Author Archives: liamfoley63

The Evolution of the Klingons, Part I: Appearance.

(Captain’s Log: This is my first in a series examining the Klingons. The first entry, done in two parts, will focus simply on thier appearanc while subsequent entries will focus on the Klingon culture).

The Klingons are a fictional species in the science fiction franchise Star Trek.

Developed by screenwriter Gene L. Coon in 1967 for the original Star Trek (TOS) series, Klingons were swarthy humanoids characterized by prideful ruthlessness and brutality. Klingons practiced feudalism and authoritarianism, with a warrior casterelying on slave labor.

In subsequent television series and in later films, the militaristic traits of the Klingons were bolstered by an increased sense of honor and strict warrior code similar to those of bushio. The Klingons first appeared in the Star Trek episode “Errand of Mercy” (1967). They were named after Lieutenant Wilbur Clingan, who served with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the Los Angeles Police Department.

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John Colicos as Kor from the Original Series episode “Errand of Mercy.”

In the original television series (TOS), Klingons were typically portrayed with bronze skin and facial hair suggestive of Asian people, and possessed physical abilities similar to humans (in fact, Coon’s only physical description of them in his “Errand of Mercy” script is “oriental” and “hard-faced”). The swarthy look of Klingon males was created with the application of shoe polish and long, thin moustaches; budget constraints limited creativity. The overall look of the aliens, played by white actors, suggested orientalism, at a time when memories of Japanese actions during World War II were still fresh.

With a greatly expanded budget for makeup and effects, the Klingons were completely redesigned for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), acquiring ridged foreheads. However, these rigged foreheads were not the typical “turtle shell” look they would soon have. In the pictures below is Mark Lenard, most famous for playing Sarek, father of Spock, in Star Trek; but here is playing a Klingon in Star Trek The Motion Picture.

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Mark Lenard from Star Trek the Motion Picture.

He doesn’t have the well known turtle shell look that the Klingons are known to have, instead, they have an extended spinal column that extends up their back over and down the center of their heads, stopping at the bridge of their nose. I greatly enjoy this look and I am disappointed that this look only appeared in this one movie. In the future the Klingons would adopt the turtle shell look and each would be unique to each individual Klingon. However, in Star Trek The Motion Picture each Klingon had an identical look with their spinal ridge in the center of their head. The turtle shell look gave female Klingons a high forehead, while this look rendered the males bald on top…I wonder how a female Klingon would look with this design?

While no Klingon characters were seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, their appearance as the central enemy in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) led to minor alterations. For the third generation of Klingons, the spinal column type ridges of The Motion Picture were redesigned and made less pronounced. Here is the first use of the classic turtle shell design of the Klingons.

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Christopher Lloyd as Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.

The release of a new television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, in 1987, set a century later than the original series on the USS Enterprise-D featured a Klingon crewmember, Worf. Makeup artist Michael Westmore needed a consistent reference to base the Klingon look on, as each individual Klingon was to have distinct head ridges. He found what he was looking for in a book of dinosaurs: observing dinosaur vertebrae laid out flat, Westmore cut the designs in half and modified them to suit each Klingon.

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Michael Dorn as Commander Worf.

Westmore designed his Klingons’ beards to be Elizabethan, combining prehistoric and aristocratic elements to give audiences a feeling of depth from the appearance. Over time, Westmore and the other makeup artists designed different sizes of prosthetic headpieces which could be quickly applied and modified to save time; the amount of preparation to turn an actor into a Klingon decreased from around three hours to one. While important characters had custom headpieces, background actors used pre-made masks with minor touchup around the eyes and mouth.

This look of the Klingons would remain stable and was used in subsequent series, Voyager, Deep Space 9 and Enterprise.

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Batman & Nightwing: The Retcon of Robin

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I’d like to retcon Robin. First of all, let me define the concept and term retcon. Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.

