May 20, 2009
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
A long time ago in a city far, far away… The time: May of 2007. The city: Los Angeles, CA. I sit in a darkened room surrounded by a hundred or so of my closest geek cousins. We were about to witness the first viewing of footage from a little film called “Fanboys” exclusively at Star Wars Celebration IV.
Cut to: April 19, 2009, somewhere in New England. I pour a fourth cup of coffee and put my feet up for a private viewing of a little film called “Fanboys”. That’s right, two years later, this little film is finally in theaters on a limited run and it has just been released on DVD. And after watching, I’m left to ask these questions: What the hell took so long!?! And: What the hell have you (Mr. Producer) been doing all that time!?!
Much to my chagrin, the movie is not as good as that preview screening would lead us to believe, or to hope. We gathered geeks laughed out loud at the scenes we were shown and we gave the cast and crew a standing ovation when they came out for their Q&A session.
But somewhere between that sweet embrace and this weeks’ DVD release the Millennium Falcon’s hyper-drive once again failed to ignite. And it’s too bad really, the engaging cast (who have all gone on to bigger and better things) isn’t given much to work with and their valiant efforts never lift the movie above mediocrity. The whole road-trip-comedy-farce-misadventure has been done to death and done better. The “best friend with terminal illness” emotional hook never takes hold. Sorry dude but I don’t dare that you’re dying. The “geek gets the hot chick” shtick was cool in “Revenge of the Nerds” but is so unbelievable here that I swear I saw Kristen Bell flinch when she kissed Jay Baruchel.
The most telling line of the whole film comes at the end when our geek-squad is sitting down to watch the premiere of “The Phantom Menace”… "What if the movie sucks?" asks our hero. We know the answer to that question don’t we? And so do those of us who sat in that darkened room in California two years ago.
Anyway, there are plenty of “Star Wars” insider jokes, riffs on Trekkies, a general skewering of the geek/fanboy masses, and some pretty cool cameos. You gotta love the Priceline Negotiator, am I right? I did laugh a couple of times, but mostly at Seth Rogen in a couple of goofball roles. Overall the film is an uneven mess that I’m guessing will appeal mostly to the fanboys it’s aimed at.
I can only give it a C
FANBOYS official site
May 9, 2009
WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND!!!
I went in to the theater fully expecting to enjoy this film and would have been crushed if I had not. I am not a Star Trek purist, nor am I a J.J. Abrams apologist (just a fan). Is it perfect? No. Are there plot holes? Some. There were moments while watching that I was jarred out of the story by set pieces (hey, I know what that is!) and head scratching (why is that there?). But with the film moving at light speed the entire time you aren’t given a lot of time to dwell on the sticking points. And there are a couple of gags that run just a tad long hence my overall rating below.
Everything is bright, shiny and new but at the same time familiar and comfortable. We get Star Fleet, Vulcans, Romulans, Kirk and of course the USS Enterprise. There’s a new paint job on the old girl, Kirk is younger, as is everyone for that matter, younger and hotter. With the opening tease (‘Birth of a Starship Captain’) Abrams and the talented crew of Industrial Light and Magic take this franchise re-launch (reboot, re-imagining) right to warp factor 5.
But even in this ret-conned, alternate Trek universe, it’s the main characters and their relationships that are the center of the story. We finally get to see the legendary crew of the Enterprise meeting for the first time. And while there are plenty of writer ex machina plot conveniences to get them all in the same place at the same time, it’s ok because they’re in the same place, again, finally!
The writers enlist a long-used Trek plot device - time travel - to tell their origin story, wiping Gene Roddenberry’s original series slate clean. Spinning off of a ST:TNG story and bringing back Ambassador Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy (the only original cast member to return) and introducing a new villain, Eric Bana’s rogue Romulan Nero.
Nero is hell bent on avenging the deaths of his family and home world. When he breaks through the time-space continuum his butterfly effect sets in motion a series of events that reshape the Trekiverse as we know it.
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is no longer the brash, confident Star Fleet Cadet we expect, instead he’s a self-destructive, anti-authority, bar-brawling civilian. When Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) intervenes we are off to the academy where Kirk quickly butts head’s with the by-the-book Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto). Along the way we are re-introduced to central characters sexy and self assured Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the bristly Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban). Once aboard the Enterprise we pick up Sulu (John Cho) and Chekhov (Anton Yelchin), the gang’s almost all here.
