Star Trek: Picard Episode 1 (2020) – A Quick Capsule TV Review

Star Trek: Picard Episode 1 (2020) – A Quick Capsule TV Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
18 years after he last wore the uniform, Picard is back in a new 10 episode TV series.  Yup the one and only Patrick Stewart returns to his signature role and it feels like he’s never been away.  The first episode has some pretty heavy lifting involved – convincing us just why we should care about an older Picard especially one with no Enterpise-D (or crew).  Well… mixing in a heathy dose of nostalgia, some impressive action and a bucket load of mystery Picard succeeds and quickly promises to be a must watch TV series.   Stewart is superb (as you’d expect) and the support cast, which includes a notable ST:TNG cameo, don’t let the side down. A lot can happen over ten episodes but if Picard carries on like this I shall be very happy indeed.  Make it so…

Best Bit: Is that… Oh it is.  Okay WTF

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream (prime in UK)

If You Liked this Try: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: First Contact 

 


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Grosse Point Geek: My Favourite Star Trek Movie…

Grosse Point Geek: My Favourite Star Trek Movie…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek

You have to hand it to Star Trek ,spanning 4 decades, 6 TV series, 14 films, countless books and tons of merchandise, its one of the longest and most successful sci fi franchises in history.  Now I adore Star Trek  -not as much as Star Wars mind –but I have enough knowledge of its universe to know a Dilithium chamber when I see one,  tell the difference between a Romulan and a Cardassian, and why its always a good idea to eject the warp core if you want to make a speedy escape from certain death.

Ok the hard-core fans are a bit weird . Strange sorts who mostly live with their mums and have little or no knowledge of the fairer sex. I speak from experience here, having  once worked as a barman at a Star Trek convention in Cardiff when I was  student. The vision of a grown man  strutting around dressed as TNG’s Commander William Riker  –silly walk, beard and all – will never leave me. Nor indeed will the enormously pretentious conversation I had with one of the event’s organisers – a rather odd little person with a limp, who loftily seemed know most of the principal Star Trek actors on a personal level – even going so far as to comment with smug authority on the current rude health of (the now deceased) Deforest Kelly and annoyingly referring to him simply as “D”.

Anyway I’m getting off the point – namely the reason for writing this article. As mentioned there are 12  Trek films, 6 with the original cast, 4 featuring the  Next Generation characters, the JJ Abram’s directed  2009 reboot and its  rather splendid sequel (Into Darkness) that was released last year.

Now not all of them were that good  – 1979’s ‘The Motion Picture’ was very inventive but deathly boring, the Shatner directed ‘Final Frontier’ was hampered by shoddy effects and a reliance on very silly humour (contrary to popular belief it wasn’t all The Shat’s fault  -read Wikipedia for more). As for the  TNG movies, whilst not bad in parts, they were never really that memorable, culminating in 2002’s rather poor ‘Star Trek Nemesis’ which effectively killed the franchise for nigh on 7 years.

As for the better entries  -most people cite ‘The Wrath Of Khan’, the aforementioned 2009 reboot or the very good 4th feature –  ‘The Voyage Home’ . All great films – especially ‘Wrath’ which is a absolute classic and JJ’s brilliant reboot, which  mercifully tore up the rule book and turned out to be the best blockbuster released that year.

However, my all time favorite will  always be the quite superb Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country (1991).  A film that, despite being a sizable critical and commercial success , seems to have almost  become the forgotten Trek.

Its plot centres around the Klingons, who have become desperate to broker a peace with the Federation after an environmental disaster on their home world  threatens their very existence. Acting as a sort of galactic olive branch, the Enterprise and its crew (led by a very sceptical Kirk) are dispatched  to agree a deal that will end years of hostility and potentially result in the dismantling of the neutral zone.

Naturally it all goes pear shaped. After a particularly frosty first meeting, all hell breaks loose when the Enterprise seemingly fires on the Klingon ship, and their  High Chancellor (David Warner) is brutally murdered. Of course the finger of suspicion  points  firmly at Kirk and McCoy, who are duly arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment on the Rura Pente penal asteroid .

