Posts Tagged ‘star trek

06
Jan
10

Top Ten Movies of 2009

What a year it has been for movies. From a film for fanboys (“Watchmen”) to a teeny-bopper supernatural romance (“New Moon”), from a Jarhead visiting a world of blue people (“Avatar”) to ugly aliens visiting our own (“District 9”), from man’s continuing struggle to against the machine (“Terminator Salvation”) to the machines having taken over and a scientist’s soul divided into mini-creations trying to survive (“9”), from the return of 80’s cartoons as live action (“G.I. Joe”) to the return of 80’s horror (“The Stepfather”) and everything in between (there were TWO movies about mall security cops), it truly has been a year.

As far as film goes and in my own opinion it’s been a tough year. One can blame the economic recession/depression for monetary aspects, but it’s been an overall success for the Industry for the year. This year was more about the aftermath of the 2007-2008 writers strike than any other single factor.

It was difficult making this year’s list because the overall feeling from watching movies this year was “meh.” I enjoyed quite a few movies, but the indies seemed to have peaked the year that “No Country for Old Men” saw release and the blockbusters haven’t held the caliber of “Iron Man” (although “G.I. Joe” was more fun than “Transformers 2”) Another problem with constructing the list was that three of my favorite films I saw this year (“Frost/Nixon,” ‘The Wrestler,” “Gran Torino”) were limited release 2008 in cities such as NY and LA and therefore had to be struck from the list.

Here, in order of release/when I viewed them, are my Top Ten movies of 2009 and my thoughts:

“Star Trek” – “Alias” and “Lost” creator JJ Abrams was given the keys to Kirk and Company and made a fun and enjoyable movie that was truly a reason to go to the movie theatre. Chris Pine channeled a bit of Shatner while Zach Quinto did a spot-on Spock. Some have called it “Star Trek for Star Wars fans” and that may have a bit of truth to it, but it doesn’t take away from being a solid, enjoyable film.

“Up” – If this year had a theme it would be “films that other people thought shouldn’t work but did.” “Up” was being crucified before it got to the theatres. I saw an article where “Wall Street” experts were predicting it as a failure for Pixar. The result? A heartfelt, beautifully colored solid story about a former balloon salesman uprooting his house for the ultimate adventure of his life taking along a stowaway who needs a father figure. It may not have the technology of “Avatar” but the story was original and solid and Pixar up’d their technology work with the brilliance of their color palette.

“The Hangover” – A movie I probably would not have watched had it not been for the free screening. The initial WB test screening went so well they ordered a sequel, which I had never heard of happening before. My brother and I went to a PACKED screening at the Commerce Crossings theatre two weeks in advance. Walking out of the movie my brother gave it the best endorsement I’ve ever heard for a movie: “I would pay to see that again.” So would I.

“District 9” – Following “Moon,” (which gets Honorable Mention) director Neil Blomkamp took racial prejudice in South Africa and changed it to alienation of aliens. Shot on a limited budget and handheld/doc-style, it was an innovative sci-fi film and one that should raise the bar for doing science fiction films.

“Inglourious Basterds” – Tarantino threw everything but the blender into this one: a hodge-podge of war films, exploitation, film geekness, and World War II. This film ran the risk of being exclusively for those who love films and/or Tarantino and while that concept may seem to be running on fumes, and trust me it has its faults, overall it tied together at the end. It’s not “Kill Bill” or “Pulp Fiction,” but it’s a worthwhile addition to the Tarantino catalog.

“Capitalism: A Love Story” – One of the most personal of Michael Moore’s films and his best since, “Bowling for Columbine.” It got snubbed for next year’s Academy Awards and that just goes to show Californians DO love their money…

“Paranormal Activity” – Most likened to being this decade “Blair Witch,” this really IS the little movie that could. Done for $15,000 and shot in one location this preyed on those times when you sit in a house, alone, and hear the creaking of the floors, strange noises, etc. This is a film that works best on people who have imaginations, as opposed to those who enjoy the “idiotic group of college teenagers going out to an abandoned shack” formula. I caught a late showing on a Tuesday night and couldn’t get the final scene outta my head. On DVD next week!

“The Blind Side” – So I had to put another “heartwarming” movie on the list. It wasn’t groundbreaking and you could tell the smarminess from the get-go, but I enjoyed the film. Not everything I watch has to be earth-shattering or socially conscious; sometimes it’s nice to fit in an “uplifting” movie.

“Me and Orson Welles” – Charming, amusing movie rooted in its when and where. I am not a big fan of Orson Welles as a person or his personality, but Christian McKay did such a spot-on job with playing Orson Welles it’s uncanny. It was great speaking with Ed Hart about this one; it truly deserves to be recognized. I wish it luck.

