Category Archives: chris pine

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness ~ There was so much hype about is-it-Khan-or-isn’t-it that I think it really overshadowed what a great film this truly is. Maybe if J.J. Abrams hadn’t kept it such a big secret, and just not made a big deal about it, maybe the reception would have been different. Sure this sequel did well, and there will be a third, but I think it could have done better. I mean, seriously, if it came out that this was going to be a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, different or exactly the same, couldn’t that have only helped box office sales?

Yes, the circumstances are different, and yes, things play out very Bizarro World in some places, but that doesn’t make it a bad movie. I think it’s cool. Abrams did a wonderful thing with the first movie. He found a way for old fans and new fans of Trek to get the best of both worlds. There’s a new continuity without jettisoning the old one, can it get much better than that? New and old fans get a new Khan story, and old fans get to see a parallel universe to the one they know. This is a good thing.

I liked the parallels. I like the new and known dynamics of the Kirk/Spock relationship, and well all the other character relationships. While I do yearn for a seasoned Kirk who knows what to do, I like this young guy too. All the characters get good screen time, the actors give great performances, and the villain(s) do as well. Benedict Cumberbatch is both a compelling actor, but a very compelling villain as well. His casting was golden. He’s no Ricardo Montelban, but he is Khan.

The other thing I loved is probably something that the old Trekkies and Trekkers hate. I loved the action. It never stops. Star Trek Into Darkness is a fast rollercoaster ride of an action movie. This is not your grandfather’s Star Trek where they talk their enemies to death, this is, again, the best of both worlds. I should note that the story has some problems, both in logic and in flow, but you don’t have time to think about it until after it’s over.

And many folks I know had a problem with what seems at first a cop out in the story. That would be young Spock confronting old Spock on a situation he had already encountered. Hello? If your alternate universe future self were readily available for you to access his experience, wouldn’t the logical thing be to consult him, and consult him as much as possible? Eat Vulcan logic, Trekkies.

Visually stunning, wonderfully written, directed, and acted, this is one hell of a movie. I will grant you, this isn’t as good as the first one, but it continues the story suitably and respectfully. Maybe for the new Trek series, the odd-numbered sequels are the good ones.

Unstoppable

Unstoppable ~ I was looking for a guy flick to see with my father-in-law, and I had a few different choices. There was spaceships and explosions (Skyline), cars and explosions (Faster), trains and explosions (Unstoppable) or cowboys and ninjas and explosions (The Warrior’s Way). By default of timing, we saw Unstoppable.

I wasn’t expecting much, in any of the choices really, but at least here, Denzel Washington usually picks excellent scripts, even when it comes to mindless action flicks. I have to say I was impressed. Except for the first five to ten minutes of character set-up, and of course a quick crash course (pun unintended) in trains and how they work, this film was non-stop tension and suspense.

Even when Denzel and Chris Pine were not directly involved in the tension, you knew eventually that Denzel and young Captain Kirk would be in the thick of it soon and save the day. If I had complaint, it would be they should have been in the mix much earlier. Denzel easily plays the hero while still acknowledging his age, giving Pine a chance to shine age appropriately, which is not only realistic, but courteous as well. And I could just look at Rosario Dawson forever.

I wouldn’t have thought walking in, but Unstoppable is a hell of a nail-biter, a thriller worth seeing. It never lets up and delivers what it promises. Check it out.

Bookmark and Share

Star Trek – The New Frontier

Star Trek ~ There are numerous reasons why a major entertainment franchise would be rebooted. Perhaps it’s been forgotten a generation ago. Maybe the last film in the series did comparatively horrible at the box office to previous entries. Perhaps the last television attempt was on a flailing network and was badly promoted – and in some cases dissed by supposed fans of the franchise. For Star Trek, coming up on its 43rd anniversary, can count all of those reasons and more for its current reboot in theatres in just a week or so.

The powers that be have brought in J.J. Abrams, of “Alias,” “Lost” and Cloverfield to helm this eleven Trek film, with an all-new cast in a prequel/sequel/reimagining/reboot (yes, it is all of those things) to the original TV series. Trailers have brought nothing but controversy for Trek fans and interest in viewers with no Trek in their past. Surely, this flick will be a rite of passage.

