Star Trek. A Review. (Beware Of Spoilers)

Well first of all I have to admit to originally being a heavy critic when I heard that they were making a Star Trek prequel movie. The franchise was already in its death throes and I really thought this was going to be the straw that broke the camels back. I mean, here was JJ Abrams who readily admitted that he wasn’t a big fan of Star Trek and he was going to “re-imagine” the longest running sci-fi franchise in the world. The alarm bells started ringing, I didn’t want this to
happen. “Let me remember Kirk as The Shat played him” I cried. “Don’tmess with the timeline” I moaned. I really was against this from the time the rumours started about prequels long ago. But I should have had a little more faith in JJ Abrams, after all, I do enjoy most of his other work.
So I went into the cinema with my pre-booked tickets in hand, a little nervous but very excited indeed. I had booked the first showing of the day to go with my buddy Andy who is also a little bit of a Star Trek fan (when I rented a room at his house we would sit back with a few beers and smokes and watch TNG all night)

The movie starts off at a very fast pace and is the best opening of any of the previous Trek movies (although Nemesis still ranks up there). Straight away I was gripped. I was transfixed as I sat looking at this new version of Star Trek. “Shiny” I thought. The Abrams influence was obvious very early on, I have to admit to nearly choking up at the first scene. It reminded me of the more poignant moments from “Lost”, it was tough but I held it together. That first scene
featured George Kirk, Jims Dad, saving eight hundred people from certain death by launching a kamikazee attack on a gigantic enemy. Truly emotional stuff. And this is all before the titles roll. The legend “Star Trek” comes on screen, the chills run down my back and the hairs on my body stand on end…..I was sold.

I’m not going to go through the whole movie scene by scene but I will tell you my thoughts in general. I thought the new actors were all brilliant,  every one of them nailed their characters perfectly with special mention to Karl Urban who plays Dr McCoy “Leonard H”.

Chris Pine as Kirk? Well this was one of my biggest doubts before I saw the movie. Before this film, only one actor had ever played “Captain James Tiberius Kirk” and I was one of those naysayers who wanted history to remain that way. Unlike the characters of Doctor Who or James Bond or many other fictional heroes, the role of Captain Kirk belonged to one person, it seemed such a pity to change that. However, Chris Pine put my mind at ease within a few minutes of appearing on the screen. When he sat on the Captains chair spread-eagled like that he looked perfect.

Zachary Quinto was always going to be perfect as Spock, the guy was born to play him. The similarities are spooky. Quinto brought an emotional side to Spock that I can’t ever remember seeing before and this divergence from what I have known to be Spock all these years was actually very welcome (he is half human after all).

Uhura- Oh Man, Uhura is just so gorgeous and I believe Miss Saldana has a lot to offer the role in the future. I found the relationship between herself and Spock quite interesting (again I don’t remember seeing this in any of the original series, I may be wrong though). Sulu was a lot of fun and his fight scenes were well choreographed, I hope to see much more of him in the future. As for Scotty and Chekhov, I need to see more of them in action, in particular Anton Yelchin who needs to tone down the Russian accent and Simon Pegg who needs to develop his Scottish accent.

The story was satisfactory. Time travel is always a tricky subject to deal with but the whole issue in this movie was that the time-line we all knew and loved has changed forever. Abrams has shown his genius by wiping the slate clean and starting afresh. No longer can we expect our heroes to win through every time and survive the movie, if JJ can destroy both Vulcan and Romulus, then surely he can kill off a main character.

The action scenes were incredible, the whole film (over two hours) was very fast paced and the CGI was well executed. The Enterprise was beautiful and I particularly liked the nacelles, i loved the new “chunky” look to them. This was another concern I had before seeing it but all was fine. I noticed a small homage to “The Motion Picture”, when Kirk sees NCC 1701 for the first time in space dock although they didn’t linger for ten bloody minutes.

