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Star Trek – Friday’s Child (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Errand of Mercy was a highlight of the first season. A wry script from producer Gene L. Coon introduced the Klingons as an antagonist for the Federation. Made up to look like space!Mongols, the Klingon Empire was presented as an imperial force hell-bent on expanding its sphere of influence. In case the parallels were a little too subtle, they were locked in a Cold War with the Federation. As such, they were the perfect stand-ins for Communist aggressors trying to undermine American foreign policy.

Of course, Errand of Mercy was brutally cynical in its depiction of the Federation. The episode suggested quite heavily that the Federation was just as imperialist and adversarial as the Klingons. They might couch their foreign policy in friendly language and polite overtures, but their end goals are quite similar. Smaller political entities are nothing but pieces shuffled around a board in a deadly game of chess. Errand of Mercy was not flattering in its portrayal of Kirk, presenting him as little more than a warmonger.

"Damn dirty Klingon!"

“Damn dirty Klingon!”

Errand of Mercy was a massive success. It remains a fan favourite to this day. In some respects, that is due to the introduction of the Klingons, but it is also an exceptional hour of scripted science fiction. So it makes sense that the show would return to the Klingons when it was renewed for a second season. Friday’s Child was the third episode produced during the second season, and returns to quite a few themes hit on by Errand of Mercy. Those themes would recur.

Friday’s Child demonstrates the obvious risks of an episode like Errand of Mercy. It’s an episode that essentially takes the “Klingons as space!Communists” seriously.

We come in peace...

We come in peace…

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Ed Brubaker’s Run on Uncanny X-Men – Divided We Stand (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

Divided We Stand actually feels like the start of something interesting for Ed Brubaker’s run on Uncanny X-Men. It’s a story arc that heralds a bold new direction for Marvel’s merry mutants in the wake of Messiah Complex, taking the team out of their comfort zone and suggesting that Uncanny X-Men will be moving a little outside its comfort zone and trying something different. It’s a story arc that sees the team reflecting on the past and considering the future.

So, naturally, it is Ed Brubaker’s last solo arc on Uncanny X-Men.

A bad trip?

A bad trip?

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Blood and Fire by David Gerrold (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode Symbiosis.

The lead up to the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation was full of potential. Gene Roddenberry was directly overseeing a Star Trek production for the first time since Star Trek: The Motion Picture. More than that, the producer had brought along quite a few of the talented production staff members who had helped to make the franchise so special in the first place. David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana, two of the best loved Star Trek writers of all time, would be working on the show.

Despite all that television had changed in the decades since the original Star Trek had been on the air, Roddenberry proudly boasted to fans that the franchise would continue to engage directly with the big issues of the day. After all, one of the most memorable aspects of the classic Star Trek was the show’s willingness to engage with big political issues. Even the most casual of pop culture fans remember the awkward metaphors for Vietnam or racism.

Unfortunately, The Next Generation really seemed to lack the nerve of its direct predecessor. This became quite clear early on, when veteran writer David Gerrold’s script for the proposed Blood and Fire was unceremoniously shelved, and quickly forgotten about.

tng-bloodandfire

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Matt Fraction’s Run on Uncanny X-Men – Nation X (Review/Retrospective)

I am doing a weekly look at Marvel’s complicated crossover chronology, following various key crossovers to see if they might give me a better idea of what I’m missing by avoiding mainstream comic book continuity. While – with The Avengers due for release in 2012 – I am focusing on the stories told featuring those characters over the past five years, I also have time for the X-Men. While this isn’t strictly speaking a crossover, it is a series of issues which connect Utopia to Second Coming, so I figured it was worth a look.

Utopia ended with a heck of a plot twist. Cyclops decided that his merry band of mutants have had enough of being looked down upon in New York and , more recently, San Francisco, so he decides to build himself an island from the remains of Magneto’s “Asteroid M” just off the San Francisco Bay. Announcing the new nation of “Utopia”, he declares the island a haven for mutants. Nation X provides a hardcover collection of the issues from Matt Fraction’s Uncanny X-Men which bridge the gap between Utopia and Second Coming, as well as the four-issue Nation X anthology miniseries. And, while it’s a decidedly uneven reading experience, I have to admit that some of Fraction’s portrayal of the mutant team is a little bit interesting – even if most is slightly boring and deeply convoluted.

Magneto has a magnetic personality...

