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Tag Archive: James Horner


The best production of 50 years of Star Trek, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, returned to theaters Sunday for two screenings nationwide, and audiences packed theaters from coast to coast.  The 35th anniversary of the biggest summer of movies continues Wednesday with your last chance to see 1982’s The Wrath of Khan back on the big screen as Paramount Pictures partners with the Fathom Events series once more.  We couldn’t wait to see it again and saw the first screening Sunday and were quickly reminded why the film was such a success.  What were my takeaway thoughts this time through the film?  Leonard Nimoy’s voice echoed throughout the theater with every line (was this his finest work as Spock?).  Kirstie Alley’s Lieutenant Saavik fits right in as the new crewmember.  The lengths director and screenplay writer Nicholas Meyer took to make the Enterprise look like a functioning military vessel:  from the boatswain’s whistle, to the formality of the uniforms and ship inspection by Admiral Kirk, the pulsating real-world sound effects of the two competing vessels, and the military tactics and trickery as Khan and Kirk try to one-up the other that always connects this film for me to another favorite, The Hunt for Red October.  William Shatner was so cocky and confident.  Tightly edited action sequences, camera angles placing the audience inside the bridge and into every nook and cranny inside the Enterprise (Turbolift doesn’t work? Let’s take the ladder), and James Horner’s unforgettable and unique musical score.  And it was fun for me to think back of all the people who made this film that I have had the good fortune to meet, like Shatner, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig.  Each of these actors seem to have done their best work in this film.

What surprised me?  After watching Sunday’s screenings I heard remarks from viewers about how many new scenes they did not remember, and this was echoed across the Internet, including comments from long-time Star Trek fans and insiders.  But it makes perfect sense–unless you are a rabid Star Trek fan, you probably didn’t track all the variations in the film that have been released over the past 35 years.  If you have a photographic memory at all, you may hear lines in this week’s presentation that don’t quite match up.  But if you only saw the film in theaters or via early DVD and Blu-ray releases, you will have seen different versions of the film (for one example, the original cut didn’t include the current title, instead it was Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, without the II).  If you watched the expanded ABC TV movie re-broadcast on television in 1985–as many did before the prevalence of home video options–you saw a version different from the 1982 release, full of entirely different takes of several scenes.  In 2002 a Director’s Edition was released, and if you saw the film recently at all, but before 2016’s official Director’s Cut, then you probably last saw the Director’s Edition.  The differences from what was scripted and filmed and what made the original theatrical version alone literally fills ten pages of Allan Asherman’s 1982 book The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but even that book of course couldn’t include the differences found in the much later ABC TV version and subsequent editions.  The version in theaters this week is the official 2016 Director’s Cut, itself absorbing so many modifications from the original 1982 release from prior incarnations.  But this is the final, the version Nicholas Meyer (the reputed “Man Who Saved Star Trek”) discussed with me in my interview with him here at borg.com last month.

Wait–What’s going on here?  I don’t remember this scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan! (Keep reading!)

So if you recall a more suggestive relationship between Kirk and Kirstie Alley’s Lieutenant Saavik, or sensed a romantic relationship brewing between Saavik and Kirk’s son David (played by the late Merritt Butrick), you won’t notice that so much in the Fathom Events presentation (below you’ll see the ABC TV version offered more “steamy” close-ups and additional dialogue amplifying the more womanizing Kirk of the original series).  If you don’t recall that Scotty has a young relative aboard the Enterprise, be prepared for a pleasant surprise, including some great additions featuring Kirk and Scotty.  The midshipman’s (played by Ike Eisenmann) death is more poignant in the latest cut, and an entire sequence between McCoy and Kirk gets us further into Kirk’s thoughts in the aftermath of Khan’s attack.  A conversation about ego between Spock and Alley adds further justification for Kirk’s actions as he taunts Khan into the nebula.

Newspaper advertisement for the 1985 ABC television presentation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

But do you recall seeing a child in Khan’s crew on Ceti Alpha V?  McCoy mentioning he served with Paul Winfield’s Captain Terrell?  How about McCoy operating on Chekov after he returns from the Genesis planet and Chekov struggling to return to help on the bridge?  Sulu’s promotion to the Excelsior, or Kirk’s final line, quoting Peter Pan’s “first star on the right, and on ’til morning”?  That Saavik is half-Romulan?  David besting Kirk and holding a knife to his throat?  How about these lines from Khan:

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The 3D movie is here to stay and it’s as big as it’s ever been.  Not only new movies continue to hit the big screen and impress us with newer ways to turn a movie visit into an amusement park ride, whether in 3D or IMAX 3D.  Old films continue to get the 3D treatment, too.  An entire branch of films and home video releases are devoted to this category, with films that weren’t originally filmed in 3D like Titanic, Jurassic Park, Top Gun, I, Robot, and Beauty and the Beast among the films getting the upgrade–the best results coming from the incredible 3D work done to The Wizard of Oz (reviewed here) and Predator (reviewed here).  But a music video getting a 3D upgrade?  That’s new.

