RIP Paul Walker

Learning the other day about the tragic and sudden death of Paul Walker is one that helps to show the reality of how brief our lives can be, as well as just how precious life is.

The Fast & Furious films are ones that I really have enjoyed over the years, so it certainly akin to having a sucker punch emotional feeling in learning that an actor that I enjoyed watching on the screen has died far too soon.

My prayers go out to his family and friends and all on the set who he worked with and most especially for the repose of his soul. May he be with God in peace and eternal joy.

Universal released a very moving video tribute in honor of him, which I wanted to share.

Link: A Tribute to Paul Walker




How to Train Your Dragon 2 Trailer

How to Train Your Dragon is one of my favorite animated films to have come out in a long time. I went into the film not knowing very much about the film development and creators, so as I watched the movie unfold before me, I was really taken in by the story, characters and grand beauty of the animation visuals. I also have to add that the soundtrack is one that I keep going back to listen every few weeks.

So when I learned that there was a trailer released for the sequel, I immediately stopped what I was doing and sought it out.

Whoa! Lets just say that not only was I totally enthralled with the trailer, I can not wait to see this in the theater!

Link: How to Train Your Dragon 2 Trailer 

How To Train Your Dragon 2


Thor: The Dark World Review

Thor: The Dark World is a sequel that can best be summed up as a sequel done right. It builds upon the storyline present within the first Thor film, as well as including the events of what transpired with the Avengers film, without there feeling a forced or hastily constructed storyline from which to proceed from.

To being with, what interested me most about the film was in terms of the narrative of the story and how it ultimately furthered not only the development and depth of the primary characters, but how it more importantly established future ramifications of not only the next Thor movie, but what potentially the Avengers will have to contend with down the road.

I very much enjoyed how the characters and situations were allowed to be further developed and built upon. Thor, as our primary lead character comes across not as some mere battle lusting, Mjolnir wielding, god of thunder brute, but refreshingly as a more grounded and reflective individual who has experienced not only the hardships of battles fought, but also the deeper ramifications of the consequences of decisions enacted upon.

I very much appreciated Thor being portrayed as one having the burden or weight which goes with being a future successor to his father king Odin. Thus, Thor is not only going to bear the responsible and burden as the leader of Asgard, but also his roles as a guardian of Earth and other worlds as well. The burden that Thor shoulders as the defender of worlds plays very well in terms of setting up the events of the film as they unfold.

The Thor of this current film is one who is quite different from when we first laid eyes upon him in the previous film, for he was filled with an overweening and cocky attitude. Having triumphed successfully against both exterior and interior conflicts, he comes across as more grounded, self assured and wiser.

While Thor has grown and changed from hen we first saw him on Earth during the vents of the first film, he still is very much the battle lusting warrior son of Odin, god of thunder. Yet, what I very much appreciated about Thor’s portrayal within the film is how he is presented in such a manner as to be a much more thoughtful, weathered and “realistic” heroic individual, while still very much one who revels in battle and a good brawl.

Visually, the film is a joy to watch. As one can imagine, there are some really epic and well executed fight sequences within the film that will not only get your blood flowing, for they made me feel as if I was watching a thrilling, classic heavy weight boxing match. One of my favorite moments was watching Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir traveling through incredibly vast distances and even redirecting through Earth’s atmosphere and out into space, so as to reach Thor during the climatic fight sequence was epically as awesome as awesome can be! I was sitting in the darkened theater yowling out in total geek out jouissance!

Without revealing too much of the story element, Thor is faced with the grim reality that the force of evil and darkness is once more on the rise and threatens to annihilate worlds, ours and his own home world of Asgard. With everything on the line, the question that faces our hero is just what is he willing to do to ensure that this threat is beaten back and defeated.

I thought is a great plot device to have their be an apparent conflict between Thor and his father Odin in terms of how best to proceed with how to deal with the threat poised by the Dark Elves. Odin knows that his time as king is coming to a close, though Thor certainly has his own ideas, such as having relations with a human, who commands the love of his heart. Who can Thor turn to to help ensure that this foe is vanquished?

