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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Penumbra
Episode 17, Season 7

Beginning of the Final Chapter (Spoilers)
Somehow I have overlooked this episode for the last 20 years. This was great and it sets up the last ten episodes. We have Damar's hate for the Dominion in its infancy, Dukat having surgery to become Bajoran, the Founders becoming more ill, we are reminded of Sisko's destiny as the Emissary and of course the Worf and Dax relationship gets sorted out with a nice callback to Jazia.

I really hope now that What We Left Behind comes out, more people watch this show and it gets remastered and maybe an 8th season gets produced.

Meister Eder und sein Pumuckl: Pumuckl ist an gar nichts schuld
Episode 13, Season 2

Hans Brenner steals the show.
Meister Eder's eletric saw is short circuiting but he must finish a cabinet. Since he is in a bad mood anyway everything that goes wrong is blamed on Pumuckl despitechim being innocent. The highlight is the scene where Hans Brenner as the electrician thinks Meistet Eder is screaming at him and leaves. So funny.

Star Trek: Discovery: An Obol for Charon
Episode 4, Season 2

Lazy Writing
Yes, the show may be more like Star Trek now, but it is still too stupid and unearned to be really good. First of all, the mystery of the sphere, which was set up to fast and not fleshed out enough, in my opinion, but okay, it is a mystery. The fun part is solving right.? Right? No, because it is not solved. Saru just says, I know what it wants, but how he did it is never explained. I can set up any problem if a satisfactory solution is not required. Imagine Holmes identifying the murderer by just saying the name, and no further explanation is given. All the hints that were layed out before were irrelevant or did not mean anything for the solution. That would be lame for the viewer and only half of the work done by the writer. Sure there were the light flashed, I dont know. Imagine again a teacher giving you the solution to an equation but not explaning the steps that led to it. The unearned part: May be I dont remember it from the first season, but since when do Saru and Michael share a bond that deep. I did not whats the recap maybe it was shown there. But if the relationship was any good one remembers. Saru knows half the crew longer than Michael and he chooses her to help him for his suicide. Sure the scenes were a little touching, but not touching enough. I did not get their strong bond. Maybe its just me

All in all, kind of a filler. The red sphere looks like one of the red bursts but nobody ever mentioned a possible connection. And may be there is none, but then make it blue or green.

Star Trek Continues: To Boldly Go: Part II
Episode 11, Season 1

How can this be better than Discovery and the movies combined?
There will be no spoilers just an assessment; This is better than the commercial shows. Of course Discovery and the Kelvin-Films have superior production values, but since when were perfect effects and sets important? Ever since the Star Wars Prequels we know that plot matters and not effects.

That is not supposed to mean the acting, the effects and the sets are bad, they are pretty outstanding, so good that you forget after a couple of minutes that you are "just" watching a fan-film.

Star Trek Continues has something far more important than a grand budget, this has actual characters, an actual story and above all, makes us invest emotionally and pays off big time in the end. You watch this, you will care for our triumvirate in the end even more, you will understand their future actions and decisions. And isn't that what a story is all about; we the audience care for the characters in it.

It is sad that fan films are no more, at least not in the current format. This show has been a treat from the beginning and this episode is clearly the peak of fan films. I doubt it will be surpassed any time soon.

Tatort: Der Himmel ist ein Platz auf Erden
Episode 943, Season 1

Reboot the Franconian Tatort!
It is like they searched for the worst actors all over Germany and put them together into this episode of Tatort. On top of that the direction was bad too and the writing was ridiculous. It is hard to write an objective review when every aspect of this production was incompetently executed.

First of all a new inspector comes to Franconia, to Nuremberg, and the only bit of local color is a shot of Nuremberg's main station and phony Franconican accents. Hell, this new inspector is our, the audiences, eyes and ears; we should discover his new work place, his knew home, this "strange" place called Franconia through his eyes. But alas, this episode of Tatort could have been set anywhere in Germany. We get endless point of view shots from a car driving through the nightly Nuremberg. Why? We saw nothing anyway. Could have been filmed in Munich for all we know.

One review said that much of the runtime of this episode was dedicated to introducing the new characters and the new setting. Firstly, there were no characters, they were cartboard cutouts, soulless, badly written stereotypes: one inspector who cannot fire a gun, not even when she has to shoot during target practice; the comic relief boss who screams all the time; the new guy who, well is new. If those are the characters we have to live with for the next couple of years then the Francoian Tatort is doomed to failure. Secondly, there was not much time spent on introducing the "characters". We know practically nothing about the two principals, or three, if we count in the screaming boss. If one comes to a new city one has to move in, make new friends, go out eating because you haven't had time to shop. But no, nothing. The main character gets out of the train as if he wants to stay for three days, yet he is intent on staying for years.

The writing as mentioned above was ridiculous. Laughable dialogue, badly written action and scenes. The murder plot itself was okay I guess, or would have been, if the character introduction story had been strong. But it was not.

The direction: No, no, no! Maybe the director should have told his ham actors that they were not standing on a stage but that a camera was pointed straight at their faces. No need overact in every scene, worst of all the interrogation scenes and the scenes with the chief inspector. This actor obviously thought he was in a comedy.

The editing; it was unconventional the say the least. Was it bad? It was not good that I can say. There were flashbacks so clumsily intercut with the rest that every time I saw it a badly cut internet porn came to mind. And then there was the endless driving scenes at night, no dialogue, nothing to see. Why?

All in all, I am not a fan of reboots, but maybe they should reboot the Franconian Tatort, start over, discount this entry, throw it out of the canon, forget it.

Pumuckl und sein Zirkusabenteuer

This does not work because...
...the actor portraying Meister Eder (Hans Clarin) and the voice actor lending his voice to Pumuckl (Kai Taschner) do not go together very well. To make one thing clear, this is not the fault of Hans Clarin, his acting is solid, subtle and understated and it was there before any part of the Pumuckl-animation was done and before they dubbed in the gnomes voice. Therefore, the problem is the animation of Pumuckl and his voice actor. Another, although minor problem is the cinematography.

