REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACITCA (1978)

Starring

Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team)
Lorne Greene (The Bastard)
John Colicos (Star Trek)
Maren Jensen (Deadly Blessing)
Noah Hathaway (Troll)
Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Black Gunn)
Tony Swartz (Schizoid)
Laurette Spang-McCook (The Secrets of Isis)
Terry Carter (McCloud)
Anne Lockhart (Convoy)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lew Ayres (Holiday)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Sarah Rush (Catch Me If You Can)
Carol Baxter (The Incredible Hulk)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Patrick Macnee (The Howling)
Felix Silla (Spaceballs)
Janet Julian (King of New York)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Larry Manetti (Hawaii Five-0)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Red West (Road House)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Richard Lynch (Puppet MAster III)
Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Lloyd Bridges (Airplane)
Kirk Alyn (Superman 1948)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Fred Astaire (Funny Face)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Lloyd Bochner (The Naked Gun 2)
Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Ana Alicia (Halloween II)

Since the the modern remake of this series rapidly become the next big thing in TV Sci-Fi, many people are going to be tempted to pick up this boxed set to find out how it all began. You can’t go wrong here – this represents astounding value for money, and a great opportunity to discover or rediscover a series that really does deserve its classic status. It even has some decent extras.

Battlestar Galactica was created in 1978 a year after the Star Wars, and was essentially a brazen attempt by ABC television to cash in on the mammoth unexpected success of that film. Under conditions that may never be repeated, it was suddenly considered viable to create a full-blown big-budget epic primetime family-oriented science fiction extravaganza with a budget of $1m per episode (big money in those days). The series ran for a total of 24 episodes before being canned due to its expense and sliding ratings, but it had a huge impact and is remembered with great fondness even by those who aren’t rabid fans.


The story draws inspiration from diverse mythical and religious sources, including Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the book of Exodus, and the Mormon upbringing of its creator Glen A. Larson. When the 12 colonies of man are annihilated by the robotic Cylons, the only surviving Battlestar, Galactica, assembles a small fleet of dilapidated civilian ships and makes a run for it with the survivors, hoping to find the legendary 13th tribe who may have settled on a distant, mythical planet called Earth.


The series is often criticised for endlessly recycling stock footage, especially during the space battles where this reaches almost unreasonable levels, and for its cheesiness (plenty of cute kids and robots in this one), but on the whole it’s much easier to forgive such faults in retrospect. It also benefits enormously from its arresting premise, strong plotting, and above all its nigh-on perfect casting. It’s worth watching the 24 episodes through as well, because it does improve as it goes along, and is serialised to a degree. Considering it ran for such a short time, it does a surprisingly thorough job of exploring its themes, so it’s debatable what its natural life would have been had it been allowed to continue. Towards the end it becomes more cerebral and interesting, as eventually Galactica moves beyond its own space and begins to encounter worlds and cultures that bear an eerie resemblance to modern Earth.

There are several documentaries on the seventh disc featuring interviews with almost all of the surviving cast and crew. These are fairly entertaining and informative, especially the production footage which reveals how hard the back-projection was to pull off (it’s a shame there isn’t more on the effects). It’s clear that Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict are still bitter that the plug was pulled so early, and they express this with some eloquence. Both campaigned vigorously, independently, to bring it back.

REVIEW: AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL

CAST

Robert Hays (Cat’s Eye)
Julie Hagerty (Marriage Story)
Lloyd Bridges (Hot Shots!)
Peter Graves (Mission: Impissible)
Chad Everett (Mulholland Drive)
Rip Torn (Men In Black)
John Dehner (The Green Glove)
Chuck Connors (Target Zero)
Stephen Stucker (Trading Places)
Kent McCord (Galactica 1980)
Lauren Landon (Maniac Cop)
Sonny Bono (Troll)
William Shatner (Star Trek)
Raymond Burr (Perry Mason)
John Vernon (Animal House)
Frank Ashmore (V)
Sandahl Bergman (Conan The Barbarian)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
Rick Overton (Lois & Clark)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
George Wendt (Cheers)

