Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive Book Review

treknology

TREKNOLOGY is a book about real world science that reflects the science in Star Trek. That is, it’s not like the various Star Trek technical manuals that explain how the science is supposed to work. So you won’t be reading about the fictional Heisenberg compensators in transporters, for example. But for technologies not yet available like warp drive and transporters, the work of Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre and developments using quantum entanglement are mentioned, respectively. Don’t expect, however, any blueprints for enabling you to build your own automatic sliding doors.

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Star Trek FAQ 2.0: Everything Left to Know About The Next Generation, the Movies, and Beyond Book Review

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Star Trek FAQ 2.0 continues chronologically from Mark Clark’s previous book, Star Trek FAQ (which I previously reviewed on Film Junk). That is, this book covers the years of Star Trek starting from its first motion picture up to, but only briefly, Star Trek Into Darkness. Accordingly, the book is subtitled, “Everything Left to Know About the Next Generation, the Movies, and Beyond.” As hinted in the subtitle, Star Trek: The Next Generation gets the most coverage, making this book too lopsided in my opinion. For additional detail and information beyond what was discussed in Film Junk’s Star Trek Movie Podcast, this book serves as a nice companion.

As mentioned in the author’s introduction, the book had to omit chapters dealing with the Star Trek novels, comic books and video games in order to keep the page count reasonable. But there is still space for fun by including a chapter on the food and beverages of Star Trek. He also states that this book is ordered more in a chronological fashion, which was probably prompted by the fact that this book covers more years than the first book.

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The Walking Tall Trilogy Review

The Walking Tall Trilogy (DVD)
Directed by: Phil Karlson / Earl Bellamy / Jack Starrett
Starring: Joe Don Baker / Bo Svenson

Advertised as the “original revenge film,” Walking Tall is a ’70s classic that I’m not sure would appeal to today’s audience even though there seems to be a resurgence in the popularity of heroes in revenge films with films like Taken. The movie was popular enough to spawn two sequels in the ’70s, a television movie, a television series (albeit short-lived) and eventually a remake with its own two direct-to-DVD sequels. This review covers the ’70s theatrical films that have been released as a trilogy in a single package.

When Walking Tall was originally released in 1973, I was only eleven years old, but for some reason, I have a strong memory of this film’s impact. The movie was R-rated, so neither I nor any of my friends nor even my older brother saw the movie in the theatre on its initial release. Perhaps it played at the drive-in, but I don’t recall seeing it then. As far as heroes go, my admiration was growing for Bruce Lee, whose death in 1973 is something I remember vividly even though I didn’t realize its significance; however, Buford Pusser, the real-life hero whose life Walking Tall is based on, was not someone with whom I identified. But television commercials for the film probably ingrained into my brain the image of a large man clobbering people with a large stick.

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Accident Review

Accident
Directed by: Pou-Soi Cheang
Written by: Kam-Yuen Szeto and Lik-Kei Tang
Starring: Louis Koo, Richie Ren, Shui-Fan Fung

If you wanted to get away with murder, then wouldn’t it make sense to make the person’s death seem like a bizarre accident? And if you could get away with murder, then wouldn’t being a high paid assassin seem like a reasonable lifestyle? This is the intriguing premise for the movie Accident. This movie goes further though by depicting what could happen if you were almost killed in an accident, and began suspecting someone was out to get you!

In 2009, “Accident” was selected to be shown at both the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. I understand that the director, Soi Cheang, is acquiring a solid reputation for his directorial style with ample backing from this film’s producer, Johnnie To, who has a directing reputation of his own. Despite these credentials, and the intriguing premise, I was unimpressed with this film. But I am willing to allow that the fault may lie with me and not the film. Let me explain. (I realize that movie critics sometimes react badly to a film because it’s not what they expected and they criticize it for that reason rather than assess a film for what it is.)

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Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise Book Review

Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise is a new, non-fiction Star Trek book that is meant both for die-hard and casual fans of the original Star Trek series created in the 1960s. Despite the title, the book isn’t set up in a question and answer format, and the book has answers to some questions that have probably only occurred to a small number of people. This book is meant to be a distillation of information published elsewhere, but even at 413 pages, don’t expect technical details like an explanation of star dates or warp drive. There is an obligatory episode guide, but thankfully, the plot synopses are kept short. From my fan perspective, its pages do contain some interesting information that I wasn’t aware of.

The author, Mark Clark, is a Star Trek fan, but he is also a film historian, who has taught on the subject, as well as being a former newspaper film critic. Thus one would hope that the book could provide insights beyond all of the information that can probably be found by scouring the Internet. Unfortunately, don’t expect any revelatory information that a Star Trek insider might have.

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Punished DVD Review

Punished
Directed by: Law Wing Cheong
Written by: Chi Keung Fung
Starring: Anthony Wong, Richie Jen, Janice Man, Maggie Cheung Ho Yee

Punished is another entry in the revenge genre that continues in its ongoing popularity. A kidnapping occurs with the film non-linearly unraveling the mystery of who is involved. Although there are a few depictions of brutal violence, this film concerns itself mainly with the psychological toll on the perpetrator of revenge. An interesting change is that the physical revenge is performed by a hired-hand of the victim’s father.

Some people expecting an action film will likely find the character scenes rather bland, but I thought they were interesting in the context of the mystery of revealing who was involved in the kidnapping. The violence is not stylized at all. There are rough and tumble fights rather than wire-work martial arts. And the gunfights are straight ahead “keep shooting until you get shot” matches. No slow motion or doves here.

