Browsing Tag

For the last seven years fans have been wondering how we’d recover from the disappointment that was Star Trek: Nemesis, the film that broke the even/odd scheme we’d come to rely on. For everything that J.J. Abrams has done right in Hollywood, had he done enough to take over one of the oldest and most beloved franchises in the industry? Could the writers, actors, director, and studio withstand the undying fanatical cries from the devoted fanbase? Could Star Trek actually become relevant again after a prematurely canceled prequel series and two straight disappointing Next Generation-headlining films? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, a resounding “Yes” as the forty-plus year old franchise is reborn and revitalized under the direction of a capable director, excellent casting, and an excellent story.

All the gushing aside, Star Trek isn’t a perfect film, but its many hits almost completely negate its misses. For every gaping plot hole we get a shout out to the original series or a great line of dialog. For every canon-bucking event, we get pitch-perfect casting and an excellent rapport between characters we’ve known and loved.

The most daunting aspect of the new film would be how to fill the shoe’s of some of sci-fi’s most iconic characters including, but not limited to, Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, Scotty, etc. The entire cast is fleshed out well with even smaller supporting rolls like Chekov (Anton Yelchin) getting enough meat and potatoes for the audience to fully understand the character. Enough can’t be said for Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, he isn’t trying to fully emulate the late DeForest Kelly, but his perfect delivery of classic lines, demeanor, hatred for the “green-blooded hobgoblin” all sink in so well with the audience.

A lot has been said about Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk, Quinto’s performance as the emotionally troubled, younger Spock works so well in the middle-stages of the film as a dramatic event really tests the half human/half Vulcan. Pine’s performance as the womanizing, eff-authority Kirk is just what you would imagine. We already know Kirk has a history of disregarding orders from a superior (as seen in Star Trek III), and it becomes fully realized how very good he is when we finally see his solution to the Kobayashi Maru test.

The rest of the cast is filled out nicely with Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, and the stunning Zoe Saldana as Uhura. A welcome addition to the cast is Bruce Greenwood as Captain Christopher Pike who’s character is fleshed out nicely compared to what we knew of him from the original, unaired Pilot, and subsequent TOS episode “The Menagerie”.

The aforementioned script issues and underwhelming menace don’t detract too much from the overall picture, however keen observers will blow open the fallacies and breakdown of basic logical thinking, but, honestly, you’re having too much fun to care. Even after repeated viewings you’re more than willing to let a few things slide as you gear up for the next set-piece, the next joke, the next overwhelmingly cool CGI shot that modernizes and energizes the film.

The thing about Star Trek is its exciting, from the moment it begins with Nero’s (Eric Bana) attack on the USS Kelvin, to the closing scene of the Enterprise warping away, its never tedius, the two hour runtime flows along, never ebbing, always keeping your eyes glued to the lens-flared screen and still provoking you like no Star Trek film has since The Undiscovered Country, or possibly First Contact.

It seems almost generic these days to call Star Trek a hip reboot of a successful franchise, and if there’s a less cliché term, please use it, but Abrams Star Trek adventure is just that, an adventure, a continuing voyage of the wagon train to the stars where heroes do exist, enemies lurk, and the faithful crew of the Federation flagship keeps us protected, even 40 years later.

There should be a special level of hell for adaptation writers. Truthfully there can’t be a harder job in Hollywood that someone who is tasked with taking an existing story, universe, or timeline and adapting it for a feature film. Over the years we’ve seen hits and missing to both extremes, and at times we pleaded Hollywood to give up, but then rays of hope appear like Iron Man or The Dark Knight and our lust for our favorite properties on the big screen is renewed. Then there are films like Wolverine, which is sure to feel the wrath of fanboys and general comic book fans for years to come for basically not caring at all.

Wolverine is a passable action movie if it didn’t include some of host hallowed Marvel mutants this side of Captain America, as a comic book movie the film is terrible throwing caution to the wind the filmmakers, producers, and writers tear down one of the most beloved characters in comic book history and reassemble him, with a few other mutants in a film that should never have been made. Regardless of how you feel about prequels and origin stories, these types of films, if done right, are usually a great way to reconnect with characters created in a great film. Bryan Singer’s X-Men ushered in the new wave of high-budget, well written comic book movies only exemplified by the aforementioned Batman reboot, Spider-Man 2, and the X-Men series’ pinnacle, X2: X-Men United. Sure what Singer did wasn’t totally perfect, and the liberties that he took to modernize the series were also ambushed by the rabid, but his film started a franchise that has been run into the ground. Wolverine is to X-Men as Batman & Robin was to Batman, the fourth film in a franchise that basically murders it just for the hell of it.