In the near future, the Moon has been colonized and supports a station on its surface. A lunar shuttle known as Mayflower One is being rushed to launch from Houston. The head of the ground crew, The Sarge (Chuck Connors), does not like what is occurring, but he defers to the airline’s management.On the flight crew are Captain Clarence Oveur (Peter Graves), navigator/co-pilot Unger (Kent McCord) and first officer/flight engineer Dunn (James A. Watson, Jr.). Also on board is computer officer Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty). Elaine has long left Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and is now engaged to one of the flight crew, Simon Kurtz (Chad Everett). Striker has in the meantime been committed to an insane asylum, as he was declared mentally incompetent in a lawsuit following a test flight that Ted piloted and in which the lunar shuttle crashed. Striker believes that the lawsuit was used to silence him, because he knew there were problems with the lunar shuttle that made it unsafe, and he is once more haunted by his actions in “The War” – causing a relapse of his “drinking problem”, specifically the events that took place over “Macho Grande”, where he lost his entire squadron. When Striker reads of the upcoming lunar shuttle launch, he escapes the asylum and buys a ticket for the flight.During the flight, Mayflower One suffers a short circuit, causing the artificially intelligent computer ROK to go insane and send the ship toward the Sun. Unger and Dunn try to deactivate the computer, but are blown out of an airlock. Oveur tries to stop ROK, but the computer gasses him. Kurtz abandons Elaine and leaves in the only escape pod. Once again, Striker is called upon to save the day, but first he has to figure out how to make the computer relinquish control. Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges), the air traffic controller, reveals that a passenger named Joe Seluchi (Sonny Bono) had boarded Mayflower One with a bomb in a briefcase, intending to commit suicide so that his wife can collect on insurance money. Striker manages to wrestle the bomb from Seluchi and uses it to blow up ROK and set course for the Moon as originally intended.Using the bomb to destroy the computer causes collateral damage to the shuttle, meaning the flight is not out of danger yet. On the way to the Moon, control of the flight is shifted to a lunar base, commanded by Commander Buck Murdock (William Shatner). He has a high level of contempt for Striker because of Macho Grande, but agrees to help anyway. They manage to land the craft on the Moon. Ted and Elaine fall back in love and are married at the end. After the wedding, Seluchi looks into the cockpit and asks for his briefcase back. A postcredit scene shows a screen that says “Coming From Paramount Pictures: “Airplane III”. Murdock is then seen saying “That’s exactly what they’ll be expecting us to do!”Aiplane 2 is inferior to its predecessor in every way, but if you enjoyed the first film, you’ll be entertained by the sequel (Just not quite as much)

REVIEW: AIRPLANE!

 

CAST

Robert Hays (Cat’s Eye)
Julie Hagerty (Lost In America)
Leslie Nielsen (Police Squad)
Peter Graves (Mission: Impissible)
Lloyd Bridges (Hot Shots!)
Robert Stack (Caddyshack II)
Lorna Patterson (Private Benjamin)
Stephen Stucker (Bad Manners)
Frank Ashmore (V)
Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul)
Ethel Merman (Happy Landing)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Gregory Itzin (Evolution)

Ex-fighter pilot and taxi driver Ted Striker (Robert Hays) became traumatized during the War, leading to a pathological fear of flying. As a result, he is unable to hold a responsible job. His wartime girlfriend, Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), now a flight attendant, leaves him. Striker nervously boards a Boeing 707 (Trans American Flight 209) from Los Angeles to Chicago on which she is serving, hoping to win her back, but she rebuffs him. After dinner is served, many of the passengers fall ill, and fellow passenger Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) deduces that the passengers have contracted food poisoning from the fish. The cockpit crew, including pilot Clarence Oveur (Peter Graves) and co-pilot Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), have also been affected, leaving no one to fly the plane. Elaine contacts the Chicago control tower for help, and is instructed by tower supervisor Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) to activate the plane’s autopilot, a large inflatable pilot doll (listed as “Otto” in the end credits), which will get them to Chicago, but will not be able to land the plane. Rumack convinces Striker to fly the plane, though Striker feels unable to handle the pressure and the unfamiliar aircraft.McCroskey knows that he must get someone else to help talk the plane down and calls Rex Kramer (Robert Stack), Striker’s commanding officer in the war. Despite their hostile relationship, he is the best choice to instruct Striker. As the plane nears Chicago, Striker is overcome by stress but regains confidence after a pep talk from Dr. Rumack. With Kramer’s advice, Striker is able to land the plane safely with only minor injuries to some passengers. Striker’s courage rekindles Elaine’s love for him, and the two share a kiss. Both then wave farewell to “Otto” as he takes off in the evacuated plane after inflating a female companion.Spoof movies definitely have there place in everyone’s collection, but this is probably the best you’ll ever see in the genre, if you have never seen it and you fancy a laugh, I can’t recommend a better film, even though it has dated; it’s still hilarious

