KHAN!!!! The Potato and Star Trek find each other.

In preparation for my purchase of J.J. Abrams’s reboot of Star Trek on blu-ray, I’m revisiting the film that made all of the other sequels possible: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I try to watch this film once every couple of years, and it never disappoints.  I came late to the Star Trek party overall, not being a fan of the original series and only being a casual watcher of TNG in the 90’s.  My mom is the Trekker of the family.  Back when mail order VHS tapes were the rage, my mom bought every Star Trek episode that Time Life offered.  They’re still piled in her closet to this day.  I watched Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: First Contact when I was in junior high, and at the time it was only because I liked sci-fi action.  I followed the TNG films through the years.  I didn’t think Insurrection was that bad.  The film just felt more like a long episode of the TV series.  Nemesis was a good try, and there are some very good acting moments, but it just felt like another TNG series finale.

It’s 2002, and I had pretty much given up on the Trek.  When First Contact premiered on Special Edition DVD, I went to Best Buy to pick it up, and I also saw that Paramount had released a Special Edition of Star Trek II.  All of my trekker friends insisted that it was the best film in the series and that I was crazy for never seeing it.  I don’t like to be looked at as crazy after all, so I picked it up on a lark.  I don’t usually buy DVDs sight unseen, but I had a good feeling.  Thank Starfleet that my feeling was right, because right away I was hooked.  I was 21, yet I felt like a 10 year-old again.  Every room on the Starship Enterprise looked like a swinging 70’s bachelor pad strapped to a warp drive.  The early special effects were bright and interesting.  The acting was classic.  Nimoy may have been the talent, but Shatner was the charm.  James Horner’s score was lively and made the scenes even more fun.  The action sequences were large and reckless, yet had the timeless poise of an old sea epic.  If Shakespeare were alive, he might have been a script doctor on this film, especially for Khan’s dialogue.

Those pecs aren't corinthian leather, but that outfit sure is.

All in all, Star Trek II renewed and expanded my love for the Star Trek series.  Every time I come across the original series on TV, I watch at least a few minutes if not the entire episode.  TNG is a bit more involved, and I’ll only watch it if I catch it at the very beginning.  In addition to the TNG films, I’ve now seen Star Treks II, IV, and VI.  I’m planning on writing a review of the odd numbered Trek films very soon.  I’m a little afraid, since I’ve heard less than positive things about them, but that’s what makes writing about them so fun.


The Potato rants about “Waterworld”


Dryland's a myth! Or is it...? (It's not. Spoiler alert.)

A trip down junior high memory lane has led me to do another Twice Baked Potatoes quickie review. This time I’m watching “Waterworld” starring Mr. Kevin Costner as the lead role, also known as The Mariner. The Mariner is along the lines of Mel Gibson’s Mad Max, although Costner plays him as a Dazed, Creepily Quiet Max. There are other actors in the film, but none of them matter whatsoever. Not even the little girl. Sorry. She’s little more than a plot device. The only other performance worth noting is Dennis Hopper as the villain. Hopper was enjoying his mid-90’s Renaissance, where he was more or less doing variations on his performances in “Speed” and “True Romance”. Walleyed heroism versus wily psychosis. Great. Casting. All. Around. Extra special shoutout to awesome that-guy actor Kim Coates as the coolest pseudo-Irish, would-be rapist pirate this side of The Atoll.

To the film’s credit, every cent of the $180 Million price tag shows up on screen. Yet for all that money, would it have killed the production designer to splash on some more colors other than various shades of fecal brown and rust red? Every single room looks like a serial killer’s cleanup shack after it’s been wiped down for evidence. Costner’s sleepwalker acting choices actually fit the film in that respect: Expensive, intentional, and completely boring.

The action, thankfully, is the best part. The setpieces are large and dynamic, chock full of explosions, goop, and blood. More goop than blood. I also appreciate that there are a lot of sets and practical effects. Today, adjusted for quality, this film would have been a CGI cheapfest and most likely have been a SyFy channel clunker starring Lorenzo Lamas. The film also doesn’t waste time with logic. It challenges you to accept the world it’s presenting, and there are so many questions that could be asked, but why bother? It’s an B-action flick masquerading as a summer sci-fi epic. I can forgive the illogics, but where did they get all of the bullets? What about the airplane? Airplane fuel? These things take real science, not just welding torches. I’m just saying.

If this flick is on during late night, it’s not a bad way to spend the hours between 2am and 4am. I just hope that the sequel is called “Desertworld”. You think I’m crazy? They’ll make a sequel to anything. Anything. Just give it 10 more years. 15 tops.