Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) :star::star::star: This sequel is certainly a major step up in terms of quality. This time out Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) must lead an inexperienced crew to do battle against Khan (Ricardo Montalban), a man who was forced to exile for fifteen-years but now is seeking revenge. It's easy to see why Robert Wise wasn't invited back and it's also easy to see why they decided to take this one into a new direction. Compared to the original movie I'd go as far as to call this a masterpiece because it's a vast improvement in any stretch of the imagination. The acting, directing, pacing and overall entertaining is so much better here that it really comes across as an entirely new series and it really makes you look back and wonder why the first one went so wrong. I think what I enjoyed most here were the performances by Shatner and Montalban. It really does appear that both actors are really having a blast and I liked how neither one was taking this so serious as if they were appearing in some Stanley Kubrick film. Both actors really appear to just be kicking back and trying to entertain the hell out of the viewer. Nimoy is also extremely good as Spock and we get nice work from Paul Winfield and even Kirstie Alley. Another major plus here is that director Nicholas Meyer manages to keep the story engaging from the opening scene to the last. The characters are so much better here that they too keep you entertained as well as keep you interested in what's going on. The pacing is another major plus as there's really no slow spots to be found anywhere. With that said, I do think there's some flaws to be found here including some of the special effects and I'd also say that the action scenes aren't as dramatic as they should be. Still, STAR TREK II manages to be a highly entertaining film even if you're not a major fan of the series. Galaxina (1980) :half: Cult sci-fi film about an outer space police squad who are sent on a mission to try and recover a crystal that could cause major harm if it falls into the wrong hands. GALAXINA is an incredibly bad spoof of the genre, which would have probably been forgotten by now had it not been released just a few months before the death of its star Dorothy Stratten. The star would be killed by her husband shortly after this movie was released and I'm sure its this curiosity, which got the film a few extra bucks at the box office and it's this that makes people check it out today. Sadly, it's a pretty horrible movie and if Stratten did have any talent she was certainly unable to show it here. Those checking this out to see her are going to be disappointed for a number of reasons but for the majority of the running time she's just sitting in a chair looking off into space. Whenever she's not doing this she's basically just got bad dialogue to say and those expecting to see any sexuality will really be disappointed. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a movie where a Playboy model was dressed in such unsexy clothes. Everything else in this film is pretty much horrible as the action scenes are lame, the special effects are a joke and there's really not a single interesting character to be found. The majority of the film is a spoof so we're given some unfunny jokes about Spock, a rip-off of the ALIEN tagline and even Kubrick's 2001 jets a joke aimed at it. The problem is that none of these jokes are funny and in fact they're just downright stupid to the point where you grow frustrated with the film. I really don't know what the filmmakers were trying to do with this thing. I've heard it's an early attempt at what Mel Brooks would do in SPACEBALLS but this thing here is just a complete waste of time. The only thing mildly interesting are some of the creatures but these aren't enough to make you sit through the film. Solar Crisis (1990) :star::star: Somehow this mix of the sci-fi and disaster genres got a pretty big cast to sign on. Set in 2050, the Earth is about to be burned down due to a giant solar flare from the sun. A group of astronauts must try to drop a bomb of these flares so that they will shoot off in another direction but there are people on Earth who want to stop them for their own wicked plans. Believe it or not, somehow this film managed to get a $55 million dollar budget but then it barely got a theatrical release here in America. Tim Matheson, Charlton Heston, Jack Palance, Peter Boyle and cult favorite Michael Berryman all signed onto appear in this film and I think it's rather funny that the producers would spend so much money and not get much in return. The film isn't nearly as bad as many people make it out to be but it's best one comes into it as a "B" movie and not expecting some sort of "A" level Hollywood film. The movie has a rather confusing plot that at times doesn't make too much sense. I think the biggest problem is that there's probably a lot of stuff from novel that didn't make it into the film. The American version runs six-minutes shorter than the Japanese one and it was disowned by the real director (Richard C. Sarafian) so this has a Alan Smithee credit. Another problem with the film is that the special effects just aren't that believable. This is especially true when it comes to the stuff in outer space but also on Earth when we see what's basically the world in chaos as everyone is waiting for their death. What does keep the film somewhat entertaining are the actor. I've always been a fan of Matheson and he manages to keep one entertained here as the leader of the spaceship. Heston, playing his father, gives that tough guy approach to the character and we get to see him beat up a couple people, which is always good. Palance plays a guy who basically walks around like a bum and once again the actor is so over-the-top that you can't help but enjoy the performance. Boyle doesn't have much to do but it's still nice seeing him. Annabel Schofield is good in her supporting bit. SOLAR CRISIS is a rather weird film because you wonder why a "B" movie has such a high budget but at the same time you realize that the material needed an even higher one to really do the story any justice. I will say that this film shares a lot of similarities with Michael Bay's Armageddon and I do wonder if some of the stuff here was borrowed for it. Flying Monkeys (2013) :star::star: The latest from SyFy centers on a father (Vincent Ventresca) who is late to his daughter's (Maika Monroe) graduation so as a make-up gift he buys her a monkey. What he doesn't know is that this monkey is actually a shape shifter that can grow wings as well as grow in size and likes to eat humans. FLYING MONKEYS is pretty much what you'd expect from a movie that shows up on SyFy but I think for the most part it's slightly entertaining and ranks as one of the better things to turn up on the channel at nine o'clock. I know that's not saying too much since there's a lot of bad movies on there but this one here actually works on a few levels. For starters, I thought both Ventresca and Monroe were good in their parts and they certainly helped keep the film interesting and moving along. I thought both of them fit their roles just fine and their performances were certainly better than you normally see in a film like this. The supporting players, while not perfect, were also entertaining in their roles. I can't say the father-daughter subplot was all that great but it's certainly better than what most "B" movies offer up. Another thing that actually works are the CGI monkeys. Yes, the thought of a flying monkey is rather silly but I still thought the special effects were better than most. For starters, unlike so many movies, this one here didn't try to make the monsters bigger than Godzilla (remember the channel's BIGFOOT?) and instead of making them look fake, they actually went the extra mile to make them look realistic or at least as realistic as a flying monkey can be. The CGI wasn't over-the-top nor was it so bad that you couldn't believe what you were watching. First-time director Robert Grasmere has worked on several big films so he's obviously been around talent. I think he actually did a good job considering what the material was. Of course, this is still a SyFy "B" movie so I'd be interesting in seeing what he does from here as well as the cast members.