“Here’s what Gene Roddenberry said in an interview just before he died in August 1991; somebody had asked him, ‘What’s going to become of Star Trek in the future?’ And he said that he hoped that some day some bright young thing would come along and do it again, bigger and better than he had ever done it. And he wished them well.”
— Richard Arnold, Roddenberry’s assistant
Star Trek Into Darkness has a lot to live up to. For some fans, it needs to redeem itself from a lackluster first movie. On the flip side, other fans don’t see how this film could reach the same heights of Star Trek ’09. Into Darkness is a thrill ride from the beginning that builds on the themes and characters from ‘09 and ramps them up to new levels, giving fans and the general movie audience something worth cheering for. Spoiler Warning.
“Is there anything you would not do for your family?” – John Harrison
This movie is very much a Kirk story. In the first film, fans and general moviegoers alike scoffed at the idea that Cadet Kirk would be sitting in the captain’s chair by the end of the film. Kurtzman and Orci took that criticism and turned it into a major theme in this film. Kirk may have been given the “Big Chair” for being a wunderkind, but in this film, he earns it.
Kirk begins the movie brash as ever, buffeting the rules at his leisure. He cannot hear anyone elses advice or criticism of his decisions. Pike tells him that he is going to get everyone under his command killed because of his reckless disregard for the rules, and Starfleet actually takes the Enterprise away from Kirk.
The theme of fatherhood comes up strong in this film, just as it did in Star Trek 2009. Pike is the only father figure that Kirk has left in his life, and he is everything that Kirk needs. Pike is a disciplinarian, yet at the same time lifts Kirk up. As Kirk deals with the loss of his command, Pike says, “I believe in you. If anyone deserves a second chance, it’s Jim Kirk.”
Throughout the film, Kirk learns what it means to be a man and a true leader. Kirk begins listening to his superiors and subordinates, and takes what they say to heart. He changes in light of the criticism he receives while discerning the wisest course of action at the same time, even if it does mean going against orders in the end. Kirk may still break the rules when he sees that as the best option, but his path to doing so changes drastically.
Unlike Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it is Kirk who learns firsthand what it means to give his life for the needs of the many. This reversal works perfectly for Kirk’s arc; he learns humility and fallibility the hard way, yet by the end, the change in Kirk is evident. He is not just a savant with an ego to match. He is tempered by fire and forged into the leader that Pike always knew he could be.
War on Terrible Choices:
The purpose is to experience fear. Fear in the face of certain death. To accept that fear, and maintain control of oneself and one’s crew. This is a quality expected in every Starfleet captain. – Spock
Another major theme in the film is fear and how it drives our actions. Since the incursion of Nero in the first film, Starfleet has put itself on high alert. It even turned to Section 31, a rogue agency that acts in the interest of the Federation by protecting it at all costs. This film was dedicated to the memory of all those who gave their lives on 9/11 and in its aftermath. It is in that memory that sparks this question: How do we face fear of the unknown and respond to terror when it strikes at the heart of our cities, our countries and our very way of life?
The film helps us look at ourselves through the lens of Admiral Marcus. His goal is to protect the Federation and its way of life, but at the cost of the very things he stands for: freedom and liberty. Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Marcus’ militarization of Starfleet along with his willingness to sacrifice the values of the Federation mirrors our world, leaving us with difficult questions. The movie shows us it is always better to do what is right even when it is difficult, even if it costs us our lives, it keeps us from becoming the very thing that we are fighting against.
I am a great believer in found families and I’m not a great believer in blood. – Joss Whedon
This movie is very much about family and finding it, even if it has been taken away. Kirk has no father and his surrogate is killed when John Harrison attacks a high level Starfleet meeting. Spock learns what it means to be a part of a family that is dominated by humans, as well as deal with the immense pain of losing his home planet in the first film. John Harrison fights to save his family, while Carol Marcus deals with the shame that comes from having a family member betray everything she thought he stood for.
