J- J- Abrams

WTF: JJ Abrams, an EW Entertainer of the Decade

J. J.
Image via Wikipedia

Alias. Lost. Fringe. Mission Impossible 3. Cloverfield. Star Trek. All in all, writer/director/producer JJ Abrams had a pretty sweet decade. That’s why we at Entertainment Weekly named him one of the Entertainers of the Decade in our Best of the Decade issue (EW.com.)

He may be a nice guy, and he may be a savvy business man, but idea that he is one of the entertainers of the year is beyond laughable.

His credits include some of the dumbest, most boring, mass media schlock that I have ever seen.  Here is the list according to imdb:

  • Alias (creator, executive producer, Writer)
  • Armageddon (1998/I) (screenplay)
  • Cloverfield (2008) (producer)
  • Felicity" (84 episodes, executive producer)
  • Forever Young (1992) (executive producer, written by) (as Jeffrey Abrams)
  • Fringe" (executive producer, writer)
  • Gone Fishin' (1997) (written by) (as Jeffrey Abrams)
  • Joy Ride (2001/I) (producer, written by)
  • Lost" (executive producer, Writer)
  • Mission: Impossible III (2006) (written by)
  • Regarding Henry (1991) (co-producer), written by) (as Jeffrey Abrams)
  • Six Degrees" (executive producer) (13 episodes, 2006-2007)
  • Star Trek (2009) (producer)
  • Taking Care of Business (1990) (written by) (as Jeffrey Abrams)
  • The Catch (2005) (TV) (creator, writer, executive producer)
  • The Pallbearer (1996) (producer) (as Jeffrey Abrams)
  • The Suburbans (1999) (producer)
  • What About Brian" (executive producer) (26 episodes, 2006-2007)

There is not one original or innovative idea on the list, and only Star Trek was worth watching, but with the usual JJ caveats: Try to ignore the lens flares, forget about it having a plot, and whatever you do, don't expect it to make sense.

It would be a waste of my time to point out all of the problems with JJ's works.  This is just Entertainment Weekly proving they care more about how much money a project makes rather than how good it is.

JJ is a master of smoke and mirrors, but has no idea how to craft a good story.  Let's just sigh together and hope his career will be over soon.

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Review: Star Trek

startrekfanposter1I was a little afraid to see the new Star Trek Movie.  All of the materials they sent me to hype the movie either bored or annoyed me.  I started getting a little excited about the movie after the early screenings started returning good reviews. Sitting in the theater as boring trailers, my anticipation ramped up as film crept ever closer.  I love Star Trek.  It is probably my favorite franchise.  I really hoped they wouldn't mess it up.

It took me a while to write this review, because I wanted to make sure I got past my fanboy response to the movie and was able to talk about the movie with a bit more distance and clarity.

What should Star Trek be?

Gene Roddenberry's concept of Star Trek was a simple formula:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Basic wants and needs

But it should also tackle all of the most important issues of the day.  (You can read more about this in my post: More Proof J. J. Abrams Doesn’t Get Star Trek).  The early publicity left me with many concerns.

Addressing early concerns

Prequel/Sequel/Reboot [reus name="Star Trek iFrame"]

I was really confused about the nature of the film when they started calling is a prequel/sequel/reboot.

That is a strange thing to say, and alone, a statement that doesn't make sense, but for this film it works.

  • Sequel
    • Spock starts on Romulus like he is in the Next Generation
    • The first Federation uniforms we see are right out of Star Trek Enterprise.
    • Time travel story
  • Prequel
    • Young versions of the characters
  • Reboot
    • Establishes an alternate timeline for Star Trek

I am not sure I like the classification of this movie as a reboot.  Battlestar Galactica was a reboot, this was more of a return to the core of what made Star Trek great in the original series.  If this is a reboot so was:

  • The Animated Series (added more exotic alien races)
  • The Motion Picture (changed the Kligons forever)
  • Wrath of Khan (Brought back the Action/Adventure quality of the series.
  • Voyage Home (The crew of the Enterprise mess with the timeline)
  • The Next Generation (updated the series for a new generation of fans)
  • Deep Space Nine (Star Trek without exploration but with more military elements)
  • Generations (Kirk is ripped from the timeline)
  • Voyager (Star Trek without the Federation)
  • First Contact (The Borg and the crew of the Enterprise mess with the timeline)
  • Insurrection (The Federation is not perfect)
  • Enterprise (Star Trek before the Federation without superior technology)

If you would count each of these major revisions of the setting as a reboot, than this movie is a reboot.  To me, this sequel/prequel.

