Star Trek (100%) – J.J. Abrams, Pine and Quinto

Star Trek (100%) – J.J. Abrams, Pine and Quinto

Star Trek

This film I didn’t go see at the cinema (In hindsight: a bad decision), mainly because even though I do love the sci-fi genre I’m not a fan of the Star Trek / Babalon 5 / Deepspace 9 franchises. After a lot of recommendations I bought it on Blu Ray (it was on Sale at Amazon, I thought why not!) and was very pleasantly surprised.

The cast of Star TrekThankfully it doesn’t need any knowledge of the series it’s obviously built on, so a plus there. The timeline throughout the film is a bit screwy (technical term) due to time travel, but if you can fathom that out (or just ignore it), then film doesn’t push the boundaries of sci-fi.

Star Trek is mainly a film of friendships developing between the characters and a few leadership quarrels. There are some very sad scenes involving sacrifices and loss of loved ones, something that sci-fi general doesn’t do too much (or too well). This mixed together with some stunning space scenes, a handful of comical moments and some great acting makes for a wonderful film.

Both the lead actors, Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) put in some of the best performances I’ve seen. Pine’s life and goals conflict heavily with the Starfleets methods, while Spock is heavily confused and criticised for being half-Vulcan / half-Human.

I would definitely recommend watching it even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, just pretend it doesn’t have the words Star Trek on the front and you’ll probably overcome half your hurdles.

(You may have to work hard to remember Quinto isn’t playing Sylar from Heroes – a roll that fired him into the limelight)

Main Cast of Star Trek
Left to right; Anton Yelchin (Chekov), Chris Pine (Kirk), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Zachary Quinto (Spock), John Cho (Sulu)

It’s also just twigged in my slow caffeine deprived brain where I’ve seen John Cho (who plays Sulu) – he played one of the main characters in the TV sci-fi show FlashForward before it was regrettably dropped by the networks.

Star Trek is a great film by J.J. Abrams and contains a truly fine cast who put in supreme performances. I can’t wait for the next film, Star Trek into Darkness, slated for a mid-May release staring the talented Benedict Cumberbatch as the bad guy!

Leon

Leon
Leon & Mathilda, in Leon
Leon (Jean Reno) with Mathilda (Natalie Portman)

The world of professional hit-man Leon (Jean Reno) begins to collapse when he saves his neighbours 12-year-old daughter from a gang of corrupt DEA cops. With nowhere else to go and revenge on her mind, Mathilda begins to learn Leon’s tricks-of-the-trade.

As the 12-year-old developers her new dark craft, Leon discovers a compassionate side to himself and rekindles a passion for happiness, finally culminating in him wanting to end his current ‘career’ path.

After Mathilda is followed back to their apartment the DEA execute a raid to revenge the death of other corrupt cops, however they’ve never come up against Leon before.

I saw this film years ago and would have put it down as an excellent 5/5 film, however seeing it now its lost a little of its charm. Still a good film and solid performances from Jean Reno, a very young Natalie Portman (as Mathilda) and Gary Oldman (as DEA Officer Standford), however interactions between Portman and Reno have an awkward edge to them as she falls in love with him and the film seems to be lacking a bit of depth.

Overall a good film worth watching, although I’ll be honest and admit I’m not entirely sure what type of people would enjoy it the most.

Batman Begins (90%)

Batman Begins (90%)

The death of Bruce Wayne… the conception of something bigger, something iconic, something that can’t be destroyed or corrupted … the birth of Batman.

 BeginsThis film brilliant portrays how the rich billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) decides to face the corruption and criminality that is running rife in the city of Gotham City after the murder of his parents. Before he can stand up to mob bosses and the corrupt law-men, he must first train and face his own fears. Fears that stem from a childhood accident. Fears that also take him back to the night of his parents murder.

Trained and guided by the secret society ‘The League of Shadows’, Bruce learns how to use ninjitsu, theatrics and fear as tools and weapons. He learns to be invisible even in plain site. He learns the skills to take on numerous foes single handily.

After a conflict of ethics with the League, Bruce leaves the order and returns to Gotham to find that the years away has been very rough on the city. The city is now in a worse position than ever imaginable. The poor are without hope while the rich are corrupt and self-centred. Even the company Bruce’s father built has been turned into a weapons manufacturer.

By reinstating himself into Wayne Enterprise, Bruce teams up with ‘experimental science’ overseer Mr Fox (Morgan Freeman). This loyal friend of Bruce’s father allows Bruce to ‘borrow’ some of the Wayne Enterprises more far-fetched products (items that later become Bat-suit, his gadgets and the Bat-mobile).

