Chris Pine

Star Trek Into Darkness

Year: 2013
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and David Lindelof. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Finally, I’ve made it. This is the twelfth and final Star Trek film I will be reviewing. We don’t own Beyond and I have no intention of getting it. This movie never seemed good enough to be part of the collection but I was curious. I ordered a copy when I got Star Trek Insurrection as a closing to this journey through Star Trek. I’ve seen this movie before but only once. I remember I was left a little befuddled and unsure of what to make of it. Now, in order to complete this journey let’s see if my initial reaction was justified.

They start teasing this as a rebooted Wrath of Khan early in the film with Spock putting his life in jeopardy. He even drops his famous line about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few. It was cooler when Spock sacrificed himself in the original. That Spock was sacrificing his life to save his friends, not giving up hope for the sake of “protocol.” It’s not worth dying just to follow the rules, a decidedly unbadass Spock move.

I don’t like the idea of trying to redo something that was already done great. Yeah, the first of this rebooted series was awesome because it so drastically improved on the The Motion PictureStar Trek reinvented this franchise but they should have left The Wrath of Khan alone. The Wrath of Khan is a damn near perfect Star Trek film and no matter how good this new version was it would have been better off continuing in its own direction and staying away from Khan altogether. They could have come up with a new villain like they did in the first one and I would have liked this movie better.

Kirk goes full John McClain when Khan attacks HQ. When blasters don’t work he turns to the fire hose and ties his rifle to the end of it to use it as a weapon. Granted he’s not using the hose to bungee down the side of the building but using it at all reminds me of Die Hard. For a second time around Chris Pine makes a great Captain Kirk, dare I say even outshining Shatner himself. His reaction to Pike’s death made an impression on Amber and she’s right, he performed the emotional scene well.

Wasn’t it the ultimate bullet to the head of Star Trek when J J Abrams ditched this franchise to be the man behind the new Star Wars? Not only was he leaving for a different film but to leave in favor of the space rival to the franchise he reinvented was just a slap in the face. No, worse than that, it was a kick to the balls. If the Force Awakens had been the greatest thing of all time then maybe I could get over it, but it wasn’t. He abandoned Star Trek to play with light sabers. It’s all very unfortunate but I wonder if this movie wasn’t as good as its predecessor because he had his eye on a galaxy far far away. Despite how fantastic J J Abrams was with his first Star Trek I have always had a problem with him, but I’ll discuss that when we review Super 8.

The scenes on Kronos are awesome. They have yet to have visited the Klingon home world in the films and it’s really cool that they did so here. Everything from the chase scene to the gunfight is exciting. Khan’s entry into the fray is everything that current special effects and style would have it be. The original Khan was great but this one is jumping around and assassin killing a bunch of Klingons.

I wouldn’t presume to compare Ricardo Montalban and Benedich Cumberbach because they are playing different versions of the character. I wish Cumberbach was playing a different character and not Khan. He steps on the toes of an incredible performance by carrying the same name. I do love how powerful the character is and  how he takes that attempted beating from Kirk. Maybe this is what the character was like in the episode from the original series, I haven’t seen it.

I like Peter Weller but I can’t say I was thrilled when he turned out to be the bad guy. Don’t get me wrong, Robocop makes for a great bad guy, but I don’t care for this role. His whole shtick in this movie is over the top. There’s a war coming and whose gonna lead it blah blah blah. It’s a waste of Peter Weller because I’ve seen him play a good bad guy before, but here he’s not a cool bad guy.

Simon Pegg shines as usual. The whole cast does really. Karl Urban is great, as is Anton Yelchin, with more to do this time around. I was a fan of Anton Yelchin during his Charlie Bartlett days and I was really sad when he died in such a freak accident. He was a talented young actor that died before his time. I have read that they do intend to keep this franchise going but will not recast the role of Chekov.

Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance! I didn’t remember that but it’s pretty cool in this universe that Spock can just call up himself and ask for advice now and again. He passed two years after this film in 2015 and may he rest in peace. Even though it was short it was cool to see him on screen one more time as Spock.

I remember wondering if this movie was brilliant or lazy after watching it for the first time. After making this journey through all the films I don’t think it is either. In fact I think it was awful to flip and recreate the sacrifice that made the original film so compelling. Spock and Kirk don’t have the same relationship in this movie that they had in Wrath of Khan. The characters had a long history of friendship which made the scene hit so much harder. These two guys were fighting one another in the last movie and suddenly their best friends trying to sell this blasphemous story retelling? This Spock crying is no good, the characters just aren’t that close and these guys can’t sell the scene. I think Pine and Quinto are great but they had no business doing this.

