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Star Trek – The Fearful Summons by Denny Martin Flinn (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

One of the great things about a franchise as expansive and as well-documented as Star Trek is that no idea is even completely lost to history. The franchise is sprawling enough that episodes and films inevitably end up lost to history. Scripts are written and re-written, with ideas changing dramatically from original conception through to the final released version. Even Star Trek: Phase II is well accounted for, affording fans a glimpse at how things might have gone for the franchise.

It’s interesting to imagine the possibilities that exist at given moment for the franchise – how radical things might be now had a particular event gone a different direction. Imagine Bryan Fuller and Bryan Singer bringing Star Trek back to television with Angela Bassett in the big chair. Or Spock on the grassy knoll. Or Oscar nominee Geneviève Bujold as Janeway. Or a first season of Star Trek: Enterprise set primarily on Earth during the development of the warp five drive.

So much of the franchise is discussed and analysed that ideas like this tend to bubble through. Occasionally, the franchise allows an echo of what might have been to break through. Star Trek: The Next Generation adapted two aborted scripts from Star Trek: Phase II into The Child and Devil’s Due. Harlan Ellison’s original script for The City on the Edge of Forever is being adapted into a comic book. That is to say nothing of writers like D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold working with fan productions.

However, Denny Martin Flinn’s novel, The Fearful Summons, is a particularly interesting glimpse at what might have been. It’s essentially a novel based around his original idea for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It’s a rather bizarre and occasionally awkward glimpse at what might have been for the franchise.

tos-thefearfulsummons

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Too Short a Season (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Too Short a Season falls back on one of those classic Star Trek stand-bys, the story of a dangerously obsessed senior officer who proceeds to put the lives of the crew at risk in order to feed his own ego. I’ve always found it hilarious that Starfleet seems to have truly terrible psychological screening, or maybe they just kick the more unreliable officers upstairs. After all, while Admiral Jameson is clearly a sandwich short of a picnic, at least he’s out of the line of fire. Too Short a Season winds up seeming like quite a trite episode, despite the fact that some of the elements are arguably intriguing on their own. It feels a little too safe, a little too comfortable, and far too predictable for its own good.

A shady character...

A shady character…

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Non-Review Review: Argo

Argo might not seem like it, with the action unfolding amidst the Iranian embassy siege and the stakes involved in the rescue of six hostages, but it is something of an affectionate love letter to cinema from Ben Affleck, who is emerging as one of the most talented actors-writers-directors of our time. From the moment that the grain scratches across the retro Warner Brothers logo to the closing credits where fact and fiction compare and contrast, Argo feels like a celebration of movie magic. Perhaps it’s a little tooself-congratulatory at points, as films made by Hollywood about Hollywood tend to be, but Affleck’s direction keeps the movie surprisingly focused. The film maker does an exceptional job wringing real tension from a true story – no small accomplishment, and a testament to his ability.

Standing out from the crowd…

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Annihilators (Review/Retrospective)

It’s a bit of a shame that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s run on Marvel’s “cosmic” comics ended up ending like this – whimpering away rather than finishing with a bang. The pair have been responsible for one of the most cohesive and entertaining aspects of Marvel’s publishing line over the past half-decade, producing some of the best events in recent years, and even providing the Guardians of the Galaxy run that will (apparently) inspire the upcoming blockbuster. I sincerely hope to see an omnibus collection of that run. However, Lanning and Abnett seem to fade from the scene, following up the climax to their cosmic events, The Thanos Imperative, with two Annihilators miniseries, the second of which didn’t sell well enough to merit a hardcover collection.

It’s a bit of a shame because, despite some admittedly serious flaws, their Annihilators four-issue miniseries actually has a lot of promise, and is something I wouldn’t have objected to seeing extended past the two miniseries.

Talk about an Ikon-oclast…

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Is 300 Racist? A Counter-Argument…

I know that we’re officially about five years past this discussion, but I was thinking about it lately. 300, as imagined by Zack Snyder and Frank Miller, gets a lot of slack for its perceived Islamophobia and racism towards Persians (modern-day Iranians). There’s a rather excellent article here outlining one perspective, which makes the argument that it’s a fundamentally racist film. I sat down and I watched it, and I kept the ideas in mind, and I jotted down some thoughts. it should be noted that I’m just a layman, I’m an expert or a professor in film or literature, but it seemed to me that a lot of the critics were taking the film far too seriously at face value.

I'd want to make this argument on sure footing...

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Batman: A Death in the Family

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. Later on today, I’ll be taking a look at the animated movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, so I thought I might take a look at one of the stories which inspired it.

A Death in the Family holds something of a sacred spot in the line-up of classic Batman stories. It was the moment that Batman failed – and he failed monumentally. The image of Batman cradling a bloody and bruised Robin in his arms is almost iconic, recognisable to any pop culture aficionado. However, the story itself really isn’t anything too spectacular – it’s as if writer Jim Starlin was trying to combine the adventurous take on Batman from the seventies with the more grim-and-gritty crusader of the late eighties, with a frankly inexplicable desire to dabble in global politics. Frankly, despite the power of the rich imagery provided by Jim Aparo, the story is more than just a little bit weak, and certainly not strong enough to support the label of “classic” that is applied so frequently to the story.

Batman will be carrying this with him for quite some time...

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