[SciFi/Star Wars] Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode 8) (80%)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out about a month ago and I think that now after two views (distanced by about two weeks),  I can finally write down a final opinion on it. What I can tell, it created some serious divide between the critics and fans. Just look at the difference in scores in Rotten Tomatoes between critics (that lauded it) and fans (that some claims is even worse than Attack of The Clones).
So far, the best and most interesting fan review came from Kevin Smith. A very good hour in which he goes through details, highlighting the good and underlining the bad things about.
I decided to give it a few weeks before making my comments for one reason: the Jedi mind trick that hit me 15 years ago when Attack of the Clones came in screen. At first, I was “Oh yeah, it was awesome! One of the best Star Wars!” and still remember the diatribe from Rafic Djoumni, a former journalist in “Mad-Movies” (a well-respected French magazine about Sci-Fi and horror movies that was my favorite movies magazine). Looking back, the movie honestly did not survived the tides of time and is needed not as good as I remember (please someone remove Anakin meadow scene from my brain!).
ATTENTION————————SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU ARE WARNED!———————————-
So, there is the deal: the movie is good, better that was fans try to make you believe. But it is also not the masterpiece sold by critics. No, it is not “The Empire Strikes Back” quality (still awesome after thousands of watching and almost 40 years in the odometer). There are some good moments, and there are also just scenes I would have cut and I would not even notice I was missing something in the story plot. I feel Rian Johnson wanted to not follow the same steps than JJ Abrams and thought probably it was time for  his own vision of a trilogy. Although this can be a laudable move, it also meant that a lot of things brought by JJ went under the rug.
The movie starts with a bang, right where we kind of left it “The Force Awakens” and it is very intense. Imagine a WW2 bombing operation transposed in a galaxy far far away a long time ago. It was starting very well, but then started to stall at some point. The Rebels try to escape from the Imperial Fleet, only to be caught up a few hours after jumping out from Hyperspace. If you are accustomed to the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” aka “BSG”, the plot of the first episodes named “33”. I don’t want to spoil much (because this is one of the most awesome Sci-Fi franchise from the mid-2000s I wished was aired in FrenchTV back then) as the Cylons are capable to track “the 12 colonies of Kobol” surviving fleet each time they jump from their FTL (faster than light) drive. Each time after 33 minutes.
This creates a plot in which the Rebels are in a sort of face-off, running out of fuel. Thats sounds a good plot but then you realize it runs on a paper thin. The Imperial fleet has a formidable firepower that would zap the fleet. No, they just stand waiting them to run out of fuel. Kylo Ren is keeping on the rage, only to be disciplined by Snokes. Enough to have Kylo to pick a Tie fighter and attempt a suicide mission on the main fleet vessel carrying General Leia Organa. He literally blew the ships deck with Admiral Ackbar in it sending Leia floating in space. This is where we have another ridiculous scene with CGI as good as “The Matrix Reloaded” (the infamous Playstation2 CGI). One of the sequence I liked however was the appearance of Laura Dern as Admiral Hodo. I was waiting for the “Fuck You, Poe!”, as I am still in all my Twin Peaks mindset and seeing Laura Dern playing the Diane tulpa. Her last move was a last kind of bravado act, going down with her ship as any respectable Captain do after ordering the crew to abandon ship (I almost felt Star Wars was getting inspiration from Trek). The whole sequence was simply a shock and awe, with a complete silence during the scene (remember…….in space nobody hear you scream!).
This scene is enough to questioning where Johnson wants to bring us. I guess it was meant to ramp into the sub-plot of the “Casino planet” that I thought was 45 minutes of major meaning. So I will skip this and go to Lukes plot. We left that with Rey finding Luke and handing him over his lightsaber, the same one he lost on Bespin in the Empire Strikes Back. Here comes the funny part that I liked about, seeing Mark Hamill throwing away the lightsaber and basically saying “enough of this BS”. I liked this whole sub-plot except the Porgs and the nuns. I felt seeing this part of the story was very good and show how the Jedi Council behind his allure of virtue and nobility are not as clean as they want to make things look like. They have sinned in their own way by their overconfidence and maybe also their inability to evolve. Seeing Yoda as a puppet was also a touching moment.
Rey rejoins the whole group and decide to confront Snoke. This is just bringing the second anti-climatic phase of the movie. Snoke dies like an idiot, Captain Phasma dies like an idiot. Both getting the Bobba Fett Mary Sue treatment. Both flattened out as a missed souffle. So we have been waiting two years for something that felt flat like a deflated balloon?
The last quarter of the movie was kind of awesome. It was somehow replaying the plot of the Battle of the Hott system. Seeing the evolved AT-AT and seeing the Rebels cornered brought in this level of stress that was initially here. Then came Luke (sort of), almost coming as a Messiah. And Hell he looked like the Chosen One in a scene reminding us of “The Matrix” Neo final scene, resurrected within the Matrix and capable to stop the  agents bullets and move faster than their moves. Seeing Luke being blasted with all the firepower and stood still made us feel Luke reached the uber-jedi  Rank and was appearing as the Jedi. Only to realize he was transposing himself from a distant galaxy, with the sunset on him. This final scene had some profound meaning for me because it was a direct call to my childhood heroes and it was also meaning that the sun is set on our childhood heroes. Han Solo was gone, Luke is gone and Leia is also gone.
My son loved it, but me I stood at the end of the credits sequence and thought. Maybe I am getting old, maybe I am becoming an old shmuck thats mind is stiffening overtime and incapable to show flexibility. I thought to myself that Episode IX will likely be my last one. I don’t see myself piling up another trilogy and I feel somehow sad to see that Star Wars is becoming a cash cow for Disney, milking it ad nauseam (we are not yet having Star Wars condom but I would not be surprised to have some). Maybe it is time, that as Luke, Han and Leia, I close my eyes on Star Wars.