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I’d like to get rid of Robin, Batman’s sidekick. Well, not completely. I still want Batman to have a sidekick, I’d just like to permanently replace Robin with Nightwing. As a character, Nightwing has appeared in various incarnations, with the Nightwing identity most prominently being adopted by Dick Grayson when he reinvented himself from his role as Batman’s vigilante partner Robin. Although Nightwing is commonly associated with Batman, the title and concept have origins in classic Superman stories.

The original Nightwing in DC Comics was an identity assumed by alien superhero Superman when stranded on the Kryptonian city of Kandor with his friend Jimmy Olsen. Drawing inspiration from Batman and Robin, the two protect Kandor as the superheroes Nightwing and Flamebird. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity reboot in 1985, Nightwing was re-imagined as a legendary vigilante from Krypton whose story inspires Dick Grayson’s choice of name when he leaves behind his Robin identity.

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The first incarnation of Robin, with the secret identity of Dick Grayson, debuted in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Conceived as a way to attract young readership, Robin garnered overwhelmingly positive critical reception, doubling the sales of the Batman titles. The early adventures of Robin included Star Spangled Comics #65–130 (1947–1952), which was the character’s first solo feature. Robin made regular appearances in Batman related comic books and other DC Comics publications from 1940 through the early 1980s until the character set aside the Robin identity and became the independent superhero Nightwing. The team of Batman and Robin has commonly been referred to as the Caped Crusaders or Dynamic Duo.

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One of the reasons I’d like to retcon Robin is that ever since The Dark Knight Returns (alternatively titled Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) a 1986 four-issue comic book miniseries starring Batman, written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Miller and Klaus Janson, and published by DC Comics, the character of Robin doesn’t work so well as the character of Batman has returned to its darker more serious tone. No offense to the Carrie Kelly version of Robin from that series. I have no problem depiction Robin or Nightwing as a woman. Personally, I’ve always felt that Robin worked best as a character when Batman was depicted in a lighter tone such as the comic books of the 60s, the 1966 Batman series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, and the subsequent Superfriends cartoon series of the 1970s.

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This meme actually has some truth to it and one of the reasons I’d like to replace Robin with Nightwing within the Batman mythology. Batman is a vigilante crime fighter who dresses as a Bat and lurks in the shadows striking fear and terror in the heart of Gotham City’s criminal element. Batman dresses in black and gray so he can fade into the night and like a chameleon blends stealthily into his environment. So why dress up Robin in bright red, green and yellow that will stand out and draw attention to himself!? Plus, the name of Robin isn’t too scary or tough.

The costume and name of Nightwing blends well with the look of Batman and let’s face it, Nightwing is a much cooler sounding name for a sidekick! It’s a two syllable word like Robin, and Batman and Nightwing flows off the tongue just as easily Batman and Robin does.

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But it’s not just the name and the costume that needs to change. I’d like to envision this incarnation of Dick Grayson as Nightwing not as a circus performer whose family, the “Flying Graysons” were murdered, but more as a troubled street tough orphaned boy who had been from foster home to foster home. This more life hardened Dick Grayson would gel much better with the Darker interpretation of Batman that is more popular with the fans these days. Therefore we can say goodbye old chum to Robin and retcon Nightwing, or Batman and Nightwing, as if he’d always been there by Batman’s side.

Review: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019).

I am a Godzilla fan. Let me restate that. I am a HUGE Godzilla fan. My credentials? I own every Godzilla movie on either DVD or Blu-Ray and I watch them all on a regular basis. I also have various books and magazines about Godzilla. I also collect Godzilla figures. I have a dozen or so Bandai Godzilla figures and I have 20 high end Godzilla figures made by X-Plus.

Just by viewing the trailers I knew I’d love this movie…and I do! However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues with the movie…and I do! First here is some basic background information on the film.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (released as Godzilla II: King of the Monsters in some markets) is a 2019 American monster film directed by Michael Dougherty and co-written by Dougherty and Zach Shields from a story by Max Borenstein, Dougherty, and Shields. A sequel to Godzilla (2014), it is the 35th film in the Godzilla franchise, the third film in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, and the third Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio.

