Movie Thoughts: Star Trek Beyond & Jason Bourne

Hey, everyone! I’m not dead and I promised Charlene I would try to get around to reviewing Star Trek Beyond, so here I am coming back from my unintentional absence to talk about two summer flicks.

I went into these two different movies with different expectations, and they may surprise you. Despite my love for Star Trek, my enthusiasm for Star Trek Beyond waned before I saw the movie because, of all things, my rewatch of the two previous reboot films. I really enjoyed Star Trek 2009 and Into Darkness the first few times, but the more I watch the show and the more I watch these movies the less I care for the latter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them enough to rewatch them, but I definitely have problems with their respective stories.

On the other hand, I was really excited about Jason Bourne. It just looked spot-on and I could not wait.

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Ultimately, when I went into Star Trek Beyond, I went in a little warily but also hopeful that I could enjoy it based on everyone else’s reviews that it was fun. And fun is a very good word to describe it. Not that there aren’t any serious moments or stakes, but it felt like TOS to me, in the best way. (Well, not the literal best, like The Trouble With Tribbles, but another solid and fun episode like A Piece of the Action or something.) Chris Pine actually for real felt like Kirk to me, but not in some rip-off-of-Shatner way at all. I believed that this alternate Kirk was actually a viable Kirk. Really, the entire cast of the Enterprise crew were great, and I loved how they spent part of the movie separated but paired off, giving us a taste of some different interactions we don’t normally get.

Jaylah was a great new character too, though I’m still annoyed that there are like zero aliens from the prime Star Trek universe other than Vulcans and a couple others, and that almost every alien is something brand new. I appreciate the creativity of it, but it just feels disproportionate. And I feel that leads me to my main quibble with this movie, the villain.

Before we see Krall or even know he’s the big bad, he seems pretty vicious the way he attacks the Enterprise. When we actually meet him and see him on the planet he doesn’t seem quite as bad until we see how he attacks one of the crew members. Then we get a big reveal about him (that I guessed beforehand) that is pretty significant but we get so little development that it ultimately falls flat, and we end up with someone who was just a hair better than Nero in 2009.

Overall, I enjoyed all the great character interactions that felt so genuine, the fun lines, and I really appreciated the tribute to Leonard Nimoy (and there’s just a tiny bit there for Anton as well). I was absolutely against more of the reboot films before seeing this film, but now I’m more open to it if they stay more true to the feel of this film.

Left to right: Simon Pegg plays Scotty, Sofia Boutella plays Jaylah and Chris Pine plays Kirk in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm Entertainment

The new Jason Bourne feels pretty much just like the first three Bourne films, just more modern. If you enjoyed those, you’re probably going to enjoy this one as well. I had some problems with it… mass amounts of unnecessary destruction, the death of a certain character that felt meaningless, and perhaps a slightly shallow/flimsy storyline… but overall I was entertained. I think my favorite part of the movie was Alicia Vikander’s character, Heather Lee. I love how there was more to her than met the eye, and if the story continues, I definitely want more of her. There was also a little bit of a subplot that I felt was sadly too underdeveloped that I want more of, involving a social media company called Deep Dream and its mogul.

And since I’m like the only person who prefers the Aaron Cross/Jeremy Renner movie to the Matt Damon ones, I would be super intrigued if we could see these two intersect in the future as well. But please don’t fridge Rachel Weiss.

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Have you seen either of these? What are your thoughts?

One Paragraph Reviews: The Books & Movies Edition

The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine

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While I saw there were mixed reviews of The Shadow Queen, I really wanted to check it out, and was thankfully able to do so through my library rather than having to commit to buying it. Now that I’ve read it I am left to wonder why any YA fantasy fan wouldn’t enjoy it! I really enjoyed the characters, the pacing was mostly good, and while it was a retelling there were some pretty interesting and unique concepts. It’s not my new favorite ever, but I did really like it and look forward to the next book in this series!

