the borg

Lost in Sci-Fi: Episode 33: The Prime Directive

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Lost in Sci-Fi: Episode 33: The Prime Directive

This week Elizabeth and Leland discuss the controversial topic of Star Trek, The Prime Directive. The one rule all Starfleet captains must hold above all the others, but seems to break or bend all the time. Looking at you Janeway! They also talk the fixed time points in Doctor Who. It’s a full episode of course. So please download and enjoy.  Read On

Lost in Sci-Fi: Episode 14: Robot Love

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Lost in Sci-Fi: Episode 14: Robot Love

This week Elizabeth and Leland get down and dirty and talk all about all the love being given to robots/AI. Yup, we go blue right up top. Because, why not. That’s the fun stuff. Whether it’s a sexy AI voice you fall in love with, a creepy sex-bot, or something as strange a having relations with your computer, they discuss it all. So please download and enjoy.  Read On

Movie Issues: Star Trek: First Contact

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Movie Issues: Star Trek: First Contact

This week the crew sits back and enjoys Star Trek: First Contact. Or as most people will know it as, “The one with The Borg”. Yes, that one. We follow Captain Picard and crew as they go back in time to stop The Borg from changing the past to ensure their win over humanity in the future. Considered one of the better Trek films in the franchise. So please download and enjoy! Read On

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Star Trek: Nemesis

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I must say up front that I am a Trekker, specifically Next Generation cast and I don’t wear costumes to premieres. What I like best about Star Trek movies in general (unlike say, the X Files movie) is they operate on a higher level than the episodes, but complement and/or add to the existing lore. I am also a subscriber to the even/odd numbered quality meter for Star Trek films; i.e. even numbered ones good, odd ones bad. Until now.

This cast has always had delightful ensemble on the small and big screens, and previous directors have taken advantage of this chemistry and their acting pedigrees as well. To the degree that this script allows it, they have that chemistry again; but the script is pretty bad, and has no focus. Not only does this film not complement or add to the vast existent Trek universe, it actually sucks material from other films (bad and good) and puts a big stain on the carefully built Trek universe. Ecch.

After a forced, pseudo-merry introduction, the film proceeds (misguidedly) to try and emulate the empirical colonialism vibe of the most recent Star Wars crap, including meaningless CGI work, heavy reliance on our familiarity with the characters, blatant disregard for the existing knowledge base of the series, and even a freakin’ firefight in a corridor. (When you see it, as I know you suckers for punishment will, you will know exactly what corridor I mean.) The “central conflict” is between two planets (Romulus and Remus) we have never cared about, one of which has apparently been enslaving or keeping down the other in the name of commerce. Oh, but we are ultimately supposed to sympathize with the enslaving capitalists! But that is actually far secondary to the cosmic, personal struggle that screenwriter John Logan (Bats) has in store for us. Ooh I am all atremble.

The titular Nemesis is a – well, I don’t want to give anything away, but it rhymes with bone. The film seems to think the big shocker is pretty obvious, and then crabs about having to tell us. It’s like a bad comedian having to explain a joke that was never funny in the first place. When bee-stung lipped Shinzon (Tom Hardy) appears, it’s really only obvious he’s a bad guy who’s taken fashion tips from Ming the Merciless. Maybe it’s the “Hello, My Name Is Dr. Evil” name tag.

I can’t even go into all the humongous reasons why Data’s Little Orphan Android subplot is irritating, but for the fans I’ll say this: What about Lore?

The film annoys far more people than it entertains, and only raises questions to which we don’t care to have the answer. Most of Nemesis has the same arrogant blandness that George Lucas has perfected, which is of course, bad. I have generally preferred Star Trek to Star Wars for Trek’s non-mythologizing of goodness and cooperation. Trek was founded on the ideals of solving the world’s current problems and exploration and cooperation. Star Wars (see previous reviews) enlists a theocratic elite to battle the imperialist pigs. Sure, it’s all down to taste. But the movies are marked with differing standards of creativity. Trek gives me Vulcans and Borg. Wars gives me Jabba the Hut and Jar Jar and tie-ins. Nemesis gives me more of Jabba’s motiveless random craziness and not enough good stuff like Q; mischief with reasoning. Instead, we have RSC vet Patrick Stewart wasting his sublime and masterful character on scenes with Mini Me. And the music – what the hell is that?

Brent Spiner (with a writing credit) throws away some potential actorly moments, and thankfully I didn’t miss his big moment despite dozing off during the big last battle scene; director Stuart Baird (Tomb Raider) didn’t grab the dramatic brass ring when he could have. Nemesis is an aggravatingly middling movie, which practically guarantees there will be no more in the future. I am very disappointed.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 12/13/02
Time in minutes 116
Director Stuart Baird
Studio Paramount

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Star Trek: Insurrection

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This should be review enough for most Trek aficionados: It’s the better of the odd-numbered movies, but it is definitely an odd-numbered movie.

When the Next Generation series was on, the Jonathan Frakes-directed episodes were always fun ones. Frakes-helmed Star Trek: First Contact (the movie with the Borg) is my favorite of the 9, even more than the whale one. But Jonathan has been away from the helm too long, methinks. Some of this movie smacked of reunions and inside joke scrapbooks and glory days. This is all good for those of us who miss the Next Generation, such as myself. The funny bits are very funny, welcome reminders of the great chemistry that cast had together and the sense of fun they injected into every episode. This has been robbed of them in the two previous NG films, with Data getting an emotion chip too soon and the crew being divided up by plot. So now we get lots of amusing and endearing and fun moments wedged into some pure-dee Old Trek style moralizin’ and butt-whippin’.

Picture Kirk on a planet with a fountain of youth, snapping the Prime Directive in two as he keeps Mean Old Capitalism (thinly disguised) from destroying these nice innocents. OK, now make it Picard, but be sure to keep the inevitable Kirkesque romance with the colonist woman. Add a dash of F. Murray Abraham and of course the vastly superior acting skills of the crew of NC1107-E and you have Insurrection. Insurrection is trying to be every Trek episode – the funny ones and the kick ass ones, the Old Trek moralizing with the New Trek sensitivity and class. The unevenness you may experience may come from trying to integrate all these aspects into one film. I guess every one feels like their last chance, especially the way non-team-player Brent Spiner (Data) makes it harder and harder to get him signed on. Data finally gets to be the Data we all loved on the small screen – no stupid emotion chip getting “smiling Spock” cheap laughs and no re-programmable turncoat/evil twin nonsense either. Data is the 24th century’s answer to Pinocchio and he finally gets to be that again *and* sing Gilbert and Sullivan.

Yes, Gilbert and Sullivan. Old Trek had its Spock proselytizing on rap music, and New Trek has frustrated theatre folk living in space. That’s the fun stuff, if you just sit back and let it happen. But Paramount won’t let them make an all-funny episode, so here comes the cool holographic stuff and the icky bad guys! Woo, how about some sharp-shootin’ and some authority-defiance! Yee-haw! But the film hops around the various directions without ever choosing one. It’s an episode, much like the X-Files movie was an episode, padded for your dollar but really just small and self-contained. I just hope the Paramount execs remember that it is always the odd ones that suck and the even numbered ones that are good and let them make another one.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 12/11/98
Time in minutes 103
Director Jonathan Frakes
Studio Paramount Pictures