This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action. Fast & Furious director Justin Lin brings a kinetic energy to this third chapter in the rebooted space saga, leaping between chases and battles to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Combined with constant witty interaction, the film is massively entertaining, even if the plot ultimately feels a bit thin.
It's been three years since the crew of the Enterprise started their five-year mission, and they're in need of a break. So they head to the nearest spaceport for some down-time, which is soon interrupted when Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his team (Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin) are called to travel through a dangerous nebula to rescue a kidnapped crew from a villainous thug called Krall (Idris Elba). On arrival, the Enterprise is overwhelmed by Krall's bee-like military swarm. Stranded on a strange planet, the crew teams up with Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a feisty survivor of one of Krall's earlier attacks. And as they realise the extent of Krall's evil plan, they're not sure that they can stop him.
Continue reading: Star Trek Beyond Review
While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly scream out for a follow-up. But here we are, with go-to sequel man Jon M. Chu at the helm (he also directed the second Step Up and G.I. Joe movies). Most of the high-octane cast is back for more trickery, but the plot is even murkier this time.
Since their last whiz-bang stunt, the Four Horsemen have been laying low. Their leader Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) continues to work in the FBI, helping Daniel, Merrit and Jack (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco) plot their next caper, now joined by quirky illusionist Lula (Lizzy Caplan). Their latest project is to expose corruption at a New York conglomerate, but the stunt is ambushed, and the quartet mysteriously finds themselves in Macau, coerced by a tech genius (Daniel Radcliffe) into staging an elaborate heist. Meanwhile, Dylan's cover is blown, so he teams up with veteran Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman) and heads to Macau himself, chased by his FBI boss (Sanaa Latham). And it all goes down in London.
The round-the-world plot gives the movie some very cool locations, and the plot races so quickly that most audiences won't notice that it makes virtually no logical sense at all. There are flashy distractions at every turn, from sleight of hand to vanishing acts to gross-out gags to enormous double-bluffs, and all of this is thoroughly entertaining even if the script itself feels strangely incomplete. Most sequences tend to end before they get to the point, while action scenes are choppy and incoherent. The only set-piece that works is the kinetic central heist, which hinges on a rapidly flung playing card. But even though it's uneven and clunky, the film remains entertaining simply because of the magical shenanigans and snarky dialogue.
Continue reading: Now You See Me 2 Review
Roberto Orci has allegedly been in discussions to take over directing 'Star Trek 3' since the departure of J.J. Abrams. But who is he and does he have what it takes?
Roberto Orci is allegedly in discussions to direct ‘Star Trek 3.’ The job had originally been pegged to go to J.J. Abrams, although (unless you noticed) Abrams has got his hands full directing the upcoming ‘Star Wars Episode VII.’ Abrams had directed the first two 'Star Trek' movies from the rebooted franchise, 2009’s ‘Star Trek’ and 2013’s ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’ but the lure of ‘Star Wars’ was apparently too much for him to stick around to direct a third movie.
Roberto Orci is in discussions to direct 'Star Trek 3' since J.J. Abrams departure from the project
So, who is Roberto Orci? Does he have what it takes to take over from J.J. Abrams, and does he have the CV to back it up? The answer’s pretty much a straightforward ‘yes.’ Orci has also been involved with the previous two 'Star Trek' movies, working on both as an executive producer. So, it’s safe to say that he knows the project pretty well. It sounds like they’ve essentially chosen Abram’s right hand man to take his place.
Continue reading: Is Roberto Orci The Right Choice To Direct 'Star Trek 3'?
As with the too-early franchise reboot in 2012, this sequel struggles to balance the demands of a teen romance with a superhero blockbuster. The interpersonal storylines are sharply written and skilfully played by the gifted cast, but the eye-catching effects sequences feel like little more than a shiny distraction. Action fans will love the way digitally animated Spidey swings more realistically than ever down the streets of New York, but the fact remains that these scenes are cartoons. And a new template is badly needed for this genre.
It kicks off as Peter (Andrew Garfield) nearly misses his high school graduation to save the city from another crazed nutcase. His girlfriend Gwen (Emma Stone) is fed up, and then crushed when Peter breaks up with her because he's worried about her safety. So she considers taking a place at Oxford University to get away. Meanwhile, Peter is also trying to understand the truth about why his parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) left him to be raised by his Aunt May (Sally Field). But he's interrupted from all of this by the arrival of old pal Harry (Dane DeHaan), back in town to inherit the family business from his dying dad (Chris Cooper) and in need of moral support from Peter.
In each of these three plot strands, Peter faces a significant dilemma that's beautifully played by Garfield as a cheeky, good guy who worries about the darkness all around him. And there's also a nefarious side-plot trying to take over the movie, as nerdy technician Max (Jamie Foxx) is transformed by an electric shock from Spider-man's biggest fan to a spark-emitting villain called Electro. This shift doesn't make sense on any level, and Harry also has a sudden personality change that's badly under-explained, forcing the film into a series of huge action showdowns along with a completely irrelevant aside about two colliding airplanes that feels tacked on to up the human stakes.
Continue reading: The Amazing Spider-man 2 Review
Since this entire story centres on virtual-reality gaming, it's tricky to feel any sense of what's at stake here. But a strong cast and above-average effects work help hold our interest until the requisite dramatic shift takes hold. Along the way, the movie explores some punchy issues such as the nature of true leadership and the morality of war.
It's set in a distant future: Earth has regrouped after an alien invasion, turning to children to harness their quick gaming reflexes and inner fearlessness. Ender (Butterfield) is a 12-year-old who's sure he'll crash out of training like his older sister Valentine (Breslin). But Colonel Graff (Ford) and Major Anderson (Davis) see something in him and send him on to battle school in an orbiting space station. As he shows true leadership potential and a sharp mind for warfare, he's promoted even further, training with iconic hero Rackham (Kingsley) on one of the aliens' former planets. And as he approaches his final exam, there's the sense that the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.