Enter Loki.

Loki is the perfect counterbalance for Thor. He is very much the fulcrum point of the film, for through his actions and by his very character, it allows for a great interplay and development of characters. The positioning of Thor and Loki in relationship to Odin and to Frigga (Odins Wife/Thor’s and Loki’s Mother) brought a great Shakespearian nuance to the film.

As one who is adopted, I like to think that I have a certain awareness and perception into the character of Loki that those who are not adopted would not be mindful of. Without diverging to far, suffice to say that Loki’s motivation is not so much power (though it certainly is the icing on the cake), more than it is the validation of his being. He is mistakenly seeks power as the means to prove his worth as a person, when what he really seeks is unconditional love and acceptance. He enacts and embodies the very push away “testing” that those who are adoptive are known to do. The catalyst of his actions are in light of his anger for being cast aside and then “lied” to by Odin as to his true origins.

The ability that he has to create “illusions” speaks to me as to create a specific persona, so as to always be accepted and in control of his environment. Without revealing any spoilers, once of the most powerful scenes for me was when Thor asked Loki to reveal his true self. The rage, hurt and grief are all clearly evident within that scene.

A film (or book) where by Loki comes to terms with who he is and his adoption would make for an interesting story. Loki inherent character and mythos is one of double dealing and trickery, though there can be an argument made that he certainly isn’t the villain that he seems to be made out to be.

Seeing the motherly love that Frigga holds for Loki, regardless for the culpable crimes he committed and the mother/son bond that they have for one another certainly enabled me to regard him in a much more empathetic and grounded fashion. Thor and Loki’s relationship to one another and to their respective parents and the differences of the two made for a much richer and weighty contention and struggle between the two. Though these are superheroes, they very much are grounded with a believable reality.

In terms of the various individuals within the film, allow me some brief comments.

Natalie Portman did a serviable job continuing as Thor’s love interest and one of the primary central characters. The chemistry between her and Thor comes across as believable and sincere.

Anthony Hopkins as Odin seemed to fill out the role better this time around. Though to be honest, he just isn’t Odin to my way of thinking. I wish Brian Blessed was the one who was portraying Odin. Now he is Odin to me!

Idris Elba as Heimdall is one of my favorite characters within the film. I am so happy that he has a larger role this time around. When he is on the screen, he adds a coolness factor that just adds to the overall tone of the film. I certainly hope that we see more of him in future Thor films.

Kat Dennings as Darcy was surprisingly fun and added a great comedic element to the film. I have to say, that within the first Thor film, I found her character distracting, so I was a bit leery as to having her return again. I was really pleasantly surprised this time around as to her characters fun quips and very much enjoyed the character. Suffice to say, Kat Dennings won me over!

Rene Russo as Frigga was perfect. Though she did not have a large role per se, she commanded it and made it her own and through her character, there was a much welcomed depth of characters with which could be explored and played out.

The primary bad guy of the film is that of Christopher Eccleston, who portrays the Dark Elf Malekith. Some have complained that as a villain, he comes across wooden and not very interesting. My take is that there was more than enough character conflicts and variances, so that it actually was the smart way to go to have a simple, single-mindedness to this particular villain. I was perfectly happy with how they presented him.

Spoiler Warning:

One particular part of the film that I thought was really moving and visually beautiful was the funeral scene of Frigga. Though it was a brief sequence, it was expertly crafted and carried with it a solemn and touching expression of loss and love.

Overall, the film has a perfect blend of action, drama, humor and gravity. I was really quite impressed by the overall melding of the various film elements, for it made for a really fun and enjoyable film. It certainly is ever so clearly evident that Marvel truly knows what they are doing in terms of these film. Whatever particular method and approach to crafting the various super hero films they have released over the last several years has clearly worked. They have crafted and put forth a series of films which have been highly entertaining, engaging and leaving audiences (myself included) wanting more.

As an endnote, there is a surprise cameo that was a total hoot! I certainly don’t want to ruin the surprise and let the secret out other than to say that it was so funny and totally brilliant!

