Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies Film Review: Star Trek – Into Darkness (2013)

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(It is almost impossible to give a review of this film without spreading spoilers.   I will be careful:  others may be less so… so I suggest you avoid reviews for a few days if you want to enjoy the film).

Star Trek: Into Darkness is the second film in the franchise reboot by the brilliant J.J. Abrams, and produced and co-written by one of his lead “Lost” writers Damon Lindelof. 

Chris Pine’s Kirk is down on his luck and up against a formidable adversary in the form of our own Benedict Cumberbatch – a towering acting presence at the heart of the film.  When tragedy strikes at the very top of Star Fleet, what follows is a rollercoaster ride of revenge, unexpected alliances and betrayal.

Special effects are largely pretty good, with some beautiful shots of a 26th century London, all glittering spires with St Paul’s still surviving in the heart of it all.  However, Abrams signature lens-flare technique gets as tiresome (through over-use) in this film as it did in the first.  It is particularly unfortunate that so many of the film’s money shots were ‘wasted’ on the trailers:  this was a film where perhaps a teaser trailer – period – would have been far better.

As the series matures, the cast are getting into their roles more:  Simon Pegg’s Scotty is always amusing and my personal favourite is Karl Urban’s Bones… progressively turning into the surly old medic we know and love, with his outbursts of frustration at Kirk delivering the best lines in the film – “I’m a doctor godammit, not a torpedo specialist” being a highpoint.  Although I didn’t really warm much to Chris Pine’s Kirk in the first film, here his natural arrogance matures into the flawed hero that is much more likable.  His taste in “women” though seems to border on the edge of bestiality:  it can’t be long before the Youtube spoof with the blue Acturan Sheep arrives!

Where J.J. Abrams really scores with the chronology of these new films for Trek fans is that they allow the film makers to ‘historically’ place key moments in Trek lore, and this film is no exception.  Part of the joy of the film are the frequent references to Trek creatures, locations and characters – some of whom we haven’t met yet.   And as a particularly joyous twist for Trek fans, and about a quarter of the way into the film the story takes an unexpected and yet strangely familiar turn!  (The rather fetching Alice Eve’s character name gives the game away for those who are up on their Star Trek Encyclopaedia). 

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Whilst this story line lacks originality, it is very well done although the sogginess of the nostalgia goes rather over the top in one particular scene between Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock. 

J.J. Abrams long term collaborator, Michael Giacchino provides the stirring music:  definitely a soundtrack album on the Christmas list.

In summary, a rollicking good adventure film and a first class experience for Trek fans to savour.  This franchise will live long, and prosper.  If Abrams has done this for Trek, what WILL he do with Star Wars Episode 7?

Fad rating (for non-Trek fans): FFFf

Fad rating (for Trek fans): FFFFf.

 

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Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies Film Review: Iron Man Three (2013)

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After the relative disappointment of Iron Man 2, I really wasn’t sure I wanted to pay good money to see Iron Man Three (what, numerals are out of vogue this year?).  But I was glad I did.  It was a real blast.  Good story, well scripted, fast paced and with good stunt work (particularly with the ‘barrel o monkeys’ skydive from Air Force One).  Gwyneth Paltrow is suitably hot (literally) and in the villain’s camp, Guy Pearce is memorable and Ben Kingsley is quite superb in a truly surprising and double-layered performance. 

But it is Robert Downey Jnr that once again holds the whole film together as the complex super-hero Tony Stark:  some of his dialogue is laugh out loud, and his scenes with his young sidekick in a backwater town are particularly memorable. 

It’s not without fault though.  One of my main criticisms of Iron Man 2 was that it descended into ‘Transformer-ville’ territory of indestructible machine fighting indestructible machine with the viewer really not particularly given the chance to give a damn.   The finale of Three similarly puts a foot or two over that line, and whilst its well done and spectacular, it should have been a case of less is more.

However, as the curtain up for the summer blockbuster season, I suspect that this will probably be one of the better ones.

Fad Rating:  FFFf.

Posted in Film Review

One Mann’s Movies Film Review: Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

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You can almost imagine the script meeting for this one.  “So we need a president in peril film” – “How about on his plane?” – Good, but already done” – “How about the White House?” – “Yes, like it!” – “And then we’ll have terrorists take over the building and just one guy left inside to defeat them” – “Brilliant!”  “Who will the terrorists be?” – “Well – we can’t do the Russians – – how about the North Koreans?” – “Not very topical, but I guess that’s the best we’re going to think of” – “Finally, why don’t we throw in a bit of historical angst for the hero from his former Presidential protection duty?” – “Yes, yes, yes!  Perfect!” “Now, go and get me the scripts for ‘Air Force One’, ‘Die Hard’ and ‘In the Line of Fire’ and a really REALLY big food mixer”.

OK – so this is about as far away from original as you can get, but I have to admit I really liked this film for dumb popcorn munching entertainment.  Gerard Butler takes on the Harrison Ford/Bruce Willis/Clint Eastwood role with very little dialogue but a lot of brawn.  Whilst Aaron Eckhart portrays the beleaguered President Asher, Morgan Freeman again manages to assume the role of President (as in Deep Impact), albeit briefly, and his scenes within the Pentagon crisis centre are about 100 times more convincing that poor Glenn Close and Dean Stockwell in the equivalent scenes from Air Force One (surely some of the worst bits of acting in mainstream film history).  

If you don’t like violence, this is not the film for you:  it earns its 15 certificate without quite resorting to a 10 on the Tarentino scale.  But there is enough corn ladled on in bucketloads to allow you to treat the violence with ‘Tom and Jerry’ disregard – – with fluttering tattered Stars and Stripes symbolically drifting to the ground, and eye-wateringly bad decisions being made that make you want to yell “WHAT???” at the screen.

Art house finesse it is not, but would I get this on Blu-ray to watch again on a dark winter’s afternoon – yes, absolutely.  So for that reason:

Fad Rating:  FFFf.