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[SciFi/Star Trek] Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (25th Anniversary)

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (aka DS9). It marks the branching out of the Trek Universe, five years after the launch of Star Trek: The Next Generation and was running in parallel to the latter one.
It first aired on January 3rd 1993 and in my opinion constitutes the best of the Trek Universe and follows the life of the Deep Space Nine station under the command of Benjamin Sisko. Some people claims DS9 took the idea from Babylon 5, indeed DS9 preceded Babylon 5 by a year roughly.
The series starts chronologically right by the end of TNG Season 2/beginning Season 3 “Best Of Both Worlds”  when Capt. Picard is captured by the Borg collective and became Locutus of Borg. Under his command, the Borg lead the massacre of Wolf 359. The DS9 pilot starts here in which Benjamin Sisko (played by Avery Brooks) serving on a Federation ship amongst his wife. As they try to evacuate the ship, Benjamin lost his wife from collateral damage and constrained to abandon ship in an escape pod. Back in Earth and a couple of years following the Borg encounter, Benjamin is offered the command of the Deep Space Nine station (also referred as Tevok Nor), recently recovered from the Cardassians following their retreat from the Bajor planet, ending their occupation of the planet.
For any means, getting command of the Deep Space Nine is not the most enjoyable assignment: located in the deep end of the Alpha Quadrant, near a planet that remains primitive (Bajorans lack spaceship transportations) and a highly mystical civilization (Bajorans share many similarities with Bhuddism). In order words, this station is considered as being assigned at the frontier of the Federation.
Benjamin comes in with his son Jake, in a dirty, rusty and isolated station and get command of the station under the Federation mandate. As we discover Benjamin Sisko exploring the station, we get introduced to newcomers of the Federation. We have some familiar faces in the person of Senior Chief Petty Officer Miles O’Brien (played by Colm Meaney) transferring from USS Enterprise (we have seen O’Brien in several TNG episodes) amongst his wife Keiko (played by Rosalind Chao) and their daughter Molly. We also have newcomers in the persons of Dr. Julian Bashir (played by Alexander Siddig) and Lt. Jadzia Dax (played by Terry Farrell). Bashir is this young and prodigious doctor eager to discover new horizons. For him, assigned to the frontier of the Federation is a boon and considers it as an formidable opportunity. But behind his joyful and prodigy hides an important family secret that comes in later to haunt him.
Dax is the second time we got introduced to the Trill alien race, a race that is involving a symbiont as corporal support. It is a very interesting character as Trills carry over memories of their previous hosts and often change their gender through the circumstance. Jadzia (female) is the 8th host, following the transfer from Curzon (male) Dax. Benjamin knows Curzon very well and gently refers as “old man” and keep that friendly relationship with Jadzia. It is an interesting concept by bringing the discussion of transgender and LGBT into the Trek Universe.
Amongst the members of the Federation, we also discover the “locals” of the station. We have firstly Major Kira Nerys (played by Nana Visitor), commander from the Bajorian Forces and representing Bajor in the station. We get introduced to Odo (played by Rene Auberjournois), a “changeling” alien that is a fluid-like alien capable to morph into any shape and structure. He was the Chief of Security under the Cardassian occupation and remains as is in the current station. We also get introduced to the Ferengi in more details by the presence of Quark (played by Armin Shimerman) owner of the bar. Quark hold the bar business with the help of his brother Rom (played by Max Grodenshik) and his nephew Nog (played by Aron Eisenberg). In addition to serving alcholic beverages, Quark also maintain some Dabo tables (a complicated gambling game looking like a roulette game) animated by the presence of Leeta (Chase Masterson) and by the presence of Morn  (Mark Allen Shepherd). Finally, the last but very important protagonist is Elim Garak (played by Andrew Robinson), the owner of a tailor shop. Behind his jovial and very warm character, Garak hide a heavy and dark secret that we only learn later in the series.
