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May 09, 2009

Star Trek

Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) is a rebel without a cause, until he's pulled out of a bar fight by Starfleet Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Pike studied the career of Kirk's father, who gave his life to save those of his wife, his newborn son and his crew, and Pike believes Starfleet needs Jim Kirk as much as Jim needs something bigger in his life.

Although Kirk joins Starfleet, he's a cocky and impulsive cadet who gets caught hacking a test computer. The only thing that saves him from official reprimand is a distress call from one of the Federation's key worlds. Suddenly Kirk finds himself aboard Starfleet's newest vessel, the U.S.S. Enterprise, at odds with its first officer, Spock (Zachary Quinto), the Vulcan who created the test Kirk cheated at, and heading toward the same danger that killed Kirk's father when Kirk was born...

The past decade has seen several beloved tales gussied up for the Prequel or Reboot treatment with mixed results, and with five TV series (three of which made seven seasons) and ten movies already in the can, Star Trek has one of the biggest bodies of fans of any fiction in the world behind it, fervently hoping They Don't Screw It Up. That's a lot of expectation and momentum. Still, word that there was going to be another Star Trek film after the dull Generations, disappointing Insurrection and mediocre Nemesis was surprising, even more so that it would go all the way back to the Gathering of The Original Crew. That J.J. Abrams of Alias, Lost, Heroes and Cloverfield fame was attached to the project made it more intriguing, although I wasn't a fan of those works.

Let me just say this: Whoever at Paramount decided to let Abrams and his team off the leash and do as they wished with Star Trek deserves a raise. And a hug. Or both. The first ten minutes of the film are utterly heartwrenching - no, not because they're bad, they're not; heartwrenching in the "reach for the tissues" sense - but after that, it moves like a well-oiled rollercoaster on a precision-engineered track between character levity, fight scenes, drama and pathos with incredible, push-the-wow-button special effects thrown in. There's not one actor who seems shortchanged in any way, and as much as I'd like to pat them on the back for Hitting The Star Trek Notes, I don't want to give the impression that they ever had to force themselves to play their versions of the characters like Shatner et al. The script by Alex Kutzman and Roberto Orci (who, with Mission: Impossible III and Transformers under their belts, could probably write a book on Making Good Films Out Of Beloved But Slightly Shaky Properties) is fantastic; it gave the actors plenty to work with and went in some very unexpected directions. You certainly do not need to be a Trekkie, or even acquainted with the franchise to enjoy this film, but if you are, it somehow manages to feel like the Trek you know and love and at the same time wondrously new.

Now if you know me you know how much I hate people who won't shut up during a movie. Well, if there weren't so much other good stuff coming up in the next few weeks alone, I'd see it again just so I could sit through a screening and appreciate it without exclaiming with joy every few minutes! Even my step-granddaughter made mention of how noisy I was during it! It's so good that I can't even classify it as a guilty pleasure. It's just that much honest fun. See Star Trek on the Big Screen. Now.

May 06, 2009

Not Quite Working As Intended

With his Xbox 360 Elite with Customer Service (again) due to a DVD drive issue (similar to the one I had with my regular 360 halfway into the warranty period), Karl started getting withdrawal symptoms on Sunday. He called and asked if he could borrow mine for a few days. I said yes; after all, Karl loaned me his while mine was last in repair (although he was also away on holidays) and it'd be a good way to cut down on the gaming time.

But you know what? Instead of playing Halo 3 and Halo Wars on my 360, I've started playing Dawn of War II and Team Fortress 2 on my PC.

I'll just have to go and lift some weights when the Gaming Urge strikes next...

May 03, 2009

Long Weekend and Live (or Not)

Hello and I hope that you’re having a good Long Weekend, if your Weekend also happens to be Long. It’s the May Day / Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend for us here in Queensland.

We’ve got a list of things we want to get out of the way before Tuesday. Primary amongst these is the restoration of the garden bed. We spent some of our Pennies from Kevin at Bunnings a week ago on two bags of chook poo (a.k.a. Dynamic Lifter) that need to be forked into the bed, but first we must uproot the copious amounts of weeds that have regrown since the last weeding (three weeks, maybe a month ago, I think). It’s not bad work, and I’m glad it’s overcast – well, actually, as I look out of the window now, it’s pretty sunny, so sunscreen, plenty of water and a hat are definitely a good idea. Thankfully, I have all three! Once the weeding and fertilisation are done, we’ll plant the selection of herbs and other veggies we bought along with the chook poo.

Well, it’s been a week since I announced to all and sundry that I was over gaming, and in that time I have blitzed my Xbox Live Friends list. Gone are folks I’ve met online through Karl, members of the Xecutive Order clan and general randoms whom I’ve met through Matchmaking or the Xbox forums; my Friends list now consists of a mere three players, all people whom I’ve met in real life. I must confess that I’ve not been entirely absent from my Xbox 360 in the last week; I went over Karl’s place on Monday, and he loaned me Halo Wars, Assassin’s Creed and Legendary while his console is off at Customer Service for a DVD drive repair. I’ve played the first couple of those and have been pretty impressed, although I’m taking my time with them. Still, I’ve put more time into Burnout Paradise lately; playing it over Live off the cuff is more fun, I think, than Halo 3. Criterion have released the Cops & Robbers Pack, which looks like fun, but I’m still leery of spending money on a multiplayer add-on when I’m trying to avoid multiplayer with folks I don’t know.

While I was at Karl’s place, he introduced Manda to the original Halo, and agreed to loan her one of his Xboxes (no, not a 360; Karl has around three original Xboxes at his place, at least one of which gets used to entertain young ‘uns) so she has something to occupy herself with at her aunt’s.

Anyway, less blogging; more weeding!