Film Review – STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013)

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013, USA, 132m, 12) ***½
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
dist. Paramount Pictures; pr co. Paramount Pictures / Skydance Productions / Bad Robot; d. J.J. Abrams; w. Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof (based on the television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry); pr. J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci; ph. Daniel Mindel (DeLuxe | 2.39:1); m. Michael Giacchino; ed. Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey; pd. Scott Chambliss, Amelia Brooke; ad. Ramsey Avery.
cast: Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Karl Urban (Bones), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), Bruce Greenwood (Pike), Peter Weller (Marcus), Alice Eve (Carol Marcus), Noel Clarke (Thomas Harewood), Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime), Nazneen Contractor (Rima Harewood), Amanda Foreman (Ensign Brackett), Jay Scully (Lieutenant Chapin), Jonathan Dixon (Ensign Froman), Aisha Hinds (Navigation Officer Darwin), Joseph Gatt (Science Officer 0718), Jeremy Raymond (Lead Nibiran).
Action-packed and effects-driven follow-up to 2009’s STAR TREK reboot coasts on the familiar character interaction of the lead cast to overcome its story shortcomings. This time the crew of the Starship Enterprise returns home after an act of terrorism within its own organization destroys most of Starfleet and what it represents, leaving Earth in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain James T. Kirk (Pine) leads his people crew on a mission to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction, thereby propelling all of them into an epic game of life and death. Rehashing elements of 1982’s STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, this film cannot recreate the tension generated in that earlier model. Abrams tends to go for broke on the visual effects and mass destruction, stifling the story and blunting the characters’ motivations. The cast gives game performances and the visuals are sensational, but the action is too often overblown and lacking in credibility – notably during the protracted climax. There is still much fun to be had though, and this largely comes via the familiar character interactions. Pine, Quinto and Urban have captured the camaraderie seen in the original series characters and their interpretations are spot on. Followed by STAR TREK BEYOND (2016).
AAN: Best Achievement in Visual Effects (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton).

Film Review – STAR TREK (2009)

STAR TREK (2009, USA, 127m, 12) ****
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
dist. Paramount Pictures; pr co. Paramount Pictures / Spyglass Entertainment / Bad Robot / Mavrocine ; d. J.J. Abrams; w. Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman; pr. J.J. Abrams, David Witz; ph. Daniel Mindel (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Michael Giacchino; ed. Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey; pd. Scott Chambliss; ad. Keith P. Cunningham.
cast: Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime), Eric Bana (Nero), Bruce Greenwood (Pike), Karl Urban (Bones), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), Ben Cross (Sarek), Winona Ryder (Amanda Grayson), Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk), Jennifer Morrison (Winona Kirk), Rachel Nichols (Gaila), Faran Tahir (Captain Robau), Clifton Collins Jr. (Ayel), Tony Elias (Officer Pitts), Sean Gerace (Tactical Officer), Randy Pausch (Kelvin Crew Member).
A hugely entertaining reworking of the classic 1960s TV series sees the crew of the Enterprise set on a new timeline. The brash and arrogant James T. Kirk is looking to live up to his father’s legacy with Quinto’s Mr Spock keeping him in check. All the favourite characters are back as the crew tackles a vengeful, time-travelling Romulan looking to create black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time. Whilst the plot may not stand up to scrutiny, the action set-pieces are thrillingly staged, and the visual effects work is first-class. Abrahams directs with gusto and a strong feel for the characters with the richly humorous interaction between the leads that made the TV series so popular evident again here and only occasionally feeling forced. Followed by STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013).
AA: Best Achievement in Makeup (Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, Joel Harlow)
AAN: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson, Peter J. Devlin); Best Achievement in Sound Editing (Mark P. Stoeckinger, Alan Rankin); Best Achievement in Visual Effects (Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh, Burt Dalton)

Film Review – INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers 1978INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (USA, 1978) ***½
      Distributor: United Artists; Production Company: Solofilm; Release Date: 22 December 1978 (USA); 22 March 1979 (UK); Filming Dates: 19 February 1978 – 29 April 1978; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Stereo (Dolby Stereo); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – contains one scene of strong gory violence and moderate horror.
      Director: Philip Kaufman; Writer: W.D. Richter (based on the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney); Producer: Robert H. Solo; Director of Photography: Michael Chapman; Music Composer: Denny Zeitlin; Film Editor: Douglas Stewart; Casting Director: Mary Goldberg; Production Designer: Charles Rosen; Set Decorator: Doug von Koss; Costumes: Aggie Guerard Rodgers; Make-up: Thomas R. Burman, Edouard F. Henriques, Bob Westmoreland; Sound: Ben Burtt, Bonnie Koehler, John Nutt, Steve Powell, Art Rochester; Special Effects: Russel Hessey, Dell Rheaume.
       Cast: Donald Sutherland (Matthew Bennell), Brooke Adams (Elizabeth Driscoll), Jeff Goldblum (Jack Bellicec), Veronica Cartwright (Nancy Bellicec), Leonard Nimoy (Dr. David Kibner), Art Hindle (Dr. Geoffrey Howell), Lelia Goldoni (Katherine Hendley), Kevin McCarthy (Running Man), Don Siegel (Taxi Driver), Tom Luddy (Ted Hendley), Stan Ritchie (Stan), David Fisher (Mr. Gianni), Tom Dahlgren (Detective), Garry Goodrow (Dr. Boccardo), Jerry Walter (Restaurant Owner), Maurice Argent (Chef), Sam Conti (Street Barker), Wood Moy (Mr. Tong), R. Wong (Mrs. Tong), Rose Kaufman (Outraged Woman), Joe Bellan (Harry), Sam Hiona (Policeman #1), Lee McVeigh (Policeman #2), Al Nalbandian (Rodent Man), Lee Mines (School Teacher). Uncredited: Michael Chapman (Health Dept. Floor Cleaner), Robert Duvall (Priest on Swing), Anthony Garibaldi (Student), Kevin Harris (Dr. of pods), Philip Kaufman (City Official on Phone (voice)), Misty (Harry’s Boxer Dog), Al Perez (PG&E Man), Jeff Scheftel (Pod Person at Party).
      Synopsis: In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion.
      Comment: Well-made remake of the 1956 Don Siegel classic. Sutherland is excellent as the public health inspector caught up in the paranoia. He is well supported by a strong cast, which includes a young Goldblum and pre-ALIEN Cartwright. Nimoy is also effective as a psychologist with an ego. Zeitlin provides an eerie electronic score, whilst Chapman’s largely night-time photography makes inventive use of the locations. Tension builds throughout and it is only in its final act that the production becomes more formulaic. There is, however,  a closing scene that is guaranteed to live long in the memory.
      Notes: Second adaptation of the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney. Previously filmed in 1956 and remade in 1993 as BODY SNATCHERS and 2007 as THE INVASION. Watch out for cameos by the original film star and director Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel as well as Robert Duvall and director Philip Kaufman.