Turning Star Trek into Star Wars?

trek-newlogo-lg.jpgAbrams, Kurtzman anf Orci all said they wanted to turn bring more Star Wars into Star Trek, but I don't think they got there.  I love both series, and I am familiar with the main qualities of both, and I don't think they brought much if anything from one to the other.

I was afraid that is was going to be more of a Lethal Weapon in Space, Speed: Warp 10, Star Wars: The Vulcan Chronicles, or Cloverfield 2: The Future of the Beast (WTF Star Trek Super Bowl Ad!?!).  There is not a scene in this film that I could see easily fitting in one of the earlier films or the original television series.

Maybe they originally thought of Nero's ship as a sort of Death Star, but it is no more than Probe from The Voyage Home, V'ger from the Motion Picture, or the Son'a ships from Insurrection.  Other than that, I just don't get it.

Uhura in her off hours

I was excited when I saw the clip of Uhura telling Kirk off in the bar.  I hoped Kirk would get his butt kicked and he so did.  I was concerned about the stripping clips of Uhura in the trailers but I love the way the dealt with her.

----------Spoiler Alert!!----------

I loved the relationship between Uhura and Spock.  It made sence, and it served to dehumanize Spock in an interesting way.  The juxtaposition of her emotions and his total lack of emotions really hilighted the difference between humans and vulcans.

I know there are a lot of people who didn't like her depiction in this movie, but Uhura was always a more laid back member of the crew.

Addressing new concerns after seeing the movie

Kirk's Vaccine reaction

I loved the adverse reaction that Kirk had to the Vaccine that McCoy gave him.  It was a flashback to the kind of humor the original series thrived on.  It was silly, light hearted and interfered with the characters ability to do what they needed to do.

The Engine Room of Doom!

WTF were they thinking when they designed the engine room.  It was funny, but I agree with Gwen DeMarco regarding the fate of the writer who came up with the idea for these scenes...

I could go off on a long string blue words, but I will let the others who have already done that do it.  I just thought this was a blemish on an otherwise great film.

Nero's ship armament

Brian and I argued about this fro a long time after the movie.  Personally, I think Nero was just a MacGuffin to give an excuse for the story to happen.  Neither he nor his crew are intgral to the plot and could have been replaced by anyone else with any other motive using any other means.  Nero is not important. They obviously didn't give his subplot any thought, and frankly, the movie would have been better without the distraction.

I wish the film would have had a real 3 dimensional villain, but I honestly didn't expect one from a J. J. Abrams movie.  He has never done villains well.  Every movie and show that he has ever touch has had a weak, impotent, or flat villain.  A better director would have insisted on a better antagonist, but the story didn't matter, the action did.

startrek20081015025340385.jpg

Kirk's Exile from the Enterprise

Some people have complained about Spock having Kirk put in a life pod and jettisoned from the ship.  If I really wanted to defend the movie here I would say that this was a symptom of Spock's frustration that Kirk should not be on the ship at all.  I think that could be argued.

Once more, this is another symptom of Abrams' half-assed directing style.  He needed to have Kirk on the planet to meet Spock and this was the quickest and most "visually exciting" way to do it.  Let's be honest, this was an excuse to have Kirk chased by a Cloverfield reject so he could talk to Spock in a cave.  It was not thought out.

Nero's Motives

nero-characterposter-72dpi.jpg

Nero's motive for attacking Vulcan are nothing less than laughable.  He was a stupid man on a stupid ship with the horridly named "Red Matter" who wants to destroy Vulcan rather than save his homeworld.

Maybe he thought he could do both.  Rid the Empire of the threat of the Federation and save his homeworld.  I think the reallity is a lot simpler.

Like most of the annoying things in this film it just wasn't well thought out.  It was a flimsy excuse for a Nero to be a villain and commit a terrorist act without having to think about whether or not he has a good (or at least understandable) reason or not.

