Tag Archives: Star Trek

Failed Critics Podcast Beyond

STAR TREK BEYOND

Welcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast, boldly going where we’ve only been once before. That is to say, it’s another episode without any guests!

Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are left to their own devices, and yet still end up discussing two new releases. They review the latest sci-fi franchise to become a trilogy in Star Trek Beyond – well, one of them can review it as the other hasn’t seen it (all) – as well as Spielberg’s adaptation of everybody’s favourite childhood author, Roald Dahl’s classic, The BFG.

Elsewhere on the show, the duo run through as many of the trailers from San Diego Comic Con as they could get their hands on, plus Steve’s reaction to The Ouija Experiment, his booby-prize for losing last week’s quiz. There’s also enough time for some appreciation for The Purge films ahead of next month’s release of Election Year, as well as a quick appreciation for Andy Samberg’s latest comedy, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, which is also due out exactly one month from today.

Join us again next week for a special triple-bill episode loosely connected to the forthcoming Olympics!

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Star Trek Beyond

Just another day in Starfleet.”

A few years have passed since Paramount and JJ Abrams tried to convince us that Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t really Khan. Even non-Trek fans like myself walked out after trekking Into Darkness to a resounding “meh” and a muscle-pulling shrug of the shoulders. So, I guess that makes it time for yet more Star Trek… Goodness?

Out is Abrams – off making star films of the Wars variety – and in is Justin Lin, the man behind four of the Fast and Furious films. Hoping to inject a little something different into this franchise and hopefully make fans forget about the travesty that that was the bastardisation of The Wrath of Khan back in 2013.

Sent into uncharted space on a routine rescue mission, Captain Kirk and his crew cross paths with a mysterious ship that chooses to respond to their calls with hostility and sets about attacking the Enterprise. Making light work of the Federation ship, the hostile race forces the captain and the crew that haven’t been taken prisoner by the unknown foe to abandon the Enterprise to crash land on a nearby planet.

Spread across the rocky landscape of the planet, Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) must brave the odds and rescue their crew from their maniacal hostage taker, the leader of an old race that live underground, known as Krall (Idris Elba in some very heavy makeup). With a little help from mysterious warrior Jaylah (Kingsman‘s Sofia Boutella), the last of her race, stranded on the planet by Krall and his murderous race, the survivors have little time to release the prisoners, escape the planet and find a way to stop Krall and his plans to destroy the galaxy.

Here’s the thing with Beyond – or in fact any of the Star Trek films whether they be originals or from the rebooted now trilogy – they are safe films. For fear of pissing off a massive fan base, they’ll never do anything groundbreaking to the franchise. I mean, they couldn’t even kill Kirk properly in the last bloody film could they? In an effort to keep the rabid fanbase appeased, there will never be something done that they can’t come back from and while I did quite enjoy my time with the latest in the sci-fi series to clearly be missing a colon in its title, it meant that even the opening salvo of destruction had very little in the way of peril in it.

It did look good though. The annihilation of the Enterprise by Krall’s “Bees” like a hot knife through butter looked amazing and was a solid fifteen minutes of beautiful destruction. But the franchise has gotten to a stage where it feels a lot like the episodes everyone used to watch and rave about. Once the world famous ship has crashed landed, it’s very run-of-the-mill and definitely more about the characters than the set pieces. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that at all – my favourite films his year have had almost no action and been all exposition – but the third film in this rebooted franchise should feel comfortable enough to keep bringing the action and maybe hold back a little with the fanboy callbacks. When there are set pieces, though, it’s generally pretty good. Action is competent, combat is thrilling and the camaraderie between long-standing characters during these moments is always fun to watch.

The characters are definitely what makes this film – and the previous entries in this reimagined franchise – worth sticking with. I’ve enjoyed watching the relationship build between Chris Pine’s James Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock as the pair are put in these impossible situations that does nothing but strengthen their friendship.

The same can be said for Spock and Karl Urban’s Leonard McCoy; who I honestly think steals the show in each of the films with his neurotic insanity and paranoia. Urban brings such a wealth of character and comedy to the doctor that you can’t help but love him.

