Twitter UpdatesMy Tweets
Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Earlier tonight, I saw Star Trek Beyond, the latest and third of the rebooted Star Trek films (and thirteenth overall). I know that the movie is still very fresh in my mind, and it would be prudent for me to really take some time to absorb the movie before sharing my thoughts. However, my immediate reaction to Beyond is that it is a very middling film. It isn’t terrible by any means, but this is a movie that I really wanted to like more. There was something about it that I just found lacking.
In Beyond, the crew of the Enterprise is ambushed and stranded on an alien planet where they are desperate to escape from the evil Krall who wants to destroy the Federation with some device that the crew happens to have. Here are the positives. I liked the set-up. Having the crew apart from one another on an alien world is something new and refreshing for the Star Trek films. I also liked how every main cast member had something of importance to do. No one was really shafted and they all had a moment to shine. All of that was great, and I really liked seeing that.
Where the film suffers is the writing, particularly that of our new villain Krall (as played by Idris Elba). What is this guy’s ultimate plan? How does he have control of the aliens on the planet? Where did he come from? What is pushing this guy to do what he is trying to do? You never really know until very late in the third act and by that time, you don’t really care. And the problem is that it is still incredibly muddled. Given his eventual backstory reveal, Krall could have been an interesting character, but by the time the movie deepens him, it is too little, too late.
Once you get his backstory, you then start to ask questions that are never really answered. How did he do this or how did he learn about the weapon? How did he know that the Enterprise had the item he needed when the Enterprise didn’t know what it was? Why didn’t he ever try to leave the planet when he clearly had the means to? His whole character then completely unravels. And since the plot really hinges on him, the movie really suffers.
Besides that, the direction is incredibly lifeless. Beyond attempts to be the most action-based Star Trek film yet, but outside of the climatic rescue of the crew, it is just kind of dull. I’m honestly surprised about it because Justin Lin really breathed new life in the then-dying Fast and Furious franchise when he came on board. And who was in charge of the lighting design? Some of the night/dark scenes were so dark, I could barely register what I was seeing.
Whereas Star Trek (2009) was a lot of fun and Star Trek Into Darkness had an interestingly complex plot (before it completely fell apart in the final quarter), Beyond doesn’t really do much for me. The story and motivations pushing it along are too muddled for me to be invested in, and it isn’t nearly fun enough for me to not care about narrative missteps. I really wanted to like Star Trek Beyond and I do to a certain extent. I just wanted to like it more. Maybe a future viewing will have me warm to the film more, but right now, I am a bit cold. And that disappoints me the most.
I’ve seen a decent number of the 2016 summer season offerings, but I honestly have neither the interest nor the time to write a detailed review of everything I’ve seen. Hence, I’ve decided to compile a few mini-reviews as a site update and a way to express a few opinions. I typically have Wikipedia open during a movie review as a reference, but I’m not going to do that this time. So don’t be surprised to find minor errors throughout this post.
This movie, intended by Universal Pictures and videogame company Blizzard to be the first in a series, is terrible and famously bombed in American theaters (Chinese audiences saved it from being a total disaster). The acting is not the problem here. Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, and Toby Kebbell are all pretty great in their roles. I really liked Kebbell’s performance as Durotan actually. Duncan Jones’ direction seems weirdly rushed. The whole movie seemed quickly paced, which limited character development and emotional investment from the audience. Outside of the acting, I also appreciated the production design and special effects. The movie looks great in theaters. The big problems, besides the directing, are in the film’s lackluster script and in its worldbuilding. It seems limited, restrained, held back. It should have been epic and it just was not. That being said, I still probably liked it more than most people. It is not typical of a summer movie, and I can appreciate that. It is still not good.
