21 Jul 2013

My thoughts on Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home

Well, after the meandering pace of the first, the very good second, and the frustration of the third, I didn't hold out much hope for the fourth Star Trek: The Voyage Home. However, my memories of having watched ST4 as a kid were good though, with me remembering I really enjoyed it and thought it was funny! And now having just watched it again last night for the first time in 15 years, I can honestly say I think it's great!!! :)




I had no idea that Nimoy actually directed and co-wrote the story for this, and was surprised since I always thought he was a bit of a straight up serious guy. But this movie is just plain funny! Out of the 4 I've watched so far, this is the first Trek movie to not take itself too seriously! I know there are diehard Trekkies out there with their blood boiling over this movie, but I can totally understand why there is a large percentage of the general population that think ST4 is one of the best Trek movies - it's because it has some actual humanity to it, some irreverent humour, and just something we can all relate to!

The earlier Trek movies were so damn serious and esoteric, the average movie-goer just couldn't get into them! Too serious, with perhaps too much reliance on understanding the whole backstory and characters. Here in ST4, I think it was great that they grounded the story in the present (well, the 80s of the time). Who doesn't love a fish-out-of-water story, especially with this crazy crew?!?! :)

Obviously the best parts of the movie are those when the crew mingle about in 80s San Francisco. There were so many times where I just cracked up laughing! I mean, that "double dumb ass" scene below was pure 80s classic humour :) What about when Spock ties his headband on?!? LOL!! And the punk rocker and "dipshit" scenes? Loved them all!!!




On the whole, I think the acting by the whole cast was generally better than all previous movies. Earlier, they were all so serious in depicting their character traits, they just didn't seem normal to me. But here, the cast seemed more comfortable, and actually came across as a crew of friends. Splitting up the crew into small teams I guess gave each cast member some decent screen time, and they all looked to be having fun!

I think even pacing of the story was great. There was actually suspense built, especially the lead up to the crew returning to earth the first time, and then saving the whales. The way the plot was executed in this movie made me care more for the fate of the crew and whales than in the earlier movies!




Still, there are a heap of inconsistencies and conveniences that result in massive plot holes. I mean, you're trying to tell me a couple of people can just walk into a military area and somehow find their way onboard a frickin Navy vessel!?!? And Sulu just walking up to some guy working on a helicopter and climb in and chat away!?!? And just getting into some medical garb and barging in on a surgery past some cops!! And an invisible spacecraft that noone actually runs into in the middle of a park?!?! And everything seemingly happening  within a 24hr timeframe!?!?!

But despite all that, I still really enjoyed the movie!! I could put that aside because the movie didn't take itself seriously!! Perhaps that's the exact reason why so many diehard Trek fans hate this movie, and perhaps that's the difference between how the "average" person and the Trek fan see each other!

For me, The Voyage Home has actually made me want to watch the fifth movie, no matter how bad it might turn out! Somehow, I relate more to the characters now than from any of the previous outings. I mean, Spock had a "guess", the crew smiled and actually showed some emotion, and Kirk actually had some sexual tension with another person besides Spock!! :)

So yes, overall, definitely my favourite original Trek movie so far. I give it a 7.5/10! Recommended for the average movie fan :)

14 Jul 2013

NECA Jungle Disguise Dutch, Water Emergence Predator, and Jungle Encounter Dutch

Wow, these latest figures from NECA's Predator line has restored my faith! I was initially disappointed with their recent Aliens figures Hicks, Hudson, and Alien Warrior, but these new Predator figures are simply outstanding!!



Predator was one of my favourite action movies back in the day, so when these were announced, I just had to get them! And NECA did not disappoint. The paint app and detailing on the Jungle Disguise Dutch is extremely well done, and the headsculpt is pretty much as perfect a representation of Arnie as you'd get in this scale!

He is loaded with accessories, ranging from the bow and arrows, to the spears, to the iconic flaming torch he uses towards the end of the movie. The articulation is also very nice, with all the usual points of movement you'd expect from a high end 6" figure. The knees this time are not double jointed, but I prefer this with this one, since they make the figure look a bit more natural.



The Jungle Encounter Dutch is also an excellent figure. The headsculpt is great, but be careful of the eye paint app, which may appear to wide or too close together. Still, from a normal viewing distance, they look fine. The body is nicely done, and is not painted but molded in the skin colour, as is the head, which lets the other paintwork really stand out. He comes with 3 weapons, and the articulation is as great as with the Jungle Disguise version.




I already have one of NECA's older classic Predator figures, but this new one from the scene where the Predator jumps into the water and emerges to search for Dutch is just too kool to pass up!  The transluscent mold and electric blue paint apps are done beautifully, and the range of articulation is actually a slight improvement over the older Predator figures.




For a video review of all three figures, check out the Kool Kollectibles youtube channel review here:




Overall, I think NECA has knocked this particular wave right out of the park!! They come loaded with accessories, and look and feel extremely high quality! Definitely highly recommended!

