Movie Review : STAR TREK BEYOND… Great or Badly Flawed??!!

STAR TREK BEYOND – As a rule I avoid trailers for movies I know I’m going to see. Like CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR or STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS, I knew STAR TREK BEYOND was a movie I knew I was going to see, so I wanted to go into the film, and be as blank a slate as possible, not basically pre-watching the film before the film.

It has worked with me for other films. Loved CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR, liked STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS.

With STAR TREK BEYOND  I  did manage to catch one trailer, the one with the mortorcycle and music that caused something of a negative pushback online, but for myself I thought it was fine. Not a great trailer, but an okay one.

The movie, finally seen, in a solid, nearly empty theater with great picture, and great sound (2D not 3D) and verdict?… I enjoyed it. I think the look of it was fantastic, the beginning and middle solid. Some good performances and fun scenes. It’s a nice, if flawed, addition to these new STAR TREK films.

Why flawed?

To explain that I’m going to have to get into specifics, as in spoiler theory. But a quick nonspoiler take on STAR TREK BEYOND… if you haven’t already seen it in the theater, save money and wait for it on streaming or for rent.  A cheap rental.

Okay that sounds harsh for a movie that I thought started off very strongly. Okay here is some detail to explain my feelings. To avoid spoilers skip everything except the last paragraph, and come back after you’ve seen it.

Here we go:

 

An action movie ultimately is defined by the quality of the conflict, the quality of the conflict that opposes our heroes, the quality of the antagonist. STAR TREK BEYOND has a great actor, Idress Elba, who is completely wasted;  who is given a largely mediocre and nonsensical role, and motivation.

You have an antagonist that in one of the film’s most memorable scenes early in the picture, shows he possesses a weapon that can kick serious ass. But instead of using this awesome weapon for achieving his vengeance, he… for over a hundred years… only uses this devastating weapon, to pirate other ships, in an attempt to find a so-called ultimate weapon.

That weapon when found is unimpressive piece of nonsense, compared to the weapon he already had at his disposal.

It’s like somebody who wants to take revenge against the people he blames for his family’s death, armed with a machine gun, who instead of taking this machine gun and getting his vengeance immediately, spends over a hundred years carjacking  people in the hopes of finding a different ultimate  weapon, and that weapon when found, turns out to be a yo-yo or slingshot.

It’s that much of a let down and disappointment, compared to the weapon he already had.

It makes no sense and delivers a flawed and weak and toothless ending.  How no one in production could see this glaring issue with the plot/script is baffling.

And speaking of weak, why would our antagonist, this eater of life… be getting weaker after consuming lives? Each life should be making him stronger.

So on top of this dud of a doomsday weapon, this antagonist himself at the ‘climax’ Of the film, for no conceivable good reason… is a weak, crying, easily beaten, and more than a bit rubbish, whiner.

The actors do the best they can with this, but the writing /plot ultimately lets them down. This one falls squarely at the feet of the writer, Simon Pegg, who writes everything well except the most important thing to get right, the villain and the villains motivations.

I thought the first rebooted STAR TREK film was great. In many ways it is STAR WARS done better than STAR WARS, possessing as it does that EMPIRE STRIKES BACK vibe. It is a solid A-.

I thought the 2nd one, while it had deeper pitfalls than the 1st film, the poor idea to try to cleave too close to WRATH OF KAHN, also had higher peaks. And as a whole I think it is masterful, it just edges  out the first film being a solid A-/A.

END SPOILERS

 

This third one I was enjoying till the whole idiocy of the  ‘doomsday weapon’ and the poorly written antagonist and final act. Whereas I can rewatch the first two reboot STAR TREK movies constantly, and proudly own both Blu-Rays, I have no desire to sit though this 3rd movie ever again.

Grade: C-.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SUMMER 2012 Movie Guide! With AVENGERS behind us are there any other films worth seeing in IMAX?

SUMMER 2012 Movie Guide!

With the AVENGERS film behind us, are there any other films worth seeing in IMAX?

That’s the question. It’s a bit of a trick question, in that if there was no uptick in price for seeing it in IMAX I would say go for it. Unfortunately there is a bump in the price, and even for the AVENGERS, which was fake converted to IMAX (post-processed, like every other film coming out for the rest of the year) the quality difference on an AMC “baby IMAX/fake IMAX” isn’t all that great.

Infact, I quite preferred the 2D version of AVENGERS.

It’s a preference thing to a point, but to another point it is about pushing back a little against the studios that want to foist these post-processed IMAX and IMAX 3D films on us, rather than actually filming in these formats, and then charge us like we are at a real 5-story, wraparound screen, 70mm, Science Center IMAX theater. That’s the problem I have with these AMC midget Imax theaters, they over-charge for a compromised viewing experience.