I’m not a fan of Pixar movies. This movie didn’t change my opinion of them for the better. Yes, it has grossed a metric ton of cash but then again most Pixar films that aren’t about dinosaurs do. I just don’t care for Pixar movies that much. Highlights include Ellen Degeneres’ and Ed O’Neill’s voice acting performances, beautiful computer animation, and a fairly strong script that doesn’t just rehash the first movie. It is still sappy and emotionally manipulative and it still straddles the line between “for kids” and “for adults,” so again it just isn’t for me. I just don’t think I’ll ever like a Pixar movie again and I’m ok with that.
Anyone who has read my writing on here from the beginning knows I’m a huge fan of “man vs. nature” movies. This is a special case as it is woman (Blake Lively) vs. nature, which hasn’t been done that much. I absolutely loved it! I seriously hope Lively gets some awards season attention for her role in this film as she is fantastic. The movie follows Lively as she is menaced by a shark in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Mexico. Too far from shore and with a gaping wound from a bite, Lively must survive against the elements and outwit Mother Nature herself. Well shot, well directed, well acted, well scripted… this low budget thriller has it all, including really decent special effects despite its limited budget. This is the best “(wo)man vs. nature” film since Liam Neeson’s The Grey from 2012.
Though it received overall pretty terrible reviews, I actually really liked this movie. It is gorgeously shot and although paced glacially at times, it never failed to keep my interest. It is colorful throughout, which is a change of pace from typical modern blockbusters. Stellen Skarsgard’s son (Peter I think?) is fine as Tarzan, but Samuel L. Jackson (who I’m usually not a big fan of) steals the show. He’s the most interesting character in the film and is a huge asset here. Christoph Waltz is also fine as the villain, though I would have liked to see him get even crazier. Special effects are excellent (they should be as this film cost 180 million dollars to produce) with special credit going to the gorillas, who look realistic and terrifying throughout. This movie was a huge summer surprise for me and I really enjoyed it.
The Purge: Election Year
I really enjoy The Purge series of films. The first started small, the second greatly expanded on the idea, and the third expands even further on the excellent sequel. Election Year is the best film in the franchise. It is topical without losing its violent, visceral appeal. Bringing Frank Grillo back as ex-cop Leo was an excellent idea, as was adding Elizabeth Mitchell as a Bernie Sanders-esque presidential candidate. These films get better and better with each installment and its nice to see them thrive at the box office as well. I really appreciate films that skimp on the budget but not on the thrills. It helps that The Purge series is built on a fantastic concept and that the filmmakers have expanded that concept so successfully. This may be my favorite film of the summer, give or take a Now You See Me 2.
I have the controversial opinion on the new Ghostbusters film: I thought it was just okay. It’s nowhere near as odious as militant fanboys on the internet would have you believe (Overzealous fanboys on the internet? Well, I never!), nor is it as great as obnoxious left-leaning bloggers would want you to think. It is decently funny in places and its characters are well worth spending the time with. I just think the movie could have been so much better. Unfortunately the villain is completely undercooked and I just couldn’t find him particularly interesting. Likewise, I’m about sick of the Hemsworth family and this film is no exception. I never found Chris Hemsworth funny as bumbling secretary Kevin. The good here are in the performances from the four main characters and the special effects. The script could have used a fine-tuning and the direction is lifeless at times, which is detrimental to a comedy. Again, it’s just an okay movie.
Star Trek Beyond
I did not like Star Trek Into Darkness but I loved the initial installment of this reboot series. Beyond thankfully is more of the first movie and less Into Darkness. I still love this new cast and I really like some of the ideas presented in this movie. It was entertaining and crowd pleasing, but just not that special. It’s a very solid summer movie but also very indicative of the 2016 summer season. It unfortunately doesn’t really stand out on its own. Highlights include the aforementioned cast (RIP, Anton Yelchin), the direction (Justin Lin fits in fine here), the production design, and the special effects. The script is ok, with some good ideas, but is mostly perfunctory. It’s a shame though that it just doesn’t feel as special as that first movie. It is a perfectly good summer movie and I certainly enjoyed it more than Into Darkness.
