It Was All My Fault

I was one of the first of my friends group to really get into “home theater” — at least, as much as I could in the mid-’90s on a financially questionable 20-something’s budget. Our apartment had a big-screen rear-projection TV (bought used, of course), later replaced with a (ridiculously huge) three-beam projector sourced from a bar that was closing down, an early surround sound system, and I started collecting widescreen movies with the special edition of The Abyss on widescreen VHS. I had a pretty decent widescreen VHS collection before finally upgrading to DVD.

At one point, Chad and I were sitting around, bored, and looking for something to watch. “I’ve got The Crow,” says Chad. Sounded good to me, so he went to grab it. And pulled out his copy — a home VHS tape, with the movie taped off of TV, over something else, in broadcast pan-and-scan, and probably in mono. He popped it in, and we started watching.

About ten minutes in, suddenly he turns to me and spouts off with a hearty and apparently random, “Fuck you!”

“What the hell?” I said.

“Until I lived with you, I didn’t care about widescreen, or surround sound, or any of that. I’d just watch the movie. You’ve ruined me!” And as I laughed, he turned off the movie in amused disgust. And it wasn’t too long before the widescreen DVD found its way into the collection.

(Originally posted to Mastodon, and prompted by the announcement of The Crow on 4K Blu-ray.)

🎥 The Marvels

The Marvels (2023): ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mostly suffers from the same problem that just about all of Marvel’s recent efforts are suffering from: too much required backstory. There’s simply no way to really understand everything if you haven’t already devoted hours upon hours to watching all the various series and movies that lay the groundwork for whatever is happening here (or even if you have, but don’t have an encyclopedic memory for it all and perfect recall).

The movie is at its best when it’s just the three primary women interacting with each other, whether the strained relationship between Danvers and Rambeau, or Khan fangirling over meeting Captain Marvel, or the three of them experimenting with their entangled powers. Iman Vellani in particular continues to be a delight as Kamala Khan. And the space station evacuation scene was an unexpected bit of hilarity.

But the action scenes are overly frenetic and difficult to follow, there’s yet another generic and barely fleshed out villain, and a whole lot of flashy effects that are pretty, but not much more than that.

On the whole, not as bad as some have said, but not as good as either the Ms. Marvel series or the Captain Marvel film.

🎥 The Last Voyage of the Demeter

The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023): ⭐️⭐️

A clever concept that’s poorly executed. Not creepy, not scary, no real suspense because we know the end result, really needed about half an hour edited out (it dragged rather than being suspenseful), and then a ridiculous ending that seems like they’re trying to set up a sequel, which makes no sense. Very glad we didn’t spring for this one in the theater.

🎥 Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021): ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one took long enough to hit reasonable rental prices that we’d lost track of what the reviews said, so we weren’t sure what to expect, and after other recent attempts to resurrect old franchises that didn’t work out so well, weren’t terribly optimistic. Happily, we enjoyed this more than we expected to. It was amusing, the kids weren’t annoying, the effects nicely called back to the originals, and we appreciated that the plot picked up on a lot of the original film (for us, it wasn’t “too much fan service”, it was continuing the story). Glad we finally got around to giving it a shot.

(That said, I will continue to be annoyed that the whiny, racist, sexist, childish backlash against the 2016 film means we don’t get to continue that storyline. That I enjoyed this one and am now looking forward to the next one doesn’t mean I wouldn’t happily swap them out for a timeline where the 2016 film got continued instead.)

📚 Cadet Kirk by Diane Carey

16/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The final and best of this YA series. The main trio finally end up all adventuring together, as a simple shuttle hop gets sidetracked by mercenaries. Overall, while all of the books have a certain amount of overly-convenient happenstance to get the characters together, they’re a quick entertaining read as one “what if?” version of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy’s Academy days.

A note on the illustrations: Oddly, it kind of felt like the illustrator just skimmed the plot, if that, particularly with this book. Much of the action takes place aboard a shuttle, clearly described as an early version of the TOS “box on two cylinders” shuttlecraft, but the cover and one of the interior illustrations shows a more angular, TMP-style shuttle with warp sled (but the sled is outfitted with the cylindrical TOS nacelles rather than the flatter TMP style). And towards the end, a character described in the text as human (at least in appearance) is drawn as a TOS-style Klingon, complete with gold sash. Odd mistakes to make (and while the target audience for these books might not notice these things, they do stand out to me).

Me holding Cadet Kirk

📚 Aftershock by John Vornholt

15/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

A few years after the first book in this TOS Starfleet Academy trio, McCoy is at the Academy’s medical program and ends up being paired with cadet Spock for a disaster relief mission. But somehow these earthquakes don’t seem to be entirely natural…. Not bad, though both McCoy and Spock perhaps felt a bit too much like their adult selves rather than less mature versions.

Me holding Aftershock

📚 The Prisoner of Vega by Sharon Lerner and Christopher Cerf

12/2024 – ⭐️⭐️

Another late-70s children’s book. The Enterprise arrives at a planet to sign a trade treaty, only to find the planet captured by Klingons! Only apparently the illustrator had never watched Star Trek; the main character likenesses are shaky, and the Klingons look hilariously unlike Klingons (and much more like 1950s Sci-Fi villains).

Me holding The Prisoner of Vega