When I heard that Star Trek was going to be on the big screen again, I was excited at first. Unfortunately, when I heard that J.J. Abrams was going to direct it, I was completely stunned. Abrams has given us such wonderful television shows such as “Lost”, “Alias”, and “Fringe”. When it came to his directorial debut with another television series turned movie series, “Mission: Impossible III”, the third movie had lost its luster. So, you can say that I was less than enthusiatic about Abrams making the same mistake with a much more larger fan base such as Star Trek. That was strike one in my book.
Strike two came about when I found out that the new Trek movie was to be a prequel/reboot of the franchise. I was divided between Hollywood remaking the movies that stand the test of time and reimagining the same movies and TV Series to bring in a whole new audience. Keep in mind that Trek has a long history and and legions of fans that span the globe. After 43 years with ten films, five television series, and one Emmy-winning animated series under its belt, the question, “Will Star Trek thrive again?,” remains on the minds of Trek fans. Since the black sheep of Trek left the airwaves in 2005, fans seeked more from the Trek universe in the form of independent productions. Two productions that stood out from the rest are Star Trek: Phase II and Starship Farragut. I highly recommend them both if you want to experience true Trek.
In a move that surprises no one, Vin Diesel is going to team up with John Singleton to bring Midway Games, Wheelman franchise to the big screen. For some reason I’m thinking this is old news, I could have sworn they were making this a few years go and then canceled it. But I’m probably wrong. I’ve met John Singleton a couple of times and he has become an ahole, but he is talented. I run hot and cold on Diesel on the one hand I can’t stand him as an actor but he always picks really good genre material. I don’t know how much Midway’s financial problems will affect this project but it’ll be interesting to follow.
When J.J. Abrams (creator of Lost) announced that he’d be taking up the reigns of the famed Star Trek franchise with a reboot showcasing the original characters, there was a universal mix from future audiences made up of about 50% excitement and 50% trepidation. If you were in the worried category, let me put your fears to rest. Star Trek is amazing.
I should start with this- the 2009 Star Trek film does not demand in any way that you know anything about the previous films or the universe in general. That being said, if you are familiar with the characters, their quirks and a little bit about their history (specifically plot points and dialogue from the second movie, Wrath of Khan), this experience is going to be all the more gratifying and fun.
The eleventh Star Trek film, simply entitled Star Trek, is a genuine experience. Saying that they got it right is like saying that the sky is blue. Star Trek is the best Trek film – but that’s only half the story. It is a blockbuster in all the right ways: fascinating characters; robust action sequences; a relatable villain; stuff that gets blowed up real good [and yet, not gratuitously], and even some romance [between two of the least likely characters – one of the film’s bigger risks…].
Director J.J. Abrams and writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have produced a film that is set up in such a way that it does not need to navigate through forty-plus years of continuity – a film that can [and does] take chances. Instead of having to worry that any situation might rile Trekkers by flagrantly violating Trek continuity, Star Trek shuffles the deck with a unique twist on time travel paradoxes that allow fresh adventures within the positive core of creator Gene Roddenberry’s original concept. That it is “real” cannot be denied. It has the blessing of the Roddenberry family and Leonard Nimoy – and if Spock says it’s Trek, then it’s Trek. Plus, there’s no Big Red Reset Button [though there is the traditional red-shirted casualty-in-waiting…].
J.J. Abrams is a man who I’ve always thought was way overrated – I’ve hated just about everything that he’s been involved in including Alias, Felicity, Mission Impossible III and that god awful Cloverfield. I’m also not a Trekkie, I’ll watch Star Trek the original series on occasion and Voyager whenever it’s on but I hated the Picard crew with a passion. So for these reasons and more I wasn’t really feeling the new Star Trek prequel movie. I wanted to be the one who comes out hating this movie, but I can’t. Abrams has knocked this one completely out of the park. This is an almost flawless movie. The acting, plot, pacing, cinematography, SFX is almost perfect.
Beyond the reasons listed above I thought all the trailers for this movie were, “Meh” and the casting really awful. But a funny thing happens as you watch, it soaks in that I was completely wrong, this cast is absolutely perfect and spot on. I started to have double vision, I could easily imagine these people 20 or 30 years older with their big stomachs and years of experience being together as a crew. I always say how much I hate prequels, but it’s time to say that when done well they can be a lot of fun. It’s just very rare that it’s done well. Prequels should be more than just “how the big things came to be,” they should be about the characters themselves and the little moments, things and character “ticks” that fans of any given show come to love.
Tyson, by writer and director James Toback, takes an honest and insightful look at Mike Tyson’s triumphs and battles throughout his life both in and out of the boxing ring, narrated by the former fighter himself.
