The “Star Trek” movies

Somewhat haphazardly, Jim and I decided to sit down and watch the newest “Star Trek” film. We’d seen the movie separately and enjoyed it (in fact, we both own it), but one thing led to another, and we ended up watching most of the other movies together too (I passed on the bad ones, but like a trooper, he toughed it out).

 

It’s been quite a ride, so much fun in fact that we both decided to rank them (separately, for extra fun). It was his first time viewing for most of them, but as it’s been a little while for me, it was an awesome re-watch for a franchise that I don’t revisit enough (plus, I got him to start watching DS9. Mission accomplished!).

 

So, here are my rankings, from worst to best. For Jim’s list, check here.

 

(We didn’t include the newest movie, mainly because it’s starting its own line of movies and doesn’t quite fit in with this bunch. And of course, spoilers ahead.)

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“Star Trek: Generations” revisited

As all good “Star Trek” fans know (and hey, even non-fans know it), when it comes to the movies, the even ones rock and the odd ones suck. Sure, the odd ones aren’t all horrible, but they don’t live up to the highs the even numbered movies offer us.

But, due to a recent “Star Trek” rewatch/indoctrination (Hi Jim!), I’ve gotten a chance to re-evaluate one of the films I’m not too familiar with: “Star Trek: Generations.”

Here be spoilers! Reading more may cause you to find out facts well-known in geek land. You have been warned.

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“X-Men: The Last Stand” revisited

I have loved “X-Men” since I was kid. In the pre-Tivo days, I tried my hardest to always catch the show when it came on Saturday mornings. When I got my first job, my license and my first access to disposable income, I discovered my town’s lone comic book store and went nuts buying as many of the issues as I could afford (and let’s face it, some I couldn’t).

So, way back in 2000, when the first movie came out, I was excited…and then when I watched the first one I was largely disappointed in a cool and cerebral outing when I wanted the action and emotion that I’ve come to expect from the series.

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Pitch Black

Vin Diesel is an actor that I’ve never really had respect for as an actor (sorry Vin, although you sound like a cool guy). I once sat through a painful two hours watching “XXX,” and after that experience, I never wanted to see another movie with him in it.

But for reasons not worth going in to, I decided to shrug off the horrors of “XXX” and give “Pitch Black” a shot. I will probably never be persuaded that Diesel is an excellent actor, but here, he is perfectly cast as Richard Riddick, the sociopathic lead character who can see in the dark.

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‘The Fifth Element’ revisited

While watching Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element” again, I suddenly remembered the first time I saw it.

I was still in high school, in the summer between 9th and 10th grade. None of us could drive yet, but some friends (Julie, Kristen and Erica) and I planned to meet at the theater that was just down the road (and across a highway) from my house. After playing a human version of “Frogger” across four lanes of traffic (not recommended), I met up with them.

We were giggly and too loud during the wait, and I have no idea what I thought of the movie after watching with them, but that memory of that day is enough for me to give the movie a bit of a break.

And boy, does it need one.

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Strange Days

“It the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” – REM

That line perfectly sums up Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), the hero of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” (1995).

The title is not an exaggeration; the setting is the last few days of 1999 in a world gone mad; Los Angeles is essentially a police state, but since the whole world is a police state, no one really seems to notice.

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District 9

Some 20 years ago, a space ship fell out of the sky over South Africa. After days of no contact from the aliens, humans board the ship to discover a million sick and dying aliens. The ship is irreparably damaged, they can’t go home and their technology won’t work for us. What do we do with them now?

 

So begins “District 9,” an ambitious but flawed science-fiction movie.

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“Planet of the Apes” (1968)

Long story short, I really didn’t enjoy “Planet of the Apes.”

I saw the remake on the theater way back in 2001, and while I had fun making fun of it (and nearly got myself kicked out of said theater), I never really felt the need to go back.

But I did. I’m not entirely sorry I watched the original, but this is a film that is so familiar, it almost feels unnecessary to watch it.

There is good potential here, and like all good science-fiction films (and TV shows), “Planet of the Apes” takes the fears of the day and paints a picture of the worst-case scenario. The problem here is that while the message still largely holds up (we are quite capable of destroying everything we are), there is no suspense to this story.

Everybody knows how it ends; the big reveal has long since passed into the pop culture collective unconscious, and while movies aren’t always about the ending, when the journey itself is not that exciting (and at times very heavy handed), it’s hard to get invested in the story.

Like the original “King Kong,” I really would have liked to have seen this when it came out, before it was a massive hit and all the secrets were revealed.

Pop culture backlash really bites.

“Planet of the Apes” (1968)

Written by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner   

 Starring: Charlton Heston (Taylor)

Roddy McDowall (Cornelius)

Kim Hunter (Zira)

28 Days Later

It’s a break in of some kind; men and woman enter a room filled with animals in cages, and while they’re horror-struck at what they see, their resolve to free these “torture victims” will not be swayed, even when the voice of reason tries to intervene. Before you know it, a monkey infected with a rage virus is free and on the attack…

So begins (brilliantly) “28 Days Later,” a zombie thriller from Danny Boyle; these well-meaning but foolish environmental activists spark off a plague throughout the United Kingdom, but that backstory is unknown to our protagonist, Jim (Cillian Murphy), who suffered a head injury and has been in a coma. When he wakes up (28 Days Later), the world is empty and silent, with no one to hear his “Hello.”

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