Before I go any further, be warned that this is a spoiler-rich review. I saw the film nearly two weeks ago and have been trying to write a spoilerless review. It’s just not possible to do, and address the things I want to address – so if you continue reading, consider yourself warned.

The flick begins with a bang, and the rollercoaster hardly stops from there on, which is a marked difference from Trek. The Treks before this have seemed pretentiously talky, so much so that is considered to be the way it should be – a point made by Trekkies when they haven’t liked films with ‘too much action,’ like Nemesis, the last movie in the series that may have helped kill the franchise. And that’s a point I’d like to bring up to the hardcore ‘fans’ out there – Paramount did not nearly kill the franchise – you did by not supporting it. I think this is the main reason this new film was made for the mainstream younger audience -and not those hardcore fans- to save the franchise.

And that’s not to say that this new film is not for the fans. The writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, have taken great care to keep continuity and canon high on their priority list – despite the time travel alternate divergence mindgames that go on. They not only play by the rules, but they also get to play by theirs as well. There are moments, little nods, like the red shirt phenomenon, Admiral Archer’s beagle, Kirk eating an apple during the Kobayashi Maru, Sulu’s fencing, McCoy’s signature catchphrases, and the timelost old Spock doing to young Scotty what the timelost old Scotty himself does to a young 20th century engineer in The Voyage Home, that are just brilliant. And although they are brief, I love the scenes of Kirk and Spock as boys. Beautiful, just beautiful.

The cast is near perfect. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, but twenty minutes into the flick I had forgotten about the original cast and was seeing the new faces as the characters. Chris Pine plays William Shatner as Kirk (rather than just William Shatner, which probably would have been disastrous) just as Zachary Quinto does Nimoy as Spock. Each though brings their own flavor to the part – a bit of James Dean for young Kirk and an alien outsider vibe to young Spock. Karl Urban is the perfect McCoy. That particular bit of inspired casting is a gift from God. I may have to wonder if DeForrest Kelley is his father, it’s so close.

The rest of the cast is rounded out well with the always entertaining Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho doing a wonderful intimidating impression of George Takei doing Sulu in the original series, as opposed to Takei’s more satiric take of recent years thanks to his coming out and participation with the Howard Stern programs, and the highlight of the cast has got to be Zoe Saldana as Uhura – finally claiming the spotlight the character should have had decades ago. Zoe is an actress to watch for the future.

Conversely, Anton Yelchin who plays Chekov, is quite annoying, and one of the lowlights of the film. I have to wonder however if this is on purpose. If memory serves when the Beatle-esque character first appeared in the second season of the original series many fans hated him just as they did that other ratings bump Seven-of-Nine decades later in “Voyager.” Maybe we’re supposed to hate him?

It should be noted that it’s not all wine and roses though. Along with Chekov there were other elements that didn’t win me over. Star Wars is alive an well in the film. Things like the great Tatooine-ish bar scene and fight in which Uhura is introduced and Kirk looking at the Academy training center shaped like a starship work well, but it goes too far in the Hoth scene with Cloverfield’s cousin – thankfully it’s a brief departure. I also didn’t care much for Kirk’s allergy, but again, very brief. I’m torn by the slug scene. is it a rip-off or an homage to the similar scene in Wrath of Khan?

The special effects are great. I like the new warp effect but no so keen on the new transporter effect. The music is amazing. Much like the powerful score of Tyler Bates in Watchmen, the music of Michael Giacchino more than makes this movie as great as it is. He dabbles in Philip Glass, brings on the Akira Ifukube, and even retunes a bit of the original Alexander Courage. I can’t say enough about this score, other than I bought it, and for a soundtrack for me, that’s saying a lot.

All that said, I think this new Star Trek will not only reignite the franchise, but will be the first summer blockbuster of the year, if not the summer blockbuster of the year. It’s fresh, it’s accessible, and it’s exciting. And Trekkies will hate it.

.