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Movies Review

Movie Review – Star Trek Beyond

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with the “Kelvin-verse” Star Trek movies.  I really like the cast, and have come to grips with the fact that, since it’s not a TV show, the movies need to shade a bit more to the action side of things than the more cerebral Trek episodes.  Still, the first two movies (especially Star Trek Into Darkness) made some really painful story choices and had me looking at Star Trek Beyond with a bit of trepidation.  I’m happy to report that Star Trek Beyond was pretty darn great, and definitely my favorite of the three so far.

I think what works here more than the previous two movies is, you actually feel like these individuals have come together as a crew.  There are quiet moments of contemplation and camaraderie mixed in with the action beats and it just makes it feel more like Star Trek.  I could actually believe this crew having to deal with some of the stranger stuff from the original series, like Trelaine or Apollo or planets where everybody talks like a gangster.

Beyond follow this crew right in the middle of their 5 year mission, with Kirk handling a diplomatic exchange between two warring races.  Unlike what we’re used to with Picard, it does not go well.  “I ripped my shirt again,” Kirk laments at one point in a tongue-in-cheek moment.  He feels a bit lost, which makes sense as this version of Kirk didn’t have his Starfleet dad to watch and look up to his whole life.

It isn’t uncommon, you know? It’s easy to get lost. In the vastness of space, there’s only yourself, your ship, your crew.

This line comes from Commodore Paris, played by Shohreh Aghdashloo of The Expanse, as Kirk discusses taking a desk job with her.  This is a different spin on the original cast movies, with Admiral Kirk leaving the desk job behind to get out and make a difference in the galaxy again.  Pine’s Kirk is chafing under the monotony of a five year mission, feeling ‘episodic’ (:wink:) and having trouble with the idea that you never really reach a destination out in the vastness of space.  It also works as a counterpoint to the villain, who was sent out into space himself (remaining vague so as not to spoil things) and was broken by it.

I loved the character beats between the leads, it felt very much like the classic series Kirk/Spock/McCoy interactions.  Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah fit in fairly well, and I liked that they didn’t shoehorn in some romantic subplot just because they were adding a female lead.  If there’s one thing that bothered me about Beyond, it’s that 20-21st century music played a role again.  Yeah, it was a callback to the first movie but it felt a bit out of place then and it still does now.  Minor quibble, though, to be sure.

If you are a Trek fan but were turned off by Star Trek Into Darkness, give Star Trek Beyond a try.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Movies Review

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy

I saw an early screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Thursday night, and let me tell you, I had a blast!  I may have only read the actual Guardians comic that was the biggest influence on this after the movie was announced, but I’ve quickly fallen in love with these a-holes.  Of course, I did know of Drax and Gamora from my reading of the Silver Surfer back in the day.  And Thanos and Ronan.

But the movie!  As you could tell from the way it was promoted, this is a whole new animal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  There’s no super-soldier, or technical genius inventing powered suits or serums.  Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill, an Earth kid (well…) abducted by aliens called the Ravagers, thieves and smugglers led by Yondu Udonta.  Quill has only what he was carrying with him, which includes the Walkman and the ‘Awesome Mix Vol. 1’ we’ve heard in the trailers and clips.  He’s stealing a mysterious orb – and getting away from the Ravagers at the same time.  He thoroughly establishes that he’s a goofy man-child (the dancing!  wait for the GIFs).

skip this next section for the biggest spoilers

This puts him on the path to meet the rest of the Guardians – who either want the orb, or to turn him in for a bounty.  That leads to the prison scenes (the Kyln!) you see featured in the trailers.  That orb contains another of the Infinity Stones (we’ve seen the Tesseract and the Aether so far), and Ronan the Accuser, renegade Kree, will not stop until he gets it.  Ronan, played by the Piemaker Lee Pace, is over the top evil.  He gets a bit more to do than Chris Eccleston did in Thor: The Dark World, but not by much.  He’s got a deal in place with THANOS to deliver the orb, assisted by Nebula and Gamora.  Once he realizes the orb has an Infinity Stone inside, well why does he need THANOS anyway?  He can destroy the Nova Corps home planet of Xandar all by himself!  Nebula is okay with this, which goes to show how little you can trust minions that you kidnap, experiment on, and abuse.

This leads Quill and the other misfits to loosely ally – Rocket, with Groot tagging along, to make sure his bounty stays alive, Gamora to make sure the orb stays away from THANOS and Ronan, and Drax who just wants to kill Ronan.  They bond, guys, and it’s great.

end major spoilers

I feel like I could try and explain what I loved about the movie for hours but it wouldn’t do it justice.  Yes, there are changes from the comics.  That happens any time you adapt to the big screen, especially the MCU which is getting well established all on it’s own.  The core of the Guardians are there, especially from Rocket and Groot.  You might find yourself tearing up just a bit as a talking raccoon laments being tortured and experimented on.  I AM GROOT will mean something.  You will laugh, more than you’ve laughed at any MCU movie.  My kids want a tiny Groot all their own.  The music, it’s just as great in the movie as it is in the trailers.  There are things that bug me, but seriously, there’s so much right here.  We see and hear THANOS – yeah, I’m gonna keep capitalizing that – we go to Knowhere, the cameos are there.  Now I just need to see the after-credits scene.  To Friday!