May 16, 2009

The other day the warm-up at work was set to 'Turn the Beat Around' by Gloria Estefan. Which immediately made me think of Miami. Which, naturally, immediately made me think of the Sylvester Stallone/Sharon Stone flick The Specialist. (VampireNomad Word Association: Gloria Estefan = Miami. Miami = The Specialist.)

The Specialist is not a good movie. But it is, fittingly, special. It's special in the way it portrays more male ass than female. It's special in that it sits on the knife-edge of the time between when Sylvester Stallone was a highly bankable action star and the time after that when he was a sort-of bankable former action star. It's special in that Eric Roberts is the villain and all movies in which Eric Roberts is the villain are definitively special in ways that can't be described with words (see also: Heaven's Prisoners). It's special in that Sharon Stone doesn't so much act as she smokily pouts in a sort of highly sexual monotone through the entirety of the film movie flick. And it's special because James Woods is in it. (If James Woods isn't special to you, you don't watch enough Family Guy and/or you've never seen Videodrome.) Of course Sharon Stone and James Woods would go on to make a truly good movie film together in the form of Casino but The Specialist isn't Casino and both Stone and Woods had, arguably, a lot more to learn in the form of special movies before Casino could happen so The Specialist is one of those important steps towards future glory that people love to deride but that in retrospect are revealed as necessary.

The point, however, is that being at work suddenly made me want to watch The Specialist. But when I set out to rent a copy, I COULD NOT FIND ONE.

In the absence of The Specialist I was forced (using the term lightly to mean "chose of my own eager volition") to watch Basic Instinct. Again. While my Sharon Stone/questionable thriller needs did not go unsatisfied, it wasn't Basic Instinct I had wanted that night. It was The Specialist. So, for me, but also as a service for all of you, I present the following The Specialist Pictorial to satisfy anyone's sudden desire to see the movie flick and rectify any rental outlet's dire lack of possession of a copy.

This may contain spoilers. I'm not sure if I remember the plot accurately enough to provide spoilers or if there was enough plot to contain anything I could spoil. Either way, you've been warned.

The Specialist (1994)

A Pictorial.

The poster's tagline reads "The government taught him to kill. Now, he's using his skills to help one woman seek revenge against the Miami underworld."

There exists some back story involving James Woods and Sly in the same army unit and a dead kid.

Present day.
Sly is now a private investigator/muscle for hire type of underground 'good' guy. He doesn't meet clients in person. He phones them. From pay phones. Most likely because he squats lives in a big warehouse.

Sharon Stone attends a party and is pretty.

Eric Roberts is at the party. He's the villain because he is Eric Roberts.

But also because Sharon is not happy about flirting and dancing with him.

Sharon tries to hire Sly to kill Eric Roberts. She only knows his voice over the phone. But he knows more than that because he's been watching her.

He watched her at the graveyard, for example, where she laid flowers on her parents' grave and took off her shoes.

Turns out Eric Roberts and/or his dad, boss of the Miami mob, killed her parents.

And James Woods is now some kind of cop who secretly works for Eric Roberts.

Sharon fakes her own death so Sly decides to break his phone-only rule and meet her. At her own funeral. They decide to get to know each other and talk about the possibility of him killing Eric Roberts for her.

They get to know each other in bed...

... on the floor...

... and in the shower.

Still, Sharon decides to continue her plan to infiltrate Eric Roberts' operation on her own. Under the assumed name of 'Adrian'.

This goes badly and Sharon is forced by James Woods to double-cross Sly.

But Sly is wise to them all and does some shirtless exercising, after feeding his cat, while pondering how to rescue Sharon.

Sly gets Sharon to his warehouse and they try to figure a way out of the bomb booby-trap set by James Woods. Did I mention that James Woods is an explosives expert?

A lot of running/exploding type of action follows.

The cat makes it. The bad guys, not so much.

Things are good.

The End.

**Disclaimer: All photos are the property of Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. However, my site makes no money and doesn't try to. If the photo usage still upsets you, contact me and I'll remove them. Otherwise, how bad can it be that I'm re-advertising a movie everyone has long since pretty happily forgotten? I'm just saying.**

May 12, 2009

I always wondered how ships in the Star Trek universe decided which way was 'up' in space. Every single ship-to-ship encounter in Next Generation featured the Enterprise head-to-head with an alien vessel not only facing them as though seated across the table but not upside down or on a rakish angle. There's no 'up' or 'down' in space. There's just 3-D infinity all around. It always drove me slightly mad that the ships somehow knew to adjust to each other's orientation before confrontation commenced. How did they decide? Do lower class starships adjust to the orientation of higher class ones? Do Starfleet vessels adjust to non-Federation vessel orientation out of courtesy? Does the ship who hails first adjust first? HOW DO THEY KNOW? WHY DO THEY FUCKING BOTHER?