As you can imagine, Idris Elba is very cool as the bad guy and fits the maniacal monster perfectly. Like a great bad guy in an episode of the show though, you always wish for a little more screen time that just doesn’t happen, and it’s a real shame.

Some bizarre choices made by the creative team all the way through do hinder the film a little though. Ok, it hinders the film a lot. The script may be the poorest of the trilogy with some achingly bad dialogue and a real lack of effort in parts. One glaringly obvious and just awful moment hits you towards the end when Elba’s Krall spots Kirk in the heat of a massive dogfight and utters “Kirk, my old friend.” Even though the characters have never met before the film and they spent around eleven seconds in each others company up to that point. By those standards, everyone I spoke to getting my Starbucks on the way in to see this film should be getting an invite to my wedding! It’s moments like that, that take this film down a notch or two to just another average flick.

Briefly, because I haven’t really mentioned these thing in reviews, podcasts, or even in my usual rants on social media. A couple of things I want to touch upon:

First, I love the way the death of legend Leonard Nimoy is handled; with grace and respect. He’s given a send off worthy of a man who played such a classic role. Bravo.

Second, the gay Sulu thing. I love it. I think it’s about time a franchise of this magnitude embraced the times and making Sulu the focus of these attentions is great. In my humble opinion, of course. I don’t buy the “Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t have wanted it” shit. The man famously gave us a black woman front and centre in a time that it wasn’t done. I believe he would have done the exact same thing for the gay community. Bravo, again.

And finally, while he doesn’t have much screen time, it’s achingly sad to see Anton Yelchin up on that screen. His dedication at the end of the film, along with Nimoy’s, was lovely.

Anyways, to wrap up. Dodgy scripting, some ghastly CGI, especially around a certain motorbike scene that made me cringe and massive sections of plot and continuity ignored, made for frustrating viewing at times. That’s not to say it’s unwatchable, but overall Star Trek Beyond is on a par with the previous entries in the series. You already know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t expect the world to change with this flick.

Failed Critics Podcast: TV to Film Triple Bill

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Influenced by this week’s triple bill, getting ideas above their station and blowing a huge amount of money on an extravagant holiday because they didn’t quite know what else to do with it, Steve Norman and Owen Hughes return in a feature-length edition of the Failed Critics Podcast. With the help of their good friend Liam, the trio ramp things up to 11 and have a great time doing it!

I mean, that’s what you do when you turn an otherwise weekly serialised show into a big-budget production, right? Send all your mates on holiday to piss about in the sun whilst blowing huge wads of cash on a subpar (albeit much, much longer) episode of what you normally do?

Well, at least this episode isn’t subpar, even if it is longer than usual, as the Failed Critics each choose their three favourite movie adaptations of TV shows and/or characters.

Everything was up for grabs, from “much loved” family flicks like The Simpsons Movie (nobody chose it), PopEye (not a chance) and The Flintstones (you must be kidding), to big-budget Hollywood re-inventions like Mission:Impossible (not a sausage), The Man From UNCLE (close but no cigar) and The Equaliser (I hate to break it to you, but…). It really could have been anything. The Sweeney! (nope), Dad’s Army (nuh-uh) or even The Last Airbender (absolutely not, no way, not a snowflake’s chance in hell!)

As mentioned, this was a pretty full-on episode. Not only did we pack in all of the triple bill choices, but we even found time for Owen to review 1960’s classic horror The Innocents on Liam’s recommendation, for Steve to dissect modern-war drama Lone Survivor, and for Liam to scratch his head over the documentary Spellbound. The news this week also saw the team look back on the work of the recently departed Caroline Aherne and Michael Cimino as well as Chris Evans stepping down from Top Gear.

Join us again next week as something strange happens in our neighbourhood. Where’d I put that phone..?

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Failed Critics Podcast: The Good Bridge of Dinosaur Spies

bridge of spies 15

We’re back to our normal routine today with Steve Norman and Owen Hughes joined by Callum Petch. There’s not a single professional comedian amongst them after the first episode of Paul Field and James Mullinger’s Underground Nights popped up in your podcast subscription software of choice this past weekend.

