“It’s Continuing Mission…to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before”

Let me first thank all of my loyal followers; I am pleased to have hit the 100 mark. This is my 162nd post in just about three years and I’ve still got a ways to go! I hope you all are enjoying these and much as I am enjoying re-watching them!

Star Trek Beyond

The film released the same year as the fiftieth anniversary of the original series.  Idris Elba (Heimdall in the MCU) joined the cast as villain Krall.  Sadly, Leonard Nimoy passed away the year previous, but Spock Prime is mentioned in the film, and this was the last appearance of Anton Yelchin as Chekov; he passed away in an accident about a month before the film released.

The film begins with a goodwill mission gone awry, but still funny (and Chris Pine has a devil of a time saying the alien race’s name).  Alas, Captain Kirk is getting a bit jaded after 966 days in deep space; he’s starting to wonder what are they trying to accomplish.  But maybe some leave on the Federation station Yorktown will bring a reprieve.  Or as Bones classifies it, a snow globe in space waiting to break…ever the optimist.  Bones and Kirk toast to Kirk’s birthday, a little early considering the circumstances, sharing some of Chekov’s Scotch (acquired without his knowledge possibly).  Jim is now a year older than George ever became and he is seriously wondering what he believes in.  In Yorktown you seriously have to wonder which was is “up” and we discover that Spock and Uhura have broken up.  Sulu has a family and Chekov likes to flirt with alien females.  Spock also receives word that Ambassador Spock has passed away (in deference to Leonard Nimoy’s passing).

We, the audience discover that Kirk has applied for a Vice Admiral position, but the discussion is put on hold while the Enterprise embarks on a rescue mission through a nebula.  But the victim is a traitor.  There is a swarm of enemy ships waiting above the planet on the other side of the nebula.  They attack the Enterprise.  Kirk orders the crew to abandon ship after fighting off the invaders, led by Krall.  They are searching for the artifact he brought back from the last mission.  First, Kirk tries to separate the Bridge dish from the ship to give it a fighting chance, but the enemy is ruthless and cuts everything to pieces.  Then they take the escape pods.  The battle ends with survivors crashing to the surface and the dish of the Enterprise sliding into a field.  [Within the first half hour, they have utterly destroyed the Enterprise, again.  Why must every Star Trek film destroy the ship?]

Scotty finds an alien woman, Jaylah, who is willing to help him.  She wants to get off this planet as much as the Enterprise crew.  Spock and McCoy escaped together and Spock was injured.  The pair manages to get along, though they snip at each other all along the way, as they are wont to.  McCoy even gets Spock to reveal the reason behind his break-up with Nyota; Spock feels it is his duty to help repopulate New Vulcan and he wishes to step away from Starfleet.  [So both Spock and Kirk are planning on leaving, but haven’t told anyone…nice going.]  Uhura and Sulu are with the remains of the crew, held prisoner by Krall.  Chekov is with Kirk.  They make their way to the saucer supposedly to find what Kirk stashed, but it reveals their guest’s treachery.

Uhrua and Sulu discover why Krall wanted the artifact; with the technology left by the inhabitants of the planet, he can suck the life-force from his prisoners and extend his own.  With the artifact, he can do so on a grander scale.  And plans to attack Yorktown.  Scotty discovers that Jaylah has been living in the remains of the U.S.S. Franklin; a wreck over a hundred years old.  They eventually meet up with Kirk and Chekov (and there’s a wordless battle over the captain’s seat) and begin to plan their escape.  Scotty manages to find Spock and McCoy just as they are about to be attacked.  McCoy patches the Vulcan up a bit better and Spock reveals that he gifted Uhura with a rare gem from Vulcan, which emits low level of radiation, meaning they can lock on to that signature to try to beam out their crew.  Short version?  He low-jacked his girlfriend…which Bones helpfully points out.

Kirk gets to ride a motorcycle as a distraction against the guards, using Jaylah’s holographic technology and Jaylah gets to kick some butt.  Scotty beams the crew out of danger.  Then just comes the task of getting a spaceship that was never meant to take off from land and hasn’t run in a hundred years to fly back into space.  To start, just tip yourselves off a cliff and hope to reach terminal velocity before hitting the bottom.  The crew pulls it off and race after Krall, who has already left for Yorktown.  And worse news, Krall used to be Captain Balthazar Edison of the Franklin.  He feels that the Federation forgot about him and thus swears vengeance upon the Federation.

Once the Franklin passes through the nebula, they have to disorient the swarm ships.  They beam Spock and McCoy onto one enemy ship, cutting off Bones’ famous line “Damn it, I’m a doctor, not a -”  And in order to drown out the swarm’s communication, they blast rock music, which is classified in the twenty-third century as “classical.”  It is rather awesome to see the enemy ships just explode in a wave of sound and the Yorktown shields repel them in a similar fashion.  But a few of the enemy make it into Yorktown.  McCoy and Spock do what they can, but the Franklin has to burst out of the water to take them out.  But Krall now looks like Edison and blends in with the crowd.  He’s going to take the device to the central air circulator, hook it in, and watch everyone disintegrate in Yorktown.  It comes down to Kirk chasing after him and a midair fight between the two.  Kirk does attempt to talk sense into Edison, but the man is too far gone.  So Kirk attempts to vent the device into space and almost follows himself; better to die saving lives than live taking them, he declares to Edison.  That is the world Kirk was born into.  Edison is not so lucky.  Spock and Bones catch Kirk before he can go splat on the “ground” in Yorktown.  “What would I do without you, Spock?”

The recent events have proved to Kirk that he is not ready to settle down as a Vice Admiral.  His place is in the stars, with his crew.  We shed a few tears as Spock goes through Spock Prime’s final effects, and finds a picture of the original crew (from the fifth movie.  Only four of the original main cast of the Original Series are still alive.  James Doohan, the original Scotty, passed away in 2005.  DeForest Kelley, the original Bones, passed away in 1999.  That leaves William Shatner, the original Kirk, Nichelle Nichols, the original Uhura, Walter Koenig, the original Chekov, and George Takei, the original Sulu).

A fairly happy ending; Bones has arranged a celebration with the rest of the crew for Kirk’s birthday.  It appears as if Spock and Uhura are back together and the command crew all stand alongside each other, watching the new Enterprise being built for their continuing mission.  Both Spock and Kirk have decided to stay aboard.  All of the main cast share reading the ending titles.  In the middle of the crawl, the movie is dedicated in loving memory of Leonard Nimoy and for Anton.

Ready for new adventures

I appreciated the small moments they inputted in memory of Leonard Nimoy because he was a huge pop culture icon (and frankly, without him, there may not be any Star Trek.)  But this movie seemed to drag compare to the previous two.  Krall seems a stereotypical villain and while I’m okay with Kirk saving the day, can we give the poor guy a break?  And stop breaking his ship!  That part annoyed me the most.  I am ultimately glad that the crew is staying together because it would just be sad if they broke up.  To me, the best parts are when the command crew is all doing their job, surviving together through a crisis. And the theme is still amazing!

On the plus side, I have discovered some amazing fanfiction stories (and I want to investigate some more).  I highly recommend checking out

What Sulu Sees by IsmayDeVain

beamirang’s stories, particularly Genesis if you can find them

And I just discovered kcscribbler’s works on AO3; they are wonderful and leave me laughing for a full minute at times.

Next Time: A slight change in plans; I’m going to go ahead and start Star Wars, pending my schedule.  And yes, it may be a bit controversial, but to me it is the most logical, and I will progress in episode order, inputting Solo and Rogue One between Episode III and Episode IV.

“One day, I’ve been off this ship. One bloody day!”

Star Trek Into Darkness

The second of the new Star Trek movies, bringing back all of our favorite characters.  Joining them is Peter Weller (popped up recently as Elliott Mason in MacGyver) as Admiral Marcus, and yes, that is Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith from Doctor Who) that briefly appears at the beginning of the film.  And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Smaug and the Necromancer in the Hobbit trilogy, Dr. Stephen Strange in the MCU, amongst a dozen other roles) as John Harrison.

The film opens on an alien planet, Nibiru, where McCoy and Kirk are being chased by the natives.  This is a distraction so that Sulu and Uhura can drop Spock into a volcano and render it inert so it doesn’t destroy the planet and the entire civilization.  Events, of course, do not go entirely to plan.  Ash from the volcano forces Sulu and Uhura to head back to the Enterprise, leaving Spock in the volcano.  The Enterprise is actually sitting on the bottom of the ocean at the moment, but Kirk sees no other way of rescuing Spock aside from rising out and showing themselves to the primitive natives, and violating the Prime Directive (prohibits members of Starfleet from interfering with the natural development of alien civilizations).  So now, the Nibiruians worship the Enterprise.

In London, a couple visits their sick daughter until a man (Harrison) approaches the father, saying he can save her life.  Back at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, Pike meets with Kirk and Spock to address their recent mission.  Spock reported Kirk’s actions, which Kirk tried to hide his wrongdoing, considering he did it in order to save Spock.  Starfleet command has voted to take the Enterprise from Kirk; he will be sent back to the Academy.  Their argument, Pike points out, is that Kirk feels like the rules don’t apply to him.  He’s been lucky and he uses that argument to support his actions.  Pike finds Kirk again that evening and reveals he has managed to become the new captain of the Enterprise and has finagled Kirk to be his First Officer; Spock has been reassigned.  “It’ll be okay, son.”

They get a call late in the evening, after the archives have been blown up in London (by the father we saw earlier.  Harrison’s blood managed to save his daughter).  Kirk wonders why Harrison, revealed to be part of Starfleet, targeted essentially a library.  Then formulates that Harrison’s next target must be their very meeting.  As soon as he shouts “clear the room,” a small craft appears outside the windows and open fires.  Kirk manages to get alongside the craft and attempts to jam the engine.  He succeeds, but Harrison warps out before it crashes.  And Kirk sadly discovers that Christopher Pike was killed in the attack, his last moments watched by Spock (who even mind-melded with the man).  [Wonderful acting on Chris Pine’s part; you can read his character’s devastation on his face]  The next morning, Kirk approaches Admiral Marcus for permission to hunt Harrison down.  He’s hidden on the homeworld of the Klingons, Kronos.  Marcus gives Kirk permission to sit on the edge of the Neutral Zone and fire new photon torpedoes to take out Harrison.

On their way to the Enterprise, Spock argues with Kirk over the morality of simply executing Harrison without a trial.  They are also joined by Carol Wallace, a Science Officer assigned to transfer the new torpedoes.  The torpedoes that Scotty doesn’t want to allow on the Enterprise.  He and Kirk get in an argument, Scotty uncomfortable with the militaristic nature of their endeavor.  Scotty ends up resigning.  Kirk then instructs Chekov to take over as Chief of Engineering, “go put on a red shirt.”  (Chekov looks appropriately worried; red shirted crew members are notorious for dying on Star Trek)  With a look to Spock, Kirk announces to the crew that they will covertly set down on Kronos in order to capture Harrison and bring him back for trial.  Kirk leaves Sulu in charge…and oh boy, Bones is right, we should never piss off Sulu, that message was on point.

