Eric L.'s Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Star Trek Into Darkness
8 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Okay, seeing what JJ Abrams gave us in 2009, I went into Star Trek Into Darkness with very low expectations. Unfortunately I was not able to go as low as JJ Abrams managed to go with this piece of garbage. We basically got a repeat of the same thing we got four years ago, a lot of visuals but a non-sequiter script.

Star Trek Into Darkness ought to be called Star Trek into Generic Mediocrity. Although full of pretty scenery and fancy action sequences, it is lacking a decent story. It actually took what was one of the best Star Trek stories and made it stupid. If the original Star Trek had never existed, this movie would have probably been mildly fun. However, that is not the case.

Most of the actors actually do a decent job, primarily those that were cast well, Spock, Sulu, Bones and Scotty. Zachary Quinto is the best actor to play a Vulcan since Leonard Nimoy defined the role so many decades ago. I'm still not wild with this version of Uhura, (or Nu-hura) and the whole Uhura-Spock thing. She seems to exist simply as a remote expression of Spock's emotions. The real Uhura was awesome; this Nu-hura is just irritating. What they did to Chekov's character is just plain wrong, and the brawling jerk they have turned Kirk into is well.....not Kirk. The immediate overuse of metaphors by Dr. McCoy is rather funny and Karl Urban does a good job with this character, even if he was underused like Larry was in the Three Stooges. Simon Pegg is decent and funny as Scotty. Although it is a bit like watching The Office in space, Scotty still seems to display some of the great engineering knowledge as that James Doohan's Montgomery Scott made famous. With that engineering know how, Scotty comes through to save the day.

If we choose to ignore the plot holes in Jar Jar Abrams 2009 Star Trek film, that the USS Ronald Reagan could have sailed through sideways, this film starts out with some potential. That is of course once we get past the ridiculous Indiana Jones sequence at the beginning with the Enterprise hiding underwater instead of in orbit. There is also a bizarre story element at the beginning when Spock basically wants to die inside a volcano, even though he is now part of an endangered species. Later on he mind melds with a dying Christopher Pike and suddenly wants to live again. Of course, this sub-plot is never explained, it just drops. It's one of the many WTF? moments in this movie.

This movie introduces us to a new character, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who I had never heard of before this movie. We initially get a story that seems to boast some potential with Cumberbatch being some kind terrorist that results in a huge manhunt. Then Cumberbatch turned out to be....Khan. That was just......wrong. Plus, he looks like friggin' James Bond. Khan was of Indian descent!
Cumberbatch does try to play the Khan from Space Seed rather than the Khan from the Wrath of Khan, so there are brief fleeting moments when we do get a feeling that there is a chance he might have the greater good of society in mind. However, every time we see this version of Khan, it seems like we should be hearing ZZ Top Sharp Dressed Man playing. Hey, it couldn't make this movie any worse.

Okay, let's talk about the script....or rather lack of a script. We start out on this plant called Nibiru, which sounds like something out of Star Wars. However, because there is a planet, it actually feels like Star Trek. However, this apparent mission has nothing to do with the rest of the film, even though there was potential for something here. This is where Kirk grabs a manuscript and runs away with it with natives chasing him. While Kirk and Spock are on the planet, the Enterprise is waiting for them......underwater. What? Having the Enterprise hide underwater actually made me wince in pain. Other than as an excuse for fancy visual effects, this makes no sense at all. Remember, these ships have transporters! Since Starfleet didn't want the natives to see the ship, for some reason they thought flying through the atmosphere and parking in the ocean right next to the natives camp would be the best course of action and not draw attention? Since these natives did not have telescopes and tracking systems, wouldn't staying in orbit far above the planet be ideal? Watching Kirk jump into the ocean to get on the Enterprise was like watching Indian Jones swing on the vine, drop in the water and climb onto the float plane in Raiders of the Lost Ark. However.....it made sense in Indiana Jones!

Then we sort of get filled in on the plot...they are going to use a fusion bomb to produce cold (WTF?) to stop the volcano from erupting. By the way.....since when the hell does a cold fusion bomb produce cold??? IT DOESN'T! It produces incredible heat and a massive f*****g shockwave. Of course they couldn't beam it into the volcano, if they had done that, there couldn't be the silly, dramatic "I want to die in the volcano" sequence with Spock. I guess it must be pretty standard now for all Starfleet vessels to carry suitcase fusion bombs without remote detonators ....because the idea of a remote detonator in J.J. Abrams mind must just seem silly.

