Monthly Archives: November 2017

Star Trek Review: The Cage

The Cage

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The Cage was the very first Star Trek pilot submitted to NBC in 1965. Sadly the pilot episode was rejected by NBC for being “too cerebral.” We all know the rest of the story. Actress Lucille Ball, the owner of Desilu Studios where the pilot was filmed, put pressure on the NBC executives to give Gene Roddenberry another chance. They did, he filmed another pilot, it was accepted and the rest is history.

For me The Cage has a Star Trek: The Next Generation vibe to it. I had read once that TNG was closer to Rodenberry’s vision for Star Trek because he didn’t have the interference he had had on the Original Series. The Cage also had more of a “Forbidden Planet” 1950s vibe to me and that is understandable given that Forbidden Planet was an early influence on Star Trek. The Cage reminds me of TNG because Captain Christopher Pike, played by Jeffery Hunter, reminds me a lot of Captain Picard in terms of temperament. Although Kirk would become more of a man of action, both Pike and Picard are more intellectual.

The plot is pretty basic. Pike is weary and worn after several missions that have not gone as well as planned. He has lost lives and is questioning his role as captain of the USS Enterprise. His next mission is answering a distress call from the Planet Talus IV where an earth vessel had crashed years before. However, the entire landing party, except for the female, Vina, was all an illusion and soon Pike is captured by the Talosians and thrown into a zoo like setting.

In order to both control him and tempt him into staying the Talosians are able to control his mind by placing life-like images of both pleasure and pain into his mind. Pike doesn’t want to be trapped in a cage and rebels. The Talosians realize that humans will not be a good addition to their menagerie because of human beings desire not to be enslaved. Pike leaves and Vina decides to stay after learning that her youth and beauty was also an illusion.

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This is a very enjoyable episode. It is sad that NBC rejected it. On the other had, if NBC had accepted the Cage the original series, and the history of the Star Trek franchise would be very different. So in many ways I am happy things turned out the way they did. The only aspect of this episode that survived the recreation that lead to the series was Mr. Spock. Majel Barret, who would play Nurse Chapel in the series, and become Mrs. Roddenberry, is the only other actor to survive the transition. Barret played Number One, the second in command, which is another reason why The Cage reminds me of TNG.

Spock was a character that NBC also wanted to be rid of because of his sinister look which they feared would offend some viewers However, Roddenberry put his foot down to save the character Spock and for that we are all eternally grateful, for Spock became not just a much beloved character in Star Trek but of all Science Fiction. Spock is truly iconic. Female actors were used to portray the bulbous headed Talosians and this look also has become classic and iconic look in science fiction.

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This pilot episode was woven into the two part episode The Menagerie later in the series so I will have more to say about it on my review of that episode. I give this episode a solid A+ rating.

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Star Trek: The Original Series Review

Hello faithful followers! Starting next week, and every Monday, I will be reviewing an episode of the original 1960s Star Trek TV series. With 80 episodes (including the original pilot episode The Cage) it may take almost two years! But I think I will do more episodes per-week from time to time. 

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So check back here next Monday as I begin a new series! 

Live Long and Prosper! 

Liam. 

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Shin Godzilla: Design Review

Shin Godzilla

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Since this movie has been out a considerable length of time this will be a spoiler heavy review of the design of Shin Godzilla. 

Although Godzilla is a McGuffin I will address how he is designed and depicted in this movie. I am a bit ambivalent about this design. I do not hate it (I don’t hate any Godzilla design) but it is also far from a favorite design. This is the largest Godzilla standing at 118.5 metres (389 ft) which is taller than any other Japanese Godzilla and taller than Legendary Godzilla, the most recent American incarnation of the monster, which stood at 106.7 meters (305ft). His face is craggy and menacing looking which is one of my favorite aspects of this design.

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He has numerous spines/fins on his back which has often been a favorite feature of this creature (Godzilla 2000 being my favorite depiction of this aspect of Godzilla). However the fins/spines are so numerous on his back that they are rendered inconsequential which I find disappointing.

I sometimes call Shin Godzilla “Zombie Godzilla” because in his final form he moves so lethargically slow which means this Godzilla really doesn’t have much of a personality as other Godzillas have had. His atomic ray, which comes from other parts of his body than just his mouth is the best feature of this design. It is the most destructive atomic ray we have seen to date. It is a pure delight to see and with him able to shoot it out from his spines as wells as his tail is complete genius in my view. It is one of the reasons this movie is fresh. It takes a well worn trope in a Godzilla movie and reinvents it in an unexpected and excitingly fresh new way.

Although Godzilla spends the majority of this movie just walking zombie like on his way to Tokyo (what does he think he’s doing with all of this walking…taking the One Ring back to the fires of Mount Doom?) he is more physically animated while firing his atomic ray which does come across as a bit incongruous.

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To depict the rising level of crisis the Japanese Government has to confront, Godzilla appears in several developing  forms and transformations which is an entirely new aspect of Godzilla. We have seen this done in other Godzilla movies (Godzilla vs Hedorah and Godzilla vs Destroyer) but in those movies the villain monster is the one that develops through several stages not Godzilla himself. I really like this twist on the Godzilla legend and given the context of the movie it makes perfect sense. I also like the fact that Godzilla doesn’t stay too long in these younger forms and quickly evolves into his adult and final form. 

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Godzilla and all the buildings and other objects he destroys are no longer rendered through a man in a suit or models. As a special effects junkie I praise and welcome this change and find that Toho (or whomever did the CGI) did an excellent job. I do love and appreciate the old suit and model approach to the older movies and they were fine for their times. While I do feel some nostalgic sadness that those days are over, as a viewer I really love the new CGI approach. It is time for Toho to move into the 21st Century.

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