Before they head down to Kronos, Spock deduces that Carol Wallace is actually Carol Marcus, the Admiral’s daughter.  She snuck aboard the Enterprise to take a look at the torpedoes.  Kirk warns the away team that they cannot be tied back to Starfleet, then there’s a brief argument aboard the shuttle between Spock and Uhura over his willingness to die in the volcano; Spock reveals he chooses not to feel the fear of death again, which he experienced the day Vulcan was destroyed and when he melded with Pike.  There’s a brief chase and Kirk makes them fit between two structures, Spock isn’t sure it counted, but they’re soon cornered.  Uhrua asks that Kirk let her speak Klingon and tries to negotiate their way out.  Until Harrison open fires, admittedly saving Uhura’s life, but everyone else begins firing.  Harrison surrenders to Kirk when he demands how many torpedoes were aimed at him.  Kirk accepts his surrender on behalf of Pike, then proceeds to beat Harrison until Uhura stops him.

Kirk’s questioning of Harrison doesn’t go quite according to plan; it raises more questions than answers.  He calls Scotty and asks the man to investigate the coordinates Harrison gave them.  And Carol and McCoy head to a deserted planetoid to open up the torpedoes.  “When I dreamt about being stuck on a deserted planet with a gorgeous woman, there was no torpedo!”  It’s all fun and games until McCoy gets his arm stuck in the torpedo as it’s about to detonate.  Luckily, Carol disarms it by pulling out the wiring.  And it’s not fuel inside the torpedoes; there are people locked in cyrotubes inside.  They were Harrison’s crew and he hid them there after Marcus woke him up for his military mind.  Admiral Marcus is preparing for a war and discovered a ship full of people genetically engineered to be superior in every way.  And Harrison’s real name?  Khan [which even a fairly Star Trek-illiterate person knew meant bad things].  Khan points out to Spock “you can’t even break a rule, how can you be expected to break bone?”  Marcus needed Khan’s savagery.  [Benedict’s performance is also excellent; precise and calm, which makes it all the more menacing]

A huge ship arrives, helmed by Admiral Marcus and he’s not pleased that Kirk didn’t do exactly as he was told, nor that he’s spoken to Khan.  Marcus demands that Kirk hand Khan over, but Kirk has Chekov take them to warp drive.  Marcus aboard the Vengeance is able to catch them and knock them out.  And now he’s deemed them criminals and intends to fire on them.  He beams his daughter out when she tries to protect her new friends and Kirk pleads for the lives of his crew.  They were only following his orders.  But Marcus will kill them all…until their system is rebooted.  Guess what Scotty found?

Now Kirk has a new idea; he’ll use Khan to board the Vengeance and get Marcus to stand down.  Kirk orders Spock to take command; the ship needs someone who knows what they’re doing in charge and Kirk is running on a gut feeling.  [Interesting note, at this point, there is still an hour left in the movie, meaning a lot more is going to happen, including the bulk of conflict and action]  While Kirk and Khan engage in a space jump, Spock calls his older counterpart.  He vowed to never reveal the future to his younger counterpart; they must follow their own path.  Nevertheless, Khan was the most dangerous adversary they ever faced and they only defeated him at great cost (reference to the second original movie I believe, I’ve only watched it once)  Luckily, we have Scotty to throw in some humor during the tense situations and all three men fight their way to the bridge.  Scotty stuns Khan and Kirk tries to get Marcus to step down.  The Admiral will have none of it.  “War is coming, and who is going to lead us?  You?  If I’m not in charge, our entire way of life is decimated.”  While everyone is distracted, Khan strikes.  He knocks out Scotty and breaks Carol’s leg.  He knocks Kirk out of the way with a few extra punches then crushes Marcus’s head.  “You should have let me sleep,” he hisses to the Admiral.  Khan calls the Enterprise and is not concerned that Spock has discovered that Khan truly is a war criminal, banished for mass genocide on anyone deemed less superior.  Khan makes it easy for Spock, give him the torpedoes of his crew and he’ll return Kirk.  Vulcans do not lie, the torpedoes are aboard the Vengeance.  Khan beams Kirk, Scotty, and Carol back to the Enterprise.  “After all, no ship should go down without her captain.”

Chaos erupts.  Khan fires on the Enterprise, then the torpedoes detonate aboard the Vengeance.  Spock was not so cruel as to kill Khan’s crew; all seventy-two cryotubes are safe with Bones.  But the Enterprise has sustained too much damage; the ship loses power and begins to fall.  Scotty and Kirk race to Engineering, with some help from Chekov when gravity flips around.  Spock orders everyone to abandon ship; he will stay behind and do what he can.  The bridge crew refuses to leave.  In Engineering, they discover the warp core is not aligned, meaning there’s no way to reboot power.  Kirk knows of a way.  He knocks Scotty out and opens the door to the core, which is filled with radiation.  He climbs in and kicks the components back into alignment.  The Enterprise is saved and rises out of the clouds (still awesome).  Spock knows there is no such thing as a miracle and runs to Engineering when Scotty calls him.

Accompanied by the amazing soundtrack theme

A door separates Kirk and Spock, keeping the radiation from everyone else.  Spock tells Kirk that he saved the ship, the crew is safe because of him.  Kirk comments that the stunt with Khan was something he would have done; and entering the core room was something that Spock would have done (the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…and what happened in the second movie).  Kirk admits he’s scared and asks Spock how to not feel.  But Spock cannot control his emotions at this time.  And he recognizes that Kirk rescued him from the volcano because he is Kirk’s friend.  Kirk puts his hand to the glass and Spock mirrors him; their fingers move to the Vulcan greeting, then Kirk’s hand falls.  Spock is silent for a moment, then yells “Khan!” in rage.

They’re not out of danger yet; the Vengeance falls past them and crashes into San Francisco Bay.  Khan jumps into the ruins and Spock beams down to pursue him.  Bones is devastated when Kirk is brought to him in a body bag.  Then the tribble on his desk trills; the one that was dead that he injected Khan’s blood into.  He orders Jim put in a cryotube, but he needs more of Khan’s blood.  Uhura goes down to stop Spock from killing Khan, protecting her boyfriend from being crushed to death like Marcus.  Spock manages to knock Khan down and proceeds to beat him…what was Khan saying about Spock not breaking bones?  Uhura has to explain that the madman is the only way to save Kirk.  A final uppercut knocks the psychopath out.

Over a black screen we hear bits of the first movie; George and Wionna naming Jim, Pike daring Jim to do better, and then Jim is awake.  McCoy was able to transfuse Khan’s blood, but it’s taken its toll.  Spock is there and Kirk thanks him for saving his life.  A brief final scene takes place after we see that Khan and his crew have been put back to sleep.  A memorial service for all the damage done the previous year and Kirk speaks to the crowd that there will always been those who mean to do us harm and we risk waking the same evil in ourselves trying to defeat them.  But vengeance is not who we are.  It is Chris Pine’s voice that gives us “Space, the final frontier.”  The Enterprise is rechristened and will begin a five-year mission.  We see the bridge crew preparing to depart, joined by Carol Marcus.  Kirk is excited and ready for a long journey.

Of the three new movies that are currently out, this is my favorite (there are rumors of a fourth installment coming in 2023).  It takes a bit for the story to truly get going, but the action all falls together at the end.  Excellent performances by the whole cast.  Benedict Cumberbatch plays Harrison fairly affable so you want to believe this strange man will help, while hiding his true identity…for those who didn’t guess early on; so it helps not being completely to speed on prior Star Trek lore.  And this Khan is less creepy than the original for some people, which helps as well.  I thought Kirk’s death was a strong, poignant moment and thought for a moment the first time through that they had actually killed off the main character.  (And there is lots of fanfiction to delve into this moment and the developing friendship between Bones, Spock, and Kirk.)

Up Next: Star Trek Beyond

“I have been and always will be, your friend.”

Star Trek

I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge Star Trek fan; I got more into Star Wars in my teens, but I fondly remember watching Next Generation while growing up.  So my captain was Jean-Luc Picard.  My parents watched the original series and there are pictures of me as a young girl in displays at the National Air and Space Museum when there was an exhibit; so I was at least aware of the original series.  But when a new movie was announced, I first dismissed it because I didn’t watch the original, why would I watch the new one?  My parents saw it and enjoyed it, so I eventually decided to go one evening when I was home from college.  And thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was filled with action, filled with characters in my generation.  I cannot speak for how it was received or how it measures up to longtime fans, but the new movies did create a new fan.  Can I quote minutia about the series or the craft or the larger universe?  No.  But I can do that with other shows, so I think it balances out, lol.

The rebooted movie series premiered in 2009 (and that is how it tends to be listed within fanfiction communities, or sometimes NuTrek), directed by JJ Abrams (who has gone on to do Star Wars Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker).  It stars Chris Pine (a bit dashing as Nicholas Devereaux in Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, then voiced Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians, Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods, and became the ‘Chris’ for DC in Wonder Woman playing Steve Trevor.  He played a younger Jack Ryan in Shadow Recruit and stars as Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick in Outlaw King…which I really need to watch) as James Tiberius Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana (Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, Neytiri in Avatar, and before all of that success, she was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl [Jack Sparrow had stolen her boat]) as Nyota Uhura, Karl Urban (yes, I know he joined the MCU as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok and is one of The Boys [which recently gained Jensen Ackles, but no, I don’t believe I will be watching the show], but for me, he will always be Eomer in Lord of the Rings) as Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and Simon Pegg as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.  Leonard Nimoy appears as Spock Prime, and that was wonderful.  Eric Bana (Bruce Banner in the 2003 Hulk movie [which is not part of the MCU], Hector in Troy, Henry Tudor in The Other Boleyn Girl)is Nero and Bruce Greenwood (the President in National Treasure: Book of Secrets) is Christopher Pike.  Rounding out the bridge crew is John Cho as Hikaru Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Pavel Andreovich Chekov.  Chris Hemsworth (before he was Thor) briefly appears in the beginning as George Kirk and Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan in Once Upon a Time) is Winona Kirk.  [My father has made the humorous connection that in Thor  you join Kirk’s father and Anakin Skywalker’s  mother].  And Winona Ryder (I know her best from 1994’s Little Women) plays Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson.

