Scotty Trek, Beyond
Saw "Star Trek; Beyond" tonight.
The ADHD members of the audience should find the editing and story pace about right. People who are susceptible to motion sickness might want to wait for the video. It was definitely shot to make the most use of 3-d viewing - I thought someone had put a Go-Pro in a clothes dryer full of tie-dye shirts...
Story was kind of a pastiche of old Trek TV series plots, and, oddly, stealing ideas from the antagonist of the first J.J Trek movie, with a major battle scene lifting the "surprise weapon" from Macross/Robotech. Simon Pegg obviously enjoyed writing himself into this one - it almost becomes Scotty's movie, really, in an almost "MarySue" kind of way. In fact, Scotty is the glue that holds the entire movie together - he's the basic solution to every story problem, until you suddenly lose him so Chris Pine can finish the thing.
And it has motorcycle stunts, completely unmotivated and unnecessary ones, which completely make me stop believing it's set in the 23rd. century.
I will say I enjoyed the individual performances of the cast, and their chemistry. Some good little moments, here and there, some inside jokes. Urban was great, as was Saldana, Quinto, even Pine did a credible job channeling Shatner. But man, some of the plot points, you could drive a starship through the holes.
If you don't try to take it too seriously, it's a fast and furious technicolor tumble with the most formulaic ending ever - practically a repeat of the last Trek movie's ending.... You'll want to trigger the Omega 13 afterwards.
I'd rate it as better than the imitation "Wrath of totally not Khan but he really is Into Darkness." But it isn't better than any of the Trek movies that came before the JJ Verse ones. After two semi-duds, I was hoping Simon was going to "save" this one, but he didn't.
I want to see a finished "Axenar" movie.
I also saw Star Trek Beyond, and a bunch of other below-average-to-slightly-above-average movies that came out at some point in July. I'll just tack them on to this one!
STAR TREK BEYOND
Alternate Titles: The Vast and the Furious; Star Trek: Romulus Drift
Yell Some Keywords To Create Interest: SPACESHIPS. ALIEN CHICKS. MOTOCYCLE STUNTS. IDRIS ELBA IS A SPACE LIZARD. SABOTAGE. NO LINDELOF. CGI.
What Worked? I liked the swarmy space ship battles. Simon Pegg's script was more fun than Into Darkness. The Beastie Boys thing was a great combination of goofy and awesome. As someone who has no long-standing, deep-rooted investment in the Star Trek universe, I was actually hoping that this movie would be more Guardians of the Galaxy-esk than feeling like a Star Trek TV episode. And, ya know, it kind of was more like the former. Mindless summer fun, in a good way.
What Didn't Work? I don't think the crew had as great of chemistry as in the first two reboot movies. I forgot how long ago I saw this (two weeks? three weeks?), but I don't remember seeing some of the crew members in this movie. Was Uhura even in this sequel? Looking back at this trilogy (so far), I feel like I don't have a real emotional connection to them in any way. They are fun and they look pretty, and that's about it. I haven't gotten anything deeper out of these movies, I'm saying. I don't even know if I'm supposed to, but I just assumed that they were trying.
Alternate Titles: ParaBOREmal Activity; An Electrician's Nightmare
Yell Some Keywords To Create Interest: GHOULS. LIGHT SWITCHES. JUMP SCARES. SHADOWS. FINGERNAILS. LOUD NOISES. CLOSETS.
What Worked? This shell of a movie, which was based on a decent YouTube short, is really only good for the gimmick of seeing the ghost disappear and reappear as lights go on and off. Which, honestly, is a pretty terrifying sight. Most of the clever techniques they use can be seen in the trailers, with the exception of one particularly cool scene where a cop unloads a gun at the ghost and it disappears/reappears with the brightness of the gunshots. The third act is, at the very least, pretty entertaining.
What Didn't Work? The plot of the movie is stupid and cliché. Full of questionable holes. Like, why does a brilliant, millionaire architect have an office in a dimly lit mannequin warehouse? Or, why is the ghost such a jerk? Or, why is the ghost an adult woman, if she died when she was a kid? Wait, do ghosts age...? These are, of course, all stupid things to think about in a movie about a light switch ghost, but I couldn't help but think them. Also, the acting wasn't great. I wouldn't be surprised if this movie wasn't funded by Big Lightbulb.
THE SECRET LIVES OF PETS
Alternate Titles: DOGZ; Illumination Studios Presents: Easy Money
Yell Some Keywords To Create Interest: DOGS. CATS. PETS. CARTOONS. MINIONS. BUNNIES. DOODIE HUMOR. NEW YORK. ANIMAL JOKES.
What Worked? It's a cute movie about talking cartoon animals that kids will love. Adults will enjoy hearing Louis C.K. voicing a terrier?
What Didn't Work? I'm not sure what I hated more... Kevin Hart's obnoxiously loud performance as a little bunny with an attitude... or the Minions short film that preceded the feature, that literally gave me a headache?
Alternate Titles: Bourne to Run; The Bourne Redundancy
Yell Some Keywords To Create Interest: MAAAAAAATT. DAAAAAAAAMON. EXPLOSIONS. FAST CARS. PUNCHING. SPIES. HACKING. GUNS GO BANG BANG.