The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. It is dedicated to executive producer Yoshimitsu Banno and original Godzilla suit performer Haruo Nakajima, who both died in 2017. In the film, humans must rely on Godzilla to defeat King Ghidorah, who has awakened other Titans to destroy the world.

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I’ve watched and read many reviews online and the consensus of those that gave the movie a negative review is that the human aspect of the story is chaotic, nonsensical and ultimately boring with uninteresting characters. This is where I disagree. I found the main characters very interesting and this increased my overall enjoyment of the movie.

This movie takes place in the aftermath of the 2014 Godzilla attacks and fights against the MUTOS. The fact that giant monsters, called Titans, do exist and both science and the government struggle with what to do with them creates the conflict and tensions that feed both the plot and overall tone of the film. The main characters, Dr. Emma Russell, a paleobiologist who works for the Titan-studying organization Monarch and her daughter Madison, are captured by a group of eco-terrorists, led by Alan Jonah, that suddenly attack the base, slaughtering everyone and kidnaps Emma and Madison. This occurs right after Emma and Madison witness the birth of a larva dubbed Mothra. Emma calms Mothra down with the “Orca”, a device capable of emitting frequencies that can attract or alter Titan behavior. Mothra flees and pupates under a waterfall.

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Monarch scientists Dr. Ishirō Serizawa and Dr. Vivienne Graham approach former employee Dr. Mark Russell, Emma’s ex-husband and Madison’s father, to help track them down. Mark is reluctant at first, due to his hatred for Godzilla (whom he blames for the death of Madison’s brother Andrew), but he eventually agrees. The Monarch team follows Godzilla to Antarctica, where Jonah intends to free a three-headed Titan codenamed “Monster Zero”.

Emma frees and awakens Monster Zero, which kills several Monarch members, including Dr. Graham, before battling Godzilla and escaping. The team then learn that Emma was not kidnapped by the terrorists, but is secretly working with them. Emma contacts Monarch and argues that the Titans must be awakened in order to heal the Earth from the damages that humans have caused. Many Titans, such as Rodan are set loose to carry out Emma’s and Jonah’s plan. This leaves Godzilla as the sole weapon to combat the other Titans and defend the earth.

In a nut shell, that is the basic plot. At the heart of the story is a family destroyed by the trauma of a giant monster attack that took the life of their son and how they find a way to make sense of their grief. Stuck in between the warring parents is Madison and it is up to her to decide which parent she will support and that will have a measurable effect on the outcome. Also, Emma’s motivation for releasing the Titans is very similar to the motivation Thanos had in Avengers Endgame. Both antagonist felt that by destroying the majority of humanity they could heal the destruction caused by humanity. In their eyes they aren’t doing evil, but an overall good in the context of the bigger picture.

I actually enjoyed the conflicts with in this family. It led to very good character development. Is very easy to create black and white, good and bad simplistic characters. This movie gave the characters motivations that were complex. Both Emma and her ex-husband, Mark Russell believe that their motives completely justified. Both are wrong and it takes the actions of their daughter (and Godzilla) to prove that. This is why I disagree with the negative reviews. Millie Bobby Brown is particularly outstanding in her big screen debut.

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But most people don’t watch Godzilla movies for the human story, we come to see Godzilla movies for their giant monster action, fights and throw downs. This movie has these in abundance and it is extremely satisfying! Much of the monster on monster action takes place in the background with the humans in the foreground. I enjoy this aspect of the action scenes for the most part. It creates a sense of scale that displays the giant size of these monsters in a way rarely seen in Toho’s movies. The only minor quibble about this is that I would have liked to have seen a little more lengthy focus on the monsters themselves and their battles.

The four major Kaiju from Toho’s panoply of monsters, Gozilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghodirah have been all redesigned. Even Godzilla has been updated since the 2014 movie. This incarnation of Godzilla is sporting new dorsal plates that resemble the 1954 original. His eyes are slightly larger, his feet have also been enlarged but his tail is a bit shorter.