So my recommendation is to head out to the theater and catch Thor: The Dark World, you will be really pleased that you did!






Video Stores Explained To Modern Kids

I came across this video today and wanted to share it with everyone. I have fond memories of riding my bike down to the local video store in order to rent a few vhs movies. It is akin to the various record stores that used to be so prevalent, which I would contend is a lose for all. Long gone are the days where one could roam the isles and uncover some hidden gem and have a conversation about this or that favorite film or actor or director with another likeminded lover of film (or music).

While I am all for technology and welcome the various innovations that it brings, it must be noted that the “human” element of these such experiences which are drawn from the video are something to be both missed and reflected upon.

Video: Video Stores Explained To Modern Kids

video store 2


Movie Trailers

There has not much that has been released recently to warrant me to head out and into my local movie theater sad to say. I have though purchased some old favorites on Blu-ray, which I will share about on another post.

Fortunately, there are several films that will be released soon that looks like just the sort of movie I will enjoy very much judging from the trailer, as well as the actors within them.

So with that, here are some trailers of potential enjoyable films that I will go see:

Click Link For Vid: Jackie Chan ‘CZ12’ Trailer


Click Link For Vid: Jude Law ‘Dom Hemingway’ UK Trailer


Click Link For Vid: Rutger Hauer ‘Dracula 3D’ Trailer


Click Link For Vid:  Zero Charisma Official Trailer


Here I Come: The “Walking Towards the Camera” Supercut

As a lover of the medium of Film, which I can attribute to being exposed to the movies with my dad and mom. I will never forget seeing the Temple of Doom with my mom, or watching a Bridge Too Far with my dad and family friend Tony. It was when I was a senior in high school, that I was able to take a senior elective on film, which was taught by the greatest of all the great teachers I have ever had, Mr. Baldetti. He has since moved away to live with his brother due to his failing health now in his old age, but he and I would go to the movies together every so often.For me, when I would look over and see the look upon his face of enjoying the movies with complete rapture brought me joy in every sense of the word.

I came across a great you tube video entitles ” Here I come: The “Walking Towards the Camera.” It perfectly highlights a simple, but effective technique that filmmakers employ to tell their story to us. So sit back and have a watch. I bet next time you are watching a film and you see this technique being employed, you will think just how cool film can be!

Vid LinkHere I Come: The “Walking Towards the Camera” Supercut

The Wolverine Film Review

Wolverine without any shadow of doubt is one of my all time favorite comic book character, one who has had probably the overall most affect upon me. What do I find so engaging and relatable to me about this particular comic book hero? I would say is the fact that he had some traumatic circumstances within his life through which definitely shaped his core personality and character, yet over time and through the help of those around him who care and have much love for him, he was able to overcome the pain and loss which he has suffered.

Ironically enough, it was the very loss, pain and trauma suffered that was the genesis of his mutant abilities. It was his mystifying past that enabled him to be a mentor and father figure to so many. So the character of Wolverine, or Logan as he is often called is one that while seemingly in some fashion one of a complex persona, where by he is often perceived as merely a bruiser and berserker, there is actually quite a lot underneath the character with which to dive into the heart and soul of this particular engaging hero.

I have to first begin my review by saying that I was quite leery of the film when I initially heard that Fox was going to make another Wolverine movie. Unfortunately, the last two previous films to my way of thinking were not very well made. though I loved seeing Gambit! With such a rich and appealing character, a writer and or director could really drill a home run out of the park, for there is be plenty of down and dirty, gritty fighting sequences, coupled with a brooding hero material to draw upon. Perhaps poor directing and or writing choices, or dare I say studio executive decisions, the previous Wolverine films just didn’t “do” it for me sadly, as much as I wanted to really love them.

So, it wasn’t until I happened to catch an interview of the director of the film James Mangold speak about how he wanted this Wolverine to be akin to the film The Outlaw Josey Wales that I began to get excited about this film.

