Archive for July, 2016

My take on…Star Trek Beyond (and the three-screen Barco Escape system)

July 25, 2016

My take on…Star Trek Beyond (and the three-screen Barco Escape system)

This is the fiftieth anniversary year of Star Trek. It has been a big part of my life: Spock is one of my fictional heroes (along with Doc Savage and Kwai Chang Caine). There are several Star Trek related events in The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project.

So, naturally, my Significant Other and I watched Star Trek Beyond this weekend. 🙂

Before I talk about the movie, I want to talk about the way we saw it.

We saw it in “Barco Escape”.

What’s that?

It was one of the choices at our local movie theatre. We could have seen it in 3D, or in another digital format…but we chose to pay $3 extra per ticket to try out a new option.

In the theatre, there was the regular screen (a bit smaller than the largest screen, I think…and two more screens, angled at something like 30 to 45 degrees. You had the screen in front of you, and then two “wings”…sort of like giant goggles.

You can see it here:

Ready2Escape.com

The idea reminded me a great deal of the old Cinema 150 concept. I saw a movie in a Cinema 150 once (The Rocky Horror Picture Show): they took a 70 mm print and magnified it to make it cover the 150 degree curved screen…and it was a tad fuzzy at the edges.

Why 150 degrees?

I remember that it was supposed to cover all of your peripheral vision.

For the Cinema 150, it was effective, even though I still ended up turning my head from side to side some times, and seeing the edges. It was pretty immersive, though…sort of like primitive and “practical effect” VR (Virtual Reality). 😉

Barco Escape?

Not as good.

The first issue is that the screens had very distinct edges where they met…there was no seam, like standing three decks of cards in their cases up on their long edges next to each other. That meant you were constantly aware of it…and that it interfered with the suspension of disbelief.

This may be a temporary installation, but it wouldn’t have been hard to have cloth cover those seams, so you didn’t see the shadows.

The other thing was that the additional screens were used intermittently, not all the time. It might be in a scene where a lot was happening…imagine a meteor storm. The two screens would have additional meteors…and then they would go dark again.

That was very distracting…and the people next to us felt the same way (we talked about it a bit afterwards). My SO, when I asked, also used the word “distracting”…and pointed out that there was no added value. You didn’t see something creep along the extra screen…you kind of can’t do that, since most people who watch the movie don’t have those screens…you can’t have that different an experience.

Bottom line: we wouldn’t pay extra for Escape again.

Now, the movie itself:

While I’m not going to spoil specific plot turns, I am going to say some things which you might prefer to wait to read until after you’ve seen the movie, so

MILD SPOILER ALERT

Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty in the new continuity) co-wrote this movie (along with Doug Jung). Pegg has done brilliant work in the past (I’m especially fond of Shaun of the Dead and Spaced), and clearly knows Star Trek inside out (it’s worth noting, Pegg also appeared in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie…and was given special thanks).

That had given me hope for a strong entry, and I had been hearing it was like the original series (still my favorite).

While there aren’t false notes, it didn’t feel much like TOS at all.

The key thing is that this is pretty much non-stop action…we are in crisis mode virtually the entire movie.

That means that there is really very little strategic thinking, or philosophizing…yes, there are tactical decisions, but what might have been ten minutes of a TOS episode was basically the entire movie.

Also, people are clearly good or bad. No one seems at all unsure about their motivations…there is some mulling about future actions, but no consideration about what current actions might mean.

I miss that.

I also miss them having conversations…or  there being a real mystery.

That’s why we thought of TOS as being like literary science fiction…it wasn’t just visual with snappy repartee, it got you thinking.

There was one bizarre scene…I’m still not sure what they were trying to do. Early in the movie, there is a scene between McCoy and Kirk. It clearly appeared to me that this was after the death of Chekov. I appreciated that…a way to pay respects to the current actor who played Chekov, Anton Yelchin, who recently died tragically.

Dr. McCoy has a bottle of alcohol, which he says he “found” in Chekov’s locker. If a crewmember had died, naturally, the locker  would be cleaned out…and items would be found. Otherwise, why would McCoy be in Chekov’s locker…and take something?

When they drink they pour into an “absent friend’s” glass…another way to pay respect to a colleague who has died.

However, Chekov is in the rest of the movie.

Ambassador Spock (not Mr. Spock), played by Leonard Nimoy in this continuity, has died (reflecting the heart-rending loss of Leonard Nimoy recently)…but that doesn’t appear to be known to them at this point in the story, from what I recall.

Why the absent friends toast? Why steal from Chekov? I don’t know.

In terms of the acting and the characterizations generally…Karl Urban nails McCoy again, and that’s not an easy character. I like Zachary Quinto, I like his performance as Spock…but I’m not crazy about this version of Spock, who is a lot more emotional and isn’t struggling with two halves. It makes him as confident as the rest of the world (with the possible exception of some of the Bridge crew) thought the TOS Spock was…but we knew better.

Chris Pine, who I also like, is having a lot of fun as Kirk…Shatner would, I think, have loved playing an early scene. That does work, even if it isn’t quite like what we saw on TOS most of the time (it’s like every episode was A Piece of the Action). That’s fine, though…it is an alternative timeline.

I like Uhura in TOS a lot better…in this series, she seems to be largely defined by her relationship with Spock, where in the original series she was a powerful, independent person.

Sofia Boutella, as new character Jaylah, is charismatic. However, the character will seem quite a bit like Rey in The Force Awakens to many…she’s been on her own, scavenging from a crashed ship, and is a powerful warrior. Obviously, that’s not enough to say it is a derivative character, and I could certainly believe that it was conceived before the release of The Force Awakens…but some people will see similarities.

Idris Elba is already at the top of our

2016 The Measured Circle’s Box Office MVPs

list (with roles in Zootopia, The Jungle Book, and Finding Dory, to mention three), and this will only cement that position.

I wouldn’t say that there was much that especially stood out about Elba’s big bad role of Krall, though. It was also quite jarring to hear him refer to Kirk as “my old friend”…when it appears they have just met. I’m guessing that’s an homage to Khan in the Wrath of Khan, who says the same thing, but it made sense there: they had a history.

END SPOILER ALERT

Overall?

I enjoyed seeing the movie, but it was really one long CGI fest, where combat scenes vastly dominate over character scenes. For that reason, it didn’t feel much like a 1960s Star Trek episode, but it wasn’t an affront to that legacy, either.

Generally, I think most people will enjoy it…I just suspect we haven’t seen the best of this new crew yet, and I hope people also watch TOS (although, you know, don’t start with the third season…that’s another whole story). 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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Emmy nominations 2016: not your grandparents’ Emmys…or, um, your older sibling’s

July 18, 2016

Emmy nominations 2016: not your grandparents’ Emmys…or, um, your older sibling’s

Primetime Emmy nominees were just released…and it feels a lot fresher than we saw even just a few years ago.

Sure, no question that non-broadcast network shows have been dominant in recent years, but this year we’ve got nominees you might never have seen on anything bigger than your phone. Both Epic Rap Battles of History and Honest Trailers were nominated in the new Outstanding Short Form Variety Series category. Yep, YouTube series nominated for Emmys!

It also seems like more geek-friendly (GF) artists and works are nominated this year…it was just recently that the Clone Club was lamenting the omission of Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany…but she does appear in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category this year (and no, not as all of the nominees). Yes, this is the second year a row, but still. 🙂 Since Game of Thrones is really an ensemble show, look for the acting nominees in the Supporting categories…where a third of the total nominees are from that one show! You want an Emmy as a guest star? Take a look at Big Bang Theory! That’s a testament in part to the security of a cast who has been working together so well for so long.

Let’s take a look at GF nominees:

  • Outstanding Drama Series: Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot
  • Outstanding Comedy Series: Silicon Valley
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth)
  • Outstanding Television Movie: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie: Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: The Abominable Bride)
  • Outstanding Reality Competition Series: American Ninja Warrior
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Laurie Metcalfe (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Max von Sydow (Game of Thrones)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Hotel)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Kathy Bates (American Horror Story: Hotel)
  • Outstanding Structured Reality Program: MythBusters
  • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series: Jack Bender (Game of Thrones: The Door)
  • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series: Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones: Battle of the B*stards)
  • Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones: Battle of the B*stards)
  • Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series: Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot: eps1.0_hellofriend.mov ((Pilot)))
  • Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series: Mike Judge (Silicon Valley: Founder Friendly)
  • Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series: Alec Berg (Silicon Valley: Daily Active Users)
  • Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe: Episode 1)
  • Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Alec Berg (Silicon Valley: The Uptick)
  • Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Dan O’Keefe (Silicon Valley: Founder Friendly)
  • Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series (Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series: Patrika Darbo (Acting Dead)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series: Michelle Ang (Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462)
  • Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series: A Year in Space
  • Outstanding Short Form Variety Series: Epic Rap Battles of History
  • Outstanding Short Form Variety Series: Gay of Thrones
  • Outstanding Short Form Variety Series: Honest Trailers
  • Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special: Robert Smigel, David Feldman, RJ Fried, Michael Koman, Brian Reich, Andy Breckman, Josh Comers, Raj Desai, Jarrett Grode, Ben Joseph, Matthew Kirsch, Matthew Lawrence, Craig Rowin, Zach Smilovitz, David Taylor and Andy Weinberg: Triumph’s Election Special 2016

While you can always come up with “snubs” (and feel free to mention them by commenting on this post), I think this year’s list is continuing evidence of the mainstreaming of the geek.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

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July 8, 2016

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160708005141/en/

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the Measured Circle blog


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