The film begins with the USS Kelvin facing a lightning storm in space.  A huge ship emerges and begins firing on the Kelvin.  The captain (played by Fahran Tahir, who has appeared in numerous television shows from JAG to Supernatural [Osiris] to Once Upon a Time [Nemo] and a bad guy in Iron Man) orders an evacuation and puts George Kirk in charge when he goes to meet the enemy.  George’s wife is in labor and anxiously awaiting her husband to join her, but autopilot has been knocked out, so George must pilot the starship manually in order to buy everyone else time to escape.  Winona delivers a son in the shuttle and they decide to name him after both their fathers: Jim Tiberius.  They’re a family barely a minute before the Kelvin is destroyed.  We fast forward a couple years and a young Jim Kirk is racing his stepfather’s antique car in Iowa, then crashes it into a ravine, barely escaping himself.  Meanwhile, on Vulcan, a young Spock is teased by agemates for being half human.  He cares not for his sake, but when one boy calls his mother a whore, Spock initiates a fight.  His father encourages Spock to embrace the Vulcan way of life and control his emotions, lest they control him.  And when asked why he married Spock’s mother, his response is “it was logical.”  Another time skip and Spock is being accepted into the Vulcan Scalene Academy.  A fine honor indeed, until one points out Spock’s disadvantage of having a human mother.  While Spock tells the leaders “live long and prosper,” you can tell he means something else and he elects to join Starfleet.

Back in Iowa, Jim starts flirting with Uhura at a bar and honestly, everything was going fine until other cadets got involved and started a fight.  Captain Pike enters the bar and a sharp whistle gets everyone’s attention.  He speaks to Kirk afterwards, commenting that the young man’s aptitude tests are off the charts and calls him a genius repeat-offender.  He encourages Jim to join Starfleet, then dares him to do better than his father; he was captain for twelve minutes and saved eight hundred lives.  Jim shows up for the shuttle the next morning (and riding the motorbike like he did reminded me of Top Gun [which apparently was an influence in Pine’s performance, along with Harrison as Indiana Jones and Han Solo]).  A man sits next to him, a doctor who is scared of space and flying, but only has his bones left.  “I may throw up on you.”

Three years later, which Kirk bragged he would complete his coursework compared to four, and Kirk takes the infamous Kobyashi Maru test…and wins.  By cheating.  Spock brings him up on charges, but they’re interrupted by a distress call from Vulcan.  Cadets are assigned to ships, but not Kirk, pending his hearing.  Bones sneaks him aboard the Enterprise under the pretense of a medical emergency.  Captain Pike comments that the maiden voyage of Starfleet’s newest flagship deserves more pomp and circumstance, but they will follow through on their mission.  Sulu is piloting (after a little bump) and Chekov makes his first shipboard announcement.  Jim hears about the “lightning storm in space,” and instantly knows they’re flying into a trap.  Despite some hilarious side effects, he manages to grab Uhura who intercepted a Klingon transmission earlier and reports to the bridge.  Spock first tries to get him off, but once Kirk calmly explains his logic, Spock backs the notion that all may not be as it seems.  Uhura takes over at communication and the Enterprise braces for battle when they drop out of warp, to find the rest of the fleet decimated.  Nero hails them and once again requests the captain to board his vessel.  Pike has Spock, Kirk, and Sulu follow him; Spock will have command while Pike is gone and Sulu and Kirk are to try to knock out the drill that is aimed at Vulcan.  And he makes Kirk second in command.

Sulu does get to break out his sword while battling Romulans on the platform and they succeed in knocking out the drill.  But the Narada shoots a pinprick of red matter into the core of Vulcan, which will eat the planet and create a black hole.  Chekov luckily is able to beam Sulu and Kirk aboard as they’re falling and Spock beams down to save the elders and his parents.  But Amanda falls to her death at the last second.  Spock orders the ship to rendez-vous with the rest of the fleet in another system, and we see Uhura privately comfort him, but Kirk urges they return to fight.  Spock works out that Nero is from the future and by coming back, has altered events, creating an alternate reality; their destines have changed.  “When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  (Funny note: this was originally a quote from Sherlock Holmes, which Spock in the original series claimed was a distant ancestor.  Then, in the newer Sherlock series, Sherlock makes this remark and John calls him Spock.  It’s all just a big ball of wibbly wobblly, timey wimey stuff)

Onboard the Narada, Nero demands that Captain Pike tell him about Earth’s defenses so he may destroy it and continue with his retribution against Spock.  And…he uses creepy bugs.  Then Spock kicks Kirk off the Enterprise, stranding him on an ice planet.  Lo and behold, Kirk is saved by Spock…not the young one, the original Spock.  Who relates to Kirk, through a mind meld, how 129 years in the future, Spock tries to save Romulus from an exploding supernova, armed with red matter.  But he was too late.  And Nero, a “particularly troubled Romulan,” vows vengeance.  They both get sucked through the black hole, but Nero arrives first, destroying the Kelvin.  What was seconds for Spock was actually twenty-five years before he emerged.  Nero captured him and stranded him so he could witness the destruction of his home, Vulcan.  They find Scotty and Spock Prime gives him Scotty’s own equation on trans-warp beaming so the two young men can board the Enterprise.  Spock advises Kirk to gain captaincy of the ship; Spock has just lost his home and is of course, emotionally comprised.  Then Kirk can take on Nero.  But Spock Prime will not accompany them; he implies a catastrophe may occur  if both Spocks would meet.  Kirk points out before they leave that coming back to the past to change events is cheating.  Well, Spock learned from an old friend.

The bridge crew is obviously surprised to discover Kirk and Scotty aboard the Enterprise and Kirk has a rather uncomfortable confrontation with Spock, resulting in a fight.  Spock’s father has to call him off and Kirk does gain command.  Spock and his father share a quiet moment, and his father finally reveals that he married Amanda because he loved her.  So Spock rejoins the bridge as Chekov reveals his idea to hide behind Saturn’s moon so Kirk can beam aboard the Narada.  Spock volunteers first and Kirk insists on joining him.  “I could cite regulation, but I know you will just ignore it.”  Spock is learning.

Nero is starting the drill at Starfleet Academy while Spock and Kirk sneak aboard.  Well, they end up fighting Romulans pretty quick, but Spock makes it to the futuristic shuttle and escapes so he can blow up the drill.  Kirk goes after Captain Pike.  And Nero just shouts after Spock, “I want Spock dead now!”  Spock returns on a collision course, which of course would ignite the red matter, creating another black hole.  But Nero is past reason now and shouts to “fire everything!”  The Enterprise to the rescue (and it is so darn cool to hear the theme play and the ship rises up) and Scotty proudly manages to beam three people from two ships onto one pad.  Kirk tries to take the high ground and offer Nero and his crew compassion, which in this case Spock argues against, but Nero refuses.  Kirk has all weapons fire and destroys the Narada.  But the Enterprise is caught in the gravitational well of the black hole and while Scotty is giving it everything she’s got, they’re falling.  He suggests as a last ditch effort to eject the cores and they ride the blast wave out.

On Earth, the two Spocks do indeed meet; Spock Prime may have lied a little to Kirk.  The elder encourages his younger counterpart to remain with Starfleet and forge a friendship with Kirk it will define them both.  Put aside logic, do what’s right.  Kirk is given commendation and captaincy of the Enterprise, relieving Pike who is now an Admiral (and confined to a wheelchair as a result of those creepy bugs).  He enters the bridge of the repaired starship, finally wearing a gold command shirt.  Spock the enters and offers to be Kirk’s first officer.  The gang is back and ready for new adventures.

Leonard Nimoy gives us the final voiceover: “Space, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.  Her ongoing mission, to explore strange new worlds.  To seek out new life forms and new civilizations.  To boldly go where no one has gone before.”  [The original tagline was a five-year mission, and was ‘where no man has gone before.’  I appreciate that they kept the  slight revision for this film.]  And the exit music is the original theme.

I felt this film was a good balance of action and drama, with the right amount of comedy thrown in.  The soundtrack is cool.  Poor Kirk gets beat up a lot throughout the story.  And ultimately, they got the characters to all be where they’re supposed to be.  It’s more fun to see Spock and Kirk at odds with each other and it will make their ensuing friendship deeper and the crew respects Kirk for his actions; keeping everyone safe and pulling them through a fire.  Scotty is hilarious, I certainly believe that Uhura could kick butt.  Bones is long-suffering but caring and Chekov is quite frankly adorable. 

Everything fit with the basics that everyone knows about the show simply from pop culture, without having to know every episode or movie and for someone who doesn’t know that, it made it an easy film to watch.  It was also written so it can all go together; they’re all canon because this is recognized as an alternate reality.  These familiar characters can have new adventures without taking anything away from the original.  (Of course, fanfiction comes up with their own ideas, which I’ll post my favorites with the last movie).  This was a solid update; technology was advanced enough to put it in our future without being cheesy or completely improbable.  Great cast, they made the roles their own and I certainly recommend this film.

Up Next: Star Trek Into Darkness

Jumpin’ off the deck, shovin’ into overdrive

Top Gun

The classic 1980’s film starring Tom Cruise as Maverick, Val Kilmer as Iceman, and an appearance by Meg Ryan as Carole.  I have an interesting history with this film; my father loves planes and loves this movie, but I refused to watch it as a kid.  Then, my friend played in while I was on vacation with them in middle school, so I finally watched it and enjoyed it.  But, I like it for the planes.  I don’t care about Tom Cruise.  Though, who can forget the line: I feel the need, the need for speed!  The film does have the very cool song Danger Zone performed by Kenny Loggins (so I use this film as a connection in “Six-Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” since Kenny Loggins did the iconic Footloose song in that film as well).

The premise is the top one percent of Naval aviators attend the Fighter Weapons School, known as Top Gun, to learn dog fighting.  One of the instructors, Viper, later states in the movie that the ratio pilots shooting down enemy planes in the Korean War was 12 to 1, then dropped to 3 to 1 in Vietnam because they relied too much on missiles; they had forgotten how to dogfight.  The film opens with activity on the flight deck on an aircraft carrier.  Maverick and his rear-seat partner, Goose are flying with Cougar and Merlin and encounter enemy Soviet MiG (they used the A-4 Skyhawk and F-5E Tiger as stand-ins for the MiGs, though they did use actual F-14 Tomcats, which are now retired).  Cougar gets shaken up after a MiG gets a missile lock on him, but Maverick scares them off.  Maverick doesn’t land and instead goes back up to help talk Cougar down.  While it was very brave, it was against orders.  But Cougar has given up flying, so their commanding officer sends Maverick and Goose to Top Gun.