The biggest obstacle for Wolverine was to meet up with the original X-Men film, after all, we see Sabertooth, Cyclops, Storm, and Wolverine all again. As the film ends you wonder how Liev Schreiber’s Sabertooth (who looks and acts totally different than Tyler Mane’s in X-Men) basically becomes a pitiful dumb-ass in the course of fifteen years. Here he’s able to sustain direct blasts from Cyclops (or Cyclops’ power, more on that later), jump off a cooling tower at a nuclear power plant and survive yet in X-Men he falls off the statue of liberty, into water, and dies. That’s consistency, look it up. Its like everyone who made this movie didn’t bother to even watch X-Men, even Hugh Jackman, who was IN the movie, let this pass. Didn’t he think anyone and everyone would call him out on this stuff? Lets not even get nitpicky with stuff like adamantium bullets, how Wolverine can heal his metal skull, how Stryker knew that Wolverine would survive a bullet to the head, but his memories wouldn’t, how Deadpool can have full swords in his arms, and still bend them.

While we’re on the subject, why did they even include Deadpool, or Wraith, or Gambit, or Silverfox, or Blob or anyone besides Wolverine? Each of the aforementioned gets about 10 minutes of screen time total, with the exception of Silverfox, and one of the biggest hyped additions was Reynolds as Wade Wilson, who basically has one scene and doesn’t even play Deadpool when he’s created. Each of the above characters is mutilated to the point they’re almost beyond recognition.

There’s just so much wrong with the film that it would take pages to explain just how terrible it is, how clearly and utterly pissed off a lot of people are, and should be, after viewing this train wreck. There was no care and no love put into this film, and the few good parts are marred by everything that’s bad. This film is a testament to what’s wrong with modern comic book filmmaking to the point where X-Men: The Last Stand starts to look like Citizen Kane.

Spoilers Contained Within…You Have Been Warned!

Let me just say that I’m not a big time Star Wars fan, or at least I’m not keyed into the huge mythology that has arisen since the original trilogy’s release in the late 70’s-early 80’s. I know who the characters are, who they’re suppose to be, who is who’s father; you know, the basics. So I’m going to be looking at Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith from a viewpoint of a casual Star Wars fan and a hobbyist movie critic. Get ready to send that hate mail.

Revenge of the Sith, for the unenlightened, is the culmination of the prequel trilogy started by George Lucas in 1999 with the massively disappointing, but highly profitable The Phantom Menace. The movie introduces us to a small Anakin Skywalker (Jack Lloyd) who drives in a treacherously long pod-race to win his freedom and attempt to become a Jedi Knight. We also are introduced to the fact that “The Force” is nothing more than some unique stuff inside your cells. The movie sets up the principles that would be further elaborated upon in Episode II Attack of the Clones such as Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) rising to power, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) hooking up, and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) taking on the leadership role with his new apprentice.

Episode III brings everything to a head. The Clone War is continuing, suspicions of the Chancellor continue, and the Jedi “have a bad feeling about this” entire situation, and its well-founded as they are nearly wiped out save for a lucky few thrown into exile. The film continues to build upon the rage inside Skywalker as he turns to the darkside and ends with the scene many have been waiting for, the creation of Darth Vader in the form we all know.

As a movie bridging the gap between the excellent Episode IV and the so-so Episode II, Revenge of the Sith does its job adequately. With the passing of twenty years, we can see how the Death Star would be created, Vader would become the powerful man he is in the latter episodes, and how his human side can still hold true in Return of the Jedi as he saves his son from the corrupt Emperor. For fan-boys Episode III is the fix they needed until the planned TV series begins production, but as a movie, RotS is an underwhelming affair.

