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Posts Tagged ‘Karl Urban’

Today’s reviews are of a movie I watched earlier in the week and a book I finished today…
Movie Review: Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
This is the third movie in the Star Trek reboot series which stars Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Bones/McCoy) and Simon Pegg (Scotty).  All the main characters are well played as all the actors seem to have settled into their on-going roles.  Sadly, I never saw this movie in its original release.  To be honest, I just never made time.  As good as a 50-inch screen may be from three feet away, it’s still not the same as having to use your peripheral vision to absorb the spectacle of the big screen theater experience.  But, then again, there is much to be said for a pause button, having your own kitchen / food / fridge, and a toilet ten steps away.
Is the movie original, any good, plot, action, does it make sense, etc.?   No, not really.  Yes, very enjoyable.  The plot is okay.  The action is reasonable, but I found the special effects to be only so-so.  Does it make sense?  Does it have to?  It’s Star Trek!  Okay.  Yes!  It makes sense (as long as you don’t try to think about it too hard).  The “best” Star Trek has always been a commentary on its current times, with a sub-textual message that we can get through this if we work together (aka “the future is hopeful”).  I would only say I’m getting tired of the Enterprise getting destroyed.  This is like the fifth time in fifteen movies.  Enough already!  We’ve seen this Fx get worked to death, now.  All in all, I’d say this was the best of the three reboots.  Highly recommended, particularly if you are a Trekkie (like me).
Book ReviewJack Reacher Series #2: Die Trying  (1998©)
This book is the second in the Jack Reacher series of “male / adventure / action” genre books which I enjoy reading.  The series is authored by Lee Child.  Although it is the second book in the series, it is actually the third book I’ve read.  I got out of sequence because I read the book which corresponds to the Tom Cruise movie which came out several years ago (2012).  I enjoyed the movie, so I read the book.  I enjoyed the book (#8 in the series), so I decided to go back and read the series in order.
In this book, Jack is kidnapped (with a female FBI agent) in Chicago and taken to a posse comitatus (aka right-wing crazies) encampment in Montana where he must foil an attempt to secede from the United States.  All in all, the book is pretty standard faire for this genre and for this series.  Having said that, you will either enjoy it or you won’t.  I did.  Again, nothing earth-shattering here, just a good action / adventure story.  Even though it’s over 500 pages, it’s a fast read.  Strong to highly recommended book recommendation.
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On This Day In:
2015 Tell Me…
2014 Live Forever (To Remember Me)
Orange October (VI) – Giants Win Game 4
2013 More Than Just Words
2012 Egotist, n.
2011 Good And Bad

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Today’s review is for the Sci-Fi movie “Dredd” (2012) starring Karl Urban.  This movie is a remake of “Judge Dredd” (1995) which starred Sylvester Stallone.  Whenever you start off a movie review with “remake”, there are two immediate questions: have you seen them both, and, which one is better.  Answer one: yes.  Answer two: neither one of these is going to win anyone any Oscar.  As a Urban “fan” and as someone who is not “really” a Stallone fan (although I’ve seen a LOT more of Sly’s work than Karl’s), I’d be tempted to go with the remake.  In fact, though, they are different films about the same main character which makes comparison more problematic.
Dredd (Sly) is a lot of action with a touch of humor.  Dredd (Urban) is a lot of action with a lot of blood.  Dredd (Sly) is a lot like any other over the top comic hero shoot ’em up.  Dredd (Urban) is a visual “experience”, shot very similar to “300” or “Watchmen” with slow-mo amputations and spurting blood.  It was obviously meant to be viewed in 3-D at a theater, but I’m a 2-D person at home, so it probably lost some of its effects.  In any case, even when these visual effects are spectacular at the start of a movie, at the end of two hours you’re still yawning (ho-hum).
In this film, Dredd is assigned a new partner and he must evaluate her performance.  The pair get trapped in a meg-structure controlled by a drug-cartel / gang.  (Spoiler alert) The twist is that the cartel hires some “bad” Judges to come in and kill Dredd and his partner.  Three guesses: which judges win? who gets out of the building alive? and, does the rookie pass her evaluation?
The movie is about a dystopian future where there is very little value placed on human life.  Still, I found it mildly off-putting there was so much emphasis on the carnage and blood-letting and so little on a plot which made more sense.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m just getting old.  Yes, the F/X are better in the remake, but I can’t help feeling the first version had more story.  I’m definitely NOT saying it was a great movie – or even a better than good movie.  I just feel the first was better than the second as a story if not as a movie.  The one exceptional thing about this movie was the decision that Dredd would not take off his helmet for the entire movie.  I can’t think of many actors who can convey emotional content – for an entire movie – without the use of their eyes, but Urban carries it off.  (Like I said, I am a Karl Urban fan.)
Final recommendation: low to moderate recommendation with the qualification that although the title character is based on a “comic-book” character, this is not a child appropriate film due to language, violence and adult content.
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On This Day In:
2013 Enemy Mine
2012 Strengthen Me
2011 Service, Please
2010 The Church In Crisis…