5 Jul 2013

My thoughts on Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock

I actually enjoyed Wrath of Khan quite a bit, despite some pretty bad acting and general campiness. But wow, Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock ramps that up to warp speed and ends up being pretty much the epitome of bad 80s B-grade sci-fi fluff!!!




I would've thought that at least the special effects would improve, but they are bad even by early 80s standards!! I think they tried to make some more sophisticated camera pans for the spacecraft, but other than that the general puppet work, explosions, set design etc is all low grade. Which is a shame since I thought after ST2 they would've put a lot more effort into it!

But I can forgive special effect issues in this era. But my god the acting was just so BAD!!! I had no idea Christopher Lloyd (aka Doc Brown from Back to the Future) was in this, and he at times still channels Doc Brown, albeit in bad Klingon makeup!




Again, deaths in Star Trek simply do not seem to have any emotional impact on any one except maybe Kirk!! The whole damn spaceraft Grissom is destroyed, and David and Saavik dont even blink!!! I mean shit, you dont even panic or mourn the lost crew??

And the whole damn sequence when David dies is almost like an after-thought, with Kirk just mumbling some "damn yous", "bastards", and "you killed my sons" through some pretty bad forced crying!!




Not to mention the rest of the Enterprise crew. How they commandeer the Enterprise by attacking the guards etc is just so hilariously camp, forced, and just plain stupid really made a mockery of Starfleet. The "dont call me Tiny" sequence with Sulu was embarrassing!!!

The ending itself was a let down for me too, considering the effort the crew had put in to save Spock! Spock I guess was being.....Spock, a totally emotionless prick! No thanks, just a stoic face that even Kirk simply stares wide-eyed at when he remembers them. It just didnt connect with me at all.

So I am so disappointed in this follow up to Wrath of Khan! In fact, I even prefer the slow, meandering story of the first movie to this!!! I give it a 6/10 at best. Surely it can only get better than this right ;)

2 Jul 2013

NECA Aliens Series 1 - Hicks, Hudson, and Alien Warrior

Hey all, Khai here! It's been a while and definitely has been a slower second quarter this year. A lot of things I've ordered have been pushed back for release later in the year, but I guess that has helped me save some money! :) But recently I received my order of the first wave of the new NECA Aliens figures - Corporal Hicks, Private Hudson, and the Xenomorph Warrior!




They are pretty good, and have grown on me now that I've had a bit more time to pose them up! Check out my video review, comment, subscribe - you know the drill :)





Thanks, and will be back soon with more reviews!
Khai

1 Jul 2013

My thoughts on Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan

My Star Trek marathon this week continues, and tonight was Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. And I really liked it!! After watching the slow burn to nowhere that was Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I wasn't expecting much, but part 2 definitely was a step up!


 
 
I can now see all the references to these original Star Trek movies that were in JJ's versions (eg. training simulation, radiation leak, ear bugs, one-liners etc)! And so many came from this one movie! This was the Star Trek I was expecting, upping the ante action wise. Although everything still seems to have a camp/corny feel to it, at least this movie seemed to be going somewhere!
 
I was totally surprised to see Kirstie Alley, but I guess she did a decent enough job. Her acting was no more wooden than a lot of characters in the movie! This is one area that still bugs me in the Star Trek movies (albeit I'm only into the second one!) - that all the acting just doesn't seem to have any urgency to it. I mean, the crew just survived an attack, and in the next scene you just see people slowly walking around or staring off into space! Where's the emotion, the fear, the desperation!?!? Well, I guess the crybaby sitting in the chair next to Kirk after the first attack was showing some emotion - I just cracked up when I saw his face!!
 
The only one that really showed any emotion was Kirk himself, and then it was still a little corny! I mean, when he screams out "Khan!!!", I couldnt help but laugh!!
 
 
 
 
It just seemed so out of place with everyone else just standing around. I mean, everyone in the scene didn't seem flustered at all about being stuck with no way to escape! Everyone just seems contemplative instead of scared or angry or......anything!!
 
I guess Khan as the villain was your typical 80s camp bad-guy, with the bad hair and strange dialogue! He certainly had a penchant for spitting out poetry - in some scenes I had to turn on the subtitles to make out what he was rambling on about! :)
 
At least this time the music score by James Horner was more space-opera than wild western style of Jerry Goldsmith's original score. In many ways it reminded me of the Star Wars score, which is always a good thing :) Unfortunately the special effects are still a huge step behind the standard of the original Star Wars trilogy. The original cut of Star Wars has effects that stick out badly now, but the ones in Star Trek 2 are even worse.
 
But despite all that, I thoroughly enjoyed Wrath of Khan! It has certainly picked things up nicely after the boredom of part 1, and was more what I was expecting when I started this marathon. For the most part, I liked the extra action, humour, and definitely the improved pacing. So for this, I'd give it a 7.5/10! Can't wait to see how they get Spock back :)