Back on the Enterprise, and smelling a rat, Spock, Chekov, Scotty et al, ignore orders from Starfleet, then set about attempting to uncover a huge conspiracy and save civilisation as we know it. After the disaster that was The Final Frontier, Paramount wisely went back to basics,  hiring Wrath of Khan director Nicolas Meyer, and adapting a story by Leonard Nimoy.

Well written, action packed, sharply edited and brimming with top notch SFX, there really isn’t much wrong with this film.

Managing to be funny without being silly and incredibly for a Sci Fi,  intelligently addressing issues of ingrained prejudice and immovable racism – even at one point riffing on Stanley Kramer’s 1967 classic ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’.

Acting wise its superb. William Shatner brings a hitherto unseen darker edge to the usually unflappable Kirk – still grieving after the loss of his son and unable to stem his hatred of the Klingons, referring to them as nothing more than animals who deserve their fate. Leonard Nimoy as Spock has never been better, refreshingly showing him as no longer a complete stickler for logic and embracing much more of his repressed human half than we have seen before.

The other original cast members have their moments to shine too – be it George Takei as Sulu -heroically arriving in the nick of time on the USS Excelsior, James Doohan’s Scotty ranting about the impossibility of a  Klingon Warbird  firing when cloaked, or Deforest Kelly delivering the mother all one liners whilst trying to hotwire a  photon torpedo – to wit:

  • Klingon General Chang : “I am constant as the northern star!”
  • McCoy (muttering under his breath) “Id give real money if he’d shut up”

New additions the cast are equally impressive  – Kim Cattrall is great fun as a sort of Vulcan Dr Watson to Spock’s pointy eared Holmes, plus the excellent Kurtwood Smith pops up in an extended cameo as the president of Starfleet.  Best of all however, is the great Christopher Plummer as Chang, the chief Klingon baddie.

Hamming it up for all he’s worth and sporting an eye patch that’s looks like its been nailed to his head, Plummer is by turns  hilariously bitchy and horribly pretentious(“you’ve never experienced Shakespeare until its been heard in the original Klingon”) .  One particular standout scene has him endlessly quoting Shakespeare whilst engaging in a huge space battle with the Enterprise (“our rebels now are ended Kirk!”). Now God only knows how an actor of his stature was persuaded to appear in Star Trek  –but all credit to him- he’s that good he almost steals the entire show.

Its also the overriding plus of this film that its just so much damn good fun. Whereas previous entries were sometimes a bit serious or played too much for  laughs, this manages to remain just on the right side of funny, whilst successfully keeping the integrity of the original series. Its also seriously exciting  – the final 15 minutes are jam packed with action – the aforementioned climactic space battle is just brilliant, and just when you’ve caught your breath there’s a thrilling final dash to stop a deadly assassin from offing the Federation President and the new Klingon High Chancellor.

Now upon reading all of the above you could all be forgiven in thinking that I’m an utterly sad geek who seems to view Star Trek as far more important than classics such as the Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption.

On this you would be wrong.  I am of course fully aware that Trek can be a bit daft, is a very acquired taste and most certainly not for everyone. However, the fact is, that no matter what the genre, I love any film that strives to be entertaining, well made and intelligent, then goes ahead and hugely succeeds in being all three. The Undiscovered Country does this in spades and if you haven’t seen it already, then wait no more  -stop what you are doing, raid your money boxes and boldly go to the nearest high street dvd retailer you can find– I promise you wont be sorry.

In summary – a cracking slice of Sci Fi brilliance, that rightly  deserves to come out from the long shadow of the awesome Wrath Of Khan, and go down as the best of all the 12 Star Trek feature films.

May it live long and prosper.

