REVIEW: WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND: LOOKING BACK AT DEEP SPACE NINE

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)

Starring

Max Grodénchik (Rocketeer)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Colm Meaney (Layer Cake)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master III)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Gotham)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser III)
Penny Johnson Jerald (The Orville)
Avery Brooks (American Hsitory X)
Chase Masterson (Yesterday Was a Lie)
Michael Dorn (Arrow)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
J.G. Hertzler (Zorro)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Cirroc Lofton (Beethoven)
Nicole de Boer (Cube)

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine (2018)Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the fourth television series in the Star Trek franchise. It ran for seven seasons and a hundred and seventy-six episodes in syndication. The finale, “What You Leave Behind”, aired on June 2nd, 1999. DS9 was markedly different from Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show setting was a recovered enemy space station near the planet Bajor. A grieving Starfleet commander, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), assigned to help the Bajorans recover from a devastating occupation; discovers a wormhole to a distant region of the galaxy, the Gamma Quadrant. What followed was a thrilling, slow-burn escalation to the epic, Dominion War; a conflict against powerful Gamma Quadrant adversaries that threatened the United Federation of Planets.What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a wonderful retrospective and coda to the beloved series. The documentary is produced and directed by Ira Steven Behr, DS9’s showrunner/executive producer, and filmmaker/Star Trek enthusiast David Zappone; who produced The Captains and For the Love of Spock. Originally crowdfunded to celebrate DS9’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Behr was astonished by the legions of fans that contributed money. It changed the scale of the documentary, and provided an opportunity to pursue fandom’s dream scenario; a look at the story for a possible season eight of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.ds9-cast-1200x786What We Left Behind reunites the original cast, writers, filmmakers, and studio executives for interviews. DS9, though it ran for seven seasons, was pilloried by critics at the time. The show was too dark, political, and not adventurous enough. The sci-fi mainstream decried a Star Trek series that was serialized, not episodic. They wanted each week to be a new adventure on a different planet, mimicking the format of the incredibly popular Star Trek: The Next Generation. DS9 had elaborate storylines that stretched over multiple seasons and embraced controversy. From racial and ethnic issues, religious strife, to television’s first lesbian kiss, it was a Star Trek series that obliterated boundaries. Ira Steven Behr has frank discussions with the Paramount studio executive who didn’t understand his vision for the show. Luckily, his persistence and a cult following allowed DS9 to continue its risque path; albeit with some major changes forced by the suits.what-we-left-behind-looking-back-at-star-trek-deep-space-nine-still-1-1160x480Without delving too deep into the details of the interviews, two pivotal events are explored. The first was the addition of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s bad-ass Klingon, Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), in season four. The cast, Behr, Rick Berman (overall Star Trek TV producer), and several Paramount execs discuss bringing the popular character to the struggling show. What was already a tight-knit crew had doubts, but welcomed Dorn into the fold. The decision turned out to be exactly as hoped; a shot in the arm that revitalized DS9. The same cannot be said for the killing of Worf’s wife and series regular from the start, Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). What We Left Behind takes a frank look at the turmoil caused by firing her. Terry Farrell’s treatment and decision to leave was a blow to all. Behr also shows the professionalism and resilience of the core players. Nicole de Boer’s Lt. Ezri Dax, who replaced Terry Farrell, was a key character during the final season. Seeing the players and producers discuss this tumultuous time is riveting. They developed lifelong bonds from their time on DS9. The show profoundly impacted them on a personal level. Defining the acting careers for many of the cast members.1266412299-What-We-Left-Behind-Looking-Back-At-StarIn true DS9 fashion, What We Left Behind gets political. The doc explores the casting of Avery Brooks as Star Trek’s first black captain and series lead. We see how Brooks, who unfortunately is only interviewed through archival footage, steered the path of DS9. Captain Sisko was a father foremost. DS9 had an incredible story arc with his son, Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton), growing up on the space station. Brooks wanted the show to portray a positive black male role model as a parent and leader. DS9 was filmed during the LA riots of 1992. Anyone who watched DS9 knows how thoughtfully the series tackled such heady issues. Fandom will also be quite surprised what Behr has to say about the relationship between Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) and Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig).what-we-left-behind-terry-farrell-nana-visitorWhat We Left Behind does not forget the talented production designers, effects teams, and make-up artists that made DS9 so realistic. Some of the funnier scenes have Armin Shimerman, who played Quark the Ferengi bartender, and René Auberjonois, who played the shape-shifting security chief Odo, cursing the other cast members, particularly Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien). They had to sit for hours in make-up, and then work in the uncomfortable prosthetics; while the “human” actors had mere touch-ups. It’s all in good humor, but illustrates the physical toll of playing DS9’s alien characters.armin-shimmerman-what-we-left-behind-star-trek-deep-space-nine-1170189-1280x0The most thrilling aspect of What We Left Behind is the plotting for a potential season eight. Behr gathered the original writers, including Robert Hewitt Wolfe, for a storyboard session. The breakdown is accompanied by CGI animation and pre-vis sketches. Prepare to be blown off your couches. Set twenty years after Captain Sisko defeated the Dominion and vanished into the wormhole, the season eight storyline is jaw-dropping. It’s loaded with surprises that will melt the minds of every DS9 fan. Behr and the writers acknowledge this is pure fantasy, but does it have to be? CBS and Paramount allows fan made Star Trek, as long as it’s not for profit. I would shell out in a heartbeat to have a crowdfunded, CGI adaptation of DS9 season eight. Voiced by the original cast of course. Behr raised the money for What We Left Behind in a weekend. I’m pretty sure fandom can make that happen… What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine is a must see for fans, and anyone who appreciates great science fiction. DS9 is the perfect series for the binge-watching, streaming audiences of today. It’s remarkable that a show which ended two decades ago, and was misunderstood by the masses, has found a new generation of ardent supporters. I think Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is not only the best Star Trek series, but arguably, the best sci-fi series. Seasons five through seven were masterful, exhilarating and engrossing television. We need to see season eight. What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available now on DVD/Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory.

