Category: Sci-Fi

Escape From L.A. (1996)


In the sequel to 1981’s Escape for New York, we find our antihero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell)  trying to escape from yet another post-apocalyptic mega city, this time it’s the City of Angles.  LA has become a penal colony after an earthquake turned it into an island, and is now only inhabited by the dregs of society.  Gun-for-hire Snake, winds up getting shipped off there after being captured by the Feds, but they have a deal for him: find a doomsday weapon that the president’s rebel daughter stole and we might give you the antidote to the deadly virus we just injected you with.  With no other choice he travels to the island in search of the weapon, now in the hands or the terrorist Cuervo Jones.

It isn’t going to be as easy as just going up to the guy and asking nicely, he is going to have to perform some off the wall and highly impractical feats to even get near the guy.  Snake will have to surf a 100 foot wave, escape from a group of plastic surgery addicts, shoot some hoops for his life and also hang-glide from Hollywood to Disneyland.  Once the mission is a success, he’s a little peeved at how the government used him (again), and decides to use the super-weapon against them.

Alex’s Thoughts:  What this movie lacks in quality it make up for in sheer awfulness. Wait… no… that’s sounds about right.  While John Carpenter’s previous movie was sort of charming and inventive it in’s own low-budget way, this one copies the exact same premise but without any of the charm, it’s just bad, and seems like it was just a cash grab flick.   While I do like Kurt Russell, he didn’t look to be giving it his best, and seemed like his best physical acting days were behind him.  With awful dialog, poorly choreographed fight scenes and low-rate special effects, it is easy to forget about this movie.  Its one redeeming quality is that it has Bruce Campbell in what could have been a great role as the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills, but it was totally underutilized.  If you need a good escape flick, you might want to check out Lockout instead.  Alex Rates This Movie 3/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: Oh, I want to like this so badly, every few years I will even go back to give it another shot, but it’s soooooo awful. There is nothing good about this, nothing at all. It’s a waste of time, and a sign that Carpenter’s good years were way behind him. I don’t know what else to say other than that the effects are so terrible that I can barely sit through it. MST3K would destroy this, and then like Pod People or Mitchell it could become a favorite. Until that happens, avoid this dumpster fire at all costs. Tim Rates This Movie 1/10

Cuevo Jones

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.


Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)


(Minor Spoilers Ahead) The crew of the USS Enterprise is back again, and ready to head out into space in pursuit of a Federation operative turned terrorist, in the sequel to JJ Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot.  They end up finding him on the Klingon home planet, and he eventually saves them from a squad of those gnarly-headed aliens, so they have no choice but to take him back to the ship; although their orders were to kill him on site.  He tells Kirk that his orders were bogus and that he is the good guy in all of this. He also lets him know that he is a three-hundred year old super powered guy, who used to go by the name of Khan Noonien Singh (sound familiar?).

He ends up tricking the crew into helping him steal a giant Federation warship from a power-hungry admiral who wants to start a war with the Klingons.  Khan then attacks the Enterprise, who also retaliates against Khan’s ship, as both of them plummet towards Earth.  In a last ditch effort to save his crew Kirk takes over Spock’s role in Wrath of Khan, and sacrifices himself to get the engines back online.  Spock’s human side experiences a bit of rage and goes after Khan on what remains of San Francisco after his ship destroys half the city.

Alex’s Thoughts: While never a huge Trek fan, I grew up with the original movies, and I liked them well enough to be excited about the re-boot of this franchise a few years back.  While that movie looked good, I didn’t love it… but I DO love this sequel.  With all of the character introductions and back-stories out of the way, we are able to jump right into the action, and son, there is a ton of it.  From Khan taking out a squad of Klingons to some epic space battles, there is plenty of special effect eye candy for everyone.  There were some nice throwbacks to the original Star Trek II for fans of the series, and you even get a little Tribble action!  While I really enjoyed this movie, it really got me excited to see what JJ Abrams has in store for Star Wars in 2015.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: I am a big fan of original series Trek, and unlike a lot of those fans, I really appreciate the update the series is getting. The last few Next Gen films were just as bad as the last few original cast films, so I thought Trek was finished. I was so happy with the reboot, and loved the direction that the movie was taking that I was anticipating this sequel moments after Trek 08 ended. This does not disappoint, now you have to leave your love of old Trek at the door, and be ready to accept new takes on old themes, but if you can manage that, you will get some great Sci-Fi. I am glad to see the genre not only survive, but thrive now with the rise of comic book movies, and nerd culture. Enjoy this as action, Trek, or both, either way, this is a good time. Tim Rates This Movie 9/10