Firstly, the animation; ever since the last movie "Pumuckl und der blaue Klabauter" Pumuckl's animation lost its edge, which was that the gnome looked a little impish and mischievous without looking mean or evil, a little rascal so to speak. Starting with the last film, Pumuckl's appearance changed from this look to a friendly looking baby face without any hint in his facial expressions that there is a thinking brain and a mind behind his eyes that can on occasion be angry, mean and devious. Looking at Pumuckl in this film, you would assume he is just a monotone, dull and boring being without any wheels turning inside him. Though not only the appearance is not working, also Pumuckl's positioning within the frame is wrong most of the time. You never really get the feeling that someone is touching him, interacting with him properly or looking at him. That might be the reason that most of the scenes between Pumuckl and Meister Eder are played out in two different shots (action and reaction) rather than using two shots. The eye lines in the two shots almost never match. That is of course mainly the fault of the animation department, and partly that of the actor. In the 1980 TV show the interaction of Pumuckl and Meister Eder (Gustl Bayerhammer) is so convincing, they should have given tapes of the show to George Lucas to show his actors and animators how to act convincingly against thin air. Not only the eye line has to match correctly but also the focal point of the eye has to be right. This manifests itself in how wide an eye is open or closed. If we look into the distance, our eyes are open wide, if we focus on something right in front of our eyes, the eyes are much more closed, the pupils are a little closer together. The difference is only subtle but it makes all the difference in the world. The cinematography is very dark. If we are in rooms we can barely see the surroundings, just the faces of actors. Everything lies in shadows. This gives the movie a rather eerie quality something which could not have been intentional for a kid's movie. Maybe it was to hide something?

Secondly, the voice actor; Hans Clarin had voiced Pumuckl beginning with the audio dramas in the early sixties, the television show from 1982 to 88 up to the last movie in 1993 and the subsequent TV show. Because of problems with his vocal cords, he did not do the voice of Pumuckl in this movie and was hired to play Meister Eder. (Gustl Bayerhammer, the last Meister Eder, had died 1993 even before the last film was finished and so had to be dubbed over himself.) There is a rumor however that there is a version of the trailer for this movie featuring Clarin as the voice of Pumuckl and I would love to see it and, most of all, to hear it. By 1982 Clarin had nailed the voice. If you listen to the audio dramas the pitch of his voice is a little deeper. Hearing it, you would guess Pumuckl is about half a meter to a meter in size. When doing the TV show and Pumuckl's size was about 30 cm (one foot) Clarin lowered his pitch. Now in this film, the problem is not so much the voice of actor Kai Taschner, which if done right, would have worked as well. It is more his acting abilities, maybe the sound mixing. He always screams his lines; there is no subtlety to it. No lowering his tone in emotional scenes, it has always the same volume. This, combined with Clarin's subtle acting as Meister Eder simply does not match. You never get the feeling of true interaction, rather that of two performances done separately. Maybe it was the sound department's fault as well. You never really think that the two voices were recorded in the same environment, Pumuckl's is always louder. Then again, in the end, the director should have realized the problems and dealt with it.

To sum everything up, the actors are great; Ernie Singerl, Hans Clarin, Christine Neubauer and the boy actor, they all deliver. The story might be a problem, last Pumuckl outings always had a bad guy. The TV show never had a bad guy; it was always Pumuckl discovering the world. The biggest problem, and my comment covered that in great detail, is that of Pumuckl and his interactions with the world. This is the integral part of the movie. Imagine, if the interaction of Luke Skywalker and Yoda had not been convincing or that of Gollum and Frodo and Sam, the movies would probably have failed. This movie did fail, because it could not make Pumuckl a convincing part of the world.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: All Good Things...
Episode 25, Season 7

Das Beste, was Fernsehen zu bieten hat. (Spoilers)
Das ehemalige Schreiberduo Ronald D. Moore (Deep Space Nine, Battlestar Galactica) und Brannon Braga (Enterprise, Terra Nova) haben diese letzte Episode der Serie zeitgleich mit dem Kinofilm Star Trek Generations geschrieben. Sie sagen, sie hätten schon beim Schreiben gemerkt, dass diese Folge besser würde, als der Kinofilm. All Good Things ist wirklich ein herausragendes Stück TV, mit einer spannenden verzwickten Handlung, Top-Schauspielleistungen von Patrick Stewart und John deLancie und dem Rest der Crew. Die Gerichtssaalszene gehört bestimmt zum Besten, was die Serie je hervorgebracht hat. Dadurch, dass die Handlung in drei Zeitebenen spielt, und außerdem auch Außenaufnahmen gedreht und neue Sets gebaut wurden, bekommt die Folge eine fast Kinofilmähnliche Dimension. Häufig wurde die Serie dafür kritisiert, dass Handlungskonflikte nicht durch menschliche Lösungen entspannt wurden, sondern einfach durch technische Hilfsmittel, quasi ein Deus ex Machina. Diese Folge tut etwas ähnliches, die Crew der Enterprises muss in drei Zeitebenen zusammenarbeiten, um auf die technische Lösung des Problems zu kommen. (Patrick Stewart als Captain Picard ist das Bindeglied der simultan ablaufenden Handlungen und springt zwischen den Zeiten umher.) Doch das ist hier so gut gemacht, dass man in diesem Fall das sogenannte Technobabble (Technikgeschwätz) übersieht. Warum? Zum einen springt Picard am Ende so schnell, dass er, hat er die Lösung in einer Zeitebene heraus, er sofort die Informationen in einer anderen weitergeben kann. Alles folgt Schlag auf Schlag. Manchmal ist ihm Data mit der Lösung nur Sekunden voraus und die beiden sprechen die Lösung simultan. Durch die sehr gute Regie des Deutschen Winrich Kolbe wird das bloße Gerede über Technik fast wie ein Gedicht vorgetragen, oder, da alles mit Musik unterlegt ist, wie Sprechgesang. Besser geht es nicht.

