#279. David Fincher

Many directors in Hollywood will stick to a particular genre, mainly because their artistic style matches well with the mood of the genre. Wes Craven directed horror, Charlie Chaplin directed silent comedies, Steven Spielberg directed science fiction, Alfred Hitchcock directed thrillers. In terms of modern directors, there are very few that have tackled the psychological thriller well. Christopher Nolan falls into this category, but David Fincher succeeds in this genre as well. What’s even more interesting is that Fincher seems drawn to film adaptations of stories and books. This is the niche where he excels as a director. There are a lot of books out there that cover some pretty dark material, and David Fincher’s artistic direction certainly brings that element out on the screen. This week’s two films highlight some of David Fincher’s best works.

The Social Networksocial_network_film_poster
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours

While Fincher’s filmography is not extensive (he’s only directed 10 films), his skill is quite apparent. A number of his early films have attained cult status, including Se7en (1995) and Fight Club (1999), the latter of which was an adaptation of the book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. In terms of recognition by the Academy, within two years, he directed films that were nominated for Best Picture, as well as Best Director. His first nominations were for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), which itself was based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, he didn’t win that year, but his second set of nominations came with The Social Network (2010), which was also based on a book (this time being The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich). Once again, he was passed over for an Oscar, but I know he’ll soon be nominated again . . . hopefully claiming a win along with it.

Jumping back-and-forth between the deposition of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and the time he spent at Harvard, The Social Network’s tagline reads, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Zuckerberg’s first enemy was none other than Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), the girl who dumped him. Fueled by anger and frustration, he created a website that compared the physical attractiveness of women on the Harvard campus. His next enemies would be the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer), who found out that he created a popular social networking site named Thefacebook after they had asked him to code a similar idea they had. As the social media empire expanded, his final enemy would be that of Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), the close friend who helped him start Facebook in the first place. Now he’s being sued and remains a lonely, apathetic man.

Se7enseven_28movie29_poster
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours

As I mentioned before, one of the directors who directed thrillers was Alfred Hitchcock. David Fincher has directed thrillers as well, but his style is much darker. Perhaps this is due to the types of thrillers that he has chosen to direct. From the aforementioned Fight Club (1999), to the film adaptation of Gone Girl (2014) (based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name), these psychological thrillers really play with the audience’s mind. Even though mystery thrillers come closer to what Hitchcock has done in the past, Fincher’s mystery thrillers are considerably more violent, merely on their source material alone. Case in point: Zodiac (2007) and the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) (based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson) both examine serial killers. One of his first films, Se7en (1995) certainly set Fincher’s style, as it’s a psychological mystery thriller.

Nearing retirement, detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is reluctantly paired with hot-shot detective, David Mills (Brad Pitt). Their first case involves a pair of murders, both of which are linked to two of the seven deadly sins: “gluttony” and “greed.” At these crime scenes, there are clues to the next murder: “sloth.” It is at this point that the two of them realize the killer has been taking an enormous amount of time to set up and execute these murders. Doing some research into the seven sins, they find John Doe (Kevin Spacey), who manages to escape. Meanwhile, the detectives are moments too late to prevent the murders of “lust” and “pride”. At this point, Doe surrenders willfully, but not without a few conditions. Revealing the location of the last two murders that have yet to take place, all three of them drive out to the middle of the desert to learn how “envy” and “wrath” will die.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fantastic Fincher films

Bacon #: 2 (Being John Malkovich / Sean Penn -> Mystic River / Kevin Bacon)

#278. Jesse Eisenberg

Some actors just seem to appear out of nowhere. There can be many reasons for this, including having a breakout role in their debut film, being paired to a successful filmmaker’s masterpiece, or even just appearing in a lot of films. Jesse Eisenberg seems to fall into the latter two categories of this list, having appeared in 2-4 films almost every year from 2005 until now. This seems to be a similar technique to Domhnall Gleeson, who has had some very recognizable roles in films as of late. As for Eisenberg, he seemed to hit his stride in 2009 by capitalizing on his ability to play vulnerable, smart, and often comically awkward main characters. While this may have typecast him somewhat, there always seems to be a need for these types of characters, as many “non-jocks” can relate to them. This week’s two films highlight some of the best of Jesse Eisenberg’s current career.