View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

khan poster

When Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out in 1979, Trekkers were excited to see their beloved franchise made in to a movie. Then they saw it, and that excitement quickly faded.  The movie was less than great.  The studio decided to give it another shot a few years later with a decreased budget and using a popular villain from the TV show in Khan Noonien Singh as the antagonist.   This seemed to work, as Wrath of Khan is regarded as one of the best of the Trek movies by fans and general movie goers.   In the series, Kirk marooned Khan and his flunkies on a remote planet, as they were too dangerous to transport. Fifteen years later, the crew of the USS Reliant is looking for a remote planet for use as a testing site and set down to search for life.  It happens that it is the same planet Khan is on, and the environment has turned hostile, with most of his group dying from the elements.

Through the use of a mind-control worm indigenous to the planet, he is able to gain control of the Reliant; and Khan sets his sights on getting revenge on the man who left him to die. James T. Kirk is now an admiral and is aboard the Enterprise, currently being captained by Spock, on a routine training exercise with a crew of new cadets.  Nothing is routine about a fellow Federation starship attacking another one however, as the two ships severely damage each other.   The battle rages on with Khan using his super-human intellect and Kirk with his tenacity and refusal to lose. Although the crew of the Enterprise wins they day, they lose one of their own. Not to spoil anything, but the sequel to this is called ‘The Search for Spock”, so make your own assumptions.

Alex’s Thoughts: While not the biggest Trek fan, this one is by far my favorite featuring the original TV cast.  After this one, they get either really boring or suffer from too many bad jokes and lame attempts at humor.  There are several important on-going themes in this movie, which include aging, friendship and revenge; all of which get equal screen time.  I think my favorite scenes are when Kirk, through his sheer stubbornness, is able to outwit Khan who is totally revenge drunk and can think of nothing else but Kirk’s death.  If he could pull the Tina Turner mullet wig out of his ass for two minutes and commit to using his super-weapon, the Star Trek universe would have been a very different place.  Comparing this to the JJ Abrams movies is not recommended, as it makes it look like 30 years old crap (which it does indeed look like), but on it’s own, it’s a decent sci-fi flick.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: Yeah, this is everyone’s favorite Trek movie, I know, but it should be, because this is by far the best. Even better than any of the Next Generation films, mainly because this is the sequel all sequels are measured against. Wrath of Khan generated 4 more original cast films when the franchise was thought dead.  Plus who know you could use the same Khan all these years later, and he would be just as epic a villain. A hallmark not only for the franchise, but for Science Fiction movies overall. Yes it’s dated but if this isn’t for you, then it wouldn’t matter how old this movie was. I recommend this for fans of the series or if you just wonder what’s the big deal about Star Trek.  Tim Rates This Movie 10/10

khan 2

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Space Nazis from the Moon

Iron Sky (2012)

It’s 2018, and the president of the United States, who was obviously based on Sarah Palin, is desperate to boost her approval rating, so se sends a guy to the moon for the first time in 50-years. But this isn’t just any guy, it’s a black guy – a jive-talking soul brother model to be precise.  Once on the moon he does some walking around the dark side and sees something a bit strange: a huge Nazi fortress. Before he can run, a group of soldiers capture him and blow up his ship.  We learn through a teacher there, named Renate, that they have been there since 1945, just breeding new Nazis and building war machines, waiting for the right time to attack Earth and continue Hitler’s plan of world domination.

I know what you’re thinking: this sounds like the best movie ever. Hold your horses, because it gets dumb real quick.  Seeing as how they can’t have a black guy running around, the Nazis inject the astronaut, named Washington, with something that turns him into a perfect Aryan specimen: blond hair and blue eyes.  It is still very obvious that it is still a black guy though (think White Chicks). He is forced to take the teacher and her boyfriend Adler, the next in line to be Führer, to Earth to meet with the president to discuss surrender as well as getting cell phones to power their super-weapon on the moon.  The president decides that a war with the Nazis will only help her popularity, so she tells them to bring it on.