REVIEW: TREKKIES

CAST

Denise Crosby (The Walking Dead)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
DeForest Kelley (Night of The Lepus)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
Nichelle Nichols (Heroes)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
William Shatner (Boston Legal)
George Takei (Space Milkshake)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s batman)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser 3)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Chase Masterson (The Flash)
Kate Mulgrew (Ryan’s Hope)
Robert O’ Reilly (The Mask)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Gary Lockwood (2001)
Robert Beltran (Lois & Clark)
Roxann Dawson (Darkman 3)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Tim Russ (Smantha Who?)
John de Lancie (The Hand that Rocks The Cradle)

Babylon-5-Thirdspace-Loony-LytaWhen I first watched Trekkies, I expected mostly to laugh at the weird and wild extremes to which Star Trek fans will go. (I myself a Trek fan, so I was also prepared to do a bit of laughing at myself as well!) But  Trekkies also surprised me with its warm-hearted, caring look at Trek’s most ardent devotees. It managed to tell both a funny story about Trek fans and pay gleeful tribute to their obsession of choice.
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Humor-wise, Trekkies scores big. The Klingons eating Big Macs, the Borg from New Jersey, and the Voyager sex scripts received by the Trek producers were all riotously funny. The Trek cast members all had funny stories to tell as well, from DeForest Kelley’s ardent female fan to Kate Mulgrew’s marriage proposal. But there were also some genuinely touching moments in Trekkies as well. James  Doohan’s story about the suicidal fan brought tears to my eyes. I know people who are fortunate enough to have met Mr. Doohan, and from all accounts he is a truly kind, compassionate individual. That really shows through in all of his comments about the Trek fandom. LeVar Burton tells how Gene Roddenberry named his character, Geordi LaForge, after a terminally ill Star Trek fan who passed away; John de Lancie speaks of another paralyzed patient who finds solace in Star Trek.
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The spirit of the film shares the same love for Star Trek that motivates the fans. It pays tribute to the groundbreaking nature of the original Trek, and praises the spirit of progressiveness and harmony of the Star Trek universe as a whole.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE – SEASON 1-7

