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Recent DVD Release: Star Trek Into Darkness

Published September 16, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring:  Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Rated: PG-13.  Science Fiction/Action/Adventure.  Running Time: 2 hours 2 minutes.

 

While I’m not a Trekkie in the strictest sense, (i.e. I’ve never been to Comic-Con or a Trek convention), I am most definitely the next closest thing.  I’ve seen all the movies, every episode of the original and all of its spin-offs.  I saw 2009’s Star Trek and enjoyed it, but for some reason it didn’t stick so well in my brain pan.  The only explanation I can come up with is I must’ve been hammered when I watched.  So the other night Maria and I cued it up from the on demand list in anticipation of the DVD release of Into Darkness.  I thought it was awesome!  And subsequently thoroughly enjoyed STID.  I know some purists out there have had problems with J.J. Abrams vision, but don’t count me as one of them.  Yes, the original Kahn (Ricardo Montelban) was one of the most memorable and best Trek villains ever, but Cumberbatch’s version is his own and fit the movie to a tee.  What I really love about these new versions are the character portrayals of all our favorites.  Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are perfect as the reluctant, opposites attract, lifelong friends Kirk and Spock.  While both resemble, and to some extent, mimic the originals Shatner and Nimoy, they also bring their own slight variations with them, making the characters fresh and vibrant.  Karl Urban spews a few too many “Dammit Jim, I’m a Doctor not a ……” euphemisms, but he too has captured the essence of Bones’ old country doctor stuck on a starship.  Scotty (Pegg), Sulu (Cho), Chekov (Yelchin) and Uhura (Saldana) round out the crew of the Enterprise and the chemistry is easily as good as the original, maybe better.  Seeing Spock and Uhura as a couple, not just oozing a bit of sexual tension, is also a hoot.  I honestly think this series can appeal to Trek diehards as well as bring a whole new generation on board.

I had seen the 2009 Trek and miraculously had also forgotten it entirely, just as Ross had.  I think I watched it on a date and probably wasn’t really invested.  This time around I had Ross filling me in on the inside jokes, the correlating plotlines and character attributes.  This made both movies a Hell of a lot more enjoyable for a trek-tard like myself.  And I realized that I am marrying a nerd.  A closet nerd, but a nerd nonetheless.  And a giant sweetheart.  He was excessively patient with all my questions and extremely helpful.  Even pausing several times to explain how the plot of Into Darkness mimicked an old favorite episode of his.  I really liked both of these movies, which was a pleasant surprise.  And I believe I know what I find so charming about each of these films.  The characters are fantastic.  Spock’s emotionless and precisely analytical assessments are a welcome contrast to the rest of the crew.  He is, by far, my favorite.  It is a pleasure to watch his and Uhura’s relationship unfold on screen.  One of my favorite scenes from STID is when Uhura is alone with Captain Kirk on the ship’s elevator.  Kirk asks, “Are you guys fighting?”  Uhura’s silence is enough of an answer for him and the next thing he says is, “What’s that like!?”  These types of moments make both movies.  The only problem is that I don’t want any of the crew to perish and they always seem to find themselves in the worst life and death situations.

Fret not honey, that’s what the red shirt crew members are for, they do all the dying.  Star Trek Into Darkness is a roller coaster ride from start to finish.  This crew of NCC-1701 (“No bloody A, B or C” as the late James Doohan once uttered as the old Scotty) is progressing just fine, thank you.  Spock maybe a little more in touch with his human side.  Chekov is a bit smarter this time around and more versatile.  Uhura brings an attitude that Nichelle Nichols version didn’t possess.  The Enterprise herself is sleeker, and with the progress of technology, even the beaming process is tighter.  All improvements if you ask me.  One thing for sure though, Kirk still gets a lot of pussy, and he has no problem if the women are green or have tails.  Prefers it actually.  That dude would screw a wood pile on the chance there was a snake in it!  You gotta love him.  I just couldn’t be happier with these movies, and I hope it’s not another four years before they make another one.  For fans of the entire series, keep an eye out for a complete role reversal during a crucial point, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”  Make no mistake, STID is not a remake of Wrath of Khan.  If you keep that in mind you’ll enjoy it so much more.  One final note to the creators, please keep those Leonard Nimoy cameos coming.  I adore that ancient “pointy eared, green blooded hobgoblin”!  Thanks Bones, you quote machine.

