Film Review: Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond

The third instalment of the franchise reboot, Star Trek Beyond continues in the same vein as its predecessors. The film is a lot of fun, although not as striking as the first two films.

Two years into their five-year mission, the crew of the USS Enterprise latest mission takes them into unchartered territory. Captain James T. Kirk and his crew are stranded on a remote planet with no means of communication…

Justin Lin takes over the directing reigns from producer J.J. Abrams for Star Trek Beyond. The third instalment of the franchise has a more episodic feel than the first two. If its predecessors were setting up the world and the characters, Star Trek Beyond then runs with this. The film is an adventure, putting established characters in a dangerous and exciting situation.

Writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung create something akin to a vast and well-executed episode of the television series. The threat is felt fairly early on, with the main characters isolated in an unknown world. The force which pushes the crew forward in Krall, an antagonist with mysterious origins. However this set up works as a vehicle to explore and further the relationships within the crew.

Star Trek Beyond throws together different members of the crew, offering further depth to their characters as they face a powerful challenge. Karl Urban’s Bones is the character that benefits most from this; the character is given more colour than in the previous instalments. Scotty’s dialogue becomes inexplicably pastiche at times, whilst Kirk and Spock further their ties. Jayla (Sofia Boutella) is a good addition to the film, whilst Idris Elba delivers a suitably wearied performance. The film works best when it is concentrating on the action. These sequences are finely executed by director Justin Lin.

Lin is kinetic with his camera movement, entering scenes at any and all angles. This will work well in 3D, although 2D also feels the benefit. Action sequences generate excitement and will satisfy those yearning for blockbuster spectacle. Michael Giacchino’s score is as fitting as ever.

Star Trek Beyond does a good job of furthering crew dynamics whilst entertaining throughout. A focus on the science fiction aspects of the franchise would probably be welcome in the next edition. Nevertheless, the action, comedy, adventure and fitting tributes work very well in this film.

Previews: Star Trek Beyond Featurette, Cafe Society and More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions includes a new Star Trek Beyond featurette, Cafe SocietyLa La Land and more…

Star Trek Beyond Featurette

This new Star Trek Beyond featurette introduces a new character to the franchise, Jaylah. Played by Sofia Boutella, Jaylah is introduced as an ally of Scotty, played by the film’s co-writer Simon Pegg. Justin Lin directs the latest instalment of the series, with J.J. Abrams on board as a producer. Star Trek Beyond hits UK screens on 22nd July 2016.

Cafe Society Trailer

After its debut at Cannes, Woody Allen’s latest feature Cafe Society gets a UK release date. The film is set New York and Hollywood in the 1930s; a perfect backdrop for star Blake Lively’s classic Hollywood glamour. Also starring Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carrell and Kristen Stewart, Cafe Society arrives in UK cinemas on 2nd September 2016.

La La Land Trailer

Here is the first trailer for La La Land. The film has a lot going for it; it is the follow-up from director Damien Chazelle after his brilliant Whiplash. It also reunites Ryan Gosling with Emma Stone after Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad. The pair star as a musician and an aspiring actress who fall in love in Los Angeles. La La Land will be released in early 2017.

Finding Dory Featurette

This featurette for the upcoming Finding Dory reveals the background to the sequel. A follow-up to Finding Nemo, Finding Dory concentrates on Marlin’s sidekick, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. The film hits UK screens on 29th July 2016.

The Shallows Featurette

Will this be as tense as Jaws? There certainly have been some memorable shark films, so it will be interesting to see how The Shallows measures up. Blake Lively discusses her character in this featurette, which includes footage from the film. The Shallows slinks into UK cinemas on 12th August 2016.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Clip

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a comedy featuring Zac Efron and Adam Devine. After putting an online ad for dates to their sister’s wedding, the brothers get more than they bargained for with Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is out in cinemas on 10th August 2016.

