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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Star Trek Beyond

July 27, 2016 2 comments
Star Trek BeyondDirected by: Justin Lin
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Lindsey Weber, Justin Lin
Written by: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung
Edited by: Greg D’Auria, Dylan Highsmith, Kelly Matsumoto, Steven Sprung
Cinematography by: Stephen F. Windon
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Sofia Boutella, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson, Deep Roy, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Based on the TV series created by Gene Roddenberry
Year: 2016

 

These new Star Trek films are seemingly starting to make a lot of fans of the original TV series feel a lot like how Mission: Impossible TV fans must feel when a new one of those movies comes out: befuddlement at the lack of tonal comparability to the source material. Or, in the case of some even more dedicated fans, the lack of total fidelity by way of reiterating information and storylines we are already familiar with (if one must adapt it in the first place). And, you know, I kinda get it. As hard as it is to continue a property after a prolonged period of time – 50 years for Star Trek this very year, in fact – it’s probably even more pressure to adapt something into another medium and/or revive it for a new era, lest the property disappear into obscurity. In trying to appeal to potential new fans and audiences, you run the risk of ruining everything the series had set up previously and getting accused of “betraying” fans or, heaven forbid, “ruining childhoods.” With Fast & Furious director Justin Lin taking over the helm from non-fan J.J. Abrams, it seemed like fans were in for a whole new level of alleged stupidity and mindless action for a series that was previously famous for its philosophical bent. Surely, after the insult of having been lied to about Khan’s presence in Into Darkness, the third reboot film, Beyond, was destined to top even that one in terms of backhanded insults! Read more…

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REVIEW: From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から)

November 13, 2013 1 comment
From Up on Poppy HillDirected by: Goro Miyazaki
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa (screenplay)
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Atsuhi Okui
Music by: Satoshi Takebe
Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Sarah Bolger, Junichi Okada, Anton Yelchin, Keiko Takeshita, Christina Hendricks, Jun Fubuki, Jamie Lee Curtis, Yuriko Ishida, Gillian Anderson, Takashi Naito, Bruce Dern, Shunsuke Kazama, Charlie Saxton, Teruyuki Kagawa, Beau Bridges, Rumi HIiragi, Aubrey Plaza, Emily Osment, Goro Miyazaki, Ronan Farrow, Ron Howard
Based on the manga by Tetsuro Sayama and Chiziru Takahasi
Year: 2011 (Japan), 2013 (US)

 

A friend of mine pointed out soon after he read this review that it’s important that I specify that I watched the English dub — not due to the dub’s inherent inferiority (it is very good), but due to a stylistic choice in the English dub’s voice casting of a character during a pivotal dream sequence. I will not spoil it here, but after having this brought to light, I feel it is necessary that I point this out. I actually really like the thematic depth the English dub adds, whereas he did not. Either way, my rating stands.

I’m normally an admirer of his reviews, but I must say that it’s a shame that Roger Ebert regarded From Up on Poppy Hill as a disappointment, especially as he was such a notable fan of Studio Ghibli’s, and this would, sadly, be the last film of theirs that he would ever review. While it may not reach the same sort of visual spectacle of the studio’s more fantastic and popular films – Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind among the studio’s most notable – From Up on Poppy Hill is no less a visual masterpiece and is one of the more touching, quieter films that have come out of the studio. It may not go on to be their most memorable or most favorited film among the studio’s throngs of fans, but as director Goro Miyazaki’s second film after the disappointing Tales from Earthsea, which actually was more like what you would expect from an anime studio, to criticize this dramatically superior but more intimate film for being something that it never aspired to be in the first place feels like doing the film a disservice. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Star Trek Into Darkness”

May 18, 2013 3 comments
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Edited by: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey
Cinematography by: Daniel Mindel
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldaña, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, John Cho, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin
Year: 2013

 

After years of anticipation, the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ bold new restart of the Star Trek film franchise is finally here. Though it was the eleventh film in the series, as the first film set in this alternate universe, it was also the franchise’s first step in an attempt to grab at a brighter future after years of the franchise taking a dive in both quality and creativity. With the promise of the series shedding years of expectations and established canon with a bit of time travel, 2009’s Star Trek brilliantly maneuvered the series into a position where it could once again surprise new audiences, Trekkies, and Trekkers alike. Read more…

Review: “Star Trek”

April 30, 2013 4 comments
Star Trek (2009)Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Edited by: Mary Jo Markey, Maryann Brandon
Cinematography by: Dan Mindel
Music by: Michael Giacchino, Alexander Courage (themes)
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldaña, Karl Urban, Eric Bana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Leonard Nimoy, Ben Cross, Clifton Collins, Jr., Winona Ryder, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Morrison
Year: 2009

 

