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Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek Into Darkness – movie review’

I had a few days off last week, so I relaxed by watching a few films: Cash McCall, StarTrek Into Darkness, Fist of Legend, Interstellar, Annapolis and Atlas Shrugged 1, 2 and 3.  Because there are so many, I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this posting.  I hope some of you make it all the way through, though…
Cash McCall (1960)
Wealthy “youngish” industrialist Cash McCall (starring James Garner) makes his money by purchasing unsuccessful businesses, whipping them into shape and then selling them for a profit.  (Shades of Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman“.)  When Cash comes across a small corporation which manufactures plastics, he realizes it might be a gamble to buy the company, but the company’s owner, Grant Austin (played by Dean Jagger – better known as the General in the holiday favorite “White Christmas”), is the father of an old love interest, Lory Austin (played by a young Natalie Wood), he buys the business just to get a second chance at romance.
Well, that’s pretty much the “love story” aspects of the film.  Very predictable and, to be honest, not as funny / humorous as I thought it might be.  Be that as it may, there are a few interesting things about this movie.  First, Woods is absolutely gorgeous in this film.  She plays a “wealthy” daughter and nails the “acts very entitled” role.  The camera loves her.   Strangely, although Garner is only 10yrs older than Woods in this film – in real life that is – he “looks” much older.  Granted he’s still a sexy Hollywood male lead, but to me, the couple didn’t really gel because he “felt” so much older than her.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in the movie actually has very little to do with romantic comedy and everything to do with predicting economic reality.  Bear with me on this…  At the end of his second term as President of the U.S. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military / industrial complex.  There is a scene where Cash is explaining his view for the companies he’s consolidating (in the movie) – a plastics and an electronics firm.  The one he already owns is a financial conglomerate – which by the way owns a private security / detective agency and a credit / business checking business.  Anytime someone investigates him, Cash gets a report from both companies.  The second company is interesting because it’s a plastic firm.  If anyone knows anything about films from the mid to late 60’s, you almost certainly know the famous line “One word, son: Plastics”, from “The Graduate“.   Well, in this film, the star is saying (six years before “The Graduate”) you have patents on manufacturing plastics and the patents are worth more than your company because plastics are the future of manufacturing.  He then goes on to say, but that is only a bridge because the long term future is selling electronics (mounted on plastic) to the military and he doesn’t want the electronics company as much as he wants the retired general who is running the company, because he (Cash) wants an inside track with the officers in the Pentagon the retired general can provide access to (because he knows them all personally).  Who knew Hollywood could be so prescient about the future of industry in the U.S. (and the world).
Bottom line: a fairly typical rom-com with a very attractive couple.  If that’s all you’re looking for, this will be okay.  If you make the effort to look at the movie more deeply, there is a whole lot more going on…  Highly recommended!!  (By the way, I am a Jim Garner fan from his “Maverick” TV series days and I make no bones about my lack of objectivity.)
StarTrek Into Darkness (2013)
This is the sequel to the hit reboot of the movie franchise from 2009.  As with the second movie in the original StarTrek movies, this is about one of the series most popular villains: “Khan!!!” – or more accurately: Khan Noonien Singh.  Khan is a product of biological enhancement, essentially a superior man – physically stronger and a genius mentally.  The problem (well, one of them) is that Khan has little to no regard for “normal” humans.  Blah, blah, blah…  Long story, lots of special effects and a very good addition to the StarTrek legend.  This is a second review and you can read my original (and more detailed review) here.   This movie has “legs” and can definitely be re-watched again and again.  (Still) Highly recommended.
Fist of Legend (1994)
This movie is kind of a “classic” in the martial arts genre.  A Chinese martial arts student Chen Zhen (Jet Li) returns home to China to investigate the death of his Sifu.  Chen discovers his master was poisoned and goes about seeking revenge.  If you’ve spent any time watching movie fights on YouTube, you’ve probably seen at least one of the five (yes, count them 5!!) set piece fight scenes in this movie.  Hence my opinion that the film is a classic.  To be honest, although the movie is 20+ years old – and I’d never seen it before (!!!) – I felt as if I’d already seen the entire movie just based on the fights – which I have seen multiple times.  I would rate this movie right up with any of the early Bruce Lee movies (“The Big Boss”, “The Chinese Connection” or “Fist of Fury”) and definitely with any of the more recent Ip Man series.  Jet Li may not have the cinematic charisma of Bruce Lee, but he (Jet Li) certainly plays the part of acrobatic martial artist just as well.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!!  Come for the fights, stay for the interesting social commentary about national bigotry (from both the Chinese and the Japanese).