Note: This collection opens with Dark Reign tie-in X-Men: The List written by Matt Fraction and following an attempted assassination attempt on Namor by Norman Osborn. Accordingly, I think I should open this review with a link to Abhay’s quite excellent article on the issue, which – among some more serious points – suggests that Namor is starring in his own private version of You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Seriously, check it out.

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Non-Review Review: The Village

I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by revealing there’s a twist in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. In fact, the only shocking twist in a Shyamalan film would be if there was no twist. I have to admit that even I was a little surprised when I guessed the twist about twenty minutes into this film. And I was sadly disappointed that there really wasn’t anything else on screen to hold my interest.

Village people...

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Non-Review Review: 28 Weeks Later

Welcome to the m0vie blog’s zombie week! It’s a week of zombie-related movie discussions and reviews as we come up to Halloween, to celebrate the launch of Frank Darbont’s The Walking Dead on AMC on Halloween night. So be sure to check back all week, as we’ll be running posts on the living dead.

It’s strange. 28 Days Later felt strangely British, with its almost quaint surroundings and “island fortress” mentality. Filmed in High Definition with an intimate approach, the movie felt somehow more tangible and organic than most of these films, managing a genuine emotional impact that it’s easy to lose sight of in these fantastical narratives – its small scale and quirky design (along with hyper saturation) lent the movie a very distinct feel, the sensation that this was a “guerilla” zombie film – shot in the early morning on abandoned streets rather than closing off sections of town. In contrast, 28 Weeks Later feels a much more managed affair, and a much more conventional one. It’s shot like any other zombie movie, and clearly intended to reach an even wider audience than the original cult hit. It’s a great movie, but one can’t help but get the sensation that the fine polish applied to it undercuts some of the impact.

The army had to find something to keep themselves occupied...

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Calvin v. Hobbes – An Alternative Interpretation of Fight Club…

I am a sucker for a crazy movie conspiracy theory. Be it the possible identities of Keyser Soze or the fact that The Shining is about Native Americans or even whether Anton Chigurh (the unstoppable killing machine from No Country for Old Men) is actually an angel. I stumbled across a somewhat similar one a little while ago which has been out there a while (and I imagine most of you are familiar with). But, for those who aren’t, I thought I’d pass on my own favourite crazy movie theory of the moment: Fight Club is a sequel to the iconic comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. Edward Norton’s narrator is Calvin and Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden is Hobbes. It actually makes sense.

"I am Jack's abandoned childhood friend..."

Note: In case that opening paragraph hasn’t given the game away, there are spoilers in here for the rather excellent Fight Club. I’m assuming anyone reading a detailed article on the movie has seen it (you’ve had ten years!), but – if not – consider yourselves warned that here there be spoilers.
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Is The Shining About Native Americans?

You know how interested I am in quirky interpretations of the deeper meanings of popular culture – like the discussion over whether Anton Chigurh of No Country For Old Men is actually an angel or whether this year’s Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries was actually about the recession. So it should come as no surprise that when I read about how The Shining by Stanley Kubrick is supposedly about the genocide of the Native Americans, I was more than a little intrigued.

Even the baking powder is in on it…

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Is V About Obama?

We caught V last night on TV3. I’m still disappointed no high definition channel is offering it – though, judging by the special effects quality, we weren’t missing much. We’re all fairly undecided on the show, which is a fairly solid reissue of a cult classic, rather than an attempt at a redesign. Don’t expect anything as smart or insightful as Battlestar Galactica and you should be relatively pleased. I think we’ll give this at least a season pass, and then review after that. Anyway, it was hard to watch the remake without the obvious themes playing in my head. Is V a criticism of what the media have dubbed Obama-mania?

v5

The New Republicans?

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Are Zombies the Monster of the 21st Century?

They say that horror movies and (before that) ghost stories reflect the unconscious fears of the time. So, for example, vampires allayed the fear of burying members of the community alive – if there were scratch marks on the inside of their coffins, it was because they were monsters, not because your doctor made a mistake. Or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a cautionary tale for a society just on the cusp of the age of reason – a warning not to dive too far into that pool labelled ‘scientific progress’. Monster stories and ghost stories allow us to put aside our fears even for a moment by expressing them in their most ridiculous forms – I don’t think that facet of human nature has disappeared over the past century or so. If we accept this line of reasoning, are zombies the current expression of our deeply buried fears? And, if so, of what?

At least they are taking good care of their teeth...

At least they are taking good care of their teeth...

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