The story itself, although sounding very interesting on paper, is actually pretty boring in execution. The first hour of the film is nothing more than political speeches and romantic melodrama sans the opening fight sequence and amazing visuals. When the audience settles down from the crash landing of a battlecruiser you wonder what happen to all the action. Lucas seems to cut so quickly between shots (sometimes no more than 20-30 seconds long) before he performs the trademark wipes that it’s really hard to grasp what is really going on sometimes. Even harder to understand is many of these events happen at the same time further throwing you off when you return to a scene minutes later at nearly the same exact time you cut away. These quick cuts even confuse Lucas’ script in more than a few points. Not until the culminating duel of Anakin and Obi-Wan does the movie really pick up, and that’s nearly the end.

The death of several key characters seems highly contrived. Mace Windu’s (Samuel L. Jackson) is wholly inconsistent with what we’ve seen the Jedi do in earlier movies. If Anakin can freefall through traffic and manage to save himself, even a handicapped Windu should be able to accomplish the same feat. Padme’s impending doom seems as though it was plotted over bagels on a Sunday morning with no real reason other than “she’s lost the will to live,” given. I’m sorry but that bit of shoddy storytelling just won’t fly with me, especially in such a high profile movie. Then there’s the time consistency between Padme telling Anakin she’s pregnant and actually having the babies which seems to only happen a few days apart from each other.

I’ve never considered George Lucas to be that “awesome” of a director so my expectations weren’t incredibly high for Revenge of the Sith in that aspect, so I can’t say I was disappointed. I had heard rumblings on how bad the dialog was, but I honestly didn’t hear too many bad lines. Christensen seems to have fit into the role a bit better this time and sanded away his wooden acting from Episode II. Overall the cast is put together well and gel nicely with each other but lacks the chemistry we saw between the original trilogy’s cast members.

The much publicized “creation” of Darth Vader in masked form is generally underwhelming as it’s a three minute affair of attaching prosthetic body parts and recreating the famous breathing sound along with James Earl Jones bombastic voice.

In continuing with underutilized and underdeveloped villains the hyped General Grievous is fun to watch but comical to hear when he actually decides to talk. Once he’s dispatched, along with the paycheck-collecting Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, you’ll wonder what place they ever served in the movie other than filler.

The film isn’t all bad though. From a visual stand point ILM has created the best looking movie I have ever seen. The opening space battle was just amazing with huge capital ships battling for the skies of the capital planet. Realistically you won’t find a better looking science fiction movie, digital or not. Yet, we’ve seen plenty of movies rest on the laurels of their imagery, and while Revenge of the Sith never does that, I got the felling that all the eye candy may be trying to distract you from the script.

After it was all said and done I left the theater feeling like nothing had just happened. It was almost like I sat for two and a half hours and didn’t really retain anything. It might be a combination of my lack of die-hard fanaticism and the creating of an average movie or from the fact that, being a prequel, there’s no mystery. What I do know is I had a much, much better time with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a few weeks ago than I did with Revenge of the Sith, but to each his own. Star Wars is a very high profile franchise and with the high expectations that were placed on Episode III, frankly I’m not surprised it failed to live up to the lineage set down by the original trilogy. If it means anything, each movie in the prequel trilogy has been better than the last, so here’s hoping the TV series can continue that trend and deliver us something a bit better produced, and more well-written.

Dumb and Dumber is a classic to anyone who loves a good, fun movie. Sure the film isn’t anything more than a string of jokes based on two dumb characters who can’t even read a briefcase correctly, but through the course of the movie you begin to really fall for the characters who stand out as more than your simple comic fare. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd is a prequel to the original which brings in younger versions of the characters who still lack the intelligence to even be born.

The greatest part about this film is not particularly the story, or the laughs, but just how good of a Jim Carrey impersonation Eric Christian Olsen is able to pull off. That seemed to be the biggest draw to the film only seeing preliminary posters and a small teaser trailer. Olsen pulls off Carrey better than Carrey could pull off Carrey. It is just uncanny how well both actors are able being younger versions of Jeff Daniels and Carrey.