I also think they were successful in the whole look of the movie. It was always going to be tough to make it look good for us die-hard Trekkies. Back in the sixties it was all about primary colours and little flicky switches. How would they manage to make it look modern yet lead us to believe that these events occurred before “Nemesis?” This I thought, would be the highest hurdle, but yet again Abrahms has delivered the goods.

In fact this film was so well made that I only had two VERY small criticisms and they were two scenes that they really could have done without. When Kirk was stranded on the ice moon. Then this monster comes out from nowhere and it just threw me. Totally out of place and unnecessary in my opinion. And when Scotty was sucked through the pipes, again this was silly and not funny although the initial beaming into the wrong place was pretty good actually. But to be fair, along with Chekhovs anoying accent, these were the only minus points and to be honest, after the second viewing Chekhovs accent bothered me less.

So to sum up.This film is bloody fantastic. It should appeal to both die-hard Trekkies and newcomers alike. Go on, all those people who have hammered Star Trek in the past should really go and see this. Even the lovely lady Sarah (my gorgeous missus) has expressed a very small interest in seeing it ( I wonder If Chris Pine has anything to do with this). JJ Abrams has made Star Trek cool and he has breathed life back into a previously dying franchise. I believe for the next ten years, these fine new actors are going to be very busy reprising their new roles and will become household names just like their predecessors.

Mr Abrams, I thank you for giving us this gift and I humbly apologise for ever doubting your genius.

And Mr Lucas?? This is how a prequel movie should be made.

Edited 10th May for spelling of Abrams and Karl

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ipod Touch Review

So a couple of weeks ago I bought an ipod touch to replace my old 30GB ipod classic which was having problems with the headphone jack. The choice I had was to either replace it with a 160GB hard drive classic which could contain my entire music collection for me to access anywhere at anytime, or I could go for the much more expensive ipod touch with the flash drive with only 16GB (32 was just out of the question price wise.)

It was while listening to a podcast where a chap had called the host asking for advice on the same problem as myself, the headphone jack, and the host was almost orgasming about his new ipod touch that I decided I would have to buy one for myself. The biggest negative was the memory. I was used to carrying around all my music on the Classic and being able to listen to anything I wanted, however, I primarily use my ipod to listen to podcasts at work and it gets used every single day so I decided I could live with managing my sync options on itunes.

So this small parcel arrived through the letterbox ( I was surprised at just how small) I unwrapped this parcel and was a little disappointed at the fact there was no wall charger, just a USB cable so you have to charge it using your computer. Never mnd I thought, I’ll just use the charger I used for my Classic. But no, It wasn’t suitable ( a little bit like Nokia who until recently had the charger that fitted every Nokia phone I had ever had,) so I had to buy a separate charger from Amazon. The one I chose was a 3 in 1 charger which also had a car charger which was perfect for work.

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Another couple of things I bought for it were a screen protector (in hindsight I think this was pointless) and a leather flip case. I have always been into protecting my products with cases or Hori screen protectors, my DS, PSP, digital cameras and phones have all been given the treatment and people are always taking the piss because of my almost OCD ways, but If I ever dropped one of my geeky gadgets and there was no protection, I would be devastated.

Flip case and screen protector

After the first charge and pairing up with my WiFi (so easy to do) I went straight to the apps. store to look for fun and interesting add ons. Now this is where the Touch really comes into its own. From the useless but fun lightsaber app to the wonderful resistor code app for work, the app. store is just so cool and I spent the first night browsing and installing countless applications.

The Wifi feature is just so handy. If I’m lying in bed and suddenly remember an unsent email or a post I have to stick on Twitter, then I just fire up the Touch rather than having to switch my laptop on again. I’m not keen on the Safari browser though and love Apple to allow use of  an Opera Mini app. and I also wish I could find a few more open WiFi spots to make use of it but it seems people are finally catching on to being a little more careful with security.

As I said, I mainly use my ipod to listen to and watch podcasts and the screen on this little beauty is outstanding and I could easily watch a full length movie on it with no problems and it’s perfect for video podcasts. This is also the first ipod to feature an inbuilt speaker which is not before time, now it isn’t the worlds most powerful speaker but you can listen to it in a quiet environment and is fine for listening to while chilling out in the bath.