The Nazi fleet emerges from the dark side of the moon with zepplin shaped ships towing meteors and holding hundreds of flying saucers, and soon start attacking NYC.  We have a secret spaceship of our own and begin attacking them in orbit. As we start to get our butts kicked, several dozen other countries launch their spaceships as well, as we begin to destroy their fleet.  We work our way to the moon and nuke their fortress, but soon a huge ship breaks from under the surface and starts kicking all types of ass.  Before it can destroy Earth, our guy Washington destroys the iPad that was powering it as it crashes down.  All is well right? Well, all of the remaining counties with ships near the moon spot containers holding an element called Helium-3 which the Nazis were using to power their ships. All hell breaks loose when the US president lays claim to these tanks, and the other counties begin to fire on each others ships for the right to get at the stuff. When there are no ships left, nukes can be seen exploding on the surface of the Earth as the credits roll. Those Nazi bastards still win in the end!

Alex’s Thoughts: I want so much to love this movie, and the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes are great, but… the middle is just really bad and brings the whole thing screeching to a halt.  The concept is really fun, and the set and effects are very well designed and makes you feel like you are seeing secret space technology from the 1940’s. But the placement of the black astronaut and the Sarah Palin president ruin the whole thing for me.  If it was just the introduction to the Nazis and a huge war broke out, I would have been fine with that, but it has characters in it that you can’t help but hate and it derails a promising movie.  If you like sci-fi movies from the 60’s and 70’s this will be right up your alley.  Alex Rates This Movie 5/10

Tim’s Thoughts: This movie has so much potential. You could do a serious Red Dawn action style flick, or a hilarious blaxploitation movie with Nazis. Instead we get lame social commentary that is 4 years too late. Did I mention how disappointing this is? It has really solid effects, but the characters/story undermine this movie, and I am checking my watch 20 minutes in. Check it out if you don’t believe me, but you will be wasting your time, there are way funnier movies out there. See Black Dynamite instead, it’s way better and you will have a much better time. Tim Rates This Movie 3/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here, or add it to your Netflix queue

Event Horizon (1997)

It’s the year 2047, man has colonized the moon, and is now exploring deep space (man, we had better get going on that, it isn’t that far away).  Seven years ago a science vessel called Event Horizon was lost; all those on board were have said to have been killed when the ship exploded near the edge of our solar system.  That isn’t really the truth, as a rescue team dispatched to Neptune is about to find out.  The government has sent them out to the B.F.E. of space because they have just received a distress call… from Event Horizon.  The crew of the rescue ship, captained by  Miller (Laurence Fishburne), is being briefed by Dr. Weir: an expert on the ship, because he was the one who built the damn thing.  He also built a device on board that would allow the ship to open a black hole and travel to any spot in the universe; it was through the first black hole it made, that the ship was lost.

The crew’s goal is simply search and rescue; get aboard the ship, look for survivors and any data that might help them find out what happened and then go home.  As a small group goes aboard, it is clear that things did not go well for the old crew, as vast amounts of gore and body parts are floating around in the lack of gravity aboard the ship.  As one member of the group accidentally engages the black hole generator while trying to restore power, he is sucked in, and then spat out comatose.  The doctor denies that this is possible and that the incident is the crew’s fault, not the ship’s.  Weir is sure that the ship can be salvaged, and nothing is out of sorts here.  The previous crew just went space crazy and butchered each other.

It isn’t long before people start seeing things: loved ones in pain or people in their past who have died.  The crew agree that since they are all seeing this, it must be the ship causing them to go mad, and try to leave, but their space craft is mysteriously damaged.  They are forced to stay on the Even Horizon until repairs can be made, but every second on that ship is one too many.  The ships final video log entry is discovered and it’s a thing of pure nightmares, with people ripping each other to bits, as we also see the captain’s final message in Latin, which the crew initially translated as ‘save me’ on the distress call, but in reality was ‘save yourself… from Hell’.  That’s right kids, the black hole took this ship to Hell, where it somehow became a living thing and wants a new crew with new souls to devour. As the now possessed Dr. Weir tries to kills the surviving rescue team, it is up to Capt. Miller to save as many of his crew as he can before this ship destroys them all.