Interstellar (2014)
Now I never saw this movie at the theater, which is probably my loss, but I did not find the cinematic effects in this movie as awesome as everyone else seems to have found them.  Having said this, I feel the movie was a “real” attempt to bring some of modern science to the big screen.  So, kudos for that effort.
In Earth’s not to distant future, a global, unexplained, biological agent produces a crop blight and second Dust Bowl which together are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable – nitrogen is being released and oxygen is not.  A brilliant NASA physicist – Professor Brand (played by Michael Caine), is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. First, Brand must send former NASA pilot Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers (one of which is his daughter Amelia Brand played by Anne Hathaway) through a recently discovered wormhole near Saturn and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.  One of the movie’s tag-lines is: “Humanity was born on Earth.  It was never meant to die here.”
Of course there is a “conspiracy” and bad guys.  Hey this is Science Fiction, you know…  No, actually this is less a science fiction movie than it is a cinematic battle of ethics and morality.  In the end, time is malleable and family is everything, so the hero saves the day…  The movie works in a lot of different ways: as science, science fiction, special effects, acting.  The movie was nominated for multiple Oscars and deservedly so.  Final recommendation: highly recommended, but see it on as big a screen as you can find.
Annapolis (2006)
A cross between “An Officer And A Gentleman” and “Rocky“, this movie is about a fish out of water who goes to the U.S. Naval Military Academy at Annapolis.  (And, yes, that’s a bad pun.) The three main characters are:  Jake Huard (the “fish” – I mean star –  played well by James Franco),  Ali (the love interest played well by Jordana Brewster) and Cole (the antagonist played well by Tyrese Gibson).  Basically, Jake is only marginally qualified to be at the Academy and Cole is trying to force him to leave by quitting.  Ali agrees to help coach Jake in boxing for the brigade tournament and life ends happily ever after.
Just a few comments: I am not a big James Franco fan.  I thought he almost personally ruined a couple of the Spiderman movies.  Well, close anyway.  I have never heard of Jordana Brewster, but the camera loved her in this movie.  I had to check the Wiki-background on this actress because I could hardly believe she has done nothing I’ve seen in the eleven years since this movie came out.  She reminds me of a (Latin and younger) Jennifer Connelly.  Anyway, Brewster has worked, but I’ve just not seen any of it (TV or movies).  Finally, I like Tyrese Gibson!  I liked him in the Transformers movie series and I liked him in this role.  He and Brewster have both been in the Fast And Furious movie series, but I haven’t seen any of them so I can’t really comment on them in those roles.  Tyrese is multi-talented, but I wish he was able to focus more on acting.  I think he could be another Denzel Washington – and that’s saying quite a bit.
Final recommendation: better than most movies in this genre – moderate to strong recommendation.
Atlas Shrugged (1, 2 and 3) – (2011, 2012, 2013)
Back in 2012 I reviewed the first movie in this trilogy (see review here).  If anything, each movie in the series got worse.  I picked up I and II on sale for $5 each.  #1 was probably worth it.  #2 was not.  I saw #3 on YouTube.  The quality of the film was not high, but it was still better than anything else about the movie.   Terrible acting, terrible actors, terrible writing and absolutely no explanation of the reasons behind Ayn Rand’s popularity (objectivism or libertarianism).  Use the six hours of your life to do something productive and don’t watch these films.
Final recommendation:  not recommended movie(s).  You’ll get more from reading the book, than you’ll EVER get from watching these three movies.
Again, apologies for the length of this post but that’s four highly recommended, one moderate to strong recommendation and three not recommended.
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On This Day In:
2014 Get Wisdom
2013 Enjoying The View?
2012 Adam’s Rib
2011 I’m Sure I Remember That…
Memorial Day, 2011

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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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