Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Star Trek: Vanguard - Open Secrets by Dayton Ward

This is Book 4 of a series set at Starbase 47, aka Vanguard. The series takes place during the same time as the original Star Trek's five-year mission. But Stark Trek: Vanguard is much more than a TOS DS9. For starters, the starbase has a number of starships assigned to it at all times, so you have not only the cast of Starfleet officiers and civilians that work and live at Starbase 47, but the crews of the starships as well.

The thing I really love about series like ST:V is that almost none of the characters are bulletproof. The three exceptions in this case are Dr. M'Benga, who hasn't yet transferred to the Enterprise, T'Prynn, who shows up in later Star Trek: The Lost Era books (although after what was happening to her in this book I was starting to wonder if I had my timeline mixed up), and Admiral Nogura.

Admiral Nogura's previous Star Trek history is only as a reference in Star Trek: The Motion Picture; he's obviously Admiral Kirk's superior, and obviously a tough leader, but that's all we know. Here we get to see that legend built as he takes command of Starbase 47.

Vanguard continues to be full of surprises and big changes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

I finally got to watch this, and I have to say, it's much better than I expected. When I had heard that the theme of the movie had been switched from mankind's capacity for nuclear annihilation to mankind's destroying the Earth through global warming, I didn't think it would work. But it did, and it felt really natural. Klaatu's line that"If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life" totally tied it all together for me.

And I really liked that the "Earth Stood Still" moment comes at the end with no resolution. Yes, it throws mankind back to the bronze age, but it also gives us another chance to get it right this time.

And I did hear the "Klaatu Barada Nikto." It comes right after Klaatu has been shot and Gort starts to attack the army. And, just like in the original, it's the command for Gort to stand down. It was so distorted and mechanical sounding that the only part I made out for sure was "Klaat...Nikto," so I had to rewind it and put on the subtitles to make sure I was right; had I been in the theater, I wouldn't have been positive.

My only real complaint is that Klaatu didn't get to address the UN and make his speech, like he did at the end of the original. I suppose Jennifer Connelly, Micah, and John Cleese will get to relay his message to the world later, but it would have been better for mankind if they had heard from Klaatu themselves why they came so close to extinction.

Overall, I think I still prefer the orignal, but this was an enjoyable enough remake.

Fer's Summer Movie Wrap-Up, Part 1

You know, when I first started this post back on May 22, I thought that with the exception of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen I was done with my movie-watching for the summer. But I still haven't seen Up, which is bugging me more and more, and I really want to see Bruno, and I just discovered the incredible website world of District 9 at So that's at least four more movies that have become "must-see" movies for me this summer. So instead of being the complete wrap-up, this has become Part 1.

So without further ado, here's my reviews:


Okay, technically this is a Spring movie, but I saw it the week before Wolverine, and I've been wanting to mention it, so it counts.

In short: I expected to enjoy this movie. I did not expect to LOVE this movie as much as I did! Sure, I could tell the characters were going to be funny, but I didn't expect to have so many cool monster battles that actually felt like they come out of a Japanese Godzilla movie! They even go so far as to make the giant bug guy a direct tribute to Mothra. Plus, this is the first movie I've seen using the new 3D technique, and I can't believe how good it is. (It made me want to go see Battle for Terra, but that barely played a week, and it was a very busy and trouble-filled week for me. Ah well.)


Now, I will confess I have read very little X-Men since the 1980's, back when Wolverine still had no idea what his history was. Rich has kept me up to date with some of the details from the "Origins" comic, so I had a general idea.

And, knowing the general ideas, I was very satisfied. I have no problem with the adamantium bullet scrambling Wolverine's memories, although I will agree with Rich that it was a bit much for the General to assume that was what would happen. And I thought that Deadpool getting Cyclops power was a bit much. But other than that, it all worked great for me.

Speaking of Deadpool, his part in the beginning I absolutely LOVED. I can see why people like this character so much, and I'm glad there are plans to do more with him.

STAR TREK (2009)

Well now. I really wished I'd blogged about this at the time when it was all fresh in my mind. But the bottom line is: Damn near perfect.

I say "near" because when I first walked out of the theater, the way that the super nova was used really, really bugged me as poor science. Okay, either Romulus's sun itself went nova, in which case it would have destroyed Romulus right away and the Red Matter wouldn't have helped anyway, or a different star went nova, in which case it wouldn't reach Romulus and not been a threat. And a super nova will always reach a limit, so it can't be a "threat to the entire galaxy." That's Astronomy 101, and hearing such mangled astronomy come out of Leonard Nimoy's mouth is even more painful.

But the "Star Trek: Countdown" comic, which shows all of those events as they happened in the "prime" universe, explains this away with one simple line of dialogue: This is something new, a super nova that doesn't burn out or collapse back in itself, but actually grows stronger with everything it consumes. As such it could stretch to other stars, causing them to go nova as well, fueling itself even more. Now that is a threat to the entire galaxy. It fits, it makes sense. I realize this movie wanted to get away from the technobabble (and thankfully so), but it shouldn't be at the sacrifice of basic astronomy.

So, when I rewatched it the second and third time, I had the comic's apologist explanation in my head and I was very, very happy.

The whole alternate universe approach was the perfect way to handle this movie. It opens it up to being anything they want it to be, makes history start anew (well, except for "Star Trek: Enterprise," anyway) yet still preserves our original timeline. And it was a damn enjoyable story to boot. Zachary Quinto is probably the best non-Nimoy Spock I've ever seen, and Karl Urban was FANTASTIC-- he really made me feel like I was watching a young McCoy. The rest of the cast were fine, and I could accept them as new versions.

It's kind of funny, Rich and I kept telling ourselves this was "Ultimate Trek" so we wouldn't get hung-up on nitpicky continuity issues. Not only where we righter that we realized, it was practically "Crisis on Ultimate Trek!"


Again, for the most part I found it very enjoyable. There were some stretches of disbelief (open heart surgery in the middle of the desert? Skynet can track the noise of a radio playing but can't tell when the resistance is bombing the hell out of their lawn?) but any inconsisitancies with other Terminator stories I could just shrug off to the timelines constantly shifting. But I've only seen each Terminator movie once (I may have seen T2 more than once, but I don't really remember). Just call me the Lowest Common Denominator on this one.