Star Trek: Beyond

Wasn’t able to see Star Trek: Beyond last week, so I went yesterday instead.  By which time the showtimes at my local place had decreased enough there was no 2D showing at a convenient time, so I went to the 3D version.  I’m not entirely sure why they bothered with one; they seemed to make little use of the technology during the movie itself, fully utilizing it only during the end credit sequence.

As for the movie itself, I’m still not sure what to make of it.  It was an enjoyable ride, that’s for sure.  But the plot was a touch incoherent at times, the script juggling a lot of balls and maybe trying to juggle them too fast.  Or maybe that was just Justin Lin.  I’ve never seen any of the Fast & Furious movies, but I suspect they might feel a good deal like Star Trek: Beyond did, and I still question the appropriateness of that.

On the other hand, they did at least rid themselves of many of the ills of Into Darkness.  Kirk is much less of a sleazeball, the over-cynicism of the last movie has given way to a much more optimistic vision of the eventual future of humanity, if less so of its near-future, and if it seems they will keep this Spock/Uhura nonsense, at least it took up relatively little of her screentime.  In fact, the movie made good use of the entire cast, especially with a little Spock & McCoy show to flesh out an important dynamic of the original show, and the writer having lots of fun with Scotty(and I do hope Jayla shows up in the next movie).

All in all, I think this is a case of a franchise realizing it veered down the wrong path and so is now trying to retrace its steps.  Who knows, maybe it’ll be fully recovered by the next movie.  Even if losing Chekov’s going to be a hard blow.

Finding Dory (& Piper)

In the thirteen years since Finding Nemo was made, Pixar’s animation has advanced considerably.  We got a reminder of that before Finding Dory even started playing, in the form of the short in front of it: Piper, a charming little movie about a sandpiper chicklet, which uses the newest techniques to make CGI birds look so realistic, you have to remind yourself they’re computerized, especially they’re wandering through sand and waves that look like they came straight out of a live-action movie.  The story is one that might have just carried an obviously animated short, but the filmmaking turns it into an awe-worthy one.

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Yet another death

One of the brightest lights of the new Star Trek movies has now gone out.  It seems, too, that we’re only learning what we had with Anton Yelchin now that he’s gone, given how my timeline erupted yesterday, and it definitely wasn’t just the Trekkies who had reason to mourn; this man had done so many good things by 27 it’s painful to think how much more he might have done.  Plus he seems to have been a delightful person:

Anton Yelchin & the birds

Seriously. You can’t even.

RIP Anton Yelchin.

The Wrath of Khan and First Contact

Until this year, I hadn’t really watched any of the older Star Trek movies that came out before I was in my teens, though I had seen bits of The Wrath of Khan when I was very young.  Fortunately, Netflix has made this much easier to remedy than it used to be, especially when, after I watched my way through The Wrath of Khan a couple of months back, they actually emailed to inform me they had First Contact available.  It’s kind of strange, seeing movies you’ve spent half your life hearing about for the first time.

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Love and Friendship & X-Men: Apocalypse

The problem with a movie having  a guaranteed audience is that the people making it are more likely than usual to get lazy, to think they don’t have to create a masterpiece, because they’ll make money anyway.  This weekend, I saw two very different movies with two very different guaranteed audiences, both of which I think feel victim to this phenomenon, but to different extents.

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Been a stressful week

For the country in general; seriously, have we come to the point where Donald Trump is a presidential nominee, and his likely opponent is struggling to wrap up her nomination, and looking like her one claim to strength will be Not Being Trump?  Weeks like these we need things like The Force Awakens being told in emoji:

Hope Civil War doesn’t break my heart further.(Although given the way most things have gone in the MCU so far this year…)

Daredevil & Star Wars!

We’ve been anticipating the new Daredevil trailer and our first extended look at the new season since yesterday, but then Star Wars went and dropped this:

Which of course tells us absolutely nothing, but still, it’s fun to celebrate this moment with the people actually making the movie.

And then there’s this:

Strange, how even those of us who have no prior exposure to the Punisher have now spent months hearing enough of his story that the opening of this trailer, the reminder of his murdered children, can hit us this hard. And oh, Foggy, just wanting Matt to not destroy himself. And Karen, too; I’m still not shipping her and Matt, but her willingness to argue with Matt over the rightness of his actions is a good sign. I’m kind of meh on Elektra right now, though. A bit too much femme fatale for my tastes. Maybe the second trailer will make her more interesting, since it looks like that’s going to focus on her.

So there was another change of plans

It was inevitable, perhaps.  From the time Ant Man proved such a success, and there was the comment about Hope van Dyck not appearing in Civil War because she needed more room for her story to happen, we knew there was going to have to be a sequel, and that they might not want to wait until after Phase 3.  At least this new movie inserted into the lineup has a female co-lead, even as the movie with the sole female lead gets pushed back as a result again.  And honestly, I’m kind of hoping Hope will be the true lead of Ant Man and the Wasp, even if she has to share the movie title with the white male character.  She’s the one with the story that really needs to be told now, after all.  Which means that so far in the MCU franchises, we have had one TV show with a sole female lead, another one where one of the female characters has pretty much become the secondary lead, one upcoming Netflix series and (at last report) one upcoming ABC series which will also have female leads, and now, one upcoming movie with a female co-lead and one upcoming(if continually delayed) movie with a sole female lead.  But how good a job are they doing with them all?

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The Martian

Most movies we see these days are pretty cynical and gloomy.  Given how things are in the world, of course, that’s hardly surprising.  We are currently witnesses in our time in how heartless and stupid humans can be.  But The Martian is having none of that.  In The Martian, when the situation seems impossible, humans might not be perfect, but they are smart, they are determined, and they are willing to go whatever length it takes to help someone.  It’s the most optimistic movie I’ve seen in a long time that way.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. & Inside Out (and Lava)

Went to the movies for both of the last two weeks; it’s been a while since I’ve done that.  I went to see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. first, because that one had been a big deal on my Twitter feed since about the time the Comic Con trailer dropped, then Inside Out, because I’d heard it raved about so much, and hey, you don’t want to miss too many Pixar films.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a fun movie to watch.  It was very slickly done, and with a lot of good jokes(the listening device exchange was priceless).  But despite all the squeeing I’ve been reading over the bromance of the two main characters, I didn’t buy it, the going from adversity to suddenly dashing like mad to rescue each other without any clear feeling as to why.  I didn’t really sympathize enough with either of them either(I especially didn’t care for this Napoleon Solo).  I would have sympathized more with the main female character, except I saw her first plot twist coming from about the time she was first introduced and suspected her second one was going to happen as well.  Hugh Grant stealing the show from everyone late in the movie didn’t help.  If a sequel came out, I might or might not go see it, but I wouldn’t feel any great loss if there wasn’t one.

Inside Out actually had two things prefacing it besides trailers, and the first I was not happy to sit through.  First we had the creators preaching to us about how we have to come see their movies, which is not the way to induce us to do so.  Thankfully that was short, and accompanying short film, Lava, was a sweet love story involving volcanoes that educated us about how volcanic islands form in the ocean while making us go “Awwww” during a volcanic eruption(never thought I’d be doing that one).  Although to be fair, I think I may have only gotten the lesson because I knew its contents already, but hey, it was still a very sweet little film.  Considering the point Inside Out makes in both the promo materials and then the film itself(with a pair of psychologists even listed as consultants in the credits) in educating us a little bit in how the mind works, it made the two films a very good match for each other.

Inside Out too was a great film to watch, but it was more than that.  It was very imaginative, for one thing, creating a whole and fascinating original world even while anchoring it in the behavior of the human brain, a very fully realized one where by the end of it you understood the rules and didn’t need to be told the stakes to get them.  It also brought us a set of characters, both human and otherwise, that we came to care about, until when one of them makes a heartbreaking decision late in the film you feel sad right along with the main character.  It also deals with depression, and in a way that hits home for anyone who is familiar with it.  As a bonus, the three most important characters in the movie are all female(although I suppose you can argue the two non-human ones might or might not have a full gender identity).  When it ends with a sequel hook, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. did, you want to see that sequel.  Also, it was screamingly funny at times, especially during the credits.

Not sure when I’ll next go to the movies, given I’ll be watching tennis and then going out of the country for a week and a half.  Although apparently the next Pixar movie comes out before the end of the year…