Maverick is known for his wild flying, but he’s good enough at what he does that he doesn’t get thrown out of the Navy.  He and Goose attempt to hit on a woman at a bar by singing You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, in which all the guys join in; then discovers that she is one of his civilian instructors at Top Gun.  Though a civilian, her call-sign is Charlie; she has a PhD in Astrophysics and the Pentagon listens to her.  And she, of course, starts to fall for Maverick when he demonstrates that he flies as well as he says he does.  Their theme throughout the film is Take My Breath Away.

Maverick butts heads with Iceman because Maverick’s flying is reckless and he has the habit of leaving his wingman.  They’re both vying for the top spot at Top Gun.  That volleyball scene is just an excuse to have the young men shirtless.  Maverick is also trying to prove himself after his father mysteriously dies during an encounter while flying.  Viper later explains to Maverick that his father was indeed a good pilot and saved several lives during his last mission, but it occurred on the wrong side of a map line for the politicians.  Maverick does get reprimanded several times for ignoring rules that are set.

We see a wonderful, happy family shot between Goose, his wife and son, Maverick, and Charlie, singing Great Balls of Fire before Maverick and Goose fly a “mission” with Iceman and Slider.  Iceman is slow to take a shot and when Maverick moves in, his plan gets caught in the jetwash, causing it to flat spin (an actual fault in the F-14, and very dangerous).  Goose has to eject them and he hits the canopy, dying (that has actually happened).  Maverick is lost without Goose, even though it wasn’t technically his fault, he feels like it is.  Goose was his responsibility.  His friends try to help him out, but when Viper sends him back up for another “mission,” he freezes and can’t take the shot.  He tries to quit Top Gun, but his conversation with Viper encourages him to stay and at least graduate.  Then he, Iceman, Slider, Hollywood, and Wolfman are sent on an assignment.

Hollywood, Wolfman, Iceman, and Slider are the first two planes up and encounter MiGs; more than they thought.  MiGs like to fly close together to hide their numbers on radar.  Hollywood and Wolfman are shot down and eject.  Maverick is teamed up with Merlin, Cougar’s old partner, and they have to go up and help Iceman and Slider.  Maverick and Merlin end up in a jetwash again, but manage to recover.  But it still shakes Maverick, like Cougar earlier in the film.  Merlin and Iceman are begging for help, but Maverick takes a moment to think of Goose.  Then engages the enemy planes and gets them off of Iceman.  He’s learned not to leave his wingman.  He then does his famous flyby, accompanied by Iceman.  The crew all cheer the two planes and the once-adversaries are now at least friendly and joke they’ll be each other’s wingman.

Maverick is given his choice of duties and decides to go back to Top Gun as an instructor.  Charlie meets him there, playing You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling on the jukebox before she shows herself.

Yes, this is a simplistic write-up of the film; with the flying action and jargon (which is apparently mostly made-up), it is a film that is better experienced simply by watching.  It increased Navy recruiting and was backed by the Navy.  There were obviously artistic licenses taken and several of the flight maneuvers were done “because they’re cool.”  Sadly, an experienced stunt pilot was killed while filming this movie and the movie was dedicated to him.  There is a sequel subtitled Maverick that is due out…sometime.  It was due out this summer, but many movies have been postponed.  Tom Cruise is back, as is Val Kilmer.  I fully intend to see it with my father, for the planes.

pair f-14 picHowever, this film also inspired the hit series JAG that I loved.  It starred David James Elliott as Harmon Rabb Jr (he was also a Tomcat pilot), Patrick Labyorteaux as Bud Roberts Jr, Catherine Bell (check her out in Hallmark’s Good Witch series) as Sarah MacKenzie, John M. Jackson as A.J. Chegwidden, and Karrie Turner as Harriet Sims.  That shot from early in Top Gun where the two planes come to formation is used in the opening credits of JAGJAG also introduced NCIS midway thru its run, and NCIS has gone on to run for seventeen seasons so far and it in turn spun-off NCIS: Los Angeles (love Sam and Callen in that one), and NCIS: New Orleans.  I primarily know the middle seasons of JAG, the first ten or so seasons of NCIS (Gibbs’ dynamic as the team’s father is amazing and I was sad to see various characters leave), and the first couple seasons of NCIS: Los Angeles (Callen is definitely my favorite character).  And that is how I play “Six-Degrees of Kevin Bacon;” Footloose leads to Top Gun which leads to JAG which leads to NCIS and thus various actors from there.

 

 

Up Next: I start the Bond movies, but I will be dealing with the last eight or so.  It may be sacrilege, but I haven’t watched any of the original Sean Connery films all the way thru; I’ve seen bits.  But I am familiar with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

Are They Fighting or Are They Dancing?

The Mask of Zorro

Another of the swashbuckling movies produced in the nineties, like Three Musketeers and Prince of Thieves and like those two, it’s very well done.  Stars Anthony Hopkins (a classic Welsh actor who is Odin in MCU Thor, famous as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs [and I refuse to watch that movie, I do not need the nightmares], was Van Helsing in 1992’s Bram’s Dracula, was in A Bridge Too Far with the other great actors of that time) as Don Diego de la Vega, Stuart Wilson (an older Robin Hood in Disney’s Princess of Thieves) as Don Rafael Montero, Tony Amendola (Marco/Geppetto in ABC’s Once Upon a Time series amongst other TV series) as Don Luiz, Antonio Banderas (this is probably his most famous role) as Alejandro Murrieta and Catherine Zeta-Jones (who is actually Welsh, and married to Michael Douglas since 2000; this was her breakthrough role, and she went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2002’s Chicago) as Elena.  This is not the first appearance of the character Zorro; he dates to 1919 and was originally supposed to be a one-time character, then the popularity of the 1920 movie had the author create dozens of further stories.  However, this is probably one of the more well-known iterations.

The story begins in 1821 as Spain is leaving Mexico due to a rebellion led by General Santa Anna.  The last governor, Don Rafael Montero is ordered to leave, but has one last piece of business to take care of.  He gives his friend Don Luiz orders to distribute the Spanish land amongst themselves and pay taxes to Santa Anna, thereby maintaining their wealth.  Montero is planning to execute three innocent men amidst a protest.  Two boys are waiting for the legendary Zorro to appear and he does not disappoint.  The boys even save Zorro from a trap and in return, he gifts them with a medallion.  The crowd cheers for their hero and protects him from the guards.  He confronts Montero and marks his neck with a “Z”, three slashes for three men.  Montero would murder a hundred innocent men in order to kill Zorro.  But Zorro rides away.

There is a lair beneath his estate (the original Bat cave; in fact, Zorro is considered an influence to Batman); Zorro remarks to his faithful black steed that they are both getting too old for their activities.  Zorro without the mask is Diego de la Vega and he visits his infant daughter in her nursery and tells her stories about his escapades.  His wife, Esperenza joins the pair.  They are interrupted by Montero and his guards.  Montero has an inkling at this point that de la Vega is Zorro and pressing on his arm reveals a bloody scratch de la Vega received during the fight that day.  He attempts to arrest de la Vega as a traitor to both his country and his class, and oddly apologizes to Esperenza.  Turns out, Montero loves Esperenza and is upset that she married de la Vega; but now, he probably is thinking with de la Vega out of the way, he can claim Esperenza.  But Esperenza tries to protect her husband during his duel with Montero and a guard accidentally shoots her.  Montero dispatches the guard, and de la Vega goes for his crying daughter; a fire has started during the scuffle.  Montero knocks de la Vega out, puts him in chains, and claims his daughter.  Montero leaves with young Elena for Spain and de la Vega is taken away to prison to rot; Montero’s parting words to de la Vega: you must “live with the knowledge you have lost everything you hold dear,” and “your child should have been mine.”  (This of course, takes away the notion of Esperenza’s own choice; she seems very happy with de la Vega and aware of his secret, most likely meaning it was a love match, so no, Elena should have never been Montero’s child.)  de la Vega swears to Montero, “you will never be rid of me!”

Twenty years later: the Murrieta brothers have been caught…well, actually, they were in on their capture so they could steal the guard’s money and redistribute it to the poor (a la Robin Hood).  But there is a new Captain in town, Captain Love from Texas; he ends up shooting Joaquin and capturing Jack.  Alejandro escapes, but watches his brother shoot himself instead of being captured.  Alejandro collects his brother’s medallion, then tries to barter it away for a drink.  In the meantime, Montero has returned to California.  His first stop is the prison, in order to be sure that Zorro is dead.  Several prisoners claim they are Zorro (like the famous “I’m Spartacus” scene), but Montero doesn’t believe any of them.  He walks right by an old man with an eye patch, pauses for a moment, but dismisses him.  He deduces Zorro is dead.

Wrong.  That old man is de la Vega and he manages to free himself and get smuggled out of the prison by impersonating a dead body; meaning he then digs himself out of the grave.  He will exact his revenge on Montero.  He attends Montero’s official arrival the following day, where Montero plays to the crowd, insulting the other Dons so he can claim he works for the people.  Obviously, de la Vega knows better and starts to make his way to the former governor, until Montero’s “daughter” arrives, Elena.  This halts de la Vega.  He must rethink his plan.  On his way to his hideout, he comes across Alejandro and his old medallion as Alejandro prepares to barter it away.  He easily bests Alejandro in a fight, but offers to train the young man.

mask of zorroAlejandro is eager to start fighting, though his answer of “the pointy end goes in the other man, [sounding like Jon Snow or Arya Stark]” shows de la Vega that he must start with the basics.  The master has a new apprentice.  de la Vega has Alejandro bathe and trim his hair.  After disarming the old fox once, Alejandro figures he is skilled enough to capture a black Andalusian, like Zorro’s Tornado.  Alejandro, in a mask, encounters Elena and she is quite taken by the dangerous man.  When his plan goes a bit awry, Alejandro hides in the church and ends up hearing Elena’s confession, that she is starting to have thoughts about the masked man and her heart is too wild for her father’s liking.  Alejandro manages to escape before Captain Love appears, but he leaves the “Z” mark to let them know Zorro has returned.

de la Vega, expertly using a whip to extinguish candles (Hopkins could do that trick and was added into the movie), is not pleased with Alejandro; Zorro serves the people, not himself.  Alejandro is tired of the lectures and demands de la Vega duel him.  The older man holds up a spoon.  Alejandro must have the polish of a proper gentleman, and needs to spy on Montero.  The two men attend a gala held at the estate, de la Vega masquerading as Alejandro’ s servant, who goes by the title Don de Castilio.  Alejandro is properly presented to Elena, but his gentleman charm does not impress her, though he is impressing Montero.  However, when Alejandro has to stall Montero, he dances quite passionately with Elena (it is a wonderful and lively dance).  Alejandro gains an invitation with the rest of the Dons and Montero reveals his plan; he means for the Dons to claim California.  They will buy it from Santa Anna with gold from a mine on his own land that he is unaware of.  Santa Anna will take the gold because a war with the United States is expensive.  Montero shows off the mine the next day and Alejandro discovers that poor Mexicans who have gone missing have been taken to the mine.

