Star Trek: Picard – Binge-worthy for non-Trekkie like me

I wouldn’t call myself a Trekkie, in fact, I have not seen any of the TV series, whether the original with Captain Kirk & co, or the later versions with Jean-Luc Picard. I did enjoy latest Star Trek movies by J.J. Abrams starring Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, but honestly I barely remember them now. Well, thanks to Sir Patrick Stewart, who’s one of the executive producers of the show, he announced via Twitter a month ago that we could watch season 1 FREE on CBS All Access for a month with the code GIFT (which has expired on April 23)

I’ve been curious about this show, so my hubby and I decided to give it a shot. I’m sure glad we did.

Follow-up series to Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) that centers on Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) in the next chapter of his life.

I have to say I’m hooked immediately and we binged the entire season 1 this weekend. I’m not reviewing this in details, I’m just sharing my general thoughts on the series as a whole.

The show is set in 2399, 18 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (which I haven’t seen but now might watch it because apparently Tom Hardy plays his cloned nemesis!), with Sir Stewart reprising his iconic role, admiral Jean-Luc Picard, now retired and living in his Château Picard vineyard in France. I’ve always been a fan of this distinguished British thespian, and he’s obviously perfect in the role he’s become world famous for. I’m always intrigued by shows/films that take the same character but place them in a different circumstance where they have to navigate the new reality and challenges in a whole new way.

Per IMDb, Stewart cites his previous film Logan (2017) as an influence on the show, pointing out that in both features the characters are still the same but their world has changed and they have to adjust to these changes. He said that film encouraged him to attempt something different with his role.

As the season starts, it’s apparent that Jean-Luc is still deeply affected by the loss of his personal friend, Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Jean-Luc recalled that Data gave his life up to save him upon the destruction of Romulus. That storyline is immediately intriguing to me, especially once a mysterious young woman named Dahj (Isa Briones) shows up, which launches Jean-Luc into the next adventure of his life. It took me a while to warm up to newcomer Briones who plays multiple characters in the show, but she certainly has a unique, almost otherworldly look that’s perfect for those roles.

The United Federation of Planets, the multi-planetary government Jean-Luc was once loyal to, is portrayed in a negative light. I find that as a pretty bold move to drastically change the reality of the Star Trek universe, but it inherently creates dramatic tension for the characters when nothing is no longer how they remembered it. The Romulan refugee crisis, prejudices across races/species, and some of the socio-political scenes depicted in the show certainly has some eerie similarities to what’s going on in the world today. Stewart has been quoted here saying that Picard is him ‘responding to the world of Brexit and Trump.’

Picard is also a reunion story in a way, as the show does reunite the protagonist with some characters from his previous life aboard the USS Enterprise.  In fact, one of my favorite episodes is the one with Commander Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) who’s now living a peaceful life with his wife, former Starleet member Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis).

Stewart with Jonathan Frakes

The show took some time to get Jean-Luc back on a ship with a new ragtag crew. Sometimes it feels like the earlier episodes where he rounded up a new crew for his new adventure drag a bit. I have to admit though that the cast work pretty well, and each of them get a decent amount of screen time and backstory. It’s been ages since I saw Santiago Cabrera (who was in Heroes a decade ago) but he’s proven to be a really good character actor. Not only is Rios a dashing captain with a devil-may-care smile a la Han Solo, but he’s got multiple holograms with different personalities (and accents!) that’d show up in certain moments, sometimes against against his own wishes. I think he plays the various holographic personas brilliantly and often provide the show’s comic relief.

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The main theme of the show ultimately is about organic species versus artificial lifeforms (or synth). I’m always drawn to shows the struggle of humans vs robots co-existing and forming an unlikely bond, but the way this show explores it is a bit uneven. One of my biggest beef about this show is the Romulan siblings Narek and Narissa, played by Harry Treadaway and Peyton List. I feel like every time they appear, especially together, it takes the fun out of the show with their scheming melodrama. As the main villains of the show, their sheer hatred against AI as they plot to get the Federation to ban the creation of artificial lifeforms, is key to the show. I wish their scenes are more intriguing, but a lot of it is pretty cringe-worthy.