The crew of the Enterprise deals with severe growing pains in this film. One of the most interesting things is watching how each officer learns from one other, influencing and complementing each other’s skills. Trust and faith in the gifts of each member of the family clearly shines through. At center stage of this are Spock and Kirk. Each of them leans on the other’s strength, and doing so cements their friendship forever.
Spock finally comes to terms with the immensity of his feelings for the loss of Vulcan. The loss is so great that it has wounded him to the core of his being. As a result, he has drawn even further inward, causing to him to repress his typhoon-like emotions, alienating his friends and his paramour Uhura even more in the process. Spock learns the valuable lesson that withdrawing from community and cutting off emotions will not help him heal; he must grieve and process the loss, just like anyone who has experienced an important loss, and doing so is better with a support system of friends.
In our world, found families are becoming increasingly more important in place of the once-dominant nuclear family. Community is a key ingredient to the success of individuals, as the old song says, “Lean on me, when you’re not strong,” and this is a message the film speaks loudly. We need each other to remind us of who we are at our best and help us find our way back when we lose perspective. In this film, the crew of the Enterprise becomes a family that is dedicated to a mission that transcends themselves, and it is one that lies at the very heart of Star Trek: to seek out new life and new civilizations for the betterment of all of humanity while being committed to its values and morality.
“Space, the final frontier….” – Captain Kirk
This is a great brilliant Star Trek film. It lives up the ideals and themes that fans expect from Trek, while at the same time, takes the audience on a wild ride. Some fans may complain about using plot ideas from the original series, but they are used to full effect here. What results is a story that furthers the characters and challenges the viewers. Many will mistake this as a retelling, yet it is not. Kutrzman, Orci and Abrams have taken pieces from previous Trek and re-engineered them into a new tale that is both compelling and contemporary. Personally, I think that this is a better movie that the first. There is no burden of the “origin story,” allowing us to dive right into the narrative from scene one, which lends itself to much more character development in this JJ-verse. Into Darkness uses most of the characters well (Sulu may be the one with the least to do, but he does get a taste of the big chair), and gives them all shining moments, creating a sense of urgency as we eagerly anticipate the next voyage of the starship Enterprise.
Movie Poster artwork is by Paul Shipper.
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Mad Men is a horror series. There… I said it. I didn’t believe this until recently. My impression was that it was a dark and brooding drama about the desperate and horny realities of life. This was until I had a conversation with a woman who could not watch the show. “Not watch Mad Men?” I thought… “How could you not watch Mad Men?” “You don’t understand,” she said… “Watching Mad Men to me is like watching horror movies to you.”
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little piece for Christ and Pop Culture about a Q&A session with Tim Keller at The Gospel Coalition conference. I asked about revival, and among other things, Keller said something about sex and the complex nature of doubt. Given that what he said was fairly conservative, had to do with sex and doubt, and, in all fairness, could have been reported more clearly by me, the unsurprising result was a lot of pushback—some legitimate and some not so much. Feel free to read the article and peruse the comment section for yourself.
If you’ve been following the news the past few days you may believe that an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi is being held for mailing ricin-laced letters to President Obama, that more than 60 people died in a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, and that two Eastern Orthodox bishops were kidnapped by terrorists and released the same day. But while each of those items contains a grain of truth, they are mostly false. The bishops were abducted, but major news agencies were fooled into believing they had been released; the death toll in the West, Texas, explosion is 15; and Paul Kevin Curtis was released by investigators who believe he might have been framed. The irony is that the people who were blissfully unaware of the latest news would be accused of being uninformed, when news hounds were likely to be the most ill-informed of all.
The Star Wars animated series ended its run on Cartoon Network after five seasons of bringing new characters — and reintroducing some old favorites — into the franchise’s expansive mythos.
But it’s not done yet: Supervising director Dave Filoni is heading up the completion of a few story arcs that were slated for production before Lucasfilm announced in March that it was taking its animation slate in a new direction following its purchase by Disney.