This year the 1980s are coming back in a big way.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller knocked our socks off as part of the latest trailer for Stranger Things season 2 last month.  The powerhouse music video (which even made the National Film Registry) has been given a complete 3D and sound upgrade for a premiere at the Venice Film Festival this summer followed by a return to the theaters for the first time since a limited run in Los Angeles when it debuted back in 1983.  Thriller is truly a one-of-a-kind film, directed by John Landis (The Twilight Zone, The Blue Brothers, Animal House, Trading Places) and co-written by Landis and Michael Jackson, the film was a dream project for Jackson, who was a fan of Landis’s fang-filled An American Werewolf in London.  Jackson spared no expense, pulling in monster maker Rick Baker for prosthetics and Michael Peters for choreography input.  It’s a little bit meta–Vincent Price’s Thriller was the (fake) monster movie Michael and his girlfriend watched in the theater in the video, with a great shot of the marquee as they emerge from the theater.  Fans of a new generation will be able to see Thriller in real life on their local theater marquee.

A fan of 3D, Michael Jackson pioneered the re-launch of 3D films in 1986, starring in his sci-fi film Captain EO, a 3D musical with executive producer George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, scored by James Horner and co-starring Dick Shawn (It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Producers, The Year Without a Santa Claus) and Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor, The Addams Family, The Grifters, The Watcher in the Woods) as an incredibly designed borg villain (an inspiration for Star Trek First Contact’s Borg Queen).  John Napier (Broadway’s Cats) created the costumes, Rick Baker returned for makeup and monster creations, and Tom Burman (Planet of the Apes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Goonies, Dead Again) created Huston’s makeup.  A Disney theme park exclusive, Captain EO was shown up until 2015 in the parks’ 3D theaters, but has not been released in a home version.  The Captain EO 3D comic book is regularly still available here at Amazon.

Michael Jackson’s first (and then, presumably only) 3D film featured Anjelica Huston as this spectacular borg creation, the Supreme Leader.

Michael Landis returned to lead the 3D, music, and sound effects upgrades for the new 3D release of Jackson’s film/video Thriller, saying, “I am so happy to have had the chance not only to restore but enhance Michael Jackson’s Thriller!  We took full advantage of the remarkable advances in technology to add new dimensions to both the visual and the audio bringing it to a whole new level.  Even though Thriller was shot traditionally, I was able to use the 3D creatively.  Let me just warn you, there is a rather shocking surprise in there!”

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Khan crew image

One of the greatest all-time sci-fi villains and best productions of the 50 years of Star Trek is coming back to the theaters this summer.  The 35th anniversary of the biggest year of movies continues, with the 1982 masterpiece Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan hitting theaters across the country as Paramount Pictures partners with the Fathom Events series.  It is the sequel not only to Star Trek: The Motion Picture but a direct follow-up to the original series episode “Space Seed” starring the incomparable Ricardo Montalban–and his Khan has remained the unchallenged best villain in the franchise ever since.  Initially Montalban envisioned his character as a brash, over-the-top, shouting image of villainy, but director Nicholas Meyer took Montalban aside to coax from him his iconic, sinewy, scarily subdued personification of the Klingon proverb, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

The legendary test of character for a Starfleet officer, the Kobayashi Maru, and the death of the entire Enterprise bridge crew revealed in only the first minutes…  A ship full of trainees…  An experiment called Genesis…  Where Jaws prompted us to fear water everywhere, The Wrath of Khan made us fear anything crawling into our ears.  Kirstie Alley as Lieutenant Saavik…  Paul Winfield as Captain Terrell…  Ike Eisenmann as Scotty’s ill-fated nephew…  Who would have guessed James T. Kirk had a son?  The most emotional of scenes of the series as Spock says goodbye to Kirk…  And with all the new faces, the familiar ones were back again, at the top of their acting game: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig…  All rounded out with a score by James Horner and the most memorable of uniform styles for our heroes created by Robert Fletcher.

But you already knew that, right?

