Friday, May 08, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies (well, mostly just about Star Trek) with Las Vegas Weekly Associate Editor T.R. Witcher in this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast, and watch another wacky video segment, also about Star Trek.

Next Day Air (Wood Harris, Mike Epps, Donald Faison, dir. Benny Boom)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
As if this weren't sufficiently doomed to obscurity, it's going up against Star Trek, sure to obliterate it at the box office and in most people's minds. And for good reason, too: This is an entirely forgettable, pointless film, putting an "urban" twist on the self-consciously cool gangster template of old Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie movies (from which Tarantino has moved on, and Ritchie has not). It's also been mismarketed as a sort of stoner comedy, which it isn't; that's a very small part of the story, which at first seems like it could be sort of amusing, but quickly devolves into the lame crime plot, and the humor pretty much dries up. Totally the sort of thing that would go straight to video if not for a studio seeing an opportunity to siphon off a little money from people who are desperate for an alternative to Star Trek. Wide release

Paris 36 (Gerard Jugnot, Clovis Cornillac, Nora Arnezeder, dir. Christophe Barratier)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This is another of those bland, well-intentioned foreign films that I just can't get excited about. It's sweetly nostalgic (probably overly so) and has one really entertaining musical number, but overall it's just dull and so devoid of any tension that it ends up arguing for its own lack of consequence. Opened limited April 3; in Las Vegas this week

Star Trek (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Eric Bana, dir. J.J. Abrams)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I would classify my level of Star Trek fandom as moderate; I started watching Next Generation when I was in middle school, and was a fairly avid fan of it from around the third or fourth season. I loved Deep Space Nine, but I was never such a die-hard that I wasn't willing to give up on Voyager and Enterprise when they ceased to interest me (I watched about one season of each). I've only seen maybe a dozen original-series episodes, and about half the movies with the original cast, but I have a pretty good familiarity with the tone of the series, and the major continuity touchpoints. So I think I have a good perspective on this movie, as someone poised between ultra-geekdom and unfamiliarity. Really, though, I think it's largely pleasing both camps, although of course certain reactionary geeks won't accept any sort of alteration in their beloved franchise, and some non-fans will never go for Star Trek no matter how action-movie-ish it is. For everyone else, though, this is about as good as we could possibly hope for.

As I detailed in this post when Enterprise ended, I would have preferred a different take to bring the franchise into a new era; I still think that going back to retell the early days of the original crew was not the ideal approach. This is certainly a stellar execution, though, and if this is the concept Paramount is pushing, then they've done it justice. But I do hope that the inevitable massive success of this movie will lead to a bit of diversity in official Star Trek product; I still have a fondness for the original continuity, and as I say in this week's podcast, one of things I've always liked about Star Trek is its constant forward momentum. New Trek usually means new characters, new races, new worlds, a new piece of a constantly growing future history, and that's something we don't really get here. I can't imagine that Paramount isn't considering a new Trek TV series right now, and I'd love to see that follow up on the old continuity while striking out in a new direction, and still allowing the movie series to rewrite the tales of Kirk & Co. I do think they can have their cake (make money) and eat it too (appeal to fans), and I'm optimistic that something like that will happen. In the meantime, this movie is more than enough. Wide release

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