There are so many products on the market these days that are supposed to be good for us — much of it based on zero evidence. Here are 11 commonly touted “health foods” that are actually quite harmful.
1. Fruit Juices
The fruit juices you find at the supermarket aren’t always what they seem. They may have small amounts of real fruit in them, but often they are little more than water, artificial flavor and sugar.
The odds are looking good that Apple will ditch the textured, bubbly look of its iOS software in favor of something more modern.
Citing “multiple people who have either seen or have been briefed” on iOS 7, 9to5Mac reports that the software for iPhones and iPads will sport a flatter look:
C. S. Lewis has been one of the most popular authors of the 20th century. He is still one of the most read authors in the 21st century; from children’s books in the Narnia series, to science fiction, to apologetic works, his influence has lived on. So how did this man, an atheist in his early life, become the patron saint of mere Christianity? What drove him and what was the thought process behind his greatest works? Who was Lewis? Is there a need for another biography of him when he has been written about by so many, including his good friend George Sayer as well as Dr. Alan Jacobs?
Alister McGrath’s new biography, C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet is much needed in my opinion. He meticulously read everything that Lewis had ever written in chronological order, “…so that the development of his thought and writing style could be appreciated.” Because of this he is able to challenge some long held assumptions about Lewis as well as reveal more clearly the thought process behind many of Lewis’ most famous works.
McGrath does not shy away from the truth of Lewis and his failings. Lewis has been such an icon in the Christian community for so long that he has almost become a saint. This book helps bring Lewis back down to earth, revealing a flawed man who had pain and struggles aplenty. By doing so, the writings of Lewis actually become all the poignant when they are put into the context of his life.
This is a terrific biography that also dives into many of his most important books and looks at them critically. For anyone looking to understand Lewis and his works this is a wonderful place to start.
You can also check out this great review at The Gospel Coalition.
Yesterday was an epic day for geeks everywhere with the release of the Man of Steel trailer (Beard of Steel) and the third Star Trek Into Darkness trailer! Please enjoy.
This a portion of my full review at Trek.Fm
“It would appear, Captain,” Spock said with a trace of amusement, “that your reputation precedes you.”
Once again, the Enterprise and her crew are on the edge of the final frontier and it is the only ship standing between the Alpha Quadrant and a crusading invasion that will stop at nothing to convert the entire galaxy to their truth. It’s up the entire crew to make sure that doesn’t happen before the gravity of the situation gets out of control.
WHAT IS TRUTH?
Secluded on the fringes of Federation space, the Ephrata Institute is under assault from an unknown alien force. The institute is one of the Federation’s leading centers for academic study.The Ialatl, a mono-culture race, appear through a rift in subspace and announce that they have come to save our dimension from the end of all things and bring the weight of the truth to secure salvation for all. What follows is a classic Original Series tale with a big theme.
The Ialatl claim that they have cornered the market on truth and must spread that truth by force if necessary. The Ialatl come from a dimension where they are the only intelligent life. Their faith and unity have created a society of wonder and scientific advancement. The commitment to the truth has given them harmony until the discovery that there was another dimension that has no knowledge of the “truth.” Author Greg Cox uses this to ask one of the biggest questions that there is: “What is truth and is it universal or contextual?” The answer has never been simple, but this book gives the reader the opportunity to think deeply about the question.
The second thing that this question of truth brings to the story is the idea of proselytization. Religions all over the world have often resorted to extremist crusades and jihads to force “unbelievers” into belief with very little effectiveness. Even in the 23rd century, living out one’s beliefs with conviction, authenticity and well-reasoned arguments is still the best way to convince someone of your way of thinking. It’s the way the Federation works — no jihads, just conversation — and it’s effective.
There are two things you should know about Game of Thrones (otherwise known as the epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire). It is among the best epic fantasy stories ever written (sorry, Wheel of Time) and it is for “mature” readers/viewers only, really.