For those who don’t know, I am getting married this summer. To me, marriage is one of the “most adult” things someone can do. You are completely sharing your life with someone else in a way that will fundamentally change you. This feeling of maturity/responsibility is only second to having a child (I would imagine – I’m not there yet).
Now, you might be wondering where I am going with this. Stay with me. I swear it’ll all make sense.
When the Gorehound and I did the 2016 movie preview podcast (listen here!) I noticed that there were a bunch of summer films coming out that I’m looking forward to mostly due to them connecting to my younger years and giving me some nostalgia.
I’ve always been a big Superman fan, so logically I am anticipating Batman v. Superman (despite my disappointment with Man of Steel) in March. Then we go to Captain America: Civil War in May. Cap was my guy in high school and the more I learn about this film, the more I feel it is Cap from the stories I grew up reading from the mid-90s and subsequently went back to read from the mid-80s.
Sort of moving away from the comic book genre, June brings us to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Judging from the trailer, this film looks even more like the 90s cartoon that I loved as a kid than the first film. The Turtles were the thing for every kid back then. I had so much Turtles crap too. I don’t have it now, mind you. Which I don’t know is a good thing or a bad thing. Good thing. I’m going to go with good.
The only thing that rivaled Turtles for me was Ghostbusters. I loved the Ghostbusters. And I still somewhat regret giving away all the toys when I was a teen. I still have some things, but I mostly regret getting rid of the firehouse playset. That thing was awesome. If you were a kid from the 80s, you know what I am talking about! Anyway, July gives us a brand new Ghostbusters movie, and I am totally looking forward to it. Screw the haters on this (more on that later this week).
Finally, this brings us to Star Trek Beyond, the film meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise. I’m anticipating it to be a pretty big deal – these films usually are. Trek, for me, was the first series that I really got into as I was becoming slightly older (9-10) and beginning to understand more complex storytelling and ideas. It is also a franchise that I really got into during my teens and though my dedication to it has lessened over time, I’ve been following it since.
Star Trek Beyond is the last nostalgia-fueled movie that is coming out this year for me. It also happens to be released the same weekend that I am getting married. I tried to convince my bride-to-be that we had to change the wedding date. Expectedly, she wasn’t amused my by joke.
All these movies coming out pretty much hit every single major player in my childhood fun (the only thing missing is He-Man), and they all run up to my wedding. That’s when it hit me. Given my views on marriage and how it is one of the most adult things to do with major adult responsibilities, it seems incredibly serendipitous that all these films are coming out right before I say “I do”. I get one last time to really enjoy all the things that I loved as a kid, before I truly have to move beyond and let those things go.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy stuff like Ghostbusters or Superman in the future nor that I will refuse to see any potential future installments of these particular series. It is the symbolic nature of it. The idea of growing up.
I don’t know if I truly believe in fate other than the romantic notion of it, but it tough to ignore how this lines up. I don’t know, but it does seem fitting. It is like fate is saying “Yep. This is legit! This is happening!” It adds to the good feeling of change that will happen with my future bride and I will truly begin our lives together, and it add more excitement to my upcoming nuptials!
I was sitting here working on a new title track for the All-New Culture Cast when I realized that I haven’t done a Trek Tuesday in a while and there was something I really wanted to discuss. So, I’m tabling title track for now (which, to be honest, was going nowhere fast) to talk about the recently released first teaser trailer for Star Trek Beyond.
You can watch it here.
My initial reaction is that it’s…different. Not in a bad way. It is way too early for that kind of vibe. It is just that the previous twelve movies had some sort of “slow burn” to their teaser/trailers. There was a mystery involved and a sense of some sort of grand awe-inspiring adventure awaiting movie goers. Star Trek Beyond’s teaser focused primarily on intense action (which is in line with the rebooted Star Trek series). The difference in style can throw the dedicated trekker who wasn’t expecting that.