There is then this exchange between Kirk and Spock. Spock objected to the Enterprise coming out of the water to rescue him because letting the natives see the ship would affect their culture and thus, violate the Prime Directive. Okay, that makes sense, but later Pike is yelling at them both because they stopped the volcano from destroying the natives AND they let the natives see the ship. Pike seems to indicate that neutralizing the volcano was actually the worse violation. Now, here is where it gets even more interesting and confusing......if both actions are violations of the Prime Directive, why did Spock get all huffy about being rescued being against regulations when the very reason he was in the volcano in the first place was as big a violation....or even bigger?

Here comes another ridiculous turn of events. Kirk is then demoted to commander. By the way, he still has never graduated from Starfleet Academy to become a Lieutenant and come up through the ranks. So, Pike gets the Enterprise back, and Spock is transferred. This is one of those spots where the story had some potential to develop. However, that potential was shot out the torpedo bay within seconds as a ship fires on the meeting room they are all in. Pike is killed, Kirk is suddenly given back the Enterprise, and Spock is his first officer. So, basically, there was no point to anything that happened up to this point, because nothing has changed. Also, I guess this means that in all of Starfleet, there is not one other officer actually qualified to be the Captain of the Enterprise.

We then get introduced to this character "John Harrison" who apparently has "magic blood." Okay......this is sounding as dumb as the "red matter" from the first movie. No...actually it is dumber! So, Harrison convinces a Starfleet Officer that has a deathly ill daughter to be a suicide bomber in exchange for some Harrison's magic blood which would magically cure his ill daughter.
Harrison is the one that got the little ship and fired on the meeting of high-ranking officers, killing Pike, but not Admiral Marcus (played by Peter Weller, or I guess RoboAdmiral). Then, there is another ridiculous development. After this attack on the meeting room, Harrison uses Scotty's magic transporter device from the first movie (the one that made starships obsolete) and transports himself all the way to the Klingon homeworld. Harrison obviously goes to the Klingon homeworld..... because.......because.......of absolutely NO plausible reason. The script is silent on this.

So, the Enterprise, now again under the command of a Starfleet academy cadet (Kirk), is being sent to the Klingon homeworld, (once known in the real Star Trek universe as Klinzhai) to find Harrison. However, before it leaves, exactly 72 "magic torpedoes" need to be loaded onto it. These magic torpedoes are to be shot at Khan's location...on the Klingon homeworls. HELLO...can we say one hell of an unprovoked act of aggression against the Klingons!

Since Scotty is not allowed to scan the torpedoes before they are loaded, he resigns. So, what happens next.....Kirk tells Chekov to change into a red shirt and take over as Chief Engineer. Uhhh is Checkov even an engineer? Oh well, in a universe of magic, I guess actual engineering knowledge doesn't matter. This is also when we are introduced to Dr. Carol Marcus, who is coming along with the magic torpedoes. This is ridiculous and totally unnecessary to the story. The Carol Marcus character Bibi Besch played wasn't a weapons expert, she was a scientist. In fact, she greatly objected to the weaponizing of Project Genesis so why is she suddenly a big weapons expert. There is a gratuitous shot of Carol Marcus in her underwear.....again, a cheap thrill that is not Star Trek. This movie would not have been any different if the RoboAdmiral and doctor weren't both named Marcus (He's her daddy). This version of Carol Marcus, some super weapons expert is pretty useless. The only thing she is super at is screaming, whining, or keeping her blonde hair in perfect condition in harmony with all the lens flare. Oh....she does yell at her daddy for being a mean guy. Can you imagine Bibi Besch doing this and prancing around in her underwear?

The Enterprise heads to the Klinzhi. Yes, a federation ship manages to go through the neutral zone into Klingon space and to the Klingon Homeworld totally undetected. Also the Klingon homeworld is totally undefended by the Klingons.......yeah that makes sense. When they showed the Klingon homeworld from space, there is also a Klingon moon breaking apart, which is just weird. Is that supposed to be Praxis, exploding several decades too early? This is another element where the emphasis was on what looked cool rather than what served the story.

