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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…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: 10 Cloverfield Lane

March 12, 2016 3 comments
10 Cloverfield LaneDirected by: Dan Trachtenberg
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, Lindsey Weber
Screenplay by: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Story by: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken
Edited by: Stefan Grube
Cinematography by: Jeff Cutter
Music by: Bear McCreary
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher, Jr.
Year: 2016

 

It will do you no good making any direct comparisons between 10 Cloverfield Lane and its predecessor in name only, Cloverfield. The film started out life as an unrelated thriller titled Valencia and doesn’t even follow the same found footage style. Heck, it may not even take place within the same universe, despite some vague references here and there that hint to the contrary that already people may be making too big a deal out of. (Anyone else still want to try a Slusho?) Since the movie’s surprise trailer first released back in January, producer J.J. Abrams has described the film as being a companion film with similar themes, analogous to another type of ride within the same theme park. Fair enough. I’d liken the franchise as being much more like a sci-fi/thriller anthology series like The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, only in film format. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

December 21, 2015 6 comments
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force AwakensDirected by: J.J. Abrams
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Edited by: Mary Jo Markey, Maryann Brandon
Cinematography by: Dan Mindel
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow
Based on characters created by George Lucas
Year: 2015

 

Good Lord, it’s finally here!! Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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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:

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