This design of King Ghidorah is my favorite ever of this Kaiju. Although I’ve liked the Toho version of the monster I never cared for his wing design. His wings just seemed attached to him and beyond his control and worked independently of him. This design takes care of that issue. His wings are attached with armlike appendages similar to a bat. This way you can see Ghidorah flap and control his wings. Below is some fan art that demonstrates this point.

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One of my issues with the movie is the color saturation and pallet. The above pictures scattered through my review demonstrates this issue. With the majority of the Kaiju battles taking place during inclement weather, along with this color saturation, renders the CGI creatures a bit unrealistic or not so lifelike from time to time. This doesn’t happen all the time but enough for me for it to be an issue. I just hope with next years Godzilla vs King Kong they have some Monster scenes in the daytime!

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Director Michael Dougherty really did make this movie for the fans. The movie has tons of Easter eggs and nods to the franchise. Some have complained that this constitutes fan service and that it is just there to please the fans without any real relationship to the film. I found only one moment like that and it is the reference to the Oxygen Destroyer. It actually made me cringe! It was definitely there for the fans. They could have named this weapon anything. The problem is that the two times this trope was used (in the 1954 original and the 1995 movie Godzilla vs Destroyer) it was vital and essential to the plot. In this movie it wasn’t that essential, at least the name wasn’t, it just came out of the blue, it didn’t work and was never heard from again. If you’re going to use this iconic symbol of the franchise I think it needs to be used in a manner that is more vital to the plot and not a throwaway reference to please the fans.

All in all this was what I expected from a Godzilla movie. An enjoyable story with great special effects and thrilling monster on monster fights in a tone that is fun and mixed equally with both drama and humor.

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Avengers Endgame: Review

There will be spoilers!

Avengers Endgame completes the “Infinity Saga” of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that began with the premiere of Iron Man in the United States on May 2, 2008. Avengers Endgame really wraps this saga up in an epic and fantastic fashion! Is it a perfect movie? No! Is it completely enjoyable? Absolutely! The movie does involve time travel as our gallant superheroes try to undo the fatal snap perpetuated by Thanos in Avengers Infinity War and time travel often create glaring plot holes and that is the major issue with Avengers Endgame.

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Personally, I just absolutely love time travel movies despite the plot holes they create. I’ve read on line from those that have a less favorable view of this film suggest that the time travel trope is a cop out and an easy way to resolve the problem of undoing Thanos’s snap. I disagree. I found the time travel elements to the story created some exciting and humorous events. When the Avengers, along with newcomer Captain Marvel, go to defeat Thanos after the snap, where he’s destroyed the Infinity Stones, Thor, in his anger and frustration, decapitates a greatly weakened Thanos which makes permanent the losses that occurred in the snap.

The film jumps ahead five years later. Captain Marvel has returned to space where she can be more useful. Thor has moved to New Asgard where he has gotten fat and out of shape from eating pizza, drinking beer and playing the video game Fortnight with Korg. Captain America is running a support group and Tony Stark has married Pepper Potts and had a daughter, while Bruce Banner has integrated his alter ego, the Hulk, into a hybrid being known as “Professor Hulk” (although this name is not mentioned in the movie). As the Avengers, or what’s left of them, adjust to this new existence, hope springs from one of the smallest places.

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Ant-Man, stuck in the Quantum Realm, is finally, shall I say accidentally, released from there…by a rat! Scott Lang (Ant-Man) confronts Captain America and Black Widow (Natasha Romanov) and tries to convince them that time travel to gather the Infinity Stones before Thanos can get ahold of them is their only choice to undo the snap. What ensues is an elaborate scheme of the Avengers, divided into groups, traveling back in time to gather the Infinity Stones and by so doing revisit certain moments in previous films. They’re successful in gathering the stones and just as the Hulk reverses the snap the Avengers are attacked by Thanos of the past after he had been alerted by his daughter Nebula who uncovered the Avengers plans. From there an epic and final battle between the forces of Thanos and the vast forces of the Aveng commences.