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The Captains DVD Review

The Captains
Written and Directed by: William Shatner
Starring: William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, Chris Pine

The Captains is a documentary made for fans of Star Trek. It features interviews with the actors who starred as starship captains in the Star Trek franchise. What makes this Star Trek documentary unique is that it was written and directed by William Shatner, the second actor to play a starship captain. (Shatner replaced the first actor as captain, Jeffrey Hunter, who starred in only the pilot episode of Star Trek. Hunter has gone on to the final frontier, and so was not contacted for an interview.) Also the interviews were conducted by Shatner, who appears on-screen with his interviewees. On viewing this documentary, it soon becomes apparent that its focus is not on Star Trek, but rather on Shatner himself.

I confess. I am a lapsed Trekkie. I suppose my faith waivered because I was disappointed in Star Trek (2009). Perhaps I couldn’t let go of the fact that William Shatner was no longer Captain Kirk. I grew up with the original series, and William Shatner will always be my favourite captain. For many males including myself, Shatner’s Captain Kirk was the embodiment of masculinity: he commanded the respect of those being led by him; he fearlessly encountered the unknown; and he attracted females wherever he travelled. None of the later captains for whatever reasons were able to highlight these characteristics in the way Shatner did in my mind. Even when there was a conscious attempt to emulate these original characteristics in the last Star Trek series to date with Scott Bakula’s Captain Archer, the general public did not seem to take notice. Every Star Trek fan has his own favourite captain, though, so interviewing all of them seems like the best way to appeal to as many people as possible.

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Reed’s Bargain Bin: Dark Assassin / The Fifth Commandment

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Reed’s Bargain Bin is a recurring column where Reed Farrington tells us about a movie he bought for under $5, and whether or not he regrets the purchase.

For those who think that the best martial arts films are the ones that star actual martial artists, I present to you two films that defy this categorization: Dark Assassin (2006) and The Fifth Commandment (2008). I wasn’t even going to bother reviewing these two films, but after watching the behind-the-scenes documentaries on each DVD, I found out that much effort and perseverance were involved in getting these films made. So I thought I would at least offer these films some recognition even though I won’t have many good things to say about them. However, discussing these films might be of some interest. And with the recent release of Ninja Assassin, I thought there might be an interest in assassin movies.

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Reed Farrington’s Christmas Wish List

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Here are some Christmas gift ideas that I’ve already purchased for myself (since everyday is more or less Christmas for me). But if you have any Reed Farrington-type guys in your life, then you might consider one or all of these gift items:

1. Gort 16-Inch Resin Statue – The Day the Earth Stood Still

reedgort

This is supposedly a limited edition of 1,951 statues; however, the cheaply printed Certificate of Authenticity in mine didn’t have a number indicating which of the 1,951 statues in the production line that I bought. This item seems rather abundant in Ontario, Canada, because if you go to a Winners or HomeSense, then you’re bound to find this item selling at a reduced price of $19.99, which is a bargain considering that it’s selling on sale at Monsters in Motion for $75.00, which is 50% off its regular price.

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Killer Imports: Kung Fu Cyborg

kungfucyborg

Killer Imports is a regular feature on Film Junk where we explore foreign-language films from around the world that haven’t yet had their chance to shine.

Kung Fu Cyborg: Metallic Attraction opens with a promising title sequence. On a plain white background befitting a technologically sterile environment, a headless robotic body performs various human movements like training on a Wing Chun dummy and playing an erhu, a Chinese musical instrument. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie was rather disappointing although it does have a certain amount of charm.

I had not heard or seen anything about this movie when I noticed its clunky title on the DVD cover. Since the images on the cover were rather indistinct, I imagined either a martial arts Terminator wreaking havoc or an Ultraman-like hero dispatching evil-doers. What I got instead were Transformers in a meandering mess of a plot meant to please everyone. For the action fans, there are Transformer-capable cyborgs that use kung fu. For the comedy fans, there are some genuinely goofy, slap-stick comedic bits that kids might laugh at. For the intellectual fans, there are philosophical implications to contemplate. And for the sentimental fans, there is a love quadrilateral to be resolved.

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Killer Imports: Coweb

coweb

Killer Imports is a regular feature on Film Junk where we explore foreign-language films from around the world that haven’t yet had their chance to shine.

Whenever I appear on the Film Junk podcast and review a film, I invariably have a negative opinion. And when I write film reviews for the Film Junk web site, I invariably have a positive opinion, even for films that many Film Junk readers would consider bad. The discrepancy has to do with the fact that I don’t get to choose which films to review on the podcast. I find it easier to give reasons on why I like something rather than why I don’t like something. So for me, writing a positive review is easier to write and seems more worthwhile since someone may be influenced by a positive review to watch a film that I feel deserves attention. No one in a right state of mind sets out to make a “bad” film, and I know the task of actually getting a film made is not easy. I prefer not to say anything bad about the result of someone’s efforts. But I thought I should correct the discrepancy between having all my podcast reviews being negative and all my written reviews being positive.

So it is with a heavy heart that I must say how much I disliked Coweb.

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Reed’s Bargain Bin: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

bbecksvssever

Reed’s Bargain Bin is a recurring column where Reed Farrington tells us about a movie he bought for under $5, and whether or not he regrets the purchase.

“Blowed ‘em up good, blowed ‘em up real good!” If Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok from SCTV’s Farm Film Report had been on Rotten Tomatoes’ (RT) staff, then there’s no way that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (BEVS) would ever be in the list of RT’s worst movies of the past decade. So, in the opinion of Reed Farrington, does this movie deserve to be at the top of that list?

Well, that “worst of” list was the impetus I needed to finish watching this film that had been sitting in my stockpile for the past three years. I hadn’t realized that I had watched all of it up to the last ten minutes. Perhaps this is indicative of how bad BEVS is, but I also have movies like The Lord of the Rings that I haven’t finished watching either. And some people seem to think LOTR is good.

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