“Avatar” – I initially thought against putting this in the Top Ten but Cameron’s attention to detail and use of 3-D technology make this one to be seen. It’s not a great story; in fact, you’ve already seen it as “Dune,” “Dances with Wolves,” etc. The attention to detail and world of Pandora that Cameron created are what sets this above the others.

There are others that deserve mention (“Moon,” “Zombieland”) but these were the ten best for the year (that I watched). Feel free to give your comments. Happy holidays and see you at the movies!

Chas Andrews

Advertisements
12
May
09

Movie Review: Star Trek

star_trek_xi

 

Rebooting… the Final Frontier

Stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Winona Ryder, Eric Bana, and Simon Pegg. Directed by J.J. Abrams

This ain’t your daddy’s “Star Trek.”

“Alias” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams was given a somewhat unenviable task: resurrect “Star Trek” for the “next generation” of moviegoers. And he did just that. Straddling a line between “trekkies” and casual scifi film enthusiasts, “Star Trek” has gone hyper-frenetic and action-packed. It is as much “Star Trek” as it is a Hollywood blockbuster and for this franchise, that’s a good thing.

“Star Trek” has its followers rooted in a world set forth by ten movies, six TV series, books, etc. Those who know “Trek” KNOW “Trek.” And there’s the social messages: pay attention to the environment (“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”), watch for political conspiracies (“Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”), technology becomes God (“Star Trek: The Motion Picture”), keep your enemies closer (“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) and Shatner can’t direct (“Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”) The “Next Generation” cast did what they could (four movies) but didn’t have the same gravitas as the original series. With Picard and Co. bowing out after “Nemesis,” the big question was: what happens now?

The story rests on a premise that could itself be a fan fiction novel: what if a Romulan named Nero (played by Eric Bana) watched the planet Romulus become a black hole and upon revenging said event travels back in time 129 years? And in doing so George Kirk, father of future captain James T. Kirk, gives his life so his son has a future and thus creates an alternate reality? That’s the premise going on.

And that’s how Abrams plays it safe; instead of altering the actual past of characters beloved by many, you subvert them by changing/tweaking their pasts for your own purposes and through a big “what if” and go from there. Abrams boldly went there and it pays off, but not without a whiff of being “highly illogical.”

I’m going to interject for a moment: I usually hate it when “Star Trek” decides to lean on time travel to get its story across. Yes, I enjoyed “Yesterday’s Enterprise” from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” And I know everyone loved Kirk and the Gang going back in time to save the whales in “Star Trek IV,” but the entire franchise has done time travel to death. Sometimes I wonder if there just aren’t enough alien races for the Federation to start shit with.

Back to the story. Kirk grows up to be rebellious as shown in the scene where he drives his step-dad’s Corvette off a cliff. Years later he gets in a bar fight with some Starfleet Cadets and is saved by Captain Christopher Pike (Greenwood). Pike recognizes Kirk’s potential and challenges him to join Starfleet Academy which he accepts. On the shuttle trip he meets Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban), a man joining Starfleet only because his wife took everything he owned except his “bones.”

Meanwhile on the planet Vulcan there’s a different rebel with cause: Spock (Quinto). Born to a Vulcan father and human mother, Spock is considered a liability due to his half-breed nature. Upon acceptance into the Vulcan Academy he instead chooses Starfleet and upsets the council elders. While at Starfleet he becomes a mentor to Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and develops an attachment to her.

When Kirk takes the Kobayashi Maru simulation and fails the second time, he reprograms it and wins. This causes friction between him and its programmer Commander Spock and he quickly finds himself restricted from duty. McCoy, taking some pity, stows Kirk away on the Enterprise as its maiden voyage  is to answer a distress call (the objective of EVERY “Star Trek” movie) from the planet Vulcan. Once there the seven other starships arrived before them are being systematically destroyed by Nero who is planning on creating a black hole using Vulcan. Nero takes Pike hostage and the Enterprise’s attempt to save Vulcan has its complications, leaving Spock and Kirk to fight over command and what should be done to save Earth and the rest of the Federation.

I may have already told you too much.

That’s the crux of this movie. Sure, Leonard Nimoy returns as Spock (again, the time traveling stuff) and we get to see how Scotty got recruited by the Enterprise. This movie is as much about it’s “what if” premise as it is an “origins” movie, and that’s not entirely bad. Karl Urban is great as McCoy, Pegg offers an interesting Scotty, Saldana is a hotter Uhura, Quinto is a formidable Spock, Cho gives Sulu more than sitting at the helm and Pine is the best Kirk we got. As far as how close to Chris Pine plays Shatner’s “Captain Kirk,” I think he gives him a degree of 21st century impulsiveness mixed with action and thought. He doesn’t have Shatner’s stilted dialog however he does pick up its cadence on occasion.

