Category Archives: leonard nimoy

Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost ~ ”Marshall, Will and Holly, on a routine expedition, met the greatest earthquake ever known…”

And so began the opening of one of the more innovative series ever to grace Saturday mornings. Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, notorious for Saturday morning kids fare that seemed to be acid-induced like “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Lidsville” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Land of the Lost” was different.

The series, in the first two seasons at least (we will not speak of the Uncle Jack episodes), featured a solid science fiction premise, which is no wonder with folks like David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Ben Bova, D.C. Fontana, Norman Spinrad, Theodore Sturgeon and Walter Koenig involved in its production.

The premise involved a family on a camping vacation dropped into a place outside of time and space, structured by dimensional portals that controlled every aspect of the world, which was populated by dinosaurs, cave people called Pakuni (the writers even created a 200-word language for them) and hissing lizard-like inhabitants called Sleestak. The world had a very precise internal continuity and logic, and the well-written stories (despite the drinking game that can be had every time someone yells the kids’ names or Dad touches one of them) more than made up for the sometimes less-than-adequate special effects. This was the 1970s after all.

The show is held in high regard by many, including comedian Will Ferrell, who coincidentally played a character named Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Now, in this 2009 feature film version of “Land of the Lost,” he gets to play the real thing.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Ferrell’s comedy, either on “Saturday Night Live” or in film (although I did like his semi-serious turns in Winter Passing and Stranger than Fiction), so I was a bit distressed when I heard he would be starring in this obviously comedic take on the classic scifi series. It should also be noted, and not forgotten, he also had a hand in another TV remake for the big screen – the better-off-forgotten Bewitched.

The preview was at the dreaded Cherry Hill AMC Loews, where it was sponsored by at least four media outlets. WXPN (the only terrestrial radio station in town worth listening to any more) gave us the passes but they weren’t there. Glenn Kalina, now doing mornings for 97.5 Now, has looked better, and seemed so thrilled doing the pre-show trivia and giveaways. Maybe a bit more caffeine, Glenn.

Vittoria from the ‘CW Crew’ had considerably more energy, as did the nameless dude from WMMR. And props to him too for telling people to turn their damned cellphones off. I also had issue with one of his trivia questions. He asked what MMR stood for and took the answer ‘Means More Rock’ – but really, isn’t the answer ‘Metro Media Radio’?

The film begins (and ends) with the Matt Lauer bit that we’ve all seen in the previews, and thus starts the pattern of every other typical Will Ferrell slob comedy. All my hopes from seeing interviews from Sid and Marty Krofft that this was “a respectable, serious take” on their property are dashed pretty quickly on. When pee-pee and poo-poo jokes are given more screen time than the actual plot or character development, the truth is pretty much splashed on the wall.

There are a couple funny bits, I’ll admit it. Chaka is a hoot, and a far cry from the innocent ape-child of the TV series. And Leonard Nimoy doing his best George Takei impersonation while voicing the Zarn is hilarious. What hurts most is that this could have been a serious adaptation. The effects are here, and so are all the elements. It’s all here. Fans of the show can see all the trademarks of the show – Pylons, Sleestak, the Library of Skulls, the Pakuni language, Grumpy, Alice, the Altrusian moths, even Holly’s Dopey speech. It’s all here.

Anna Friel, of “Pushing Daisies,” using her real accent for once is fun, as is Danny McBride of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down.” And I really liked the revamping of the Sleestak, nice updated design. This film is similar to “Smallville” when compared to its source material, the old Superboy comic books. Some of the names and situations are the same – but it’s completely different.

This was an okay movie for free, and funny and fun occasionally. Will Ferrell fans will love it, unfortunately I’m not one of them.

.

Star Trek – The New Frontier

Star Trek ~ There are numerous reasons why a major entertainment franchise would be rebooted. Perhaps it’s been forgotten a generation ago. Maybe the last film in the series did comparatively horrible at the box office to previous entries. Perhaps the last television attempt was on a flailing network and was badly promoted – and in some cases dissed by supposed fans of the franchise. For Star Trek, coming up on its 43rd anniversary, can count all of those reasons and more for its current reboot in theatres in just a week or so.

