Movies: Star Trek Into Darkness

…written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof; directed by J.J .Abrams; starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

How to take beloved pop-culture and sci-fi phenomenon from cold storage to the spotlight, by J.J. Abrams.  With so many reboots, reloads, relaunches, it’s easy to get cynical about these kinds of movies.  Just like it would be fairly easy to mash something up and deliver a financial success to the studio.  Fortunately for Trekkers and cineplex-goers, Abrams and company have continued along the brighter path with Star Trek Into Darkness.


Starting with a prologue that could have been a classic episode scenario, STID quickly re-acquaints us with the crew of the Enterprise.  Once again, we marvel at the effective casting.  Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock continue their yin-and-yang dueling over the Prime Directive and the overall mission of Starfleet. The burgeoning not-quite-friendship of the two leads juxtaposed over a cliff-hanger action sequence with some excellent humor for good measure…  This is what STID thrives on, what makes the movie so much fun.

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Some Summer Movies

With Iron Man 3 opening this weekend, we enter the Summer Movie zone.  Ah, the smell of popcorn and industrial-strength air conditioning…  Big budgets, big stars, big plot-holes…  Summer movies have crept forward from the traditional Memorial Day weekend starting point, because why, again?  Because if they open something big the first week of May, it will sell.

Even if we don’t make it to the cinema as much as we used to, we’re still big movie people in Beemsville.  And summer movies, with their explosions, effects, and fantastic settings always provide grist for the escapist mill, not to mention fuel for the snark fire.  So here are five movies we’re pretty excited about and will most likely see…

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Books: Redshrits

In Brief: In Redshirts, John Scalzi cleverly riffs on the Star Trek universe and its many imitators from the point-of-view of the junior crewmen.  You know, the guys with short life expectancies wearing the red shirts.

Pros:  The book has some laugh-out-loud funny parts, and Scalzi’s economy of language and ability to set up characters and scenes makes for smooth reading.  The story also toys with ideas of creativity and the overused sci-fi paradigm of alternate universes in a smart and entertaining way.

Cons:  If you don’t like Star Trek or have some familiarity with some of the tv series, you won’t get the full extent of some of the humor and scenarios.  Conversely, if you’re an overly sensitive Trekkie who takes umbrage at any implied criticism of the Enterprise and its continuing missions, you may want to duck and cover.

Review:  Last summer we heard John Scalzi plugging Redshirts on a radio interview and the book immediately went into the reading queue.  Here’s the premise, straight from the novel’s back copy:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.

Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Having read and enjoyed some other Scalzi books, it didn’t take much to get me on board.  What I recall from the radio interview was how much fun he obviously had writing this project and describing, as well as how much fun the interviewer obviously had reading it.  Throw in the fact that Scalzi worked as a writer/creative consultant on the Stargate: Universe tv show, so know his mass market and media sci-fi.

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MacFarlane’s Geek Chops

In the midst of geek culture month, with Entertainment Weekly basically devoting an issue to comic book media, the San Diego Comicon, and Olivia Munn’s new book, I found myself watching some Family Guy.

Now I’m not some gotta-watch-it-every- night acolyte (which would get me in trouble anyway), but I have seen most of the shows.  And, of course, one gag that never gets old is the random cut-away and/or appearance by historical figures, celebrities, and 80’s geek culture.  Series Overlord Seth MacFarlane doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone, what with his entire episode riffs on Star Wars and Empire, but you still have to give him his props.

You listen to Megatron…

What God is up to…

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Review: Star Trek

Star Trek…  Directed by J.J. Abrams, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Leonard Nimoy.

The Trek is back.  Big opening weekend, great buzz.  What a fun movie…

Is it the timing? Almost 40 years(!) after the original series, 20 afte the Next Generation, with few enough successful big screen space adventures of late.  Battlestar Galactica and to some extent Star Wars, have shown you can keep going back to the sci-fi franchise, even when the original cast has moved on.  Is it the team? J.J. Abrams has had some success with ensemble pieces; the writers obviously know and revere the original material but have also taken to heart lessons learned from other recent reboots.   Is it the casting? If you’re a Trek fan, you had to be a little nervous when the actors were all named.  Zach Quinto?  Shaun of the Dead?  And who’s this Chris Pine dude?  Yeah, I sort of wish John Cho could match George Takei’s melodious baritone as Sulu, but if that’s all I have to complain about…

Some spoliers after the bump.

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Trek Day

The new Star Trek is finally upon us.  Easily the most anticipated movie in some time around here, we’ll be out to the local cineplex with Vulcan ears and phasers in tow.

Do we some concerns?  Sure…  Despite our policy of avoiding buzz and potential spoilerage on movies  we’re interested in seeing, it’s hard to keep away from everything.  Here are a few:

  • J.J. Abrams self-professed lack of Trek-lore knowledge –  Does this equal a fresh take without being bogged down by the mythos, or does he step in it?  Will whatever story they came up with satisfy the hardcore fans?
  • Kirk as the jerk – Captain Kirk is one of the great sci-fi adventure characters, period.  One reason is self-confidence that can cross into arrogance.  From the trailers I’m concerned this version of young Kirk remains likable and doesn’t turn into a cocky caricature.
  • Alternate Universe – Heard a rumor this movie and version of Star Trek history actually takes place in some kind of alternate universe.  Ostensibly to keep from angering the purists and to leave an opening for a possible new franchise of films.  How do they swing that?

Concerns aside, can’t wait to get out there and this movie.  It’s great to see the old Enterprise again, and all those characters who’ve become a part of our popular culture.  Check back soon for the official Beemsville movie review.

DJ Spock and the New Cast

DJ Spock in the house…

Also saw the trailer for the 2009 Star Trek movie this weekend and thought I would share the love.  You don’t actually see the actors portraying young Kirk, Spock, Bones, etc., in that trailer, but check out the one on the website.  If that doesn’t get your Trekkie blood pumping, you need to return your membership card.  Two words: F@&#ing awesome…  I do believe this movie is #1 Beemsville’s most eagerly anticipated for 2009.

But what about that cast? Some familiar faces and names, as well as a few folks most of us haven’t really heard of. I suspect we’ll see more stills of young Kirk and the crew as release date (5/8/09 ) draws near, but for now here are a few photo montages to set the mood…

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He’s Dead, Jim

Another morbid Monday morning ? Maybe…

A stark reminder of the fleeting nature of life on the Final Frontier?  Definitely.

We challenge you to watch this clip only once.  You just can’t.  Try to resist the compulsion to hit the ‘replay’ button.  It’s futile.

In related news, J. J. Abrams’ Trek is in post-production and they have a pseudo-teaser-trailer up on the official website.