And what a bumper crop of new release reviews we have in store for you! Four new movies that have hit your cinema screens recently, including: The new Pixar dramedy, The Good Dinosaur; Black Mass, a crime biopic starring Johnny Depp; a film that Callum describes as “perfect” in Carol; and cold war drama Bridge of Spies, the latest Spielberg and Hanks collaboration.

All of this plus a look at the new Captain America: Civil War and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice trailers and a bunch of other stuff that we’ve seen this past week. Callum boldly goes where millions of others have gone before and inducts himself into the Star Trek universe via the original motion picture. Meanwhile, Steve talks us through a post apocalyptic horror like so many more before it with Hidden and rounds up this season of The Walking Dead. There’s also still time for Owen to talk about a film that very few have seen before after attending the test screening of The Comedians Guide to Survival, a movie starring James Buckley (Jay from The Inbetweeners) about the life of James Mullinger (yes, that guy from Underground Nights).

Join Owen and Steve again for more “film related nonsense” with returning guest Andrew Brooker.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Leonard Nimoy, It Follows and a Game of Soggy Critics

We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.

it followsWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast where Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by returning special guest, Andrew Brooker.

We kick off the podcast with Owen putting a price on Steve’s head after he forced Owen to watch c-list celebrity horror/revenge/thriller-spoof Kill Keith as a result of losing last week’s quiz. Andrew sparks another debate on BBFC’s system after controversial indie movie Hate Crime was refused a rating, before leading on a review of the brand new release and genuinely creepy horror movie, It Follows.

In honour of Leonard Nimoy who sadly passed away this week, the trio get together for a Spock-inspired triple bill which was as shambolic as ever. As I’m sure everyone is already aware, during Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan, Mr Spock sacrifices himself to save his captain and friend James T. Kirk. Thus, the team each pick their three favourite film characters who die and then come back to life.

Join us again next week as the team will reunite to review Neill Blomkamp’s action sci-fi movie Chappie. Until then, live long and prosper.

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100 Greatest TV Episodes: The Visitor (s4 ep3)

It’s life, Jake! You can miss it if you don’t open your eyes.
-Captain Benjamin Sisko

by Jackson Tyler (@Tylea002)

ds9 2**WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!**

Choosing a single episode of Star Trek for a list such as this is an inherently impossible task. The strength of the franchise is in its breadth, its innate ability to tackle a multitude of themes and ideas, as over decades, disparate episodes, movies and series combine to form a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.

The main reason for this is that Trek has always relied on the intimacy of television, on the bond between audience and art: much of the franchise would simply not work without prior familiarity and emotional investment in the characters and universe. Many episodes that would rightly be considered the greatest of the franchise are interrogations of the core values within Trek itself, such as “Chain of Command (TNG),” “In The Pale Moonlight (DS9)” and practically every episode of Enterprise. Star Trek’s longevity and consistency is in thanks to the manner in which it is in constant conversation with itself, the writers merely visitors holding the show’s past with the reverence not just to reference it, but to question it, and in doing so, evolve it.

This episode is not one of those. For whilst Star Trek matured and began to use its head more and more, far more important is that when doing so, the show never lost its heart. Really, how could the episode on this list be anything other than a little sci-fi fable?

“The Visitor” tells the story of Jake Sisko, or more specifically, an old Jake Sisko tells his story to a young writer, who arrives at his doorstep in the middle of the night. Jake is a main character in DS9 throughout all seven seasons, despite appearing in less than half the episodes in the show’s run. As the writerly son of Benjamin Sisko, he didn’t often fit into the ensemble plots of the show, which focused on the main Starfleet crew of DS9. Yet episodes such as this make it clear why he doesn’t just earn this status, but plays a crucial part of the show’s dynamic. Jake Sisko is the show’s melancholy heart.