So, now we are on the Klingon homeworld, in a deserted section, which looks like a city that has been destroyed. No explanation given for that either. Even though it is deserted, the Klingons apparently still patrol it and wear ridiculous looking helmets. A firefight ensues between the Starfleet personnel and the Klingons. While that is going on, up pops Harrison with his superweapon and blows most of the Klingons away.....how convenient. Harrison then surrenders to Kirk and it is revealed that he is the superman Khan. I put my head in my hands at his point in the theatre. I wanted to laugh it was so stupid! It is then revealed that the 72 magic torpedoes actually contain Khan's followers. Yes, the mastermind Khan packed his people in explosives!

The plot then circles back to Robocop Admiral Marcus and his conspiracy to start a war with the Klingons. However, this is very vague with no backstory. Why does he want a war? Was his father killed by Klingons? Did his first girlfriend leave him for a Klingon? Does he have forehead ridge envy?
So, Marcus also has this big Black ops project in the works. He is building the most powerful battleship the federation has, the Vengeance. So....why is it called Vengeance? Oh....that is not explained either. We learn that Marcus started building this ship with help from Khan, whom he found shortly after Vulcan was destroyed.

So, how much of Starfleet is involved in this conspiracy. It has to be massive to provide the personnel, financing and resources necessary for constructing this massive battleship. I guess we are to assume this ship is a prototype? You would suspect that more than one of these ships would be needed before starting a war with the Klingons. So, there is a big question that we would need decent writers and a script to address.

So, within moments, the Enterprise travels from Klinzhi back to Earth. The Enterprise and Vengeance meet, in orbit around Earth, and we get some gratuitous action sequences. The Enterprise is ridiculously outmatched. Seriously, this is like a couple guys in a rowboat with a slingshot going up against the Battleship USS Missouri and her 16 inch guns. The Enterprise is immediately crippled. Before Marcus can destroy the Enterprise, we go back to Scotty who conveniently resigned earlier and is now onboard the Vengeance and disables it. Now we also see that Earth, the human homeworld, is also completely undefended. No ships come to aid the Enterprise. It's nice to know that on the verge of war between the Klingons and Humans, both homeworlds are completely undefended.

Then we go to a scene similar to 2010: Odyssey Two. Kirk and Khan, working together now like BFFs rocket through space from the Enterprise to the Vengeance, though a massive debris field. Now, this scene went on entirely too long and the debris field has so much debris in it from the firefight, you would think the Death Star exploded. So our new best buddies Kirk and Khan make it onto the Vengeance. With the help of Scotty and Carol Marcus, they make their way to the bridge. We then get treated to another fight scene and Shazam......Khan turns mean and bad again, takes Kirk, Scotty and Carol captive and kills Carol's mean old dad, Admiral Robocop Marcus.

Khan then negotiates with Spock, trading the lives of Kirk, Scotty and Carol for the 72 magic torpedoes that contain his followers. Spock agrees, but removes Khan's followers and arms the warheads. Another big explosion and the Vengeance and Enterprise are sent out of control towards Earth. Again, where are the planetary defense systems? You have an object the size of a football stadium plummeting towards the surface!

So, the blast seems to have knocked the Enterprise's warp core out of alignment and therefore the Enterprise is powerless. Okay, so Kirk goes into the radiation chamber, fixes the Enterprise engines....by precision kicking the crap out of the warp core until it goes back into alignment. Yeah..okay. Kirk dies from the radiation as he is looking at Spock through the glass, and Spock shouts, "Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!" Make me puke......I rolled my eyes at this ridiculous moment. This is one of the most disappointing parts of the movie. In the real Star Trek timeline, Spock dies saving the ship after many decades of friendship and trust develop between Kirk and Spock. So, in the real Wrath of Khan, it made sense and was believable that Spock's death really affected Kirk on a very deep level. In this reimagined timeline, they don't even like each other much. At the very most, they are simply fellow officers. They are not friends...they are far from it. Reversing the death scene from The Wrath of Khan might be cute to teenagers that don't know any better and never saw the Wrath of Khan. To anyone with a brain, this scene was just annoying. In the theatre I had my face in my hands and was shaking my head back and forth as if I could will this scene away.

So, now Spock is all upset that Kirk is dead. Not very believable, but that is what Jar Jar Abrams gave us. Now ridiculous transforms to ludicrous. It is revealed (big shock) that Khan's magic blood can revive Kirk, so they can really make Kirk's sacrifice pointless. One problem, they don't have Khan and they don't have much time to get him and his magic blood before it's too late to revive Kirk. Apparently it never occurs to anyone, including the logical Vulcan, that the other 72 followers of Khan also all have magic blood and they could just go down the corridor and get some of it. You see, the 72 followers of Khan were hidden inside the torpedoes that were going to be fired at the Klingon homeworld. Why......is never explained.