Early on, the discovery of a wormhole leading to a brand new uncharted Quadrant (the Gamma Quadrant), transform this remote space station as a formidable frontier hub for those traveling to this Quadrant and coming from it.
This congregation of different characters coming from different horizons and different species make this melting-pot that made the DS9 station unique. It look like a Babel tower in space, in which different cultures and aliens cross their way through. The first two seasons are sure campy and make the rides bumpy but by the end of Season 2, the magic formula slowly started to take in and take some radical different directions than the utopia set of Gene Roddenberry. DS9 shows us that the future is full of shades of grey, with characters fighting their own demons and depicting that the Federation is not as shiny as it is.
We get into very interesting story arcs: the Federation-Cardassian treaty that surely ended up the bloody war (we learnt about Miles past as a soldier) but failed to consider the impact of setting DMZs on the population (creating the splinter cell known as the Maquis, taking the name of the French Resistance during WWII). We also get introduced to the Bajoran-Cardassian relationship and the relationship between an occupier belligerant and the occupied, shattering through the idyll of the David versus Goliath. Both camps shed blood and blind terrorism in the name of a cause. But also both camps knew to fell in love (thats really speak to me, as I see it as a metaphor of the occupation of France by German Nazis, with the French population). We also get introduced to the Dominion, a metaphor of the Pax Romana that offers you peace with the condition that you surrender your authority to the Roman Empire) and his army of the Jem’Hadar. An army genetically conceived with one mission: “Born to kill” and maintained in check by the use of a drug referred as Ketracel White (we can see similarities with soldiers given wine and liquors before giving the charge). I also see the Jem’Hadar as a metaphor for the child soldiers that were actively involved in various civil wars in Africa.
Things really starts to kick in when Worf (played by Michael Dorn) join the series by Season 4 (right after Star Trek: First Contact) and when Sisko takes on the “Samuel L. Jackson” goatee look. This exponentially increased the awesomeness of the show by deeply exploring the whole Klingon folklore superficially explored in TNG.
In addition to the story arcs, we have important topics discussed through different two-series episodes with some of the best Star Trek episodes ever created in the whole Trekverse. Look at the “In the Pale Moonlight”, “Assault on AR-558” and many others.
If you have not seen DS9, you have been missing big time. I would however recommend to skip some episodes in Season 1 and 2, especially those that are not associated with the main story line (Bajor or Maquis).

[SciFi/TV] Star Trek: The Next Generation 30th Anniversary

Today we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation (aka TNG), aired on the US television with the two-part episode “Encounter at Farpoint”. It was the second installment of the Star Trek franchise on the TV, a bit less than 20 years after the last episode (but many syndications through the 70s and 80s made Trek being a staple in the pop culture), a year after the release of “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and in my opinion one of the most ambitious TV Sci-Fi project from the 80s.
The show itself takes place in the 24th Century, almost a century later after “The Original Series” took place, with a new crew and the “Enterprise-D”, a brand-new class of starship.

It is interesting to get back to it, considering its anniversary coincides with the beginning of “Star Trek: Discovery” last week on the CBS All-Access, trying to cash in the fanbase as Games of Thrones do through a subscription fee (honestly, it is outrageous considering the rest of the world have it included inside their Netflix package). It is also interesting how many fans were outraged on the new crew of the USS Enterprise. Apparently there are some fans so extreme they even do not recognize Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) as canon. But back then, there was no Internet so not much amplification chamber for trolls.

