Star Trek Discovery episode 6 review

So in this episode we focus mostly on the relationship between Sarek and Burnham. Sarek is taking off from Vulcan to go to some secret peace talks with some renegade Klingons who apparently are not part of the war. Turns out his companion on the journey is a Vulcan logic extremist. Said extremist blows himself up in the shuttle but Sarek somehow activates a forcefield and survives, although he is injured.

Meanwhile Burnham and Tilly are going for a jog on the Discovery wearing groovy t-shirts that read DISCO. I kid you not. Apparently they are available for purchase too. Anyway Burnham picks up Sarek’s distress through that useful katra-sharing bond they have and she convinces Lorca to go on a rescue mission.

By the way, Lorca has promoted that random starfleet guy (from the Klingon prison ship last week) to be his chief of security. Personally I’d do a bit of a background check and get some character references first. But that’s just me being suspicious of someone I just picked up on a Klingon ship.

The Starfleet lady admiral is annoyed with Lorca using the Discovery for an unsanctioned Sarek rescue mission. She also realises he has PTSD when he pulls a phaser on her after they spence some, ahem, intimate time together. She threatens to take away his command.

Burnham makes contact with Sarek where he is reliving the moment he most regrets, the day Burnham was told she couldn’t join the Vulcan expeditionary mission. There’s a nice little twist that the Vulcans would only allow one of Sarek’s “not quite Vulcan” children to join and he was forced to choose. So he chose Spock. And of course Spock would go on to do his own thing and join Starfleet when the time came.

But Burnham manages to rescue Sarek and get him back to Discovery.

And Lorca spies an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. If Sarek can’t go to the peace talks surely his lady admiral friend could go.

This isn’t going to end well, I think.

And it doesn’t. It’s a trap and lady admiral is captured by the Klingons who are not renegades after all.

Still it means Lorca stays in command. You’d almost think he planed it that way…

Bond in Motion diecast car collection

Some years back there was a partwork called The James Bond Car Collection. It featured 1:43 scale cars from across all the James Bond movies. Issues came out every two weeks for £7.99 if I recall. I ended up subscribing, as did many others as the collection was successful enough to keep getting extended. In total there were 135 issues. (Do the math…)

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Now Eaglemoss have decided to rerelease the collection. Apparently it’s only going to be for 50 issues. (The words ‘yeah’ and ‘right’ come to mind.) But, get this… The cost per issue is now going to be £12.99. Plus if you subscribe they stick on another £2.99 per delivery of two issues.

Still, these are nice models and if you didn’t get them the first time around you may want to look into it.

Personally there’s no point in me getting them all again. I will however pick up any new vehicles they might have from Spectre or Skyfall, or indeed any additional ones from the older movies. Hint: they never did the Kenworth tanker truck from Licence to Kill. Yeah, I know it’s a long shot.

Fortunately issue one appears to be the Aston Marin DB10 from Spectre which wasn’t included last time around as the collection had stopped by then. Plus it is just £4.99 so I will be picking that one up.

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You can read more about the collection at bondinmotion.herocollector.com

Star Trek Discovery episode 5 review

Lorca is off meeting some admiral to discuss the war. She tells him he needs to give the spore drive a rest as it is Starfleet’s one secret weapon. On the way back to the Discovery Lorca’s shuttle gets captured by Klingons.

PLOT HOLE ALERT – This begs the question why not just meet the admiral by hologram? Or she could have sent an email. “Dear Captian Lorca. Give the spore drive a rest. Thanks.”

Anyway on board the Klingon ship Lorca is chucked into a cell with none other than Harcourt Fenton Mudd from the original series. From time to time Klingons come to the cell and demand the prisoners choose their pain, namely pick who’s in for a kicking. Mudd has played the system well and always picks some other poor devil.

The Klingons interrogate Lorca about the Discovery’s special abilities and torture him by using bright lights.

Mudd is scathing about Lorca, claiming that at the start of the war Lorca abandoned his ship and crew. Lorca says he blew up his ship to save his crew from being captured by Klingons.

On Discovery they are looking for Lorca’s position. Saru has doubts about being captain. Later he tells Burnham he resents that he lost his chance to learn from Georgiou as Burnham did. At one point he looks up a list of the best Starfleet captains and its fun to see the names Jonathan Archer, Robert April, Christopher Pike and Matt Decker there.