Toback has been a lifelong friend to Mike Tyson, and you can almost feel the heart of that friendship in every frame of this feature. This is not because he has chosen to portray a controversial figure in a biased positive light, but rather because he allows his subject to express himself, and in his own way, directs the audience to listen. Toback never judges or spins, but his part of the deal is that in return, no subject is off-limits to be discussed and explained through Tyson’s own words regarding his turbulent history.
The end result is a fascinating tale. Tyson is a lean 90 minutes long, but in it, you’ll hear deep personal reflections from the former heavyweight champion’s about almost every aspect of his life. If anything, Tyson delivers on giving the audience a very private perspective on a very public individual.
If I have a complaint about the film, it’s one I’m wavering on.I wish that I could recommend this movie for everyone to see, but what prevents from doing that is some of the very graphic language used in the film. The reason I waiver is because while it’s crude and may make some people uncomfortable, his language choices are part of his character and so to omit them, or edit him, would take away from fascinating nature of the movie.
What’s most interesting about this documentary is that regardless of what your view is of Mike Tyson- love him, hate him, or don’t know enough to care- your perception of him after the movie will probably be changed from what it was going in. I think I have to recommend this film to most audiences, just on the basis of intrigue and success in portraying an interesting man in a light not yet before seen.
Final Grade A
By Christopher Troilo
Originally Posted 5.07.2009
The Movie that makes me scared to go to Paris on my Birthday, Taken hits the streets next week – May 12th. When a former spy’s, Liam Neeson, estranged daughter is kidnapped in France, he sets out to find her at any cost. Relying on his special skills, he tracks down the ruthless gang that abducted her and launches a one-man war to bring them to justice and rescue his daughter. I loved this movie when I saw it in the theaters, should be even better on the Blu-ray. The Taken Extended Cut Blu-ray Disc (BD) is presented in widescreen format (2.40:01) with English 5.1 Dolby Digital Sound and Spanish/French Dolby Surround with English, French and Spanish subtitles. Loaded with action, suspense and excitement at every turn, the Taken Blu-ray Disc and DVD reveal an intense two-disc extended cut of the film with Digital Copy for portable media players. Additional bonus features include audio commentaries by the director, writer and cinematographers, exclusive behind-the-scenes “making of” featurette and action packed side-by-side comparisons. Taken will be available to own on Blu-ray Disc for $39.99 U.S. / $49.99 Canada, on two-disc DVD for $34.98 U.S. / $45.98 Canada, and on standard DVD for $29.98 U.S. / $43.48 Canada. Bonus features include:
Dimension Films has confirmed E! Online’s story that Jessica Szohr – best know for her role as Vanessa on “GossipGirl” – has joined (previously announced) cast members Elisabeth Shue, Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott and Dina Meyer in the upcoming film PIRANHA 3D. In upcoming remake of the 1978 cult classic terror flick from The Hills Have Eyes remake director Alexandre Aja. Like the original, the movie centers on a lakeside town being terrorized by prehistoric man-eating razor-toothed fish. This time around, however, the movie will be in 3-D. The original E! Online story is here.
The full G.I. Joe trailer is here. I’m not sure what I think yet, I need to watch it on my Apple TV when I get home. My gut reaction is I don’t like the weird Animation/Live Action mix. Doesn’t seem to quite work.
Here’s the thing about X-Men Origins: Wolverine, while I watched it, I enjoyed about 2/3 of it. It follows the pattern of most summer blockbusters where there’s a strong first act that sucks you in, a 2nd act where things get a little shaky but still manageable and a last act that’s awful. I’m going to keep this review short because I really don’t have much to say about this movie. I liked it for what it was but if I think about it too much I’ll start to question every little thing and a this is a film that’s meant to be consumed and forgotten about not endlessly dissected and over analyzed. I didn’t like this because it had good explosions – which, kind of sucked. I liked it because it gasp, had really strong acting from Hugh Jackman (Logan / Wolverine) and Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed / Sabretooth). The movie really does a fantastic job of setting up their story in the first few minutes of the film.The opening credit sequence does a great job of setting up Logan and Victor’s relationship. It’s about as great an opening sequence as the one they used in the recent Watchmen movie. It gives you everything you need to know in less than five minutes.
The problem is there really is nowhere for the story to go after this opening sequence. We can spend the rest of the film either showing them breaking up and fighting or I don’t know what the other option would be. So the writers obviously selected option A. We find out what Sabretooth did to foster his and Wolverine’s hatred. But the explanation of why is pretty tame high school stuff – “He abandoned me.” Yeah really? After having each other’s back for 100 years that’s all it takes for you to turn on your brother? I would think the hatred would have started in the first scene when Login killed their father when he was a kid. But they actually “bonded” over that and the movie never touches on it ever again, which made it sort of pointless to show it.