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JPFmovies’ next foray into the Sci-Fi world: Star Trek Enterprise (2001-2005). Almost everyone complained about it but we didn’t think it was bad.

The creation of Netflix, probably the greatest innovation for movie and T.V. fans since the introduction of HBO and similar channels, has given people like us at JPFmovies the ability to “binge” watch movies/T.V. series.  Well, we went on an Enterprise “binge” in “the blind” so to speak—not having followed any of the trials, tribulations and fan/producer politics.  If you look through our reviews over the years you will find very few T.V. series, much less American produced television.  In other words, we were not influenced by all the political machinations surrounding the three previous Star Trek series beginning in the 1980s and running though the late 1990s or by the opinions of their fans and producers.  So when we went on our Enterprise “binge” it was really with a fresh eye.  And you know what?  We thought it was a decent show (except for the theme song).

That said, when we searched the Internet for information about Enterprise, almost all the content we saw was invariably negative.  Enterprise was blamed for the end of the Star Trek franchise that had been running since the 1980s.  Fans blamed the show’s lack of continuity and rather thin plot while producers Berman and Braga argued it was some sort of “franchise fatigue”—a position we here at JPFmovies find self-serving, trying to avoid taking responsibility for the show’s short run.

 

So when we watched the show with a fresh eye, JPFmovies thought the show didn’t deserve all the criticism it received and should have been given some more seasons to let the show get some more traction.  Those of us at JPFmovies thought that T’Pol (the ever present Vulcan) was an interesting change of pace from the traditional steely-eyed monotoned alien who spouted nothing but “logic.”  As a Vulcan, she walked the line between Vulcans repressing their emotions and having them.  Frankly I didn’t mind seeing some emotions underneath the typical Vulcan surface.  We also read a lot of complaints that the actress playing T’Pol could not act and was there only for her eye candy appeal.  To deny she was eye candy would be foolish, but she also did a good job playing a full time female Vulcan.  In fact, a JPFmovie consultant found an interview with her where she herself said that you need more than eye candy to make a Trek series—you also needed decent stories.  So she was aware of the limits that she could provide as a model.

We also found Enterprise a nice change of pace in that the Capitan was not an all knowing, never making any mistakes character, i.e. larger than life.  Scott Bakula, as Capitan Archer, screws up all the time—as he should, because Enterprise was humanity’s first venture into space beyond our system.  Picard, Sisko, and Janeway always made the right calls—never faltering.  Archer was constantly screwing up, as the Vulcan delegation on earth was quick to point out.  A human out there in space interacting with aliens (hostile or not) is going to make mistakes—and lots of them.   There was also the ship’s doctor, Phlox, an alien who proved quite interesting—a “Denoublan” who used odd creatures in the course of his medical treatments and had three wives who each had three husbands.  He was always a great one to watch.  Then too, Jeffrey Combs, who played many roles on DS9, was great as Commander Shram—the head of an alien race called the Andorians.

 

To keep this review at a readable length, the last thing we will comment on was Enterprise itself.  The ship, unlike Voyager, TNG’s Enterprise, and DS9’s invulnerable space-station, was fragile—prone to damage and breaking.  The ship never had shields or phasors (until several episodes in).  Much more often than not, Enterprise was no match for many of the alien ships that it encountered.  Again, something that one should expect when humans first begin to explore space outside of our solar system.

 

We read an article on Syfy’s site which also brought up some good points as to why Enterprise didn’t go the distance: The Internet!  TNG, DS9 and Voyager were essentially all pre-Internet boom shows, while Enterprise was subject to hypercritical analysis, which was like a cloud of noise that had a profound impact on the ability of others to just enjoy Enterprise, and also created the perception that the show was more reviled than it actually was.  Another interesting fact we didn’t know about Enterprise that sprang from the Internet was that it was unsurprisingly, one of the most pirated shows from 2001–2005 on sites like the Pirate Bay—so many viewers would not be reflected in the ratings.  Two ideas that JPFmovies put some serious stock in.

 

Despite all the “bad press” Enterprise was subjected to, it seems that the show is having a renaissance, many people are going to back to watch the show streaming on such outlets as Netflix, and the “bad press” is starting to be replaced with more positive posts—a long overdue interpretation of the series.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Now for something completely different. JPFmovies is back after a long break to regroup and refocus on what quality entertainment may be out there as well as point out the crap—the original mission of JPFmovies. A foray in SCI-FI.

Here at JPFmovies we rarely look into SCI-FI—yes we have a bit of an institutional bias towards SCI-FI entertainment.  That said, due to SJ & EJ’s insistence on watching significant amounts of SCI-FI programming and of course the availability of Netflix binging, the JPFmovie writers and reviewers are now ready to competently review past and present SCI-FI franchises.