Nero is a flat, empty character and I can tell you why.  This movie is nothing more than:

Wrath of Khan, take 2

This story follows the plot of Wrath of Khan beat by beat with several notable exceptions:

  • Nero is not as scary as Khan.
  • Nero does not have a motive for revenge.
  • "Red Matter" is not as scary as the Genesis Device.
  • Wrath of Khan had better writers and director.

This movie is to Wrath of Khan what the Next Generation episode "Naked Now" is to the Original Series episode "Naked Time."  It is a good remake, but it is not as good as the original.

Is this Star Trek?

Let's measure it against Gene's definition

√ Action √ Adventure √ Basic wants and needs √ Tackle all of the most important issues of the day.

That last check might be a little controversial, but I thought the show dealt with the random nature of terrorism and the emotional cost it has on people.

Star Trek's New Phase

I am glad to say that Star Trek has been reborn, much as it was when Wrath of Khan came out.  I loved the movie.

Likes

  • Canon Uniforms
  • Spock's relationship with the Romulans
  • Characters were perfect
  • Not just an action film
  • great FX
  • sense of humor

Dislikes

  • The Engine room
  • Lack of a serious villain
  • Nero's Ship
  • "Red Matter"
  • The Alien Monster
  • Kirk's marooning

Rating = 10

The Future of Star Trek

Orci and Kurtzmen have already signed on to write the next movie in the series, but that are not sure if it will be a Prequel, Sequel, or Reboot to this movie.  They said they are waiting to see what the reaction to this film is.  And there is one more thing:

Kurtzman: The very last scene when Spock and Spock meet each other, finally. And elder Spock is convincing young Spock that he couldn't interfere, because it would have diverted [Kirk and Spock] away from their friendship. And that their friendship is the key to the whole sort of shebang.

Orci: He gave him a recorded message from Kirk.

Kurtzman: He [elder Spock] said, "Don't take my word for it." And he handed him [younger Spock] a little holographic device and it projected Shatner. It was basically a Happy Birthday wish knowing that Spock was going to go off to Romulus, and Kirk would probably be dead by the time... (Topless Robots)

That could be the set up for the next movie.  Personally, I don't want another movie.  I want a TV series.

New Star Trek Clip: Uhura has a brain, Kirk is an Ass

MTV just added a clip from the new Star Trek Movie called Shot Of Love:

This clip is a little unusual for a Star Trek movie, but it does feel good to see Kirk get insulted.  I can only hope he gets his butt kicked next, but I know that it too much to ask for.

Check out my Star Trek Review.

New Star Trek Clip: Bones is afraid to fly!

st_vegas_mccoy_72dpiYahoo! Movies. added a short clip from the J. J. Abrams Star Trek Movie titled Disease and Danger, and I can't believe how much it makes me laugh. The scene depicts McCoy being ushered to his seat next to Kirk while loudly complaining about his fear of flying and all of the ways they could die either on their short flight or once they get into space.

I have to admit, the slip is funny, and it reminded me of something a young Bones would say and do.  I almost hate to say it, but I think they might be bringing me around.  Dare I consider the possibility that the film might actually be good?

Watch it here

Check out my Star Trek Review.

Star Trek Prequel/Sequel/Reboot gets Prequel/Sequel/Reboot

st_finaldomesticposter_unratedAs studios continue their trend of jumping well ahead of the game, announcing sequels to films that have yet to be released, Paramount Pictures decided to move forward with a Prequel/Sequel/Reboot to follow the Prequel/Sequel/Reboot to Star Trek that will not release until May 8. Kurtzman said:

“Obviously we discussed ideas, but we are waiting to see how audiences respond next month,” [...] “With a franchise rebirth, the first movie has to be about origin. But with a second, you have the opportunity to explore incredibly exciting things. We’ll be ambitious about what we’ll do (/Film)."

Ok, so let me see if I understand this.

  • The people who wrote the not yet released film (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) will return with producer turned writer Damon Lindelof to pen a script for the next film.
  • They don't know if the film scheduled for May 8th is a sequel, a prequel or a reboot.
  • They are not going to start writing the next movie because they are not convinced that fans will accept the sequel/prequel/reboot premise, cast or aftermath.
  • Their uncertainty has risen to the level where they have yet to ask director J. J. Abrams to return for the sequel/prequel/reboot to the sequel/prequel/reboot.

