Star Trek: Beyond (2016) Should Win for New Category at the Oscars — Best Use of a Beastie Boys’ Song

Okay, if you haven’t gone to see Star Trek: Beyond at the theaters yet, get yourself to theater posthaste. Get a big bucket of popcorn and get ready for a fun, wild ride.Now, I usually don’t write reviews for those who haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m making an exception  this time since my biggest Star Trek fan friend, Joey, hasn’t seen it yet. So, this one is SPOILER FREE.

I love the Star Trek reboot and actually like them much better than the Abram’s Star Wars movies, but that’s a different review, isn’t it?

star-trek-beyond-sofia-boutellaMy favorite addition to the Star Trek cast is Jaylah. She was fun and badass, she worked well as a contrast to Chris Pine, and I hope she’s back for the next movie, this time with her own captain’s chair (Ahem!)

Speaking of Chris Pine, he did a great job as a  somewhat troubled Captain Kirk, but I can’t say the same for Zachary Quinto as Spock, who seemed not just stoic but bland in this film. I liked him in the first two, but he seemed really quite forgettable in this film, though there were some nice moments with Dr. McCoy.

It feels like Abrams, or perhaps Justin Lin deserves the credit for this, has found the right balance of philosophy with action in this film, and, seriously, I’m going to see this movie again just for the Beastie Boys moment, which was so, so fabulous.

Live long and prosper, J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek movie franchise.

 

Ghostbusters (2016): Unafraid of Ghosts

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So, somehow I missed the anti-woman hype about the new Ghostbusters until about a week before I went to see it. The very idea that people thought that this would be a bad movie just BECAUSE it starred women just seems so dumb, especially after seeing it and finding out how good it was.

In this reboot, there are some jokes that fall flat and some characters that seem a bit wooden. Plus, the giant ghost villian at the end is both creepy and comical, which is a hard combo to pull off and doesn’t really work in this movie either. However, I don’t think that means it was a bad idea or that those issues are DUE to women being the lead characters.

What does work is the women playing these characters with so much gusto and joy. This movie was absolutely fun to watch. I know a lot of praise will go to McCarthy and Wiig, as it should, but I think Leslie Jones was the stand out in this movie. She was funny, real, and dynamic (not literary, more a force of energy and ideas and positivity).

The other thing that I really liked about this movie is that it wholeheartedly embraced the original Ghostbusters and people’s love for it. Each of the original Ghostbusters had a cameo, and I clapped when Sigourney Weaver popped it during the credits. I’m glad that this Ghostbusters wasn’t afraid of the ghosts of the first movie — it made this one so, so much better.

If you’re looking for a fun movie to see one afternoon, this one is a must-see. Brava to all!

Doctor Who: Tennant’s First Season

david-tennantOkay, get it out. That sigh that means David Tennant is so sexy, and when he cries over Rose Tyler, you have to pause the show because you’re crying so hard that you can’t hear him say “Rose Tyler.”

Whew. Don’t we all feel better now.

I, too, like Tennant and think that perhaps he’s the best Doctor in the recent series. If I had to put the new doctors in order, it would go like this:

  1. Tennant
  2. Eccleston
  3. Capaldi
  4. Smith

Now that you know where I stand, you can get over it when I tell you that this season of Doctor Who is just not great. It’s not. It has some of the WORST episodes. I’m not certain if Love and Monsters is actually worse than New Earth, but I do know that the moment paving_431when Elton talks about his love life with Ursula is probably one of the grossest moments on TV  (and I regularly watch G of T).  I don’t get this season’s fascination with flat people — Ursula and Cassandra. The weird jealousy plotlines with Sarah Jane and Rose and with Rose and Mickey were also distracting. I just don’t think that a woman who had travelled to other planets and seen as much as Sarah Jane saw would really be that petty. And, Mickey, poor Mickey, he really does get used like a human version of K-9, which I don’t like. Mickey is great.

This is the season that establishes Torchwood, but the episode with Queen Victoria is confusing, loud, and somewhat boring. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been able to pay attention either time that I’ve watched it. I don’t think Tennant really shines in this role until Rose leaves, but the episode where he says goodbye to Rose is a really good one. All in all, I say that this season may be somewhere near the bottom of my list, especially since the other Tennant seasons are so, so good.

I’m super excited about the next season — Doctor/Donna is my favorite combo. Come on, spaceman!

