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Star Trek – Spock Must Die! by James Blish (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Spock Must Die! is notable for being one of the first Star Trek novels published. Indeed, it is the first original novel published by Bantham Books. (For trivia hounds, the young adult original novel Mission to Horatius was actually published during the show’s run.) It’s written by James Blish, the British author responsible for those Star Trek episode novelisations I have been sporadically quoting over the past month or so. Blish was a published science-fiction author before he worked with Star Trek. Reading Spock Must Die!, you can definitely sense the writer’s fondness for high concepts and metaphysical quandaries.

Indeed, one of the defining attributes of Spock Must Die! is that Blish seems more preoccupied with the logic and implications of the show’s pseudo-science (and his own elements building on that) than he is with the characters themselves. It’s not necessarily a fatal flaw, but Spock Must Die! is more interesting and intriguing as a curiosity than as an expansion or examination of the Star Trek franchise.

tos-spockmustdie1

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Non-Review Review: Oblivion

Director Joseph Kosinski wears his science-fiction interests on his sleeve. Tron: Legacy was obviously an update of an eighties science-fiction cult classic, and Oblivion feels like another form of pulpy homage. At its best, Oblivion feels like a spiritual successor to those wonderful cult science-fiction movies of the seventies and eighties, by way of classic version of The Outer Limits. Oblivion isn’t the strongest piece of science-fiction I’ve seen this year, nor the most ambitious, nor the most intelligent.

The movie is full of twists and turns, but few that any genre aficionado will fail to see coming. Instead, the movie largely works because it feels like an affectionate homage to those old-school post-apocalyptic pulpy sci-fi adventures. It’s cinematic nostalgia, but it’s lovingly crafted and skilfully rendered. Kosinski might not be the best storyteller working in the business, but he has a wonderful eye and keen sense of how to construct a beautiful scene.

On top (what remains of) the world...

On top (what remains of) the world…

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12 Movie Moments of 2012: The Dark Knight Returns (The Dark Knight Rises)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #6

Ireland got an IMAX screen this year. Well, it had an IMAX screen before, but it shut down before The Dark Knight kick-started the whole “watching cool movies in IMAX” thing. Evidently, watching Liam Neeson talk about Everest wasn’t nearly as exciting as watching Batman flip over an articulated lorry. Christopher Nolan shot a large percentage of The Dark Knight on IMAX, but he shot even more of The Dark Knight Rises using the special cameras.

As such, I was delighted that Cineworld and The Irish Times organised a special screening of The Dark Knight Rises in early December, even though the cinema had only reopened after Nolan’s epic was available on blu ray. It’s an oft-cited criticism that the third part of Nolan’s Batman trilogy featured surprisingly little Batman. I’d disagree, and instead suggest that the film made excellent use of its large cast – and when Batman appeared on screen he carried the weight that he deserved.

The sequence in which Bruce leads the Gotham Police Department on a merry chase while pursuing Bane and his terrorists is the perfect example, a fantastically constructed action sequence that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about the cast at that moment in time.darkknightrises15a

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Do We See Too Much of Film Before It’s Released These Days?

It’s a week before The Dark Knight Rises is released, but I haven’t watched any new footage since the last time I posted a trailer for the film. And boy, has that been more difficult than I make it sound. It seems like every other day there’s a new TV spot or a clip being released. Last December, like The Dark Knight before it, the prologue to the film aired in certain Imax cinemas. Warner Brothers even taking the somewhat unexpected step of releasing the production notes to the public. While Warners and Nolan have actually managed to do a great job keeping the movie under wraps, this level of awareness is hardly uncommon these days. Do we get to see too much of a movie before it’s released these days?

Is too much information the Bane of modern movie-goers?

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Check out Mondo’s Dark Knight Rises Poster…

Mondo are great even if – as somebody who lives in Ireland – I’m relegated to simply posting screenshots of their distinctive alternate posters. They did a whole bunch of alternate posters for The Avengers, which were awesome. And they’ve done one for The Dark Knight Rises.

The artwork on this is by Jock, who is one of the most distinctive Batman artists working. If you want to see more of his work, you could do a lot worse than picking up The Black Mirror, which is also one of the finest Batman stories of the past few years. (If not, you know, ever.) Just sayin’ is all.

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer…

It’s officially on-line. The trailer of The Dark Knight Rises has, after a weekend of bootlegging, been officially released. It looks impressive, and gives us our first sense of anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. If the theme is to reflect the recession (as much as The Dark Knight could have been said to reflect the war on terror), I imagine Selina will be quite important to the story. We’ve seen a lot of Bane, and there’s relatively little of him here. And, is that a bearded younger Bruce (back in his League of Shadows days) being told that the chant means “rise?” But enough crazy theories for now. I’ll have more of them later in the week.

In the mean time, enjoy. For more analysis, click here.

Non-Review Review: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol reminds me – and, I feel the need to specify this, in a good way – of one of the Bond films from before Casino Royale made them all grittier and edgier. No disrespect to that fantastic film, but the relatively serious remodelling of Britain’s most famous secret agent left a bit of a gap in the market for an espionage thriller that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And while Ghost Protocol takes a great deal of pride in doing what it sets out to do with a great deal of skill, it certainly never takes itself too seriously. And that proves to be a very good thing, indeed.

Keeping me on edge...

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St. Stephen’s Green Omniplex to Open in Dublin…

This is just a short post about a fairly exciting piece of news that’s broken (seemingly out of nowhere) over the past few days about the developement of a massive Omniplex Cinema at St. Stephen’s Green. It’s interesting that the southside hasn’t really had a ‘big’ cinema – the Screen is a landmark, but three screens isn’t really massive – and it’s something I’ve noticed (I live on the northside, but I work on the southside). I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the idea works out, but something occurs to me: how come we aren’t getting an Imax screen?

Remember the metro plan?

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Bah Humbug! Are We Past the Point Where Technical Wizardry Can Amaze?

Hmm… I bet Robert Zemickas was expecting a somewhat bigger reaction for the release of the first trailer for his version of A Christmas Carol (aka Jim Carrey plays almost everyone), the follow-up to The Polar Express (aka Tom Hanks plays everyone), than the collective ‘meh’ that it received. I’ve watched the trailer and it looks technically magnificent (and I’m sure it’ll be even more technically impressive in 3D) – but why should I care? If I’m going to put on a pair of glasses and look at something beautiful until it give me a mild headache, shouldn’t I at least be looking at something interesting and intriguing of itself? Are we past the point where technical wonders alone are enough to lure the geeks out in droves?

Here's hoping Santa can bring Zemickis a 150% return on his investment...

Here's hoping Santa can bring Zemickis a 150% return on his investment...

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Avatar – Hollywood Continues to Break New Ground with Blockbusters

We’re still months away from a release date for Avatar – though there are rumours of a trailer coming soon in front of Transformers 2 (the most interesting talk I’ve heard about that particular film) – but things are still very quiet. All we know about the plot is that it is a Pocahontas-style narrative, with one of a bunch of exploitive explorers “going native”. We know that t will be in 3D – apparently mindblowing 3D. We know that one of the reasons that the movie has waited 14 years to get made it because Cameron was waiting for the technology to do it justice. And we know that – according to early word of mouth from insiders – he has succeeded. I have to say, I am quite eagerly anticipating this film. However, I find Hollywood’s new-found love of innovations within major blockbusters fascinating, given the traditional cautious conservatism of the studios.

Wow, Cameron really has a thing for giant walking hulks of metal, doesn't he?

Wow, Cameron really has a thing for giant walking hulks of metal, doesn't he?

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