ZombielandZombieland
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

Perhaps the reason that Eisenberg’s characters come off as awkward and neurotic stems from his personal life and his affliction with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Channeling this into his characters has certainly produced notable results, one of the most prominent being that of the Spix’s macaw, Blu in Rio (2011) and Rio 2 (2014). However, Eisenberg might not have gotten that role had he not given an excellent performance in Adventureland (2009). With his comedic talent clear, he eventually teamed up with his Adventureland co-star, Kristen Stewart, again in 2015’s American Ultra. While Adventureland made his name recognizable in the romantic comedy genre, his starring role in Zombieland (2009) cemented his name as one of the comedic actors to keep an eye on for years to come.

If “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) has a piece of advice for you, it’s Rule #1: Cardio. If he has anything else to add to that, it’s Rule #2: Double Tap. These rules, along with others, have kept him alive during the zombie apocalypse. After teaming up with “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson), the two men are conned out of their weapons and car by “Wichita” (Emma Stone) and “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin). Despite this, Columbus and Tallahassee chase after the girls, but for different reasons. Tallahassee wants his stuff back, but Columbus has fallen for Wichita and longs to woo her, even though they’re just trying to survive the end of the world. When the group finally arrives at their destination, an amusement park in Los Angeles by the name of “Pacific Playland”, Columbus finds that his chance to get close to Wichita is also his chance to save her from attacking zombies.

The Social Networksocial_network_film_poster
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours

While the neurotic stereotype works well for Jesse Eisenberg’s comedic characters, the remaining characters he has played certainly fall into the intelligently confident stereotype. In fact, these characters’ intelligence is almost seen as a character flaw, as they end up feeling superior to everyone else. A good example of this trait/flaw was his portrayal of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), who used his intelligence to combat one of the most powerful beings on Earth. On the flip side of the intelligence coin is that of the con-man. 2016 also saw Eisenberg reprise his role of J. Daniel Atlas in Now You See Me 2, the sequel to Now You See Me (2013). Despite many of these characters being fictional, the one, real-life intelligent character he has portrayed on film was none other than Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (2010).

During the fall semester of 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) created a website called Facemash in order to spite a former girlfriend. Due to the site’s exponential popularity, it gained the attention of Harvard’s disciplinary board, since Zuckerberg hacked into college databases to steal photographs of the female students. He also gained the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer), who want him to code a dating website that’s exclusive to Harvard students. It is at this point when Mark gets an idea for a social media website and asks his friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for a loan to get it off the ground. Thefacebook quickly takes off and soon expansion efforts are underway to bring the site to other colleges. In the process, new people are brought on board, old friends are turned away, and legal action is taken. All this just because a girl dumped Mark Zuckerberg.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 engaging Eisenberg roles

Bacon #: 1 (Beyond All Boundaries / Kevin Bacon)

#277. Zombies!

If there’s been one trope that’s been done to death recently, it’s that of zombies. Perhaps this is due to the influx of post-apocalyptic stories that have been fueled by pessimism about the current aspects for our future. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that these films seem to make money. Perhaps these films are actually spreading via their own version of a zombie virus. Even films that I wouldn’t have thought could have zombies in them end up having zombies in them. Whatever the reason, it seems that almost every year passes with at least one new zombie film gracing the big screen. Of course, just like with any subgenre (this one being of the horror genre originally), eventually they become self-aware. This week’s two films examine a few different methods for dealing with the topic of zombies.