Doctor Who: Eccleston’s Season

doctor-who-season-one_50-1000x800I am re-watching Doctor Who in addition to Game of Thrones, in some ways as an antidote to the darkness and despair that is part of GoT. Don’t get me wrong — I like both shows, but sometimes, it’s important to have a little joy included with the terror, and there’s not much joy in GoT. There are times when DW is more filled with terror for me, since I really like the characters and don’t want them to die. In GoT, there aren’t many characters that I like much anymore and I expect them all to die in a horrible way, which makes the show less powerful, but that’s a whole other blog post.

So, to all the fans of Classic Who, be prepared to be disappointed. I did not start there, but with the reboot, the ninth season starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. I do plan to watch the Classic Who episodes, but since I first fell in love with the Doctor while the Doctor was Eccleston, that’s where I’m starting my own review of the series. When I first watched this series, I found Rose to be slightly annoying. Upon this re-watch though, I liked her much more and found her excitement over the doctor and travelling to be endearing.

I think this season of the doctor was wonderful. It has some of the best episodes, including The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. I know that folks generally are in love with David Tennant, and who can blame them, but I don’t think Tennant could have come into the show as successfully if Eccleston hadn’t set the stage for him. In Eccleston’s portrayal of The Doctor, we see a man who is absolutely soul-sick over the Time Wars and his place in them, but we also see a man who loves the universe and believes in the power of love and kindness and goodness. The scene in The Doctor Dances where Eccleston joyfully proclaims “Everybody Lives! This one time, everybody lives” shows just how much the Doctor wants to be able to save people and to give people the opportunity to enjoy all that there is to offer in this universe. I love when he picks up the little boy, Jamie, and says,
“Only 20 years to pop music. You’re going to love it.” Billie Piper helps us realize the importance of joy and love since what he and we learn from her journeys with him is to embrace life and to acknowledge all the parts of living this life that we have to lead.

Now, I’ll go ahead and tell you in advance that my favorite Doctor/Companion pairing is Tennant and Tate, but there’s a magic between Eccleston and Piper that allows for all the rest of the doctors to step in and move this series forward. I hate that Eccleston left “under a cloud” (as a former coworker would say whenever someone left the college under less than auspicious circumstances), but I’m so glad he was part of the series and this season.

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Everest (2015): Because It Was… About Mountaineering

Back in his younger days, my husband was a mountaineering dude — the kind that planned vacations around getting to a mountain, then climbing said mountain, then coming back down the mountain, and going home.

Now, I understand the attraction to the great outdoors and don’t even mind roughing it a bit. However, this need to go to the very top of all these different mountains, I’m not quite as in tune with.The famous George Mallory quote about climbing Mt. Everest “because it’s there” doesn’t resonate with me (maybe especially because he died on Everest after saying it) However, since my fella loves that stuff, we watched Everest.

This movie was about a disaster on Mt. Everest that occurred in 1996. I remember reading or hearing about this back in the day, prior to watching the movie, and I am pretty certain it was covered in a documentary that I watched about Everest (the Liam Neeson one).

This movie was decidedly “Meh.” I never understood how the characters knew one another. I could barely understand what they were talking about — in part because of the accents, but also because they were talking about a bunch of mountaineering stuff that I didn’t understand. I have no idea why Rob, the experienced guide, decided to let Doug go in the first place (in the movie, he seemed sick, like pneumonia sick) and I certainly don’t know why he was allowed to summit so late in the day.  There was a good bit of drama about O and ice and ropes and moving on — none of which made sense either. In fact, the only reason I understood anything at all in this movie was from my spotty memories of the documentary I’d watched.

Jake Gyllenhaal Michael Kelly Josh BrolinI know it’s not a film’s job to teach the audience everything about a subject, but surely the folks who made it had to have known that people other than mountaineers would watch it. There aren’t that many mountaineering, Everest-climbing people out there to make a film successful. Maybe they were banking on Jake Gyllenhaal‘s appeal, but really, he was the absolute least-interesting character in the movie. All I know about him is that he took steroids because he way maybe sick? and maybe that was bad? I don’t think that’s a fair presentation of the actual guy, who seemed to be doing all that he could.