I have no problem with the gimmick of 3D, if priced the same as the 2D experience; the way it traditionally was done. But to pay more?

So, to the point, even the AVENGERS wasn’t worth paying more to see in IMAX 3D. But are any films this summer, worth seeing in IMAX or IMAX 3D?

None of the films… not PROMETHEUS, not EXPENDABLES II, not DARK KNIGHT RISES, not SPIDER-MAN could be bothered to shoot the film in IMAX (tiny portions of DKR maybe), much less IMAX 3D. So why the heck would you bother to pay IMAX or IMAX 3D prices, for the cinematic equivalent of a poor redressing of a set?

So for me, no I will not be seeing any other film this summer in IMAX or IMAX 3D.

[And as an aside, definitely call or web-browse ahead when going to the movies, because this is how they get you: they put 2D showings at inconvenient times so you get stuck with an IMAX or 3D showing. So as idiotic as it sounds you need to pretty much do homework to make sure you’re getting a 2D and not a 3D showing. I hate homework! 🙂 ]

Quite frankly there aren’t many films I’m that bothered about seeing in the theaters this summer, even in 2D. Like I heard one person say, “I like going to movies, I hate the people in the movie theater”.

I mean, do I have a sign-on me that says sit beside me? I either have to tell some old bat and her kid to not sit beside me and talk (I would be more forgiving if people in a theater with lots of seats, didn’t choose to sit right next to me with their foolishness), or I have to tell young punks to keep it down, or I have to tell the valley girls to stop texting and kicking the chairs… and on top of all that drama you want to charge me more for effed up, fake a** 3D?!!!

Heck No!!! Mother HT’s son ain’t having it!!! The studios should be paying me for the aggravation.

ohmmmmmm…..

ohmmmmmm…..

Okay, back in my happy place. Steering this boat back on track…

My take on the remaining summer movies: SPIDER MAN I currently have no interest in. DARK KNIGHT RISES, as I’ve previously stated I’m lukewarm on at best.

Only PROMETHEUS, EXPENDABLES II, TOTAL RECALL, and surprisingly enough ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER (I’m a fan of the Director, I enjoyed his WANTED, A case of a director’s vision trumping the writer’s source material— which I disliked) really have me excited to see them in the theater.

Some honorable mentions that look interesting/fun and I might see in the theater are CHERNOBYL DIARIES, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, THE BOURNE LEGACY, PREMIUM RUSH (the trailer for this looks GREAT, but I’m not sold on the director yet), and POSSESSION (also a phenomenal trailer).

If a movie is not on this list it could be an oversight, but more than likely it isn’t. It’s my way of saying that movie isn’t for me 🙂

Why don’t I tell you how I really feel? 🙂

No, but seriously, if you think I missed a summer flick that you think is going to be great, feel free to send me a comment. I’m always happy to discover another promising flick!

2012 MOVIE Review : THE Verdict is in! AVENGERS… Avenged!!! :)

You are reading this either because you saw the film and want to compare your experience with others, or haven’t seen the film, and want to get a general idea of what people thought of it. I’ll answer both demographics, without going into details about the film.

I think most of you coming to this blog know, my grumpy persona aside I’m not a contrarian. I’m not one of these IMDB idiots who rate all films either 1 or 5 (on a 5 star system, I use a 4 star system), the concept of grading and gradations seemingly lost on them.

That said neither am I a bandwagon jumper who is going to praise a film when it’s trendy to do so, and eviscerate it when it is trendy to do so.(SUPERMAN RETURNS and TITANIC being two movies with more than their share of flip-floppers).

I often listen to pod-casts, and it is amazing how often you can hear one person excited by a film, but then his friends don’t like the film, so you can hear the person backtrack from his/her position, so they can be in line with the likes of their ‘friends’.

An anthropologist might define it as a clannish race survival technique (“Bubba let’s go lynch that thar 12 year old boy, for looking at that thar white woman.” “Why Bubba Senior, that thar’s a fine idea. Hyuck. Hyuck. Hyuck.”), I’ve always just defined it as cowardice.

I’m saying my good opinion or my bad is not formed by the whims of the mob.

Never has been. Never will be.

So if I give you a review you can be sure it is my review, my considered opinion… and I stand behind it.

So my considered opinion on the AVENGERS movie?

Joss Whedon, whose other film this year CABIN IN THE WOODS I wasn’t a fan of (more due to the first time Director on that film, than to Whedon’s script), here in his role as Director and Writer, knocks this film out of the park.

THE AVENGERS is… I’m trying to avoid hyperbole here, leaving that to everyone else, but it has to be said… it is a FANTASTIC film.

It’s as smart as CABIN IN THE WOODS, but with Whedon behind the camera you also get characters and moments you really care about. You get the pathos to go with the pomp and circumstance.