Elena has a conversation with de la Vega the next day in the stables, only knowing him as Alejandro’s servant.  But de la Vega remarks that she looks like her mother.  Elena has been told that her mother was very proper.  And de la Vega’s voice is familiar.  Then, in the market, her former nursemaid makes a gift to her, recognizing her as the daughter of Esperenza de la Vega.  Elena tries to tell the woman she is mistaken and that she was born in Spain.  But she’s already encountered native Californian flowers she remembers the scent.  Montero’s tale is starting to unravel.

de la Vega gifts Alejandro with a proper Zorro mask and instructs him to sneak into Montero’s office; they need the location of the mine.  de la Vega sets a flaming “Z” on the hillside as a distraction, but Alejandro still encounters Captain Love and Montero and even duels them both.  he escapes through the stables and faces off with Elena, who is skilled in sword fighting as well (I love that she’s an action woman).  He does delicately cut her clothes off her as a way to stop her (her hair covers her top).  Alejandro still has hilarious issues with his new horse, but does demonstrate that he is a good rider.  de la Vega returns that evening to confront Montero and demands that Elena be brought out.  Montero’s tale fully unravels; the name “de la Vega” is a clue from the woman in the marketplace and the truth comes out.  She persuades de la Vega to put down his sword to save himself from being shot.  At this point, Elena must be wondering what did Montero do that he was able to take her from de la Vega and what truly happened to her mother.  Then she later frees him from the cellar he’s been thrown into and they race off to help Zorro.

zorro dance

Zorro sneaks into the mine and discovers the people are locked in.  Captain Love’s suggestion is to blow up the mine once all the gold is out and kill the people as well so there are no witnesses.  But when Zorro shows up, Love cuts the fuse so he has time to deal with the nuisance.  de la Vega confronts Montero again as Elena watches.  Montero seems willing to kill her to stop de la Vega, but he wouldn’t actually hurt the woman he views as a daughter, though it gives him the chance to shoot de la Vega.  Zorro dispatches Love, even after being stabbed and unmasked, then Montero is caught behind the wagon as it falls.  Elena goes to rescue the trapped people and the fuse has restarted.  Zorro helps her with the last cells and they save the day!  Alejandro holds de la Vega as he bids his daughter farewell; she has the same spirit as her mother.  He even blesses Alejandro and Elena, then passes away.  Elena mourns de la Vega; not Montero.

There must always be a Zorro; it is a destiny and a curse, for there is always another battle.  But both Zorros have loved Elena.  And now Alejandro tells the story to his son.

In 2005, there was a direct sequel to this film, The Legend of Zorro, bringing back both Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones to reprise their roles.  Rufus Sewell (Knight’s Tale, Tristan and Isolde, Victoria) joins as Armand, a former friend of Elena de la Vega’s when she grew up in Spain.  This film is not nearly as good as Mask of Zorro.  The premise is that California is voting to become part of the United States in 1850, but there is a secret organization attempting to block it.  Zorro is doing his best, but since he is gone often, his marriage is strained and he’s missing out on seeing his son grow up.  His secret is found out by mysterious men, who blackmail Elena into working undercover for them.  She divorces Alejandro and he must make a choice between being Zorro and saving his family.

Of course, several of the fight scenes are still good and Elena retains some of her action-girl status.  But there are several glaring errors.  California at that time was Catholic; divorce was not allowed and Elena’s status would have surely suffered.  Mentions of the Confederacy are inaccurate since it didn’t form until 1861.  The inclusion of nitroglycerin is just barely factual; it was invented in 1847 as an explosive, but to me, still seems a bit farfetched.  The overall feeling I get from the film is that they were trying too hard.  The villains are flat.   Of course, the son learns who his father is, and the marriage is put to rights.  I argue how could Elena say to Alejandro “we were never meant to be together?”  You married him knowing full well who he was and what he did.  That was what attracted you to him.  There was a more logical way to deal with the matter.

So, definitely watch Mask of Zorro, it is a classic.  Hopkins is excellent and I actually would love to see more of him in that role.  Antonio is charming and this is why Puss in Boots in Shrek is a takeoff on Zorro, since Antonio voiced the cat (despite the tale being French).  As I’ve stated before, I love a good sword fight.

Next Time: Top Gun

Tiding Over

A Random Fandom Update:

I happen to be listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks recently, which makes me want to re-watch the first trilogy.  They also have inspired a few scenes and notes for my eventual fantasy epic (which is good, because it needs some major work).  And yep, still love the first three movies!  The original is still the best and looking back, I feel some pity for the special effects team because it could not have been easy timing all the moonlight skeleton effects.  Orlando Bloom is young a dashing (he was a celebrity crush when I was a teen) and still swoon at the kiss at the end 🙂

I like elements of Dead Man’s Chest soundtrack and the battle against the Kraken is thrilling.  And the ending of At World’s End is full of emotions.  That flourish in the orchestra during Will and Elizabeth’s wedding times perfectly with the spin, squee!  And Most.  Epic.  Kiss.  Ever!  Of course, I have to find the few clips of Will in the fifth movie and I think it’s sweet that they use Will and Elizabeth’s theme in the background while he talks to his young son, Henry.

I also really want a good crossover fic between Pirates of the Caribbean and Once Upon a Time because there is such a realm of possibilities between Killian Jones knowing either Jack and/ or Will.  If anyone finds a good story,  let me know so I can check it out!

In the meantime; I’ve read several novels off my shelf, re-reading a couple different fanfiction stories, but haven’t gotten much writing done.  The action-adventure blogs will be starting soon, just gotta get my brain to focus, lol!

Let me know what fandoms have been keeping you entertained!

“My heart want to sings every song it hears”

The Sound of Music

Probably my favorite musical of all time and I don’t even mind that it’s nearly three hours long.  It’s a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic and the range is well suited to my voice; I’d love to perform it sometime.  It too stars Julie Andrews and was released one year after Mary Poppins.  It won Best Picture in 1965, and Julie was nominated for Best Actress.  Julie is Maria, and the cast includes Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp.  It is based on the life of the Von Trapp family singers, who did escape Austria trapp family lodgebefore war broke out.  They traveled in the United States, singing, before they settled in Vermont, where they founded the Trapp Family Lodge (it reminded them of the mountains of Austria).  But some aspects of their lives were changed for the film; their father was not as cold as he appeared and there were more children with different names.

The film opens on the mountains and Maria twirls around, “the hills are alive/ with the Sound of Music/ with songs they have sung/ for a thousand years.”  Bells ring after the song and she has to run back to the abbey.  The audience is treated to a little tour of Salzburg [ironically, the movie is not all that well known in Austria].  The other nuns in the abbey ask Mother Superior, “how do you solve a problem like Maria.”  “How do you catch a cloud/ and pin it down…but how do you make her stay/ and listen to all you say/ how do you keep a wave/ upon the sand?”  In the end, she’s a girl, not a demon nor a lamb.  But Mother Superior does speak to Maria.  The young woman can’t stop singing and she may not have been prepared for the kind of life that nuns lead.  So Mother Superior will have her act as a governess to seven children, to see if she can really live the nun’s life.  Maria is nervous at first, but finds I Have Confidence.

von trapp familyHer introduction to the Captain is not the best.  He expects his home and his children to be run with discipline and calls for his children with a whistle; like one would on a ship [that never happened].  Maria refuses and admits she was trouble at the abbey [the truth].  Liesl is 16, Friedrich is 14, Louisa 13, Kurt 11, Brigitta 10, Marta 7, and Gretl 5.  As many children are wont to do when someone new arrives and they’re trying to get attention, they play tricks on Maria.  But she surprises them and takes them in stride, and I believe that is why some of the younger girls begin crying at dinner.  Liesl sneaks out to meet the telegram boy, Rolf.  She is Sixteen Going on Seventeen, while he is seventeen, so Liesl hopes Rolf will tell her how to act in a grown up world.  They dance in the gazebo while it rains and at the end, Rolf pulls Liesl in for a kiss.  She grins in joy later, then has to sneak in to Maria’s room.

Maria discovers from household gossip that Captain Von Trapp is considering marrying Baroness Schrader, but the Captain will not grant Maria’s request for play clothes for the children.  She makes inroads with Liesl, so the young woman admits she may in fact still need a governess.  Gretl runs into Maria’s room, scared of the thunder, quickly followed by the other girls.  The boys join a minute later, to “make sure the girls weren’t scared.”  Maria shares that she thinks of My Favorite Things when something scares or saddens her (I adore this song), “and then I don’t feel/ so bad.”  The children begin laughing and they’re having a merry time, until the Captain appears.  Maria covers for Liesl, but the Captain asks that Maria acquire discipline while he is gone.  She gets an idea from her curtains as she finishes her song.

do re miWhile the Captain is away, Maria makes new play clothes for the children from her old drapes, since new ones are to be made.  They traipse about Salzburg and Maria takes them to her hill and teaches them to sing.  “Let’s start at the very beginning/ a very good place to start/ when you read/ you begin with A B C/ when you sing / you being with Do Re Mi.”  (This is a classic choir song and the solfeg is actually very helpful.)  The Captain returns home with the Baroness, and Uncle Max.  The Captain feels that the Baroness has brought meaning back into his life and she does not want to speak out of turn with Max.  Though she admits that wedding bells may be ringing, but she’s very fond of the Captain.  Max wants to keep the money between the two in the family.  They are surprisingly joined by the children from the river, where they tip over the boat (the young actress playing Gretl couldn’t swim, so she was carried out of the water).  The Captain sends his children in to change, but doesn’t want to discuss them with Maria.  She stands up to the Captain, insisting they are children and all they want is love.  A sound breaks their argument; the children singing.  The Captain is surprised.  Maria watches as he joins his children on The Sound of Music and the family hug afterwards.  The Captain apologizes to Maria in the entryway and asks her to stay.  She managed to bring music back into the house.

Life is merrier.  The children show off a puppet show and The Lonely Goatherd to the other adults and Max wants to enter them into a local music festival.  The Captain refuses; his children will not sing in public.  They do ask their father to sing; he chooses Edelweiss (which is not actually an actual Austrian folk song or national anthem; in fact, it was the last song Hammerstein wrote).  The Baroness notices the looks the Captain gives Maria and so suggests a party, so all of his friends can meet her.

Underlying the family storyline are the historical events of the end of the thirties.  Hitler has begun his rise in Germany and wishes to annex Austria and join it to Germany, the Anschluss.  Rolf has already mentioned it and Herr Zeller attends the party, noting the Austrian flag hanging in the Captain’s home.  Captain Von Trapp was a hero of the Austrian navy in the first world war.  Zeller butts heads with the Captain a little, but they keep it light since it is a party.

