Karl Urban

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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The Chronicles of Riddick

Year: 2004
Directed By: David Twohy
Written By: David Twohy

RYAN’S REVIEW

Of all the movies we own this one has always been the one people look to and give me that look.  The look that wonders if I really know what I’m talking about or if I’m no longer to be taken seriously.  I believe this is because it’s a Vin Diesel movie.  I would anticipate similar looks if XXX or The Pacifier were seen among our collection but that is not the case.  We do own both Riddick movies and I think they are an exception when it comes to Vin Diesel films.  This was the role that Vin Diesel was made for, but he does manage to ruin things every time he speaks.  What confuses me about Vin Diesel in the role of Riddick is why he feels the need to verbalize himself so much.  He tries to prove he is a badass by the things that he says and this is a mistake.  Diesel already looks the part. He is intimidating, powerful, and badass.  There just really isn’t the need to act so tough with ridiculous and pointless dialogue.  The movie would have benefited if Diesel had taken a page out of Schwarzenegger’s book from The Terminator and just looked tough and kept his mouth shut.  It’s Diesel’s over selling of his character and his bad acting that give this movie a bad wrap, because otherwise it’s a really good movie.

The movie works on a limited budget under the broad scope of Twohy’s imagination but he managed to make it look good all the same.  Twohy took the Riddick character from Pitch Black, which he also wrote the screenplay for, and wrote scripts for three sequels.  I really like the story that he came up with, and I still hold out hope that his other sequels will eventually get made.  The world he created with Chronicles isn’t the greatest science fiction world but I found it interesting and enjoyable.  He wrote a good story and filled it with a ton of action, and it’s the action that really makes this movie worth your time.  Vin Diesel may sound like an F-ing poser every time he opens his mouth, but when he starts fighting that doesn’t matter anymore.  Regardless how ridiculous he sounds when he says “I’m going to kill you with this teacup,” it’s still cool when he actually does it.  Colm Feore plays the part of the lead villain the Lord Commander and I actually found him really surprising in the part.  I don’t usually like him but he really was good as the supposedly unbeatable bad guy. Karl Urban plays the secondary villain, a role he was well suited for at the time. His star has been on the rise of late, he is actually starring in the upcoming Judge Dredd reboot and will be back for the Star Trek sequel. This wasn’t the best role in Thandie Newton’s career but she is such a beautiful woman I hardly think it matters.  Judi Dench agreed to play a part in the movie after Vin Diesel practically begged her to be involved.  He is apparently a big fan of her work and was determined that she be involved. There is also a number of other lesser known actors doing well in bit parts throughout this movie like Keith David and Nick Chinlund.

Now that I’m watching this movie again I guess I can understand why I get that look I mentioned earlier.  This movie does have its fair share of silly lines and campy moments but I still like it.  I guess I’d call this movie a guilty pleasure but at the end of the day I’ve just always been a sucker for a mindless action movie.  I can accept Vin Diesel’s ridiculous performance and the other flaws if the overall story and action make up for it and I think they do in this case.  This movie isn’t going to get a lot of critical acclaim and that’s understandable but there is still plenty of value in a movie that is just fun to watch.  I’ll admit this movie isn’t for everybody, but if you’re in the mood for something with good action that you don’t have to put a lot of thought into then this is the one for you.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Apparently, we used to watch this movie all the time in college. I don’t remember that. In fact, I barely know anything about this movie. I had to ask Ryan a million question about what was going on. Why are his eyes like that? Why are they running from the sun? Why do they steal souls? I was so confused. I guess this a good movie if you like fantasy and science-fiction-y kinds of films. I wasn’t extremely impressed, but I think it keeps your interest throughout. I can’t say you will remember what the movie is about 5 years later, but it is worth the time if you have nothing else to do.

Also, on a side note I know that a lot of women really like Vin Diesel, so that may be another plus to watching this movie. Myself, ehh..he may be pretty to look at but he is a terrible, terrible actor.

NEXT MOVIE: The Chumscrubber (2005)

The Bourne Supremacy

Year: 2004
Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Written By: Tony Gilroy and Robert Ludlum

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have said several times that a good sequel should be a bigger and better version  of the original film.  That is not true in this case and I think this is the weakest of the franchise.  This movie has less action and a weaker story that tends to be confusing at times.  Karl Urban is a great choice for the villain and Julia Stiles is exceptionally attractive in this movie but there is little else I have to say about it beyond that.  I don’t really like the film and wouldn’t recommend it. It has its moments but it’s just not enough.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I didn’t like this one as much as the first one, but it is still just another fun and easy watch as far as action movies go. I don’t really have to think too much to watch any of these movies and I like that in an action movie. I would rather see how all the action pans out and how the story comes together. This is an okay bridge between the first and third, but not my favorite one in this series.

NEXT MOVIE: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)