At long last the new Star Trek movie tidily does away with this enduring conundrum. Ships do not 'face' each other while hailing or, you know, firing on each other. They don't make sure they're both facing 'up'. No, in the J.J. Abrams Trekiverse, ships hang out in any goddamn orientation they please; above, below, behind each other. They let the viewscreens sort out orientation for them. Genius! Why in god's name didn't anybody in Trek think of that before? The viewscreen isn't a window. It should be able to right-side the image it's showing. Good god, cameras do that now in the lowly 21st century.

Some other things the new Star Trek gets right, in no particular order:

1. Engineering is really big and houses more than one table and the warp core. It contains pipes and catwalks and giant, oh, engines and all sorts of fascinating and technical-industrial elements such as one would expect to find in the engine room of a giant ship.
2. The Bridge is well lit. And buttons, displays, comm panels, etc, are labeled and show actual information with graphics and readable English standard type. Like computers already do and will probably continue doing.
3. The uniforms look similar in style to the Original Series ones but instead of being some horrid polyester blend they appear breathable and functional. And Kirk's uniform manages not to rip to shreds.
4. There's a lot of actiony-action that can't be solved by the transporter or the sensors and that requires not only teamwork but daring stunts and actual hand-to-hand combat.
5. Scotty does say he's giving it all he's got.
6. Bones does inform Spock that he's a doctor, dammit, and mutters something about green blood.
7. Uhura manages to be vaguely aloof, highly competent, yet undeniably sexy and human all while not boring me to tears with her very existence like her TV counterpart.
8. Aliens look alien. Like totally alien, not like humans with bad Halloween makeup on.
9. The Enterprise, all the famous members of her stalwart crew, and the Trekiverse are each present and accounted for but the filmmakers are not shackled to canon due to an incredibly clever (and manipulative) plot device that takes this film series into an alternate universe from the one we've already watched rendered in polystyrene and... inappropriately paused... acting... technique. They're Trek but they can do whatever they want now and nobody can say "Well that's clearly not how that episode played out".

Things the new Star Trek doesn't get right, in no particular order:
1. Well it doesn't suck.
2. Despite being an odd numbered film, if you're still counting from The Motion Picture, it's good.
3. Winona Ryder just makes me think, "Ha, Spock's mom is Lydia from Beetlejuice. Weird." and thus doesn't quite fit.
4. Um... let me see, there's a bit much Iowa for my taste.
5. ...

So, to sum up. While never having been a die-hard Original Series Trekker, I was nonetheless a rabid Next Generation fan. I had seen enough Original Series to respect what Roddenberry started and I've seen all the films. (Okay, not counting The Motion Picture which I've tried to watch three times without falling asleep in before admitting it's a lost cause or The Final Frontier which I just refuse, point blank, to sit through. But all the rest.) I went into this new Star Trek handicapped with hatred. It had a lot going against it, in my opinion. Recasting classic characters. J.J. Abrams (sue me, I'm just not a fan). Tyler Perry. Another odd-numbered Trek movie. The term 'reboot'. A lead who has a Lindsay Lohan vehicle under his belt. I didn't want to like it. I didn't really want to see it. But I tell you the truth, my friends: armed with disdain, enough Trekker fandom to be a rigid skeptic, and not a lot of sleep, Star Trek won me over before the title sequence. Yes, it won me over in the prologue. And it kept me on side the whole way through. It's good. It really is that good. It's so good that if the same creative team decided to 'reboot' (how I loathe that term) Next Generation in the same way, I (an admitted hardcore Next Gen geek) would jump for joy.

Is it perfect? No, of course not. Don't be daft! But it's so entertaining and so good and, furthermore, looks so fabulous that it doesn't matter. And it's a damn sight better than Wolverine so there's that, at the very least, that you can cling to. Look, I bashed without having seen it. And now I have to renounce that. Don't make the same mistake. It deserves your respect, dammit Jim.

May 10, 2009

I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong. So I rescind every negative thing I ever said about the new Star Trek film.

I just watched it. It blew me away. It was... unbelievable. It was fantastic!