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Star Trek: Enterprise – The Forgotten (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.

The Forgotten opens with a funeral service.

It is nominally a service for the eighteen people who died in the Xindi attack. (The total was given as seventeen in Damage, but it is possible that Archer is counting the death of Fuller from Anomaly or that another crew member died in the interim from their wounds.) It is a nice illustration of just how strongly the final stretch of the third season embraces serialisation, with the episode’s teaser serving as a coda to the events of the previous two episodes. It is a nice, small touch that sets the mood for the episode ahead.

Funeral for a friend...

Funeral for a friend…

However, it also seems like a very self-aware sequence. Archer is nominally talking about the death of eighteen characters, but he might as well be talking about the looming death of this iteration of the Star Trek franchise, or of the death of innocence that featured in Damage. “We’re in bad shape, I can’t deny that,” Archer tells his crew. He could just as easily be talking about the show, which seemed practically under siege at this point. “But we’re still in one piece. Enterprise is a tough ship. She took more than anyone could ask her to and then some.”

In many ways, the beating that the Enterprise took in Azati Prime reflects the beating that Star Trek: Enterprise had taken over its three year run: from a fandom hostile to the idea of a prequel and unsatisfied with an overly familiar storytelling structure; from a network that had changed hands during the first season of the show; from an eager Hollywood press that could smell blood in the water that had been ripely aged eighteen years; even from former allies like Majel Barrett, William Shatner and Ronald D. Moore.

Tripping over his emotional state...

Tripping over his emotional state…

The Forgotten is a story that is very consciously symbolic and metaphorical. It is also something of an oddity. In a way, it feels like a more successful version of what the show attempted with Harbinger, offering a light character-driven story falling between two bigger beats in the larger plot arc. With its fixation on sex and violence, Harbinger was goofy and pulpy in equal measure. In contrast, The Forgotten is an episode that is morose and sombre. It is an episode that very clearly articulates where the third season is going – and where it always has been going.

If Damage was a show about how Star Trek could easily get lost in a grim and gritty War on Terror metaphor, The Forgotten reveals that the third season was never about rationalisation or justification. The Forgotten is a show about how the Star Trek franchise needed to find a way back to its more traditional values.

A massive breach...

A massive breach…

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12 Movie Moments of 2012: Shared Pop Culture History (Ted)

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 #2

When it comes to end of year “best of” lists, comedy seems to draw the short straw as a genre. Like some of the less earnest genres, comedy is far too easily overlooked in favour of something more “worthy” of attention. Seth MacFarlane’s Ted has been something of a contentious film this year. Depending on where you sit, the film is either the epitome of everything wrong with American comedy, or it was a refreshingly profane yet heartfelt breath of fresh air. I lean more towards the latter than the former, and I appreciated the way that it played to MacFarlane’s strengths – concealing a surprisingly sincere sentiment behind a cynical and glib exterior.

As such, it’s no surprise that the most effective sequence in the film – the opening credits – managed to play to both that side of MacFarlane and also to his wonderful ability to channel pop culture as something of a shared collective history. Call me sappy, but there was something wonderful about seeing Ted interact with Johnny Carson and watching Ted and John queue for The Phantom Menace in costume, that created a tangible sense of back story between the characters.

ted10

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Non-Review Review: Ted

Ted is an impressive directorial debut from Seth McFarlane, the creator and star of Family Guy. Those familiar with McFarlane’s work will know what to expect from Ted. It’s loud, it’s crude, it’s full of retro pop culture references, but it’s also constructed with almost surreal innocence and earnestness. McFarlane can be brutal at times, and he does make a few cheap shots here or there over the course of Ted. (Take that, Justin Beiber! Take that, Brandon Routh!) However, for the most part, the film actually does a remarkable job of balancing its crass in-your-face offensiveness with a weird emotional warmth. At it’s heart, Ted is still the story of a boy and his teddy bear. It just so happens to be a really messed up teddy bear.

Bear with me…

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The Amazing Spider-Man by David Michelinie & Todd McFarlane Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

The Amazing Spider-Man by David Michelinie & Todd McFarlane Omnibus is a fun comic book collection. Todd McFarlane was one of the rising stars at Marvel in the late eighties, and it’s no exaggeration to suggest that his work on The Amazing Spider-Man (along with Jim Lee’s work on Uncanny X-Men) had a massive influence on how the company would develop during the nineties. McFarlane’s artwork still looks absolutely superb, but it’s easy to forget that McFarlane worked for an extended period with author David Michelinie, crafting stories for the iconic web-crawler. While the stories and characterisation might not have been as strongly influential as McFarlane’s artwork, they still remain impressive until today. This might not be the finest or most important collection of Spider-Man adventures ever collected, but it reads incredibly fluidly and has a great sense of fun behind it.

Itsy-bitsy Spider...

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Win! Ted Goodies!

Courtesy of the nice folk at Universal Pictures Ireland, we have three prize packs to give away (including hat and t-shirt) for the upcoming comedy Ted. Directed by Seth McFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, the movie stars Mark Wahlberg as a guy living with his childhood teddy bear, the foul-mouthed life of the party Ted. It’s already been released Stateside, and my brother absolutely loved it, so I’m very much looking forward to checking it out for myself.

The following is the red-band trailer and is unsuitable for minors.

To enter the competition, simply fill in the entry form below the jump. Here’s a look at the prize pack:

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Trailer for Seth McFarlane’s Ted

I know that Seth McFarlane is a bit of a controversial figure, with a lot of commentors quick to criticise his more recent output (and even some of his earlier work). While I don’t like The Cleveland Show, I’ve actually enjoyed the handful of American Dad episodes I’ve seen and I’m still quite fond of Family Guy. And I think that, even if some of his work might be a little unfocused (probably from spreading himself too thin), he’s a prodigious comedic talent. So I am actually quite looking forward to Ted, the actor/writer/singer/songwriter/comedian’s directorial debut. It will star McFarlane as a foul-mouthed teddy bear who has grown up with John, played by Mark Wahlberg, and causes friction in his best buddy’s love life. I’m very curious about this, I must confess.

Family Guy: It’s A Trap!

Oh, we’re about to do Jedi, aren’t we?

Let’s just get through this.

– Stewie and Peter introduce the episode

And so we reach the end of the Family Guy Star Wars specials. It’s A Trap! is pretty much at an immediate disadvantage – the guys have already made two Star Wars specials, so a lot of the novelty is gone; not to mention the fact that Return of the Jedi is hardly a classic, fondly remembered in comparison to the prequel trilogy, but still nowhere near as good as the original two films. However, the production team acquit themselves admirably. When the episode works, it really works – there are some absolutely hilarious scenes in there. It’s not the most consistent piece of television you’ll see this year, but it’s damn entertaining, and made with a respect that shines through.

That's one bad dad...

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