The final battle is truly epic and amazing.

Each character has their moment to shine in this very crowded movie! However, I do want to mention a few characters and my overall thoughts on the movie.

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I do like the merger of Bruce Banner and the Hulk into Professor Hulk. It’s funny and entertaining and an interesting solution to the Banner/Hulk dichotomy. My minor complaint is we really don’t get to see the Hulk rampaging. Sure, we have a few moments where we see the past Hulk smashing things, but when it comes to the final battle Professor Hulk doesn’t do too much at all, and since he is supposed to be one of the most powerful of the Avengers, his ineffectiveness is a bit disappointing.

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I really got a kick out of The Big Labowski version of Thor. Although come the time of the epic final battle Thor wasn’t as mighty and powerful as he’d been in Avengers Infinity War and elsewhere in the series. Thor was initially supposed to revert back to his “old chiseled self” in the middle of Endgame, but Hemsworth successfully argued in favour of retaining Thor’s aged and out of shape physique. Again, this left me slightly disappointed. Although, I was happy to see Thor wielding Mjolnir once again because I do prefer it over Stormbreaker.

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Captain Marvel has fast become my favorite character. At the end of Infinity War we see Nick Fury contacting her via the modified pager. One of the things I love about Superman (yes, I’m aware he’s D.C. and this is Marvel) is when he easily swoops in to save the day. I really had high hopes that Captain Marvel would play an equally significant role in defeating Thanos. I wasn’t too disappointed because she did have some shinning moments, such as crashing through Thanos’s ship. Although Thanos was able to defeat her with one of the Infinity Stones, much to my chagrin, I did think it was pretty awesome when Thanos head butted her and she didn’t even flinch!

However, as I thought about it, this really wasn’t going to be her moment shine. This isn’t her movie. She’s new to the Avengers and the MCU in general. In truth this was Captain America and Iron Man’s movie. It was their story arch that was resolved.

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Yes this is Captain America’s movie. It was very satisfying seeing Captain America wielding Mjolnir and possessing the power of Thor (as Odin said those who were worthy would). For Captain America was indeed worthy to pick up Thor’s hammer. For years he denied his own wants and wishes in service of doing that which is good and that which is right. And after years of service and aiding in defeating Thanos, and after returning the Infinity Stones, Cap gets to live out the life he’d given up and marries Peggy Carter. His story arch comes to its conclusion in a a most satisfying way.

This is also Iron Man’s movie. When we first met Tony Stark back in 2008 he was a narcissistic booze addled womanizer. Flash forward to the events of Avengers Endgame. Tony is a responsible father and willing to put everything on the line to defeat Thanos. When Doctor Strange signals to Iron Man that they are indeed in the only scenario, out of millions, where Thanos is defeated, Tony knows what to do. This former narcissistic booze addled womanizer pays the ultimate and selfless price by giving his life in exchange for all others. This altruistic act, while very sad to watch, is also beautifully poignant and emotionally satisfying as one of the best characters in the MCU redeems himself.

In the end the resolution of the story arch of both Captain America and Iron Man is what makes Avengers Endgame a truly great and rewarding movie.

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So, I like “crappy” movies!

This may seem like a bit of a rant and perhaps it is to some degree.

I’m not a film critic. I’m actually a pretty easygoing and forgiving viewer. Now that doesn’t mean I like every movie I see. I have turned off movies I don’t like, even walked out of a theater a couple of times. That also doesn’t mean I can’t critique a film, I do, I’m just not someone who views a movie with critiquing in mind. At my age I know what I like, I know what type of stories I enjoy and these days I’m rarely disappointed.