Spoiler alert: [highlight to read] Another character that takes me out of the show is the third character that Isa Briones portrayed, which is the closest incarnation to her ‘father’ Data, so she looks most like him with yellow eyes. Now, somehow her outfit and makeup makes me scream Rihanna! That certainly isn’t what the creators intended but there ya go, I think that’s also one of the weakest parts of the finale.

In fact, the antagonists aren’t particularly strong in this show overall. I mean, Vulcan Commodore Oh (Tamlyn Tomita) came across pretty menacing initially, but in the end the way she’s portrayed was just meh. It’s a pity as I like Tomita as an actress, and she was much more memorable in The Man in The High Castle which I just finished recently. I think the weak adversaries in this show keep it from being truly great.

Fortunately, the show does boast a great cast. Obviously Stewart himself is the best actor on the show by a long shot, but all the returning cast-members from the Star Trek Universe are great to watch. I have to say Jeri Ryan‘s Seven of Nine and Jonathan Del Arco‘s Hugh, both are former Borgs, are particularly memorable.

As a non-Trekkie, this show definitely makes me understand why people have such tremendous love for this franchise. I read that many people loathe the finale, which I think feels too bombastic and crammed with SO much stuff that it’s impossible to resolve everything nicely. Now, die-hard fans probably have issues with that ending concerning Picard’s identity that I won’t spoil it here. I do think the last 10 minutes has some really poignant moments… it marks the end for a central, beloved character in a touching way, but yet feels hopeful instead of morose. The writing of the show, led by Akiva Goldsman, sure has its moments but can also be clunky at times. I guess the same could be said for his career, who could forget the awfulness of Winter’s Tale? [shudder].

Visually the show looks beautiful, despite the DP’s obsession with lens flares, didn’t he get the memo that JJ Abrams got tons of flak (rightly so) for using too much of it on the Star Trek movie and has even apologized for it? Oh and I have to mention the gorgeous score by Jeff Russo, it’s definitely one of my fave parts of the show. I quite like the main title sequence too.

So overall, the show is pretty enjoyable despite its flaws. Once I started watching I couldn’t stop, so to me it’s definitely binge-worthy. I’m glad I decided to watch it while it was available for free (I don’t have cable, so I’d have to pay to see this on CBS All Access). I heard this show’s been renewed, so I’ll be up for watching season 2!


Have you seen Star Trek: Picard? Well, what did YOU think?

Thursday Movie Picks #296: Spoofs /Satires/ Mockumentaries

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Spoofs / Satires / Mockumentaries.

For this particular post, I’m going to select one movie each from each category:

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

A spoof of Robin Hood in general, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) in particular.

It’s been ages since I saw this movie but I remember laughing SO hard in the theater watching this with my brother that my tummy hurt! Mel Brooks is obviously a comedic genius, he must saw the unintentionally-hilarious Prince of Thieves and knew he had to spoof it! Cary Elwes is absolutely perfect for the role of Robin, plus a fabulous ensemble including Patrick Stewart, Tracey Ullman, and Richard Lewis. Apparently Elwes based his performance in Princes Bride after Errol Flynn, and here he’s channeling him as Robin as well.

The musical numbers are a lot of fun as well, though some of the actors didn’t actually do their own singing. Relentlessly irreverent and consistently hysterical, it’s definitely a comedic classic that can be watched over and over. To this day, it’s still hard not to laugh watching the oh-so-serious and grim Robin Hood (*cough* Ridley Scott *cough*) after watching this one.


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.

I actually saw this movie in a film class in college and at the time I didn’t really get the significance of this movie. Upon rewatch, I realized just the brilliance of this cold war satire, and I read how Stanley Kubrick originally set out to make a serous drama before he realized the misguided patriotism of the characters. Filled with many quotable lines, especially “this is the War Room” line delivered with deadpan by the great Peter Sellers. Satire, when done well, can deliver the most potent social commentary, and this is definitely one of the best. No wonder it was shown in a film class as it’s a text-book example of how to do this genre brilliantly. It certainly takes guts, skill and enormous amount of wit to be able to do one, as Taika Waititi recently did with JoJo Rabbit.