This is my first ipod with flash memory. I’m used to having spinning drives which can hold all my music but is very bad for listening to whilst jogging, and If I ever take up jogging again then the flash memory will be ideal for that. On the downside, I cannot store my entire music collection like before which I thought would be Okay at first but you inevitably want to play something that isn’t synced up to the Touch.

The one big thing I miss about my old Classic is the tactility.I could listen to it while it was in my pocket and I could operate it with the nice click system without having to remove it. Now I have to take it out of my pocket every time I want to do something apart from adjusting the volume. And you can’t even buy a remote control for it so the young chap in the Apple store informed me, something to do with the touch screen software clashing with remote control hardware. But if anyone else knows any different then please let me know.

So to summarise. This gadget really is beautiful and versatile, It offers so much more than it’s previous incarnations, but it does come at a cost. No wall charger (which I think is unforgivable – Come on Apple, stop thinking about the aesthetics of the packaging and bundle this item please), no instructions or manual to advertise what this thing can do and not much memory. Even 32GB is not enough for most peoples music library

Despite these small faults I do love this ipod Touch and It’s going to overtake my Classic as my almost favourite gadget. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship. Just one word of advice, If you do buy one you must get a case for it, I have really nice slim leather one that although tight at first, now fits perfectly and looks the part while offering protection should it fall out of my very clumsy hands.

Here are some pros and cons of the ipod Touch.

Pros.                                                                                                                       Cons.

Looks Gorgeous                                                                                                 No wall charger

Flash memory                                                                                                    No tactility

Inbuilt speaker                                                                                                  Safari browser only (no open source)

Screen size                                                                                                           Quite pricey

Glass screen.

What you get

My new best friend

Trailer for the new Star Trek movie

I have been waiting a long time for this trailer since the teaser came out some months back. I watched a bootleg copy on Youtube the other day but justice was not done. Having seen this latest trailer, I’m a little more excited now. I have never been a fan of going down the prequel path, in my opinion there was so much promise in setting the movie just after the events of Nemesis.

They tried the prequel experiment with the TV series “Enterprise” which was okay but It felt too different. Others must have agreed because the show was axed after four seasons which signalled the death knell of Trek as an ongoing drama series.

So now JJ Abrahms is given the reigns to try and pump new life into the franchise. Will he succeed in rebooting and making something exceptional like Christopher Nolan did with Batman begins? (another dead franchise at the time) or Casino Royale directed by Martin Campbell who delivered something truly wonderful and managed to take a franchise which was cheesy and unbelievable and turned it into something serious and a great re-imaging of a British hero.

We’ll have to wait until May to find out, but in the meantime, check out the movie trailer and let me know your thoughts.

The amazing Sky+ box.

This little beauty has literally changed the way I watch TV forever.  The Sky+ box is a PVR (personal video recorder) that basically lets you create your own TV channel. Indeed when Sky came out with this product, the advertising campaign was centered around this idea.

My version has an 80GB hard drive which allows the user to store up to 40 hours of TV. If a TV show that you like is part of an ongoing series, Sky+ allows you to automatically record every episode with just one press of a button, I found this feature so handy as you don’t have to worry about schedule changes, the box will do it all for you. You can also record two channels simultaneously and even watch something recorded previously.

The interface is so simple to use. It’s all so concise and well thought out and even my old Grandma (bless her heart) could use this easily. It’s amazing that such a technological breakthrough can be used by the very vast majority of the public.

Since I got this thing nearly two years ago, I don’t watch television when the channels say I have to, I just settle down, check out my planner and choose to suit my mood. You can even whizz through the adverts at 30*  speed, no more annoying breaks. The only drawback is that you sometimes don’t get to see you favourite shows for a couple of weeks after original broadcast.

I know this sounds like an advert for the 800lb gorilla that is Sky, but I really love this gadget and is in my top five all time favourite Geek toys. Go ahead, try it for yourself and I can almost promise you that you, like me, will change your viewing habits forever.