Yes, everything Ender does throughout his training is game related, either with digitally created environments or in a weightless battle globe with other cadets. This adds huge possibilities for the script to grapple with moral issues as Ender faces some staggering decisions. But since it's just a simulation, does it really mean anything? Thankfully, Butterfield is a terrific actor who lends the character a steely interior life that catches our interest. And being surrounded by the terrific Ford, Kingsley and Davis helps. As do some intriguing fellow recruits played by Steinfeld, Arias and others.
Continue reading: Ender's Game Review
Director Gavin Hood, producer Roberto Orci and stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford and Hailee Steinfeld arrive at a Comic-Con press conference for their new science-fiction movie 'Ender's Game' which is based on the novel by Orson Scott Card. Harrison, Asa and Hailee talk about their characters.
The idea of magicians conducting a series of heists is a great one, but this under-developed film never quite seizes the opportunity. Even its terrific A-list cast can't make much of the lame plot. And director Leterrier is so enamoured with magic that he packs the film with whizzy digital trickery. Which completely misses the point.
At the centre are four illusionists: card trickster Daniel (Eisenberg), hypnotist Merrit (Harrelson), escapologist Henley (Fisher) and street magician Jack (Franco). They're summoned by a mysterious figure to team up for a series of elaborate performances funded by a wealthy benefactor (Caine). First up is a Las Vegas show that involves stealing millions of euros from a Paris bank and raining them down on the audience. This attracts the attention of FBI Agent Rhodes (Ruffalo) and Interpol's Dray (Laurent), who follow them to their next shows in New Orleans and New York. As does a notorious debunker (Freeman) determined to expose their secrets.
The film never quite gets the balance right, as we're not sure if we should root for these flashy young magicians or the people they're leading on a wild goose chase. But there's plenty of eye candy to keep us happy, as each whizzy stunt goes over-the-top to make us wonder what's really happening here. Everything this quartet does has an anarchist slant, stealing from the wealthy to help the needy, which adds a tinge of topicality. Although the gratuitous action scenes and ludicrous effects leave the film about as realistic as a Road Runner cartoon.
Continue reading: Now You See Me Review
After his successful re-imagining of the Star Trek universe four years ago, Abrams dives even deeper into the mythology, which is thrilling for fans but might leave newcomers feeling a bit lost. This sequel surges forward with action, drama, romance and a lot of comedy while constantly nodding back to the earlier TV series and films. And the smart screenplay finds ways to deepen all of the characters along the way, as well as offering an unusually complex villain.
The action picks up soon after the first film ends, as Kirk (Pine) is once again in trouble for disobeying the Prime Directive not to interfere with a planet's culture. But his punishment is short-lived, as Starfleet becomes the victim of brutal attacks in London and San Francisco, sending Kirk, his first officer Spock (Quinto) and the gang (Saldana, Urban, Yelchin and Cho, with Pegg following later) into enemy space to chase the villainous John Harrison (Cumberbatch). But of course, there's a much bigger story going on, and Harrison has a reason for his violent behaviour, leading to a series of terrifying showdowns as they all return to earth.
While the script is packed with shadowy characters, there's not much actual "darkness" in this movie. It's a pretty bouncy, energetic ride, continually making us laugh at tetchy interaction and throwaway one-liners, all of which are cleverly character-based rather than merely silly gags. This gives each actor a chance to shine, with Pegg and Urban offering much of the humour with their amusing crankiness, while Saldana provides the stereotypical female emotional beats. As usual, the strongest scenes are between Kirk and Spock, and their shifting bromance is well-played by Pine and especially Quinto. But dominating the whole film is a meaty turn from Cumberbatch as a particularly fearsome nemesis who also happens to be both brainy and openly emotive.
Continue reading: Star Trek Into Darkness Review
The cast and crew of 'Star Trek Into Darkness' discuss their biggest challenges on the movie, their successful auditions and working with each other at the official UK press conference for the movie. Among them are producer Bryan Burk, writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof, director Jj Abrams and actors Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Alice Eve, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris Pine.
There's an intriguing true story buried inside this overly structured drama, and by playing by simplistic screenwriting rules the filmmakers make everything trite and predictable. Fortunately, the cast is much better than the material, and they bring their characters to life with jaggedly engaging interaction and some resonant emotion.
The story centres on Sam (Pine), a fast-talking New York salesman who is in big trouble professionally. So when his estranged father dies in Los Angeles, it gives him a chance to escape. He heads off to see his mother (Pfeiffer) and find out what he has inherited. But the lawyers hand him a bag of cash that he has to give to smart 11-year-old Josh (D'Addario), whose barmaid mother Frankie (Banks) is the half-sister Sam never knew he had. Without revealing his identity, he worms his way into Frankie and Josh's life. But the Feds are catching up with him, and Frankie is about to learn who he really is.
This is one of those films that hinges completely on the characters' inability to talk to each other. So one honest conversation at the beginning would make this a very short movie! But no, the screenwriters force everything into an unnatural formula that completely undermines the genuinely interesting things going on. Even so, the actors manage to hold our interest, mainly due to some terrific chemistry. At the centre, Pine nicely holds his own in scenes with the wonderful Pfeiffer and Banks, while D'Addario proves to be a young actor to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, side characters add texture, most notably Duplass as a neighbour with the hots for Frankie, and Wilde as Sam's frazzled girlfriend.
Continue reading: People Like Us Review
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