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I’m really not a film snob, I had a friend who would snub anything he considered too commercial, and I’m open to many types of films. Movies to me are a form of art but to me I also enjoy the mindless escapism the types of movies I enjoy. I don’t mind serious film, but following on my last entry on how I loved the more lighthearted fare of the Science-Fiction films from the 90s, the types of movies I like are those that have a fun aspect to them.

I also feel many professional critics can be a bit snobbish and harsh. From a psychological perspective many people think negatively and even cynically and bring that into their criticisms. I’ve read some reviews that were more cynicism than critique.

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Since judging art is so subjective, bad reviews generally don’t put me off on a film. I enjoy reading criticism of films but I don’t let them sway me and will judge for myself whether or not I enjoy a film.

I like to read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I disagree where they put their fresh rating. I say if a movie has 51% rating that means a majority of critics liked a movie, albeit a small majority. So deeming a movie “Fresh” at 60% is a bit arbitrary.

What I’ve noticed is that within my DVD collection there are many movies from the Science-Fiction and Fantasy film genres that did not get fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. It goes to show that I really don’t listen to critics much. Also, I find, on social media anyway, no matter what movie is announced, haters come pouring out of the woodwork as if Pavlov rang his bell and his dogs begun salivating. People seem negative in general and closed minded. Nasty people have come along and questioned my taste in movies but in the end I like what I like with no apologies and what others think of my tastes matters not.

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Here, in no particular order, are movies from my collection that have received a not so fresh rating.

Seventh Son – 20%

The Great Wall – 35%

Gods of Egypt – 15%

Jupiter Ascending – 26%

GeoStorm – 14%

Independence Day Resurgence – 30%

Batman & Robin – 10%

Judge Dredd (199?) – 17%

The Scorpion King – 41%

Journey 2 the Mysterious Island – 45%

Godzilla (1998) – 16%

The Day After Tomorrow – 44%

Van Helsing – 23%

Planet of the Apes (2001) – 45%

The Time Machine (2002) – 29%

Alien Trespass – 34%

Land of the Loss – 26%

Race to Witch Mountain – 43%

Skyline – 16%

Cowboys and Aliens – 43%

Green Lantern – 26%

Battleship – 34%

After Earth – 11%

John Carter – 51% *

GI Joe: Rise of Cobra – 35%

GI Joe: Retaliation – 29%

Pixels – 17%

Man of Steel – 56% *

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – 26%

Justice League – 40%

Power Rangers – 45%

Velarian and the City of a Thousand Planets – 49%

Pacific Rim: Uprising – 46%

Clash of the Titans – 28%

Wrath of the Titans – 26%

Immortals – 36%

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – 36%

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 44%

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – 22%

Star Trek: Generations – 49%

Star Trek: Insurrection – 55% *

Star Trek: Nemesis- 38%

* I included a few that do have an above 50% rating but those are still technically considered rotten.

# I also only included the 1998 American Godzilla movie even though there are many Japanese Godzilla movies that also have rotten railings. I will cover them someday on my new Godzilla Designs blog. https://godzilladesigns.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/the-eras-of-godzilla-films/

The 1990s: My favorite Decade for Science-Fiction Films

While perusing my DVD collection, the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films I own, I became aware that my most favorite time period for sci-fi and fantasy films is the 1990s. I am mostly referring to Science-Fiction films of the 90s for the 1990s are a bit light on Fantasy films. Now not many people would automatically think of the 1990s as a golden age of Sci-Fi and Fantasy films as compared to the 1950s…(I love the 50s alien invasion movies) but the 1990s did produce a lot of memorable and successful Sci-Fi and Fantasy films.

Now maybe not every movie on my list was a financial or critical success, that’s fine, financial or critical success doesn’t determine whether or not I enjoy a film. While there are Sci-Fi and Fantasy films from all eras that I enjoy, I must admit I have a certain affection and admiration for the film’s of the 1990s. I don’t believe it is due to reasons of nostalgia because these aren’t the movies of my childhood, I spent the majority of the 1990s in my 30s. So why do I appreciate the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 90s?