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MAIN CAST

Avery Brooks (Roots: The Gift)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser 3)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cirroc Lofton (Soul Food)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Nicole de Boer (Rated X)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Felecia M. Bell (Nightman)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master 3)
Max Grodenchick (Apollo 13)
J.G. Hertzler (Roswell)
April Grace (Lost)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
Bertila Damas (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Rosalind Chao (I Am Sam)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
John De Lancie (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Tom McCleister (Angel)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Chris Latta (Transformers)
Barry Gordon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Cliff De Young (Glory)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Harris Yullin (Rush Hour 2)
Louise Fletcher (Heroes)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Stephen Macht (Galaxina)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Daphne Ashbrook (The Love Letter)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
William Schallert (Innerspace)
K Callan (Lois & CLark)
Chris Sarandon (Child’s Play)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
William Campbell (Dementia 13)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Salome Jens (Superbot)
Martha Hackett (Leprechaun 2)
Ken Marshall (Krull)
Mary Kay Adams (Babylon 5)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Brett Cullen (Lost)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Tricia O’ Neil (Gia)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Free Enterprise)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Richard Lee Jackson (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Andrew Prine (V)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Chase Masterson (Terminal Invasion)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle)
Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog)
Diane Salinger (Batman Returns)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Robert O’ Reilly (The Mask)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Jeremy Roberts (Veronica Mars)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Robert DoQui (Robocop)
D. Elliot Woods (Agents of SHIELD)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Ron Canada (Just Like Heaven)
Jeffrey Nordling (Flight 93)
Gerrit Graham (Child’s Play 2)
Cliff De Young (THe Craft)
Jim Jansen (Death Becomes Her)
Tom Towles (Fortress)
Philip Anglim (The Elepehant Man)
Bruce Gray (Cube 2)
Ron Taylor (The Simpsons)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
Bill Mondy (Smallville)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Heidi Swedberg (Hot Shots)
Amanda Carlin (Friends)
Bernie Casey (Under Siege)
Molly Hagan (Izombie)
Michael Jace (The Fan)
Dennis Christopher (IT)
Joseph Ruskin (The Scorpian King)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jill Sayre (Hercules and The Amazon Women)
Jonathan Frakes (Sar Trek: TNG)
Tina Lifford (Babe)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Lark Voorhies (Save By The bell)
John Doman (Gotham)
Marshall R. Teague (Babylon 5)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Clarence Williams III (The Butler)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Charlie Brill (Silk Stalkings)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Lawrence Tierney (Resevoir Dogs)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Paul Popowich (Rupture)
Courtney Peldon (Out on a Lamb)
Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation)
Clayton Landey (Staragte: Atlantis)
Kevin Rahm (Bates MNotel)
Mike Starr (Ed Wood)
James Black (Anger Management
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Hilary Shepard (Power Rangers Turbo)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Charlie Brill (Silk Stalkings)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Marjean Holden (Hostage)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Christopher Shea (Bounty Killer)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Gabrielle Union (Ugly Betty)
Shannon Cochran (The Ring)
Iggy Pop (The Crow 2)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Leslie Hope (24)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
James Darren (T.J. Hooker)
Bill Mumy (Babylon 5)
Kevin Rahm (Bates Motel)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
William Sadler (Roswell)

DS9 is one of my all-time favourite television shows. It edges out Star Trek’s original series just barely as my favourite in the franchise. I am not going to state that it’s the best Star Trek series, because it definitely will not appeal to everybody, but it is my favourite.