The powers that be have brought in J.J. Abrams, of “Alias,” “Lost” and Cloverfield to helm this eleven Trek film, with an all-new cast in a prequel/sequel/reimagining/reboot (yes, it is all of those things) to the original TV series. Trailers have brought nothing but controversy for Trek fans and interest in viewers with no Trek in their past. Surely, this flick will be a rite of passage.

Before I go any further, be warned that this is a spoiler-rich review. I saw the film nearly two weeks ago and have been trying to write a spoilerless review. It’s just not possible to do, and address the things I want to address – so if you continue reading, consider yourself warned.

The flick begins with a bang, and the rollercoaster hardly stops from there on, which is a marked difference from Trek. The Treks before this have seemed pretentiously talky, so much so that is considered to be the way it should be – a point made by Trekkies when they haven’t liked films with ‘too much action,’ like Nemesis, the last movie in the series that may have helped kill the franchise. And that’s a point I’d like to bring up to the hardcore ‘fans’ out there – Paramount did not nearly kill the franchise – you did by not supporting it. I think this is the main reason this new film was made for the mainstream younger audience -and not those hardcore fans- to save the franchise.

And that’s not to say that this new film is not for the fans. The writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, have taken great care to keep continuity and canon high on their priority list – despite the time travel alternate divergence mindgames that go on. They not only play by the rules, but they also get to play by theirs as well. There are moments, little nods, like the red shirt phenomenon, Admiral Archer’s beagle, Kirk eating an apple during the Kobayashi Maru, Sulu’s fencing, McCoy’s signature catchphrases, and the timelost old Spock doing to young Scotty what the timelost old Scotty himself does to a young 20th century engineer in The Voyage Home, that are just brilliant. And although they are brief, I love the scenes of Kirk and Spock as boys. Beautiful, just beautiful.

The cast is near perfect. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, but twenty minutes into the flick I had forgotten about the original cast and was seeing the new faces as the characters. Chris Pine plays William Shatner as Kirk (rather than just William Shatner, which probably would have been disastrous) just as Zachary Quinto does Nimoy as Spock. Each though brings their own flavor to the part – a bit of James Dean for young Kirk and an alien outsider vibe to young Spock. Karl Urban is the perfect McCoy. That particular bit of inspired casting is a gift from God. I may have to wonder if DeForrest Kelley is his father, it’s so close.

The rest of the cast is rounded out well with the always entertaining Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho doing a wonderful intimidating impression of George Takei doing Sulu in the original series, as opposed to Takei’s more satiric take of recent years thanks to his coming out and participation with the Howard Stern programs, and the highlight of the cast has got to be Zoe Saldana as Uhura – finally claiming the spotlight the character should have had decades ago. Zoe is an actress to watch for the future.

Conversely, Anton Yelchin who plays Chekov, is quite annoying, and one of the lowlights of the film. I have to wonder however if this is on purpose. If memory serves when the Beatle-esque character first appeared in the second season of the original series many fans hated him just as they did that other ratings bump Seven-of-Nine decades later in “Voyager.” Maybe we’re supposed to hate him?

It should be noted that it’s not all wine and roses though. Along with Chekov there were other elements that didn’t win me over. Star Wars is alive an well in the film. Things like the great Tatooine-ish bar scene and fight in which Uhura is introduced and Kirk looking at the Academy training center shaped like a starship work well, but it goes too far in the Hoth scene with Cloverfield’s cousin – thankfully it’s a brief departure. I also didn’t care much for Kirk’s allergy, but again, very brief. I’m torn by the slug scene. is it a rip-off or an homage to the similar scene in Wrath of Khan?

The special effects are great. I like the new warp effect but no so keen on the new transporter effect. The music is amazing. Much like the powerful score of Tyler Bates in Watchmen, the music of Michael Giacchino more than makes this movie as great as it is. He dabbles in Philip Glass, brings on the Akira Ifukube, and even retunes a bit of the original Alexander Courage. I can’t say enough about this score, other than I bought it, and for a soundtrack for me, that’s saying a lot.

All that said, I think this new Star Trek will not only reignite the franchise, but will be the first summer blockbuster of the year, if not the summer blockbuster of the year. It’s fresh, it’s accessible, and it’s exciting. And Trekkies will hate it.

.