Thursday, July 28, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Film Review: Star Trek Beyond

Director Justin Lin's entry into the rebooted Final Frontier is neither as much pure fun as Star Trek, nor as overtly political as Star Trek Into Darkness. It's a blend of both movies which somehow comes closest yet to capturing the intimate and inclusive spirit of the Original Series.


Star Trek Beyond (hereafter Beyond) has both an incredible opportunity and incredible challenge.

Star Trek Into Darkness left the crew of the Enterprise heading out on their 5-year mission into deep space. Thus, the opportunity for director Justin Lin and co-writers Simon Pegg & Doug Jung to paint on a very broad canvas, expand the universe of the reboot series, and go in a completely new direction. On the other hand, J.J. Abrams and his writers: Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman didn't leave any particular plot threads for the new creative powers to follow or expand upon - hence the challenge.

Furthermore, whatever you may think of Into Darkness (I think there's more to like than most), it was a movie which deeply divided Star Trek fans - many insist it's the worst Star Trek film made.

Abrams moved on (he returns here as a producer) to help Disney with maximizing their investment in Lucasfilm. Paramount, back to the days when Star Wars first defined what a blockbuster truly was, has always thought (or hoped) Star Trek could have a similar degree of financial success.

There's also the whole 50th anniversary of Star Trek business this year, not to mention CBS re-launching a new TV series called Star Trek: Discovery in January.

Therefore, there's no small amount of pressure on the shoulders of Lin, Pegg & Jung to come up with a film which can re-invigorate the fanbase while still appealing to a mass audience.

It's my pleasure to say Lin and company mostly succeed. Beyond isn't a masterpiece, but it is a well-made Star Trek film which grows the franchise and characters, carries some encoded political commentary, and still presents the optimistic humanism the series was always known and loved for.

Much more to follow after the jump:

From the Archives: Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Beyond opened this past weekend.

I'm still working my way toward a full review of Beyond, which will by out later today.

In the meantime, as promised, I've included my old review of Star Trek Into Darkness. Here's a snippet:
As the universally-decreed "Best Star Trek Movie Ever Made," (Star Trek II: The Wrath of) Khan is both the standard by which good Star Trek is measured, and unfortunately "a pattern to follow" as Kirk says of the Ilia probe in Star Trek: The Motion Picture
And in the case of later Star Trek (generally), and specifically in the case of Star Trek Into Darkness, my response might be the same as Spock's was to Kirk: "Indeed. They may have followed it too precisely." 
Still, Star Trek Into Darkness is very good, and in places it's great. It also works as very good, and occasionally great Star Trek.

Here is the link to the complete original post (please forgive the occasional typo)...

Star Trek Into Darkness

Hope you enjoy it.

As promised, sometime within the next few days, I'll have my full review of Star Trek Beyond.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

From the Archives: Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek Beyond opened this weekend.

I'm just starting to put together my thoughts about Beyond, working toward a full review.

In the meantime. I'll include the links to old review of the first movies in the "reboot timeline". Here's a snippet of my thoughts about Star Trek:
There are few things more nerve-wracking than being a long-time fan (Trekkie in my case), seeing a cherished icon of youth get an extreme makeover. In the specific case of Star Trek, I spent most of the 30 minutes in the theater before the start of the picture, thinking the following: 
"Please God, let this not suck like Nemesis, or Insurrection, or The Final Frontier." 
"I hope the critics are right." 
"Abrams is a TV guy, like Harve Bennett was a TV guy. This could work." 
"Please God, let this not suck. Please, please, please." 
My fears were alleviated in less than 5 minutes. Abrams delivers a sensationally entertaining picture. To begin with, he gives us not merely the best teaser in "Star Trek" history, but one of the great teasers I've seen in any movie. It sets a standard that the rest of the picture has to live up to, and thankfully, Star Trek mostly succeeds.
Here is the link to the complete original post (please forgive the occasional typo)...

Star Trek

Hope you enjoy it.

Tomorrow will be the link back to my review of Star Trek Into Darkness.

Sometime within the next few days, I'll have my full review of Star Trek Beyond.

Monday, July 18, 2016

From the Archives - Imperfection and the Divine: Star Trek: TMP & Tron: Legacy

Here we are with (at long last) a new Star Trek movie opening this week.

In the lead-up, I'll be re-posting links from my old movie blog which is Star Trek related.

So, for today, I am posting my theme comparison between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Tron: Legacy. Here is a snippet:
"This isn't a review, rather a collection of thoughts on the similarities between the 2 films, in terms of theme and symbolism.  Additionally, their strengths - visually spectacular, symbolically designed, contemplative (not the same thing as boring), featuring terrific music - are the same.  Likewise, both films have been criticized for wooden acting, uneven pacing, anemic plotting, and something I'll call "outsized ambition" (i.e. the filmmakers have attempted to elevate the source material to undeserved heights)."

Here is the link to the complete original post (please forgive the occasional typo)...

Imperfection and the Divine: Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Tron: Legacy.

Hope you enjoy it.

More Star Trek related goodness coming the next few days.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Another Look - Thelma & Louise

When it opened in May of 1991, Thelma & Louise became a media sensation. Much of it had to do with the picture's genre-bending innovation of having two women leads starring in a road movie. Some decried what they believed was violent vengeance against men, though only one man died in the film.

I'd seen Thelma & Louise several times over the years, but re-watched it for the first time in several years a couple of weekends ago. And while I'd always liked the film, this viewing provoked a very different reaction. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.

Author's Note: I'm a male writing about how male privilege afflicts women within the context of this film. Take my opinion for whatever you think it's worth. 

SPOILER WARNINGS are in effect from here on.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Looking Back at Old Stuff

If anyone wants to read or review old stuff I've written, here are some links:

Movie stuff: A Beachfront Cineaste.

Political stuff: An Undeclared American.

Sports stuff: Fathers, Suns, and Lightning Bolts.

I suppose that I may repost this stuff periodically, just to give people something fresh to read from time to time.

Chasing The Damn Cat

I wanted to come up with something which nods back to 'Alien', my favorite movie, and so settled on 'Chasing The Damn Cat', in honor of Harry Dean Stanton's character Brett. You might recall (spoiler warning) that Brett is tasked with chasing down Jones - the ship's cat - so the crew searching for the alien aboard the ship wouldn't accidentally pick up the cat on the motion tracker.

Needless to say (and as is always true of people chasing damn cats) it doesn't go well for Brett. And so, we have the blog's title.

Since I can't always write about Chargers stadium shit without losing my goddamn mind, I think it's time for me to get back to writing about other things from time to time. Mostly, it will be about movies, but sometimes it will be about politics. Even more rarely, it may be a travelogue with a  bunch of random historical, geographic, and geological detritus scattered throughout, with maybe some pictures thrown in for good measure.

I'll also post links to anything I wrote for Bolts From The Blue in here.

Don't expect anything regular at the moment.

Not sure what the first writing will be about, but the leading contenders are movie analysis posts, specifically Thelma & Louise and The Untouchables.