Maria starts to show the children an Austrian folk dance, but Kurt is too short.  The Captain assists.  Maria flushes.  The Baroness witnesses.  Then it is time for the children to say good night.  The guests assemble for So Long, Farewell; Gretl is such a sweet child.  Max insists to the Captain that Maria stay with adults for dinner and the Baroness offers to help Maria change.  She mentions to Maria that the Captain has been noticing her; the Baroness can tell that Maria loves the Captain, and the Captain may even think he is in love with her.  Maria decides to leave and the Baroness agrees.

Intermission.  After the Entr’acte back through Salzburg, the children are despondent.  They are not happy with the Baroness and she even remarks to Max that her solution to the children is boarding school.  The children don’t even want to sing anymore.  They venture to the abbey and ask to see Maria, but she’s in seclusion and not seeing anyone.  Mother Superior calls her in to find out what happened with the Von Trapps.  Maria was not mistreated, but she can’t face him again.  Mother Superior asks her plainly, “are you in love with him?”  “I don’t know!” Maria exclaims.  Mother Superior counsels the young woman that she has a great capacity for love, but she must decide what she will do with it.  Maria should return to the Von Trapps, face her problems, and discover the life she was born to live.  Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Mother Superior counsels; “follow ev’ry rainbow/ ’till you find your dream/ a dream that will need/ all the love you can give/ ev’ry day of your life/ for as long as you live.”

Maria does return, as the children sing My Favorite Things to lift their spirits (after claiming to have eaten loads of berries and missing dinner).  They’re thrilled, as is Maria, until she discovers the Captain’s engagement.  She tells the Captain she will remain until a new governess is found.  But the Baroness and Captain break off the engagement.  The Captain admits he has not been fair to the Baroness, loving someone else.  And the Baroness needs to be needed, or at least, need her money.  The Captain goes to Maria that evening at the gazebo and kisses her.  Something Good has come to their lives.  Their wedding follows at the abbey, with the organ and choir reprising Maria.

Max has the children rehearse for the festival while Maria and the Captain are on their honeymoon.  The Anschluss has occurred and Nazi flags drape the buildings [there were concerns with filming whether the people would dislike the flags so soon after the war, but it was better than using news film].  Zeller wishes to speak to the Captain, but he has not returned yet.  He insists that “nothing in Austria has changed,” everything is still the same.  The Captain and Maria have in fact returned home to find a Nazi flag on their house.  There is a telegram delivered from Rolf via Liesl ordering the Captain to report for a position in the Third Reich.  He decides the family must get out of Austria, tonight.  The Germans are waiting for the family that evening when they try to sneak out (the butler was a Nazi-sympathizer).  The family uses the festival as their excuse and in fact final concertperform as a whole.  It’s a rearrangement of Do Re Mi and the Captain follows by singing Edelweiss with the crowd.  Max reveals the Third Reich’s plans for the Captain, causing the audience to mutter against the Nazi invasion; the family will perform a final encore, So Long, Farewell.  When the winners of the festival are announced, the Von Trapp family is gone.

They take refuge at the abbey and Mother Superior hides them in the cemetery.  There are always nerves as the Nazis shine their flashlight, searching for the family, even if it’s the dozen-th time I have watched the movie.  Rolf hides and discovers the family as they start to get away.  He pulls a gun on the Captain; it’s him the Nazis want, not the family.  The Captain manages to get the gun and begs Rolf to come with them, he’s only a boy.  But when he says that Rolf is not a Nazi, Rolf raises the alarm, just to prove that he is.  The nuns have taken pieces of the Nazis cars to stop them from following the Von Trapps.  The family hikes into the mountain and will cross into Switzerland on foot.  A choir reprises the chorus of Climb Ev’ry Mountain as the family passes by [what actually happened is that they took a train into Italy, then made their way to England and ultimately the United States.  If they had gone over the mountains, they would have ended up in Germany, near Hitler’s mountain retreat.]

The family storyline in the film is heartwarming; a father learning to reconnect with his children, especially through music.  The music is superb; there’s a reason it is one of the best known musicals.

Further Reading:

Agathe von Trapp: Memories Before and After The Sound of Music, written by the eldest von Trapp daughter and contains the actual history of the family.  It’s a nice read; even though the family initially disliked the film since it portrays their father colder than reality, they recognize the impact it has had on moviegoers.

The Sound of Music Companion by Laurence Maslon and Julie Andrews, behind the scenes of filming and bringing the original stage production to life.

Julie Andrews also has two autobiographies out at this time, Home and Home Work

 

This  film with the half dozen previous posts, made up a big portion of my childhood.  Definitely danced around the living room to the soundtrack of Joseph.  As already noted, my brother and I watched these on repeat as children.  I still love to sing along to these soundtracks.  1776 was the influence of a paper I wrote in college; aided by a dozen of my mother’s books on John Adams.

Ah yes, by now I have watched Hamilton thanks to Disney +.  I didn’t mind the middle part, but it started to drag on at the end.  It’s a very cool concept, to mix American history with modern music and dance.  But…I will always love 1776.

Up Next: I’ll start the action/adventure section.  Posts might be spread out a bit more to give me a chance to truly analyze story and character aspects.  It’ll definitely take us through Christmas.  I begin with the Zorro movies.

“The biggest word/ you’ve ever heard/ and this is how it goes!”

Mary Poppins

An iconic Disney musical.  And it so happened to have been on television both the night my brother was born, and the night I was born, twenty months later.  The original book series was written by P.L. Travers.  For the film, music was composed by the Sherman brothers and production was overseen by Walt Disney himself, as showcased in Saving Mr. Banks.  I have seen the film and it was an interesting look into how the film was created, though a bit sad as well.  Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were excellent in it.  The classic movie stars Julie Andrews (Sound of Music, The Princess Diaries) in her first major movie role (though she was already experienced on the stage) as the titular Mary Poppins.  [And a note about that; Julie had starred as the original Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady on stage and had hoped to earn the role again in the film.  But it went to Audrey Hepburn.  Mary Poppins won the Oscar that year.]  Her co-star was Dick Van Dyke (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Bert, David Tomlinson (Bedknobs and Broomsticks) as Mr. George W. Banks, Reginald Owen (Bedknobs and Broomsticks) as Admiral Boom, and Arthur Treacher (yes, of the Fish and Chips restaurant line; he also appeared in several Shirley Temple films) as the Constable.

The establishing shots of the London skyline tell us we’re in England and we see Mary Poppins sitting on a cloud.  Bert is a one-man band, entertaining a crowd, until the wind blows by: “something is brewing/ about to begin.”  Then he addresses the audience, as we asked for directions to Number 17, Cherry Tree Lane.  We pass by Admiral Boom, who has rigging on the top of his home, as well as a canon to mark the time.  The world takes its time from Greenwich, but Greenwich takes its time from Admiral Boom.  There is an argument brewing at Number 17; seems Katie Nana has lost her charges, but blames them, so she is leaving.  Mrs. Banks arrives home from her Sister Suffragette rally, though it takes several tries to inform her that her children are missing.  She quickly puts her things away so as to not upset her husband.

Mr. Banks arrives home cheerfully, it’s 1910, “King Edward’s on the throne/ it’s the Age of Men,” and he is pleased with The Life I Lead.  Everything is on schedule, his servants and family treat him with the respect he deserves as head of the household (noblesse oblige) and it takes several minutes before he realizes his children are missing.  The kindly constable brings them home and tries to encourage Mr. Banks to not be hard on them, but Mr. Banks dismisses him.  With the same tune, he has his wife take down an advertisement for a new nanny.  No-nonsense is the first requirement, “tradition, discipline, and rules/ must be the tools/ without them/ disorder, catastrophe, anarchy/ in short, you have a ghastly mess.”  Jane and Michael have their own advertisement and though their mother follows her husband’s commands, she does insist that they listen to their children.  Their first requirement is a cherry disposition, and a desire for games, all sorts.  After the children are sent to bed, Mr. Banks tears up the notice and throws it into the fireplace.  What he doesn’t see are the pieces float out the chimney.

There is a queue of nannies in the morning, but before Mr. Banks can begin interviewing there is a large gust of wind that blows them all away.  Mary Poppins gently floats down and lands at the door.  In her hand are the children’s qualifications, not Mr. Banks’ and so he wonders over at the fireplace what happened.  Mary gives herself the job, but Mr. Banks seems suitably impressed and takes credit for it when his wife asks.  Mary does the most extraordinary thing and rides the banister up.  She quickly takes control in the nursery, putting her things away, after pulling them out of an empty carpet bag (loved that part as a kid).  Michael thinks she’s tricky.  Jane thinks she’s wonderful.  Mary also pulls out her tape measure, to see how the children measure up.  Michael is extremely stubborn and suspicious, while Jane is prone to giggling.  Mary Poppins is “practically perfect in every way.”  Time for their first game, tidying up the nursery.  “In every job that must be done/ there is an element of fun/ you find the fun/ and snap, the job’s a game.”  A Spoonful of Sugar helps the medicine go down.  Snapping puts the toys and items laying about away, though it takes Michael several tries.  It gets a little out of hand and Mary Poppins puts an end to it, but the children eagerly join her for a walk afterwards.

Today, Bert is a street artist and the trio arrive.  He recognizes Mary Poppins and knows Jane and Michael from their adventures nearby.  He tries some magic to pop the children into a drawing, but Mary Poppins steps in to do it properly.  Now the children run off to a fair in new outfits and Bert remarks to Mary “it’s a Jolly Holiday…when Mary hold your hand/ it feels so grand/ your heart starts beating/ like a big brass band.”  Animated animals come up to them and even join in the singing [animation style reminds me a bit of 101 Dalmatians].  The pair end up at a cafe with dancing penguins (I love this part!)  Bert joins in the dancing and it’s wonderfully hilarious.  He is quick to insist “cream of the crop/ tip of the top/ is Mary Poppins/ and there we stop.”  They do join the children on a merry-go-round, but Mary has the horses jump off the carousel.  They join a fox hunt, with Bert rescuing the Irish fox and that leads to a horse race.  Mary’s manners lead her to the front and when the interviewers congratulate her, she reveals there is a word to use when one does not know what to say.  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (just about the best song of all time).  “Even though the sound of it/ is something quite atrocious/ if you say it loud enough/ you’ll always sound precocious.”

