November 21, 2014
Accident is a short, sharp, and immensely stylish thriller. It is directed by Soi Cheang (Motorway) and produced by Johnnie To via the latter’s Milkyway Image production company. There is a particular aesthetic to Milkyway films. They have a certain stylistic sheen and slow, methodical pace. Accident is no different, and slots in seamlessly among To’s own directorial works.
The events that led to this documentary being produced - the violent death of a Seaworld trainer - could easily inspire something quite sensationalistic and tacky. It is testament to Cowperthwaite's skills as a filmmaker that it never takes this route. It is oftentimes confronting, and in some scenes quite violent and brutal, but it never loses sight of what it is aimed to do, and it succeeds admirably in its goals. This is not simply a worthwhile and informative documentary - it is a necessary one.
November 20, 2014
Odo has been reunited with his own people, the Changelings. While he attempts to learn their ways and re-integrate into their society, Kira begins to have some questions about what the Changelings' motives really are. Meanwhile Sisko and his crew return to Deep Space Nine to discover the Dominion have made contact with the Federation in their absence, and that a peace treaty is being negotiated. How much is the Federation willing to sacrifice to keep the peace?
"The Search, part 2" is a rare phenomenon in Star Trek: the second part of a two-part story that's actually better than the first. Usually it goes the other way around: part 1 is able to set up all manner of shock climaxes and cliffhangers, and it's up to part 2 to stagger around picking up the pieces and making sense of it all. Instead "The Search" moves quite smoothly from one installment to the other, and its cleverest ideas and most surprising moments are all actually here in the second half.
The film was written and directed by Jonathan Lynn, best known for co-writing the excellent BBC comedy Yes Minister. This was Lynn's first feature film, but not his last: he went on direct My Cousin Vinny, The Whole Nine Yards, The Distinguished Gentleman and The Fighting Temptations.
It has a strong cast of comic actors, including Tim Curry, Lesley Ann Warren, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd and Michael McKean. It's essentially a farce: people running in and out of rooms, comical misunderstandings, mannered performances. How much you enjoy the film does, in part, depend on what you think of farces.
November 19, 2014
With Starfleet reeling from the destruction of the USS Odyssey, Commander Sisko is given command over the Defiant: a small over-powered battleship originally developed to fight the Borg. He takes the Deep Space Nine command crew with him on an urgent mission to the Gamma Quadrant to find the mysterious Founders of the Dominion, and to avert a galactic war before it can begin.
Season 3 kicks off with "The Search", a two-part story that introduces a lot of changes to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The obvious addition is the USS Defiant, basically giving the series a more iconic means of flying away from the station when certain episodes (like this one) require it. It's a nicely designed ship, sitting somewhere between the pre-existing Runabouts and a starship proper. It's also a ship built for war, which leads nearly into the second big change.
Now clearly this wasn't the first time Star Trek had attempted a story arc: the back-end of Deep Space Nine's final season was almost entirely one big storyline, culminating in an epic ten-part finale. This was a whole season, however, and represented a pretty big leap of faith by producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. High risks, but potentially a big reward.
November 18, 2014
My big question is: does Image need a book like Drifter? If there's one genre that's been in plentiful supply over there it's been science fiction. Prophet just wound up a run monthly run of Rene Laloux-style weirdness. Copperhead kicked off three months ago, with a very similar western frontier vibe (albeit much more on the nose). We only recently had Planetoid, Storm Dogs, and Debris. Saga is still selling like gangbusters. I'm not suggesting there isn't room for more sci-fi in comics - how many superhero books get published a month? - but based on this issue I don't see any way in which Drifter differentiates itself from the crowd. It's coming in too late to the party, and runs the risk of being an also-ran. How many more comics do we need to read about gun-toting gritty heroes on western-inspired frontier worlds? Clearly Brandon and Klein feel there's room for one more, but I'm not entirely convinced. (3/5)
Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl, Batman, Batman Eternal, Copperhead, FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, Klarion, Prometheus, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, Thor, Wild's End and Wytches.
Captain Archer rides a Xindi ship at breakneck speed down a subspace corridor, in a desperate race to reach and destroy the super weapon before it reaches and annihilates the Earth. Back in the Expanse, T'Pol commands the Enterprise in a risky mission to destroy the Guardians' sphere network once and for all.
This episode boasts the most archetypal 'old-school' Star Trek climax imaginable: the Enterprise's captain beams aboard the alien death machine to blow it up, and winds up having a brutal fistfight with the alien leader. It's a climax so archetypal that J.J. Abrams duplicates it in his 2009 reboot movie. Then it will be Chris Pine as Kirk trading blows with the Romulan terrorist Nero (Eric Bana) over a network of precarious walkways. Here it's Scott Bakula as Archer trading blows with the Reptilian Xindi terrorist Dolim (Scott MacDonald). Apart from the change in characters, it's basically the same scene - just five years apart.