What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

Viago, Deacon and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane – like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs and overcoming flatmate conflicts.

The tagline of this movie is ‘some interviews with some vampires’ I LOVE that!! It’s the quintessential mockumentary that takes a brilliant concept and executed it smashingly (check out my full review). Written by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, this movie is SO freaking witty, hilarious and fun! It’s the first time I discovered Taika (as I knew Jemaine already from Flight of the Conchords) and he’s such a gifted writer/filmmaker so I’m glad he’s found success in Hollywood now.

Every single one of the cast is hilarious, even Stu who had never acted before and thought he was hired to help with computer work as he’s actually a business analyst, but he ended up playing himself in the movie which was simply genius!! This is perhaps one of the most quotable movies I’ve ever seen, I still quote a bunch of the lines like ‘Wakey, wakey,’ ‘We’re Werewolves, not Swear-Wolves’ and my personal favorite ‘I go for a look which I call dead but delicious’ 😀 I own the Bluray and I cannot wait for the sequel (with the original cast). I watched season one of the series, which was funny, but still can’t hold a candle to this movie!


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

FlixChatter Review: Charlie’s Angels (2019)

I have to admit I hadn’t paid attention to the movie adaptations of Charlie’s Angels, though I did enjoy the original tv series. There’s no particular reason why, I just was never enticed by it. But when they announced Kristen Stewart as one of the Angels, as well as Naomi Scott who I like as Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, plus Elizabeth Banks directing, my interest was piqued.

It was quite fun watching Kristen Stewart in an action movie, having seen her in mostly smaller/indie features like Clouds of Sils Maria, Certain Women and Personal Shopper. The opening sequence opened with her being a seductive bombshell (in a blond wig) in a sequence in Rio with international smuggler Chris Pang (Crazy Rich Asians). The mission was led by senior operative John Bosley (a code name for top leader, equal to a lieutenant, in this detective agency), played by Patrick Stewart, who we later learn is retiring.

Similar to a Bond flick, the film moves from one glamorous city to another. From Rio, they’re off to Hamburg on a mission involving a tech company that’s about to release a energy-saving device called Callisto. One of its programmers, Elena (Naomi Scott) figured out that Callisto’s flaw can be deadly, as it can be weaponized and potentially be sold to criminal organizations. Of course, given Elena is a woman (an attractive one at that), her boss undermines her and ignores her request to report her findings to the company’s founder Mr. Brock (Sam Claflin). The ‘me too’ references isn’t exactly subtle in this one, but I guess it’s to be expected in a movie that celebrates female bad-assery and girl power.

This is the first time I saw a movie that Elizabeth Banks directed (whose debut Pitch Perfect 2 was pretty well-received), and color me impressed. Apparently Banks also wrote the screenplay, based on the story by Evan Spiliotopoulos and David Auburn. I gotta say the action sequences are a lot of fun to watch–it’s dynamic, energetic and quick on its feet. I especially enjoy the chase sequence in Callisto headquarter in a Hamburg skyscraper in which the Angels manages to outwit a team of [male] security guards in a whimsical fashion. Banks infuses the sequences with lighthearted humor and most importantly, lively camaraderie from her cast. It’s all about sisterhood and learning to work together as a team, and the three Angels have a nice chemistry.

I think the casting of Stewart as Sabina with two relative newcomers Naomi Scott (Elena) and Ella Balinska (Jane) work well here. I enjoy seeing the lighter, even comical side of Stewart who seems to have a blast making this movie. Balinska is easily the most physically imposing of the three, while Scott makes the most of her often-baffled role who takes a bit of time adjusting to life in the fast lane with the Angels. I like that the film shows that on top of their sheer intelligence and formidable physical prowess, these Angels are ‘just like us’ in that they want to feel supported and loved, which is what the team does to each other. While the Bond flicks have gadget guru Q, the Angels have a ‘healer’ appropriately named Saint (Luis Gerardo Méndez) because no matter how much heavy artillery one has, it’s useless if you’re not in a proper mental state. Unlike the Mission Impossible series that pretty much puts Tom Cruise front and center, I like that Charlie’s Angels franchise is all about teamwork and collaboration.