Power Rangers Poster

Power Rangers poster

Here is one of the latest posters for upcoming film Power Rangers. I never watched the show, so I don’t have the “stop remaking everything” attitude to this. The film’s cast includes Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, and Naomi Scott (pictured above). Power Rangers is scheduled for release next year.

Previews: War Dogs Trailer, Finding Dory and more!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the War Dogs trailer, Star Trek Beyond, Finding Dory and more…

War Dogs Trailer

Here is the War Dogs trailer. The Hangover director Todd Phillips helms this action comedy. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star as two unlikely arms traders who travel to Afghanistan. Based on a true story, the film also stars Bradley Cooper. War Dogs reaches UK screens on 26th August 2016.

Star Trek Beyond Featurette

Rihanna talks about her love for Star Trek and her new song for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. Justin Lin takes over directing duty from J.J. Abrams for this latest instalment of the franchise, which sees the crew of the USS Enterprise encountering a new threat. Star Trek Beyond will hit UK screens on 22nd July 2016.

Sully: Miracle on the Hudson Trailer

It is a bit strange to see the movie version of an event that many will remember took place less than a decade ago. Tom Hanks stars as the pilot who saved his passengers by landing the plane on the Hudson River. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film also stars Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart. Sully: Miracle on the Hudson is released in cinemas on 2nd December 2016.

Finding Dory Clip

Baby Dory is just adorable. Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory shifts the attention to Marlin’s friend Dory. Along with her friends, Dory searches for answers about her past in this latest film. Finding Dory will hit UK screens on 29th July 2016.

Nerve TV Spot

From the directors of Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3, comes Nerve. Starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, the film is about a high school student who joins a popular online game. Nerve will be released in UK cinemas on 11th August 2016.

Morgan Trailer

Morgan is a science-fiction thriller produced by Ridley Scott. The film stars Kate Mara as a corporate troubleshooter is set to a remote environment to investigate an accident. Also starring Toby Jones and Paul Giamatti, Morgan is set for release in September 2016.

Previews: 10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer, Sing Street and more!

Plenty of film previews this week, including the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer, Sing Street, The Secret Life of Pets and more…

10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer

This is a bit of a surprise. From the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer, it is unclear whether the film is a sequel, prequel or sidequel to Cloverfield. Produced by J.J. Abrams, the film features Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman seemingly as survivalists living in a basement. I’m sure more will be revealed soon. 10 Cloverfield Lane hits UK screens on 8th April 2016.

Sing Street Trailer

Set in 1980s Dublin, Sing Street is about a boy who is forced to transfer from a private school to a inner-city state school. Starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Aiden Gillen, the film is set to have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Sing Street will be released in UK cinemas on 22nd April 2016.

The Secret Life of Pets Trailer

This trailer exhibits why no one should ever have a pet snake. The Secret Life of Pets is about what domesticated animals get up to whilst their humans are at work. The film features the voices of Kevin Hart, Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet. I think it will be one of my favourite animated films of the year, if filmmakers get things right. The Secret Life of Pets is out on 24th June 2016 in the UK.

Money Monster Trailer

Julia Roberts and George Clooney team up again for real-time thriller Money Monster. Julia Roberts is the producer of host George Clooney’s financial show when they are taken hostage live on air. Directed by Jodie Foster, Monster Money is set for release in May 2016.

Hail, Cesar! Trailer

The more I see of the Coen brothers’ new comedy Hail, Cesar!, the more I am looking forward to it. The film stellar cast is enough of a draw, yet the film also looks as if it will be hilarious. Moreover, I have just noticed that Dolph Lundgren stars in this. Give the film all the Oscars next year! Hail, Cesar! sweeps onto UK screens on 4th March 2016.

Film Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a throughly entertaining instalment in the franchise, which lovingly pays homage to Star Wars: A New Hope.