What I can say that for most (I say most) 170 episodes, it was such an engaging ride spanned through 7 seasons. What I think made it a success?

First, the design of the ship. The ship is wonderful, the computer system (voiced by Majel Barett, Gene Roddenberry’s second wife) and interface (the LCARS) was such a savvy and eye-candy UI interface (remember, the Apple Macintosh just came in few years before and Windows was not the most gorgeous GUI), the bridge is a spartan but yet well designed and spacious, clearly designed for exploration and diplomatic missions.

Second, it was the crew. You can have the nicest ship, yet have a crew you dont feel attached to. Thats how I felt for example with the NX-01 Enterprise crew (ST:Enterprise). Captain Jean-Luc Picard (acted by Patrick Stewart) was in my opinion the best Captain of the Trek franchise. Picard maintained the hierarchy intact but also knew to listen to his senior officers. Picard was the man putting diplomacy first before setting the phaser on maximum charge and most of all Picard had the best quotes ever in episodes highly charged with philosophical meanings. There are so many episodes I can cite where Picard was completely awesome showing his remarkable acting.
For instance “The Inner Light” in which Picard has his brain held captive by a interstellar probe making him revive the last years of a scholar in a planet slowly dying from its star becoming a supernova. Try not to cry on this one. There is also the episode “The Measure of A Man” in which Picard defends Data (always referred as “Mr. Data”) in court as a scientist proclaim that Data is dispensable machine, even if it has a conscience. You have also the famous “Best of Both Worlds (part I and II)” in which the Federation gets first-hand contact with the Borg and get assimilated as Locutus of Borg, leading the massacre of Wolf 359. You have “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” in which Picard and the Captain of a new alien race are beamed down on a planet, such alien race using a metaphoric language in their communication. Another one is “Sarek” and “Unification (part I and II)” in which Picard decides to mind-meld with Sarek suffering from a sort of Vulcan form of dementia, holding his condition the time of his diplomatic mission and Picard travel to Romulus to find Spock.  Want some more awesome Picard-centric episode? “The Drumhead”, in which a sabotage on the Enterprise becomes the spark in a chain of reactions resulting in a witch hunt and with one of the most memorable quote from Picard “With the first link, the chain is forged….”. Or “Chain of Command (part 1 and 2)” in which Picard captured and tortured by the Cardassians (playing a saber rattling dance with the Federation via the intermediate of Captain Jellico) is standing up to his oppressor by yelling him “there are four lights!”. Or “Sins of Father” in which Picard stands by his Lt. Commander Worf in front of the Klingon High Council, serving as his mentor in front of the accusations of treasons of his late father. You know what, just check out the video below:
https://youtu.be/smdqe2eluEI

As a first officer, we had Commander William “Will” Riker (played by Johnathan Frakes). He was the man to get beamed down with the away team, he was the womanizer but yet sharing this ambiguous and odd relationship with Deanna Troi (I will come back later to it). You know it is interesting how the “Riker’s beard” made a huge effect on him, by Season 2 you have to admit that such beard was making Riker a pretty handsome man. He was harboring this side of James Kirk, boldly going where no man went before, but was also capable of the most calculated and stern decision that you would expect from a first officer. If I have to pick an Riker-centric episode, I would definitely recommend the episode “Frame of Mind”. Another episode is “The Outcast” in which Riker falls in love with an androgynous alien, discussing about the place of transgenders in society and their acceptance, thirty years before “Caitlin Jenner” and the infamous “bathroom bills”.

We had also Lt. Commander Data (played by Brent Spiner), a unique (well there was two copies, Lore and B-4) android created by Dr. Noonian Soong (the descendant of Arik Soong, the scientist that created the “Augments”). Data was in my opinion one of the best representation of the diversity in the TNG universe. He was unique and very puzzling for any human. I felt Data was showing an allegory of a Aspie: friendly, socially awkward that has trouble to identify social cues, very savvy and sometimes tell much more than expected from him. But Data sometimes showed how much humanity he had. For instance, this “Pen Pal” episode in which he violates the Prime Directive to save a girl he had sympathized through communication channel from a catastrophic geologic event. The other one that really shed a tear was “The Offspring” in which Data creates a child android, giving this child android the choice of its own gender identity (Hello! 1987!). The android decides to become a girl and named “Lal”. Data becomes a father, enjoying fatherhood only to discover that Lal suffers from a fatal electronic malfunction that needs her decommissioning. Try not to shed a tear as a parent, if you learn your child has a terminal disease. But maybe the best acting from Brent Spiner was playing the role of “Lore”, Data’s “older brother” that was dismantled by Soong because of his mercurial and psychopathic traits. Seeing Brent Spiner playing both the naive and friendly Data and the manipulative, deceptive and murderer (he summoned and lured the crystalline entity on Omicron Theta resulting in the killing of any lifeforms on the planet and even tried to do the same to the Enterprise crew). Brent Spiner remarklable acting was again to be seen on Star Trek:Enterprise in the episodes he played Dr. Arik Soong.