“Making Star Trek II seems like only yesterday,” Shatner said announcing the theatrical re-release.  “Even back then, we knew we were creating something really special, and to have The Wrath of Khan back on the big screen 35 years later is a wonderful testament both to the film itself and to the incredible passion of Star Trek fans.”  *Don’t miss our borg.com interview with The Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer here.

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magnificent-seven-banner-2016

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s almost more useful to critique the critics than the new movie The Magnificent Seven, released in theaters this weekend.  You’ll find the whole lot so predictable.  The Magnificent Seven is a reboot or a remake (call it what you want) and so the best that critics are willing to do is provide the phoned-in, knee-jerk dismissal of it being something less than the original and therefore not worth the time it takes them to write a thoughtful review.  Or they will compare it to the best Westerns of all time, and tell you why it falls short.  The better reviews will point out that it’s a remake of the 1960 classic Western starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen.  The smarter ones will remind you that even that version was based on the original Japanese version, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.  Paycheck earned.  Existence justified.  But that’s all too easy.

Yes, the original 1960 John Sturges version is both a great Western and quite fun (it’s on my top ten list).  The darker original Japanese film is more dramatic, brilliant in its simplicity, and not so much a rousing popcorn movie.  Is the 2016 remake among the best Westerns of all time?  Maybe not.  But is it a good Western?  Absolutely.  Do we always want to see the best picture nominee when we go to the theater?  I don’t.  I want to have fun.  And The Magnificent Seven is a blast.  In fact, critics are looking at it wrong.  It’s actually the year’s best superhero movie.

I understand the modern film critic’s dilemma, especially when Hollywood seems to have lost its imagination, churning out remake after remake.  It’s the same old song:  If you were a fan of–or better yet–love the original, you’re more likely than not to brush off the remake altogether, or at least not give it the attention it deserves.  Those who never saw the original or those who can view a remake as its own incarnation–those who can tell themselves their feelings for the remake will not “ruin” their feelings about the original–probably enjoyed the Star Trek reboot from 2009, or Always, or Assault on Precinct 13, or The Flight of the Phoenix, The Fog, The Jackal, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Money Pit, Ocean’s Eleven, RoboCop, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, or Walking Tall.  Each of these, viewed on their own merits is a great film.  They may even be good remakes.  Those who avoid The Magnificent Seven are missing out on a fun outing.  And a good remake.

sensmeier-magnificent-seven-scene

Today’s ensemble movie is mostly found in the superhero genre.  Stack up The Magnificent Seven against The Avengers, The Avengers 2, or Captain America: Civil War, or any DC Comics superhero film of the past 20 years, and it leaves them all in its dust in its success in introducing a team, getting them to work together, and MacGyver the situation into some giant climactic battles.  Each of the titular seven stars of the movie have their own extraordinary abilities, they just don’t wear capes.  It’s an ensemble piece.  A superhero team-up.  So why don’t we have a casting Oscar?  The three casting directors knew what they were doing–they created the teams for Suicide Squad, Batman v. Superman, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Sin City, and Star Wars Episode VIII.

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cover_template_text    STII vinyl

The great composer James Horner died last year in a plane crash, leaving behind a legacy of some of the biggest and most memorable soundtracks that defined nearly 40 years of film history.  One of the most memorable for sci-fi fans is his score to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  To celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, Mondo–the guys known for their redux poster interpretations–are releasing an extended LP edition of Wrath of Khan with music never before available on vinyl.  And the release includes Mondo’s killer level of artwork interpreting Khan and Kirk on Ceti Alpha V and the Genesis Planet.

But Mondo didn’t stop there.  The vinyl albums reflect the look and colors of the Mutara Nebula, where the Enterprise and the Reliant faced off.

10WoK-Discs2--FINAL2_1024x1024    STII LP reverse

Horner’s work on Wrath of Khan is impressive and established Horner as a major film composer.  His score adapts themes from Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky and Romeo and Juliet, and Horner would work cues from classical masters in many of his film scores over the course of his career.  Order your copy of Horner’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 2-LP set today here at the Mondo shop.

Never heard of James Horner?  You certainly have heard his work.  His last score will be featured in the remake of The Magnificent Seven due in theaters September 23, 2016, but the variety of films he wrote for is unprecedented.  He wrote themes that made many an actor look good–many in multiple films, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Matthew Broderick, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, and Brad Pitt, and collaborated on movies with the likes of big filmmakers, including Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Phil Alden Robinson, Wolfgang Petersen, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Michael Apted, Joe Johnston, and Edward Zwick.

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