Wenn in Amerika oder überall auf der Welt Serie auslaufen, dann ist dass meist kein großes Ereignis, da das Ende einer Sendung meist aus schlechten Geschichten und deshalb aus schlechten Quoten resultierte. Serien, bei denen das Ende fast ein kulturelles Ereignis war, waren M.A.S.H. , The Fugitive (Kimble auf der Flucht), vielleicht Lost, und Star Trek The Next Generation. So erfolgte die Einstellung nicht wegen schlechter Quoten, sondern, weil Patrick Stewart nicht mehr wollte und weil man die Serie im Kino weiterführen wollte. TNG war mit der Einstellung 1994 auf seinem Höhepunkt, und das in jeder Beziehung. Dieser Folge ist der Beweis.

Jurassic Park

Der Film gehört in die 250 besten Filme aller Zeiten.
Viele Menschen glauben, dass alle Dinosaurier in Jurassic Park von der Spezialeffektfirma Industrial Light and Magic (Star Wars) mit dem Computer gemacht wurden. Das wurden sie nicht, nur der kleinste Teil der Dinos entstand im Rechner. Der Rest waren/sind animatronische Puppen (Roboter) der Firma Stan Winston Studio (Terminator). Is das wichtig? Nein, denn die Verschmelzung beider Techniken gelingt so überzeugend, dass die Illusion auch noch nach fast zwanzig Jahren perfekt ist. Außerdem ist der Film so gut, dass man beim Zusehen nicht dazu kommt, über die Machart nachzudenken. Man ist von der ersten bis zur letzten Minute gefesselt. Der Film basiert auf dem Bestseller von Michael Crichton. Spielberg und Drehbuchschreiber David Koepp änderte einige Aspekt des Romans, die aber nicht sehr stören, wenn man nicht gerade ein devoter Fan der Romanvorlage ist. Ein Beispiel für eine Änderung: Der Charakter Hammond stirbt am Ende des Buches, im Film überlebt er und taucht im zweiten Teil wieder auf. Der Character Hammond ist der Besitzer der Firma InGen, welche im Film die Dinosaurier klont, um sie als Attraktionen in einem Vergnügungspsark auszustellen bzw. vorzuführen. Er wird von dem britischen Regisseur (Gandhi) und Schauspieler Richard Attenborough gespielt, der für die Rolle nach Jahren wieder vor die Kamera trat. Die anderen Schauspieler im Filmen waren keine Stars, als sie für den Film besetzt wurden, noch wurden sie welche, druch den enormen Erfolg des Films. Das haben wohl Spielberg-Filme so an sich, sie sind selbst der Star, sie machen keine. Nichts desto trotz sind die Schauspieler alle sehr gute Schauspieler, die ihren Rollen mehr Dimensionen verleihen, als ihnen das Drehbuch vorgibt. Zu erwähnen sind der Neuseeländer Sam Neill als Paläontologe Doktor Alan Grant, eine Rolle, die zunächst Harrison Ford angeboten wurden. Seine Freundin Ellie Sattler wird gespielt von Laura Dern, Tochter von Hollywood-Veteran Bruce Dern. In der Rolle von Hammonds Enkel Tim ist Joseph Mazello zu sehen. Damals Kinderschauspieler, heute spielt er in Filmen wie G.I. Joe oder Sozial Network. Der Wildhüter Maldoon wird gespielt von Bob Peck, einem mittlerweile verstorbenen englischem Schauspieler, der durch die Mini-Serie Edge of Darkness bekannt wurde. Diese Miniserie aus dem Jahr 1985 wurde 2010 mit Mel Gibson in der Hauptrolle als Kinofilm unter dem selben Titel neu verfilmt. Der beliebteste Charakter im Film so wie im Buch ist wahrscheinlich der Chaostheoretiker Ian Malcom, gespielt von Jeff Goldblum, welcher in der Fortsetzung Lost World die Hauptrolle spielt. Der einzige tatsächliche Filmstar in Jurassic Park ist wohl Samuel L. Jackson als Computertechniker, der aber zum Zeitpunkt, da der Film gedreht wurden, noch keiner war. Erst ein Jahr später wurde der mit Pulp Fiction weltberühmt. Aber wie gesagt, der Film wurde nicht für einen Star gemacht, noch dient er als pures Vehikel Effekte vorzuzeigen, wie z. B. Transformers, sondern er verbindet alle einzelnen sehr guten Elemente - auch die Musik von John Williams - zu einem sehr guten Ganzen. Ein fast perfekter Film, der mit Spannung, Action, sehr guten Effekten und gut geführten Schauspielern zu zwei sehr guten Stunden Unterhaltung zusammengeschnitten wurde. Den kann man sich immer wieder anschauen.

Tatort: Der Weg ins Paradies
Episode 821, Season 1

Kurtulus really is very good!
I saw a special about the special effects which would feature in this episode of Tatort (crime scene). That special made me watch this show. Ironically the special effects were the worst part of the episode. The direction, the actors, the plot, everything else was so good. The characters were convincing and well portrayed by their actors. And although I liked all the actors - Ken Duken is always good - Kurtulus deserves a special mention. He really is an interesting leading man. He never overacted, he never fell out of his role, and the dialogue coming out of his mouth never felt stupid. So oft, German actors cannot speak their dialogue convincingly, often because the dialogue is stupid. Here, Kurtulus nails it completely, everything he is given, he pulls off. They should give him roles in features. Given the fact that the conflict between Christians and Jews and Muslims will or could increase in the future, so will/ could the demand for Arab (looking) actors. Well, here is one who is really good. I, for my part, will watch his future work.