We also had Lt. Commander Worf Rozhenko (acted by Michael Dorn), the only Klingon from the fleet taking place after the Khitomer accords that settled the feud of the Klingon Empire with the Federation of planets. Worf grew up amongst humans torn between his Klingon heritage and growing amongst the Federation.  There are so many good episodes with Worf, especially the ones involving his Klingon heritage and his struggle to get accepted amongst his compatriots. For instance, you have this episode in which the Enterprise rescues a Klingon vessel containing three outlaws, putting Worf at odds between his loyalty for the Federation and the loyalty for the Klingons. There is the “Reunion” episode that set Worf into a character of a Greek mythology that will haunt him even in Deep Space Nine.

We had Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge (acted by LeVar Burton), a engineer born with blindness but equipped with a particular set of visor. Despite’s being congenitally blind, Geordi showed to be one of the most talented engineer in the Federation, saving the Enterprise from many situations. Geordi also showed some pride in his disability, in the episode “The Masterpiece Society” in which he faces the astounishment of a society in which eugenism is considered as a virtue and disability a failure that does not have a place.

We also had Counsellor Deanna Troi (played by Marina Sirtis) that played the role of a Betazed, capable to read others mind and emotion. She was the ship counsellor and also part of the dilemma of serving in the same ship than Riker, her former “Imzadi”. Deanna Troi role was at the beginning though to be defined but as the series goes, she showed to be instrumental to the series. My favorite episode with Troi? “Face of The Enemy” in which she is posing as a Roman agent of the dreaded Tal’Shiar, playing diametrically the behavior that is associated with her by playing a ruthless and fearless Romulan agent. We also had Dr. Beverly Crusher (played by Gates McFarren) that played the doctor and confident to Jean-Luc Picard due to their close relationship (Dr. Crusher’s husband was Picard best friend) and of course Wesley Crusher (played by William Wheaton). Wesley was honestly a pain in the neck during the first two seasons, leading to the climatic “Shut up Wesley!” quote.

Another niceties of the Enterprise-D is the holodeck, allowing to recreate a virtual environment that is too real to be true. Imagine breaking the fourth wall and entering inside a movie. Some of the best episodes were Holodeck-centered episodes. For example, the episode in which Picard see himself re-enacting Dixon Hill, giving this “roman noir” episodes straight outta the Prohibition era, the episodes in which Data plays Sherlock Holmes with Geordi as his buddy and by mistake giving life to Moriarty.

But there are so many episodes that really raises questions on the society as we know it and address questions that very few series ever bring on the TV: gender identity (there are even in the season 1 episode a few times you can see men wearing sort robe uniforms), the impact of interfering on a “primitive society” (the episode “Who watch the watchers” is another good one to watch), the issue of being born with a disability and societies in which eugenism is considered as the norm, the challenge of becoming a senior in a society in which becoming a senior is considered inadequate and is marked by your death at your 60th birthday (the episode “Half A Life”) or getting brought into a world in which money and material possession so dear to us has no more meanings (the episode “The Neutral Zone”). There is an episode that question to which extent can we allow us to develop warfare against our biggest enemy (“I Borg” and the virus to contaminate the Borg Collective).

There are also some single gems that does not fit the Trek narrative but are damn good. For example “Yesterday’s Enterprise” in which the Khitomers accords never happened resulting in an all-out battle against the Klingon for over 30 years. There are the episodes with Q, this malicious superpower entity presented in the pilot as the judge setting a trial on the Enterprise crew for the crimes mankind was held responsible. Some of them are plenty funny, some of them are deadly costly to the Enterprise such as “Q Who” in which Q introduce Picard to the Borg.

