Monday, May 14, 2012

Brad's Week in Shat! (5/6/12-5/12/12)

This week was all about the build towards Saturday's Shat Attack V -Battle For The Planet Of The Shatner.  And I spent 99& of the rest of the week obsessing and planning all things William Shatner.  Yes, I did see The Avengers again and The Wife took me out to see Aardman Studios latest claymation wonder.  But mostly I just watched Star Trek as prep.  And I loved every second of the prep; almost as much as the weekend's ridiculous festivities.


Star Trek "Arena": I watched a few other episodes this week, but the only one I stopped and really absorbed was this Gorntastic showdown.  Who doesn't love the Gorn Captain design?  It's a cheap Godzilla-like suit but for me, it's almost as iconic as The Creature From The Black Lagoon.  I see him on screen and I get chills.  And I genuinely love the concept of this episode as well.  Some Q-like alien a-holes called the Metrons transport Kirk & the Gorn onto a devil rock planet and the two Captains are forced to battle one another in gladiatorial combat.  Not sure if "Arena" cracks my top five favorite Trek episodes but it definitely comes close.


The Avengers:  I finished off last week with a double shot of The Avengers and started off this week with another round.  Obviously, I still love this movie.  And I've got a distinct feeling that I'll be seeing it again real soon.  My opinion has not wavered.  It might very well be the most comic comic book movie we've encountered so far and that pleases me to no end.  And talking to friends and coworkers it seems like most people agree with me.  Sure, there are a few contrarians out there but most of those folks didn't grow up with these characters-they don't understand or care how amazing it is to witness Thor spin Mjolnir a certain way.  But it's those little touches are just as important as the big sweeping action scenes, and I cheer more at how Banner & Spark interact than I do at HULK smashing big bad Fin Fang Foom wannabes...although I still cheer at those as well.  Basically, The Avengers is pure geek nirvana.  Check out my gushing real "review" of the film is over at Daily Grindhouse.

The Pirates:  Hugh Grant's Pirate Captain leads his merry band of misfits against Queen Victoria while competing for Pirate of the Year and battling it out with Charles Darwin and his mischievous man monkey! It's another wonderful lark from the creators of Wallace & Gromit and even if it's not a gut buster, it's ridiculously clever and charming with its Elephant Man abuse at the hands of bitch Jane Austen.  And yeah, it's downright revelatory when it comes to acknowledging the true joys of being a pirate--the answer, Ham Night of course.

White Comanche:  "In The Place Called Rio Hondo The Pale Eyes Will Die!!!" Filmed during a hiatus from Star Trek, William Shatner plays twin brothers; one raised as a noble cowboy, the other raised as a savage rapist comanche. It's Shat vs Shat! And that's the only reason you're going to want to see this horribly boring spaghetti western. Seeing two bare chested Shatners charging on horseback towards each other with guns a blazing is well worth the bits of drag and the weirdo jazzy bass score you must first suffer. So yeah, if you're a fan of The Shat than you gotta see it. Otherwise, stay away.  But if you wanter further ramblings than check out my review over at cineAWESOME!

Star Trek - The Motion Picture:  "The Human Adventure Is Just Beginning." The first cinematic outing for the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is a grand space adventure exploring the concept of god and the future of humanity. Director Robert Wise does his best to elevate the television show to the heights of Stanley Kubrick's 2001. The Five Year Mission might be over, but the old dogs return with Admiral James T Kirk outranking whiny brat Captain William Decker as he returns to space to go where no man has gone before. What I love about this first film is that it's not a punch 'em up actioner, its a thickly layered narrative with grandiose Jerry Goldsmith score and lingering tracking model shots. It's easy to see why it might alienate some, but watching the film in glorious high definition and with the hindsight 20/20 vision of what the sequels would transform the series into (action films), Star Trek The Motion Picture is a proper epic full of scope and beauty.

Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan:  "Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young. Doctor."  Gosh, how many times have I watched this movie?  50?  100?  Whatever the answer, I can still say without a doubt, that The Wrath of Kahn is my favorite Star Trek film and it still sits nicely at #5 in my Top Ten films of all time.  Obviously, I love the reverse revenge story of pitting Khan's Hate against Captain Kirk, but it's theme of time and aging (something Star Trek Generations would try to pull off as well) that grounds the space battles with humanity.  And yeah, I just watched this a couple weeks ago and I still get choked up watching Kirk say goodbye to Spock through that damn engineering glass.  And James Horner's music?  Ah, so damn cool.  It's thumping when the action ramps up, haunting when the doom approaches, and wonderfully hopeful at the birth of the Genesis planet.  Simply, great stuff.

Star Trek III - The Search For Spock:  "I Choose The Danger." Initially, The Search for Spock may have taken some of the punch out of The Wrath of Khan's emotional climax but the third film in the franchise wonderfully illustrates the love felt between Kirk, Spock, & McCoy (and the rest to a lesser degree) as the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many when the bridge crew of the USS Enterprise breaks free from Starfleet to reconnect Spock's katra to his rejuvenated body. Sure, they have to suffer through some Christopher Lloyd Klingon Genesis selfishness and loose not only the ship in the process, but Kirk's kid as well, but the quiet return of their science officer at the finale is nearly as powerful as his loss at the end of Part II. "I Have Been And Ever Shall Be Your Friend" Damn, it hits me harder than anything else in the Trek saga.

Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home:  "Double Dumb Ass On You!" Captain Kirk and the crew of the mutinous Klingon Bounty travel back in time to the colorfully metaphored 1980s.  Their goal is to return a couple of Humpback Whales to their era where a mysterious, unknowable space probe is devastating the Earth in a search for the extinct race of mammals. A goofy, goofy concept but a very funny flick for Trek fans; a light hearted conclusions to a fairly dark trilogy of films (Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, The Voyage Home).  This was the first Trek film that I saw in the theater, and it pretty much spawned the Trekkie I am today.  Sure, it only seems concerned with giving you a good chuckle, but if you have a love for these characters than you'll eat it up. "Hello Computer..."

Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country:  "In space, all warriors are cold warriors." Yes, it's probably technically a better film than Part V's Search For God, but The Undiscovered Country still trails far, far behind the great films of parts 1, 2, and 3. I dig all the Cold War analogies, and Christopher Plummer's one-eyed Klingon bastard General Chang is definitely a classic villain.  We do get some serious Shat on Shat action reminiscent of White Comanche thanks to a conveniently shape shifting Iman, but the plotting is so damn obvious and the mystery of the conspiracy not at all compelling.  Still, I love the cast and I could have watched twenty more Old Man Star Trek films in place of the not quite right Next Generation crew.

Star Trek - Generations:  "Who Am I To Argue With The Captain Of The Enterprise?" A tremendously flawed film that manages to infuriate, or at least frustrate this long time Trekkie. But I really do enjoy the Enterprise B opening with Kirk as media icon and his ultimate demise at the climax is still emotionally devastating even if it is horribly staged. The real travesty is the short straw delivered to the crew of the Next Generation; all parties involved feel like they've been given a reboot with seven seasons of the show seemingly unimportant to the blah plot steered by Malcolm McDowell's boring madman. And Data is transformed into a pathetic butt of a joke, the implementation of the emotion chip is a cheap story telling device. And is it me, or is Trek still stuck in the Nexus?


Star Trek - Khan Ruling In Hell:  Set between the time when Captain Kirk dumped Khan Noonien Singh on the paradise planet of Ceti Alpha Five in "The Space Seed" and the moment Chekhov and the Reliant discovered the super humans on the transformed desert planet of Star Trek II, this IDW graphic novel seems to get everything wrong about the mad dictator. From Khan's bewildering belief in the Federation to his horribly annoying passive behavior, Ruling in Hell is an incredibly frustrating read for Trekkies. It's a tremendous waste of an opportunity and turns the greatest villain in the Star Trek universe into a bit of a whelp. Lame.


