Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Plot: A rogue Star Fleet officer (Benedict Cumberbatch)  attacks several Star Fleet sites and then runs off to a far away planet. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the Enterprise follow minus Scotty (Simon Pegg). When Kirk catches him, the Enterprise does battle with a giant enemy ship, and the plot twists people's loyalties.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: A top movie with action, personality, plot-twists and moral dilemmas -- I really liked it. Even though the special effects are gripping, the interactions between the characters are the best part. The close-up interactions between the crew and with the villain -- make this an action movie with people we care about. The Chris Pine/Zachary Quinto scenes are strong especially the facial acting. There is quarrel between Saldana's Uhura and Quino's Spock that is priceless and funny.

The special effects were excellent, we expected that. The music was boring however. I did not like the scene of the space ship crashing on San Francisco. The scale of everything wasn't right -- distracting.

Star Trek gets extra credit for having a moral dimension. In a Hollywood where there are too many mind-less shoot'm ups, I liked angst about the morality of killing enemies, for example using a missile to destroy a terrorist instead of capturing him and returning him for trial. I think this builds the notion of the Star Trek universe as being a utopian peaceful place.  The last Bond movie, Skyfall, also had a moral dimension.

There was a lot of "hat tipping" to old Star Trek episodes, and these were cute and lightened up the tone. Hard-core fans want the film to be dark and serious, but Star Trek has always been a mixture of dramatic and comic.

Since I am a fan, perhaps I love this movie more than I should, but I liked it a lot. I want to see it again.

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch

Directed by: J J Abrams

Rating: 4.0 stars: I loved it. Fun to watch. Engaging. Thought-provoking. 
More: And it sets up years of sequels . . . 

Even more: I was very disappointed that the theater rescheduled our 3D screening into 2D. I really wanted see it in 3D. Nearly drove to another theater.

Spoiler: So why could Spock talk to Leonard Nemoy and ask him questions. What weird sort of time-travel is going on? I'm not sure what I think about young Spock getting his war plans from old Spock.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Great Gatsby (2D)

Plot: Young writer Nick (Tobey McGuire) goes to see his psychologist, and tells him a story about Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his romance with his married cousin Daisy (Carey Milligan.) In flashback, Gatsby has over-the-top parties at a grand mansion on Long Island Sound near New York with many important and famous guests. Daisy's wealthy husband Tom (Joel Edgerton) is keeping a mistress in a run-down part of town.  Nick visits Daisy, goes with Tom to party with the mistress, and then hooks Daisy up with Gatsby. The love triangle plays out and this leads to the film's tragic ending. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Spectacle! The beginning of the film is beautiful to look at, full of music, costumes, and choreography. Wonderful! I really liked the beginning.

I liked the modern rap tracks and the cool trumpet jazz. I need to buy some of these songs. I loved the trumpet player on the roof.

As the movie progresses, Leo's Gatsby is cool and mysterious. It keeps the tone going for a while, but the love triangle just isn't that interesting. The latter part of the film is just OK, too bad.

Since most of us read Gatsby in school, it is easy to pick out the literary themes. The hollowness of life, the silence of god, the longing for the past, the lost object of desire, the injustice of life, and so on. Early  in the movie, this is done well. See how in the movie poster, we have the eye's of God watching us.  Later in the movie we spend too much time staring at a green light in the fog. Not so well done.

The great parts are great, but the love triangle doesn't work, so the movie fails.

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey McGuire, Carey Milligan, Joel Edgerton

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

Rating:  2.5 stars: uneven. Still fun to watch.
More: Deserves awards for set design, art direction and music.

Even more: The movie is in the 3D, and there are several parts that utilize that.  3D is part of the over-the-top aspect of the spectacle.

Sadly, I saw this in 2D because my DW has bought into the false idea that 3D movies are dimmer, while choosing to ignore that theater bought a new 3D projector sized for their auditorium. Obviously the screen is brighter with the glasses off, but the project lantern is sized for the technology. Theater owners need to do some informational advertising.