DS9 deviates from the Trek franchise formula in an important way – it is based on one location – a Cardassian-built space station near the planet Bejor. So even the architecture of the main set is alien – not another sterile militaristic star ship inhabited by a primarily white European crew – but a true Babel. Bejor has just been liberated from 60 years of occupation by an expansionist militaristic race – the Cardassians. Both Bejorans and Cardassians will play important roles throughout DS9. Since the station does not move much during the show’s seven year run, DS9 has a much stronger sense of place than the other ST series, and is able to develop story arc and character continuity much more powerfully than the others.

All of the major characters and most of the frequent returning characters have their own interwoven story arcs – most of which span the entire series. Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks), the station’s commander, is a somewhat disgruntled Star Fleet officer who has several personal vendettas which have almost driven him from Star Fleet. He is also a single parent and a genius. In the very first episode, Sisko’s arc begins and it is clear that his story will be the frame within which the entire series is organized – though the reasons for this will no become entirely clear until near the end. Also memorable are the gruff, shape-shifting Chief Constable Odo(Rene Auberjunois) who does not know what he is and where he came from; Kira (Nana Visitor) Sisko’s aggressive and intense Bajoran second officer; Garak (Andy Robinson) a Cardassian Tailor and – possibly – spy, who is easily the most well-developed, well-acted and interesting recurring guest star Star Trek has ever had; Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) – the beautiful Trill science officer whose consciousness is enhanced by the memories and personality of a 600 year old symbiotic slug who lives in her stomach and has inhabited dozens of previous hosts; Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) the station’s young, brilliant, adventurous and naive doctor; and Quark (Armin Shimmerman), the greedy, conniving, but entirely lovable Ferengi casino owner.

The characters, cast, and serialized stories make DS9 stand apart from the franchise as the most powerfully plotted, intensely dramatic and politically charged Star Trek ever. The show is, however, not for those with limited attention spans and a disdain for complexity. While it isn’t exactly hard to follow, the dialog is often dense and DS9 – more than any other Trek show – uses non-verbal communication very well. Brooks, Visitor and Robinson – all of whom are masters at this – are particularly non-verbal and make a big impression from the first few episodes.

Throughout the series, there are constant underlying political intrigues and surprisingly little filler. Almost every story connects with the main story arc (Sisko’s and Bejor’s) in one way or another, and no time is wasted with aimless experimentation by the writing team (a problem Voyager and Enterprise both suffered from).

The production is consistently theatrical in scope. The special effects are still – even today – above average for television, and even the new BSG doesn’t approach the scope and coherence of the plot.Highly recommended for bright people looking for something more than typical TV drama normally delivers.

REVIEW: HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH

CAST

Doug Bradley (Wrong Turn 5)
Terry Farrell (Star Trek: DS9)
Ken Carpenter (Blood Games)
Paula Marshall  (Veronica Mars)
Kevin Bernhardt (Superboy)
Ashley Laurence (Warlock III)
Zach Galligan (Gremlins)

