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Star Trek: Enterprise – Zero Hour (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This August, we’re doing the third season. Check back daily for the latest review.

There was a very real chance that Zero Hour might have been the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise to air.

In fact, it was entirely possible that Zero Hour‘s distinctive (and downright provocative) closing shot of an evil!alien!space!Nazi might have been the last shot of Star Trek to air on television for quite some time.

Time is running out...

Time is running out…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – The Communicator (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This April, we’re doing the second season. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the biggest problems with positioning Star Trek: Enterprise as a prequel is that the original Star Trek was very much a product of its time. It is very difficult to line-up a television show broadcast in the early years of the twenty-first century with a series that was produced towards the end of the sixties. It is a completely different world, and so the show itself must inevitably be completely different.

This reflects itself in the production design of Enterprise. One of the more frequent fan complaints about the series concerns the design of the new ship. After all, it doesn’t look like anything Matt Jefferies would design. If anything, it looks like the missing link between a modern submarine and the Defiant from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. All the pastels and mood lighting have been replaced with functional grey and buttresses. Kirk’s Enterprise and Archer’s Enterprise speak to two different aesthetics.

"What we've got here is failure to communicate..."

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate…”

Of course, it is possible to land a little closer to the classic design as Scott Chambliss demonstrated with his work on JJ Abrams’ reboot. Then again, this only reinforces the point. The general mood and tone of design when Star Trek hit cinema screens in 2009 was markedly different from the mood and tone of design when Broken Bow first aired in 2001. It just so happened that one was more compatible with Jefferies’ original vision than the other. (And even then, Chambliss’ update is markedly different.)

However, while the design of the ship itself is a handy indicator of just how difficult it is to line up a show produced in the first decade of a new millennium to a show produced before man walked on the moon, there are more substantial cultural and social differences at play. The Communicator is another second season Star Trek mash-up, this time taking the ending of A Piece of the Action and offering a perfect example of how Enterprise could never be an entirely comfortable companion to classic Star Trek.

"Westmore's not gonna like this..."

“Westmore’s not gonna like this…”

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Shockwave, Part II (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This April, we’re doing the second season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Shockwave, Part I was one of the stronger episodes of the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Shockwave, Part II is not one of the stronger episodes of the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise.

"Tell me how many seasons we get!"

“Tell me how many seasons we get!”

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Detained (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This January, we’re doing the first season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Detained is well-meaning, if a little clumsy and awkward.

It is a rather conscious effort to do a “message show” in the grand tradition of the Star Trek franchise, using the show’s science-fiction premise to offer a commentary on current events. Detained is very clearly structured as a response to the 9/11 attacks, even if Archer only explicitly references the internment of Japanese Americans at Manzanar. Detained is full of interesting ideas, and its heart is in the right place, but the execution feels decidedly rushed and haphazard. Detained works much better as a two-line moral than it does as a forty-five minute episode of television.

You can't call him Al...

You can’t call him Al…

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Non-Review Review: Behind the Candelabra

It’s a shame that Behind the Candelabra didn’t receive a theatrical release in the United States. It’s a shame for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it’s a shame that the studios think so little of American audiences that they’d refuse a relatively meagre $5m budget for a Liberace biopic which was “too gay.” It’s a shame that Steven Soderbergh’s last film will not be shown in American cinemas, given his recent discussions about the state of the medium. It’s a shame that none of the talented people involved in the film (from Michael Douglas through to make-up artists Todd Kleitsch and Christine Beveridge) will never garner the awards attention they so sorely deserve.

It’s also a shame because Behind the Candelabra is just a damn fine piece of cinema, and one which deserves a little time on the big screen.

Cloaked in mystery...

Cloaked in mystery…

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Non-Review Review: Fanboys

Fanboys is a film that is borderline mediocre, but the tragedy is that it actually could have been really good. It’s quite strange, because the movie seems intent to straddle two audiences – aiming at once for both cult geek cred and mainstream appeal. Of course, the paradox of such an approach is that it frequently ends up alienating both core groups. The film is arguably too deeply entrenched in geek culture to ever find a large mainstream audience, but it’s also far too bland, safe and stereotypical for a geek audience. So it clearly hopes to please everyone, but winds up satisfying no one. Which is a shame, because it seems like it’s actually having a great deal of fun.

Indulge your Dark Side...

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Non-Review Review: The Informant!

The Informant! has some tricky subject matter to cover. Its subject, Mark Whitacre, remains a controversial figure in the history of corporate law enforcement up to (and probably well beyond) the present day. It’s a complex history, one which involves the most high-profile FBI investigation into price-fixing at major American companies, but which involves a very complicated central figure. I’m hesitant to go into too much detail as – although I’m not sure you can “spoil” a true story – I don’t want to ruin the experience of watching the film for anyone, but it’s a very fascinating example of corporate whistleblowing.

You'll be on the edge of your seat...

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