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Non-Review Review: Logan

Logan is a powerful piece of blockbuster cinema, an R-rated feature film that recognises the distinction between “adult” and “mature.”

Logan is unashamedly a comic book movie. There is no getting around that. It features all manner of fantastic trappings, from Charles Xavier’s telepathy to self-driving trucks to clones to cyborgs. Logan is a film that revels in its superhero trappings, in particular the genre’s tendency to appropriate imagery and iconography from wider popular culture to fashion something unique and distinct. Logan is a superhero post-apocalyptic western road movie, and is unapologetic about that.

Bloody murder.

Bloody murder.

However, Logan never lets any of that get in the way of what is essentially a very intimate and personal story about a surrogate family unit and what it means to be a parent in a cruel and uncaring world. Logan is very much character-driven, using a very simple story to delve into its characters in a way that feels earned and nuanced. As much as Logan is proud of its more outlandish elements, it never allows them to crowd out a simple story about growing up and growing old.

Logan is a superb piece of cinema, one that knows when to go quiet and when to go loud, approaching its central character with considerable empathy and dignity.

A driving plot.

A driving plot.

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Terra Prime (Review)

This May, we’re taking a look at the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Check back daily for the latest review.

It all began with Spock.

The character of Spock was the only character to survive the transition between the two Star Trek pilots produced in the sixties. Leonard Nimoy first appeared as science officer Spock in The Cage, opposite Majel Barrett and Jeffrey Hunter. When the studio vetoed the original pilot, Gene Roddenberry was forced to jettison a lot of the cast and characters before setting to work on a second pilot. Spock survived serving (along with the sets and props) as a bridge between The Cage and Where No Man Has Gone Before.

Baby on board.

Baby on board.

Spock is an iconic part of American culture. He is instantly recognisable in a way that very few elements of the franchise can claim to be. He lingers in the collective memory. Leonard Nimoy has repeatedly been favoured over William Shatner as an ambassador of the brand. Nimoy reprised the role of Spock opposite Patrick Stewart in Unification, Part I more than two whole years before Shatner would cross paths with Jean-Luc Picard as James T. Kirk in Star Trek: Generations. Nimoy appeared in a key role in Star Trek; Shatner declined a cameo.

Star Trek: Enterprise was never going to feature a guest appearance from Leonard Nimoy. However, Spock as clearly haunted the fourth season as the embodiment of the franchise spirit. The Vulcan-human hybrid at the centre of Demons and Terra Prime makes little sense in basic plot terms, Elizabeth serves as a harbinger that might summon Spock. And, in doing so, Elizabeth might yet summon the future. It began with Spock, it ends with Spock. At least for now.

Infinite diversity in finite combinations...

Infinite diversity in finite combinations…

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Non-Review Review: Green Room

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Green Room is a masterful artisanally-crafted suspense thriller.

Writer and director Jeremy Saulnier crafts a loving tribute to seventies horror that feels like a truer successor to the “backwoods horror” genre than many contemporary remakes and reimaginings. Following a punk band named The Ain’t Rights that stumble into a tense stand-off with a bunch of neo-nazis in rural Oregon, Green Room is almost aggressively old-school in its horror sensibilities. It is tense and claustrophobic, paranoid and unsettling. Saulnier has a masterful understanding of the genre and its expectations, crafting a pitch perfect homage.

greenroom

Green Room is a very canny piece of work, but never in a manner that is distracting. The film is wry without being ironic, more arch than subversive. Appropriately enough, given its punk protagonists, the movie’s hints of cynicism about its genre and set-up bely a more earnest appreciation of the form. Green Room is a classic and conventional horror film about a bunch of kids who took a wrong turn, and it is utterly unapologetic about that. Instead, it commits to providing one of the most visceral traditional horror experiences in recent memory.

Green Room is a nasty piece of work. And is all the better for it.

greenroom6

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Family (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.

He’s still out there. Dreaming about starships and adventures. It’s getting late.

Yes. But let him dream.

– Robert and Marie try to figure out what all this “Star Trek” milarky is about

Starry, starry night...

Starry, starry night…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds, Part I (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.

So we’re here. It’s the end of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the season where the show really kicked into gear. After a decidedly uneven first and second seasons, where moments of brilliance blended with hours of tedium, the show had really pulled its act together. Even the weakest hours of the season where still competently produced, the average quality increased significantly and the stronger episodes just hit it out of the park.

The Best of Both Worlds is really just the cherry on top. But it’s one hell of a cherry.

He's looking right at us...

He’s looking right at us…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Sarek (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.

Sarek is a rather wonderful episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a celebration of the franchise’s history, but without being overwhelmed by the weight of continuity. It’s also a heart-breaking story about an old man coming to terms with his mortality, assessing the legacy that he leaves behind and the future he had hoped to shape. The beauty of Sarek, then, is the way that the episode ties these two threads together – offering a rather touching metaphorical exploration of Gene Roddenberry’s own influence on the franchise and his own deteriorating health.

Back to the future...

Back to the future…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Allegiance (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.

Allegiance is a solid episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It just has the misfortune to follow three of the strongest episodes the show ever produced, and to come directly in front of one of the franchise’s better-received “light” episodes. It would be a tough situation for just about any episode, and the biggest problem with Allegiance is that it’s very much “traditional” Star Trek. It’s very safe, it’s very standard, it’s very familiar.

Allegiance is really a bunch of Star Trek clichés put in a blender. A doppelganger arrives on the ship to allow an actor a chance to flex their muscles; powerful aliens are keen to learn a lot about humanity; radically different people work together in order to overcome an obstacle; there’s even a lovely coda on just how well-oiled the Enterprise crew have become. It’s all executed quite well. Allegiance is a charming piece of work, one that feels intentionally light and breezy. It’s just naturally a bit of a step down from the phenomenal run of episodes that came before it.

Yep, it's a bit of a light week for the Enterprise crew...

Yep, it’s a bit of a light week for the Enterprise crew…

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