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Well, the last thirty days have seen a good run of new movies for me: “Oblivion“, “Iron Man 3“, “The Great Gatsby” (last weekend) and yesterday, “Star Trek Into Darkness“.
The Great Gatsby – movie review
“The Great Gatsby” movie is based on the “classic” novel by the same name and written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I saw the movie promo’s starting several months ago, and as I’d read the book several decades ago, I decided to do something I almost never do – read the book and then go see the movie.  On the rare occasions when I do both read the book and then see a movie based on a book, I tend to see the movie (and enjoy it), and then go read the book.  In all honesty, this is normally because it takes a couple of years for the movie to follow the book and I would pick up the book in paperback after the movie just cause it’s cheaper to buy it used then.
But I digress…  This book is from the 1920’s and the movie has been done multiple times since its initial publication.  I guess the most famous is the 1970s version starring Robert Redford (which I have never seen).  Anyway, my daughter is an English major and she has a copy of the novel, so I read it in advance of seeing the movie.The movie follows the book very closely.  The characters are not the way I imagined them from the reading, but the major scenes are pretty spot on to the book.  As I didn’t “like” the book, I ended up finding the book only slightly better.  The costumes and feel of the movie seem pretty accurate and the acting was okay, but a couple of things bugged me.  Visually, the shirts and coats of many of the men didn’t seem to fit.  Almost all were too tight, and many were too short (particularly in the sleeves).  Now, normally this wouldn’t bother me much – if it all – but one scene has Gatsby raining down clothes on the female lead bragging about how he has them sent from his personal clothier in London.  So, why don’t the shirts, vest or jackets fit?
The second thing which bothered me was the music score.  It was too modern.  It had a ’20s “jazzy” feel, but it wasn’t, and a couple numbers even seemed to be almost rap.
So, is this the “definitive” Gatsby?  Even not having seen any of the other versions, I’d be inclined to say no.  I enjoyed DiCaprio in the title role, but everyone else was kind of blah.  Well, Maguire was okay, but not better than so-so.  None of the other characters were the way I imagined them from the book and certainly none of them played the role better than my imagination – again, even though the book was followed fairly closely.  Final recommendation: unless you are a MASSIVE DiCaprio or Gatsby fan, wait for TV release.
Star Trek Into Darkness – movie review
First off, full disclosure…  I watched all of Star Trek (the Original Series – aka ST:TOS) in first release back in the ’60s.  I have seen every episode at least five times (and most, many, many, many times more).  I even have the Enterprise and the Galileo Seven Christmas ornaments, for cryin’ out loud.  So, maybe this reviewer is slightly biased.  Having said this, what did I think?  This is a terrific movie!!  Get out your DVD of the first re-boot to get prepped and then RUN down to your local cinema to see this on a big screen.  Do NOT wait for this to come out on DVD unless you have a huge video set up at home.
Is this episode a “soap opera” in space? Yes (so what).  Are there “enough” nods to the original series and earlier movies? Yes!  Is there action?  YES!  Are the special effects up to snuff?  YES!  (Well, mostly.  Some of the CGI is pretty fuzzy / noticeable).  Is the acting good to great?  For the most part, yes!  These guys are really starting to own the roles, particularly the “minor” regulars Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin).  It goes without saying that Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones/McCoy (Karl Urban) are well played.  Once again, Scotty (Simon Pegg) dominates most of scenes he’s in.  And ethnic issues aside, Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a good Khan.For me, the two touchstones of ST:TOS were humor and friendship.  Both are abundant in this movie.  I honestly believe that if you are in any way a fan of the original series, you will enjoy (if not love) this movie!!
Now, before all the absolutists start in on me, here are a couple of the “WTF” moments:
The transporter has a limited range (even in “The Next Generation” (TNG)), you can’t beam from one solar system to another.  So, Khan can’t beam from Earth to the Klingon home world.  Khan defeats the combined crews of three Klingon Birds of Prey (30 to 40 guys), but he can’t wup on one Vulcan (okay, so Khan was popped by 6-8 phaser stun blasts, but still), come on…  And finally, even at warp speed, travel from Earth to the Klingon home world is not instantaneous.  And, yes, there are other things, but REALLY, the movie is terrific!
Anything else?  Yeah.  Two “reality” points.  First, enough with the retread story lines.  The purpose of the reboot was to provide freedom for new stories, not just to re-hash the old stories with new actors.  How about Star Trek 3 gives us a new story?  Now, that I’d love to see!  Second, Pine isn’t younger than Kirk anymore.  If you’re not careful, you’re going to age Pine right out of the role for future movies.  I don’t see how you can do five years worth of exploration while shooting a movie once every three / four years…
Time will tell…
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On This Day In:
2013 Defining Maleness
2012 All Set
2011 Not Always

 

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