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Commander Jameson
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 9:47am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S4: Family

If this episode had been titled 'The Best of Both Worlds (Part III)' – which is effectively what it is – its reputation would arguably be much higher. As it is, it's superb and incredibly moving. And Worf's parents are adorable.
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Commander Jameson
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 8:44am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

As the world probably hasn’t had nearly enough insights from white cis males on the latest Star Wars film, I thought I’d offer up my two cents, so be prepared for some spoiler warnings.

On the good side, as per The Force Awakens and Rogue One, the visuals are utterly astonishing, with some great and memorable touches. In this department at least, the new batch are equal to what they follow. It’s also good to see more women and PsOC take more prominent roles once again – just as they should be.

But on the minus side… where to begin?

Perhaps at the most important aspect - what is this trilogy FOR? WHO is it for? What does it aim to achieve?

With the prequels, one could charitably say that they were there to introduce a new generation to the Star Wars world, and to provide some backstory as to how the original trilogy’s characters came to be (if one was uncharitable, you could say they were merely an opportunity to market merchandise). Whether they succeeded or not is still in many ways a matter of individual opinion – I didn’t like them personally, but some do indeed enjoy them. That said, I’m part of the generation that grew up with the originals, so maybe I’m biased.

Or am I? What appears to be missing from the current batch of films, and indeed from the prequels also, is any tangible sense of MAGIC – that tingle down the spine, the goosebumps, the welling in one’s eye at those key moments: Ben freezing on being called ‘Obi Wan’ for the first time in years; Luke hearing his voice in the Death Star trench; Yoda revealing his identity by saying ‘I cannot teach you’; Vader’s final redemption as he chooses to save his son…

There are a few moments like that in the most recent two films, but I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that they’re thrown in to manipulate the audience for precisely this reason. Best example? R2 rerunning the clip of Leia’s original message to Ben from A New Hope. “That was a cheap move,” says Luke, and I’m pretty sure the audience agreed.

Instead, what we have is main characters being bumped off in an attempt to provide (cheap) shocks for the audience, Game of Thrones style. Admittedly, as a re-hash of Episode IV, TFA perhaps needed its ‘Ben Kenobi’ moment – the shock death of a main character – but now it feels (with two down in the current movie) like we’re a bit desensitised by all this. It’s become predictable. As is the rehashing of visual/plot elements from the first two films: we have an ATAT attack in this one as per The Empire Strikes Back, but this time it’s at the end rather than the beginning.

This could have been a chance to do something radically different from the first film, which was in effect a massive push of the reset button. But I don’t think it was taken.

What seems to have been forgotten is the fact that Star Wars is not about visual effects, or mysticism, or aliens. It’s about people: about families, friendships, and the decisions people take about whether to honour these things and choose the right course of action, or not.

I tend to think one reason for this is not entirely the filmmakers’ fault. Back in the 70s-80s, the Star Wars franchise was pretty much the only game in town as far as eye-boggling special effects and big screen action was concerned. Now, however, it’s much different – the relentless rise of CGI over the past two decades has meant the marketplace has become more competitive, with any number of big-budget superhero films, Transformers, Independence Days, Godzillas, Pacific Rims – you name it. This means the imperative to shoehorn in more and more action sequences – regardless of the consequences for the narrative – has become all the more important.

And is it me, or are some bits of this film just ill thought out? Most people have singled out the casino subplot and Leia’s overdue use of her Force powers as a bit of a waste of time or maybe somewhat gratuitous, but in the opening: ‘dropping’ bombs from one spacecraft to another, in zero gravity? OK, audible engine noise and explosions in a vacuum are one thing, but…

Back to TLJ - on a technical level, the film belongs to Mark Hamill, who turns in a stunning and moving performance. Daisy Ridley I felt sadly failed to live up to the promise she showed in TFA, and Adam Driver is still playing Ren as a stroppy teenager. There’s not been enough character development from the previous film, and there are too many questions unanswered – just who was Snoke, and what was his beef? What is Rey’s real parentage (still)? How did Luke’s lightsabre turn up in whatserface’s basement? There is a lot that needs to be answered in the final film, and the launchpad for the third act just doesn’t seem strong enough.

So, wither the new trilogy? Is it merely to give us closure regarding well-loved characters from the original, and to pass the baton to a new generation? Possibly. But one wonders, somewhat cynically, whether we’re being set up for ‘Episode XI: A New Broom’ in 15 years’ time or so.

I dunno – maybe I’ll just have to watch it again to refine my opinion. But if I have to watch sodding Domnhall Gleason chewing the bleedin’ scenery again, I’m slashing the seats.
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Commander Jameson
Fri, Oct 27, 2017, 8:55am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S6: Pathfinder

(As an aside - I never got to watch Voyager the first time around, as I was at university when it launched and didn't have a TV. I've just spent most of the past two months catching up on this with my partner, who DID see it the first time round, and we've got this far.)

Now, I was all set to hate this one when it started - I could never stand Deanna Troi or, I'm sorry to say, Marina Sirtis, and I've gone right off Dwight Schultz (despite having loved the character of Reg Barclay previously) despite his undoubted talent since I found out about his political leanings. However, what a builder - gradually, I was sucked in by the nature of the story, with a nice flashback framing device (yes, the lighting was very good here), an excellent central performance from Schultz and a real concern over how the story is going to turn out.

I think one of the reasons that the character of Reg Barclay is so compelling is that he's the absolute antithesis of what we normally expect Starfleet officers to be - not confident, relaxed and sure of himself but anxious, shy and with cripplingly low self-esteem despite his obvious brilliance. Perhaps, for these reasons, we identify with him more closely than we would with other cast members.

Actually making the connection with Voyager at the end was a masterstroke - and I'm not afraid to say I started welling up when Admiral Paris told Tom what he thought of him. All th at's been brewing for six series, now. Whoa.

And Neelix the cat is CUTE.
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Commander Jameson
Mon, Oct 23, 2017, 6:34am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S6: Alice

I can’t believe you all missed it – this is a very pleasant re-run of a very ancient myth; namely, that of the Sirens, the seductive creatures that lured mariners to their doom (and to whom only Odysseus was able to remain immune). This is why it features the name-checking of another Greek myth, namely that of Icarus and Daedalus. As such, mixed with the ‘haunted ship that turns into a bunny-boiler’ theme, I felt it worked really well. Tom’s slide into obsession was well done (stubble notwithstanding).

I really like Tom Paris as a character – the wise-cracking, hot-shot pilot is admittedly a bit of a trope, but it’s one that’s been seriously lacking perhaps in previous series of Star Trek and I feel McNiell carries it off really well, even to the point of sending it up as Captain Proton. It’s nice to see him using his range and stepping out of the Paris comfort zone.

A solid three stars from me as in imaginative retelling of an old story, maybe with an extra half a star. Though the ‘full complement of shuttles’ line MUST have been an in-joke. Made me laugh out loud, anyway.
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