Star Trek Beyond


Viewed – 13 December 2016  Blu-ray

During an on-going expedition into deep space, the crew of the Starship Enterprise arrive on a colonized ‘city planet’ where they stumble upon the plight of a female alien who requests help to journey to an uncharted planet to rescue her stranded crew mates.  However once there Captain James T Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew discover a powerful enemy.

STAR TREK BEYOND

The creators of this newly rebooted franchise in the Star Trek universe have indeed done a great deal right … the casting alone is excellent with actors not only doing fine impressions of the earlier incarnations, but also bringing their own personality to the characters.  I got a serious kick out of the last two movies, so it’s with a (slight) heavy heart that I found this one left me wanting.  That’s not to say it isn’t good – at times very good, with some spectacular action and again great chemistry between the main actors, something that made those old movies so watchable in the first place.  However three movies into this new era, we find the writing getting a little lazy with a generic villain once again going all megalomaniac after being wronged by the federation (er…we get it, the federation are assholes).  All that stuff with the artefact got a tad confusing at times also.  Heavily advertised bad-ass female warrior ‘Jaylah‘ who despite looking cool, also has very little depth and really, pluck her out of the movie, would the experience be any worse off?  Someone like that should have been pivotal, not disposable to the plot.

Yet what remains is a couple of hours of fast-paced, action packed, fun entertainment.  Justin Lin’s direction perhaps lacks the ‘class’ of J J Abrams … but doesn’t detract from great casting and some fun nods to yesteryear and nice in-jokes.  Chris Pine is the perfect new Kirk and suitably supported by Zackary Quinto’s Spock and Simon Pegg’s Scotty is also excellent, not that there’s a bum note amongst the ‘crew’.  However Idris Elba’s bitter ‘Krall’ is one-note and doesn’t get all that interesting until the end and even then its a bit deja-vu.  With that said, as a Trek fan I still enjoyed this, but it’s clear to me the franchise should be taking a few risks by now, especially if it wants that ‘Beyond’ in the title to be anything more that a good name for a sequel.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Dredd


Viewed – 06 May 2013  Blu-ray

I recall enjoying the British science fiction comics 2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd Magazine throughout my childhood and often wondered what a movie adaptation would be like.  Over the years since I discovered that perhaps this rich universe wasn’t quite so easy to adapt after witnessing the fun but disappointing Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone, who seemed miss-cast in such an iconic role.  However now we come to the second attempt to bring this character to the big screen, and rest assured, they seem to have got it (mostly) right this time.

Dredd 2

Karl Urban stars as Dredd, one of several future cops who are basically judge, jury and executioner on the mean streets of Mega City One, America’s last surviving city in the middle of a wasteland.  Teaming up with psychic rookie ‘Anderson’ (a complex Olivia Thurlby) and called out to a routine triple homicide at a large apartment complex, these two mismatched law enforcers soon find themselves trapped in the building after the mobster ruling over it, Ma-Ma (a wonderfully evil Lena Headey) locks it down.  Echoes of Korean martial arts actioner The Raid immediately entered my mind along with thoughts of the first Die Hard movie, and to be honest I was shocked.  The Judge Dredd comics had a huge world to pick from with many characters and locations … and the movie chooses to stick to this one, claustrophobic setting?  Okay … well let me just say, it works a treat delivering a violent and intense experience that not only perfectly captures the character of Dredd (and fans rejoice – Karl Urban never removes his helmet) but also delivers a full on action-fest.

Director Pete Travis has made a very stylish and enjoyably gory movie that hits hard.  Africa’s Cape Town standing in for Mega City One is stunning in it’s architecture and the subtle use of CGI helped create a believable futuristic world without overwhelming.  Slow motion effects showing the use of a black market drug are also impressive, and overall I had a great time.  Yes for such an iconic character and universe – there is so much more that could have been done here, but perhaps playing to it’s strengths rather than blowing the budget was the right choice.

Highly recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5