For Matt, The Wife, and I Shat Attack V started on Friday night.  We popped in a couple of Star Trek episodes to have on in the background as we got settled into the party preparations.  Five years ago, Shat Attack started out as a small group of friends watching Wrath of Khan, some TJ Hooker, and The Devil's Rain.  By the second year we had a dozen guests.  Shat Attack III had sixteen guests.  And Shat Attack IV had 23 guests.  Shat Attack V was the most epic movie weekend marathon we've had yet.  We had 29 guests stuffed into this tiny apartment at once, and the party lasted 31 Hours from Friday night to early Sunday morning.  And I'd say it was a rip-roaring success with a crazy array of Shatner related viewing as well as a couple good rounds of Shatner Jeopardy in which every guest eventally teamed up against Matt's superior Mr. Know-It-Allness.  

And I must give mucho kudos to The Wife for preparing a wonderful feast of Shatner related food.  From the Delta Shield Scone breakfast to the William Shatner's Grandmother's Matzoh Kneidlach lunch to the Sybock Choy & McCoy's Famous Beans dinner.  Plus oodles and oodles of Shatner snacks.  She's the bestest.  

The Brothers Karamazov:  "Lunatic, I Loathe You." Yul Brynner is a monster of a man as he battles it out with his equally monstrous father Lee J Cobb, exchanging violent wits as well as crushing gorilla punches. It all has something to do with money, women, and the existence of god and their rivalry will eventually destroy (emotionally, at the very least) the rest of the family. Shatner plays the young pious Alexey with an incredibly creepy sinister stare of righteousness. Richard Basehart is his atheist opposite and their minor philosophical struggles provide respite when Breyner and Cobb aren't throttling each other. I have no idea if this is a good adaptation of the book cuz I can never get past the first fifty pages of those Russian epic depression fests, but the movie is long and enjoyably brutal.

Columbo - Butterflies in Shades of Grey:  17 years after he appeared in the original Columbo television series, William Shatner returns for this TV Movie, playing a Rush Limbaugh-like radio show host who not-so-cleverly shot his daughter’s literary agent in the back.  I’ve never quite understood the appeal of the Columbo series with the first fifteen minutes detailing the murder, the next ten minutes showing the audience that Columbo’s figured it all out, and then for the final hour we just have to agonize through the detectives bumbling style of “I GOT YOU!”  Shatner is kinda fantastic in his impression of easy-target Limbaugh (and this is 1993 when all his crazy wasn’t even fully revealed yet) but man, I get tired of Peter Falk’s antics fairly quickly.

The True Story of Puss ‘n Boots: Technically this very French animated adaptation of the classic fairy tale does not look like complete and utter garbage. It looks cheap, sure. Made on a laptop. But if it was not for the horrible voice cast, including William Shatner's horrifyingly old man humor lady voice for the titular cat in boots than maybe, just maybe, there is a fun little kids movie to be seen. Uh...naw, this sucks. Man, Shatner really does say "Yes" to every project.

The Six Million Dollar Man “Burning Bright”: “I Want To Take A Bath In Whatever Zapped Me. It Felt Good!” Lee Majors is recruited by NASA to help Shatner’s great barrier defying astronaut, a humorless jokester who’s returned from space with psychic abilities. Yes, not only can he Scan his jerkwad boss but he can command an army of dolphins if he should choose…but he just encourages them to do backflips for his amusement. One of the better Six Millioin Dollar Man eps, but I have to agree with my fellow co-dork when he suggested that Shatner’s Big Brain should have teamed up with the Bionic Man for further adventures, rather than just succumbing to the typical Versus battle.

