Star Trek Into Darkness!

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Star Trek Into Darkness is the twelfth Star Trek movie, and the second that features the recast original crew of the Enterprise in their alternate reality.  J.J. Abrams was once again the director of this film, but can it live up to the hype following the last film? Not quite, but it is still pretty darn good.

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is forced to brake the Prime Directive of not interfering with primitive cultures to save Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano, and has his command taken away from him, but only to get it back again to go after the terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).  That is about as much of the story as I can tell you without spoiling anything, and trying not spoil things is also why it will be hard for me to explain why this movie wasn’t as good as the last one, but I will do my best.

The main problem I have with this movie is that script makes us believe that a very dumb chain of events happened to kick off the plot of this movie, and you don’t get see how dumb they are until the end of the film, and this seems to be something that writer Damon Lindelof struggles with since he was charged with the same offence with Prometheus.  But he did get the character interaction right.

Despite the lens flares, I think J.J. Abrams does a great job directing this film, and he keeps the pace up so you never get to sit and think about the dumbness of Lindelof’s script until after the movie is over, and everything looks and feels great.

The actors once again prove that they were selected to fill their roles well.  The swagger of Chris Pine as Jim Kirk, the irritating logic of Quinto as Spock, and the bromance they develop is great.  Karl Urban is excellent as the Bones we have all come to know and love, and they way the crew interacts with one another is pitch perfect.  Cumberbatch as the villain does his job, but I wish they the would have used him better.

I liked this movie, and without a doubt Star Trek, and Star Trek Into Darkness are the best back to back Star Trek movies yet, but I wish in the four years it took to bring this movie to theaters that they would have tightened up the story a bit, but as it is it is still well worth watching.

I hang out with Iron Man 3

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Iron Man 3 is poised to be one of the biggest movies of this year, if not the biggest.  They decided to use a different director this time, Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame.  Robert Downey Jr. picked him because he helped restart Downey’s career by casting him in Kiss Kiss  Bang Bang.  This movie does a pretty good job as a follow up to The Avengers, but it just doesn’t go as deep into Tony’s character as I would like.

The movie starts off with Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) retelling some events that happened in 1999, pretty much he was a jerk to Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) by blowing off a business proposal, and then he uses scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) as a one night stand, and says that he created his own demons.  It then fast forwards to current day and a terrorist called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is blowing up places all over the world and the US saying that he is trying to teaching the US a lesson.  When Happy (Jon Favreau) gets hurt then Tony Stark  takes in on himself to end The Mandarin threat.

This movie promised that it was going to get deeper into Tony’s mind and explore his self destructive ways, and they kind of do by having him not be able to get over his PSD from after The Avengers events, but because they are trying to make an action movie, and a kid friendly one at that, they don’t get in to his alcoholism or his drug use.  They just gloss over everything, and it makes it more of a distraction instead of a plus.  We do get to see that his has made much deeper bonds with Pepper Potts ( Gwyneth Paltrow) and Happy, so that is good.

As far as the action and special effects go, they are all top notch.  Showing that the people over at Marvel still know how to make an action movie.  Downey is Tony Stark, so I am not sure what they are going to do when he decides he is too old to wear the suit, because without his wry wit, and perfectly jerky attitude I am not sure we would like Tony so much.

Despite my problems with story I still liked this movie.  The action is good, and Downey is just fun to watch at this point.  It is just a shame that Disney decided that they didn’t want to make the movie that Marvel promised.

Is Jurassic Park Still Good After 20 Years?

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Jurassic Park was a landmark film in 1993.  It showed how far special effects had come, and brought people in to a world where dinosaurs once again roamed the Earth, but after 20 years and countless special effects laden films does the movie still hold its own?  Yes it does.

The plot is fairly basic, a group of people are getting a preview of a new theme park that contains cloned dinosaurs.  When a man turns off the power to steel dinosaur embryos and sell them to a rival company, and then of coarse everything falls apart endangering everyone at the park.  However, when your movie is about recreating and showing dinosaurs a simple plot is for the best, and it works wonderfully.

It is amazing how well the special effects still hold up, and I think the reason for that is that they blended animatronics with computer generated imagery (CGI) to make these amazing creatures come to life.  Now all movies use is the CGI making everything loose the weight and solid feel of the creatures they make, but have something real makes it all the more believable.

Another reason this movie holds up so well is that lesser directors and story tellers would have just made this a monster movie, and there is nothing wrong with a good monster movie, but instead Steven Spielberg makes this more like a safari gone wrong, and treats the dinosaurs just like animals that are doing what animals would do.  This allows the T-Rex to be a hero and a villain all at the same time, and it makes the world he creates believable, and despite the danger someplace I still want to visit.

I never got to see this movie in theaters because I was not 13 yet and Mom wouldn’t let me, and after seeing it in theaters now I have to say that this is the format this movie was made to be seen in.  This movie is big and demands to be seen on a screen equally as big, from the amazing sounds to the incredible sites.  The one major drawback is the new inflated price, it is $17 a person to see it in IMAX 3D, and the 3D does not add a whole lot to the film, but it is better then most post produced 3D treatments, and the new high resolution looks great.

If you have the money, or you are like me and have never seen this movie in theaters, then do yourself a favor and re-watch this classic film by one of our greatest filmmakers.

Can you Survive the Evil Dead?

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Evil Dead (2013) is the remake/sequel to the popular The Evil Dead (1981).  The Evil Dead spawned two sequels already, and they are thought to have created the genre of horror comedy, but this new movie goes back to the first film and is straight up horror.  This is the first movie in the franchise not to be written and directed by Sam Raimi, but by new comer Fred Alvarez who was hand picked by Raimi.  This movie was OK, but never lives up to the classic series that Raimi created.

The story is that five friends go up to a cabin in the woods to help a drug addict, Mia played by Jane Levy, kick he habit.  The friends agree that they will not let her leave until the worst of the withdrawals have subsided.  When they get in the cabin they soon find that it has been used for something weird.  There are a bunch of dead cats hanging in the basement, and a book wrapped in barbed wire.  Of course one of them reads the book out loud, even though the writing in the book says not too, and releases evil.

I like using the drug addiction as the reason they are up in the woods, because it makes it believable when the first person to see the random evil things happening is the drug addict, and the friends think she is either hallucinating or just trying to get them to let her leave, and Fred Alvarez knows how to shoot a horror scene.  Never flinching is showing the audience something awful, but the problem is that you only should do a remake if there is something add, or something that they couldn’t do before, but that is not the case here.  In The Evil Dead the violence was already ramped up to 11, so ramping it up to 12 wasn’t all that necessary.  The charm of the first movie (if horror movies have charm that is) was the movie was so low budget that it added a campiness to the whole thing.  In Evil Dead the only camp left is that cast makes every dumb choice possible, and they do make dumb choices.

Here are some guidelines for you if you are in a cabin in the woods.  If there are dead cats hanging in the cellar: leave.  If there is a book wrapped in barbed wire and bound in human flesh: do not read it, especially out loud, and if it tells you not to because something will eat your soul.  If something is chasing you, use the open door to the outside not the crack in the wall.

These is some good news though, and that is Sam Raimi has decided to make Army of Darkness II (The Evil Dead IV), and that means more Bruce Campbell Camping it up while killing the undead.  There is also a plan to have Mia and Bruce team up at a future point when they merge the two universes and that sounds like fun too, so if we have to have one OK horror movie for all that to happen, then so be it.

Is Oz Great and Powerful?

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Oz: The Great and Powerful is the prequel to The Wizard Oz, and is directed by Sam Raimi.  It never lives up to the original film, but he still made a pretty decent movie, and if you have seen Raimi’s earlier work then you might notice that this seems a lot like Army of Darkness for kids.

Army of Darkness features a jerk that comes from the future and he saves a kingdom with his knowledge of basic science. Oz: The Great and Powerful features a conman/magician, Oz (James Franco), that goes over the rainbow in a balloon and saves a kingdom with his knowledge of science and theatricality.  He even has some scenes at the end of the film to confirm that he knows they similar too, but unlike his previous movie, Oz learns his lessons and becomes a better man.

You can tell Raimi is having fun with the visuals in this movie.  Since it is a fantasy land he goes over the top with color and the detail, and it looks fantastic.  He also gets to use his horror chops because the flying baboons are quit scary, and he has a few startling scares too.  He also peppers things from the original Oz all over the place so you know it is the same land.

The actors, especially the witches, Mila Kunis (Theodora), Rachel Wiesz (Evanora), and Michelle Williams (Glinda), do a great job, and they are really the stars of this movie, but if you are not a fan of James Franco, then this movie will not change your mind because he is pretty much James Franco.  Oz’s computer animated compatriots, played by Joey King (China Girl) and Zach Braff (Flying Monkey), do a great job of playing the characters sweet and keeping Oz on the straight and narrow.

Raimi did what he could to make a worthy prequel to the classic film, but he falls a little short.  It is still an entertaining film, and since he kept it PG, you can take your whole family, which is a rarity these days.  It does make me want to watch Army of Darkness again though.