So now Spock goes after Khan, who just tried to crash his ship into Starfleet Headquarters. So then Spock chases Khan and we get this fistfight between the two as they jump between these flying red things that I assume are garbage dumpsters. Khan is finally caught so Spock can get his magic blood and bring Kirk back to life (Gasp!).

So Khan's magic blood is injected into Kirk and he wakes up to the "emotionally distraught" Spock. Because of the total lack of a believable bond between Kirk and Spock the sickbay scene...where Khan's magic blood revives Kirk...fails miserably!

The climax and only memorable part of the movie is the cameo by Leonard Nimoy in which he warns his younger self about Khan.

Is a script that makes sense too much to ask for? One of the worst, most nonsnsical scripts ever made was Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. But, I think I would rather be forced to watch that movie again, rather than watch this piece of s**t again which is not just bad, but downright insulting.

Please hire someone like Joss Whedon to write a decent script that doesn't insult the original series. This New Trek denies the importance of the philosophy of the original. This is equivalent to spitting in the faces of Gene Roddenberry and true fans everywhere. None of this movie was Star Trek. It had some Star Trek names in it, but that was about it. Star Trek was never about gratuitous action, fighting, and lens flare. Star Trek was about the relationship of the characters in a grand theme of exploration. It's also a story about every man and the journey through life. It was a thoughtful exploration of ourselves and our problems and flaws and how to deal with them. That philosophy is why the real Star Trek stands the test of time.

Shadow
Shadow (2011)
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Well, I had high hopes for this movie, but those hopes very very short-lived. The movie starts out okay, and it looks like it will go somewhere even though there are holes big enough to pilot an Iowa class battleship through. For example, when the main character David and his new friend Angeline are ambushed by rednecks, David gets shot in the arm. His entire forearm should have been shattered, but with a little gauze, he is just fine. Later, the rednecks strike again and Angeline gets one in the face with pepper spray, giving her and David the upper hand. So, David, supposedly a battle-hardened combat vet, does something incredibly stupid. Instead of taking the opportunity to kill the rednecks or at least take their weapons, he decides to run off with Angeline......leaving all their equipment behind. So, something doesn't seem quite right about David's behavior.

Eventually David, Angeline, and the two rednecks are taken out by some unseen being in the incredibly foggy woods and they end up tied to tables in what looks like a run-down hospital. So, then there are some gratuitious torture scenes without any explanation. David gets free and sets the rednecks free. The rednecks run into traps and are killed. David explores his surroundings, apparently looking for Angelina. He walks past a portrait of Stalin and then finds some films of Hitler. I guess we are supposed to conclude the torture guy is a Nazi of some kind. Maybe he's a modern day one or maybe he is somehow left over from WWII but didn't age. Whatever, it doesn't really matter. David wakes up in a field hospital in Iraq. Everything was a dream.

So, the movie is basically a lame ripoff of Jacob's Ladder, mixed with a little Deliverance, Hostel, and The Hills Have Eyes.

It's not worth watching. But it's a foreign film......I should've expected subpar.

Stand by Me
Stand by Me (1986)
11 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Fantastic coming of age story about 4 boys; based on the short story "The Body" by Stephen King. The story is about an overnight hike by 4 boys to find the body of a boy that had been hit by a train. The film adaptation is much different from the short story, so don't watch it as an adaptation. If you do, you will criticize it for its deviations. Just watch it as a stand alone story and it is fantastic.

The story is narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, who plays the grown up version of one of the boys, Gordie Lachance. The story takes place in 1959, when the boys are 12 years old. The narrator is telling the story after being saddened by the death of one of his childhood friends.

There is a great dynamic among the 4 boys. Gordie Lachance, played by Wil Wheaton, is clearly the college-bound intellectual of the group and hence becomes the one that is narrating the story many years later. Gordie loves writing and story-telling and entertains his friends with the stories he tells, such as the one about Lardass and the pie-eating contest. However, Gordie is struggling in the shadow of his football star older brother who was killed just a few months before. Gordie's father clearly idolized the older brother and didn't have much use for Gordie and his writing.

Chris Chambers is the tough boy of the group, played by the late River Phoenix. He is Gordie's closest friend and the leader of the group. Although headed for a blue=collar future, Chris seems to have a lot of psychological insight and keeps assuring Gordie that he will be a great writer someday and that his father doesn't dislike him, he just doesn't know him.

