All posts tagged Space

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:  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.

Movie Review: Escape From Planet Earth

Published February 23, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Rob Corddry, Brendan Fraser, William Shatner, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, George Lopez, Jane Lynch, Ricky Gervais, Steve Zahn, Gregg Brinkley, Craig Robinson, Sofia Vergara, Jonathan Morgan Heit.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes.

Wow.  Look at that list of stars.  Ross and I were not doing a very good job of nailing who was voicing here.  We still got Fraser, Shatner, Lopez, Lynch and Sofia Vergara – but honestly that’s an off day for us.  Even with this cast of well known stars, Escape from Planet Earth failed to shine.  In fact, I’m not even sure it sparkled.  It just kind of fizzled.  Sometimes things are just not meant to be.  I should have known we were destined for discontent from the first few moments.  The 3-D wasn’t working.  I feel robbed enough paying extra for 3-D, so if I’m going to fork over the extra cash I expect to at least enjoy it.  Out of a packed theatre I was the first person to go find help.  When I returned it was working and Ross informed me that I didn’t miss a thing.  Sadly, I could have missed the whole movie and he probably would have said the same thing.  The 3-D was so unnecessary in this particular picture.  I can’t help but feel that every kid’s movie is just being churned out with these extra money grabs.

Maria and I are great fans of animated features.  The ratio of good to bad far exceeds that of Hollywood’s mainstream offerings.  That being said, they aren’t all instant classics, and Escape From Planet Earth is not going to make anyone forget Cars or Up or Wall-E.  EFPE is the story of two blue-skinned brothers from the Planet Baab, one an adventurous astronaut named Scorch (Fraser), the other the brains behind the scenes nerd Gary (Corddry).  Scorch runs into some big problems on a “rescue” mission to Earth and Gary has to leave the safe confines of mission control to embark on a rescue mission of his own.  The cast of characters they run into on Earth: the evil head of Area 51 Shanker (Shatner), a mouse-like dude named Doc (Robinson), a three-eyed slimy creature with four arms, Thurman (Lopez), and a huge one-eyed monster (Lynch); all have an uncanny resemblence to corresponding characters from the highly entertaining 2009 release Monsters Vs. Aliens.  After doing a little research, I discovered that EFPE has had a multitude of problems.  The project has been in the works for years and has had numerous script rewrites, parts recast and is currently still in litigation between two of the films creating factions.  All of this has added up to an inferior product.  Beyond being a blatant rip-off, it’s just not very funny.   

You’re probably getting sick of us agreeing all the time, but when the man is right – he’s right.  The laughs were fleeting.  And I guarantee you’ll agree if you see this one.  The plot was formulaic, the script was lazy and the heart was non-existent.  I have to guess that the problems off screen effected the production of this film.  This isn’t one that we’ll be rushing to go buy or rent out of the Red Box.  Honestly, there isn’t much else to say about it.  We didn’t enjoy it, but at least Ethan seemed to like it.  If you’re willing to take one for the team, so to speak, then bring a youth to see this flop.  If not, I’d suggest skipping this snooze fest/cash grab.

EFPE is not the worst movie ever made.  Maria mentioned that Ethan enjoyed it, and I’m sure it will do okay at the box office, mainly because there haven’t been any kids movies released recently.  It is just immensely forgettable.  The bar has been set so high by Pixar and DreamWorks, that when an average or below average film comes along, it seems even worse than it is.  The best part of EFPE was Ricky Gervais voicing a wise-cracking computer, and he was in the movie for a total of about 5 minutes.  Brendan Fraser has been in the news of late claiming he can’t afford his child support payments any longer.  His Ex better hope he uses better judgement in his future project selections, or she’ll be paying him pretty soon. 

Maria’s Rating: 2 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 2.25 Gummies.