Night of the Living DeadNight of the Living Dead
Year: 1968
Rating: Unrated
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

Even though it feels like zombies have been in film for a long time, the accepted canon version of them has only been around for about 50 years. Before 1968, zombies weren’t depicted as the reanimated corpses that hunger for human flesh. This distinction was first explored in Night of the Living Dead (1968) and has stuck ever since. The reasons for zombies have varied from genetic experiments, to nuclear disasters, to chemical exposures; regardless of the method of introduction, the destruction of zombies has always remained the same: destroy the brain or set them on fire. There have been many films that have taken zombies seriously, including 28 Days Later (2002) and its sequel, 28 Weeks Later (2007). I’m not a fan of zombie films, but I did appreciate the logic applied in World War Z (2013). Still, Night of the Living Dead stands as the original by which all others are measured.

Scientists couldn’t explain it, but for some reason the dead were coming back to life and craving the flesh of the living. The leading theory was that radiation from a probe that returned from Venus was causing these zombies to attack people. In a small farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, a collection of survivors have holed up and continue to rebuff the onslaught of the undead. With a few of the survivors being bit by the zombies, the opinion of the remaining survivors is split. Some think they should get medical attention, while others think they should stay put. Setbacks cause the group to remain in the house, waiting for the vigilantes roaming the countryside to come and save them. Unfortunately, now there are zombies inside the house as well, giving the one lone survivor only one option: hole up on the second floor and hope that help will come soon.

ZombielandZombieland
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

As with any genre, eventually it’s taken too seriously. This is when the parodies start to appear. The parodies then evolve into comedies. Even well-known zombie films start to become aware of their ridiculous nature. For instance, Sam Raimi‘s The Evil Dead (1981) was a serious take on the zombie theme, which was made a little funnier in Evil Dead II (1987), finally becoming completely self-aware by Army of Darkness (1992). This essentially paved the way for such films like Shaun of the Dead (2004), which takes the classic survival theme and flips it on its head. Even classic plots have been subject to the zombie treatment, the best example of which is the version of Romeo and Juliet that is Warm Bodies (2013). What’s interesting to note is that, even though they’re self-aware, these comedic zombie films still need to follow the same rules as more serious ones.

With the entire United States almost completely wiped out by “mad zombie disease”, the few survivors that remain roam the country for their own purposes. “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) has survived this long by adhering to a set of “rules” that he has discovered to be the key to surviving the apocalypse. On his way back home to Columbus, Ohio, to check on his parents, he runs across “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson) and the two team up to increase their safety. While on the way, they come across two girls, “Wichita” (Emma Stone) and “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin), who trick them and steal their car. After the two guys catch up, the four of them decide to travel to Los Angeles to have some fun, mostly because Columbus now has no home to go back to. Along the way, they meet Bill Murray and accidentally kill him before finally arriving at their destination: Pacific Playland.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 takes on the zombie theme

#276. Spread the Sickness

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Winter is now weeks behind us and the colds that go with it have been replaced by seasonal allergies and the arrival of spring. Most of the time we tolerate being sick because we know that it will soon be over and we can go back to our regular lives. In fact, we might even continue to live our lives, despite our ailments. Because some people resort to this, and not to resting in bed, they spread their sickness to everyone around them. Sure, they might cover their mouth when they cough, and they might sneeze into their elbow, but those germs still get out and infect everyone else. This is what can make being sick a gamble: germs are so small that we can’t know where they’ll spread. This week’s two films look into the theme of spreading a sickness.

ContagionContagion
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

We live in a global environment. Consequently, certain diseases that might have caused endemics before inter-continental travel became common can now reach pandemic levels. The Ebola scare from a few years ago showed that some of these severe sicknesses can travel across the oceans to potentially infect whole new populations. In film, this topic is rarely covered, but when it is, the result is usually catastrophic. Take Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) for example. A deadly virus that affects humans, but not apes, accidentally infects a traveler on his way to an airport. From there, the virus spreads to each continent and the death toll becomes enormous. By the time Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) rolls around, humanity is just trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. If only the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) could have stopped the spread of the virus, the issue could have been contained.