Many years after the defeat of the Empire, a new threat is rising. The First Order wishes to rule the galaxy. It is down to an unlikely group of individuals to stop them, along with help of the Resistance…

The long-awaited sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy lives up to expectations in terms of entertainment and nostalgia. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an enjoyable blockbuster that should satisfying fans and new viewers alike. The film reminds the audience how entertaining an action adventure can be.

Director J.J. Abrams is clearly a fan of the original films; this shines through in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There are a lot of overt references to Star Wars: A New Hope in particular, in terms of characters and sets. Even in terms of narrative structure and set-up, there are allusions to the first trilogy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduces new characters to the franchise, and a new battle to fight. The film follows a similar premise to the 1977 film in bringing these characters together, and setting up their mission. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is well paced. The film opens with an action sequence, and continues to build momentum whilst allowing for exposition.

The new characters introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are a good fit for the franchise. These characters have good chemistry, particularly Finn and Rey. Abrams eschews the trap that the prequel films fell into by having supporting characters that aggravate. Droid BB8 is a delightful addition to the cast.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has the look of the original series in terms of settings and props. Production values are great; with CGI used sparingly. John Williams’ score is very memorable. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley have a little bit of the hokeyness of Luke Skywalker in the original, with their line delivery. However, even this is disarming; the pair bubble with enthusiasm. Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac also do well.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a most fitting follow-up in the Star Wars franchise. The film works well on its own, and will ignite zeal for the next instalment.

Previews: The Boss Trailer, A Monster Calls and More!

A plethora of trailers in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the first The Boss trailer, A Monster Calls, Zoolander 2 and more…

The Boss Trailer

Melissa McCarthy plays a successful businesswoman who falls foul of the law in this first The Boss trailer. McCarthy’s latest vehicle is a comedy with seemingly a similar tone to her last few films. The actress is on a roll, so it will be interesting to see how this film does. The Boss is out in cinemas on 26th February 2016.

A Monster Calls Trailer

Liam Neeson unmistakable tones narrate this teaser trailer for A Monster Calls. The film is based on the critically acclaimed novel, and also stars Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver. A Monster Calls is about a 12-year-old boy who attempts to deal with his mother’s illness and the bullying of his classmates. The film is set for release in October 2016.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV Spot

Here is the second US TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Most of it is footage that has been seen before, but it is an exciting little preview of the film. Director J.J. Abrams has been careful not to reveal to much about the actual plot of the film, despite the various trailers and clips that have been released. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out on 17th December 2015.

Concussion Trailer

It is strange to hear Will Smith doing an accent. Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a sports-related brain trauma, in a pro American football player. Concussion will hit the big screen on 12th February 2016.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Trailer

A follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War tells the story of Queen Ravenna and her connection with the huntsman long before Snow White. Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth return, and are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. The film certainly looks appealing; time will tell whether it will eschew the pitfalls of its predecessor. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is set for release on 22nd April 2016.

How To Be Single Trailer

How To Be Single is a new comedy about being single in New York. The film stars Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson as single friends navigating life in the city. Also starring Leslie Mann and Alison Brie, How To Be Single will be released in time for Valentine’s Day on 12th February 2016.

Zoolander 2 Trailer

Zoolander 2 looks like it will be as silly and funny as its predecessor. The film reunites Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell, and introduces Penelope Cruz and a very different-looking Benedict Cumberbatch. Zoolander 2 struts its way on to the big screen on 12th February 2016.

Star Wars Celebration – London

Star Wars Celebration London

I was very excited to be invited to the Star Wars celebration in London yesterday evening, an event which featured a live stream to the Anaheim presentation of the brand new trailer for The Force Awakens, plus a q&a session with J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and others. Here is what happened…

R2D2 and C3PO

We were greeted by two ominous-looking Stormtroopers, however Any apprehension was soon eased by the appearance of everyone’s favourite robot duo. C3PO and R2D2 were on hand at the Star Wars Celebration to offer a more friendly welcome. Despite 38 years passing since the release of the first Star Wars film, these two looked sprightly as ever.