 

If you want to watch TNG but not interested to buy the whole collection, you have two choices: BBC America usually play them on the weekends and Netflix gives you access to everything Trek (except the movies). I am just warning you that the first two seasons are pretty campy as Roddenberry hired most of the old writers from TOS and feels most of a time some sort of reheated dish. But by the mid-season 2 and the injection of a new generation of writers, the show takes up and becomes very fascinating.

 

 

[Movies/SciFi] Star Wars – A New Hope (40th Anniversary)

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars movie “A New Hope” (that will become Episode IV). I was -2 years when it came (likely a Type II oocyte hidden in a follicle) but it was my first Star Wars I had watched.
Imagine being a teenager or a kid and watching the original trailer:

I still remember how I had to fight with my sibling to share the TV on a Sunday night, as its airing was simultaneous to another movie, zapping to its channel during commercial breaks. It was love at first sight! Aliens, spaceships, lasers (pew! pew!), great villain (Darth Vader aka Dark Vador in French), the famous Tie fighters roar (Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsshhhh!!!!).

It also started the rivalry between Star Wars and Star Trek. Historically, Star Wars surely took a lot from Star Trek “The Original Series” in terms of space technology and phasers. But Lucas also took a lot from action movies, from cape and swords movies (you can replace the lightsabers with regular swords, set the Death Star as a fortress and voila!), from Western movies (the Tatooine and Mos Eisley cantina surely reminds a good ol’ dirty saloon, you can replace Solo and Greedo with a Colt or a Smith & Wesson revolver and still achieve the same outcome), from war movies (the final battle of Yavin, you could almost put this into the biplane dogfights of World War I and have Darth Vader posing as Red Barron).

If Trek and Wars movies were into a ring for a death match, Wars would win easily. Wars also set the standard very high, putting Trek in a very difficult situation. Just see Star Trek: The Motion Picture and just put the popcorn aside. It is slow. Very sloooooooooow (did I say how much I hated the uniforms in that Trek movie?).

Maybe the great thing about Wars is its opening, with John Williams mythical opening credit theme (that was then used as a welcome hymn in “V” to greet the first delegation of aliens landing on Earth to collaborate with Earthlings) followed by the “must-have” scrolling text that serves us as a ramp into the action.

Then Boom! You see the Tantive IV being blasted, overflown by the Star destroyer. Bang, straight into the action, with the rebels preparing to be boarded by the Galactic Empire. How this cannot be awesome witnessing that with a kid? All sugar-coated by the remarkable work of John Williams and the London Symphonic Orchestra that blends the visual action with the percussions. Thats how you get kids into classical music!

There comes Lord Vader, this huge and dark figure, breathing through without a word watching the causalities lying around all over the place. Comes in the famous Leia scene and the escape pod. The first action moment of Darth Vader is marking any kids, the deep voice of James Earl Jones with the physique of David Prowse. Here we are. A badass and ruthless villain, all shrouded in mystery and strength.

Then comes the arrival in Tatooine (from the Tunisian town of Tataouine, Tunisia) and the encounter with the Jawas that make it accessible to the kids and introduce us to Luke Skywalker.

Follows up the introduction to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca……the rest is history. A very tight and neat cuts that makes the narrative exemplary with little room for dead periods, bringing up the action as a roller-coaster without overkilling it.

Not even forgetting to mention the presence of Peter Cushing posing as Moff Tarkin and rival to Darth Vader, reminiscent of the rivalry of World War 2 movies between the Wehrmacht and the SS division. This is not innocent, as the Galactic Empire takes a lot of inspiration of Nazi Germany by its ruthless to achieve victory and homogeny at any cost.

Star Wars launched the first concept of merchandising, tying a whole toy line with the movie, setting probably the first massive toy collectionite in the galaxy. It is so engrained in the culture that almost anybody knows “Star Wars” without even watching the movie.
It surely inspired “Battlestar Galactica” TV series and James Bond “Moonraker”. It even was used as a codename for one of the most ambitious if not ridiculous Cold War operations aimed to put in orbit satellites with lasers to counter any threat from USSR.
It even had its “disco” soundtrack by Meco (oh man, it sounds so cheesy now!):

It sets up the spoof-movie “Spaceballs”, even inspired some local knock-off from Italian and Turkish movie producers like “Starcrash” (introducing a young ‘Hoff)

Or “Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam” aka “Turkish Star Wars”

And many mores….