Alex’s Thoughts: I always found this movie to be really good and at time quite terrifying.  The amount of crazy going on, mixed with the fact that there is no place for them to go, really creates a lot of suspense.  The acting is really good at times, with the exception of one of the crew members that was obviously added for comic relief. I felt that was really unnecessary, and it took me out of the moment whenever he showed up.  In addition to that, the movies ends on a scare and with a tense moment, but the ending credits come at you with a techno dance song from Prodigy.  I was hoping for some ominous music, not some dance hall glow shit beats; it sort of lessened the effect of the entire movie for me.  Those two things aside, I still found that I still liked this one, the practical effects are done well, but the CGI was overused and looks bad, but I think that was them just showing off this new technology.  Sci-fi and horror fans should both like this flick.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10 

Tim’s Thoughts:I was thrilled by this movie when I saw it in theaters, I called it “The Shining” in space. After watching it again, I may have been a bit over zealous. Now I am not saying that I don’t like this movie, but more, my opinion has evolved a bit. Not many of the effects hold up, but the concept, and the cast absolutely make this a fun watch for me still. It does bear some similarities to The Shining, but lumping them together would be a bit insulting. Event Horizon has some great moments, and some really good scares, and I won’t lie, Sci-fi Horror may be one of my favorite genres, so I am sure that skews my opinion a bit. So if you also love these kind of movies, then I can strongly recommend this, but you will have to ignore a few bad special effects. If this sort of thing isn’t your bag, then you already know to steer clear. Tim Rates This Movie: 8/10

“Hell is just a word, captain. The reality is so much worse.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

Hey guys, we are going to attempt a spoiler free review of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. I have avoided most of the trailers and run from spoilers faster than Fat Albert to a buffet bar. So keep checking back as I blog not only my thoughts on the movie, but the emotional roller coaster that is a over caffeinated movie nerd’s day.

10:45- It’s two hours before Prometheus starts, and my palms are already sweating. I am terrified that this will not live up to expectations. After all, it’s Ridley Scott! He’s given us some the greatest science fiction films of our generation, and that’s not counting other amazing movies like Black Hawk Down. I can’t help but worry because lately he’s been a bit off his game. Did you see Robin Hood? No? Well to be honest, neither did I, but I don’t think I have the stomach for another turd filled costume drama where they give you all the best action pieces in the previews. But something feels different this time, he has returned to a universe that is both beautiful and terrifying. So yes, I may be a little excited, Alien is one of my favorite horror movies, it’s a perfect blend of suspense and horror. I don’t expect Prometheus to deliver on all of those levels, but even 75% of that greatness would be pretty awesome.

12:10- I kiss my daughter goodbye as she laughs, and I am ready to leave the house in my clever t-shirt and flip flops.  Even if this movie stinks, I will be hanging out with some good friends, who may provide a shoulder to cry on, if not, I can bribe them with popcorn. Wish us luck!

12:40- popcorn puchased. Here we go!

3:01- The dust has settled and my friends and I have stepped out into the hot air and sunlight. There are mixed feelings among the group, but we do reach a general consensus; we liked it. There is much discussion about this or that, and what we would have liked to have seen, or not seen, but no one feels like we have wasted our time. An actual review to come soon. Easier to do from my laptop than a phone.


All right gang, Tim here, and I am going to attempt a spoiler free review of Prometheus. I am of two minds because I think I may feel differently after digesting it a bit. First of all, I won’t call this a prequel, but you have the same director (Scott), you have the same producer (Walter Hill), and the exact same title reveal from the first Alien, I’m not sayin’ , I’m just sayin’.  So right off the bat, this movie looks great, only once or twice did I feel an effect didn’t look great. Considering that this is a hard sci-fi movie that is a pretty amazing feat.  All of the acting is very good, despite the characters being pretty much your standard fare. As my friend Greg pointed out, you can easily guess who is going to die, but they do an excellent job of teasing it. There is a wonderful sense of dread and suspense once Prometheus lands, and we quickly get into that Cold War favorite trope of who is really the enemy. While not as heavy handed as James Cameron does it, it’s pretty obvious at times, but again, the tease makes it a lot of fun to watch.  As a science fiction movie, I think Prometheus excels, but the horror aspect is more or less paint by numbers. This is not a scary movie, and it doesn’t come close to the shocks of the original Alien, but it is damn entertaining, and does pose some interesting questions about the creation of man. I don’t mean this in a theological sense, but more in the “what do we do when the truth is not what we expected”. Micheal Fassbender is incredible, but I expected nothing less, and the as I have said, the rest of the cast is more than serviceable. Other than that, without spoiling things, I will say this: There is plenty of stuff here for fans of the Alien universe, but you really don’t need to see those movies, Prometheus could stand alone as a Sci-Fi flick, but for the nerds and geeks like myself, stay till the end of the credits, you might laugh like I did, but if you haven’t seen the other movies, or hip to Alien stuff, it may be lost on you. So in a summer of blockbusters, I don’t think Prometheus is the best one out there, so far Avengers and A Cabin In The Woods are much better, and we haven’t even seen the new Batman yet. Despite that,  I had a great time, and got more or less exactly what I wanted from Prometheus, and really enjoyed it.