Two things to mention here. First, James Mangold has directed some really excellent movies, such as Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted and Walk the Line. So my hopes were certainly raised by the fact that a good, solid director was attached to the film. Secondly, when Mangold referred to the The Outlaw Josey Wales (which is an excellent book if you can find a copy) in terms of the overall motif or style of the film, meaning there would be a certain gravity and grittiness of overall theme and stylization, I was fully on board!

So what is the verdict? Claws or no claws?

Claws it is!

I was really not only satisfied by the film, I was happily surprised by how much I really enjoyed myself! This is finally the Wolverine film I have waited for for years now. It was well directed, well written and well acted! Hugh Jackman is spot on as Wolverine/Logan. This is the sixth film in which he has played the role of Wolverine, so he certainly is intimately familiar within the character. He certainly should be commended for not taking the easy way out, as oftentimes is the case with certain actors/actresses who have played the same role over several incarnations. Not only can you clearly see the intense regimen that he took upon himself so as to be as authentically believable and faithful to the nature of this particular part, but also one can gleam the respect that he has for the integrity of the character and for the fans who cherish Wolverine. One last thing that I would like to add about the faults I have with the previous Wolverine films, none of it rests upon Mr. Jackman himself. He obviously puts everything he has into his films, regardless of the scope or type of film. For this he should be commended!

The story is what is one of the most critical elements of any film obviously and I can say without any reserve that this story delivers! What potentially can make a Wolverine story tricky (as well as Superman) is that for every practical purpose he is invulnerable by way of his rapid healing factor and adamantium infused skeleton. The interesting take that this film brings to light is Logan’s vulnerability is within his psyche, for having lived well over two hundred years through which he has seen and experienced personal tragedy and detrimental loss on a grand scale which has left scars upon his soul.

The film opens with an incredible and dare I say breathtaking imagery of the atomic bomb destroying Nagasaki. Watching silently as the American bomber was slowly, though inevitably making its way across the screen, the horror of knowing what was going to take place truly sunk in as I sat riveted to this initial imagery taking place before me. I even audibly caught myself saying out loud, “oh no” as the scene played itself out. It is within these inauspicious circumstances that the film places us, so right off the bat, I knew this was going to be a much different Wolverine film!

We see Logan imprisoned as a Japanese POW, who through an act of humanity is released from his “cell”, only to return the favor which saves the Japanese officer named Yashida. It is Yashida who thus witnesses the regenerative abilities of Logan, as he takes the brunt of the atomic blast in shielding him from harms way. Thus the story is set up from the events that transpired within Logan’s past. As a side note, I could not help but think how at the same time within the “Marvel Universe”, in another part of the world, Captain America was battle Nazi’s and the Red Skull.

Fast forwarding to our contemporary time, Logan is living within the wilderness of the Canadian woodlands. Interesting enough, I reckon that many within the audience never realized that Wolverine is actually a Canadian superhero, not an American one. It is there within the solitude of nature that he seeks the solace of being alone, where he attempt to leave behind the heavy weight upon his heart of having suffered lifetimes of pain and loss. Yet such is not to be the case, for he is sough out by Yashida’s “servants” Yukio in order to bring the Wolverine before her master so as to thank him for his saving his life one last time as his dying request.

Things obviously are not what they seem, for without giving away any plot points or spoilers, Wolverine finds himself weakened, so that his innate healing factor is not as responsive as it under normal circumstances. Coupled with the fact that there are enemies who threaten Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko, who Logan finds himself falling in love with, there are a lot of elements which blend all very nicely indeed so as to make for not only a great adventure in film, but a compelling one as well!

In terms of the characters present within the film, I very much enjoyed the character of Yukio, who over the course of the film becomes not only a protector of sorts to Logan, but also a cherished true friend. She was to me one of the most intriguing and riveting characters, for she was both deadly, but also deeply empathetic for she like Logan had her own past filled with loss and pain, to which they were able to respect and relate to one another.