I’ve enjoyed this movie but not like I did its predecessor. It’s another cool Star Trek movie but something is missing this time around. I think it’s the story and I have a big problem with how they tried to recreate what was already done before. So much lost potential and with no factual info I blame Star Wars for taking J J Abrams’ eye off the ball. For giving him something bigger to play with and making Star Trek the toy left behind. It reminds me of when Bryan Singer bailed on the X-Men franchise in favor of Superman only to make something that sucked. Star Wars wasn’t terrible but it was more or less the exact same thing as The New Hope. That’s beside the point. This movie is worth your time but I don’t know how I feel about it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stay Tuned (1992)

 

 

 

Star Trek

Year: 2009
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Gene Roddenberry(Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Everything has to get a reboot these days, and typically I spend a lot of time hating on them but I consider this an exception. This is just such a cool movie. Believe me, I’ve watched all ten movies that came before it and while two of them were really good none of them were cool. J.J. Abrams really turned up the volume.

In his debut film Chris Hemsworth gets me every time. The intro to this movie is absolutely incredible. It starts with a bang and then hits you right in the heart. Thrust into action, the future Thor is inspiring with his bravery. Hemsworth delivers on this scene when he’s naming his son as he is sacrificing his life to save everyone. The sparks are flying in the background of this emotional scene and it’s just beautiful. Star Trek doesn’t usually start like this, and it makes a difference.

The following scenes featuring young Kirk and Spock are awesome and deepen characters we already know and love. Despite how crappy most of the movies have been they are still legendary. Captain Kirk and Spock are icons. It’s no easy task to recreate them but J. J. Abrams made it look easy, this time around anyway. He took two characters that people know, and not just know but know really well and taught us something new about both of them.

Abrams did so many things right early on. Showing the conflict Spock has being half Human and half Vulcan. The first meeting of Kirk and Dr. McCoy, with Karl Urban doing a terrific Deforrest Kelley impression. He shows us Kirk cheating the freaking Kobiyashi Maru test! These things were all really well done. I think it’s blasphemous to say it because it’s a reboot, but having just watched all the Star Trek movies I have to admit that this is better. It’s more engaging, it’s more entertaining.

The cast is fantastic. Chris Pine was a relative nobody when this movie came out and he became an instant star with his portrayal of a young Captain Kirk. He has swagger and he looks the part of a young William Shatner but still manages to make his own stamp on the part. Zachery Quinto too looks the part yet manages to make it his own. Quintos Spock won’t just Vulcan death grip you, he’ll karate chop you and outsmart you because he’s been doing so his whole life. I don’t usually like Karl Urban, but he is fantastic in this part. I like that Harold (John Cho) from Harold and Kumar is playing Sulu. Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace, is a cool Chekov. Zoe Saldana continued making her rounds in Sci-Fi franchises and looks great as usual. Simon Pegg is awesome in everything he is a part of and he is no different as Scotty, frankly his presence just makes this movie that much better.

The movie already had us with great action in the intro but the space jump is just amazing. Ha ha the thrill seeking “other guy” eats it on the dive. In true Star Trek fashion that no name along for the ride with Kirk and Sulu is expendable and dies. Oh damn, Sulu has a future sword and starts flipping around like a ninja. Again another character is redefined and cooler than he was before. Who knew Harold had it in him. Kirk Point Break’s Sulu when he’s falling without a shute, and Chekov gets a moment to shine. This scene is hands down a step ahead of the rest of Star Trek, it’s so cool.

I had a big problem when I saw this for the first time because they destroyed Vulcan. I just felt like this was a blasphemous thing to do. It was like killing Cyclops in that awful third X-Men movie. You can’t destroy Vulcan, it’s too important. However, it is a defining moment in the story that drives the rest of the film. I have come along since that first viewing, especially after watching all the Star Trek movies in a row. This one is just better, I’ll forgive it its misgivings.

I don’t think there is anything about Eric Bana as the villain, or the whole Nero story line, that’s really significant. Although he does break out those bugs that make you susceptible to suggestion from The Wrath of Khan. That is cool, but beyond that, and destroying Vulcan, he is just a guy for the good guys to fight. This movie is all about the good guys and they needed a villain when they weren’t fighting each other.

Ha! Kirk is climbing again! It’s been established before, the man likes to climb. Spock maroons him on a desolate planet because he’s too brash. Kirk has to climb out of his landing spot deep in the ice. Then Leonard Nimoy shows up, somewhere William Shatner was outraged, and he’s just a sight for sore eyes. In this long and monotonous journey that included two movies I couldn’t even finish the original Spock is just great to see again.

By establishing a new timeline they establish a new universe for themselves. It was a brilliant idea that should have been great going forward. I’ve only seen the sequel once and we never owned it until I started watching all the Star Trek movies, oh the hours I’ll never get back. After this movie I’m actually looking forward to seeing the next one again but I won’t be reviewing the third film because I have had enough of Star Trek. We watch Star Trek Beyond recently and weren’t impressed.