What Worked? I saw the first three Bourne movies several years ago (probably around the time when Ultimatum came out), and I found out pretty quickly that I forgot everything that happened in them. THAT BEING SAID, by the 1/3rd point of this new movie, I was pretty much up to speed on everything I needed to know and I kind of enjoyed the fun/basic plot of this movie. And then by the halfway point, I found it pretty thrilling and I was fully engaged. Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Riz Ahmed (from Four Lions, Nightcrawler and The Night Of), and Vincent Cassel make up a really good supporting cast.
What Didn't Work? The shaky cam fast cutting in the action scenes is pretty ridiculous. I acknowledge that it takes great skill to cut this together, but this movie *maaaaaaaybe* takes it too far? There was a one second shot during the riot scene that was just someone's waist, and then the ground. Like the cameraman dropped the camera. I couldn't even pay attention during the final car chase, because the editor in me was just counting the amount of cuts it took to splice together every single action. I hope someone times the shots in the movie at some point, because I'd be interested to hear how long the longest shot was. It's gotta be three seconds. MAX. Other than that, I found Bourne to be too invincible to worry about his safety, and the climax of the movie happens and THEN they spend 15 more minutes showing Bourne chase a henchman. Oh, and at one point, someone says "Enhance" on a blurry image, someone presses a button, and it instantly gets clearer. I laughed.
You liked the swarmy ships? "Enders Game" did that WAY BETTER.
And Scotty Trek can't seem to make up it's mind if the swarmships are manned or just drones. Every time Bones and Spock get into one, they are seen throwing out the pilots into space. But then the script makes the point that they're autonomous, You see them launching empty from their racks, so, okay, maybe one in a hundred has bodies in them for "reasons", but then twice, completely at random, Bones and Spock pick one that has a crew inside?
What stops the swarmships was, well, let's be polite and say "inspired" by this:
and I'm not the only one that recognized that.
So, Idris Elba gets lost thru a wormhole, crashes the Franklin onto this planet, loses all but three crew, finds abandoned alien mining base with life-extension technology and the drones, which apparently have zero problem getting thru the nebular barrier... and waits forty years to try and escape back to Earth with them? And.... forgets that the Franklin was where he left it? He gets enough com gear together over time to access the Federation data base light years away, but doesn't use it to call for rescue? Really, this character is a distorted version of Nero the Romulan from the First JJ Trek movie, who also had really stupid motivations for his actions, and made illogical decisions. (In Nero's timeline, Spoke fails to save Romulus and Nero loses his family and world. When the wormhole spits him out many years prior to the disaster, in a different timeline, instead of going to the still-existing Romulus, to warn them before the cataclysm, or to see and maybe rescue his family, he decides to destroy Vulcan and Earth instead, even though in this timeline they've done him no harm. That's messed-up.)
Uhura gets a lot of screen time relative to the other characters in this one.The Uhura/Spock relationship got little time, but did move forward, and there's a fun scene where she saves him after his plan to save her comes up short. The Bones/Spock chemistry advanced in this one and had a lot of moments throughout the movie. The Bones/Kirk birthday scene was lifted from the original Wrath of Khan.
Scotty gets too much screen time here; he is the glue between all the plot points, in a way that's just sloppy script writing. At almost any point of this movie, the plot requires Scotty to pull off yet another miracle or the story stops cold. And he gets a girlfriend, because Kirk is too busy in this one to get his shwerve on with anybody.
The motorcycle gag was just completely unnecessary: The characters could have as easily stolen one of the drones and used it in the same way as the motorcycle, and that would have kept the story grounded in it's notional time period.
In Wrath of not Khan, the big bad guy ship, chased by the Enterprise, crashes into Starfleet headquarters. In this movie, the bad guy ship, chased by the Enterprise crew in another ship, crashes into a starfleet base. Oh yeah, totally different.
The part that had me and my wife screaming in the theater at the screen was at the end, when Idris has the doomsday weapon and is seconds from using it, and Kirk has the drop on him with a phaser, from five feet away, and WON'T. SHOOT. HIM. IN. THE. FACE. IMMEDIATELY. to stop him... Not even on the "STUN" setting, if you wanna be all pacifist. Again, bad plotting/action stolen from the Khan reboot "Into Darkness". "Shoot him, already!"we kept pleading with the screen, but no, Kirk wants to practice psychotherapy without a license at this point, and let the bad guy kick his weapon away while monologue-ing.....
It would have been less expected and more satisfying, to have simply stopped the guy when he had the chance.
I'm a big Jason Bourne fan and love the franchise. The newest film was better then the last one that had Hawk-Eye. That being said, this one felt like Bourne was always tired and wanting to get out of the game he has been playing for to long. This film felt like it lost the Bourne magic. For example, why in the world didn't he kill someone with some office supplies or random objects you would have never guess could be used as tools of destruction?
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Over the Summer I had hoped to see some of the tent pole films in the theater but it didn't happen. I just watched Beyond on DVD. It was not so good. I agree with Mark's analysis that they are making Star Trek movies using the same old characters and situations. I also think the reboot may have been a mistake because you get to a point where the actors need to either play original characters or continue pretending to be Shatner, Nimoy etc. It is hard to do both.
I actually fell asleep at one point and didn't feel like I missed anything.
Say what you will about JJ, but switching directors seems to have accomplished it's goal of making the movie action packed at the expense of a meaningful story. The same thing is happening with Jurassic World.
I also rented Independence Day 2 and Captain America 7 (I have lost track of the numbers of these Avenger movies). I will report back.