The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Oh Jennifer Lynn Barnes, why do you torture me so?! So I loved this book just as much as its predecessor The Long Game, and it was filled with just as many twists and turns that really floored me. And though I did like Tess, Asher, and Henry in the first book, I grew even more fond of them in this book. And then… ugh, I won’t go there! Major spoiler! Let’s just say I simply need another book for more resolution, yet I don’t see one listed on Goodreads?! I NEED MORE.

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Finding Dory

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I love the way Honest Trailers said it best when referring to this movie: the sequel you hope will be more like Toy Story 3 and less like Cars 2. Finding Dory was cute, fun, and yes, emotional. It didn’t have the same magic for me as Finding Nemo, but it was still a good, solid story about Dory where we learn a lot about her and meet a few more fun characters. I will say that there were moments of this movie that felt a little outrageous for Pixar fare and almost more in Dreamworks’ territory (which is not a dis on Dreamworks, they just have a different philosophy for their animated movies), but again, these were minor quibbles I can forgive for the overall enjoyment of the movie.

Independence Day: Resurgence

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I didn’t watch Independence Day in 1996, but at the point where enough years had passed where it seemed more cheesy in our modern age of movies. I have seen it again a few more times since then, and in that time, and especially in this last time I saw it in preparation for the sequel, I have grown fonder of it. In Resurgence, we see Earth has progressed in the 20 years since the aliens attacked, and we get to see many of the same characters and/or their children. There were a few different storylines that were eventually intertwined, much like its predecessor, and several new characters introduced, but I feel this was all well-developed. I especially enjoyed the President’s daughter and her fiance’s good friend Charlie (her fiance was Liam Hemsworth so he was… OK, actually, considering my natural prejudice towards Liam), and the other young, new characters. Overall, it’s not going to win Oscars and I did have a few issues with it, but it was a fun summer flick, and ultimately that was all I wanted from it.

If you’ve read either of these books or seen either of these movies, let me know what you thought of them! What’s been your favorite summer movie so far?

Movie Reviews: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies & Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

hobbit_the_battle_of_the_five_armiesposterThe Hobbit simply should not have been made into three movies. One would have sufficed, two at most. Three was just ridiculous.

I had some big problems with the second movie, mainly the overly-dramatic and poorly produced barrel escape scene and the ridiculous “cliffhanger” ending that cut the movie off before a climax even hit. The third movie is just a continuation of the overblown nature of the trilogy, but at least it does not have as many frustrating moments.

The movie begins with what easily could have been and should have been the ending of the second movie. Within 10 to 15 minutes, we finally see Smaug meet his demise. And then the rest of the movie carries on with a completely different tone. Dear Editor of The Hobbit Trilogy, why in the heck couldn’t you have cut a few minutes from movie 2 and included the first 10 minutes of this movie at the end of the last movie? Signed, Everyone. It makes no sense.

I feel at least an hour and a half (but possibly more) of this 144 minute long movie was battle sequences. I usually get bored with non-stop action/fighting sequences within 20 minutes, so kudos to Peter Jackson for actually keeping me engaged in these fighting sequences, but I have to say I would be surprised if I will retain such interest upon a rewatch of the film.

And then there’e that dang love triangle again that is crazy ridiculous…

And in the end, this movie did not leave me with the same satisfaction as The Return of the King. It was just a showy display of CGI (it’s not as bad in this movie as it was in the second, but the LOTR movies seriously look better than The Hobbit movies do) and drawn-out storytelling. It has its good moments, but for the love of New Zealand and second breakfast, don’t do this to us again, Peter Jackson.

Rating: I gave this one 3.5 stars on Letterboxd, but I think I felt obligated to do so because that’s what I rated the second one and this one made me less upset. I’ll have to rewatch both before I can determine if both ratings hold up.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry-Potter-and-the-Prisoner-of-Azkaban-movie-posterThough at first I thought this book felt too much like the first two (especially considering everyone said this was the book where the series got better), the ending certainly set-up for something more promising. I was less than impressed with the way the first two movies adapted the book, and was hoping with the change in direction would come a better adaptation. Um, not so much. If anything, the direction was MORE awkward.