 

Author: Will Strong 

 

Phil’s Top 5… Movie Franchises

Phil’s Top 5… Movie Franchises

Other Cr*p Top 5

Each week Phil, from Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, takes a look at a different movie or TV related Top Five.  This time out: Phil’s Top 5… Movie Franchises

 

Close but no cigar: Lord Of The Rings/Middle Earth , Batman, Star Trek, Mission Impossible 

 

5 – Harry Potter 
JK Rowling’s iconic character transferred so amazingly to screen, with a captivating cast of emerging and established actors that stole our hearts.

 

4 – Fast & Furious
Eight films in, with more planned, the Fast movies started okay but found a new lease of life after the 5th movie and that momentum hasn’t stopped.

 

3 – Marvel
With Iron Man, Marvel started one of the most profitable runs of films ever.  But more than that they make films fans and critics love.

 

2 – James Bond
One of cinemas most successful& longest running franchises, the Bond films continue to draw big money whilst delivering high quality action films.

 

1. Star Wars
From it’s origins as a pulpy low budget sci-fi film, to it’s new life under Disney and Lucasfilm, Star Wars is unlike anything else.  A marketing behemoth, Star Wars changed cinema and continues to push boundaries all these years later. 

 

Phil’s Best To Worst: Star Trek Movies

Phil’s Best To Worst: Star Trek Movies

Best... Other Cr*p

In our latest regular feature, coming out the first Friday of each month, Phil (of Phil’s Quick Capsule Review) breaks down a film related subject in order of his own personal enjoyment from Best To Worst.  This time out: Star Trek Movies

[divider]

Best :Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan 

Was never going to be anything else.  The Wrath Of Khan is one of the best movies of that decade period.  A tense submarine thriller set in space, with Trek’s best bad guy and some amazing action.  Oh and THAT ending.  Almost flawless.

——

2. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 

A powerful story, great action and a cast at their best makes The Undiscovered Country the best Trek that isn’t Wrath of Khan.  Years later it holds up well and plays well with Star Trek lore and new fans alike.

——

3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The Voyage Home is rightly considered so high in the Trek cannon.  It’s a really good film, regardless of the Trek element with a nice moral message and a fresh contemporary setting.  It was also really funny.

——

4. Star Trek (2009)

The rebooted Star Trek added a degree of Star Wars to it.  A wonder, a sense of pace and action that for the most part the previous Trek films didn’t have.  It also added an A list director and a ton of lense flair!

——

5. Star Trek: First Contact

I always thought First Contact was overrated.  Yes it has time travel, Borg and space walks but I wanted a bigger story and by this point in Star Trek folk lore the Borg were kind of pointless.  BUT it holds up and on repeat viewing there’s much to enjoy.

——

6. Star Trek Generations

So I have a confession.  Whilst its deeply flawed I kinda like Star Trek Generations.  It’s a terrible send of for Kirk for sure but as a highbred Next Generation movie, a passing of the torch, it does work.  Yet another Enterprise bites the dust in spectacular fashion.

——

7. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

Of the odd numbered Star Trek films it’s one of the better ones, even if it does undo the powerful end to Wrath Of Khan.  That said the return of Spock is handled well and film offers a few surprises.


——

8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Much maligned but at times, The Motion Picture rivals 2001 for trippy space action.  There’s a great film fighting to get out here and whilst it never does, enough moments seep through to make it a worthwhile watch.

——

9. Star Trek Beyond

First time out this was good popcorn fun but on repeat viewing the film looses a lot.  Another Enterprise bites the dust as Kirk bumbles towards a showdown with an enemy that feels massively misplaced in a story that takes a “throw an idea at the wall and see if it lands’ approach.

——

10. Star Trek Into Darkness 

It’s Wrath Of Cumberbatch, far too long and on repeat viewing just gets boring.  And why oh why did that have to rift THAT scene from the infinitely better Khan film.

——

11. Star Trek: Nemesis

It has big action scenes and a solid performance from Tom Hardy.  It also makes oddly uncomfortable viewing at times ( Riker & Troi step forward) and the story makes little sense. It’s a shame that this was the last TNG film as you always got the impression they deserved much more.