At one point Tilly drops the F-bomb. This is a first for Star Trek. The Guy Who Isn’t Alan Tudyk then also drops it just in case we didn’t hear it correctly. For a moment it looks like they want to turn to the camera and say, “Yeah, you f***ing heard right, we just said f***. What the f*** do you think of that?”

Saru demands the JJ Abrams Inspired CGI Creature be made to work. But it kind of gets sick and shrivels up into a CGI blob. Instead The Guy Who Isn’t Alan Tudyk injects himself with some technobabble and takes the place of the JJ Abrams Inspired CGI Creature so the spore drive will work.

Lorca returns from Klingon torture and reveals that Mudd’s pet insect has a Klingon transmitter in it allowing the Klingons to listen into the prisoners.

PLOT HOLE ALERT – This doesn’t make any sense as it’s a Klingon ship. What’s to stop the Klingon’s listening in via a microphone in the walls or something?

Lorca and another Starfleet bod escape from the Klingon ship, basically because Lorca is badass. Lorca leaves Mudd behind because of the Mudd Insect Incident. Discovery arrives and rescues Lorca.

Saru tells Burnham to get the JJ Abrams Inspired CGI Creature all better so she ejects it out of the airlock where it unshrivels itself and flies off into space.

What the actual hell? Someone wrote this? And everyone else liked it?

The Guy Who Isn’t Alan Tudyk is washing is teeth with his husband, the doctor (who probably has a name but I can’t remember it as he hasn’t been given anything more interesting to do than wash his teeth). They leave the bathroom and the reflection of Not Alan Tudyk stays behind.

Huh.

So plot holes, F-words and CGI nonsense aside this was an ok episode. Methinks Mudd must return…

Star Trek Discovery episode 4 review

Here are my thoughts on Star Trek Discovery episode 4. Be warned, spoilers below.

Ok, so Burnham is kind of settling down to the new reality on board the Discovery. In addition to being assigned crew quarters she’s even been given a uniform out of the replicator (or fabricator or whatever the 23rd century version of a replicator is). Although they have neglected to give her a rank and there’s a missing Starfleet badge. Mmm… Story arc methinks… bet there will be a badge there in a few episodes time…

In walks Tilly with a package for Burnham. It’s only the last will and testament of the late captain Georgiou. Burnham recoils as if burned.

In the turbolift there’s my main man Saru surprised to see Burnham. Seems he didn’t get the memo that she wasn’t going to be on the prison shuttle. Captain Lorca shows her his menagerie (as I call it) and tells her to get to work on researching the spore drive, specifically how did the USS Glenn get it to work.

Remember the CGI beastie from last week? Tory from Battlestar has the very clever idea of letting it out of its containment box and trying to cut its claws off.

Guess what… Tory is toast.

Actual Tory shaped toast. With added claw marks.

I though the cool looking sickbay would heal her but no. She is an ex-Tory and is departed. Wow. I was sure Tory would be a slightly confrontational regular character going forward.

No one is safe.

So Burnham does her thing and works out the creature not a predator after all and only defends itself when threatened. Also it has some sort of relationship with the spores. Hand wave. No, I don’t understand it.

In any event they work out how to use the creature to make the spore drive work and this lets them rescue a Federation facility on a dilithium planet from some attacking Klingons. But only Burnham has the empathy to see the creature is suffering.

Side note 1: When they turn on the spore drive the saucer section of the ship does a very cool spinning thing. That’s new.

Side note 2: The “using creature cruelly to power spaceship” was done in a 2010 episode of Doctor Who. True story.

Meanwhile in the Klingon spaceship graveyard where the battle of the binary stars took place we meet our Klingon friends as they attempt to fix the ship crippled by captain Georgiou. More Klingons turn up as they want the ship fixed and in operation as it’s the only one that can cloak apparently. They make off with the ship and leave the torchbearer Klingon in the ruins of the Shenzhou. Interesting. Is he going to fix the Shenzhou?

Side note 3. Apparently the Klingons ate the dead Captain Georgiou. Like actually ate, not a figure of speech. Ew.