SIDEBAR 1: Zachary Quinto as Spock is the casting coup of the 23rd century. Combine good prosthetics (and waxing) with a close physical resemblance to Nimoy and you GET Mr. Spock. He is the only logical choice for this role.
SIDEBAR 2: Karl Urban channels DeForest Kelley in what is the best interpretation of any of these characters. His performance balances perfectly between imitation, homage and just plain good acting. Urban owns every scene he’s in, I can’t wait to see the trinity (Kirk, Spock, McCoy) exchange barbs and snide remarks in the next movie. He’s gonna wipe the floor with Spock & Kirk!
When the Vulcan home world is attacked by Nero, the Federation sends the fleet racing to their rescue. But they all fly right into the well-baited trap and carnage ensues. Long story short – Spock becomes captain, Kirk is marooned, Ambassador Spock is discovered and Scotty (Simon Pegg) finally joins the crew. Fists fly, phasers stun, heroes triumph and the legend of James T. Kirk is restored to the Trekiverse timeline.
SIDEBAR 3: Simon Pegg’s Scotty is another great performance whose comic quirkiness puts some well-timed zing in the final act. Pegg does not play Scotty as a clown but rather a mad genius of sorts whose brilliant engineer (in Kirk-like fashion) doesn’t quite fit the mold of Star Fleet officer.
Okay let me try and wrap this up before I go on any longer: The movie is fast paced, sexy, and funny. There are plenty of winks and nods to the fanboy audience but it won’t alienate the un-initiated. Tack on a top notch score by Michael Giacchino and you get a rousing space-opera that no doubt has Paramount plotting the newest generation of Trek spin offs and sequels. Not to mention, toys, books, attractions…
Using the alphabet scale I give it an A-
May 8, 2009
I'll have a full report soon. But it is worth the price of admission. Some purists will be miffed but most fans and non-fans will thoroughly enjoy the ride!
Going to Cinemagic in Hooksett today, 11:45AM showing of "Star Trek" in the IMAX theater.
I will return later with my assessment.
May 1, 2009
"X-men Origins: Wolverine" sags under the weight of The Blob, Logan's adamantium-laced skeleton and a ponderous, over-stuffed and cliche-riddled script.
After a very promising first half the film begins to bow to the pressure of being the first summer block-buster. Too many bad CGI filled action sequences. Too many bad lines (and line readings), everything from the over-used-please-stop-saying-it; 'let's do this' to the always popular; 'there's a special place in hell...' And too many super-powered mutants.
Seriously? seriously. I mean just how many of the X-Universe characters need to be squeezed in to these movies anyway? Especially if they are A) Unknown to all but the most diehard fanboy, or B) Put in the movie (out of context or continuity) in hopes of generating some interest in yet another X-Sequel. ie: Wade "Deadpool" Wilson & Remy "Gambit" LeBeau. Although, I really enjoyed Ryan Reynold's performance as Wade Wilson and would like to see a Deadpool move.
Poor Hugh Jackman. He has to be one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood right now. He's a great movie star and there is no doubt he is sincere in his commitment to this film. Seen "Access Hollywood" this month? He infuses Logan (where DID that name come from?) with humanity and a sense of humor. And the abs and pecs on that guy... holy crap! When he steps out of his cabin sans shirt you could actually hear the women catch their breath and swoon at our showing . BUT it's not enough to lift this film above it's lackluster script and (again) it's own bloated carcass.
It's unfortunate that Marvel Studios can't wrestle the rights back from 20th Century Fox. If this had been made by Marvel (see "Iron Man" & "The Incredible Hulk") we would have had a much more streamlined, fast paced, character driven flick. And compared to last summer's "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man" it's shocking how mundane, cliche and pedestrian this movie is.
If there is a sequel (God no.) then we're gonna need characters and foes worthy of the legend of Wolverine. The Hulk, Wendigo & Alpha Flight? Mariko Yashida & The Hand? And now that he's lost his memories he had better become the badass of the Marvel U. that we fanboys know and love.
I won't say don't go see it. Heck no. It's the summer movie season after all and what better way to prime yourself than a comic book, buttered popcorn, action flick? But I will say that it's no better than a C+ in the alphabet rating system. And I strongly recommend paying the matinee price to see it.