The People: “Don’t Let Your Fear Kill All That Is Ours, Old One.” An incredibly boring adaptation of Zenna Henderson’s big book of woo. Kim Darby plays a young teacher trying to understand the cult-like community she finds herself attached to while also avoiding their glowy hand powers of levitation. Shatner pops by occasionally as an understanding veterinarian who just wants to look at your horse and not worry about the voodoo taking over the local farms.  Apparently Francis Ford Coppola had something to do with this dreck, but I can only imagine it was for tax purposes or family obligation or something like that.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents “Mother May I Go Out To Swim”: Honestly I was hard at work getting the apartment ready for the night and I did not pay enough attention to either this episode or the “Hungry Glass” Thriller ep that followed. There’s plenty of Shatner screaming and grimacing going on, but I was not following the plot at all at this point of Shat Attack V.

The Devil’s Rain: The plot might be laughable and the acting wonderfully over-the-top, but thanks to the direction of Robert Fuest (The Abominable Dr. Phibes) and the cinematography of Alex Phillips Jr (Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia) The Devil’s Rain is a stylish Satanist flick looking to steal the blockbuster audience of Rosemary’s Baby. The Opening Confrontation between Shatner and Ernest Borgnine is genuinely epic and the film never quite matches the power of their Faith Off. And with Tom Skeritt, Eddie Albert, Keenan Wynn, Ida Lupino, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him John Travolta, The Devil’s Rain is never boring even when it’s endlessly gooey.

Boston Legal “Thanksgiving”: This is not an episode to expose to newbies, but if you’re already a fan of the series than the Thanksgiving show of the final season is rather amazing. Friends and enemies collide at Candice Bergen’s dinner table and when they’re not going to war over grace then they’re spitting venom at each other over the inherent racism still plaguing contemporary America.  There’s plenty of Double Hoot fun and genuine lump-in-the-throat emotion with a typically bizarre marriage proposal. Boston Legal is one of the best things Shatner has ever been associated with and more folks out there should chomp into this brilliantly biting one hour dramady (damn, I hate that word, but there ya go).

Barnaby Jones “To Catch A Dead Man”: I did not grow up with Barnaby Jones.  And as a result I just don’t get this milk drinking detective. That being said, I love this episode for it’s use of glued goatee murdering Shatner. He plays a somewhat notorious sea captain who fakes his death to escape his shrill wife and score on the insurance money. Unfortunately, he picks the wrong double to play his corpse and Buddy Epsen’s Columbo-esque detective stumbles about until he solves the crime. The highlight of the ep though is when Shatner Teeth Kisses his girlfriend to death just after ranting and screaming about her kittie, “THE CAT! THE CAT! THE CAT!”

William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet: "We're taking the rhythm of the skins into our music and its feeding each other!" Honestly, one of my favorite bits of Shatner Madness is his album Has Been. It's not the oddity that is The Transformed Man, it's a genuine piece of emotional art in which Shatner attempts to reach the everyman through the lens of his Icon Colored Glasses. And world-renowned choreographer Margo Sappington, after hearing a review on NPR, thought it a smart idea to put The Shat's "Music" to dance. I don't know what it all means, but it's wondrous to watch. I only wish that this short documentary did a better job of photographing the humans on display. It just seems like a mess of limbs to me. But there is heart in the concept and it's great to hear from folks like Henry Rollins and Ben Folds on what it's like to bathe in the William Shatner mindset.

Burke’s Law “Who Killed Carrie Cornell?”: Similar to Columbo & Barnaby Jones, I find Burke’s Law to be confounding. Here’s this super rich police captain being chauffeured around in his limo while he makes wisecracks about corpses. He’s super serious, but also a bit of an ass. Soon-to-be Starfleet Captain William Shatner & soon-to-be Klingon Michael Ansara might be lovers here and at least one of them is definitely a psychotic murdering vegetarian and their vile beatnik hatred makes this episode a fantastic intro to classic detective tv, especially for those raised on spoon fed CSI programming. There is some seriously bonkers stuff at play here.

