Pandemics on Film

The depiction of mass hysteria and societal collapse have been a part of film since around the release of the first Invasion of the Body Snatchers. With that movie, we were able to see how people could either be hyper-paranoid or walk around oblivious to the apparent changes to their everyday life. Some times these films are used to speak to societal fears of the time. As we are all under voluntary quarantine and exercising extreme caution, here are some movies that might get your mind off of it or make you even more anxious. Some are chilling in their observations of humanity, while others are cringingly horrible.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, directed by Philip Kaufman)

From my review: This is a fantastic film and one we don’t hear about often enough. The cast is composed of some acting greats who are firing on all cylinders. I’ve always felt Brooke Adams was terribly overlooked, and this performance is one of those that reminds you of her strengths. Leonard Nimoy, who we never got to see outside of Spock very often, is excellent as the laidback Dr. Kibner, who becomes a very different character by the film’s conclusion. Nimoy plays both sides of the character wonderfully.

Continue reading “Pandemics on Film”

TV Review – The Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Part One

Emissary (original airdate: January 3rd, 1993)
Written by Rick Berman and Michael Piller
Directed by David Carson

Where did Deep Space Nine come from? The concept started with Brandon Tartikoff, the Chairman of Paramount in the early 1990s who wanted a new addition to the franchise that was a Western. This would be about a lawman (Starfleet officer) coming with his son to a station on the edge of the frontier trying to restore order. Elements of American westerns were woven throughout with the bartender, the sheriff, the native people, the kindly doctor, etc. Showrunner Michael Piller liked the idea of a stationary Star Trek series because he saw it as an opportunity to make the effects of episodes long-lasting. Instead of a procedural, this could be a serialized program with ripples across seasons from storylines. Characters would not be part of a crew on an assignment but a community of disparate people forced to live together and learn how to survive.

Continue reading “TV Review – The Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Part One”

Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman by George Perez Volume 4

Wonder Woman by George Perez Volume 4
Reprints Wonder Woman V2 #36-45, Annual #2
Written by George Perez & Mindy Newell
Art by Chris Marrinan, Jill Thompson Steve Montano, Colleen Doran, Jan Duursema, & more

George Perez’s reboot of Wonder Woman in the late 1980s is just so unlike anything else that came before or after. Wonder Woman was always a strange comic when compared to others, being a female-led title when such a thing wasn’t trendy. The world of Wonder Woman was so unique pre-Crisis and continued to be different when it came to the tone. In the early days, there was more of an effort to incorporate Princess Diana’s stories with the DC Universe proper. We saw that in previous volumes with Millennium and Invasion tie-ins. This period of Perez’s run felt like it was drifting away from the larger universe, become more insular with Diana’s supporting cast.

Continue reading “Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman by George Perez Volume 4”

Movie Review – Taste of Cherry

Taste of Cherry (1997)
Written & Directed by Abbas Kiarostami

For a film about such an intimately emotional experience, Taste of Cherry chooses to distance itself, placing the whole of the movie in an almost purely rhetorical realm. We learn very little about the personal life of our main character and not much about the people he encounters during his journey. Conversations orbit around significant existential questions, yet the movie is very much about the beauty of human existence and frailty. This is also a movie that Roger Ebert gave a single star to because he said it lacked any forward momentum, which I think was sort of the point. This is a piece of ambient cinema, and it defies Western expectations.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Taste of Cherry”

Comic Book Review – Miracleman: The Golden Age & The Silver Age

Miracleman: The Golden Age w/The Silver Age
Reprints Miracleman #17-22, extra material from #23-24
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Mark Buckingham

Alan Moore’s departure from Miracleman did not mean the end of the character. Instead, Moore personally handed the reins over to Neil Gaiman. This was 1990, and by that time, Gaiman was growing in prominence with The Sandman title for DC Comics. This was not the height of Gaiman’s fame but definitely at the moment where he became one of the premier writers in the genre. Gaiman set out with big plans for the Miracleman title, a trilogy of six-issue volumes that would explore the utopian world Moore set up. However, Eclipse, the company that published Miracleman was struggling in the direct market distribution model, publishing exclusively for comic book/hobby shops. This was to be an unfinished magnum opus, ending on a cliffhanger.

Continue reading “Comic Book Review – Miracleman: The Golden Age & The Silver Age”

Movie Review – Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Written by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

With a sleek new Enterprise, the Next Generation cast set out on their second film, fully realized as a big-screen product. While the budget is bigger and the stakes are higher, something is lost in the process. It’s that distinct sense of a family. The focus is narrowed to Picard and Data, while the rest of the crew become supporting to minor players in these characters’ stories.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Star Trek: First Contact”

Movie Review – Star Trek: Generations

Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Written by Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Carson

Star Trek: Generations is not a film that is going to bring new viewers into the franchise, it exists as something for fans of the series. That said, even if you don’t know who these characters are and the legacy bits are lost on you, the story is still comprehensible. It’s a story about regret, how time goes back so fast, and you find yourself thinking about the other life you could have had. Generations is the perfect companion piece to “All Good Things,” the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They both focus on Picard, his sense of aging, and confronting the life not lived.

Continue reading “Movie Review – Star Trek: Generations”