——

12. Star Trek: Insurrection

It’s a mess for sure and at times drags, feeling like an episode of TNG TV show instead of a big budgeted feature film.  Frakes falters and the script never gets going.

——

Worst : Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

It’s not great but it has its moments, not least Scotty being on top form.  But Shatner’s ego trip fails on most levels due to a messy story and poor direction.

 

——

Grosse Point Geek: My Favourite Star Trek Movie…

Grosse Point Geek: My Favourite Star Trek Movie…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

You have to hand it to Star Trek ,spanning 4 decades, 5 TV series, 12 films, countless books and tons of merchandise, its one of the longest and most successful sci fi franchises in history.  Now I adore Star Trek  -not as much as Star Wars mind –but I have enough knowledge of its universe to know a Dilithium chamber when I see one,  tell the difference between a Romulan and a Cardassian, and why its always a good idea to eject the warp core if you want to make a speedy escape from certain death.

Ok the hard-core fans are a bit weird . Strange sorts who mostly live with their mums and have little or no knowledge of the fairer sex. I speak from experience here, having  once worked as a barman at a Star Trek convention in Cardiff when I was  student. The vision of a grown man  strutting around dressed as TNG’s Commander William Riker  –silly walk, beard and all – will never leave me. Nor indeed will the enormously pretentious conversation I had with one of the event’s organisers – a rather odd little person with a limp, who loftily seemed know most of the principal Star Trek actors on a personal level – even going so far as to comment with smug authority on the current rude health of (the now deceased) Deforest Kelly and annoyingly referring to him simply as “D”.

Anyway I’m getting off the point – namely the reason for writing this article. As mentioned there are 12  Trek films, 6 with the original cast, 4 featuring the  Next Generation characters, the JJ Abram’s directed  2009 reboot and its  rather splendid sequel (Into Darkness) that was released last year.

Now not all of them were that good  – 1979’s ‘The Motion Picture’ was very inventive but deathly boring, the Shatner directed ‘Final Frontier’ was hampered by shoddy effects and a reliance on very silly humour (contrary to popular belief it wasn’t all The Shat’s fault  -read Wikipedia for more). As for the  TNG movies, whilst not bad in parts, they were never really that memorable, culminating in 2002’s rather poor ‘Star Trek Nemesis’ which effectively killed the franchise for nigh on 7 years.

As for the better entries  -most people cite ‘The Wrath Of Khan’, the aforementioned 2009 reboot or the very good 4th feature –  ‘The Voyage Home’ . All great films – especially ‘Wrath’ which is a absolute classic and JJ’s brilliant reboot, which  mercifully tore up the rule book and turned out to be the best blockbuster released that year.

However, my all time favorite will  always be the quite superb Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country (1991).  A film that, despite being a sizable critical and commercial success , seems to have almost  become the forgotten Trek.

Its plot centres around the Klingons, who have become desperate to broker a peace with the Federation after an environmental disaster on their home world  threatens their very existence. Acting as a sort of galactic olive branch, the Enterprise and its crew (led by a very sceptical Kirk) are dispatched  to agree a deal that will end years of hostility and potentially result in the dismantling of the neutral zone.

Naturally it all goes pear shaped. After a particularly frosty first meeting, all hell breaks loose when the Enterprise seemingly fires on the Klingon ship, and their  High Chancellor (David Warner) is brutally murdered. Of course the finger of suspicion  points  firmly at Kirk and McCoy, who are duly arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment on the Rura Pente penal asteroid .

Back on the Enterprise, and smelling a rat, Spock, Chekov, Scotty et al, ignore orders from Starfleet, then set about attempting to uncover a huge conspiracy and save civilisation as we know it. After the disaster that was The Final Frontier, Paramount wisely went back to basics,  hiring Wrath of Khan director Nicolas Meyer, and adapting a story by Leonard Nimoy.

Well written, action packed, sharply edited and brimming with top notch SFX, there really isn’t much wrong with this film.

Managing to be funny without being silly and incredibly for a Sci Fi,  intelligently addressing issues of ingrained prejudice and immovable racism – even at one point riffing on Stanley Kramer’s 1967 classic ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’.

