Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and crew are back for the second season of Star Trek, and unlike season one, this is the first we've seen these episodes in glorious 1080p. Season two has several strong episodes that tackle heavy social issues and offer up planet-eating monsters, a murder mystery, and those wonderful tribbles.
Since Star Trek's debut on NBC in 1966, it has become one of the most indelible franchises in entertainment history. Although the original series only lasted three years on network TV, Roddenberry's universe spawned five more TV showsThe Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterpriseand 11 feature films, the most recent being the wildly successful reboot by J.J. Abrams.
With178 TV episodes under its belt, the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation made its feature-film debut in 1994's Star Trek: Generations, which passed the baton from Kirk and company to Picard's crew. The film opens with a retired James T. Kirk aboard the Enterprise-B as it makes its maiden voyage, but when a distress call comes from a nearby ship, Kirk apparently pays the ultimate price helping the new captain save his ship from a mysterious energy ribbon. Seventy-eight years later, the Enterprise-D encounters an enigmatic humanoid named Soran, who's devious plan will cost millions of lives, and only Picard and Kirkwho's been living in limbo all this timecan stop him.
Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) and his Padawan apprentice, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), find themselves on a mission that bring them face to face with crime lord Jabba the Hutt (Kevin Michael Richardson). Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and his sinister agents will stop at nothing to ensure that they fail in their quest. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) and Master Yoda (Tom Kane) lead the massive clone army in a valiant effort to resist the forces of the dark side.
George Lucas did his best to alienate me and other fans from the Star Wars universe with the critically panned feature film The Clone Wars, which felt more like an overlong pilot—as it turned out to be—than a worthy contender for our cinematic dollar. Fortunately for us Star Wars fans, the weekly TV series is much better as we follow Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter), his new padawan Ashoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), and his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) on their trials and tribulations during the Clone Wars. With the help of the countless clone troopers (Dee Bradley Baker) and the Jedi council, they fight against the evil separatists led by Count Dooku (Corey Burton) and General Grievous (Matthew Wood).
Much like The Empire Strikes Back, season two of The Clone Wars sets a darker tone as the war between the Republic and the Separatists continues. The Jedi Knights are still a central part of the story but they face a myriad of enemies including the ruthless bounty hunter Cad Bain (voiced by Corey Burton), space pirates, a Zillow Beast, mind-controlling worms, and Boba Fett (Daniel Logan) who's seeking to avenge his father's death.
My family fell in love with the series after watching season one on Blu-ray and we watched all of season two on Cartoon Network. As much as we enjoyed the episodes, the experience on cable pales in comparison to the Blu-ray. The video quality is vastly improved with no compression issues and I prefer the look of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio to the 1.78:1 HD cable feed. I'm disappointed the audio is a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track versus Dolby TrueHD, but it's certainly an improvement over the stereo feed through cable.
Yoda takes a group of Jedi younglings on a field trip to the Galactic Senate chambers when he suddenly feels a disturbance in the force and must leave the children. C-3PO and R2-D2 take over and find themselves in over their heads with the rambunctious force-sensitive group. As the Sith prepare to wreak havoc, it's up to Yoda and a young stowaway to save the day before the children are torn to bricks.
LEGO and Lucasfilm have collaborated on multiple projects including other mini-films, over 200 LEGO models, 275 minifigures, and Saga-inspired video games (which are extremely well done). Featuring situations, characters, and locations from throughout the entire Star Wars Saga, writer Michael Price captures the spirit of the franchise with a story is filled humor, adventure, and a surprise guest or two.
In the English countryside resides a small village bordering a mystical land which can only be reached by climbing through a wall. Young Tristan (Charlie Cox) crosses through in order to capture a falling star as a gift for a local hottie (Sienna Miller). Unbeknownst to him, in the parallel world the star is a corporeal being (Claire Danes) who's also smokin' hot. Soon thereafter Tristan learns his true destiny that will forever alter his life.
While the first act takes a little while to pick up steam this is a very entertaining movie. It reminds me of The Princess Bride because of the cute romance, adventure, and humor and in many ways is a superior film to the cult classic. The all star cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, and Peter O'Toole in important supporting roles. Surprisingly the film didn't receive a lot of press when it hit theaters in 2007 but holds up well on repeat viewings.
It's a big credit to this film that its subject matter is something that has not only been done, but been done very well many, many times. In fact, the film it reminded me the most of, in many ways, is the excellent if not great Truman Show. Yes, like that movie this one highlights the dramatic skills of a genius-level sketch comedy actor, only this time around it's Ricky Bubb-eee himself Will Ferrell. Instead of the being the unwitting subject of a reality TV show, Ferrell's Harold Crick finds that he's the subject of a novel being written by a self-and death-obsessed writer played wonderfully and obsessively by Emmma Thompson.
One of silent film’s biggest stars, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), enlists the talents of a down-on-his-luck Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) to help edit a screenplay she wrote in hopes of launching her big comeback. Little does Gillis know, the poor lady is off her rocker. But when you’re broke, you have to take work when you can get it. The pair watch her old movies with her trusty butler—who hides his own dirty secret—at the helm of the camera, but the more time Gillis spends with the ex-starlet, the more he becomes accustomed to the lavish lifestyle she provides him.
In an homage to Spiderman, nerdy high-school student Rick Riker (Drake Bell) is bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly, giving him superhuman abilities. He soon discovers the secret of being a superheroit's all in the costumeand becomes "The Dragonfly."
Surf's Up (Blu-ray, available October 9), a new computer animated film, isn't as groundbreaking as Final Fantasy. Nor is it likely to grab the Academy Award as best animated feature in a Ratatouille year. But despite all that, and despite the fact that this is the 196th movie in the past two years to feature penguins (OK, the third, unless I somehow missed the other 193), it's still a lot of fun.
Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) is a regular guy with a dead-end job content with coasting his way through life until his daughter, Molly (Madeline Carroll), sets off a chain of events that results in a presidential election coming down to a single voteBud's. All hell breaks loose when political operatives from both parties, including the incumbent president (Kelsey Grammar) and the Democrat challenger (Dennis Hopper), swarm his hometown to vie for the winning vote.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is an ex-CIA agent trying to reestablish a relationship with his 17-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Against his better judgment, he bows to pressure from his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and signs a release enabling her to spend the summer in France. She's not even in country for 24 hours when she's kidnapped and sold into a slavery/prostitution ring. Utilizing his special skills, he tracks down her kidnappers and metes out justice in order to rescue his daughter.
One magical night, a lonely young boy named John makes a special wish that his teddy bear will come to life and be his best friend. And on that special night, the fates decide to grant him his wish. The next morning, John introduces Teddy to his absolutely freaked-out parents. Flash-forward 25 years, and John has grown up into a strapping young man who looks astonishingly like Mark Wahlberg. Best friend, Teddy, now just called plain Ted, has grown up, too, but only in maturity…or lack thereof. John and Ted now spend their afternoons getting high in front of the tube and talking trash about women.