20 January 2011

Trek Review: Where No Man Has Gone Before

I'm just going to quickly note that I found out today that Dark Skies is coming out soon on DVD! As part of my old sci-fi revival, I think I'm going to have to get my hands on this set and enjoy watching through it all again!

Where No Man Has Gone Before

So, the third episode in our 'Trek' through the Original episodes brings us to what I remember being the original pilot. Oh how interesting it is to rewatch because it was almost completely different to how I originally remembered the episode!

The Enterprise beams aboard an old beacon from an Earth ship, the S.S. Valiant. Almost immediately it begins transmitting and we're thrown into what I figured to be a very intense moment as the ship is put on Red Alert!

The Enterprise reaches the edge of the galaxy and at that point, several crew members are injured, or struck. One, an old friend of Kirk's, Gary Mitchell is the most obviously affected and begins showing signs of kinetic abilities as the episode progresses. Ultimately he begins to take control, take lives and eventually a showdown between he and Kirk takes place on the planet Delta Vega.

This is a good episode, a character builder for Kirk's character, forced to decide the fate of his long time friend. We also see more of the comeradery between Kirk and Spock in this episode, and Scotty makes an appearance in the transporter room while Sulu is seen in a blue uniform!

My main question from this episode is; what on Earth was up with Spock's makeup and eyebrows?! He looked pretty ridiculous in this episode! I also didn't get why he had to yell out the commands and readouts he got but I guess it added to the suspense in the scenes where the Enterprise was crossing the Galactic Barrier?

I think the writers also played too much into letting the audience know that Spock wasn't human and that he had no emotions. I think every cast member made a comment about it at some point in the episode!

Nevertheless it's a fun episode. We get to see Kirk fighting the enemy amongst a polystyrene set and roll about with that huge phaser while getting his shirt ripped! The blu-ray remaster again is flawless in showing up the flaws of the set and makeup design of the time. But it's all part of the charm. I'm still watching with the new Special FX which showed off the new look they gave to the Galactic Barrier and Delta Vega.

Overall Rating: 7/10

I still have a soft-spot for the original pilot! haha :)

09 January 2011

Trek Review: The Man Trap & Charlie X

I feel like I'm the last person to watch through Star Trek (The Original Series) and for someone as big a fan of the whole franchise as me, that's a little weird! But it's true, of the many series and movies that make up the Star Trek universe, The Original Series is among those that I haven't seen in its entirety. That will soon change as I embark on watching through the remastered blu-ray episodes in my re-appreciation of old sci-fi.

I'll start by saying that I'm used to 'The Cage' or 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' being the pilot episodes of The Original Series, so when the blu-ray set began with 'The Man Trap', I was a little surprised...

The Man Trap

Apparently this episode was chosen to air first by luck of the draw. Clearly it's a character building episode focussing on Dr McCoy with Kirk and Spock having large roles but ultimately they're helping McCoy through the events of the episode.

Arriving at a Federation outpost, McCoy looks forward to catching up with an old flame of his. I don't think we've even got to the opening credits before one of the away team dies! Within the first ten minutes there are several other deaths from the Enterprise crew - notably, no red shirts though!

So there's an alien being on the loose and murdering people. They soon realise it's killing for salt, which it must consume to survive. Ultimately, the creature ends up on the Enterprise and Kirk, Spock and McCoy become involved in the showdown to stop more people from dying.

I'll say I feel 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' is the preferable pilot for the series. While this episode focusses on the 'strange new worlds' part of Star Trek, it seemed slowly paced and a little predictable in outcome. I could be saying this with my prior knowledge of the show, however I don't remember seeing this episode before.

I also didn't feel the crew were at their best yet, they didn't feel like they had come together at this point. Perhaps they had only just been assigned to the ship, but I'm sure the characters will grow in time. Scotty and Chekov fail to appear in this episode.

The remastered effects are amazing and blu-ray brings out the colours and details as you'd expect from the format.

Overall episode rating: 6/10

Charlie X

This is another episode I don't remember seeing. The tale of an adolescent male being transported aboard the Enterprise on his way to a colony. On his trip he tries to blend in with the crew, he does this by making everyone like him and doesn't quite understand when people try to go about their normal duties or go about their normal lives.