Star Wars became an icon of a whole GenX culture (just see the Star Wars special episodes of “Family Guy” or “Robot Chicken”).
You cannot undo something that cannot be undone and Star Wars is one of these movies you can keep watching over and over again without feeling the boredom of watching them as it almost feel fresh despite knowing every single scenes.

“May The Force Be With You”

 

 

 

 

 

[Sci-Fi/Star Trek] Star Trek: Discovery First Official Trailer

Just in time as I concluded my six-months journey (I started last Thanksgiving) through the Star Trek franchise (including the different movies), CBS just popped out the first official trailer for “Star Trek: Discovery”. It was generating enough interest that the server containing the video was completely saturated with requests.

The plot puts it 10 years before TOS and based on the trailer, it feels like a seamless transition from ENT in terms of the Starfleet uniforms (harboring the electric blue uniform) but also transitioning into TOS by the presence of ribbons marking the different classes (executive/gold, sciences-medicine/silver, operational/copper). The interior design of the ship look sleek, the photography pretty awesome. The only thing that bugs me are the Klingons (that look even more ridged and bald).

Now the thing that is bothering me: It will be only on CBS-Access (there are rumors that Netflix may propose them in his streaming offer) and that means $$$ to watch it.

Now, its gonna be a long summer…..

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24754790

 

[SciFi/Star Trek] Star Trek The Motion Picture – Daft Punk Tron Legacy Audio Cut

If you are a Trekkie, you know the big debate about Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP). It was released about the same time than Star Wars: A New Hope and when you come from Star Wars, TMP appears slow….very slow…….and also kitsch. Very kitsch. I am still try to understand how, 40 years later, they had made the decision on the Starfleet costumes (some ugly PJs that should have never seen light, even back in the 70s).

Now something interesting came that week, someone has the genius idea to blend TMP, cut into the extra-fat and plugged in “Tron Legacy” soundtrack. Oh boy, I really loved that sequel to “Tron” with the remarkable work of Hans Zimmer and Daft Punk, through their MOOG synthesizers, giving this primal electronic sounds that as synthetic is can carry some of the deepest emotions. The photography was sleek, it was well directed and was giving a major upgrade to “Tron”.  Just look back at the famous Light Cycle scene how the video and the audio blended perfectly:

Suddenly, TMP becomes a new movie and really makes me think if there was some very clever cut, with a re-designed soundtrack, could become much more watchable. It also now revived my interest in “Tron: Legacy” and I really hope Disney decides to get “Tron3” from the back-burner.

 

[Movies/SciFi] Turbo Kid (80%)

Sometimes a good surprise can await you around the corner. This was the case of “Turbo Kid”, as it popped as a suggestion on my digital service.
Turbo Kid is a French-Canadian movie written and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Not much famous actors in the cast except with the exception of Michael Ironside (known for his role as Ham Tyler in the original “V” series).
“Turbo Kid” is not totally new to me, as the first iteration known as “T for Turbo” was the prototype for it and frankly it created a huge buzz:

It rightfully made a loud buzz by its VHS feeling of an 80’s post-nuke movie, a kind of genre I have been bottle-fed thanks to the Italian moviemaker. All the ingredients were already in: the post-nuke wasteland, the abandoned quarrel, the Bontempi synthesizers, the cheap gore effect, and the BMX ride. Even the inspiration of the “Cannon Pictures” gives this huge nostalgic vibe.

The plot is fairly simple but fairly fun. The plot takes place in a post-nuke 1997, in a quarrel posing as a wasteland. Water is scarce and became a precious commodity. In a complete anarchy, the law of the jungle prevails: the survival of the fittest.
“The Kid”, the main protagonist, lives on scavenging on his BMX bike and fomenting revenge to Zeus (played by Michael Ironside), as Zeus killed his mom in front of him. Taking courage from reading “Turbo Rider”, a comic book.
One day, the Kid finds Apple, an android girl that quickly becomes attached to him. This only starts the trouble once Apple get kidnapped by Zeus and fleeing from his minions, the Kid ends up in an abandoned vehicle and finds the remain of a certain “Turbo Rider”….

The movie is not aiming very high but it hits hard on the GenXers like me. You could almost believe you have seen this movie as a kid, as the feeling is so genuine to 80’s Sci-Fi B-movies, especially Italian post-nukes: They were cheap, the plot was quite often cheesy. But oh gosh they were great and fun to watch!

Here is the official trailer, you can catch the full movie on Netflix: