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Friday, August 19, 2016

Trek-Tastic



I am a huge Star Trek fan having seen the philosophical journey of the ST:Motion Picture and it's pitting of the human race against the alien entity VGER(ending up not being so alien after all). It was evident the writers struggled to translate the TV show to the big screen. I found it entertaining but lacking in the spirit the television franchise established.

The action-packed Wrath of Khan kept me on the edge of my seat as one of the best villains the ST 
universe has ever envisioned tormented a heroic Captain Kirk. I didn't even mind the fake breast prosthetic Ricardo Montalban sported as this epic battle of good versus evil unfolded incorporating visual effects far surpassing the novice effort before it.

Each of the following incarnations of our beloved Science Fiction Western faltered and triumphed alternately in efforts to emulate the exquisite universe Gene Roddenberry expertly established in the 1960s television series. As much as I learned to respect the rich characters of the Next Generation , they could never capture the heart the way our beloved original crew could. The STNG writing never accomplished the romanticism or heights of heroism our original cast of the Enterprise managed.

Deep Space Nine was an interesting experiment, but again, there was something missing in the story telling this version of the ST Universe offered. ST: Voyager and ST:Enterprise were noble attempts to recapture the formula that worked for the original series, but both versions still lacked that special "Trekistic Machismo" that made the first TV series so great.

When JJ Abrams took the reigns I visited the theater with great skepticism to see Star Trek (2009). I had seen Armageddon (1998) and Cloverfield (2008) and enjoyed them immensely, but could his vision do the Trek Universe justice?

From the first frame he demonstrates absolute genius accompanied with spectacular special effects as George Kirk, first officer of the USS Kelvin fights to save his damaged ship from an advanced Romulan mining vessel that has travelled back in time in pursuit of Ambassador Spock.  I will not go into the plot of the entire film as this blog is about the latest movie.

George Kirk's wife Winona is pregnant and the chaos of the attack upon the ship sends her into premature labor as she attempts the escape the doomed Kelvin. Therein lies the genius of Abrams as he changes the condition of our beloved James Tiberius Kirk from the moment of his birth. Not only that but he reboots the entire timeline creating a blank canvas with a new alternate reality! I was captivated and hooked from the first action-packed moment of the ST Millennium reboot.

I have written a review of Star Trek Into Darkness on this blog that can be read here.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD, TURN BACK IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE!

Yesterday I went to the theater, broken leg and all, to catch the thirteenth film in the Star Trek Franchise, Star Trek Beyond. Justin Lin from the Fast and the Furious franchise takes over as director of this latest incarnation and doesn't take long to put his stamp on the movie. From beginning to end this fast-paced storyline only slows down to toss in an occasional quip or punchline as the crew is swept up in a conflict on the outer edges of explored space.


Three years into its mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase Yorktown, a massive space station that makes  Elysium look like a back yard tree house. Captain James Kirk has applied for a promotion to Vice Admiral having tired of the monotony of space exploration. He recommends Spock as the new captain of the Enterprise. Spock is also having reservations of continuing his tenure as he receives word from New Vulcan that Ambassador Spock (Spock's future self from another timeline) has died.

The Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission after Kalara, a survivor of a stranded ship having crash-landed on a planet nearby shows up at the Starbase. The planet, Altamid, is within an unexplored nebula nearby. Upon arriving at Altamid the Enterprise is ambushed and quickly torn apart by a massive swarm of small ships. Kirk orders the crew to abandon ship as the Enterprise's decimated saucer section hurtles out of control toward the planet.

On the surface, Sulu, Uhura, and other survivors are captured by Krall, the commander of the enemy swarm ships who is attempting to retrieve the Abronath, an ancient bioweapon of mass destruction. The artifact was stored upon the Enterprise, but Kirk had hidden it upon discovering it was why his ship and crew were attacked.

Kirk and  Pavel Chekov discover Kalara is Krall's ally when she attempts to steal the Abronath when she is led to believe it is hidden within the ruined crash-landed saucer section of the Enterprise. To escape Krall's soldiers, Kirk activates the still functional boosters, causing the saucer to flip over crushing Kalara and the enemy soldiers.

Meanwhile, a wounded Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy search for survivors and Scotty is rescued by Jaylah, a scavenger who previously escaped Krall's encampment (played by Sofia Boutella) . She takes Scott to her makeshift home, the grounded USS Franklin which turns out to be an NX class starship reported missing over a century earlier. Scott is reunited with Kirk, Chekov, McCoy, and Spock. Using the old Starfleet vessel as a base, they plot to raid Krall's camp and transport the crew to the Franklin, then escape the planet.

Krall discovers the alien Ensign Syl is Kirks secret hiding place for the Abronath (hidden inside her skull). The Abronath is the missing half of an ancient bioweapon, created by the planet's original inhabitants which can disintegrate a humanoid. With the device complete, Krall intends to attack the Federation planet by planet after killing the inhabitants of the Yorktown.  

Krall launches into space with the bioweapon, leading his swarm fleet to Yorktown with Kirk and the crew in pursuit in the Franklin. Upon discovering a way to disrupt the swarm ships communications Scotty transports Spock and McCoy into one of the enemy's drones.

The Franklin broadcasts VHF transmissions, which at close range, disrupts and destroys Krall's fleet. Krall crash lands inside the Yorktown and flees into the city. Uhura discovers from the Franklin's logs that 'Krall' is actually Balthazar Edison, the former captain of the Franklin.  Edison is a pre Federation soldier disillusioned with the newly founded Federation, rejecting its principles of unity and cooperation with former enemies. When he and his crew were stranded on Altamid no rescue was ever attempted. He believes they were deliberately stranded by the Federation and is hell bent on destroying it and everything it stands for.

The survivors, at the cost of their human physiology, used the discovered alien technology on the planet Altamid to prolong their lives. They then converted the dormant drone workers into the swarm fleet planning on using the alien technology to destroy the Federation.

Kirk pursues Krall into Yorktown's ventilation system, where Krall activates the bioweapon. Before it can be unleashed, Kirk ejects the weapon and Krall into space. Spock and McCoy save Kirk moments before he too is meets the same fate.

After the ordeal the Starfleet crew finds new purpose to continue their mission of exploration. Kirk turns down the promotion to Vice Admiral and Spock decides to remain on the Enterprise and abandon his plans on continuing Ambassador Spock's work on New Vulcan.  As the crew celebrates Kirk's birthday, they view the construction of their new ship, USS Enterprise-A.

The reviews of this movie have been harsh most mentioning plot being sacrificed for action. Upon seeing Star Trek Beyond I truly only have one criticism of the story line. Not enough time was spent on explanation of how the alien technology transformed Edison and the crew of the Franklin physically.

In this writers opinion I believe critics of today are failing to realize one major issue. Today's society is freeze-dried and microwaved and socially possessing a Twitter mentality. Our attention spans have diminished and minds are easily distracted. The Star Trek Millennium Reboot was a necessity for todays culture.

I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars being pleased with further development between the relationships of characters we know and love under completely different circumstances we've ever seen them experience. This Franchise pays homage to the original series respecting every character's personality and relationship (and even creating some new ones). The crew gels much in the same way as the original crew and red shirts always meet a tragic end. JJ Abrams and Justin Lin did an extraordinary job on this project and I believe it is destined to become a Sci-Fi classic that I will defenitly go see again. They have managed to recapture the romanticism and heroism of the original TV series and have gone above and beyond updating our beloved Science Fiction Western.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Rockin Mid-Life Crisis

Readers of this blog know that I'm an author of Science Fiction and Horror. My writing journey began in 2009 with the publishing of Darkside of the Planet by Salvatore Publishing in London, England. I was very fortunate to come into contact with several talented folks on an online forum
My Writers Circle, a site full of resources and exercises for first time writers and established author alike.

From there I embarked on my Science Fiction novels. One reader, Richard Laudenslager, describes the trilogy of novels as follows on Amazon.:

"As with David Lee Jones first two novels of The Morian Trilogy, his third, "The War of the Third Awakening", thrusts the reader into a nonstop thrill ride from beginning to end. Mr. Jones weaves an intricate plot that develops over many millennia rivaling the likes of "The Da Vinci Code" in its depth and complexity. Not only are you witness to the trials and tribulations of unlikely heroes, geologist, Dr. Brandon Jordan, and university professor, Dr. Edward Fender as they are drawn into an age old conflict that spans centuries, and two neighboring worlds, but you experience it with them through David Lee Jones masterful storytelling.
With its secret organizations, mystical crystals, alien invaders, mechanical monsters, and diabolical creatures of myth, David Lee Jones Morian Trilogy has it all."



If you would like to check out this trilogy you can find all the books on one page here at Lulu.

Along with my passion for writing I have now re-discovered an old passion that has now occupied most of my weekends. My current obsession began with a traumatic life event...

Two years ago I lost my father to cancer. He was a lifetime musician of which I have written about on this very blog (In the Genes, July, 2016). My father had countless fans here in the Midlands of SC. Musicians in the area decided to get together for a Memorial Jam to honor him a few months after his passing.

After the January Memorial for dad concluded one of the keyboardists who had participated approach me. Darryl Hill mentioned he was in a band called Wide Open and he would like me to come check them out at a bar in Lexington, SC the following week. I agreed since the place was only a 5 minute drive from my home and me and my fiance's regular hangout.

That following Friday night we shot pool at JT'S On the Pond enjoying  Wide Open as they played Classic Rock, Country and Beach. Darryl Hill and guitarist Wayne Hopkins had started the group some ten years previous and between these two musicians they had a vast knowledge of music. Add an extraordinary rhythm battery of Chris Miano on the drums and Paul Russo on bass guitar and it was one of the best bands I've heard in my thirty years of being in the business.

As the night wore on I had to leave for I had to wake early for work the following morning. While paying my tab Darryl summoned me over. Surprised, I made my way to the stage as he introduced me as a "Special Guest Singer". I was overjoyed as I belted out "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites. As I prompted the crowd thrusting the mic outward I heard everyone in the room respond. My passion for entertaining was re-ignited and the lime-light entangled me once again.

Later that week I was overjoyed to receive a phone call from Darryl inquiring whether I would like to be the new "front man" for Wide Open. Discussing it with my girlfriend Robin she gave me her blessing.

I've since been experiencing the time of my life living out my mid-life crisis as the singer in a Rock n Roll band. With my addition to the group the repertoire of music has increased blending my stylings with the existing song list. We play Rock, Classic Rock, Beach, R&B, Country and much more. Wide Open Band now boasts playing the widest variety of music in town performing everything from Al Green to ZZ-Top. Check out our homepage www.wideopenband.net and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Reverbnation.com. [sample song]

Won't you please drop in to one of our shows and check us out.