Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page

Malik (5/11/09)

I am not what one would call a Trekkie. At the very least, I wouldn't call myself a Trekkie. I like Star Trek, and am a fan of the first three series of the franchise. The original is a classic that helped to define a lot of what I know of sci-fi, as well as also being a cool inspiration for real world technology (from the basics of cell phones to pocket sized computerized devices...even the more far out ideas like transporters and warp drive are under various levels of scientific research). I was even more of a fan of The Next Generation. It was the Trek that spoke to me, being a kids of the 80's and 90's. I even enjoyed Deep Space Nine, with particular emphasis on the final few seasons.

After that, Star Trek seemed to die in many ways for me. Voyager was crap, and no lecture from any Trekkie will ever change that opinion. I also just couldn't get in to the Enterprise idea.

I say all of this to explain where I'm coming from when I watched Star Trek (the new movie) this weekend. I am a fan of the material, but I'm not attached too strongly to the cannon. I'll never have a debate if The Menagerie is one episode or two (like the Trekkie's on South Park once did), or start quoting episodes by number like Fry did on Futurama. I like the show and the concepts, but I'm not obsessed.

So, with that in mind, I cannot call Star Trek the best movie that could have been. It is not what I'd think of as deserving something around the upper 90% range on Rotten Tomatoes. It is a solid C movie to me. In other words, it's a good movie, but not one I'd go out of my way to see a second time. I will probably not buy the DVD, I doubt I'd rent the DVD, and at most I may watch it on cable if it's a boring day.

My big problem with the movie is that it seemed to try too damned hard at the fan service sector. Famous quotes ("I've given her all I've got...she can't take anymore!", "Dammit , I'm a doctor not a !") are crammed into a script in all the wrong ways. It's done simply to evoke a reaction from the audience. Namely, it's done to get a cross between a loud laugh and a "I knew he'd say that!" While it's good that the movie tried to keep the source material in mind, it doesn't mean things must be forced. I mean there is just too much that is forced into this script. I won't even touch on the forced jokes about Chekhov's accent.

Most of all, the movie just didn't make sense in too many ways. Why is it that the original crew of the Enterprise is formed of two reasonably aged individuals (Captain Pike is a generation older than Kirk, and a similarly aged transporter chief) and a bunch of kids? The greatest newest ship in Star Fleet, and it's ran like it's the Muppet Babies. I mean Spock is hard to nail down on the age thing (with the Vulcan slower aging), but by the end of the movie (after Pike and the Transporter chief are removed from the situation) the crew on the bridge and vital ship areas (engineering, etc.) range from 19 (really...Chekhov, a bridge officer is 19) to around the mid 20's, with the only exception being Scotty. I can't tell how old Scotty is supposed to be, but since he's played by Simon Peg, I'd assume mid thirties. Is the future really this close to the whole Logan's Run concept of removing the elderly from society?

Also, why is a 19 year old who has so thick of an accent that the computer cannot even understand him being allowed to serve on the bridge. Chekhov is more of a liability on the bridge than an asset. Spare me the "he's a 19 year old genius" crap. If the computer fails to recognize his requests, then he is not someone you want in an emergency.

However, the part I found most unbelievable is how much the movie tried to force slap-stick humor at every turn. I won't explain what happened, but when Kirk was first getting on board the Enterprise, a good 95% of the audience around me was in total "ROFLOL" mode. All I could think was how Gene Roddenberry's zombie was overdue to rise from the grave to seek vengeance on J.J. Abrams. Star Trek always used some mild humor...but in a limited and controlled method. Unless you want to count the brawl in Trouble With Tribbles as the norm, Star Trek never entered a pure slap-stick style comedy attack.

The final thing that hurt my head to watch was seeing how the original show was ignored for the idea of where science should enter the sci-fi genre. The original used a great deal of science to explain many basic ideas. Many seemed far fetched at the time, but in the end these ideas prove as either possible or at least as inspiration for real world theories and creations. I don't think the idea of black holes, as presented in the new movie, had this idea of plausibility in mind. One minute a black hole is a safe thing that allows time travel, while also being a thing to cause instant annihilation of anything in space. The next minute it's a source of instant annihilation to one object, but it will only cause a slow destruction to a smaller and less stable of object. Can I get a rule book on how these black holes work so the movie would stop seeming to be so random. Are black holes the same thing as Deus Ex Machina? I mean they don't look like the hand of a Greek or Roman god coming down to save a playwright from a failed script, but it seems to have the same effect. That effect being that they can do whatever is needed to patch a hole or two in a script.

Anyway, the movie is not all bad. I'd even say the casting of a few characters was brilliant (Sulu, Sarek, and Pike), and the inclusion of Leonard Nimoy was actually handled quite well (not just a cheesy cameo). This is, more than anything, a popcorn flick. If you're not a Trek fan or if you're a mindless Trekkie (who loves all things Trek), then this movie is for you. You'll have all the forced quotes and slap-stick humor to keep you happy. You'll also have a movie with almost more of a Star Wars feel to it (action packed, with larger-than-life characters that shout larger than cliché quotes, all while making you laugh), which seems to mean it's more accessible. However, if you're a fan of the good Trek, this may not be the ideal movie for you. Yes, Trek fans should see it...just don't expect to have the same reaction as the rest of the audience.