The change in style has caused a seemingly large negative reaction from the internet with some claiming that the new movie isn’t Star Trek and that incoming director Justin Lin doesn’t “get it” and is just making another Fast and Furious movie (mostly citing the motorcycle stunt featured in the teaser as evidence of this even though motorcycles as common vehicles were established and that Kirk knowing how to use them in 2009’s Star Trek). This criticism is misguided. Cutting a trailer can be done in many ways and is usually determined by an outside group independent of the filmmakers. Plus, similar trailers could probably be cut for each of the Star Trek movies from the past 20 years.
My point is that there is no need to become butthurt that they decided to focus on the action for a one and a half minute teaser trailer. But that hasn’t stopped internet neckbeards and internet geek-friendly “celebrities” such as George Takei and Wil Wheaton from bemoaning it.
Simon Pegg has spoken up over the trailer claiming it was a marketing decision and that the film has a lot of what makes Star Trek was it is. Clearly, this was done for some spin control, but I suspect that Pegg has another motive in that his neck is kind of on the line by being the movie’s co-writer. Given that he has recently began to criticize some elements of Star Trek Into Darkness after originally passionately defending it and his recent unnecessarily over-the-top and juvenile comments of the Star Wars prequels and its fans, he needs to be careful that he, himself, doesn’t create a turd of a movie and that this early marketing (which is outside of his control) doesn’t hinder the film’s performance.
But enough about all that. What about the actual trailer? I think it looks interesting. From the little I can tell, looks like the crew of the Enterprise is in some sort of jam. Did the ship crash on an alien planet? Will the movie be mostly planet-bound? Looks like some of it takes place on Earth, but who knows when that happens in the film? Whatever the case maybe, it offers something new to the series. I’d be surprised if they “off” the Enterprise so soon in this series. Will they give us the Enterprise-A? Lots of interesting theories that can be pulled.
They also have new uniforms. If one thing rubbed my nose the wrong way with the trailer is that I really don’t care for the new uniform design. Maybe I liked the previous one too much, but these aren’t doing it for me. Yes, I realize that is really nitpicky, but that is really all I got. I do like the new jackets, though.
I don’t know if I will go into a media blackout for Star Trek Beyond like I did with Into Darkness. There doesn’t seem to be as much “mystery” surrounding the 2016 release when compared to the last installment. Either way, this new teaser trailer has been really interested in the film. I’m looking forward to it!
Special Episode! Nick and the Gorehound take an “inside baseball” approach as they look ahead and discuss some upcoming movies for 2016! They have a lot to talk about and discuss a wide variety of upcoming films including, but not limited from The Hateful Eight and Batman v Superman to The Huntsman and Hail Caesar! They are also going to talk about some movies that don’t have release dates yet! Crazy!
Click here or on the image to listen to the episode!
I know I said last time that I’d be doing more Trek Tuesday entries in 2015, that didn’t happen. Life has been even more crazy. But, I think, life has been calming down, so I’m going to get back to it! And there is a lot to talk about.
The big news that was released about a month ago is that the new movie is going to be called Star Trek Beyond. I instantly liked it. Sure, it is probably a meaningless title (like Into Darkness was), but it sounds cool and, as strange as this might seem, sounds very Star Trek.
It also sounds, in an odd way, optimistic. One of the things Star Trek is known for is displaying an optimistic view of the future where people get along and petty differences are put aside for the greater good, and many of the films do deal with these themes. However, many of the subtitles for the films have been the opposite of optimistic. Into Darkness, Wrath of Khan, Insurrection, Nemesis – they are all kind of dark or dark-sounding. And just modern blockbuster films today in genera tend to have darker-sounding titles (which is one of the reasons I didn’t care for the Into Darkness title). It has been a movie title cliché (along with the words of “rise” and “revenge”). Star Trek Beyond is just so refreshing to hear as the title for summer movie.
It also sounds unique and is catchy – which is great marketing.
I really like it, and I am excited about this film. I have high hopes for it. Just little over a year away!