Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Past Reviews – Star Trek Into Darkness

Hello All!    (Sunipal) here!  A while back I had started a different reviews blog, but that fell by the wayside…mostly because I forgot my account information and couldn’t log back in. LOL Anyhoo, I thought maybe I’d post a review or two from back then onto our new blog.  I had to post the following rant because any time I think of this movie it just aggravates me to no end and that needs to be shared.  The original blogpost was from May 2013.  I’ve made a few modifications/additions to the original review in bold.  So, check out my review of Star Trek: Into Darkness below:

startrek-vozmezdie-1

I have a lot to say about the newest Star Trek film, but I feel as though if I start I won’t be able to stop.  Here goes anyway:

                The film began with a lot of promise, but it is a big disappointment.  It has a lot of action and looks great and fits in well with what we know of this new Star Trek universe, but they tried too hard to connect back to the Trek we know and love and that was a huge mistake.  It wasn’t a mistake to try, it was a mistake in the way they did it, which was a total RIP-OFF of a classic!  It was ridiculous!  I was loudly scoffing towards the end.

                Let’s go through this little by little, shall we?  Here are some of the good things from this film, in no particular order:

–          Love Chris Pine.  He is a natural and a good fit as a young, arrogant Kirk. (He was a tad more annoying on a 2nd viewing.)

–          Like the chemistry between these characters and actors.  It is because of the chemistry that a lot works in this and the previous film.

–          The action is fast and exciting and there’s lots of it.

–          There were a few little bits put in specifically for Trek fans (Ketha province, mentioning Nurse Chappell, Dr. Marcus and mentioning Daystrom, though this one kinda irked me.  If you know who he is then you’ll figure out why. )

–          The soundtrack is very good. (Though, not at all memorable after the fact.)

Here are some of the qualms I had with the film, again, in no particular order:

–          The film was SO predictable!  There was nary a surprise to be found!  And I went in virtually spoiler free!  Sure, some of the aforementioned throw-backs to other Trek characters, places, etc. were fun, but story-wise it was not surprising at all.

–          Before my next point let me say how much I dislike Zachary Quinto as Spock.  He’s horrible.  Reprehensible, really.  He is a TERRIBLE Vulcan!  I understand that they are trying to make this Spock different, with his anger management issues and his relationship with Uhura (something else I’m not really a fan of), but Zachary Quinto is just awful as is his Spock. (Sing it, Sister!)

–          Aside from the little nods to the Trek universe, their attempt to connect this film to an already existent and awesome universe as we know it was just ridiculous.  The very emotional, climactic scene at the end was a total RIP-OFF of  Wrath of Khan!  Ripped it off!  Completely!  Cue my scoffing.  It wasn’t just annoying and lazy, it really angered me.  I can see why they did this, because on the one hand they think us Trekkies will eat it up and be so happy to see such an homage (not homage, buddy, this was a total rip-off), while still pleasing the general fan by giving them a gut-wrenching moment between two friends and what’s supposed to be a sad death scene.  The problem?  The friendship between Kirk and Spock is hardly developed, the “death” of Kirk is stupid because you obviously know they’ll bring him back (and who couldn’t figure out how?!) and Zachary Quinto portrayed Spock as a blubbering fool (I’m sorry, but there’s NO WAY Spock would ever have cried like that and then lost it).  Having that jackass yell the classic line of “KHAAAAAAAAN” just made my blood boil.

–          Speaking of not developing character relationships very well, let’s talk about the fact that this movie only centred around Kirk, Spock and Uhura.  Sure, I know that you can’t focus on all characters all the time (but you can have screen time for all characters while focusing on the majors…Trek 3 anyone?…Trek 4 anyone?….Trek 5 anyone?), but they effectively banished all other characters into their respective corners for the duration of this movie!  Having Scotty abruptly resign takes him out totally, then sending Chekov (albeit a very bright young man, but he’s a flippin’ ensign!) to take over Engineering took him away from the bridge and the action and Bones was nowhere to be found and when he was there it was only to throw out cheesy, but entertaining, one-liners (where’s the development of his friendship with Spock and Kirk?!).  This brings me to Sulu…they threw him into the command chair simply because we all love Captain Sulu so much.  Yes, this made me giggle and I was happy that John Cho’s Sulu got some good screen time, but what of the other characters?  (This really irritated me more and more after the fact.) I was really annoyed with the lack of Bones. (Man! You have no idea!)