Warwick Davis

Before too long, the show began, with Willow Ofgood himself (aka Warwick Davis) presenting the Star Wars Celebration event for the London audience. Davis makes an excellent host; he was highly amusing throughout the evening. After some events for fans, the presentation was about to begin.

Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams

Director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy looked genuinely thrilled to be at the Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim. The emphasis was definitely on going back to Star Wars’ roots with The Force Awakens. Numerous times, J.J. Abrams, mentioned going back to the original trilogy with both the look and the feel of the new film. It definitely felt as if both Abrams and Kennedy wished to steer away from memories of the less well-received prequel trilogy of the late nineties/early noughties.

Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and J.J. Abrams

After answering some questions, it was time to bring out more guests including the makers of the new R2D2, plus the robot himself and B8, a new robot addition to the Star Wars franchise. Fans at the Star Wars Celebration then got to meet the main stars of The Force Awakens; John Boyega (Finn), Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron). All three spoke of their memories of Star Wars growing up, and their excitement of working on the film at being at the Star Wars Celebration.

Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels

Next, it was time for some old faces to appear, in the form of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Anthony Daniels (C3PO) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). The cast from the original franchise spoke of their affection for the films and their joy at coming back for the new films. The main event arrived at the every end of the presentation, with the first screening of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer.

Reception to the trailer was extremely positive. Earlier spoken of “retro” aspects are apparent at this new glimpse, with the look of the film a great reflection of the original franchise. There are some wonderful shots, including the desert landscape opening shot, the image of Pol Dameron in the pilot seat (echoing Luke Skywalker) and decaying helmut of Darth Vader. The teaser also posed some interesting questions, particularly in who Luke is speaking to when he talks about family. I would assume it is a child or nephew/niece of his, which posits Rey or Pol Dameron as the likely audience of this speech. Then again, this teaser gives away so little that this may be a red herring. The final shot of Han Solo and Chewbacca, unsurprisingly got the biggest cheer of all; fans were certainly glad to see the return of this duo.

After the excitement of seeing the new teaser on the big screen at Empire Leicester Square, it was time for the Star Wars Celebration to conclude. There was a definite air of excitement about the new footage at the event; the venue was buzzing with discussion of what was screened as I left, goodies in hand.

Star Wars Celebration London memorabilia Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in cinemas on 18th December 2015.

Preview of Coming Attractions: Disney in 2015

This year sees the release of numerous films under the Disney banner, ranging from sci-fi adventure (Tomorrowland – A World Beyond), fairy tale musicals (Into The Woods), superhero movies (Avengers: Age of Ultron), and re-envisioned classics (The Jungle Book). Here are some highlights from Disney in 2015…

Big Hero 6

Above is an introduction to Baymax, one of the stars of Disney’s Big Hero 6. The film is about Hiro, a young robotics expert who spends his time competing in back alley robot fights. Although the film was produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, several members of Marvel’s creative team were involved in the production of Big Hero 6.

See it because: Big Hero 6 has been getting rave reviews from critics and audiences.

Big Hero 6 is released in UK cinemas on 30th January 2015.

Cinderella

Disney’s live action version of fairy tale Cinderella looks sumptuous. Starring Lily James, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham Carter, the film looks set to dazzle with costume designer Sandy Powell’s collaboration with Swarovski for the jewellery and costumes, including the crystal slipper.

See it because: Cate Blanchett will surely be a wonderful wicked stepmother.

Cinderella hits UK screens on 27th March 2015.

Ant-Man

The above trailer for Ant-Man was released this week, giving viewers a taste of what to expect from Marvel’s latest comic book adaptation. Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, the film brings one of the lesser-known Avengers to the big screen for the first time.

See it because: The curiosity factor of seeing a miniature superhero.

Ant-Man is released in UK cinemas on 17th July 2015.