Well. They are at least making one thing clear (maybe), by not having J. J. Abrams return they are signaling that they don't want the net movie to be another time travel story to another dimension.

Check out my Star Trek Review.

Star Trek is not a reboot?

startrekfanposter1After pushing the new Star Trek movie as a reboot of the franchise, writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are starting to push back. It's clear that most people are not interested in yet another reboot, and even less are interested in a reboot of Star Trek.  It is interesting to see how they are changing the context of the film from a reboot to a prequel/sequel.

From Reboot to Prequel/Sequel

Orci said, "We couldn't imagine not having this movie somehow fall within some degree of continuity. We don't accept the word reboot. Reboot does not actually describe the fact that this movie would not be possible without the 10 movies that came prior to it. The very events of the movie themselves are caused by Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and his story, which picks up essentially after the last movie, Star Trek 10 [Nemesis]. ... So our movie is both a prequel and a sequel. It's a sequel if you're a fan, and a prequel if you're not (SCI FI Wire)."

Honestly, I don't know what to think about this.  I am not sure if it is:

  • the writers starting to revolt against what they feel is an unfair characterization of this movie
  • a new marketing push to rebrand a movie that is not gaining much traction

I want to be hopeful, and believe they are telling the truth, but the good feeling doesn't last long.

Star Trek "fan" PosterTime Travel and Canon

Why is the time-travel element necessary?

Orci: I don't think that fits into the classic definition of a reboot. So it was necessary for that. And it's also necessary in order to both connect the world to the original Star Trek, but then also to then give us the dramatic license and the dramatic stakes of having an unknown future in the movie.

Kurtzman: Yeah, the biggest thing I think we all hiccuped on, just conceptually, when Trek was presented to us was, "Well, we know how they all died. We know what happened to them." And when you know that, it's very difficult to put them in jeopardy in a way that feels fresh or original. How do you ever have real stakes to your characters?

...

This also conveniently allows you to violate canon, such as it is, if necessary.

Orci: Well, again, it's a continuation of canon. If words have precise meaning, it's not technically a canon violation (SCI FI Wire).

They are going out of their way to try to keep this movie in the prequel/sequel category.

I find it hilarious to see any Star Trek writer talk about cannon.  Every fan knows that ever since Gene Roddenberry died, continuity has not exactly been a preoccupation of the continuity.  Whenever it was convenient, they have abandoned canon.  Kurtzman does make a good point that by adding an element of time travel, it does mean that no one is safe.

Star Wars in Star Trek

I have already gone into detail about my fears that they are going to make the new Star Trek film too much like Star Wars (see it here), so I won't repeat myself, but Orci and Kurtzman have given me more to chew on:

Orci: Well, my short quick answer on that up front is Star Wars had a little bit more of an archetypal, mythological structure. That differentiated it from Star Trek to a certain degree in that Star Trek was a little bit more classical science fiction. Star Wars is fantasy, really.

So, as a result of it being fantasy, the story, I think, was a little bit more mythologically drawn.

Kurtzman: I think what we know is that ... Star Trek is about naval battles, and, at its best, is always about out-thinking your opponent. ... But there's a reality to the way that people watch movies today. ... Which is that you cannot honestly expect ... a 12-year-old boy to walk into a theater and to go sit through two hours of very slow naval battle. It's just not going to work.

... There has to be an updating there. And yet you have to stay entirely true to the spirit of Trek. So the challenge then becomes "How do you marry those two things?" And ... the way that we put it is that there's plenty of naval battles in a way that's familiar and a way that seems very Trek. But ... the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars is that Star Wars has always been about speed. ... It's dogfights versus slow ship fights (SCI FI Wire).

Ok, I am not sure what to make out of this.  I really want to remind them of the space battles from the Dominion War in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or in Voyager, or Enterprise.  You don't have to look outside the franchise to find fast paced action.

I also have a problem with the invocation of the 12 year old boy.  They have been dumbing down entertainment for so long, that they now feel that they have to cater to the short attention spans they created.