While the movie has plenty of fun moments, sadly it’s also riddled with clichés and lacking any character development. The main plot is far from original, and the intrigue (if you can call it that) lacks any real suspense. Most of the guys in this movie is also reduced to three basic types: dumb/clueless, evil criminal or cute nerdy type (hello Internet Boyfriend Noah Centineo), as if women can only be strong in a world where all the guys are pathetic. Oh, I also think the henchmen Hodak (Jonathan Tucker) looks like a poor imitation of Robert Patrick (as it T-1000, still the scariest villain in all of the Terminator franchise). I think my biggest issue is with the twist in the third act. I’m not going to elaborate for fear of spoiler, but let’s just say it’s so incredulous, eye-rolling stuff that I blame it on lazy writing. A good story doesn’t always need a twist, especially when the ‘surprise’ isn’t all that clever.

That said, the movie does have its moments and is well worth seeing for the main cast alone (most notably Stewart). It sure looks gorgeous, boasted by excellent cinematography by Bill Pope (who shot The Matrix), slick production design, and fun action sequences/car chases designed for pure escapism. So yeah, despite its flaws, I still wish it did better at the box office (at the time of this posting, it bombed with a disappointing $8.6 million debut). It’s true that nobody wanted this reboot, but to be fair, there are plenty more male-oriented franchises that went on forever. The movie was sort of set up for a sequel, and I’d be willing to see it, but I doubt that would be happening.

– Review by Ruth Maramis


Have you seen Charlie’s Angels? I’d love to hear what you think.

Everybody’s Chattin’, X-Men: Days of Future Past mini review and Holiday Hiatus!

EverybodysChattin

Happy Weekend everyone, and to my fellow Americans, Happy Memorial Weekend!

Well, by the time you read this I’ll be on my way to Amsterdam, then Bruges and of course, Paris! So naturally I’ll be taking a blog break for the time being, but before that I’d like to share some of my favorite posts from my fellow bloggers and my quick thoughts on X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Let’s start with the reviews:

Keith and Tim reviewed Godzilla 

Mark reviewed Enemy

Brian over at Vic’s Movie Den reviewed one of my sci-fi faves District-9

Natalie, Mikey & Dan reviewed X-Men: Days of Future Past

As for the rest …

Nostra is back with another edition of Many Faces Of – this time on Clint Eastwood!

Another CinSpec Award post is up from Josh, this time the focus is on 1952

Michael highlights the opening title and song of one of the best modern noirs ever, L.A. Confidential

Sati’s Rambling Friday is here! I even enjoyed her Game of Thrones’ coverage though I don’t even watch the show. That Pedro Pascal guy needs to get more roles! I actually noticed him when he was in BBC’s Robin Hood, man there are sooo many hunks playing supporting roles on that show!

Oh and lastly, check out Ted’s entry to Katy’s BLOGBUSTED B-Movie Blogathon: Action Jackson (1988) & Dark Angel (1990).


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I’ve been wanting to see this one for ages. It’s perhaps my top 3 most-anticipated movies of the year. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s well worth the wait! In short, I loved it. I’m a big fan of the X-Men franchise, yes even the worst one (X-Men The Last Stand) is still quite watchable. I recall how excited I was when I first saw the X-Men movie trailer 14 years ago in 2000, that’s still one of my favorite superhero films to this day before the genre became so ubiquitous.

My favorite X-Men characters, Professor X, Magneto and Wolverine, are the major players in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the complicated relationship between Charles & Erik is one of the main highlights once again. What I love about the X-Men movies is the social themes of prejudice and alienation that are thought-provoking and even relevant to our world today. This film adds a layer of complexity to the story of humans vs mutants struggle with the time travel aspect. The X-Men sends Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both species.