I mean how do you pull this off? The culmination of all these films, all this planning, all these actors, how do you pull it together and make it work and make it live up to expectations? It is really an amazingly ambitious film, a daunting prospect, and Joss Whedon… does it.

It’s really rare for me to laugh out loud in a film, I laughed out loud numerous times in this film, just because it is so knowing, and so sharp, and so biting, and so friggin fun!!!

I’m so glad I went into this film without watching a bunch of trailers or features, or ruining any surprises because I just had a ball. And along with the fun, Whedon gave space and weight to the tragedy, something that is glossed over sometimes in epic films. The weight and cost of this battle. Whedon never loses sight of the street level view, the common men and women caught in the midst of a war of Gods and Monsters.

The humanity he imbues the attack scene with is reminiscent of Mimi Leder’s phenomenal direction in the criminally underrated Clooney action film PEACEMAKER. Where every loss and every life… was felt.


The Peacemaker (Widescreen Edition)

And going along with that, for a big, loud, blow stuff up action flick on par with Bay’s TRANSFORMERS:DARK OF THE MOON (which the battle scenes bear a resemblance to) everyone gets a chance to actually act and emote in this film. Whedon’s TV/Buffy dialog/experience serving the film well.

Every principal actor really gets a chance to shine, Scarlett Johanson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo (Who I didn’t think could fill Ed Norton’s shoes, is phenomenal. Both as Banner and the Jade Giant he has some of the great scenes/lines in the film), Downey, they all bring it. And big kudos to Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki as more than one dimensional, but with charm and depth to match his machinations.

Anything more would be me… gushing. Suffice to say, if my math is correct this is the 6th Marvel Studios film, the culmination of half a dozen years, and their shared Universe experiment, and they pull it off. Creating a cinematic climax to this multi-year and multi-film storyline that is actually bigger and better than the films leading up to it.

I’m seldom the guy to tip my hat to MARVEL, but you have to give them their due. STAR WARS couldn’t do it (RETURN not quite living up to the greatness of EMPIRE), STAR TREK every other film is bad and they are all one off stories, BOND also is one off stories, INDIANA JONES no, MATRIX… no, LORD OF THE RINGS … no, but Marvel Studios managed to end their ambitious story… even stronger than they began it (Though it is worth noting that the heart of this whole AVENGERS cinematic concept, starts with one writer, Mark Millar of WANTED and KICK-ASS fame. His vision is what Marvel Studios followed from page to screen. And in the dozen years since his ULTIMATES comics, his involvement is perhaps not credited as much as it should be).

The AVENGERS storyline that began with the first IRON MAN, went out on a high-note with this film. Arguably only Harry Potter could claim to have as effectively told a story over multiple films. Plus they give us a great teaser at the end, can you say…. awww but that would be telling! 🙂

Go see the film. It’s earned its praise. Highest Recommendation A+.

And read more about the Avengers, here [Definite spoilers :)]:

The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection

The Ultimates 2: Ultimate Collection

Ultimate Comics Avengers by Mark Millar Omnibus

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

And these books will get you up to speed with the teaser at the end of the film:

Essential Warlock – Volume 1

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) (v. 1)

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 2 (Marvel Essentials)

Infinity Gauntlet

Joss Whedon, AVENGERS and Imax 3D vs 2D Comparison!!! Should you pay IMAX 3D prices?


“The 3D enhances a few scenes here and there but is not at all eye-popping, largely because this was a post-production conversion rather than offering the more authentic spatial depth of a movie shot with 3D cameras. Only with films shot in 3D do you get the mesmerising immersion of something like Avatar.”
—coventrytelegraph.net (they saw the movie both in 2D and IMAX 3D)

The above reinforces my negative view on films not shot in IMAX 3D that are later post converted. Pure and simple, it is a cash grab by the studios and does little to improve the way the filmmaker intended you to experience the film, and in some cases because of the darkness factor may actually weaken the viewing experience (I had this issue seeing THOR in 3D, it didn’t look 3D, and the image was dark. It was better taking off the stupid glasses, then enduring the so-called 3D).

So my advice, save your money and see AVENGERS in 2D, as it was meant to be seen. 🙂

And who knows, if enough of you begin doing that, you may send a message to the suits to 1/ stop the post conversion money grab and 2/stop charging more for IMAX 3D.

Now wouldn’t that be grand! 🙂

Come back tomorrow for my AVENGERS review!

And read more about the Avengers, here [Definite spoilers :)]:

The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection

The Ultimates 2: Ultimate Collection

Ultimate Comics Avengers by Mark Millar Omnibus

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

And these books will get you up to speed with the teaser at the end of the film:

Essential Warlock – Volume 1

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) (v. 1)

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 2 (Marvel Essentials)

Infinity Gauntlet