I suppose I should be comforted that their contribution to the franchise will be to remove what little science fiction remains.

Forget everything you know

So remember:

  • It's not a reboot
  • It's a prequel/sequel
  • It will be fast paced
  • It will not by Science Fiction or Scifi
  • It was made just for 12 year old boys, not for general audiences
  • It is true to cannon

Wait?? What?? Forget everything I know?  Ok, I will.  I will expect:

  • wooden 2 dimensional characters
  • no plot
  • nothing thought provoking
  • lots of shaky cam
  • lots of explosions
  • fantasy creatures around every corner

I didn't expect the sequel to Lord of the Rings to be a Star Trek film but game on...

PS: J. J. Abrams' "Creativity" and "Imagination"

Facepalm left a great comment on the original post on SCI FI Wire.

The History of J.J. Abrams:

Lost: It's time travel across dimensions Fringe: It's time travel across dimensions Star Trek: It's time travel across dimensions.

Can't wait for his version of Romeo and Juliet.

Most of the comment were negative against the film..

Check out my Star Trek Review.

Star Trek: Trailer 3 Original Series Version

I didn't post the third trailer for the new Star Trek film because when I saw it at the opening of The Watchmen, it bored me so much I was afraid I would not be able to enjoy the film.  It is nothing but images and dialogue we have heard before in a thousand other films.  Nothing original, nothing new, just the same staples of over budgeted action films pretending to be scifi.

When I saw this parody of the trailer using clips from the original series, I had to laugh.

If you haven't seen the original here it is:

(via/Film) Find more videos like this on Project: Shadow HQ

Check out my Star Trek Review.

WTF Star Trek Super Bowl Ad!?!

Star Trek Super Bowl Ad

The ads for the J. J. Abrams Star Trek movie are just painful to watch.  I am not sure if they are for Lethal Weapon in Space, Speed: Warp 10, Star Wars: The Vulcan Chronicles, or Cloverfield 2: The Future of the Beast.

Think that last one is over the top check this out:

tagruato1-440x186

/film caught this banner for Tagruato, the evil company from Cloverfield in hanging from a building in the trailer.  A great catch on their part, and yet another reason for me to be a little freaked out by the new movie.

The last thing Abrams should make any of us think about in conjuction with with new Star Trek movie is one of the worst flicks he ever made.  Great way to make me worry more about the flick.

Check out my Star Trek Review.

More Proof J. J. Abrams Doesn’t Get Star Trek

startrekstory They launched the new Star Trek Movie site today, and it provided me with all the proof I need to see how little J. J. Abrams does not understand Star Trek at all. As you can see on the right, the story is that an egotist and a bunch of people who have never done anything that could be described as good or great have come together to overlay their vision onto a classic series that they have mistaken as nothing but a space adventure.

I have talked at length about how little the new team seems to understand about the depth and power of the original series in their attempt to turn Star Trek into Star Wars (read it here).  This very problem has plagued Trek since Gene Roddenberry died (read more on that here).

Gene Roddenberry on idea of Star Trek, it had action, adventure, wants and needs, but it also tackled all of the most important issues of the day.

This has always been what set Star Trek apart from all of the other Space Operas that have been on Television before or since with the sole exception of Babylon 5.  Action/adventure shows are fleeting.  No other show has engendered the devotion and admiration of so many people.  It didn’t accomplished because it had an action episode from time to time.  It did this because the shows stood for something.

Gene talking about how he resisted the studio's push for Star Trek to be nothing more than an Action Adventure series. It had to be about so much more.

It wasn’t easy for me to listen to Gene talking about Star Trek.  I hope it will not be as bad as it could be, but so far, Abrams and the rest have given me no reason for hope.  This feels like the forces that wanted Star Trek to be a vacant series, devoid of merit have taken advantage of Gene to slowly bleed out of the series everything Gene fought to keep in.  This film, if it is what it looks like, would be the second film to betray Gene’s vision.

Check out my Star Trek Review.

Saving Star Trek

starfleet_command_logo Club Jade pointed to some posts about how to save Star Trek.  They reminded me of my post Star Trek After Roddenberry…  I cannot resist the urge to comment on them.

