distinct. However, there are always two ends of the spectrum. George was too far at the end of the spectrum where there was too little distinction between the two roles. Christopher Reeve went too far in the other direction! He made his Clark Kent a bumbling fool! That was not always that much fun to watch. Plus, we really didn’t get to know his Clark Kent that well…

...and that is where things have changed! Both Reeves and Reeves came out of a time when Superman was the primary identity and Clark was the secondary identity. In other words, Superman was who he really was and Clark was just a disguise. That changed later in the 80s and 90s to where Clark Kent was the true identity while Superman was the disguise. In this paradigm we get to see a Clark that is much different and not just a throw away character.

The recent Man of Steel movie went in that direction. The entire movie is about Clark Kent discovering who he is. At the end he becomes Superman but Clark is the real person it seems. I cannot pick Cavill’s Clark as the best because we really haven’t seen this Clark play both roles yet. So we do not know how different, if at all, will his Clark and Superman be?