In terms of the action, this film defiantly delivers, for the claws are out! There are great action sequences and visuals, one of the primary highlights is a fight between Logan and the “bad guys” all of which takes place on top of one of the bullet trains of Japan. It goes without saying that the bullet train also happens to be traveling at breathtaking speeds!

The character of Wolverine is all about action, thankfully there is plenty to be had, though it is thoughtfully accomplished by way of a well paced story. One of my own personal pet peeves of contemporary films these days is the rapid and breakneck pace or flow of a film, where by there is hardly any “breathing” time given to an audience in oder to be allowed to take in what is transpiring on the screen. Thankfully, this was not the case here, as it was in say Star Trek Into Darkness.

Overall, I could not be more pleased with the film. Finally, there is a Wolverine film worthy of the character. All who were involved in making this particular film a reality should be quite proud of their efforts and of the final product. I for one certainly hope that if there is another Wolverine film, one which is as well crafted and executed as this!

One final note, you must stay seated while the credits are on screen, for there is mid-credits scene involving Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Both I and my buddy Mark where sitting upright in our seats, totally stoked as to what was transpiring before us!

This is what going to the movies is all about!



The Wolverine 2


The Wolverine 5

Man of Steel Movie Review

There are times when going to an opening night showing, with the buzz and energy of the crowd really presents a fun, anticipatory and kinetic environment that truly enhances the experience of viewing the film. Then there are those occasions when a film is best served with an approach of one standing before a work of art quietly, taking in all aspects that are offered to the viewer.

Unlike my going to see Iron Man 3, or Star Trek Into Darkness on opening nights, I went yesterday to see Man of Steel at the first showing, after it has been released for a couple of weeks. My reasoning for this different approach was so that I could sit within a more quiet and subdued environment so as to really take in everything that the film had to offer. I took the same approach when the Dark Knight Rises was released. The reason why is simple, for these films which deal with such iconic characters from my youth warrant a much more deferential approach.

Going into the film, I knew that this was not going to be in any way, shape or form the Christopher Reeve Superman of my youth. I still can easily recall the night I saw that film back when I was eight, for my dear family friend Mark from Boston came out to visit his family and took me out to dinner, after which we saw Superman. The Richard Donner directed Superman film certainly made a lasting impression upon me when I saw it. Superman was noble, virtuosos and altruistic. I was so curious to see what qualities Superman would posses within Man of Steel.

Man of Steel while grounded very much within our present societal world, still shows the relevance of who Superman is, as well as the inherent qualities with which he abides by. Yesterday, I happened to read a review of the film which held the position that Superman is no longer pertinent to our present day experiences and particular issues, that somehow the general movie going public will not relate to the character of Superman, being that we are so jaded and or find it hard to relate to one who truly does stand for Truth, Justice and dare I say the “American” way. I would hold that Superman is all the more relevant for the very reason as to the way national and world events have played out, let alone the profoundly cultural issues that we are faced with, which easily shows forth a definite hunger and profound need for the very ideals that Superman stands for, represents and embodies.

Man of Steel as an origins for Superman I felt works on so many different levels. The score of the film is where I want to begin, for I purchased the extended soundtrack when it was released, so as to allow myself the opportunity with which to really listen to the different themes and variations extensively. Music is so important a facet in terms of establishing and conveying the impressions of a film, that I wanted to start with the sound of the Man of Steel, rather than watch it unfold upon the screen first.

One of the cool treats that was included was an additional disk of music which represented the musical concepts or stylization with which Hans Zimmer would incorporate into the film. It goes without saying that the score goes in a completely different direction than the John Williams Superman score. In fact, it is as far removed from Williams iconic theme as can be. Both scores are exactly and precisely what each film necessitates musically. I am, in fact listening to the Man of Steel soundtrack while writing this review. It is a superb, truimphent and worthy score for Superman.

The film pace was one aspect that I was concerned with going into the film. Whereas one of the major issues that I had with Star trek Into Darkness was the relentless, nonstop pace of the film, leaving me little time to metaphorically catch my breath and to be allowed to take in what was transpiring upon the screen. My hope was that the director Zack Snyder would allow for the a fitting balance between action and “story/character time”. Thankfully, I felt that there was a good balance between both story/character time and the flow of the action. Even though this was a film primarily about Kal-El/Clark Kent, I came away with a good sense of other characters motivations, personalities and their sense of perspective, which I would attribute to good acting, good directing and a good script.