Dumb and Dumberer finds us back in High School on Harry’s (Derek Richardson) first day after being home schooled for his entire life. Along the way, following his treasure map, he runs into, literally, Lloyd Christmas (Olsen) who instantly becomes his dim-witted friend. Through a series of misadventures Lloyd and Harry are tricked by Principal Collins (Eugene Levy) into recruiting other social misfits for a fake Special Needs program which will get him a grant for $100,000 which he plans to buy a condo with. For the most part the story takes a backseat to the laughs, in which the movie is full of, but to get most of them you must, once again, return to the lowest common denominator.

While some of the jokes fail to make their mark on the audience, but there are some shinning moments that really put you in tears. One in particular is a rather funny episode with Harry and a melted chocolate bar at the beautiful Jessica’s (Rachel Nichols) house and her uptight Dad’s (Bob Saget) reaction to the whole mess. Jessica serves as the movies love interest for Harry and, to a lesser extent, Lloyd. The gross out humor and bodily function jokes are the most prevalent, but sometimes you notch the film up a level with some clever plays on words and intelligent jokes.

Still if it weren’t for the likeable characters and sometimes hilarious dialog the movie pales with comparison to just about every other movie out there. But if you are attending this for intriguing drama and classical characters you are in the wrong place. Dumb and Dumberer knows what it is and never attempts to go above or beyond that. For such a low budget movie, roughly around $30 million, the film brings in a surprising amount of talent including Luis Guzman as Lloyd’s father and school janitor and Mimi Rogers as Harry’s Mom.

Dumb and Dumberer lacks originality and anything resembling a memorable plot, but that is what you expect when you are laughing for 90 minutes straight. Granted that the movie is sure to be critically panned because of it’s low brow comedy and lack of older people “getting it,” but what they don’t realize is for every Matrix and Mulholland Drive we need a good comedy to express ourselves and a good comedy with poop jokes and stupid characters is just what the doctor ordered. Don’t expected a second renaissance of film making, but do expect to have a good time.

While a heated dispute on the Entertainmentopia Forums over the past few days as to the acting merits of Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) all of those doubts and inhibitions can be put to rest after viewing last weekend’s The Scorpion King, because without The Rock, this just wouldn’t be a good movie. Take what I say with a grain of salt, but The Rock can act, and act very well. While the script of The Scorpion King doesn’t leave much room for a story, or fleshed out lines and character development we are used to seeing in the two previous movies in The Mummy franchise, King uses the amazing screen presence of The Rock, and some over the top action to get the job done.

The Scorpion King tells the story of Mathayus (The Rock), one of three professional assassins left of an ancient race that live in the desert badlands of Egypt before the time of the pharaohs and the pyramids. Mathayus is hired by a coalition of the remaining nomadic clans to seek out the sorceress (Kelly Hu) being held by Memnon, the evil ruler of the land. He uses the sorceresses powers to win every battle, and is slowly conquering the known land. When Mathayus discovers her, he kidnaps the beauty and retreats to the safety of the desert.

After a series of action-filled battles, and one very cool outing in a cave during a sand storm, the movie makes its way to the final battle at the city of Gomorrah where some of the movies’ best action sequences take place.

The Scorpion King is like a low-budget Mummy because of it’s small $60 million dollar value. The special effects are notably toned down when compared to the two previous movies in the series, and the movie is also notably shorter. On the plus side, Universal, the studio releasing this movie, should not have any trouble making the movie into a very nice cash cow.

The acting from most of the supporting characters is on par with the cheese flavored acting of the first two movies, nothing should be taken very seriously for the fact that it isn’t meant to be. The movie rides on the cheese-factor to give it the edge to stand out from all of the other movies set in ancient Egypt. While the movie theatre I saw this in had the volume way to low for such an action fest, it still was a great show.

The only thing that really bugs you about it is you know what happens to the character in the later movie. Wanting him to win and become king makes you feel like you are going for the bad guy, which is almost sad because I like the character more as a good guy than anything else, but that is just me, and I have been told I am a nut-case sometimes.

You will have to look beyond some of the major inconsistencies in the character between the early scenes in The Mummy Returns and the entire Scorpion King movie, but what you get in the end is an enjoyable movie experience that you can get a tub-o-butter a Cherry Pepsi and enjoy one and a half hours of guilty entertainment.

Closing Note: The Scorpion King was number one on opening weekend with an estimated $36.2 million dollars.