Rain ruins their day and they’re back in London in their regular clothes.  Mary shows further magic when her medicine changes color and flavor for each person’s preference.  When the children insist they are much too excited to go to sleep, Mary lulls them to Stay Awake.  Of course, they drift off, but are cheerful the next morning, to their father’s chagrin.  He feels Mary Poppins is undermining the discipline in the house; indeed, everyone is in a good mood except him.  But he goes off to work and Mary takes the children out on errands.  The dog, Andrew, barks he needs Mary’s help; so the children meet Uncle Albert.  Bert is already there, and oddly, Uncle Albert is floating near the ceiling.  I Love to Laugh, he declares, “loud and long and clear.”  “The more I laugh/ the more I fill with glee/ and the more the glee/ the more I’m a merrier me.”  Everyone joins him on the ceiling, though Mary simply floats up.  She raises the tea table, but a little later, insists they must get home.  And that is the secret to getting down; one must think of something sad.  Bert stays with Albert.

Mr. Banks confronts Mary Poppins at home about the nature of her outings.  He dislikes filling his children’s heads with silly nonsense.  If they must have outings, they should be practical.  Like taking them to the bank, suggests Mary.  She tells the children that she never puts notions in someone’s head; it’s just the logical following of what they were saying.  She urges the children to look for the bird lady at St. Paul’s Cathedral and to hear her cry of Feed the Birds (one of Walt Disney’s favorite songs).  The song lulls the children to sleep again.  They eagerly accompany their father, but he won’t let them use their money to feed the birds.  Instead, he shows them to the leaders of the bank; several old men who use financial terms that confuse the children.  The eldest, Mr. Dawes Sr (played by Dick Van Dyke as well) wants Michael to give his tuppence to the Fidelity, Fiduciary Bank.  One must think prudently, thriftily, frugally, patiently, and cautiously.  Of course, these all go over the children’s heads (and mine).  When Michael is a bit confused, Dawes Sr. grabs the tuppence.  So Michael shouts “give me back my money.”  The other customers hear and start demanding their money as well.  In the chaos, Michael and Jane run off.  It’s a bit scary for a moment and they run into a man covered in soot.  Luckily, it’s Bert.  He calms them down and leads them home.  Today he is a chimney sweep, “you may think a sweep’s/ on the bottom-most rung/ though I spends me time/ in the ashes and smoke/ in this whole wide world/ there’s no happier bloke.”  Chim-Chim-Cheree  “Good luck will rub off/ when I shake hands with you/ or blow me a kiss/ and that’s lucky too.”  At the house, Mrs. Banks is off for another rally and asks Bert to look after the children since it’s Mary Poppins’ day off.  The children are interested, until Michael shoots up the chimney when Mary walks in.  Jane quickly follows, so Bert and Mary join them.

They get a beautiful view of the rooftops of London and march about.  They run into Bert’s pals, all of whom are chimney sweeps as well and they entertain their visitors with a Step in Time (love this dance).  Mary even joins in with a rising spin [I wonder what effects they used to film the sequence, since it had to be safe for the dancers.]  Admiral Boom spots the dancers and has his assistant shoot firecrackers at them, chasing them off the roof.  They all end up in the Banks’ home until Mr. Banks returns.  After the exodus of chimney sweeps from his house, Mr. Banks gets a call from the bank; they want him to return later.  He has a conversation with Bert, who points out that it is admirable to want to provide for your family, but soon they will grow and he won’t know them.  Jane and Michael apologize to their father and Michael gives him his tuppence.

The board wants to dismiss Mr. Banks, for causing a run on the bank.  They invert his umbrella, tear his flower, and punch out his hat.  When they ask if he has anything to say, he recalls “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”  He even repeats the joke Michael taught him; for he’s seen what good Mary Poppins has done in his family and has made the decision that they are more important.  He gives the tuppence to Dawes Sr, who starts pondering the joke and then begins to laugh.  He laughs so much, he begins floating and his grown son cries out “Daddy!  Come back!”

Mr. Banks gives his family a bit of a scare; they’ve called the constable because they can’t find him, until he emerges singing from the cellar.  He’s mended the kite and asks Jane and Michael to join him.  Mrs. Banks adds a sash for a tail and they are all excited to Let’s Go Fly a Kite, an absolutely heartwarming number.  The wind has changed, and it’s time for Mary Poppins to go.  The children are sad at first that she’s leaving, but their father’s good mood cheers them up and Mary leaves once the family does.  Bert nods to her and she smiles at her friend.  Her talking parrot umbrella insists that Mary Poppins does love the children, but she states it is proper that they love their father.  “Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking,” and she rises back to the clouds.

Mary Poppins is a lovely family film and is cherished in our home.  We did watch the late sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, which stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, with appearances by Dick Van Dyke, Angela Landsbury, Ben Whishaw, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep.  Did not like it.  It was trying too hard and didn’t have the charm that the original had; there’s just no repeating the magic.

Up Next: The last musical, The Sound of Music

“What we make do/ with an ol’ bamboo/ makes everyone applaud”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Actually based on a book by Ian Fleming.  Yes, that Ian Fleming, the one who wrote all the James Bond books that the movies are based on.  Roald Dahl, the famous children’s author, was the screenwriter.  Desmond Llewelyn, famous as Q in James Bond, appears as Coggins in the beginning.  Gert Fröbe, aka Goldfinger, is antagonist Baron Bomburst.  The film also stars Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins) as Caractacus Potts and Benny Hill appears as the Toymaker.  The Sherman Brothers also wrote the music for this film, though it is not a Disney film (though we all kind of assume it is since it shares many elements).  This was another of my brother’s and mine favorite movies as young children; our mother didn’t mind too much, aside from the repeated watches and the long run time.

The film actually begins in the dark, with just car engine sounds, then reveals Edwardian car races.  The main car wins several Grand Prix races in Europe between 1907 and 1908, until it crashes and burns in its last race after swerving to avoid a child.  Now it’s a wreck on a lot, though two children are happily playing in it.  The junkman wants to buy it as scrap and seems to dislike children.  But they race home to tell their father he can buy it, though they narrowly avoid being run over by a young woman.  Truly reprimands them for running in the road, and not being in school, so she takes Jeremy and Jemima home.  Their father is Caractacus Potts is an inventor and we first see him trying to propel into the air with rockets.  His experiment doesn’t go quite according to plan and while the children laugh at their father’s antics, because they’re children and don’t quite realize the danger, Truly throws water on him to put him out.  He’s annoyed and is not at all bothered by the fact that his children were not in school.  Truly tries to reason with him, and is marginally impressed by his other inventions housed in his windmill workshop.

Potts uses a series of machines to cook sausage and eggs for dinner, sweetly telling his children that they are his reason for being.  “Someone to care for/ to be there for/ I have You Two.”  They’re joined by Caractacus’s father, who tries to bring his son’s head out of the clouds; though he is known to go out to a small shed and say he is off to India, or Antarctica.  Caractacus decides to try to sell his whistle sweets (they make noise through the holes when you blow in them) to a local sweet factory, run by Lord Scrumptious.  He’s aided by Truly, Scrumptious’s daughter.  Caractacus calls in invention Toot Sweets, “the candy you whistle/ the whistle you eat” and soon the whole factory joins in dancing.  But all that whistling has brought several dogs into the sweet factory.

Jeremy and Jemima are selfless children and offer their father their “treasures” as me ol bamboomoney for his inventions rather than their beloved car.  Their father sings the lullaby Hushabye Mountain to them to encourage sweet dreams.  Then he decides to try one of his inventions at the evening’s fair.  The haircut machine unfortunately fails and Caractacus is chased through the fair.  He hides amongst a dancing troupe and has to join in on Me Ol’ Bamboo (this is such a fun song).  He does well and is surprised by the tips that are tossed into his hat.  He surprises his children the next morning by bringing home their car.  Then spends the next several days closed up in his workshop, fixing the car.  And when it finally comes out, it is a sight to behold.

The trio go on a picnic and pick Truly up on the way when they accidentally run her car off the road into a pond.  Caractacus offers to carry Truly in her pristine white dress out of the pond and she is even intrigued by the car.  And the unusual sound its engine makes: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  “Oh you/ pretty Chitty Bang Bang/ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you…near, far/ in our motorcar/ oh what a happy time we spend.”  All four spend a happy day at the beach.  The children are extremely fond of Truly and she seems fond of them as well.  Jemima comments that Truly’s name fits her well, Truly Scrumptious, for she had to be called something lovely.  Jeremy and Jemima wish together that their father would marry Truly.

Caractacus begins a story for his children about pirates, led by Baron Bomburst of Vulgaria, who has heard of the marvelous Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and wishes to have the car for himself.  And the story comes to life.  Chitty is in fact a magic car and air bags come out so Chitty can float away.  They stow as it drives back onto dry land, after avoiding the Baron’s ship.  The Baron sends spies ashore to capture the car, or Caractacus.  The family takes Truly back home and she sings on her estate how she has fallen in love with a Lovely Lonely Man.  (It’s a pretty song, but rather forgettable.  I just remember the swing at the end for some reason).  The spies do not do a good job of their mission, though they are rather funny.  They manage to capture Truly’s father instead of the family.  So the two spies pretend to be gentlemen to visit the Potts’ home and they come across the grandfather, thinking he’s the inventor.  They call in the Baron’s zeppelin and lift the small shed, with Grandpa Potts inside.  His family spot him and follow the zeppelin in Chitty.  Except they drive off a cliff, almost into the sea.

And…Intermission!  Of course, Chitty saves them, because Chitty is magic and can fly.  Grandpa Potts is now not in immediate danger and rather enjoys traveling in Posh style.  The zeppelin does lose altitude, which gets Grandpa Potts a bit wet until they toss out the two spies.  It’s a long flight to Vulgaria, but Chitty knows the way.  A castle greets the Potts family (Neuschwanstein).  The Baron in turn is mainly a large child; he rides a toy horse to his meetings.  He demands Potts makes a car float.  Potts senior despairs, but the other tinkers locked in the basement cheer him up with The Roses of Success, “up from the ashes/ grow the roses of success…from the ashes of disaster/ grow the roses of success.”

When Chitty lands, the villagers are not terribly helpful and they stare at the foreigners.  Truly realizes there are no other children about.  A horn sounds and the villagers scatter.  A toymaker begrudgingly takes the family inside and hides them. And explains there is a law in Vulgaria that children are not allowed; the baroness hates them.  A creepy man, called the Child Catcher comes through the square, claiming he can smell children.  The Potts and Truly disguise themselves as Jack-in-the-box in the toymaker’s basement.  But Chitty is captured.  The toymaker takes Caractacus to view the castle’s defenses.  Truly is left in charge of the children, but she goes out to get food and orders Jeremy and Jemima to stay put.  But the Child Catcher comes back, gaily bedecked and claiming he has lollipops and ice cream.  And well, children are easily attracted to lollipops and ice cream; except his wagon is a cage.  Some of the villagers try to warn the children, but he makes off back to the castle with them.  That evening, the toymaker shows Caractacus and Truly where the villagers hide their own children underneath the castle.  Caractacus tries to give the children hope by singing them Hushabye Mountain, though Truly has to finish.  Now, he has a plan.