Ever since HBO premiered their adaptation of the first novel last April, the popularity of the series has grown tremendously. The first episode of Season One attracted 2.2 million viewers (Wiki). By the season finale of the second season, the show had nearly doubled its viewers at 4.2 million. The adaptation also sent the novels up the New York Times bestsellers list for paperback fiction, and at the beginning of 2011, the series had sold 4.5 million books (Wiki). And with good cause.
Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says.
Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination
She quizzed author Meera Syal and artist Grayson Perry about how boredom had aided their creativity as children.
Syal said boredom made her write, while Perry said it was a “creative state”.
With two landmark gay marriage cases before the Supreme Court we are already seeing a flurry of articles, posts, tweets, and status updates about the triumph it will be when America finally embraces equality for all and allows homosexuals to love each other. These tweets and posts and articles perfectly capture the reason why the arguments for gay marriage have become so persuasive so fast. Given the assumptions and patterns of thinking our culture has embraced in the last fifty years, the case for gay marriage is relatively easy to make and the case against it makes increasingly little sense.
It’s hard to deny that homosexual marriage appears to be a foregone conclusion in America. This is a frightening prospect not only for those of us who understand marriage to be a testimony of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church, but also for all who value the family and its contribution to the well-being of society and human thriving. And while it’s difficult to watch a coordinated, well-funded, well-connected propaganda strategy undermine thousands of years of human history, it’s especially disconcerting to witness the use of the civil rights struggle as the vehicle for the strategy.
We geeks unabashedly, unreservedly love the things we love, without regard to such matters as taste or cred. Oddly enough, that means true geeks typically have great taste, which has given geek culture enough cred for us to have pretty much taken over American entertainment. As Hollywood’s annual tribute-paying at Comic Con shows, geeks are loud, proud, and a more coveted demo than ever. And who are the loudest, proudest geeks of all? Trekkers. So for the first ever Get Thee to the Geek, we’re going to dive deep into a show that’s cast a remarkable, if largely unrecognized shadow over contemporary pop culture. A show that’s a subculture within a subculture: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Amazon is the king of online booksellers and, by most accounts, the most feared player in publishing. Yet last week it shelled out a reported $150 million to buy up Goodreads, a social network for book nerds with a devoted but far from enormous 16 million members. So why is most of the media convinced this is a brilliant deal?
This is a portion of my full review at Trek.fm.
James Swallow’s new eBook, The Stuff of Dreams, sees the return of the Nexus. It’s a semi-sequel to Star Trek: Generations and directly follows David Mack’s recent Cold Equations series. Swallow has written a poignant, heartfelt story that dives into the depths of Jean-Luc Picard, leaving the reader with a better understanding of one of Star Trek’s greatest captains and one of its most fascinating anomalies.
DREAMS AND REALITY
In Swallow’s new Star Trek novella, Picard comes face-to-face with the Nexus one last time. As the Federation worries about the temporal portal that is about to enter Kinshaya space, Picard comes full circle. Through his experience, he will not only understand Soran better, but himself as well.
In this short eBook, Swallow takes the reader on a walk through one of the most important human discussions: the nature of reality. The Nexus offers pure joy, something that is almost tangible and yet, not quite right. In this latest visit, Picard can truly feel the weight of the difference between the stuff of dreams and reality. In his first visit, Picard was still without one of his greatest desires, a family. In his latest trip through this cosmic Neverland , Picard has what was missing in his life for so long, and because of that, the Nexus cannot replace what is so real and wonderful outside its bounds. For Picard, reality is more the dream than the dream itself, and therefore the dream no longer has a hold on him anymore.
In a world of “reality TV” and online avatars, the lesson here is stunning. Picard sums it up when he explains to Beverly why he has chosen the arboretum over a holodeck for a family picnic: “I wanted something real….I’ve grown tired of illusions.” We live in a society that is wrapped up in status and illusions, constantly neglecting the real because our fabrications are “safe.” Picard has seen the ultimate hallucination and knows that for all the pain and hurt, nothing is better than the reality of his family, his crew and the knowledge that “this is where I’m supposed to be.”