Never before has a film impelled an audience to wash their hands. From bat to pig to human, the unknown virus, MEV-1 spreads from Hong Kong to the United States. Once it reaches America, some sudden deaths prompt the CDC to investigate. While they try to extract the origins of the virus so that they can develop an effective immunization, panic grips the population. With the mortality rate of the virus being above 25%, most are afraid that they will catch it and die. Not helping the situation, some people are immune, but others lie about their gained immunity to help boost sales of medications that cannot cure the disease. Since tensions are high around the country and in the CDC, certain corners are cut to progress the research of the virus, and some employees of the CDC use their insider information to attempt to save their families. Fortunately, an inoculation is found and the world is now saved from MEV-1.

Night of the Living DeadNight of the Living Dead
Year: 1968
Rating: Unrated
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

In terms of a global war on sickness, the World Health Organization (WHO) is leading the fight to help keep the entire planet from experiencing a debilitating pandemic. One of their most recent representations on film has been through World War Z (2013). While there may be simple ways to keep microscopic germs from infecting humans through vigorous washing, widespread sterilization, and outright quarantine, what if the sickness is a little more mobile? What if the sickness can find you and attack you, even despite your best efforts? The most common form of this type of sickness is that of zombies. Perhaps the reason so many zombie-related storylines devolve into a full-on global apocalypse is because their mobility and mob mentality help to spread the sickness of the living dead.

After a bizarre incident in a graveyard, Barbra Blair (Judith O’Dea) finds herself on the run after a stranger attacked her and her brother. With her brother now dead, she makes her way to a farmhouse where more individuals like the stranger in the graveyard appear and start to scare her away. Fortunately, Ben (Duane Jones) pulls her inside the house and repels the monsters. What they don’t yet know is that a married couple is locked away in the basement with their daughter. From the radio, Ben learns that the reason the recently deceased are coming back to life and devouring the flesh of the living is due to some radioactivity from an exploded satellite that came back to Earth. He also learns that groups of vigilantes are killing the zombies all over the countryside. Unfortunately, he has enough zombies to deal with inside and outside the house and just barely survives long enough to enjoy the sunrise of a new day.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 spreading sicknesses

#275. Government Agencies

Ronald Reagan has said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” One of the reasons of the truth behind this statement is the sheer bureaucracy that is tied to anything with the Government. There have been a few films that have made light of this, including Brazil (1985) and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), both of which play off of the ridiculous and circuitous nature of the Government and its propensity for filling out forms. Depending on your political opinion, you may think the Government should control everything . . . or you may think they should control nothing but the national defense. Needless to say, there are many agencies that are Government-run that all perform some form of function to help their constituents. This week’s two films examine real and fictional Government agencies.

Men in Black 3Men in Black 3
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

While many people want transparency in their Government agencies, the simple fact of the matter is that much of what they do is classified. Somehow, that secrecy is part of what makes these agencies so appealing for use in film. Eventually, these secrets become unclassified, so the real-life stories can be told. No agency is immune from this. From the FBI and J. Edgar (2011), to the CIA and Argo (2012), to the NSA and Snowden (2016), these real situations are sometimes all too unbelievable. On the other side of this coin, one could argue that there are fictional agencies so secret that nobody knows about them. For instance, the Impossible Missions Force (or IMF) from the Mission: Impossible franchise or the Men in Black (or MIB) from its own, titular franchise have given us glimpses into the possible services that Government agencies could provide.

For many decades, the Men in Black have helped to cover up the existence of aliens on Earth. Part of the reason for this is due to the ArcNet, a defense system in orbit around the planet that keeps hostile alien races from attacking Earth. One of these hostile races, the Boglodites, is able to finally penetrate the system when one of their own, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), travels back in time to prevent the implementation of the ArcNet. This altered timeline isn’t noticed by anyone, with the exception of MIB Agent J (Will Smith). He has noticed that his partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) has gone missing and takes it upon himself to travel back to 1969 to thwart Boris and save K (Josh Brolin). Along the way, he learns some important history regarding the MIB, as well as some key information regarding his father.