MV5BOWQyMWVmOGMtYTgyZi00OTFlLTg2NmItMzU4N2QwZDFmZmE3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODUyNjExNg@@._V1_The revelation of his own former humanity in Hellraiser II has resulted in the Cenobite, Pinhead (Doug Bradley), being split into two different entities: his former self, World War I British Army Captain Elliot Spencer, and a manifestation of Spencer’s id, which takes on the form of Pinhead. While Spencer ends up in limbo, Pinhead is trapped, along with the puzzle box, amongst the writhing figures and distorted faces etched into the surface of an intricately carved pillar — the Pillar of Souls.
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The pillar is bought by J.P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt), the rich owner of a popular nightclub called The Boiler Room. During her investigation, an ambitious young television reporter, Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell), slowly begins to learn about Pinhead and the mysterious puzzle box. Joey is introduced to the pain the box can bring when she witnesses a teenage clubgoer being ripped apart by the box’s chains in a hospital emergency room. Joey tracks the box and a young woman named Terri (Paula Marshall) to The Boiler Room nightclub. Terri had previously stolen the box from the nightclub.
MV5BOTE0MmQxYTAtNmQyZC00N2FjLWE4NjMtMTZhODE3NWQyZjI2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ1NjgzOTA@._V1_Video tape interviews are recovered from the Channard Institute of one of Pinhead’s former victims Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence). Joey and Terri learn through the videos about the demonic Cenobites and the power of the Lament Configuration puzzle box and that it is the only means of sending Pinhead back to Hell. Pinhead remains dormant until one night several hooked chains shoot out of the pillar and rip into one of the club goers, Sandy (Aimée Leigh), whom Monroe had just recently slept with. After killing Sandy, Pinhead consumes her flesh and her distorted face appears on the pillar. Pinhead convinces Monroe to bring him more club members so he can feed on them and be freed from the pillar.
MV5BYTgzNjVmNzQtN2NlYi00NWNiLWE3ZTQtMzg0ZmJiZjkwYmZiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ1NjgzOTA@._V1_Meanwhile, Joey is contacted by the spirit of Elliot Spencer, who tells her that this “Pinhead” is a separate entity than the one encountered by Kirsty previously. Without Spencer’s humanity to act as a balancing influence, this Pinhead is completely evil and has no sense of order. Rather than abide by the laws of the Cenobite realm, he will indiscriminately wreak havoc on Earth for his own pleasure unless he is stopped. In order to defeat him, Joey must reunite Spencer’s spirit with Pinhead, fusing them back into a single entity. Pinhead and Joey confront each other in The Boiler Room after Pinhead massacres the club’s patrons in various grotesque ways. Pinhead says that he exists to force humanity to recognize the darkness in their heart and his freedom is the only way to enable it. He orders Joey to give him the box but she breaks free and flees the club. Pinhead resurrects the corpses of his victims as Cenobites; Terri, transformed into a cigarette-smoking Cenobite that can dream, which she was unable to do as a human; Monroe, who has pistons jabbed through his skull; the Barman, who has barbed wire wrapped around his head and spits fire from his mouth; The DJ, who has CDs impaled into his skull, and throws CDs full speed at his victims; and ‘Doc’, who has a TV camera forcibly embedded in his eye socket. Joey flees through the quiet streets, pursued by the new Cenobites.Local police are killed by the Cenobites as Joey enters a church and begs the priest to help her. Lacking in faith that demons could exist, the priest is appalled by the appearance of Pinhead. The Cenobites trap Joey on a construction site and prepare to torture her – but the Lament Configuration activates and they are quickly sent to hell. Joey finds herself in a heaven like realm and comes face to face with an apparition who appears to be her dead father. The apparition tells Joey to give him the Lament Configuration, aka the puzzle box, and is revealed to be Pinhead in disguise. Pinhead ensnares her in machinery and prepares to transform her into a Cenobite, but is confronted by Spencer’s spirit, who forcibly fuses himself into Pinhead. Joey breaks free and uses the altered Lament Configuration to stab Pinhead through the heart, finally sending him back to Hell. With Pinhead’s humanity restored, Joey buries the Puzzle Box in a pool of concrete at the construction site.

The final scene shows the finished product of the same site – a building built where Joey buried the box, with the interior design identical to the Lament Configuration.It really is a shame that this movie is part of the series. If this would have been a new film ( with a new demon ) it would have been an enjoyable, well-made change. But as part of a great series it fails to deliver and you’re left behind with a disappointment.