Much could be said about the various actors/actresses within the film. Henry Cavill was spot on as the Man of Steel. I remember watching some videos of him at the SD Comic Con talking about the film and his approach to the icon figure of Superman and I was impressed by both his demeanor and his thoughtful responses. My gut told me then that he would nail the role and nail he did! I really appreciated the manner in which the character of Superman progressed and matured over the course of the film, from when he was a boy questioning who and why he is, to watching him on the road to self discovery and acceptance of his role and mission in life.

One side note which I wanted to address was the obvious allusions to Superman as a Christ/Moses figure. I listened to one particular podcast in which the hosts reviewed the film and went at length basically ridiculing and deriding that particular motif of Superman within the film. From my perspective, one which is very much grounded within faith in Christ, I felt that the “symbolism” and “representationalism” of Superman as a Christ figure is appropriate for who and what the character embodies. There are a few scenes within the film which I thought were well executed and apt for what was transpiring with the character of Superman. It was refreshing to see the filmmakers embrace that inherent characteristic and nuance of the character.

Michael Shannon as General Zod was tremendous! Perfectly executed, he was a believable villain, who classically did not seem himself as a villain per se, but as one who was to fulfill his duty at whatever the cost and direction it would take. I was really impressed by his command of the role.

Russell Crowe is one of my all time favorites actors. Interesting trivia, he is also one of Hentry Cavill’s favorites as well. His presence in the film as Jor-El was perfectly cast, for only one such as Crowe could carry the mix of dignity, ruggedness, gravity and paternal nature that is called for with this father figure.

Then there is Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Ma and Pa Kent. I very much liked the chemistry of the two playing Clark’s Earthly, adoptive parents. As one who is adopted, there were a few moments within the film that I thought were quite moving and poignant, in particular when a young Clark is questioning who he is and the relationship of his parents to himself. When Costner delivers the line, “I am your father”, it very much sparked an emotional response within. Another later scene was when Clark was arguing with his father and says that they are not his real parents. I laughed to myself, for I have had those exact same tiffs with my adoptive parents growing up. Yet, the reality is for Clark (as well as for myself) that they very much are his parents. The anguish and agony of Clark witnessing the death of Pa Kent was visceral for me.

What was really credible and compelling to watch was the distinct manner and way in how both Crowe and Costner were equally Superman’s father and how each enacted what it meant to be a father.

Amy Adams was a good fit for the role of Lois Lane. She came across as likable and not overbearing thankfully. She had a good mix of intelligence, resourcefulness and pluckiness, without coming across as too presiding.

I really enjoyed both Christopher Meloni as Colonel Hardy and Richard Schiff as Dr. Hamilton. Even though they had more minor parts per se, I really enjoyed the screen time they had and felt their characters were well played and added nicely to the storyline. It was refreshing to see these “human” characters also take part in saving the world and making the sacrifice that they did.

Lastly, in terms of actor is Laurence Fishburne who portrays Perry White, the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet. Like Crowe, Fishburne is one of my favorite actors. Who remembers him in Red Heat and Pee-wee’s Playhouse? Without giving away a spoiler, the scene where he is with the two reporters of the Daily Planet towards the end of the film and how he shows forth his resolve, stateliness and humanity I thought was griping and powerful! I certainly hope he has a larger role in the next film!

One of the awesome aspects of the film is finally seeing Superman cut lose and go to town in terms of his abilities and powers. For the longest time, I have wanted to see Superman “Rock Em Sock Em” in a movie, where we can see all of the awesomeness of the comic action finally on the big screen. That was one of the things which made Avengers so cool to see! Superhero’s on the big screen doing what superhero’s do and it looks authentic and epic. Well, not to give away any spoilers, but Man of Steel delivers, repeatedly. The fight sequences between Superman and General Zod really do pack a wallop!

The final fight between Superman and General Zod is the very essence of a battle royal!

While sitting in my seat, it certainly made me quite aware of all of the collateral damage that takes place, let alone all of the injury and unfortunate death of so many. This is a film that in one sense is grounded very much in “reality” even though it is within the guise of a comic book “world”. There certainly can be a debate about the “destruction” wrought within the film, though suffice to say, I believe that it was appropriate for what was transpiring in terms of the fight between Superman and General Zod.

During these scenes there are some easter eggs references to Lex Luthor and to Wayne Enterprise, which was gnarly to catch! Oh, before I forget to mention, there was even a polar bear earlier on in the film! I will let the reader look up the significance of that one!

Returning to the final fight between Superman and General Zod, I believe that it played out to the logical conclusion for which it did. Without giving away any spoilers per se, it was direct, visceral and appropriate for what the scene called for. I commend the director for taking possibly a more edgier approach to that particular moment and in how Superman reacts when faced with really of having no alternative other than the choice he makes.

Overall, I am really beyond pleased with Man of Steel. It is the Superman I have wanted to see since I was a youth. It is obviously distinct and quite different than say the Christopher Reeve Superman, but I believe that there is a place for both films. It is interesting to reflect upon the differences of both film, but suffice to say, I content that each film is in direct relationship to the time (and age) of which it was released.

I certainly hope that we get to see the continuation of Zack Snyder vision of the Man of Steel. We need more than ever the inspiration and virtues of what Superman represents. If only we could embody these qualities in our everyday lives would the world be filled with many more real, genuine heroes.



Star Trek Into Darkness Review

I have been on a roll with going to the movies in recent weeks. It seems to me to be either feast or famine in terms of what I want to see at the movie theater. There is no denying that summer movies barrage is upon us, though as always I am inherently selective as to what I will see. One determining factor is definitely the cost of going to the movies. Between the price of a ticket and then the price of a popcorn, it really eats into the wee little piggy bank! I love my popcorn, so I usual go for a large bucket and make sure I get my free refiles over the course of the film, so that it works out to cost me around $2.50 a go around. Ha!

The latest film that I saw was a special double feature of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness Wednesday night with two buddies of mine. Just as a preface to the show, we went and had a grand meal at Kabuki! I am not one for sushi actually, I wish I was for I know I would love it if I didn’t like the taste of it. Regardless, I was most happy enjoying some delicious shrimp and vegetable tempura, along with generous helpings of both saki and Kirin beer. Good food and even better company as I am want to declare!

Once in our cozy seats, which were perfectly situated within the center of the theater, always a pleasant happenstance, we began to discuss all manner of topics, in particular Burning Man. Of course, you would be correct in ascertaining that I had my bucket of popcorn in hand! Soon, the lights dimmed and we were ready for the nights entertainment.

First up was the 2009 Star Trek film, which I enjoyed. I saw it in the theaters when it was released and was pretty happy with it. What was really nice about watching it upon the big screen was the fact that the events, story lines and characters were fresh in mind for when  Star Trek Into Darkness played next.

To jump right into the matter at hand, I will start with what I liked about the film. Visually, it was beautiful to watch. The overall imagery of the film was quite a grand spectacle. What caught my eye the most within this particular aspect were the different colors and hues used thought out the film. The bright reds of the tropical island, the distinct greys of the city, the visually stunning tones of the atmospheric environments was a beautiful, breathtaking spectacle to take in.

The musical score by Michael Giacchino is first rate and excellently crafted. The pensive and introspective piano playing which is played before the catastrophic events that take place in London sealed it for me! The grand scale of sounds that slowly builds and then erupts into the lavish and bold theme music of what you would expect to hear from a film of this scale. Last year, Giacchino composed one of my favorite film scores to date, that being John Carter of Mars. You may recall his score for the show Lost as well, which was hauntingly beautiful!

I loved seeing Peter Weller, talk about a happy surprise! Can someone PLEASE make the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai! I have been waiting all my life for Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, is that asking too much???


Now for what I felt didn’t work for me.

Having seen Star Trek 2, The Wrath of Khan when it came out in back in 1982, this current film was a bit off putting seeing the conflict redone between the crew of the Enterprise and Khan Noonien Singh. I knew going in that Benedict Cumberbatch was portraying Khan. When the time comes in the film when he reveals himself, I was very much like “Cool! Bring it!” But somewhere, somehow it felt flat to me the more I watched the events unfold throughout the film. While Cumberbatch does an admiral job, it just didn’t seem to me that this was, in fact Khan. He seemed underused. The best analogy I can provide is seeing an SSC Ultimate Aero in the slow lane on the freeway. This just didn’t feel like Khan to me, something was gravely missing.

Ricardo Montalban will forever and always be Khan. Besides the clearly evident fact that his performance will ever be etched within my mind at the tender age of twelve, I think it has to do more so with the subtle nuances that he brought to the role. There is a certain natural refinement and aged quality that he brings, a certain classicalism to the portrayal with which Montalban exudes, where by the younger Cumberbatch just does not have. It is akin to a fine wine, with age it greatly improves in taste, flavor and body.

An interesting trivia fact that i learned is that Shatner and Montalban never filmed any scenes together. Think about that for a moment. At no point within the film did they ever have any direct contact with one another and yet the chemistry on screen between these two clearly locked in a battle of wits, played out much like the Miltonian chess matches of Karpov and Kasparov. There was, for me, never any real sense of some grand, monumentally overwhelming resounding danger per se from Cumberbatch’s Khan.

Perhaps it has to do with the writing or perhaps the directing, but one has to remember that the history of this genetically engineered “Nietzcheionian Uberman” at one point ruled a quarter of the Earth. There is a grandeur, a larger than life to Khan inherently that failed to come across to me by way of his portrayal in the current film.

Who would I have liked to play Khan you ask? I propose Javier Bardem. Let that sink in for a moment. If you have not seen Skyfall, stop reading this post and immediately go rent it. Better yet, go buy it! Sitting here ruminating upon the idea of Bardem taking on the role of Khan would be awesome to see! He has the depth of range and inherent nuance to be the Khan in all his full villainous resplendence.

I think too the death of Kirk, a clear juxtaposition of the death of Spock from The Wrath Of Khan left me greatly wanting. What made the scene so powerful and moving between Shatner and Nimoy is that there is a this very tangible reality of there being a genuine life long friendship. It is etched upon their faces, the nuance of countless adventures together, as well as shared conflicts and perils of exploration and many missions of space travel. The scene was believable to me.

Watching the death of Kirk unfold within the current film, it left me feeling unemotionally disconnected. It was simply too soon to play that particular card so to speak. I believe for it to be believable, there needs to be a much longer fermentation and deep rootedness of the friendship between Kirk and Spock to take place. It has not been established long enough to come across as the emotionally impacting event that it is meant to be. Perhaps I am being overly critical, but to my way of thinking, Khan and the death of Kirk would be much better suited much further down the line of the new Star Trek cannon of films, where there would be more of a weathered sense of years of serving together and the deep bonds that would be fused as a result.

When discussing my thoughts upon the film with one of my buddies who just saw it tonight, he took my lack of enthusiasm of the overall aspect of the film to be due to my not “being a Trekkie”. I would respectfully disagree with that assessment. If anything, I would consider myself more akin to a classic “Trekkie”, for I content that it has to do with my admiration and love of what the original cast and filmmakers did so well, that there are clearly elements that are lacking for me within the latest film.

Putting it into perspective, I much more enjoyed the recent Star Trek films than the recent Star War films. Those don’t even exist for me. Absolutely dreadful and dare I say embarrassing to watch!

Overall, I enjoyed the film and I would very much like to see the further adventures of the crew of the Enterprise. It is just that in a very practical fashion of the film, some things clicked, some things did not, simple as that.

Next film I am looking forward to is Fast & Furious 6…until then, phasors set to stun.