–          As I’ve already said, I love original Spock, but having him make a useless cameo in this film was cheap and unnecessary.

–          One of my biggest issues with this film was the gratuitous bra and panties scene.  Unnecessary and un-Trek like.  Sexiness and scantily clad women are not some unchartered territory, especially by Jim Kirk, but there’s a time and place and way to show skin.  Green alien girls dancing around or in bed, as in the first film, showing the two girls with tails in this film, etc., but showing Dr. Marcus changing her clothes in some lame attempt to force chemistry between Kirk and her was not to my liking. (Argh!  SO unnecessary!)

–          They killed Pike.  How hard would it have been to keep him alive and then in a wheel chair?

–          I both liked and hated that they were on the ground at Starfleet so much, but my first instinct was “What the?!  This is Trek!  They’re supposed to be in space!”

–          There was not nearly enough space!  They take on trip to Kronos and that’s it! (Actually, I don’t even think they called it Kronos in this movie…but I may be mistaken.)

–          The aliens were all over the top and weird.  They didn’t have to be.  My sister made the good point that Gene Roddenberry never wanted actor eyes to be covered up when playing aliens, but in this film they were all covered.  Every. Single. Alien.  Even the Klingon had contacts to give him weird eyes.

–          The story itself was stupid.

–          Khan.  That’s it.  I had a problem with Khan.  I had a problem that they even tried to tackle the character of Khan and I had a problem that this was the guy that ended up being Khan.  They also didn’t mention the Eugenics War once.  (Unless I missed it?)

–          Khan wasn’t at all Punjabi.  I didn’t think of this until after we left and my sister mentioned it to me, but it’s true.  They actually could have made him Punjabi!  Seeing as how they cast a virtual nobody in the role anyways, how hard would it have been to have cast someone with a bit of a tan? (The fact that they could’ve made him Punjabi isn’t at all a big deal and something they obviously don’t need to do to please anyone.  I went back and watched this movie a 2nd time to give it another chance and did so after watching lots of Sherlock and loving Benedict Cumberbatch.  I thought, perhaps, my like for him would rub off onto this 2nd movied watching experience.  It did not.  This movie was WORSE the 2nd time around.)

–          One of my biggest issues was that the Enterprise looked all wrong!  My brother was really bothered by the Spidey costume in that lame-ass Spiderman film they released last year and now I understand how he felt because I reeeeally didn’t like what they did to the nacelles!  Never mind that, the entire time the Enterprise was being destroyed in the final sequence I was getting so upset because this would allow them to “fix” it however they liked!  This is the ENTERPRISE!  You don’t mess with that.

I know that every complaint I’ve had here can be countered with either:

Relax, it’s a movie – nope, sorry, this is trying to become a part of the Trek ethos and is held to a higher standard than other films

Well, they did something similar in past films – i.e. destroying the Enterprise to make a new one – I don’t care.  It is too early for them to be doing anything that would result in major changes.

Let it go, it’s an alternative universe – And this, my friends, is the ONLY reason I was okay with this film and was able to enjoy it as I watched it. (Although my sister will always remind me that if we accept this alternate universe then that means we accept the planet Vulcan we’ve watched and known is totally destroyed…hmm…)

That having been said, I enjoyed it as I watched it, but liked it less and less the more I thought about it.  My immediate reaction was “Meh, it was o…kay…but there were lots of things that bugged me and it was way too predictable.” (NOPE.  NOT OKAY.  NOT IN THE LEAST.  This movie is terrible.)

There you have it.

– ☀️

Ranking of Best Picture Oscar Winners

Sunita aka   here!

With the Oscars airing tomorrow, I thought I would try to rank all the Best Picture winners from least enjoyable to watch to the greatest picture I have ever seen. I have seen all but 4 of the best picture winners from the past, so those four will not be included in the list.