The next day is the baron’s birthday.  He starts with a visit to his wife, whom he actually can’t stand.  The previous day, he had gleefully aimed a shotgun at her full skirt when Chitty launched her into the air, only slightly claiming it as an attempt to get her down.  He does hit the skirt and she falls into the lake, unharmed, to his disappointment.  Today, she’s in some odd lingerie and very long braided pigtails.  To a child, their funny nicknames of Cootchie Face are cute and the baron keeps trying to kill the baroness, though as a kid, didn’t fully realize that.  His later celebration is full of elderly purple-wearing court members miserably dancing.  The baroness orders the toymaker in with a surprise; two lifelike dolls.  (Actually, Caractacus and Truly in disguise).  Truly is a Doll on a Music Box, Caractacus is a clown doll.  He eventually joins in with the harmony of Truly Scrumptious.  They distract the baron and the children sneak in.  A few drop a hook from the ceiling and lift up the baron.  A net is dropped, trapping the court and the children get a bit of revenge, even trapping the Child Catcher in a net.  Caractacus, Truly and the toymaker search for Jeremy and Jemima and get them out.  The villagers also enter the castle to save their children.  Baron Bomburst and his baroness try to escape, but are caught in the cage by the children.  Grandpa Potts emerges from the cellars and Chitty drives itself in to rescue its family.  The whole family flies out and Vulgaria is now a free country.

The family is on the beach again and Jemima and Jeremy eagerly finish the story that their father and Truly get married.  Caractacus doesn’t say much, just drives Truly home.  Then tries to pass his children’s notion off as silly and puts his foot in his mouth.  They discover Lord Scrumptious at the Potts home, happily playing with Grandpa Potts, who was his batman most likely during the Zulu wars (a batman was a solider assigned to a commissioned officer as his personal servant).  Lord Scrumptious offers Caractacus a contract to produce his “Toot Sweets” for dogs.  It will make him rich.  Before he signs the paperwork, Caractacus races out to find Truly, running her off the road again.  It’s now no longer ridiculous for him to marry Truly and she readily agrees, so he kisses her.  Grandpa Potts refers to his son as an eccentric, and has no idea where he could have gotten it from (hmm…).  Caractacus and Truly fly off in Chitty, passing over the house where their family waves to them.

chitty

I adore the theme song for this movie.  The car is magical and I just smile at it.  I see a lot of my brother and I in the Potts children (though we diligently went to school), but playing together and making up stories together.  They are sweet children and though Caractacus may not be the best father, he is kind and loving and is even potentially willing to put his own dreams on hold to take care of them.  I think the part in Vulgaria is funny; still nostalgic.

And interesting note: Peter Jackson owns one of the Chitty cars.  He showed it off on the set of the Hobbit when they were filming Old Took’s birthday scenes.  The young children were not interested, but the adults clamored to see it.  I would be one of them!  It’s revealed during the behind the scenes appendices…I forget at the moment if it’s with the extended edition or the theatrical edition.

Next Time: The beloved Mary Poppins

“Anything and everything/ a chap can unload/ is sold off the barrow/ in Portabello Road”

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

A Disney live-action film from 1971 that mixes in animation like Mary Poppins did.  It is based on a book by Mary Norton and is a beloved movie from my childhood.  It stars Angela Landsbury (the original Mrs. Potts and star of Murder, She Wrote) as Miss Eglantine Price, David Tomlinson (the father in Mary Poppins) as Professor Emelius Browne, and another Mary Poppins‘ alum is Reginale Owen; he played Admiral Boom in Poppins and General Teagler in Bedknobs.  The Sherman brothers also wrote the music for this film.  The 25th Anniversary Edition DVD release runs longer than the theatrical version; some songs had been cut and were now restored.  Oddly, the most recent Blu-ray release goes back to the theatrical version.  Sadly, there is no good soundtrack for the musical available; the most noticeable difference being in Portobello Road.

The opening credits run against a medieval tapestry backdrop, similar to the Bayeux Tapestry.  It takes place in 1940, during WWII, near the White Cliffs of Dover.  “Again – A time for valor.  A time of whispered events.  Now faded with the passing years.”  A town stands in the shadow of an old castle; they are currently taking care of the children evacuated from London due to the bombings (similar to the main characters in C.S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).  We’re briefly introduced to the Soldiers of the Old Home Guard, led by General Teagler.  Miss Price shows up for her package and is forced to take three children.  She’s very busy with important work and does not traditionally get on well with children, but she’ll do her duty until more suitable arrangements can be made.  The local preacher fawns over Miss Price, though he flounces off when the postmistress points out he’s making moves because he admires Miss Price’s nice house and land.

Miss Price lives alone, aside from a black cat that came with the name Cosmic Creepers.  When the children are asleep, she takes her package to her workshop and unwraps a broom, from Professor Emelius Browne’s Correspondence College of Witchcraft.  She manages to successfully fly for a bit with a spell, until she topples over.  The children see her when they attempt to sneak out back to London.  Charlie thinks it is a wise idea to blackmail Miss Price, but he goes a little too far and she turns him into a white rabbit.  But her spells never last very long and he quickly turns back, after being pursued by Cosmic Creepers.  Miss Price lets them in on her secret; she plans to use magic to help the war effort.  And to win over the children, she charms a bedknob with a traveling spell.  Then persuades the children to go to London so she can get the last lesson from Professor Browne himself when he stops the course.  Charlie initially doesn’t think the bed will work and Miss Price remarks he is at the Age of Not Believing.

But the bed works.  Except they discover that Professor Browne is a street magician and self-admitted fraud and charlatan, though he does everything With a Flair.  Miss Price ends up turning Professor Browne into a white rabbit when she confronts him.  He is surprised that one of his spells worked; he simply put together words out of an old book.  He then takes Miss Price and the children to the abandoned home he is squatting in (it’s abandoned because there is an unexploded bomb in the front yard).  The children explore the nursery while he shows Miss Price the library.  Except, instead of getting the desired book for Miss Price, he wants her to join him in a stage show.  She’d be an assistant who could really do magic.  But Miss Price, who reveals her first name is Eglantine is determined to find the book.  She turns Browne into a rabbit again and he finally shows her the book, The Spells of Astoroth; of which he only has half.  And the five magic words for the substitutiary locomotion spell; an “ancient and mystic art of causing objects to take on a life force of their own” are missing.

Miss Price demands they find the other half of the book and Browne takes them to Portobello Road, “street where the riches/ of ages are stowed.”  This is one of my favorite parts of the film.  An impromptu dance party breaks out and features several music and dance styles from around the British empire.  They don’t have much luck finding the other half of the book until a slightly scary man leads them to the “Bookman.”  He in fact has the other half of the book and is looking for the same spell.  Except the book only states that the five words are written on the Star of Astoroth, worn by the sorcerer.  The Star is now on the fabled Isle of Namboobu.  The adults don’t believe such a place exists, but young Paul found a children’s book on it.  So the children, Miss Price, and Professor Browne are able to use the bed to escape the Bookman and travel to the Isle of Namboombu.  Well, the lagoon first and they are “bobbing along/ on the bottom/ of the Beautiful Briny sea.”  This is where the animation comes in, for the animals dress and talk like humans.  A bear catches the bed, but wants to throw the five humans back into the lagoon because the king has issued a “No Peopling Allowed” law.  Well, they want to see the king.

Professor Browne manages to ingratiate himself to the king (a lion; in fact, the animation is very similar to Robin Hood) when he offers to referee the soccer match [note how they refer to is as “soccer,” rather than “football” as Europeans call it.  You can tell it was produced by Americans despite most of the cast being English and the story taking place in England.]  My brother and I loved the soccer match as kids, Browne getting trampled by the animals throughout the game.  And they discover that the king wears the star.  Browne manages to pocket the star and they’re chased off the island.  Sadly, the star is of another world and cannot be brought back to ours; it simply disappears.  But Paul saves the day again; his book has an illustration of the star and the words for the spell (technically, would have been helpful to know that before, but, kids love the animation).  Browne suggests that Miss Price use the words “Tregura Mekoides Trecoru Satis Dee” with a flair.  And she’s got it!  She’s managed Substitutiary Locomotion!  This is another beloved part of the film.

The little domestic scene is broken when news arrives that another family has offered to take the children.  Miss Price has changed her mind and the children start to think of Professor Browne as a father figure.  That scares him off a bit and he starts to head back to London, but the trains are finished for the day.  Miss Price sings of Nobody’s Problems; she has it in her mind that she doesn’t want or need anyone else around, she’s quite comfortable with her life.  But we all know she misses Browne [this part was cut from the theatrical release].  Except there are more important things to worry about now; the Germans have made a landing.  They enter Miss Price’s house and stage their minor raid to induce panic and spread mischief.  Miss Price’s memory fails her and she can’t turn the commander into a rabbit, but Browne manages to get away and sneaks into the house.  He finds the spell and uses it on himself so he can get away again and find Miss Price and the children.  They’re being held in the old castle.

sub loc battle

Once he transforms back, he and the children convince Miss Price to use the substitutiary locomotion spell again.  And this is my brother’s and mine absolute favorite part.  The spell starts small, just the banners waving, but then a drums and horns start and the whole castle comes alive!  The knights and Redcoats are reanimated and join together.  Miss Price flies at the head of the army and they chant the spell.  The Germans don’t know what to make of the phenomenon in front of them; Scotsmen and bagpipes stretching across the cliff.  Their bullets only go through the empty suits of armor; they keep marching.  A few minutes later, the Germans start retreating.  The commotion has also woken the Home Guard and they rush to the coast.  But the Germans manage to blow up Miss Price’s workshop as she flies over; the army falls, un-animated now.  The Guard fires a few shots to warn the Germans and Miss Price is relatively unharmed.  She’s pleased she did her part of the war effort, but has always known she could never be a proper witch with the way she feels about poisoned dragon’s liver.

They are now all a family; the children will remain with Miss Price and Professor Browne has decided to join the Army.  The Soldiers of the Old Home Guard give him an escort to the station and he gives Miss Price a kiss farewell.  The children at first fear that the rest of the time will be boring now, but Paul still has the bedknob.

This is the first film I ever saw Angela Landsbury in.  I loved the children’s adventures and of course wanted to visit an island where the animals talk and play soccer.  And even as a child, I was excited to see these reanimated knights face off against the Germans.  And the budding dancer in me was fascinated by all the dancing in Portobello Road.  I think the movie is now a forgotten gem; overshadowed by Mary Poppins (though I absolutely adore that movie as well).

Next Time: Another beloved childhood favorite of mine, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang