Friday, May 17, 2013

Into Dorkness

Saw Star Trek Into Darkness today. In short, the movie was awesome. I'll need to see it a few more times to be sure, but I think this might be the best Star Trek movie ever. In my top 10 list of all-time, Star Trek II still holds a place. This one might replace it.

I'm a little surprised by this admission. I still have mixed feelings about J.J. Abrams's first installment. The main thing that bothered me about it was the whole changing history into a new time-line. I understand why Abrams did it, but that motif has been used and overused in the Star Trek lexicon already. I don't know how many Voyager episodes never actually happened because everything was changed and no one but the viewer remembered. I'm also a little nervous about Abrams taking over Star Wars. The two are such different animals. But this movie settled some of my concerns.

Now as far as Into Darkness, they did a great job of not giving too much away in the trailer. There are some awesome twists in there that I don't even want to hint at. Suffice it to say, I think people who are not familiar with Star Trek lore will enjoy it, but people who do will get an extra special kick out of it. The only hint I will give is that for a while, I thought Abrams's third Star Trek film would be subtitled, 'the Search for Kirk'.

There were a couple of dire situations that I accurately predicted how they would get out of, but I think that is partially due to me being a writer. Things have to be set up to avoid the dreaded 'deus ex machina'. I don't mind the predictability of those things, though, since there were so many pleasant surprises to counterbalance.

Also, this movie was more about people than some kind of geeky cast reunion. We get to see some character development in Kirk, as well as another side to Spock. I wish they put a little more McCoy in there, though, because Karl Urban knocks his portrayal out of the park every time. I also wish they would do some cameos of the old series actors. Have them play other roles, of course, but for a long-time trekkie like me, it would be fun.

There was a little bit of language in this one, plus a couple of very brief 'scantily clad' scenes, so be warned if you want to take kids. I would suggest screening it if you are concerned.

I give this movie two big toes up. Way up.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Iron Man Versus the Curse of the Three

When was the last time you saw the third installment of a superhero movie and came away loving it? I'll give you a minute. Superman III? No. Spiderman 3? Nuh uh. X-men 3? Actually, I kinda liked that one but most people didn't. And let's not even get into the old Bat Man movies. Of course, the third Nolan Bat Man from last year wasn't half bad, but that was the exception.

But then the super powerful Iron Man took on the heartless Three monster last weekend. Could he prevail where so many others failed miserably? The answer is a resounding 'yes'.

Kudos to Robert Downey Jr. who has managed to keep not three, but four film versions of Tony Stark fresh and entertaining. For instance, as much fun as we had with Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates movies, after the first film, we pretty much had seen everything Jack had to offer. Not so with Tony. His quick wit, one-liners, and comedic arrogance are still surprising and funny.

One thing that the Iron Man franchise is doing right is giving Tony's character some personal challenge he needs to overcome in each movie. In this case, it's PTSD from his experience fighting the aliens in Avengers. Where a lot of other movies by the third installment have nowhere left for the character to go except to go thump on bad guys, these films keep us cheering for our hero's self-improvement.

What really impressed me was how surprising the story twists were. I won't say anything here because I don't want to spoil them. Suffice it to say, the trailers don't prepare you. The trailers were awesome and got me salivating like a vampire in a blood bank, but they expertly left out key details that would have let us know what was really going on in the story and who the villain really was.

I still haven't decided if I like this movie better than the first, though I will say it is better than the second. If this one becomes my favorite of the Iron Man movies, though, it will be because of Harley. I won't say anything else for those who haven't seen it, but Tony's interaction with Harley added a new charm.

Is the movie kid safe? Mostly. The violence does get pretty intense in places, though it's still of the 'comic book' variety. I don't remember anything that made me cringe. There was some mild swearing. Supposedly there were some harsher words but I didn't notice them. There were also a few scantily clad scenes with a little innuendo. If you are at all uncertain about your kids seeing it unfiltered, I suggest you go see it first. I give this movie two big toes up.