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I think the answer is threefold. I am an admitted special effects junkie and the 90s saw the birth of CGI…and while some hate it, I love it! I also like practical or real world special effects and many the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films have special effects that are a mixture of both techniques. The majority of the films on my list have special effects that I still enjoy to this day.

The second reason is simply the 90s offered a diversity of the type of Sci-Fi and Fantasy that I enjoy. Favorite franchises of Godzilla and Star Trek brought some high quality movies during this time period. I love Alien Invasion and Alien themed movies and the 90s brought some favorites such as Independence Day, Men in Black, Contact and Starship Troopers.

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The last component of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 1990s that I like needs to be seen in context of how these types of films have been trending, for the most part, in the last 18 years. Namely, these types of films are more darker, grittier and more serious than those of the 90s. What I enjoy in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy from the 1990s is that they’re FUN! They’re all movies with a good balance and mixture of action, adventure, drama….and light hearted humor and fun!

The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Type of movies in general can be dark and serious as they deal with aspects of humanity and our future…while I do enjoy the darker and more serious Sci-Fi and Fantasy films I don’t want a steady diet of them. So my preference in these type of movies is toward films that have a sense of humor and don’t take itself too seriously. I say this with no sense of shame.

A few prime examples of these type of movies are: Judge Dredd and Demolition Man, both starring Sylvester Stallone, the aforementioned Starship Troopers, a satire on Fascism, and Independence Day an homage to 50s Science Fiction Invasion movies. These films do mix action, adventure with a sense of humor and in the end they’re entertaining and fun to watch…and re-watch!

My favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 1990s.

Total Recall
The Fifth Element
Judge Dredd
Demolition Man
Independence Day
Men in Black
Galaxy Quest
Stargate
Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Starship Troopers
The Matrix
Contact
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: Insurrection
Godzilla vs King Ghodirah
Godzilla vs Mothra: Battle for the Earth
Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II
Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla
Godzilla vs Destroyer
Godzilla 1998
Godzilla 2000
Back to the Future III
Coneheads
Time Cop
The Arrival
Mars Attacks
Armegeddon
Deep Impact
Bicentennial Man
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Matilda
Phenomenon
Groundhog Day
Jumanji
Dragonheart

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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Kong: Skull Island

I want to preface this Spoiler Free review by stating I’m a huge Godzilla fan, own all the movies, and I love them. As super fan of giant monsters, Kaiju and other films that feature strange beasts, this movie has everything a Kaiju fan could ask for. Great special effects, superb actors, giant monster battles, human drama, some comic relief all woven into a captivating and engaging story.

This Kong is not the same as the one depicted in the 1933, 1976 & 2005 movies. No this Kong is molded after the 1962 Kong featured in Toho Studios film “King Kong vs. Godzilla. In fact the Kong depicted in “Kong: Skull Island” will grow up to fight the Godzilla from the 2014 Legendary Studios film “Godzilla.” I look forward to when hese two juggernauts will battle toe-to-toe in their own feature film “Godzilla vs. King Kong” in 2020. This time out Godzilla will get top billing.

But in this movie Kong is King and the star of the show. Rendered wonderfully in detailed CGI Kong is brought to life and is the focal point. He isn’t the only star shinning in this extravaganza though. Delivering stellar performances are John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson (any movie he is in is made even more enjoyable), Tom Hiddleston, the lovely Brie Larson and John C. Rilley. I do want to say a little more about John C. Rilley. From the trailers I knew going in he would provided some comic relief. I was fine with that because I do not always care for dark and gritty films and like a balance of emotions in movies. I feared that his comic relief may render the movie too comical and that it wouldn’t be taken seriously. Yes, John C. Rilley does provide comic relief but that isn’t all. He is not only central to the plot he has some very serious and dramatic moments and I am safe to report his excellent performance really steals the show.

All in all this is a very satisfying entry into Legendary’s Monsterverse and it sets up more films in the franchise that I eagerly await.