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I’m not going to go into details about the plot on this mini review, but I just want to point out that I was a bit worried at first that the whole time travel aspect would be confusing, but it turns out to be pretty easy to follow. Despite the back and forth between multiple dimensions, somehow the pacing and transition helped me figure out just what the heck is going on. Kudos to Bryan Singer for still retaining all the things I loved about this franchise in the first place and adds an extra dose of cool factor in some of the big action moments. And most importantly, he’s able to tell a complex story in a compelling way, whilst at the same time not forgetting that this is after all a fantastical comic-book movie that ought to be escapist fun.

PeterDinklageXMenDOFPThe ensemble cast are simply awesome! The five actors that make up the major players, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart + Ian McKellen are excellent as always, and Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine is definitely much more fun to watch in an ensemble. Peter Dinklage is memorable here as well as the new cast member, but I’d have to say Evan Peters as Quicksilver was quite the scene stealer. His scenes of him in action are the most fun in the movie!

As far as superhero movies go, this one has everything that makes going to the movies so gratifying. Emotional drama and complex relationship are mixed together well with witty humor and thrilling, dynamic action. Similar to Nolan’s Batman films in some ways, it’s character & plot-driven. The dramatic tension gives a context and reason for all the action spectacle. In other words, it’s much more than just popcorn cinema that’s roaringly-loud but doesn’t really have anything to say.

I posted 40 reasons why I loved X-Men: First Class, I might do the same with this one at some point. I mentioned the soundtrack on that list and I love the score here too by John Ottman (Singer’s longtime collaborator). Can’t wait to see this one again, though I probably skip the 3D as it didn’t really add much to the experience. I think fans of the franchise might get more out of this film than those who’ve never seen any X-Men movie before. The nostalgia factor and the fact that I’m already invested in those characters adds so much to my enjoyment. That said, I think newbies might be intrigued enough by this one to check out the previous movies (well, you can just skip the Wolverine movies).

4.5 out of 5 reels

So did you enjoy X-Men: Days of Future Past? 


Adieu

See you in a couple of weeks, folks! 

[Full] Trailer Spotlight – X-Men: Days of Future Past

WHOAH!! I haven’t posted a trailer spotlight in ages but I just HAD to post this one today folks, this is one of my most anticipated movies of the year and despite this awful poster, the trailer definitely gets me super excited!

Patrick Stewart’s voice over alone gets me all hypnotized… this is the kind of trailer where the narration works so well in setting the tone for the film.

Professor X: “You need to go into the past … “
Magneto: “… to end this war before it ever begins”

This film is supposed to act as a sequel to both 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand and 2011’s X-Men: First Class, as well as a follow-up to 2013’s The Wolverine (per Wiki) I think this time travel premise is the first of its kind in ANY franchise (as far I can remember anyway), as the characters from the original movie join forces with their younger selves from First Class to change the past and save their future. Seems like a hugely ambitious project in which I’m glad Bryan Singer is back at the helm. He’s the one filmmaker that gave us the first X-Men film in 2000 that pretty much launched the superhero franchise. Before Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy even entered the picture, X-Men was the first comic-book-based film that is more than just a standard action-adventure, as it metaphorically deals with deeper issues of racism, anti-semitism and outcasts of society. This one is poised to be a mindf*ck that promises to discombobulate as well as enthrall us at the same time.

Morphing Xaviers (McAvoy & Stewart)
Morphing Xaviers (McAvoy & Stewart)
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Morphing Magneto (McKellen & Fassbender)
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Thanks Yahoo UK for the GIFs!

Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart from the first X-Men movie are back, joining First Class cast of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult. Peter Dinklage is one of the new cast member here as Bolivar Trask, a military scientist and the head of Trask Industries who created a range of robots called Sentinels whose purpose is to hunt and destroy mutants. The Intouchables’ Omar Sy also played one of the mutants from the future with the ability to absorb energy to redirect it in kinetic blasts  Seriously, this is the kind of movie to watch even just for the cast!!