p.s. There are some great gore effects, and one thing in particular that will always bug me, but it’s nothing plot related so it doesn’t matter too much. Oh and I almost forgot

Tim Rates This Movie 9/10(but that’s as an “Alien” fan.)

Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

In this opera, set in the not too distant future, some sort of plague has decimated the human population.  Many of those left alive are suffering from organ failure. But there is hope in the form of a company called GeneCo; who will gladly get you a transplant and offers easy financing, but should you fail to make a payment… they send in the repo man.  And he isn’t some high school dropout sex offender like that guy who took your car last week, he is a trained surgeon who is going to track you down and cut that organ out of you with no thought as to your comfort or general well-being.  In other words, this medically trained assassin has very poor bed-side manners.

Here are some details about our confusing storyline:  Shilo is our main character, she has a condition that keeps her indoors, her protective father Nate had a wife who died during childbirth, but a drug he gave her is what killed her. In order to keep this from his daughter he secretly works as a repo man for the owner of GeneCo (and former lover of Nate’s dead wife) Largo.  Largo is knocking on Death’s door, and wants to leave his company in responsible hands; be he can’t trust any of his asshole kids.  His daughter Amber (Paris Hilton) is addicted to painkillers and plastic surgery, Luigi is a psychopathic murder and Pavi likes wearing other people’s skin Buffalo Bill style.  He doesn’t have a lot of options, until he meets Shilo, who is out wondering the graveyard behind her house.  Largo offers her a cure to her disorder, knowing full well that she is the daughter of his former lover.

Largo invites Shilo to the Genetic Opera in the town square, where he plans to replace his current star, Blind Mag, with her, but only after she agrees to be cured as part of the show and is therefore in debt to GeneCo.  During the opera Blind Mag is killed after denouncing GeneCo, and other secrets are revealed by Largo:  Nate has been making Shilo sick on purpose to keep her close and away from the outside world, and that he is also a repo man. She doesn’t take to kindly to this, and watches on as Largo kills her dad, then dies himself.  Largo had willed GeneCo to Shilo, who declines to be part of such an evil company.  Yes, it’s a very confusing story, we agree!

Alex’s Thoughts: I just realized something: I don’t like opera. Singing all of your lines to music I can’t hear doesn’t make for a fun time for me. The premise is entertaining, and the visuals are really interesting, but the singing and all of the weird shit is way too overwhelming to me.  It started out alright, with a nice little comic book themed intro, but lost me like 5 minutes in. I’ve tried to watch this once before, and fell asleep; I wasn’t so lucky this time. I will admit there are a few good parts, mainly involving the organ repossession and the Largo kids, who are all crazy and watching them bicker is actually fun. But the slow parts just kill whatever good thoughts I was starting to have for this movie.  I think I would tell most people to give it a try, and I’m sure lots of horror fans would probably like it. You will know in the first 15 minutes if this is for you or not.  Alex Rates This Movie 5/10 

Tim’s Thoughts:This isn’t a good movie, but for some reason, I kinda like it. I think it’s the ambition, and the utter insanity of the premise. Some of the musical numbers are better than others, and yes it’s confusing as hell at times, but I enjoyed watching this all the same.  Whenever this comes up in conversation I find myself defending Repo, and it’s difficult because it’s just so damn weird and inconsistent. I like this, but I don’t expect other people to, so take that into consideration when you see my rating. I am very interested in what other people think about this so please comment and tell me why I’m wrong. Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

“I remember, I dismember. ‘Cause the claims medic gives no anesthetic! 90 days delinquent gets ya’ repo treatment! I’m the masked horror on your street corner! Make your mama mourn ya! I’m the Night Surgeon!”