It’s one of my favorite films now, but at the time this was first announced, I absolutely hated the idea of revisiting the original series characters. It wasn’t out of any sort of loyalty to the original cast, really, nor out of any sort of deep respect for their final film together, The Undiscovered Country (which contends with The Wrath of Khan for the best film), but more because I was sick of the franchise staying in the past. Other fans were seemingly of the same mind, with viewership so low for the prequel series Star Trek Enterprise that it resulted in the first Star Trek cancellation since the original series, and the abhorrently tacky Next Generation send-off Star Trek Nemesis earning the lowest box office in the series. So why was the studio and director J.J. Abrams, a self-admitted non-fan of the franchise, so keen on moving backward with the new film when stagnation was the series’ biggest problem in the first place? Read more…

Teaser Trailer: “Star Trek Into Darkness”

December 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Oooooo… Aside from the now-cliche “BWAAAAAHM”-like sounds, a la Inception, this first teaser trailer for the new Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, looks quite awesome (as all teaser trailers aim to be, ’cause they don’t show much plot).

What can we tell about the new movie from this trailer? Well, how about the fact that it looks to be very earthbound — or, at the very least, a planet with a large humanoid population… but most likely Earth. More evidence to this fact is that we also see what is most likely the Enterprise rising up from a large body of water. How crazy is that?!

Star Trek Into DarknessThe still-unnamed villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is obviously holding a grudge against someone, though whether it’s Starfleet in general, someone on the Enterprise crew, or some combination of the two is obviously not revealed in this brief trailer. And, frankly, I hope it’s the first one, at least initially, ’cause if it’s too much of a personal grudge, at least initially, too many parallels could possibly be drawn between this film and Wrath of Khan.

Speaking of which, we also get to see Kirk fighting someone who possibly has some sort of superhuman strength, based on the fact that he’s leaping through the air and swinging around a very large, heavy-looking weapon. Could Cumberbatch and/or his henchmen be genetically enhanced, like Khan? Or has he encountered some anomaly that has caused these enhancements, like Gary Mitchell in the original series episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”? I hope it’s someone original, but I wouldn’t mind a few nods and references to either character, either. Gary Mitchell already featured in the comic tie-in series to J.J. Abrams’ films, and so that would be kind of redundant anyway and would suck for the comic creators, being written out of canon so fast and so definitively.

And, finally, who’s the blonde girl being played by Alice Eve who we only see fleeting glimpses of? A few possibilities exist in some original characters that haven’t yet been introduced to the Abrams films: Yeoman Janice Rand is one possibility. Given the blue uniform, however, my guess is that it’s Nurse Christine Chapel, a character originally played by Gene Roddenbarry’s wife, Majel Barrett and mentioned off screen in the first film.

Of course, we’ll probably get no official answers until the movie comes out, as it should be. But it’s fun to speculate, all the same! And in case you didn’t get enough of the trailer, why not watch this Japanese version, which has an extra bit of nostalgia at the end that will be familiar to many Trek fans:

2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, May – September 2011

January 7, 2012 15 comments

<< Part 1: January – April 2011

Ah, summer. A time of blockbusters. The time of year that everyone looks forward to, even people who don’t necessarily like seeing a whole lot of films. 2011’s summer season for me was weird. I quit my job at an ice skating rink in Scottsdale sometime in June and began working full time at the warehouse I had also been working at, where I got a promotion from being a warehouse clerk to, of all things, a bookkeeper — a position my boss really took a chance with me on since the last time I did anything math-related was the easiest math class I could sign up for and still get the required credits to graduate on time with two years prior.

As such, I lost my movie-discussion buddy at the ice skating rink, which would then lead to my ignorance of several major releases in 2011. The friendships I forged there, particularly with my friend Lesley, continue to resonate with me but have also become a sort of symbol of my relationship with movies over the past year, as well, as I have grown to have fewer and fewer new encounters with both, much to my dismay.

I’m grateful for my current job, of course, as it is the first major promotion I’ve ever received, and I’ve gone on to also help in customer service, but without someone I am able to chat with and have meaningful, deep conversations about film with on a regular basis, the more disconnected I’ve grown from what is being released these days, including films I would have otherwise never heard about. Ultimately, this disconnect from what was happening would become so intolerable that I would force myself to start this blog, an aspiration that had been gestating in my heart for well over a year by the time I actually published my first article.

As with part one of this 2011 retrospective of films I didn’t see in theatres or at home, this is not intended to be my final say on these films, but rather a reflection upon what my impression of them was and why, if for any reason, I did not or chose not to see them.

Also, before I move forward, I want to to also thank everyone for the great response I’ve gotten over the past couple days. I never could have imagined  that I would get 3,333 views in one day, and the amount of comments I received on the first part by the first time I saw these figures was more than double the amount of people passing through on a daily basis without even leaving comments at all. To think that this has largely continued into the second day, as well, as I continued to be “Freshly Pressed” just floors me, and I’m more than touched and thrilled to have you all reading my site! Welcome to The Viewer’s Commentary, and I hope you’re enjoying your stay!

Now then, on to the article! Read more…

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