Star Trek Strange New Worlds: A Quality Of Mercy

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Captain Pike, played by Anson Mount, must come to terms with his future or risk the lives of his crew as he partakes in a journey into the future.

I am not denying that this season finale had some great moments, it did. Nor am I saying that the reintroduction of the Romulans was unwelcome, it really wasn’t. However, what I found to be the central issue with this episode was that it was trying to do too much. It was expanding the Pike future plot line from the first episode, it introduced a new version of Captain Kirk, played by Paul Wesley, it reintroduces the Romulans and it advances the Una, played by Rebecca Romijn, genetic modification storyline from earlier in the season. All that happens in one hour long episode, to say it is overstuffed would be an understatement.

Though these plot elements do give us a lot to be excited about with the show going forward, here and now they just feel forced in as they are not really fleshed out and instead seem to only serve to set up the second season.

Another thing that bothered me about this episode is that it mainly focused on Pike. Now I think Mount is doing a terrific job as the character of Captain Pike ,however, I think the character is at his best when he is bouncing off of the other characters on the Enterprise, whereas here he gets a lot of focus with barely any of the supporting characters stealing attention away from him but this just leads to the flaws with his character’s writing and personality becoming ever more apparent.

Overall, the first season ends on a mixed bag but teases an interesting tomorrow for the show.

Pros.

The return of the Romulans

A few great moments

The tease of what’s to come

Cons.

It feels overstuffed

The second season set up feels a little heavy handed  

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Stranger Thing Season 4 Part 2: More Hand Raising And Nose Bleeds

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The second part of the season sees the gang truly face off against Vecna, played by Jamie Campbell Bower.

The two episodes that this part is made up of are on for over 3 and a half hours combined, that right there is a red flag. I am glad to see that the Duffer Brothers are saying that the episodes for the final season will be shorter as the over two hour finale is honestly quite hard to get through in one sitting. I think because of their length and the fact that Netflix clearly gave the Brothers free reign to stuff as much in as they wanted this leads to awful pacing issues that really plague this season.

Moreover, though I do admire the slow motion ‘epicness’ of the finale to a degree, as who doesn’t like slow motion right? I ask only partially seriously, I think that for me this was let down by a lack of stakes. Much like Captain America Civil War this finale is build over the course of the season to be a big event with massive stakes yet really no one of any importance dies, a new character and that is about it.

I do like where the series ends on however, with everyone back together again and the upside now fully spilling out into reality, I think this sets up a lot of very interest directions for where things could go next time around.

Overall, not as strong as it has been in the past but there is still some promise there.

Pros.

The final shot

The slow motion

The Russia set subplot

Cons.

The pace

The lack of real danger or stakes

The incoherent logic    

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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: All Those Who Wander

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Star Trek crosses over with Alien, not really but you could easily believe so.

I think this episode, much like the one before it, was a step back. I think widely that this show has promise and is clearly the best of the modern Star Trek show line-up, however, it is far from strong a lot of the time and has a lot of issues that hopefully it will work out in later seasons.

I think the major issue here was just how uninspired the Gorn were, this is of could compounded by the fact that we have been hearing about them all season, as when we do come to meet them they are a xenomorph knock-off. The writers of this episode couldn’t even be bothered to cover up their copying, with the Gorn also laying eggs in people and having their offspring burst out resulting in death to the host, truly it was a case of the plagiarist holding up their copied work to the teachers face self-assuredly thinking they can’t be caught out. How wrong they were.

The only reason I don’t give this episode lower is because I really like what they did with La’an, played by Christina Chong, here. I thought the focus on her throughout the episode gave us a good look into her character and nicely fleshed out her relationship with the Gorn. The ending wherein she decides to leave the crew for a while to help tend to the refugees felt very fitting and in-keeping with the character we have come to know.

Overall, bar the good character work with La’an this is copied and pasted from better material.

Pros.

La’an

A few tense moments

It is watchable   

Cons.

It feels copied and pasted

A lot of the twists and turns are fairly obvious

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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: The Elysian Kingdom

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The crew of the Enterprise find themselves turned into characters from a children’s book after a cosmic entity befriends the Chief Medical Officer’s dying daughter.

What the hell happened here? There is so much wrong with this episode I hesitate to know where to begin. Firstly, fantasy episodes of Star Trek or episodes where they embrace more whacky and out there premises rarely work in my opinion. I didn’t mind the body swap episode earlier in the season, but this for me was just too silly. However, the once thing I will give this episode’s premise is that it drastically changed the personality of almost all the Enterprise’s crew and gave us wildly different versions of the characters then those we have come to expect, I thought Pike, played by Anson Mount, and La’an, played by Christina Chong, were stand outs in this regard. For the most part I found these alt versions of the characters to be somewhat entertaining.

Moreover, the ending of the episode feels like an almost insulting pay off to the M’Benga storyline. Not only does his daughter get a miracle Deus ex machina cure, she also leaves with the cosmic entity seemingly for the rest of her life yet M’Benga just carries on as normal. Yes, an argument can be made that her leaving was for the greater good and he knew that,  and that as her father he would just want to see her safe and well, but I don’t buy for a minute that he wouldn’t even be a little bit upset that he is unlikely to see her again.

Overall, this episode felt out of place and like a clear example of filler.

Pros.

The alt versions of the characters being over the top gave some amusement

It is watchable

Cons.

The ending

It is too silly

The fantasy elements really don’t work  

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Obi-Wan Kenobi: Part VI

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor, and Vader, played by Hayden Christensen and voiced by James Earl Jones, face off once again, and Reva, played by Moses Ingram, goes to hunt down the child of Anakin Skywalker.

For the most part a great final episode. There were a few things that I would nit-pick, such as the Grand Inquisitor, played by Rupert Friend, still looking naff, or the fact they undercut what should be a very impactful moment with a meme reference, but those aside this episode is firing on all cylinders.

The fight between Vader and Obi-Wan was well done and fairly cool, I wasn’t so keen that it was the memory of Leia , played by Vivian Lyra Blair, that returned his strength not his memories of Anakin or even of both the children, but that is just personal taste. I thought it was a bit of a forgone conclusion that Kenobi would beat Vader, but I enjoyed his defeat all the same Christensen gave a great performance.

The Reva sub-plot I thought tied things up nicely, it redeemed her to a degree and had her survive to go off and have her own adventures as possible a light side Jedi again. I really thought these last two episodes really brought Reva into her own, it was just a shame that she was written so one notedly beforehand.   

Finally, I just want to touch on the Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson, who does a make a return here and boy oh boy what a return it is. Seeing Neeson back really made my day, a great way to end it.

Do I think we need a second season? No not really, I say leave it here and maybe have the comics fill in the rest, Star Wars as a brand really needs some new characters and new stories, the past as they say should die.

Overall, a strong season finale.

Pros.

The Vader fight

Redeeming Reva

Qui-Gon’s return

The emotion

It really brought the series together

Cons.

A few nit-picky concerns and issues  

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Crimes Of The Future: Where We Are All Heading

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In a future where humans are evolving to eat plastic, a war is being fought over what makes someone human as well as notions around monstrosity.

Honestly this film will not be for a lot of people. I myself had a fair amount of issues with it such as: it was far too long, it sometimes came across as pretentious and smug and thought it was a bit more intelligent than it actually is, and of course there is a scene where you see a child’s penis. No scene in any film should show a nude child, just no.

However, despite that opening painting a rather damning picture, I don’t think this film is all bad and I do think that there are some trace amounts of greatness in here. In many ways this can be seen as a traditional Cronenberg film, or certainly as the director returning to his roots. The body horror aspects are all very inspired and well done and as such the film stands out in the modern horror landscape, however, there are a few times wherein the gore and the viscera became a little too much for me; what can I say I don’t like live surgery scenes and there are a lot of them here.

Moreover, I think the performances across the board were also terrific. This is highlighted with gusto by a very game Viggo Mortensen and a surprisingly unsettling Kristen Stewart. I think that the characters and world created are so intriguing that it allows the film to get away with some of its worse sins. I also really enjoyed the originality of the premise as I felt like I hadn’t seen this before.

Overall, very much a film made for a niche audience, but one you should experience for yourself all the same.

Pros.

The performances

The world

The premise

Cons.

It is too long and at times overly pretentious

Showing child nudity

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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: The Serene Squall

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After beaming onboard a vessel supposedly in distress Pike, played by Anson Mount, and co find themselves taken prisoner, whilst at the same time those remaining on the Enterprise must fight off against space pirates.

I thought this was a serviceable episode, it is not so much that it is a bad episode but it certainly is a step back from the last few. The space pirate plot feels very generic and been there done that, I understand the final tease of Spock’s’ half sibling might lead to interesting things in the future, but for what it was it was fairly forgettable.

I enjoyed seeing Pike lead a mutiny aboard the space pirate vessel and I thought that this part of the episode was tonally spot on, it let Pike have his heroic moments but also balanced that with some levity. I thought that once again he and Rebecca Romijn’s Una had fantastic chemistry.

What I thought was the weakest part of the episode was the Spock, played by Ethan Peck, subplot about his human side effecting his and his wife’s relationship and sex life with a number of different characters being brought it to be potential other love interests for him. I just thought that tonally this didn’t really fit at all and felt like they were trying to force in a love triangle for the sake of it.

Overall, a fine episode but not one that will be remembered long after watching.

Pros.

Pike continues to shine

It is watchable

Some good action

Cons.

Spock’s relationship drama

The villain was fairly obvious and nonthreatening

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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Lift Us Where Suffering Can’t Reach

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Enterprise gets tangled up in an ethical quagmire after saving a ship in distress.

I thought this was yet another good episode of Star Trek. I particularly enjoyed the moral dilemma between should the crew interfere with how this other civilisation operates or should they let them kill a child and not get in the way and cause a conflict, it felt like older series of the show. I also like how dark they were prepared to go with it having the kid being effectively tortured by the machine, before he is inevitably saved, it was surprisingly twisted and mature.

I liked that Pike, played by Anson Mount, got centre stage here he really made the most out of every scene he got. Mount continues to be fantastic in the role and prove what a skilled and capable actor he is, hopefully we have some more Pike centric episodes coming up in the rest of the season.  

My main issue with the episode was that the new character, at least to me as I don’t watch the other modern Star Trek shows, with whom Pike had a history was really written as being incredibly one dimensional. She was a generic love interest and then she turned out to be the villain in the end, with almost an air of the psycho girlfriend cliché to her that felt more than a little sexist.

Overall, I think that this current Star Trek show is really starting to hit its prime and come into its own.

Pros.

The ethical conundrum

How dark it gets

Mount is fantastic as Pike

There is no needless filler

Cons.

The villain ends up feeling like a sexist cliché

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Lightyear: Back In The 90s This Would Have Been A Good Idea

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film that inspired Andy to buy Buzz in Toy Story.

I think this film makes a pretty clear cut argument for how Disney has slowly corrupted and ruined Pixar, forcing the studio to make sequels, prequels and spin-offs that don’t need to exist and to sacrifice their heart and soul in doing it.

I am not going to say this film is awful and needless all the way through because that isn’t true, it does have good moments here and there, but by and large the biggest issue here is that this film never justifies its existence.

I thought the writing was exceptionally weak, which is a shock coming from Pixar. This can be seen with lazy storytelling choices such as having the important crystal be destroyed but then moments later they just have a new one and can go back out into space, with no mention as to how that is. Moreover, the character journey of Buzz having to learn to trust other people and then having an older version of him be the villain of the piece just feels insultingly obvious and on the nose. I understand that this film is for kids so it is not going to have the best writing, but come on this is just so lazy.

Chris Evans is fairly fine as Buzz Lightyear, you forget it is him after a while and the difference between his voice and Tim Allen’s become less noticeable over time.

Overall, fairly meh. Nothing special.

Pros.

It is watchable

It has a few sweet moments

It is fairly short

Cons.

It doesn’t justify its existence

The writing is poor

It is very forgettable

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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Spock Amok

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Spock, played by Ethan Peck, swaps bodies with his betrothed, played by Gia Sandhu.

Many people may dislike this episode because it is a lot more light hearted and silly and whilst there is a somewhat unavoidable feeling of filler to it, I actually really enjoyed it.

I liked that we got to see a more human side to these character than we normally would if they were off fighting in space wars or exploring doomed worlds. Though the premise is silly it gave us a great insight into Spock at this time in his life and allowed us to see his perspective in a more clear sense. Further, the episode did not use a lot of the cheap jokes and plot lines of the body swap writing device and largely tried to do something new with it, playing it mostly straight, I enjoyed this as I feel handled differently it would have become trite and played out fast.

I thought the b plot and the later subplot about the negotiation with the new alien race were both inferior in a lot of ways to the body swap idea though one was better than the other. The La’an, played by Christina Chong, and Number One, played by Rebecca Romijn, shore leave b plot was fun and fairly light, Romijn’s acting felt a little forced during this part of the episode but maybe that was the point as her character is supposed to be a fun killer so having fun wouldn’t come naturally. The later subplot about the negotiation mostly felt flat, boring and like a convenient way to include both Pike, played by Anson Mount, in a meaningful way as well as to do something with the body swap.

Overall, mostly a fun episode with a lacklustre b plot and a boring resolution.

Pros.

Seeing Spock’s perspective

The fun of the body swap

It is nice to see a more human side to the characters

A few funny moments

Cons.

The sub plot about the negotiations was boring and the b plot felt forced      

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