Acting wise its superb. William Shatner brings a hitherto unseen darker edge to the usually unflappable Kirk – still grieving after the loss of his son and unable to stem his hatred of the Klingons, referring to them as nothing more than animals who deserve their fate. Leonard Nimoy as Spock has never been better, refreshingly showing him as no longer a complete stickler for logic and embracing much more of his repressed human half than we have seen before.

The other original cast members have their moments to shine too – be it George Takei as Sulu -heroically arriving in the nick of time on the USS Excelsior, James Doohan’s Scotty ranting about the impossibility of a  Klingon Warbird  firing when cloaked, or Deforest Kelly delivering the mother all one liners whilst trying to hotwire a  photon torpedo – to wit:

  • Klingon General Chang : “I am constant as the northern star!”
  • McCoy (muttering under his breath) “Id give real money if he’d shut up”

New additions the cast are equally impressive  – Kim Cattrall is great fun as a sort of Vulcan Dr Watson to Spock’s pointy eared Holmes, plus the excellent Kurtwood Smith pops up in an extended cameo as the president of Starfleet.  Best of all however, is the great Christopher Plummer as Chang, the chief Klingon baddie.

Hamming it up for all he’s worth and sporting an eye patch that’s looks like its been nailed to his head, Plummer is by turns  hilariously bitchy and horribly pretentious(“you’ve never experienced Shakespeare until its been heard in the original Klingon”) .  One particular standout scene has him endlessly quoting Shakespeare whilst engaging in a huge space battle with the Enterprise (“our rebels now are ended Kirk!”). Now God only knows how an actor of his stature was persuaded to appear in Star Trek  –but all credit to him- he’s that good he almost steals the entire show.

Its also the overriding plus of this film that its just so much damn good fun. Whereas previous entries were sometimes a bit serious or played too much for  laughs, this manages to remain just on the right side of funny, whilst successfully keeping the integrity of the original series. Its also seriously exciting  – the final 15 minutes are jam packed with action – the aforementioned climactic space battle is just brilliant, and just when you’ve caught your breath there’s a thrilling final dash to stop a deadly assassin from offing the Federation President and the new Klingon High Chancellor.

Now upon reading all of the above you could all be forgiven in thinking that I’m an utterly sad geek who seems to view Star Trek as far more important than classics such as the Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption.

On this you would be wrong.  I am of course fully aware that Trek can be a bit daft, is a very acquired taste and most certainly not for everyone. However, the fact is, that no matter what the genre, I love any film that strives to be entertaining, well made and intelligent, then goes ahead and hugely succeeds in being all three. The Undiscovered Country does this in spades and if you haven’t seen it already, then wait no more  -stop what you are doing, raid your money boxes and boldly go to the nearest high street dvd retailer you can find– I promise you wont be sorry.

In summary – a cracking slice of Sci Fi brilliance, that rightly  deserves to come out from the long shadow of the awesome Wrath Of Khan, and go down as the best of all the 12 Star Trek feature films.

May it live long and prosper.

 


Author: Will Strong 

 

Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2009

Phil’s 5 Best Films of 2009

Quick Review Year In Review

Film of The Year: Slumdog Millionaire (9/10)
In Brief: One of the surprises of the year (India set movie about Who Want’s To be A Millionaire? Really?), Slumdog made you laugh, cry and at times genuinely shocking. Brilliantly directed this was a film that deserved it’s plaudits. And more!

2. Star Trek
In Brief: JJ does good again. Best action film of the year.

3. Gran Torino
In Brief: One of the Definitive Eastwood movies of any decade.

4. Up
In Brief: Will Pixar ever make a bad film? On the evidence of UP probably not…

5. Harry Brown
In Brief: Michael Caine kills hoodies. Say no more.

Bubbling under:
The Wrestler; Bruno; District 9; Coralline; Drag Me To Hell; The Hangover; The Boat That Rocked; Role Models; Inglorious Bastards