Tag Archives: Chris Pine

Wonder Woman – Movie Review

Wonder Woman is a breath of fresh air…when it comes to DC movies. It used to be that we looked forward to how good a Marvel movie would be and how bad a DC movie would be.

Release Date: June 2, 2017
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Wonder Woman follows the demi-god, Diana (Gal Godot). She lives on the island of Themyscira with her fellow Amazons including her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). The island is mysteriously hidden from the rest of the world, while the rest of the world slowly destroys itself during World War I.

Wonder Woman is an origins story. It starts by lumbering through an explanation of the Greek Mythology, of Zeus, and of his son Ares. But the real story here is Diana’s struggle to become the greatest warrior of the Amazons and the mystery as to why Queen Hippolyta will not allow this to be.

Meanwhile, as World War I comes to an end, American spy and pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his damaged plane off the shores of Themyscira while fleeing a squadron of German fighter planes. Diana rescues Steve and vanquishes the German soldiers with the help of her fellow Amazons. Untrusted and captive, Trevor tells Diana about the “war to end all wars.” He pleads with her for his release so he can deliver the stolen formula of a potent nerve gas that Germany will use as a last-ditch effort to win the war.

Diana helps Steve escape in order to help him win the ultimate war. After proving herself to her mother, Diana leaves the island as a warrior and with an ominous warning about ever returning. Eager to become the heroine, she is destined to become, Diana finds herself increasingly impatient with Steve’s stalling and British bureaucracies.

Demanding to head directly into action, Steve teams her up with a motley crew of fighters including Sameer (Said Taghmaoui)-master of disguise, Charlie (Ewen Bremner)-PTSD scarred sniper and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) – Street-smart trader of goods. That’s Wonder Woman.

I mentioned in my Man of Steel review, that Zach Snyder’s depiction of Superman is not Superman. As good as Henry Cavill was, the man on screen is not the Superman I came to see. Thankfully, Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. Beauty aside, she is a convincing warrior with moral conviction. She has the confidence and strength to be a hero. She has charm and Patty Jenkins masterfully tells a brighter story in contrast to the dark overtones of Man of Steel. DC finally made a hero that girls (and boys) can admire.

A pre-requisite of a superhero film is good action scenes. The battle on Themyscira was fantastic showing Amazon cunning in a fight of guns and mortars versus swords and arrows. The movie’s set pieces of Diana leading the charge into “No Man’s Land” is a spectacular display of Wonder Woman’s power, strength, and fighting ability.

I have only two minor complaints about Wonder Woman. I won’t belabor it because this is an exceptional movie. One, the origin segment at the start and its mythology, just needed to move a little faster. I think we’re proving that origins are not necessary for all hero movies.

Two, there is a moment when Diana is in London and she is the fish-out-of-water moment. It’s played for laughs and at the expense of this strong character, Jenkins had established for over an hour. While humorous, the sequence is not very original. She is portrayed as a little naïve when she could have been portrayed as regal.

Wonder Woman is a straight up superhero film. It is a story about Diana’s transformation into Wonder Woman. It’s not making a statement about gender. While Diana is a woman. She has no hang up about gender inequality, she’s a powerful confident person with all the experience of being female. She is not fighting men, she is fighting evil. She is not fighting for women only but fighting for all people in hopes bringing peace to a war-ravaged people.

Hell or High Water – Movie Review

Hell or High Water follows the parallel paths of the Howard brothers, who rob the banks that hold their deceased mother’s mortgage and the grizzled veteran lawman assigned to capture the brothers as his last case.

Release Date: August 26, 2017
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Director: David MacKenzie
Cast: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges

Hell or High Water is a movie that plays on every emotion. For example, you want to sympathize with the Howard brothers. Sympathize as much as you like, they are still criminals. It makes no judgment, while judging.

