Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the continuing adventures of the USS Enterprise “Star Trek Beyond,” the family-friendly “Ice Age: Collision Course,” Edina and Patsy’s drunken adventures in “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” and the ‘are you afraid of the dark’ movie, “Lights Out.”
Seven years ago director J.J. Abrams, the brains behind hit TV shows like Lost and movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, thought there was still some uncharted life to be found in the Star Trek universe.
This weekend the third film in his new generation of movies, Star Trek Beyond, puts phasers on stun. Directed by Fast & Furious director Justin Lin it continues Abrams’s mission to seek out new cinematic life and civilizations.
After five television series, ten movies, countless books, comics and video games, a stage version and even an Ice Capades style show Abrams re-launched the big screen Trek franchise. Simply called Star Trek, he took audiences where no man (or director) has gone before, back to the very beginning of the story before James Tiberius Kirk bore an uncanny resemblance to T.J. Hooker.
In this prequel to the original series Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) are assigned to the maiden voyage of the most advanced starship ever created, the U.S.S. Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood).
Star Trek was one of the great popcorn movies of 2009. Notice I didn’t say sci-fi movie. Star Trek is a lot of things but despite all the talk of warp speed, black holes and time travel, it can’t be strictly classified as science fiction. It’s a character based space serial more concerned with the burgeoning relationship between Spock and Kirk than with photon thrusters.
2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness is a sequel AND a prequel (something so illogical Spock would never approve) that gets underway when an act of terror robs Kirk of a close friend. Determined to bring the perpetrator to justice the reckless Starfleet captain takes the Enterprise and crew to a war zone populated by Klingons and one brilliant and ruthless genetically engineered adversary (Benedict Cumberbatch). To finish his mission he must make difficult decisions.
Abrams finds a balance of old—Kirk, Spock et al—and new—the space suits are redesigned, the tech is different and there are younger characters—that should satisfy hard-core Trekkers and attract tenderfoot Trekkies. For fans there are in-jokes like Kirk telling two expendable members of the landing team to “lose the red shirts.”
At the beginning of Star Trek Beyond Kirk’s life on board the U.S.S. Enterprise has become a grind. He’s three years into a five-year mission and he is, personally lost in space, trying to find meaning in his mission. “It can be hard to feel grounded when even gravity isn’t real.”
Lin, taking over for Abrams, does his best to spice things up for the good captain. The director, best known for his Fast & Furious films, knows there is nothing like a wild alien attack to snap James T. out of his funk. Expect more hi-fly action than sci fi intrigue.
Star Trek Beyond producer Abrams admits he “didn’t love Kirk and Spock when I began this journey, but I love them now.” It seems the fans love his interpretation of the characters as well. Trekkers have embraced the new movies but Abrams knows the Star Trek universe is so vast it’s impossible to please everyone. Instead he says he caters to the average moviegoer “who just wants to be entertained, understand, and care about the world and the characters.” As Spock might say, “Sounds logical to me.”
At the beginning of “Star Trek Beyond” James Tiberius Kirk’s (Chris Pine) life on board the U.S.S. Enterprise has become a grind. Sure Sulu (John Cho) is gay and Ambassador Spock is dead, but Kirk is three years into a five-year mission and he is, personally lost in space, trying to find meaning in his mission. “It can be hard to feel grounded when even gravity isn’t real.”
Director Justin Lin, taking over the rebooted series from J.J. Abrams, does his best to spice things up for the good captain. The director, best known for his “Fast & Furious” films, knows there is nothing like a wild alien attack to snap James T. out of his funk.
Because the movie is pretty much an all-out action flick I’m not going to waste a lot of words describing the plot. Put it this way, there’s an artefact, a piece of a deadly old weapon that an ill-tempered villain named Krall (Idris Elba) desperately wants. Why? “To save you from yourself!” Kirk and the Enterprise crew don’t want the wrinkle-faced alien saving them from anything, particularly when every word out of Krall’s mouth sounds like it was lifted from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” “Unity is not your strength,” he growls. “It is your weakness.” Couple that with the destruction of their beloved ship and they have more than enough reasons for Scotty (Simon Pegg) to jerry rig the warp drive, Bones (Karl Urban) to grumble and complain and Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana) to excitedly push buttons on her colourful control board.
Lin knows how to stage high-octane sequences, so the film bursts into frenetic action scenes every few minutes. Chekov (the late, great Anton Yelchin) plots a course through the stars and BOOM! action ensues. Spock may be inured but that won’t stop him from being at the center of maelstrom after crazy maelstrom. Lin doesn’t seem to know what to do with the characters, but he sure knows how to entertain the eye with gravity defying actions scenes.
As a result “Star Trek Beyond” doesn’t feel so much like a “Star Trek” movie as it does a sci fi action adventure with some familiar characters. Everyone you expect is present and accounted for—and there’s even tributes to the first generation TV Trek crew—but they are reduced to cartoons, spouting jokey platitudes and techno gobbledygook. Lin can’t decided what’s more important, the science or the fiction.