Back on the discovery Burnham finally gets the courage to open up the Georgiou box. A holographic message plays saying Burnham is like a daughter to her. Aw. And she probably is a captain by now. Oops. As I predicted inside the box is the telescope from Georgeau’s ready room on the Shenzhou.

So overall another good episode, although I didn’t like it just as much as the first three. I’m still intrigued to see where this is going.

Blade Runner 2049 review

IMG_0535Here are my thoughts on Blade Runner 2049. I will be staying clear of major plot spoilers as this is a movie that you need to go to see knowing as little as possible.

Like the 1982 original this one opens with a text crawl to get us up to speed with what replicants are and what a Blade Runner is. But also we learn what happened between 2019 and 2049. Basically there was a “blackout” of electronic information a few years after the events of the first movie. And this was accompanied by even more ecological collapse.

Just for good measure we then get a close up of an eye staring back at us. Yes indeed, this is Blade Runner.

It’s worth mentioning the first sequence of the movie featuring Ryan Gosling’s character, Blade Runner K, confronting Dave Bautista’s fugitive replicant Sapper Morton. I think this is a reworking of a scene that was in an earlier draft of the first movie where Deckard sits in a farmhouse in the country waiting for the farmer to return home. After “retiring” the farmer the Blade Runner detaches the farmer’s jawbone where a serial number is stamped, revealing that the farmer was a replicant. This scene certainly seems to be inspired by that one.

Without going into any detail at all K discovers something that will lead him, and others, on a quest to find former Blade Runner Deckard.

Back in dystopian Los Angeles K goes home to Joi (Ana de Armas), the perfect wife/girlfriend. It turns out she is an AI companion who appears as an intangible hologram. She’s just a product, a bit of software, but she certainly seems to have a connection to K and he to her. Elsewhere in the movie it is asked if a replicant can have a soul. Joi got me wondering if an AI can have a soul. Everything she does for K is completely selfless. Is she just software? Or is there something more at work?

We also meet what are essentially the villains of the piece, Niander Wallace played by Jared Leto and his enforcer Luv played by Sylvia Hoeks. Wallace has taken over the Tyrell corporation and the production of replicants, but as it says in the trailer he can only make so many. What if there was another way to make replicants? But he’s a nasty bit of work, quite happy to dispatch a newly created replicant on a whim.

Luv I suppose is the Roy Batty of the piece, a constant presence dogging the heels of K as he looks into the case which seems to be bleeding into his own past.

He recounts a memory from his childhood. Might it be an impant? Later he finds himself in the same place as the memory. Might the memory be real after all? Is it his memory or is it someone else’s?

It was heavily shown in the trailers so It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that K will eventually find Harrison Ford’s Deckard in an abandoned Las Vegas. I’ll mention one scene in particular that impressed me. K finds himself being pursued into an automated show with a holographic Elvis Presley appearing and disappearing, in silence and then momentarily with sound. Other dancers and musicians appear and disappear. It’s an impressively unsettling backdrop to the pursuit.

Gosling is pretty good in this. It’s an understated performance, appropriate for the character he’s playing, but with moments of unrestrained anguish.

The movie is quite simply visually stunning. At times it was almost overwhelming how much detail there is on the screen. There are many moments where I knew I was probably looking at cgi but it was totally photorealistic. For example K follows a lead outside Los Angeles to an area that is basically an endless junkyard that goes on for miles in all directions. There are large segments of ships that have been broken up for scrap and overturned domes which may once have been the dishes of radio telescopes. It is completely convincing.

(One aside. Thanks to the original movie of Blade Runner I became a big fan of Philip K Dicks novels. And I particularly liked the cover art that the British artist Chris Moore produced in the 1990s featuring Blade Runner inspired futuristic cityscapes. At times when watching Bade Runner 2049, especially the Las Vegas segments, it struck me that I could be watching a movie of some of those book covers.)

I’ve also got to mention the sound design. There is an almost constant unsettling hum accompaning the visuals, part music part vibration. Try to see the movie in a cinema with a decent sounds system.

I’m really very glad that the movie turned out not an action movie. Looking at some of the trailers I was a little concerned that this would prove to be Blade Runner, The Action Version. But director Denis Villeneuve has kept things very much in keeping with the tone of the original. It’s a character driven piece.