The main objective Abrams seems to display with “Star Trek” is for it not to be exclusive to its environment or fanbase. This movie is more “mainstream” than the other “Treks” and as I’ve said before that’s not a bad thing. And yes being a product from the guy who created “Lost” means that for the most part you gotta let this puppy play out; don’t try understanding it from fear that it will all unravel and you’ll walk out of the theatre with a massive headache.

Why should you watch it? First, to cure your curiosity. If that doesn’t suit you reason #2: the special effects. This is stuff-blowin’-up, fist-punching, breathtaking action-adventure at its best. Even if you hate the storyline it’s worth the effects alone. Lastly, it’s one of the best blockbusters in a while. 2008’s “Iron Man” was the popcorn blockbuster everyone was waiting for and this year that crown goes to “Star Trek.”

Let me also give credit to the music. Michael Giacchino, who also did the music for “Alias” and “Lost,” does a great job of mixing cinematic orchestration with music that sounds like it came straight from the 60’s series. I was really impressed with that.

Great effects, action sequences, and overall fun. It may not be the greatest movie ever made, but it’s the greatest “Star Trek” movie ever made.

My grade: B+

 

The Trailer:

And for some fun, check out this piece from The Onion:

30
Apr
09

May Movie Releases

AD_INTL_1SHT_GLOW_2

 

 

“The Merry Gentleman” – A woman moves to Chicago to start life over and meets a guy. Both are trying to escape their past lives and need to become more than they are. Stars Kelly MacDonald and Michael Keaton, who also directs. Opens May 1, 2009

 

 

 

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” – Hugh Jackman’s back in the role that put him on the map: Wolverine of the “X-Men.” Watch for Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. Opens May 1, 2009

 

 

 

“Next Day Air” – When a package delivers driver drops off a shipment of bricks of cocaine to the wrong address, it’s a battle of wit and wills between the dealer, the buyers, and the recipients. Stars Mos Def and Mike Epps. Opens May 8, 2009

 

 

 

“Star Trek” – Chris Pine plays Captain James T. Kirk is this “reboot” of the franchise. Also stars Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and Leonard Nimoy. Opens May 8, 2009

 

 

 

“Wild Child” – Emma Roberts is a SoCal socialite brat stripped of her privileges and sent to boarding school in England. Opens May 8, 2009

 

 

 

“Angels and Demons” – Tom Hanks returns to the character from “The Da Vinci Code” for this installment, a sequel based on a book that was the prequel to “The Da Vinci Code.” Got that? Opens May 15, 2009

 

 

 

“The Great Howard Buck” – John Malkovich plays a magician whose illusions are becoming more transparent. He takes on an assistant played by Colin Hanks. Watch for Tom Hanks playing Colin Hanks’ father (there’s acting for ya). Opens March 20, 2009

 

 

 

“The Limits of Control” – Isaach De Bankole is a mysterious loner on a job, probing the depths of his soul. Also stars Gael Garcia Bernal, John Hurt, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Opens May 22, 2009

 

 

 

“Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian” – Ben Stiller is back, as is Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt and Owen Wilson as Jedidiah. New historical personalities include General Custer, Ivan the Terrible, Al Capone, The Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Ulysses S. Grant. Opens May 22, 2009

 

 

 

“Terminator Salvation” – Christian Bale stars as John Connor in this installment of the franchise taking place in 2018. Opens May 21, 2009

 

 

 

“The Brothers Bloom” – Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo are brothers pulling one last con on eccentric heiress Rachel Weisz. Opens May 29, 2009

 

 

 

“Drag Me into Hell” – A loan officer tries evicting an old woman from a home but has an evil curse put upon her. Directed by Sam Raimi. Opens May 29, 2009

 

 

 

“Up” – The next Pixar movie about a 78-year-old man named Carl Fredricksen, who uses balloons to make his house fly. Unfortunately he has a stowaway: 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer Russell. Opens May 29, 2009

 

15
Jan
09

In Passing… Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009)

ricardo_montalbanActor Ricardo Montalban passed away from on January 14th. Born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalban y Merino in Mexico, Montalban arrived in Hollywood in the 40’s and played in many Westerns, usually as an “Indian” or “Latin lover.” The Studios suggested that he change his name to Ricky Martin, but he refused. He went on to play Japanese characters in film and TV, most notably the role of Nakamura in “Sayonara.” He’s more fondly remembered as Mr. Roarke in the TV series, “Fantasy Island” (1978-1984), the owner of a mysterious island where people can come and live out their fantasies for a price. In 1982 he reprised his role from the original “Star Trek” series in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” as the titular villain left by Capt. James T. Kirk on a planet. He was also known for being the spokesman for the Chrysler Cordoba, praising its “soft, Corinthian leather.” Montalban was 88 at the time of death.