With the help of good cop Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Batman sets to work fixing Gotham. Investigating and taking down the big crime boss of the city unearths a larger plan at work. A plan to reduce Gotham to ruins, a plan to cleanse the city, a plan that is almost already at fruition.

Can the Wayne family save Gotham? No

Can Batman? Just possibly

This film brilliantly portrays the billionaires transition to detective / vigilante and hero of Gotham. It’s genuinely quite dark and scary in places (namely scenes with the villain Scarecrow) although Bale, Freeman and Caine do have the occasional line in conversations to lighten the atmosphere and make you chuckle.

The scarecrow is psychotic and deranged, played chillingly perfect by Cillian Murphy.

It shows how Bruce must make decisions and sacrifices to turn Gotham around. He must drag the prestigious family name through dirt. He must put loved ones in the way of danger. He must being hunted by the people he is trying to save.

This film is probably in my top 3 films and I can’t recommend it enough. The story, script, setting, music, characters and actors are all near flawless. Plus in hindsight this is ‘sequelled’ by The Dark Knight… what a brilliant combo of two films

A must watch by anyone and everyone.

Inception (100%)

Inception (100%)
 and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio

Unable to return to America to see his kids, Mr Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) must do one last job to clear his name. Failure to clear his name means he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison. Cobb’s only chance of seeing his kids again is to break into the mind of an industrial giant and seed the idea that he, himself, wants to dissolve his father’s energy empire.

If Cobb is caught planting the idea, or the concept is rejected by the power giant Robert Fischer (played by Cillian Murphy), Cobb will be arrested within hours and spend life in prison.

Sounds confusing? Welcome to the world of Inception.

Inception is the term used within the film to mean the planting of a subconscious idea that grows within the subjects own mind to alter their original motive or decision. This is conducted by a team of people constructing a complex dream world within the subjects own conscience; and through interaction or deception within this world, change or steal an object in the mind, that is a metaphor for a thought or memory. When the subject awakens the idea begins to blossom into what the team had planned for.

Man its difficult to explain this film!

— Spoilers Below —

As the team begin their mission inside Robert Fischer’s dream world, Cobb’s own subconscious begins to threaten not only their mission but their very lives.

Iconic corridor scene from Inception
Levitt in the iconic corridor scene from Inception

Dreams within dreams begin to warp your mind and the perceived time in each layer multiples as you move deeper into the subconscious. Several hours in real-time turns into months within the dream world. Lost in ‘limbo’, a layer between the dreams, Mal and Cobb once lived for 55 years, something that caused Mal to lose her grip on reality when they awoke. Racked with guilt of his wife’s suicide, Cobb’s conscious starts to jeopardise everything they aim to achieve. Now the possibility of falling into limbo now threatens everyone’s life, with their only way of escape now to push further into their dangerous mission.

Summary of Inception

This film is an amazing blend of suspense, well done twists, great acting and wonderful special effects. That’s not even to mention the insanely complex and entirely unique story line. How someone can sit down and write this for the first time is well beyond me.

I was going to wrap up by pointing out specific actors who really make this film, but in reality they’ve all put in such strong performances you can’t highlight one above another. Gordon-Levitt and Murphy are two of my favourite actors and its brilliant seeing them performing beside each other.

Bored of the usual Hollywood stories or the novel narrative? Check out Inception! Guaranteed you won’t have come across it before.

Simply put, Inception is a must watch for everyone. Just make sure you’re ready to pay attention!

Infographic
Inception infographic

Infographic: confused by the passing of time in this multi-layered film? Click on and check out this great little infographic showing how the plot plays out. Made by Daniel Wang.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Michael Caine

2013: Revenge of the Sequels

2013: Revenge of the Sequels

With 2013 only a stones throw away, it looks like we’re in for another good year at the box office.

Unfortunately for what you make up with in terms of movie quantity, you may be disappointed by the lack of originality when it comes to the scripts. We seem to be awash with sequels in 2013. Not only that, but action sequels!