In the end, we find out there is more to Charlie than meets the eye, not before Kirk is forced to take drastic measures to save his ship and his crew. We particularly found the conversation between Kirk and Charlie humourous, when Kirk is trying to explain why hitting Yeoman Rand on her bottom was wrong. This episode alsot stood out for the amount of 'adult themes' with men commenting on the ladies of the ship (carried over from the previous episode as well) - you can really tell it's the 60's!

Another character building episode with more a focus on Kirk and Spock this time, while Yeoman Rand gets her fair share of screen time as the young Charlie falls for her.

Again, the effects make this episode a great (re)watch. Some of the effects shots, particularly one of the Enterprise rendezvous with the Antares look so much better than the original. All colours and audio are once again vibrant.

Overall episode rating: 6/10

...and so I'm on my way watching through the original Star Trek!

Warp Speed!

Our Engagement's First Anniversary

My dedicated readers (however many of you are out there) would know that on January 7th, 2010, I proposed (successfully) to my long-time girlfriend, Eleonor at the 360 Dining and Bar Restaurant at Sydney Tower.

So, celebrating a year from that point I took Eleonor out for dinner in the city again. This time, to Steel Bar and Grill for something different. Eleonor had actually come across this restaurant while searching for Reception venues for our upcoming wedding and it had a unique look about it that I thought was worth checking out.

Steel Bar and Grill

The venue, staff and (most importantly) the food were excellent! I would highly recommend anyone to go and try them out! Maybe the fact they're participating in the Fast Festival Feasts for the Sydney Festival might be a little extra encouragement too!?

Following our dinner we had a bit of a walk around the city and Darling Harbour, retracing our steps as we'd done the previous year. The difference this time was we were able to get onboard the SkyView Wheel for a few revolutions and some interesting views over the Entertainment Centre precinct.

SkyView Wheel

The following night we caught up with friends and went to checkout the First Night of Sydney's Festival which included a lot of walking about the different venues, catching live shows and bumping into other friends at random! Meals were provided by Bavarian Bier Cafe for dinner and Passionflower for some awesome dessert :)

Super Choc Brownie @ Passionflower

06 January 2011

Abraxas Video - One Year on YouTube

A year ago, I uploaded my first video to YouTube on a channel I thought I'd dedicate to aviation videos. I've uploaded aviation videos before, all of them going to the popular site FlightLevel350, but I soon found it restrictive as only certain videos could get through the approval process to be showcased (I only had one rejection though) and there appeared to be a niche group of enthusiasts viewing the videos.

YouTube offers a far greater audience and more critics and enthusiasts. After 12 months and 18 videos I can say I've enjoyed the ride so far and have found a wider range of videos and producers out there. YouTube allows me to showcase any video I've taken, and that allowed my first project - 'Serenade of the Skies' to go live. A mix of footage shot between 2007 and 2009 arranged to a soundtrack by Immediate Music.

18 videos over 12 months isn't exactly a rapid upload rate compared to other aviation enthusiasts and that can be blamed on me leaving the account inactive for a good few months after uploading 'Serenade'. I hope to turn it around from 2011 as I'm uploading the footage in a chronological order!

2007 brings in HD video after I purchased my Sony Handycam for the China holiday we went on. 'Serenade' provides a preview of the upcoming aviation clips from that camera including spotting adventures at Sydney Airport and Richmond Air Force Base as well as passenger views of flights taken to different destinations around the world.

Celebrating a year on YouTube, I sent out the below message to AbraxasVideo's friends, subscribers and those who took the time to comment on some of my other uploads...

A year ago today, I uploaded my first video to YouTube. I titled it 'Serenade of the Skies' (partially based on the soundtrack the video plays to), a showcase of aviation video work I recorded between 2007 and 2009.

Over the past year, particularly in the recent few months I've uploaded 18 videos of aviation adventures throughout 2006 and 2007, now it's time to go for better quality!

If you haven't seen 'Serenade' yet, I hope you take a look and enjoy it. It's a preview of videos to come. I'm aiming to get them online on a regular basis - particularly as we're now in 2011, these videos are starting to get a bit old!

