It’s hard to believe it has already been four years since J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek was slicker, faster and more popular than anything in the long-running series’ history. It was arguably also the most dumbed-down version of Star Trek to date. Abrams admitted that he was never a fan of Star Trek. He set out to make a Star Trek movie for people like him – people who couldn’t get into the high-minded science fiction aspects of the series. And he succeeded in that goal by delivering an action-heavy spectacle filled with his signature lens flares and a young, attractive crew.
The sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, follows the same formula as the 2009 reboot. Freed from the obligations to reintroduce the Star Trek characters to the uninitiated, Into Darkness is faster and more hyperkinetic than the original. I’m not sure it is any less dumbed-down, but it does manage to dig into slightly deeper territory than the first film. And it benefits from a stronger villain and the lack of a ridiculous time travel plot.
Like all Abrams’ projects, Into Darkness is shrouded in secrecy. The cast and crew refused to discuss the identity of the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Internet rumors swirled that Cumberbatch was playing an updated version of Khan, the most popular villain from the original series. All of the secrecy is largely unnecessary. The movie has some surprises, but it telegraphs them from miles away. I saw the movie without spoilers and never once did it surprise me.
Spoilers follow after the jump.
The “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is a stock character in tons of movies. Especially quirky indie rom coms. Odds are even if you are unfamiliar with the term, you have seen MPDGs in dozens of movies. Film critic Nathan Rabin coined the term to describe “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”
Noel Wells has put together a series of videos which take the cliche of the MPDG just a step farther. Rather than being a goofy free spirit, her character is a deranged Manic Pixie Nightmare Girl. At first, it’s hard to tell the two apart, but eventually the difference becomes clear.
Warning: the videos go into some dark comic territory and are not suitable for work. But if you are not easily offended, they are hysterical.
Steven Seagal was a martial arts legend. Just ask him. If Seagal is to be believed, he has lived an action-packed life that would rival James Bond. Seagal, a seventh degree black belt in aikido, rose from obscurity in the late 80′s to become one of Hollywood’s top-paid action stars in the 90′s. Since then, Seagal has morphed into a walking fat joke.
What the hell happened?
Giulio Andreotti, former italian prime minister, passed away a couple of days ago aged 94. But who was this man who served in almost every italian government from 1947, when he became under-secretary during De Gasperi government, ’til 1992 when his last term as prime minister ended abruptly during the corruption scandals that led to the spectacular implosion of the so called “First Republic”?
The first Iron Man was breezy fun. While it was undeniably lightweight, Iron Man pulled off an impressive balancing act. It was equal parts comedy, escapism and super hero action. The second film in the series got weighed down with too many bad guys and supporting characters. It was salvaged by Downey who was still a lot of fun to watch. Iron Man 3 makes the same mistakes as the middle installment. But even the good parts are starting to wear thin.
Thora Birch was a child actor who seemed to be making a successful transition into more mature roles. For a brief time, she seemed poised for a long and exciting career. And then almost immediately, that career dried up. These days, she is known for being fired from a Broadway play and having an over-bearing father/manager. Birch has been banished to direct-to-video schlock and Lifetime movies. Recently, there was an internet rumor that she was dead.
What the hell happened?
Last time I reported to you from Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia a lot of my emphasis was placed on the excellent thrill rides present there. I will definitely cover some of that this time, but some differences in this trip will also mean a shift in focus in my report.
Firstly, this Saturday’s foray in the Old Country was as a celebration of one of my best friend’s birthdays, which meant that we had a couple of pre-teens along for the ride. Also, since it’s almost May instead of just exiting the frigid parts of March, the fantastic floral beauty of the park was in full effect. Lastly, with no car trouble on the way there this time, we got to enjoy an almost complete 11 hour day! This meant a vey different experience.
Today was opening day at Kings Island. After months of waiting, it’s always exciting to finally get to visit the park and kick off the new season. Opening day can bring heavy crowds and sometimes there can be a few hiccups as the staff gets things up to speed. But even with a few downsides, opening day is not to be missed.