The plot of the episode, described in literal terms, is a mess of sci-fi words and nonsense jargon. When Jake was eighteen, his father, Ben Sisko, was caught in a warp core accident that left him in subspace, causing him to disappear from the known universe except for specific moments in time. Star Trek gets a reputation for being a series bogged down by its own fictional technology, and if you’ve watched more than one episode of Voyager, you’ll know it often can be. But in its best stories, it simply takes sci-fi concepts as narrative devices to explore thematic and emotional content in ways that would be impossible without them. Far from being a story about subspace and warp cores, The Visitor is a heartbreaking tale about the importance of letting go.

For all intents and purposes, Ben Sisko died in that accident. Every time he reappears, he does so for only a moment, enough for he and Jake to chat, but not enough for them to truly connect. When forced to leave the station, Jake assumes there is no way to reach his dad anymore, and lives his life. We see him at his happiest as he meets with Nog, his once childhood friend, and catches up with him about the lives of all those he was close with on the station. Jake himself is a successful author, settled down and married and planning to have children of his own in the future. At this point, Ben reappears, and in the fleeting moment they share, he’s nothing but smiles as Jake tells him of the life he has lived, until he disappears in Jake’s arms.

The unconventional nature of the episode, the narration and flashbacks, are at their most effective in these happier times, it infuses them with a twinge of melancholy, the inevitable fact of life that things are only happy until they are not. But not in a nihilistic way, the bittersweet nature of these scenes plays right into the show’s central thematic thrust.

After seeing his dad again, Jake gives up writing and rededicates his life to studying subspace mechanics in the vain hope of finding a way to save his father. His obsession is so great that he alienates his wife and ends up alone. When he sees his father again, Ben is heartbroken that Jake has sacrificed his own lifetime, his own passions to the futile cause of saving him. Jake takes these words to heart, and in the episode’s final scenes, commits suicide with Ben in his presence, severing the subspace link, and sending Ben back in time to prevent the accident from ever occurring, giving both father and son a second chance.

Jake Sisko sacrifices himself not for his father, not even for his younger self, but the bond that ties the both of them. The Visitor is Star Trek at its most sad and yet most optimistic. Ultimately, it was always a show about people, and the potential of humanity that could be tapped if we were able to truly work together. The Visitor is this idea thematically purified, focusing not on how we as a species could explore the cosmos, but how we as individuals rely on each other emotionally, highlighting the beauty and wonder of simply living a life, and reminding us just how fragile it is.

We could miss it if we don’t open our eyes.

Jackson has previously made a guest appearance on the podcast to talk video game-movies, but makes his solo debut for Failed Critics with this article on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. You can agree or argue with him here or over on Twitter. You can also browse the rest of our 100 Greatest TV Episodes series on the site.

Failed Critics Podcast: Star Trek Into Darkness

star trek into darknessIt’s that time of year where the big blockbusters come thick and fast, and this week the Failed Critics are putting on our red shirts, setting our phasers to stun, and splitting any and all infinitives we can find as we embrace Star Trek Into Darkness.

As well as reviewing JJ Abrams’ latest installment of the epic sci-fi franchise (including a suitable lengthy Spoiler Alert), we also have time for reviews of Pedro Almodovar’s latest release ‘I’m So Excited’, giallo homage ‘Berbarian Sound Studio’, and impossibly hot couple Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in ‘Love & Other Drugs’.

Next week we’re reviewing our second Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson release this summer, with the latest in the seemingly unsinkable Fast and the Furious franchise.

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Failed Critics Triple Bill: TV-Film Adaptations

In honour of this weeks Triple Bill – TV-to-Film adaptations – we upped the budget slightly and went to the continent on holiday to record it. Owen booked us into an unfinished hotel, James got drunk on local alcoholic concoctions, Gerry got into fights with all the foreigners over sunbeds, and Steve found love.

The end result is flashier, but ultimately less satisfying than the original series – unlike our choices of our favourite TV-to-Film adaptations!

Next week we return to normality with the Failed Critics Review covering Paranormal Activity 4, and in Triple Bill we choose our scariest moments in cinema.

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