It’s easy to become desensitized to our ever changing technology, but this is one time where I truly appreciated the quality of special effects and improvements.  The beaming was better, while keeping the integrity of the original vision.  It seemed as though the creators were conscientious about paying homage to the old series, while giving the film an original spin.  There is a trick to this delicate balance when you revisit something like Star Trek.  Impressively, J.J. Abrams and the Bad Robot crew have done this successfully…twice.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I was actually moved to tears during one scene.  But then again, I am a sucker for a hardcore ‘bromance’.  Perhaps I have become emotionally invested in Kirk and Spock’s friendship because I, myself, am in the female equivalent; a ‘homance’.  Please reference link for verification: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=homance.  Both of these Star Trek films have entertained me, hooked me and transformed me into a bona fide fan.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

Ross’ Rating:  4.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating:  4 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Flight

Published February 10, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Nadine Velazquez, Garcelle Beauvais.

Rated: R.  Drama.  Running Time: 2 hours 18 minutes.

I may never fly again.  The opening scene twisted my stomach in knots due to an excess of morning drinking, followed by a horrifying stormy flight.  Perhaps I’ll start travelling only by land or sea.  I’m not the worst flyer, or the best.  I hate turbulence (who doesn’t), I hate shaky landings and my palms sweat profusily whenever I’m taking off.  Ross and I fly quite a bit, so I usually grab his hand or arm to have something to hold onto.  Flight most definitely had a message to convey, but at times was very uncomfortable to watch, which I assume is the point.  The character development was brilliant, so was the acting.  But with a cast featuring Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle and John Goodman the audience should expect no less.  On several occassions I found myself speaking aloud, “No, come on…don’t do that.”  It was similar to watching a horror film where you try to tell the girl not to go in that room, or to run from the house.  Honestly, it’s not my favorite genre of film and I found it to be long with some boring lulls.  But it was powerful enough to make me feel for the characters and understand the underlying message.

Maria is not the best flyer at times, so I knew the opening stages of the movie were unsettling for her.  Flight.  Not sure that should have been the title of the movie, though the first fifteen minutes which includes the ill-fated flight, are BY FAR the best part of the movie.  I mean, edge of your seat, hold your breath film making at it’s best.  Unfortunately for me, the rest of the movie was a car wreck.  I think it should’ve been called Booze Pilot.  Or, Leaving The Cockpit.  We haven’t seen a self destructive drunk this bad since Nick Cage’s gut wrenching turn in Leaving Las Vegas, hence my aforementined alternate title.  Sure Denzel was fantastic, and I understand the basic message they’re trying to get across.  But I’m pretty sure we all know by now, drugs are bad.  Alcohol in excess is bad.  You can ruin your life.  Got it.  But I go to the movies to be swept away.  To laugh and cry and try to figure out what’s next, or see magical new places or scary aliens.  To see if the guy gets the girl or gets her back.  See the bad guy finally get his or even better, watch a bad guy turn good or find out he was good all along (Professor Snape!!).  I don’t watch movies to get depressed and feel like shit after it’s over.  Artistically, I get the reason for making Flight and appreciate the great acting.  But I’d still rather have back the last 2 hours and three minutes to do something more fun, perhaps laundry or lawn mowing.  

The crash.  By far the best part of the film, as Ross already pointed out.  It was reminiscent of Cast Away, another of Robert Zemeckis’ films.  The man is genius at putting together plane crashes on the big screen.  Of course, the crash was far more tumultuous in Cast Away and Flight falls short of the emotional magnitude of the earlier film.  I can’t go by Cast Away without watching some of it and literally balling everytime he loses Wilson, a volleyball.  But it moves me.  Every single time.  I have to be honest and admit that I could easily click right past Flight.  The movie didn’t completely miss the mark, but it didn’t resonate with me.  I realize the tenor of the movie was supposed to be serious and raw, but toward the end I started to doze off.  I didn’t care what happened, so in that respect it lost me.  Perhaps if Washington’s character had some endearing or redeeming qualities I would have felt more invested in him.  But it was too little too late when he finally decided to bare his soul.  One last thing I must mention, John Goodman is fantastic.  He’s only on screen a few times, and not for more than a few minutes, but he makes a lasting impression, as always.

Agreed, John Goodman was a highlight.  His drug dealer Harling Mays, was like a cross between his character in The Big Lebowski and “The Dude” himself.  Superb.  I didn’t like Flight, as you can plainly see. It did make me think however, about the men and women up there flying us around.  How many of them have been partying the night before?  Or even the morning of a flight.  Maybe they should put those blower gadgets in the cockpit like they do to the cars of people who’ve had DUI’s.  Couldn’t hurt, though I would prefer crashing to watching Flight ever again. 

Maria’s Rating: 3 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 2 Gummies (for the flight itself and John Goodman).