ContagionContagion
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

One motif that tends to run through these aforementioned Government agencies is the theme of “protecting the people.” What the populace doesn’t know can’t hurt them, so the goal of the FBI’s and CIA’s is to take care of the threats against the people they are sworn to protect in such a way as to not induce a country-wide panic. Now, these threats are often in the form of terrorists, which are people set on harming the citizens of a particular country or ideology. But what about the threats that come from nature itself? While NOAA can see weather trends (as in The Day After Tomorrow (2004)), there’s little they can do to stop it. Sometimes, nature can even cross the boundaries of countries, making it a global problem. This is why the WHO exists, and partly why it is featured in World War Z (2013). At home in the United States, we have the CDC to help keep us healthy and safe from the nature of sickness.

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns home to her family with a cold she believes she obtained while on her trip to Hong Kong. Unfortunately, this is no cold and soon she has infected her son, both of whom die soon afterward. Upon the loss of two of his family, Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) is distraught, but also quarantined because the authorities think he may be infected as well. Meanwhile, research is being done at the Centers for Disease Control to determine the origin of the virus and to develop an antidote for it. Popular blogger, Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) suggests there is a natural cure for the disease, which proves to be nothing more than a false statement to help his financial interests. Pressed for time to save the world, Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) tests an inoculation serum on herself that then proves her vaccine works. Now it’s up to the CDC to inoculate the remaining survivors.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 awesome agencies

#274. The Time Travel Sequel

As a writer, I have been told that flashbacks should be used sparingly in order to advance the plot. But what if the entire plot of your story is a flashback? What if your story is a prequel to your original material? The jury is still out on whether or not the “prequel” is the right way to go about establishing the foundational concepts for the first part of a story, but what if the next part of the franchise isn’t as much a “prequel” as it is a “time travel sequel?” Obviously, these time travel sequels will most often be part of a science fiction franchise that could allow for time travel in the first place. Still, in these cases there is character development that builds upon the previous films but also explores the origins of the stories themselves. This week’s two films highlight the effectiveness of a “time travel sequel.”

                                                   Star Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Year: 1986
Rating: PG
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

Obviously, the franchises that revolve around time travel will have time travel sequels. The clearest example of this would be Back to the Future Part III (1990). A lot can change in one-hundred years and this film merely hammers home the point (which it does in the previous two parts as well) that the timeline of history can be changed. But what if your story is based in the distant future? For the characters who live in the 23rd century, going back in time by three-hundred years would essentially place them in the timeframe where we currently live. While we couldn’t know the impacts on the future that these 23rd century characters might make to their timeline, the more interesting element to this scenario (as it is in any time travel sequel) is to see the differences between two drastically different eras.

What do you do when a mysterious probe is causing electrical disturbances throughout the universe? If you’re the crew of the USS Enterprise, you identify that the signal the probe is sending out is identical to the call of an extinct animal. Of course, with the animal needed to stop the probe being completely eradicated, the only option is to travel back in time to retrieve one of them while they were still alive. For the crew of the Enterprise, this animal was the humpback whale, thus prompting them to travel back to 1986 and retrieve a few of them from San Francisco. Of course, going back three-hundred years had its challenges, but now modifying the spaceship to take the humpback whales into the future is its own challenge. Finally successful, the crew returns to the future to answer the call of the probe, causing it to cease its destructive march across the universe.

Men in Black 3Men in Black 3
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

Sometimes, the time travel sequels can be done in a flashback context. For instance, The Godfather: Part II (1974) is both a prequel and a sequel to The Godfather (1972), splitting half it’s time developing the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in the late 1950’s while also paralleling it with the rise of his father, Vito Corleone (Robert DeNiro), during the turn of the 20th century. In a similar vein, X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) switches between an apocalyptic and dystopian future and the events in the 1970’s that eventually led up to this bleak timeline. Perhaps this is what makes a time travel sequel different from a flashback sequel (like The Godfather: Part II): a time travel sequel attempts to change something or collect something in the past to help save the future. This is certainly the case in the third installment of the Men in Black franchise: Men in Black 3 (2012).