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I have to admit I get chills and a bit teary eyed watching this. I LOVE Henry Jackman’s music in the first film, and I was bummed that he’s not back to score this… but now I’m loving John Ottman’s ominous yet thrilling music he’s doing here. It hits the emotional high notes of this epic mutant saga and battle against extinction. That last scene of the two Xaviers facing off each other, oh man, that moment of the younger Xavier shedding a tear always gets me. I’ve been sold on this movie from day one, now I’m officially in agony waiting for this film to open in the US on May 23!


Are you as excited for this one as I am, folks?

TV Miniseries Spotlight: The Hollow Crown

I’ve heard of it but somehow it fell off my radar. Not sure how as I’m a sucker for this kind of stories… AND Tom Hiddleston! Well, thanks to my good pal Terrence for sending me the trailer link via Twitter. What a pal he is… oh btw, don’t forget to vote on his weekly Time to Vote Tuesday. Great topic today, as always!

TheHollowCrown_poster

The Hollow Crown is a new adaptations of Shakespeare’s tetralogy of history plays comprising the ‘Henriad’ for the BBC’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad: King Richard II; King Henry IV, Part 1; King Henry IV, Part 2; King Henry V. The plays chronicle a continuous period in British history from the end of the 14th century to the aftermath of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Together, the plays comprise a story with recurring themes of power struggles, redemption, family conflict and betrayal. (per IMDb)

I can’t friggin’ wait to see this! It’s no surprise that I LOVE all things British, including films about British monarchy, and man, I definitely would watch this for the cast!!

Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal/Henry V
Jeremy Irons as Henry IV
Ben Whishaw as Richard II
Patrick Stewart as John of Gaunt

There are also notable British actors in the supporting roles: David Morrissey, John Hurt, Julie Walters, oh and James Purefoy as Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk.

Here’s the trailer:

Now, for my UK friends, this is probably old news and perhaps you’ve even seen this on BBC Two. But it’s finally making its way to our shores. It will air on PBS’ Great Performances on Friday, September 20. But if you can’t wait THAT long, it will be released on iTunes, VOD, and DVD on August 27th.

Click on each image to see a larger version

Telegraph UK has some very nice things so say in its 4.5 stars review. I particularly like what it says about Hiddleston:

Hiddleston’s performance was a clever one. He is a cerebral actor and for that reason failed to convince in his early scenes (in Henry IV Part One) as a roister-doister. It was only when his heart was heavy, meditating on his destiny in a corpse-strewn foreign field, that you realised his quiet power.

The Guardian also says that “…The Hollow Crown feels as good as TV Shakespeare is going to get.”

So yeah, I’m so game for this!! I think I can handle 500 minutes of Shakespeare with THIS cast. I hope there’s a bunch of special features in this as well. I wouldn’t mind a whole video journal just on James Purefoy getting into costume and make up 😉

JamesPurefoyHollowCrown

Well, I’m already sold on this one before I read that director Sam Mendes is one of the executive producer! Even from the trailer, this looks like an epic with lavish locations and astute details on the set pieces and costumes. This miniseries has won several awards, including BAFTAs for Best Leading Actor (Ben Whishaw) and Supporting Actor (Simon Russell Beale). It was also nominated in the music and costume design category.

The Shakespearean English might be a bit hard to follow for someone like me but I’m willing to give it a shot, especially with Hiddleston’s gorgeous voice reciting them, he’s an actor who’s born to play this type of roles! Plus, with the right technique, even this old language could have a contemporary feel.


So what do you think folks, are you up for this? For those who’ve seen this, please let me know what you think!

Weekend Roundup: William Shatner’s The Captains

StarTrekTheMotionPictureLogoThe Star Trek fever is full on this weekend. At least it seems like it is, though only a blockbuster THIS magnitude that an $84 mil four-day total is still considered a box office disappointment. Apparently Star Trek Into Darkness did not quite hit the warp-speed at the box ffice, well-short of the studios’ – Paramount, Skydance Pictures and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions – $100 mil expectation. I have a feeling they won’t have trouble making up the $190 budget (+ marketing) when it’s all said and done though.