For all the talk of fighting humanity’s battles, this is the least human “Star Trek” yet. Purists may resent the vaguely detailed characters but those simply looking to have their eyeballs dance around the screen to expertly staged space carnage will find much fast and furious action.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, the comedy of “Keanu,” the maudlin humour of “Mother’s Day,” the kid’s sci fi of “Ratchet & Clank,” the punk rock fury of “Green Room” and the b-movie action of “Precious Cargo.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson kick around the weekend’s big releases. They find out if “Keanu,” the kitten caper movie from Key & Peele is worth a look, if “Mother’s Day” is more than a Hallmark card come to the screen and if “Ratchet & Clank’s” good messages for kids make it a good movie.
When I think of Patrick Stewart I think of heroes. I picture Jean-Luc Picard, stern faced on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, courageously going where no man has gone before. Or I see the chrome-domed Professor Charles Xavier telepathically (and once again heroically) reading and controlling the minds of others.
“Green Room,” a grisly new survival horror flick from Jeremy Saulnier presents a new, but not necessarily improved Patrick Stewart. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great in the film, but heroic he is not.
The action begins with The Ain’t Rights (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner), a punk rock band struggling to make money for gas after a failed tour of the Pacific Northwest. Existing on the kindness of strangers, siphoned gas and Ramen noodles, hoping for a quick payday they take a gig at a skinhead bar in remote Oregon. “Don’t talk politics,” they’re warned by the promoter. Run by the homicidal white supremacist Darcy (Stewart), it’s a hellhole of a place that hosts Racial Advocacy Seminars when they aren’t hosting a hard-core punk shows. Following a contentious set, kicked off with a song called “BLEEP Off, Nazi BLEEPS,” the band grabs their money and gear but just as they are about to leave witness the aftermath of a murder in the club’s dingy green room. While Darcy and his jackboot lieutenants figure out how best to dispose of the band The Ain’t Rights and a friend of the dead woman (Imogen Poots) have to fight for their survival.
Like his Saulnier’s previous film, “Blue Ruin,” the new movie is a stripped down thriller with a focus on the gore and the characters. He takes his time getting to the gruesome stuff, setting up the story as we get to know and like the members of the band. Why else would we care when they (NOT REALLY A SPOILER) start to get picked off one by one? Otherwise it would just be torture porn, and while there are some unpleasant images that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the “Hostel” movies, the point of the story is survival not icky deaths.
The band’s life and death struggle is at the center of the film but the chilling malicious force that propels the movie forward is Stewart’s coldly methodical Darcy. At first he seems reasonable—well, as reasonable as a neo Nazi can be—but by the time he says, “We’re not keeping you, you’re just staying,” you know he lives in a world of his own construction; a world where his acolytes will do almost anything to protect him and their cause, no matter how wet and wild. Stewart is icy calm, a coiled spring capable of anything. Images of Professor X and Jean-Luc Picard will be forever erased from your memory.
“Green Room” is a nasty piece of work, a tense Tasmanian Devil tornado of a movie with solid performances and a DIY feel that meshes perfectly with its punk rock heart.
Charlie Bartlett could be the younger brother of Ferris Bueller, the kid from Rushmore or even Hard Harry from Pump Up the Volume. He’s a child of privilege who uses his charm and smarts to get what he wants.
If Ferris made you laugh, you’ll likely enjoy Charlie. If, however, you thought Ferris was simply an annoying snot nosed rich kid you may want to go see Vantage Point instead this weekend because Charlie Bartlett, though appealing, owes a mighty debt to Ferris (and at least a passing nod to Harold and Maude).
Wealthy teenager Charlie Bartlett’s (Anton Yelchin) habit of coming up with outlandish schemes to win the approval of his peers has gotten him kicked out of more private schools than Carter has little liver pills. He’s a troubled kid—“My family has a psychiatrist on call… how normal can I be?” he says—who gets a charge out of doing things that will land him in hot water.
Since no private school will have him he must go to a regular public school run by the Principal Gardner (Robert Downey Jr.) a man so world-weary he makes Andy Warhol look like Richard Simmons.
Still desperate for acceptance he comes up with one more ploy to endear himself to his classmates—like Lucy in the Peanuts—he becomes the school shrink, providing comfort and counsel and even the occasional mood altering drug cocktail. “Bringing psychiatric drugs and teenagers together is like opening a lemonade stand in the desert,” he says of his thriving pharmaceutical business.
When he is done helping his classmates find themselves, however, his life changes when he learns the hard way about the responsibility that comes along with great popularity.
Charlie Bartlett is probably the sweetest movie ever made about a drug dealer. As the titular character Anton Yelchin, best known for juvenile roles on Huff and Curb Your Enthusiasm, injects likeability to a character that in lesser hands could have been quite intolerable. He’s totally believable as the troubled but charming teenager, and his strong presence saves several of the movie’s more precious moments; ditto for Kat Dennings as the young rebel’s girlfriend and Toronto actor Mark Rendall as a terminally depressed Marilyn Manson fan.
If not for this talented cast Charlie Bartlett may have seemed a bit too clever for its own good, a Ferris Bueller on steroids. Luckily the chemistry of the young cast coupled with strong performances from Hope Davis as Charlie’s delicate mom and Downey Jr as the beaten down school master, who is neither master of his school or domain, elevates the film from simply being an 80s teen movie homage to something far more poignant and interesting.