Star Trek “The Enemy Within”:  The Main Event started at 7:00 PM with this Kirk vs Kirk crowd pleaser.  A few folks had trickled into the apartment throughout the day, but now we had 25 plus packed into our small two-bedroom joint.  As people mingle about and chat with each other it’s always best to start with a one hour program but when Kirk starts screaming for Brandy, the chatter starts to die down and people take notice of the crazy going on screen. 

Impulse: This Shat Attack staple is one of my all time favorite Shatner performances. Yes, it's a terrible movie. Maybe, one of the worst films ever. However, I dare you not to have fun while watching accidental serial killer William Shatner stab and strangle his way through shifty international investments. Filmed during the dark years after the Star Trek television series and before his iconic rebirth in The Motion Picuture, Shatner still throws in every bit of SHAcTting talent he has and performs the hell outta William Grefe's wonky but seriously disturbing screenplay. Toss in Harold Sakata's Karate Pete car wash chase, some unbelievable goofy 70s fashion, and some of the worst day for night shooting you'll ever encounter, and you've got a recipe for an uproarious party movie.

Star Trek V – The Final Frontier: It is easy to hate on this Shatner helmed Trek adventure (Jokey yet unfunny one liners, horrible God hunting concept, cheap effects, awkward Scotty/Uhura love pecks, Uhura naked fan dance) but at the same time this is the closest film to capture the tone of the original series. And it's the only movie to truly focus on the trilogy of Kirk, Spock, & McCoy. The Row Row Row Your Boat campfire sequence warms my heart; their bickering in the brig is classic Trek and the flashback/visions for both McCoy and Spock are rather brilliant character beats. Is this really the worst of the Star Trek films? Watch it again. Then watch The Undiscovered Country and Nemesis and I dare you to crap on The Final Frontier.  One of the highlights of this year's Shat Attack was hearing several haters rethink their opinion on the fifth film.

The Captains: Obviously, your enjoyment of this documentary depends on how much you love Star Trek and since I LOVE STAR TREK I seriously enjoyed this weird scramble of interviews starring everyone's favorite Captains (including Star Trek VI's Christopher Plummer, but not Star Trek VI's George Takai). It's loads of fun even when its incredibly awkward with the mellow jazz philosophy of Avery Brooks or Shatner's own thematic question steering. The best bits involve Patrick Stewart and Scott Bakula opening up about job vs. family--for brief moments some serious stuff gets discussed, and the rest of it is just light, frothy Trekkie fun. Sure, it's a all ego. But what else do you expect from The Shat.  I will say that this was the film during Shat Attack V that sent people on their way.  The credits rolled around 2AM early Friday morning and the remaining half dozen Shat Attackers stuck it out for...

Secrets of a Married Man: When Michelle Phillips refuses to wear the silky neglige Shatner creepily purchased for her, he dives into a rampant parade of prostitutes that climaxes with Cybil Shepard's maybe/sorta hooker with a heart of gold. This TV movie is complete scare-ya-straight moralizing cheese, but thanks to Shatner's squirmy STDed ho addict and the third reel appearance of Glenn Thurman's friendly businessman pimp, Secrets of a Married Man is a low-rent, but enjoyable entry in the 80s era Shatnerverse.  By the end of this film only four Shat Attackers had their eyes open...but sleep came quickly after.

Star Trek – The Animated Series: As the surviving members of Shat Attack V began to awaken, pull themselves free from their carpet slumber, and shuffle out the door and back into the real world of boring, non-Shatner celebrating reality I popped in a few random episodes from the animated series. I started with “The Counter Clock Incident,” the show that reveals Commodore Robert April to be the first Captain of the Enterprise and hopefully set up some crazy JJ Abrams sequel plotting for next year (I love the rumor of Peter Weller taking this role, dork fingers crossed). The Animated Series suffers from an incredibly pathetic budget but I love the high concept crazy of some of these plots. From Kirk & Co battling it out with the Aztech god Culocon to the war crimes of Dr. Leonard McCoy, this brief series really went for the bananas when scripting and even though the execution was questionable I still manage to pull great enjoyment from their efforts.


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