Eric Bana

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)

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Hulk

Year: 2003
Directed By: Ang Lee
Written By: James Schamus, John Turman, Michael France. Honorary credits for Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ve wanted to watch this movie for a while now, since we reviewed the most recent Hulk movie. I specifically wanted to try to pinpoint why this movie was such a failure.  I remembered how much it bombed when it was released but didn’t think it was that bad of a movie.  Well, I was being too generous to the film.  Having watched it now I can verify that it is that bad.  It’s an awful movie to go along with a character that films should not be made about.  There are things I do like about this movie, good ideas from the director and casting coordinator, but they couldn’t do enough to help this hopeless film.

There is one lone thing that I think does make this movie exceptional and I don’t know why it hasn’t been tried by any other comic film as of yet.  Ang Lee used an interesting technique when editing the film in which he split the screen to have different footage playing simultaneously at one time. I think this gave the movie a real comic book look and feel to it. It was an excellent idea, and probably the best thing the movie has to offer.  This Hulk movie came out early in the era of Marvel character movies and I thought it was a really clever touch to set it apart from others. In the dozen or so comic book movies that have come out over the last ten years I am surprised I haven’t seen this effect again. It very well could be that nobody would do anything that was done in this movie again simply because it was such a disaster of a film.

I also thought the special effects and action in this movie were good.  This is something Lee excels at as we have seen from his prior work. However while his movies may sport great and exciting action they are never short of long and boring retarding points usually peppered with long shots of scenery and horizon shots. I have never really been a fan of Ang Lee but he isn’t a bad filmmaker.  When this movie came out I was familiar with him from his film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon so I knew what to expect when the movie was being made.  Great action, long stretches of boredom.  At the time in 2003 Lee had been up for two directing jobs, this movie or Terminator 3. I was glad he chose to do this one because I felt he would ruin the Terminator franchise by directing the long-awaited third film. Lee got behind the camera on this one with lots of buzz from his successful foreign film that had been a hit in the US (Crouching Tiger) but he pretty much destroyed all his credibility with this movie.  You could argue that he got it back with Brokeback Mountain, but I never saw the film and can’t get behind that idea.  I have high hopes for Life of Pi and look forward to the opportunity to see it.

For the most part I liked the cast of this movie and felt they all fit their roles appropriately.  I am not an Eric Bana fan and don’t think he really captured the character well here but I do think he looked the part.  He looked much like I had expected Bruce Banner to when I was young and reading the comics.  Although I really think his performance was campy and I think both Ed Norton and Mark Ruffalo played the part better.  I think Sam Elliott was great as General Thunderbolt.  I really think when they rebooted the franchise they should have had him stay on board and play the part in both films. Jennifer Connelly was a good choice for Betty Ross and I think she played the part better than Liv Tyler did in the reboot.  I think the writing of Bruce Banner’s father was a bad idea and I think Nick Nolte did an awful job playing the part.  It’s not Nolte’s fault mind you, the role was ridiculous, but he didn’t do anything to justify the character.  I think Josh Lucas’s character was stupid as well and brought the movie down a notch.  When you stand next to a stick of dynamite you don’t light matches, why this guy kept trying to pick a fight with Bruce Banner and the Hulk is beyond me. It was just another stupid thing in a stupid movie.

This movie failed most miserably in establishing a real villain and by centering the story around Bruce Banner’s father.  Not only was Nolte bad as a villain but I thought his mutant dogs were really stupid.  Maybe if they were just giant pit bulls I could have been accepting to a degree but the poodle sealed it, it was a stupid idea.  Josh Lucas’s puny human sub-villain was unnecessary and poorly written. I think when you make a movie about a famous comic character it is important to stay true to the roots of the character.  You are making a film about a character that everybody already knows and loves.  You make the movie about him the way it is supposed to be made; you don’t screw around with what people already know about the character.  Making Bruce Banner turn into the Hulk as a direct result of his father’s scientific experiments on him was a bad idea. They kept the Gamma radiation accident as part of the story but in this film it is only what triggers the transformation and not what started it.  During the whole film the movie alludes to this back story that Bruce remembers and is supposed to explain how everything happened but by the time you get to it you are already bored.

The real problem here is simply that it is difficult to make a movie about the Hulk character.  The Hulk is different from other Marvel characters in that he is not a hero, he is a monster.  Bruce Banner is a brilliant and innocent man who is cursed with this monster he turns into.  It goes against the basic elements of all super hero films.  The movie centers on the hero as he tries to stop the dangerous villain threatening the world or something personal to him. The Hulk doesn’t think and he doesn’t save.  He simply destroys, he is fueled by rage and when he gets going he is going to leave a path of destruction behind him.  Despite all this the jolly green character has always been popular so studios are always going to try to bank on the name recognition.  This only makes for a difficult task for the writers, although the others have been much better.  The reboot was fantastic and I really like how the Hulk was incorporated into The Avengers movie.

This movie however, is not worth your time and I strongly suggest you don’t waste any watching it.  The movie may have moments here and there but overall it is a waste. The reboot too is practically insignificant now that The Avengers has come out but it is still a much better movie than this one.  I think I have sufficiently covered why this movie was such a failure but if I missed anything by all means leave a comment and add to the story.