  • Monsters University: Mike and SulleyMonsters University [sequel]. We all know the magic between Mick and Sulley, but were they always that close? In Monsters University we’re going to find out as we head back to their uni days of pranks, jokes and of course studying. Even with Monsters Inc being nearly 12 years old, I’m sure that Pixar will be able to pull another classic film out of the bag. Definitely looking forward to this animated sequel.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [sequel]. The first film came out in 2012 and was reasonably okay from the scripts perspective, but nothing ground breaking. What lifted the first film out of the 2012 tide-of-mediocre movies was the cinematography style it used to depict its gruesome look at society. Hopefully in Catching Fire the script will be better written, without compromising the look that the first one achieved. Jennifer Lawrence is staring again as the lead protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, hopefully this film will also include more character development. Catching Fire is currently scheduled for our screens in the last quarter of 2013.
  • The ImpossibleThe Impossible. Based on a true story as one family is caught with thousands others by the 2004 tsunami catastrophe. Ewan McGregor plays the husband and father of three children who are celebrating Christmas as the waves crashed over the islands of Thailand. Separated by the destruction and saved by nothing less than a miracle, the family members try to find each other, as well as bringing hope to those around them. For me, this is likely to be the tear jerker of the year I think. Hitting our screens on the 1st of January… cos this is what you need to see as you recover from your hang overs 😉
  • Iron Man 3 [sequel]. Tony Stark does not have an easy life, beside the billionaire thing. Even after saving the world, and various cities multiple times, his life just gets more and more dangerous. I’m not entirely sure how all these Marvel films are meant to hang together, but surely after Iron Man faces the ‘Mandarin’ we’ll be free of bad guys for once. Plus isn’t a Mandarin a type of orange? No doubt this will be a decent film, whether it’ll be another classic Marvel film depends on how well Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow come together on-screen.
  • Django Unchained. A Western film, shot by Tarintino, staring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. It is surely going to be good! Even though the film deals with racial prejudices, human bounty hunting and forced labour, Django Unchained looks like it could be a good balance of action, story and even comedy. Perhaps the true dark nature of the film isn’t shown in the trailer, but with Tarintino behind the camera it should be another great film. Check out the trailer below:
  • Les Miserables. The epic musical that is based on Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel is finally being turned into a film, one that I cannot wait to watch. I’ve listened to the musical version of the novel dozens of times, sometimes (thanks to YouTube) a few times a day while working on projects. Hugo’s novel examines the nature of law, death and grace, as well as the complex issues of philosophies, hierarchies of society and religious beliefs. All set to the most amazingly composed musical scores you can imagine. The Les Mis’ 25th anniversary performance is all on YouTube if you want to check it out. Thankfully this new film, staring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, is hitting the UK screens early 2013. Amazingness!
  • Now You See Me. A series of banks are robbed by a known group of illusionists, the only problem is that during the robberies they’re on stage in the centre of Las Vegas’ biggest and brightest casinos. Yet the crowds still reap the financial rewards of their criminal activities. With its mind bending trailer, this film looks like it could swing to either being a brilliant masterpiece  (i.e. Inception) or a disastrous flop (i.e. Next). I have more than a sneaking suspicion that there’s going to be a massive twist at the end of this movie. I’m very much looking forward to this one coming out in June 2013, hoping its a cross between The Illusionist and 21. Oh yeah its also got Morgan Freeman and Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland) in it too.
  • Oblivion. Tom Cruise stars alongside Morgan Freeman in this futuristic spin on what looks like another “everything you’ve been told is a lie” kind of film. A blend of Minority Report, Inception, The Matrix and even some Star Wars thrown in for good measure. I’m not entirely sure how this film will pan out, it looks like it could just be the product of the films mentioned above, but it has lots of potential. Scheduled for an April release over here in the UK.
  • Superman... again!Man of Steel [sequel]. I’ve lost count of how many Superman re-makes and re-launches there has been, but none of them have ever had Zack Snyder directing them! Hopefully this re-make will appeal to a wider audience, no doubt that’s what they’re shooting for as it deals with Superman’s earlier years. Growing up in rural Kansas, Clark finally becomes a journalist, in between saving the world. How many times have we heard that told?
  • World War Z. Perhaps the 2013 film I’ve been waiting the longest for to come out. World War Z follows UN worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family as the world is torn apart by a global deadly zombie pandemic. Based on the book by Brooks (which is great BTW), this film has been long-awaited for by many. Sadly coming a year or two too late to ride the zombie-high wave caused by The Walking Dead, this film should still be a big hit. I’m quietly confident that this film will make it into my top zombie apocalypse films.
  • Star Trek into Darkness [sequel]. Trailer shown below. Sherlock Holmes is on the Enterprise! Okay perhaps not Sherlock, but Benedict Cumberbatch is staring alongside Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in this Star Trek sequel. Apart from a lot of destruction, death and fire, its hard to know from the trailer and posters what the plot for this story is. Cumberbatch plays the bad guy, that’s fairly obvious. Plus he’s bad enough to force a star-ship (probably not the Ente