Toby Howard (Chris Pine) is a recently divorced father who is about to lose the farm of his youth. The bank that owns the note on the farm is about to foreclose on the farm and the stress of the situation lead to her death. Toby is a man with nothing and sees the farms as the only thing he can give to his children. Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) is his recently released convict brother. His wild side and impulsiveness is nothing but the foreshadowing of trouble.

The boys have decided to rob the very bank that prey upon their mother and ultimately hope to pay off the mortgage in time before foreclosure. In order to get enough money that have to travel throughout the back roads of Texas hitting one branch after the other.

Following the Howard boys is veteran lawman, Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges). This is Marcus’ last case before retiring and he brings along his partner, Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), who will eventually take over for Hamilton after his retirement.

The setting of Hell or High Water is intriguing, especially for a West Coaster, like myself. Taking place in the outlands of Texas is a return to the old days of crime investigation. Stripped of the internet and high priced forensics and Hamilton and Parker use the old method of fact, evidence and profiling to figure out the pattern of crimes perpetrated by the Howards and where they will strike next.

High or High Water succeeds as a great movie for two reasons. The movie is a cat-and-mouse caper. The Howards try to stay one step ahead of the law, while never knowing who is chasing them or even if they are being chased. They also have to managed to pull off the perfect crime. It’s one thing to commit a crime and bank robbery is a difficult crime to pull off. But it is also another thing to never be caught and never be considered a suspect in that crime. Oh, and did I mention that Tanner is a hot head?

That’s the mouse, there is the cat. Without the high priced technology of CSI or Law and Order, Hamilton and Parker have to catch up to the mouse and see that justice is achieved.

The other reason this movie is great is the characters. Taylor Sheridan gives you a glimpse straight into the heart of the four leads. For the Howards, you want to sympathize with them. You want to root for the bad guys. But at the same time, you marvel at the brilliance of Jeff Bridges the actor portraying a wise and smart mouthed agent. His back-and-forth with his Native American partner is fun to watch and mildly uncomfortable as it walks the line of friendship and racial ignorance.

It is clear that Hell or High Water deserved its Best Picture nomination. It’s a story that’s been told before where its brilliance comes from its character study.

‘Saturday Night Live’ Goes Live Nationwide for Final Four Episodes

For the first time in its storied history, NBC’s iconic late-night franchise “Saturday Night Live,” which is delivering its most-watched season in 24 years, will be broadcast live simultaneously across the country for its final four shows of the season — April 15, May 6, 13 and 20.

“‘SNL’ — enjoying its most popular season in two decades — is part of the national conversation, and we thought it would be a great idea to broadcast to the west and mountain time zones live at the same time it’s being seen in the east and central time zones,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “That way, everyone is in on the joke at the same time. Kudos to Lorne Michaels, the producers and cast for making ‘SNL’ one of the most relevant and anticipated shows in the zeitgeist.”

Each episode will air live at:

11:30 p.m. Eastern
10:30 p.m. Central
9:30 p.m. Mountain
8:30 p.m. Pacific

For the Mountain and Pacific time zones, “SNL” will be repeated at 11:30 p.m.

The hosts for these shows are as follows:

April 15 – Jimmy Fallon
May 6 – Chris Pine
May 13 – Melissa McCarthy
May 20 – Dwayne Johnson

The musical guests for these shows will be announced at a later date.

So far this season, “Saturday Night Live” originals are averaging a 3.57 rating in adults 18-49 and 11.022 million viewers overall in “live plus seven day” averages from Nielsen Media Research. This makes it the show’s top-rated season at this point in eight years in 18-49 (since 2008-09) and most-watched season in 24 years (since 1992-93).

Versus year-ago averages, “SNL” is up +21% in adult 18-49 rating (3.57 vs. 2.94) and up 2.2 million persons or +26% in total viewers with 11.022 million.

The show has garnered high praise from critics this season, including acclaim for the work of Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and Kellyanne Conway, Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.

Said Variety: “Political turmoil has been very, very good to ‘Saturday Night Live,’” while New York Magazine added, “Every single sketch ‘SNL’ wrote for Alec Baldwin as Trump was comedically masterful.”

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.