The movie with credits is an eye watering 163 minutes long. If you chop the credits off it’s still 152 minutes long.

And word this weekend is that the movie is perhaps underperforming. Part of me thinks that was always going to be the case, a sequel to a 35 year old movie that a lot of today’s audience won’t have seen, a long running time, not much in the way of action, or indeed humour. Actually it would be very appropriate that the movie would flop just like it’s progenator and perhaps find an audience in years to come on DVD and blu ray and on a streaming service, just like the original found it’s audience on vhs in the 1980s and 1990s. Time will tell.

But it would be a shame if the movie flopped as so much effort has gone into making it. You’d like to think intelligent and thoughtful movie making would be rewarded. Plus word has it hat Villeneuve was set to make a version of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune next. I’d hope that would not be jeopardised by an underperforming Blade Runner sequel.

In the meantime you probably won’t see as an intelligent movie in the cinemas this year, so go check out out.

Star Trek Discovery episode 3 review

Some thoughts on episode 3 on Star Trek Discovery. Please note that some general spoilers follow.

This is turning out to be a good show. Episode 3 in a way is the first proper episode of the series, picking things up six months on from the Battle at the Binary Stars as seen in episode 2. It now appears that the Federation is in a full state of war with the Klingons.

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Captain Lorca

Michael Burnham is being transported along with some other prisoners on a Starfleet shuttle when it encounters difficulties and is recovered by the shiny new USS Discovery. Ostensibly the Discovery is a science vessel but there’s some very unusual things going on. Some personnel have black badges and there are lots of off limits areas. And what’s with the “black alert”?

Wherever Burnham goes on the ship she gets stared at. For she is the first Starfleet officer to mutiny after all.

On the bridge Burnham is surprised and disconcerted to see my main man Lieutenant Commander Saru, newly promoted to second in command on the Discovery. As expected he gets the best line of the episode, telling Burnham “You were always a good officer. Until you weren’t.”

It appears that Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Issacs) wants to have Burnham on his team rather than rotting in a Federation prison camp. He puts her to work in engineering where we meet Lieutenant Stamets (Anthony Rapp) who is ever so slightly condescending and has a sort of Alan Tudyk thing going on.

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Not Alan Tudyk

We also get to meet another new crew member, Cadet Tilly (Mary Wiseman) who is the personification of nervous babbling.

Oh and if you recognise the security officer is because it’s Tory from Battlestar Galactica, aka Rekha Sharma. Come on, you remember Tory, one of the final five Cylons? The one who (spoiler) pushed poor Cally out of the airlock?

Then word comes in that the sister ship of the Discovery, the USS Glenn, has been lost with all hands. The experimental work they were doing on the Glenn is related to the Discovery’s mission so the Discovery is dispatched to recover the research.

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This is actually creepy enough without addng JJ Abrams inspired CGI nonsense

On the Glenn the crew have been pretty much turned inside out, but there are Klingon bodies on board as well, the remains of a boarding party that were looking for Starfleet tech. Which produces one of my favourite moments of black humour in this episode where a surviving Klingon steps out of the shadows gingerly and raises a finger to his lips. “Did he just shush me?” Tilly asks before the Klingon gets eaten.

Because there follows a pure JJ Abrams inspired Force Awakens style cgi-alien-chases-crew-down-corridors sequence. Sigh. Fortunately it’s the only misstep.

Returning to the Discovery Burnham accuses Lorca of developing a weapon in breach of the Geneva conventions. Lorca denies this and says it’s a more benign technology that will help win the war. Inevitably he convinces Burnham to stay with the ship. “You helped start a war,” he says. “Don’t you want to help me end it?”

Additionally there are lots of nice little Easter eggs in this episode, my favourite of which was the little translucent yellow data storage device that Stamets hands Burnham, a direct nod to the little yellow squares that Spock would pop into his science station.

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Love my translucent yellow data device

Lorca has a tribble in his office, and indeed has a larger menagerie in another area, perhaps a nod to the original Star Trek pilot which takes place around the same time.

Tory from Battlestar gets to point her classic series phaser frequently.

Oh, and Burnham tells Tilly that her foster mother Amanda read Alice in wonderland to her and her adopted brother (i.e. Spock)

So overall I’m very pleased with where this show is going.