Ranking Criteria, as thought up with the help of my counterpart, PJ:

  • How much I liked it
  • Re-watchability
  • How much I actually remember it
  • Nostalgia factor

Nothing really technical, nothing really over the top. They are mostly being ranked based on how much I liked it. Here goes:

Not included:

1928/1929 – “The Broadway Melody”

1932/1933 – “Cavalcade”

1948 – “Hamlet”

1980 – “Ordinary People”

 

 

Listed from least liked to most:

82 – 1963 – “Tom Jones”

81 – 1938 – “You Can’t Take It with You”

80 – 1998 – “Shakespeare in Love”

79 – 1996 – “The English Patient”

78 – 1930/1931 – “Cimarron”

77 – 1944 – “Going My Way”

76 – 1971 – “The French Connection”

75 – 1983 – “Terms of Endearment”

74 – 1969 – “Midnight Cowboy”

73 – 1929/1930 – “All Quiet on the Western Front”

72 – 1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer”

71 – 1999 – “American Beauty”

70 – 1977 – “Annie Hall”

69 – 1984 – “Amadeus”

68 – 1990 – “Dances With Wolves”

67 – 1936 – “The Great Ziegfeld”

66 – 1942 – “Mrs. Miniver”

65 – 1985 – “Out of Africa”

64 – 1958 – “Gigi”

63 – 1986 – “Platoon”

62 – 2009 – “The Hurt Locker”

61 – 1995 – “Braveheart”

60 – 1991 – “The Silence of the Lambs”

59 – 1951 – “An American in Paris”

58 – 2000 – “Gladiator”

57 – 1968 – “Oliver!”

56 – 2001 – “A Beautiful Mind”

55 – 1981 – “Chariots of Fire”

54 – 1952 – “The Greatest Show on Earth”

53 – 1961 – “West Side Story”

52 – 1978 – “The Deer Hunter”

51 – 1989 – “Driving Miss Daisy”

50 – 2005 – “Crash”

49 – 1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives”

48 – 1956 – “Around the World in 80 Days” 

47 – 1964 – “My Fair Lady”

46 – 1975 – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

45 – 1988 – “Rain Man”

44 – 1945 – “The Lost Weekend”

43 – 1960 – “The Apartment”

42 – 2007 – “No Country for Old Men”

41 – 2012 – “Argo” 

40 – 1935 – “Mutiny on the Bounty”

39 – 1970 – “Patton”

38 – 1950 – “All About Eve”

37 – 1967 – “In the Heat of the Night”

36 – 1966 – “A Man for All Seasons”

35 – 1973 – “The Sting”

34 – 2004 – “Million Dollar Baby”

33 – 1937 – “The Life of Emile Zola”

32 – 1941 – “How Green Was My Valley”

31 – 1949 – “All the Kings Men”

30 – 2006 – “The Departed”

29 – 1934 – “It Happened One Night”

28 – 1953 – “From Here to Eternity”

27 – 1940 – “Rebecca”

26 – 1947 – “Gentleman’s Agreement”

25 – 1931/1932 – “Grand Hotel”

24 – 2011 – 12 Years A Slave

23 – 1957 – “The Bridge on the River Kwai”

22 – 2010 – “The King’s Speech”

21 – 1987 – “The Last Emperor”

20 – 1954 – “On the Waterfront”

19 – 1955 – “Marty”

18 – 1962 – “Lawrence of Arabia”

17 – 1927/1928 – “Wings”

16 – 1993 – “Schindler’s List”

15 – 1959 – “Ben-Hur”

14 – 1992 – “Unforgiven”

13 – 2011 – “The Artist”

12 – 2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire”

11 – 1974 – “The Godfather Part II”

10 – 1994 – “Forrest Gump”

9 – 2002 – “Chicago”

8- 1965 – “The Sound of Music”

7 – 1976 – “Rocky”

6- 1943 – “Casablanca”

5 – 2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

4 – 1997 – “Titanic”

3 – 1939 – “Gone with the Wind”

2 – 1982 – “Gandhi”

1 – 1972 – “The Godfather”

Does Boyhood really deserve an Oscar?

With the Academy Awards airing this Sunday, there’s always one big question on everyone’s minds:

What will win Best Picture?