REVIEW: THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES

CAST
Tom Hanks (The Road To Perdition)
Bruce Willis (Armageddon)
Melanie Griffith (Tempo)
Kim Cattrall (Star Trek 6)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Rita Wilson (Jingle All The Way)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash)
Donald Moffat (The Thing)
Marjorie Monaghan (Babylon 5)
Sam Sorbo (Hercules:TLJ)
Camryn Manheim (Scary Movie 3)
Richard Belzer (Law & Order: SVU)
F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)
Terry Farrell (Star Trek: DS9)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Total Recall)
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Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) is a Wall Street investor who makes millions while enjoying the good life and the sexual favors of Maria Ruskin (Melanie Griffith), a Southern belle gold digger. Sherman and Maria are driving back to Maria’s apartment from JFK Airport when they take a wrong turn on the expressway and the two find themselves in the “war-zone” of the South Bronx. They are approached by two suspicious black youths after Sherman gets out of the car to move a tire placed purposely in the middle of the road. Sherman jumps back into the car and Maria guns the engine in reverse, running over one of the teenagers and putting him in a coma. The two drive away and decide not to report the accident to the police.
Meanwhile, indigent alcoholic journalist Peter Fallow (Bruce Willis), anxious for a story to make good with his editor, comes upon the hit-and-run case as a rallying point for the black community calling upon Jewish district attorney Abe Weiss (F. Murray Abraham), who is the Bronx District Attorney seeking re-election. According to Judge Leonard White (Morgan Freeman), almost all of DA Weiss’ prosecutions end up with black and Puerto Rican defendants going to prison and Weiss is seeking a white defendant for purposes of convincing the minority-majority community that he is worth re-electing.
Weiss recognizes the press coverage inherent in prosecuting the callow Sherman, who has been discovered as the hit-and-run driver, in order to cultivate the image as an avenger for the minorities and be propelled to the mayorship of New York City. As Sherman is brought to his knees, New York City fragments into different factions who use the case to suit their own cynical purposes.
Finally, Sherman is left without any allies to support him except for the sympathetic Judge Leonard White and the remorseful Fallow. Fallow gains a tremendous advantage and insight into the case when he is dating a woman who is the sub-letting landlady of Maria’s apartment, and knows of secret recordings of conversations in the apartment made by the authorities to prove that the woman is not in fact living in the rent-controlled apartment herself. She discovers information about the McCoy case (where Maria states she was driving the car), which she gives to Fallow, who in turn covertly supplies it to Sherman McCoy’s defense lawyer. Sherman gets his hands on a tape and plays the recording in court, where it reveals Maria directly contradicting the evidence she has just given, showing she has been perjuring herself and causing her to faint. Sherman plays the tape in a tape recorder inside his briefcase connected to a small loudspeaker that he holds on the desk.
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When the judge orders that he approach the bench with this evidence, he asserts that the tape is all his (making it admissible evidence and it is technically truthful since it refers only to the dummy tape he was holding and ignores the real tape that is hidden which is not his), resulting in his acquittal. The people in the court go into an uproar, to which Judge White launches into a tirade that they have no right to act self-righteous and smarmy, or that they are above Sherman, considering Reverend Bacon (John Hancock) claims to help disadvantaged New Yorkers but actually engages in race baiting, or that the District Attorney Weiss pushed this case not in the interest of justice but in the interest of appealing to minority voters to further his political career by appealing to their desire to “get even”. After the Judge made his point, he begs the people to be decent and change their ways, letting Sherman go.
The film ends as it begins, where there is a large audience applauding Peter Fallow’s premiere of his book. Fallow says that Sherman McCoy has moved away from New York City to an unknown destination, presumably to live in obscurity.
I still can’t understand, after all these years, why this film was and still is so underrated. To me is one of De Palma’s masterpieces, where you can enjoy all his talents but still you breathe all the focused and cruel genius of Tom Wolfe and his best book. Not to mention that the adaptation of the book is brilliant and manges to keep the core and the best of it in a just 2 hours movie, even adding some moments that were not present in the books but sound absolutely brilliant, coherent and useful to carry on the story. Actors are funny and acting direction absolutely perfect, both in comical timing, and in the way actors approach their characters.