REVIEW: HOT SHOTS!

CAST

Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Valeria Golino (Year of The Gun)
Lloyd Bridges (Airplane!)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
William O’Leary (Terminator 3)
Kristy Swanson (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.(Batman: TAS)
Bill Irwin (Legion)
Ryan Stiles (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
Ryan Cutrona (Changeling)

The film begins at Flemner Air Base 20 years in the past. A pilot named Leland “Buzz” Harley (Bill Irwin) loses control of his plane and ejects, leaving his co-pilot Dominic “Mailman” Farnum (Ryan Stiles) to crash alone; although Mailman survives, he’s mistaken for a deer owing to the branches stuck to his helmet and is shot by a hunter. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) wakes up from a nightmare he’s having about the event when Lt. Commander Block (Kevin Dunn) asks him to return to active duty as a pilot in the U.S. Navy, to help on a new top secret mission: Operation Sleepy Weasel. Harley starts to show some psychological problems, especially when his father is mentioned. His therapist, Ramada (Valeria Golino), tries to keep Topper from flying, but she relents, and also starts to build a budding romance with Topper. Meanwhile, Topper gets into a rivalry with another fighter pilot, Kent Gregory (Cary Elwes), who hates Topper because of the loss of his father “Mailman” to Buzz Harley, and believes Topper may do the same to him.Meanwhile, Block starts privately meeting with an airplane tycoon, Mr. Wilson, who has recently built a new “Super Fighter” that will make the American pilots superior. Block reveals that he brought back Topper for the reason of making Sleepy Weasel fail. Block would then report that it was the Navy’s planes that were the real reason for the mission failure and that they need to be replaced with Wilson’s planes. During one of the last training missions, an unfortunate accident between Pete “Dead Meat” Thompson (William O’Leary) and Jim “Wash-Out” Pfaffenbach (Jon Cryer) occurs, leaving Dead Meat dead and Wash Out reassigned to radar operator. Block believes this is enough to convince the Navy to buy new fighters, but Wilson brushes it aside as a “minor incident”, and the planes need to fail in combat for anyone to take notice.Meanwhile, Topper starts to show more and more feelings for Ramada, but she is also smitten with Gregory, who believes Topper cannot handle combat pressure. On the carrier U.S.S. Essess, Block reveals the mission to be an attack of an Iraqi nuclear plant and assigns Topper to lead the mission, much to Gregory’s chagrin. Meanwhile, Wilson, who is also on board, coerces a crew member to sabotage the planes, putting the pilots’ lives at risk. At first, the mission goes according to Block’s plan. He mentions Buzz Harley to Topper, who becomes overcome with emotion and unable to lead the mission. Block just starts to call out for the mission to be aborted when Iraqi fighters attack the squadron. All the planes’ weapons fail and Block realizes what has happened. He then tells Topper that he saw what really happened with Buzz and Mailman, that Buzz tried to do everything possible to save Mailman, but ended up falling out of the plane, failing in his attempts. Inspired, Topper single-handedly beats the Iraqi fighters and bombs the nuclear plant, despite sustaining heavy damage. Back aboard ship, Block decides that American planes will always be superior with pilots like Topper (and German parts). Wilson’s plan is revealed and his standing with the military is lost. Back in port, Gregory accepts Topper as a great pilot and lets Ramada be with Topper and the two begin a loving new relationship.Hot shots! is a great movie. It will keep you laughing from the begining to the end. It has some really unusual gags thrown in gratuitously, making it crazier and funnier by the minute. I highly recommend this comedy to all every one, and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in this one.