Die Unbedingten

A graduation movie!
The movie starts out with a lot of historical information given through subtitles rather than through dialog. This feels like an economical way to save screen time since this is a short film and it had to be one because of monetary reasons(at least so I heard). Then we are introduced to our two protagonists, Jakob Feister (Benjamin Kramme) and Carl Sand (Christian Nähte). And from there the movie moves on on a very high pace and it almost feels rushed. As if writer director Andreas Jaschke wanted to cram a feature of two hours in a short film of fifty minutes. And not only that; More characters are introduced constantly, the girlfriend of Jacob Feister, the plot's target August von Kotzebue, the ambitious policeman who tries to foil the conspiracy, his superior, the father of Jakob Feister, who is not pleased about his son's theological studies and his plans to marry an improper girl, and at last the leader of the Unbedingten. We have every character that we would find in a feature and and it feels a bit much. It would have been a lot better to only focus on one character, only one point of view and instead we have three or four. Furthermore, we have every scene that we would find in a feature, for example an establishing scene that shows the mood among the students towards the Unbedingten, a scene to establish the lovers, one to establish the plot, one to establish the conflict between Jakob Feister and his father, the subsequent decision of Jakob Feister to join his friend Sand to Mannheim to kill Kotzebue. The official synopsis says, that Jakob is frustrated about his father's denial to marry Luise and thus decides to join Karl. But this is not conveyed by the movie, at least I did not get that this is what triggered him to go to Mannheim. At the end of act two we even have a love scene, which I think is handled very well. The lovers have fun in bed, it is not just a montage of beautiful images. She even wants a second time, maybe to make him stay awake long enough so that he would eventually oversleep the next day. And in the fact that Luise does that lies a little problem, only a liittle one. If one reads a synopsis of the plot it always says: Die Unbedingten is about radical students Carl Sand and Jakob Feister and their plot to kill writer August von Kotzebue. Having just watched the film my synopsis would be: Die Unbedingten is about Luise, a stout-hearted girl, who embarks on trip through Germany to prevent her boyfriend from doing something stupid and ruining his life. But hey, there is nothing wrong about that, Anne Kanis as Luise does a wonderful job, her character is totally believable. She steals every scene she is in, even though the camera does not treat her as the main character, since she was not intended to be the main character (I guess). Nevertheless, the Luise character carries the plot, very refreshing, not at all stereotypical but that goes for the rest of the characters, too, for example Feister's father helping Luise and Sand calmly accepting Feister's refusal to come along instead of flipping out. (Which surprised me personally, because Christian Nähte has a tendency to over(re)act in his roles. He even went mad during the film's shooting, because some extras were a little too eager to throw him out of the lecture hall. Maybe this was good direction) Maybe the whole story should have been told mainly from her point of view. Das Wunder von Bern was not mainly about the soccer worldcup but about a father and his boy. So it might have worked here, too. But i think a a student of film one has to show his teachers that one can handle multible storyarcs, multible characters, multible motivations that eventually merge into one. I wonder if this was criticized by the film school's teachers or if they liked it.

Certainly they like the editing, for example the dinner scene in father Feister's house. First a closeup of young Feister looking at his girl friend, a closeup of her, a closeup of the father, and the wide shot saved to the last. I also like Sand's walk to Kotzebues front door, his point of view shot, the music, the staging of the killing, Sand talking very shyly. All scenes are staged well, you follow the characters, you want to know more about them, but again, the story feels all rushed. Maybe there is too much plot for 54 minutes. They should have given him the money for a feature, to flesh out the characters, some plot points and this part of German history. It would have been interesting to learn more about Germany in the 1820s because normally only the 1000 years between 1933-45 are depicted in movies.

The camera work, although I like it (the establishing shots of the cities are pretty cool), feels a little anachronistic and too modern, but I think the DP wanted to show what he can do, since the movie was his graduation, too. I think a simpler camera work ala Sachrang would have better suited the movie, its direction, and the story.

Anyhow, i like the movie and I would really like to know what grade the director got for his work.

Kommissar Rex: Der Puppenmörder
Episode 6, Season 3

I guess talent made this one special
I always remembered this one best, from all of the Kommissar Rex episodes, and I always remembered Christoph Waltz best, not his name, only his face and his character, who is also the title character and the murderer of the week. As much lighthearted this TV show is, in the scenes with the dog and his master and the police men, as gritty and depressing the show gets, when we come to the murderer. And Christoph Waltz is especially disturbing. He just nails those characters. But, when I looked up this title to review it, I just happen to see who the director of this episode was. And I was quiet surprised that it was Oliver Hirschbiegel, who, among others, directed DAS EXPERIMENT and DER UNTERGANG. He certainly is one of the better German directors. Well, the combination of a top director, a top guest actor and an already great show made this one a special episode.


Peter Turrini at his best
In Germany there is a saying when one talks about a writer or a comedian that just nails down-to-earth characters in terms of dialog. "Den Leuten aufs Maul schaun." (to look on the mouth of the people) That's what happened here. Not every writer could have come up with this kind of dialog, because one cannot come up with this kind of dialog, one has to grow up with it or at least experience it first hand. People really talk that way in rural areas, even to this day. Peter Turrini is a master of crude yet intelligent dialog, memorable and strong characters and deep and meaningful stories. His other works come to mind, for example "Sauschlachten" (pig slaughter) and Rozznjogd (rat hunt), which stirred up great controversy, when they first premiered. I do not know, if it was the same with Alpensaga, but it is nevertheless great drama, great characters and an all upstaging Helmut Qualtinger. When this guy opens his mouth you are glued to his persona, one is just spellbound. You really believe, that he is the person he is playing. Hans Brenner (father of Moritz Bleibtreu) and the rest of the cast are also brilliant, there looks are just perfect for a drama set in the Austrian countryside.