This movie has a great climax following the awesome fight, or ass kicking I should say, between Kirk and Spock. Spock beats the shit out of Kirk, but Kirk gets what he wants so it’s all good. Kirk has no qualms with taking an ass whooping in this movie, but he keeps fighting anyway. Spock and Kirk of course come to an understanding and then ride into battle together. Beaming aboard the enemy vessel, phasers in hand. They save the day and fly off into the starset as a couple of joes that might still become the friends in this new time line.

I haven’t mentioned it but the score for this film was terrific. I love that weird sound they chime all throughout the movie. It just sounds like Star Trek and really sets the tone.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but this movie nearly saves the name of Star Trek for me. I have made it plain how this journey through Star Trek has been for me. It’s all in print now and I was ready to swear off the whole thing for good. All of it, Kirk, Spock, Data, Worf, my personal favorite Captain Picard, every single person who ever wore one of those stupid uniforms. Nevertheless, this movie has me wanting more and I didn’t think that was possible at this point. I think I’m going to watch the sequel tomorrow night and see where it takes me. I didn’t like the sequel as much but hopefully that changes this time around. Or maybe it won’t. Star Trek has had just enough good movies to keep me going so by the laws of probability there won’t be another good one till this version hits its fifth or sixth movie, if we’re being optimistic.

This is the coolest of the cool, a complete retelling of something that at least had the potential to be cool at times. If you haven’t seen this movie you should check it out. Just don’t go calling yourself a Trekkie until you’ve paid your dues. You don’t have to wear Vulcan ears or anything but you have to know. You have to understand what came before and have some appreciation for it. It’s questionable if any of the movies that came before are actually worth your time but this one definitely is.

Disclaimer: Please excuse me real Star Trek fans. I don’t claim to be one of you but I am like a close outsider. I know things, but I would never beat you in a trivia match up. If I’m way off base here then by all means present your arguments and I would love to discuss it.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Smokin Aces

Year: 2006
Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Written By: Joe Carnahan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I like but don’t love. A movie that caught me at the right place at the right time and I thought it was cool. It’s the kind of movie that reminds me of scenarios I acted out with my action figures as a kid. A lot of cool actors were brought in and they had fun making a movie that is a lot of fun to watch.

I’m a big fan of anything that kills off most of the characters it introduces. Such boldness creates a level of unpredictability that makes the whole experience more fun. This movie doesn’t kill off all its characters but a large number of them don’t survive this shoot out. Killed without a second thought are not just the small time actors from TV playing big parts but also bigger guys like Ray Liotta and Ben Affleck. It takes a lot of gusto to pull the trigger on so many characters, it’s what we love about Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. This movie doesn’t necessarily do it as well as those but the balls it took to do it still count for something.

How high Chris Pine has risen since this movie came out. Nevertheless, despite all of his success I still can’t see him in anything without thinking of the scene in the elevator when he licks his finger and touches the bush of the naked girl tattooed on his shoulder. It’s such an obscene gesture from a dirty and obscene character. Captain Kirk, Steve Trevor, Jack Ryan, or anybody else it doesn’t matter what role he is playing, the guy I see is the Tremor brother he played in this one. Not to say he wasn’t good in any of those roles, in fact I thought he was a terrific Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. His memorable role actually came late as he was a replacement for Michael Shannon who was fired after pissing someone off.

My opinion has changed in recent years but I used to be a big time Ben Affleck hater. It was one of the things I loved about this movie back in 2007 because it was evidence that his career was spiraling down. At a time when his buddy Matt Damon was on the high horse Affleck was having trouble getting roles. Here he was in an entourage film not even making it halfway through the movie. In 2006 I found this hilarious and relished in it as a hater. Like I said, I feel differently now. Ben Affleck’s star has risen again and this time much higher than it ever had before. I initially changed my opinion when I saw him in Runner Runner and then again when he showed such promise behind the camera. His rendition of Batman sealed the deal and I look forward to what else he does with that character.

I felt Ryan Reynolds proved dramatic acting capability with this film. That unplugging scene in the end is very intense and well played by Reynolds. I am a fan of Reynolds, even after his many failures prior to the success of DeadpoolHe’s a funny guy but I think in this movie he pulls off serious and angry pretty well. I thought back in 2006 that this was proof he could move beyond Van Wilder and do better things. He has stayed true to being a comedic actor and Deadpool is just the start of more to come.

This movie was the featured film debut of both Common and Alicia Keys. I have never listened to either’s music but I thought they both gave great debut performances. Alicia Keys is cool as the sexy assassin and Common is a bad ass hit man to have at your disposal. I am a big fan of Common from his role on Hell on Wheels. An awesome show that if you haven’t seen then you’ve been missing out, it’s worth binge watching.

Without delving into the rest of the large ensemble cast I’ll simply say I liked the cast overall. It’s a really cool blend of popular TV actors, musicians, and movie stars. I love a big cast and I like it even better when you never know who among them will survive the adventure. I liked that about this movie and I enjoyed watching it again. I think this is a fun movie that is worth your time to see but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Snakes on a Plane (2006)