Mixing Star Wars and Star Trek

The Official Star Wars Blog highlighted an interview with the writers of the new Star Trek movie, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman by Wired:

Wired.com: J.J. Abrams makes no secret that he’s more of a Star Wars guy and not so much into Star Trek, but you two were full-tilt fans.

Orci: In terms of fandom, yeah, and Damon too is a fanatic - we’re not going to drop the ball out of ignorance. Nobody can say that we don’t know Star Trek. There might be some things we do that people could question, where they go, “I hate them for some other reasons,” but they can’t say, “They didn’t know their stuff.”

Orci: And it’s controversial to even mention Star Wars and Star Trek in the same sentence, but Alex said, “We have to bring more Star Wars into Star Trek.”

Kurtzman: (joke-coughing) Original Star Wars.

Orci: Original Star Wars. I want to feel the space, I want to feel speed and I want to feel all the things that can become a little bit lost when Star Trek becomes very stately — which I love about it , but….

Kurtzman: Star Trek is often the space equivalent of sub battles, which is what makes it unique and different from Star Wars, so you can’t blow that away, either.

Orci: It’s somewhere between that the truth lies.

Really?  Again with people thinking that Star Trek is suppose to be an action series!  It sounds like the new film will be, but that is not the original concept for the series.

I feel like I have to say something:

Science Fiction ≠ Action

I know this is a hard concept for some people to understand.  While science fiction can have action scenes in it, one is not equal to the other.

Star Trek was intended to be a Science Fiction show, and many of their best episodes did not have any action scenes at all Like the City at the Edge of Forever.

Roddenberry wanted the show to highlight how diplomacy should be our first resort rather than violence.

5 Ways to Ruin Star Trek by Adding Star Wars

idicio9 added fuel to the fire with its own wishlist.

Make Your Heroes Less Perfect

Yeah, that is a great suggestion.  Instead of trying to show a future that actually lives up to the ideals you have set for it, and that you are hoping your audience will also aspire to, throw all your ideals out the window and make your characters flawed and while your at it, make the future something no one will ever want to aspire to.

Less Talk, More Action

Diplomacy is overrated, lets just beat the crap out of each other for no good reason.  A puerile show filled with hate and violence is better than a show that sets reason and self-control on a pedestal.

There is no way that a Star Trek with more space battles and less attempts to sit down and talk things through like grown-ups would be a bad thing (io9).

Except it would have to sell out all of its ideals in order to do it.  For some people selling out seems to come easier than for others.

Ignore the Laws of Physics

Ok, Star Trek was a Science Fiction show.  Science Fiction is a subgenre of Speculative Fiction where science plays and integral role in the plot, and it would not be possible to tell the story without it.

Ok, so, we take that away and Star Trek is nothing but a run of the mill Space Opera.

Have At Least One Sequence That Will Make A Good Video Game

That’s right.  Think about the merchandising first.  Stop thinking about the plot and the characters.  Just think about the money you will make with the crappy game based on movie. (honestly, has there ever been a good one?)

Think about money, nothing but money.  Nothing matters but money, and entertaining people who are so emotionally dead inside that they could not be moved by anything.

Put Uhura In A Metal Bikini At Some Point

Because, I am sure it is better to turn an important character into nothing but a vapid sex object that only hormonally brain damaged men will care about.  What where they thinking trying to give women a role model to look up to.  I suppose Graeme McMillan thinks that women should stay in their bikinis and not have all those pesky opinions.

IF this is the new Star Trek…

…then I know it is nothing that I want to see.  My snarkiness aside, these truly are bad ideas.

If Star Trek was to be rebooted, I wish people would have listened to J Michel Straczynski and Bryce Zabel who wanted to keep the spirit of the original alive. (see there concept here)

What these people have described is not a reboot for Star Trek, but a different show with the same name.

May the Great Bird of the Galaxy save us all.

Update

JJ Abrams told Entertainment Weekly:

Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of a Star Wars guy. ''All my smart friends liked Star Trek,'' he says. ''I preferred a more visceral experience.'' Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount's offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ''that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.'' That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ''We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek's] appeal,'' says Weston. ''Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn't going to work.''

So everyone involved in the new movie wants to see these sort of changes... Grr Argh.

Check out my Star Trek Review.