More is more
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Published May 21, 2013
Star Trek Into Darkness
Directed by JJ Abrams
The unique friendship between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) return in Star Trek Into Darkness – a triumphantly entertaining summer blockbuster if there is one – and more satisfying than that movie with the hero who ironically suffered anxiety attacks.
The terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) wreaks havoc on earth as he infiltrates Starfleet command. Capt. Kirk is ordered by Starfleet to hunt down Harrison and bring him to justice – until a secret is revealed which forces Kirk risk the safety and life of the only family he has left – the crew of the Enterprise. A new character Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) suggests where the next episode is going.
I thought this summer movie was a lot of fun – a good mix of funny and serious and tense action. Cumberbatch is a welcome new nemesis – arguably Kirk’s archnemesis based on Trek history – and provides most of the dramatic weight of the film. Quite the imposing character.
Meanwhile, we get the same character dynamics we first saw in Star Trek (2009) with enough screen time for each crew member. Where the first movie revolved around Spock, this second outing revolved around Kirk – with a some Spock. While the story isn’t quite as inventive as the first movie (the terrorist subplot is getting boring) it’s still an enjoyable addition to the series. Fans would most enjoy this, but stands well on its own to be enjoyed by the general audience.
The Great Gatsby
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Regarded as one of American literature’s greatest jewels, The Great Gatsby has been interpreted on screen several times, and yet none stand out quite as towering as the source. No, I didn’t see the Robert Redford-Mia Farrow version (1974) that some say is the best version. What I do know, in contrast, is that all screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice are supremely watchable. To wit: Luhrmann’s adaptation feels like two movies slapped together using peanut butter. Yummy, but it doesn’t work.
Bond salesman Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) gets entangled into the dizzying, extravagant lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a nouveau riche businessman of dubious origins who still harbors feelings for Nick’s married cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan.) Joel Edgerton plays Daisy’s unfaithful old-rich husband Tom. Past and present, old rich and new rich collide in this over-the-top, over-decorated failed romance.
The first half of the film is what I remember of the book – large, opulent drunken parties attended by the who’s who of society, Lifesstyle of the Rich and Famous 1920s – Luhrmann is does this quite easily in a continuous barrage of images cut so fast I lost count how many setups he has per scene.
But the second half feels differently – it’s a boring, slow romantic tragedy that only skirts on the edges of Gatsby’s and Daisy’s old romance – never mind how or why that happened because there’s little to know about Daisy. It’s not a terrible film – it just doesn’t have enough to make us care for the characters despite the big production numbers.