Mount Everest is a draw for people from all over the world, even though it’s deadly and uncomfortable and dangerous. This movie didn’t really capture much of that, even though almost everyone in the movie dies. What the movie does that made it “meh” instead of just bad is present an account of a truly, horrible story (though given the high rate of death on  Mt. Everest, I’m sure there are many other accounts just as harrowing as this one could have been). I just wish that they’d done a better job with that story.

 

 

Game of Thrones –Season 1

If your gods are real and they are all so just, then why is there so much injustice in the world? — Jaime Lannister

A review for Season 1 of the Game of Thrones may feel a bit five years too late, but I think this first season is key to the entire series, which is why I’m re-watching it. There is so much in this season that provides a key to understanding all the rest, but especially Season 6. And, Season 6 is definitely on a build up to the final season, I think, Season 7.  I’ve read online about there may be a follow up Season 8, but I think HBO would do well to ride this horse to the finish line (7) and move on. But, I digress.

Okay, so to Season 1. There are some key players here that set everything in motion and rather than reviewing the events themselves, I’m going to review the characters.

NED STARK: Ned Stark is the kingpin to the entire series.  His death sets the war that follows in motion, his death haunts his children, and his death means that many important answers to pivotal questions remain unknown.

Definition of kingpin: king·pin ˈkiNGˌpin/ noun a main or large bolt in a central position.; a vertical bolt used as a pivot.; a person or thing that is essential to the success of an organization or operation.

When I re-watched this first season, I couldn’t watch Ilyn cut off Ned’s head. I watched until the moment the sword fell, then closed my eyes. I think, if I’d been there, I’d have fainted like Sansa did. It’s hard to decide if Ned dies because he trusted Littlefinger, or if it’s because he decided to break his oath and lose his honor. If he hadn’t trusted Littlefinger, he would have never been captured. But, if he hadn’t decided to confess to a crime he didn’t commit, then he would have stayed imprisoned and potentially given time for Rob and Catelyn to arrange for his release, though I don’t think Sansa would have been able to escape and there would have been war nonetheless. Just war with Ned instead of without.

When he died, he took with him the truth about Jon Snow‘s lineage. I am not sure anyone else alive knows, at least until Bran became the three-eyed raven. Perhaps he knows now. It’s also unclear why he allows Robert to be become king, instead of taking the throne himself, though I think it has to do with Jon Snow (see below). Much of Season 7 will be unravelling the mysteries that Ned took to the grave (or in this case, spike) with him when Ilyn Payne took his head.

DAENERYS TARGARYEN: Obviously, Daenerys is one of the key players in this series. What we see though in Season 1 is her backstory. The fact that she is dragon born, sister of Viserys, etc matters very little in comparison to what happens with Khal Drogo. With the Khal, she found her place as a ruler, but she also lost her love and her child. Or did she? Notice that we never see the child — we’re only told that the child is born with dragon skin and wings, full of worms. But the source of this information is the witch, who Daenerys burns at the stake, so the information is not trustworthy. So, is the child or Drogo and Daenerys still alive? Perhaps… And, imagine the fury that the mother of dragons will have if she learns WHO stole her child, the child of her sun and stars, away from her. daenerys-dragon-gameofthrones-2There are some theories out right now that Daenerys will end up as a villian. To this I say: history is written by the conquerors. If she succeeds in taking the seven kingdoms, she will be seen as the savior — saving the realm from chaos and the Lannisters. Now, if she fails? Then, perhaps she will be seen as the villian. But, either way, she has dragons, and that’s fucking cool.

JON SNOW: Ned Stark is my most loved character, but Jon is my favorite. This first season shows that Jon is fiercely loyal to his family, and that he has many of the characteristics of Ned Stark — loyal, fierce, true — but we see that the Night’s Watch is teaching him more than how to defend a wall. He learns to build alliances and how to be political as well as a good fighter (and he also learns that doing the right thing isn’t always rewarded…). I think John will eventually be an even bigger player in this series as we head into the final season. We already see him aligning forces with Sansa in Season 6, and it’s important to remember the bond with Arya and Bran that we see in this first season. Jon’s the one who gives Arya The Needle, and it’s Jon who argues for Bran and the rest of the Stark children to have a direwolf. Without The Needle, Arya may not have escaped to survive in King’s Landing, and without a direwolf, Bran may not have become the three-eyed raven.