Teddy Duchamp, played by Corey Feldmen, is the son of a soldier that survived storming the beach at Normandy. As such, he is a risk-taker, always looking for the rush of a challenge. His clothes reflect his military upbringing, from the OD shirt to the dog tags, to the pistol belt and combat boots. However, there are also references to his father being crazy and abusing Teddy, probably from post-traumatic stress, and we get the feeling Teddy has some emotional problems.

Vern Tessio, played by Jerry O'Connell, is somewhat slow and fat. His main concern was bringing a comb on the adventure so they could all look good in front of the cameras after finding the body of the missing boy.

All the boys are individually likeable, but as a group the collective "likeableness" is greatly multiplied as though they have a synergistic energy.

Most of the way the adventure is shot portrays the boys as these small visitors in the great outdoors, carrying nothing but their bedrolls and canteens. It makes them look like young Boy Scouts on their first campout in a giant Scout Reservation.

The adventure contains many moments that are the things nearly every young boy dreams about growing up. They tell stories around a campfire; they cook their food over the fire; they enjoy some smokes after eating; they have an encounter with leeches; and they have an encounter with the junkyard dog Chomper. However, the two most dramatic sequences include crossing a train trestle with a train bearing down on them; and standing up to a group of older boys.

There is a lot of comradeship demonstrated among the boys with hand-shaking and hands on the shoulders, joking, playful insults and talk of enjoying the endless summers, something that every boy dreams about.

Everyone knows what a "chick flick" is....well, this is a "guy flick".

Eight Below
Eight Below (2006)
11 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

A MUST SEE!

This dramatic movie tells a chilling (literally and figuratively) tale of eight sled dogs that are left behind at a research station when the humasn are forced to evacuate in a hurry. Paul Walker plays the musher/guide who is expecting to return immedaitely with another plane to take the dogs to safety, so he chains them up nice and tight outside the station. Unfortunately, he is not permitted to return for his dogs and nobody will be allowed in until the following spring.

So, the story is about the 8 dogs who are "below us" in Antarctica and how they must try and survive by first getting off their chains.

Now, I'm not giving anything aaway here because we know a movie in which all the dogs freeze and starve would not be made, so we know at least some dogs survive. Even with knowing that however, this movie keeps you on the edge of your seat, rooting for the dogs and feeling their isolation and pain. We also keep seeing what guide is going through back in the states. He tries again and again to try and get back down there to his dogs, but he is continually thwarted. Imagine that frustration, that helplessness, the depression. Can you imagine trying not to think about your dogs chained up and freezing to death? Paul Walker gets that feeling across. It's very unsettling as we see numbers displayed on the bottom of the screen, telling us how long the dogs have been on their own....5 days, 50 days, 155 days, etc.

Equally awesome in this movie is Bruce Greenwood, who plays the Dr. McClaren, the scientist that hired the dogsled team to help him recover a piece of a meteorite. The dogs save his life early in the movie in a very action-packed sequence that I won't disclose. Bruce Greenwood's character is critical for the climax (as I see it) of this movie. Back in the states, he looks over what money is left from his research grant and then looks at a photograph of the dogs that saved his life and made his expedition a success. He owed his life and career to those dogs and makes a key decision.

The dog sequences are amazing. The dogs are shown as animals that need to rely on their animal instincts, not as "Lassie types". Incredible restraint was used here to not depict the dogs as humans in dog suits. But, the way the dogs interact will hold you to the screen; it's tearjerking in one sequence how the dogs stay with and try to care for one of their their critically injured team members.

The end of this movie is incredibly powerful. The guide (Jerry) eventually makes it back down early in the following spring due to the decision made by Dr. Mcclaren (Greenwood). They reach the research station and there is no sign of the dogs. Jerry sees the post to which he chained the dogs. Fearing the worst, he starts to dig in the snow and finds the body of one of his dogs. He slumps, tells the group it's "Old Jack" and then moves down the line to dig up the next body. However, what he finds is an empty collar. As it dangles in front of him, you can see the spark of hope that comes across him. Then, in a perfectly shot scene which will make you cry, he grabs the chain and jerks it out of the snow, showing a series of empty collars. Seconds later, in an amazed whisper, Jerry simply says "They got off." I'll leave the rest of the details for you to see. It is worth it.

This is based on a true story, but in the true story, only 2 of the dogs survive the long, cold winter.