Here is what we are looking at.  Ascension—the Syfy miniseries that aired in 2014 about a generational spaceship modeled after the military Orion Project from the late 1950’s through the 1960’s.  As well as three of the major Star Trek spin-off TV series from the 1990’s (Deeps Space 9 and Voyager) until 2004 the fourth and last season of Star Trek Enterprise.  Why are we looking at the three Star Trek TV series you may ask?  In honor of the highly-anticipated Star Trek re-birth “Discovery” which is supposed to debut this year.

Where do we start?  Well according to SJ the choice is easy:  Deep Space 9 a/k/a DS-9.  Why?  Because it is the first one chronologically running from 1993 until 1999.

JPFmovies:  SJ what do you have to say about DS-9?

SJ:  It went places the other series didn’t.  It explored religion for instance but it was a little problematic that all the Bajoran’s had the same faith.

JPFmovies:  You also mentioned that the series was funny?

SJ: Yeah it was probably the funniest series.

JPFmovies:  Well how do you reconcile that statement with the fact that DS-9 dealt with some pretty dark themes like war and religion.

SJ: Well it had darker themes but also lightened up with episodes like “little green men,” “take me out to the hollo-suite” and “trials and tribblelations.”

JPFmovies:  Who was your favorite character on DS-9?

SJ:  Simple Dax.

JPFmovies:  You said that without hesitation.

SJ:  Yeah she is awesome.

JPFmovies:   What did you like most about DS-9?

SJ:  Ah . . . it’s hard to say.  I suppose it had sort of a diverse like episode topics going from fun to war to episodes about different cultures and romances with all of the characters.  Though I am not fan of that but some people like.

JPFmovies:  What did you like least about DS-9?

SJ:  Ah . . . it sort of there is only one religion for the Bajoran’s and it didn’t even have a name.

JPFmovies:  How would you describe the first two seasons of DS-9?

SJ: The first 2 seasons are O.K. but it definitely gets better with time.

JPFmovies:  How does it get better?

SJ:  Um the characters go more in-depth the plots get more interesting.  It goes from minor conflicts to major conflicts.

JPFmovies:  What do you say to the statement that they had to bring in a character (Warf) from Star Trek the Next Generation to keep the show’s ratings afloat?

SJ:  I think that Warf brought a lot to the show. I love Warf I can see how they needed someone that people were familiar with to keep the ratings afloat.

JPFmovies:  What do you have to say about DS-9’s original theme that it was supposed to be a western?

SJ:  I think it would have been hilarious, but it’s not super Star Trekkie—I mean Star Trek is not a western.

JPFmovies:  Reading things about the show now, how do you react to the statement that Dr. Bashir was for the series first 2 years almost removed?

SJ:  Yeah I could see that he was my least favorite character he was really annoying.  He really didn’t have much of a character they made him be more of a person with the Section 31 episodes.

JPFmovies: What was the deal with Captain Sisko’s evolution from a guy with a full head of hair to a bald man with a go-tee?

SJ:  How so?  I mean he shaved his head and grew a go-tee.

JPFmovies:  Well you have to admit that in a TV series that is pretty unusual.

SJ:  Yeah that is true but remember with the Next Generation and Riker’s beard it became a saying that a show got good when it “grew a beard.”

JPFmovies:  How do you respond to a 2007 interview with iF Magazine, where George Takei, who had played the character Hikaru Sulu in The Original Series, criticized DS-9 for being the polar opposite of Gene Roddenberry’s philosophy and vision of the future?

SJ:  I think that Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future . . . well when DS-9 was made it was outdated by then.   When you look at the original series it’s not super great with feminism and that.

JPFmovies:  Where do you see the Star Trek franchise going in the future?

SJ:  Well I think it sort of veered away from what it was.  I hope that the new series is going to be more like DS-9 and TNG but I kind of doubt it.  Each series was different but had the Star Trek feeling and I think the newer movies have not had that really.

JPFmovies:  You’ve heard about the new series that is to be released this year “Discovery”?

SJ:  Yeah . . . you told me!

JPFmovies:  Where do you want to see that series go?

SJ:  Well I am not exactly sure what it is about . . . IDK I’d like it to be as progressive as DS-9 and Voyager were but not too close because it is then just a remake.

JPFmovies:  Why do you think it took 13 years to make another Star Trek series?

SJ:  I feel like it fell out popularity after Enterprise.  Um unfortunately I don’t know any Star Trek fans other than my family.  I hope there will be more Trekkies because of this new series.

JPFmovies:  Well thank you for your insights and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on our next look at Voyager.

SJ:  Thank you.

Well folks as you can see DS-9 was well received by many a SCI-FI fan.  As always we welcome your comments.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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And you thought 9-11 was tough try this: Escape from New York (1981).

I was watching an episode of American Dad today which made some references to a futuristic Armageddon world and then it came to me: John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981).  This flick has it all: a great cast Kurt Russell as “Snake Plissken,” Lee Van Cleef  as “Bob Hauk,” Ernest Borgnine as “Cabbie,” Isaac Hayes as “The Duke of New York City,” and Adrienne Barbeau as “Maggie.” This quality continues as the movie has a futuristic Sci-Fi story, suspense, humans sacrificing themselves and a cult like following.  Why haven’t I looked at this one sooner?  Who the hell knows but here we go!

In the “near future” Manhattan is turned into a free for all prison.  The island is surrounded by a fifty foot wall and all bridges leading in and out are heavily mined.  Needless to say the dystopian society that has evolved inside the walls is cruel and unforgiving.  Road Warrior like gangs roam the streets looking for prey or carrion to feast on with an assortment of weapons and whatever machines they can keep running (like Ernest Borgnine’s taxi).  As prisoners are being processed before being dumped into this hell they are given the opportunity to be terminated immediately rather than face the chaos.

 

Enter Snake Plissken, a one-eyed ex-special forces soldier caught robbing the federal reserve who is about to serve the rest of his days in New York.  Alas, Air Force 1 is forced to crash.  The President survived thanks to some sort of escape pod but he is stuck in New York.  How do we know the president survives?  The Duke sends one of his fingers to the authorities to confirm it.  Snake cuts a deal with Hauk that if he can get the President out of New York within 24 hours he will get a full pardon.  Oh and by the way there is a cassette tape that contains important information on nuclear fusion that he has to get too.  By the time Plissken has reluctantly agreed, Hauk has him injected with microscopic explosives that will rupture his carotid arteries once the 24 hours are up.  Even cooler is that the explosives can only be defused during the last 15 minutes before they detonate, ensuring that Snake does not abandon his mission, or find another way to remove them.  If he returns with the President and the tape in time Hauk will save him.  As he should, Snake promises to kill Hauk when he returns.

 

Snake slips in atop the World Trade Center in a glider, and locates the escape pod.  He follows the President’s life-monitor bracelet signal to the basement of a theater, only to find it on the wrist of an old man.  Snake then runs into a friendly inmate nicknamed “Cabbie” (Ernest Borgnine), who offers to help and takes him to see Harold the “Brain” Hellman, a well-educated inmate who has made the New York Public Library his personal fortress.  It turns out that Brain and Snake are old buddies from some heists they pulled in the past.  Brain tells Snake that the self-proclaimed “Duke of New York” (Isaac Hayes), the terrifying leader of the largest and most powerful gang in Manhattan, has the President and plans to lead a mass escape across the mined and heavily guarded 69th Street Bridge by using the President as a human shield.  How much cooler can things get?  Well when the Duke unexpectedly arrives for a diagram of the bridge’s land mines, Snake forces Brain and his girlfriend Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) to lead him back to the Duke’s place f/k/a Grand Central Station.  Snake finds the President being held in a railroad car but is not able to rescue him and he is captured by the Duke’s cronies.

Brain and Maggie trick the Duke’s men into letting them have access to the President and after killing the guards, they free the President and flee to Snake’s radical glider.  When the Duke learns the President has escaped with Brain, he loses his mind and rounds up his gang to chase them down and kill them.  Snake manages to slip away and catches up with Brain, Maggie and the President at the glider, but during their attempted getaway, a gang of inmates push the glider off the building.  Is there another way out?  Yes, Snake and the others find Cabbie, and Snake gets behind the wheel before heading for the bridge.  When Cabbie reveals that he has the nuclear fusion tape, the President demands it, but Snake takes it.

 

Being pursued by the Duke, Snake and the others drive over the mine infested bridge.  After the taxi hits a land mine, the cab is destroyed and Cabbie is dead.  As the others make a run for it Brain is killed by a mine and Maggie won’t leave him.  She wants revenge on the Duke and shoots at him with a revolver—to no avail as the Duke smashes Maggie and his car.  Snake and the President reach the containment wall and the guards raise the President up on a cable drawn from a Jeep mounted winch. Snake sees the Duke approaching and attacks him from behind but only after the Duke blows away the two guards with a machine gun Snake lost to the Duke when he was captured.  Knowing time is running out Snake nails the Duke in the head and makes his move for the cable.  Halfway up the wall, the cable stops and the President fatally shoots the Duke.  Snake is then lifted to safety, and the explosives implanted in his body are deactivated with mere seconds to spare.

After Snake gains his signed pardon from Hauk, Hauk offers Snake a job, to which Snake merely starts walking away. As Snake continues walking out of the prison parking deck area, Hauk asks Snake if he is going to kill him. Snake replies, “I’m too tired… maybe later.” Snake, still walking away, pulls the magnetic tape out of the cassette containing the information on nuclear fusion as he leaves.

 

Wow!

 

What else can I say?  Great movie.

 

Here is some comedy.  Where did they decide to shoot this movie needing gritty decaying buildings?  Where else can you find hell on earth but East St. Louis!  I always thought East St. Louis’s reputation was urban lore, but apparently I was wrong.  See http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=6&ved=0CCsQtwIwBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DtWMFsXwpToA&ei=TFYiTv2EE4ajtgfq-rijAw&usg=AFQjCNGqe9vUGdn7wG7-W4ioFYfWfAPKMA&sig2=UoFKCPSfyE_TncCaurkPsA.

 

The movie was also a great commercial success—it had a budget of six million dollars and grossed about fifty million worldwide.  Nice work as usual Mr. Carpenter.  They sure don’t make them like this anymore.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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Jude Finestra Finally Looks At Bladerunner!

Jude Finestra Reviews Bladerunner–At Last

Behold! The glory of Bladerunner — science fiction, an apocalyptic future, philosophical self-doubting reflections by my man Harrison Ford. Behold! the magnificence of Bladerunner — music by Vangelis, an entire movie filmed (with the exception of one sunrise or sunset — oh the ambiguity!) in the dark.

Bask in the brilliance of director Ridley Scott and ask yourself: how could this man, the producer/director of Black Hawk Down (my man JP’s all time favorite war movie), the producer/director of Gladiator, and the director of Alien, for god’s sake, how could this man make a bad movie? Answer: he has.

I admit it. Scott did also make GI Jane and Thelma and Louise. Everyone has off days. Some chick probably made him do those.

Bladerunner has an almost mystical quality to it and was immediately nominated for two Oscars (I think a fucking popularity contest), won or was nominated for the BAFTA Film Award for more categories than I care to totally list here (but I will mention its nomination for Best Score award for Vangelis’ music), and was nominated for Best Cinematography Award, the International Fantasy Film Award (twice once in 1983 and once in 1993), and the Golden Globe.  It won the Hugo (best dramatic presentation, 1983), won the London Critics Circle Film Award for visual concept in 1983, won the Los Angeles Critics Association Award for best cinematography (again 1983), and was nominated for five prestigious Saturn Awards (best genre video release, best director, best science fiction film, best special effects, best supporting actor) and after more than twenty years won a Saturn in 2008 for best DVD Special Edition Release.  Clearly this movie was never headed for the dung heap.

Remember this movie came out in 1982. It has truly survived the test of time—much more so (sorry, Dr. H) than The Bridge Over the River Kwai. Almost a generation later Bladerunner is as fresh and compelling as it was when I was in college. Do I need to tell you that this is a rose? A bouquet of yellow roses!

Dude, I dare you to watch the following scene and not get drawn in.

If you read old reviews of Bladerunner, you’ll find all sorts of invective regarding the decision to add narration by Harrison Ford. The narration was added later, only when the powers that be decided that moviegoers would be too confused without it. Well, sometimes The Man gets it right. Ford’s narration is brilliant and quite frankly, as The Man predicted, holds the movie together and MAKES it so compelling. Through the narration it becomes clear that Ford is utterly conflicted about killing these replicators, but dude, it is his job. Consider these lines:

“They don’t advertise for killers in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-Bladerunner. Ex-cop. Ex-killer.”

“Sushi, that’s what my ex-wife called me. Cold fish.”

“I quit because I’d had a belly full of killing. But then I’d rather be a killer than a victim.”

Then in this scene we see Ford forced to kill in cold blood yet again:

No, he’s no angel, he is burned out, on the verge of moral bankruptcy and a killer, but we know he’s still one of the good guys. What kind of actor can act out a cold-blooded killing and still leave us feeling that he’s one of the good guys? Harrison Ford, that’s who. No, he’s not Mr. Sweetness and Light. But he means well.

I’ll grant you that there is something lacking in originality in the premise for the script. It’s a Hollywood chestnut that human governments can’t tolerate anything nonhuman that has intelligence, spirit, character and poses a threat to our hegemony. Must kill all nonhuman forms of intelligence. Must kill anything alien or artificial (ala Battlestar Galactica). Yeah, yeah. But the execution (no pun intended) of this film makes up for any lack of originality in the premise.

I’m not going to tell you how it ends.  You are a fool if you have not seen this movie yet so get your ass in gear and bathe in the glory of Bladerunner!

I think I’ll go watch it again myself.

Now what do you say, Dude? JP? was it worth the wait, Mr. “I haven’t received your review yet Mr. Finestra”? I hope you enjoyed it. I sure did.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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