The last 40 years Oscar-winning Best Pictures.  But how many truly deserved to win?
The last 40 years of Oscar-winning Best Pictures (minus last year’s “12 Years as Slave” which had yet to win).  How many truly deserved to win?

This year there are two clear front-runners: Birdman – a tale of a washed-up star trying to make his way back into the limelight after his past fame portraying a superhero, and Boyhood – the story of a boy, his family and his adolescent life.

boyhood
“A moving 12 year epic” …that felt like it took 12 years to watch.

Both borrow from real life in a sense. Birdman stars Michael Keaton, who once played a superhero himself  – Batman.  Boyhood shows glimpses into the relatively normal life of a (fictional) boy over twelve years.

The story of a star making his way back up in the ranks is an obvious one that Hollywood would take to, but what makes Boyhood so special? Why has it been getting so much praise and so many accolades?

The reason is that director Richard Linklater actually shot the film over the course of twelve years.

Every year, for just over eleven years — from May 2002 to August 2013 — the cast – Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater and the leading “boy” of Boyhood, Ellar Coltrane, would get together for a few days, shoot some scenes and that is how this film was born.

It was a huge and interesting endeavor, but is that a good enough reason to give a film a Best Picture Oscar?

In my opinion, no.

Whether a film deserves an award depends on the film and the product that comes out of those eleven or twelve years of filming, not just the novel fact that it was filmed over that time-frame.

Personally, I found that Boyhood isn’t a sparkling piece of art, so much as just random moments and snapshots in a boy’s life.

We rarely ever get a true sense of how he really feels or what he wants out of his life. When there actually are traumatic events happening around him, we get no sense of how he is reacting inside to them because he very blandly just passes from one phase to the next.

To be honest, the film is called “Boyhood,” but could have just as easily been called “Family Life.”  There is little to make the title boy character, Mason Jr, stand out.  There is no real internal monologue for him, so we never really get a good sense of who he is inside and how the changes in his life are impacting him, anymore than we do his sister or mother.

If this was a movie made in one year with different actors for each stage of life, it likely would be getting less than half the attention that it is now.  The editing was choppy, the story was non-existent and the premise – if shot in a year – would just be silly and mocked for not actually having a purpose or premise.

The best way for me to put this is in the frame of my past as a History major: the movie lacked a thesis.

There was no real cohesive idea that we could hold to about where this was heading or why we were watching it. The random glimpses of Mason’s life, to me, were akin to piling a bunch of snippets of facts and quotes into a paper without actually telling us what you were hoping to prove with all of that.

Maybe Linklater and others would argue that that’s precisely the point of the film – to not have a neat and tidy “thesis” or “point” because life, itself, isn’t like that…

But, if you ask me, life may not be like that, but an interesting movie should be!

So, will Boyhood win on Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.

About a month ago, when the Golden Globes happened, everyone seemed quite enamored with it.  But, over the past few weeks that love seems to have cooled.  Many people are opening up more about the same types of criticisms I drew above, which means that the shiny novelty and excitement over a movie that was shot for more than a decade may have actually worn off.

I’ve only seen one of the other nominees at this point – The Grand Budapest Hotel so I can’t make a judgement on what I think deserves to win of the nominees. I can safely say, though, even having not seen the other six, that I’m sure at least one of them outdoes Boyhood in overall movie-making. (Even The Grand Budapest Hotel, with it’s sometimes convoluted and difficult-to-follow plot, was much more interesting, beautifully made and entertaining, to say the least).

I will agree, though, that Richard Linklater deserves the Oscar for Best Director for coming up with this ingenious and creative idea to film a movie with the same actors over twelve years.

[As an aside, I did wonder from the get-go if he got this idea from realizing we’d be watching the adolescent cast of the Harry Potter films grow up over the decade spanning 20012011, but have yet to find any proof of this fact. Linklater DID include Harry Potter a number of times in his film, which leads me to believe that maybe it WAS a bit of an inspiration…]

Even though I do not believe it necessarily deserves an Oscar, part of me hopes Boyhood will win because… well… now I’ve seen it and I’d like to add another movie to the list of Oscar-winning films I’ve seen!

-PJ