Inside Out

Pixar Animation Studio’s newest feature looks to be a lot of fun, judging from the above trailer. The film takes viewers inside the mind, looking at the emotions based in its headquarters. Inside Out features the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling.

See it because: The imaginative Pixar seem to have done it again with this film.

Inside Out his UK cinemas on 24th July 2015.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Giving Avengers: Age of Ultron a run for its money in the hotly-anticipated movie stakes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens sees the big screen return of the sci-fi franchise. With the cast of the film still growing, there is still a lot to be revealed about the seventh Star Wars film.

See it because: Director J.J. Abrams did a good job re-invigorating the Star Trek franchise; hopefully he can work his magic here.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is due to be released on 18th December 2015.

Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness is a hugely enjoyable blockbuster that should satisfy the most casual viewers to the die-hard fans of the franchise.

When a rogue Starfleet agent causes mass destruction, Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are tasked with capturing him. Their mission takes them to dangerous enemy territory…

The reason that Star Trek Into Darkness works so well is that it ticks all the boxes in terms of action adventure, science fiction and comedy. Given how well received 2009’s Star Trek was, Into Darkness had rather a lot to live up to. J.J. Abrams’ sequel certainly meets expectations.

Star Trek Into Darkness is even more enjoyable than its predecessor.  Star Trek was very entertaining, so this signals the calibre of this sequel. This is mostly due to the fact that the origins tale has already been covered; Into Darkness can jump straight into the action. There is of course character and relationship development in the film. However,  the narrative feels more enticing in this instalment.

Pacing in the film is solid; there is never really a dip in momentum despite the two-hour plus run time. There are a few moments in the film that are a bit predictable, but Into Darkness is so well executed that it is hard to mind these.

There are numerous nods to earlier Star Trek films; no doubt these will be appreciated by fans. Michael Giacchino’s score definitely gives Into Darkness that epic blockbuster feel. In 3D, some of the foreground appears blurry, particularly near the beginning of the film. There is also a shot that seems so overly gratuitous it almost seems as if the filmmakers kept it in to make viewers roll their eyes. Nonetheless, these are only minor blemishes in what is a superb blockbuster.

Performances are strong throughout Into Darkness. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto display good chemistry in their turbulent friendship, while Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic as the rogue agent.

Star Trek Into Darkness is simply great fun, and currently the blockbuster to beat this summer.

Stuff to Look At

A catch up of all the trailers you may have missed for the Easter weekend…

The Big Wedding

Robert De Niro heads an all star cast in comedy The Big Wedding. I wish Robert De Niro was still making films with Martin Scorsese, but there you go. The film also stars Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, and Katherine Heigl, who surely cemented this role in her pact with the devil. The Big Wedding is released in UK cinemas on 29th May 2013.

Oblivion

Above is a featurette on upcoming movie Oblivion. Starring Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko and Melissa Leo, Oblivion is a future-set science fiction film from the director of Tron: Legacy. Oblivion is out in cinemas on 10th April 2013.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness looks very promising. J.J. Abrams’ 2009 update of Star Trek was a great sci-fi action romp, and Into Darkness seems to be following the same path. Starring Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek Into Darkness hits UK screens on 9th May 2013.

World War Z

Brad Pitt stars in apocalyptic extravaganza World War Z. Based on the novel by Max Brooks, Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, a UN employee trying to ascertain the cause of a pandemic which is threatening the world. World War Z is released in UK cinemas on 21st June 2013.

Despicable Me 2

Gru is back! But perhaps more importantly, Agnes is back! From the above trailer, Despicable Me 2 appears to have a sound plot. It also features a host of talent, including Steve Carell, Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig and Steve Coogan. Despicable Me 2 is due for release on 28th June 2013.

Kick-Ass 2

Hit Girl is now a fully-fledged teen! Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Moretz return for Kick Ass 2. The sequel, which also stars Jim Carrey, is released on UK screens on 19th July 2013.