Escaping from his prison on the moon, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) sets out to take revenge on the agent who sent him there: Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) of the Men in Black. Because the events that led to his capture also prevented his species from invading earth, Boris travels back in time to eliminate the younger K. K’s partner, Agent J (Will Smith), is now the only one who recognizes that something is amiss. He doesn’t understand why everyone has forgotten about K, which leads Agent O (Emma Thompson) to deduce that the timeline has changed. Travelling back to 1969, J teams up with the younger K to stop both past and future Boris from enacting his plan. Not only does J have to prevent K from being killed, but he now has to attach a defense system to Apollo 11 that will protect Earth for decades to come.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 retro sequels

#273. Star Trek

One of the most defining television series of all time, Star Trek revolutionized science fiction on the small screen. While the original series has spawned a number of follow-on series, very few of them have been able to capitalize on the popularity of the crew like the group that appeared in the late 1960’s. In fact, aside from a handful of films based on Star Trek: The Next Generation, practically all of Star Trek’s 13 films are based on the original crew. After a film reboot (and two sequels) that angered many “Trekkies” due to its blasé attitude toward the source material canon, time will tell if the newfound popularity of Star Trek amongst non-Trekkies will carry on through the new television series that began this year. Still, Star Trek’s presence on the big screen is notable. This week’s two films highlight some of the gems of the Star Trek films.

                                                  Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Year: 1982
Rating: PG
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

While today’s Hollywood will jump at an opportunity to adapt a television show into a major motion picture, this wasn’t always the case. One of the unique elements of the Star Trek films is the fact that the original cast from the television show reprised their roles on the big screen. This was despite the fact that the television show ended ten years prior to the first film in the series. Appearing three years after its original, The Wrath of Khan proves to be a much better film due to a much needed antagonist, which was missing from the first movie. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), most of the movie is spent watching the USS Enterprise panning across far-out space scenes and the reactions of the crew as they sit there and wait to find an abandoned satellite that was sending out menacing signals. A similar plot to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) was used for the reboot sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013).

What started as a T.V. episode entitled “Space Seed” fifteen years prior, The Wrath of Khan sees the exiled villain, Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), enacting his revenge on now-Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner). Khan infiltrates Starfleet via some mind-control creatures and is able to commandeer the USS Reliant, which he uses to attack the space station, Regula I. In doing so, he hopes to gain control of the “Genesis Device”, which he plans to use for his own, nefarious purposes. Receiving a distress signal from Regula I, the Enterprise comes to the rescue but falls into the Reliant’s ambush. While Kirk excels in space battles and is able to cripple the Reliant, the Enterprise has been seriously damaged and cannot escape. With Captain Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) sacrifice, the Enterprise is restored and able to get away.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Year: 1986
Rating: PG
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

It has been noted that, of the many Star Trek films, the “even” ones are the best. Perhaps the reason for this is because the second and fourth films are the bookends of the first “trilogy” in the Star Trek film franchise. After The Wrath of Khan, its direct sequel, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), carried on the storyline that reunited the crew after the tragic loss of one of its key members. What is also notable about the third and fourth films is that they were directed by none other than Leonard Nimoy (who portrays Spock in the television series and films). Perhaps it is this close tie to the source material that helped make Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) an entertaining film. In fact, of all the Star Trek films, The Voyage Home is perhaps the most comedic, as it shows the contrast between our world and the world of the future.

On their way back to Earth to face punishment for destroying the USS Enterprise, the crew of the former starship receive a distress signal from Starfleet warning them to not come to Earth because an unknown probe has been wreaking havoc nearby. The now-resurrected Spock (Leonard Nimoy) recognizes the sound of the probe as the call of the now-extinct humpback whale. Using their commandeered Klingon ship, the crew slingshots around the sun to travel back in time to 1984. Landing in San Francisco, the members of the crew break into smaller groups to repair the ship, obtain some humpback whales, and outfit the ship to carry them to the future. Eventually, each group succeeds but not without a few comedic, cultural shocks along the way. Repeating the slingshot around the sun, the crew returns to the future and saves the Earth from the probe, now that its call has been answered.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 travels through the stars