It’s like Alfonso Cuarón knows nothing about how to stage a scene. (But a look at his IMDB credits shows he directed well-regarded films such as Children of Men and Gravity, though I haven’t seen either of these so I can’t attest to them.) Maybe they just gave him super crappy sets to work with? (All the sets before Hogwarts did look super crappy. The Dursley’s house did not even look like the same place to me.) And the screenplay was again very awkward in which parts were omitted from the film (like there is no zero explanation about Buckbeak’s trial, Hagrid just suddenly talks about it). Unfortunately, it looks like Steve Kloves writes the screenplays for all the movies.

And while I think Gary Oldman is a great actor, his portrayal of Sirius Black felt way off base. I was very unhappy with the way he came off, and the epic stand-off in the book fell so flat in the movie. Then there was the movie ending on a ridiculous freeze frame of Harry… that alone deserves at least half a star knocked off the rating.

And what was up with The Knight Bus sequence? It felt totally bizarre and nothing like the book. And all those shrunken heads? Where the heck did that come from?!

I don’t hate everything about this movie… I still like our main three characters in the movie, particularly Hermione. I just really hope with the next movie and another change in director, maybe Goblet of Fire will launch a better era in Harry Potter adaptations? (Just looked at the next director’s resume… hmmm… not sure about that either…)

Rating: 3 stars

What are your thoughts on the ending of The Hobbit Trilogy? How do you feel about how The Prisoner of Azkaban was adapted? 

Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Note: This movie seems to suffering from a title identity crisis, because in some places I’ve seen it’s called Live. Die. Repeat., which to my knowledge, is/was the tagline. I like the name Edge of Tomorrow better, and that’s the title the movie was originally presented to me as, and what it was titled as in the credits, so that is what I am calling it. 

sfm_banner_02b (1)Between my disappoint with Tom Cruise’s sci-fi flick Oblivion and not hearing too much (positive or negative) about this movie, I went in with somewhat low expectations, but hoping I would enjoy it. Thankfully, Edge of Tomorrow proved to be a well-told (not tiring) loop story with fascinating science fiction elements, featured in a world I wanted to learn more about, and with two protagonists I cared about.

edge_of_tomorrowAt the opening we see that the world is at war with aliens who have come here and invaded us. The focus isn’t on the aliens, though they are the reason the loop occurs. I won’t give away all the details with that plot element, but Rita acquired the ability to loop from a previous battle with the aliens, and then Cage acquires it this time around. And with this looping comes the objective to completely dismantle the aliens to where they lose the war and, hopefully, Cage nor anyone else will have to relive the bloody slaughtering over and over again.

Cage is not the most sympathetic character at first, which is intentional, but he certainly becomes one as he is forced to relive this battle over and over again, and then is finally able to train with and talk to Rita and they get further into their mission. Of course everything we see is abbreviated, but based on what we hear, I think it’s safe to say that Cage has to go through these couple of days for at least a year’s worth of time. Can you imagine how tiring that would be? Thankfully, they portrayed that as well. Cage is not a born hero. Rita isn’t either. They have been put in circumstances in which they are forced to survive and hopefully save the world.

I appreciated that the repeated content never grew stale, but Catge’s different choices and reactions helped make it always feel new. This can definitely be a problem with loop stories, and luckily this one was well-handled.

I don’t have any real complaints,  though my initial reaction to the ending made me go, “What?! That’s it?!” because it was quite abrupt. But really, what would have been the point of dragging it out at that point? Did I want this movie to turn into The Return of the King or something? Overall, the movie was definitely worth a watch, and I found it enjoyable and thought-provoking.

4stars2Have you seen Edge of Tomorrow? What are your thoughts?