I'll be adding more spotting and passenger view videos this year and am preparing to start work on a follow-up to 'Serenade' as well. So I hope you'll enjoy what this channel has in-store :)

Happy 1st Birthday Abraxas Video!

05 January 2011

Sci-Fi Shows from the Past

For Christmas in 2009 my girlfriend (now fiancee), Eleonor gave me the blu-ray set for Thunderbirds, the iconic series involving puppets and fantastic rescue machines set in the 21st century.

As a result, she and I have been watching through the series through 2010 and we're almost finished. It's been fun watching how the future world was depicted from the 60's and all the explosions and elaborate rescue scenes and setups.

One thing I had considered was reviewing the episodes as we watched through them but I might have to wait for a re-run sometime in the future.

Dark Skies
I was also inspired last year to look up some other old sci-fi shows in order to give them another look. First, there was Dark Skies, a series based around real Earth events in the 60's and 70's involving aliens and conspiracy theories. I've managed to track down some copies of the series but haven't begun to watch through them again.

Space: Above and Beyond
The second show was Space: Above and Beyond. This show was on in the mid 90's from memory and my father caught the odd episode or two but I never really got into it. I was following Star Trek: The Next Generation and Babylon 5 at the time. I have managed to start watching through the short series of Space... and I'm interested in seeing where the series ends up, as it was cut short after its first season.

Star Trek
Finally, there's Star Trek. There are very few episodes I haven't seen from all the Trek franchises, but The Original Series has the most holes in it. I've recently managed to get my hands on the remastered blu-ray collection and look forward to going through those episodes, hopefully with Eleonor too! (I've spared her from Space: Above and Beyond for the moment.)

So, 2011 could see this blog evolve a little to include some episodic reviews of some old fashioned sci-fi, with fresh/new eyes.

I'll see how I go anyway...

01 January 2011

2010: The Year of Gaining Independence

Another year down and a new one in the making! Welcome 2011, but as usual, it's time for me to sum up the events that made up 2010...

2010 started off with my proposal to my long time girlfriend, Eleonor. Thankfully she accepted so the year was off to a great start already! By the end of June our house had finished construction and we had our keys to move in - something we're still working on over 6 months later!

In May we enjoyed our trip to Egypt, exploring the ancient wonders and stopping over at amazing Dubai on the way home. A truly memorable trip and experience!

Wedding plans and preparations took a backseat for much of the year, even though my proposal was in January. Congratulations to my good friend Dave and his wife Vanessa who were wed on one of the hottest days in Sydney, also in January.

Regarding my hobbies, I spent some of the year shrinking my aviation model collection but not as focussed as I have been in past years. Something I aim to address in 2011 and cut the collection right back to the few I really want. I did manage to cut down my car collection and still a little bit more trimming to go in the new year.

I picked up the guitar a little more this year, spurred on by the concerts of Metallica and Linkin Park at the end of the year as well as new album releases from Linkin Park, Disturbed, Three Days Grace and Alter Bridge... Unfortunately my flying lessons all but ended after the flying school I was with was shut down in the first few months of 2010, however I made an effort to get down to the airport on a few occasions to continue spotting, photographing and filming aircraft movements.

I started up two YouTube channels this year, Abraxas Video dedicated to my aviation interests and the other for my own personal videos from around the places. Both channels have received attention from fellow YouTuber's which gives me confidence and feedback in the work I'm uploading there.

I'm looking forward to a new year and new adventures. 2011 will be another busy year as we continue to sort out our new house and fix up the backyard and some more of the rooms. It will also be chaotic towards the end of the year as the finishing touches on our wedding plans come together for the ceremony in early December (you read it here first!) and then there's the excitement of planning the honeymoon and look towards 2012. But, not wanting to get too far ahead of myself I'll be looking at taking each day as it comes.

2010 saw me post 21 entries into this blog, which is an equal personal best with 2007 (for those keeping track!) I'll hope to continue the updates on a regular basis in 2011 and see how we go with that - perhaps get some of my audience back once again? Of course, for more up-to-date updates, there's always my Twitter account!

All the best to each of you, I hope 2011 proves to be fun and prosperous for you all!

See you out there :)