Great Drama!
I like this very much. The actors are superb, Gerhardt Lippert as the lead does a very good job. Gustl Bayerhammer is a very evil bad guy, something one would not never think he could pull off, but he did, very convincingly, I might add. His character, the Ertl Bauer, is very similar to Helmut Qualtinger's in Peter Turrini's Alpensaga. The narrator is outstanding. He speaks archaic language, talks as if he would fall asleep any second, but it fits the mood of the piece just right. I do not know why not more people know this, it is pretty unknown. Helmut Fisher of Monaco Franze fame has one of his last roles before becoming famous, the same with Martin Semmelrogge (Das Boot). Cinematography is not outstanding, which is a good thing, it is subtle and only adds to the almost documentary style of the three part miniseries, something I am sure the director intended.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

The lost Crusade. (Spoilers.)
The movie starts out on the planet of Nimbus III, where Sybok, a renegade Vulcan converts one of the locals and makes him one of his followers. How does he do it? He takes away his greatest pain. Many think this to be a stupid idea, but if you asked me, it is highly intellectual and a stroke of genius. Perhaps it is just handled the wrong way, from a directorial point of view. What I will attempt in this comment is not only to see things the way they are, but also how Shatner had originally envisioned them to be, but failed to do right, either by the lack of money or the lack of his own directorial skills. This brings me back to the point I started from. Why has the first guy we see on screen to be a drooling, speech impeded, nobody. Hell, even Abe Lincoln had a brighter future when he picked up his ticket at the box office. This guy would have done everything to get off this rock, even follow a mad man. But I think the idea itself is brilliant. How many movies do we know, where we pause for a moment and the hero tells somebody what is eating him, what his drive is, why he does what he does. By now, this has become a bit of a cliché. But Star Trek V makes it a plot point, a way to literally show us the feelings of our beloved characters. The sad thing is, it is not done very well, or at least not consequently. Although I like the Spock and McCoy scenes, we are not shown anything from the rest. Why waste screen time for the three emissaries on Nimbus III since they are nothing more than a McGuffin in the first half of the movie and almost completely disappear in the latter one. This time could have easily been used for the Enterprise crew, given them a more dignified role in the events depicted. It was a good thing of Shatner to give everyone something to do, but almost everything shown is done in a fun way and contradicts the character. We see the navigator and the helmsman get lost; the engineer bumps his head in engineering, and a lady pushing sixty performing a strip dance as if she were 20. Granted, those horny hicks in the desert probably did not care, but we as viewers are put out of the movie, another failure of the movie. While in Star Trek II it was made a point that Kirk is aging and the crew is aging, is this one, everybody is shown more agile than back in the original show. If we compare the appearance of Kirk in this movie and the next, he has aged almost ten years, despite the making of the two is only two years apart. Kirk is free-climbing in this and we are supposed to believe it. Then again, he falls right. Nevertheless the climbing scenes are a beautiful montage for the title credits and give the movie scale. The title credits as originally conceived by Shatner would have been one consecutive shot, beginning with a zoom out (following the first Sybock scene) of Nimbus three, then we go into space, travel to earth and then a zoom in on earth ending in an aerial shot of Yosemite, ala the "Powers of Ten." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUUkjWsNC9k&feature=fvst) Great idea, would have been awesome, but alas, not enough money. The filmed special effects by Associates and Ferren are bad. Someone said that their limited facilities, which resulted in a lack of time, had prevented them from doing multiple passes on the starships and models, thus not giving the shots depth and credibility. The in camera effects on the other hand look very good for the most part. We have the back projected star field whenever we look out of a window and that is very convincing, also giving the director the freedom to move the camera, a luxury that a blue screen background would have prevented back then. Another plus point are the transitions we get during the flashbacks of McCoy and Spock. Also done practically and very good. The only time the back projection did not work that good are the main viewer scenes. Since the bridge is lit very brightly, the contrast on the viewer is a bit low, but nothing to complain really. The bridge is very good in this one, as are most of the sets, beautifully lit and filmed. The camera-work is a highpoint of this film. One of my favorite scenes is the camera push in on the bridge, passing the actors ending on a monitor which shows us the approaching bird of prey. Someone called this an almost Hitchcockian moment, perhaps referring to the crane shot in Notorious. It is a very good moment that introduces us to the more than disappointing ending of this flick. Again, time, money and unconvincing special effects prevented this one from being what Shatner wanted it to be. I wonder if it had worked. Surely, he is not the best director, but the good stuff in his movie works very well and the major flaw is perhaps him directing himself. His whole performance screams leading man and hero, something that director Nick Meyer tried to reduce in his movies, with success. No wonder Shatner got the Razzie for acting.The dialog by David Loughery is over the top, out of character and silly. Harve Bennett euphemised it as "his delightful almost whimsical sense of humor" in the DVD featurette The Jouurney Begins, but I don't know. I could go on and on making this movie bad, despite liking it, dreaming of how it could have been. I think they should give him the money to fix this. On the other hand, I wonder, why Shatner does not put up the money himself.

Star Trek

That was fast! (Spoilers)
Star Trek was fast, even faster than The Last Crusade. Indy3 is one of my all time favorite movies, and I consider it to be the best popcorn movie there is. It is so fast and so good that you tend to overlook all the stupid things and coincidences and there are quiet a lot. For example, when young Indy whistles for his horse and right after the horse come the bad guys in the car. But the movie is so good, you just overlook all that stuff. Star Trek is faster, but it does not lend itself as easily to suspension of disbelief. The coincidences are too obvious. For example why SpockPrime and Kirk are on the same planet, same continent, same cave. It is hard to swallow that. Why does the black hole in the beginning lead Nero exactly to that time and place it does to meet the USS Kelvin, why Old Spock comes out of the black hole just in time so that Kirk is matured into a young man and is ready to battle Nero. These coincidences are grand.

The character moments in Indy3 are top notch. Indy talking to his father aboard the airship, discussing their plan on the motorcycle and the end of course where Henry calls his son Indy for the first time and Indy subsequently lets go of the grail and can be saved. Those moments never feel rushed or too short, they are, just perfect. In Star Trek, they feel a little rushed, it is just about acceptable. And the character moments are not bad. They are very good, just a little too fast. They are so fast and they take place in odd places. For example when Spock leaves the bridge after his planet imploded, Uhura comes after him and they talk in the turbo lift. The same when Spock leaves the Bridge after he was relived of his command. He goes to the transporter room? Does not he have quarters? Perhaps they did not have enough money to build the sets.