 View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

Galaxy Quest (1999) requested by Jason Kukla

Galaxy Quest used to be America’s favorite tv show. Used to be… 18 years ago.  Now the cast spends most of their time at sci-fi conventions and mall openings.  While at the official Galaxy Quest convention, the crew is waiting for their arrogant commander (Tim Allen), and talking about how while they love the fans, they are sort of disappointed at what their careers have become.  Tim Allen shows up and the crew take the stage to the delight of the fans in attendance. We meet the alien first mate (Alan Rickman) who is a classically trained actor, but only remembered for his catch phrase, the communications officer (Sigourney Weaver) whose only job is to repeat what the ship’s computer says, the engineer (Tony Shalhoub) who has no idea what is going on, the child polit and the generic crew member (Sam Rockwell), who dies in the first minute of a random episode. The cast do their thing with autographs and pictures and what not, but are pretty pissed at Tim Allen who has booked an appearance without the rest of them.  He goes to take a leak and overhears some kids making fun of him, calling him a ‘has-been’.  He returns pissed-off and take it out on some fans (one of whom is Justin Long), and storms off to booze the rest of the day away.

The next morning  some odd-looking people show up at his house asking for his help.  He assumes these Thermians are just the people who hired him for the side gig and join them in a limo, which is soon beamed-up into a larger spacecraft.  He still assumes that this is all a fan made movie and though impressed with the sets, can’t wait to get aways from these nerds and get out of there.  The aliens have brought him in to negotiate with an alien leader named Sarris, still thinking this is all fake he orders the crew to fire on his ship, and he flees.  Assuming the shoot is all wrapped up he asks to be taken home, and is sealed in some goop and shot back down to Earth.  He quickly rushes to tell the rest of his cast that he was just in space, and they think he’s just liquored up again. The aliens come back for him the next day to discuss the surrender of Sarris, and he wants to bring his crew along.  Thinking he is full of shit, they agree and are transported to the ship, which is an exact replica of the ship from the show, which the aliens believe to be actual news casts and not a tv show.  The crew has little trouble working the ship, as their movements on the show work in real life.  It turns out the surrender is a trap and Sarris wants control of Omega-13, which was a weapon on the show, but it was never revealed what it did.  It is up to this group of actors to actually command a space ship and save this helpless alien race.

Alex’s Thoughts:  Ugh, I don’t know what to think about this movie.  This was the first time that I’d seen the entire thing.  I had seen bits and pieces on tv in the past, but didn’t like what I saw well enough to dedicate two hours to watching the whole movie in one sitting.  I like the movie for what it is, but it just seems like this was brought up to the original Star Trek cast and they passed on it, but someone was dedicated to make this happen no matter what, and this is what we got.  Tim Allen is over the top as always, but it just seemed like none of the main actors were really into it on-screen.  I understand why people like this, it’s fun in the right setting, but I didn’t feel it, sorry.  If you are a sci-fi fan, you would probably like it, especially if you can imagine William Shatner in the lead.  Alex Rates This Movie 6/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I saw this movie in the theaters, and I love it now just as much as I did in 1999. This is a perfect and loving parody of not only Star Trek, but the entire convention mentality. (Full disclosure, Alex and I usually hit a couple of Con’s a year, and while we aren’t AS obsessive about some the Celebrities in attendance we do get amped up for some of our favorites.) I do not like Tim Allen normally, but in this movie he is perfect as a send up of Shatner, and the rest of the cast is phenomenal. I am pretty sure this is the first movie I ever saw Sam Rockwell in, and I have never looked back. As a sleazy one time cast member convinced that he is going to die, (mostly because his character didn’t have a last name) he steals laughs every time he appears on screen. For me this movie is nearly perfect, and I think it’s a must for not only Trek fans, but for convention goers as well. Tim Rates This Movie 10/10

“I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m just “Crewman Number Six.” I’m expendable. I’m the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I’ve gotta get outta here.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

The Dark Crystal (1982)

A thousand years ago, on the planet Thra, the urSkeks cracked the world-controlling Crystal of Truth.  This resulted in them splitting into two separate races: the large Gorg-like Mystics, and the jerky bird-faced Skeksis.  The Skeksis became the dominant race and evil swept over the land, resulting in the extermination of an entire race who were prophesized to be the downfall of the Skeksis – the Gelflings; but one remains, the naïve Jen who resides with the remaining Mystics.  Just as his master is dying, he reveals to Jen that he is to reunite the missing piece of the crystal and save the world from another thousand year rule of evil.  At the same moment that Mystic dies, so does the Skeksis emperor, leading to a power-grab between two of the greedy few who remain.  The loser, the Chamberlain, is banished from the palace.