So did you all see it? Well, if you read my review of sort on Friday, you’ll know that Abrams’ have now piqued my interest about the whole Star Trek universe. So this weekend my hubby and I were planning on seeing the first feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it’s not available on Netflix Streaming. I didn’t want to see the follow-up The Wrath of Khan as people have been saying I should watch them in order. I’m even more curious to see the first movie as apparently Robert Wise directed it, known for classics like West Side Story, The Sound of Music and also his Oscar-winning film editing for Citizen Kane. In any case, we ended up watching Shatner’s documentary titled appropriately…

The Captains (2011)

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The Captains is a feature length documentary film written and directed by William Shatner. The film follows Shatner as he interviews the other actors whom have portrayed Starship captains within the illustrious science-fiction franchise.

I was already curious about this documentary for some time but I think after seeing the latest Star Trek film, and before I embark into watching more from this franchise, it definitely is the right timing to watch this. This is a must for any Trekkie, but I’d think that casual Star Trek watchers would appreciate this documentary as this is such an iconic franchise and most likely you’d know the people playing the Captains even if you haven’t seen the shows/films.

ShatnerInaBoxI’m glad Shatner decided to do this film, and I found him to be a good interviewer, even if it’s challenging to get into much depth when you’ve got half a dozen people to interview in just 1.5 hour. He first traveled to England to meet up with Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart, who portrayed the second most famous after Shatner’s Captain Kirk, and that is Jean-Luc Picard. I really enjoyed the interview in his beautiful home with magnificent English garden, and I feel that this is one of the most enlightening interview in regards to the two of them. It’s perhaps because Shatner was a huge admirer of Stewart’s talents and stage performances, but they’re also closest in age compared to other actors. I didn’t know that Shatner was also a classical Shakespearean actor, and was an understudy of Christopher Plummer. He also interviewed Plummer briefly as he later on played a one-eyed Klingon. This is all very amusing!

Shatner showed genuine interest in every single one of the subjects he interviewed, and he seemed intrigued about how playing The Captain has changed each of their lives, the good and the bad aspects of it. Shatner commiserated with all of them on how the crazy hours and laborious filming schedule took a toll on their families, especially on a single mother like Kate Mulgrew. At times, the conversation got really personal with Kate as she lamented on her struggle being the sole female captain ([protagonist) in a man’s world like Hollywood whilst raising two young kids by herself.

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Shatner seems at ease with each of the actors, I guess his personality is such that people are naturally drawn — and perhaps amused — by him. The highlights for me was the Patrick Stewart interview and Shatner arm-wrestling with Chris Pine, 50 year his junior, ahah. I learned a bit more about each of the actors, and discovered Scott Bakula and Avery Brooks’ musical roots. I had known Brooks from his days playing Hawk in one of my favorite 80s show Spenser For Hire. I love the duet of them at the piano. The bits of Shatner at the Star Trek convention delighting unsuspecting Trekkies are a hoot, and it really keeps things in perspective. Some people might consider him pompous for being embarrassed for being known as a Star Trek captain, but I kind of understand where he’s coming from given his classical training.

I really enjoyed this documentary, and the fact that I found Shatner amusing helps make it so. Yes he’s got an ego the size of Texas and he’s at times ridiculous, but the 82-year-old sci-fi icon is well aware of that and that makes him so darn entertaining. Definitely give this one a shot if you’re looking for a fun and enlightening documentary!


4 out of 5 reels

EPICanimationlogoOh, I also went to a press screening for 20th Century Fox’ latest animated feature EPIC. I quite enjoyed it, visually dazzling and surprisingly moving. I can’t review it yet due to embargo, but I’d recommend it for kids and adults. It’s not nearly as goofy as FOX’s more slapstick features like Ice Age and Rio btw, which is a welcome change actually. Not sure why they’re calling it EPIC, I mean it’s not quite as epic as say The Lion King, but still a pretty darn good one.


So that’s my weekend roundup folks. How about you, seen anything good?