About the sets. In TLC the sets were perfect. You always believed that a certain interior set belonged to the exterior establishing shot. In Star Trek that is not always the case. The sets in general. I like them just so. The bridge is nice. What is absolutely unacceptable is the use of industrial locations for the bowels of the ship. You just do not believe you are still aboard the Enterprise when the action shifts to engineering or the shuttle bay. That pulls me out of the movie and that is not good.

The action and the SFX in Indy3 are perfect. Granted, some of the special effects look a bit dated by now, for example the plane dog fight, but oddly enough it does not detract from the movie. (Some of the mate lines were removed in the DVD versions) The action sequences are inserted so seamlessly, they come and go so fast, you do not even realize that you are in one, and when you do, they are over. (plane battle, plane car chase, tank vs. horse) The action in StarTrek is pretty good and the effects are top notch. The life action and the FX blend flawlessly, also because the lens flare that dominates the life action cinematography is copied in the CG stuff. Were it not for the industrial interior Enterprise sets, the movie would feel completely rounded.

What I do not like, and I am afraid that future movies will bring more of it, is the shaky camera and the quick cuts that Bourne 2 and 3 director Paul Greengras pioneered. You can not relish a good special effect when you do not see it properly. But hey, that is how Abrahms envisioned the movie, that is the way it is done. Certainly a great artistic achievement, to uphold the style, the pace and the look throughout the entire movie but it is to fast and flashy for my taste.

J. J.'s character direction and scene setups are a double edged sword for me. Theere are good scenes, some very good, but the Kobayashy Maru Test was a joke. Could Kirk be more pretentious and casual when facing Star Fleet's hardest test? And little bit more seriousness would have made the scene much better and not degraded it into a mere joke. And it was too fast. Too slow on the other hand was the Spock, Kirk scene on the ice planet. Are not they in a hurry? Do not they want to find the outpost? Need not Kirk get back to the ship? Yet they sit there, having a talk and barbecue around a log fire. (Where did they get the logs on a ice planet. Christmas trees?)

The music in the Indy movie was great, had the best music in any Indy movie, the best themes. The Star Trek score is great also, Kirk's theme is cool, the title theme is beautiful, although I missed the fanfare. I wonder why the film's composer was not allowed to use it.

The acting was very good, the casting perfect. They had so many actors from so many different genres, their fans alone would have made the movie a blockbuster. But since the movie is so appealing to a general audience it is/will be a huge success. It will bring in a lot of new fans. The sad thing is, I think that most of the old fans, as myself, do not think the movie to be so good. And do not get me wrong, I do not think it is a bad movie, and I hope it will make a lot of money and bring us seven sequels, but as a fan, I am a little bit disappointed. If the movie took its time, if it was a little bit more traditional, it could have been so much better.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Move Along Home
Episode 9, Season 1

Not the best.
Haven't seen this in a long time and it is not the best episode of DS9, but like early TNG episodes, early DS9 episodes tent to get better over time.

When this episode and DS9 first aired, I did not like it very much, now I like it. When Voyager first aired I did not like it either and I hoped that the same would happen, what happened to DS9 a couple of years earlier. But it never happened.

This is actually very entertaining with kind of a surprise ending. Just watch it, you will like it. The characters are not fully developed yet and feel fresh.

Star Trek: New Voyages: Blood and Fire: Part One
Episode 4, Season 1

It was good,
What I did not like was the pacing of it. I think it is okay to incorporate gay characters, but their scenes dragged endlessly and did not really serve the story. Without these scenes this would probably not have been a two parter, but one fast episode and that would have been a damn good show. The effects were pretty good, I especially liked the phaser shots and the creature effects. The acting was not that good. I wonder why they use Andy Bray so little. He is probably the best actor of the bunch. The jokes were good, the Bullseyejoke and the Sulujoke. The action was good, and the story. So far, the episodes have become better and better with each outing. A few more and we have a pretty good show.


The ARD knows how to make a good TV-movie. (minor spoilers)
It seems that everything Pro 7 (and the private stations) does wrong, when producing a TV-movie, the public-service-stations do right. Maybe because they hire good actors, directors and writers for their shows. I do not know, where to begin. The actors were top notch. Thomas Kretschmann, who we last saw as the Sea-Wolf, played Captain Jürgen Schumann in this one. And in my opinion, he was never better, he completely disappeared in the role. But so did all the other actors. Jürgen Tarrach as Hans Jürgen Wischnewski and Herbert Knaup as the GSG9 leader were good as always. Christian Berkel, who I think is one of the best German actors, played chancellor Helmut Schmidt. And although I knew he was in this movie, I did not recognize him until half way through. He wore a toupee and, I think, prosthetics, but he was nevertheless, or because of that, very good. Of all the actors Simon Verhoeven impressed me most, because of his subtle acting style. When watching him, I never thought I watched an actor at work, but a real person. That was the case with all the other actors, too, but somehow Verhoeven was little bit better. His "real" acting and that of the other actors only added to the documentary style of the movie. Sometimes I almost forgot that I was watching a staged movie. The camera was shaky and it is obvious that the director was inspired by Battlestar Galacticas camera work, which is not a bad thing. Roland Suzo Richter did a great job directing this movie, which I had hope would become a feature film. But, alas, it is not. Speaking about the director - this is what you get, when you hire a good one, namely a good movie. All the scenes were very well staged, especially the action scenes. They did not milk the stunts like the German TV shows produced by Action Concept, who always show every stunt, and be it only a guy falling from a bike, from 25 angles. I could go on and on, but why, when everything was good. 8 out of ten, because it was only a TV-movie.

Der Seewolf

After viewing this, two things immediately came to my mind. Firstly, that this is by no means as good as the original ZDF four-parter and secondly, that it is far from the mess that the Pro 7 Treasure Island remake was.

The positive that can be said so far (after watching the first part) is that it did not try to be something else than Jack London's story (They completely crippled last year's Treasure island). It is even closer to the novel than the ZDF production, since they (back in 1971) mixed up different Jack London stories and themes. But somehow it worked back then.

What did not work in this production and in my opinion the weak point is the acting. You can say what you want about Raimunf Harmsdorf as an actor, but he absolutely nailed the part of Wolf Larson in the original. Thomas Kretschmann certainly looks the part, face-wise. He is not as muscular and bulked up as Harmsdorf was. He may be a good actor as well, but the lines he is given are absolutely bad. The whole script is bad and the direction as well. Krtschmann might come out of this alive, but all the other actors were absolutely not able to compensate the writing with their acting skills, especially Florian Setter (Weyden) and Alexander Hörbe (the sea-cook.

The others, for example the actors of Leach and Johnson were agreeable. The high points of this was the production design and the music.

I don't know where Pro 7 finds those actors, writers and directors.

The only silverlining is the up-coming ZDF production of the Sea Wolf starring Sebastian Koch in the title role. He is one of my favorite actors and if he is not able to pull it off, I do not know who can.

Sklaven und Herren

Good made for TV movie!
This is a very well directed TV movie, well written and acted. The actors are convincing, especially the pretty Marie Zielcke is very good in her role. She is very sexy, too. The bad guy may be a bit over the top, but apart from that, everything has the usual German down to earth feeling to it. The story is good as well and combined with the movies direction conveys a good sense of reality, which one expects from a German production. The camera work is simple but that is not negative, on the contrary it blends in well with the movies atmosphere. If you can find it anywhere on the TV watch it if you have nothing else to do, you will have a good time.

Der Brandner Kaspar und das ewig' Leben

A Bavarian classic! A must see!
This title is broadcast every year on All Saints' Day on German television. It is the story of the poor locksmith Brandner Kasper, who is visited by the Boandlkramer (the Bavarian death)in order to be taken to heaven. But since Brandnerkasper doesn't want to die, he makes his guest drunk and cheats at a card game. He gains 18 more years on earth. This cheating scene is the central scene in the entire piece and so well acted by Fritz Strassner and Toni Berger that one can watch it time and again. Especially Berger as Boandlkramer is a joy to watch and is copied ever since. For him, it was the role of his life. The rest of the cast is a show case of Bavaria's finest actors from the 70's, for example Gustl Bayerhammmer, Ernie Singerl, Alfred Pongratz and Ludwig Schmid-Wildy, to mention only a few. Since part of the movie is set in heaven or acted against blue screens there is a fair amount of special effects in it. They are bad from start to finish, but give the piece a certain charm. The heaven scenes are very reminiscent of Monty Python's animations. So, if you are a fan of Bavarian tales, Bavarian humour, and Bavarian actors, try this, you will not be disappointed.

Die Schatzinsel

An almost perfect mess! (major spoilers, perhaps)
The central revelation of the original novel was that almost all of the crew turned out to be pirates, namely the old crew of Captain Flint. In this made for TV two-parter, all the pirates, including Long John Silver, are evil, brutal and suspicious from the beginning and we never really doubt that this crew will ultimately mutiny. When we are told about their plan in the movie, it is not really a surprise.Now I have two questions.

My first questions is: Why bother using Robert Louis Stevenson's Novel Treasure Island as a blueprint, but at the same time dissociating from his ideas? (changing names of characters and ships, adding a female character and related plot points) My answer would be: Perhaps the producers tried to cash in on the success of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and simply used the name and characters of the novel to attract the few people who know the extremely good ZDF four-parter from 1966 or the source material. The rest of the audience would simply jump in because it re-developed a taste for pirate movies recently.

And this brings me to my second question. Why did writer/director Hansjörg Thurn show the pirates behaving like pirates from the beginning, instead of giving us a thrilling revelation scene as originally intended? People who are familiar with the plot watch the movie because they like the story and want to see how the revelation scene is handled. Like everybody is looking forward to seeing Baquo's ghost in MacBeth. People who do not know the plot are not attracted by the title at all, they simply watch it, because they want to see a good adventure movie. For them, the revelation of the pirates would have been mind blowing. And if handled well, it can also be exciting for people who know the plot. I knew the ending of "The Sixth Sense" and it still send shivers down my spine. And that is, what this movie should have done, but failed to do. The blame rests solely on the directors shoulders. Maybe he was not up to the task, although I know some of his work as a writer, especially the Schimanski movies and they are pretty good. His directorial skills are mediocre at best. Now before I discuss the remaining points, I must admit, I have only seen the first part so far, but I doubt that I am going to see the rest. Now let us focus on the characters. Almost all of them are portrayed incorrectly or differently from the novel. Jim Hawkins never hated his life and his mother loved him, not treated him so bad. Dr. Livesey was portrayed stiff, not very likable and he had intentions towards Jim's mother, which was never the case in the novel. The actor of Dr. Livesey Aleksandar Jovanovic, both he and Tramitz (Trelawney) play their parts as if they were in one of Bully Herbig's comedies. Tramitz at least looks like he wants to do it funny, where as Jovanovic is so bad, I always expected his scenes to end with static and find myself in an episode of Switch Reloaded. Of all the actors I like Morreti most, although I think his casting as John Silver is wrong. He would have been perfect for the part of Trelawny. But ever since he played Hitler,he gets cast in roles he simply does not fit in. But he does his best,both with his voice and his movements, in creating an , at least, semi-believable character, who is, I am sorry to say, not the John Silver we know. But that is the director's fault. The novel had no major female characters and that was on purpose. It is obvious why they invented a female character for this movie, one, that resembled Keira Knightley's from "Pirates of the Caribbean", both in behavior and in appearance. And for a second there, I really thought it was her, although I knew she could not be it. Diane Siemons-Willems did a good job. Though she had the advantage of doing an original character that does not have to hold up against comparison. In the end I wanted to say that this movie could have been great. The budget of 10 million dollars is definitely on the screen, it even looks a lot more expensive. The cinematography is very good, I liked the sets and how they are lit. The Special Effects are also good, especially during the storm-sequence which was simply added to show off and to add some action the audience expects from a pirate movie nowadays. All in all, the producers should just have created a stand alone movie with an original story. This, in addition to the almost A list cast, could have become a terrific made for TV movie.

Battlestar Galactica: Lay Down Your Burdens: Part 2
Episode 20, Season 2

Never been there, never done that! (contains major spoilers)
In my opinion, the first part starts a bit slow, but the second one is so damn good. Dean Stockwell's character jokingly says in the first part to Tirol (something like): "You are no Cylon and I know that, because I am a Cylon and I have never seen you at any of our meetings!" And in the second part we learn that he actually is a Cylon ambassador. Great, not only the surprise, but also his performance. I guess you could give him the telephone book to read for us and he would be entertaining.

Then, when you think, the episode is at an end, the camera slowly moves towards Baltar, who is now President, comes closer, and we dissolve to the next morning. At least we think it is the next morning, because as the camera dollies (or steady-cams) back, we realize it is a year later and the people of the fleet have settled down on the new found planet. (Baltar has a hangover and has a couple of hot girls at his very private disposal. What is so classic about this "one year later scene", it seems so perfect, and so familiar, because it is done so perfectly, yet I am pretty sure I have never seen a TV series jump ahead a year. It is both surprising and shocking to see what has happened to the characters and setting we have come to like for the last two years.

The star ships are orbiting the planet with skeleton crews on board. There is a short but good scene, where Adama (now with a mustache) lonely strolls through the corridors of the ship and finds a lamp malfunctioning. And nobody thinks about repairing it. Everybody is already on the planet or is about to go down. And although life on the planet is not as beautiful as everybody has hoped (Starbuck's husband is ill, there are no antibiotics, everybody except Baltar and his chicks lives in tents) people want to permanently settle there.

But suddenly the Cylons are back. Adama and Lee decide to jump away with the Galactica and the Pegasus and the rest of the fleet, because they are in no shape to fight the Cylon fleet. On the planet, raiders are darkening the sky and Baltar meets the Cylon delegates in form of the original Number 6 and the original Number 8 (Sharon) as well as a male Cylon. They say, that as long as nobody resists, they would do no harm to the humans.

And then comes the perfect ending to the episode, a perfect cliffhanger and in my opinion it could surpass TNG's The Best of Both Worlds. First Baltar asks the Cylons, how they have found the planet (which is hidden in a nebular), and they tell him, they detected the radiation of a nuclear detonation. Tears are coming into Baltars eyes. He knows that for the second time in a row, it is his fault, that the Cylons have defeated mankind. And it is the same as before, he gave the nuclear warhead to a Nummber 6, because he is in love with her and again this triggers the downfall of the human race. With a broken voice he says: "On behalf of the peoples of the colonies, I surrender!" And when he says "surrender" we cut to a close up of his face. He has red eyes, dark features and we know as the audience, that now, Baltar is at his worst. He has done badly as a President. Callis is perfect. We are shocked when we see him like this. He is a broken man.

Next, there are a few shots, where we see the robots marching in and people looking at them with fear. The Cylons have won. ...to be continued! I am really looking forward to the next episode, the next season, the end of the series. When Ron Moore can jump ahead a year, I think he could very well be jumping ahead ten years, twenty years. He can do so much from now on. But lets not jump ahead too far, the next episode is what matters now. In a tiny scene, there is a Cylon searching for Starbuck, the same model or the same resurrected character, whom Starbuck tortured a lot. I guess he is up for revenge, or not. We will see. So far, so good. 10 out of 10

Monaco Franze - Der ewige Stenz

Der Hammer!!!! Munich in the 80s.
I recently bought this title on DVD because I have always liked MONACO FRANZE, but it is such a luxury to watch all the episodes at once, without interruption. And it is so good, trust me. To all Americans, if you think Fonzie is cool, watch this, than you know Franz Muenchinger aka Monaco is cool. Although he is married, and although he loves his wive dearly, he always pursues younger girls, sometimes three at a time.

And it is so funny. For example, his wive Annette (Ruth-Maria Kubitschek)moves in high-society circles and loves to go to the opera with a group of doctors and lawyers. Monaco on the other hand, being a down to earth man, doesn't like it at all. He tries to find excuses to the last. And when he realises, he can not escape the opera, he almost collapses and breaks out in sweat. You just have to see it.

Or in one episode called "Machts nur so weiter!" (Just go on that way!) Annette realises, that a financial crisis is at hand and tries to save money where possible. There is a very funny scene with her and her assistant, inter cut with a scene with Franz and some of his girls sitting in the English Garden. Annette tells her assistant, that they never had so less money since the war, Monaco in the park tells the girls, that he never was so well to do, feeding them with salmon, wine and wild strawberries. And every time he is buying something and should it only be ice-cream, he pays with a 1000 DM bill.

Monaco Franze is a jewel of German or Bavarian TV along with "Irgenwie und sowieso". You will seldom find a better mini- series, with better actors, a better script and a better direction. Everything in those categories is top notch. Not to forget the nostalgic aspects of this show. Bavaria in the 80s, especially Munich, you just have to like the setting.

All in all, there is nothing negative to say about this show, except that there are only ten episodes.


A jewel in Germany´s mediocre TV program
This TV Movie about Bavarian actor Walter Sedlmayr (Herbert Stieglmeier in the movie) is very well written and directed and compared to most of Germany´s TV program it was outstanding. The character of Wambo(potbelly) is worked out very good. You get to know the man behind the story very good, his warm sides as well as his bad sides and especially his private life, which was kept very secret. After he was killed, Bavaria was shocked, not only by the brutal murder, but because his homosexuality was revealed ("a real Bavarian man is not gay"). The cast is good, especially Jürgen Tarach. His (Herbert Stieglmeier) acting is great and although he is from Berlin he manages the Bavarian accent very convincing. All in all a very entertaining film I can recommend to everybody.

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