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I don’t know a thing about Star Trek. I know that there is a guy named Captain Kirk, a guy named Spock with pointy ears and I know they can set their phasers to stun. I know that eventually Professor X and the guy from “Reading Rainbow” took over, I know that there are slimy aliens called The Borg and I know that Kirk likes green women. That’s about it.

Star Trek always seemed too nerdy for me to get involved in. And I’m a nerd. Perhaps it’s those sad, depressing conventions they convene in where the cast members shamefully sign autographs. These conventions, by the way, are lampooned in the forgotten and very underrated comedy GALAXY QUEST. The element that most defines Star Trek is the complete absence of anything cool. What is less cool than Star Trek? When JJ Abrahms decided to reboot the franchise with a young cast comprised primarily of unknowns, it was a daunting task considering that the franchise had pretty much been exhausted.

JJ’s STAR TREK is remarkably different from any other STAR TREK incarnation I’ve seen.  The new version is a full blown action fest that actually lifts a lot of cues from the “buddy cop” genre.  James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) is a rebelious, wise cracking tough guy who plays by his own rules.  Spock (Zachary Quinto) is a no-nonsense, “play by the rules” logician.  Think of these two like an interstellar Riggs and Murtaugh.  The potpurri of colorful personalities that will ultimately helm the Enterprise are introduced one-by-one and include manic Dr. Bones (Karl Urban), fencer/pilot Sulu (John Cho) and linguist Uhura (Zoe Saldana).  The heart of the film though is the push and pull of Kirk and Spock, and both Pine and Quinto play off each other nicely.

STAR TREK is an origin film, which is a tricky thing to pull off since by the time the crew of the Enterprise is put together and established the movie is over.  As a non-Trekkie, the film is a pleasant surprise and surely the $76M box office take will ensure furthur installments.  The credit has to go to Abrahms but primarily to Pine and Quinto who keep an otherwise preposterous film chugging along.

What is preposterous?  Anybody with a science background is going to be scratching their head after watching this film.  There is a convoluted and poorly explained plot involving black holes and time travel.  There are numerous unnecessary and heavily distracting cameos that I won’t spoil here other than to reveal that one of them perfectly sets up a future film called “Madea Goes to Space.”  Certain errors in continuity bothered me.  In the opening action scene, a person is sucked out of the ship and into space.  The film goes completely silent because, of course, there is no sound in space.  Nice touch.  I’ve always urged space films to go the realistic “2001” route.  However, in every other scene, ships whiz by with countless sound effects and booming explosions.  So are we playing by the rules or not?

I’m nitpicking.  STAR TREK is an exciting and entertaining blockbuster that is fun for Trek and non-Trek fans alike.  Considering the rest of the summer slate this year looks so abysmal (from a blockbuster standpoint) STAR TREK could very well end up being the popcorn jewel of the season.  Despite its glaring flaws, STAR TREK is big dumb fun.

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It seems absurd that Larry David and Woody Allen haven’t teamed up already, given that it’s such a logical partnership.  Our prayers have now been answered with Woody’s whopping 44th film, WHATEVER WORKS.  It opens June 19th.

Trailer: TETRO

By my count, Francis Ford Coppola hasn’t made a good film in about 15-20 years.  However, he did make some of the greatest films of all time (THE GODFATHER TRILOGY, APOCALYPSE NOW) and his latest film has him teaming up with one of my favorites, Vincent Gallo.  It’s an odd pairing but the trailer is rather beautiful.

The latest edition of Empire Magazine debuted brand new photos from the set of James Cameron’s AVATAR.  From the mag:

“We’ve eliminated the animation from animation.” With AVATAR’s groundbreaking set-up, Cameron could observe the actors (left monitor) in a rough version of the final CG environment (right monitor).

Aside from an intricate, and very alien, ecosystem with predators large and small, Cameron’s idea revolved around a race of indigenous sentient aliens called the Na’vi. Nine feet tall, blue skinned and feline in appearance, they would need to be entirely computer-animated yet interact seamlessly with the live action.

Cameron says: “With the capture technologies we developed, the actor can be any character they can imagine and the director can create any world, any time and any space.”

And here is a great quote from Cameron on Spielberg and Jackson: “I invited them over while shooting AVATAR. I put the camera in their hands and they basically became two kids – on the inside every filmmaker is really just a complete geek. The amazing thing for me was just watching that seminal moment. They were running around the stage, working the camera, and that’s the moment when they both kind of looked at each other in the eye and said, ‘Let’s make TINTIN.'”

The article goes on to state that the new technology Cameron has developed for the film has won over Guillermo Del Toro and JJ Abrams which means THE HOBBIT and the next STAR TREK may be in 3D as well.

Wednesday night, South Park skewered Kanye West and his massive ego in their episode entitled “Fishsticks.”  Kanye West has issued a statement about it on his website using all caps, which may or may not be intended as irony.

SOUTH PARK MURDERED ME LAST NIGHT AND IT’S PRETTY FUNNY. IT HURTS MY FEELINGS BUT WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM SOUTH PARK! I ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN WORKING ON MY EGO THOUGH. HAVING THE CRAZY EGO IS PLAYED OUT AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE AND CAREER. I USE TO USE IT TO BUILD UP MY ESTEEM WHEN NOBODY BELIEVED IN ME. NOW THAT PEOPLE DO BELIEVE AND SUPPORT MY MUSIC AND PRODUCTS THE BEST RESPONSE IS THANK YOU INSTEAD OF “I TOLD YOU SO!!!” IT’S COOL TO TALK SHIT WHEN YOU’RE RAPPING BUT NOT IN REAL LIFE. WHEN YOU MEET LITTLE WAYNE IN PERSON HE’S THE NICEST GUY FOR EXAMPLE. I JUST WANNA BE A DOPER PERSON WHICH STARTS WITH ME NOT ALWAYS TELLING PEOPLE HOW DOPE I THINK I AM. I NEED TO JUST GET PAST MYSELF. DROP THE BRAVADO AND JUST MAKE DOPE PRODUCT. EVERYTHING IS NOT THAT SERIOUS. AS LONG AS PEOPLE THINK I ACT LIKE A BITCH THIS TYPE OF SHIT WILL HAPPEN TO ME. I GOT A LONG ROAD AHEAD OF ME TO MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE I’M NOT ACTUALLY A HUGE DOUCHE BUT I’M UP FOR THE CHALLENGE. I’M SURE THE WRITERS AT SOUTH PARK ARE REALLY NICE PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE. THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO DRAW MY CREW. THAT WAS PRETTY FUNNY ALSO!! I’M SURE THERE’S GRAMMATICAL ERRORS IN THIS… THAT’S HOW YOU KNOW IT’S ME!

Billy Bob Thornton was interviewed the other day about his new album.  The interviewer had the nerve to mention that Bill Bob was also an actor, which is of course the only reason why he’s able to make an album in the first place.  Anyway, he’s a dick.  Enjoy.