Jen was told the shard was being kept safe by the one-eyed Aughra, a cross between Miss Piggy and The Trash Heap.  Jen finds the shard, but has to flee, as the Skeksis’ beetle henchmen arrive and rip Aughra’s place to sheds, capturing her in the process. As Jen is on his way to the castle, he is harassed by a little fur ball with big teeth.  This creature is the pet of Kira, yet another Gelfling.  They join up to finish their mission, but are soon confronted by The Chamberlain, who offers to help them, but really wants to turn them in to regain his favor.  The Gelflings don’t really want to work with this genocidal jerk, so they go their separate ways. He again meets up with them as they enter the castle, offering one last chance for peace between them. Jen doesn’t like the offer and stabs him with the crystal, but the Chamberlain escapes, taking Kira with him.

The Chamberlain delivers the ‘last Gelfing’ to his mater and is welcomed back into the fold, but we fear this isn’t going to last long; as Kira has escaped her captors and Jen is headed to restore the shard.  But suddenly she is killed and Jen doesn’t see why he should bother reuniting the shard, but joins it back with the crystal anyway, despite the hopelessness he feels.  The crystal is made whole again and the remaining Mystics and Skeksis turn back into urSkeks; bringing Kira back to life and bringing the light back to the world that was once ruled by the dark crystal.

Alex’s Thoughts: Most people that are now in their late twenties or early thirties probably saw this movie as a kid, and have fond memories of it.  I was one definitely one of those people. But watching it as a 33-year-old, it is hard to see what I loved about it so much.  I still really love the sets, most of the character designs and puppeteering, which was expertly done and has held up really well over the years.  I guess the story just isn’t as entertaining as it was when I was a kid; perhaps I put too much thought into it, but I really was confused.  I really think they came up short with the Gelflings, the puppets just aren’t as animated as everything else around them and it sticks out in places. Especially in the wide shots where they use a person in a costume that moves so fluidly, then you cut back to this static ‘lifeless’ puppet.  I know it sounds like I’m bashing this movie, but I’m not.  I just have a different perspective on it now as an adult, and I appreciate it for what it is and what they accomplished, but I just feel that the story is a little weak throughout. But I do love me some Fizzgig!  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I agree with Alex that some of the puppets seem dated, and the story is a bit lengthy, but I can’t help but sit in wonder at how they got permission to make such a bizarre epic movie. It seems that today such a project would be impossible. I really find myself still marveling at what a crazy film with no humans, and no celebrity voice actors, but instead relies on it’s story and unique approach to movie making. It just shows what a genius Jim Henson was, and how much clout he had back in the 80’s. I can’t wait to watch this with my baby girl, and I am sure the Skeksis will scare the crap out of her too. I still say check it out, and enjoy the spectacle of The Dark Crystal.Tim Rates This Movie 9/10

“The Skeksis, with their hard and twisted bodies, their harsh and twisted wills. For a thousand years they have ruled. Yet now, there are only ten: a dying race, ruled by a dying Emperor, imprisoned within themselves in a dying land.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

The Captains (2011) with a guest review from our favorite Trekkie Shannon Loomis

William Shatner directs and stars in this documentary about the different people and characters who have commanded a starship in the Star Trek universe.  He interviews all of them and gets a feel for how they became an actor, and how their role in the franchise has changed or shaped their lives. Probably of best way to break this down is by person, so here we go…

Sir Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard – The Next Generation) – This starts with a very awkward meeting between the two, despite them having worked together in the past.  Shatner proceeds to inturrupt each question Stewart tries to answer with an anecdote about his own life.  This is probably the main focus of this movie as Stewart gets the most screen time of any of the other actors, and rightfully so, he is a knight for Pete’s sake.  It seems that for the first year or so he was the only one who took his role seriously on the show, and he freely admits that it was the most terrifying role of his life.  He eventually learned to relax a bit and had fun doing it, despite it taking up more of his time than he had anticipated.

Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko – Deep Space Nine) – We learn really quick that this guy is fucking insane.  The interviews with him are pretty pointless, as he doesn’t specifically talk about the roll, and just answers each of Shatner’s questions with another crazy philosophical question… then they sing out the answer together sitting next to a piano. True story.  There are a lot of awkward silences between them, as they smile at each other and try to figure out what the hell to do next.

Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway – Voyager) – Kate had nothing but bad things to say about her experience, mostly due to the long work hours and the fact that she was away from her family so much; which was a shared theme among all of the captains, and probably anyone who worked on a weekly tv show.  She was very honest about the role, and admits while she did her best, it was just a paycheck, she was not emotionally vested in the character. So spoke freely that she is much more comfortable on a stage rather than in front of a camera.

Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer – Enterprise) – As a fan on the show as a young man, Bakula talked the most about the actual franchise itself.  As a science fiction fan he appreciated his role more than the others it seemed.  Again, this interview was awkward as it was outside in a gazebo and apparently he was rushed for time.  Bakula admits that his cast lacked the chemistry that those of the other shows had, and thus was the reason that series was cancelled.

Chris Pine (James Kirk – Star Trek) – This was a pretty brief interview, as Pine has only has the one movie role, but he seemed to really appreciate the legacy and wanted to do the fans proud.  He seemed to be the most relaxed by far, and he kept the interview going rather than Shatner. Most of this interview was just the two of them arm wrestling. Really.

The real meat and potatoes of this movie was the life and times of William Shatner himself.  It is almost as though he realized no one was going to make a documentary about him, so he would just do it himself and loosely base it around Star Trek.  It was only until recently that he has accepted the fact that he is famous due to his role on Star Trek (and not T.J. Hooker or Priceline commercials), and has started to embrace the role and has begun going to conventions and interacting with fans.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I will start off by saying that I am not a huge fan of Star Trek (I am actually a huge Star Wars nerd), but I will freely admit that we owe a lot of what we see in today’s science fiction to Rodenberry’s original series.  Anyone that knows me will just think I am hating on Star Trek, but in reality, I am just hating on this movie.  This could have been a real treat for Star Trek fans, but instead you sort of get a glimpse into William Shatner’s narcissism.  I had assumed there would be more actual information about the movies and tv series, but alas, that is not what I got.  Each time Shatner meets a new ‘captain’, the awkwardness of it all is almost unbearable and difficult to watch.  I didn’t think he made this movie to be all about himself, but for some reason (maybe due to a lack of useable footage from the interviews) it ended up being about his life in general, and went on stretches without mentioning Star Trek at all.  Maybe a fan would get more out of this than I did, because I was not at all entertained.  Alex Rates This Movie 4/10

Tim’s Thoughts: Wow, just when you thought that Shatner couldn’t get  any more arrogant, he makes this movie. On the outside, it would appear to be a meeting of the Star Trek Captains, and as a fan of the original series,(I am also a Star Wars Geek) I thought this was a neat idea. Mostly because I watched a lot of Spenser for Hire with my Grandma and Hawk was a badass dude. Also Patrick Stewart commands such presence without using the goofy theatrics that Shatner resorted to consistently. Instead we get an excuse for William Shatner to present himself to the other actors that tried to fill his shoes, and he gracefully allows them to fawn on him. What I learned was Avery Brooks is batshit crazy, Patrick Stewart, and Scott Bakula are pretty much normal guys, and Kate Mulgrew is filled with regret and has daddy issues. The parts I really liked all took place at a convention, and while Bill Shatner is arrogant, he’s not really a bad dude. As he strolls around the convention floor he sneaks up and photobombs fans, and he takes a few minutes for a special needs fan that traveled a long way. It was genuinely touching. All in all I look forward to the next Star Trek movie, because the reboot has been excellent so far, and I will continue to enjoy the campy fun of the original Kirk, but I don’t think I can indulge the old captain for much else. Tim Rates This Movie 5/10

Shannon’s Thoughts:  This documentary is mostly William Shatner getting teary eyed about his career in acting and the impact of Star Trek on the world. I could have done without the scenes where each captain explained how they got into acting and how, at first, they thought they were too good for Star Trek. I was way more entertained by the interactions between Shatner and the other Captains. There are tons or priceless moments but my favorites have to be Shatner trying to have any kind of cohesive conversation with Avery Brooks, and the arm wrestling scene between Bill Shatner and Chris Pine. I also loved Shatner walking through the Trek convention jumping into people’s pictures and watching them freak out. Overall I thought this documentary had lots of Trekkie goodness for fans of any Trek series. Shannon Rates This Movie 7/10

“If it were to all end for me today, I would largely be known for my work on Star Trek; not as MacBeth or King Lier, but as Captain Jean-Luc Picard… and I’m alright with that.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue