Star Trek Beyond – Movie Review

The new Kirk and crew must figure out the secret of the evil Krall before he destroys the Federation.

Release Date: July 29, 2016
Writer: Simon Pegg
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Idiris Elba

The film picks up with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise already three years into its five-year mission. Kirk is growing weary of one diplomatic mission after another and is considering retiring from the monotony of space travel. Spock (Zachary Quinto), on the other hand, has his thoughts focused on the remaining members of his species. After receiving bad news from New Vulcan, Spock is also considering retiring to help with the proliferation of his people.

The setting of Star Trek Beyond is the massive space station, known as Yorktown. Created inside a protective sphere, this space “city” holds millions of people from a vast variety of alien races, which comprise the current Federation of Planet.

Trouble stirs when an alien ship approaches the space station and its captain requests the help of the Enterprise to rescue its crew abandoned on the other side of the nearby nebula. With Federation approval, the Kirk and crew agree with assist with the rescue and upon arrival the crew finds itself in the middle of a sneak attack from the villain Krall (Idris Elba). Forced to abandon ship, the Enterprise crew is separated. They must find away to regroup, figure out who Krall is and how to return to the Yorktown and warn them of Krall’s plans.

Star Trek Beyond gets the crew of the Enterprise beyond its origins highlighted in the first two films. It shows the new crew of the Enterprise fully engaged in the original mission of the series of seeking out new worlds and civilizations. Star Trek Beyond’s main plot is an attack on that mission. It starts with Captain Kirk trying to broker peace between two warring species and ends with Krall trying to put an end to the growing expansion of the Federation.

Star Trek movies have succeeded when the film are not 2-hour episodes, but more an action adventure with high stakes. They work when the consequences of failure are dire. For Star Trek Beyond, they’ve succeeded in finding the balance and creating a high-stakes, high-adventure, 2-hour episode. Writer Simon Pegg uses the attack on the Enterprise to split the crew up and force the volatile pairings of Kirk/Chekhov/Scotty, McCoy/Spock and Uhura/Sulu to grow, develop and work together to overcome their impossible situation.

The strength of the successful Star Trek movies, including this one, have always been the crew. When most of the film focuses solely Shatner or Stewart, it fails because, as fans, we love the individual members and want to see everyone get their fair chance at saving the universe.

Star Trek Beyond also succeeds because the story is clover, the action makes sense for the most part and the nostalgic reasons we love Star Trek are also there. I also like that we’re finally engaged in the voyages of the starship Enterprise.

Star Trek is a good film and should appeal to casual fans and Trekkies alike. There are only two moments that fell flat. The first is the opening sequence, when Kirk is brokering peace between two alien cultures. The moment is basically a comedic gag and played solely for laughs. Yes, it was funny, but that is the wrong tone to start a Star Trek film. It presents the movie as a comedy right off the bat, when film is clearly meant to be more than light fun.

The second moment is the first attack on the Enterprise by Krall. The segment just went on too long. Director Justin Lin tells a great story here, but the entire attack segment just won’t end. The action sequence feels like it goes on forever and you have to let audiences breathe once in a while.

Overall, Star Trek Beyond has found a place on the mantle of Star Trek movies. What’s missing is a sense of importance that the best Star Trek movies have to the Star Trek universe. Star Trek Beyond is fun but not profound.

Ghostbusters (2016) – Movie Review

Ghostbusters returned in a brand new reboot. Yes, it features a new timeline, new reality and new cast.

Release Date: July 15, 2016
Writer: Paul Feig
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth

Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig) is a university professor of physics looking to obtain tenure at her job. Her problem is in the past she wrote a book with her childhood friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) proving the physics around the paranormal. Basically, she proved through science that ghosts exist. Abby recently published that book and now Erin’s job is on the line.

Meanwhile, New York is experiencing an increased level of paranormal activity. Someone is place devices throughout the city that amplifies that manifestation of such ghosts. Abby with her partner, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), convince Erin to investigate the occurrence at a local historical landmark. Then again in a subway tunnel, where they meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). This is the origin story of the new Ghostbusters.

The original Ghostbusters was never really a movie about guys who battle ghosts. It was an ensemble piece featuring Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray. The purpose of the movie was to put these guys together and make a funny movie.

The new Ghostbusters is exactly the same thing. Bring together the talents of Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones and make a funny movie. The cast is perfect and well balanced. Wiig and McCarthy are the anchors to the team and together are a modern-day female Laurel and Hardy. Wiig playing the straight person and McCarthy walking the two into trouble.

Fans of Saturday Night Live will love the performances of McKinnon and Jones. Kate McKinnon has some brilliant moments on screen, especially at the end. Leslie Jones bring much-needed energy to the ensemble and plays the perfect contrast in attitude for the ensemble.

The story is fine. Paul Feig always manages to string together a solid story and the acting makes up for any perceived weaknesses in plot and science talk. The ending is a little problematic as all the little fantastic moments throughout the film lead up to a less than spectacular ending. What I’m saying is the small fight scenes with the ghost are exciting and fun to watch and it leads to a climax that does not match the events leading to it.

Feig manages to pay homage to the original Ghostbusters. The surviving members (sans Rick Moranis) make cameos throughout the film. Bill Murray manages to slip in the film with a character that moves the plot along. Feig also likes to throw a few curveballs at moments you would expect an obvious reference to the past. He’s real good at that.

But I laughed and that’s the job of comedies. Make me laugh and you will too. Put these four actresses in any movie and I’ll watch it.