By the way, I'm not even going to comment on the casting choice for Spock's mother. comment; I wonder who she slept with to get such an awkward casting move done.


Malik (5/13/09)

Being a person who dislikes Disturbed, and having not been too enthralled by the Elvis Costello and Steely Dan offerings, I only picked up the Social Distortion three pack for Rock Band this week. I do enjoy a fair amount of Steely Dan and Elvis Costello, but not the songs presented.

First off, I just have to comment, after seeing the expert guitar charts on youtube, that I find the guitar tier levels for Steely Dan to be goofy. One song is fourth tier (four dots), while the other is a six (devil faces). The funny thing is that the fourth tier song looks more challenging than the sixth tier one, and the sixth tier song doesn't look like anything above an easy five. I mean it's like there was some unspoken agreement between Harmonix and Steely Dan that said we'd put one song at sixth tier just to compliment Bhodosatva's  (I know...I can't spell that song title) devil face tier. In reality, none of these come close to sixth tier and the "harder" song looks much easier than the "easier" song.

As for the Social D's fun. However, it's still not hard by any means. There are a couple of twists on Story of My Life and Ring of Fire. Usually this twist is in the form of sudden (and not representative of the actual playing) hammer-on or pull-off notes or a sudden rapid fire blast before a series of chords. Even if reality is not 100% being met with the fantasy of the game, these are fun expert guitar songs.

The only song that will not offer any combo breaking challenges is Bad Luck. This song is as straight forward as they come. It's simple and does represent the actual guitar playing pretty well...are as well as I Was Wrong does. Which is to say they made a good solid offering with the guitar chart.

More than anything, however, this three pack only makes me wish we could have some of the real Social Distortion in Rock Band. By "real", I mean the stuff that is not likely to find it's way on the radio or a greatest hits album (all of these songs are on their greatest hits album). Something like Like An Outlaw (For You), On My Nerves, Don't Drag Me Down, Ghost Town Blues, or Drug Train would be a bit more representative with some good speed and changing sounds to them. Not to mention some far more gripping of lyrics.

Anyway, as a Social D fan, I guess I will just be happy with what Harmonix offers. As for the rest, I can go against the typical anti-Rock Band stereotype ("learn to play a real instrument") and practice them on my guitar.


Malik (5/15/09)

I can't find, as of yet, an official DLC announcement for Rock Band. At least not as I type this. However, there was an email newsletter from Harmonix saying that next week would see about a half dozen songs from Alice Cooper coming next week. This is in addition to something like three songs from Taking Back Sunday. There is a pseudo-link.

I could go without the emo/screamo/whatever-o of TBS. I did try to listen to them since Velveta is a fan (she calls them a "guilty pleasure"), and I just couldn't get past the fact that all their songs sound identical. Not to mention how all of their songs sound identical to the entire genre (usually called, incorrectly, "emo") and catalogue that came out for similar bands of the time. Anyway, if you want something to compliment your Fallout Boy DLC, this would be a good choice.

As for Alice Cooper...about freakin' time. I mean this is, if memory is with me today, the artist that first got the tag "heavy metal" attached to his work. While not the metal we'd think of in the modern age, it's the type of rock that I always feel good getting for Rock Band. Especially when it includes School's Out and I'm Eighteen.

Overall, even if TBS is not what I'd call my cup-o-tea, this should be another fun week with some good diversity...even if it only includes two artists.

Anyway, lately I've been playing a bit of the DS remake of Dragon Quest V. It's a game I once played, and didn't get too far, on the SNES version. It just didn't go well for me since, much like how DQ4 was a very advanced NES game, DQ5 was a very archaic feeling SNES game. Even in it's day, it felt more like a NES game that was a bit updated to include more colors in the game's palette.

I mainly got this DS port since I needed something portable to keep me entertained as I get ready for a day of sitting around while my car gets worked on. Since it's either stare into space, read outdated newspapers, or play my DS, the choice was obvious. Well, there was the choice of DQ4 or DQ5 on the DS, and DQ5 did win in the end.

The remake is quite solid. It has the same basic game engine as DQ4 (DS), which was an update to the DQ7 (PSX) engine. It's 3D, allows camera rotation, and has definitely been visually improved. Also, the game just runs smooth with a more refined interface like one would have seen with the DQ7 and later era Dragon Quest titles.

I'm nearing the point of how far I got in the game when I quit on the SNES version...which is to say I'm still a bit early in the game. The game is split into three generations (you as a kid, you as a adult, and you as a father with two children) and I'm in that second generation about now.

Anyway, since I'm rambling I'll wrap this up.


For Those Who Don't Have Flash Plug-Ins...

Rested XP    News    Reviews    Videos    Features    Forums    Archives    Search This Site    Links    Contact Us    Disclaimer

Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page