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

For more information check out his IMDB page at:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001544/

“Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan”

Chrysler Cordoba

“Fantasy Island” opening

19
Dec
08

In Passing… Majel Barrett Roddenberry (1932-2008)

roddenberry

 

 

 

Actress and wife of the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry passed away from leukemia. She was 76 years old. Majel Lee Hudac’s career began with a TV show called “Whirlybirds,” and she had parts on other various shows and films until 1966 when she played the role of Nurse Chapel on “Star Trek;” she also voiced the Enterprise Computer. After the series ended, Gene Roddenberry married her in Japan. Since then she has primarily stuck with “Star Trek,” playing voicing the ship’s computer in every incarnation of the series, as well as playing Lwaxana Troi in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and doing multiple voices for “Star Trek: The Animated Series.”

 

Thoughts and prayers for her family and friends.

 

For more information check out her IMDB page at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000854/

01
Dec
08

Movie News and Views December 1, 2008 Trailer Edition

angelsanddemons

 

 

 

“Che” – Benicio del Toro in the first part of a two-part film series by Steven Soderbergh about revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Opens December 12, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=974&item=1

 

“What Doesn’t Kill You” – Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo are guys who grew up together in South Boston. After a trip to prison both return, but Ruffalo has a family to take care of and has to ask himself if the job Hawke wants to pull is worth it. Opens December 12, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1337&item=0

 

“The Wrestler” – Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a former 80’s wrestler who has one last shot against his nemesis, The Ayatollah. Trouble is, this match could kill him. Opens December 17, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1207&item=0

 

“Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans” – A prequel to the two previous films. Stars Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, and Rhona Mitra. Opens January 23, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1096&item=1

 

“New in Town” – Renee Zellweger is an ambitious company exec living in Miami who suddenly gets transferred to Minnesota. Hilarity and attraction to Harry Connick, Jr, ensue. Opens January 30, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1343&item=0

 

“Nothing But the Truth” – Kate Beckinsale plays a D.C. reporter who outs a CIA agent but refuses to reveal her source. Also stars Alan Alda, Matt Dillon, and Angela Bassett. Opens January 9, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1029&item=0

 

“Dance Flick” – The Wayans Bros. are back this time spoofing movies such as “Save the Last Dance,” “O,” “Hairspray,” “You Got Served,” and “High School Musical. I thought the trailer was funny… Opens February 6, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1340&item=0

 

“He’s Just Not That Into You” – Ginnifer Goodwin, with the help of Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson, try to figure guys (Ben Affleck, Justin Long, etc.) out. I just wasn’t that into the trailer… Opens February 6, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1016&item=1

 

“Pink Panther 2” – Steve Martin reprises his role as Inspector Clouseau. This time around, he has to stop a continent-wide crime wave. Opens February 6, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=752&item=1

 

“Race to Witch Mountain” – Disney remaking Disney, this time with Dwayne Johnson s a Vegas cabbie taking two teenagers to Witch Mountain. When he finds they’re really aliens and are on the run from government agents and an alien bounty hunter, he takes it upon himself to protect them. Opens March 13, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1129&item=0

 

“Duplicity” – Clive Owen is ex-MI6. Julia Roberts is ex-CIA. Together, they plan to make two rival companies go at each other. Opens March 20, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1240&item=0

 

“Adventureland” – A 1987 period-piece where a recent college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) gets a job at an amusement park. Opens March 27, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1047&item=0

 

“The Ugly Truth” – Gerard Butler is a chauvinistic TV host and Katherine Heigl is his new producer. He tries to help her romantically with a “new guy,” but his work has unexpected results. Opens April 3, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1238&item=0

 

“Star Trek” – Chris Pine plays Captain James T. Kirk is this “reboot” of the franchise. Also stars Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and Leonard Nimoy. Opens May 8, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=450&item=3

 

“Angels and Demons” – Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon. This time he’s taking on the Illuminati. Opens May 15, 2009 View the teaser trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=659&item=0

 

“Up” – The next Pixar movie about a 78-year-old man named Carl Fredricksen, who uses balloons to make his house fly. Unfortunately he has a stowaway: 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer Russell. Opens May 29, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1190&item=1

 

“2012” – It’s not the year 2525, but it’s just as disastrous… Roland Emmerich is behind this apocalyptic movie staring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, and Oliver Platt. Opens July 10, 2009 View the teaser trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1275&item=0

 

“Give ‘Em Hell Malone” – Thomas Jane. Ving Rhames. Elsa Pataky. A private eye fending off thugs from loot. All done Seventies-style. From the director of “Highlander” and “Resident Evil: Extinction.” Coming soon! View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1345&item=0

 

 “The Great Howard Buck” – John Malkovich plays a magician whose illusions are becoming more transparent. He takes on an assistant played by Colin Hanks. Watch for Tom Hanks playing Colin Hanks’ father (there’s acting for ya). Coming soon! View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer.php?id=138&item=0