REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness

star trek into darkness 650 paramount

Star Trek Into Darkness
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof (screenplay), Gene Roddenberry (TV series)
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Benedict Cumberbatch

The second installment of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot checks all the necessary boxes to make it an effective summer blockbuster, which is its biggest problem.  It feels like a laundry list of co-mingling plot points and action set pieces, more calculated business venture than artistic Enterprise.  Abrams is a good enough ringleader that all the pieces fall together nicely and the high tech toys he gets to play with are a good action showcase, but the movie will fizzle away when a new good enough sci-fi blockbuster opens in a couple weeks to take its place.

Into Darkness, despite its heftier title, is not a plunge into darker territory, as second franchise installments often are.  Sure, one of the series’ most famous villains, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), surfaces, but it feels just as light on its feet as Abrams’ 2009 reboot.  The best thing about it is still the chemistry between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto), whose humorous ideological clashes provide the movie with much of that lightness.  There are exceptional action sequences, including an astonishing sequence of space diving to an enemy ship, but they aren’t nearly as entertaining as watching Spock attempt a romantic relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana).

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REVIEW: Super 8

Super 8
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler and Riley Griffiths

Science fiction might be a genre that appears to always be looking ahead, embracing the latest 3D technology, CGI backgrounds or scientific discoveries; but at its core it has always looked at its influences and initial pioneers to give direction to stories that span light years, universes or complex human-political analogies away.

With the names J.J. Abrams and Steven Steven Spielberg attached to a summer monster movie, it appeared we’d be expecting the same expectations-breaking story: big blockbuster, big effects, big noises and big disappointment. Collaborations like Spielberg and Bay’s Transformers series didn’t give us much hope, but Abram’s recent works like Star Trek certainly did. A young gun with a visual track record and a producer with the know-how is a great comparison to Peter Jackson apprenticing Neil Bloomkamp with his District 9, which isn’t the only comparison Super 8 draws with the movie.

To put it briefly: instead of attempting to rewrite the genre as Abrams has done with TV, they flip the pages back, finding the core and simplicity in great story telling with a soft $50 million budget. Continue reading

If they were in television… JJ Abrams

Notable films: Mission Impossible III and Star Trek.

Famous for: Breathing new life in old franchises, science fiction, character focused drama in big-budget actions, well-orchestrated visuals, brightly-lit sets even for dark materials, the hit TV show Lost and other serialized television work.

Hypothetical title: Aftermath Continue reading