I think it’s important to pay attention to what we learn about Jon Snow’s parents in Season 1. What we learn is NOTHING. Ned does not say that Wylla is Jon’s mother; he merely lets Robert continue to think so. Ned, who loves his sister and his family, very well may be willing to allow the realm to think he was unfaithful to Catelyn in order to protect Jon, even from Robert. Consider: if Jon is the child of Lyanna and Rhaegar, Ned would have to do whatever he could to keep EVERYONE, including Robert, from this knowledge in order to protect Jon, the child of his sister. The only thing we know, for certain, is that Jon has Stark blood running through his veins. We see Robert is willing to kill a pregnant Daenerys, so certainly he would have been willing to kill Jon, a living heir to the Targaryen line. Ned is perhaps sure that through love and a good upbringing he can create a Targaryen who is not mad, a Targaryen who is loyal to the North would certainly be an asset… So, it’s important that Ned encourages Jon to go to the Night’s Watch as things are increasing in chaos in the rest of the realm — he is trying to save Jon, and his sister’s child, from taking part in the game of thrones too early. I don’t think Cersei told Ned something that he didn’t already know when she said that in the game of thrones, you either win or you die. Ned certainly already knows that.

TYRION LANNISTER: The final character that I’ll be discussing from Season 1 who is of utmost importance is Tyrion. It may seem the other Lannisters — Cersei, Jaime, Tywin — would be more important, especially in Season 1, but I think it’s Tyrion. Tyrion is the only dynamic Lannister. The other three are static. We may think, for a while, that Jaime has changed, but by the middle of Season 6, he’s back to exactly where he started in Season 1. Tyrion, though, changes and learns as he encounters new information and events.

Tyrion Lannister: “Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.

Jon Snow: “What the hell do you know about being a bastard?

Tyrion Lannister: “All dwarfs are bastards in their fathers’ eyes.“— Tyrion and Jon Snow.[src]

There’s a good bit of discussion related to the dragons and the three riders of the dragons. From Season 1, we see that Tyrion may be the most likely character to be one of Daenerys’s dragon riders because he is the one who wants to see the world, who is interested in the history of the realm, instead of just the throne. We even see that he knows that having something to ride, like the horse for Brandon, can overcome physical challenges, like his dwarfism. On a dragon, it won’t matter that he’s considered to be a half-man, will it?  One puzzle for me is how much is made of Tyrion’s love life in this first season — we find out about Tysha and see his attraction, which is not just sexual, to Shae. It’s hard to imagine why it’s so important that we know Tyrion’s history with women, but perhaps that will be resolved in Season 6…or 7?

I’ll be re-watching all the seasons of Game of Thrones and reviewing them here, but I already know that Season 1 is the key season to understanding all the rest. George R. R. Martin has read enough fantasy to know that the first book is the most loved book, the one that people will pour over and come back to. This season, which is almost exactly like the first book, is the same. I have forgotten more from Seasons 2-5 that I know, but I remembered almost every episode of Season 1 as I watched. And, I’m still sad that Ned had to die at the hands of such a despicable creature as Joffrey.

 

 

 

The Lobster

The Lobster (2016) is a great film. That being said, I’m not sure I recommend that you go see it. I don’t know who you are, but I know that you very well may leave the theater feeling sad about whoever you came to see the movie with, or if you came by yourself, well, you may leave feeling even more sad. Then again, you may leave feeling joyous, as you are not willing to go to an extreme in order to be with some one and, perhaps, this film confirms that decision for you.

 

We were at the beach (Eww)
Everybody had matching towels (Eww)
Somebody went under a dock (Eww)
And there they saw a rock (Eww)
It wasn’t a rock (Eww)
Was a rock lobster (Eww)

 

So, what makes this film, this sad film, also a great film? In part, it’s the premise — marriage is required in order to be part of society, with no exceptions for widows or recent divorces or broken hearts or even just those ill-suited for pairing. This premise is played out perfectly, with no tongue-in-cheek moments, a perfect, brilliant satire. The casting is also superb, and much has already been made of Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, deservedly so. The performance that stood out to me was Lea Seydoux playing the Loner Leader… who loves her parents.

The sad part is that the film leaves you with that premise and doesn’t give you an easy out or answer for the relentless coupling that society seems to require of us (I say all of this as a person who is happily married and hoping to remain so). I left the film feeling like coming to the theater with my husband, sharing a cookie with him during the showing, and leaving to have an after-movie chat and beer at the bar/restaurant next door was somehow contributing to the pervasive need for a “soulmate” and feeling a bit uneasy about that.